The Charlotte News

Wednesday, June 30, 1938


Site Ed. Note: Herewith, we tender also the other editorials of the date, including that to which "Spotting a Liberal" refers, by General Johnson.

We would dictate out the editorial by the General, but we have no time for that now. Let us move along, now, General...

Presto Change!

When the President was going aboard the Philadelphia for his fishing trip last May, he noticed an ancient battle sloop tied up nearby. She was the U. S. S. Hartford, Admiral Farragut's flagship in the Civil War battles of Mobile Bay and New Orleans. To the commandant of Charleston's navy yard the President called out, "It looks awful. It's in horrible shape. Why don't you get a WPA project down here and fix it up?"

The commandant said they didn't have any money there for that sort of thing, but the President gaily told him to send in a request and he'd see that it was put through. This week the Public Works Administration allotted $100,000 for the restoration of the historic Hartford.

Just take a trifling handful, O philosopher,

Of magic matter: give it a slight toss over

The ambient ether--and I don't sea why

You shouldn't make a sky.

Spotting a Liberal

In the column to our right, General Old Iron-Pants Johnson holds forth on the theme that, if the Republicans want to stop the Third New Deal, they'd better abandon any hope of electing any of their presently emergent candidates and get behind a "middle-of-the-way" and "truly liberal" Democrat. And proceeds blithely to list among the masses of those he thinks fit the description that of--the Hon. John Nance Garner, Vice-President of the United States!

For crying out loud! Old Jack Garner may have his good points, but he is a man of meager background and no ideas. In his essence, he is just an old-style politician, and a pretty bossy one at that. His whole record shows that his primary yardstick in judging the value of any proposed course of action is its possible trading advantage in the realm of politics; and that most generally he is in favor of standing pat and doing nothing, as the course least likely to upset his trading position.

General Johnson dismisses the leading Republican candidates on the ground that they are all too obviously conservative. But if Jack Garner is a "middle-of-the-roader" and a "true liberal," then a man like Arthur Vandenberg, for instance, begins to look like an out-and-out Red.

The Missing Stuart

On the front page of The News yesterday, in Douglas Freeman's retrospective running account of the Gettysburg campaign, Lee was worried by the absence of Stuart's Cavalry. The dashing Virginian was the eyes and ears of Lee's army, and in this invasion to the north of Washington, deep into enemy territory, it was vital that the Commander in Chief have positive information. But Stuart was completely out of touch with headquarters.

On the editorial page in yesterday's News, in the 75-year-ago items, it was different. The Richmond Enquirer had learned that Stuart's Cavalry had routed Pleasanton's Calvary at Aldie in Northern Virginia. Old Jeb (a term of endearment; he was but 30 at the time) had gone within twelve miles of Alexandria, by golly, and Alexandria was just over the river from Washington.

The Enquirer's news was probably several days old. But as a matter of fact, known now, Stuart was having himself and command a whale of a time during these days when Lee was staking the war on his throw at Gettysburg. He was striking terror into the hearts of the good Yankee burghers, and politely leaving them unharmed like the cavalier he was. He was capturing whole wagon trains of supplies which the Confederates sorely needed, and encumbering his movements with these dear trophies he could not bear to jettison. As a result, he was late in arriving at Gettysburg, and as that's result...

But we are getting ahead of the story. This is June 30, 1863. In the historical present, and Pickett's charge is not to take place until July 3. But, ah, masters; if Old Jeb, the world's greatest cavalryman, had only forborne that time to pester the Yanks and gone riding straight to Lee!

Theme for the Savoy

It seems a shame that Sir William Schwenk Gilbert and Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan, the great masters of the comic opera, had to live and do their work and die between 1836 and 1911.

Consider what they might have done, for instance, with the big news on yesterday's front page. Signor Mussolini, so the story ran, had asked General Franco to be a little more moderate about bombing British ships from the air (56 sunk and 36 sailors killed since the Spanish Civil War began). Which was only to say, of course, that Signor Mussolini had asked Signor Mussolini to be a little more moderate. For General Franco is only a Charlie McCarthy for Signor Mussolini, and the planes and aviators, which have been bombing British ships are mainly Signor Mussolini's alone. The reason for the Signor's intercession with himself, said the stories, too, was that he wanted "to smooth the way for Mr. Chamberlain at home." And that was very considerate, indeed, seeing that Mr. Chamberlain is doing his best to keep the angry British people from getting back at Signor Mussolini's bombing planes, and to put through an agreement with the Signor whereunder the Signor will get a large British loan to enable him to manufacture more planes with which to bomb and sink more British ships.

On second thought, though, maybe it is just as well that Gilbert and Sullivan lived when they did and now tread the golden stairs. They would probably have laughed themselves to death and never got their work done at all.

Exercise in Nonsense

The Hon. Mr. Bacon, Republican Representative in Congress from New York, has a new atrocity to charge to the New Deal. It is solely responsible, according to him, for the combination of slack attendance and labor troubles which has closed up the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey Circus.

According to the same sort of reasoning, the New Deal is responsible also for the fact that the starter on your automobile won't work, that the old cow died, and for those spots before your eyes. And according to the same reasoning, too, it is not the New Deal but Herbert Hoover who is responsible for the collapse of the circus. For it was in the reign of Dr. Hoover, and in part at least as the result of Republican policies, that the great blight began.

In point of fact, of course, neither the New Deal nor Dr. Hoover invented labor troubles, and the NLRB and the Wagner Act has not figured in this case. And people mainly stay away from the circus, not because they haven't money to go but because they had rather do something else. The charge Mr. Bacon makes is simply an old silly stock political charge. The persistence of the kind of outlook which deals in such charges is one very good reason why even the people who completely dislike the New Deal show no enthusiasm for enlisting under the Republican banner.

The Luckier Man

Wiley Brice, Negro, has one crumb of consolation, at least. Like Wash Turner and Bill Payne, he is going to die tomorrow. But because of the time of his crime, Brice will die in the old electric chair. It will not be a pretty sight for the spectators. The Negro will lunge at the straps, his mouth will foam, his eyes will bulge, bug-fashion. Groans will break from his throat. His flesh will fry visibly, where the water runs down from the fatal cap on his head. But once the switch is turned, Brice will not know. He will not die completely for two or three minutes. But in the split second in which the 6500-volt lightning leaps along his nervous system, his brain will plunge into darkness, and so escape from torture.

But Payne and Turner will die in the gas chamber. They will watch the white cloud of cyanide gas swelling slowly up toward their faces. They will hold their breath and hold it and hold it, while animal terror tears their nerves. And when the reflex of breathing can no longer be inhibited, they will inhale the stuff, the reflex will be more or less abruptly paralyzed, and they will slowly choke to death. Somewhere along the way, blackness and escape will come to them, too, but how quickly no one really knows. And altogether, they will require from eight to fifteen minutes to die.

It is a more civilized and humane method of execution, they say. But all the same, we had rather be Brice than Payne or Turner.


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