Open Thread for Friday, March 22, 2024

Some of the Ghost Army’s inflatable tanks.

Various things:

  1. Trump Media Merger Is Approved, Providing Fresh Source of Cash — So does this mean he will be able to pay that find that no bonding company will back him on? Let’s hope so. Meanwhile, can you imagine investing money in a Trump social medium? That means you’re betting on the continuing collapse of this country…
  2. Justice Department, states accuse Apple of holding a smartphone monopoly — I see different figures, but it appears that between 50 and 60 percent of smartphones in this country are iPhones. (This story says the government alleges that “iPhone dominates more than 70 percent of the high-end smartphone market.”) To me, that number seems a little low. Everybody in my family uses them. How about y’all? Do you use something else, and why?
  3. Two major newspaper chains dropped The Associated Press — This is a serious shocker. “Major” is too weak a word. We’re talking Gannett and McClatchy. Does this mean no more AP content in The State? Apparently so, but that just seems too incredible. Dropping the AP is like dropping use of the English language. It’s just that much of a building block. Of course, I admit I haven’t really kept track lately of how much The State is using it these days…
  4. The Philippines’ top defense secretary talks about tensions in the South China Sea — So the Philippines’ leadership is worried about the Chinese? Then I have a question: When is the U.S. base at Subic Base going to reopen? With our strategic shift to the Pacific, it’s completely insane that that is still closed. Bob Amundson, do you have any thoughts on that? Bryan maybe?
  5. After decades of secrecy, the ‘Ghost Army’ is honored for saving U.S. lives in WWII — Y’all know how into history I am. But as I frequently say, I’m am constantly stunned by how little I know about it — even about recent topics that have particularly fascinated me. Just as the Second World War. I saw this headline and thought, Oh, that’s something about Operation Fortitude — but to whom will they give the medals? Well, the Ghost Army was involved with Fortitude, but it was an actual force of fakers who physically moved across Europe fooling the Germans time and again. And seven were still alive to receive the Medal of Honor. I had no idea. Maybe all of y’all knew about this small force, but I did not.



26 thoughts on “Open Thread for Friday, March 22, 2024

  1. James Edward Cross

    In addition to the book quoted in the article you linked to you might want to read *Ghosts of the ETO: American Tactical Deception Units in the European Theater, 1944-1945* by Jonathan Gawne. That is how I first learned about them.

    1. James Edward Cross

      It is very sad, and I hope that it was caught early enough so it can be successfully treated. Unfortunately, I do not think that she will get the privacy she seeks. It will just be “proof” to the conspiracy theorists that they were right, that there *was* something else going on, and given what has recently happened they are not going to take anything the palace says or releases at face value.

  2. Pat

    I had heard of the Ghost Army, but maybe only in the last 20 or 30 years. I had heard a report about it on television. It didn’t dominate the news.

  3. bud

    question: When is the U.S. base at Subic Base going to reopen? With our strategic shift to the Pacific, it’s completely insane that that is still closed.

    I find it fascinating that someone who goes on and on and on about how people who think about issues in ones and zeros terms are ignorant fools yet can often treat very complex, nuanced issues in as simplistic a manner as is humanly possible. I think there are sound, sensible reasons not to send military assets yet again to a foreign country. I’m not going to get into those reasons here but clearly it is not “insane” to keep Subic closed. Make the argument for reopening the base but don’t just automatically call those who may disagree insane. That is the very definition of hypocrisy.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Actually, bud, the need to reopen Subic is a result of a thousand reasons — as is the long-embraced shift back to the Pacific.

      It’s about making decisions looking at the world holistically. It’s not a ones and zeroes thing. I think that description better fits the fact that you ALWAYS object to sending “military assets yet again to a foreign country.”

      Or maybe you don’t. Maybe there’s nuance that I’m missing. Maybe you can point to some other spot in the world where our resources should be sent, rather than sitting gathering dust at some base here in the States.

      If so, I take it back…

      And this is not a dare. I think you probably can, if you think about it…

      1. Bob Amundson

        Subic closed in 1992 and has repurposed to a growing Economic Redevelopment Zone.

        The Philippines love American and their Ally’s money – not so much Chinese. Hong Kong and Manila are dynamic, rapidly growing Cities. I hope America wakes up and stops trying to isolate from a modern world wide Economy. Most Americans have no context to understand the Modern World. I am so grateful I am participating in what I call Social Entrepreneurship in the Modern Mobile Economy.

        I am having reverse sticker shock. It only costs this much?!

      2. bud

        Come on Brad you’re clearly making this a ones/zeros argument. Whatever. I’m suggesting this is a complex, nuanced issue. The previous Philippines regime was opposed to an American base. Isn’t it problematic to occupy foreign territory when there is a significant opposition to it? It looks like an act of imperialist control. It probably all academic since the reoccupation appears to be a done deal.

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          “Isn’t it problematic to occupy foreign territory when there is a significant opposition to it?”

          It can be. But assuming it would always be good or always bad is kinda… ones and zeroes. 🙂

    2. Ken

      Seems that this … ship has already sailed.
      The US and the Philippines apparently have been working towards reestablishing a larger US naval presence there since 2022, following up on a smaller US naval presence the Philippines have hosted since 2012.
      So, it’s already open, and seems to be getting more so.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I was about to reply by saying, “Yeah, Bud, I linked to that…” When I first read his comment, I assumed Bud had just failed to click on the link that would have told him this was more than some blue-sky idea.

        But I see now that the link wasn’t there. I had meant to link the words “going to open” to either this or this. And I forgot. Which was stupid, because I was about to say it in the post, but had decided to link instead.

        Anyway, those reports painted the reopening as likely, not a done deal.

        Has it gone farther? If so, I missed that…

        1. Ken

          Matters like this aren’t done or left undone. They evolve over time.

          What counts is satisfying the Philippines. It is, after all, their sovereign territory, not ours.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Thanks to us, as the NYT’s Flashback quiz reminded me the other day:

            Otherwise, it would have remained (for how long? I dunno) part of the long-moribund empire of Spain…

            1. Ken

              Yeah, not really, What actually happened was, we “magnanimously” ANNEXED the place after the Filipino revolutionaries had taken much of the country from Spain themselves. And then we launched a nasty little war against the First Philippine Republic, placing large numbers of Filipinos in concentration camps and causing the deaths of 100s of thousands.

              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Yep, it was nasty from the beginning, since before Taft got there. And it kept on being nasty. The U.S. was never able to govern effectively and humanely there.

                It provided an interesing contrast to Cuba. Leonard Wood got some things going there in very positive directions right after the war (Spanish-American). But Teddy was determined to make Cuba completely libre, and got us out of there… after which Cuba descended into the mess of Batista, then Castro. And the Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, the embargo, and all those Cuban exiles in Florida having a huge impact on U.S. politics.

                It’s an interesting alternative history question: What would history have been like had Teddy let go of the Philippines, and continued to build stable institutions in Havana until 1946?

                I realize if one looks at it ideologically (colonialism bad!), there’s no question about it. And I am in no way a scholar of Cuban history. But this is a question that occurred to me when reading the brief account of Wood’s administration there in Theodore Rex…

                1. Ken

                  “The U.S. was never able to govern effectively and humanely there.”

                  Let’s be careful about declaring places “ungovernable” merely because they resist being governed by us or another imperial power.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Yeah, I’ll be careful not to offend you.

                    One thing about the ways the Philippines have governed themselves is, it’s not as entertaining as back in the ’80s. Then, we had Imelda’s giant closet full of shoes. We were all very hopeful when Cory Aquino took over, but now Imelda’s kid is in charge. Still, he’s not Duterte, so Marcos has that in his favor.

                    Of course, smirking at the way other people run their countries was a lot easier for Americans before 2016.

                    And to be a little more serious, Marcos has reversed Duterte’s policy of sucking up to China, as the above-linked story notes. So good for him, as far as that goes…

                    1. Brad Warthen Post author

                      I kid about Imelda’s shoes, but the Philippines were a serious concern for me in those days, when I was news editor at the Wichita paper. The national desk — which was also international, since it involved handling all the wire services — was among my responsibilies in those days. So was dealing with the Knight Ridder Washington Bureau.

                      The head of the bureau in those days was Clark Hoyt — co-winner of the Pulitzer Prize for breaking the Eagleton story in 1972, and later the Public Editor at The New York Times. Clark had been the managing editor at our paper before going to Washington shortly before I arrived in Wichita. Sometimes, as he was leaving the D.C. office in the evening, he would call me and ask me to keep an eye out for late developments in the Far East, and call him if anything big broke. That’s because not only was Wichita an hour behind Washington, but he knew I’d probably be on duty until about 2 a.m.

                      When things worth calling him about broke on the Far Side of the World, it was generally in the Philippines.

                      One night, something appeard to be about to break around midnight Wichita time (I can’t remember if this particular incident was specifically about Manila, but it probably was). After calling Washington, I called my managing editor (Clark’s successor) to advise him that I was thinking of holding the presses a bit on the final edition, just in case he wanted to overrule that.

                      He didn’t. In fact, he left a party he was hosting at his house, and came in to await developments with me. He stationed himself in his office, and I held my desk people who would be needed to put a late-breaking story into the paper, and of course held the presses.

                      Nothing happened. And I kept going in to the M.E.’s office to ask if he still wanted to hold, and he did. The hardest thing about my job that night was repeatedly going down to the pressroom to deal with the increasing impatience down there. Those guys thought editors were crazy under ordinary circumstances. We were confirming their prejudices that night.

                      The M.E. didn’t give up and go home — and let me put out the final — until sometime close to 4 a.m.

                      It was only much later that it occurred to me that the boss — whom you will notice I have not named — was drunk that night. When he came in, he mentioned something about having drunk a cold beer while driving in to “sober me up.” He said that with a grin. I thought it was weird as hell, but he seemed pretty alert, and of course it was part of old-time newspaper culture to believe you can cover the biggest story of your life with a couple of drinks in you.

                      Only later did I explain that night’s foolishness with the fact that he’d been drinking all evening. But even if I’d seen it right away, what would I have done about it? He was the boss, and he never gave me grounds to call HIS boss.

                      I mean, no grounds beyond the thousands of dollars it must have cost to hold the pressroom on overtime, ditto with the circulation department, not to mention causing many thousands of readers to get their papers late. So I’m sure his boss DID learn of it, and probably had a discussion with him. But it never got back to me. Anyway, I didn’t call him late at night after that, I don’t think…

                    2. Brad Warthen Post author

                      In that M.E.’s defense — while he was cavalier that night about all the readers who might not get their papers until they had left for work, on another occasion he upbraided me for caring insufficiently about those readers, and I never forgot it.

                      I was telling him about a crisis we’d had the previous night. We had caught a serious error after the presses had started rolling, and I had stopped the presses to fix it before continuing the run. And we managed it quickly and efficiently, minimizing the delay.

                      While any error is a shameful thing, the fact is that they are a part of life when you’re publishing the equivalent of a book every day in a huge hurry, and I was proud of how quickly we had fixed the problem. I told him only about 5,000 papers had gone out with the error on it. The vast majority of readers got the corrected version.

                      He looked at me with his characteristic sarcastic smirk and said, “That was 5,000 actual newspapers going to 5,000 actual readers.”

                      And while I could fault this guy for other things, he was right about that…

  4. Barry

    The Republican nominee for Secretary of Education in North Carolina has a public history of calling for public officials- Democrats- to be killed.

    Some of her previous messages in favor of President Obama and President Biden to be executed by firing squad have surfaced.

    Instead of apologizing or backing off, she has doubled down on the posts. This is what it takes to win in Conservative circles these days.

    This is the campaigning and rhetoric that motivates Conservatives in 2024.

    Think about that the next time you happen to be talking with a Conservative who is pointing their fingers at anyone else or doing what they reflexively do these days way too often – offer excuses such as ” it’s just talk” or “no big deal.”

  5. Bob Amundson

    About 6 am in Manila as I respond – thanks Brad for asking as I was going to comment. The cycles of power that affect our lives are dynamic, hence “Those that don’t understand History are doomed to repeat it.” The Philippines are much more “American” now than when I served (separated 1984).

    I hope the affinity for dictatorship is declining. As an American businessman, I am honored by the respect I receive. Marcos and Duarte are gone, and I will buy real estate in the Philippinee. $2000 American is upper middle class here.

    In the story the Philippines are correctly described as an archipelago. Each island is unique, as cultural influences are Native ,Islamic, Spanish, American, Japanese and now clearly Chinese.

    I have a Filipina Wife,and two step daughters 6 and 17. 17 year old Angel Grace is beautiful and brilliant, and she is proud to wear her school uniform. She is a “Swifty” but not during school. After school she is a teenager constantly on her iPhone; she loves makeup and trendy clothes.

    I believe the “China Threat” is diminishing, and as Russia and Putin recover from a terrorist attack, my thoughts are reinforced that authoritarianism, terrorism and “asymmetrical warfare” are the threats, not Nations.

    I commented earlier I needed to leave the United States: our Country is toxic. I know the problem – there isn’t enough LOVE in our world. I pray that humankind has “hit bottom” and is going to heal. Today please replace hate and anger with Peace and Love. Namaste!


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