The Charlotte News

Sunday, September 8, 1940


Site Ed. Note: "Slave Dress", telling of the Nazi order to stop all silk production in France, taking away its textile industry and reducing it largely to an agricultural nation, provides part of the reason, if only a small part of it, why Clemenceau's warning was to a great degree heeded at the end of World War II--not the destruction of Germany, as that had occurred during the war, but its half century division into sectors, West and East.

Even today, last we heard, the publication and sale of Mein Kampf is forbidden in the modern Democratic Republic of Germany--a censorship, incidentally, which we think is unfortunate. For nothing is gained by making something taboo; it merely makes the forbidden hip and fashionable again with certain youth, to render it again mystical--as we see crop its head in the news on occasion from the modern Germany. But neo-Nazism among youth appears to be the cobbling together of symbols to overlay what is at heart juvenile delinquency, a problem among a segment of youth for time immemorial. So, banning the book of the Devil does not the Devil make to disappear. For, Hitler never thought of himself as the Devil in the first place; rather as a person who took his orders from God, some Teutonic-Norse-Viking, Wagnerian version of them anyway, with Nietzsche playing a bass dirge in strident dissonance behind it.

"Old Stuff", suggesting that Republican presidential nominee Wendell Willkie was demonstrating either a lack of candor or ignorance of history, and thus unfitness to lead, in suggesting that the 50-destroyer trade with Britain was the worst dictatorial act of any president in U.S. history, tells us: "Woodrow Wilson did not consult Congress, or warn the Mexicans, when he steamed the Navy into Vera Cruz Harbor and bombarded the city--a definite act of war. He acted under his authority as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy."

Was this notion something upon which Hitler's spies and minions seized and thrust at the Japanese as a rationale for the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor? as the Nazis began to infiltrate the Japanese military high command during the latter half of 1941, as told in "Super-Spies", September 3, 1941. Did it not fit perfectly Hitler's mindset as a hater of Woodrow Wilson, a man who he perceived as a weak visionary, a poet desirous of something unobtainable--world peace--, as evidenced in Mein Kampf? If so, let us also ask the obvious question from it then as to whether Wilson's act lent any justification to the surprise element of the attack on Pearl Harbor? Do two wrongs, assuming the first one to be a wrong, make a right? especially occurring 25 years apart and with respect to different countries. But, of course, the Nazis were hoping also to get the double advantage of cuittling Mexico, and its oil and physical proximity to the United States and keys to Latin America generally, into the Axis corner.

That surprise aspect of the attack was at the time and since of course used as ground for labelling it one of the more despicable and barbaric acts of modern history, especially as it was against an ostensibly neutral country--even if by December, 1941, that ostensible neutrality was gone to gossamer illusion at best. Even the President's own son, as an officer in the military, had stated the previous April that America was already involved in the war; virtually every major columnist after the May 27 national emergency speech by FDR rose up in chorus in agreement, even if somewhat tamped down again as events rolled into the summer and the invasion of Russia instantly took the heat of the whiphand off Britain and, with it, the steady hoof beat to thrust the United States directly into the war.

In any event, the passage by Congress of the Lend-Lease Act, giving carte blanche authority to the President to "lend" to any country at war with the Axis any military materiel deemed necessary in support of their effort, underwrote this earlier 50-destroyer deal without Congressional authority. So, by its passage in March, the issue of abuse of authority was moot.

As to Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, also mentioned in the editorial as a candidate for dictatorial usurpation of power, it was eventually conceded to be constitutionally valid, if highly contested initially, even by the Supreme Court in the case of In re Merryman, an 1861 case in which Chief Justice Roger Taney declared the power to be exclusively that of Congress because stated as part of Article I, relating to the powers of Congress.

The power is expressed in Article I, Section 9: "The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it."

After Merryman, Lincoln made an appeal directly to Congress to underwrite the suspension, based on his contention that the statement of the exception to the rule of habeas corpus does not per se set forth whether the power to suspend in those limited situations belongs to the President or to Congress. Section 8, immediately before it, expressly enumerates the powers of Congress. Article I generally relates to the powers of Congress. But President Lincoln argued further that his emergency powers enabled the suspension in the case of open rebellion. Congress ultimately agreed with Lincoln and the suspension remained in effect.

Those emergency powers are granted in Article IV, Section 4, which states: "The United States shall guarantee to every State of this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence." (For wise guys and the mentally deficient, "Republican" has nothing at all to do with the Republican Party which did not form until 1856, 67 years after ratification; nor does "domestic Violence" refer to violence in the home but violence within the country generally. We feel compelled to state those distinctions, for we do encounter people these days who appear, with plain chicane and pharisaic gamesmanship consciously in mind, to interpret the English language with no less silliness.)

Thus, Lincoln argued persuasively at a time when Congress did not meet year round and the fastest mode of transportation was by steam locomotive, that after the fall of Sumter in April, 1861, he had authority under the combined powers of these above-quoted provisions to suspend habeas corpus. And we think, at that time, he had the better of the argument over Taney.

Subsequently in 1864, the Supreme Court in Ex Parte Vallandigham completely side-stepped the issue and refused to issue a writ to release a former Congressman arrested and tried before a military tribunal for publicly urging disobedience to an order of General Ambrose Burnside, to the effect that anyone in the area within his military authority who expressed sympathy for the Confederacy was to be arrested. The Court held, based on the Judiciary Act of 1789, that it lacked jurisdiction to review the order of a military tribunal.

The situation has never been tested since the Civil War. For the President to have authority to undertake such emergency powers today, in a fast-paced society, certainly to the extent of suspending habeas corpus, it would likely take such a civil insurrection or rebellion or other action constituting invasion or domestic violence en masse occurring over a weekend, during a summer recess of Congress, or during a holiday period, and would take an extremely emergent event such as a domestic nuclear threat, or some other critical emergency such as the immediate aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, that is until Congress had sufficient time to gather and act.

And, for those not familiar with the term, a writ of habeas corpus is obtained by petition brought by someone claiming to be incarcerated unlawfully. It may be made at any time in a criminal proceeding, even after conviction at trial, usually based on a denial of a fundamental constitutional right in the charging process or in the trial itself in the case of the post-conviction remedy. Unlike an appeal, this extraordinary writ may be issued immediately after arrest or later, long after appellate rights are exhausted, but, under modern law, requiring first in the post-conviction stage exhaustion of all appellate remedies before it will be entertained by the courts. Essentially it is a device of expedience to get at basic failure of constitutionally required process, to effect the release of the prisoner. Such things as the right to be heard in a court of law as to bail, to have a non-excessive bail (per the Eighth Amendment) set by a court, plus the basic incidents of Due Process--failure to have notice of charges before incarceration, to be afforded the right to respond to the charges once incarcerated, speedy and public trial by jury, to confront accusing witnesses, to have effective counsel, to have the power to subpoena witnesses in one's own behalf, all per the Fifth and Sixth Amendments--are the usual matters raised in such a petition.

And between the letters to the editor, one calling Roosevelt a dictator, the U.S. version of Hitler, because of the institution of the draft, and the other referring to him as a black limousine compared to Willkie, the chauffeur, plus the "Visitin' Around" piece referring to the telephone operator in Wingate named "Pearl", we would suggest to you that our suggestion about two weeks ago in association with one of the late August, 1941 dates, that there was an interesting Mercedes spiral available for those interested in so spiralling, probably wasn't as much of a spiralling reach as it first appeared.

Speaking of spiralling, incidentally, this evening, we happened to see on tv four adults sitting around discussing quite somberly whether Senator Obama in a recent comment suggesting that you can't put lipstick on a pig was, as he said, referring to the McCain-Palin campaign platform, or Ms. Palin herself, playing off her comment at the convention that "the only difference between a hockey mom and a lip stick was an orange pig with a silver apple in its mouth". Wait, that doesn't read quite right. Maybe we have that quote a little wrong or something. We'll check it later. Something about Minneapolis? Maybe, Indianapolis.

Anyway, as to the four discussing this weighty world-shaking bit of wisdom, so wewy, wewy sewious were they.

First, let us just say that we have never uttered or heard of such a tewwible and wuefully chauvinistic phwase ourselves, and we feel that Senator Obama has definitely slopped the pigs a little too much with that one, stepped into the pen where the little oink-oinks thwive the most to wallow.

Now, it is twue that we ourselves wwote out a similar phwase a few days ago, whether before or after Senator Obama's comment, we don't know--wow, wow your boat--but in that case we were only talking wewy, wewy philosophically about the issue of "D-R-I..." (we do not spell out the whole word because we don't wish to alarm the childwen with such language as that used at the Wepublican convention--goodness, goodness, goodness, have we lost all decowum?).

For to twy to put lipstick on this "D-R-I..." business is, well, akin to that CWEEP back in 1972 who passed awound the wumor that Edmund Muskie was, so to speak, weawing lipstick with Hubert Humphrey.

And since the whole fate of the planet sure enough may be at stake on this particular Maybelline Max Factor moment--that is, to D-R-I... or not to D-R-I...--we think this issue of hurt feelings is a little overly pwecious and peavish, not to mention wather wayward of the weal issues of the campaign wather than stressing so much the wah-wah foldewol business of whether it was weally meant to be that or this.

Fwiends, Womans, countwymen, please...

We do wish to say that, in our case, we aw so wewy, wewy sowwy for what we said. But since the kitchen is getting hotter and hotter with wegard to this D-R-I... issue and since Ms. Palin was born and bwed in a town from which the icepack has weceded substantially in wecent years because of global warming, and then nevertheless claims to have fought the big oil companies while also advocating more D-R-I..., well, we would suggest that she and her wunning mate either join us in turning down the heat in the kitchen or get out and let the cooks who understand that the goose who is doing this to us hasn't got sense God gave one, and that we are all likely soon to be warmed wight out of existence otherwise.

The same is twue for the Foxies we saw somberly discussing this so wewy, wewy sewious matter of whether the lipstick was on her or the pig, that is the issue of D-R-I..., wather than the weal issue of the D-R-I... itself.

Please excuse our "w"'s in the foregoing. We have a wewy, wewy bad finger today. It's all swollen with gold after listening too much last week to the Wepublicans and thus now leans to the left a wee wee.

Say you wead it in The News. Thank wou.

By the way, wather than being a silly cwy-baby complainer over a silly comment she started in the first place with her own wewy silver foot, Ms. Palin could always wejoinder that the only diffewence between a lawn-jockey and a pink lip-stuck pig is a sow's pal in heat.

Oops. Oh dear, what did we say? This stuff gets wewy slippewy. Time to go listen to the wad-io.

Kindly Prayer*

Mayor Douglas Calls for No Thunderbolts

Mayor Douglas's Proclamation fixing this Sunday as a day of prayer was a beautifully worded, admirably restrained document. He proposed that we pray on behalf of people in foreign lands and surcease from their sufferings. He proposed that we pray for peace and the preservation of our freedom without war. He proposed, too, that we return thanks for the blessing of peace which we had so far enjoyed.

He did not, it was noted, suggest even by indirection that God be petitioned to strike down by a miracle the human beings who have brought all this trouble on the world. He might have done that, perhaps in full good conscience. But he imprecated against no nation.

Nor did he implore survival for our friends and destruction to their enemies, or for success to the British cause that we might be saved the painful necessity of fighting for a cause of our very own.

Mayor Douglas evidently proceeded in framing his Proclamation on the ground that the letting of blood and the dealing of death, though we think them forced upon us, are hardly pursuits to be sanctioned by the Heavenly Father. He seemed tacitly to say, and we commend him for it, that if it was success in battle we besought, either now for Britain or in due time for the United States, we should have to rely exclusively upon our own efforts and the deadlines of our arms.

Slave Dress

The Nazis Strike a Blow to Stir Hate in France

Old Clemenceau, the Tiger of France, who saw in 1919 that the German nation must be destroyed if what is happening was not to happen, must have rolled in his tomb when that order came out of Vichy Thursday.

In brief, it was that no silk was to be manufactured in France (the portion still under nominal French control, and which contains the great silk center of Lyons), and that no textiles at all were to be manufactured save a coarse woolen cloth which would be used to clothe man and woman alike.

Only the cunning sadistic Nazi brain could have conceived that order. At a single blow, it largely reduces the Rhone Valley to a purely agricultural country, for textiles are the main manufacture there. And at the same time it strikes at the love of, the pride in, individualized finery which is the hallmark of the French from peasant to duke, and serves notice of the intention of the Nazis to reduce the people to a form of slavery for which the very clothes they wear will be a uniform and badge. No mind, however vicious, could have thought up a more certain way of humiliating the French.

But let the Nazis look to themselves. In their joy in sadistic practices they are proceeding precisely as though they had already won the war. They had better make sure they do. Else in view of the enormous list of crimes they are perpetrating, there will be no voice left in the world to protest against the full and complete carrying out of Clemenceau's advice.

Man of Ethics*

Knudsen Avoids Even the Appearance of Two-Timing

William S. Knudsen, one of the two ranking members of the National Defense Advisory Commission (the other Stettinius), has been on leave of absence from General Motors Corp. Last week he resigned full out.

Reason given by Alfred Sloane, General Motors' board chairman, was that Mr. Knudsen didn't want to be in the position of having to deal, as a Governmental aide, with a company in whose management he had any say-so.

The magnificence of Mr. Knudsen's patriotism and the magnitude of the services to the Government would probably nip any criticism of his actions even though he were to let contracts to General Motors in the one capacity and accept them in the other. As much may be said for Mr. Stettinius.

Even so, a man of ethics perceives the impropriety of playing such a dual role.

It is a shame that other men have not felt the same way about it. Chip Robert, for instance, who hangs onto his job as secretary of the Democratic National Committee and at the same time does extensive business with the Administration through Robert & Co.

Jim Farley, for another instance, who for more than seven years was both Postmaster General and chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Or the whole Democratic Party and the Democratic Administration, for still another and more flagrant instance. On the one hand the Administration has threatened industry with punishment for its offenses, real or imaginary, and on the other the Democratic Party has gone around soliciting industry for ads in Democratic Handbooks--on the implied promise to put in a good word at the right places.

Old Stuff

Many Presidents Have Gone Far Beyond Roosevelt

There has been a lot said about the high-handedness of the President's sale of the 50 destroyers to Britain in return for naval bases without letting Congress have any part in the deal. Wendell Willkie calls it "the most high-handed and dictatorial act of any President" in history.

We're not so sure about that.

Perhaps the single most high-handed and dictatorial act in our history was that of President McKinley, who suppressed the fact that the Spanish Ambassador had agreed to every essential demand made upon Spain, and so led Congress into declaring war on Spain. The charge has often been made that the reason for this was Mark Hanna's judgment that war with Spain was the only way to insure Republican victory in the approaching election. And there is not much doubt that this consideration did figure largely in the matter.

Hardly less highhanded and dictatorial was the action of President Theodore Roosevelt, in engineering revolution in Colombia, to the end of seizing control of the Isthmus of Panama--the property of a friendly neighbor--without the knowledge or consent of Congress. And the virtual conclusion of a treaty with the "authorities" of the as yet unborn "Republic of Panama" for the acquisition of this Isthmus, without the "advice and consent of the Senate."

No less high-handed and dictatorial was the action of President Monroe who, at the suggestion of the British, promulgated the Monroe Doctrine and told the Senate nothing about it until after it was done--an act that has made our foreign policy from that day to this. The Monroe Doctrine had never been formally ratified by the Senate until this year, though set up in 1823.

In this Monroe only did what the Founding Fathers had undoubtedly intended, for they knew the futility of 500-odd politicians trying to make a foreign policy. But it is a power Congress has contested all along.

Jefferson had already bought Louisiana before the Senate heard of it.

Woodrow Wilson did not consult Congress, or warn the Mexicans, when he steamed the Navy into Vera Cruz Harbor and bombarded the city--a definite act of war. He acted under his authority as Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. Nor did Coolidge and Herbert Hoover ask Congress when they hurled Marines all over Latin America, continually committed acts of war.

And has anybody forgotten that Abraham Lincoln, the hero of the Republican Party, suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War and so placed the liberty and life of every citizen at the mercy of the Government, on his own authority and against the overwhelming opposition of Congress?

President Roosevelt's act was a technical violation of his own interpretation of the Neutrality Act. It violated the Hague Convention of 1907, which was once the basis of international law but which in 1940 has no more existence in the law of nations than has the diplodocus.

And it was justified by the fact that Britain needed the ships at once, that we needed the bases as quickly as possible, and that--as the draft fight proves--Congress was sure to wrangle over it for months, until the action would come up much too late. Far from being any new and sudden departure, it is strictly in the vein in which other Presidents have acted when they judged it necessary for the interests of the country.

If Mr. Willkie doesn't know that, it reflects on his fitness for the Presidency. If he does know it--well, where does that leave his fine claims to complete candor?

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