Inside the Capitol

Sunday, August 28, 2005

9-5 Labor Day

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Labor Day is a most unusual holiday. It doesn't honor a particular individual or event. It honors the working men and women of America.
Of course, that's not what Labor Day means to most people. It means the end of summer and the last chance to get a long weekend in the mountains, at the beach or in the backyard. Similarly, Memorial Day is the first chance to do such things.
Why do the United States and Canada celebrate Labor Day on the first Monday in September while the rest of the world celebrates it on May 1?
Actually both observances had their beginnings in the United States in the early 1880s. But May Day events had more of a class struggle slant to them. They were often rowdy and ended with police action.
Labor unions were strong in those days. Workers were getting tired of 16-hour days, six days a week, in dangerous working conditions. And they were ready to do whatever it took to change things.
Political leaders, realizing they would have to do something to lessen worker unrest decided they would have to recognize the legitimacy of labor unions. One way to do that was to set aside a day to honor them. And it wasn't difficult to decide which day to choose.
So May Day observances gradually faded out here while spreading and gaining popularity in the rest of the world. Later, May Day became associated with communism. In the '50s, the Cold War and McCarthyism spelled the end to May Day labor observances.
In recent years, Labor Day observances also have dwindled as we have moved from an economy influenced by Henry Ford, who wanted workers paid enough to afford to buy his cars to an economy influenced by Wal-Mart, which wants an economy with wages low enough that workers will have to shop at discount stores.
The contribution of American workers toward making our nation the strongest in the world is recognized less every year by the public and media. Look at your newspaper today.
Several articles and many ads will mention Labor Day, but not in terms of recognizing workers. The only thing getting close may be an item noting that the percentage of workers belonging to labor unions is dwindling.
Beating out news addressing the purpose of this national holiday, will be the eighth annual rehash of Princess Diana's death. Something might be said about Mother Teresa, who died the same week, but not likely. Mother Teresa has been put on the fast track to sainthood, but in the public eye, Diana attained it immediately upon her death.
Also receiving less than its due recognition this weekend was V-J Day. The end of the most horrible war in human history certainly deserves a holiday as much as some of the others we celebrate. The end of World War I is accorded a holiday even though that armistice treaty ended up resulting in an even bigger war to settle matters.
Of course two national holidays in one week wouldn't work. Even moving it up to August 15, the date Japan announced it would surrender, is still a little close.
But like Pearl Harbor Day on December 6 and D-Day on June 6, there should be considerable recognition of such a significant event. Why should we recognize an attack that began the war more than the end of that war?
Is it because we used atomic bombs and aren't too proud of it? Regardless of what you may think about that decision, World War II, unlike World War I, ended in a manner such that no world wars have been fought since. And nuclear weapons haven't been used since.
Some evidence has surfaced that one reason Japan took so long to admit defeat was that it hoped it could hold out until its atomic bomb would be ready.
MON, 9-05-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


9-2 Japanese Surrender

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- On September 2, 1945, the formal surrender was signed by the Japanese, aboard the USS Missouri, in Tokyo Bay.
The Japanese delegation, unable to find any vessel seaworthy enough to take them into the bay, boarded an American destroyer to take them on the 16-mile journey.
An impressive 258 Allied warships filled the bay, making it one of the most formidable displays of naval power ever assembled in one anchorage. Many more could have joined them, but it was an invitation-only event for warships that had distinguished themselves in Pacific battles.
The Battleship New Mexico was there, honored for her service in the Gilberts, Marshalls, Solomons, Marianas, Philippines and Okinawa. In her last two battles, she suffered three kamikaze hits, killing a total of 83, including the commanding officer, and injuring 206.
Also present was Gen. Jonathon Wainwright, the beloved commanding officer who remained in the Philippines after MacArthur left.
Wainwright, who had endured all the prison camp atrocities experienced by his troops and looking like a skeleton, was quickly rescued from a prison camp in China and brought to the ceremony.
He took a place of honor, near MacArthur and reportedly received the first ceremonial pen when MacArthur signed the surrender document as the Supreme Commander of Allied Powers in Japan.
The Navy was not impressed that MacArthur became supreme commander or that he would conduct the surrender ceremonies. MacArthur's promotion made it appear that the Army had won the war in the Pacific and not the Navy.
Obviously, it took both But neither wanted to admit it because the two services were completely separate entities. Had Japan not created the same problems for itself, our divided command would have caused us even more problems.
And the only reason the Air Force wasn't part of the argument was that it wasn't created until 1947.
The solution to the Navy's displeasure was to have MacArthur conduct the ceremony aboard a Navy ship. And to get President Harry Truman's cooperation in the deal, the vessel chosen for the surrender ceremony was the Battleship Missouri.
Instead of being conducted on the broad fantail of the Missouri, the signing took place on a narrow quarterdeck, around a worn table from the ship's galley, covered by a coffee-stained green tablecloth. The ceremony was short, which pleased both MacArthur and the Japanese.
Another indication of evident downplaying of the ceremony was that the American officers wore khaki uniforms, the British wore shorts. Our other allies wore dress uniforms. The Japanese wore top hats and tails. That's an interesting progression from those who had the most to do with winning the war to those who lost.
Although the ceremony was simple and understated, it was followed by a massive show of strength, as 1,900 Allied aircraft came roaring overhead.
Following the August 15 surrender declaration by Emperor Hirohito, it took two weeks before the first American soldiers landed in Japan. Air drops to prison camps had been occurring and agents from the Office of Strategic Services had parachuted into prison camps to keep order until troops arrived.
One of the first tasks of the soldiers who landed was to get to the airfields to remove propellers from Japanese aircraft. There still was unrest among many of the military and a fear that mutinous kamikaze pilots might make a last-minute bid for immortality during the surrender ceremonies.
The first stage of the occupation was to provide for the care of Allies who had been held captive. It was accomplished as quickly as possible because our troops were clamoring to get out and families back home wanted to know of their loved ones.
The Battleship Missouri can be visited in Honolulu by going to Pearl Harbor and taking a shuttle. Tours are conducted of various parts of the ship. Or one may go directly to view the surrender location and listen to a recording of MacArthur's words.
FRI, 9-02-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Thursday, August 25, 2005

8-31 Gov. and Santa Fe Duel

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Gov. Bill Richardson has revealed a grand plan for the terminus of his Belen-to-Santa Fe commuter train initiative. It is a major blow for Santa Fe's railyard project, but city officials had it coming.
The Richardson administration is proposing that private developers finance and build a mixed use transit hub for commuter rail -- along with a new office building for the state Transportation Department on state-owned land near downtown Santa Fe.
The project carries an estimated budget of $90 million but could go much higher if developers decide to significantly broaden the scope of the proposed state plan.
Normally that wouldn't happen within the city limits of Santa Fe because ordinances severely limit the density of projects in order to keep them consistent with Santa Fe style.
But this is state property we're talking about and the state can do what it wants with its property. No city can tell it what to do.
That principle was firmly established in a 1979 case in which the court ruled that Santa Fe could not prevent state Land Commissioner Alex Armijo from putting a pump jack in front of the state Land Office building to honor the contribution of the oil business to the New Mexico economy.
That's not to say that the state won't attempt to respect Santa Fe's ordinances. But it means that if the city becomes difficult, it loses.
And Santa Fe is well known for being difficult. Builders, business owners and homeowners often have suggested that Santa Fe's nickname should be changed from the City Different to the City Difficult.
Santa Fe has its own commuter train project, redeveloping the old Santa Fe Railway yards into a mixed-use transit hub -- the same thing the state is proposing about a mile down the tracks.
The city had fiddled around with the project for the better part of 10 years, designing a master plan, creating a public corporation to run it and then second-guessing enough of the corporation's actions to keep the project at a near standstill.
State government has been involved with the city's project too, since it had a big chunk of federal transportation money that it wanted to use for a transit hub. Discussions proceeded so slowly that the state finally issued an ultimatum that it would either take over the entire project or get out completely.
The city replied that it would become the owner and the state could operate its train into the station, but that was it.
It just so happens that the railroad tracks coming into Santa Fe go right through 25 acres of state property on which the state Transportation Headquarters is located, not far from downtown Santa Fe.
It is prime property, on Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe's main drag. The governor was correct in guessing that it would be attractive to developers. Several dozen showed up for a question and answer session last week.
What's the governor trying to do? Both projects envision commercial and residential uses. The state's differs in that it would be a public-private partnership, with the land being leased by the successful bidder. And the state would get a new Transportation Department building out of it.
The governor is talking in terms of the state's development being the termination of the commuter train, a mile short of the city railyard.. And he wants it finished by the spring of 2008.
What the city railyard development will look like by then is anyone's guess. But a good guess may be that it won't look much different than it does now.
Disagreements with its development corporation have reached the point that the corporation has threatened quit. That may not happen, but the corporation's director says she is quitting. That is sure to slow progress more.
It could be that Gov. Richardson is just trying to get the city on track. But he's an impatient guy, so we could have dueling railyards.
WED, 8-31-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Monday, August 22, 2005

8-29 Ailing GOP Seeks Medical Assistance

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- State Republicans aren't very challenging in 2006 gubernatorial and congressional races. They're looking to doctors for a cure, but the prognosis isn't good. Meanwhile they're throwing Democrats a scare in legislative races.
The Republican Party is having difficulty fielding a slate of challengers for top offices this time around. So far, Gov. Bill Richardson, U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman and U.S. Rep. Tom Udall have little to worry about.
The boo birds already are out trying to lower Gov. Richardson's popularity. There will be national help for that effort just in case Richardson happens to end up with a top spot on the 2008 presidential ballot.
But the negativity won't do much, other than reduce turnout, if Republicans can't find a strong challenger. So far, disgruntled Democrats are the only takers.
Former state Rep. Bengie Regensburg of Mora County and 2004 congressional candidate Eli Chavez of Albuquerque both have bones to pick with the governor, but neither will even make it to the primary election ballot.
Former state Rep. John Sanchez, of Albuquerque, who was Richardson's opponent in 2002, isn't interested in getting beaten up again. The only hope for a challenger appears to be Dr. James Damron, a Santa Fe radiologist.
But the good doctor won't be ready to start his campaign for another month. Even though it is over a year until the general election, 13 months isn't much time to raise the money necessary to counter a Richardson war chest estimated to top out at well over $7 million.
Damron is willing to spend some of his own money, but may not have the bucks to finance most of his campaign as did Gary Johnson, the last successful Republican contender. And 12 years ago, that required only a little over $1 million.
In this race, Damron will need that much just to get started with a staff and ad campaign necessary to raise his sub-one percent name recognition.
With so little party confidence about beating Richardson, Damron may not draw any primary election opposition. If that happens, the doctor can be declared politically dead before he even gets started.
In 1986, with Democrats down in the dumps after four years of Toney Anaya, Ray Powell, Sr. was the only Democrat gubernatorial candidate. Garrey Carruthers, another political unknown, started early and had several strong primary opponents.
While Carruthers was getting free front-page publicity, Powell remained unknown. It gave Carruthers almost a year's head start. A free ride in the primary may be easier and less expensive but it's not how an unknown wins a statewide race.
Incumbent Sen. Jeff Bingaman has drawn no Democrat challengers and only token opposition from Republicans. Perennial candidate Tom Benavides, who has experimented with every party on the ballot, has filed as a Republican against Bingaman.
That, by itself should get Republicans beating the bushes for another candidate. Steve Pfeffer, a pony tailed Santa Fe Democrat-turned-Republican, says he might be interested, but the GOP may not be that interested in him.
Their best bet is Farmington urologist Allen McCulloch, who says he is thinking seriously about a run and will render an opinion next month. That would make two doctors stepping in to revive an ailing party.
But, like typical doctors, they're keeping their party twiddling its thumbs in the waiting room.
There is no talk of challenging Democrat Tom Udall in the northern congressional district. Why bother. It wastes precious resources on a lost cause. Democrats might be wise to consider that in the other two congressional districts, but they'll charge into battle anyway.
In the state house, Republicans might have a shot at a serious comeback. Blogger Joe Monahan reports that the expected retirements of Democrats Don Whitaker of Eunice, Fred Luna of Los Lunas, Joe Stell of Carlsbad and Al Park of Albuquerque could put Republicans in all those seats.
MON, 8-29-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


8-26 MacArthur

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- No one engendered stronger feelings among New Mexico National Guard troops on Bataan than Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
To some, he was a genius of military strategy. For others, he bungled the defense of the Philippines and then ran away from the battle.
Such mixed feelings were not uncommon among those who were affected by the general. They certainly weren't uncommon in Washington, at the White House or the Pentagon.
MacArthur was first in his class at West Point, a World War I hero, decorated often for bravery, the youngest general ever to command a division and frequently referred to as America's best frontline general.
Between wars, he had advanced to Army chief of staff before retiring to become military adviser to the government of the Philippines, then a U.S. territory.
As World War II approached, he was brought out of retirement to become commander of the U.S. Army Forces, Far East, consisting of the Philippine Army and all U.S. Army units on the islands.
MacArthur took the ball and ran, hoping to soon become supreme commander of the war in the Pacific. He convinced Washington that the Philippines could be defended from Japan's southern advance if he had sufficient support. He was supplied with the strongest American air forces outside the United States.
But on the opening day of the war, with several hours notice that Pearl Harbor had been attacked, half of that air strength was wiped out by what should not have been a surprise attack. After that, it was a losing battle.
Soon Mac Arthur retreated to Corregidor, an island at the entrance of Manila Bay, leaving the troops under the command of Gen. Jonathon Wainwright. Only once, was MacArthur known to have returned to Luzon.
In "Beyond Courage," Dorothy Cave records a brief New Mexico involvement in that event. Two soldiers were dispatched by the 200th Coast Artillery to deliver a written message to an important person who would arrive at an isolated dock.
When they arrived, no one knew what they were talking about. But just then, a small boat bumped up against the dock and out stepped Gen. MacArthur and several staff members. Reportedly, he spent about 10 hours inspecting battle positions on Bataan and conferring with his commanders.
But that wasn't enough to keep him from getting the name "Dugout Doug" from many of the troops left on Bataan. Their bitterness increased as MacArthur made grand announcements about the help that was on the way and the necessity of not giving an inch.
Those pronouncements also included assurances that supplies were ample to hold out. That bit of deceit produced a song sung by many troops about Dugout Doug's growing timidity. It was set to the Battle Hymn of the Republic and ended with "And his troops go starving on."
Had our men known about a confidential transfer, at the time, of $500,000 from the Philippine government to MacArthur's bank account, their thoughts about his timidity would have been even stronger.
When Gen. Eisenhower learned of the payment, he suggested that MacArthur was "losing his nerve" and had to be kept fighting by any means.
But MacArthur's public relations staff was hard at work generating press releases that were quickly making him a hero. They called him "The Lion of Luzon." Starved for any good news in the early days of the war, the American press and public embraced MacArthur as a legend.
Congress quickly followed suit. Soon there was talk of "MacArthur for President," something the general did not discourage.
MacArthur was a forceful and colorful personality, a man of dramatic gestures and rhetoric, which made him a natural leader. But his hunger for self-promotion and his desire to take credit for successes and dodge any blame for failures, made him divisive and controversial.
FRI, 8-26-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Saturday, August 20, 2005

8-26 MacArthur's Controversial Nature


8-24 WWII's Two Biggest Questions

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The United States made many questionable decisions during World War II. Certainly two of the biggest lingering questions involve the events leading to the beginning and end of that war.
The first question is how could we have been so completely surprised by the attack at Pearl Harbor. We had already broken Japan's top secret diplomatic code and were monitoring transmissions daily. We knew that a fleet of warships had left Japan, headed our direction. And we knew war was almost undoubtedly inevitable.
So did President Franklin Roosevelt know what was coming and allow it to happen anyway in order to rally American public support for the war?
With only a few exceptions, relating to manifest destiny, Americans have been a peace-loving people, preferring to let two oceans isolate us from the rest of the world while we concentrate on building our nation.
So Americans were not excited about getting involved in a second major war in a little over 20 years. It, therefore, made some sense to suspect that Roosevelt knew of the impending attack.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who had been accused of similar intrigue to get America involved in World War I, had been cajoling Roosevelt for three years to get involved in the Europe conflict again.
It made some sense to suspect Roosevelt. And many still do. But the facts weigh on the other side. Japanese diplomatic transmissions, although strongly suggesting the possibility of war, never mentioned points of attack or a timetable.
Communiques from Washington to military commanders throughout the Pacific warned of impending Japanese attack. But we didn't know where. And almost no one expected the Japanese would be so daring as to attack anywhere as close to the United States as Pearl Harbor.
And that included the Army and Navy commanders in Hawaii, even though they knew a fleet of Japanese warships was lurking somewhere.
The reason for the huge Japanese gamble to attack Pearl Harbor was Fleet Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, who had traveled extensively in the United States and who knew our industrial might was sure to conquer Japan eventually.
The only possibility of delaying defeat was to deal a quick and crushing blow to America's naval and air forces. The prime target would have to be Pearl Harbor, where our Pacific fleet was headquartered.
So he set out from Japan, with that "missing" fleet of aircraft carriers and stayed well north of shipping lanes and reconnarsance flights. And he accomplished the unthinkable.
That "sneak" attack helped galvanize American attitudes about Japanese people and led to the incarceration of Japanese Americans in this country during the war. It also led to President Harry Truman's decision to end the war with atomic bombs, which would destroy civilians as well as military.
The dropping of those two bombs heads just about every list as the most significant event of the 20th century. It is bound to be second-guessed far beyond our lifetimes.
But the truth is that the United States already had made the decision to kill millions of Japanese citizens in order to end the war. Fire bombings of Japan's industrial cities were claiming as many as 100,000 casualties a night. Projections of Japanese deaths from an invasion of the homeland ranged as high as 70 million.
Japan's military leadership told all civilians to prepare to die for their country because everyone was expected to fight to their death, with sharpened bamboo stakes or whatever they had available.
In order to assure compliance, civilians were told Americans were sub-humans who would rape, torture and kill everyone, anyway, so they should die an honorable death defending their country and culture.
A grossly revised form of Shinto was developed by the military leadership declaring that anyone who died for the emperor would receive great rewards in the afterlife. This is the same doctrine that already had worked so well with kamikaze pilots.
WED, 8-24-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Saturday, August 13, 2005

8-22 ABQ vs. the little guys

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Here we go again. The company that administers telephone numbers for the federal government says it will know by October whether New Mexico will need a second area code by 2008.
Even though it is three years in the future and even though we have no idea if it will be necessary, the fight has started.
An Albuquerque lawyer, who represented a group that didn't want to lose the 505 prefix, says Albuquerque has more contacts with out-of-state businesses than the rest of the state so would have to spend more money informing people of the area code change.
Possibly that is true, but it seems rather difficult to prove convincingly. Maybe there is a way to measure long-distance calling volume from all areas of the state, but there are many complicating factors.
And how much does that matter? Computers now can facilitate communication so much that telephone number changes can be located quickly. Yesterday, when I got a wrong number for a California company, I googled that company's name and had the new number in far less than a minute.
If that hadn't worked, I could have gone to the phone book and looked through three pages of area codes for major cities throughout the United States, along with a map and a listing of area codes that have recently, or soon will, change.
This isn't rocket science, folks. I'm technologically challenged, but found the process of locating a new area code quite easy. Arizona, by the way, has 16 area codes. I'm told by relatives that the changes are taken in stride there, with no more complaining than when a zip code is changed.
So it doesn't make much difference who gets the new area code, if it turns out to be necessary. The change won't be that traumatic. Any company knows who it deals with out of state and can notify those companies about a change, if it feels it will never hear from them again.
My suspicion is that Albuquerqueans just don't want to be one-upped by the rest of the state. That attitude hasn't surfaced yet this year, but it certainly did in the heat of battle three years ago.
When three of the five members of the state Public Regulation Commission voted to make Albuquerque change, the president of the coalition fighting the change referred to those PRC members as "backwater politicians doing dumb things."
The fellow must not have been from around here. In arid New Mexico, there aren't many backwaters. Those three commission members were from Las Cruces, Roswell and Crownpoint. Admittedly, Crownpoint is isolated, but there surely isn't much water around there.
Albuquerque's biggest beefs three years ago were that the PRC staff had recommended Albuquerque and Santa Fe not be changed. So had the company responsible for assigning area codes nationally, as well as an industry group that included the phone companies serving New Mexico's rural areas.
Evidence also was presented that no other state has changed the area codes of its economic and political centers in favor of outlying areas.
But when it comes down to the final decision, only one consideration matters. On an emotional issue such as this, commissioners are very likely to vote the wish of their constituents. That is what happened last time.
Four of the five commissioners have changed in the past three years, so the present commission may see things a little differently. But I doubt it.
New Mexico's elected governmental bodies have been redistricted since that decision. The Albuquerque contingent tried to figure a way they could dominate the five-member commission.
But it is difficult to dominate three of five districts with only about a third of the state's population. Add Santa Fe to that, and it's still not enough.
So no one should fret too much about the change. If it happens, politicians will make the decision, but they'll be representing their constituents.
MON, 8-22-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Friday, August 12, 2005

8-19 Silent Voices of WWII

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Here's another great book on World War II by New Mexicans, about New Mexicans.
Published in 2005, "Silent Voices of World War II" ties together the key roles played by New Mexico and New Mexicans in the war. Authors Nancy Bartlit and Everett Rogers reveal how a little state like ours could have such an impact on a world war.
Subtitled "When Sons of the Land of Enchantment Met Sons of the Land of the Rising Sun," the book weaves together the experiences of New Mexicans in the Pacific and Japanese internees in New Mexico during the war. This is done against a 1940s backdrop of both Americans and Japanese regarding the other as inferior.
Major players in this book are the New Mexico National Guard in the Philippines, Navajo code talkers in the Pacific, Japanese relocation camps in New Mexico and the development of atomic bombs in Los Alamos.
Although seemingly unrelated, the authors find connections between these people and events. For instance, several thousand Japanese Americans, classified by the FBI as "dangerous enemy aliens," were interned in Santa Fe despite our nation's most secret scientific laboratory being on the mesa, just across the Rio Grande.
How could that have happened? Was it a serious risk to our national security? These were people that other communities and states had begged not to have, and yet they were housed at the bottom of "The Hill," where our super-secret bombs were being made.
Another strange twist was identified by Dr. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. He complained to Manhattan Project director, Gen. Leslie Groves, that his scientists were every bit as cooped up as the Japanese enemy at the Santa Fe internment camp.
The authors also delve into the decision-making processes that led to Los Alamos becoming the site of our bomb factory, to Japanese Americans being interred, to the New Mexico National Guard being sent to the Philippines and to Navajos being chosen to communicate our top military secrets.
Also discussed is the irony of code talkers who were disciplined as children in federal schools for speaking their native language.
The government was very pleased with the magnificent performance of its code talkers, but when one of them went back to school to finish his education after the war, he found that the rules hadn't changed.
In addition to Santa Fe, New Mexico also kept Japanese at Fort Stanton and Lordsburg. Those were POW camps, run by the Army, as opposed to Santa Fe's detention camp, run by the Department of Justice.
In time, Santa Feans, known for their tolerance, became accustomed to having the internment camp on the northwest side of town. Many of the internees began working in town.
But that ended when a group of New Mexico guardsmen, who had been rescued from Cabanatuan prison camp in the Philippines, returned in March with blood curdling accounts of Japanese atrocities.
The daring raid that freed those prisoners, who were too sick or injured to be shipped to Japan as slave labor, was told in the recent book "Ghost Soldiers" by Hampton Sides, of Santa Fe and in "The Great Raid on Cabanatuan, by William Breuer. It also has just been released in theaters as "The Great Raid" and is getting good reviews.
Bartlit and Rogers approached their subjects in "Silent Voices" from a sociological point of view. They don't just tell what happened but provide an analysis of the events and people.
Rogers, who died since the book was finished, had a Ph.D. in Sociology, with a special interest in intercultural communication. He was a communication professor at the University of New Mexico.
Bartlit, holds a Master's degree in international communications from UNM. She lives in Los Alamos and has been chair of the Los Alamos County Council, which is similar to a mayor in most towns. Earlier, she spent two years teaching in Japan and since, has returned to study Japan's technology and industry.
FRI, 8-19-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

8-17 The Long Wait For Liberation

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- In the days following the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, New Mexico's many prisoners in work camps throughout Japan and northern China got a rest.
With the Japanese high command in total disarray, orders were not getting sent down the chain of command. Word of the super bomb was spreading quickly. And American planes were constantly overhead dropping food, clothing and medical supplies.
It was becoming painfully obvious to the Japanese that the Allies were winning. But the planned mass execution of prisoners was not occurring. Prison officials likely were aware by this time that Japanese treatment of prisoners was becoming an issue worldwide.
Members of the German military already were being tried for war crimes. So a mass slaughter, at this point, would be highly risky. A few slaughters did take place, mostly in outlying areas where Allied airmen had been shot down. They bore the brunt of our incendiary bombing of cities.
The food situation did get even worse. Meals stopped completely until food drops began. But for the Bataan survivors, the end of work details and beatings was a welcome change.
The prisoners had been forced to labor in mines, factories and on the docks. Although it was hard work, our men were determined that it would not aid the enemy war effort.
They did their part fighting the war by goofing off, theft and sabotage. That's when the beatings happened, but the Japanese were running so short of labor that they still kept trying to get some productive work out of the prisoners.
In "Beyond Courage," Dorothy Cave has a delightful chapter titled "Nipping the Nips" recounting many of the antics of our troops. It went from minor annoyance to major destruction as our guys fought the war on their own front.
The news that the war was over came to each factory and prison camp in different ways. For those working in factories at noon on August 14, Emperor Hirohito's surrender speech was the signal they didn't have to go back to work.
As soon as it appeared the guards were no longer around, the first order of the day in every camp was a flag ceremony. Most of the flags were hand made, some from parachutes used to drop food. The ceremonies were moving. Everyone who could walk went outside to salute Old Glory.
The food, medicine and rest began making some of the men a little rambunctious. They were itching for freedom, fun, whiskey and a quick trip home.
So some set out on their own despite warnings from the Office of Strategic Services team members who had parachuted into their camps to keep the prisoners together until they could be liberated.
Some of those who left went looking for additional food and supplies because their camps had been overlooked. The magic words in those instances were 200th and 515th. The New Mexicans were still looking after each other.
* * *
The 200th Coast Artillery had a 26-man band from Albuquerque when it left for the Philippines. Once the Japanese landed, however, nearly everyone became infantry.
In "Beyond Courage," Dorothy Cave relates an interesting sidelight to the band's story. Our troops embarked from Angel Island outside San Francisco. It wasn't easy for a National Guard unit, to be around regular Army troops who looked down on them. Several fist fights broke out as a result.
But the commanding officer at Angel Island was particularly fond of the concerts the New Mexicans gave during the days they were being cleared to head for the Philippines. He asked the New Mexico National Guard's commander, Col. Charles G. Sage, to allow the band to be reassigned to Angel island.
Sage snapped, "Where I go, my band goes." And that ended the discussion.
WED, 8-17-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Wednesday, August 03, 2005

8-15 V-J Day

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Emperor Hirohito's surrender recording was played in Japan on radio stations at noon on August 15. It was the first time most Japanese ever heard his voice.
The reaction was agonized disbelief. This was the first military defeat for the country in over 2,500 years. The belief that Japan had an unbeatable spirit, not possessed by any other nation, had kept it in the war much longer than it should have remained. A total of 526 suicides were reported in Tokyo that day.
The mood in America and Allied nations was far different. Wild celebrations broke out everywhere. It was 5 p.m. in Las Cruces, New Mexico, when my grandmother heard the news. Soon after, sirens began wailing and gunshots rang out. We went outside and sat on the front step to listen to the celebration.
In cities, such as San Francisco, New York and Chicago, celebrations continued throughout the night, the following day and that night. Police were under strict orders not to intervene in the revelry unless absolutely necessary.
It was the biggest national celebration ever. After all, it was the end of the worst war in history. In San Francisco, the partying was especially enthusiastic. Many servicemen there had orders to ship out for the invasion of Japan.
But it was hard to beat the celebration on Times Square in New York, where a magazine photographer snapped a sailor kissing a nurse who had just walked by. Over the years, dozens of Americans have claimed to be one of the pair. It was their place in history.
History has been fickle, however, with preserving any memory of those celebrations. Look at your calendar. Do you see V-J Day anywhere? If you do, please let me know. I want to buy one and I want to give the printing company some publicity.
In fact, 99 percent of Americans don't even know where to look on their calendar for V-J Day. That confusion may lend slightly to the anonymity of this great day in American history.
You see, noon on August 15 in Tokyo is late afternoon, the previous day, in the United States. So those celebrations began on August 14.
The other confusion is that President Harry Truman declared September 2, the date the surrender was formally signed, as V-J Day. And since that usually falls during the Labor Day weekend, it would get lost anyway. I'll rant more about that in a few weeks.
The reason for not celebrating the end of the most destructive war in history has very little to do with confusion over dates, however. It has everything to do with confusion about what is important in our great American society.
Much more important to us now is not making anyone feel badly about losing that war. Political correctness demands that we suppress acknowledgement of our victories and apologize for shortcomings or atrocities of other nations, because we might possibly, in some way, have caused them.
So, we don't teach about our World War II victory in schools. And we've taken it off our calendar. So, shouldn't a civilized society refrain from rubbing it in, you ask? Possibly, but there were V-J Day celebrations throughout Britain last weekend.
We don't celebrate Armistice Day much anymore, although it still is a national holiday, albeit renamed. Our European Allies still celebrate Armistice Day in a big way. I was in Belgium on November 11, 2003 and witnessed parades, speeches and a great many American flags, flown in gratitude for our World War I help.
Or is it best to put the past behind us and look only toward the future? If so, why do we still remember Pearl Harbor Day? That's on my calendar. Evidently, it's OK to remember out defeats. That won't hurt anyone's feelings but our own. And we don't seem to worry about doing a whole lot of that.

MON, 8-15-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

8-12 Surrender

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- As America continued the war, after dropping atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese high command was in turmoil and disarray.
On the evening of August 9, the day of the Nagasaki bombing, Emperor Hirohito unexpectedly called a meeting of the top six Japanese government officials.
This inner cabinet was equally divided. The peace faction wanted to accept the Potsdam Declaration and end the war. The war faction wanted four conditions attached to a surrender.
It insisted that the emperor system of government be retained, that Japan be allowed to try its own war criminals and disarm its own military and it insisted the Allies not occupy the homelands of Japan.
At the meeting, the emperor sat at the head of the table but, by custom, did not participate in discussions or decisions. The presiding officer was the prime minister, a member of the peace faction.
After three hours of discussion and the cabinet still hopelessly deadlocked at 3-3, Prime Minister Suzuki asked the emperor to break the tie. Gen. Anami, the war minister, loudly protested.
But Hirohito immediately rose and agreed that the Potsdam Declaration be accepted. "I cannot bear to see my innocent people struggle any longer," he said.
The prime minister had trumped the war party, even though that faction actually controlled the government through the threat of force. Hirohito immediately left the room. The cabinet agreed that the Potsdam Declaration would be accepted if the emperor's status could be preserved.
On August 10, President Harry Truman met with his war council to discuss the conditional surrender offer. The council agreed that retention of the emperor would be practical, since without his directive, the Japanese armies, scattered throughout the Pacific and Southeast Asia, would be unlikely to surrender. And the war needed to be ended before Russia advanced any further.
But allowing any conditions would not be popular with Congress or the American people. It was noted that Japan demanded and received unconditional surrender on Bataan and at Singapore.
So the Allied response was carefully worded to leave the emperor's status to the commander of the occupation force.
This sent the Japanese cabinet back to square one in its surrender deliberations. The imperial form of government was important to the military because even though it controlled the decision making process, it was only through the emperor that decrees were communicated and implemented.
And there was one other problem. Young army officers in the war ministry had long wanted to take matters into their own hands. They were extremely unhappy with the conditional surrender and the Allies' position of neither accepting nor rejecting it. That opened the door for them to demand that all four previous conditions be honored.
For three days a potential coup developed as the young officers worked to solidify the war faction and sway members of the peace faction to their side.
On August 14, a lone B-29 from Tinian flew over the center of Tokyo and dropped millions of leaflets addressed to the Japanese people advising them that the Japanese government had offered to surrender. It presented the Allied response and declared that the government now had a chance to end the war immediately.
Up to that point, only top government officials knew of the surrender offer. The rest of the military had no knowledge and it was feared they could revolt.
The emperor was convinced to call an immediate cabinet meeting. The same deadlock continued. Without being asked this time, Hirohito rose and said his views were unchanged. The Allied response was acceptable.
At midnight, as the emperor recorded a radio address for the following day, the coup plotters made a final attempt to sway military leaders who had pledged to support the emperor's decision. It was a night of assassinations and suicides, but by 5 a.m. the coup collapsed.
FRI, 8-12-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


Monday, August 01, 2005

8-10 Liberation

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The New Mexico National Guardsmen who were loaded aboard hell ships in the Philippines in December 1944, were taken to prison camps in Japan, Manchuria and Korea.
Those camps were located near industrialized cities where the prisoners could be put to work on loading docks, in factories or in mines. The few who remained at hospitals in the Philippines, were liberated in late January and early February of 1945, when we retook the Philippines.
Our troops knew Japan was on the run. The last of the hell ships had left the Philippines less than two weeks before the Americans landed. And as soon as the prisoners got to their new camps, they began to see American planes in the sky.
On the night of March 9-10, hundreds of B-29 Superfortresses swept over Tokyo releasing napalm-filled incendiaries that destroyed a quarter of the huge city. In succeeding nights they hit city after city, leaving them burned to the ground.
The raids were dangerous. Prison camps were occasionally hit and some of our men died. But the raids were also beautiful. Prisoners, many of them on their last legs, took heart. Morale was high, even as guards became edgy and more cruel.
As industrial cities burned, prisoners were transferred elsewhere to work in factories that hadn't been hit, yet. They were told that they would be the first to die when the Americans landed. They were forced to dig their own mass graves into which they would be herded.
But as more cities were leveled and more bombs began falling on prison camps, Japanese attitudes began to change. One commander asked his prisoners to make recordings to send home urging the president to stop the bombing because prisoners were getting killed. But the prisoners' message was "Keep 'em coming."
And then the Japanese began talking of a horrible new American weapon. They questioned the Americans. Something terrible had happened. And it happened twice.
Our prisoners had no idea what had happened. Even the B-29s looked unbelievable to them. They'd never seen such things. They made fun of their captors when told that one bomb had killed 80,000 people. As one guard put it "Number One Bomb blew up whole city."
But some were close enough to see it. They saw the mushroom cloud and they saw Hiroshima and Nagasaki burn all day and night. Those bombs were their salvation. In their panic, prison commanders didn't know what to do. Orders were not coming through from headquarters.
As we now know, the Japanese high command was in a shambles, trying to figure out what to do. It understood what the bombs were. Japan was working on one of its own.
But securing enough fissionable material from their resource-poor lands had been very difficult. Reportedly a submarine was on its way from Germany with the uranium it had gathered for its stalled A-bomb project. But it was too late for that.
Indecision at the top levels of government left the now-scared prison commanders and guards paralyzed. And then the air drops began. Food, clothes and medicine rained down on the prisoners.
Boxes were overloaded and too heavy for their parachutes, causing damage and some deaths. Nick Chintis, of Silver City, noted the irony of a man who had starved for three years being wiped out by a barrel of fruit cocktail.
Also parachuting in were special service teams to provide our men with direction on how to save themselves. As soon as the prisoners realized they were free, the overwhelming urge was to get out of there. But guards were still present and armed, even though they weren't sure what to do.
It would take time for Navy reconnaissance planes to scout out all prison camps and evacuate the most seriously ill. And it would take time to arrange transportation and medical services. In the month it took, 900 flights dropped 4,470 tons of supplies on 158 camps.
WED, 8-10-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


8-03 Tree Project Appears Better Organized

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The Capitol Holiday Tree effort appears to be much better organized and communicated than back in 1991, the previous time New Mexico provided a tree.
That's not meant in any way to diminish the effort by the people of Taos, 14 years ago. They created an almost impossible task for themselves without nearly as much help from the state and federal government than exists this year.
Taosenos decided they would send the first live tree to the Capitol that any state had provided. It turned out to be a bit of a nightmare, but the tree got to Washington and was planted. Later it was transplanted at the National Arboretum.
Along the way, Taos ran into more than its share of difficulties. It found a Houston company willing to truck the tree to Washington as a donation. But the company said the only safe way to transport it that far would be by air.
The Air Force and air express companies demurred. So truck it they did, through bad weather, detours and delays to obtain permits at every state line. This was after weather delayed getting the tree out of the ground for a week, onto a truck and down treacherous mountain roads.
The Taos effort, led by the Chamber of Commerce had to fund all the costs of the operation. At the time, U.S. Forest Service personnel were only allowed to work on the project after hours.
This, despite it being the Forest Service that sponsored the Capitol Holiday Tree program and that chose the Carson National Forest to donate the 1991 tree. Taos could have paid to have the tree shipped by air, but there were too many other costs tied to the entire operation.
Nevertheless, all went well at the nation's capitol. The tree was lit on December 11, it's intended date. Indian and Spanish dancers were there to provide a taste of New Mexico culture.
And the Taos Chefs Association prepared a New Mexico feast at a reception afterward, sponsored by the New Mexico Society, a group of displaced New Mexicans in Washington.
This year, the entire operation can be expected to go much more smoothly. The idea using a living tree was abandoned. It had never happened before and it hasn't been tried since. Forest Service personnel are now allowed work time to help organize the project.
The state is taking a role, with First Lady Barbara Richardson leading the effort to make thousands of decorations for the tree and state agencies taking care of the permits necessary to get the truck past state lines without delay.
And this year, most of the work will be done by an organization called Tree New Mexico. As you might guess, they dig trees, er, more accurately they plant trees. It was Taos that did the digging as a way of encouraging the use of live trees at Christmas.
Tree New Mexico has asked scientists from across the nation to help determine how much greenhouse gas will be produced throughout this project.
It will then calculate how many trees will need to be planted to absorb that carbon dioxide, making the Capitol Holiday Tree 2005 a carbon-neutral event. Those trees will be planted in communities and forests throughout New Mexico in 2006. The organization anticipates that more than 5,000 trees will be planted.
Tree New Mexico is also taking care of the fundraising for the project. Since it is a non-profit, donations are tax deductible. Checks should be made to Capitol Holiday Tree 2005 and be sent to Tree New Mexico at P.O. Box 81827, Albuquerque, NM 87198.
National Van Lines will provide the vehicles, trailers and drivers to transport the big tree and 60-80 smaller companion trees to Washington. New Mexico Tree Growers will donate those companion trees.
It appears that all parties have learned much from past experience and that New Mexico will have a truly enchanting gift for the nation.
WED, 8-3-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)