The Charlotte News

Saturday, December 4, 1954


Site Ed. Note: The front page reports that Senators Arthur Watkins of Utah and John Stennis of Mississippi urged this date that the Senate revise its rules governing investigating committees as a follow-up to its censure of Senator McCarthy, with Senator Watkins saying that rules changes proposed by the censure committee he had chaired would help to bring about the needed reforms in the procedures of the investigating committees. Senator Stennis, who had served on the select committee, said in a separate interview that the new Senate in 1955 should adopt the recommended rules changes from the select committee. The committee had recommended four rules changes, accompanying its unanimous recommendation for censure, and said those proposed changes would have likely avoided much of the criticism against the investigative committee hearings. One of the suggested changes was to eliminate, except under certain conditions, one-man hearings, such as those which Senator McCarthy had conducted while chairman of the Senate Investigations subcommittee.

The President thanked Senator Watkins for the "very splendid job" he had done as chairman of the select committee, relayed through White House press secretary James Hagerty.

At the U.N. in New York, the General Assembly gave final unanimous approval this date to a resolution setting in motion the President's atoms-for-peace plan, with the Soviet bloc joining in the affirmative vote after the Assembly had rejected their efforts to amend the resolution, previously approved unanimously by the 60-nation Political Committee. It was the second major proposal to receive unanimous approval in the Assembly, all 60 delegations having previously approved a plan of work for the U.N. Disarmament Commission. The resolution congratulated the efforts of the President to establish an international agency to sponsor the peaceful uses of atomic energy and called for an international scientific conference on the question prior to the following August. One of the defeated Soviet amendments would have placed the proposed agency under the U.N. Security Council, subject to the unilateral veto of each of the permanent five members, a proposal rejected by a vote of 43 to 5, the five being the Soviet bloc members, with 11 others abstaining. The approved resolution provided that the relationship of the atomic agency and the U.N. would be determined by future negotiations. The other Soviet amendment would have opened the way for Communist China and other Soviet bloc regimes which were not members of the U.N. to take part in the scientific conference, defeated by a vote of 36 to 6, with 18 abstaining.

The House Campaign Investigating Committee would arrive in North Carolina the following day for hearings on charges of irregularities in the midterm Congressional election in the Ninth Congressional District of North Carolina, with the Committee having scheduled three hearings between December 7 and 9 in different communities of the district. Incumbent Representative Hugh Alexander had defeated his Republican opponent, William Stevens of Lenoir, by about 5,000 votes. The campaign manager for Mr. Stevens had told the Committee that there had been vote buying, coercion, misuse of the absentee ballot, double registration and negligence by election officials within the district. A Committee investigator had reported, following two trips to North Carolina, that election officials in Taylorsville had been defiant of the law.

In New Orleans, indications were growing that Paul Butler of Indiana would be name the successor to DNC chairman Stephen Mitchell—an accurate forecast. Adlai Stevenson was the featured speaker for this night at a $100 per plate dinner. Representative Sam Rayburn of Texas, who would shortly become Speaker of the House again, favored a postponement of the selection of a new chairman until a later date, while Mr. Stevenson said that he believed that 70 or more members of the DNC could reach a decision without postponement. Mr. Mitchell said that at least 71 of the members of the DNC were present and ready to vote. Neither Mr. Stevenson nor Mr. Rayburn took a public stand in favor of any of the three leading candidates, who, in addition to Mr. Butler, included Jim Finnegan of Philadelphia and Mike DiSalle of Toledo.

In Vatican City, it was reported that Pope Pius XII had improved for the third consecutive day in his struggle against the gravest illness he had faced during his 15 1/2 years as Pope. His doctors said that he no longer faced the desperate condition of the previous week, brought on by his long-term struggle with stomach disorders.

In Milwaukee, a butcher confessed to police the killing of his wife with a meat cleaver and then burning her remains in the furnace because "she was such a burden", leading authorities this date also to begin an investigation of the death of his first wife, who had died in August, 1953 at age 55 with cause of death listed at the time as a heart attack. His second wife, 67, was bound to a wheelchair and the man claimed that he had killed her with her consent the prior Monday to take her out of her pain. He had married his second wife only four months after the death of his first wife, and he said he had known the widow for only about a month at the time. He told police that she was nearly blind from cataracts and had been crippled in a fall. The man was charged with first-degree murder and bond was set at $5,000, with his arraignment continued to December 16.

In New York, three Bronx women were charged this date with plotting to murder the husband of one of them, allegedly to obtain $3,000 in insurance money and $100,000 in damages from a trumped-up negligence lawsuit. They intended to cause him to be crushed to death against an elevated train pillar in a faked taxi accident, with the scheme coming to light about a week earlier, according to the Bronx assistant district attorney, when the taxi driver, the boyfriend of one of the three women, became increasingly alarmed about his role in the plot. The women had been arrested shortly before the man was to have been killed. The scheme is described in some detail, should you wish to try to copy it.

In Vancouver, British Columbia, bank robbers, who had conducted a series of six holdups in recent weeks, had struck twice more the previous day, taking $30,000, much as they had on Wednesday when $41,500 was taken in two quick robberies. A lone "babyfaced" gunman this date had first robbed the Bank of Toronto in a suburb, taking between $3,000 and $10,000, whereupon two female employees chased him several blocks but lost him in the pre-Christmas crowds. While police were converging on that scene and setting up checkpoints, three gunmen had robbed the Royal Bank of Canada in West Vancouver, taking between $7,500 and $20,000, and driving away unchallenged. The eight robberies in six weeks had accounted for a total loss of approximately $100,000. The result had been a jittery population which had armed itself, prompting several false alarms.

In Charlotte, as indicated further in an editorial below, the 18th annual Shrine Bowl football game would take place this date between high school stars of North and South Carolina to raise money for crippled children in the Shriners' Hospital in Greenville, S.C.

News publisher Thomas L. Robinson tells of attending the weekly press conference of the President on Thursday, providing his impressions. He didn't ask any questions though.

On the editorial page, "McCarthy Loses His Moderate Support" finds that after the censure of Senator McCarthy two days earlier, it appeared that the skids had finally been put to him and McCarthyism, even though it holds out no hope that he or his supporters would change their views or their methods, suggests that, indeed, they might grow more unreasonable and reckless. But they had lost much of their support which had been received, though unexpressed or qualified in some instances, from the moderate portion of the political spectrum, as evidenced by the vote against him.

As time would go on, his movement would attract few followers other than malcontents and fanatics, and retired generals and admirals sympathetic to authoritarian groups, the same which clamored for military adventures in Asia. The gap between that group and the Eisenhower wing of the Republican Party would be too wide to straddle in the middle.

It indicates that persons other than Senators had suffered more than they had from the excesses of Senator McCarthy, notwithstanding the fact that the censure was based on two counts of contempt by the Senator against his fellow Senators, the one involving the 1951-52 Senate Elections subcommittee which had investigated the Senator's finances, and the other involving his statements against the select committee which had unanimously recommended censure, calling their actions, for instance, "handmaidens of the Communist Party" and referring to the special Senate session convened to consider the resolution a "lynch party".

But the action by the Senate would guard against similar abuses of members and organizations in the future, and it looks to the Democratic leadership in the coming Congress to restrain the natural desire for revenge, and set up ethical standards of procedure right away the following month.

"The Strong Run, That Weak May Walk" tells of the 18th annual Shrine Bowl football game to be played during the afternoon, to raise money for the weak and crippled children in the Carolinas that they might be able to walk. The game was played by the high school stars of the Carolinas.

Across the country, the Mystic Shrine had a chain of 16 hospitals for crippled children, and the patients were admitted without regard to race or creed, only if their families lacked the means financially for the needed treatment. One of the hospitals was located in Greenville, S.C., and many thousands of men and women not affiliated with the Mystic Shrine had visited the children in that hospital through the years. It indicates that a visit was memorable because looking at the crippled children and their cheerful, smiling faces was almost heartrending.

Almost all of the money raised by the Shrine Bowl would go to the Greenville hospital, and through the years, nearly a million dollars had been so provided, and the current day's game would add approximately $100,000 to the total. It states that the Greenville hospital, filled to capacity, had a waiting list of deserving admittees.

"Toyland Revisited or Santa's Sorrow" recounts of a department store Santa Claus saying, "There ain't no Santa Claus," that he had played the role for ten years and that "it don't pay", that all one got were back sores. He referred to the kids as "scurvy little knaves", that one the previous day had tried to set his beard on fire, that others shot spitballs into his eyes, that the 1,500 "brats" stampeded in every day with nothing but "'gimme, gimme, gimme'".

It goes on with its conversation with the department store Santa Claus, recounting that one set of parents had brought forth a child to ask Santa Claus what he wanted, and upon coaching by the father that it was an electric train, the boy broke into tears and said that he wanted a spacesuit and ran away screaming into his father's arms, regarding which Santa replied that the parents had already bought him an electric train, concluding, "Brats, always brats."

Then another little tyke had approached and asked him if he was Santa Claus, "who's the jerk down the street in that other toy department?" Santa had replied with questions as to whether he was wearing a red coat, a red hat, and red pants, to which the child responded that he was, prompting Santa to say, "That, my little duckling, is a Communist and I advise you to call the cops immediately."

A piece from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, titled "Of Steinbeck and Books", indicates that John Steinbeck had selected what appeared to be a funny reason to like paperback books, indicating: "Hardcover books break up friendships. You loan a hardcover book to a friend, and when he doesn't return it, you get mad at him. It makes you mean and petty. But 25-cent books are different. Nobody minds giving them away. They make people generous, kind and friendly."

It finds that paperbacks were admirable when they were good literature, placed within the reach of more people than would be able to afford hardcover books, but that in case of lending a valued paperback which could not easily be replaced, it wants the borrower to know that it wanted it back and was prepared to be as mean and petty as necessary to do so. It says it wants to hang on to its paperback of Somerset Maugham's The Summing Up more than to have Thomas B. Costain's The Black Rose "bound in solid granite, and don't let Mr. Steinbeck forget it."

Drew Pearson indicates that the murder in Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary of William Remington on November 22 had not been the result of anti-Communist hatred or of rival prison gangs, but rather of the worst vice occurring in prisons at present, homosexuality. Or at least that had been the judgment of one former convict who had served time with Mr. Remington in Lewisburg, plus that of various prison experts. It highlighted a system which bred more crime than cured it and which made hardened criminals out of first-termers. Lewisburg was among the best of the Federal penitentiaries, and regarded among convicts as a "country club", better run than most and providing a better chance therefore of rehabilitation for the inmates. Nevertheless, three other inmates had managed to enter Mr. Remington's cell and bludgeon him to death, suggesting that much worse could take place and had taken place in the "cesspools of overcrowded humanity" within the state prisons.

He quotes a man who had recently served time in Lewisburg on a charge of income tax evasion, opining that Mr. Remington had been killed because of a "sex deal", probably after having made some remark about a homosexual affair. He said he had never heard of using a brick in a sock to kill someone, as had the three men in the Remington murder, that they normally used the toilet bowl cleaning brushes. He told of the inmate who had been in the bed next to him having made a remark about two guys who were having an affair, saying it was terrible that such things were tolerated, and one night they had come in after lights out, pulled the blanket over his head so he could not see the assailants or get away, then nearly beat him to death. Even if he had been able to identify them, he would not have dared to tell anyone or he would have been killed. He said that he had put his head under the covers and tried to pretend to be asleep or he would have been attacked also.

He said that the inmates did not bother anyone in Lewisburg because of being a Communist, that everyone there hated the government, and the more one hated the government, the more one was respected. He said it was also poppycock that anyone wanted to steal money from Mr. Remington, that everyone knew that the most dangerous thing one could have in prison was money, that when the guards inspected lockers and found money, the inmate was in trouble because the only use for money in prison was for bribery. Any money which a person had when entering prison or which was sent by relatives was maintained on account for the prisoner, with a charge account maintained at the commissary where no money was used. He concluded that therefore when prison authorities spoke of stealing something from Mr. Remington's locker, it was only an alibi to cover up the worst thing which happened in prison.

He also said that a young person, 18 or 19 years old, appeared as a movie star to the other inmates when he entered the prison, and therefore had no chance, would likely wind up perverted or in a padded cell, or both. He had worked in the hospital and saw men who had come into the prison healthy then suddenly enter the hospital for treatment, eventually catching on to the idea that they administered shots every week and had plenty of new customers every week. He had informed an FBI agent of the fact and asked him whether they were not ashamed to have such things going on without doing anything about it, and the response was that they had no proof. He said that the inmates could not talk or they would be killed and that when an inmate was released, he wanted to forget about it. He concluded that if one of his boys were sent to prison, he would commit suicide or find some way to blow the place up, because he knew what happened to kids when they went inside, that they would never be the same again.

Stewart Alsop tells of Senate gallery visitors engaging in the mysterious fascination of watching the Senators in the well below, akin to the fascination some people found in watching fish in an aquarium. After a period of time, each Senator acquired his own instantly recognizable characteristics, such as "the worried frown on the face of Republican Leader Knowland, the huge yellow shoes of the miraculously preserved Neely of West Virginia, the Grant Wood features of the white-thatched Watkins of Utah, the magenta-red face of well-liked Saltonstall of Massachusetts, and so on."

He indicates that no group of men could be more oddly assorted, but the gallery watchers soon realized that they got along amazingly well together, partly because of the desire to be liked and partly because they had to get on well together if the system was to work at all.

But there were now in the Senate a small handful of men who did not care whether they were liked or whether the system worked. When they rose to speak, they were not trying to persuade their fellow Senators and hardly pretended to do so. Their purpose was to frighten, dismay or frustrate the Senate, to use it as an instrument for gaining political power outside the Senate. The presence of such a different type of Senator was oddly paralyzing, "as though a few piranhas—the tiny, voraciously carnivorous Brazilian fish—had been dumped into a tank of amiable, elderly gold fish."

On three occasions the prior Tuesday, the last full day of debate on the censure resolution against Senator McCarthy, the "piranha-spirit" had been on display, first when Senator William Jenner of Indiana had begun an attack on the aging Senator Ralph Flanders of Vermont, who had originally sponsored the censure resolution, Senator Jenner engaging in shrieking, arm-waving frenzy which was his specialty, while everyone knew that his act was not intended to convince anyone present that the recent propaganda broadcast to Russians via the Voice of America by Senator Flanders had been in any way untoward in its motivations. Everyone knew that Senator Jenner's speech was intended instead to feed the McCarthyite propaganda mill and serve notice on other Senators of the treatment they could expect if they dared to voice criticism against Senator McCarthy and his followers. While Senator Flanders had attempted to answer the attack, no other Senator rose to his defense. Mr. Alsop indicates that it was not simply because of cowardice but rather because the other members understood that nothing was more dangerous and futile than to try to reason with a "piranha-politician".

He indicates that not all of the pro-McCarthy Senators were of the piranha type, that Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota, for instance, was much more the goldfish type, and even Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois, "the Liberace of politics", was no political carnivore.

The piranha spirit had arisen again when Senator Herman Welker of Idaho, "whose speaking voice drips with almost audible venom", rose to attack Senator J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, who had been one of the other two Senators, along with Senator Wayne Morse of Oregon, to supply a bill of particulars to supplement the original censure resolution.

But the climax had come late in the afternoon, when flashbulbs in the corridors announced the arrival of the "Grand Inquisitor", Senator McCarthy, at a time when the chamber had been depopulated by a tedious pro-McCarthy speech by Senator Karl Mundt. Gesturing toward the Democratic side of the aisle, Senator McCarthy said that the sparsely occupied chamber was the "most disgraceful spectacle I have ever seen…" He sat down grinning, with the grin not lost on those present, as he had chosen to absent himself from the chamber that day. His complaint had been designed to feed those busy picturing the Senator as a martyr, as well as being his way of expressing his contempt for the goldfish Senators who had been earnestly debating through the day the course the Senate should adopt with regard to the censure resolution. As if to underscore his contempt, he then rose to his feet a few minutes later and, still grinning, left the chamber for the day.

Mr. Alsop indicates that the small, unnoticed episodes suggested what the censure debate had really been about, determining who would rule the Senate "tank, the goldfish or the piranhas." In a more general sense, it had also been about whether the "piranha-politicians", whose greatest weapon was what Senator Fulbright had called "contempt for the human personality", were to dominate American politics.

Doris Fleeson, writing from New Orleans at the DNC meeting to choose a new chairman to succeed outgoing Stephen Mitchell, indicates that it might turn out to be the most democratic meeting the Democrats had ever held. In-person attendance would break all records, with 71 of the 105 committee members present and voting, and the remaining members having proxies present, but, contrary to common practice, only a few having turned to committee officials for proxy representation. Mr. Mitchell held six proxies and the head of the Women's Division, Mrs. Walter Louchheim, had one, while the Committee secretary also had one. The rest of the proxies had been handed out by members who could not come to the meeting, and who the proxies were or what they might do was anybody's guess.

Members of the Committee who had served with FDR were becoming rare and there were not too many Trumanites any longer either. Adlai Stevenson could probably influence them, but he had not spoken. It was clear that none of the avowed candidates for the chairmanship had acquired anything like the votes necessary to build a bandwagon. Mr. Mitchell's choice—and the eventual choice of the Committee—, Paul Butler, the national committeeman from Indiana, had been on the Committee for only about two years and had the handicap of the opposition of former President Truman, who had devoted friends on the Committee, while there were also those who did not care for him but wanted unity at nearly any price.

The Congressional Quarterly indicates that the Government would look more like an investment banker and less like a philanthropist the following year, if the Administration had its way about foreign aid legislation. There appeared broad agreement on four assumptions, that total foreign aid for fiscal year 1956 would be considerably less than the total in 1954-55, with most of the reduction being in military aid, while there might also be some increase in economic aid, that economic aid would go primarily to underdeveloped countries, especially in Asia, and to Japan, that the chief emphasis would be on long-term, low-interest loans for industrial and agricultural development, with few if any outright grants, that strong efforts would be made to provide a large proportion of the economic aid through cooperative arrangements like the Colombo Plan, a loose association of Asian countries with which the U.S., Canada and Britain were affiliated, with its main emphasis on self-help and the exchange of technical experts, with greater participation by European and British Commonwealth nations.

A key factor in the new foreign aid look would be the growing belief among U.S. officials that the Soviet peace offensive heralded a long period of intense competition for the loyalties of former colonial-dominated peoples, particularly in South and Southeast Asia, meaning, according to Senator Fulbright, that the U.S. had to prove to those peoples that the system of capitalism and free enterprise would work best for them over the long pull. It remained to be seen, however, how that would be accomplished.

Support for the Colombo Plan ideas had come from Senator Mike Mansfield of Montana, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a specialist in Asian affairs. Senator Fulbright, who was scheduled to become chairman of the Senate Banking and Currency Committee, had also endorsed a regional approach to foreign economic aid after an announcement by Secretary of the Treasury George Humphrey had endorsed U.S. participation in a proposed International Finance Corporation which would be a subsidiary of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

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