The Charlotte News

Saturday, May 14, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Since there was a riddle in yesterday's editorial page, we shall grant it, for the answer, yet again in whole. But it is an incorrect solution. Do you see the exagitated cite, incorrectly exempled?

Well, for all of that, does it not actually become a riddle within that which is riddled?

So back to the wheel, and its terne...

...When the lightning sticks... The strains o'erlap... Until again, come the sun.

Thus, we learn.

...He is the greatest artist, then,
Whether of pencil or of pen,
Who follows Nature. Never man,
As artist or as artisan,
Pursuing his own fantasies,
Can touch the human heart, or please,
Or satisfy our nobler needs,
As he who sets his willing feet
In Nature's footprints, light and fleet,
And follows fearless where she leads...

New Style in Politicians

Burnet R. Maybank, Charleston's Mayor who is going to run for Governor of South Carolina, and John W. Hanes, nominated by the President to be Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, have a lot in common. Both are comparatively young. Both come from what is called, in the parlance, "nice people." Both have been successful. And both have gone into governmental service not for what they could get out of it but for what they could put into it.

A great deficiency in a democratic government such as this country's is that it is rarely chosen as a career by the best blood and brains. Politics is too bruising and freakish a gauntlet for any except the toughest hides to run, and besides, merit and ability count for little against the demagogues. As a result, the words "politics" and "politicians" have acquired highly unfavorable connotations: and the managing of the public business is left to those who, all too frequently, have made signal unsuccesses at managing businesses of their own.

In that view, it is a welcome novelty when such men as Mr. Hanes and Mayor Burbank [sic] are recruited for political service. Both are badly needed in their respective fields--Mr. Hanes to bring about some sort of rapprochement between government and Big Business, of which he has been a part: and Mayor Maybank to bring an astuteness to the governorship of South Carolina which it has not had for two or more generations.

In the War Zone

What intrigues us about those curious little games the army and navy have been playing at and off Kitty Hawk is the sudden realization that our own North Carolina coast got to be a very likely landing place for a foreign enemy. It used not to be so. For the combination of the great winds of Hatteras and the dangerous sand-bar and shoal-filled waters from Albemarle Sound to the Cape Fear made approach too risky or downright impossible.

But the airplane and the modern tactics of dropping machine gunners by parachute has changed all that. The ships can stand out at sea, away from Hatteras, and discharge their planes and the defenders of the planes, with no risk at all. And once the planes and men have landed, the flat sand country is an almost perfect base of operations. It is not marshy as the Jersey flats generally are and it is within easy air distance of both the great military establishments and the great cities above the East and the Middle West--of Fort Bragg and Hampton Roads and Washington and Baltimore and Philadelphia and New York and Boston and Cincinnati and Cleveland.

There's one consolation, though. That no foreign foe seems likely to tackle it for a long time to come. And that, indeed, it may be still impossible because of the great distance across the Atlantic and the concentration of defense in the range of the North Carolina coast.

Site Ed. Note: The expropriation by the Cardenas government in Mexico of the British and American oil properties occurred March 18, 1938, and was thereafter celebrated in the country as Expropriation Day, a legal holiday.

For its various resulting machinations, the inexorable need for a market brought on from the British and American big oil boycott of Mexican oil, leading then to the William Rhodes Davis barter deal between Mexico and Germany, (which may also have ultimately had an impact on Cash's own death), see the notes accompanying the editorials, and the referenced editorials therein, of March 6, 1938, September 11, 1938, February 16, 1939, May 29, 1940, January 7, 1941, and that note accompanying a series of editorials on Mexico by Raymond Clapper in April, 1941; and the Cash editorials, among others here, "A Dollar Down", March 27, 1938, "Nice Work, If They Could Have Got It", September 9, 1938, "Not Lost Yet", October 28, 1938, "Hull Wins His Point", November 14, 1938, "Hunting a Dead Horse", January 19, 1939, "Understanding Mexico", February 24, 1939, "The White King's Realm", May 18, 1939, "Bolivian Threat", May 21, 1939, "On Account", June 6, 1939, "Joe Guffey Again", August 1, 1939, "A New Grab?", June 23, 1940, "Trouble Spot", July 7, 1940, and "Slap for U.S.", December 5, 1940.

While the concept of eminent domain, of which the editorial speaks, is indeed a valid one for any sovereignty, it is only valid in this country under our Constitution provided that it is "reasonably necessary" on the part of the state to secure the health, morals, safety, comfort, or welfare of the community in general, and provided the government pays just compensation for the taking of private property for public use, as required by the Fifth Amendment Due Process clause. Justification is of course something as simple as the determined need for a highway and the otherwise excessive costs or compromise to passenger safety which would be occasioned by constructing the road around a given property in the path of the desired right of way, (and, of course, in practical circumstance, it helps if you know someone or know someone who knows someone within the local political body charged with routing the roads, for comfort of the general community has a way of being far more readily and reasonably necessary vis á vis poorer neighborhoods than richer ones, you see); most challenges which have arisen contest whether the compensation offered by the government is just. Lest we should become overly cynical on such matters, however, and, alas, surrender to the notion that one cannot successfully fight city hall or, for that matter, on up the line even to acts of Congress, time has shown that persistence pays off on occasion. (See, e.g., Choctaw Nation v. Oklahoma, 397 US 620 (1970); State of Minnesota v. U.S., 305 US 382 (1939);U.S. v. Shoshone Tribe of Indians, 304 US 110 (1938); U.S. v. Klamath and Modac Tribes, 304 US 119 (1938); Creek Nation v. U.S., 302 US 620 (1938); but distinguish, Chippewa Indians of Minnesota v. U.S., 305 US 47 (1939)) And, though not premised on principles of eminent domain, in terms of this country's history of respect for prior rights of sovereignty and private title in lands previously held subject to another sovereignty, see U.S. v. O'Donnell, 303 US 501 (1938), regarding the history of continued U.S. recognition of Mexican land titles in California after the cession of the territory by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the War of 1848 with Mexico.

While some compromise was eventually effected with Mexico to afford a slow trickle of payments for the oil properties taken, albeit even this for the most part in useless silver to be stored in vaults or sold off in foreign markets far below the value for which it was represented as tender, it was not sufficient to offset the loss of revenue generated to the companies by the properties and thus would not be considered just under our system of laws.

It is too bad that Mexico, out of its notions of redistribution of wealth to mollify its peasant population and thereby seek to quell the revolutionary ardor hot and continuous within that population since 1910, chose this course of outright grab of property owned by foreign entities. For in the end, it is certainly an arguable hypothetical that without this rich source of oil to the Reich, Hitler would not have had the one-year reserve on tap he needed to invade Poland in 1939, nor to bluff his way into the Munich accord in September, 1938; in short, without this Expropriation Day of March, 1938, there may never have been an event called World War II.

The Nazi outrages to Germany's own citizens considered not of "Aryan" breeding, particularly Jews, however, were of course already in motion by this time. And the converse argument might thus be made as well that not to have fought the war would have been to provide the Nazi sufficient time both to further his genocidal plans, as well to develop his rocketry and ultimately an atomic weapon, well in the works by war's end.

Whether the U.S., without the press of war to conflate the time taken in inevitable sloth to effect peacetime weapons tests to days rather than months or years, would have been first to place the ladder in the well by late July, 1945, after the August 2, 1939 letter from Einstein to FDR warning of the potential for uranium-based nuclear weapons research ongoing in Germany, is also, however, entirely debatable in the abstract. In that event, Berlin and Hamburg might finally have become the testing grounds, rather than Hiroshima and Nagasaki, for the world's most devastating and evil weapon of mass destruction ever derived. By the same train of events, however, isolationists in Congress, swayed by emotional sentiment and constituent sensitivity blindly and foolishly associating German-American blood ties with the Nazi Reich, might have, without Hitler's putsch and revanche to loose our purse strings, sufficiently restrained government spending on the Manhattan Project, such that the outcome would have been at best tottering on the brink. And that putsch and ravanche aimed itself not only preposterously at the lands of Europe which had heavy German populations, but also, obviously, the lands of South America and Mexico, those possessed of German populations, where also there happened to be an abundance of oil--all aimed at becoming satellites, launching pads. Then to--Texas? Oklahoma? California? Pennsylvania? And by Nazi methods of relationship, Pennsylvania Avenue?

Of course, ultimately, as we have many times stressed, only one man principally caused World War II. He sat down on a couch, took up a Luger from a table next to him, and blew out his own brains on April 30, 1945. He was already dead, of course, long before he made his death an official statistic of that war for which history must hold him principally, if not solely, responsible.

Unfortunately, while the worst of it has passed, so far at least, we still live in a world which has as its primary deterrent premise, one quite no longer necessary for any nation to maintain, a residual effect bequeathed to us by that very same oily putsch and revanche, that created and orchestrated by the same who finally sat down, resignedly, on his bunker's couch.

We said it this way once before, in a time of anger, when too much of the country was yawning broadly and wishing for more primetime instead of recounts; we shall say it again this way--oil, bloody oil...

...And yet another beautiful part of our country is being drowned in its wages resultantly warming our great globe, in the worst flood to hit New England in fully 70 years, this day in May, 2006.

Two in the Wrong

Both parties are clearly at fault in the dispute between Mexico and Great Britain. Mexico acted much too precipitately in taking over the oil companies without first making provisions for paying a reasonable price for them within a reasonable length of time. The Cardenas regime seems now to have got itself in a spot where it is neither possible for it to arrange to pay for the properties on any acceptable terms nor to return them to the old owners without a revolution at home. It may very well be that the British and American interests came into these properties by highly dubious means. Nevertheless, the governments of Mexico which granted the right to them were legitimate governments, whose acts are binding on the present government.

And as for Britain, she is going entirely too far when she attempts to set up the doctrine that Mexico hasn't the right of eminent domain, and may not exercise it on whatever ground she chooses. It is simply to deny that Mexico is a sovereign power, and as against Britain her rights under international law do not exist. It is the kind of thing which has, more or less justly, won J. Bull the title of international bully. The Washington government was on far sounder ground when it at once granted the Mexican right in the premises.

In any case, the United States is going to have to step into the situation with a vigorous hand, to bring Mexico to rationally acceptable terms, and to calm down Britain, who is already threatening direct action, Monroe Doctrine or no Monroe Doctrine. The latter might very well, indeed, be reminded of what happened when, in company with Germany, she attempted to abolish the Monroe Doctrine in the case of Venezuela.

When Water Burns

The burning gasoline spread flames over a wide area of the surface of the lake and surrounding dry ground. So fierce was the heat of the fire it was some time before the body of the dead driver could be taken from the water.--From an account of the collision of two gasoline trucks yesterday on a bridge near Laurinburg on U.S. 74 (old NC 20).

When water is set afire, it follows that water cannot quench such a fire. And it was only chance that this collision yesterday between two trucks, one loaded and the other empty, except for fumes, which are explosive, took place on the open road instead of in a settlement or a town. In fact, many towns have narrowly missed being set afire by the wrecking of gasoline trucks within their limits--Laurinburg, Matthews, Lumberton, to name a few.

A coroner's jury in Scotland County has decided that the dead driver was at fault, and it may be that he was in causing a collision between vehicles. But for the holocaust that followed, this State is responsible. It has permitted its highways, this one especially, to become veritable pipe lines which great trucks loaded to the gun'ls with liquid death ply as freely as though they carried only soda pop. And that is dangerous enough for the automobilists who have to use these roads, but it is far more dangerous for people and property in settled places through which these mammoth menaces perforce must pass.

What It Proves

Executives of fourteen of the country's largest public utility holding companies have set up a committee of five to sit in with the Securities and Exchange Commission "to bring about sound and constructive solutions of the problems confronting these companies." And on top of that comes the news that the reformed management of Wall Street plans to get together with the SEC for a "reappraisal of all the basic aspects of Federal stock market regulation."

All of which looks at first sight like a genuine beginning of the new era of co-operation between government and business, which has been so many times promised but which has never really come off. The laws the SEC was set up to administer are among the most drastic passed by the New Deal. And if business and government can get together here, there is really no sound reason why they shouldn't get together all along the line.

No reason but one, that is. If the SEC laws are drastic, the attitude of the SEC itself has been from the first generally less than drastic. Jim Landis and, above all, Joe Kennedy got it off to that kind of start. Moreover, it has and has had men like Kennedy and John Hanes in its makeup--businessmen who understand the business viewpoint. It has not used the law for punitive expeditions against business per se, but has merely said in effect: "These laws deal with certain abuses in business. Those abuses must be eliminated in accordance with their terms. But let us sit down and see how we can best eliminate them with the least injury to business and the public." That is in very great contrast to the attitude of, say, Mr. Ickes or the TVA board.

In short, the getting together of business and the SEC is probably less significant of the actual opening of an era of co-operation between business and government, than of the factor that, given intelligent and sympathetic administering, there can be such an era of co-operation, even on the basis of very drastic laws.

...Ask him if songs of the Troubadours,
Or of Minnesingers in old black-letter,
Sound in his ears more sweet than yours,
And if yours are not sweeter and wilder
and better.

Sing to him, say to him, here at his gate,
Where the boughs of the stately elms
are meeting
Some one hath lingered to meditate,
And send him unseen this friendly

That many another hath done the same,
Though not by a sound was the silence
The surest pledge of a deathless name
Is the silent homage of thoughts un-

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