The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 16, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the French had dynamited the towers of the Soviet-controlled Berlin radio station this date for their being dangerous to airlift planes bringing supplies to the blockaded city since latter June, arriving at newly opened Tegel Field in the French occupation sector of the city. Radio Berlin had been warned of the plan a month earlier. The radio station had been off the air since the destruction. Berliners could tune in to the fainter Soviet-controlled Deutschlandsender for broadcasts via their Telefunkens, broadcasting Christmas carols, and perhaps a little night music.

The State Department announced that Marines being sent to Shanghai, as Communist troops approached the city, had orders to protect Americans and some American property but would not defend the city.

In Peiping, AP correspondent Spencer Moosa reported that the sound of rifle fire from Communist troops could be heard as the Communists had encircled the city. It had not fallen, although the Communists were swarming over the suburbs and moving toward the arched gates of the ancient walled city. The Communists thus far were using only small forces in their attack. They had moved close enough to fire cannons into the city but had not yet done so. Rumors of fall of the city were thus far premature. Peiping remained calm.

All American personnel had been removed from the city by Claire Chennault's China Air Transport Co.

Chiang Kai-Shek was considering advice from his closest advisers that he resign from office, withdraw temporarily, and allow Vice-President Li Tsung-Jen to assume the leadership of the Nationalist Government.

Alger Hiss was indicted for two counts of perjury the previous night by the New York grand jury, just prior to the expiration of its 18-month term, and this date entered a not guilty plea. The charge was based on his denial before the grand jury of having provided secret Government documents to Whittaker Chambers, as Mr. Chambers had recently contended before the grand jury and, prior to that, in the civil defamation suit filed by Mr. Hiss against Mr. Chambers for repeating the previous September, in a "Meet the Press" broadcast, his August HUAC claims that Mr. Hiss was a Communist. Mr. Chambers at that time did not assert that Mr. Hiss had been a spy or provided him briefly with stolen State Department documents for copying and microfilming during the period 1937-38. The second count of perjury was based on Mr. Hiss's denial that he talked to Mr. Chambers during the period of February and March, 1938.

Congressman Richard Nixon of HUAC, who had testified before the grand jury the previous Tuesday, effectively urging the indictment of Mr. Hiss, stated that the indictment vindicated the work done by the Committee "despite criticism from all sources from the President down."

You should have listened to the President and you could have avoided all kinds of mess in your life later. You are going to carry that weight a long time.

Representatives John Rankin and Karl Mundt made similar comments.

Members insisted that they were now going to prove that spying was still going on in the Government.

But, with time fortunately running out on the GOP majority in the 80th Congress, the "worst ever", we shall have to wait until Senator Joseph McCarthy takes up that red herring later.

The Committee also released an additional 26 documents alleged by Mr. Chambers to have been given to him by Mr. Hiss, supplementing the twelve released the previous Sunday.

There might be plans in there for the transistor radio or something of equal moment, such as a toggle switch to turn it on. Better be careful about releasing those.

We note that the headline and opening paragraph of the story erroneously state the common mistake of journalists, that the defendant pleaded "innocent". As we have pointed out previously, because the burden of proof is on the prosecution to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty, and not the defendant to show innocence, we do not say in America that a defendant pleaded "innocent". It conveys a backwards notion of American jurisprudence and grossly misinforms an already vastly misinformed public regarding how courtrooms and criminal justice work in the country. It represents an unthinking and quite seriously flawed understanding of how the system works. So please get it right, reporters and headline writers, or report on the local dog show or something of the kind, less weighty for your vacuous heads to have to consider.

The piece does have Mr. Hiss's plea of "not guilty" properly quoted but that only exacerbates the problem by suggesting that the statement is the same as a "plea of innocent". They are not the same thing. A defendant can enter one of three pleas typically, guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere. There is no "plea of innocent" available in America and no competent judge would accept same. If you want that, move to Franco's Spain.

Fierce arctic weather threatened to delay rescue of the nine stranded American fliers on an 8,000-foot icecap on Greenland after a crash landing of a C-47 transport plane with seven aboard the previous Thursday, followed by a B-17 rescue plane with two aboard crashing into a snow bank near the same location.

The Hoover Commission turned over a 211-page critique of the national defense system, saying that Russian strategy might be to keep defense expense rising to bankrupt the country. It recommended giving the Secretary of Defense more authority over the three military branches, to assure more teamwork, and overhaul the military budget to reduce "prodigal" spending by the military branches. The proposed budgets of the three branches had totaled 30 billion dollars, scaled down by Secretary Forrestal to the President's ceiling of 15 billion. Also recommended was relating scientific research more closely to strategic planning, speeding up mobilization in case of war, and preparing for unconventional means of warfare.

An expressed hope by a GI that he could be home for Christmas had resulted in an airlift which would carry 700 soldiers from Fort Lewis Washington to the East for Christmas.

The Government argued before the Supreme Court this date that it not interfere in the case of the two condemned Japanese generals appealing their sentences of execution on the basis that the international military tribunal in Japan before which they had been tried and convicted was without jurisdiction. The Court would rule the following Monday that it had no jurisdiction over the matter because the tribunal was internationally constituted, not only by U.S. authority.

Ambassador to Greece Henry Grady said that the President favored continuing military aid to Greece to fight the Communist guerrillas. He estimated that 400 million dollars would be required in the next fiscal year for the purpose, compared to about 350 million during the current year. Mr. Grady said that he told the President that he was only moderately optimistic about success in Greece. The President had recently provided Congress a gloomy quarterly report on progress in the war in Greece, reporting setbacks since the previous quarter.

In Raceland, Ky., a man was charged with murder by shotgun of a railroad construction worker by whom his wife claimed she had been made pregnant. The accused was a former coach at the local high school and former principal at an elementary school. The shotgun blast nearly decapitated the man. The defendant claimed that he fired when the man appeared to be pulling a gun after he and his wife had picked up the man in their car and confronted him with the pregnancy.

We think we know what happened.

Mack Bell of The News reports that between the present and Christmas, many congregations in Charlotte would arise to sing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing" and other Christmas carols. A presentation by Davidson and Queens Colleges of Handel's "Messiah" began the season's offering of music on December 5.

Ralph Gibson of The News reports on how drunks and drunken drivers were processed by City and County police, on page 2-A.

Don't drink while reading.

On the editorial page, "Disfranchising New Citizens" tells of the annexation to go into effect in Charlotte the following month drawing attention to the State election laws requiring that a voter had to have lived for four months in the precinct or ward of his residence before voting. The new residents of Charlotte might thus be ineligible to vote in the April primary for the May municipal election. Attorneys advocated delay of the primary until May to obviate the need to test or amend this law. Mayor Herbert Baxter was preparing to submit a request to the Legislature to create an exception to existing law in the case of annexation. The piece favors such a course.

"Congressional Investigations" finds that despite the bungling, headline-seeking tactics of HUAC, there was still a place in the American system for Congressional investigating committees, essential to orderly Government checking on its various departments and the way they did business with public money appropriated to them by Congress.

HUAC had caused a loss of esteem for these committees, but HUAC was only a rotten apple in an otherwise ripe barrel.

The New York City Bar Association had adopted recommendations which would be presented to Congress as a resolution, whereby a clear statement of the subject of investigation would be made, all witnesses would have the right to counsel who could advise on answers, all witnesses could make a supplemental statement, an accurate stenographic record would be preserved and made available to the witnesses, no radio, television or photographs or moving pictures would be allowed during hearings, and all witnesses whose names were mentioned in hearings defamatorily could recall the defaming witness for an hour of cross-examination on the subject as well as call witnesses in his or her own behalf to rebut the charges.

It suggests that it would be better for the nation to adopt such proposals than merely to destroy HUAC.

Let's do both. For what kind of a country but one tending toward Fascism would lend any approbation at all to such Government harassment of private citizens over their past behavior, a decade or more prior, with a world war intervening, calling them before a Committee of Congress with the prospect of either pleading the Fifth Amendment and being prosecuted for contempt of Congress, as were the Hollywood Ten, or affirmatively testifying, denying uncorroborated testimony of admitted liars and traitors, Whittaker Chambers and Elizabeth Bentley, only to be, in the case of Alger Hiss, prosecuted for perjury and eventually convicted, in either case having their lives, if not ruined, significantly impacted permanently.

The fact that Richard Nixon achieved his claim to fame from this tawdry episode in American history forever condemned him in the minds of all fair-minded Americans, regardless of anything else he may have ever accomplished in his public career. For things did not change, ultimately, once he became President. The same tawdry, bitter attack-dog politics, worthy of a third world dictatorship, prevailed to characterize the Nixon years in the White House. Watergate was not simply a break-in of the DNC headquarters on June 17, 1972. It embraced a whole body of continuing violation of citizens' rights, in a scheme first developed and sharpened to a point during Mr. Nixon's tenure on HUAC, before his arrival, little more than a dusty memory of a prewar standing joke in the days of its prior Democratic chairman, Congressman Martin Dies of Texas.

The truth is that Mr. Nixon should have remained in California and practiced law and, perhaps later, written history books. He was unfitted, by his personality, to political life. Of course, that does not always stop others, so...

The ends do not, in our system, justify the means, when those means involve ruining good lives based entirely on absurd hearsay and patent lies.

"The Battle of Ideas" tells of China being about 400 years behind the West in its political and economic thinking, thus being ripe ground for Communism to thrive. China was better prepared by its history to accept Communism than democracy. Sending weaponry only tended to fuel the Communists, as the weapons usually wound up with them after surrender of the Nationalist troops, not armed with an ideology simpatico with the Western viewpoint.

What was thus needed was the realization of the Western democratic ideal, without which China was lost to the West.

Greece, with its democratic tradition, had not been able to use American aid provided under the Truman Doctrine since 1947 to effect more than a stalemate with respect to the Communist guerrillas. So there was no reason to hope for a victory by the Chinese Nationalists, not equipped with that tradition.

The advocacy for non-intervention, it advises, was not similar to that championed by the Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh and the America Firsters of pre-World War II days, who counseled through 1941 non-intervention in Europe, that Nazism was the "wave of the future" to act as a bulwark against Communism—a viewpoint shared at the time by John Foster Dulles. The present situation was merely a realization of the need to place America's limited resources where they would do the most good, in Europe rather than in China.

That Russia could more easily induce cooperation in the Far East was actually a hope for the future, as China would likely learn from its communization the need to overthrow that totalitarian system in favor of democracy. It was the hope of the Western powers on every front.

If the situation were different in China, if Chiang had a strong Government, then the response might be different. But Chiang appeared destined to fall whether there was American intervention or not.

A Congressional Quarterly survey of the Government's financial prospects shows that the following year's budget would set a peacetime record and likely require higher taxes for its support. The piece lists the prospective requirements of defense, foreign aid, interest on public debt, health, housing and education, public works, agricultural price supports, REA loans, and soil conservation payments, anti-inflation controls, the post office, veterans' payments, refunds of tax revenue, and general Government expenditures.

Drew Pearson tells of Grover Whalen, New York's famous greeter, having overheard the only remarks exchanged between the President and Governor Dewey during the campaign. At the opening of Idlewild Airport, the President had asked him why he wanted to get into the White House when there was nothing there but trouble.

Senator-elect Karl Mundt had more sense, he offers, at least a year earlier, than his fellow members of HUAC. He understood right from wrong. A year earlier, he had written a constituent in South Dakota that he and Congressman Nixon were developing a set of procedures to try to govern the Committee, a plan which they hoped to implement when chairman J. Parnell Thomas—now facing indictment for defrauding the Government, for which he would be convicted and go to jail—, returned. Mr. Mundt said that Mr. Thomas was hard to control, was a publicity seeker of an impetuous nature. Mr. Mundt did not like his tendency to speak out publicly about individuals before they had a chance to defend themselves before the Committee.

Now, under the acting chairmanship of Mr. Mundt, with Mr. Nixon at his side, the Committee was doing little but seeking publicity in the "pumpkin papers" episode, with Whittaker Chambers and his accusation that he received the "secret documents" from Alger Hiss when he worked in the State Department in the period 1937-38. The attorneys for both Mr. Hiss and Mr. Chambers had alerted the Justice Department on November 9 of the existence of the documents, having been produced by Mr. Chambers in response to a Hiss request for discovery in the Hiss defamation suit against Mr. Chambers for accusing Mr. Hiss of being a Communist, but not a spy.

Robert Stripling of HUAC heard about the documents three weeks later on December 1, via Jerry Klutz of the Washington Post—Mr. Pearson's home newspaper. Mr. Stripling then sought out Mr. Chambers and, after Mr. Chambers initially balked at providing any documents without a subpoena, gave additional microfilmed documents, those in the pumpkin, to his old friend Mr. Stripling on the night of December 4 on his Maryland farm. It appeared that placing the microfilm in the pumpkin was no more than a scheme to attract newspaper headlines as the microfilm had not been placed there until after the Chambers-Stripling conversation.

Mr. Pearson states that HUAC lost two rolls of microfilm because of bungling at the photographic lab—a charge which Mr. Nixon claimed to the New York grand jury was untrue, testimony to which the public and the press were not at the time privy, being stuck in the bathroom window with the sash weight. The Committee was so anxious, opines Mr. Pearson, to keep the pumpkin papers away from Justice that it sent the microfilm to the Veterans Administration to be developed—also refuted by Mr. Nixon, who testified to the grand jury that the Committee went to the V.A. because Justice had instructed the FBI not to assist or cooperate with the Committee in its investigation.

For some reason, the Heart of Atlanta comes to mind, but we set that aside for the moment.

Meanwhile, D. M. Ladd, assistant director of the FBI, went to HUAC and asked that the microfilm be turned over to him. Assistant Attorney General Alex Campbell made the same request on behalf of Justice, as did Attorney General Tom Clark. A week later, Mr. Nixon and Mr. Mundt relented and turned over the microfilm.

Mr. Campbell had asked former State Department employee Henry J. Wadleigh, also accused by Mr. Chambers of providing him with State Department documents, albeit documents he claimed not to have preserved, not to testify before HUAC, as 18 USC 3486 provided that no evidence adduced before a committee of the House could be used in a criminal prosecution. (This particular part of Mr. Pearson's narrative does not appear to make good sense as Mr. Wadleigh would appear therefore to want to testify before HUAC in that event, to avoid potential prosecution—unless Mr. Wadleigh was cooperating with the Government in the Hiss case or other cases. Or, unless Mr. Pearson has confused the matter and the person in question was actually George Crosley.) Mr. Campbell had warned HUAC in a formal letter not to call witnesses in the matter as it could compromise use of the evidence in a subsequent criminal prosecution. But again, says Mr. Pearson, Mr. Nixon and Mr. Mundt had continued their frantic hundt for headlines.

Parenthetically, the code provision in question would appear only to prevent use of the actual Committee testimony for impeachment purposes or the like and not actually prevent calling of the same witnesses or adducing the same evidence in a subsequent criminal prosecution without reference to the prior Committee hearings, being merely an extension of the traditional hearsay rule to negate an exception generally recognized with regard to prior statements under oath.

Secretary of Defense James Forrestal was not at the annual Gridiron Dinner because, initially, he had decided not to attend a month earlier, but then changed his mind only to find that all seats were taken. He then lost his mind. It was all a plot by the visitors to Roswell back in July, 1947.

The names of the men who would revive the old Philadelphia Record are provided, including former Governor of Ohio James Cox, who ran as the Democratic nominee for the presidency with FDR as the vice-presidential nominee in 1920.

Moonshiners were 50 percent more active than in 1947 and IRB agents were responding to the increase.

Marquis Childs tells of the country having sent around two billion dollars during the previous two years to China in military and economic aid, only to have a large portion of it wind up in the hands of the Communists as Nationalist troops surrendered. Republicans who had closely studied the matter believed nothing could be done at this juncture to save the Chiang Kai-Shek regime. Only Congressman Walter Judd of Minnesota was of the opinion that if Chiang consolidated his forces in South China, he could preserve that area with massive immediate aid from the U.S.

Part of the blame lay with those who charged that official policy-makers in Washington were sympathetic to Communism and undermining Chiang, increasing thereby the timidity of the State Department to try to effect a sensible course in China after the end of the war with Japan. All official reports indicated that Chiang was doing as much as he could to undermine himself.

American policy-makers sought to prevail on Chiang not to undertake currency reform as he had, that it would lead to greater economic disaster than had already befallen China, which was what then took place. The savings of the middle-class were largely wiped out, resulting in a defection of the middle-class and many among the wealthy to the Communists.

Based on miscalculations of Japanese strength at the time in early 1945, decisions were made at Yalta which had disastrous effects.

With the virtual certainty looming of a Communist-dominated China, it became paramount for the U.S. to formulate a constructive policy for Southeast Asia—else, that spoonful sugar will not be very tasty, rendering the Year of the Pig.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop inform of the President's left and right wing advisers engaged in another bitter struggle over economic controls and taxation, with the decision having been made finally to favor strong controls and much higher taxes. The advocates for boldness had been White House counsel Clark Clifford and Dr. Leon Keyserling of the Council of Economic Advisers, having formulated the President's ten-point economic program to stem inflation, put forward to the Congress a year earlier against nearly unanimous dissent from the Cabinet. But this time the Cabinet had remained largely aloof from the battle. Now, in addition to Treasury Secretary John W. Snyder, the primary advocates of caution were Dr. Edwin Nourse, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Budget Director James Webb.

The economic controls to be proposed in January would be the same as those of a year earlier and again the previous summer, including controls of consumer and bank credit, regulation of commodities speculation, allocation and inventory controls, strengthened rent controls, selective price controls and standby rationing power over scarce goods. The 80th Congress, during the special "Turnip Day" summer session called by the President—an unwitting precursor to HUAC's counter in Squash-Pumpkin Day—, had passed only limited controls on bank and consumer credit. The other controls were not even considered but would be by the new Democratically controlled 81st Congress. The President, flush from his victory, would now push for these controls, as well as higher taxes.

The issue on taxes was whether to seek higher corporate taxes, favored by Treasury, or to favor an excess profits tax, as favored by the bold White House faction and recommended by the President at the special session. Industry had enjoyed huge profits since the war and it was an open invitation to labor to seek a fourth round of postwar wage hikes, further fueling inflation. So the excess profits tax was touted as the means by which to harness runaway inflation.

The Congress would be loath to accept these remedies, but prudence called for such strong measures when the world depended on a stable American economy.

A letter writer tells of the ongoing production of "fantastic weapons that will make this world a vestibule of hell", designed to bring sudden death to peoples and cities thousands of miles away.

Did you just wake up from a four-year coma?

He says that the blood of Jesus Christ, and that alone, would cleanse the world of its sins. Otherwise, "the sands of time are sinking and the blackness of earth's darkest night comes on apace, but it is the blackness that will, thank God, herald the dawning of earth's golden day."

Maybe a four-hundred year coma, that is, a Golden Coma?

A letter writer wants The News to recognize the American Storage & Warehouse Co., in business since 1908 but omitted from mention in the 60th anniversary edition of December 11.

The editors express regret for the omission.

They were just being nice. Truth is nobody cares about your old warehouse. It could burn down tomorrow and people would just go to another warehouse to do business. A warehouse is a warehouse. Face facts and live with it. You operate a dull, mundane, imminently replaceable business, even if being one which is necessary to the community. So stop complaining for lack of free publicity and get back to work, with your warehouse eyes.

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