The Charlotte News

Monday, July 12, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Arab strongholds of Er Ramle and Lydda surrendered this date to the Israeli Army following a two-day fight. The fall of Er Ramle opened the way for an attack by the Israeli forces on Latrun, the last barrier to the supply road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. It also blunted the last Arab offensive threatening Tel Aviv. An Israeli spokesman cautioned that the crucial confrontation on Latrun, however, still lay ahead. Latrun Hill had never fallen to a direct assault in the 3,000-year history of Palestine.

The first air raid ever occurring in Jerusalem took place the previous day when two Egyptian Spitfires dive-bombed the city's western fringe. Other Egyptian planes bombed Tel Aviv.

Moscow propaganda claimed that Count Folke Bernadotte, U.N. mediator, had inflamed the enmity between the Arabs and Jews and was acting as an agent for Wall Street to allow American occupation of Palestine. Jews also were critical of Count Bernadotte for his proposal that Jerusalem be placed under the administration of Trans-Jordan with U.N. oversight.

Britain had temporarily held up payment of two million dollars worth of aid to King Abdullah's Arab Legion. The effort was to compel him to accept a U.N. call for extension of the four-week truce period, expired on Friday. The payment was a quarterly installment on eight million dollars worth of aid paid annually to Trans-Jordan under the terms of a treaty. Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin stated that Britain's commitments to the U.N. superseded any treaty obligation.

A mysterious B-17, the pilot of which had refused to file a flight plan or state his destination when he left Westchester County Airport in New York carrying ten passengers, landed in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was believed to be headed to Palestine with ten Israeli air recruits.

Britain had reportedly sent large numbers of troops to West Germany as a result of the blockade crisis in Berlin. A source stated that many of the troops would be flown into Berlin and that the troops were reinforcements, not replacements. The British War Office, however, denied the authenticity of the report.

A group of 16 F-80 Shooting Stars, jet aircraft, were set to leave Bangor, Maine, for West Germany after arriving from Selfridge Field in Michigan. They would be the first American jets deployed in Europe.

As the Democratic national convention got underway this date in Philadelphia, Justice William O. Douglas, saying that no sitting member of the Supreme Court should ever seek political office, stated that he was not a candidate for either the presidential or vice-presidential nominations. The President had said that Justice Douglas was his first choice as a running mate. He had also turned down the second spot in 1944.

It now appeared that Kentucky Senator Alben Barkley, Minority Leader, was the next choice of the President. Southern delegates generally reacted favorably to this news, had been opposed to Justice Douglas.

Florida Senator Claude Pepper announced that he was entering the convention race for the nomination. He attacked the civil rights program of the President, not because he was opposed to it, but because the President had "ignored the practicalities."

The Democratic platform committee was reported to have drawn a preliminary plank on civil rights duplicative of the 1944 plank, making a general statement against discrimination, but proposing no specific program. Southerners were reported to have lost their effort to have a states' rights plank inserted to offset the civil rights plank. Some Southerners were threatening to walk out of the convention as a result.

This first night of the convention would have a keynote address by Senator Barkley plus addresses by former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins and Mrs. India Edwards, DNC women's division executive director.

The North Carolina delegation, led by Senator Clyde Hoey and Governor Gregg Cherry, had generally agreed to support the President and the platform. Senator Hoey said that Senator Pepper would be "far worse than Truman", and other delegates expressed the desire to remove Justice Douglas from the bench if they could.

They could join Congressman Gerald Ford in the latter 1960's in that supremely dignified effort.

There was a mystery over what the North Carolina Governor whispered into the ear of the Governor of South Carolina, Strom Thurmond, a quadrennial tradition which used to consist of the statement, "It's a long time between drinks."

Whatever Governor Cherry told Governor Thurmond on this occasion, we know what he should have said, something to do with the corn shucks glistening under the dew in the moonlight.

On the editorial page, "Our Fight to Control Polio" tells of the summer months being the worst for the spread of polio, with the spraying of DDT and sanitation having proved the most effective deterrents. The City Council of Charlotte had agreed to fund the spraying of the community with DDT to arrest the spread, especially prevalent in the state during this summer. While DDT had yet to be proved as a means to stop the carriers of polio, it had been endorsed by state health officials to arrest the flies.

The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis was continuing its research to determine a cure.

They could instead use syrup at strategic locations and then trap the flies, or perhaps spread the syrup evenly over the high-tension wires and thereby electrocute them when they would alight thereon, in perfect retribution for inflicting pain on mankind.

"Time to Call Halt to Arabs" finds good but overdue the State Department's announcement that it was working through the U.N. with British cooperation to effect a permanent end to the fighting in Palestine. It was about time that the U.S. undertook more effort to see that the partition plan, which it had originally proposed, be implemented per the U.N. provisions of the previous November 29, and to defend the existence of the State of Israel.

The reasons for the hesitancy had been the fear that offending the Arabs might compromise access to oil needed by the U.S. military in Europe and access to the strategic bases in the region. The absence heretofore of pressure on the British to do more had resulted apparently from the respect for the British empire interests in the Near and Middle East.

But not protecting Israel would mean that the Soviets would have ripe ground for entry to the Middle East. It also distracted the U.N. from pressing issues dealing with the Soviets. And worst of all, the Arabs and the British stood to lose the most in such a nationalist and imperialist struggle with the Soviets. The State Department ought be able to make these stakes clear to the parties.

"Pepper's Rally for Liberals" finds Senator Claude Pepper's surprising announcement that he was a candidate for the Democratic nomination to be one of the most daring political moves of the year, an attempt to re-assert control of the party by the New Dealers.

FDR had said that the Democrats could win only as the "party of militant liberalism". The truth of the statement had been driven home during the Truman Administration and especially in the anti-Truman revolt of 1948.

Senator Pepper could become a formidable candidate if the big city bosses, the Americans for Democratic Action, and the labor leaders coalesced around him. His progressive stance would appeal to labor and diverse racial groups, would therefore be attractive to the California, New York, and Illinois delegations. Such a nominee also might draw the support of Henry Wallace.

But given the Truman organization and the Southern revolt, it would likely be a failed effort, yet served notice that the wind was again blowing in the direction of "militant liberalism".

A piece from The Congressional Quarterly lists the groups who had worked for and against the housing planks in the GOP and Democratic platforms. The new RNC chairman, Congressman Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania, favored the Taft-Ellender-Wagner long-term housing bill, which had been sidetracked in the House.

The housing industry was against slum clearance and public housing, but favored extending and increasing FHA loans and providing a secondary mortgage market for veterans under Fannie Mae.

Drew Pearson, in Philadelphia, tells of Harry Truman being the favorite candidate of the Republicans, one not so obvious reason for which being that they had saved up their juiciest Truman scandals for use during the campaign. One such intrigue was the collection of funds by White House military aide General Harry Vaughan in the 1946 Kansas City Congressional primary election, in which the President's hand-picked candidate, Enos Axtell, defeated the Administration-resistant incumbent Roger Slaughter, only to lose the general election.

On that one, the Republicans would have been better served to stress the obvious scandal involving instead the seventh game of the 1946 World Series won by St. Louis, while the Supreme Court visited the President at the White House.

Another scandal was a close association between White House hanger-on William Helis, a racehorse owner from New Orleans, and a partner of gambling kingpin Frank Costello. Mr. Helis had met with the President and was a pal of General Vaughan. Mr. Helis, who was Greek, along with his associate John Maragon, had great influence at the White House on Greek aid. The Republicans wondered how much the association had to do with creation of the Truman Doctrine in March, 1947, ultimately giving financial military aid to Greece and Turkey.

General Vaughan had convinced the President to attend the unveiling of a bust of Simon Bolivar in Bolivar, Mo., without the President being aware that the idea was cooked up by a publishing house to sell pamphlets on Bolivar and Latin American countries, ultimately embarrassing Latin American relations. The President of Venezuela, Romulo Gallegos, a true democrat, agreed to attend the ceremony, also without knowledge of the pamphlet promotion scheme. Nothing was wrong with the matter save the coupling of it with a commercial venture. It was an example of the kind of thing into which the President had a tendency to stumble naively on advice of those close to him, members of the "Missouri Gang".

Marquis Childs tells of Senator Vandenberg having a hand in the drafting of the diplomatic note addressed to Moscow objecting to the Soviet blockade of Berlin, albeit edited at the instance of the French and British Governments, as the note was sent jointly. His role was merely a continuation of the bipartisan foreign policy position he had held since the end of the war. Senator Vandenberg agreed with the State Department and military view that to be forced out of Berlin at the instance of the Soviets would be irreparably to weaken the U.S. position in Europe.

Since neither the U.S. nor the Soviet Union wanted war, both sides might assume that they could carry the crisis a long way. But the attitude posed a grave danger that both sides might push the matter so far that there would be no recourse save going to war.

What Senator Vandenberg's role would be in a Dewey administration remained unclear. Since the GOP convention, he had talked several times with Mr. Dewey's foreign policy adviser and presumptive Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. Mr. Childs suggests, however, that Mr. Dulles might not want that role for its being too conspicuous and difficult, an ill fitment to his retiring personality. Senator Vandenberg wanted to stay in the Senate as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Millions of Americans would expect President Dewey to work with him.

James Marlow discusses the spread of radio across the land, as 912 AM and only 48 FM stations had transmitted during the war, whereas now there were 2,000 AM stations and 600 applications pending, with 1,000 FM stations authorized by the FCC and 600 broadcasting.

Thirty commercial television stations were in operation with 70 more authorized by the FCC. During the war, there had only been six experimental stations.

There were also 75,000 amateur ham operators licensed by the FCC and 55,000 other types licensed, such as police and fire channels.

The FCC had been created in 1934, was comprised of seven commissioners appointed for seven years by the President, only four of whom could be members of the same political party. There was no fee for a license but an investigation took place of any applicant. The FCC had 14,000 employees nationwide who acted as police of the airwaves.

Samuel Grafton, no longer carried by The News, posits, in a piece of the previous day, that were President Truman considered electable by the Democratic delegates to the convention, he would be popular regardless of his politics. Many delegates hated FDR but nevertheless stuck by him because they knew he was a winner. The present delegates did not hate the President, in fact liked him. But they lacked confidence in him.

During his three years as President, Mr. Truman had led crusades to rid the Government of radical elements, firing most New Dealers displeasing to the Democratic leadership. He had sought the favor of Congress and shied away from heavy use of presidential power, had sought to reverse the practices which had made FDR unpopular with the leadership. Yet, the Democratic leaders wanted a change.

The paradox was thus formed that if one wanted to curry favor with the politicians, one would lose favor with the people and, in the end, with the politicians, too.

Whereas Mr. Truman began by admiring Congress, having been a Senator for ten years, he now attacked it more vehemently than ever had FDR. And he was appearing more liberal in certain areas than had FDR. But it was all too late.

The convention, however, in rejecting Mr. Truman was nonetheless seeking a replacement who was in the mold of Mr. Truman. If it were to find him, it would not, in the end, like him very much. He suggests that the Democrats abandon this paradoxical search and nominate someone they already did not like, such as Justice Douglas, hopeful that fondness might come later.

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