The Charlotte News

Tuesday, February 11, 1941



Site Ed. Note: "True To Form" misses its prediction, but it would take an attack by Hitler finally to break the uneasy 1939 non-aggression pact between Hitler and Stalin. The Munich Pact in 1938 should have taught all involved that signing a non-aggression pact with Hitler was not unlike signing such a pact with a bear or a tiger or a fox or a jackal. Predatory animals know little else, survive by predation. And so Stalin let Hitler have his way in Bulgaria, Bulgaria in 1941 declared war on the U.S. and Great Britain, but not on the newly aligned Ally, Russia, because the Bulgarian people felt a kinship with the Russians. But in 1944, Stalin came marching into Bulgaria, set up a puppet government which promptly declared war on Germany--and after the war, Bulgaria became one of the Soviet Union's satellite worker states. The fox and the bear and the tiger all went a-hunting together, sometimes for each other, but always on the hunt, always on the premise of needing to feed their young, more and more and more.

And this "small voice" got larger in time...

Small Voice

Speed, Not Uprightness, Is The Government's Obsession

In demanding a Senate investigation of the letting of defense contracts, Senator Truman only gives formal recognition to a lot of disquieting stories that are brought back from Washington by those who have business there. Washington Merry-Go-Round has been punching out the same refrain.

The gist of Senator Truman's information is that large building jobs have been let on a basis of friendship or political compatibility. The gist of Washington Merry-Go-Round's reports is that Government purchases, particularly of land, have been made through agents to whose hands stuck more than a reasonable amount of the purchase money.

And the stories one hears--the gist of these is that persons either of or influential with the Government are exercising their authority or influence for venal purposes, trying to have engineers specify this firm's materials or to use that firm's services.

The worst of it is that the detection and the prevention of such graft and corruption as may exist are almost impossible. Even before the defense program got underway, the Federal establishment had grown so big that no man or set of men could cope with it. With the frantic haste of war-preparation, nobody has time even to try to cope with it. 1


A Finesse

President's Men Pull Teeth Of His More Rabid Critics

It was a very clever tour de force that administration leaders put over in the ten per cent limitation on the Lend-Lease Bill. What it provides is that the President cannot turn over to the British or other nations military or naval equipment, now existing or provided for the Army and Navy by Congressional appropriation, exceeding in value one-tenth of the total appropriations for defense in the fiscal year 1940-41.

It effectually disposes of such nonsense as that talked by Hugh Johnson, Burton Wheeler, and Ham Fish, that the President might turn over the Navy to Britain or China or even Russia--which is to say in effect that the President is a fool and a traitor. Johnson has even argued, indeed, that the President might give away to these nations not only the whole military and naval equipment of the United States, but the surplus crops on hand, and in fact all the property in which the Government holds an equity!

And it pretty well knocks in the head the argument of Lindbergh, Al Williams & Co.--the rabid airmen who think that sea power has ceased to count--that our own forces, and particularly our air forces, are to be stripped naked and utterly neglected.

On the other hand, it gives the President a considerable leeway. Observers agree that a tenth of the appropriations for the year will total at least $1,200,000,000, which should be enough to tide the British over until the real program the President has in mind is put into effect. That program, as he had already indicated, calls for separate appropriations for British supplies.

Bad Laws

These Matters Ought To Be Left to the Trained FBI

The Legislature now has before it two bills which unfortunately seem headed for passage. One of them is directed at the suppression of Fifth Columns in North Carolina and the other at sabotage.

"Unfortunately headed for passage," we say, because it is manifest that the same principle ought to apply here which the Supreme Court applied when it held that alien registration laws in the states were superseded (and so avoided) by laws of the Federal Government, which holds the superior jurisdiction.

There is no more than a negligible Fifth Column in North Carolina at worst, and we doubt that the state's industry is such as to come in for any extensive sabotage. In any case, the control of these matters is primarily one for the Federal law and the Federal Bureau of Investigation with the assistance of us in it.

The reasons for that are two. One is that hysteria is more easily developed in a small area like a state than over the whole nation, and that the Federal police agencies are therefore more likely to retain an objective attitude.

The second is that local police generally have no training for this kind of work and are likely to be much too suspicious and officious. In small towns particularly, every poor crackpot or anybody who deviates from the local norm is likely to come under suspicion and to be dealt with unjustly. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, on the other hand, is made up of men of education especially trained to detect genuine Fifth Columnists and saboteurs. It is all right for the local police to work with the FBI in these matters, but they ought not to be given the power to take things into the their own hands.

Squirrel Cage

Round and Round It Goes, Getting Nowhere Fast

It wasn't his intention, for men with jobs like his don't care being mixed up in such explosive matters. But one of the best illustrations of the difficulties which attend the attempt to enforce prohibition laws is given by Ed T. Patton, director of the North Carolina Federal Alcohol Tax Unit.

Mr. Patton, as reported by the Associated Press, was talking about the experience of his men with the "Great Speckled Bird"--which is the name Wilkes County moonshiners have given the Coast Guard plane which has been used to spot them. Said Mr. Patton:

"When we first started using a plane to spot stills and to communicate their locations by shortwave radio to men on the ground, we often picked up virtually all the operators. But they soon caught on to the plane and now we seldom catch a tenth of the operators."

There you have it. The Tax Unit men are ingenious men, and very serious about the business of spotting and punishing moonshiners because it involves the Government's revenues. But the moonshiners have their own brand of ingenuity also, and as fast as one method of catching them is devised they invent a way to defeat it.

And the moonshiners are just as serious about staying in business as the Tax Unit men are about getting them out--for the reason that it involves their revenues. They find supplying what 70 per cent of the people are determined to have more profitable than other forms of work open to them.

True To Form

The Day's Headlines Show That Russia Remains Tricky

How futile is the business of trying to placate Russia and line her up on the side of civilization against the Axis barbarians, the headlines today pretty clearly testify.

Secretary Hull recently lifted the embargo on exports to Russia (which was applied when Stalin wantonly invaded Finland) on the ground precisely that it was desirable to try to win the Russian dictator out of the Hitler camp, and particularly to line him up to block Japan.

That would be admirable strategy if there were any prospect that it would work. But men who know Russia best--as Eugene Lyons, author of "Assignment in Utopia" and editor of The American Mercury--have insisted all along that there was no real chance of successfully winning over the Kremlin, which has consistently hated democracy worse than it has hated anything, and which undoubtedly has collaborated with the Nazis from the beginning, despite the mock war of words which went on down until the pact of August 1939.

In any case, the evidence is gathering that Stalin has again betrayed civilization by standing aside for the Germans to enter Bulgaria and attack Greece if they choose to. Worst thing about this is that it suggests that he may also be turning the heat on Turkey to allow the Nazis to have their way. If so, it is a major disaster.

It is time we began to use the economic power which is ours--against Russia as against the rest of our enemies.



1 We feel compelled to add, in light of more recent events in our country's history over the last 30 odd years, the following exchange from the third presidential debate of October 13, 1960:

"MR. VON FREMD: Senator Kennedy, I would like to shift the conversation, if I may, to a domestic political argument. The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Senator Thruston Morton, declared earlier this week that you owed Vice-President Nixon and the Republican party a public apology for some strong charges made by former President Harry Truman, who bluntly suggested where the Vice-President and the Republican party could go. Do you feel that you owe the Vice-President an apology?

MR. KENNEDY: Well, I must say that Mr. Truman has his methods of expressing things; he's been in politics for 50 years; he's been President of the United States. Maybe it's not my style, but I really don't think there's anything that I can say to President Truman that's going to cause him, at the age of 76, to change his particular speaking manner. Perhaps Mrs. Truman can, but I don't think I can. I'll just have to tell Mr. Morton that, if you'd pass that message on to him.

MR. SHADEL: Any comment, Mr. Vice President?

MR. NIXON: Yes, I think so. Of course, both Senator Kennedy and I have felt Mr. Truman's ire, and consequently, I think he can speak with some feeling on this subject. I just do want to say one thing, however. We all have tempers. I have one. I am sure Senator Kennedy has one. But when a man is President of the United States or a former President, he has an obligation not to lose his temper in public. One thing I have noted as I have traveled around the country are the tremendous number of children who come out to see the presidential candidates. I see mothers holding their babies up, so that they can see a man who might be President of the United States. I know Senator Kennedy sees them, too. It makes you realize that whoever is President is going to be a man that all the children of America will either look up to, or will look down to, and I can only say that I'm very proud that President Eisenhower restored dignity and decency and, frankly, good language to the conduct of the Presidency of the United States. And I only hope that, should I win this election, that I could approach President Eisenhower in maintaining the dignity of the office, in seeing to it that whenever any mother or father talks to his child, he can look at the man in the White House, and whatever he may think of his policies, he will say: 'Well, there is a man who maintains the kind of standards personally that I would want my child to follow.' "

Now, where have we heard that old line recently? Well, let us just say this about that: If you believed that in 1960 or in 2000 or any other gosh darned time, then, hell, we guess you will about believe anything you hear. We suspect that Senator Kennedy had the better of the argument.

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