The Charlotte News

Wednesday, April 12, 1939


Site Ed. Note: It was a time, as "Mr. Amlie Backs Down" informs us, when favoring government ownership of the railroads (plus what one read) could get you branded a Red and prevent appointment to the I.C.C. for it. Strange days, all around.

Vacant Places*

City Council Cannot Afford To Lose Durham And Wilkinson

With only three days remaining in which to enter the lists for the eleven places on the City Council, with the imposing "Citizens Ticket" out of the picture, and with a majority of the present Councilmen likely to succeed themselves, the City election promises none of the fireworks that had been expected. In fact, the outcome seems cut and dried to much the same pattern as that of the present Administration.

This Administration, for the most part, has been readily acceptable. The business of the City is really handled by the City Manager, whose place seems secure in almost any eventuality. The composition of the policy-making group--i.e., the Council--is virtually a known quantity, known for its probable weakness and its strength. And yet the disturbing fact remains that two of the three most influential and experienced business men on the present Council have indicated their intention not to run.

The two are Messrs. Wilkinson and Durham. They are the sort of men whom the "Citizens Ticket" could have supported, with credit to all concerned. They are precisely the type of Councilmen whom the city-manager form of government is designed to enlist, and they represent an element which ought to have a considerable voice in municipal affairs for the reason that it provides most of the revenue which keeps the wheels turning.

The city could do worse than to return the present administration to power for another two years, but it would lose a great deal in the services of Wilkinson and Durham. They should be prevailed upon to try it once more.

Mr. Amlie Backs Down

Mr. Amlie's decision to ask the President to withdraw his nomination to the Interstate Commerce Commission may not have been taken without some prodding. For the other day he was, he said, grimly determined to make the Senate vote on it if he only got two votes.

As a matter of fact, the argument that the fellow would have been dangerous on the job is probably nonsense. No Marxist, he holds to some of the theories of the late Thorstein Veblen and so gets himself set down as a Marxist by his erstwhile fellow Congressmen who never bother to read anything. And specifically, he has said that he believes in Government ownership of railroads. But the present chairman of the Commission is said to believe the same thing. That doesn't matter, however--regardless of what you think about Government ownership--for the excellent reason that the Commission has no power to promote or hinder Government ownership.

But the Conservatives in the Senate were out to get Mr. Amlie as a Red. And his nomination promised to further widen the breach in the Democratic Party, with an election coming closer and closer. So both sides probably prodded him into withdrawing. It's just as well, but we can't to save us find that it improves anything much.

Careful, Doctor!

Regardless of what Dr. Glenn Frank himself meant, his remarks about the President's observation at Warm Springs, that he would be back in the Fall "provided there is no war," are calculated to lend comfort to those spiteful people who are peddling the doctrine that Mr. Roosevelt plans to land the United States in a war prior to 1940 for the cynical purpose of getting himself elected President again. "Very unfortunate," says Dr. Frank, in the same breath envisaging a Republican victory in 1940, and, "I have been anything but an isolationist, but at the moment I can see no reason why we should become involved in a war."

But the President himself suggested no such thing. What he plainly had reference to was the imminent prospect of war in Europe. And Dr. Frank, who know his international affairs, well realizes that war in Europe would mean that the President would need to stick close to Washington. And that if there is no reason why we should be involved in a war now, such reason may inexorably appear in the totally unpredictable conditions which a European war would involve.

The President has made it amply clear that he does not want war if it can be avoided. To charge him with wanting it--with being ready to condemn perhaps millions of men to death--in order to gratify his ambition is to charge him with being a liar and a scoundrel.

Dr. Frank, who was one of the great advocates of Mr. Wilson's course in the last war, should guard his words. He has no business, even inadvertently, encouraging such a slander.

Back To His First Love

Chastened By Experience, Mr. Bumble Goes On Chasing His Fata Morgana Of Appeasement

Mr. Bumble clings to "appeasement" with the fanatic pertinacity of an old maid clinging to the memory of the only man who ever kissed her, though she knows that he did it on a drunken bet. It is not hard to understand why, either. To admit that the policy has been a foolish failure is to admit that Mr. Chamberlain has forfeited all real claim to hold his office as head of the British people.

But it is difficult to suppose that his decision to believe Mussolini all over again is anything than tragic absurdity. Mussolini has a dozen times in the last two years given his word to get his troops out of Spain while steadily adding new ones, but now he is again supposed to mean it. Mussolini gave his word just days before the invasion of Albania that he had no thought of it, but now he is supposed to mean it when he says that he hasn't the faintest designs on Yugoslavia or Greece.

And to suppose that Mussolini doesn't mean that it is to suppose that he is touched in the head. Albania itself is relatively worthless. It can get him small food supplies and perhaps important minerals, though that largely remains to be proved. But to gain that he has had to undo what he has busily worked for years to attain: the winning of the support of all the Moslem East for himself as their "protector." Today they hate him as being not only an oppress of Moslems but also a promise-breaker. Moreover, he forfeited the last shred of good will on the part of the United States, which of late has been inclined to forget Ethiopia and say that after all, as compared with Hitler, he was a pretty good guy. And under no view of the matter is Albania in itself worth all that.

Maybe he doesn't mean to grab Greek and Yugoslavian territory for the moment, despite the huge concentration of troops in the Dodecanese. Certainly, he is unlikely to seize Corfu so long as the British ships lie at Malta. But he clearly doesn't mean to bring these nations within his orbit, to detach them from any possible alliance with England and France. For actual seizure, he may, and probably will, wait until the British are again lulled to sleep; for that is the standard Fascist-Nazi procedure.

But as for detaching him from Berlin--does that any longer seem really possible? Mussolini is a bandit just as Hitler is, dreams the same great dream of empire. And even for his promise, England and France cannot themselves escape with promises. He remembers, quite justly, their broken promises in the last war. So even to attempt to make up to him, what they are going to have to do is to hand over territory and concessions. And having got them--will he truly keep any promise he may make? The record and the logic of the case do not make it plausible.

As far at least as the known facts indicate, the only way actually to "appease" Mussolini, as Hitler, is to make it perfectly plain that any attempt to go further will certainly mean the beginning of war, in which the likely outcome will be the destruction of their nations and hanging of themselves.

Corruption on the Run

These are rueful times, mates, for crooked politicians. Scarcely a day passes that some corrupt office-holder or public man isn't turned up by the law for high or petty crimes. Jimmy Hines, for instance, of Tammany Hall. Boss Pendergast of Kansas City. Federal Judge Manton and associates. The birds that District Attorney Amen is flushing in Brooklyn, and literally scores of others.

Yesterday saw Mrs. Elma N. Lauer, wife of a New York State Supreme Court Justice and a chronic smuggler, sentenced to three months in jail. Yesterday, too, saw County Judge George Washington ("No Entangling Alliances") Martin of Brooklyn indicted on a charge of accepting bribes from an abortion ring.

One of the worst things about America, as everybody knows, is the raw corruptness of its politics. And you would think that a national Administration consecrated to reform and high idealism would have tackled this dirty business with its gloves off. It is worth observing, however, that all these indictments have been obtained virtually without the assistance of the New Deal--indeed, in spite of the indifference of the New Deal to the character of the Federal judiciary. That New Deal is too busy inventing new moralities to trouble to enforce the old.


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