The Charlotte News

Monday, February 11, 1952


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, via William Jorden, that the chief U.N. truce negotiator, Vice-Admiral C. Turner Joy, this date questioned Communist China's right to participate in a proposed Korean peace conference to take place three months after an armistice, and suggested that the problem of determining which nations should negotiate the peace be resolved after the armistice was signed. He told the Communists, in effect, that they should give up the idea of deciding the fate of Formosa or settling other Asian problems at the proposed post-armistice conference. He said that unless both sides agreed on the recommendations to belligerent governments, then none could be made. The negotiators had agreed on two of the three-point Communist proposal for the conference, including discussion of withdrawal of foreign troops from Korea and the peaceful settlement of the Korean question.

Staff officers of both sides continued to work on the issue of prisoner exchange and on the separate issue of truce supervision. No new agreements had been reached since Saturday, as the same issues were being discussed in each session.

It was reported from Tokyo headquarters that Major George Davis, Jr., the top U.S. jet ace in the Korean War, had been shot down by an enemy jet and was presumably killed the previous day after shooting down two Communist MIG-15s. He had a record total of 21 destroyed enemy planes, including 11 enemy jets and three light bombers in Korea and seven others in Pacific action in World War II. He was the fifth American jet ace of the Korean War, having surpassed the mark on November 30 when he bagged three propeller-driven enemy bombers and one jet. Two weeks later, he became the top ace, shooting down four enemy jets in two battles. The following day, the Air Force had announced that he was too valuable to risk in two missions per day and so thereafter was limited to only one.

In all air action, three Communist jets had been destroyed and five damaged during clashes the prior day. Allied air losses would not be reported until the end of the week.

Senator Edwin Johnson of Colorado, appearing on the CBS television program "The Big Question" the previous night, promised a floor fight in the Senate against Universal Military Training, on the basis that all the men necessary for the military could be obtained through the draft without "putting a mortgage on the life of every 18-year old boy indefinitely." The Senator indicated that he and others were unable to vote against the UMT bill the previous year because it was combined with the draft measure. The Senate Armed Services Committee was opening its last week of hearings on the UMT measure and chairman Senator Richard Russell of Georgia hoped to complete committee action and have the bill reported to the Senate by February 21. The House Armed Services Committee had already approved a UMT bill by a vote of 27 to 7.

The President, in the special message, urged Congress to grant a two-year extension of price and wage controls to control inflation through mid-1954. He asked that Congress repeal the Capehart amendment, requiring that price ceilings allow for cost increases during the thirteen months between the start of the Korean War and July 26, 1951, as well as two other amendments, and for restoration of the power of the executive branch under the former law to regulate consumer and real estate credit.

In Elizabeth, N.J., the third major air disaster at or near the Newark Airport in less than two months had taken place, resulting in 29 known dead and three persons missing, bringing the total number of dead to 115 in the three crashes, each of which had taken place in a nearby residential district of Elizabeth. As a result, the Newark Airport was closed and all traffic diverted to Idlewild. The latest mishap involved a National Airlines DC-6 which was disabled by trouble in one of its two engines at 1,000 feet in a clear midnight sky, then nosed over and plunged into Elizabeth, hitting a 52-family apartment building and exploding on impact. Twenty-eight of the 63 persons aboard and four persons on the ground had been killed or were missing. Forty others, most of whom were on the plane, had been injured, about a third seriously.

In London, the body of deceased King George VI was returned from Sandringham, where he had died in his sleep the previous Wednesday, and mourners lined the streets to pay their respects as the funeral cortège made its way through the silent streets amid pouring rain and sleet.

On page 11-A, the nineteenth installment in the serialized presentation of Fulton Oursler's The Greatest Book Ever Written tells the story of David and Bathsheba.

On the editorial page, "Weakness of a Third Party Revolt" tells of the anti-Administration leaders in the South intending to nominate at the Democratic convention someone acceptable to them for the presidency, such as Senator Richard Russell of Georgia, and to urge adoption of a platform which would include their conception of states' rights. Failing to do one or the other, they would sponsor a new States' Rights revolt which would differ from the 1948 Dixiecrat model by the caliber of its leadership, though the goal would be the same, to prevent either major party from obtaining a majority of the electoral votes and thereby throwing the election into the House where each state would then cast one vote for one of the three top contenders. That plan had not worked in 1948, as the President had won a majority of the electoral college without the four states carried by then-Governor Strom Thurmond, nominee of the Dixiecrats. There was also no reason to believe that it would work in 1952.

It posits that even if it were to work, it would have many shortcomings, as it might not succeed in the House where it would be questionable whether Southern Democrats would be able to dictate the terms of such a bargain. Vote-swapping on pork-barrel issues would likely occur, with bad consequences for taxpayers. Moreover, any President who came to office in such manner would start out with a tremendous handicap as he would owe an obligation to the Congressional leaders who had been responsible for his election, seriously limiting his independence and ability to form majorities in the Congress—ditto, incidentally, for electoral college victories without at least a plurality of the popular vote. It also does not like the idea of surrendering the ballot of the people to the whim and fancy of Southern members of Congress, who were not elected to choose Presidents.

It instead favors letting the Southerners do all they could to nominate their candidate and write their own platform at the Democratic convention and if they remained unhappy at the end, have them throw their support to the Republican nominee. Many of them had been consorting with the Republicans in Congress anyway and it would do no harm "to make the marriage legal".

In part, to prevent such a third-party split after the 1952 convention, the nominee, Governor Adlai Stevenson, would select Alabama Senator John Sparkman, considered a moderate, as his vice-presidential running mate. In the end, only the Southern states, save Texas, Tennessee, Virginia and Florida, would vote for Governor Stevenson, accounting for his poor showing of 89 electoral votes and an eleven-point loss in the popular vote, the worst drubbing of an opponent since FDR had defeated Kansas Governor Alf Landon in 1936, albeit not significantly worse than the defeat suffered by Wendell Willkie to FDR in 1940, even slightly better than Mr. Willkie performed in the electoral college. Yet, the Democrats would nominate Governor Stevenson again in 1956, with even worse results in both columns, running on that occasion with Senator Estes Kefauver, selected by the convention narrowly as the vice-presidential nominee over Senator John F. Kennedy.

The general consensus among historians and political observers of the time was that Governor Stevenson was too intellectual, too professorial and patrician, for the broad mass of the American people—which suggests the counter-intuitive inference that most of the intellectuals of the time were in the South.

"Here Is a Man Who Merits Support" again provides its support to Superior Court Judge William Bobbitt, who had announced his candidacy for an open position on the State Supreme Court. He was supported in the effort by the bar associations of Mecklenburg, Gaston, McDowell and Buncombe Counties.

It adds that in the previous two decades there had been a distressing tendency for political appointments to the Federal courts. In North Carolina, the people had a chance to elect their Supreme Court and would have the opportunity to use a larger standard of assessing the merit of candidates, based instead on integrity, honesty, ability, dignity, training, experience, and judicial temperament. It finds that on that basis, Judge Bobbitt was at the head of the field.

As indicated, Judge Bobbitt would lose in the primary, but would be appointed to the Court by Governor William B. Umstead in 1954, and eventually appointed in 1969 Chief Justice by Governor Robert Scott, son of the current Governor Kerr Scott, before retiring at the mandatory retirement age in 1974.

We did not mean, incidentally, last week to suggest that he had anything to do with the horse meat controversy in Chicago or elsewhere, or horses in general, simply because his surname sort of fit with Robert C. Ruark's reference to Dobbin. It is interesting what the mind sometimes conjures, in hindsight, and stitches together from signs once across the street from the old junior high and high school track where one used to run track and cross-country, just like a horse, there having been an establishment in earlier days at that location called Bobbitt's Pharmacy, or as Professor Owen of the Simpler Spelling Association would have it, Farmasee—just down the street from a hamburger joint which existed in the 1960's, Chip's, which had a run-in with the State horse meat inspectors at one point. (We would have at that point, by the way, linked you also to the "Full House" segment of O. Henry's "The Clarion Call", but, for whatever silly reason, that only co-exists with all the other segments in one "Full House", somebody's post of the individual segment probably having been knocked offline at some point by some idiot proclaiming "copyright infringement" of material no one in their right mind would ever pay to see 67 years later. It probably turned out better, for educational purposes, with only the short-story, itself, linked anyway.)

In Atlanta, one time, on the seventh floor of the Merchandise Mart, that Wells Fargo guy walked right by us, not five feet away, didn't even stop and say, "Hi."

"The Nation's Most Valuable Possession" tells of the number of children under the age of 15, according to the Metropolitan Life Insurance statistical bulletin, having increased in the country by eight million during the prior decade—the same number of stories in "The Naked City"—, the largest such gain ever recorded in a single ten-year span. The total child population was at an all-time high of 41 million during the decade and marked the first time that the child population had increased at a substantially higher rate than the population in general, the child population increasing by 24.1 percent while the whole population increased by 14.5 percent.

The trend was the opposite during the 1930's, when the child population had decreased so rapidly that the number of children in 1940 was smaller than in 1920, despite an increase in the total population by 25 percent during those 20 years.

The increase in the under-15 population had been caused by a higher birth rate and a lower death rate among children.

With this increase had come problems, however, such as overpopulated elementary schools, soon to spread to the higher grades, necessitating the expenditure of more money to provide proper educational opportunities for the youth.

It concludes that, nevertheless, there was no need for fear of the future as long as "this resource is replenished with energy-charged children of healthy bodies and alert minds."

"Healthy Outlook" tells of Herbert Philbrick having been a member of the Communist Party for nine years, during which time he had been continuously in contact with the FBI and had testified at the trial of the eleven Communist leaders who had been convicted under the Smith Act. The leaders had never suspected him of being other than a loyal member. Mr. Philbrick had never accepted Communist doctrine, as had Whittaker Chambers, Louis Budenz, Elizabeth Bentley and other former Communists who had named names to Congressional committees. Mr. Philbrick had simply infiltrated the Communist organization and worked undercover without payment to provide his findings to the FBI.

Mr. Philbrick stated that the Communist elite loved Senator Joseph McCarthy's smear tactics for their tendency to confuse the public and make the Party appear stronger than it was, while also harming non-Communist liberals, for whom the Communists had great contempt. Mr. Philbrick emphasized the differences between Communists and non-Communist liberals or radicals who were often lumped in with the Party elite.

It concludes that it was good to see someone who had withdrawn from long Communist association but still retained a sense of values, as most of those who claimed to be reformed Communists had painted themselves into an ideological corner almost as restrictive as their earlier embrace of Communist doctrine.

"Dictionary Trouble" tells of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary defining "journalistic" to mean: "Characteristic of journalism or journalists; hence, of style, characterized by evidences of haste, superficiality of thought, inaccuracies of detail, colloquialisms, and sensationalism; journalese." As a result, the professional journalistic fraternity, Sigma Delta Chi, had taken offense and protested the "slander upon the thousands of able, conscientious and educated journalists". The publishers of the Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam Co., responded that "the entry is unfortunate" and that a change in its content was probable.

The piece suggests that the publishers make another change, as the newspaper had recently used the word cohort to mean colleague, until a discerning reader had referred the editors to the dictionary, which had stated a different meaning. It begs the publishers of the dictionary to take them off the hook.

Senator William Benton of Connecticut responds in a letter to a November 20 bulletin from the state Chambers of Commerce regarding the voting record of the 82nd Congress on economy versus spending issues. We shall let you peruse that response for yourself, as it is a bit arcane at this point, and has already thoroughly been hashed out on the pages.

Drew Pearson tells of the national debt having grown to 260 billion dollars, with it increasing at a rate which would push it beyond the current ceiling set by law of 275 billion dollars by the end of the ensuing fiscal year. The newly proposed budget would add an additional 14.4 billion dollars to the debt, increasing interest payments to 300 million per year, added to the existing 6.2 billion per year. The debt was increased by waste and then compounded by interest payments on that waste. It was essential to have a strong military, but with waste aplenty within the military, those budgets could lead the nation to bankruptcy.

He provides examples of Army waste as well as over-ordering of equipment in all of the branches. All of it was complicated by excessive red tape, costing the taxpayers even more.

Gould Lincoln of the Washington Star had published an article in which he indicated that Senator Kefauver might substantially beat the President in the upcoming New Hampshire primary. Members of the White House staff had taken the story to the President on the belief that it might goad him into running again. Mr. Pearson suggests that the fact that the President tended to shoot from the hip and was easy to anger might conceivably cause him to run again, without a considered determination of the matter. If he did not run, then the inner circle at the White House would be out of their jobs, and so their hope was that they could push him into that decision.

Richard L. Strout, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, assesses the Supreme Court and potential appointments of justices thereto in the coming four years after the 1952 election. An attorney, testifying before the House Judiciary subcommittee in 1949, had stated that during the previous three years there had been 86 decisions decided by a margin of 5 to 4, and during the previous 12 years, 30 cases had overruled prior precedents, 21 on constitutional grounds. Thus, it was possible that only a single appointment to the Court could shift a tenuous balance in certain key cases.

President Truman had appointed to the Court four Justices, including the Chief Justice, Fred Vinson, plus Justices Harold Burton, a former Republican Senator, Tom Clark, former Attorney General, and Sherman Minton, a former Democratic Senator. Generally, it had been observed that the Court had shifted more to the conservative side in recent years, anomalous for the fact that the President had followed and even expanded the New Deal programs.

Generally, FDR-appointed Justices Hugo Black and William O. Douglas were considered the most liberal of the nine justices, with Justices Felix Frankfurter and Robert Jackson, both FDR appointees, being the most conservative, at least on adjudication of economic issues, with the other five, including FDR appointee Stanley Reed, falling in the middle. In twelve years, FDR had appointed nine justices to eight seats on the Court, including the elevation of Justice Harlan Stone, originally appointed by President Coolidge, a Republican, to Chief Justice upon the retirement of Charles Evans Hughes in 1941. The only other Republican-appointed seat on the Court remaining at the end of FDR's life in April, 1945, was that of Justice Owen Roberts, who retired in fall, 1945, making way for President Truman's first appointment, that of Justice Burton. Thus, since FDR's initial appointment in 1937 of Justice Black, the two successive Democratic Administrations had made 13 appointments to all nine seats in the course of 12 years, the last having been in 1949, when both Justices Frank Murphy and Wiley Rutledge had died in close proximity to one another.

The piece suggests that at the time, on average, despite lifetime appointments to the Court, a vacancy occurred about every two years. In more recent times, since 1974, that average has dropped to about one every three years, there having been 15 appointments to the Court during the past 45 years, as of early 2019, and exactly two per Administration, ten total, since 1989.

President Eisenhower would eventually appoint five new members of the Court, starting with Chief Justice Earl Warren, appointed after the death of Chief Justice Vinson in fall, 1953, and including Justices John Harlan, William Brennan, Charles Whittaker, and Potter Stewart. The Chief Justice, and Justices Brennan and Harlan would be considered liberal members of the Court, with Justices Whittaker and Stewart tending toward the moderate to conservative categories—bearing in mind that "conservative" did not carry with it some of the ugly connotations which it has come to acquire during the past 40 years or so, to the point where, sometimes, it only means intellectually dishonest or issue-driven as opposed to law-determined, regression based on analysis founded in semantic gymnastics rather than progress based on the essential spirit of the Constitution, a dynamic document intended to provide for changing conditions in the society through time, maintaining the while the individual democratic freedom on which the society was founded.

Mr. Strout concludes that it was impossible to tell at the time of an appointment just how an individual Justice would vote on given legal issues, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes having been a great disappointment to President Theodore Roosevelt in one of his crucial decisions and Justice Frankfurter having been denounced as a "radical" when he was first appointed by FDR in 1939, only to turn out somewhat conservative.

Generally speaking, history has shown that the Court is not exactly as much of the public perceives it, but is, by its nature, a conservative institution, which sometimes issues decisions which, because they uphold civil liberties under the Constitution, are perceived as "liberal", when, more properly, such decisions should be considered as only serving the Court's proper function, to uphold the basic foundation of the country's legal existence, by its design, a liberal, pluralistic society—an inherently conservative role. Thus, in the modern parlance of some of the whackos on the right, to favor the appointment of "conservative" justices, based on their likely stance on specific hot-button issues, is to favor something else presumably, someone who will undermine the very fabric of our democracy. That is radicalism and often of the wild-eyed variety, especially in Trumpieville.

As a suggestion to a future Senate, which might as a body regard its own rules as being more worthy of stability through time than accorded by the whimsical furies of the majority party's political expediency, requiring that the judicial appointments of a President who has come to office without a popular vote plurality be approved by a super-majority of Senators, either three-fifths or two-thirds of the membership, or based on the same rounded percentage of popular vote against the President registered in the election, would be a salutary check against minority rule in the country extended to the judicial branch—something never envisioned by the framers, who conceived of the electoral college as an independent body of selectmen designed as an additional check, when necessary, to avoid popular election of a despot, able to vote their individual consciences, not as the system has become, with each elector bound by a predetermined pledge to vote in accordance with each state's popular vote, the electoral college itself having become, in the age of the computer, the internet, and highly paid, specialized demographers, increasingly susceptible to determination through focusing of campaign propaganda in key districts in selected states to achieve a narrow electoral victory without the popular vote plurality. Such a rule would effectively restore under such circumstances the former super-majority rules for confirmation which existed in the filibuster era, without also restoring the outmoded and time-wasting, obstructionist concept of filibuster.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop tell of the French quietly going broke and no one knowing what to do about it. The French had on reserve less than a billion dollars worth of gold and dollars used as backing for the franc. Because of the pressures of rearmament and the balance of European payments, the French Treasury was scraping bottom, such that within four or five weeks, either the Government would have to dip into its reserve, crippling the franc, or the rearmament program would have to be scrapped. Likely, the latter would become the choice, endangering in the process the progress of NATO.

Nevertheless, American policymakers were taking this news in stride and considering whether there was something terribly wrong with the American security program, devoting too much expenditure to basic defense and not enough to economic and political issues abroad, the latter consigned to a budget of only 2.5 billion dollars. There were two dangerous pressures exerted by the Iron Curtain, one being Communist military aggression and the other being economic-political collapse from within.

The countries of the Middle East could fall, one after the other, during the ensuing year. Yet, the U.S. still had no Middle Eastern policy, could not produce one without willingness to spend money in the region. The British appeared ready to continue their present policy of trying to hang on to what scraps of economic advantage remained to them in the region, despite ultimately fatal consequences ahead, and the U.S. appeared helpless to convince them to pursue a different course.

India was also a potential trouble spot, where the Communists had made important gains in the recent elections. A new economic crisis also threatened Japan, as well as other countries.

Policymakers in Washington were beginning to believe that the 70 billion dollar security budget was falling short by a few billion of providing enough economic-political aid to shore up these trouble spots.

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