Thursday, January 19, 2012

Today -100: January 19, 1912: Of pardons, spies, and mighty good godfathers


President Taft pardons Charles Morse, a banker, shipping magnate, speculator, and general scumbag, who in his illustrious career cornered, or attempted to corner, the market in various products, including ice, and whose machinations single-handedly caused the Panic of 1907. He’s been in prison only two years on a 15-year sentence for misappropriating bank funds, but all his friends and lobbyists have been incessantly pressuring Taft. Now he’s reported to be near death from Bright’s disease. In fact, he’s faking it, having ingested chemicals (possibly soapsuds) to produce the symptoms, and will live another 21 years, going back into business and, indeed, criminality (but I repeat myself). Oh, the people he promised to make rich if they helped get him out of prison: he stiffed them.

Germany complains that Russia sent one of their spies to Siberia, when Germany treats other countries’ spies much more leniently.

Following the threat by the US to re-occupy Cuba, things seem to have calmed down there. So it’s time for the press to take a few condescending victory laps. NYT: “The intimation that our Government might interfere to restore order in the republic has brought them to their senses... They know well that if this country is compelled frequently to take over the government of Cuba, and teach the people how to administer their affairs, the time will come inevitably when there will be no further withdrawal.” LA Times: “But Uncle Sam is a mighty good god-father, and when little Cuba breaks out in a fit of bad temper or lawlessness, the sponsor has merely to hold up his finger and the god-child remembers her duty at once.”

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