The Charlotte News

Monday, August 9, 1948


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Big Three ambassadors to Moscow had met at the Kremlin for the third time in the previous week, meeting again with Foreign Commissar V. M. Molotov this date for three hours, concerning resolution of the Berlin crisis. After leaving the Kremlin, they went to the British Embassy, where they appeared in good spirits, but remained mum about the results of their conferences.

Meanwhile, in Berlin, the British-licensed newspaper Telegraf stated that the Russians were digging trenches and mounting weapons, including rocket guns, along the border between the Soviet occupation zone and Western Germany. The information had come from Germans who claimed that they were pressed into service to dig the trenches. U. S. border officials, however, said that they were not aware of anything to confirm this report insofar as weapons, but that the Russians had, for several months, been strengthening their border with guards and trenches for the purpose of halting illegal traffic along country roads from the Russian zone into the American zone.

Thirty B-29's were arriving in Britain, boosting the complement to 90 for joint training with the Royal Air Force. The other sixty had arrived in July.

Before HUAC, Victor Perlo, accused by confessed former Communist espionage courier Elizabeth Bentley of leading one of two principal spy rings in the Government, testified that he had never violated the laws or interests of the country and said the charges were the "inventions of irresponsible sensation seekers". He included Whittaker Chambers, who also had identified Mr. Perlo as an underground leader of the Communists prior to the war, in the latter group. He said that the grand jury had already refused to indict on the charges. He refused under the Fifth Amendment to say whether he had ever been a Communist or knew Ms. Bentley, Mr. Chambers, Alger Hiss, Lauchlin Currie, Nathan Silvermaster, John Abt and others named in the hearings. He stated that he was presently an economist for the Progressive Party and had been employed by the Government in the National Recovery Administration between 1933 and 1935, with the Home Owners' Loan Corporation between 1935 and 1937, at which point he joined the Brookings Institution until fall, 1939 when he returned to Government work in the Commerce Department, where he remained for 18 months. He then joined the Office of Price Administration, not yet called by that name, and remained there until early 1943, when he joined the War Production Board. In late 1945, he joined the Treasury Department. In each case he was employed as an economist and statistician. He admitted that he had been investigated as a security risk and was asked to resign from the Government, which he did.

Ms. Bentley then again testified that Mr. Perlo had led one of the two groups from which she received secret information on airplane production seven to nine times in 1944 which she passed to the Soviets. She said that she believed he had acquired the information during his time at WPB. (Committee chief investigator Robert Stripling then entered into the record the purported secret information which Mr. Perlo was allegedly provided by the Resources Protection Board, about which, during questioning, he denied recollection, eventually stating that he received no such information as that described by Ms. Bentley though having had access to some secret information.) Ms. Bentley met him, she claimed, at times in the New York apartment of Mary Price of North Carolina and at other times in the apartment of attorney John Abt. She said in answer to a question that she had been informed by her contact that there were other groups, probably "innumerable", in addition to the so-called Perlo and Silvermaster groups of spies in the Government, but did not know the other groups or their leaders by name.

The whole Government was Communist, including most especially the Congress. Everybody knows that.

The New York Police Department, at the request of the Soviet consulate, asked the New Jersey Police to produce a Russian-born school teacher, teacher of children of members of the Russian delegation to the U.N., after he reported the previous day to the FBI. The Soviets wanted to return the teacher and his family to Russia. The New York Times quoted him as saying that he did not want to return to the Soviet Union and intended to place himself under the protection of the American Government. HUAC expressed an interest in hearing from him.

Senator Taft said that the special session, adjourned Saturday, had given the President all he needed to control inflation which was not extreme or which did not lead to a depression, and foresaw no need to reconvene Congress before the new Congress would be seated in January. Inflation, he said, was the product of the war and Administration policies since 1933. He said that the President's anger toward Congress could only be settled by the election.

It will be.

Some of the President's best friends on Capitol Hill urged him to sign the limited housing bill and the banking and installment credit controls passed by the special session.

The President was preparing to appoint Maurice Tobin, former Mayor of Boston running for Governor of Massachusetts, as the new Secretary of Labor to replace the deceased Lewis Schwellenbach. Mr. Tobin had not yet accepted the appointment, though he had allowed his name to be submitted to the Senate before the adjournment of the special session. The Senate had not acted and so it would become, if finalized, a recess appointment, subject to confirmation when the Senate reconvened—presumably not until January after the overwhelming election of Governor Dewey, confirming of the wisdom of the Republicans adjourning the special session of Congress after two weeks with little or nothing accomplished besides complaint against the President and presenting afresh a public exposition of the witch-hunt by HUAC for Commies in the Government.

Personal income reached a record high monthly rate, averaged for the year, at 211.9 billion dollars in June, most of the increase the result of higher wages and higher farm prices. The previous record rate had been established the prior January at 209.4 billion. For the first half of the year, the average rate was 208.1 billion, compared to 199.9 billion during the second half of 1947. The income for 1947 was 195.2 billion. Coupled with the income tax reduction, disposable income rose four percent over the first quarter of the year.

The seventh largest cotton crop was expected for 1948 at over 15.1 million bales, 3.3 million higher than in 1947 and 3.1 million higher than the 1937-46 average. The record yield was 18.9 million set in 1937.

Near Charlotte, a man who had picked up two young male hitchhikers in his car was robbed at gunpoint on Wilkinson Boulevard heading from Gastonia to the city. He stopped the car and was ordered to walk into the woods, which he did, and the two then rode away in his car. But within twenty minutes they had been apprehended and identified by the man after a truck driver saw the man being forced to walk into the woods and the men commandeer his car, nearly then turning it over as they turned around in the road, whereupon they jumped from the car and also ran into the woods. The truck driver found the owner at which point he called the police. The police caught the men walking along the highway. One of them admitted the robbery.

On the editorial page, "Truman's Political Marathon" discusses the intent of the President's campaign to remain steadily active for the 86 days until election day, November 2. He had plans to make whistle stops in the East, North, and West, possibly the South if time permitted.

The piece finds the President's energy remarkable as the editorialist admits to apathy. The Republicans in Congress had not aroused any sense of enthusiasm for their program, any more than had the President. The piece confesses gratitude to Governor Dewey for remaining mostly mum since his nomination in June.

Such was all wrong, it confesses, and the next day, intended to draft a piece condemning the inattentiveness of the public to the special session. But this date, it limited itself to criticism of Mr. Truman's campaign strategists.

The whole nation appeared to suffer from lethargy during the special session called by the President. No private citizens were called to testify for or against the President's legislative program, including his inflation control package. Mail to both Congressmen and the White House was light.

There were headlines aplenty regarding the filibuster by the Southerners of the anti-poll tax measure, but most of the public had tuned elsewhere, the enthusiasm being limited to the professional political participants in Washington.

It concludes that the country was suffering from too much politics and that the Truman strategists had taken the wrong turn in raising the volume, adding to the sense of weary confusion. It thinks that Governor Dewey could win the election without saying another word.

Time will tell.

"A Knowing Hand in Traffic" compliments the action of the City's new Traffic Engineer in bringing finally to the city a comprehensive traffic plan, the latest example of which was the determination to extend the downtown one-way street system along four streets, based on a study of traffic patterns.

A piece by Melchior Palyi from the Saturday Evening Post, titled "Public Housing Isn't the Answer", finds that public housing and slum clearance were not answers to eradicating poor housing conditions. He contends that inevitably an artificial line had to be drawn on income, below which one would qualify for housing subsidies, above which one would not, providing not only inequities but an incentive to earn less.

He offers as alternative stricter housing codes, as had worked in Baltimore. In 1947, 93 percent of housing was in satisfactory repair compared to 88 percent in 1940. When whole neighborhoods were too deteriorated to permit rehabilitation, the local government would buy the block and then turn it over for carefully circumscribed development by private contractors. Such plans had worked in Indianapolis and Chicago.

Of course, he fails to account for allowing subsidy grants on a graduated income scale, with a gray area in the middle where grants would need to be repaid to the Government in graduated percentages dependent on income qualification, forgoing the bright line rule which he assumes.

A piece by Reed Sarratt, formerly of The News, Associate Editor of the Baltimore Evening Sun, tells of the project undertaken in 1944 in Baltimore to arrest the blight in the central city. The Baltimore Housing Law Enforcement Committee was then formed, comprised of nine City officials. It began by cleaning up one single block on an experimental basis, taking about 18 months to bring it into compliance with City codes. In 1946, the program was expanded to include 16 blocks and in 1947, 26 blocks.

There was, however, little coordination of effort, as the police court magistrates dismissed cases routinely against violating landlords or fined them only a skimption.

Reorganization limited the committee to five persons, each from five City departments. But leniency in the courts continued to hamper enforcement of code provisions. Citizens then proposed creation of a special court for handling housing cases, on which the Governor cooperated in setting up. A special sanitation police corps was also created, devoting full time to enforcement of the housing code.

The reorganized system had increased the number of persons cited by four-fold and the number fined by 26 times. The special police were able to obtain correction of more than 17,000 housing violations without any court action. A large number of dismissals had resulted from the effort of the special court magistrate to try to obtain cooperation in fixing the violations rather than stressing fines.

While the program had hardly scratched the surface, it was a beginning toward elimination of the blight plaguing the city.

Drew Pearson discusses again the Republican Senate caucus on the legislative agenda for the special session, telling of the discussion over whether to amend the displaced persons law which would admit 200,000 European refugees by 1950, limiting eligible refugees to those who had fled to Germany before December, 1945, working to exclude 90 percent of the Jews. The bill also effectively excluded Catholics. Senator Chapman Revercomb of West Virginia, who had introduced the controversial amendments, defended it. Others, including Senators Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, Alex Smith of New Jersey, and Irving Ives of New York, wanted the law revised.

Senator Taft favored withdrawal of the anti-poll tax bill in the face of the Southern filibuster and not submitting to the states a proposal for a Constitutional amendment banning the poll tax. Senator Ives agreed, saying it was too late for the latter action. Senator Clyde Reed of Kansas argued that the Republicans were committed by their platform to sending the issue to the states. Senator Vandenberg echoed Senator Ives, however, in finding the most important issue to be doing away with the filibuster by revising Senate rules the following January—after the resounding incipient Republican victory. That was the course on which agreement was reached and Senator Curly Brooks of Illinois was appointed to head a committee to study it.

Former Texas Governor Coke Stevenson, running in a run-off primary for the Senate against Congressman Lyndon Johnson, had gotten the nickname "Cake" on Capitol Hill for his desire to have his cake and eat it, too, anent the Taft-Hartley Act. During a Washington press conference, he had referred reporters to the newspapers for his stand on the Act. But when questioned about the absence of a prior statement in the press, he said that he had already made his statement. His assistant then chimed in by saying that Mr. Stevenson did not intend to allow the press to construct his campaign and he would answer the questions he wanted to answer. Mr. Stevenson then continued to hem and haw, saying at one point that the press questions reminded him of the lawyer who asked a witness, "Have you stopped beating your wife?" A reporter then asked him whether he wished to have his cake and eat it, too, thus the new moniker.

Governor Stevenson had managed to get AFL to believe that he opposed Taft-Hartley while allowing Texas businessmen to believe that he favored it.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop state that a Republican Senatorial campaign committee had found that a Democratic Senate was a serious possibility in 1949, as six Republican seats were shaky, only four needed to return control to the Democrats. Senator Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, a normally Democratic state, had his chances imperiled by the nomination for vice-president of Senator Alben Barkley of that state. Mr. Cooper, they find, had been a valuable member of the Senate.

But Senator Wayland Brooks of Illinois, a puppet of Chicago Tribune publisher Bertie McCormick, was a different case. He would be no great loss to the Senate. Professor Paul Douglas was a formidable opponent in that race.

Similarly, Senator Joseph Ball of Minnesota faced a tough challenge from Mayor Hubert Humphrey of Minneapolis. Senator Ball had supported FDR in 1944 and antagonized his fellow Republicans. And after building a reputation as a liberal, he became one of the worst reactionaries in the Senate.

Both of those races would have a Progressive Party opponent who presented a wild card in the race.

Senator Chapman Revercomb of West Virginia, Senator Edward Robertson of Wyoming, and Representative Robert Rizley of Oklahoma, bidding for an open Republican Senate seat, all were also shaky. Senator Revercomb was opposed by former Senator Matthew Neely, an "oratorical left-wing hack" who was nevertheless ahead in the polls. Governor Robert Kerr was likely to defeat Mr. Rizley. Lester Hunt in Wyoming would probably be the victor over Senator Robertson.

The Democrats also had some problems. Republicans enjoyed surprising strength in North Carolina and Democrats in Montana and New Mexico were threatened.

In Tennessee, Congressman Estes Kefauver, just nominated by the Democrats in the Senate race, could be defeated by former RNC chairman and former Congressman Carroll Reece. Boss Ed Crump of Memphis had referred to Mr. Kefauver as a "pet coon". He would not be backing Mr. Kefauver, giving Mr. Reece a chance.

It would be worse than they suggest for the Republicans, losing nine seats, going from a six seat majority to a twelve seat minority.

And there was no surprising Republican strength evident in North Carolina by November.

Barnet Nover tells of one of the underlying assumptions to ERP and its success being that trade between Eastern and Western Europe would resume at levels even greater than before the war. The ancillary question was whether Russia would allow its satellites to participate in ERP. Russia had stood thus far unalterably opposed to the program for both itself and its satellites, despite a desire by Czechoslovakia and Poland to participate.

Russia had been seeking in the meantime to bring the countries of Eastern Europe within its economic sphere, but had met with little success. Russia instead had undertaken a disguised system of looting its satellites, with the result of growing resentment in each regarding the failure of Russia to adhere to promises to send capital goods, machinery, and raw materials for development of industry. Only the West could now supply these satellites.

In consequence, to quell revolutionary ardor, Russia had been forced to permit some trade with the West, such as in Poland, where coal production was expanding, with an export market only available in Western Europe. Yugoslavia's Communist Party charged that the trade restrictions imposed by Russia had not helped the recovery effort in the country. It stood as a warning to the Kremlin of what could happen throughout Eastern Europe.

Russia, in consequence, had been seeking ways to allow some degree of aid from ERP without appearing to admit defeat. Thus, Russia had joined seventeen other nations at the U.N. Economic and Social Council meeting in Geneva in adopting a resolution which had the intent of removing East-West trade barriers.

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