Archive for February, 2017

The Real Reasons California Went For Wilson

Less than 4,000 votes. That was the margin by which California voted for incumbent Democratic President Woodrow Wilson on Election Day 1916. If California’s 13 electoral votes had swung the other way, Republican challenger and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes would have won. And considering that U.S. involvement in World War I would begin in April 1917, who knows just how consequential California’s decision was to the fate of civilization.

The article details the reasons why California voted the way it did. Pro-Wilson reasons included his policy of American neutrality in the war unfurling on the other side of the globe. Anti-Hughes reasons included a major gaffe in which Hughes refused to meet with California’s popular Republican governor Hiram Johnson while campaigning in the state.

Ah, the days when California was a state where presidential candidates campaign for votes and not just for campaign dollars.

Also the days when California made up a mere 13 out of the then-531 Electoral College votes, or just 2.4 percent. Today it makes up 55 out of 538 Electoral College votes, or 10.2 percent of the total. Although even that is actually a lower percentage than the 12.1 percent it makes up of the U.S. population.

The Real Reasons California Went for Wilson: Western Authority Says His Mexican Policy and the Support Women Gave Him Placed the State in the Democratic Column (PDF)

From Sunday, February 18, 1917

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

February 18th, 2017 at 9:07 am

Posted in Politics

Lincoln Greater, Says Ida M. Tarbell, Each Passing Year

President Abraham Lincoln’s renown has only great since his already-legendary stature described here in 1917. The Lincoln Memorial would not open for another five years until 1922, Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning biopic starring Daniel Day-Lewis wouldn’t open for another 95 years until 2012.

The best sentence in the article describes a silver lining of the dark cloud that was the Civil War:

“Possibly the best thing we can say of the scheme [the Civil War] is that it gave us Lincoln. It is very unlikely that any other form of government that the world has yet tried could by peaceful means have developed his particular genius; that is, it would not have been fully available, except possibly through a great war, under any other form of government. His talent would not have had the peculiar kind of training which he had and which made him so fit for the tasks thrust upon him.”

Lincoln Greater, Says Ida M. Tarbell, Each Passing Year: He Is Today the Source to Which Statesmen of All Lands Look for Understanding of Democracy (PDF)

From Sunday, February 11, 1917

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

February 13th, 2017 at 7:34 am

Posted in Politics

Spirit of the Nobler American Now Awake

Less than two months before the United States would formally enter World War I, the drumbeat of imminent entry was uniting the country. James M. Beck, author of “The Evidence in the Case,” was previously a critic of President Woodrow Wilson’s policies, but he come around after Wilson ceased diplomatic relations with Germany in early 1917, shortly before ultimately declaring war that April. In February, Beck wrote:

“The value of this action to the United States is immeasurable. It saves it from a possible abyss of disaster. Had America failed to act and show a willingness to make sacrifices for the basic principles of civilization, the hand of every nation might hereafter have been against her. President Wilson’s action has saved for the United States the respect of the world (including Germany, which overestimated America’s willingness to fight for its rights), the leadership of the neutral nations, and the good-will of our sister democracies in Europe, with whose final triumph the interests of America are so vitally concerned.”

One wonders whether a similar near-unanimity of public support is possible for any policy position in the modern era.

Spirit of the Nobler American Now Awake: Former Critic of the President Says There Are Practically No Dissenters From President Wilson’s Clarion Call to Duty (PDF)

From Sunday, February 11, 1917

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

February 12th, 2017 at 7:34 am

New York Police Department Is on a War Footing

Lest one thinks that war only affects law enforcement on a national level, the local NYPD was heavily prepared for imminent involvement in the World War I:

“…[for] invasion of bombardment or the cutting of supplies by siege, detailed answers to every phrase of that question are on file at Police Headquarters… Plans for emptying the town or any given section of the town are perfected. In addition to all the normal traffic lines, elevated, surface and subway, which the Police Commissioner has the right to commander if the lives of the people are at stake, he he on record lists of many thousands of motor trucks and other vehicles which would be at the instant disposal of the police…

By means of this same Police Department with its emergency plans the entire food and fuel supply of the city could be municipalized overnight and its distribution regulated by the authorities in the way to do the most good for the largest number.”

One would assume that the NYPD in 2017 has an even more complex plan for such an unlikely scenario, especially following a massive terrorist attack on New York City soil in 2001.

There was also a warning to avoid paranoia or overly broad measures in 1917, in stark contrast to the “Muslim registry” advocated during the campaign trail by our current president:

“This suggests another thing the ideal policeman has to be. He must be part diplomat. Nothing would be more absurd or fraught with danger of serious consequences in a time like this than for the police to act on the assumption that all Germans are suspects. There are 300,000, or more, of them in this city. The occasional plots of the last two years and a half in this country and city would indicate that perhaps a very few of these Germans have to be watched — probably not one in a thousand.”

New York Police Department Is on a War Footing: Nothing Has Been Left to Chance During the Last Two Years to Prepare 11,000 Policemen for Any Emergency to Come (PDF)

From Sunday, February 11, 1917

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

February 11th, 2017 at 7:34 am

Posted in Military / War

Democracy Doomed, Asserts Dr. Oscar Levy of Germany, Noted Nietzschean

The fear that democracy was doomed turned out to be short-lived. According to Our World In Data, back in 1917, 14 percent of the world’s population lived in democracy. By 2015, that had increased substantially to 56 percent. Meanwhile, 0 percent lived in a colony, compared to 36 percent back in 1917.

However, we currently appear to be in a period of de-democratization. The percent of the world’s population living in democracy has yet to regain its early/mid 2000s peak of 57 percent, and has fallen since that time. According to the Electoral Integrity Project, as of 2016, even North Carolina can no longer be classified as a democracy.

Democracy Doomed, Asserts Dr. Oscar Levy of Germany, Noted Nietzschean: Scholar Who Translated Into English Entire Works of the Philosopher Says “Future Belongs to Nietzsche” (PDF)

From Sunday, February 4, 1917

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Written by A Step in the Write Direction

February 5th, 2017 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Debate,Politics