The Charlotte News

Thursday, November 11, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the largest battle in Chinese history, involving nearly a million men, was raging north of the Yangtze River, at the Suchow defense line guarding the route to Nanking, with the Communists holding a slight advantage in numbers in 21 armies consisting of about a half million men versus the Government troops at Suchow numbering about 350,000. Both sides were bringing up reinforcements. A Chinese Government spokesman claimed that the Communists had suffered 30,000 casualties at Suchow, compared to about 10,000 for the Government forces. The spokesman said that the battle was more fierce and bitter than any fought during the Sino-Japanese war.

The residents of Nanking had calmed following food riots of the previous day. People still jammed railway stations in frantic efforts to get out of Shanghai.

In Berlin, Russian authorities had threatened to down British and American planes straying from the twenty-mile wide air corridor from West Germany into Berlin. Undaunted, the British and Americans continued to fly food, coal and other supplies to Berliners. The Russians also complained of non-military commercial aircraft flying in the corridor. They said that they would continue to hold air maneuvers and target practice. American pilots said that they had standing orders to obey any attempt by the Russians to force them to land.

The bipartisan twelve-person Hoover Commission, investigating ways to streamline the Government, tentatively recommended an overhaul of the postal service, removing Senate approval of postmasters as a means of patronage, and strengthening of the Labor Department. Other recommendations were still to follow.

While vacationing in Key West, the President had sprouted a mustache and whiskers. He described them not as a Van Dyke but a "Jeff Davis", the same as that worn by President Lincoln. The arrival of the First Lady and First Daughter the following day, the report indicates, would likely end his experiment in hirsuteness, as it would not suit her.

The President made no special observance of Armistice Day.

During Navy maneuvers off the coast of Washington, the heavy cruiser Pensacola, survivor of the war and an atomic test at Bikini Atoll in July, 1946, was deliberately sunk, after enduring shelling for 6.5 hours.

An SOS from the SS Swarthmore carrying a load of exotic animals, most of which came from Siam, brought help from the Navy for its load of cargo, short on food. A dozen bales of hay for the two baby elephants and 2,500 worms for the exotic birds were being delivered to the ship. The cause for the shortage was not stated. The elephants were purchased with pennies collected by schoolchildren in Sacramento and Madison, Wis. All of the animals were bound for zoos.

A large part of American shipping was stranded by a New York dock strike of AFL longshoremen, combined with a CIO West Coast strike ongoing for weeks. New York's port was nearly paralyzed and Boston and Philadelphia were impacted.

Senator William Fulbright of Arkansas said that the new Congress would repeal the discriminatory tax on margarine.

In Norristown, Pa., a 30-year old former convict admitted tampering with train tracks causing the wreck of a train at Valley Forge on May 9, in which two people were killed, so that he could obtain money by searching the pockets of the dead and injured. He had served seven years in prison for attempting to derail a train in Pennsylvania in July, 1940.

In Gastonia, N.C., a police officer who had been one of four people wounded by the 21-year old man who took drugs with alcohol and engaged in a two and a half hour shootout with 50 police officers after he became angry when his father refused to allow him to borrow the family car, died. The accused was therefore charged with murder. The officer had been shot in the chest but had shown improvement the previous day, then relapsed. The other officer wounded was still in critical condition but improving. The two other wounded, both bystanders, were released from the hospital.

In Los Angeles, a parking lot attendant who had smiled and had a friendly word daily for an elderly shoestring and pencil peddler on the street was rewarded by the peddler with $1,000 after the latter cashed his war bonds.

Tom Fesperman of The News tells of a day spent with first graders in Charlotte's First Ward School. The children were learning to read a story about Spot and were drawing pictures. Two of the students had their pictures taken.

We remember the first day of the first grade. That was the day they dropped the atomic bomb and everybody everywhere ceased to exist. That's right, you are not really here. Sorry.

On the editorial page, "Strength to Maintain Peace" comments on the thirtieth anniversary of Armistice Day, signifying not peace, but a temporary cessation of hostilities at the end of World War I, at 11:00 a.m. on November 11, 1918. The idea proved grimly correct.

A third world war loomed between the West and Russia. If such occurred, the country, it says, would break faith with those who fought in the earlier wars, including that which was to be "the war to end all wars" between 1914 and 1918.

Wars occurred because of too quick disarmament afterwards, and allowing potential aggressors to rearm unchecked. Behind the iron curtain, Russia grew stronger.

The piece rejects the "push-button war" theory. An atomic war would not be a 24-hour affair. It would be quicker than previous wars and the nation with the greatest ready military strength would win. Russia might win a two-year war, but not a five-year war.

It posits that to prevent the scenario, the country had to be strong and remain strong. Those who sought to make the country weak would call the soldiers who fought for it "'cannon fodder'", but it chooses to call them "defenders of their land and their people". It posits that these young men could make Armistice Day a day of lasting peace.

Calling soldiers cannon fodder is not as the piece suggests, but rather a way to instill the idea that war is dehumanizing to everyone, soldier and civilian alike, and must be avoided, never sought.

"Emergency Hospital Service" compliments the City and County Governments for contributing $63,000 to help Memorial Hospital continue its emergency ward and outpatient clinic so that those two services would not be lost. Memorial Hospital had indicated a cost per diem double that of the previously stated $6 per indigent patient. The City and County contributions would help the hospital meet these essential services, a public responsibility.

"Rep. Thomas at the Bar" comments on the recent indictment of the HUAC chairman for salary kickbacks from bogus staff, constituting a fraud against the Government. He had also, says the piece, denied rights to persons coming before HUAC. The Committee's methods in ferreting out a few Communists in the Government had driven many liberals into the leftist camp.

Despite Congressman Thomas's attitude of presumption of guilt of the accused before HUAC, he would be accorded the presumption of innocence in the criminal case against him.

The piece finds him to have actually persecuted Dr. Edward Condon, head of the Bureau of Standards, accusing him openly of being the most dangerous security risk in the Government based on alleged casual associations with reputed Communists. Mr. Thomas had demanded the confidential FBI loyalty investigation file of Dr. Condon, refused by the President.

It agrees that Mr. Thomas was, as he claimed, singled out for persecution, but only by Drew Pearson for the Congressman's methods of investigation. But the relevant questions were how many more members of Congress committing graft could Mr. Pearson expose and why the Congress did not do so. It suggests it to be a good time for a clean-up.

That will come, but not until 1973-74, we hate to tell you.

Drew Pearson writes directly to Congressman Thomas. He says that he was not gloating about the Congressman's indictment but wanted to point out that when Mr. Thomas went before a jury on the case, he would be entitled to the presumption of innocence and the instruction that no adverse inferences be drawn from his refusal to testify before the grand jury or, if he chose not to do so, before the petit jury at trial—things which he did not appear to appreciate very well in his conduct of HUAC.

The prosecution could not point out things which might suggest personal bias, as the fact that he had changed his name from Feeney to depart from his Irish Catholic background. Nor could they bring out his "ungentlemanly behavior" while traveling from Washington to New Jersey—left to the reader's imagination.

He also had the right to be represented by counsel, with whom he could consult anytime he wanted during the trial, another right which Mr. Thomas, in his conduct of the HUAC hearings, apparently failed to appreciate.

The only thing with which we quibble in Mr. Pearson's ironic presentation on this matter is his consistent reference to "privilege". With the exception of the Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent, the other Constitutional mandates are rights, not privileges. The Fifth Amendment privilege has some catches to it, which is why it is a privilege rather than, strictly speaking, a right. To assert it outside the context of an actual criminal accusation, for instance, there must be some potentially incriminating basis triggered by the question, directly or indirectly. HUAC members such as Richard Nixon were correct in their statements during the August and early September hearings regarding the idea that if a statute of limitations, for instance, had expired on all potential criminal prosecution, the person's privilege to assert the Fifth Amendment was thereby circumscribed. But the potential for accusation of perjury for responses, even if not actually committing perjury, also had to be taken into account.

The asininity, of course, of the whole process was that if one refused to testify, then the witness could be, and, in the case of the Hollywood Ten and a few others, was in fact charged with contempt of Congress, subject to imprisonment. But if one testified forthrightly, as did Alger Hiss, and the Committee so mercurially chose for political reasons, it could use the contrary statements of a Whittaker Chambers to press for an indictment for perjury against one of the men, the political weight, of course, being exerted against the witness who was not testifying consistently with the Committee's plain intent to expose Communism in the Government during the New Deal. The New Dealers were therefore damned if they did and damned if they did not, and damned by admitted former Communists, about as trustworthy as an old shoe without a sole.

But, of course, those seeking to cast their political fortunes through exploitation of fear, the likes of Mr. Thomas and Mr. Nixon, in the end, wound up the damned for all time, at least as long as the country may survive with an honest history of its past.

Mr. Pearson notes that the country would be watching closely who new Speaker Sam Rayburn would appoint to HUAC. He had a tendency, he notes, to appoint cronies rather than statesmen to committees.

The new Congress would ask for an investigation of the Gallup, Roper, and Crossley polls in the wake of the election debacle.

Just four days prior to the election, the President had expressed privately a lack of confidence in his ability to win, saying to a friend in New York, "I guess I'm licked." But he also stated that it was worth the fight to educate the people to the issues. He also said that after it was over, he intended to run for Congress again from Missouri.

The Progressive Party wanted the President to send Henry Wallace on a mission to Moscow.

Diplomats had determined that a third of the Congressional candidates who opposed the Marshall Plan had been defeated.

Senator Kenneth Wherry of Nebraska had disappeared for a rest and had not even told his staff where he was.

Where is Wherry? Probably out hoofing it with the beef which was not evident in the GOP campaign.

Secretary of State Marshall had been disappointed in his trip to Greece two weeks earlier by the increased number of guerrillas, despite the millions of dollars poured into the country under the Truman Doctrine since mid-1947. He blamed part of the problem on the U.S. Army advisers, not tough enough on the Greek officers to force a major offensive. As a result, the U.S. commander was being reassigned and the Government would refuse the Greek Government's request for permission to increase the size of its army.

Spiritualist Elmer Lyon of Mount Vernon, N.Y., had notified Senators that he was in contact with the spirit of the late Senator Theodore Bilbo of Mississippi.

The Stork Club in New York had lost the business of the planned Dewey celebration, with several celebrities set to attend.

One Republican who reserved a room at the Roosevelt Hotel, where the Dewey entourage stayed during the election to hear the returns, was asked whether he was reserving the room for sleeping or jumping.

The Senate Banking & Currency Committee, temporarily chaired by Senator Burnet Maybank of South Carolina, was going to launch an investigation into the lobbyists, to whom Senator Maybank was no friend.

The CIO Steel Workers Union was demanding a probe of the mass asphyxiation at Donors, Pa.

Marquis Childs tells of many average people having believed that the election would turn out as it had. Many of them did not talk much about their choice for the presidency and had the idea that they were pretty much alone in their desire to see the President re-elected. Now, they had the quiet satisfaction of having overthrown everything which had been saying how they were thinking.

Mr. Childs views the phenomenon as one of the most healthy things to come from the political upset by Mr. Truman. It had undermined the "tyranny of the poll-taker and the arrogant expert prone to using the most revolting of all phrases, 'the little people.'"

That tyranny was leading to the creation of a "mass man" at the "dead level of mediocrity". He was the product of public relations gimmickry out of Hollywood and New York.

But movies tailored to this mass audience were not attracting audiences. Many radios were silent, causing worries among broadcasters. The "mass man" was a myth, along with the "little people".

Candidate Dewey came perilously close to being a product of this same industry and, Mr. Childs posits, it was one of the reasons he had lost. His campaign was carefully scripted, as if by New York or Hollywood.

He suggests that in the future it would be better for the pundits to talk to persons outside New York and Hollywood, such as former Georgia Governor Ellis Arnall, who had written an article in the September Atlantic Monthly, tilted "The Democrats Can Win".

The problem was a major flaw in perceiving the American people. There was no "mass man". But if the public were treated in that manner over time, it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy and a reality. Such a mass mind would imply a dictator who would tell that mind what to think.

Shall we update this editorial by noting the obvious: that the "mass man" has become through time a reality, created by mass media brainwashing, primarily accomplished through the medium of television over the decades. There is only one antidote to this poison: stop watching television. We gave it up years ago, and look at it only selectively, on our own time and ticket, online. One must understand that, by its very nature, being either too quickly rehearsed and scripted or time-compressed and somewhat unscripted, it is consigned to the level of immediate mediocrity for the most part. Early television of the 1950's was exploratory and creative, and thus, in many instances, had merit, both in public affairs programming and in the regular fare. But then a "formula", divined from successful programming, was found, for every sit-com, for every dramatic program, for every public affairs program, for every newscast, until the entire medium lost not only all creativity, but all credibility. That happened sometime, we venture, by the early 1970's, and it has never really changed or grown up since, an occasional discussion or informative program here and there being the exceptions to prove the rule.

James Marlow discusses the need for Federal aid to education, coming before the new Congress in 1949. It had passed the Senate in 1948, but stalled in the House. The President was a strong proponent and would push it now that the Congress was again Democratic.

For 30 years, the concept had been proposed before Congress to balance the slate between poorer states and richer ones. But one of the concerns had always been that it would give the Federal Government the power to dictate education. Another issue was whether any of the money ought be given to private and religious primary and secondary schools.

The bill introduced by Senator Taft had not barred Federal money to private and parochial schools but had stipulated that their receipt would depend on whether a particular state was already funding those schools. The bill, providing for 300 million dollars in aid, had specifically required that the Federal Government could not dictate education in the states. Its goal was to see that at least $50 per pupil was spent on every student in the country. On average, the states spent $125, but at the lower end, in the poorer states, as Mississippi, the amount available was, by comparison, a pittance.

About two million children between 6 and 17 attended no school. Sometimes the reason was lack of transportation in rural areas.

Another argument against the program included the notion that it would be unfair to take tax dollars from the richer states to pay for education in the poorer states.

The chief argument for Federal funding was that good education for all meant more productivity in the country and more responsible, democratically inclined citizens.

He points out that the Government had helped support agricultural and mechanical colleges in the past and had supported education in farming techniques and economics.

The Congressional Quarterly determined that the President would receive more support in the new 81st Congress than he had in the previous Democratic Congress, the 79th. The reasons are given.

A letter from Harry Golden of the Carolina Israelite posits that what happened in the election, which confounded the pollsters and pundits, was that the people had engaged previously in self-flagellation, as punishment for prosperity, by indicating a desire to vote Republican. When they actually went into the voting booths, however, they decided that they had endured enough punishment and cast their ballots for the Democrats.

That gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "majority whip".

A letter writer suggests that the President's victory came from millions of Americans who believed in the concept of equality of opportunity, millions of farmers who wanted continued "loaves and fishes" from "absurdly high" support prices paid by the Government, and many thousands of Federal workers who were concerned about losing their jobs in a Dewey administration, having promised to streamline government. He says that if these groups were removed from the equation, the President would have lost.

But the worst thing, he says, was that half the country did not vote.

So those who voted for Governor Dewey, we take it, ought do away with the farmers, the Federal workers who would have lost their jobs, and those silly Americans who believed in equal rights. Is that about it?

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