Friday, July 5, 1946

The Charlotte News

Friday, July 5, 1946


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that, following agreement by the four-power foreign ministers on Italian reparations, the 21-nation Paris peace conference had been scheduled to start July 29. Primary business would be to debate and approve the treaties with Italy and the Axis satellites, formally to end World War II. The reparations issue was settled on the terms that Italy pay to Germany a hundred million dollars over the course of seven years, the payment to be derived from its munitions factories, current assets abroad, and current production. Italy would have two years to begin the payments from current production.

OPA director Paul Porter had sought a stronger substitute OPA extension bill so that the President would not veto it again. Majority Leader Alben Barkley who had a new bill to bring to the floor was disappointed, saying that he believed that Mr. Porter and the President would support the new measure. Meanwhile, Senator Styles Bridges of New Hampshire blocked hearings on a proposed new budget for OPA, based on it not any longer being viable. Delaying action would likely prevent the new bill from reaching the floor before the following week, where Senator Pass the Biscuits Wilbert Lee O'Daniel vowed to filibuster again against it.

Predictably, Republican National Committee chairman Carroll Reece of Tennessee stated that the President's veto of the OPA bill threatened the whole economic structure of the nation, and that the Supreme Court squabble between Justice Robert Jackson and Justice Hugo Black was part of a "public brawl" to try to make the Court the political tool of the Democratic Party.

He apparently did not explain how the disagreement between two Democratic appointees, both of whom were Democrats, could so imply such an effort. Nor did he explain why it was that it was primarily members of his party in Congress who had hamstrung OPA, so eviscerating its authority as to render it meaningless, such that the President had little practical choice but to veto it.

Meanwhile, prices continued high on livestock in Chicago, though hog prices had dropped $1.25 from their peak on Wednesday, from $17.50 to $16.25. Cattle and sheep remained at record highs, with steers and yearlings fetching $22.25 per hundred weight, off a quarter from the peak.

Some of the nation's major cities, Atlanta, Chicago, Memphis, Columbus, Birmingham, Shreveport, and the larger cities of Arkansas, saw little rise yet in retail prices. But in most other cities, meat went up considerably, as much as 50 percent in Los Angeles and New York, 85 percent in Richmond, Va., albeit still lower than black market prices extant while OPA was in operation. Butter and milk prices had also risen. Restaurant and hotel prices were rising. Overall in New York City, the wholesale food price index was at $4.54, highest since 1920.

The loss of Government subsidies on food was blamed for most of the rising prices. It had been estimated that the 1.455 billion dollars in subsidies had reduced each consumer's grocery bill by about $12 per year.

In Louisville, the Citizens' PAC called for picketing of any businesses which either raised prices or rents. The AFL Truck Drivers Union stated that it would not cross any such picket lines. The PAC intended also to put forth pleas to Congress to restore OPA.

In London, sources close to the Attlee Government stated that Britain was unwilling to offend the Arab nations of the Middle East in respect to its positions on Palestine, and that there was fear of Arab revolt in Palestine, aided and abetted by Arabs of neighboring states. But, the source also indicated, the British had found nothing objectionable in the American stance regarding Palestine, aside from certain pressure groups which wanted Britain to undertake a policy beyond its means, keeping order during the immigration of Jews from Europe and their subsequent settlement.

There was no belief in White Hall that there was any significant Soviet action involved in Palestine. But it was also believed that the differences between Britain and the United States regarding the issue of the immigration of 100,000 Jews to Palestine provided ground for Soviet advantage.

In Kielce, Poland, at least 34 persons had been killed and 42 wounded, most of whom were Jews, in violence which had apparently stemmed from rumors that Jews had killed a Polish baby and kidnaped a Polish boy. Some 62 persons had participated in the pogrom. Some Government security police and militiamen were killed or wounded in the mob violence which erupted as election returns were being counted.

Maj. General L. H. Campbell, Jr., former chief of Army Ordnance, testified before the Senate War Investigating Committee that chairman Andrew May of the House Military Affairs Committee had made him angry during the war by bringing pressure to bear on the General to retain a war contract with the Batavia and Erie Basin Metal Products Corporations rather than transferring the contract to another company. It was the pressure which he found objectionable, not merely the suggestion of a company to be awarded the contract, routine among members of Congress and the Administration. The two companies in question were among the nineteen Illinois companies being targeted by the committee, chaired by Senator James Mead of New York.

Vice-Admiral W. H. P. Blandy set July 25 as the tentative date for the Baker undersea test of the atomic bomb to determine what damage it could inflict on the hulls of ships, the second test at Bikini Atoll. He had reduced his estimate of a predicted tidal wave from the second blast, from 100 feet to 70 feet in height.

Harold Ickes suggests that the President could make good appointments, as exemplified by Fred Vinson being made Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and Eugene Meyer, president of the World Bank. But, he quickly adds, they could not make up for the bad appointments the President had made, as he had discussed two days earlier. Mr. Meyer had shown his worth by his first appointment, former Budget Director Harold Smith as vice-president of the World Bank.

Mr. Ickes had known Mr. Smith as an extremely competent functionary in the Government throughout his career. He hailed from Kansas, got an engineering degree from the University, and then a job at the Detroit Bureau of Government Research while obtaining a master's degree from the University of Michigan. He then became an administrative assistant to Governor Frank Murphy—later Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice. Serving as State Budget Director, he assumed the post of Federal Budget Director in 1939. Mr. Ickes came to know him well in that capacity.

Mr. Ickes finds it inexcusable that the President had sent to Mr. Smith the standard form letter of acceptance of his resignation when he had recently resigned as Budget Director. He believes that Mr. Smith deserved the Distinguished Service Medal, having done as much to win the war as any general or admiral. To reinforce the point that those doing desk work had been so recognized, he adds that "there have been instances in the past when men were decorated who wore spurs on their heels, metaphorically at least, to keep their feet from slipping off a desk that was as bare of work as grandmother's face used to be of rouge and lipstick."

The fact that Mr. Smith had worked at a $10,000 annual salary as Budget Director made him even more deserving of such recognition.

In Portland, Ore., an airplane jumped its brakes and proceeded wildly across an airport with a 14-year old boy inside. The boy's father tried to stop the plane but was killed. The boy's mother, who had also sought to stop it, was injured. The father had been taking flight lessons and was trying to show his family how to start the plane with the propeller.

In Copenhagen, a conservative Danish newspaper reacted in horror at the sight of Copenhagen's "fastest girls" being guests of American sailors on a pier the previous night. "They behaved like hussies from harbor joints," complained the newspaper.

On the editorial page, "The Solicitorial Redistricting Plan" discusses the progress of the plan, now with the Governor to receive comments from judges, solicitors, and court personnel, then to be submitted to the Legislature in 1947.

The plan provided for a separate district for Mecklenburg, while grouping Gaston County, currently with Mecklenburg, with four other less populous counties. The plan would offer much needed relief to the overcrowded criminal court calendar in the Gaston-Mecklenburg district.

The plan also called for an increase in salary of solicitors from $5,000 to $6,000 and that their expenses be increased from $750 to $1,500. They would also be forbidden from participating in private practice while solicitor. As it was, the solicitor was a part-time employee.

If passed, the plan would not become effective until 1950, thus not impacting the four-year terms of the current solicitors. Nevertheless, says the editorial, it seemed a long time to wait to obtain relief from the jammed calendars which led, of necessity, to many nolle prosequis for the solicitor to handle the case load.

"Southerners and the British Loan" finds the British loan approval facing problems in the House with the coalition of anti-Administration Southern Democrats and Republicans. The coalition had not in the past year been unusual, but this time, the Southern Democrats were aligned with isolationists, American Communists, and the high tariff bloc.

The South had traditionally been internationalist in orientation. The fact that its two principal crops, cotton and tobacco, depended for sustenance on foreign markets was a large reason for the stance. The principle of free trade also was traditionally important to the South.

Since the British loan would encourage free trade and markets for Southern products, it was thus hard to understand the stance of Southern Democrats in opposition to it. Moreover, Southerners had always supported Britain in time of war. Isolation, so popular in the Midwest prior to the war, had found little support in Dixie—except by former Senator Robert Rice Reynolds of North Carolina.

If the Southern Congressmen allowed themselves to be convinced by Republicans to oppose the loan, they would violate their own self-interest and Southern tradition.

"Army vs. Navy at Bikini" tells of the vastly varying reports between the Army brass and Navy brass regarding the results of the Able test on Bikini. The Army was busy telling of how much more powerful the bomb was than previously thought, while Admiral Blandy had stated that it proved it would not put the Navy out of business.

General Anthony McAuliffe, hero of Bastogne, retracted his comments, made previously in a magazine article, that the atom bomb was overrated in its effectiveness, saying that it could prompt any nation to abort a war, though more effective against cities and industrial targets than military targets. The only defense to it, he said, would be, through deployment of airborne troops, to destroy it at its source or possibly to shoot it down. He concluded that he hoped never to see another atomic bomb.

The competing views might be chalked up to childish competition between the Army and the Navy, and a more objective view of the results might take months or years to determine.

It recommends that military commanders keep their peace in the face of the press. The Germans did not appreciate General McAuliffe's terse, one word reply to their demand of surrender at Bastogne. Admiral Blandy would not wish the same reply to be provided his pronouncement that the day of the destroyer and carrier had not passed.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "A Salute to Five Students", provides kudos to five high school students, named in the piece, who had won honors in Latin, mathematics, history, French, and Spanish, during an academic contest sponsored by the University extension program in Chapel Hill. It finds the honors especially in need of recognition in a state which placed more emphasis on matriculation and extra-curricular activities than on academics.

Drew Pearson relates that chairman Andrew May of the House Military Affairs Committee was known as "Yiechel", Yiddish for "anybody", by certain war contractors who made millions from the Army. In his position, Representative May could influence promotions in the Army, determine whether officers were sent overseas, and have officers transferred who did not cooperate with Erie Basin Products Co. Erie Basin had a list of about fifty officers it had been able to influence through "Yiechel".

The company, which did not exist prior to the war, obtained a three-million dollar war contract to produce 4.2-in. mortar shells for the Army. Its organizers were two brothers, Murray and Henry Garsson. Murray Garsson, who served in the Hoover Administration, had an FBI record as a known associate of gangsters Dutch Schultz and Owney Madden. Henry Garsson previously had been charged by the Treasury with accepting a $5,000 bribe while serving as a revenue agent. Though acquitted, he was discharged from Treasury.

The company wined and dined colonels and generals, in one case spending $16,000 on a single dinner, all at taxpayer expense.

General Paul English, who wanted to go overseas, had originally given the war contract to Erie. In 1944, he was suddenly transferred to a relatively unimportant post in Omaha. Just prior to the transfer, he had discovered an eighteen-month old letter which revealed that Erie was not a subsidiary of Segal Lock Co., contrary to the representation of the Garsson brothers at the time they sought the war contract.

The Garssons had provided to chairman May of Kentucky a $28,000 check for the purchase on their behalf of a lumber company in Kentucky. Mr. May had provided $24,000 of the money to the original owners of the company but retained $4,000 for his personal travel time and expenses. The money involved had been borrowed by the Garssons from Erie, and so Government contracts had helped to enrich Mr. May by $4,000, the equivalent of 40 percent of his salary as a Congressman.

The matter, suggests Mr. Pearson, ought be investigated by the Justice Department to determine whether Mr. May committed a criminal offense by accepting lobbying fees for providing a Government contract.

"Yiechel", he concludes, was a versatile man.

Marquis Childs states that the odds were considerably against an improved OPA extension bill emerging from Congress. It would be difficult for Majority Leader Barkley and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn to force action on the bill in the remaining three weeks of the session before the break. Many members were away, either at Bikini, in Manila, or back home to campaign.

The principal factor which favored a better bill was the increased response from the public in support of renewal of OPA since the veto, in recognition of the President's courage in standing fast for it.

The sudden rise in rents and evictions had dark implications. Rent riots had occurred following World War I.

The veto had linked the abolition of price and rent controls to Senator Robert Taft of Ohio for his introduction of the cost-plus amendment to the original bill, ultimately producing the veto. The amendment was so complicated that even Senator Taft could not adequately explain it. It likely doomed any chance Senator Taft had for the 1948 Republican nomination for the presidency.

Peter Edson discusses the House Military Affairs Committee sabotage of the Senate-passed McMahon atomic energy control bill, a bill which would provide civilian oversight of nuclear technology. Chairman Andrew May of the committee received most of the blame. The chairman had ordered the reading of the bill, 46 pages long, which was taking a large amount of time, as each line and paragraph were being discussed and clarified as read. They got through only the first seven sections during the first week of hearings.

The primary issues were whether to have a military representative on the five-person commission and how patents and licensing would be shared with private companies.

Chairman May had been the co-sponsor, along with Senator Edwin Johnson of Colorado, of the May-Johnson bill on atomic energy the previous fall. It had initial Administration backing and was whisked through committee and passed the House. The Senate then wrecked it and adopted an entirely different bill after the May-Johnson bill encountered a raft of criticism from scientists and the press for its inclusion of military oversight, albeit with the ultimate determination of any military objections to committee action left to the President. The President, Secretary of War Robert Patterson, and General Eisenhower deserted the May-Johnson bill and gave their support to the McMahon bill.

Thus, it was conceivable that Mr. May was intentionally creating delay as a way of getting even for the political double-cross.

Robert C. Albright, in a piece from the Washington Post, discusses the temporary leadership role in the Senate occupied by North Carolina Senator Clyde Hoey, such that he had zipped through legislation with a speed not seen thus far previously during the session. He was now the favored chair whenever legislation was at an impasse, through filibuster or otherwise.

Recently, he had ended the filibuster of Senator Theodore Bilbo against the Congressional streamlining bill by cracking the gavel when Senator Robert LaFollette asked for unanimous consent to end debate.

Senator Hoey's sartorial display was that of 30 years earlier. It was part of his Southern gentlemanly charm which endeared him to his colleagues.

When yodeling Senator Glen Taylor of Idaho called the Senate a body of "jackasses" during his filibuster against an amendment, Senator Hoey quickly called for a vote on the amendment. To that, Senator Carl Hatch of New Mexico interposed objection for "sharp practice", but quickly backed off the charge when Senator Hoey explained that he was only following established rules.

He had utilized a rule which no one knew existed in stopping a recess during a filibuster of the President's labor draft legislation, by calling, as presiding officer, for a roll call vote, thus triggering the determination of absence of a quorum through which to vote a recess.

He had been acting as chairman of the Senate District Committee in the absence of Senator Bilbo, who had returned to Mississippi to campaign, clearing in the process a backlog of District bills as no one had in many years, since the chairmanship of Arthur Capper.

Senate leaders wanted Senator Hoey to be presiding officer during the debate on the OPA bill, but he had declined, saying that he had to attend to the business of the District Committee regarding a child-care bill.

Senator Hoey had not much experience with Robert's Rules of Order, having been briefly in the North Carolina Legislature and finishing out an unexpired House term in 1919. He had then served four years as North Carolina Governor from 1937-41. Otherwise, he had been a lawyer in private practice.

Senator Hoey, himself, stated that he had obtained the skill during his days as Governor, presiding over committees and the University Board of Trustees. When there had been enough discussion, when matters reached a lull, he simply banged the gavel and put the issue to a vote. He performed likewise in the Senate.

Mr. Albright concludes that the greatest deliberative body in the world would one day have a showdown with Senator Hoey, but he hoped that it would not be soon.


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