Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Nixon: The "Smoker's Choice"?

Friends, this week's Newsmaker Show covers so much ground that, in future, Brian and I might need to get pilot's licenses!  For instance, Brian and I naturally talk about the ongoing pandemic and the thorny question of how far governments should go to compel behavior that limits the spread of the virus.  We also discuss the recent firing of a hospital administrator in Buffalo who advocated (tongue in cheek?) the death by coronavirus of all Trump supporters.

Our conversation about This Day in History ties in with current events when we turn to President Nixon's 1970 decision to sign legislation to ban tv and radio ads for tobacco products.  Some irony there, because Nixon was a major pipe smoker.  Now, New York State is moving to ban all cigarette sales for six weeks as an anti-corona measure.  Smokers are incandescent with rage!  In addition, Brian and I look at the founding of the RAF in 1918, the U.S. attack on Okinawa in 1945, and Hitler's treason trial in 1924.

Much food for thought!  (But zero nicotine content.)  Tune in today.


  1. Another great newsmaker!

    Jim Acosta- always has that "gotcha" issue. I personally find him non productive.grin

    Roswell Park-I can't believe I am going to say this, but... I don't believe the person should have been fired. Unfort. ignorance is bliss, right? However, we do have the right to speak freely and everything and anything can be used against a person. Do I find it offensive? To an extent, sure do, personally I don't find the comment(s) spiteful or even hateful, just sad.

    The cigarette ban-interesting. Never let a good crisis go to waste, right? Personally, I don't care for smoking or even to be around smokers. Just add it to the growing list of things that the government has recently limited; 1st amendment, 2nd amendment, and now restricting travel and now news is coming out from other states about neighbors ratting out one another and to which the police and state governments are gleefully rejoicing over this etc. I think folks in general are to busy watching the news to notice that these things have indeed been limited and most folks feel that is ok. Again never let a good crisis go to waste. I think a lot of the state and even federal government have attacked our liberties. This whatever is "good for the goose is also good for gander" I believe is far overreaching, indeed we all want to be responsible citizens, but at what cost?

  2. Speaking of Nixon, it is too bad that he will be remembered by most people of any political persuasion as the Watergate President. He should never have covered up for those people. Otherwise, he did get us out of Vietnam. The U.S. should never have been involved there in the first place. What a disaster! Of course Nixon should have gotten us out earlier. Like any man he had many flaws, but I think he had many strengths also, and he was basically a decent man. Hard to believe he resigned almost 50 years ago. Nevertheless, when most of us won't even be a footnote in history, Nixon will live on in the history books.

  3. Dr. Waddy et al:" Gotcha Acosta"; that's all he is and it discredits him completely.

    I have great regard for cancer doctors; they do very much good. If this intemperate administrator is an MD, we should probably assume he lives by the Hippocratic Oath. But just as Ike tasked a great General like Patton for his indiscretions; this statement should result in official censure of some sort.

    As a Democrat in 1968 I remember the "oh well" attitude many of us had about Humphrey and I think it did generate vote losing lack of enthusiasm for him. It may well have been a significant factor in Nixon's victory. I do see a distinct possibility of a similar reaction to a Biden nomination from the now so very much more powerful Dem succored man hater faction UNLESS he says: "If nominated I will name a woman and she WILL become President". If Cuomo lets his ego run wild he could declare before the convention and name Ms. Radical as his running mate ( replete with abject very public obeisance to her highness for his patronizing presumption) . That would be very bad news for Biden because it would eliminate the importance of his politically correct promise to select" A" woman (any woman," just like we did when we tried to sell you terribly flawed Hillary as "A" woman and therefore an unassailable candidate".) When Republicans nominate a woman it will prove to be (as in 2000), an individual the content of whose character is the prime factor; not because of totalitarian affirmative action.

  4. Dr. Waddy: So good to see so very much increased stimulating commentary at this site.

    I was a WWI air war enthusiast as a kid. The Brits had a very competitive air effort throughout the war with many good planes and great pilots. They were called the RFC until they were renamed the RAF and, I think, became a separate branch. Of all things, T.E. Lawrence enlisted in that post war and served in the ranks. He was a puzzle he was and one can wonder what effect he might have had on Middle East history in a more influential position. He may have been incapable of the requisite diplomatic reserve, at least in Brit settings. If Churchill ever met him, I'd love to have been a fly on the wall.

    Bombing did develop, along many other aerial technological advances 1914-1918. Oh yes, they tried all sorts of gimcracks, like firing shotguns at each other and then wildly undirected machine guns. And then, they did drop bombs by hand and their effect was nothing compared to catastrophically effective WWI artillery. The latter induced incalculable destruction and terror. By the end of the war though. the Germans were sending their monstrous biwinged "Gotha" bombers over London and discharging bombs through a chute in the fuselage. They had a forward open air bombardier/observer; that must have been a trip.

  5. Dr. Waddy: I fully agree with your view of Okinawa. I once had a vigorous debate with a Prof.who maintained that the Abombings were motivated simply by racial hatred. I think Japanese conduct at Okinawa had very much to do with it.

    The U.S. military, by mid 1945, had had three years of harrowing experience with Japanese combat. Nonetheless, Okinawa was an appalling shock. One U.S. General officer said," I have never seen people who fight like this!". Imagine what it must have been like for US forces after the Marianas Turkey Shoot, after Leyte Gulf, after Iwo Jima. "Well now, its just a matter of time". And then , the Okinawa charnel house (at sea too, even though the Japanese fleet was sunk). And on land, as hard as it could ever have been.
    Before Grant's ill advised Cold Harbor charge, many Union troops, assuming they would die, pinned notes of their names and towns on their uniforms. I don't doubt that many of the prospective Japan mainland invasion force thought the same after Okinawa. My father's Destroyer Escort(a type ravaged by the Okinawa Kamikazes) was enroute; the mainland Japanese had 2000 Kamikaze ready to meet them. Could Truman, a combat veteran, have made any other choice? I was in Nagasaki in US uniform 23 years after the bomb and experienced nothing but cordiality. The Japanese, no doubt in large part to a brilliant administration by MacArthur, displayed an exemplary willingness to embrace reality and get on with their lives. That is to the everlasting credit of our country.

  6. Dr. Waddy: I've just about finished two studies of pre and post war Germany and will gladly cite them if you wish. My tentative insight: Germany was ununited after the war (as it had been pre 1870). It had already experienced the Spartacist Marxist Berlin uprising of 1919, suppressed by the most mostly German Army veteran Freikorps. It was was perhaps not unreasonable for the National Socialists to think they could seize the government of Bavaria at first, against a doubtful central government with their very popular, as respondent to VERY deep strains of antisemitism in German polity and society, assertions. They were premature, yes. But many studies suggest that Hitler's treason trial was conducted by judges very much sympathetic to his beliefsand that that was proven by his mild sentence.

    Hitlers genius, I think, was in his willingness and his fortuitous support by such as consummate and sociopathic Nazi populists like Leni Reifenstahl and Goebbels to reshape his image as an electable figure.

  7. Linda -- great minds think alike. I too believe that those who stew in their own juices, dreaming of painful deaths for those who think differently than they do, are more pathetic than scary. Not more than one in a thousand of them would ever take a life, after all. Plus, I recoil at the notion of anyone being fired merely for an opinion. That seems...unAmerican.

    I couldn't agree more about government overreach, and sadly you're right that many people enjoy lording it over their neighbors and playing the local nag. This is still AMERICA, however, and not many of us enjoy being bossed around. The pendulum WILL swing back, just you wait!

    Ray, Jack and I would beg to differ about Vietnam, but your sympathy for poor Nixon redeems you, and how! You're right -- he was a smart man, and in many ways a well-meaning one. His potential was squandered. Politics has a way of chewing up and spitting out decent men and women. C'est la vie.

    Jack, you are absolutely correct that Biden's undoing could be the fact that even Democrats yawn when he enters the room. Well, they yawn and they tremble... You think he can save his campaign by promising to hand over power to his female running mate? I doubt it. That would be an act of self-abnegation. It would like saying, "I'm running for President so someone else can be President." It's nonsensical.

    Jack, you're right that bombing came a long way in WWI. I believe the first carrier-based planes operated then. The surprising thing about aviation in the Great War, though, is how little impact it had.

    I share your admiration for Japan. The friendship that has blossomed between our peoples since 1945 is one of history's miracles. The Japanese capacity for forgiveness, I must say, is extraordinary. Can you imagine if an enemy savaged our cities like we did theirs? Oy!

    You're right -- Hitler was a poor revolutionary, but a passable politician. We must give him credit for reinventing himself, although let's be honest: without the Depression he never would have amounted to much.

  8. Dr. Waddy: I think you are right that WWI aviation had no effect on strategy. They were used extensively for observation but observation planes were sitting ducks and I don't know of them having made a difference in any engagement. I would suggest some possible ancillary consequences: It afforded Goering a heroic reputation which may have been a considerable asset to the Nazis in their rise (but just imagine Goering and enlisted man Hitler meeting during the war). Also, though England snoozed between the wars, perhaps just enough people were alarmed by the crude air raids on London (just imagine a then 80 year old Brit watching German contraptions bombing London itself) and the astonishing development of aircraft to envision what potential might be there in not too long a time. The Germans certainly knew and so did Churchill and despite his exile his hectoring may have had just enough effect to enable" The Few". Also, yes, the Brits pioneered the aircraft carrier in WWI. Without it, battleships would have been the capital surface ship of WWII and the Brits had plenty of them.

  9. Dr. Waddy: Was Hitler of the right or left? In one sense it doesn't matter; totalitarian monsters like Nazis and Communists are of a kind: profoundly and thoroughly subhuman, as are their present day avatars. But if you did have to classify Hitler, I'd agree he falls on the extreme right. For one thing he was murderously ferocious towards any level of Bolsheviks. And he did win the support of the perhaps majority faction of Germans who held that the perceived liberalization accompanying the 2nd Reich in 1870 had done Germany great ill. I think had he not won the yes, sometimes grudging support of the German officer class (still, probably, mostly Junkers) he could not have prevailed or rebuilt the harrowing force he sent into WWII. Unlike Stalin, he did not purge most of his best Generals. And his extreme nationalism is manifest, to the incalculable suffering of Russia and so many others.

  10. Ray: Nixon: a tragic figure I think.

    There was something about him, perhaps his consummate and unapologetic middle class style but mainly. I think, his rejection of fashionable posturing. He was not slick or hip and the wolfish media found that unacceptable and like the slavering predators they still are marked him for savagery.And the consummately presumptuous and naive boomers found him the perfect target for their inane contempt for the security Nixon's generation had afforded them in their once in a lifetime childhoods. One simply cannot rely on contemporary commentary on him, as shamefully biased as it was. One must refer to creditable, supportable scholarship on his life and my understanding is that the current trend in that is an increasingly favorable opinion. Me? I'd name an aircraft carrier after him.

    Being human, he had sensitivities and the perhaps unprecedented excoriation he faced (when he KNEW and we now know too, that he was right to go after American Commies like Hiss)had an understandably hardening effect on his attitude toward his critics. President Trump today may be experiencing the same. For Nixon, the insolent speculation of the fashionable darlings Woodward and Bernstein about his very sex life (and that of his noble wife)in the book The Final Days, together with celebrated images of scruffy granny glassed hippies celebrating his departure, must have bred in him an unimpeachable bitterness.

    I think his political life was a tragedy all undue him and I hope the nation expresses its regret in some telling way soon, while his children are with us.

  11. Ray: Also: Watergate may well have been the product of the fear Nixon had that the silly, voluptuary, jetset Kennedys would once again snatch what he had earned through hard work from him in 1972, to the detriment of the country. It moved him to unlawful actions but those certainly far less serious than those excused and sometimes celebrated by the "enlightened" of Slick Willy and his imperious and presumably teflon coated consort. Would Slick Willie have reacted to conviction with the grace Nixon showed? Nah! And this contradiction stands stark witness to unjust forces which were brought to bear on Nixon, John Doe personified.

  12. Jack, it's rather surprising that so many people expected air power and bombing to be decisive in WWII, when in WWI it had been so strategically disappointing. Usually people don't have that kind of imagination!

    I agree -- Hitler would not have gotten far, even as Chancellor, without the acquiescence of the generals and the Prussian old guard. They never liked him, but they went along with the circus.

    An aircraft carrier named after Nixon? That would be a trip! Given the elite's disdain, I'd settle for a tug...

    Good point that Nixon took his ouster with surprising grace. He was a fine elder statesman. Maybe he was even relieved to be on the sidelines?

  13. Dr. Waddy: Who can say! Perhaps Nixon's journey through those years is perceptible only from a distance? That his reputation is relieved may be.