The Charlotte News

Wednesday, December 7, 1938


Site Ed. Note: "No Ulterior Motives" would find its fulfillment three years hence to this day. A couple of day's earlier Hugh Johnson in his column had spoken presciently of the new pitfalls to military preparedness brought on by the airplane. Of course, just why it was that preparedness that Sunday was at a mental standstill might also explain some of the stranger happenings with the Lincoln assassination, the man assigned to guard the President's box being in the tavern below after the intermission of the play, allowing the drunkard to lift the latch and posthaste blow the eagle's wing to its destiny, why agent Hosty was called off of Oswald, and hence the building with several open windows, count them, that day in Dallas, and why reportedly several of the Secret Service detail assigned to the President were carousing the night before the motorcade after a nighttime motorcade through Fort Worth for some odd reason, why airport security at Boston Logan did not find, or if so, did not find any problem with the fact of them, box cutters in possession of several men boarding two planes that morning. Perhaps the answer to these lapses, beyond the obvious human frailty in all that one never expects the outrageous but for a short time after the outrageous has occurred, is that snakes are adept at adopting a low profile, at paralyzing, and hypnotizing their prey, shining them up a tree, after the phrase, at moving noiselessly, until they strike with sudden and terrible venom. A higher sensitivity than that afforded by mere guns is required therefore to combat them. A sober sensitivity. A sensitivity which understands a snake but does not embrace it as a companion. More training of such personnel charged with our security by association with herpetologists in fact and less at the gun range might be a worthy.

For, as brought to mind not only by the day's events of 2005 on December 7, as well as that in 1941, but also the events chronicled below in "Roadside Searches"--though disparate in time and place, as well the particular complexity and evolution of those events, nevertheless of a piece we venture both sociologically and psychologically--, it is to be remedied, we venture, in a place such as we have which occupies a position which is not only for the benefit of our own but one by virtue of exemplary status which we hold as a responsibility to the rest of the planet, by otherwise than the employment of reckless, feckless means under the ægis "Homeland Security" such that, without apparent sensitivity of discernment between emergent circumstances and that which is trivial and remediable, thus questionably prepared for true emergencies and likely to ignore them, just as at Ford's, at Pearl, in Dallas, at Boston Logan. In other words, to shoot to kill an obviously harmless, crazed individual on an airport tarmac is a matter set in motion by an absurdly robotic and dangerous atmosphere now afoot in this land, a ridiculous disgrace to this democracy.

There are stun guns; there is even the device used even so far back as the old West of shooting the fellow in the leg or arm or hand. Surely, we must even have, to suffuse the stun gun's capabilities, dart-capable guns which would, rather than curare, tip themselves with an immobilizing drug of some sort. Surely there was a way to stop one individual running around a tarmac in some way than by lethal violence.

So shame on all of us for responding to nineteen terrorists as if the whole world were after us.

Meanwhile, we were thinking about this today, after we looked at a used car ad from November 25, 1963 which said in big print, "Look".

And so we did. And it had a 1962 Thunderbird for sale, cleanest in eight months, it said, $2995. Then there was a 1962 Buick Electra which caught our attention. "Power everything including electric windows, power seat, autronic eye, factory air. Solid white. Truly a fine car in every respect. $2995."

Well, it may seem silly, trivial, a sort of dolce far niente in reverse maybe, to spend part of one's day thinking about that, but we did. For what caught our eye most of all there in the ads was that mention of the "autronic eye". What were they? Since they haven't been manufactured in four decades, we had almost forgotten ourselves. The story is that in 1952, General Motors started mounting on the dashboard of some of its Cadillac models this little bullet-shaped device which, we found out as a little tyke upon inquiry after seeing this strange thing on someone else's dash, had to do with dimming headlights automatically upon sensing the intense parabolic reflected beam of an automobile headlamp, or even a reflection of it off reflecting signs, which came later. So we thought about that some.

On July 7, 1865, a little less than three months after the assassination of the President, five days following Appomattox, (we know recently we said the 12th--but nevertheless, like "411", adding Koppers as the Keystone, is significant), the four co-conspirators left alive after the shooting of Booth April 26 at a tobacco farm in Port Royal, Virginia--the same day Johnston finally surrendered to reality in North Carolina, next to the tract of land which old Buck Duke at age 36 would use 27 years later to lure Trinity College from Randolph County and its Methodist foundations to a more secular version of that institution in Durham, home to Buck's American Tobacco Company, founded, like old Richard J. Reynolds's in Winston-Salem, out of the poverty of post Civil War days, Buck having been named for James Buchanan--convicted at military tribunal on June 30 at Ft. McNair, were hanged in hoods.

And on December 24, 1865, in Pulaski, Tennessee, a few days after the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing involuntary servitude, the Ku Ku's formed themselves, a shadow government of a sort meant from its pointy formation as a sort of college prankster society, dirty tricks outfit as it were, to win by cheat and stealth what they could not win in battle on the field. And they wore hoods. Born ultimately of a failure to accept reality, a reality with which they had made irrevocable compact in fact as soon as they were admitted to the Union, as with all of the states, the key difference between the United States and that which had manifested itself in centuries of internecine conflict through Europe since the days of the Greeks and Romans. But some of those college boys in Pulaski apparently were too unponied to understand all of that, too much interested in night riding fantasies to be much concerned with their classical studies, just as Nathan Bedford Forrest, their great champion from the great battlefields.

Anyway, this autronic eye of which we were contemplating, if manipulated a bit, could be used for other applications than merely dimming headlamps, we posit. It could be applied in reverse, so to speak, for instance, to fire a trigger mechanism, as it is at base only a switch responding to light, robotically, a trigger positioned virtually anywhere, even in a tree, a trigger thus unmanned, responding to a radio frequency stirred by an autronic switch.

Hence motions of hands across the way, just after three claps, just like the hangman who gave the signal for the hanging of the hooded co-conspirators at Ft. McNair in 1865 after Booth, born in Bel Air, Md., died there in the tobacco barn at Port Royal. A co-ordination of light and sound to confuse. A light source only, such as a beam of light as emitted from a train engine's single and powerful headlamp, perhaps, or that of simply a headlamp from a car, disembodied from the socket, or a powerful flashlight even, a trainman's lantern, maybe the sun itself, though that would have left matters to roulette to achieve a cloudless day, perhaps leaving it then to Zeus and Thor to countenance or cancel the matter?

Starting at frame 308, for instance, there is a flash of light off of the windshield moulding, which continues and intensifies just at criticality, frame 313. But that was as caught on film by ________, standing immediately, and perfectly opposite the critical moment, to the right. If instead, however, the angle of light refraction were changed slightly by different positions of perspective, a constant emission of light for just a second, but lasting several frames of movement, about 18.3 per second, of the film, then from the perspective of one well-positioned camera, the intensification of the light ray would only appear for an instant at any given point, as the limousine moved across the flat, perpindicular to the viewer's plane of vision. That instant would be slightly different to a viewer, or an autronic eye, positioned in a different place with respect to the movement of the limousine from that caught by the shutter-gate of the moving picture camera. An autronic eye of course could be positioned anywhere, in a tree to the right of the cameraman, or behind that tree, anywhere within sufficient range to pick up the reflection of light and flip the switch to set off the explosion as an attempt to end the New Deal, all determinable in advance of course. Just as Einstein taught in his theory of relativity, though this application of it, if that is what it was, would be about as cracked as it gets, as whacky as Hitler's application of it, or attempt at it, inspiring then the Manhattan Project which led to many things, just as this putative use or not led to many things such as the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, for instance, quite to the consternation of those forces who might embrace old Cadillac technology plotted against Lincoln.

Thus, 313, or as based on speed of travel of a bullet, 311, could occur just as that light appears, to the camera anyway, to focus most intensely on the right corner of the windshield moulding at 314, apparently backwards, but rendered so only by camera perspective versus autronic perspective, a height and position calculatable in advance, calculated from each of the three lane positions on the street perhaps, with center being most likely, adding the distance back from the moulding for the middle section of the automobile added specially?

All set up in advance with a transit as to the site itself?


But to what end would such an hypothesized apparatus? First, unholy aims are insured, without reliance on human fallibility. Second, and rather stupidly, if so, to attempt to assuage guilt, or even run exitiable to the ends of law, by attempting, futilely, to separate act and mind. No living actor. Just a machine made from a few simple parts. Act and planning waged separately. (And judging by recent press reports, Texas law still does not think much of the concept of conspiracy, that being that two or more persons agree to do an illegal act and then some overt act is made toward accomplishment of it, well ingrained in the common law of the several states, including Texas, Irving, for some long period of time. We are sure Texas justice does recognize that, provided of course the surname of the co-conspirator cannot be slurred in a delayed tongue but rather sounds more Yanque.) But, since the machine would have been set in play by the actors, as co-conspirators under the law, even if the trigger they did not pull, just as the clapper at the hanging set in motion the tipping of the lodgepoles from underneath the trap doors as the noose tightened on the four other co-conspirators at Ft. McNair in 1865, so too does the law clap to on the agreement, tacit or otherwise, judged by the result of the untoward action.

If a method built from simple understanding of simple theory that any simpleton who read Popular Mechanics or Popular Science could have arranged, one might ask then what happened to the trigger, whether in a tree or elsewhere, if that was the way of it. Small, camouflaged, becoming as part of the tree or other object-situate, then it could have conceivably remained for days, even months, ex silentio. Or could have been in the back of a vehicle behind the fence, light aimed through the spaces in the pickets, likewise the trigger, as from a hole in a trunk, hard to detect, as seen moire recently. And adding in 411 as a factor, then it becomes unproblematic, as disposal by means of the inside always was, always is still--by the inside, the 411 factor, just as in Philadelphia, Miss. in June, 1964, for instance.

There is only one other unpredictable part, that is positioning of the trigger versus target, with movement of the target in play. We shan't. For we need not try to explain everything for fear of repetition somewhere later, the gist of possibilities being enough for the watchers to observe more effectively in future.

It's just a theory which came to us today, as we read that ad of November 25, 1963, which said, "Look". Nothing more.

Yet, a reminder that we'd better, the brighter, the more optimistic, the sunnier the day, the more apt to be a problem in the making. There are those who despise sunshine and brightness.

And if anyone, badged or not, stops you and, without any apparent reason wants to search your vehicle, politely decline and make them obtain their warrant or set you on your way. For they have no right to do it, just as the editorial below indicates, without plain view observation of evidence of a crime leading to further search, or the possession of a warrant. If, without either, they insist, then the evidence ought be suppressed in court anyway. Tell them you know that by studying the Edsel. Which, come to think of it, may have had one of those autronic devices, too.

And below that ad, another for the local Ford dealership stated only and poignantly, in otherwise blank space, "Closed Monday".

Incidentally, there is more on Jim Massey here and here, for what it's worth.

No Ulterior Motives

If the President sticks to his statement at yesterday's press conference, and can persuade Congress to stick with him, the country will have avoided a highly dangerous pitfall. He declared that his armament program, which is going to be huge according to all expectations, would be submitted on its needs, entirely apart from pump-priming, stimulation of capital-goods industries and re-employment. National defense, he said with emphasis, is national defense and nothing else.

In the minds of a great many people, it had begun to take form as something else. Business had begun to look upon it greedily as a source of lucrative orders which, patriotically, would have kept plants running day and night. And labor anticipated the return to war-time wages. The jingoists were entertaining notions of empiracy resurgent, and the pacifists smelled a fell design upon our neighbors of the Western Hemisphere.

But if national defense turns out to be national defense and nothing else, why, the return of the country to a normal, rational existence will be by so much less delayed.

Roadside Searches

Just as we were about to protest the cops' stopping of automobiles headed this way from Fort Mill and Rock Hill, which to the mitiate is enough said, they caught Jim Massey's car with two Negroes and a case of whisky aboard. This sort of justifies the whole enterprise, for Massey, whose car it was, is known as King of Charlotte's Harlem.

But what about those people whom the cops have stopped and found to be wholly within the law in the quantity of liquor they had brought back from South Carolina or without any liquor at all? You your very own self, we'll say, have been down with the wife and kids to see Aunt Bessie at her place in the country beyond the Catawba. You all are returning after a pleasant visit, full of nothing but country sausage and pickled peaches, when the blue coat waves you down, orders you to the side of the road, runs his eye around the interior of your car and wants to know what's in that basket on the back seat.

What if it isn't preserves? What if it's four quarts of liquor? You still have broken no law nor in any way behaved as a suspicious character. By what right, then, do the cops flag you down and subject you to the ignominious procedure of examination and search?

If the question isn't rhetorical, and you really want to know, we'll tell you. They haven't any right at all to do so without a search warrant unless they have good and specific reason to believe that you are hauling more liquor than the law allows. In theory, that is. In practice, they do that because they can get away with it and because prohibition is such a sacrosanct end that enforcement of it justifies almost any means.

Opportunity for Bachelors

There are possibilities in the suggestion made yesterday by Madame Scheu-Riesz, who spoke here before the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Madame Scheu-Riesz, who used to live in Vienna, is at Chapel Hill now, preparing to become a citizen of this country. She's an author and educator, and what's more, she's a woman of good common sense. We are indebted to Mr. Hitler.

Her suggestion is that, showing the tolerance of peace-lovers, we choose from Austria that part of her culture which might be preserved in this country and "take it to our hearts."

Now the Austrians--Catholics, Protestants and Jews--are a lovable people, hard-working, gentle and democratic. Our State, she says, is much like theirs, and their people very much like ourselves. The Austrians have a culture dating back many centuries, and in their small country, where hard necessity has forced intensive cultivation and careful economy, there are men who have a high regard for the land.

Our own cultural life, in spite of its progress, still leaves something to be desired. And our agrarian population might well be augmented by a group who like to dig with their own hands, tend their own animals, build their own homes. North Carolina is not, like Austria, known far and wide for the patchwork colorfulness of well cultivated fields.

We don't know much about the practical aspects of it, but it might bear looking into. Sounds like a good trade. And some of the Austrian women, we might add, are exceedingly good-looking.

Franco Looks West

The Associated Press quotes General Franco, the official stooge of Italy and Germany and Spain, as saying that "the New Spain would adopt an aggressive policy." And as going on:

"Our dreams of universality would disappear if we were not to project abroad the true meaning of the new Spain. In return for the blood which has been shed, the life of our nation must be fruitful. Spaniards who live abroad will no longer be abandoned like outcasts. A sentiment of national solidarity will give them help and protection. Henceforth, no one will be indifferent to the sorrows of their brothers, however far away they may be."

That has, you will observe, a most familiar ring. It is exactly the doctrine of the Nazis that any German anywhere on earth is always a German, regardless of whatever citizenship he may have assumed, and that it is the business of the Reich to "protect" him whether he wishes it or not. And it is exactly the doctrine of Mussolini, that all Italians everywhere are part of his Empire.

Add that to the fact that there are few native Spaniards living abroad, but many millions of people who used to be Spaniards--who were Spaniards right on down until Napoleonic times--and that they are planted precisely in South America and Central America. Add all that up and you begin to arrive at something. The Congress of Verona in 1823 proposed to bring all the Spaniards back under the rule of Spain, and was stopped only when President Monroe promulgated his famous Doctrine. Washington has been reported of late to be worried lest the Germans and Italians were preparing to revive that scheme, and use Spain as a base for extending Fascism throughout South and Central America.

Franco's speech seems to be an open admission that he would lend himself readily to such a plan.

A Minister Offside

For tops in bad taste and something more we herewith nominate the Rev. Howard Stone Anderson, pastor of the First Congregational Church of Washington. The gentleman is the same who yesterday lamented that in Son Jimmy Roosevelt's income tax returns he was unable to find any contribution to churches among the infinitesimal charities Son Jimmy had listed.

Son Jimmy says that, in fact, he had contributed to churches but simply hadn't put the contributions down. But what if he hadn't? This is supposed to be a free country in which every man is at liberty to follow the dictates of his own conscience--about contributing to churches, as well as belonging to them among other things. You may believe that it is the moral duty of all men to contribute to churches, but that is only what you believe, and you have no right at all to attempt to force that belief on other men. Nor does the fact that a man happens to be the son of the President of the United States deprive him of the privilege of giving as he pleases or doesn't please.

Like Son Jimmy or dislike him--and he is not one of our favorites--he must be conceded equal rights with the lowliest and most obscure of private citizens. One right fundamental to decency and fair play is the disposal of his own money in whatever way he chooses and without accounting to ministers or the Dies Committee.

End of a Champion

Herman the Warrior--we nearly styled him the Tremendous, but it is not, all things considered, entirely fitting--is dead. They executed him Sunday in Brooklyn, quietly and humanely, with chloroform. All because he objected, and made good his objection, to playing the role--made so celebrated in many millions of performances by the oyster, anchovy, and radish--of hors d'oeuvre.

In his earthly incarnation, Herman was a mouse. A weak, squeaking, scuttling, cheese-stealing nuisance, whose name has somehow inexplicably got into the books as a synonym for timidity, inexplicably, we say--in view of the career of Herman. But perhaps he was the greatest of his race. Anyhow, until the other day nobody had ever heard of Herman. Then a keeper up at the Children's Zoo in Brooklyn bagged him and tossed him into a boa constrictor, as a sort of tidbit by way of working up an appetite for the fat pig which was to follow. But then--the keeper turned his back and when he turned around again, there lay the constrictor in the convulsions of death. Herman had slain him. That's what we said. Herman had slain him. It was as though David had slain not one Goliath but a whole regiment of him.

Well, boa constrictors cost a lot of money. They thought about matching Herman with a rattlesnake or copperhead. But it did not seem kind to the rattlesnake and the copperhead. And so, to preserve the snakes, they slew Herman--with chloroform. But it somehow leaves us disconsolate. It is almost as if they had hanged D'Artagnan because it was unsafe to dukes and cardinals to have him around.


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