The Charlotte News

Sunday, January 29, 1939


Site Ed. Note: More repercussions appear in "Profuse Defense" from the scheme to defraud investors through trumped up profit statements in a paper-only drug company by Philip Coster/Musica who had killed himself in December, 1938, when the FBI and SEC came to arrest him. Long-term Congressman Wright Patman, who would later, as Chairman of the House Banking Committee, lead the first Congressional investigation into Watergate in the fall of 1972, before others on the committee voted under Administration pressure to end it, this time was having to explain his own conduct regarding his having made speeches favoring the independent drug store over the chain, at the behest of Coster/Musica's drug company, McKesson-Robbins. Patman long stood against the chain store concept as robbing the mom and pop market; unfortunately while giving this notion ostensible support, Coster/Musica had behind the scenes sought to create the largest drugstore chain in the country out of the investments in his empty warehouses which were supposed to be full of drugs. Patman was cleared of any wrongdoing in the scandal.

"Purvis and a Report" tells of the famous former FBI agent's first intent in returning to his home state of South Carolina after retirement; instead, apparently after the bill to establish a state police force was defeated, he opened an afternoon newspaper in Florence, as set forth in "G-Man News Man", July 11, 1939.

"The Sign of the Fascist" speaks of the lynching of a Jew in Mexico City bearing portent of the Cardenas regime falling to the Nazi-Fascist regime. Did it and the atmosphere in the city which it suggested, after Cardenas's hand-picked successor, Avila Camacho, came to power in late 1940, also portend Cash's own death 29 months later? (For more on the subject, also from this date, see Cash's book review, "Nazi Spies in America".)

To afford visualization of that which "Quiz on a Conquest" sets forth, we provide the following map which appeared on the front page of this date's News:

Profuse Defense

Representative Patman, the Texan who first sprang the inspired notion that the Bonus ought to be paid as a prosperity measure, successfully and at great length, circuitously, allayed the slander raised in the House last week that he had taken $18,000 from the late Coster-Musica of McKesson-Robbins to go about the country putting on the rousements for his anti-chain-store bill. It wasn't, Mr. Patman explains, $18,000; it was $4,000. He didn't get it from Coster-Musica or McKesson-Robbins either; he got it from a speakers bureau. That McKesson-Robbins paid the speakers bureau was a circumstance he did not attempt to explain.

Nor did he touch at all upon the propriety or impropriety of a Representative's taking pay indirectly from a corporation in order to advance legislation in which they have a common interest. It may be perfectly all right and entirely above question. But we don't think so. In fact, from the length and the fervor of Mr. Patman's explanation, he would appear that he is uneasy about it himself.

Purvis And A Report

Melvin Purvis, sometime G-Man, who is credited with being responsible for the end of John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson, and other public enemies, came back to Columbia the other day to tell the Legislature of South Carolina that he was ready to accept a job at the head of the State Police which Governor Maybank wants to establish, and to say that he thought the time "propitious" for the establishment of such a police on a purely merit basis.

From this distance, it looks as though the thing ought to be a foregone conclusion. The present State Constabulary is obviously not much shakes. For one thing, it is much too small. And for another, it is a political football. The men get their jobs, not because of fitness but because they know somebody. And throughout its existence, the force has been mainly used for such things as Governor Richard's drive to make life miserable for Sunday golfers or Governor Johnston's pet purposes, rather than for actually coping with crime. On the other hand, Purvis seems the ideal man to get a real police force going on a sound basis.

But for all that South Carolina Senate's committee turned out an "unfavorable" report on the Maybank bill. Far be it from us to take to monkeying with hornet's nests or telling South Carolina how to run her business. But all the same we can't help wondering mildly about that.

The Sign of the Fascist

On the basis of present conditions in the world, a rule might almost be constructed to the effect that wherever you find a country attacking the Catholic Church, you find Communism or a flirtation with it (with the obvious exception of Nazi Germany), and wherever you find a country persecuting the Jew, you find Fascism or flirtation with it. Germany, Italy, Czechoslovakia as it is Nazified, Hungary, Rumania--all these would bear it out.

All of which moves us to observe the mob attack on the Jew in Mexico City, the wrecking of his store after the German fashion and the attempt to lynch him after the Southern fashion, with more than usual attention. Was it spontaneous? Or was it the work of Nazi propagandists and agents provocateurs, working perhaps with the tacit consent of the Cardenas regime? It seems clear that Cardenas is failing with his Communist schemes, and is in danger of falling. And lately he has been rapidly extending his Nazi and Fascist contacts. Is it possible that to hold onto power, he is preparing to shift his ground and pass under the signs of the swastika and the [indiscernible word]? If so, then it is a matter of [indiscernible words] for us.

A Chronic Emergency

To the two questions the Carolina Motor Club is asking--

(1) Do you favor the use of highway funds for any purpose, even in the greatest and most serious emergency, other than for highway purposes?

(2) Do you favor a constitutional amendment which would prevent such diversion?

--we should have to reply, Yes and No. We would favor, that is, the use of highway funds or any other in a real emergency, and we do not favor a constitutional amendment which would prevent their use in that extreme case.

But what the State has done for the last few years, and seems anxious to fix as a policy, is to convert the constant discrepancy between appropriations desired and revenue available into a sort of chronic emergency which justifies diversion of several million dollars in highway funds annually. As for that, there is nothing sacrosanct about the gas tax. To the contrary, it is one of the unholiest sockdolagers ever handed to a chosen class of taxpayers. Talk about your 3 per cent general sales tax! The tax on gasoline approaches 50 per cent!

And in spite of this, the State, upon Governor Hoey's advice, is getting ready to divert highway revenue to the general fund while issuing $5,000,000 in highway bonds for road construction. It is borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, with this added twist: that Peter will be asked to borrow for himself.

Quiz on a Conquest

Q. Who is likely to be the real master of Spain now?

A. Lord Mussolini and his master, Lord Hitler.

Q. What does that mean in the Mediterranean?

A. That the two will now have naval ports along the whole width of both the eastern and western sides of the western Mediterranean. That they will have added to their possessions the island of Majorca, Spanish Morocco, and Rio de Oro. Added to the Italian possession of Sardinia, Sicily, and Pantellaria, that means they will pretty well dominate the whole length of the French Mediterranean coast, and can draw on naval lines as they please across every foot of the pathway of every French ship bound to French Africa and every French or British ship bound to the Eastern Mediterranean or Suez.

Q. Would the possession of Spanish Morocco and Rio de Oro mean even more than that?

A. It would. Taken with the possession of the Spanish mainland, it means that the dictators would probably be able to dominate the Strait of Gibraltar, to render the British possession of the great rock itself largely valueless, and, quite possibly, to shut British ships altogether out of the Mediterranean in case of war. Taken with the Italian possession of Libya on the east, it also means that the French African colonies, Tunisia and Algeria, would now lie neatly enfolded between two Fascist jaws--open to attack from both east and west, as well as from the sea.

Q. What about the result of Spain's fall in the Atlantic?

A. In case of a war with England, German naval ships and submarines would have the use of Western Spanish ports as bases of operation. Also they would probably have the use of the Portuguese ports, and the Portuguese islands, the Mederias and the Azores. These ports and these islands dominate, for a thousand miles, the path that every British ship coming south from the Channel must take, whether bound to the Mediterranean or to the East by way of the Cape of Good Hope. And the Mederias dominate the immediate approach to Gibraltar.

Q. But what has Portugal to do with it?

A. Portugal is England's most ancient ally and England is striving desperately to hold her. But, though she has not yet formally joined the Berlin-Rome Axis, she seems certain to. She is already a Fascist dictatorship, she has actively aided Franco, and her destiny naturally lies with that of Spain.

Q. But even if the British were blocked out of the Mediterranean and even if they did have to run the gauntlet of German cruisers and submarines operating from the Spanish and Portuguese ports, the rest of the way to the Cape of Good Hope and the East would be open?

A. Not at all. South of the Mederias some 250 miles lie Spain's Canary Islands. And south of these again, by a thousand miles lie Portugal's Cape Verdes Islands, situated some 350 miles off the coast of French West Africa. And these bases would enable the Germans (the Italians also if they can manage to get out of the Mediterranean) to operate at least as far south as a line drawn across the great Brazilian hump on South America.

Q. Is there anything involved in the conquest which is of immediate concern to the United States?

A. Possibly. The distance from the Azores to Newfoundland is only 300 miles greater than the distance to Lisbon--easy flying distance. That is more immediately the concern of Britain than of ourselves. But considering the distance from Newfoundland to Boston and New York, it is not to be utterly ignored by us. And what is at least as interesting to us is that the distance from the Cape Verdes to Brazil or Venezuela is only about 1,500 miles--easy flying distance again.


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