The Charlotte News
Monday, August 14, 1939
Site Ed. Note: It is highly questionable whether Cash wrote "YD's Heroes". It does refer to "Ersatz" of August 12, almost assuredly written by Cash for its similarity to his by-lined "Now, What Is A Liberal?" of the previous November. But, this day's piece probably was indited by J. E. Dowd. The primary question of authorship arises from the direct criticism of Senator Claude Pepper, whom Cash respected highly for his early and courageous stand against appeasement and for aid and intervention in Europe. (See, e.g., "Committee", June 7, 1940, "With Laughter", September 11, 1940, "A Ray of Light", October 15, 1940) Of course, those stands would come a little later than this day and it may be that Cash had taken a dim view of his earlier stances on spending--yet, such criticism of this particular type is more characteristic of Dowd.
Then again, it would appear that News editorials in this period generally were increasingly inhospitable to New Deal deficit spending programs, some undoubtedly having been written by Cash; it may be that, as editorialized on August 10 in "Vain Boast", the seeming arrogance of FDR in putting forth in 1937 the court-packing plan in frustration over having lost a good portion of the New Deal, the Agricultural Adjustment Act and the National Recovery Act, to rulings of unconstitutionality by the "nine old men" of the Court in 1935-36, and the consequent loss of support in Congress for many of the Administration's other, more salutary programs, including the Neutrality Bill to allow renewal of trade in weapons to aid Britain and France at this most critical hour to give them longer teeth to back up ultimata to Hitler to stay out of Poland, all began to coalesce in Cash's mind as forming one piece, thus engendering his criticism more openly of FDR's judgment on domestic issues. Perhaps, then this amalgam of cause and effect led Cash to vent on the typewriter, else manifested by gnawing knuckles, at the squandering by FDR of the increased political capital after the resounding defeat of the Republicans in 1936 with such a foolhardy display as the court-packing plan?
In any event, by the time of the election of 1940, as evidenced in "Inter-Office Memos: Willkie Or Roosevelt", October 13, 1940, Cash appeared solidly on board, if still granting only tepid praise regarding the success of the New Deal, its over-spending, over-taxation--FDR's indecision, imprecision, and sometime failure to follow through on matters being chief among his reservations--, recognizing in the bargain, however, that the New Deal had also saved the country from the worst, disorder or even revolution, which would have likely followed in the wake of continued laissez-faire policies of the twenties in either a second Hoover term or had Landon been elected in 1936. The prospect from that of having created more and more elite rich at the top and a greater mass of have-nots otherwise, far outweighed the relatively minor missteps and miscalculations of the Administration. Cash did not see anyone at the time who he thought could have done the job better than FDR.
The New Deal was not perfect. Most historians on the period concede that had it not been for our involvement in the war and the consequent push for celerious war industry in the wake of Pearl Harbor, it is questionable what impact the New Deal would have had on the long haul economy into the mid-forties, though certainly ameliorative of society's worst ills of the time it was even before war. Perhaps, in the end, the sort of feelings engendered in Dowd, as evidenced in the same "Inter-Office Memos", that while FDR had his heart in the right place for championing the underdog, his head often was elsewhere than the palliative or even panacea expected and promoted, combined with those of Cash, provide a good glimpse on balance of the New Deal's impact on the time. Perhaps the chief criticism to be observed historically is that the expectations were driven, whether by conscious promotion at the top or by wishful thinking by a society hungry for economic and social improvement, beyond the realistic means to fulfill them for everyone. The same may be said of course for many of the substantial domestic achievements obtained in the New Frontier and Great Society of JFK and LBJ in the sixties, effectively logically extending some of the better New Deal and Fair Deal ideas of FDR and Truman.
Regardless, it is the duty of editorial writers to criticize and call it as they see it, thus stimulating the Great Debate both contemporaneously and historically, without which we would scarcely be different from the societies and stooge organs of mass propaganda of the Thirties in Italy and Germany. And so whether some of these editorials we set forth on the Administration and domestic issues were by Cash or by Dowd, or even by occasional other contributors to the page, is not so relevant as the issues thus posed by them, often still suggesting, by advanced means and with recognition of different national and international circumstances in play, both skeletal models for action and exemplars of criticism of that action--learning from it, condemned thereby not to repeat the worst, recapitulating the best when necessary. So if sometimes there is in these editorials subtle seeming inconsistencies of point of view, there is no need so much to reconcile them as to understand the differences and perhaps why the perceptions occurred at different times or from different authors--understanding the while the precept that all is not clear sometimes regarding events, either contemporaneously or even with the advantage of 20-20 hindsight.
Violent Death Is Always Close In Modern Life
It was a bloody Sunday.
Near Reno, Nevada, the speeding Southern Pacific streamliner train, "City of San Francisco," piled up, killing twenty and injuring 50 or more. Investigation showed that a rail had been deliberately moved by a saboteur, undoubtedly mad.
At Rio a Pan-American plane out of Miami, Fla., crashed into a dock crane and fell into the water. Fourteen persons, including six Americans, died.
At Fort Knox, Ky., six Indiana National Guardsmen picked up a shell from the artillery range, thinking it was a dud, carried it to their camp and parked it in front of their tents. Six were killed and three injured when it exploded.
At South Nyack, N. Y., a wealthy inventor went into his wife's bedroom and killed her with a meat cleaver. Surprised in the act by his daughter, he pursued the young woman through the house, raining blows on her head with a hammer. Then he retired to the bathroom and killed himself by slashing his throat and wrists. The daughter may die.
It proves nothing, perhaps, save that we live most precariously. The failure of a man's hands or judgment, a stirring of madness in a twisted brain, and death is upon us without warning.
Is the Most Dangerous Factor in Europe
Probably the most dangerous element in the European situation at present is the absolute uncertainty as to (1) what Hitler and Mussolini will actually do next, and (2) what Mr. Chamberlain really means to do.
That Hitler is lining up his ducks for another coup appears pretty clearly. But it is by no means certain that he will strike at Danzig immediately. The Poles apparently mean business. It may be, of course, that they don't or that Mr. Chamberlain will try to force them to acquiesce in the destruction of their nation. Still to strike there just now would certainly involve grave risks of war for Hitler.
The latter obviously guesses--maybe has private assurances--that Chamberlain will try to arrange another Munich in the showdown over the Free City. But England is still more or less a democratic country, and Chamberlain must reckon with English public opinion--may decide that that public opinion will not stand for a new Munich and the betrayal of the pledges to Poland. And all that Hitler knows very well.
So he may well strike somewhere else than at Danzig. There is talk of his annexing Hungary. Or he may decide to grab Croatia from Yugoslavia. Either move would have the effect of giving him a much wider road to Rumania, which, because of its oil, he must have if he is to wage a long war. And moreover, either would be perfectly calculated to throw terror into all the little Central European powers--to weaken and maybe to break down their alliance with Britain.
Would England fight if he made one of these moves? Nobody, including Hitler, knows the answer to that. And that fact may be the decisive factor in determining Hitler to take a chance.
But Power And Justice Are Different Things
The ruling of the Federal District Court in Tennessee that President Roosevelt was within his powers in removing Dr. Arthur E. Morgan as chairman of TVA was to be expected. There never was much reasonable doubt that he had the right to. The power to hire clearly involves the power to fire, and Dr. Morgan's attempt to deny it was based on mere hair-splitting.
But the real question at issue in Morgan's case still stands--whether the President used his power very justly or discreetly. That Morgan was a fairly obstreperous fellow seems pretty plain now, and he was much too free with charges of fraud against his associates, David Lillienthal and Harcourt Morgan--charges which he failed to prove.
But there is a good deal of evidence that the administration of TVA was both high-handed and inefficient. The investigation by Congress seemed to bring that out, though it did not serve to set up any definite conclusion about the agency. The majority, made up of Democrats, voted TVA a clean bill of health, but the minority, made up of Republicans, reported that it was "wasteful and inefficient." Partisanship, however, clearly explained both reports.
But the majority report did reflect, of course, the attitude of the President. He was pretty plainly determined from the first not to confess that there might be any ground for criticizing the agency. And Dr. Morgan's case was prejudged against him. That was within the President's powers but that fact does not make it jest.
They Sit At The Feet of Old Ed Kelly, Boss of Chicago
Only yesterday we were saying that you can tell a lot about an organization from the character of the men invited to address it. From the fact that the Young Democrats had as convention keynoter Senator Pepper of Florida, a statesman most generous with other people's money, we thought we could deduce a lot about the Young Democrats.
The convention hoarsely adjourned Saturday night, but not before it heard from Mayor Ed Kelly of Chicago. It heard, and wildly cheered, a speech on the "liberal, humanitarian government" of FDR and a demand that he run for a third term, all issuing from the mouth of the second most notorious political boss in the United States, not counting those behind bars or under indictment.
It heard and went into raptures over this ringing plea--"Mr. President, we want you to stay in the fight to insure more work and wages;" probably interpreting it in the way that old Ed Kelly must have half meant it, that as long as the New Deal was in power, Democrats old and young would get the call on all the cushy jobs.
Yessir, we know all we want to know about the Young Democrats. We're still going to raise our children to be independents.
To Cure This More Than Exhortation is Needed
Last year deaths in automobile accidents fell by 19 per cent. This year the tendency has been reversed. And in June for the first time in 20 months, the traffic death toll went up. A total of 2,330 people were killed, and 80,000 more were injured.
But it seems to us that the National Safety Council, which advises us of these facts, does not go far enough. It tells us that it has no doubt that the falling off in recent years has been due to newspaper editorials about the dangers of careless driving and walking, and calls for more of the same thing. But we suspect that the trouble is not that the newspapers have grown lax about the matter, but that the people have grown accustomed to newspaper warnings and no longer heed them.
The blunt fact about the matter is that the roads and streets are filled with people who should never, because of physical, temperamental, or mental defects, be allowed to drive an automobile at all, and even more with those who, while physically, mentally and temperamentally sound, have never troubled to learn to drive properly. What is plainly needed is a good deal more than mere exhortation on the part of the newspapers. Providence, R.I., last year cut its traffic death rates 60 per cent, by a program which included a general educational campaign not only by the newspapers but by the schools and many other agencies. But the most important single item in the program, it seems, was a speed limit of 25 miles which was rigidly enforced.
Accidents will probably continue to take their great toll until we decide: (1) to make people really prove that they are fit and competent to drive before issuing license, and (2) make strict traffic laws and enforce them.
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