The Charlotte News

Monday, February 21, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that, according to an anonymous source, the North Atlantic Pact would assure member nations that the U.S. would not stand idly by in case of attack on one of their number, but would not commit the country automatically to war. The resolution of the language was said to be satisfactory to both Senators Tom Connally and Arthur Vandenberg of the Foreign Relations Committee. The precise wording of the provision was still secret.

Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas had stated his belief that the Pact had to carry a "moral commitment" to intervention in case of attack on member nations. Senator H. Alexander Smith of New Jersey said that the Pact should leave no doubt of the U.S. intent to move swiftly in that event.

The Hoover Commission urged a complete overhaul of the State Department, issuing 22 recommendations, and stating that the control of foreign policy ought be in the hands of the President rather than spread among several different agencies. The State Department had fallen into disrepute, said the report, because of its postwar overload of work. It recommended two new undersecretaries and two new assistant secretaries, plus a general reshuffling of functions. The Commission opposed turning the military occupation governments of Japan and Germany over to civilian control.

The Senate approved a bill to extend until mid-1951 the Government's power to control exports and, since the bill had passed the House on February 17, sent it to the President for signature.

Representatives of the Army, Navy, and Air Force testified before the House Banking Committee in favor of extension of rent controls for two more years, to maintain reasonable rents in defense areas.

In Berlin, enraged Polish Jews rioted in the British sector and blocked for the second time the showing of "Oliver Twist", charged as being anti-Semitic for its depiction of the Jewish Fagan as a thief who teaches other young boys to steal. Police used fire hoses and clubs to hold back the charging crowd, but without much success. The British had rejected a demand by high-ranking German officials that the film be banned. The theater before which the demonstration had occurred was prepared to show the film to 300 spectators, about half its capacity, until it was decided to call off the showing.

In Munich, the trial began, before an eight-member U.S. military tribunal, of five defendants charged with espionage for a foreign power.

The NLRB found G.M. guilty of an unfair labor practice pursuant to Taft-Hartley for putting into effect a group insurance plan without consulting the UAW.

Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon accused the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce of seeking to hold labor down through Taft-Hartley and other such restrictive legislation. The Grange testified to the Labor Committee in favor of retention of Taft-Hartley.

A voluntary committee for the nation's health care, backing the Administration plan for national health insurance, challenged the AMA to bring forth its estimates of costs for its proposed program, estimating that the cost for care and rehabilitation under that program would, alone, cost the taxpayers billions of dollars. An AMA spokesperson had said that the Administration plan would cost 18 billion per year to start. It had been proposed that the Administration plan be financed with a compulsory payroll tax, as with Social Security. The voluntary committee described the AMA plan as a "fancy press relations job". The committee included Eleanor Roosevelt, David Sarnoff, president of RCA, and presidents William Green of AFL and Philip Murray of CIO.

In Washington, a defense witness for Mildred Gillars, on trial for treason for being "Axis Sally", conducting broadcasts for the Nazis to the Allies during the war, testified that persons who broadcast the propaganda were told that if they made one false utterance they would be "put away", that Ms. Gillars was probably aware of the threat. Another employee of the radio station had previously testified that Ms. Gillars complained that she was threatened when she sought to quit.

In Praia, capital of the Cape Verde Islands, 232 persons were killed when a 25-foot high wall, 33 yards long, collapsed on a group of people gathered for their daily dole of food. The area had been hit by famine.

In Sofia, Bulgaria, the Communist-dominated press, for the third straight day, printed alleged confessions of three Protestant churchmen accused of treason and espionage.

In Omaha, Neb., a 14-month old baby choked to death on an aspirin tablet provided by his parents for a cold.

In Burgaw, N.C., a 16-year old boy flying a kite was killed when the metal line of the kite touched a high tension wire.

A new "Mr. X" contest begins in The News, with the same rules as previously, the booty to be increased by $10 per diem through the end of the week, the resulting $50 to go to the Empty Stocking Fund if no one guessed "Mr. X" after Friday night.

Thus far, the poor Empty Stocking Fund has accumulated nothing in four tries.

The fifth contest has as an initial clue that the man is a native of North Carolina.

But, judging by last week's erroneous first clue, that "Miss X" was born in New Jersey when in fact Miss X, Teresa Wright, was born in New York and grew up in New Jersey, Mr. X could be a native of South Carolina or Virginia. He must be Strom Thurmond.

On the editorial page, "The 'Right to Vote'" tells of the Dry forces in the state arguing in favor of a statewide referendum on alcohol on the basis that the people were being denied a right to express their view by voting on the matter. The piece begs to differ, that the people could express their views on a county-option basis.

The Drys favored the referendum because they believed they could win. In Kansas, the Dry forces had fought against a referendum as they thought that they would lose.

The News favors retention of local option. It would do no good, it says, for North Carolina to ban alcohol sales when South Carolina and Virginia had legal sale.

"Mrs. John M. Scott" tells of the passing of a widow known as "Miss Bleecker" who had been a leading force in Charlotte society and was venerated as a woman of kindliness and charm.

"Federal School Aid" regards Congressman Hamilton Jones's statement in support of Federal aid to education, arguing persuasively that every child was entitled to an equal opportunity to have a good education and that the poorer states were usually the ones with the most children.

While the argument was good, there were also valid objections, primarily the likelihood that conditions would be attached to the aid to prevent discrimination, that the aid ultimately came from the states, and that the Federal Government could ill afford to take on new obligations with its largest peacetime budget, funded by high taxes. While the proposed 300 million dollars for Federal aid to education was not so much in itself, that amount would increase with time.

North Carolina, it admits, had not provided the education to its children which some other states had, but was closing the gap fast. With its debts paid and able to afford to fund education from its own resources, North Carolina, it offers, should not be looking to Washington.

A piece from the Shelby Daily Star, titled "An Indefensible Tax", hopes that the bill introduced by Congressman L. M. Rivers of South Carolina, banning the 10-cents per pound discriminatory tax on colored margarine, would become law.

Drew Pearson tells of benzedrine inhalers being used for doping by prisoners, a practice started during the war in military brigs. He provides statements on the subject from the warden of the Georgia State Prison, the superintendent of the Florida State Prison, the superintendent of the Washington State Prison, the warden of Sing Sing in New York, a doctor on staff at the Arizona State Prison, the warden of the Maryland State Prison, the warden of the Oregon State Prison, the superintendent of the Washington State Reformatory, and the warden of the Wyoming State Prison, each saying that the use of benzedrine was prevalent in those facilities.

In consequence, Congressman George Grant of Alabama, who had investigated the problem, was drafting a bill to restrict sale of the inhalers.

Marquis Childs again comments on the release by the Army of the report of General MacArthur regarding the Tokyo spy network operating for Russia against Japan during the early part of the war, until fall, 1941, when the principals were caught and hanged. The report gave praise to the Canadian Royal Commission which had ferreted out in 1946 the Canadian spy network operating in the Government for Russia. But, he finds, the MacArthur report bore no resemblance to the efficient, secret, and factual Canadian effort, instead engaging in speculation and editorialization.

The British intelligence service had been very successful during the war in acquiring Nazi secrets because they had cultivated whole German families of spies into the third generation.

Mr. Childs posits that the effort to ferret out spies needed to be conducted professionally, in secret, and not by alarming the public such that amateur sleuths would begin investigating citizens suspected of having unconventional and disloyal thoughts.

He cites The Fourth Seal by Samuel Hoare, a study by the British Secret Service of the czarist spy networks, compiled in 1916 and 1917 during the British mission in Russia. Mr. Hoare had described how each department in the czarist regime had its own spy apparatus, each spending a lot of its time spying on the others. Most of the editions of the work had been bought by the British Secret Service, embarrassed by the indiscretions, violative of their code of secrecy, and was, by 1948, nearly impossible any longer to obtain. The fact pointed out that the most successful Secret Service in the world believed the spy business to be strictly professional. It was a lesson, he concludes, which American officials needed to learn.

Stewart Alsop tells of a Russian engineer, Gregory Klimov, who had written to Mr. Alsop regarding his experience as a defector to the American sector of Germany in early 1947. He was willing to act as an intermediary to obtain valuable intelligence information from Marshal Sokolovsky's headquarters. But the only interest shown by American intelligence was to interview him to insure that he was not a spy.

Such was the experience of thousands of Russian refugees, professors, doctors, intellectuals, generals, and former MVD officials, each of whom could be of enormous assistance to the U.S. in intelligence gathering, but were going to waste.

The first objective was to find about a half dozen very qualified men with a thorough knowledge of Russia and the Russian language, who could go to Germany to interview these refugees to obtain their information. The second objective was to establish an institute for Russian studies to utilize this reservoir of Soviet intellectual talent to teach of Russia.

A letter writer suggests that a broadcast on ABC radio by Dr. George S. Benton, president of Harding College in Searcy, Arkansas, had presented a cogent argument against Federal aid to education, in contrast to the support given the aid by Dr. Frank Porter Graham, president of UNC.

Dr. Benton had argued that the 300 million dollars in aid would be but a beginning, until the Federal Government carried the bulk of the education bill within a decade. It would be extended to junior colleges, resulting in private schools and other colleges being squeezed out of existence.

The writer thinks that it would open the door to "national indoctrination".

A letter writer finds the newspapers worrying about the State vehicle inspection law, tells of having been to the inspection station and waited in line for hours, only to have to return the following day. The newer cars, he finds, were most often involved in accidents. He wants to get some of the big trucks and buses off the road, as he had almost been run over by one recently, "just like a barn a-rolling".

A letter writer corrects a misstatement in The News of January 18 regarding plans of the D.A.R. to restore the Hezekiah Alexander Rock House, where, according to the article, the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was supposed to have been written. But in fact, she imparts, the Mecklenburg convention appointed to draft the Declaration was comprised of Dr. Ephraim Brevard, Rev. Hezekiah J. Balch, and William Kennon, an attorney.

But the question we have is whether it is a rock house and his name was Mr. Alexander, or whether it was Mr. Rock's house. And we still do not understand why the composition of the committee necessarily precludes authorship within the Rock House, or the house of rock, as the case may be.

A letter writer compliments the newspaper for the February 16 editorial, "Topics of the Times", and the February 17 editorial, "Our Ham in Wonderland".

Speaking of topics of the times, we would like to present to the Republican Party leadership today the American Party of Extremists award, an award presented to that small minority of Americans who favor dictatorial Fascism as a means of governing, dispensing with the Constitution.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senate Majority Leader, has announced this date that the Republicans will not allow a vote to occur on any nominee President Obama submits to the Senate for confirmation to replace deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, that they will "revisit" a nomination after the election. That is an unprecedented maneuver violative of the Constitution which, in Article II, Section 2, prescribes plainly the process that the President "shall", "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate", fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The Republican statement of obstruction occurs before President Obama has even sent to them a nominee, indicative of their purely political intransigence, abandoning all reason for partisan emotion. The maneuver disrespects the judgment of the majority of the American people in the last two national elections, as well as that in five of the last six national elections.

As we have pointed out, the precedent for submitting and having confirmed nominees in presidential election years spans back to no less authority than four of the Founding fathers who became President. George Washington in 1796, his last year in office, nominated and had confirmed two Justices, one of whom was confirmed in the spring. John Adams appointed and had confirmed a nominee both in 1800 before the election and Chief Justice John Marshall, appointed and confirmed in early 1801, after the defeat of President Adams. Presidents Thomas Jefferson and James Madison each appointed and had confirmed a Justice in the spring of their re-election years, 1804 and 1812, respectively.

In more modern times, Southern Democrats in the Senate in 1968 disgraced themselves regarding the elevation of Justice Abe Fortas to the position of Chief to replace retiring Chief Justice Earl Warren, who announced his retirement in June, the Southern Democrats then filibustering to death that nomination by President Johnson, not running for re-election, based on objections to Justice Fortas's liberal record on the Court. That was the last time a vacancy on the Supreme Court occurred in a presidential election year. Even then, however, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on the nomination.

The most recent occasions of nearly the precise events as in 2016 creating a vacancy, that is a death of a sitting Justice in an election year, occurred, first, in March, 1888 when Chief Justice Morrison Waite died and President Grover Cleveland, then running for re-election, an election he lost, nominated in April Melville Fuller as his replacement, confirmed by a hostile Senate in October, a month before the election. Then, during the succeeding term of President Benjamin Harrison, George Shiras was appointed and confirmed in July, 1892 following the death of Justice Joseph Bradley the previous January. After President Harrison was then defeated by former President Cleveland in the 1892 election, President Harrison appointed and had confirmed in February, 1893, less than a month before the end of his presidential term, Howell Jackson to replace Justice Lucius Lamar, who died in late January, 1893. That was so even though President-elect Cleveland had originally appointed Justice Lamar to the Supreme Court in his first term as President, in 1888. Then in early January, 1916, Justice Joseph Lamar, appointed by President William Howard Taft, died, and President Woodrow Wilson, then running for re-election, nominated and had confirmed in June, Louis Brandeis.

Nothing of the kind has taken place since that time because the exigency has simply not arisen. So when Republicans stand up and try to say that no such appointment has been made in a hundred years, they first neglect 1968, then also 1932, when Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes retired in January and Benjamin Cardozo was appointed by President Hoover and confirmed in March of that election year, when President Hoover was ultimately soundly defeated by FDR, and then conveniently skip the fact that no such vacancy occasioned by death of a Justice has otherwise occurred since 1916. They also neglect to inform that all such vacancies, save one, have been filled by the sitting President when they occurred. The only prior instance in our history of a vacancy occurring several months prior to the presidential election, whether the President was or was not running, and whether the vacancy was by death or retirement, and then that vacancy not being filled by the sitting President was the 1968 vacancy created by the retirement of Chief Justice Warren, filled ultimately in 1969 by President Nixon with Warren Earl Burger.

Senator McConnell's quoted language from then Senator Joe Biden in 1992 regarding the appointment process during an election year, came in June of that year without any vacancy pending, less than a year after Justice Clarence Thomas had been confirmed the previous fall by a Senate with a Democratic majority. The appointment of Justice Thomas was to fill a seat vacated by retiring Johnson-appointee Justice Thurgood Marshall, long a liberal on the Court. The concern, in all likelihood, at the time of Senator Biden's remarks was that Justice Byron White, a Republican appointed by President Kennedy, or Justice Harry Blackmun, appointed by President Nixon, might retire to allow President George H. W. Bush to appoint a successor prior to the election, further extending the conservative Republican domination of the Court. Justice White did retire at the end of the next term in 1993 and Justice Blackmun, in 1994. As has been pointed out, however, Senator Biden stated also in the same speech that the Judiciary Committee, of which he was chairman, would give fair consideration to a moderate appointee and never hinted that the Judiciary Committee would not so much as consider even a very conservative appointee. And, again, the stress should be on the facts that the statement was hypothetical, made at a time when there was no vacancy, and in late June of the election year, a bit over two weeks until the start of the Democratic convention. This is February and there is a vacancy.

But, it is, after all, not surprising that the Republican Party would do such a thing as to negate, ab initio, the entire nominating process without regard to later political consequences. For it is the same party, after all, which appears bent on nominating a thug as its presidential candidate, the biggest thug ever to run for the presidency and be taken seriously in the history of the republic. When the leading presidential candidate of a party routinely has rousted and ousted from his rallies protesters, even mild protesters, quietly carrying little signs at chest level, sitting down way up in the rafters, saying merely, "America Is Already Great", spots them, hoots them down, orders them to be "tossed" by jack-booted thugs who then haul them from the arena, thus announcing his thorough repudiation of the most American of ideals, free speech, that invites into the American political process, not the "good old days" as this arrogant, ignorant thug suggests, not respect for "law and order" or the Constitution, but plain and simple Fascism of the Hitler and Mussolini variety, a return to the "good old days" of union busting in this country when hired thugs of the big corporations beat up protesters striking for better wages. The rallies of this despicable candidate, who has never held elective office, are exactly remindful of the Nazi rallies of the late twenties and early thirties when another such idiot was trying to obtain high political office as his first foray into politics by making appeals to thugs. Hitler was also a "plain spoken" man, who, just as this thug, preyed on and magnified beyond reality people's worst fears of the "other". Hitler and his followers, also, were considered a harmless joke by the majority of the people living in Germany in 1932.

Yet, this thug is just the ultimate step in the process of obstruction which has become emblematic of the Republican Party in recent years, as most glaringly demonstrated by the disgrace of the 2000 election when partisan politics reached from Florida all the way to the Supreme Court to stop, by a 5 to 4 vote, the most democratic process of all, a state recount of votes in a contested presidential election, a Supreme Court majority which claimed to believe in States' rights and then trumped a State's rights in favor of Federal control of the electoral process when it suited their political preferences.

We need to have a long national dialogue now on why this party has become so sick that it obviously no longer respects the Constitution or the American political process and whether the American people ought so thoroughly reject this party of anti-democratic losers at the polls in the fall that the Republicans will have a choice once again in their history, either reform and embrace the progressive underpinnings of the original Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln, making it clear to those fringe elements of racist thugs, gun trumpeters, and deniers of others' rights that they have no home in the party, not as the Machiavellian thug candidate does, welcoming and encouraging these refugees from reality as his base; or be banished as a party, by electoral elimination, from the American landscape, as were the Whigs in 1856, the Republican predecessors.

Senator Mitch McConnell and company have disgraced themselves. They stand against democracy, against the Constitution, against reality, itself. If a Republican President had not yet had the opportunity even to submit a nomination of a replacement for a deceased Democratic appointee to the Court and a Democratic Senate dared to stand in the way of that nomination in February of the election year, saying that it would not consider any nominee, that Democratic Senate would be hooted down and shamed into submission by most Democrats, let alone by Republicans.

No lesser voice than retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, appointed to the Court by President Reagan in 1981, has stated that she believes the Senate ought confirm the nominee of President Obama.

The Republican Party as a whole, based on their current leadership, has become as small children. If they cannot get their way, they cry and weep and bang their fists, claim foul, even before the simple human fate of death creating a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Some idiotic rightwing voices in the wilderness in the prior week have even tried to assert that Justice Scalia, 79 years old and not in good physical health, was murdered by the CIA or operatives of the Obama Administration to create a vacancy on the Court, a baseless and ridiculous rumor mill denounced by Justice Scalia's own family as hurtful during their time of grief.

These self-centered Republicans do not even stop to consider the practical side of matters, that the Supreme Court will be hamstrung for a full year by this recalcitrance in filling a vacancy on the Court, leaving in place all lower court decisions reviews of which tie 4 to 4 in the Supreme Court, a result which, it might be added, will inevitably cut both ways, in some cases leaving in place the result favored by conservatives, in others the result favored by liberals or moderates, depending on the stance of the decision of the lower court which is left in place.

That small minority of perhaps 30-35 percent of the Republican supporters who cling tenaciously to these Fascist notions will not ever be moved by any reason because they are simply either too ignorant or too stupid to be so moved and to understand that in the Fascist dictatorial regime they desire, they will be nothing more than cannon fodder, peons, not leaders, not billionaires, as their current leader, but grunts, in far worse condition than they presently find themselves. They simply cannot conceive of a country which is not governed in a manner coincident with all their whimsical desires, no matter how absurd or antithetical to democracy they might be. When an overwhelming majority of the people disfavor guns, want them closely limited or even completely banned, they rely on a heavy gun lobby to promote loudly and brashly their minority view, a view dangerous to human life. When, for 43 years, Roe v. Wade has been consistently upheld, even by those "conservative" Justices appointed by "conservative" Presidents, they march, scream, and even resort to violence to try to stop individual choice from taking place, abandoning reality in the process. They hate, as surely as does the thug candidate, a spoiled little rich kid who got his first 40 million from his rich, slum-lord daddy, and now daily spews his hate across the landscape, a country he would seek to own and have anyone who disagrees with him fired, permanently.

We have enough faith in the American democratic system to believe that this Fascist thug of whom we speak will never be elected President. But then what, Mr. McConnell? What will you do after next November, after the defeat also of enough Republicans to return control of the Senate to the Democrats, probably decisively so. We wonder.

Such obstructionist tactics as this disgraceful display, not seen since the racist obstructionism in 1968 regarding the elevation to Chief of Justice Fortas, and worse than that by denying even a hearing process, deserves nothing less, ultimately, than formal censure. If the Senate will not do it, then the majority of the American people should.

Again we ask why the country should have a Supreme Court with a majority of appointees by conservative Republican Presidents when in five of the last six elections, the majority of the people have voted for moderate to liberal Democrats for President? The Republicans, obviously, would answer that question by resorting to one election result, that of next November, ignoring the last five of six elections—the very transitory type of political winds from which the judicial branch of the Federal Government is supposed to be insulated, signal of which is the lifetime tenure of Federal judges. That Republican answer may prove fatal to their fading chances in the fall. Few people, at the end of the day, once the bunting falls and the balloons burst, are going to vote for obstructionist, anti-democratic thugs.

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