Friday, July 12, 1946

The Charlotte News

Friday, July 12, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Senate was expected to pass an OPA extension bill with exemptions on price controls for meat, poultry, milk, petroleum, cottonseed, and soybeans. That bill would need to go to conference to be reconciled with the House bill which only provided for temporary extension through July 20, with all controls still intact. Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, who had introduced the meat and poultry exemptions, believed that the House confreres would vote to retain the exemptions. Observers suggested that such a bill might compel the President again to veto it.

Other amendments remained to be voted on by the Senate, including a lumber exemption proposed by Senator Richard Russell of Georgia and a grain limitation amendment to freeze prices on grain already purchased at their increased prices since June 30.

Secretary of State Byrnes stated in response to a Russian demand for ten billion dollars in reparations from Germany that Russia had already received 14 billion in reparations in the form of territory and equipment, especially by the cession of Silesia to Russian control at Potsdam a year earlier, albeit placed under the administration of Poland. Mr. Byrnes proposed economic unification of Germany, to which France countered with a demand for cession of the Saar to French control. The proposal was tabled.

The security officers of Oak Ridge, Tenn., told the House committee on atomic energy that the peace and security of the United States was in danger, prompting House Republicans to begin an effort to sidetrack all atomic energy control bills until the world situation would become more stable. The report emerged from HUAC, which had been investigating reports of "subversive activities" at Oak Ridge, finding that some of the scientists wanted some form of world government and international civilian control of atomic energy, that some of these scientists admitted to contacts outside the U.S.

The Senate War Investigating Committee, dissatisfied with a statement from Representative Andrew May of Kentucky issued June 4 in relation to his activities with respect to the Batavia and Erie Metal Products Companies of Illinois, issued a letter of invitation for him to testify before the committee. He could not be compelled to do so absent a bill passed by both houses, which the committee appeared ready to seek if Mr. May declined the invitation.

Harold Ickes states that OPA would be saved but price control would be abandoned by the compromise bill to come. The new bill was a "masterpiece of deceptive double-talk". The only way the bill was workable was for the President to gain from it political advantage. He suggests that the whole show, including the President's veto, had been merely political maneuvering designed to win support for the President at the expense of the Republicans, Senator Taft in particular. The President could claim that he had saved OPA, even if he had lost price control.

Making the Secretary of Agriculture rather than the head of OPA the final arbiter on price control meant that farm lobbying groups would have an inordinate influence on food prices. And the board of three men which would sit with the capacity to override both OPA and Agriculture would further dilute power to regulate effectively.

Abolition of incentives to produce low-cost clothing and the requirement that automobile and appliance dealers and the like absorb a portion of the price increases were both defeats for supporters of price control.

The only positive thing the bill did was to preserve rent control.

OPA employees would begin to leave the agency for the private sector, leaving it in the hands of incompetents. OPA, for all intents and purposes, he concludes, was dead. The President and Senator Taft were left at center stage, each blaming the other.

AFL Maritime Council unions began picketing ships in New York to prevent CIO crews from loading or unloading vessels, and the pickets were expected to spread to Boston and Baltimore.

The Civil Aeronautics Administration ordered all Lockheed Constellation planes grounded for 30 days, following the plane crash of a training Constellation at Reading, Pa., the previous day. The order affected all airlines which flew international flights from the United States. BOAC withdrew its Constellations from trans-Atlantic flights, though not bound by the order. Pan Am had thirteen Constellations, requiring cancellation of all its trans-Atlantic flights.

You will have to travel by boat.

Howard Hughes, in the hospital in Los Angeles following his near fatal crash of his experimental XF-11 in a Beverly Hills residential neighborhood, was reported to be weakening, his left lung not functioning and right lung only partially functioning. He stated in a halting voice that the crash was caused by the rear half of the right propeller, which had reversed its pitch, causing the right wing to be pushed back and down. He wanted the Army, for whom the plane was being built, to be aware of the issue.

When he inquired of his doctor whether he would live, the doctor replied that he did not know.

Mr. Hughes, wheezing as he whispered, proceeded then to draft an holographic will leaving, for unknown reasons, half his estate to Jumbo the Seal.

Sold American.

In Mobile, stevedoring jobs paying $40.95 per hour went begging for unloading 750 additional tons of bombs after 64 workers had been treated for mustard gas burns. Sign up tomorrow and whistle while you work.

A fire in Stockton, California, destroyed thousands of gallons of brandy, causing an estimated 1.5 million dollars in damage.

Lightning struck the weather station in Memphis, stinging on the neck the weather man who had predicted the storm.

On the editorial page, "Who Is Responsible for Bilbo?" finds many laying blame on Northern opposition to Senator Bilbo for his re-election. While true to an extent, the people of Mississippi, listening to his demagogic efforts to suggest "outside interference" being brought to bear on their vote, had ultimately chosen him for another term, even if only 40 percent of the people eligible to vote in the state had cast ballots.

There was no reason for other Southerners to try to make the case for blaming "outside interference". Southern editors themselves had deplored Senator Bilbo and had every right and obligation to do so.

"The OPA Faces Death by Double-Talk" finds the back and forth on removal of various controls on prices to be something out of Alice in Wonderland.

Representative Sam Ervin had expounded at length to tell his colleagues that they could not take ceilings off the things their constituents bought while leaving them on the things they sold.

Or, maybe it was the other way about, Alice.

The debate on OPA extended into other areas inevitably, as inflation would impact foreign trade and the value of the dollar, favoring the British and Russians who had kept their currencies stable. A thusly weakened economy would impact adversely the position of Secretary Byrnes in seeking world stability.

That would, according to those who feared Russia, leave as the only alternative a fight against the Soviets to avoid a world dominated by Communists. In such a fight, the atomic bomb would have to be used.

It wonders whether such extrapolation constituted false logic, but it suggests that it was more productive cogitation than the jabberwocky of the Congressional debate on OPA.

"What People, Mr. Durham?" comments on a report from The Greensboro Daily News that Representative Carl Durham of North Carolina had stated that the people of the Piedmont were opposed to the British loan, afraid that they would not pay it back.

The piece agrees with the Daily News in wondering who the people were to whom Mr. Durham made reference.

The British loan was opposed by only one newspaper in the state, The Raleigh News & Observer, which spoke for Eastern North Carolina, not the Piedmont. Moreover, the cotton and tobacco farmers of the area relied upon the export trade for much of their business and the British loan would encourage that trade.

Congressman Durham stood alone in the North Carolina delegation in his opposition to the loan and apparently he had received his knowledge of public opinion from secret sources unknown to anyone else.

A piece from the Winston-Salem Journal, titled "What to Do with Saved Labor", mentions an article by David Cushman Coyle from 1937 in the Virginia Quarterly in which the author referred to a Tennessee farmer who claimed that "Ford ruint me." (Actually, it was attributed without the embellished colloquialism.) He was referring to his Model T which enabled him to get around faster but also ate into his savings to keep the car in proper order, until finally it had sapped him dry.

He was not alone, says the piece, as many such farmers were ruined by modern gadgetry which did not fit their budget, though making life easier. It concludes that the small tenant farmer might need a good horse more than he needed a car.

Drew Pearson relates of conversations between operatives of the Batavia Metal Products Company, in which Congressman May's name was not mentioned directly but by his code name "Yiechel" or "our friend". In one such conversation a Washington operative talked to the home office of the company to assure that a one thousand dollar check had been sent out to "Yiechel".

On another occasion, Congressman May, himself, called the Washington office and asked about a three thousand dollar payment, was told it was coming.

In a third scene, he had called to inquire where the Washington operative was, was told that he was in New York making "us" a lot of money, to which Mr. May quickly responded in nonplussed manner and hung up the phone. Later, he told the person to whom he had been speaking never to speak of such matters on the phone.

Mr. Pearson next details Mr. May's various relatives who had been on the Government payroll to the tune of an aggregate of $9,000 per year in salaries, nearly twice the pay of Mr. May. Mr. May had apparently pocketed $8,000 of the money given him by Erie Basin to purchase the Cumberland Lumber Co. in Kentucky, a company for which his son worked.

Mr. May also was president of the Greenbrier Manganese Mining Co. in West Virginia. Prior to the war, he had tried to get the Navy to reduce its specifications for manganese for steel production for battleships such that the inferior manganese of the United States, and consequently his own, could be used in lieu of the superior imported grade. The Navy refused the request on the ground that the domestic manganese would have produced inferior steel.

Murray Garsson, one of the two brothers involved with Erie, had, while being Assistant Secretary of Labor under President Hoover, gone to Hollywood to try to deport alien actors who had overstayed their visas. Some went to Canada or Mexico, while others turned to the Hollywood moguls for succor. No one was deported, but Mr. Garsson's daughter got a one-year MGM contract which was renewed for another year. Mr. Garsson, according to the FBI, had once been associated with the gangster Dutch Schultz.

Marquis Childs discusses the implications of Senate and House primary races, starting with the victory of Governor Edward Thye over Senator Henrik Shipstead in the Republican senatorial primary in Minnesota, which had raised again the stock of former Governor Harold Stassen, a supporter of Governor Thye, as a viable candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 1948. Senator Shipstead was a "tired cipher", an isolationist who served only special interests and had opposed the U.N. Reactionary Gerald L. K. Smith had endorsed Senator Shipstead to no avail.

Had Senator Shipstead won, it would have been a victory for the conservative interests in the Republican Party. As it was, Governor Stassen had a long way to go, but was still vying for the nomination.

Minnesota Republican Representative Harold Knutson, being also an isolationist reactionary, would not rejoice at the result. Mr. Knutson, by dint of seniority, would likely become House Ways & Means chairman when the Republicans took over the House in the fall.

Mr. Childs suggests that the degree to which local politics in Minnesota, however, had played a role in the Thye victory was difficult to discern.

Senator Gerald Nye of North Dakota, another old line isolationist, had been earlier defeated in his primary. But local issues appeared to have played a role in that defeat. In the same primary, isolationist and anti-New Dealer Senator William Langer was renominated.

Another isolationist, Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana, was up for re-election and given an edge over his opponent.

We suggest that, in the case of the Thye and Langer victories, the recent refusal by the Civil Production Administration to allot more fabric for women's dresses may have been a contributing local factor in each race.

Samuel Grafton writes from Los Angeles anent the slow dismantling of New Deal programs by Congress, of which price control was only a beginning. The Fair Employment Practices Committee had also been allowed to expire quietly on June 30. The President's effort to make it permanent had gone for naught.

Maybe there was a swing in the country to the right, but Congress was running ahead of the swing.

The House, indicative of the peevishness felt against the Administration in Congress, had voted down by simple voice vote the President's reorganization plan to streamline the Government.

The liberal leaders, such as the President, were treating these efforts as separate when in fact they were concerted and combined, were one side of a conflict between two theories of government, laissez-faire versus big government.

A letter from a semi-regular contributor says that the boondoggling of Congress presently evident was only a rehash of what had taken place during the early Twenties after World War I. He compares Warren Harding's plight to that of Harry Truman, both machine-made politicians, both "hail fellows, well met", but torn between conflicting special interests.

As Mr. Truman was stronger than Mr. Harding, he predicts his survival in office, that he would not succumb to the fate, according to Gaston Means, of having his wife slip him some white powder in the midst of a growing scandal.

But, he concludes, the Administration was comprised of "third rate actors stumbling through their lines" at a time when there was the potential for world leadership, an opportunity slipping from view.

The editors remind of a James Thurber cartoon in The New Yorker which depicted an irate husband peering over his newspaper and saying to his wife that sometimes when he read the news out of Washington he was convinced that her mother and brother Ed were in charge.

A letter remarks on the previous serialization in the newspaper in May and June of I Chose Freedom by Victor Kravchenko, saying there may or may not be truth to his argument against the Soviets. But he wants the newspaper also to publish The Great Conspiracy Against Russia by Michael Sayers and Albert Kahn, responsible authors of Sabotage!, with recommendations on the cover by Henry Wallace and Joseph Davies. The Kravchenko book had been recommended by Frank Gannett and William Randolph Hearst.

The editors respond that they would be willing to publish an objective account of life in Russia, which the Kravchenko account was not, if anyone knew of one. All articles published with a Moscow dateline passed Russian censors and, in one form or another, constituted pro-Soviet propaganda. The editors believed that these articles, published regularly regarding the Western conspiracy against Russia, more than counter-balanced the Kravchenko work.

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