The Charlotte News

Friday, July 31, 1953


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that an American airman had been rescued from sea a few miles off Siberia after his B-50 bomber had been shot down by Russian fighters, confirmed in part by Moscow the previous day, saying that two Soviet fighters had exchanged shots with a B-50 over Vladivostok. The co-pilot, Lt. John Roche of Washington, D.C., said that the plane had been shot down about 40 miles off the Russian coast, the Air Force indicating that the plane had been on a navigational training mission. The co-pilot had been in the water for 11 hours before a lifeboat was dropped to him by a search plane, and then another 11 hours awaiting final rescue by Navy ship. At the time of rescue, he was about 50 miles east of Vladivostok. Far East Air Force headquarters in Tokyo indicated that he was in good physical condition, with only bruises to his head and face suffered when he had bailed out of the bomber. The plane had carried 16 other crewmen, the search for whom had been abandoned this date, as it was assumed that some or all of them had been rescued by the Soviets.

A note to the U.S Embassy in Moscow demanded that the U.S. Government assure that Russia's frontier was not violated and that the "guilty fliers" be punished.

The U.S. had received information that Soviet vessels had picked up a number of the other survivors from the plane, and the State Department announced that it had protested to Moscow against the shooting down of the B-50, asking for an immediate report from Russian authorities on the condition of the survivors and plans for their release. A note, which had been delivered by U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Charles Bohlen to Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, said that the B-50 had been shot down by one or more Soviet MIG-15 fighters over the Sea of Japan about 40 miles south of Cape Povortyny, that when the co-pilot had been rescued, Soviet vessels had been sighted in the area of the crash and survivors had been observed on life rafts.

Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, 63, had died in New York Hospital at 11:30 a.m. this date from cancer—the first time his cancer had been reported publicly. His critical condition had been made known by hospital staff four days earlier, and, according to further reports, his strength had failed rapidly, except for brief intervals of reported improvement. The report said that his death was the result of "widespread highly malignant, rapidly growing tumors." The death meant that the Senate was presently comprised of 47 Democrats and 46 Republicans, plus Senator Wayne Morse, who had declared to vote with the Republicans if the issue arose regarding Democratic control of the Senate. (Democratic Governor of Ohio Frank Lausche would, in October, appoint a Democratic successor to Senator Taft, leaving at that point the Senate with 48 Democrats and 47 Republicans plus Senator Morse, after recently deceased Republican Senator Charles Tobey of New Hampshire would be replaced by a Republican. Any resulting ties, therefore, would be broken by Vice-President Nixon, and so, by agreement, the Senate would continue under Republican organizational control.)

Senator Taft's four sons had been at his side when he died, his wife Martha being an invalid, still at home in Washington. She had visited with her husband before his death but was too ill to make another trip. The Senator was the son of the late President William Howard Taft, serving between 1909 and 1913, and had been a principal rival of General Eisenhower during the 1952 presidential campaign for the Republican nomination. He had entered the hospital on July 4 for treatment of what had been described as a hip ailment, which had first been diagnosed the prior April, leading eventually to surgery. He had known since early June, not disclosed, that he was suffering from cancer. The illness had begun as a strange weakness in the knees, then followed by severe hip pain, which had prevented him from joining the President in golf at Augusta, Ga., in late April.

It was generally agreed in Washington that the politically inexperienced Eisenhower Administration had lost the one leader, other than the President himself, it could least afford to lose. As Associated Press correspondent Jack Bell stated the matter: "For Taft was more than the nominal floor leader of the Senate Republicans, more than the "Mr. Republican" he was to many of his party, more than a lion-hearted champion of old-fashioned personal liberty, more than a blunt man who thought quickly—and often blurted his thoughts whether they pleased or irked his hearers. To his party and the Senate, Taft was a balance wheel and a unifying force who kept its factions from flying off in tangential directions. He was also a master craftsman at the legislative trade—a Senator who knew the Senate's every mood, calculated its temper, coddled its pride, coaxed its compromising spirit—but sometimes trampled roughshod over its dissenters." The President and the Senator had developed by degrees mutual respect since the prior September, when the two had met after the nomination fight.

A hush of mourning in the Senate had developed after news of the Senator's death, and he was praised variously by colleagues as a "great American", "true statesman", "great loss" and "friend". The President described the death as "a tragic loss to America".

The President's proposal to raise the Federal debt ceiling from 275 billion dollars to 290 billion was approved this date by the House Ways & Means Committee by a vote of 17 to 6, and House leaders planned to rush it through the Rules Committee and then seek a vote before the full House later in the day. Both Republican and Democratic leaders agreed that it would likely pass. There was, however, fierce opposition in the Senate, although some of those opposing appeared to waver. Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey and Budget director Joseph Dodge had said the previous day to Congressional leaders that if the ceiling were not raised, "near panic" might ensue, as the Government would not be able to pay its bills, with the debt now equaling 272.5 billion dollars. Because the request had been sent to the Congress just prior to its scheduled adjournment, scheduled for this date, Senate Minority Leader Lyndon Johnson said that it was "startling". Acting Senate Majority Leader William Knowland of California said that he wanted to reserve judgment on the matter. Senator John Sparkman of Alabama, the 1952 vice-presidential nominee of the Democrats, said that he would prefer to have the Administration try to get along without raising the debt ceiling and then call the Congress back into special session in the fall if it found it impossible to do so. Senator Burnet Maybank of South Carolina said that he thought the timing was impossible for having the ceiling raised so late in the session, and if the Administration would economize and cut, they would not need it.

The full House, after pausing in debate at the news of the death of Senator Taft, approved a 6.65 billion dollar foreign aid bill compromise this date by a majority of 237 to 156, about 700 million dollars less than the President had sought. The bill would now go to the Senate for action.

Before HUAC this date, Reverend Jack Richard McMichael of California said that he did not know a witness who had told Committee investigators that he knew the Reverend as a Communist during the 1930's. Reverend McMichael had testified the previous day before HUAC that he was not and had never been a Communist, following accusation of same by two witnesses, including the witness whom he could not identify this date, both described as FBI undercover agents, who had told investigators for the Committee that they had observed Reverend McMichael at two events several years earlier, attended predominantly by Communists. The Reverend had asked HUAC chairman Harold Velde to be allowed to confront the witness this date and see if he could identify him, as he could not recall the name when it was provided. Earlier in the testimony, the Reverend had said that he had been subjected to a procedure "based on a principle that would have condemned Jesus—guilt by association", prompting Representative Donald Jackson of California to interrupt and move that some of the testimony be stricken on the basis that the Reverend had "brought in the Almighty unnecessarily, in a manner near blasphemy". The Reverend said this date that he had spoken at a meeting of the American Student Union at Columbia University in 1940, denouncing the longtime president of Columbia at that time. He said that the speech had been in support of academic freedom, "in the same way that Jesus spoke at a meeting of Pharisees and sinners."

In Morrisburg, Ontario, 20 persons had drowned this date after a bus in which they were riding with 17 others, most of whom had been asleep, plunged into the Williamsburg Canal. Most of the 17 survivors had escaped through windows and an emergency door. The bus had been speeding en route from Toronto to Montréal when it hit a parked truck along the main highway, causing both vehicles to go into the canal, 25 feet below. Both drivers of the vehicles survived.

On the editorial page, "Congress Can't Pass the Buck" indicates that it was difficult to follow those Congressmen who appeared horrified at the idea of increasing the national debt limit beyond the present 275 billion dollars. It suggests that members of Congress ought understand that it had been their own actions which had forced the upward revision, as they appropriated more money than available revenue, resulting in a deficit in the present Congress, as with every previous Congress, save one, since 1932.

It indicates that it would be a political injustice to the President to pass the buck to him and present him with the responsibility which properly belonged to Congress to cut spending or pass adequate taxes to cover spending, that there was nothing sacred about the current ceiling, as once the limit had been 300 billion dollars and the country had not been wrecked. The Administration had made notable progress in slowing the rate of new expenditures, but the carryover spending from past Congressional appropriations would force deficit financing for another year or two.

It concludes that since Congress was responsible for the deficit, it should accept responsibility for raising the debt limit.

"Umstead Set Fast Pace for New Board" tells of Governor William B. Umstead having added prestige to the State Board of Conservation & Development when he decided, contrary to precedent, to preside over the meetings and direct its policies and activities. He served notice that North Carolina would be a tough competitor within the region for new commerce and industry. He named Winston-Salem banker Robert Hanes as chairman of the committee on commerce and industry, and increased the committee membership to seven. He promised to work closely with the committee in selling the state to businessmen and industrialists. He also adopted the proper perspective, saying it was necessary to develop the minerals, parks, water, forests and fisheries of the state for it to prosper. He also told the members that if they did not have time to serve, they should inform him, as their positions were not merely ceremonial.

It finds that with such strong leadership, the Board and its several committees had gotten off to a fast start in the right direction.

"A Choice" indicates that Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia had quoted FBI director J Edgar Hoover as saying that the Bureau knew of no minister being proven to be a Communist agent or convicted as one. Yet, J. B. Matthews, erstwhile staff director for Senator McCarthy's Government Operations subcommittee until being fired in the wake of the controversy generated by his American Mercury article, had charged in the piece that 7,000 Protestant ministers were Communist Party "members, fellow-travelers, espionage agents, party-line adherents, and unwitting dupes."

It decides that between Mr. Matthews, whom Senator McCarthy had called a "star spangled American", and the FBI, it would take the latter.

"Why American Thread Chose N.C." tells of American Thread, Inc., having chosen to locate a new finishing plant at Sevier, N.C., as told in the current Textile Bulletin, after three years of searching for the site. Plant officials said that the principal factors in the selection had been the availability of a present and future labor supply, sufficient housing for employees, ample water supply, availability and delivery of coal supply, healthy public relations with the community, ample power supply at favorable rates, proximity to distribution centers, and transportation facilities.

It observes that they had said nothing about taxes. Occasionally, there were assertions that the state tax structure was a deterrent to new industry, which it finds might be the case at times when industrialists examined only superficial characteristics. But those who looked deeper to see the type of state and community the tax dollars were building put values first. In the long run, it posits, such companies made better and more useful citizens.

"A Dog's Life in Mecklenburg" tells of overhearing a conversation between a collie, Charlie, and his friend Tinker, speaking about a story in Tuesday's News, regarding county dog officials and city dog officials arguing about dogs. Tinker said she was for the city folks because they provided a nice license to hang around the neck, whereas the county did not. Charlie, a county dog, said that the city dogs got their rabies inoculation from a plain old layman, while they got their vaccination from veterinarians.

As they ambled away, Tinker reminded Charlie that these were the dog days, and that maybe the politicians of the city and county would get busy in the fall, maybe around election time, coordinating policies on dogs, or they might just "let a sleeping dog lie."

A piece from the Saturday Evening Post, titled "Ball Parks Need 'No Eating' Stands", suggests that it was time that organized baseball took a firm stand on the issue of installing eating and non-eating sections at ballparks. Typically, just at the most exciting portion of the game, visibility would be obscured by bottles of pop being passed in rapid succession across the spectator's line of vision. Everyone had the experience of going to the ballpark and sitting beside two boys, perhaps 12 and 14, who, when they were not standing up to locate the vendors, were handing dimes to the customers to pass along to the salesman or asking someone to pass the hot dog back to the vendor because he had not put mustard on it.

It indicates that there were still people who attended games to watch baseball, and therefore the sooner management roped off an area for non-eating patrons, with a fine of $10,000 and five years of imprisonment for violation, the better a lot of people would like it. It reminds the owners that no one breathed popcorn in the face of spectators when the game was on television.

Drew Pearson indicates that the Senate Appropriations Committee had promoted its favorite messenger boy, Brig. General Robert Moore, to a Major General, having endeared himself to powerful Senators by doing special favors, such as arranging trips abroad at taxpayer expense. He had been promoted to Brigadier General in 1950 by a rider tacked onto an appropriations bill regarding the Army, preventing it from spending money in the supplementary appropriations bill until then-Col. Moore was promoted to that rank. His promotion to Major General had occurred in the same way, though he had not been promoted by the Army in the normal course since he had been a colonel. Mr. Pearson quips that if he continued making such powerful friends, he might yet become a "five-star messenger".

The best job of Republican leadership had been in the House, where Speaker Joe Martin and Majority Leader Charles Halleck had maintained tight grips over fellow Republicans, better than had the Democrats in the House when they had controlled the chamber for six years under President Truman. Republican leadership in the Senate had been shaky without Senator Taft, where Democratic leaders were bitter toward Senator Knowland, acting as Majority Leader in Senator Taft's absence. Minority Leader Lyndon Johnson said that he would not trust Senator Knowland as far as he could throw him. The Democrats were quietly cooperating with Republicans regarding Senator Taft's illness, such that when close party votes arose, Democrats sometimes held one Senator off the floor to allow Republicans to maintain their narrow advantage.

The reason why Congress was hell-bent for adjournment was principally because the President wanted to get Congress out of his hair, as he was fed up with it, tired of "soft-soaping and cajoling", bored with Congressional liaison meetings, and eager to take his vacation in Colorado. Some Republican leaders were frustrated that tough legislative problems were not being settled, merely postponed until the following year when things would only be tougher in an election year. Nevertheless, the President wanted to send Congress home. That was the reason for the night sessions and the jamming of legislation through so fast that most members did not know the content of bills. One Republican observed that if the Democrats were as smart as the Republicans had been in boxing President Truman, "they would make us look like political mincemeat. But Ike's lucky." He was referring to the way in which the RNC had produced mimeographed speeches for Congressmen to deliver on the floor, produced by 30 ghostwriters, stenographers and researchers, keeping the Republican members supplied with ammunition every day of the week. At present, the Democrats were broke, well-intentioned and not alert.

Stewart Alsop, in Bonn, West Germany, tells of the objectives of U.S. policy in Europe appearing increasingly like so much pie in the sky, with their achievement based on a series of acts of faith. One had to believe, for example, that West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer was virtually indestructible. It was anticipated by American officials in Bonn that he would retain a slim majority following the upcoming September elections, but U.S. officials had also thought that Italian Premier Alcide de Gasperi would do likewise, only to win an extremely narrow middle coalition majority, which had just dissolved 50 days after the election in June.

Everyone agreed that if Chancellor Adenauer were to be removed, the Western coalition forming NATO would fall apart, along with the U.S. policy of German integration to Western Europe. American policy thus depended on the longevity and continued active leadership of a man who was nearly 80. It was only a symptom of the general flimsiness of U.S. policy in Europe.

That policy also depended on ratification of the European defense agreement, forming the six-nation unified Army. U.S. High Commissioner James Conant and all of his subordinates were carefully following directives from Washington not to discuss or even consider the possibility that EDC might not be ratified. But independent observers in Europe were almost unanimous in their belief that EDC was moribund and quite probably dead. U.S. officials, however, continued to repeat the idea that it would pass. Mr. Alsop indicates that they might be right, but that he had been in Bonn two years earlier when the official line had been that EDC would be passed shortly and that the first German divisions would be formed within a year, the same line he heard presently, leading to skepticism.

If EDC were passed finally, it would have to be turned into a real defense of Western Europe capable of resisting the Red Army on the ground. That was so, despite military budgets being cut and bitter opposition by huge segments of popular opinion in all six of the participating countries.

American policy in Europe was based on the assumption that the division of Europe into two parts, with the Red Army at its heart, was a permanent condition, a dreadful prospect for all Europeans, one which they would not accept unless there was no alternative. The resistance to EDC in Western Europe came from a perhaps rational suspicion that a real defense of Western Europe was not feasible as long as the Red Army was on the Elbe, as well as from a doubtless irrational upsurge of wishful thinking about Soviet peaceful intentions.

There was also the recent evidence in Eastern Europe that the satellite empire of the Soviets was artificial, held together only by the naked force of the Red Army, producing dreams among Germans of reunification of the country and withdrawal of the Red Army from central Europe. But the U.S. had succeeded in placing itself in the role of throwing cold water on those dreams, with Washington being reluctant to talk seriously about German unity. Obvious horror at Winston Churchill's May 11 speech had convinced many Europeans that the U.S. was simply not interested in a German settlement on any terms. The U.S. would need soon to undertake great effort to secure German unification and the withdrawal of the Red Army from central Europe, which, if successful, would enable the Cold War to be half won.

Marquis Childs indicates that a story out of Germany recently had told how courageous and ingenious Czechs had escaped from behind the Iron Curtain by building a fake tank which looked so much like the real thing that it had fooled the border police. They had secretly accumulated sheet metal over a long period of time to put together the machine. Presumably, it would be refugees such as those who would be among the 200,000 or so aliens who would be permitted to enter the country outside normal quotas under the revised McCarran-Walters Act, the amendment to which was sponsored by the Administration. But the new bill had drawbacks, making it doubtful how many refugees would ever be able to gain admission, as the applicant had to prove that he or she was admissible, and part of the proof had to be documented history of the prior two years of his or her life. Thus, the Czechs who had recently crossed in the makeshift tank would presumably need their identity papers and other documents, obtainable only from the Communist police, thus immediately ending their attempt to defect. The provision could be waived only on the recommendation of the Secretaries of State and Defense, when such an undocumented entrant would be deemed in the national interest.

Another gimmick in the bill was that the entrant had to be assured of readmission to the country of his origin. That would not be possible in the satellites, as to return home after attempting to defect would be to face certain liquidation. West Germany was carrying a tremendous refugee burden and the Bonn Government would not likely issue such certificates, enabling an alien to return if he or she were prohibited from entering the U.S. The bill provided that both immigration and consular officials in Europe had to be satisfied on affirmative evidence adduced by the applicant, with extraordinary power given to officials of both services to bar entry. Given the fear and timidity which presently ruled U.S. bureaucracy, it did not take much imagination to see how strictly that provision would be interpreted.

Eric Sevareid, from a CBS broadcast, discusses, in the wake of the Armistice concluded the prior Sunday, the achievements of the Korean War, lying in the realm of what might have been had the war not been fought by the U.N. allies. That, he observes, would be but cold comfort for the families who had lost a loved one in the fighting.

One of the mysteries, he finds, was that American youngsters had been willing to fight so hard, so long and so well in that kind of war, where no loot was in the offing, where there was only little glory or victory, where the U.S. homeland had not been invaded, where American passion generally had not been aroused, where there was no crusade being fought out of a burning moral or religious zeal, and where only few had but the dimmest of understanding of what the U.N. and the notion of collective security were all about. Yet, they fought, endured and stayed to the bitter end, in a war in which they did not particularly believe, to the point of an armistice in which they had little faith, and would fight again if that armistice were to fail.

They had seen the emaciated Korean children around them and, knowing that their countrymen showed little interest in contributing, had given millions from their own paltry paychecks to help. They gave their own blood to their wounded comrades, and "fought on in no particular bitterness that all this was so."

It was true that, as some had said, the rotation of troops was a substitute for victory in the war, but that did not supply all of the explanation for why they fought so hard. "The rest of it lies very deep in the heart and tissues of this American life, and none among us can unravel all the threads of it." He says it had to do with their parents, their teachers, their ministers, their 4H Clubs, their Scout troops, their neighborhood centers, the sense of belonging to a team, with the honor of upholding it and the shame of letting it down.

He concludes that whatever was responsible, it out-matched the behavior of those Americans who had fought definable wars of certainty in victory. "For this is a new thing in the American story; and for those of us who write the story, as they live it. This is a thing to be put down with respect and some humility."

A letter writer from Spartanburg, S.C., indicates that according to the July 31 issue of U.S. News & World Report, every three-cent letter writer might have to pay an increased postage rate to subsidize second-class mail users, predominantly newspapers and magazines, which were costing the Government 240 million dollars per year in losses. The post office was making a profit of about 100 million dollars per year on first-class mail, but instead of reducing postage rates on letters, the post office proposed an increase. The proposed increase in postage rates would only amount to nine percent of the lost revenue, reducing the deficit to 220 million. He suggests that the publishers pay their own way rather than have the burden fall on ordinary letter writers.

A letter writer indicates that when she was in Indiana recently, she had read a story about a motorist who expressed fear that Illinois drivers might suffer damage to their cars were they to drive in the South with a picture of Abraham Lincoln on their license plates, as recently authorized by the Illinois Legislature. The man had said that President Lincoln was responsible for freeing the slaves and for having caused the Civil War from which the South had never recovered. She wondered where the man had spent his winters, that it was certainly not in the "progressive South". She observes that there were Lincoln pennies in general circulation, without problem, which paid for building roads so that the person who had been complaining could ride to Florida.

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