The Charlotte News
Friday, August 2, 1940
Site Ed. Note: The subject of "Immunity", Wright Patman, the long-time Texas Congressman who served in the House from 1929 until his death in 1976, did before the end of his career seek to label as un-American at least one operation of which Cash would have no doubt been pleased, that being the break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters in 1972. Patman, as chairman of the Banking and Currency Committee, had begun an investigation into the origins of the payments to the Watergate burglars. But in October, 1972, under considerable indirect and direct Administration pressure, the committee voted against its chair's position to continue the investigation, thus ending the only pre-election congressional investigation into Watergate. By election day, the whole matter appeared dead. Not too many people outside Washington even knew at that time what Watergate was. A last minute attempt on election eve by Democratic candidate Senator George McGovern to speak to the American people for an hour about it and other matters proved fruitless. Richard Nixon sailed to re-election in a landslide, carrying 49 states. All would change by the late spring of 1973 when North Carolina Senator Sam J. Ervin banged a gavel and proclaimed, "The committee will now come to awda." Not only was the President stuck somewhere in the hyphen between Fuquay and Varina, but so too was the Vice-President, Spiro T. Agnew, who pleaded no contest to income tax evasion associated with his having received bribes while Governor of Maryland over five years earlier, and resigned his office in October. By early December, 1973 the nation had a new Vice-President, confirmed by the Congress, House Minority Leader Gerald R. Ford, a moderate breath of fresh air after five years of the strident, tight lipped, often alliterative Agnew. Agnew did little of note as Vice-President other than to make the phrase "nattering nabobs of negativism" a household expression in reference to Liberals. In many households, however, the words rather seemed a self-description of their speaker. Ford, incidentally, had attended a pre-flight school in 1942 at Senator Ervin's undergraduate alma mater, the University of North Carolina, and thus was well prepared for the job...
Patman's sponsoring of the anti-trust legislation known as the Robinson-Patman Act is the most lasting legacy of his time in Congress. The Act, passed in 1936, prohibits business engaged in interstate commerce from price discrimination to different purchasers of the same commodity when the effect would be to decrease competition or establish a monopoly. The Act was originally aimed at chain stores which Patman saw as an economic evil driving out the locally owned small business. Patman also campaigned in the 1960's and 1970's to limit charitable tax deductions for private foundations which he saw as merely tax shelters for wealthy individuals and corporations, sometimes for the hidden purpose to engage in political activity. The Tax Reform Act of 1969 did incorporate some changes which limited charitable deductions.
For more on the Coster/Musica human hair as excelsior affair, visit the Truman Library.
As to the comment in "Committee" about Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. being an isolationist, see "Retraction", August 3, 1940.
Gastonia Licenses Noises After Charlotte Fashion
We know where Gastonia got that model.
That city, we see by the papers, is about to adopt an anti-noise ordinance. Among other things these will be outlawed:
1 -- Unnecessary sounding of automobile and truck horns.
2 -- Loud radios and phonographs between 11 P.M. and 7 A.M.
3 -- Discharge of fireworks, save by police permit.
4 -- Use of sound trucks for advertising, save by police permit.
Then the dispatch which reports the matter goes ahead to say:
"Not likely to be rigidly enforced by any concentrated police drive, but intended rather as a resort against offenders whenever necessary and whoever may desire to invoke it, the anti-noise ordinance" etc. etc. etc.
That is the dead give-away. Gastonia got that model from Charlotte.
It authorizes you, if you live in an apartment house or crowded neighborhood and would really like to sleep some time before two in the morning and a bit later than 6 o'clock, to pick a mortal feud with your neighbors by calling in the cops, after which you will be given the run-around and your neighbors will redouble the noise. It authorizes you, if an idiot whirls around a corner upon you right under the eyes of the cop, and scares you white for days by a blast fit to rouse the dead, to charge down to police headquarters and get a warrant for the fellow if you have wit enough to get his license number, go into Police Court and get the run-around, and go out branded as a nasty old sorehead. In short, it authorizes you to grin and suffer.
Defense Meets a Setback by Senate Military Experts
The important legislation now before Congress deserves the most thorough study. For the Senate Military Committee to rush the conscription and national guard bills through with only a hazy notion of their content and consequences would be as short-sighted as for the committee to take all Summer to do a job that cries to be expedited.
It begins to be apparent, however, that the progress of these bills toward the consideration of the whole Senate is being delayed by the premeditated tactics of isolationists, both Democratic and Republican, on this committee. It is not a strong committee, in any case.
With Sheppard of Texas as chairman and Robert Reynolds, Lister Hill, Josh Lee and others as co-members, the committee is off to a poor start on the Democratic side. On the Republican side it runs into real obstruction.
This is no time for the security and the survival of the nation to be entrusted to such a man as Nye of North Dakota, who suspects Wall Street as the deliberate instigator of all emergencies--as Styles Bridges of New Hampshire, who cares not so much that conscription may come as he does that Roosevelt shall be chargeable with it--as young Lodge of Massachusetts, who is not only an isolationist but the son of an isolationist.
Quibbling among the committee over the secondary questions of whether or not Roosevelt specifically takes responsibility for the legislation, of conscripting a million and one men or a million and three, of voluntary enlistments for a shorter term of selective conscription--all this is for a purpose. For a purpose that is neither wholesome, creditable nor tolerable.
It Is Something Patman Enjoys but Does Not Deserve
Mr. Wright Patman is a Representative in Congress from Texas, and, of course, a Democrat. His career has been distinguished mainly (1) by insistence, back there in the bad times, that payment of the Soldiers Bonus would banish the depression, and (2) a sustained and furious attack on chain stores.
He also made a speaking tour under the auspices of McKesson & Robbins, but that was before President Coster was disclosed to be a common crook named Musica, and the engagement probably should not be held to Patman's discredit except as it shows that one business firm was paying a Congressman to agitate against other business firms.
Mr. Carl Byoir is a public-relations counselor, and his activity sometimes takes the form of agitating against legislation that Congress may have under consideration.
One agitator, you see, against another.
But the Congressman enjoyed the authority as well as immunity from court actions. But principally authority.
And so he charged that the public-relations counselor was engaged in un-American activities, which at a time like this is a dreadfully serious charge, and he had the FBI investigate him. Its report has been made:
"The investigation... discloses no evidence whatsoever that he [Byoir] has been engaged in any un-American activity. No basis for departmental activity has been found, and the case is regarded as closed."
The courts sometimes get angry and sock complainants for "frivolous prosecution." It is a shame that something on that order cannot be invoked against the Hon. Patman.
Comrade Molotoff Hauls Up Short of the Deep End
The speech made yesterday by Molotoff is an example of devious European diplomacy. Chances are that it totals up to nothing decisive--and that Comrades Stalin and Molotoff are marking time until they make sure how the cat is going to jump, meantime taking full advantage of every opportunity to serve themselves.
Comrade Molotoff, to be sure, made it quite plain to the wishful thinkers who have been confidently expecting that Russia was getting ready to aid England by striking Germany from the back, that there as foolish as usual.
It is worth noting, however, that the Comrade was sterner with the United States than with England. The United States did not like Russia's new policy in the Baltic area, so a fig for Uncle Shylock! The United States had "unlawfully" frozen gold formerly belonging to Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania which the Russian state bank had recently "bought," and had better--he threatened--watch its step about that. And the United States was embarking on a great imperialistic drive for the grabbing of all other nations' possessions in the Western Hemisphere.
As for that, it was only eighteen months ago that Comrade's Stalin's government was assuring the world that it so disliked the policy which it is presently pursuing in the Baltic area and Rumania that would never be guilty of it.
The gold in question was not bought by Russia but was stolen from nations unable to prevent it--is being held to the account of those nations in case they should get any voice in their own affairs again.
And imperialism is precisely the name of the policy Russia is presently pursuing. No nation, on the other hand, has done more to dodge imperialism than the United States. It doesn't want to take over anybody's possessions and won't unless it has to for its own safety.
Yet, at the same time that he was attacking United States and painting England as only a little less black, Comrade Molotoff kept his tongue in his cheek about Germany. He said blandly that Germany could proceed in the feeling that she was perfectly safe in the east: which, in view of what has happened, must have set Triumphator Hitler to gnawing his nails harder than ever. He gave Germany no real assurances. And, unkindest blow of all, he did not prophesy quick or even ultimate victory for her. Indeed, he pointedly foresaw the United States coming to the aid of Britain.
However wistfully Comrade Molotoff and his master may wish that the powers would destroy themselves, they are far from certain that if the conflict became world-wide Russia could avoid involvement and possible catastrophe for themselves. His remarks about Japan emphasize that fear as being genuine and real. And more than any other element in the speech, they left the door open for possible rapprochement with the United States and Britain.
In short Comrade Molotoff burned no bridges behind him, kept at least a toe in each camp until he could be sure which way Russia stood to come out best and the world worst.
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