The Charlotte News

Monday, January 9, 1939


Site Ed. Note: ...Have you heard they're serving vodka at the W.C.T.U.?

...Be careful when you get there, we'd hate to be bereft, but we're taking down the names of everybody turning Left...

Speaking of which, we offer Hugh Johnson's piece on some stuff which could have occurred in the news of yesterday. Too bad, incidentally, that Edgar didn't disappoint the General after all and quit while he was ahead, having bagged his fair allotment of bootlegging gangsters, instead staying on a mere 33 1/3 years longer. Poor Edgar. Once the Nazis were gone, he had nothing much left to do but go after Reds, grandma and all. (For more on this story, we provide the front page of The News of January 3, 1939, lower left corner, in the Washington Merry-Go-Round column by Drew Pearson and Robert Allen.)

But, just as with the stabilizing force of Communism in Eastern Europe, Edgar, after all, served his purpose, probably. With him gone, no longer there to collect the dirt to the satiety of his pal and fellow Red-bagger, ensconced over at the WH, came that little third-rate burglary a month and a half later, over at D.N.C.--to capture, said its lead third-rater, a list of names from a callgirl ring. La de da.

Get them Terrorists, King Chad-Hanger. Just don't tap us in the Deil's bargain in your campaign against Evil. Also, remember Rule No. 1, when tapping: Tap selectively. For tapping has been known to get good people killed. But, what's a few good people when there is Evil to be vanquished in the world?

Fourth Amendment? We don't need no Fourth Amendment. We don't got to show you no Fourth Amendment.

How prophetic, come to think of it, was this piece by the General.

Boon To Cops And Gossips

By Hugh S. Johnson

Chicago, Ill.--I never come to Chicago that I do not learn some new wrinkle about modern police work. Three of my best friends are on the force: Andy Barry who, if he notched his gun for every dead gangster and gunman, would have more scores than Billy the Kid; Inspector Eddie Daly, in my experience at least, the perfect cop; and John Warren, who is an expert on con-men and the slicker forms of racketeering and can tell more stories about gentle grafters than 0. Henry.

I like to ride around the town in the squad cars after midnight with one or more of these streamlined bulls and race to the various radio alarms that keep coming in constantly.

The march of science has done much more to aid cops than to aid criminals. It is getting difficult to the point of impossibility to be an outlaw, and wholly impossible to be a successful one.


Nobody has done more to make crime unhealthy in this country than the retiring Attorney General, Homer Cummings, and J. Edgar Hoover, whom I regret to learn is thinking about following his friend and chief into private life. They improved the laws and perfected the system that has put interstate crime in the dog house. The installation of Alcatraz as a prison that criminals really dread was no small part of Mr. Cummings' invaluable contribution to crime control.

They are playing with a new device which it seems to me is going to make crime even more difficult. It may make other assaults on privacy which will not be so desirable. It is a tiny radio transmitting set operated from a battery. It projects conversations for short distances--a kind of wireless dictaphone. It works so well over several hundred feet that it is not necessary to tap any telephone wires or rig up any complicated mechanism to learn what is going on behind locked doors.


It is small enough to be packed in a brief case and left in anybody's room or automobile. Listeners with a receiving set in another building or following in another car can hear low-voiced conversations quite easily. The copper who told me about it said: "The only safe place to hold a conversation now is in the middle of a cow lot with no object in sight nearer than 30 feet--and even then, you had better poke the ground with a stick to see that there isn't one of those things hidden under the grass."

I don't know what the law, which tends to discourage wire-tapping as an unreasonable search and seizure forbidden by the Federal Constitution, is going to say about this new addition to the art of crime control. I doubt if it can say anything. People who are neglectful of this device will be in the same class as people who talk too loud when they have anything to conceal.

Outside of crime and police circles the possibilities of this gadget are appalling--love-makers, gossipers and all people who knock others behind their backs will never feel quite secure unless they confine their activities to tennis courts. No business man can permit a caller accidentally to leave his brief case in a chair. Even deliberations of the Supreme Court might have to be conducted in a vacuum. The Washington keyhole and gossip columns may at last become infallible.

To No Decision

Tell Mrs. W. B. Lindsay, the W. C. T. U. lady, that the federal revenooers raided the 1,127 stills in North Carolina last year and poured out 41,868 gallons of white, non-tax-paid liquor, and she would probably exclaim, "And repeal was going to put the moonshiners out of business! Hah!" To which we would have to reply, politely but nonetheless pointedly, "And Prohibition, 30 years ago, was going to banish whisky from the state! Hah!"

As a matter of cold fact, Mrs. Lindsay and we would have to correlate the statistic of stills seized and liquor poured out before either of us would know what we were talking about. Permit us, then, to make a few comparisons. "Look! They're cleaning 'em out in the wet counties."

But this is getting the argument nowhere. Let us try another perspective. The 41,868 gallons as seized by the Federals in all of North Carolina are about eight times the 35,000 pints "Robert Taylor" ordered from one distillery, assumably as one month's supply for thirsty Mecklenburg. Hence, it might be said that all the liquor confiscated by the Federals in North Carolina for a whole year was far less than a year's ration for Mecklenburg alone, one county out of a hundred. But, shucks, that doesn't prove anything either.

A Whale of a Difference

Lo, with but a little paragraph, Howard Brubaker of the New Yorker has taken the wind out of New Dealing Chairman Eccles of the Federal Reserve Board and left him completely deflated.

The attentive reader will recall the argument between Senator Byrd and Mr. Eccles over Federal fiscal policies. Senator Byrd started it by bewailing the spending of "all that money," a vice he attributed to the "crackpot" theories of Marriner Stoddard Eccles. Mr. Eccles came back with some "pertinent facts," one of which was that the total debt of the country, public and private, is no greater today than it was in the shoot-the-works era of 1929. Patiently he explained to Senator Byrd and any others who might be listening that all the Government is doing is borrowing and using "otherwise idle funds of individuals and corporations."

To this Senator Byrd had no comeback. He sensed, perhaps, that there was something wrong with Mr. Eccles' reasoning, but he couldn't think what it was.

Not so Mr. Brubaker. Casting about for the humorous slant, he found a gaping hole in Mr. Eccles' supreme assurance and forthwith pointed it up into an ironic comment:

"Mr. Eccles brings us the cheerful news that we are no deeper in debt now than we were in 1929. The only difference is that the money is now owed by Uncle Sam instead of a lot of total strangers."

To be sure! It's our money Mr. Roosevelt is spending, squarely against the will of most of us. And this is to be said about the excesses of 1929: there was no compulsion about them.

Along Comes Bill

Harold Ickes must by now be bewailing the loyalty that caused him to turn down an invitation to run for mayor of Chicago and remain in the Cabinet. For if there is anything at which Mr. Ickes excels, it is excoriation, and if there is anybody in this country who would make an easier target for Mr. Ickes' verbal shafts than Big Bill Thompson, again a candidate for mayor of Chicago, we don't know, with Huey Long gone, who it could be.

Bill's back. Bill with his noisy bad manners and his worse friends. Bill with his sole-leather callousness to corruption. Bill with a record of graft and inertia in his administrations that defies belief. Bill with the stigma of a court verdict requiring him to write a check for $72,794.79 covering a little matter of an adjustment with the Red Cross for relief funds collected way back in 1927.

Bill, in fine, who exemplifies one of the principal things wrong with America--public indifference to the character of a politician so long as he is entertaining and colorful and open-handed. And though the chances are that Bill, lacking organized support, won't get the Republican nomination, his candidacy would expose them at least to the oblique attention of Mr. Ickes if that bellicose individual were only running. Alas, Mr. Ickes must be biting his nails with frustration.

Site Ed. Note: The editorial speaks of Governor Olson of California. For another editorial on the topic, see "Freedom for Mooney", November 10, 1938.

While you will likely recognize the other references, maybe not Edith Maxwell, a young Virginia school teacher who in 1935 allegedly killed her allegedly abusive alcoholic redneck daddy in the small town of Pound after he got upset over her being out late with a male companion. The "painted woman" was convicted on circumstantial evidence by an all-male jury for first degree murder and sentenced to 25 years in prison. The story got so much play that eventually Eleanor Roosevelt came to the defense of the lady and she was finally pardoned by the Governor in late 1941.

Cheers and Regrets

We feel at once a little bereft and relieved now that Governor Olson has pardoned old Tom Mooney. Relieved that a question mark has been taken off American justice. Whether he was guilty or not guilty will perhaps never be settled to the complete satisfaction of everybody concerned, but the dictaphone testimony suggested pretty pointedly that he had been framed by the district attorney, a man of exceedingly dubious vintage, and the recantation of several other witnesses suggested the same thing. And so Governor Olson was probably justified in letting him go free at last.

But even more relieved, if anything, that now we won't have his unhandsome mug and his heroic utterances forever appearing at as from the front pages. The man had become as tiresome as an outmoded matinee idol. If he didn't get justice in his trial, he certainly had cause for complaint. But among other things he was plainly a born actor and a hog for publicity, and often gave us the uncomfortable feeling that his ego had been enormously expanded by his role as a martyr and that he thoroughly enjoyed the fix he was in. He's probably going to vanish from the news now, and it may be that he'll be less happy that way than he was in jail.

But what bereaves us is the thought that now, for the nonce at least, the whole lot of the causes celebre are gone. Sacco-Vanzetti, Scottsboro, Edith Maxwell, and now old Tom. What on earth are editorial writers going to do for a theme? And how on earth are the Leftist magazines going to keep on printing? Ah, we have it--there are still lynchings in the South and Hague in New Jersey.

Site Ed. Note: Another feather in the cap of Traveling Cap'n Alien-baiting Bob, the Man on the Horse--who later provided valuable French shipping data to his alien pal over yonder, at the Abwehr.

By the way, we think Cash meant, instead, "Calcaneum"--we think. May be that debil again though.

Letting Robert Down

Alas and alack for North Carolina's most celebrated authority on foreign affairs, the Hon. Robert Rice Reynolds, the Man with the Itching Calacaneus. And for a great many other great authorities besides, including A. Hitler, B. Mussolini, and a whole horde of Americans who have traveled with Mr. Cook and read books.

The other day Robert came sailing home, after having dined and wined with the understrappers of Messrs. Hitler, Mussolini & Co., to put the seal of approval on their assertion that the reason they have to hog the property of others is that they have too many people at home to be fed from the land they have--and especially Italy. Which seemed to settle that, until--

Until yesterday Lord Mussolini let Robert and all the other authorities, including himself, down flat by launching a movement to get as many of the 10,000,000 Italians living abroad--mainly in the United States--to return home. And not to go to live among the woeful tsetse flies, mud, malaria bugs, barren crags, and spear-pushing barbarians of Ethiopia, either. The Italians are a canny people, and wouldn't go; even those at home won't go now. And so Benito promised specifically that those who come back will be settled in the homeland.

And where, we'd like to know, does that leave the "population pressure" explanation for the dictators?

And is that any way for Benito to treat his friends?

And hadn't Robert better hurry up with his bill to deport aliens?


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