Sunday, August 27, 2023

good morning jacob


Richard Nixon developed a mastery of poker,

with several thousand dollars in winnings, 

while serving as a supply officer on a small

Pacific island during the course of World War II.

The money he won went to funding the early

days of his 1946 bid for Congress.

With Japan's surrender in August, 1945 American's

expected a quick return of their loved ones to

home, family and a civilian life.  Millions of former

GIs, (Government Issue), flooded the streets

looking for jobs.  They got married, they had kids

and they had money saved up to buy into the

good life.  But factories needed to retool from 

making tanks and planes to cars and washing 

machines.  By 1946 inflation was 20% as people

bid up the price of popular home goods.

Outrageous!  America's greatest generation was

being offered only table scraps by that

nincompoop in the White House - Harry Truman.

So what brought on the Depression?  Tariffs,

unrealistic Stock Market investments, oversupply.

Oversupply.  We were brilliant at manufacturing

what people wanted but we didn't have the 

middle class needed to buy all these goods.

Labor was exploited.  Workers provided services

to employers at a fraction of their actual value.

Wage earners would have to unite if they had

any hope of standing up to the corporations.

Unions prospered under Roosevelt but endless

strikes following the war further disrupted an

already fragile economy.  People took note.

Maybe unions now held too much power.


Jerry Voorhis was the golden boy of Southern California.

Here was a New Deal Democrat bringing home the 

bacon five elections in a row from the swing

12th District located just outside LA.  Labor loved

him.  His Democrat colleagues in the House

voted Voorhis the hardest working man in 

Congress.  So when Richard Nixon arrives and 

announces his candidacy for the Voorhis seat

even Republican pols think - Lots of Luck.

Nixon burns the candle at both ends.  He puts in

20 hour days, 6 days a week - writing pamphlets,

doing research, making speeches before service

organizations.  His wife, Pat, administers the

campaign - updating schedules, running the office 

and critiquing her husband, the candidate, until 

4 days before the birth of their first child, Tricia.

Nixon was relentless in his drive to win. 

Murray Chotiner made Earl Warren Supreme Court

Chief Justice by engineering Warren's gubernatorial

victory in California.  Certainly Eisenhower took 

notice of this.  Chotiner picks winners and that's

what he saw in Nixon.  The man's got intellect 

and the discipline to carry through to achieve 

what it is he's trying to do.  Also, he shared 

Nixon's fierce passion to win.  Winning means

more than some Man of the Year trophy.

Victory is power.  You are now in position to

make a difference, to change the course of

society in some positive way.  

You matter.

Only a hopeless idealist would hold onto the

dream of a post-war kumbaya between the

Soviets and Washington.  So why is it difficult

to believe in a mankind, being of singular 

purpose, living in harmony?  If this is you -

you are probably some harmless eccentric.

Like maybe a college professor.  There are

others who will say you are part of some

sinister conspiracy to overthrow our way of

life and replace it with Stalin's vision of 

Worker's Paradise. 

Crowds.  Hoopla.  Big Whoop.

That's not Richard Nixon.  

He's too shy to look you in the face.

He's a bookworm, a nerd.  Studious.

But he has his Dad's argumentative nature.

Richard nurtured and shaped this skill

through debate competition that lasted

through college.  He was good, comfortable

at arguing either side of the issue.  

Poor Jerry Voorhis.  Always playing catchup.

He didn't know what hit him.

This first election victory was the happiest 

for Pat and Dick, Congressman Nixon.

There were other victories along the way

to the White House but nothing compared

to the glow they now shared.  

Such were the possibilities.

God bless.



©  Tom Taylor


Sunday, August 13, 2023

good morning jessicca


Within a year of the war's end

governing Germany was a muddle.

Cooperation among the four powers

was required to get anything done.

Distrust kept that from happening.

Stalin had his large Red Army 

facing off against his former allies,

Britain and the U.S.

Britain, France and Germany all wanted 

American troops to remain in Europe as

a counter to the Soviet buildup along

their eastern borders.  But U.S. policy

followed George Washington's admonition

to avoid foreign entanglements unless

we were at war.  Like 1918 it seemed

the Yanks were headed home. 


It's fledgling democracy crushed by

Communist coup.  Forget ballots.

Stalin simply says, I win.

The West takes note.


Communists were stunned by their loss

at the polls in 1948.  The Czech coup was

a public relations disaster.  Also voters 

wanted to insure their benefits continued

under the Marshall Plan.  Then, too, the CIA

made sure pro-U.S. politicians in Italy had

plenty of campaign cash.

Arthur Vandenberg, Republican Senator 

from Michigan, shepherded  a resolution

through Congress giving the President power

to form an alliance with Europe despite 

the nation being at peace.  This was a

necessary precursor to joining what became

the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Stalin responded to efforts by the U.S., Britain

and France to create West Germany by 

closing all land access to West Berlin.  For the

next eleven months an airlift was organized to 

keep 2.5 million Berliners stocked with food 

and coal for heat.  This confrontation

with Moscow was the last straw prior to the

Allies gathering in London to sign their treaty: 

NATO -   4 April, 1949. 

NATO formalized the division of Europe into

two camps - those looking to the U.S. and

its economic and military resources to protect

their nation's independence from Stalin; the

second, a string of nations bordering Russia

to prevent potential Western aggression against

the burgeoning communist state that was

the Soviet Union.

Fear ruled diplomacy.  Leaders of both 

East and West blustered about their military

capability, both exaggerating at times, and 

both often overreacting to the perceived threat.

Poker players both, continuously raising the

ante on one another. 

Meanwhile, seed money from the Marshall Plan

helped make for the economic revival of Western

Europe.  Key to this industrial recovery was the

manufacturing powerhouse, Germany.  Efforts

to release German energy into doing what 

they do best was met with widespread dread,

particularly in France and Russia.

Who could trust these citizens from the Nazi empire?



©  Tom Taylor


Sunday, August 6, 2023

good morning jeremy


War's end in Europe left Britain near bankruptcy.

By 1947 London could no longer afford its 

military defense for the eastern Mediterranean.

Currently they were fighting Communist guerillas

attempting to overthrow the Greek monarch.

Nearby Soviet forces threatened the Dardanelles

because Turk forces there bottled up the Russian

fleet.  Moscow also viewed Iran as a quick

gateway to the Middle East - where Western

Europe got most of their oil.  Someone needed to

pushback or plan to lose it all to Stalin's ambitions. 

Britain looked to Washington. 

The goodwill between the U.S. and Russia as

allies fighting a common cause barely made it to

the end of the war.  Neglected feelings of anger

and mistrust directed toward each other once again

rose to prewar intensity.  Congress rallied behind 

Truman's call to action against an unspecified foe,

authorizing military aid to both Greece and Turkey.

This readiness to defend foreign nations far from

home became know as the Truman Doctrine.  It was

a first effort to make policy from the strategy of

Soviet containment.

George Marshall, General of the Army, was Roosevelt's

go-to man in World War II.  No job was too big.  This

General made it happen.  He was just the man

Harry Truman needed as his Secretary of State.

Europe was destitute.  People were restive and 

nothing was being done. 


For Marshall the solution was money.  More than

anything Europe was starving for investors and

the Yanks were just the people to see.  They were

plump with cash.   This Marshall Plan would be

like pouring water on a parched garden.  And 

where would this money go?  Back to the U.S.

where nearly three-quarters of the globe's 

industrial capacity was located following the war.

The Marshall Plan or European Recovery Program,

ERP, was officially intended for all nations of Europe.

Eastern Bloc nations aligned with Russia were invited

as was the Soviet Union.  Stalin showed interest in

the project.  But there were strings.  This was a 

partnership with America.  Washington encouraged

the integration of Europe's economies for greater

efficiency.  This involved nation's sharing sensitive

economic data about themselves. 


This requirement had to be a capitalist scheme, in

Stalin's eyes - information gathered to undermine  

the Soviet path to Communism.  His man Molotov

walked out of preliminary ERP meetings in Paris.

Every Eastern Bloc nation was forbidden to attend,

as well.  People at the Truman White House

sighed in relief.  What kind of Congress would hand

a billion dollar check to Moscow?  One big legislative

obstacle to the bill's passage was out of the way.

Europe knew how to manufacture, build industry.

Especially Germany.  People of these nations 

were broke; their factories and cities destroyed.

For six years their industries focused on producing

instruments of war.  They now needed to retool to

succeed with a civilian economy.  Europeans were

down but not exhausted.  Give them the means and

they would produce an economic miracle.

Roosevelt's third vice-president, Henry Wallace,

was from the Eleanor Roosevelt, more progressive

wing of FDR's Democratic party.  He wasn't well-liked.

Harry Truman, a senator from Missouri, replaced 

Wallace as vice-president for Franklin's fourth and

final term in the White House.

Truman gave Wallace Secretary of Commerce when

he became president.  More than a consolation prize

the move was just good politics.  Both men tried 

to make the relationship work but it didn't. 

Wallace was fired.  He was free to speak his mind,

though.  ERP was the Martial Plan - a self-serving

strategic move masquerading as some great

humanitarian effort.  

Well, of course.  And it worked.

Republican contenders for President exchange

smiles for the press.  Tom Dewey, Governor of

New York, sporting his natty mustache, has fun

with Mr. Republican, Senator Bob Taft of Ohio.

These are your party leaders of 1948, when they

controlled both wings of the Congress, House

and Senate.  Their platform was tried and true

boilerplate GOP:  small government, less taxes.

Truman is up against Dewey in the race for the

Presidency in 1948.  Now during the heat of the

campaign season the President chooses to

ask the Republican Congress for $17 billion

in foreign aid over several years.  This at a time

when the Federal budget is all of $40 billion.

It would be a tough sell but fortune was

smiling on the White House.


Jan Masaryk fell one morning from his third floor

bedroom window.  Officially his death was given

as suicide.  The circumstances, though, were

murky on how he fell, and why.  A Czech hero

and prominent foe of Stalin his demise seemed

timed to coincide with the forced Communist

takeover of Czechoslovakia.  Then there was 

the rigged election in Hungary leading to

Communists running the show.  Congress was

abuzz with alarm.  The unseen hand of Stalin

seemed everywhere.  

If George Marshall says it will work, it will work.

Congress funded the ERP in a bipartisan vote.

Of course, Republicans pared back Truman's 

figure from $17 billion to a healthy $13 billion.

Turns out the first year's aid to Europe represented

2.5 percent of America's gross domestic product

but, in return, the nation's economy was boosted

that year by 5 to 10 percent due largely to 

European purchases.

No longer anyone's Uncle Joe.  Anyone 

this shrewd was no one's uncle.  Stalin grew up

in a tough neighborhood.  Now that the Nazi

war machine was gone the crown for most

brilliant group of cutthroats went to the

ruthless crew behind Kremlin walls.  Talented

assassins all, with Stalin being best of the best. 



©  Tom Taylor