The Charlotte News

Wednesday, November 9, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that John L. Lewis called a temporary halt to the coal strike through November 30 for the sake of "public convenience" and to give the coal operators a chance to agree to terms on the welfare and pensions fund. He had not indicated whether the miners would resume work on the three-day week they had worked after the contract had expired July 1 until the beginning of the 52-day strike, or whether they would work a full five-day week. District presidents, however, said that miners would work five and possibly six-day weeks, the latter up to the operators.

U.N. General Assembly president Carlos Romulo appealed to the Big Five permanent Security Council members and Canada to consider a short-term atomic armistice and ban of use of nuclear weapons while starting anew discussions on atomic control to break the three-year deadlock on the matter. Western delegates were said to view the suggestion as old stuff and vague.

In Paris, the Big Three foreign ministers had agreed to look at formulation of a common policy toward Yugoslavia. They also agreed to look at all facets of the German question and whether West Germany should be admitted to the various international bodies, the European Council and presumably NATO. China would also be a subject of discussion.

Democrats had won the U.S. Senate special election in New York between incumbent John Foster Dulles, appointed by Governor Dewey on the retirement of Democrat Robert Wagner earlier in the year, and former Governor Herbert Lehman, the latter winning. The unexpired term would run through the end of 1950. Since the Fair Deal had been made a centerpiece of the campaign by Senator Dulles, Governor Lehman's victory was hailed as a positive harbinger for the President and the Democrats for the midterm election in 1950. Democrats had also won several mayoral races. Republicans held onto the New Jersey gubernatorial seat and won a few mayoral races. The results of the various elections, including a handful of Congressional elections, are provided.

Pollster George Gallup, who had taken it on the nose in the 1948 presidential race for having predicted Governor Dewey to win handily, had correctly predicted Governor Lehman's victory, albeit having mis-sampled the actual four point spread as 14 points. He said that he could now eat pheasant rather than crow.

Benjamin Davis, member of the New York City Council and the only Communist Party member to hold a major public office in the country, lost his bid for re-election, to Earl Brown, magazine writer. Mr. Davis had been one of the defendants in the trial of the eleven top American Communists, all of whom had recently been found guilty of violating the Smith Act and sentenced to prison.

U.S. Steel, last major holdout in settling the steel strike dispute on the welfare and pension fund, was reported to be ready to join the settlement discussions again with the United Steelworkers. A proposed peace agreement was said to be in formulation by U.S. Steel.

In Jackson, Miss., a man on trial for poisoning to death his five-month old granddaughter and attempting to murder by poison her four-year old sister, admitted that he had poisoned his first two wives with strychnine in 1931 and 1933. No charges had been filed in those cases. He had collected life insurance in both cases. He had refused, however, to sign confessions in those cases. He had also collected life insurance in the death of his granddaughter. The mother of the two girls had also been charged with murder and attempted murder for aiding and abetting the poisonings. The grandfather had said that he and the mother had planned to use the money to elope.

Forget it, Jake. It's Chinatown.

On the editorial page, "Segregation Under Fire" discusses the Supreme Court's decision, as reported Monday, to review Sweatt v. Painter, the case to determine whether Texas had fulfilled its separate-but-equal obligation under Plessy v. Ferguson by building a law school for black students in Houston or whether Mr. Sweatt had to be admitted to the University of Texas Law School, ultimately unanimously decided in his favor the following year.

The Court had agreed also to hear the case of a University of Oklahoma student, G. W. McLaurin, who contended that his segregated seating in graduate school classes violated Equal Protection, a case which also would be unanimously decided in the petitioner's favor the following year.

The Court had also accepted the case of Elmer Henderson who claimed that he could not obtain a meal in 1942 on a Southern Railway train en route between Washington and Alabama. The Federal District Court in Maryland had ruled against him but the Justice Department was now urging the Court to reverse the decision, attacking the legal and social basis for segregation. The Court would rule the following year unanimously, 8-0, that the practice violated the Interstate Commerce Act by imposing an "undue or unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage" on both races by making it harder to serve them.

The seed of the challenges came from Justice John Harlan's dissent in Plessy in 1896, contrary to the majority's contention that segregation did not stamp the black race with a "badge of inferiority", Justice Harlan saying that the Constitution was "color blind" and did not know or tolerate classes among citizens, that segregation did, practically, place "the brand of servitude and degradation" upon a large class of citizens, "equals before the law".

Regardless of the outcome of the cases, the piece offers, and regardless of the condemnation of segregation in the abstract, the practical application of such morals was different and it would take more than court rulings to end segregation in the South and elsewhere. Such attitudes would only change slowly and the change had to take place in the minds and hearts of people before the written laws could have any real effect.

Black citizens in Durham, N.C., had brought suit against the Board of Education charging that the black schools were not equal to the white schools, an appraisal, suggests the piece, probably true in every North Carolina county. If the suit were decided for the plaintiffs and the trend spread then to other counties, the State could wind up having to pay out huge sums to bring the black schools up to standard.

"It's Mr. Shaw's Move" tells of City Attorney John Shaw promising that a friendly suit would be filed to test the County's legal responsibility to assume about $700,000 in old City school district bonds. If done, the County could increase by half its borrowing capacity to enable schools for the burgeoning population of children after the war, slated to be half again higher by 1960 than the current 20,000 school-age children in Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

"A Helping Hand" pays homage to the Charlotte Lions Club for its work on behalf of the blind and sight-impaired. One of their projects was a workshop in which such persons were employed making sheets, pillowcases and household mops.

Currently, they were sponsoring a broom and mop sale to raise funds for their projects and the piece urges purchase of one.

Give our new "President" one of those pillowcases so that he can put it over his head and feel right at home, blind as a bat, with the bulk of his core followers who "elected" him by means of the elitist electoral college, controlled by the big-moneyed special interests—an electoral college which he vilified as anti-democratic during the 2012 count of votes because he thought at the time that President Obama would win the electoral college while Governor Romney, one of the more honorable Republican nominees, along with Senator McCain, of the past several decades, would win the popular vote, though it turned out not the case. We have to wonder what the Assange-Hole, head of the new Nazi Party in America, thinks about it today—the electoral college, not the pillowcases made by the blind.

It is time to get rid of this antiquated convention, a holdover from simpler times at the Founding, quite as anachronistic as the Second Amendment, though we do not equate the two. But it does seem, strangely, that "gun rights" advocates are elected pursuant to its elitist aims while everyone else, favoring gun control, goes through the normal processes of winning both the popular vote and the electoral college.

There is a move afoot since 2001 to get each state aboard the train for delivering its electors on the basis of winning percentages rather than a winner-take-all formula. Had that system been in place for the 2016 election for all states, the result would be approximately 271 for the Democrat to 266 for the Republican, with one for the third party candidate in Utah. Presumably, under such a system, Congress would then be moved either to send to the states an amendment to the Constitution to abolish or alter accordingly the electoral college or at least would act to increase the number of electors by increasing the number of representatives in the House, not done since 1913, though Congress has always had that power, to adhere roughly to increasing population. In that manner, it would be less problematic to apportion electors without resort to fractions—which we have not done for the above approximated count from the state by state results in 2016. Perhaps also, one elector per state could be added to the total for each candidate who wins a state.

Of course, the more sensible thing to do is simply to abolish the electoral college completely by amendment to the Constitution, though not a simple process. We have now, however, twice in the last five elections, a popular vote winner not becoming President. And that is twice too many, regardless of party. You can bet, given the level of willingness to engage in overturning of the ordinary processes by the Republicans, that had the shoe been on the other foot and two Democrats, or even one, had come to office in the past 16 years without winning the popular vote, there would have been a move afoot to extinguish the electoral college or somehow circumvent its procedures, as by having one or more legislatures change their rules for selecting electors after the election, not unconstitutional, to accommodate the reality of the will of the American people.

Such would not work this time, incidentally, as the legislatures of the electoral-rich states which were close but won by the Republican, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Texas, and Georgia, all have dominant Republican majorities. But apportion any combination of these states, representing 162 electoral votes, such that as many as 38 additional votes would be awarded to Secretary Clinton and taken away from the Republican and the electoral college result would be shifted to match the national and state-by-state popular will.

Did the Founding Fathers, when they provided for this convention in 1787 ever imagine a time when computers and telephones and television and the rest of the modern apparati could be brought to bear to target certain populous but wobbly urban areas of the country within states rich in electoral votes, and thereby deliberately seek to depress voting by demoralizing certain segments of the population—as the Republican did this cycle, i.e., "What have you got to lose?"—to dissuade people from voting, thus handing certain states normally voting for one party to the other, done not through honest politicking but through political lies and chicanery? Indeed, it was that sort of demagogue who the electoral college was designed to prevent from coming to power. It was designed to prevent a person such as the Republican of 2016 from ever getting close to the White House. But that concept, through modern technology and manipulative techniques, has been employed in 2016 to achieve the exact converse.

We have another question: Did the Republican spread, through precinct operatives, in places like Detroit and Philadelphia and Milwaukee, where turnout was substantially lower than in 2008 and 2012, some money around among potential Democratic voters, known by ward heelers, who double as numbers runners in the non-election seasons, to induce them to stay home on election day or even vote for the Republican? The Republican, after all, by his own brag, had plenty of personal money to throw around in this election. How much money does it take to pay, say $25 each, to 50,000 or even 75,000 people in certain overwhelmingly Democratic precincts in this or that state simply to get a person to stay home and not vote? It would be a mere pittance to a multi-billionaire, practically no more than a few days' worth of interest, to make such charitable payments to those of modest means, would it not, maybe five or ten million dollars in all, paid out in ten dollar bills, perhaps paid in multiples of eleven to attach a little Nixonesque wit to the artifice? After all, with 33 dollars in your pocket, you can buy a lot of party-red wine on Don, just to stay home. Ain't that right, old Crazy Don of Cleveland? Are you any kin to Detroit Red?

A piece from the Chapel Hill Weekly discusses the difference in ideology among politicians of each party. Senators Frank Graham of North Carolina and Harry Byrd of Virginia were as different as night and day, though both Democrats. The same was true of Senators Wayne Morse of Oregon and Robert Taft of Ohio, both Republicans.

It concludes that perhaps the reason conservatives and liberals, the actual dichotomy, remained together under the same party banner was because of the "cohesive power of public plunder."

Drew Pearson tells of the President having a long and friendly talk with former Secretary of Interior Harold Ickes, both known for their short tempers and decided opinions, both having mended fences since the public flak leading to Mr. Ickes's resignation in 1946 after the President questioned the accuracy of his memory regarding a conversation with then nominee to be Undersecretary of the Navy Ed Pauley, in which Mr. Ickes claimed Mr. Pauley, then DNC treasurer, tried to influence the Secretary's decision on the tidal oil lands issue by offering to raise money for the Democrats from oil producers. One of the topics of conversation with the President was one near to Mr. Ickes's heart, the plight of the Navajo Indians. The President had just vetoed a bill which would have placed the Navajo under the state laws of Arizona and New Mexico, because the Catholic Church had protested their simple tribal divorce law. The President believed in allowing preservation of their tribal customs, as did Mr. Ickes, who believed the bill a cloaked attempt to take over the tribe's water rights, to appease the cattlemen and ranchers. Current Secretary of the Interior Julius Krug, at the instance of Senator Clinton Anderson of New Mexico, former Agriculture Secretary, had agreed with the bill. So the President took the unusual step of disagreeing with his Cabinet Secretary.

Harold Russell, armless veteran, head of the Amvets, and the amateur actor who had won an Academy Award for his supporting performance in "The Best Years of Our Lives" in 1946, had managed to get the top brass of the armed services to come together recently at a rally at American University to raise $225,000 for a war memorial athletic center. Mr. Russell extended both of his hooks and asked the military men to shake in the spirit of friendship, which they did.

Pro-Navy man Ferdinand Eberstadt had reported in 1945 to then-Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal that there would always be a centrifugal force in the Department of the Navy which the civilian Secretary could not withstand, that it had such an administrative structure that subordinate agencies could not be made immediately responsive to the will of the central intelligence. The civil authority was isolated from the organization by individual bureaus. Mr. Forrestal, however, was never able to reform the Navy and the continued bickering among the admirals was one reason for his eventual nervous breakdown leading to his suicide the previous May.

The P-38 fighter which had collided into the Eastern Air Lines DC-4 over the Potomac while both planes were trying to land at National Airport, killing all 55 aboard the liner, had been flown in the Bendix Air races recently and had lost an engine. The pilot of the P-38 during the races was a close friend of the pilot of the doomed airliner.

Marquis Childs, in Cologne, Germany, tells of having visited the city four years earlier and written that it would be 30 years before Germany could ever approach its former position industrially, perhaps never. Ninety percent of Cologne's industrial base had been destroyed by the war.

Yet, in 1949, Germany was rebuilt to the point that 80 percent of its prewar industry was functioning and Cologne appeared to be at a higher level than even that average. Ruins were still conspicuous in business and residential areas, as a housing shortage was extant. And German exports were only 60 percent of prewar levels.

Recently, new civilian High Commissioner of the American zone, John J. McCloy, had stirred controversy in Britain when he suggested that the program of dismantling Germany's war industry needed re-examination. But his observation seemed apt in the face of some absurd results from the program, as when one plant, devoted to maintaining Berlin's sewage and water system functioning, was stripped by the Russians, rebuilt by the West and then ordered dismantled by the West. Marshall Plan aid was being used to construct or reconstruct petroleum plants while synthetic gasoline plants were being dismantled. Such anomalies were occurring under the three-power control system in Western Germany, suggesting the need for better coordination of economic policy.

Robert C. Ruark, in Denver, found no subways or television present. The children were left to play in parks or fish in streams. With no Milton Berle or Howdy Doody, their cultural life was unfulfilled. It was thus a wonder that juvenile delinquency had not flourished as such activities as wrestling and roller derbies on the tv had practically rendered the need for the rod extinct.

Recently, while still in the East, he had visited a home where television was constantly on, viewed a drama in which a mechanical monster was invented to be a perfect companion for chess, eventually strangling the inventor. Another involved Mexico, girls, and vampires, in which the male protagonist cuts his hand and was set upon by the vampires. Yet another dealt with the French Revolution, wherein the girl went to the guillotine before giving up the goods on her father.

So the children of Denver were growing up in a Dark Age without television to steady them. No one he polled could even identify Gorgeous George or Martin Kane, the detective, or Kukla and Ollie, the puppets.

He wanted Eleanor Roosevelt therefore to obtain a coaxial cable linkage for the city or he would take the matter to the U.N., himself.

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