The Charlotte News

Thursday, January 2, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Republican Steering Committee decided to recommend that Senator Theodore Bilbo be barred at the door to the Senate from entering the chamber to take his oath of office on Friday. The full Republican membership would vote on the recommendation the following morning. The basis for the action was the report of the War Investigating Committee that Mr. Bilbo had used his high office for personal gain, receiving payments and gifts in exchange for recommendations of war contracts. The Senator might be denied his seat initially, having no impact, however, on the final determination by the full body. Barring him at the door would prevent a filibuster to stop the action against him.

The House Republicans had determined to select Representative Charles Halleck of Indiana as the new Majority Leader. Republican opponents, including Congressman Everett Dirksen of Illinois, withdrew their challenge.

Outgoing Speaker Sam Rayburn had been chosen as Minority Leader for the Democrats, despite his having urged outgoing Majority Leader John McCormack of Massachusetts to assume the role.

Representative Joe Martin of Massachusetts was expected to be elected Speaker.

In the Senate, the Democrats chose Majority Leader Alben Barkley to remain as Minority Leader. He had served as Majority Leader for nine years, longer than any other Senator. Senator Barkley would become Vice-President in 1949. Senator Scott Lucas of Illinois was selected as the Minority Whip, succeeding Senator Lister Hill of Alabama, who decided not to seek re-election to the post.

Britain stated that it faced a decision to adopt a final resolution on Palestine or conduct a full-scale military operation to maintain its position in the Holy Land. A threat had been broadcast by the Jewish Irgun organization to undertake a new campaign of violence against British armed forces, requiring potentially a declaration of martial law in certain areas of Palestine.

The two solutions being considered by the British were believed to be a plan of Jewish-Arab partition with Britain retaining trusteeship control over certain areas, or, failing that, seeking international resolution from the U.N, a position said to have strong support.

The House Naval Committee issued its recommendations at the close of the 79th Congress, stating that there should be no repeat of ship scrapping as after World War I, that the Marshall Islands, the Caroline Islands, the Marianas, and the Izus, Bonins and Ryukyus off Japan, should all be controlled by the U.S. for its own security. The U.S., it said, should also have substantial rights in the sites where American bases had been constructed during the war, including full title to the bases in the Manus, Noumea, Espiritu Santo, Guadalcanal, and other sites.

Representative Harold Knutson of Minnesota, about to become the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee in the new Congress, stated that his bill to provide a 20 percent tax reduction across the board would be the first legislation introduced the following day in the Committee. Both Republicans and Democrats had voiced opposition to the proposal.

The special House Campaign Investigating Committee had turned over to the Justice Department evidence of violations of campaign spending laws by 60 CIO unions and locals, as well as by twelve New York corporations.

Time picked Secretary of State James Byrnes as its Man of the Year for 1946. Secretary Byrnes would shortly resign the position.

The State Department denied a report appearing in a Russian magazine that there were American troops in both Turkey and Iran.

A report by Alton Blakeslee, aboard the U.S.S. Olympus somewhere in the ice belt, described the Byrd expedition to Antarctica. The ships had crossed the international dateline twice during the previous day and thus encountered the New Year twice. Accordingly, the crews celebrated twice.

Assisted by a helicopter off the carrier, the ships maneuvered around icebergs, some of which rose 200 feet above the water. The types of ice which appeared suggested that the expedition might wind up sailing further south than anyone ever had, because Little America, the station established by Admiral Byrd previously as part of U.S. territory, might have broken up and drifted away.

There had been 113 persons killed in violent deaths during the New Year holiday, compared to 297 during Christmas. Traffic deaths accounted for 79 of the fatalities, compared to 213 during Christmas. California led the nation, as at Christmas, with 23 violent deaths, 16 of which were in traffic accidents. Ohio had 13 violent deaths, 12 in traffic accidents. Inclement weather had curtailed traffic in many parts of the country during the New Year.

In Wheeling, W. Va., a man who it was believed had been murdered after a confession by a teenager of the killing, turned up at the police station to prove that he was alive and well.

A Charlotte businessman, the 65-year old manager of the Electric Ice & Fuel Co., had been fatally stabbed, once in the head and once in the back of the neck, during the course of a robbery at around 1:00 p.m. this date. The body was found by two employees and a manager. The murderer had taken about $100 from the cash register and had not yet been caught.

Pete McKnight of The News tells of the background of Senator-designate and future Governor William B. Umstead, appointed to serve for the ensuing two years of the unexpired term of recently deceased Senator Josiah W. Bailey. Mr. Umstead had served three prior terms in Congress during the Thirties, had more or less retired from politics in 1938. He had wanted to run for Governor in 1948 and was considered a leading candidate for the job until his appointment to become the new Senator. He accepted the appointment after consulting with friends and his older brother, who, at the request of their deceased father, had helped him achieve his success in politics.

In Hollywood, Oleg Cassini, according to estranged wife Gene Tierney, had socked New York broker Jimmy Costello in the nose during a "silly argument" regarding who had whose car keys. The altercation took place outside Ciro's restaurant the previous day. Ms. Tierney sought to break up the fisticuffs. She and her sister drove the men home. Later the two apologized for the scene.

On the editorial page, "A Greeting for the Congress" finds President Truman's declaring at an end all hostilities such that about a third of his war powers had been relinquished, including the important control over industry and mines within six months, to be an appropriate move and a shrewd one politically, as it met the demands of the Republicans to reduce controls over the economy. But even the most ambitious decontrollers, such as Senator Alexander Wiley of Wisconsin, understood that it was necessary in the atomic age to maintain certain emergency executive powers.

The President, while not surrendering the powers hitched to the duration of the war and the national emergency, not yet declared ended, had made it clear that he would allow the new Congress to set the pace on decontrol and surrender of the wartime powers.

"They're Progressive, But Tired" reports of the displaced liberals of the country, no longer feeling at home in either party, having formed, at the urging of Henry Wallace, the Progressive Citizens of America. They were considering forming a third party—which would take place in 1948, with Mr. Wallace as the presidential candidate, along with Senator Glen Taylor of Idaho as the vice-presidential candidate.

For now, they hoped to recapture the Democratic leadership. Harold Ickes, a member of the group, had warned that third parties were superfluous in American politics, as superfluous as a third party on a honeymoon. The only one in recent history which had enjoyed moderate success was the Bull Moose Party, led by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. It had expressed complete separation from the Republican Party of William Howard Taft and its reaction.

If there was any similar spirit motivating the Progressives, it was not apparent from the news reports of the recent meeting in New York. The liberals appeared more tired than outraged.

"The Veteran and Civil Service" tells of an American Mercury piece by Miriam Roher, describing the preference being provided to veterans over non-veterans in civil service positions, spotting disabled veterans ten points on the examinations and five points for being a veteran. The result was that persons ordinarily deemed not qualified to be employed in the Government could be hired in preference to a non-veteran who was qualified.

While such things as education for veterans was a desirable advantage provided by the Government, the civil service advantage, it opines, only insured incompetence in government. It would be far better to insure that veterans received adequate housing.

A piece from the Concord Tribune, titled "The Goal of the 'Silent Citizens'", comments on the secret organization formed in Charlotte, dubbing itself "The Silent Citizens", tired of Washington politicians and wanting to substitute them with businessmen. The piece finds the attitude both ludicrous and dangerous, not for the common good, merely shifting power from one group to another.

It favors power vested not in groups but responsive to the needs of the people. Such a goal would not likely be reached by a group not revealing their membership. "The Silent Citizens" would have done better, it thinks, by revealing their identities.

Drew Pearson comments on the first major test of continuing nonpartisan foreign policy, the determination whether Ambassador George Messersmith was kowtowing to Argentine dictator Juan Peron. Senators Owen Brewster of Maine and Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska were determined to rake American foreign policy over the coals in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the new Congress.

Secretary of State Byrnes would soon decide whether the U.S. would work with or oppose the Peron regime, based in part on talks with Mr. Messersmith in Washington. Argentina was reaching out to try to take over its weaker neighbors, and so the future of Latin America was at stake.

Mr. Messersmith appeared oblivious to the danger, sending reports such as a positive appraisal of Fritz Mandl, former husband of actress Hedy Lamarr and a big Austrian arms maker, and felt that Mr. Mandl should be admitted to the U.S. somewhat later in time.

Senator Brewster had visited Argentina and talked to Sr. Peron. He was convinced that America ought construct friendly relations with the country. But, says Mr. Pearson, it was doubtful that the new Foreign Relations Committee would accept that point of view.

He next tells of the Civil Aeronautics Board conducting a full investigation into the aviation industry, as several major airlines, including TWA, were operating in the red. Howard Hughes, chief stockholder of TWA, and the company's president, Jack Frye, were at odds over management, leading to the investigation. The airlines had over-ordered planes to allow for 41 billion passenger seat miles when only 15 billion were being flown annually.

Many orders of planes were being cancelled. TWA was operating with a 3.2 million dollar loss in the third quarter of 1946, had a net loss of 4.8 million in the first three quarters, after taking tax credits worth 2.9 million dollars. The company nevertheless continued to order more planes than any other airline.

Marquis Childs reports that the War Department would shortly request that Congress appropriate 300 million dollars to cover a deficit during the previous year in the cost of occupation of Germany, Austria, Japan, and Korea.

American occupation forces had been scaled down to the point where reliance was being placed on primarily green troops 18 and 19 years old, leading to lack of discipline and violence. Following a tour by the Senate War Investigating Committee of the American zone of occupation in Germany, the Committee was in the process of investigating reports of discipline problems among American Army troops, which included reports of sex and crime.

The new Republican chairman of the Committee would be Senator Brewster of Maine, supportive of a thorough investigation of the matter.

The original investigation had been opposed by General Eisenhower, Secretary of State Byrnes, and Senators Arthur Vandenberg and Tom Connally, based on the notion that sensational headlines would compromise the effectiveness of the occupation forces.

Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, who had recently returned from a visit to the occupation zone in Germany, reported that the problem was not inside Germany but inside the United States, the failure to support the occupation troops. The view was also shared by Senator Brien McMahon and others. They would try to prevent harm from the sensational headlines resultant of the report prepared by George Meader, the Committee's senior investigator.

Samuel Grafton comments on the sudden elimination of Senator-elect John W. Bricker of Ohio as a candidate for the 1948 Republican nomination by dint of his ill-received speech at the Gridiron Club dinner, in which he had attacked the Administration for 22 minutes, an unprecedented performance at the annual affair, traditionally given to persiflage and wry banter, not billingsgate or serious political statements.

Mr. Grafton thinks, however, that Mr. Bricker's being declared a fatality was actually a function of the times, that his speech was in fact no worse than that which any other Republican would have given as featured speaker at the dinner.

The Republicans needed to end their rhetorical campaign for conservatism in the Executive Branch, as the President had already moved to the right, into the Republican policy corner. The issue in 1948 would thus be whether the country liked conservative Government after two years of it. Conservative engineering would henceforth be defensive rather than offensive in nature. The conservative policy had already been implemented.

A group of several thousand veteran-students were planning to meet on a major Eastern campus soon to protest the lack of suitable housing and the high cost of living generally. But the two parties were now committed to allowing the free market to determine prices and construct housing. There were still some differences on approach but the major differences had been eliminated in the previous few months.

Senator Robert Taft had become a more interesting figure for the 1948 nomination by co-sponsoring the long-term housing bill and an aid-to-education bill.

A letter from three persons confirms the statement of an earlier writer that the old Croft School facility, which had been rented to veterans and their families pending available space at Morris Field, was inadequate and cold. They ate in one corner and slept in another, sat in a third. The stove occupied the fourth. They huddled to stay warm.

A letter from the president of the North Carolina Bankers' Association advocates cooperation between business, labor, and Government in the coming year, in which case prosperity could be had for all.

A letter responds to the letter of December 30 taking issue with the editorial which had described as a "childish trick" the revelation by Drew Pearson of the John W. Bricker faux pas at the Gridiron Club, thereby shooting himself in the foot for the 1948 Republican nomination. This writer thinks the editorial was correct to criticize Mr. Pearson for the disclosure of what, by tradition, was considered confidential matter. The previous writer had urged cynically that it did not matter, as no one respected the press anymore. Ethics among journalists, this writer suggests, were still important and still recognized, per, q.e.d., the News piece.

But, did the piece elevate "ethics" to the point of absurdity by suggesting that the press ought suppress a newsworthy story anent a major potential 1948 presidential candidate, acting out of the ordinary, that the very fact that the speech had apparently injected serious politics and criticism of the Administration into a normally light-hearted dinner made it eminently newsworthy, regardless of any ordinarily implied confidence attached to the affair?

A letter writer wishes for the New Year that talk of economic depression would subside as such talk might help to bring on the depression. He also wants to live on without getting older.

A letter from the Charlotte assistant director of Recreation thanks Tom Fesperman of The News for his article of December 20 on the Christmas dance for teenagers held at the Armory.

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