Print

Perry on Politics: In the Mood

Published by James O'Toole on .

20140311wap glennmillerandband490                                                
 
                                                  By James M. Perry
 
 Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370, from Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia, to Beijing, in China, does seem to have simply disappeared. A one-engine plane carrying the great American band leader, Glenn Miller, from Bedford, in England, to Paris, simply disappeared too -- and set off a storm of wild speculation that endures to this day. 
 
 If the mystery of what happened to Flight 370 and the 239 passengers aboard the Boeing 777, isn't solved -- and solved quickly --  that sort of wild speculation will be repeated, accompanied, of course, by a crazy mix of  conspiracy theories.
 
 Miller's swing band was hugely successful in the years leading up to World War II, recording such hits as "In the Mood." "Chattanooga Choo-Choo,' and "American Patrol."
 
 When war broke out, Miller enlisted in the Army Air Corps, soon becoming a captain and leading his own Air Force band.  Miller and the band had been entertaining troops in England for months. With Christmas approaching, Miller and the band's manager, Don Hayes, decided the band would fly to Paris and entertain troops there. Miller  hitched a ride to Paris to arrange the concert. He was accompanied by Lt. Col Norman Baessell. The pilot was John Morgan, flying a Noordyuyn Norseman C-64,  a sturdy Canadian-built single-engine plane that came with rudimentary navigational instruments. 
 
Miller reportedly didn't really like flying. As he climbed aboard the little Norseman, he asked Morgan, "Where are the parachutes?"
 
Miller, Baessell, and Morgan took off from an RAF field near Bedford in a dense fog, with the temperature around 24 degrees, mid-day on  Dec. 15. Hayes watched the plane disappear in the fog. He was the last person to see them alive. 
 
The official report said the Norseman crashed into the English Channel because its wings iced over or because its engine failed.  No trace of the plane or the three people in it was ever found.
 
 The BBC said in a long report that the "most preposterous claim" was published by a German journalist, who said the plane never crashed and that Miller had died in Paris in the arms of a French prostitute. Another report said Miller had not only made it to Paris, but that he had made it back to England and had been shipped home to America, where he died in a hospital in Ohio of a mysterious illness. The evidence seems to rest on talk that Miller had lost weight; his uniform, people said, no longer fit. Still another theory said that Miler was carrying "peace-feeler" letters from General Eisenhower that Miller was supposed to deliver to anti-Hitler German generals. Somehow, though, he was captured by Nazi agents, beaten to death, and dumped on the front steps of a Paris brothel.
 
One theory sounds almost plausible. Miller's plane, it seems, might nave been destroyed by bombs dropped from friendly aircraft. On the day Miller's plane disappeared, 138 RAF Lancaster bombers were returning from an aborted raid over Germany (their fighter escort hadn't shown up). They had to jettison 100,00 incendiary bombs over the English Channel to lighten their loads for landings in England. One or more of these bombs wrecked Miller's plane, flying thousands of feet below the big Lancasters.
 
But the BBC, after reviewing all the evidence, concluded that Miller's Norseman was miles away when the Lancasters jettisoned their bombs. 
 
Hollywood made a movie, "The Glenn Miller Story, starring Jimmy Stewart as Glenn Miller. Maybe someone, somewhere, even now, is thinking of making a movie, "The Flight 370 Story."  
 
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, is contributing regular observations for post-gazette.com.  Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of the Wall Street Journal until his retirement.  Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.
 
(Top image: Glenn Miller and his band, Associated Press archives)
 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Wagner files petitions

Published by James O'Toole on .

Former Auditor General Jack Wagner is running a bare-bones campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor, but he appears to have surmounted the first hurdle on his long shot bid to carry his party's standard against Gov. Tom Corbett this fall.  

Mr. Wagner was the second Democrat to file, after John  Hanger, the former seceretary of environmental protection, whose lengthy platform includes a call to legalize and tax marijuana.

The deadline for petitions is the close of business Tuesday.  For governor that means collecting 2,000 signatures from registered voters, including subsets of at least 100 from each of ten separate counties.

Mr. Wagner dropped by the endorsement meeting of the Allegheny County Democratic Party Sunday, and expressed optimism about his late-launching campaign.  He acknowledged that he has yet to hire a campaign manager or press secretary but said that he's optimistic that his campaign logistics will fal into place soon.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Guzzardi challenges Corbett

Published by James O'Toole on .

Gov. Tom Corbett won't get a free ride to renomination.

How big the cost would be remains to be seen, although there's little doubt that he will be on the GOP line in November.  Still, the mere fact that Bob Guzzardi, a conservative activist form Montgomery County, managed to submit nominating petitions for the GOP primary is an irritant to the governor's re-election campaign.

Mr. Guzzardi conceded when he announced his candidacy that he had almost not chance of winning.  But he's been estranged from Mr. Corbett's policies, among them the increased fees and taxes associated with the transportation legislation passed last year.  Assuming his petitions survive scrutiny, Mr. Guzzardi will have a bigger virtual megaphone for his attacks on the governor.  And while a Guzzardi victory on May 20 seems just short of inconceivable, his candidacy could have the makings of an embarassing headline for Mr. Corbett, if the challenger manages to attract much of a protest vote.

To get on the primary ballot for governor, a candidate must obtain 2,000 signatures of registered voters statewide, including at least 100 signatures from each of ten counties.

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Hagarty Joins Wolf team

Published by James O'Toole on .

On Saturday, Tom Wolf got Rich Fitzgerald's endorsement; on Monday he got his money guy.

Eric Hagarty who handled fundraising for Mr. Fitzgerald's run for county executive and did the same chore for Mayor Bill Peduto last year, announced that he had signed on as deputy campaign manager for the York County businesman who has jumped to the top of the early polls of the Democratic race for governor.

Mr. Hagarty said in an Email that he would be concentrating on western Pennsylvania for Wolf, while continuing his ties to Fitzgerald's fundraising operation.  Mr. Hagarty's access to the donor lists for the Peduto and Fitzgerald efforts will be an asset to the Wolf effort, although fund-raising is hardly an area of concern for the businssman who donated upwards of $10 million to his bid for the Democratic nomination.

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Print

Paterno: education top issue

Published by James O'Toole on .

Jay Paterno, the son of the late Penn State icon Joe Paterno, was working the crowd at the Sunday meeting of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, courting votes and seeking last minute signatues on the nominating petitions due in Harrisburg on Tuesday.

Mr. Paterno said he had decided to get into the race because of his passion about the issue of education.

"I felt like if I ran for lieutenant governor, I could have a major impact on education in the state of Pennsylvania,'' he said.  "I've had twenty years of coaching people, teaching young people, and being around institutions of higher learning,'' he said.  "I just think it's an important issue.''

One thing his candiadacy is not about, he emphaiszed, is any desire to relitigate the still-smoldering controversies surrounding the Jerry Sandusky case and his late father's dismissal as Penn State football coach.

"It really has nothing to do with that; it didn't factor in [my decision] in any way,'' he said.

Mr. Paterno said he had become acquainted with all of the major Democratic candidates for governor _ his potential runnig mates _ and felt that his views on education and other issues were compatible with all or them.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in the primay and join as a ticket only in the general election.

  The other announced candidates for the second spot on the Democratic ticket are former U.S. Rep. Mark Critz; state Sen. Mike Stack;  former Harrsiburg official Brenda Alton; Harrisburg Councilman Brad Koplinski; state Rep. Brandon Neuman; and Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith.

 

 

Join the conversation:

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.