The Charlotte News
Saturday, August 30, 1941
Site Ed. Note: We note first on the page of this date, for what it's worth, a fresh photograph of Hugh Johnson accompanying his column. Just why that decision was made, we haven't the slightest, nor is it particularly important, but we thought it idle enough on an idle Saturday afternoon to make note of it. His column, while lacking any and all specifics to bolster its generalized notions, is nevertheless thoughtful and interesting with regard to its contention of concentration of defense industries in the hands of a few large manufacturers, 31% of the defense contracts having been awarded to six large companies and 75% to 56 such manufacturers, each of whom we are also informed by the General, received patronage by the fact of their size being more likely to produce the efficient speed needed for production, plus the more negative cause produced by administration personnel being from the companies thus contracted.
We mention that notion to suggest that, while such things were inevitable in a time of emergent national build-up in defense materiel of the type taking place in 1940-41 after two decades of lassitude, it is not an inevitability since the post-war era, and especially since the end of the Cold War, now nearly twenty--count them--years ago.
Yet, we still hear about the Halliburtons of our time. It is truly a disgrace to the country that some people, once the open spigot of defense manna from Heaven was provided by the government, cannot get away from bomb-making to more peaceful, productive industries with equivalent profiteering--excuse us, profit potential.
We have Hitler, Mussolini, and Tojo, not Roosevelt or Churchill, to thank for this series of events which led to this insatiable desire for the government's big teet to nourish both employment and the production necessary for that vast employment in private industry--the corporate welfare system which has, over the decades since World War II, run amuck seeking the manna.
There is another way.
Develop a sensible, practical electric car, for instance, one with a long range, quick re-charging capability, good, if not super, acceleration, one that looks good and competitive on the highway, not rather as a sort of turgid box of detergent on four wheels, is priced competitively across the size ranges, be the first on the block to do it, and your profits will be far more than in the manufacture of bombs, bomb fuses, laser guidance systems, fighter aeroplanes, or any other artifact of war or widgetry. Indeed, you will quickly put the Big Three out of business--and more power to you, if so, if they are going to continue to be so ruthlessly stupid as to sustain the present course to ruination of the planet, the same one on which we all inhabit and depend for mutual sustenance.
Reading Ms. Thompson's piece of the day, however, one would think that, well, hell, war, after all, does have its manifold positive attributes. Maybe, Hitler was on to something.
That, of course, was not what Ms. Thompson of the moment was trying to convey. Rather, her point was that even in the midst of the chaos and havoc reeked on England, there were, of the morass left behind, positive consequences, thanks exclusively to the resourcefulness of the British people and their intense tenacity and gravitation toward survival, somehow, no doubt, remembering through time the defeat of the Gauls and of the Romans, that it is finally, not merely impracticable, but an impossible task to occupy a country indefinitely or to subdue it to the will of another sovereign. The American colonies had proved the premise to Britain itself more than a century and a half earlier.
There is nothing, at the end of the day, however, the least bit positive about war in the abstract, such that one should ever feel such notions as Ms. Thompson sets forth in a different time and circumstance about England as a rationale for waging it. Her brief references the honorable task of defense from onslaught waged by others. There is a grave and insuperable difference.
Returning a moment to yesterday's "SPAB" and its eponymous new board being chaired by the new Vice-President, Henry Wallace, one of the most liberal members of the Administration in its eventual twelve-year tenure, we note that remark about how Roosevelt had dramatically changed the position of Vice-President to something substantive from its former status under successive Republican Administrations where it had been found as little more than a sinecure, a symbolic honoris causa, substituting for the President at state funerals and other such perfunctorily indispensable duties--practicing well the pronunciation of "honorificabilitudinity" in the bargain for all of those honorable occasions.
We note further that in recent times, since 1993 anyway, the position has once again turned from that purely honorable status to one of substantial substance. No more, "What do you think of Hawaii, Mr. Quayle?"
So, we feel compelled to remark a little on Senator McCain's choice yesterday of the Honorable Sarah Palin, Governor for two years of the Great State of Alaska, as his running mate in the upcoming presidential election. Governor Palin, before she became governor, was for a decade on the City Council and Mayor of an Alaskan town of 5,000 population. We find that her first act as Mayor, about twelve years ago, was to fire the police chief, not for corruption, but because he opposed her candidacy and supported her opponent in the election. For this bit of political maneuvering, a recall effort was mounted, but failed. A lawsuit was filed by the fired police chief, but also failed because the court upheld, under Alaska law, her right and power as mayor to fire such personnel, and for any capriciously mean-spirited reason she chose. She is a neo-conservative who favors drilling for natural gas on the North Slope of Alaska, and is anti-choice on abortion rights issues, carrying that latter private position into her public political beliefs and actions as an elected public servant.
Candidly, we could care less about her lack of political experience. In 1968, Spiro Agnew, for instance, was selected by Richard Nixon as his running mate: then-Governor Agnew of Maryland had only two years of experience as a governor and before that four years as the Executive of Baltimore County. And, of course, the team won in a close election against Vice-President Humphrey and Senator Muskie. Look how that one turned out.
So, there is historical precedent and we shall simply therefore leave all of that aside as far as the issue of experience.
Some may count the choice as aberrant or mercurial, even unduly quixotic, but we recall that bravely chivalrous act of Vice-President Nixon in 1960, after pledging at the start of the campaign to go to all 50 states, and, being delayed by that kid in Greensboro who opened the car door against his knee and thereby bunged everything up for him, was forced finally to a crossroads: either break a campaign promise or wind up on the last days before the election traveling to and from Alaska. What did the V-P do? He of course did the honorable thing and went to Alaska. And, we know how well that turned out also.
So, as to the seemingly impractical and chivalrous nature of Senator McCain's decision, honi soit qui mal y pense.
But, that said, what we do wish to stress are the Governor's two noted positions we reference--not to leave out others, but her spare public record in or out of government makes other positions hard to locate.
First, nothing could be more sedulously callous, in our opinion, in this day and time than selfishly to support a policy strictly designed to support one's state's own economy, placing it above the interests of the rest of the country and the rest of the world--a cold, ruthless decision which promises the ecological encouragement of the Flood for the rest of us, and the ruination of the ecosystem of her own state to boot--, the policy of development of the North Slope for its natural gas preserves, all for the temporal pleasures of this life without the least regard for the lives and generations to come. Greed. Gluttony. Deadly Sins. We deplore it. We think it not very well thought out by the Governor, indeed, evidencing no thought at all, just cheap political business-as-usual while masquerading as a reformer to appeal to lesser lights, as it is certainly inconsistent with her professed Christian belief system.
Second, her position on abortion is equally ruthless and ignorant of the law in place in this country since 1973, placing emotion and personal beliefs over the concept of freedom and choice by the individual, not governmental control, regarding private decisions of personal conduct involving one's own body. This is a person who cannot discern the difference, apparently, between personal viewpoints and opinions and public, governmental service to all, but rather considers herself some divinely-inspired dictator to others. That is what we glean from such an anachronistic opinion of being opposed to choice on the issue of abortion, even if we ourselves agree that a person should in all respects, given their conduct in the ideal, avoid an abortion--but that is an ideal of conduct which does not in reality always for everyone follow on perfectly with hormonal displays, especially in adolescence. And we must deal with reality in governmental issues, not emotional notions of perfection a la Adolf Hitler.
For not everyone views conception, that is the physical sexual act, to be the point of the beginning of life. Indeed, we do not so view it that way. Conception implies the notion of "concept". And most people engaging in sexual acts, no matter how tender and loving, have about as much "concept" of what they are doing at the time as they do when they eat a particularly savory meal. Don't hand us that garbage about conception. It is ruthless nonsense which nevertheless by its very terminology implies individual choice and conceptualization.
The concept, and hence the conception, comes after the fact of the act, in most cases, probably during the last trimester of pregnancy at the earliest. Unless, that is, we are engaged today in so much social planning that we are indeed the functional equivalent of Nazi society in the 1930's, which planned every birth for the Aryans, forbade abortion for Aryans, while encouraging the practice, even demanding it, for non-Aryans. It is a fact of history.
An example of conception? "Gee, maybe she'll grow up to be Vice-President. If not, at least a beauty queen. Well, let's go hunt some caribou and moose."
Third, we think it silly and outrageous that anyone would think that women are, en masse, so lightheaded, unenlightened and downright stupid that they would look upon this woman as some proper substitute for Senator Clinton and thus leave the ranks of support of Senator Obama, who Senator Clinton has heartily and graciously endorsed, for the mere fact of Senator McCain having chosen a woman as his running mate, a woman with the rather absurd and nugatory stances that this woman does in this day and age.
All we can say to that is that we have seen Senator Clinton's record in political life; we have noted with approval her positions; we have followed with interest her courageous stands and career; and, Governor Palin, let us make this point perfectly clear: you are no Hillary Clinton.
Oh, we know--you social conservatives will preach that we are effete snobs, nabobs of negativism, and the like. That's okay. We've heard it before.
Fourth, we do wish to clarify, so that no one will accuse us of inappropriate remarks later on, as memories fade under the influence of the extreme medication of which many of these people with these funny ides obviously partake, probably for control of their otherwise anti-social tendencies, that when earlier in the week we were talking about Mr. R. E. Taylor's letter to the editor of The News, setting forth a part of "Drake's Drum" and referring to the "Puckish" quality displayed by the editors when earlier they had placed a parenthetical note in Ms. Thompson's column on Plymouth Hoe, indicating "What hoe?", and our supplement to that notable commentary regarding our earlier similarly noted interrogatory, albeit inspired instead by Poe, to Cash's piece referencing Plymouth Hoe, and before having ever seen the piece by Ms. Thompson and the editors' inserted note within it, we had never heard of Ms. Palin. We had never heard, as presumably no one else had, that she was on any list of potential selectees as Senator McCain's running mate. And we therefore certainly had never heard her describe herself, as she did yesterday--or, for that matter, heard anyone else describe themselves thusly--as a "hockey-mom".
We mention that because in response to reading Mr. Taylor's letter, we made our comment that we were stressing this point on the "Puckish" description he gave of the editors in 1941 only by way of reference to our recent, coincidental allusion to Dreams, not hockey scores.
So, we also wanted to make that completely and unerringly clear so that, as we again stress, no one later will daresay or imagine that we were somehow being insulting in dark and ungentle ways of this newly selected candidate for Vice-President of the United States, the first woman ever so selected for such a high position within the Republican Party.
Just to be as clear as the contents of a Polar bear's fishing hole in the tundra's ice, we assume that she has absolutely nothing to do with Plymouth Hoe.
We don't know for sure, but we would also assume that she probably has no tattoos.
But, we did read that she did play a starring role on her high school basketball team back in 1982. (High school in 1982?--we are getting old.) So, if someone digs up her swimsuit competition picture from the beauty contest shortly thereafter, which she won circa 1985, and finds, not dissimilar to George Schultz, that indeed she does have a tattoo or two somewhere, that's okay, too.
We mean no disrespect, however, or anything inappropriate.
Well, we think that the new Vice-Presidential running mate for Senator McCain is just swell, and deserves every opportunity, as everyone does, to explain her positions with sound and fulsome argument in ample support of them. We are quite confident that she will be given that opportunity in full and fair and firm debate with Senator Biden in the coming weeks.
And may the best baratour and incentor win, frippingly.
We look forward to the caribou and moose hunt--that is the debate.
Though the selectee is certainly rakish, as rakish as a silver clipper bounding the wide seas of belle-dameden, there will be no Plymouth Hoe comments from us toward anyone involved.
Plymouth Rock though, now, that's another issue entirely.
--Mmmm, those four peaks of the Kilimanjaros somewhere in the Himalayas were quite good this past month. So were the g-g-goldfish. We had a splendid time on our v-v-vacation. We hope you did, too. In fact, we think we may just sing. No, no. Leave that off. But, on second thought, thinking about the wilderness and the open spaces of Alaska, the icy tundra, the Bering Strait in days of winter fishing, Anchorage in the springtime, Juneau in summer, Jamaica in fall, does conjure to the mind the idea of the frontier and the sweet, fragrant odor dripping, trippingly off the forest pine within the fjords, and, withal, the notion of therefore fulfilling our lifelong dream and ambition of working outdoors in the open, that pervaded by the cool, fresh, mellifluous air, where no sound intrudes of man's unendingly bastard-filed links of mechanization, only that spell cast from within the clouds of the breeze blowing through the wild minstrelsy--in short, our dream of becoming a lumberjack.
Well, off to it then.
Where's our checkered shirt and the rest of the outfit?
Oh look, look there, the Symplegades.
No, check that: it's just those durned Sirens again. You remember the solution to that, men.
(Incidentally, now is as good a time as any to apologize to the Tennessee Lady Volunteers from whom we inadvertently took their national championship in basketball in 2007 and awarded it to the Boston College Lady Eagles back in March of this year--no doubt the result of early senility creeping its way into the opinings now and again. Tennessee got the gold; B.C., the silver slipper. Correction therefore is now duly recorded.)
Maybe this next month we shall just take off and go fishing in the Mojave somewhere near Uzbekistan for some caribou. There's a quiet little village nearby which the natives call Smyrna.
In any event, we know it's a long time away, darlin', but try to make do in the meantime, and we'll see you in September.
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