The Charlotte News

Sunday, July 21, 1940



Site Ed. Note: "Squirrel Cage" lays out in six paragraphs a virtual map of what would precisely cause the event to come sixteen and a half months after this day's column appeared. It could not be stated more accurately or succinctly--even with sixty years worth of hindsight on the facts or with every classified document on the matter declassified, some too treed thick history texts opining all but the obvious to the contrary notwithstanding.

We might also note in passing that with that precious 20-20 hindsight even in our store, it is our opinion at least that there is little else the United States might have done at the time with respect to supplies of oil flowing to Japan. Though the Administration's official policy by the fall of 1940 was to embargo all U.S. oil to belligerents including Japan for its efforts on China, oil continued freely flowing, though in reduced quantities, from California oilfields to Japan through at least the first half of 1941. (See one of Cash's last editorials, "Oil for Foe", April 28, 1941) But if the Administration enforced its embargo, it knew that a Japan with only limited oil reserves for a specific duration meant virtually a certain move into the East Indies to obtain it. And with that, there would be no quenching that grand hunger for Empire on which it was hell-bent. But with some limited quantities slipping through the embargo, the hope no doubt was that Japan might be encouraged to join instead the Allies, cease its war on China, and enjoy the fruits of a freed economy in the process. Dreams of Empire by the Tiger, however, proved the winner which ultimately spoiled the kitty. It took a couple of little cars and a bunch of ten-buck apiece transistor radios blaring "All Shook Up" to our parents' consternation in the late 1950's to begin to get it back to health and equilibrium. (And, incidentally, one of those cars was not the "Purple People Eater" or the other one sort of like it but which was "unsafe at any speed", rear-engine cute little ones being such in their engineering that the added thrust does not compensate, on balance, for their backward weight on constant velocity joints, kind of like a squirrel cage--not to mention though their more modern experimental cousins of the front-end drive variety which sacrifice braking for the combination of thrust and weight on the front Axis. Get it?)

Note also the editorial on the world of nuts and the two editorials on the ABC powers, each entitled "Monkey Wrench", on July 27 and 30, respectively.

For an earlier piece on the transfer of the Fleet to Pearl Harbor, see "Pearl Harbor", September 28, 1939,

Exit Jim

Seven Years of Office Have Cost Him No Loss in Respect

The Democratic Party has taken three sockos in rapid succession:

1. The third term.

2. Wallace for Vice-President.

3. The resignation of Jim Farley.

Time was when the resignation of Jim either as Postmaster-General or National Chairman would have been eminently in order. This repositing in one man of two such irreconcilable offices was out of harmony with the note of high idealism which Mr. Roosevelt was sounding in the party's name. But Jim held on, and in the latter years of the New Deal it began to be generally understood that he was taking the rap and saying nothing in his own defense.

Not, mind you, that Jim turns red when caught playing politics on either a ward or national scale. Jim is first of all a party man. Andrew Jackson is his hero, and "to the victor belong the spoils" is his motto.

But his unfailing good humor in the face of criticism and ridicule, his rugged loyalty to the chief who overrode him but kept him hanging obediently on, his refusal to "take a walk" or otherwise to play the child, have combined to give Jim Farley's exit the convincing touch of dignity and manliness.

If one felt like laying it on thick, it could be sincerely said, Well done, good and faithful servant.


Silly Time

Nutsy Notes Concerning a World Full of Nuts

In the heavens the dog star galloped ominously into view.

In Berlin, Germany, a man named Adolf Hitler, a former housepainter, explained that it broke his heart to hurt people and destroy beautiful things.

In Charlotte, N.C., the thermometer stood at 92 at 10 o'clock of a Saturday morning, the sidewalk rose up and slapped down pedestrians, the platinum air-conditioner was out of commission in the editorial ivory tower which itself had got down nearly to earth, and it looked as if a new Blitzkrieg was about to make the life of editors harder. It seems always to get hot like that in Charlotte when Blitzkriegs are in progress, which, as we have remarked before, seems hardly fair.

In New York City four WPA artists were quizzed by the police for six hours as probable Nazi agents after they were caught sketching the sunrise.

In Virginia a judge threw out all the evidence in a case, gave it to the jury as a formality required by law. They retired, came back to report that they couldn't agree. The judge ordered a new trial.

Somewhere in North Carolina, a bantam rooster turned mama to a brood of chicks.

In High Point the Police Department sadly complained that it had a horse and didn't want a horse--would the owner please come and get him, for the hay-burner had an appetite like Tony Galento's.

At Moultrie, Ga., a gobbler was found setting on seven potatoes, trying to hatch out seven little turkeys.

Which seemed to identify him as the only relatively sane creature still left at large.


90 or 87?

County Tax Rate Appears To Be Set 3 Cents Too High

Tomorrow the County Commissioners are expected to fix the new tax rate at 90 cents, 5 cents more than last year. Part of this increase is to be explained by the addition of the three-cent Library tax, which was mandatory upon the Commissioners.

People who complain chronically about high taxes do not comprehend the valiant efforts made by the board to keep taxes down to a minimum. It is composed of frugal men, and they are just about as careful with public funds as with their own money.

Even so, it would be comparatively simple, and altogether consistent with good business practice and caution, for the County tax rate to be held to 86 cents, 87 as a top. The Commissioners have figured on collecting within the next fiscal year 81 per cent of the current taxes due. More than 85 per cent was collected this year, and County tax books are in better shape than they have been for some time.

One per cent of taxes due is about equal to 1 cent on the tax rate--almost, but not quite. By increasing the expectancy of collections to 85, last year's mark, the prospective tax rate could be lowered by between 3 and 4 cents.

Besides, it is wise for the County to let the taxpayers know that prompt payment is expected and will be exacted of them. Otherwise we shall drift back into that recent condition under which the prompter taxpayers had to pay more in order to make up for the taxpayers who just didn't pay at all. If, on the other hand, nearly everybody continues to pay, we shall have a needless surplus.


Squirrel Cage

We Enable Japan To Attack Our Interest, Join Our Foes

In Tokyo the new Japanese totalitarian regime is preparing to "draw closer" to the Berlin-Rome Axis before grabbing the French Indo-China and the Dutch and British East Indian possessions.

That is a move aimed directly at the United States. England needs all her power at home just now. Only one thing stands in Japan's way, the fear of what the American battle fleet at Pearl Harbor might do. Only that and the realization that it will be much safer, should Adolf Hitler win in Europe, to have got his consent to the grabbing of the Dutch, French, and British possessions beforehand.

Japan undoubtedly wants warning expressions from the Axis to the United States regarding the grave way in which it will regard any American attempt to "violate a Monroe Doctrine for Asia," perhaps excursions and alarums designed to frighten us more about the Atlantic than about the Pacific, to the end of insuring the immobilization of the American fleet when Japan moves. The price it will pay would be a full pledge to aid Hitler actively when he gets ready to put the squeeze on the United States.

All of which makes a passage in the dispatch from Mexico City very interesting. It recites that construction on a Mexican pipe line, designed to supply Japan, is being held up by the pressure of the United States Government on a New York contractor. And goes on:

"This (the pipe line) would put Mexico in direct competition with California oil wells... Japan now is dependent largely upon California wells."

That is to say that the United States is furnishing Japan with the sinews to carry out a move against the interests of the United States--sinews without which Japan cannot hope to go on with this scheme--and sinews which, so long as the United States continues to block the pipe line in Mexico, she can get nowhere else.

It is a wonderful world in which we live, masters.


Itchy Fingers

Men Like This Have No Business With Guns

At Rocky Mount, a man named J. L. Dixon, unemployed painter of Charlotte, is dead of bullet wounds. And N. F. English, an Atlantic Coast Line Railway detective is under arrest.

The detective says he spotted Dixon as he got off a freight train in Rocky Mount, after stealing a ride from Fayetteville. Before he died, the slain man told police that the railway cop hit him in the mouth, shot him as he lay on the ground. The detective says he shot only after the man ran toward nearby woods, after being ordered to stop.

In any case, it is plain that we have another case here of the too-itchy trigger fingers of North Carolina policemen--and sometimes householders. Negroes, charged with misdemeanors, are shot in the streets of Charlotte because they attempt to run and a cop "stumbles." At Gastonia a boy is killed for stealing gasoline from a parked car.

Stealing a ride on freight trains is forbidden by law, and ought to be punished by a jail term, like any other theft. But the law rightly holds it to be a minor theft, not one punishable by death. And the law also plainly says that firearms are to be used even by the regularly constituted officers of the State only for the halting of men charged with felonies. And rightly so, else the cops would have carte blanche to shoot down every crazy drunk who tried to run. The penalty visited upon the man in this case bears no relation to his offense.


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