The Charlotte News

Thursday, March 26, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports, via George A. McArthur, that Chinese troops had made new attacks on the western front in Korea late on Thursday, against "Bunker Hill" and on a nearby outpost, while the enemy troops continuing to hold "Old Baldy", 25 miles away, had taken a terrible pounding from U.S. guns and warplanes. The occupation by the enemy of "Old Baldy" was the worst beating the U.N. troops had taken since being thrown off the Kumhwa Ridges five months earlier. The U.S. Seventh Division had pulled out completely from its remaining toehold on the hill during this date's early darkness, after dynamiting their trenches and bunkers. The hill guarded the route to Seoul and so had strategic importance. The evacuation enabled allied planes and artillery, however, to take over, plastering the hill with fire and bombs. The U.S. Eighth Army reported that the enemy had lost 1,859 men, including 143 counted as dead and 434 more believed dead during the first two days of the fighting for the hill. U.S. casualties were not announced.

U.N. supreme commander General Mark Clark said from his Tokyo headquarters this night that he did not think the loss of "Old Baldy" was a serious blow to U.N. efforts, but that it was always serious when the allies lost people. The General had just returned from a ten-day tour through Southeast Asia. He said that there was no indication that the Chinese assault foreshadowed a spring offensive. He also said that the troops were in good shape regarding ammunition.

The President, in his fifth press conference this date, said that the ammunition situation in Korea was perfectly sound, that he had specifically checked on the loss of "Old Baldy" and was told that ammunition had not been a factor. He also said that his cold war discussions, starting this date, with visiting French Premier René Mayer would be concentrated on NATO and Indochina. There were reports circulating that the U.S. was prepared to transfer available funds to rush military help to Indochina in its war with the Communist guerrillas of the Vietminh. The President had kind words about France for its service in the two world wars and regarding its pride having been trampled during the Nazi occupation of World War II. He also said that Charles Bohlen was the best qualified man to be Ambassador to Russia and that he was sticking by the nomination. A reporter indicated that Senators Joseph McCarthy and Pat McCarran had questioned whether Mr. Bohlen was actually the President's choice or was one of the "leftover lieutenants" of former Secretary of State Acheson, the President replying that he had looked for someone whose record showed devotion to the service of the United States, and that he had been a guest in Mr. Bohlen's home at one time and played golf with him, that he had concluded that he was the best qualified man for the position.

A Senate subcommittee investigating Communism and Communist influence in the State Department, had called Dashiell Hammett, author of popular mystery novels and other books, to testify, but Mr. Hammett refused to say whether he had ever been a Communist, contending that the answer might incriminate him. Writer Helen Goldfrank also proclaimed the Fifth Amendment privilege against testifying with regard to whether or not she had ever been a Communist. The subcommittee, chaired by Senator McCarthy, was exploring, in televised hearings, allegations that the works of 75 American Communists were among the books on the shelves of public libraries operated by the State Department overseas as part of the cold war effort. Subcommittee counsel Roy Cohn told the subcommittee that he had established that 300 copies of books by Mr. Hammett had been used in 73 U.S. overseas information center libraries, and that 30 copies of books for children by Ms. Goldfrank, under the pen name Helen Kay, were in a variety of overseas libraries.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that retail prices had dropped four-tenths of one percent between mid-January and mid-February, the largest such decline in any single month during the previous year. The retail prices of food, clothing, housing and hundreds of other items bought by moderate income urban families stood at 113.4 percent of the 1947-49 base point. The consumer price index had declined for three consecutive months since its record peak of the prior November.

In Raleigh, a bill to allow an appropriations subcommittee to hold its deliberations on the state budget in secret session was passed by the State Senate this date and rushed to the State House where debate was already taking place on the same measure. The matter is further discussed in an editorial below. Several newspapers across the state, including The News, had editorialized against holding such sessions in private, prohibited by existing statute. A story on the page recaps some of that editorial criticism, from the Raleigh News & Observer, the Greensboro Daily News, the Asheville Citizen, and the Durham Morning Herald. A piece on the front page by News editor Pete McKnight also again recaps the issue.

Also in Raleigh, House Judiciary 1 Committee unanimously gave its approval to legislation intended to help cities and towns enforce their parking regulations, making ownership of a car prima facie evidence in overtime parking cases that the owner was responsible for the overtime parking. The bill was deemed necessary to overcome a State Supreme Court case which had recently held to the contrary. Incidentally, in any legal context, the concept of prima facie evidence generally creates a rebuttable presumption that the fact so proved is true, that is, subject to rebuttal with contrary evidence by the party against whom the fact is offered. The concept is employed to sustain a burden of proof by the party, prosecutor or plaintiff, establishing the prima facie case, such that the defendant would be compelled to come forward with affirmative rebuttal evidence and could not successfully seek dismissal at the close of the prosecutor's or plaintiff's initial case for failure to sustain the burden.

On the editorial page, "The People's Right To Know" again discusses the issue posed by the attempt to bar the press from the Appropriations subcommittee of the General Assembly two days earlier, and again indicates that it was not just the fight of the press for access but rather the people's fight to be apprised of how taxpayer money was being spent. The law was clear, forbidding secret deliberations on the state budget.

It suggests that leaders all over the world would shut down the sources of information about government if they could, and it indicates that until this incident, the Assembly had been an open book, and had to be opened again and quickly, recommends that the people "rise and crush this abortive attempt to shut their business off from public view".

Governor William B. Umstead favored public consideration of the public's business and had reiterated that position the previous day. It indicates that it respected the motives of the members of the subcommittee, that they could move along faster and more freely talk about matters in private sessions, and that press coverage of long committee hearings might sometimes take a quote out of context and thereby misrepresent its meaning. It suggests, however, that it was one of the calculated risks of office-holding and of democracy, and was of small importance when weighed against the historic right of a free people to know how their public affairs were being handled.

"The Bohlen Controversy" indicates that the confirmation as Ambassador to Russia of Charles Bohlen, expected the following day, would likely prove anticlimactic after the opposition by Senators McCarthy, Bridges and McCarran, that the report of Majority Leader Taft and Senator John Sparkman, after reviewing the FBI summary of the Bohlen file, had dispelled all notion of any problem with the nominee in terms of security or loyalty. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Alexander Wiley and Republican policy committee chairman William Knowland supported the nomination.

Thus, Senator McCarthy and his fellow opponents to the nomination stood in the absurd position of having to challenge the judgment of Senator Taft and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, who had said that the summary had correctly and completely reflected what was in the original reports of the investigators. It finds therefore that the "Wisconsin smear-monger at last may have overreached himself." By so doing, he had given the anti-McCarthy forces new recruits from within his own Republican Party, which it finds a welcome event.

It finds that the most disturbing part of the delayed confirmation was the precedent which it might set regarding Congressional access to FBI files, which contained raw data, in the form of unverified hearsay statements and letters. Previously, access to such files had been sparingly granted and was not even wanted by many Congressmen, aware of the hearsay mischief which the files might contain from anyone with an axe to grind or bearing a grudge against a nominee. It fears that Senator McCarthy might be able to argue plausibly that since two Senators had access to the summaries of the file, he, as chairman of the Committee on Government Operations, ought also have access, as might Senator William Jenner, chairman of the subcommittee investigating Communism within the colleges and universities of the nation, or, likewise, Congressman Harold Velde, chairman of HUAC. If that were to happen, such men would have a field day which would make the Bohlen affair appear trivial.

It suggests that Senator McCarthy may have miscalculated in the matter or might have diabolically maneuvered the Administration into lowering the barriers of access to such files so that he might have the access in the future. It warns not to underestimate the Senator's cunning.

"A Denial of Fair Representation" indicates that it would be easy for the General Assembly to do the right thing about redistricting the state, so simple that it was inconceivable that it would consider doing the wrong thing. Yet, a bill reported favorably by a House committee the previous day could set in motion a series of events which could deny popular representation to the people of the state, despite the State Constitution requiring redistricting every ten years based on the decennial census. The 1951 General Assembly had failed to do so. Under redistricting, three counties, Mecklenburg, Guilford and Wake, would get two Senators each, and there would be a reshuffling of several House Seats.

The Assembly appeared favorably disposed instead to holding a popular vote on an amendment to the State Constitution which would prevent any county from having more than one Senator, regardless of population. That latter bill had received a favorable report from the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, while the measure to redistrict languished in committee.

The piece finds that current practice did not follow the State Constitution, that the effect was to ignore it, and that if the amendment were approved, an undemocratic system of representation would forever be frozen in place. It suggests that two wrongs did not make a right, and certainly not in the instant case.

Fred H. Guidry, writing in the Christian Science Monitor, in a piece titled "Atom Blast: A Mother Doesn't Know", tells of a reporter in Boston, just after the atomic bomb test in Nevada on March 17, having decided that it was time to get local reaction to the television broadcast of the event. He dialed the parents of a soldier whose name had been given him by an Army news source, who had supposedly been among the 1,000 men who observed the blast from two miles away. His mother told him that she thought the blast had been "wonderful", and the reporter asked her about her son, to which she responded that he had just left for school. When the reporter asked her whether she had a son in service, she replied that she did and that he was at a camp in Nevada. The reporter thanked her and concluded the call, picked up the Army press release and tossed it in the wastebasket.

Edward J. Meeman, editor of the Memphis Press-Scimitar, asks what was to come after Stalin, urging that the West had to find principles, faith and a program by which the free world could take the initiative in a long-range effort to build a program which would equal and surpass the phenomenon of Joseph Stalin's empire. In the event of World War III, the forces he had aligned across Europe might be defeated, but not without wreaking such havoc on the free world that Western freedom and civilization might disappear. Now that he was gone from the scene, the West could take the initiative and build power in the free world to establish security and peace. He suggests that from Stalin, the West might learn how to make a success equal to his. He favors stressing that God is love, that man was made in the image and likeness of God and had been given dominion over the earth, that God had made of one blood all nations, that all men were created equal, and that in union there was strength. He believes that if these and other such great ideas of the West were put into a program of action, the West would win peace, prosperity and security.

Drew Pearson indicates that the President had confessed to visiting Congressmen recently that he was having trouble cutting the budget. When Congressman Wayne Hays of Ohio suggested that it was a lot easier for him to balance the budget on the campaign trail, the President's friendly grin had frozen, stating that he had never promised to balance the budget or reduce taxes during the campaign, that he had only promised to try to eliminate waste in government.

The President had been complaining personally about high taxes the previous week, telling an aide that the high taxes made it almost impossible for him to make ends meet. He did not like the fact that Congress now imposed taxes on the President's $50,000 expense account, which had been tax-free under President Truman. President Eisenhower claimed that the change caused him to pay an additional $39,000 per year in taxes. But despite personal consequences, he remained adamant about not cutting taxes until the budget was balanced.

Mr. Pearson notes that President Truman had been able to save most of his $50,000 in expense money because he and his family had lived at Blair House, across the street from the White House, while the latter was being remodeled, during virtually all of his second term, and that house had been too small for large, expensive receptions, thus enabling him to save nearly $200,000, most of it from the expense account.

Congressman Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., of New York had recently visited the White House, as had Republican Congressman William Harrison of Wyoming, grandson of President Benjamin Harrison—not grandson of his namesake, as Mr. Pearson suggests, William Henry Harrison, his great-great grandfather. Both men had gotten a thrill out of attending a get-acquainted luncheon with the new President and 18 other members of the House. The President asked Mr. Roosevelt some questions about the White House interior, based on his presumed long residence there when he had been in his youth, to which Mr. Roosevelt explained that he had not been present too much when his father had been President as he had been either away at school or in the Navy.

The Atomic Energy Commission was quietly buying up land around its plants so that the tracts would be isolated from the public, to avoid the remote danger of a meltdown and resulting deadly radioactive clouds. AEC officials had told Congressional investigators in executive session that there was no danger of the plants exploding, but acknowledged that the nuclear reactors could get out of control and send up radioactive clouds.

Joseph & Stewart Alsop indicate that the Administration was debating whether to undertake a new approach to foreign policy, especially with respect to the Soviet Union, in the wake of Stalin's death. The general view of intelligence and other experts was that the change in regime had presented a good opportunity, based on the uncertainty and confusion in Moscow, to take advantage of the situation. C. D. Jackson, the new psychological warfare adviser, had taken the lead in proposing a major new approach to dealing with Russia. The idea took on several forms, including a proposed meeting between the President, Prime Minister Malenkov, and Prime Minister Churchill, with the possibility of inclusion of a French representative as well.

The aim was to achieve results if possible, but in the process to show, if unsuccessful, the insincerity of the Kremlin's renewed peace offensive. The President was known to be interested in the idea, as was Secretary of State Dulles, but the State Department as a whole objected strongly to the manner and mode of the approach, especially in terms of its formality and publicity. The Department favored negotiations only through informal diplomatic channels, as it advised that public negotiations with the Soviets were useless, whether conducted in the form of conferences or within the U.N. It also argued that any suggestion of rapprochement between the Soviet Union and the U.S. would be the death knell to the European army and the new status of Germany, on which Secretary Dulles had made substantial progress. French Foreign Minister Georges Bidault was said to be seeking alignment with the followers of General DeGaulle to block the European army, and the French would drag their feet indefinitely if they believed that the status of Germany might soon be directly discussed with the Soviets. The Department also argued that any direct overture from the President to Mr. Malenkov would be a gift from heaven to the latter, amounting to recognition of his standing as Stalin's heir.

The "hate America" campaign in Moscow had been suspended for the ten days following Stalin's death, but had now been renewed. Notwithstanding that fact, the theme of coexistence was being stressed, as exampled by the recent Moscow public recognition of the success of the wartime alliance between the U.S., Britain and Russia. There were indications, therefore, that a U.S. overture might be welcomed by the Kremlin.

Marquis Childs indicates that it would be difficult to rate the new Administration on the basis of its achievements during the first two months in office, as it was too formidable a task so soon to coalesce power after being 20 years out of power. Looked at, however, as the beginning of a beginning, the Administration, in his opinion, had both exceeded and fallen short of the great expectations with which it was anticipated.

Regardless of who had been elected, it would have been difficult to impossible to achieve enough unity in Congress and the country to do what had to be done. The deterioration of political life in the U.S. through a spreading pattern of reckless charges of treason and the deterioration abroad evidenced by the failure of the preceding Administration to bring the Korean War to an end, had contributed to that difficulty.

During the first two months in office, the President had put into key positions very able personnel, who were approaching their tasks with a sense of the gravity of their decisions, exceeding the expectations of six months earlier. But in the larger field of unity in Congress and the country, the performance had not measured up to the high expectations which many had held.

Senator Taft, as Majority Leader of the Senate, expected to hold the new President to the bargain they had formed the previous September. There were those who were strong supporters of the President in Congress who believed that both the compact and the selection of Senator Taft as Majority Leader had been mistakes which had been unnecessary, as they believed the President's victory was assured regardless of the factions and feuds within the Republican Party. They believed that the compromise with Senator Taft had placed grave limitations on the President's ability to take the essential steps to win peace and security for the country.

During the campaign, General Eisenhower had been persuaded to effect rapprochement with the extremists of the party, Senators William Jenner, Joseph McCarthy and their like, a truce which irked many on both sides and had the effect of re-electing the extremists. That truce was now breaking up, as the extremists were bound, inevitably, to turn on any President who tried to lead a coalition of free nations and keep American freedoms intact at home.

Mr. Childs had talked with people in different parts of the country about their perception of the new Administration and it was clear that many felt that the President had grown "a little dim", that they had expected his leadership to emerge in sharper personal outline. He feels that it might suggest that it was time for a personal report on radio and television by the President regarding his leadership to date, that such a frank and friendly discussion might establish a sense of command.

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