The Charlotte News

Friday, October 21, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Regarding "After You, Alphonse!" up the level of the election a bit from that of a mere party nomination for a House seat, change the names of the principals, drop down on the map a little further south, and voila! It's 62 years plus 18 days later, and counting.

"Not His Game" is the first time the editorial page made mention of the role of the Ambassador to Great Britain, Joseph P. Kennedy, re Munich. Cash does not attempt to lay any blame on the Ambassador but rather suggests he was out of his element in dealing with the likes of Nazis. Mr. Kennedy had been involved in banking, shipbuilding, (the latter when FDR was Assistant Secretary of the Navy under Secretary Josephus Daniels during the Wilson years), and film production before coming into government service in 1934 as Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In 1936, he was made head of the Maritime Commission, and was appointed as Ambassador in late 1937. Having thus been Ambassador for only a few months when the Pact was signed on September 29, 1938, it is a gross stretch of history which is often made, gaining greater currency with the 1960 campaign for the presidency than in any great storm of controversy of the time of Munich and its immediate aftermath, to lay blame for Munich at the door of Ambassador Kennedy. It suggests a role for ambassadors which has never in the history of the country been enjoyed, a sort of quasi-secretary of state. Never is voiced any of the same sort of carping over the roles of Ambassador Bullitt to France or Hugh Wilson, Ambassador to Germany, or, for that matter, that of Anthony Biddle, (who married the Duke fortune), Ambassador to Poland at the time of the Danzig-Corridor crisis which immediately led to the war.

For the time, the Ambassador to Great Britain did occupy a central role in diplomatic affairs in Europe obviously, amplified by the facts that trans-oceanic travel was cumbersome and limited, and the virtual absence, save in the Office of Naval Intelligence and a small portion of the F.B.I, of any official foreign intelligence gathering agency at the time, thus according the diplomatic corps the role of eyes and ears abroad for Washington. Nevertheless, to raise the position to the level of policy-maker and inventor of Munich, or even of a kind of independent facilitator thereof, is to stretch--primarily to fit the wick of subsequent history's political machinators--the facts beyond all bounds of reason and actual history of the day.

The architects of Munich were primarily Chamberlain, Hitler, Daladier and Mussolini, Hitler driving the horsemen. Whether even Roosevelt himself could have done much to change the inertia of the time, with the principals who would bear the primary loss and responsibility in fighting an ensuing war having reached, however unsatisfactory, an agreement over the Sudeten question, is doubtful. Indeed, had FDR thought he could have been so effective, he certainly could have made the journey himself or sent Cordell Hull. Thus, to lay any blame for Munich on an American Ambassador borders on the idiotic. Kennedy could do little but play peacemaker in his role, acquiescing to the official desires of the Chamberlain Government, then attempting to preserve the status quo to the extent possible, obviously receiving instruction in that regard from the Administration itself. The same would be true of Bullitt and Wilson, of course.

Indeed, playing more Cassandra than any excessive optimist over the product of Munich, in 1939, Kennedy predicted repeatedly that war with Germany would come before the end of that year.

For other News editorials on Joseph Kennedy, see, "Ships Without Men", March 6, 1938, "Job Open", November 22, 1940, "In Order", December 2, 1940, "In the Open", December 10, 1940, (and the editorials cited in its accompanying note). "In Order" is the only editorial which mildly criticizes Kennedy as ill-fitted to the position, upon his being called home from the post. The bad press for Kennedy was more attendant his appeals for appeasement with Germany which came after he returned to the U.S. in December, 1940, as indicated in "In the Open". Even that, however, became moderated or, more likely, clarified by January, 1941 when he testified before Congress, indicating his belief that the chance for a "decent negotiated peace" with Germany was unlikely. (See "The Star Witness", January 24, 1941)

We re-print below a piece from Time, September 18, 1939, summarizing Ambassador Kennedy's career to that point, as well as the immediately following piece from the same issue on the young John F. Kennedy, in his first appearance ever in the national press, being dispatched by his father to Glasgow to meet with the survivors of the Athenia, sunk September 3, the first act of the War which involved Americans. (See "Lusitania" and "Our Neutrality", September 4, 1939, "The War", September 5, 1939, "The Lie Front", September 9, 1939, "Beau Geste", September 11, 1939, (contrasting the Athenia sinking with the more chivalrous scuttling of the Olivegrove, only after removal of its passengers, as referenced in the Time piece also), "A Stretcher", October 6, 1939, "Wanted: Proof", October 18, 1939, (ironically, Oswald's birth date), "Gullible Bob", October 26, 1939, "Strange Cries", February 19, 1940, and "Warning", May 27, 1940.)

To enlarge, download plug-in here:

Footnote: The Orizaba, mentioned in the article above as a ship bound to bring the passengers of the Athenia home, was the same ship from which poet Hart Crane, coming home in 1932 from his year in Mexico on a Guggenheim Fellowship, leaped to his death. And, so, since, as someone once said, poetry cleanses...

Voyages II

By Hart Crane

--And yet this great wink of eternity,
Of rimless floods, unfettered leewardings,
Samite sheeted and processioned where
Her undinal vast belly moonward bends,
Laughing the wrapt inflections of our love;

Take this Sea, whose diapason knells
On scrolls of silver snowy sentences,
The sceptred terror of whose sessions rends
As her demeanors motion well or ill,
All but the pieties of lovers' hands.

And onward, as bells off San Salvador
Salute the crocus lustres of the stars,
In these poinsettia meadows of her tides,--
Adagios of islands, O my Prodigal,
Complete the dark confessions her veins spell.

Mark how her turning shoulders wind the hours,
And hasten while her penniless rich palms
Pass superscription of bent foam and wave,--
Hasten, while they are true,--sleep, death, desire,
Close round one instant in one floating flower.

Bind us in time, O Seasons clear, and awe.
O minstrel galleons of Carib fire,
Bequeath us to no earthly shore until
Is answered in the vortex of our grave
The seal's wide spindrift gaze toward paradise.

Can't Pay $11

In Charleston a couple of bagging plants employing 400 and 45 persons have shut down. Reason given, in part in one case and solely in the other, is the wage-hour law, which goes into operation Monday. The proprietors of the two companies say they simply can't pay bagging workers a minimum of 25 cents an hour for 44 hours a week.

Well, maybe they can't. We don't know enough about the bagging business to have any ideas either way. But $11 a week with no perquisites on the side is not by any stretch of the imagination an excessive wage in manufacturing. It's better than no wage at all, of course, which is what the workers will be getting with the plants closed down, and it may be that the wage-hour law will bring a series of such suspensions.

We hope not, for that would defeat its purpose. But if it should turn out that way, why, it would show conclusively that wages are lower and hours longer than anybody suspected, and that the vaunted American standard of living actually needed reinforcement by statute.

'...But, Warren, please remember how it is:
He' come to help you ditch the meadow.
He has a plan, You mustn't laugh at him.
He may not speak of it, and then he may.
I'll sit and see if that small sailing cloud
Will hit or miss the moon.'
It hit the moon.
Then there were three there, making a dim row,
The moon, the little silver cloud, and she.
Warren returned-- too soon, it seemed to her,
Slipped to her side, caught up her hand and waited.
'Warren?' she questioned.
'Dead,' was all he answered.

--from "The Death of the Hired Man", Robert Frost

The Reasonable Doubt

In the AP report on the Supreme Court findings yesterday occurred the following passage:

Ted Terrell, of Warren County, lost his appeal and must serve 25 to 30 years imposed when he was convicted of second-degree murder in the slaying of Andrew Knight.

The Justices divided their votes three to three in the case, which, under State law, results in the Court's upholding the judgment of the Superior Court.

If that's the law, it is just another proof that the law is sometimes an ass, and that it cries to be changed. About the facts in this case we know nothing at all. Apparently the jury in lower court agreed unanimously that the man was guilty as charged, for the law requires that such juries must agree unanimously for a verdict to be rendered. But it is also one of the oldest of maxims in the English law that a man must be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. And certainly, when half the Supreme Court (made up, in the nature of the case, of men far abler to decide the questions of fact and law involved than the men who make up any petty jury) are not convinced that he has been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt--then, he hasn't been, that's all.

Site Ed. Note: The North Carolina Supreme Court, as with most state supreme courts, consists of seven members. Whether in the instant case there was a temporary vacancy on the court or whether one member had recused himself for some reason from participating, we don't know. As with the United States Supreme Court, a tie in voting renders the decision a nullity, leaving the lower court ruling on review intact. While we are not familiar with the facts of the particular case in issue, it is typically the case that the scope of the review on appeal is limited to assessing legal errors by the lower court, such as erroneous instructions, admission of inadmissible and prejudicial evidence, or issues of prosecutorial misconduct or inadequate counsel, juror misconduct or improper selection thereof, rather than per se re-assessing the evidence of guilt or innocence, the latter typically reserved for either assessing the degree of effect a particular error, once found, might have had on the end verdict or instances where there is simply no proper evidence to support a required element of the underlying offense, requiring reversal. (But see also Jackson v. Virginia, 443 US 307 (1979), where the Court established the standard for review by appellate judges on claims raised by a defendant of insufficiency of the evidence to support conviction by the trier of fact of a particular crime, or in that case not the crime itself, but the degree of it under the law, to support criminal conviction, pursuant to Due Process, as "after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, [according thereby, in shifting burden of proof on appeal, due deference to the discretion of the trier of fact] any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." [Emphasis added.])

Thus, Cash probably points out a bitter irony in fact as a 3-3 split over whether there was an error of the magnitude warranting reversal suggests a sufficiently close case that it cried out for decision by the highest court of the state one way or the other, especially with 25 to 30 years hanging in the balance for the defendant.

Not His Game

The Washington Merry-Go-Round, which by and large doesn't particularly care for career diplomats, neglected to mention it. But it chalked up a clear victory in its report yesterday that Joseph P. Kennedy, Ambassador to the Court of St. James, kept telegraphing the State Department during the Czechoslovakian crisis that Britain meant business--the while William Christian Bullitt, Ambassador to Paris, held steadfastly to the assertion that Britain and France had no notion of doing anything but selling Czechoslovakia out.

Mr. Kennedy is an able and hard-headed man. And he has a great deal of experience in taking the measure of horse-traders and outwitting them at their own game. But, those horse-traders were, after all, the relatively innocent horse-traders of American business. And the horse-traders Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Bullitt were dealing with in this game were the champion horse-traders of the earth and, no doubt, the starry universe into the bargain--men trained to control over their words, their emotions, and their [indiscernible words] which makes any of Mr. Kennedy's old Wall Street opponents, or even an old-fashioned Mississippi River gambler look like the Ritz brothers playing Nervous Nellie. But Mr. Bullitt has been around the State Department since 1917, and most of those years he has been in Europe learning to read the faces of just these diplomatic horse-traders. And so the able and hard-headed Mr. Kennedy was taken in, and the able and hard-headed Mr. Bullitt wasn't.

Poor Joe. It is hardly fair to put a man down to play stud poker who knows only setback.

After You, Alphonse!

MR. DEANE: I'm elected.

MR. BURGIN: T'aint so. I want a recount.


MR. DEANE: T'aint so. I want a recount by the State Board.

STATE BOARD: By our count, Mr. Deane wins.

ORIGINAL DAVIDSON BOARD: We won't play that way. Our count or nothing.

STATE BOARD: You'll do what we say, or we'll get a new Davidson Board. Mr. Deane wins, and that is that.

MR. BURGIN: You can't do that to me. I'll appeal to the courts.

JUDGE W. C. HARRIS: Mr. Burgin wins, and the Davidson Board's count is the only legal one.

MR. DEANE: You can't do that to me. I'll appeal to the Supreme Court.

SUPREME COURT: The State Election Board has the right to review the findings of county boards. But as to whether Mr. Burgin or Mr. Deane wins--let Judge Harris answer that one.

JUDGE HARRIS: Well, now, and well--.

MESSRS. BURGIN AND DEANE: We'll get the Supreme Court to decide.

SUPREME COURT: We laid down the law. Let Judge Harris decide it.

All of which leaves us betting that a lot of people--important people in the Democratic Party--would just love it if Mr. Burgin and Mr. Deane climbed in a balloon and just kept on going into outer space, so nobody ever would have to make this decision.

Who's Who In Japan

The cheek of those Japs! How they manage to keep a straight face and their urbanity while committing the most outrageous audacities, is beyond an Occidental's comprehension.

Their intentions toward China are, of course, perfectly honorable. Their armed forces are engaged at the moment, and have been for more than a year now, only in saving China from the Red menace. That this entails the overrunning of the land, major battles with the whole of China's military strength, the bombing of cities and the killing of thousands of non-combatants is truly regrettable. So sorry. But China has got to be made safe for--well, for China, they insist.

In what looks to be slightly premature anticipation of that accomplishment, the cheeky little devils have issued a Who's Who In Japan. A Tokyo publishing house has solicited our order for the volume, sending along a sample page of biographies. And there on that page with Japanese insurance tycoons, ministers and generals is--

WANG Keh-min: born 1873. Hanchow, China. Career: director Chinese Students in Japan, counselor Chinese Legation in Japan; member Northern Delegation to Shanghai Peace Conference, 1918 etc., etc., now chairman of Administrative Committee and Minister Dept. of Administration Provisional Govt. of China.

The nerve of it, to put this stooge Chinese official of China's stooge Provisional Government in Japan's Who's Who! It would serve him right if, as a condition of his eminence, they made him buy a dozen copies.

Preaching And Practice*

Senator Guffey says he didn't authorize his signature to that letter soliciting Democratic campaign contributions which went out to 270,000 WPA workers in Pennsylvania, and the Senate Campaign Expenditures Committee says it can't find any evidence that he did. All the same, the committee holds that whoever uses the name of a Federal employee in soliciting other Federal employees has broken the Civil Service law against that very practice.

So far, so good. But what the Senators are going to do about it they have neglected to say. The trail leads unmistakably to Pennsylvania's State Democratic Committee, and the last thing the Administration wants in that doubtful state is further embarrassment for the embattled Democrats there, already under fire for various high crimes and misdemeanors.

And if nothing is done, it will not be the first time that the High Idealism extolled by the New Deal has compromised with political expediency. Indeed, it is noteworthy that the indictment of 62 persons in New Mexico for a variety of crimes against WPA came about solely because of the initiative of a Federal district judge. It was common rumor, he told the grand jury, that grafting had been going on for some time. Apparently the report had not reached either Messer Harry Hopkins or the Department of Justice.

Site Ed. Note: Time fades the Southern Cross...all along the Lee Shore...


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