The Charlotte News

Thursday, December 23, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2 to 1 decision, this date had upheld the constitutional validity of the 1950 Internal Security Act, which required the Communist Party to register as Russian-dominated. Known popularly as the "McCarran Act", the decision was the first ruling on the constitutionality of the law, which required the Communist Party to list its officers and members with the Justice Department and account for its contributions and expenditures, as well as mandating registration of "Communist-action" and "Communist-front" groups. Lawyers for the Communist Party said that they intended to file a petition for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court. The decision, after finding the law constitutional, said that a preponderance of the evidence had supported the Subversive Activities Control Board that the Communist Party was "substantially directed, dominated and controlled by the Soviet Union", which controlled the world Communist movement. Judge David Bazelon dissented, saying that, in his opinion, the law violated the Fifth Amendment by compelling a person to provide incriminating evidence against himself. John Abt, counsel for the party, had said, in arguing the case before the Court the prior October, that the Act made it unsafe for anyone to "express a view on any subject unless it is violently anti-Communist." (Mr. Abt, incidentally, would be named by Lee Harvey Oswald as his desired attorney on November 23, 1963, when he was being questioned regarding the assassination of President Kennedy and the murder of Dallas Police officer J. D. Tippit, but Mr. Abt eventually testified before the Warren Commission that he had never heard of Mr. Oswald prior to November 22 and, though he became aware on November 23 that television reports had stated he was being sought as counsel by Mr. Oswald, he never heard from the latter or anyone on his behalf, and, of course, by around 11:20 a.m. on November 24, the matter of legal representation would become moot by the killing of Mr. Oswald by Jack Ruby.) Another lawyer for the party said that the registration requirement had a tendency to drive the Communist Party from the marketplace of ideas. The Government's lawyer argued that the Act had as its basic purpose disclosure of operations of the Communist Party, and that it was reasonable for the Government to regulate and control an organization found to be dominated and controlled by the world Communist movement, with the avowed purpose of overthrowing the Government.

The case would be reversed and remanded in a 6 to 3 decision by the Supreme Court in 1956, on the basis of the need for the Board to hear newly discovered evidence and determine factually, without the need for reaching the constitutional issue, whether the allegation in that evidence that there had been perjured testimony of three witnesses before the Board was true and whether it had impacted its original decision, eventuating ultimately, in 1961, in the case being affirmed, 5 to 4, by the Supreme Court after the remand had resulted in affirmance by the Board and Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court having determined also in the 1961 case that the Act's registration requirements, the only aspect of the law before the Court at the time, did not violate either the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech or association or the Fifth Amendment right of due process or constitute a constitutionally prohibited bill of attainder, not reaching, as premature, whether the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination would be infringed by the Act's requirement that officers of the party sign and file registration statements. Four dissents in the latter case were filed, the first by Chief Justice Earl Warren, who believed that the majority should not have reached any of the constitutional issues and that the evidence was sufficient to constitute reversal of the Board's original decision. Justice Hugo Black dissented on the basis that the statute infringed the First Amendment, concluding: "I would reverse this case and leave the Communists free to advocate their beliefs in proletarian dictatorship publicly and openly among the people of this country with full confidence that the people will remain loyal to any democratic Government truly dedicated to freedom and justice—the kind of Government which some of us still think of as being 'the last best hope of earth.'" Justice William O. Douglas dissented on the ground that, in addition to other constitutional questions raised by the statute, it infringed the privilege of self-incrimination. Justice William Brennan dissented in part, joined by the Chief Justice in the opinion, asserting the belief that the order requiring registration and disclosure by the Party of its officers and members was not unconstitutional under the First Amendment, but that, while all of the questions required to adjudicate the constitutionality of the law vis-à-vis the privilege against self-incrimination were not presently before the Court, the question ought be decided or the Party would run the risk later of having its assertion of the privilege deemed not warranted, thereby eroding the privilege, and that he would hold the privilege infringed by the registration requirement.

In Rome, the Italian Chamber of Deputies this night approved the Paris accords for West German rearmament by a vote of 335 to 219, and the bill for ratification would now proceed to the Senate, where it probably would be voted on before the end of January. It was the fourth parliamentary body to act on the agreements, after Iceland, Norway and the British House of Commons had previously approved the accords. Parliamentary approval was not required in Portugal, and the pacts were under debate in the French National Assembly.

In Washington, Wolf Ladejinsky fought this date to retain his foreign attache post under the Agriculture Department, despite indications that the State Department was willing to keep him on its payroll in a different job, and his supporters were preparing to carry his case before the President. Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson had ruled that the Russian-born American citizen was not qualified, technically or in terms of security, to continue in his $11,000 per year post, which was to be transferred from the State Department to the Agriculture Department. Senator Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota called for a "frank and open airing" of the matter, questioning whether it was not more a matter of giving the job to a "person of more obvious political persuasion." Representative Walter Judd of Minnesota criticized the method of the ouster and said in a statement that Mr. Ladejinsky's ability in land reform measures was needed to help save free Vietnam, expressing the hope that the Government would continue to use his services. Mr. Ladejinsky had been naturalized in 1928 and had been General MacArthur's chief land reform official in occupied Japan after the war.

In Pittsburgh, it was reported that an airliner carrying 28 men, 23 of whom were G.I.'s homeward bound for Christmas, had crash-landed into the icy Monongahela River the previous night, and ten men remained missing this date, with 18, four of whom were crewmen, having survived, some having been rescued by a human chain. Volunteer firemen had begun dragging the river for the missing men, whom the coroner said had apparently drowned. There were no bodies found within the wreckage of the plane. The last word provided to the Allegheny County airport control tower was that the plane was out of gas and, according to the pilot, had descended to 750 feet and would have to ditch, seconds after which the twin-engined DC-3 had splashed into the river. The flight had been chartered from Newark airport to Colorado and to West Coast forts. After crashing, it sank into about 12 feet of oily water.

In Lansing, Mich., Dr. Charles Laughead, who had been fired from his post at the Michigan State College hospital as a physician, for upsetting students with his predictions that the world was going to end on December 21, and that people from Mars or Venus would retrieve selected people from mountaintops, so intended to sell his belongings and go to a mountaintop to await rescue, was now facing a petition filed by his sister to have her brother and his wife committed to a mental institution, in which case they would lose custody of their three children. The sister said that during the previous few years, her brother had become a religious fanatic and believed that he would create a new age and that the standing world would be submerged, that he would be picked up by a flying saucer and taken elsewhere. He had been fired, though initially it was reported that he had resigned, from his $10,000 per year job as staff physician at the hospital after the college president had told administrative officials he was "upsetting" students with his predictions. The doctor had described himself as a "reporter" for a woman of Oak Park, Ill., a housewife, who had declared she had received messages from beings in outer space. The woman had revised her prediction of doom early on the prior Tuesday, however, saying that she had received another message that the disaster had been prevented "by intervention on the part of God". A probate judge said that if warrants could be served on the doctor and his wife, a sanity hearing would be held the following Monday, but that they would have to return first to Michigan. At present, the doctor was staying at Oak Park at the home of the woman who had communicated the prediction, and he had no comment on his sister's petition, said, however, that he was leaving immediately for East Lansing by car.

Well, that's a relief. We thought it was all going to end not by the 21st but by the 28th. Apparently, we have a couple more weeks or so. Still, we suggest going to the mountaintops.

In Wilson, N.C., State Representative Larry Moore of Wilson, regarded as a shoo-in for State House Speaker in the 1955 legislative session, stated that North Carolina lawmakers should let the Supreme Court know where the state stood on the issue of public school segregation. He said he did not believe the Legislature should pass any final law on segregation until the Supreme Court had determine how its May 17 decision, holding continued public school segregation unconstitutional, would be implemented. He believed that ultimately they should tell the Court that North Carolina was not prepared to accept "nonsegregation" and that to impose it at present would create bitterness between the races instead of improving relations, which the state had sought for years to do.

The President and the First Lady departed Washington this date for Augusta, Ga., where they would spend the Christmas and New Year holidays, returning to Washington on January 3. The President intended to play golf and work on three messages to be sent to the new Congress in January. Wish him a hole in one.

In Scottsville, Ky., a laborer was jailed for attempting to cash a check stub for $33.45 at a grocery store, which had cashed it, though there was nothing on it to indicate that it was a negotiable instrument, having indications to the contrary. It had been issued by a tobacco warehouse. Perhaps he could claim illiteracy as a defense to the charge based on anything printed on the stub beyond the amount, but the fact that it came from a tobacco warehouse would likely nullify that defense as being ground, in and of itself, to suspect the worth of the instrument and thereby confirm his fraudulent intent.

On the editorial page, "Make 'Safety First' a Yuletide Motto" presents a series of pictures, one of a boy with a rifle beside an anguished man, another of a man falling off roller skates, and a third, of a man falling off stilts, suggesting in the text below the pictures that because danger lurked in the shadows when carefree merriment was at its height, Christmas could be the most perilous day of the year, with a physician it knew having indicated that he could not remember a Christmas morning when he had not been called to the scene of some holiday tragedy. It encourages, therefore, safety first during the holiday season, and indicates that to drive the point home, it was including the three warning photographs by News photographer Jeep Hunter, advises not letting one of those depicted accidents spoil the reader's holiday.

The one involving the rifle appears a little ambiguous. Was the man shot or was he trying to get the gun from the boy? What is going on there? Those who favor an unfettered Second Amendment, contrary to its language, will want to know, and will also then question whether the newspaper might be Commie, especially after reprinting the editorial about the scientific finding of frogs talking to toads in regional accents.

"Lighting the Way at Christmas Time" questions when the Yuletide season began, suggesting different ways it did for different people and different age groups, that if a family or an individual was fortunate, the season began at night, from a vantage point on the street which offers full view of lighted Christmas trees in neighborhood windows, a spectacle which a person hurriedly walking along the street was lucky to view, especially with snowflakes gently falling all about.

"The lighted Christmas tree, pagan though its derivation may be, illuminates the way for man who seeks an understanding with his God."

Drew Pearson indicates that Jane Morrow Spaulding, who had recently been named the outstanding "Negro Woman of the Year", had been receiving the runaround from the Administration, and black leaders were quite unhappy about it. She had been brought into government service originally as a special assistant to Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare Oveta Culp Hobby, but Secretary Hobby had refused to keep her after she had publicly expressed a desire to see black doctors admitted to the staff of a Texas hospital, getting Mrs. Hobby, a Texan, into trouble back home. Thus, Mrs. Spaulding was transferred to another agency, the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission, where she received a $10,000 per year salary. After the midterm elections, however, when black voters were no longer so important, the chairman of that Commission had gone on a firing spree, and it appeared that Mrs. Spaulding was expendable because her chief backer, Republican Senator John Sherman Cooper of Kentucky, had been defeated for re-election, and so she was slated to be fired. After news got out, however, the chairman of the Commission was reminded that it was not political wisdom to fire the outstanding Negro Woman of the Year, and so he hastily called in reporters and sought to undo the damage, saying that he hoped that Mrs. Spaulding could be retained on the Commission or kept in government in a job of a comparable grade, as her services were valuable to the Government. Meanwhile, the White House patronage czar, Charles Willis, was doing his best to find Mrs. Spaulding a suitable job. Mr. Pearson notes that the chairman of the Commission had also sent out dismissal notices to 65 other employees just before Christmas, more than a quarter of the 250-employee agency, with most of those fired having been experts in processing prisoner-of-war claims, despite the fact that the agency would be given the job the following year of paying benefits to Americans imprisoned in Korea for the inhumane treatment they had suffered.

When the President was first asked in a press conference about appointment of Nelson Rockefeller as his special assistant, he did not seem to know that the appointment was going to be made, but had now gone through with it after his advisers had earlier told the press that he would, and it appeared to be an extremely important position. Mr. Rockefeller would fill the place left vacant by C. D. Jackson, former psychological warfare adviser, who had entered the White House with high hopes of starting a barrage of propaganda behind the Iron Curtain, but becoming frustrated in almost every move he had made, that even when West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer had written the President a letter asking the American people to collect old clothes for Germans, the letter had collected dust for three weeks at the summer White House in Denver, by which time it was too late for it to be published, and the State Department was too embarrassed to ask Chancellor Adenauer to write another one, resulting in the drive falling flat. On another occasion, when Congress had passed a law permitting the White House to give away surplus food to aid American friendship, it had taken the President two months to sign an executive order specifying which Government agency should handle the food. Meanwhile, Mr. Jackson had left the White House and after nine months of vacancy, Mr. Rockefeller would now take his place. Mr. Pearson indicates that Mr. Rockefeller, future Governor of New York and appointed Vice-President under President Ford, after the latter became President following the resignation of President Nixon in August, 1974, was a "practical idealist" who had been brought into the Roosevelt Administration by Harry Hopkins to improve relations between the U.S. and Latin America, creating at the time dismay, as observers wondered how Latin Americans would work with a man whose oil companies were operating in Latin America and which had sometimes exploited the region. Mr. Rockefeller, however, had proved so sympathetic and conscientious that he had ended up the hero of Latin Americans. One thing he had learned, which Mr. Jackson had never entirely grasped, was how to work with Government bureaucrats, it having taken Mr. Rockefeller about a year to understand the lesson, something he managed to do well. He further notes that Mr. Rockefeller would emphasize American friendship more than inciting unrest behind the Iron Curtain.

Consumer Reports tells of a "Puzzled Reader" who had written about having purchased recently a "Morenmore Super Deluxe Five-Star Extra Special", which was the standard, or stripped, model put out by the Morenmore Horsepower Motor Co., with the American flag in chrome only on the two front fenders and with no more than a couple of hundred horsepower, "Puzzled Reader" wondering in consequence whether he or the Morenmore Co. was crazy.

It responds that the emphasis now in Detroit was on beauty, size, power and luxury, qualities believed to sell the most cars, with any conflict with the engineering department settled on the basis of glamour. Car buyers appeared to like what they got for the most part and were seeking more of the same.

It says that Consumers Union, publisher of the Reports, was not suggesting that the present cars lacked engineering, only that because of the new limitations imposed on the engineers, they had to sweat out mechanical features which ten years earlier would have seemed impossible to Rube Goldberg. The basic durability of cars was better than ever, thanks to the engineers. Mechanically, the cars also served well. But features were being built into the cars for the sake of saleability, about which the engineers could only be unhappy. Cars had to look low and not boxy, requiring that the seats be lowered, especially the rear seat, which in some models was so low as to be unfit for day-long habitation. Often the hood and cowl were not lowered when the seats were, and if the short driver could see over the steering wheel and the cowl, they were lucky.

But nothing had been done much about safety of cars, to keep the doors from flying open in a crash or to pad the dashboards, prevent the seats from catapulting out in an accident, or the crushing of unsupported roofs in "hardtop convertible" models—a term they were apparently using to refer to sedans without a center post on either side. A 20-year old car would do much better on snowy or icy roads, and would require less arduous steering on curves or down a winding road than did many, though not all, of the modern cars. Beginning with the 1947 Studebaker, the engine had been moved forward and seats along with it, such that close to 60 percent of the weight of some cars rested on the front wheels, and rear seats were made wider, enabling the cars to ride better. But in snow and ice, those features did not serve well to provide rear wheel traction.

With the powerful V-8 engines, there was need for heavier construction throughout the vehicle, producing a trend toward larger, heavier, more powerful and less accessible cars, costing more to purchase, to run and to repair. The V-8 could concentrate a lot of weight into a small space, causing a problem in handling of the car, especially parking. The engineers had managed to develop some cars which handled well, but more did not.

Chrysler had been the first manufacturer to cut the cycle of more weight, harder steering and parking from increased turning of the steering wheel, by developing the power steering mechanism.

From the point of view of the engineers, a major iniquity was the horsepower race, which had started in the high-priced cars, converted to "bankers' hot rods", but was now rapidly spreading down the automotive scale. The engineers had brought out new Lincoln and Cadillac engines developing 160 horsepower, and in one year, had been forced to soup them up to 205 and 210, as they were being chased by Packard, Oldsmobile and Buick. Chrysler had started it all by developing 180 horsepower from an engine size which had provided only 160 in the Cadillac. But in "hotting up" those engines, docility, quickness of warm-up, moderate-speed economy, engine life, smoothness, and the possibility of better moderate-speed performance, were all sacrificed. With top speeds being well above 100 mph, even for Dodges, and passing speeds of between 70 and 90 mph, the manufacturers had been guilty of a dangerous practice.

It concludes that the automobile industry had somewhere along the way gotten off on the wrong path and whatever short-term advantages to the industry from building treacherous bankers' hot rods and plastic-bodied dream boats might be obtained, would, in the long run, be better obtained by developing reasonably priced cars which provided fairly comfortable and speedy transportation without having to be fixed all the time.

Robert C. Ruark indicates that a friend had written that his wife, who lived in Houston, had taken up high-stakes poker and given up canasta and gin rummy, that she and her friends played in the afternoon and did not drink much while they played for table stakes, with $1,000 being dropped on any Friday or possibly winning three or four thousand. The man reported that it was nice because his wife gave him her winnings to put in a special account, against which she recorded her losses, and that she played for sport rather than money.

Mr. Ruark suggests that there was no reason why a woman should not make a magnificent poker player, since "deception, intuition and harsh appraisal of strength or weakness" count heavily in the game. He asserts several more reasons why it should have been a game all along at which women excelled, but they had never taken it very seriously until now, suggests that if the game spread, it would not be very long before there was a female president of the country, as they finally would have earned their right to compete with men.

A letter writer indicates that he is a farmer from Milan, Minn., stopping briefly in Charlotte, and had been inspired anew by the fighting courage of the forefathers to a rededication to the principle of individual liberty, for which they had committed their fortunes, lives and sacred honor, inspired by Charlotte being the home of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence—though, as we have pointed out previously, that document being of doubtful provenance. He suggests that the greatest danger now was from the courts, which completely ignored the doctrine of self-limitation, exercising whim and caprice in interpreting the Constitution—and he imparts some other gobbledygook which is barely discernible. He says that the people of Wisconsin and the nation had lost a good man when Joseph McCarthy became a circuit judge of that state, because as such, his thinking had been conditioned to a point where he lost the common touch, became self-important and arrogant, and unreasonably sensitive to opposition in any kind or degree. Any person who disagreed with the Senator became a liar, a thief or a Communist, and, he suggests, if the Senator could discard the specious thinking induced by his association with the present-day judiciary, he might yet become a great statesman of inestimable value to his state and nation. He says that he stood completely with the rebels who fought for even-handed justice and constitutional balance, urging "stick to your guns."

We do not believe that Senator McCarthy's brief prior time as a judge before his entry to the service during World War II had much of any impact on what he became later as a Senator, which was driven instead by the grasp for greater power through demagogy of the worst sort. Despite his protestations to the contrary, his hope had been to become President—not unlike his counterpart under the recently coined melding of the two, "McNixon"—the other realizing the goal but then also realizing the consequent nightmare from having achieved it and maintained it by deceit and abuse of power.

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