Archive for August, 2017

The Obstructionists: Small Group of Senators and Congressmen Whose Tactics Encourage Enemy and Block War Plans

A full century before the Freedom Caucus, there were “the Obstructionists.”

The comparisons aren’t exact. The modern-day organization of several dozen hard-line conservatives in the House has helped kill or at least significantly delay or water down legislation supported by most congressional Republicans, such as Affordable Care Act repeal, tax reform, raising the debt ceiling, and more — all on the basis that existing proposals weren’t far enough to the right. The so-called “Obstructionists” wasn’t so much an official caucus as an informal group of legislators who banded together in opposition to one particular issue above all else — American involvement in World War I — rather than on a variety of issues.

But there were some commonalities. For example, both groups were all men.

The congressional votes to commence American involvement in WWI were lopsided but not unanimous: 82-6 in the Senate and 373-50 in the House. By comparison, the congressional votes for the other world war a few decades later were 82-0 in the Senate and 388-1 in the House. And the the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Afghanistan a mere three days after 9/11 passed 98-0 in the Senate and 420-1 in the House.

The Obstructionists: Small Group of Senators and Congressmen Whose Tactics Encourage Enemy and Block War Plans (PDF)

From Sunday, August 19, 1917

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Written by Jesse

August 17th, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Posted in Politics

Need of Dictator Urged by Harding

Four years before he became president, Ohio’s Republican Senator Warren G. Harding argued in favor of drastically increased powers for the presidency — even though the commander-in-chief at the time was a Democrat, Woodrow Wilson.

The level of willingness to accede so completely to a partisan opponent was arguably last seen in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, when most congressional Democrats granted significant powers to the presidency and executive branch, despite being controlled by Republican President George W. Bush.

Harding’s words are stunning to modern-day ears and chats from the left that Trump is #NotMyPresident. Perhaps his words were stunning even to ears at the time:

“Whom have you in mind for this position as supreme dictator?” Mr. Harding was asked.

“At the present moment there is but one possible man,” replied the Senator from Ohio, “the President of the United States. I must say he is not my choice, but the people of the country have chosen him, and he is the only one to whom we can turn. Why quibble with events which are already accomplished? Mr. Wilson is our President, duly elected. He is already by the inevitable force of events our partial dictator. Why not make him complete and supreme dictator? He will have to answer to the people and to history eventually for his stewardship. Why not give him a full and free hand, not for his sake, but for our sake? He is not likely to succeed half bound; unbound he will have every chance. If he fails, then it is his fault, not ours. If he fails under present conditions, it is our fault, not his.”

Harding’s recommendation was heavily influenced by the perceived need for a national leader with stronger powers during the ongoing World War I. It is not clear whether Harding still believed in a “supreme dictator” by 1921 when he took office, after the war had concluded.

“It was only the logic of events combined with the perception generally of the unparalleled character of Mr. Lincoln that powers were placed more and more in the hands of the President, until, toward the close of the war, Congress as well as the Cabinet had all but abdicated in favor of the one man who had proved himself a safe dictator for the destinies of the nation.  The same thing must occur in this war, and the sooner it comes the better for all of us. We will never be actually in the war, never be a menace to Germany in a modern military sense, until it does come.”

Harding, for what it’s worth, is consistently ranked as one of the worst presidents of all time.

Need of Dictator Urged by Harding: Republican Senator from Ohio Favors Absolute Power for President, Even If He Is a Democrat (PDF)

From Sunday, August 12, 1917

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Written by Jesse

August 10th, 2017 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Politics

How much WWI took over everyone’s lives

American entry into World War I “started” 100 years ago plus a few months ago, in April 1917. One thing that’s really striking to me is just how much it overtook everything about people’s lives. In working on this week’s entries for Sunday Magazine, here were the magazine headlines from New York Times Sunday Magazine 100 years ago this week, a relatively “typical” week of the conflict:

  • New Board of Seven: Frank A. Scott, Chairman, Talks of His Committee—Second Great Industrial Phase of War Task
  • Realistic Training at Base Camp Near Front: Outline of British Methods Shows How the American Soldiers Are Being Taught—Trenches Flooded With Gas for Practice
  • Kerensky’s Intimate Talks to Men at the Front: Weak-Kneed Soldier, Who Interrupted Him with Plea for Speedy Peace, Was Ordered to Go Home in Disgrace
  • Labor’s Part in War’s Successful Prosecution: True Source of Military Power Is United Energy of a Nation’s People, Yet the Whole World Is Continuing Class Struggles Labor’s Part in War’s Successful Prosecution
  • Allied Relief and Rid Cross Near Agreement: Expect Soon to Smooth Over Difficulties Created by Plan to Take from Donations to War Sufferers Their Individual Character
  • Battling an Africa Far from War’s Limelight: How a Plucky Band of Englishmen Hauled Boats Over Mountains and Wrested Control of Lake Tanganyika from Germans
  • America Reconciled to Sacrifices of the War: History Teaches Lesson That Individuals Do Not Count—Victory Over Germany Will Be a Mere Incident in Uplifting the World
  • Mayor’s Grandfather Prophesied This War When Germans Were Winning in 1870-71
  • History of the War in American Cartoons: Art at Home and Abroad
  • Women Striving for Efficiency in War Work: Ida Tarbell, of Woman’s Committee of Council of National Defense, Describes Co-ordination in Work of Many Organizations
  • Sailor Tells of U.S. Fleet’s Brush with U-Boat: First Torpedo, Which Missed American Ship Only Thirty Yards, Was Followed by Two Others While the Deck Guns Boomed
  • Women at the Beaches Only Knit, Knit, Knit: Other Pleasures and Labors Are Abandoned for the Wartime Craze, Which Reaches Its Climax at Atlantic City
Even the article about knitting contained a subheading tying it into the war!
My grandparents talk about WWII just consumed everything about their lives. It’s fascinating to me just how all-consuming a true all-out war can be. Let us hope we never see one again.

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Written by Jesse

August 6th, 2017 at 10:06 am

Posted in Blog Stuff

Keeping Healthy on 30 Cents a Day for Food

According to the historical consumer price index, 30 cents in August 1917 was worth $5.65 in June 2017, the most recent month for which inflation can be calculated. Can you live on $5.65 worth of food per day in the modern era?

The article portrays it as a major feat, but it actually doesn’t strike me as too difficult, especially if you eat homemade prepared meals and don’t eat out. Get some bread, turkey, American cheese, and mayonnaise — you can make two sandwiches for lunch at the cost of, what, maybe a dollar or two? Have some Cheerios and milk for breakfast, that’s maybe another dollar or two.

But you would almost certainly have to spend more than $5.65 to eat what the author, Dr. Mary K. Isham, describes over the course of a day:

  • “A bowl of steamed whole wheat with milk and sugar” [for breakfast]
  • “Three cheese sandwiches, a large glass of iced whiskyless eggnor with a few  drops of vanilla instead, and a big banana” [“for luncheon”]
  • “Two slices of beef loaf, baked yesterday; boiled corn on the cob, a plate of combination salad, three slices of bread and butter, coffee, half a sugar melon, and two wafers of chocolate peppermint” [for dinner]

 

Keeping Healthy on 30 Cents a Day for Food: New York Doctor Tells How She Manages to Spend Only That Much for Three Square Meals Consisting of First-Class Viands (PDF)

From Sunday, August 5, 1917

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Written by Jesse

August 5th, 2017 at 10:06 am

Posted in Health

Realistic Training at Base Camp Near Front

Soldiers in boot camp preparing for entry into World War I had to confront a relatively new invention: poison gas. As this BBC World Service article notes, the first major gas attack ever used in warfare took place in January 1915, but actually killed comparatively few soldiers relative to the amount of fear it spread.

Still, soldiers had to be prepared:

“Gas also has become a contingency to which men must be accustomed during their training… They are passed through a dugout filled with asphyxiating gas, and the efficiency of the apparatus with which they are supplied is practically demonstrated. Gas is more dangerous to the morale of the troops than to their actual safety, and this demonstration of its harmlessness, if the right steps are taken to counteract it, through which every man going to the front must pass, does much to disarm the gas attack of its worst terrors.”

Realistic Training at Base Camp Near Front: Outline of British Methods Shows How the American Soldiers Are Being Taught — Trenches Flooded With Gas for Practice (PDF)

From Sunday, August 5, 1917

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Written by Jesse

August 4th, 2017 at 10:06 am

Posted in War