Monday, June 30, 2014

Kinder, Küche, Kirche

Kinder, Küche, Kirche:* Goal of SCOTUS?

* English translation: "Barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

100 Years Ago: Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Assassin's Route, Sarajevo, June 28, 1914

June 27, 1914 was the day the final steps in the plot were taken. Serbian intelligence knew when the Archduke Francis Ferdinand and his Czech wife would arrive at the train station, the route and time table for the motorcade and who would be riding in each automobile. To make it easier, the Archduke's convertible top would be down so the crowd could see the heir to the throne and his wife.

It was a suicide mission. The six assassins spaced along the route carried a mixed assortment of weapons: some carried hand grenades, others had bombs. Four carried Browning .38 caliber automatic pistols manufactured in Belgium. Each carried cyanide pills.

Otto von Bismarck, dead since 1898, once remarked that the whole of the Balkans was "not worth the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier." He also observed that  "If there is ever another war in Europe, it will come out of some damned silly thing in the Balkans."

The planning and execution of the assassination by Serbian conspirators, directed out of Belgrade by Serbian military intelligence and coordinated with nationalist groups such as Young Bosnia, the Black Hand, and Narodna Odbrana (People's Defense) soon degenerated into a fiasco,

The first assassin didn't lift a finger as the Archduke's automobile rolled past. The second assassin also failed to act. The third assassin threw his bomb at the Archduke, but it missed and exploded under a following car. The assassin swallowed his cyanide pill and jumped into the river to complete his suicide, but the river proved to be only four inches deep at that point. The cyanide only induced vomiting. He was captured.

The procession sped away towards the Town Hall leaving the disabled car behind. Cvjetko Popović, Gavrilo Princip, and Trifun Grabež, the final three assassins, failed to act as the motorcade passed them at high speed. The Archduke gave his expected speech at Town Hall, then changed his itinerary to go to the hospital and check on the welfare of those injured in the bomb blast.

Meanwhile, nineteen year old Gavrilo Princip, who had missed his chance, wandered off in search of lunch. Princip was standing in front of Schiller's Delicatessen near the Latin Bridge, when suddenly the Archduke's car stopped almost in front of him. The driver, confused by the change in plans, had stalled the car and was having trouble getting it started.

Princip stepped forward and fired two shots from a distance of about 5 feet with his Belgian-made .38  Fabrique Nationale model 1910 semi-automatic pistol. The first bullet wounded the Archduke in the jugular vein, the second inflicted an abdominal wound on the Duchess. Princip was immediately arrested.

The "damned silly thing in the Balkans" had happened.

A month later, July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mississippi Black Voters Give Primary Victory To Republican Senator

In case you hadn't been following the Republican primary in Mississippi for US senate, it was this year's most interesting election.

In Mississippi's May primary election, neither of the two principal Republican candidates for senate, incumbent Thad Cochran, who was running for his seventh term, or challenger Chris McDaniel, his Tea Party challenger, received 50% of the vote. Mississippi is one of only eight states in the union that requires a runoff election in such a case. (North Carolina is one of the eight, but NC sets the thresh hold at 40%).

Mississippi is also a state that allows any registered voter to vote in any party's primary. That set the stage for what followed.

Thad Cochran openly courted the votes of democrats, including African Americans, and they turned out in droves.

Why would African Americans vote for a Republican? They saw it as in their own interest. Why would unionized shipyard workers in Pascagoula vote for a Republican? Same reason.

Not only did Thad Cochran's organization reach out to Democrats (only those who had not voted in the Democratic primary could vote in the Republican runoff), Chris McDaniel had alarmed them with his calls for austerity, his vicious attacks on President Obama, and his open embrace of Mississippi's past. “It’s time to defend our way of life again,” McDaniel asserted.

This year's fiftieth anniversary of Mississippi Freedom Summer and the killing of civil rights workers Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner reminded any who had forgotten, just how Mississippi defended its "way of life" in times past.

Mississippi's African American voters are among the most sophisticated in the country. They understand that elections are about their interests, and they weren't interested in having a US senator openly talking about "defending our way of life" again.

Not so long ago, such talk got Mississippi senator Trent Lott in trouble.

There may have been other issues in play. Veterans in Mississippi liked McDaniels' belligerent talk about war. Apparently few of them had any idea that Thad Cochran had served in the military. In fact, I met Thad Cochran at the University of Mississippi when we were both in the Naval ROTC there.

Interestingly, both Thad Cochran and Trent Lott had been cheerleaders at Ole Miss.

I don't expect African American voters to turn out for Thad Cochran in the general election. Their interests would be better served by a democrat in that office. But realistically a democratic victory is unlikely.

Mississippi is more complicated than people give it credit for.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Seventy Years Ago In Europe: First German Buzz Bombs Hit London

Since 1936 Germany had been working on various guided bombs. The first flying prototype of a flying bomb, the forerunner of our later cruise missiles, was completed. The problem: it was radio controlled, which endangered the control aircraft. Back to the drawing board. The answer: give up some accuracy by using a regular autopilot, and simplify the propulsion by using a pulse-jet engine.

A week after the allies landed at Normandy, Germany fired the first V-1 "buzz bomb" at London.

Was it effective? Somewhat. Was it decisive? No.

Here is the story.  It certainly caused anxiety in London, as did the later V-2 ballistic missile. But it was too little, too late. And nothing could halt the Soviet juggernaut moving inexorably toward Berlin.

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1975-117-26, Marschflugkörper V1 vor Start.jpgGerman fantasies of victory were fading fast.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Combat Air Patrol: June 1944 Saipan

[linked image]

What's going on here? USS Manila Bay, a US Navy escort carrier with a deck load of US Army P-47 fighter planes, attacked by Japanese aircraft east of Saipan on June 23, 1944. The story gets better. Here is what the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships says:

"On 7 May 1944 MANILA BAY sailed for overhaul at Pearl Harbor, where she arrived 18 May. After loading 37 Army P-47 fighters, MANILA BAY sailed 5 June for the Marianas. Steaming via Eniwetok, she reached the eastern approaches to Saipan 19 June. During the next four days she remained east of the embattled island as ships and planes of the Fast Carrier Task Force repulsed the Japanese Fleet in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, and inflicted staggering losses on the enemy, thus crippling the Imperial Japanes Navy's air strength permanently. On 23 June, MANILA BAY came under enemy air attack during refueling operations east of Saipan. Two fighter-bombers attacked her from dead ahead, dropping four bombs which exploded wide to port. Intense antiaircraft fire suppressed further attacks, and as a precautionary and rather unusual move which Admiral Spruance later characterized as "commendable initiative," MANILA BAY launched four of the Army P-47s she was ferrying to fly protective CAP until radar screens were clear of contacts. The Army fighters then flew to Saipan, their intended destination. She launched the remaining planes the next day and returned to Eniwetok, arriving 27 June. After embarking 207 wounded troops, MANILA BAY departed 1 July, touched Pearl Harbor the 8th, and reached San Diego 16 July 1944."

Seventy Years Ago: USS Houston (CL-81) In The Marianas

When last we checked on USS Houston, she was on her way with two other cruisers of her cruiser division, two battleships and seven destroyers enroute to Majuro Atoll. Since that time, the ship has been busy.

On 31 May she joined Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's Fast Carrier Task Force to take part in the invasion of the Mariana and Palau Islands. Departing on 5 June 1944, Houston screened carrier strike units which pounded the Mariana Islands on 12–13 June and the Bonin Islands on 15–16 June.
While Admiral Richmond K. Turner's amphibious forces landed on Saipan on 15 June, the Japanese prepared to close that island for a "decisive" naval battle. The fleets approached each other on June 19 and engaged in the largest aircraft carrier battle of the war. Four large air raids attacked the American fleet, but the US fighters, with some help from anti-aircraft fire from Houston and the other screening warships, destroyed the attacking Japanese formations.

Mitscher's ships and aircraft were mostly new, the aircraft were improved, and the  pilots and crews well-trained. Mitscher had at his command 7 fleet carriers, 8 light fleet carriers, 7 battleships, 8 heavy cruisers, 13 light cruisers, 58 destroyers, 28 submarines and 956 carrier aircraft. Against this attack force, Japan dispatched 5 fleet carriers, 4 light carriers, 5 battleships, 13 heavy cruisers, 6 light cruisers, 27 destroyers, 24 submarines, 6 oilers, ~450 carrier aircraft and ~300 land-based aircraft.

The outcome: Japan lost 3 fleet carriers sunk, 2 oilers sunk, 550–645 aircraft destroyed and 6 other ships damaged. Americans called the battle "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot", because so many Japanese aircraft were destroyed with only small American losses.  Japan's naval air power never recovered from the battle. The invasion was secured, though Japanese defenders continued to put up a strong defense.

This was  Houston's initiation into combat.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Town of Oriental Budget Coming Fiscal Year

Tomorrow evening, June 18 at 7:00 pm, the Town holds a public hearing on the budget for the coming fiscal year. Citizens who are interested in the budget should attend the hearing. They should also read the Town Manager's budget report, to which Town Dock has posted a link here.

Diane Miller's budget report is a well-written, clear explanation of the budget process and considerations. Even if you don't attend the hearing, by all means read the report. You will be rewarded by the effort.

I, for one, am pleased with our new manager. She is addressing issues that the Town Board has wrestled with for at least seven years. I am pleased at the progress she and her predecessors have made in that time.

Cox v. Oriental: Nothing New

For those following my case against the Town of Oriental, there was nothing heard today from the Court of Appeals. Next reporting date: July 1.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Seventy Years Ago:Ernie Pyle at Normandy

Ernie Pyle, the GI\s favorite war correspondent, walked upon the beach at Normandy. The incredible scene he described has never been adequately captured in the movies. Just imagine the German prisoners on the bluff overlooking the sea and contemplating their nation's doom.

Here is Pyle's account. :

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Collectivists In The Pacific And The English Channel: June 6, 1944

The crew of USS Houston, lying at anchor at Majuro Atoll as they prepared for the next big operation against Japan, probably never thought of themselves as "collectivists" but they were. No single person aboard that ship could perform every function, operate every system, foresee every contingency, or know what to do in every situation. Not even the Captain.

The ship was due to get underway the next morning - June 6th, 1944. After all the practice at war, they would finally see the real thing.

What, pray tell, is "collectivism?" One definition: Collectivism is any philosophic, political, religious, economic, or social outlook that emphasizes the interdependence of every human. No society could exemplify the interdependence of every human more than a complex World War II warship.

The Koch brothers decry "collectivism." Those sailors celebrated it. There was no higher status than "shipmate." What none could accomplish alone, all could do together.

Half a world away, soldiers, sailors, aviators, parachutists, fighter pilots, bomber crews, transport pilots, coxswains of landing craft and combat-equipped troops were already on their way to objectives on the beaches of Normandy and inland.

None thought of themselves as heroes, because they knew the outcome did not depend on any individual effort.

The undertaking was heroic, but it was the heroism of the collective effort.

This is the worst time for the generals. Their job was to prepare, to plan, to calculate, to foresee every contingency. But now there was nothing they could change.

The game was afoot.