The Charlotte News

Monday, March 28, 1949


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the Senate-House confreres had agreed on a rent control extension bill of 15 months duration, allowing for increases to accommodate "fair net operating income" of landlords. The President had sought a more strict law for 24 months duration. The bill included the "home rule" provision, allowing states and localities to cancel Federal rent control at will, with approval by the state governor. It was anticipated that the bill would be passed before the March 31 deadline for the end of current rent control.

In London, the diplomats of ten nations, Britain, France, the Benelux countries, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Italy, and Eire, were putting the final details on a proposed agreement for a Parliament of Europe. It was expected to take a couple of more weeks to finalize the details.

In Paris, it was reported that France had taken a swing to the right in the cantonal elections, the equivalent of county elections. The Communists were being soundly defeated, with 133 incumbents defeated and 34 returned to office. The moderate parties won more seats than either Communists or Gaullists. Among Socialists, 150 incumbents of 429 were defeated. The Gaullists had carried the plurality vote the previous week, with 28 percent, and the pattern appeared to continue in the previous day's elections. The Communists held 37 seats, the Gaullists, 389, and the centrist parties, 1,082.

Louis Johnson, 58, was sworn in as the new Secretary of Defense, replacing James Forrestal who had resigned the post. The swearing-in ceremony took place in the courtyard of the Pentagon, with 15,000 spectators present. In an address, Mr. Johnson pledged uniting the three branches of service, referring to the rivalries which persisted since the unification act of mid-1947, creating the Department of Defense as the civilian authority over the three branches.

Lt. General Walter Beedle Smith, who had resigned as Ambassador to Russia, was given command of the First Army, succeeding General Courtney Hodges who had retired at the end of January.

The House Rules Committee delayed action on the bill to repeal Taft-Hartley. It was hoped, however, that the bill would be called up for debate on the floor by late in the week or early the following week.

The House Appropriations Committee approved 577 million dollars for the Department of Interior, including nearly all of the funding for the major power projects sought by the Administration. The amount was 80.5 million less in cash and 13 million less in contract authority than that requested by the President. The Republicans on the Committee vowed to continue to fight the program when the bill reached the floor.

John L. Lewis ended the two-week bituminous coal mine strike in the Eastern U.S., called in protest of the confirmation of Dr. James Boyd as director of the Bureau of Mines, memorializing deaths and injuries to miners in the previous year.

From Pearl Harbor, it was reported that eleven survivors of a sinking Navy flying boat were rescued from the Pacific the previous night. They were flown to Kwajalein, from which they had departed. The area where the Catalina had gone down was in the general vicinity of where the DC-3 carrying Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was lost in 1941, though he had survived, and where Amelia Earhart met her death in 1937.

After two days of storms and tornadoes across eight states, from Texas to Kentucky, winds subsided, leaving 28 dead and 200 injured, plus scores homeless. The storm hit primarily in sparsely populated areas. Arkansas bore the brunt of death and injuries, with 17 reported dead and 98 injured, followed by Mississippi with eight dead and 48 injured.

In Charlotte, a truck driver was pinned inside the cab of his overturned gasoline truck for three hours before rescue workers and firemen could extricate him from the wreckage. He escaped with only minor injuries.

In Santa Monica, Calif., actor and comedian Charlie Chaplin, 60, and his wife, 23, had a daughter, the third child of the marriage. His wife was the daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill. He had three other children by prior marriages, albeit one having died in infancy. He was also adjudged in a paternity suit to be the father of a fourth child, born in 1942.

In Philadelphia, a restaurant owner was advertising a "bombshell sandwich" for $1.25. It was billed as a "complete delicatessen store between three slices of white or rye".

But, did the proprietor ask the customer purchasing the sandwich what his or her first memory was?

For ourselves, it would probably be the catching of our little finger within the ratcheting device on the hitch of the trailer for the boat attached to the new aqua green 1955 Thunderbird, neither of which belonged to us, but also was mischief not accomplished without colorable authority, being neither the result of either juvenile delinquency or malicious mischief. But it did smart and taught us that curiosity can kill the cat rather quickly, when the ratchet spins out of control after fidgeting with it unduly to find out what the big crank did. The boat did not flood onto the showroom floor. It was a very pretty car.

If you can recall, then you are not yet in the River Styx. If you cannot, you may be in trouble. Quickly tell someone that you are unable to recall your first memory.

We extend congratulations to the Spartans for another pair of victories during the past weekend. That is seven down and two to go.

And the Orange are still hanging in there, out in the peach orchard.

On the editorial page, "The End of Isolation" finds that though no one liked the prospect of arming Western Europe, there were few who doubted its necessity under the extant conditions.

In earlier times, one could flee bad conditions for the New World. But no longer were there such frontiers to afford refuge from turmoil. Isolation was now extinct.

The piece finds it fortunate that the leaders in Washington recognized these realities and had formulated the NATO agreement to provide for collective security and to deter war.

It was to be hoped that the American love of peace would provide the strength and wisdom to recognize the necessity of support for NATO to preserve the peace.

"Obstacles to Reform" finds two major obstacles to Federal Government reform recommended by the Hoover Commission, the length and complexity of the Commission reports and the traditional reluctance of the Congress and the Executive Branch to upset existing agencies and bureaus.

To overcome these obstacles, public opinion would have to be mobilized in support of the Commission's recommendations. Plans were in the works for a voluntary non-partisan committee to press for reorganization, preparing to spend two or three years in the effort to inform the citizenry of the proposals and the need for them.

"New Look in Roosevelts" finds that Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., was contemplating a run for Congress in New York, to succeed the recently deceased Congressman Sol Bloom. As Russell Long and Herman Talmadge had each inherited the political friends and enemies of their fathers, so, too, might the younger Roosevelt.

Mr. Roosevelt would run and win the election, serving in Congress for three terms, through 1954. In 1961, President Kennedy appointed him Undersecretary of Commerce.

A piece from the New York Times, titled "Real Meaning of the Pact", tells of NATO signaling the complete abandonment of the isolationist past which followed the country after World War I through Pearl Harbor.

In 1921, the Senate had refused to approve the Versailles Treaty and membership in the League of Nations. In 1935, it refused to join the World Court, with 26 Senators voting against it. In 1937, FDR had to abandon his urged quarantine of the belligerent nations, as the Congress would not go along, passing the Neutrality Act, forbidding sale of arms, goods, provision of loans or private contributions to any nation engaged in war or embroiled in civil war, whether an aggressor or not.

In 1939, after the start of the war in Europe, the arms embargo was repealed. In 1940, the draft was instituted and FDR made the trade of the 50 old destroyers for North Atlantic bases, followed in March by the enactment of formal Lend-Lease. Until forced into the war, however, America remained out of the fighting.

The war brought home the realization that the era of insulation by two oceans no longer existed in the time of the modern airplane. When the U.N. Charter was approved by Congress in 1945, there were few votes cast against it in either chamber.

Now, with those lessons in the past and a new dictatorship posing a threat, the decision had been made to form NATO, to try to maintain the peace through strength. The nation still desired peace but also understood the necessity of defending the neighborhood against intruders, the real meaning of NATO.

Another piece from the New York Times, titled "Stopwatch on a Life", tells of a man in Switzerland, upon reaching his eightieth birthday, having totaled up his days, finding that a third of his life, nearly 27 years, had been consumed by sleep, 21 years by work, nearly six years waiting for people, another nearly six years eating, eight months shaving, and so on and so forth. But he had only laughed for one day, 22 hours and three minutes.

Such a statistical analysis of a life did not convey the emotions attendant the expended time, whether the subject was in love part of it or enraptured by music and literature simultaneously or for another part. But, it concludes, someone who took the time to note such routines for statistical tabulation probably left little time in their day for such latter pursuits.

Drew Pearson tells of what the Soviets were likely to do in the wake of ratification of the North Atlantic Pact. Foreign Minister Andrei Vishinsky would probably come to the U.N. meeting to put forth a new peace offensive to make the U.S. appear belligerent and the Soviets as the peace-seekers. The Red Army would then likely march into one of the NATO countries, probably Norway, in an attempt to break down the alliance, potentially leading to war. Russia might alternatively invade Iran as a test of U.S. commitment to its alliances.

Some strategists in the Defense Department believed that the outbreak of war was more likely than at anytime since 1941, based on the notion that the East and West were becoming militarily aligned against one another and that the Soviets would desire to precipitate a war before the Western line could be fortified and organized. The fact that the people of Western Europe were slipping away from the Russians could also play a role in determining that the present represented a propitious time for Russia to start a war, as the Soviet defense line already extended across Europe. The West was intending to place about 35 divisions along the Rhine, taking about three years to equip and organize. After that took place, it would be much harder for the Russians to attack.

The chief deterrent to attack was the exclusive possession by the West of the atom bomb. But the deterrent was lost with respect to Western Europe being invaded, as the Russians knew that the U.S. would never use the bomb on the Western European capitals. If Russia moved into those centers, it would take years to extricate them. And effective use of the atomic bomb over the vast open spaces of Russia would be difficult, as the Russian cities were few and far between.

Fifteen of the 22 Russian divisions previously maintained in Siberia had been moved back to Europe. The Czech bank in New York was recently closed, though making money. The Soviet satellites were taking inventory of their military supplies to effect one central command.

U.S. troops were present in Greece, the equivalent of Russian troops being in Mexico. Norway's new alliance with NATO also posed a threat to Russia, as did the U.S. presence along the banks of the Bosphorus.

All of these factors were suggestive of a coming war.

Marquis Childs tells of Maj. General David Barr, who had spent a year in China as an adviser to Chiang Kai-Shek and the Nationalist generals regarding conduct of the war, having told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that 90 percent of the American military aid had wound up in the hands of the Communists, largely from surrender by demoralized troops who had lost confidence in themselves, the primary reason for the Nationalist failure.

That finding cut against the view that the Roosevelt-Truman policies had forsaken China to the Communists. One reason for this controversy was the lack of transparency by the Government. Secretary of State Acheson was preparing a report on China which was expected to disclose that about two billion dollars had been spent on American military and economic aid to China since the war, plus another billion dollars worth of low-priced supplies sold to the Chinese.

There was no doubt at this juncture that China was lost to the Communists. There remained a decision, however, on whether to continue to fund aid to the port cities such as Shanghai, which the Communists had not yet sought. The dilemma was that if the Communists decided to take them over, then the aid again would effectively be given to the Communists. But if the aid were stopped, then the claim would be that the port cities were abandoned to the Communists.

Apart from partisan considerations, there were lessons to be learned from the failure in China.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop find that the Southern Democratic and Republican coalition in Congress was being led by Senator Taft, effectively, therefore, becoming the Senate leader again. He was up for re-election, however, in 1950, and so had to tread lightly in this leadership position.

On foreign policy, he wanted to cut about a billion dollars from ERP aid. Domestically, he would likely be able to carry the day on a new labor bill, not calling for repeal of Taft-Hartley but rather extensively revising the existing law. He would seek to pass his own housing act, put forth a moderate plan on aid to education, and effect a moderate minimum wage hike. He would ignore the President's proposed tax hike and economic controls.

Effectively, he would seek to complete the job he started in the previous Congress.

Should Mr. Taft be beaten in 1950, he posits, then that defeat would be attributed to his leadership role in the Congress and would cause the stand-pat Republicans no longer to be a political factor. If he were to win, then he would run again for the Republican presidential nomination in 1952, with a good chance of winning it.

Samuel Grafton, no longer carried by The News, recommends more impudence and less perfecting of defense through NATO. For "life in a bunker, whether it is made of concrete or of treaties, is not the happiest possible kind of life."

It involved too many games of checkers and too much waiting, foresaw no change for the better, only provided hope that things would get no worse. Eventually, the monotony would beg for change. He therefore suggests a conference with the Russians to work out the remaining differences, using the strength posed by the NATO agreement as leverage. For the ultimate problem was that a defense pact mingled defiance and the abject.

He thinks it might be to greater advantage to rebuild some of Russia's destroyed villages with America's pre-fabricated houses than to use the same amount of steel for re-arming Western Europe. It would be a gesture harder for the Soviets to answer.

"It's cramped in the bunkers, and gloomy, no matter what the wattage. Let us summon up our impudence, before that last hatch closes."

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