Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Today -100: December 8, 1915: Great democracies are not belligerent

Woodrow Wilson gives his State of the Union Address. Most of the speech is devoted to military “preparation.” He wants to increase the size of the army from 108,008 to 141,843 plus 400,000 trained reserves and increased production of battleships, paid for largely by income tax increases aimed mostly at the rich rather than by issuing bonds. “Great democracies,” he says, “are not belligerent. They do not seek or desire war.”

However, despite all this talk of preparedness, “We are at peace with all the nations of the world, and there is reason to hope that no question in controversy between this and other Governments will lead to any serious breach of amicable relations”.

Then he turned to The Danger Within™: “I am sorry to say that the gravest threats against our national peace and safety have been uttered within our own borders. There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags but welcomed under our generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America, who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life... America never witnessed anything like this before. It never dreamed it possible that men sworn into its own citizenship, men drawn out of great free stocks such as supplied some of the best and strongest elements of that little, but how heroic, nation that in a high day of old staked its very life to free itself from every entanglement that had darkened the fortunes of the older nations and set up a new standard here, that men of such origins and such free choices of allegiance would ever turn in malign reaction against the Government and people who had welcomed and nurtured them and seek to make this proud country once more a hotbed of European passion.” At which point half the assembled members of Congress started discretely masturbating under their desks. Wilson wants new laws, about which he’s rather vague, to be used against these “creatures of passion, disloyalty and anarchy [who] must be crushed out.”

Speaking of creatures of passion, disloyalty and anarchy, Theodore Roosevelt doesn’t like any of the speech. He says the military buildup is insufficient, Wilson likes peace too much (“He has met a policy of blood and iron with a policy of milk and water”), and the reserves system puts the patriotic volunteers who abandon their jobs for a couple of months a year at a competitive disadvantage (he wants to make it compulsory, because of course he does). Most damningly, he says “Mr. Wilson’s elocution is that of a Byzantine logothete [a functionary – basically he’s saying WW sounds like an accountant] – and Byzantine logothetes were not men of action.” How far our political insults have fallen in our Age of Trump.

Headline of the Day -100: 

So maybe not by Christmas. New Year’s, he suggests. Or Easter. Or the 4th of July.

Two deserters from the German Army arrive at Ellis Island as stowaways. They claim they ran more from starvation than fear. Were they deported back to Germany? I can’t find a follow-up.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Some sort of electricity-propelled, hypersonic, trans-continental... you know, I’ve just realized he may be describing a drone. Tesla says it’s not yet time to explain the details. He does trash-talk a California electrical engineer who thinks the US could be surrounded by “an electrical wall of fire” during time of war. Tesla thinks this is impractical.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

No comments: