The Charlotte News

Monday, June 30, 1947


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that President Truman signed the bill providing for extension of rent controls through the ensuing February 29, despite the provision allowing for fifteen percent rent increases in cases where a landlord and tenant agreed to a written lease through 1948. He coupled his signature with a message to Congress that he viewed the legislation as "plainly inadequate", but stated that it was either that bill or no rent control at all. He asked for action on a long-range housing program and low-rent housing coupled with slum clearance. He also asked the states to protect the rights of tenants from exploitation under the bill. He urged Congress to investigate the real estate lobby for its "ruthless disregard of the public welfare." He found the new law to repeal part of the program to protect veterans' rights by assuring low cost housing, adding to the already high cost of living.

Prices had increased substantially during the year since the removal of price controls, with pork costing 78 percent more, and beef and veal, 62 percent more. Many items had hit record highs, above the peaks previously recorded in the period of 1919-20 after World War I. Unprecedented demand for meat had caused meat supplies to be inadequate, lending to the high prices. The wholesale price index stood at 175.24, compared to 122.28 a year earlier, with 1926 affording the base 100 index. Another version of the index used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, based on 1935-39 average prices, marked the level at 155.8, up 22.5 points in the previous year, whereas it had risen only 33.3 points during the entire war. All items included in the index were up an average of 16.9 percent in the previous year, with food up 28.8 percent.

The Federal Government returned operation of the 2,500 bituminous coal mines to the owners following 13 months of Government administration, with the contract dispute with UMW still unresolved. The miners were on a ten-day paid vacation until July 8, as provided in the Government contract. The mines had been seized on May 22, 1946 after a strike since April 1. A week later, on May 29, UMW had signed a contract which had been in effect since that time. John L. Lewis had started a strike in late November, 1946, but was ordered by a Federal Court to desist and then found guilty of contempt when he did not order a return to work. The contempt citation was subsequently upheld in March by the Supreme Court, albeit with the large 3.5 million dollar fine against the UMW remitted to $700,000 on condition that Mr. Lewis would not call another threatened strike on April 1, 1947.

At the Paris conference of the British, French, and Russian foreign ministers to discuss the Marshall Plan, the Russians over the weekend had asserted that the limited purpose of the conference, begun Friday, was to determine how much aid was required for Europe and then to find out whether it would be available under the Plan. The British and French wanted to establish a plan for the aid acceptable to the U.S. Congress.

The official German newspaper of the American Military Government, Neue Zeitung, reported that Marshal Lavrenti P. Beria, vice-president of the Soviet Council of Ministers, had arrived in Berlin to try to shore up waning popularity of Communism in the Russian occupation zone of Germany.

In Paris, military officers, including reportedly four generals, and civilians were arrested as a part of a widespread rightwing movement known as the Black Maquis, with intent to overthrow the French republic and establish a military dictatorship. They planned to spread fear of a Communist putsch and then set up a provisional military government. The leader of the plot was a former officer and friend of Marshal Petain, serving a life sentence after his conviction as a traitor for his role in selling out France to the Nazis.

The Mississippi River in the vicinity of St. Louis reached its highest stage, at 39.3 feet, since 1844 when it had reached 41.3 feet. Levees were holding despite a small earth tremor lasting five seconds during the morning. About a thousand persons had been rendered homeless by the threat of flooding.

Five fishermen who set out May 19 from San Pedro, California, on an expedition to fish for shark livers and then were blown off course a thousand miles by a "chubasco" storm, a cyclone at sea, spending six weeks close to starvation on a deserted Pacific Mexican island, Clipperton, were rescued Saturday and were on their way home to San Diego. The vessel normally had enough fuel for only 700 miles of range and so had to have been blown at least 300 miles. The island on which they were located, with limited food available, was well away from normal shipping lanes and so it was lucky that they were discovered. The men were in fair condition.

How about them shark livers, ain't they sharp? a little cut he off his bloody sark.

In Union City, N.J., more than 60 persons of the 86 guests at a wedding reception were poisoned by food served in a restaurant. The best man, from Durham, N.C., was among those stricken.

Don't eat there. You may as well have some shark livers.

On the editorial page, "The Strange Career of Senator Taft" tells of Senator Robert Taft being unquestionably the leader of the GOP, having been responsible for the passage of Taft-Hartley, the emasculation of rent controls and price controls, and the tax bill, the President's veto of which having been sustained. The conservative press was solidly behind Mr. Taft.

Governor Dewey, his primary contender for the 1948 Republican nomination for the presidency, had been able to remain aloof from these major Washington issues, could point to his own relatively liberal labor record in New York should Taft-Hartley turn out to be a mistake.

Mr. Taft did not hesitate to place his views on record, as when he condemned the Nuremberg trials and the eleven death sentences as a sham—first, because of the inherent unfairness in the victors trying the vanquished, and, second, because the laws on which the vanquished were tried were not on the books prior to the war, forgetting the fact that Justice Robert Jackson had premised the prosecutions in part on the 1928 Kellogg-Briand Pact outlawing war, to which Germany had been a signatory nation. The editorial thinks his willingness to speak a more admirable trait than the tendency of Governor Dewey to remain close-mouthed on the major issues of the day, but one which caused question of Mr. Taft's political astuteness.

Recently, Senator Taft had vowed to fight universal military training, despite it appearing to be popular as fear of Communism rose. It suggested a retreat toward his old stance of isolationism and signaled a conflict with Senator Arthur Vandenberg on the point, potentially splitting the Republicans and ending the bi-partisan unity on foreign policy.

The piece could not determine whether Senator Taft's stands were the result of limited intellect or admirable courage. He took positions which were not backed by popular sentiment. It reminded of another honest man who backed himself into an isolationist corner, former Senator Burton Wheeler of Montana.

On the point of courage of Senator Taft in the face of political unpopularity, Senator John F. Kennedy, in his 1957 book, Profiles in Courage, would agree. Having served in the Senate for six months with Senator Taft before his untimely death at age 63 in July, 1953, Senator Kennedy began his concluding chapter of the book this way:

The late Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio was never President of the United States. Therein lies his personal tragedy. And therein lies his national greatness.

For the Presidency was a goal that Bob Taft pursued throughout his career in the Senate, an ambition that this son of a former President always dreamed of realizing. As the leading exponent of the Republican philosophy for more than a decade, "Mr. Republican" was bitterly disappointed by his failure on three different occasions even to receive the nomination.

But Robert A. Taft was also a man who stuck fast to the basic principles in which he believed—and when fundamental principles were at issue, not even the lure of the White House, or the possibilities of injuring his candidacy, could deter him from speaking out. He was an able politician, but on more than one occasion chose to speak out in defense of a position no politician with like ambitions would have endorsed. He was, moreover, a brilliant political analyst, who knew that during his lifetime the number of American voters who agreed with the fundamental tenets of his political philosophy was destined to be a permanent minority, and that only by flattering new blocs of support—while carefully refraining from alienating any group which contained potential Taft voters—could he ever hope to attain his goal. Yet he frequently flung to the winds the very restraints his own analysis advised, refusing to bow to any group, refusing to keep silent on any issue.

It is not that Bob Taft's career in the Senate was a constant battle between popularity and principle as was John Quincy Adams'; he did not have to struggle to maintain his integrity like Thomas Hart Benton. His principles usually led him to conclusions which a substantial percentage of his constituents and political associates were willing to support. Although on occasions his political conduct reflected his political ambitions, popularity was not his guide on most fundamental matters. The Taft-Hartley Labor Management Relations Act could not have gained him many votes in industrialized Ohio, for those who endorsed its curbs on union activity were already Taft supporters; but it brought furious anti-Taft reprisals during the 1950 Senate campaign by the unions in Ohio, and it nourished the belief that Taft could not win a Presidential contest, a belief which affected his chances for the nomination in 1952. Simultaneously, however, he was antagonizing the friends of Taft-Hartley, and endangering his own leadership in the Republican party, by his support of education, housing, health and other welfare measures.

Those who were shocked at these apparent departures from his traditional position did not comprehend that Taft's conservatism contained a strong strain of pragmatism, which caused him to support intensive Federal activity in those areas that he believed not adequately served by the private enterprise system. Taft did not believe that this was inconsistent with the conservative doctrine; conservatism in his opinion was not irresponsibility. Thus he gave new dimensions to the conservative philosophy: he stuck to that faith when it reached its lowest depth of prestige and power and led it back to the level of responsibility and respectability. He was an unusual leader, for he lacked the fine arts of oratory and phrasemaking, he lacked blind devotion to the party line (unless he dictated it), and he lacked the politician's natural instinct to avoid controversial positions and issues.

But he was more than a political leader, more than "Mr. Republican." He was also a Taft—and thus "Mr. Integrity." The Senator's grandfather, Alphonso Taft, had moved West to practice law in 1830, writing his father that "The notorious selfishness and dishonesty of the great mass of men you find in New York is to my mind a serious obstacle to settling there." And the Senator's father was William Howard Taft, who knew well the meaning of political courage and political abuse when he stood by his Secretary of Interior, Ballinger, against the overwhelming opposition of Pinchot, Roosevelt and the progressive elements of his own party.

So Bob Taft, as his biographer has described it, was "born to integrity." He was known in the Senate as a man who never broke an agreement, who never compromised his deeply felt Republican principles, who never practiced political deception. His bitter political enemy, Harry Truman, would say when the Senator died: "He and I did not agree on public policy, but he knew where I stood and I knew where he stood. We need intellectually honest men like Senator Taft." Examples of his candor are endless and startling. The Ohioan once told a group in the heart of Republican farm territory that farm prices were too high; and he told still another farm group that "he was tired of seeing all these people riding in Cadillacs." His support of an extensive Federal housing program caused a colleague to remark: "I hear the Socialists have gotten to Bob Taft." He informed an important political associate who cherished a commendatory message signed by Taft that his assistant "sent those things out by the dozen” without the Senator even seeing, much less signing them. And a colleague recalls that he did not reject the ideas of his friends by gentle indirection, but by coldly and unhesitatingly terming them "nonsense." "He had," as William S. White has written, "a luminous candor of purpose that was extraordinarily refreshing in a chamber not altogether devoted to candor."

It would be a mistake, however, to conclude from this that Senator Taft was cold and abrupt in his personal relationships. I recall, from my own very brief service with him in the Senate and on the Senate Labor Committee in the last months of his life, my strong impression of a surprising and unusual personal charm, and a disarming simplicity of manner. It was these qualities, combined with an unflinching courage which he exhibited throughout his entire life and most especially in his last days, that bound his adherents to him with unbreakable ties.

For what it's worth, we point out that Senator Taft died 39 days before his 64th birthday. President Kennedy was killed 39 days before the start of 1964. Senator Taft lay in state in the Rotunda of the Capitol on August 2-3, 1953, ten years after the PT-109 incident, August 2, 1943, in turn twenty years after the death in San Francisco of President Harding, who, in 1921, had appointed former President Taft Chief Justice. The next known individual to lie in state in the Rotunda was President Kennedy, the Unknown Soldiers of World War II and Korea, to whose Tomb at Arlington the President had traditionally visited and paid respect eleven days before his own death, having lain in state in the Rotunda during Memorial Day weekend of 1958, embracing Senator Kennedy's 41st birthday.

"The Un-Registered Mrs. Roosevelt" comments on Eleanor Roosevelt, for unknown reasons, having been dropped from the Social Register, after years among its listings of the blue-bloods of the country and their pedigree. It finds the omission unlikely to perturb Mrs. Roosevelt and, to the contrary, would probably be greeted as a belated compliment to her unconventional willingness as First Lady and since to take stands on social issues. She did not need the Register, it concludes, to establish her greatness.

"The South Will Miss Old Jim" remarks on the imprisonment of Mayor James Curley of Boston for taking bribes on war contracts and how Southerners would miss him in political life. He had afforded relief to Southerners from the sneering of Bostonians at the corruption and reaction in Southern politics attendant such personages as Huey Long, Robert Rice Reynolds, and Cole Blease—not to mention the more recent example of Theodore Bilbo and the exposed bribes to obtain his approval for war contracts. The former Governor and Congressman, as well as long-term Mayor, had been returned to office many times despite a shady past and a prior conviction for fraud for which he had served a prison term at the turn of the century.

While the South would miss him, it could complacently await his successor, secure in the belief that the conditions which eventuated in Mr. Curley would produce an equally colorful and corrupt heir to the tradition in the future.

Mayor Curley would have his sentence commuted after serving five months of his six to eighteen month sentence, and would return to his job as Mayor. In 1950, President Truman would pardon him for both convictions, after Mr. Curley had failed in his bid for re-election in 1949. He would never again serve in political office.

A piece from the Greensboro Daily News, titled "Bravo! Bravo! Well Played!" praises G. I. Democrat gubernatorial candidate R. Mayne Albright for playing his cards right in turning to moderate Senator William B. Umstead with an appeal to vote to sustain the President's veto on Taft-Hartley, rather than to the more conservative Senator Clyde Hoey.

It also issues kudos to any formation of pro-labor Wayne Morse Clubs among Republicans, Democrats, and independents, as forecast by the Southern vice-president of the Textile Workers Union of America.

Drew Pearson writes a "think" column rather than his usual grist, finding scraps of paper tossed in the wastebasket from closed committee hearings and the like. He tells of Osservatore Romano, the official organ of the Vatican, commenting on the dangerously widening rift between the U.S. and Russia. Europe was hungry and thus moving to the left; the U.S. was relatively prosperous, therefore moving to the right. As these moves were taking place, the divide was becoming dangerously wide.

During the Harding-Coolidge era after World War I, people were hurt by back-to-normalcy which produced unprecedented prosperity, then speculation, and crash. Paul Hoffman, president of Studebaker, had just told Congress that the country could not endure another such trend after World War II.

In 1926, the Conservative Government in England had reacted to the general strike by curbing unions to the extent that two years later Labor was back in power. Mr. Pearson suggests it as a lesson to the U.S. regarding extreme positions against labor interests.

An example of the trend in Congress was the passing of the buck to the full House by the House Administration Committee on the issue of whether to allow publication by the Library of Congress of a pamphlet titled "Fascism in Action", companion to a pamphlet published the previous year, "Communism in Action". While there were weaknesses in the report, the move pointed out the hesitancy in Congress among Republicans and some Democrats to take active stands against the extreme right when a war had just been fought to destroy it.

Another example of swings to extremes was the debate between General Lucius Clay, American occupation commander in Germany, who wanted to rebuild German textile and light industry only, and those extremists in the War Department who wanted to allow I. G. Farben and the chemicals and steel industries to rebuild despite their having been the munitions suppliers to Hitler. The latter group had as a rationale the need to establish Germany as a buffer state to Russia.

Mr. Pearson thinks it a wise concept, assuming a conventional war was inevitable and assuming that the West could trust Germany. But the assumptions appeared invalid, based on the advice of the leading military men, who believed the next war would be an air war, coming over the North Pole. And, based on history, the Germans were not to be trusted once armed. The concept of balance-of-power had failed after World War I when the British believed Germany would so stand as a bulwark to Russia and even to France. The Russians and Germans showed that they could not be trusted or appeased in 1939. He believes that they could not be trusted or appeased any the more in 1947.

He urges not repeating the mistake of swinging too far right or left. The pendulum should swing modestly back and forth in the center of the spectrum.

Samuel Grafton tells of three sophisticates he had overheard ordering Scotch on a short train trip he had taken to get away from New York. They were careful to specify brands to show their sophistication, then began engaging in a conversation about the free beer which flowed like water in Russia. The conversation shifted to countries shipping foreign beer to the U.S., probably made from U.S. grain. They concluded that no further aid should be given Europe, too lazy to plant stuff, after two years since the war. The French, according to the men, worked only four days per week and every time the U.S. gave them money, they kissed an American diplomat and gave him a medal.

One of the three concluded, "[E]very man for himself...the way the world goes..."

Travel, concludes Mr. Grafton, was educational and he would not have missed the train ride for anything.

Marquis Childs tells of editor William R. Matthews of the Tucson Daily Star, visiting Greece, sending an urgent message that unless former Governor Dwight Griswold, recently appointed as administrator of the 300-million dollar aid package to Greece, soon got there, everything would blow up in his face as conditions were becoming worse, with a virtual civil war now taking place. Nearly all road and railroad traffic between the major cities had ceased. Russian propaganda was playing well among Greeks while American propaganda was non-existent.

The U.S. Embassy in Athens and Greek officials through the Greek Embassy in Washington had confirmed such reports.

Mr. Childs explains the painstaking task of choosing staff to accompany Governor Griswold, who had been given broad powers by the Greek Government to run affairs. The power could prove a hazard, for if the mission failed, the Americans would be blamed, opening the door for Russia. The Russians, as they continued to push for control of Greece, might welcome the diversion of publicity away from Greece and the Truman Doctrine by the press paying the greater attention now to the Marshall Plan for rebuilding Europe.

Too, the small group of Athens businessmen who controlled shipping and other sources of wealth were considered ruthless and shrewd. The program of aid could be sabotaged therefore by the extreme right as well as by the Communist left.

He concludes that the road to democracy in Greece was "strewn with glass" and it was to be hoped that the American public would be patient with Governor Griswold's efforts.

A letter writer finds mathematical fallacy in the claims of a letter writer of June 21 who predicted imminent failure of the Social Security trust fund and had advocated allowing private investment of the funds to insure its viability.

A letter from Inez Flow responds to what she viewed as a harsh judgment by The News in its statement of June 12 finding "contemptuous" a declaration by 75 Mecklenburg ministers that Chief of Police Littlejohn was surrendering to the wet forces. She thinks it to have condemned the right of ministers to be heard.

The editors defend their adjective, saying that the ministers had impliedly accused the Chief of gross neglect of duties when they told him: "Enforce the laws we now have to the best of your ability, and then join your efforts with ours in obtaining repeal of the gallon law [allowing each citizen to bring into the county one gallon of legally purchased liquor per day] instead of surrendering to the wet forces."

This statement had been issued in the face of the Chief stating publicly that the prohibition law was unenforceable in the county, in part because the gallon law made it difficult to differentiate between legal whiskey and that which had been purchased through a bootlegger, as well as supplying the merchandise, through daily trips by hired mules, to the bootlegger by means of legally purchased liquor in South Carolina.

The editors might have responded to Ms. Flow that newspapermen, as well as any other citizen, have the right to call the actions and statements of anyone else, including ministers, contemptuous or worse. The accuracy of the statement is to be judged in the marketplace of ideas.

If you can't take the heat or are too limited to argue the point in opposition rather than complaining of name-calling, move to Argentina and become a Peronista.

Incidentally, it is not only oxymoronic but simply and plainly moronic to suggest that a narrator in a particular film is "omniscient (but unreliable)". The two characteristics are mutually exclusive by definition. But you have it your way, Wicked-pedia.

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