2017 Season

Edition No. 1

January 26, 2017







Welcome to the first edition of the New Year of From the Bullpen and our new masthead for 2017, celebrating our great nation, Freedom of Religion, Freedom of the Press, and Freedom of Choice.  Because of Possum’s default in providing a timely website redesign for the New Year, he has forfeited his right to do so as the 2016 HSL Champion, and through a little-known codicil to the HSL Bylaws, our Commissioner has vested the undersigned with the authority to intercede and fill the void.    




Rumors abound that our annual Winter Meeting will take place on Saturday, February 4, 2017, with plans and arrangements being promulgated by Brother Possum.  Please try to keep this date blocked on your busy social calendars, and keep checking your emails for details (time, place, dress code) from Brother Possum.


Rumor also has it that Stretch, U-Bob and SloPay will be leading a galvanizing march of solidarity and support for Social Justice the following day, and as soon as specific details are available, they will be posted here. 




With the season set to begin on Sunday, April 2, we would normally consider having our Draft on Saturday, April 1.  However, the scuttlebutt is that at least one of us has a conflict with that date.  As such, we may have to consider holding the Draft on Friday evening, March 31, or the preceding weekend of March 24-26.  Some have suggested the morning of Saturday, March 25, at 11:00 a.m.  Let’s plan to discuss this at our alleged upcoming Winter Meeting. 



Eisenhower in War and Peace



I am just wrapping up my reading of the 976-page tour de force about our country’s 34th president, Dwight David “Ike” Eisenhower, that my son Will gifted me with on my last birthday.  Although I have previously consumed a fair number of books about World War II, I realized by reading this book that I knew very little about Eisenhower and his historic stint as the Allied Supreme Commander.  Fascinating stuff.  Here are a few “Fun Facts” from the book:


*   Ike was one of six boys born to David Jacob Eisenhower and Ida Stover Eisenhower of tiny Abilene, Kansas, a rural western Kansas outpost of about 3,547 people. 


*   Eisenhower went to West Point in 1911 and played football with moderate success until blowing out one of his knees, effectively ending his playing career.  However, as a great lover of the game, he coached a number of different service teams in the pre-WWII years. 


*   At one point in time (1950), there were three pre-World War I graduates of tiny Abilene High who were presidents of major American universities:  Ike (Columbia University); his brother Milton (Penn State); and a man by the name of Deane Malott (Cornell). 


*   Eisenhower was a cigarette chain-smoker for most of his adult life, puffing away at the pace of three to four packs a day until he decided to quit cold turkey when he was the president of Columbia University.  And they didn’t even have Chantix in those days. 


*   Ike was named the Allied Supreme Commander and in charge of D Day (Operation Overlord) and other major World War II events which shaped the world for decades to come, even though he had not spent a single day in active combat in his entire army career, before or since.  Despite being a paper-pusher for the bulk of his pre-Supreme Commander days, he was picked for his position in charge of the whole shebang over such experienced warriors as George Patton and George Marshall, leapfrogging a phalanx of experienced combat officers. 


*   When he was first being considered for a possible presidential run, nobody except Ike himself knew whether he was a Democrat or Republican.  Truman tried to talk him into running as a Democrat in 1948, but Ike deferred, and for that reason and that reason only, we have the famous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline that we have all seen. 


*   In 1952, even though he decided late in the game to enter the presidential race, Ike as a first-time candidate for public office narrowly won the Republican nomination over Robert Taft on the first ballot, avoiding a bruising floor fight, but was then saddled with “Tricky Dick” Nixon from California as his VP running mate, whose youth, vigor and California ties figured to help Eisenhower take the general election.  In November, he outpolled Illinois egghead Adlai Stevenson to become the first military general since Ulysses Grant to hold the nation’s highest office. 


*   Eisenhower played a major role in stripping Red-baiter Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin of his power and prestige in combatting communism.  Using the power of executive privilege (footnote 1), Eisenhower entered an order directing all members of the military to refuse to testify before McCarthy’s committee, and to ignore any summonses they might receive.  He later extended the ban to all employees of the Executive Branch, disallowing them to testify, and forbidding them to submit any documents or other evidence to the committee.  McCarthy was completely cut off at the knees by this move, and without the ability to subpoena government records or employees, his investigations ground to a halt. 


     Turning the tables on McCarthy, in March 1954 the Army made an official complaint to the Senate’s Permanent Investigations Subcommittee, charging that McCarthy and his lawyer Roy Cohn sought preferential treatment for Cohn’s friend (and likely gay lover), Private G. David Schine.  Hearings on the complaint began in April, and a Boston lawyer by the name of Joseph Welch (footnote 2) directed the questioning of McCarthy and Cohn, winning over the public with his folksy, gentlemanly manner.  After McCarthy accused a young member of Welch’s law firm of having been a member of the National Lawyers’ Guild (which McCarthy claimed was “the legal bulwark of the Communist Party”), Welch commented, “Senator, until this moment I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.”  After explaining that the young lawyer had only briefly belonged to the Guild while he was a student at Harvard, Welch continued with his famous line, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator.  Have you no sense of decency?”  This spelled the end of McCarthy’s reign of terror, and he died of cirrhosis of the liver, a friendless alcoholic, just three years later.  


*   In 1956--an unforgettable year which also saw Don Larson twirl a perfect game in the World Series, as well as the birth of another supernova with the initials DDE--after an exceedingly successful first four years in office, including extricating our country from the Korean Peninsula and balancing the budget, Eisenhower won reelection without really even having to break a sweat.  In spite of a recent heart attack, in spite of still being joined at the hip by the prickly, pugnacious and paranoid Richard “Mulehouse” Nixon, and despite hardly lifting a finger to try to get himself reelected, Eisenhower repeated his 1952 conquest of Stevenson, this time in a landslide of 35,579,180 to 26,028,028, and 457 electoral college votes to 73. 


*   Although he later privately conceded it was a mistake, it was Eisenhower who appointed former California governor Earl Warren to be the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court in 1953, apparently having no idea about Warren’s true liberal bent.  However, it was Warren who wrote for a unanimous Court in 1955 in the Brown v. Board of Education case that was the beginning of the end of school segregation. 


*   Even before Brown, Eisenhower had taken the moral and courageous steps of desegregating the Armed Forces, VA hospitals, Navy yards in the South, and schools on military bases, during a time when a large portion of our country still believed in the oxymoronic “separate but equal” mantra.  Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., the civil rights firebrand black congressman from Harlem, once said of Eisenhower: 


The Honorable Dwight D. Eisenhower has done more to eliminate discrimination and to restore the Negro to the status of first-class citizenship than any President since Abraham Lincoln.


*   Moreover, in setting the stage for future efforts to desegregate the South, Eisenhower appointed a number of pro-integration judges to the federal judiciary in the South, including Nebraskan John Brown to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. 


*   Many of you will remember that it was Eisenhower who sent in federal troops to quell the attempted mob rule encouraged by Governor Orval Faubus of Arkansas, after a federal judge ruled that nine black students could attend Central High School in Little Rock, letting it be known in no uncertain terms that he would defend the Constitution. 




In addition to being a great source of compelling historical information of which every true American should be aware, there were a couple of fantastic quotes from this book that are two of my all-time favorites, to-wit:


Following the negotiation of an armistice by Italy with the Allied Forces in 1948, a Free French newspaper observed that: 


The House of Savoy never finished a war on the same side it started, unless the war lasted long enough to change sides twice.


At the end of a heated debate at a meeting of the Chiefs of Staff attended by Roosevelt and Churchill, Prime Minister Churchill and General George Marshall went head-to-head about whether it was time to lay low and wait or time to take the battle to the enemy, reaching its climax when the fiery British prime minister thundered that:


 His Majesty’s Government can’t have its troops standing idle.  Muskets must flame.




* * * * * * *


I look forward to seeing you all at the Winter Meeting.  If and when. 





Footnote 1:  And several of you thought Obama abused the Executive Privilege!  Small potatoes, compared to the bold stroke of Ike. 


Footnote 2:  In one of my favorite movies of all time, Anatomy of a Murder, real-life lawyer Welch plays the part of the folksy judge from the upper peninsula of Michigan.