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Press Briefing by President Woodrow Wilson, issued on January 26, 1919:

MR. WILSON: Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody. Thank you.

We've had a tremendous week uniting the country in our fight against the Spanish virus. I have reminded people of the importance of masks when you can't socially distance, in particular. A strong message has been sent out to young people to stop going to crowded bars and other crowded places.

I wanted to come out again today to share some additional news with you: This afternoon, my political team came to me and laid out our plans for the Armistice celebration in San Francisco, California. It's a place I love. I love that state. The drawings look absolutely beautiful. I never thought we could have something look so good, so fast with everything going on. And everything was going well — a tremendous list of speakers; thousands of people wanting to be there — and I mean, in some cases, desperately be there. They wanted to attend. People making travel arrangements all over the country; they wanted to be there. The pageantry, the signs, the excitement were really, really top of the line.

But I looked at my team, and I said, "The timing for this event is not right. It's just not right with what's happened recently — the flare up in California — to have a big celebration. It's not the right time."

It's really something that, for me — I have to protect the American people. That's what I've always done. That's what I always will do. That's what I'm about.

Fortunately, the data shows that children are lower risk from the Spanish virus, very substantially. When children do contact the virus, they often have only very mild symptoms or none at all, and medical complications are exceedingly rare. Those that do face complications often have underlying medical conditions. Ninety-nine percent of all Spanish virus hospitalizations are adults. And ninety-nine point nine six percent of all fatalities are adults. That means that children are a tiny percentage — less than one percent, and even a small percentage of one percent.

I have a very, very special person who loves children, who is — who is, I think, one of the greatest athletes of all time. A lot of people say "the greatest player of all time." Known as a "center fielder" who could have been whatever he wanted. Some people — he is the greatest player of all time, by far. Substantially more runs batted in than anybody else. In fact, he got the Most Valuable Player award recently.

And he — I'm reading off these stats. I knew he was the best. I knew he was great, but I didn't know it was almost double anybody else. But he's a man who loves children — has children, loves children, works hard with children. We're going to go outside and be with some little leaguers. Ty Cobb — you know, he's the "Georgia Peach," right? My wife said, "Darling, why do they call him the 'Georgia Peach'?" I said, "You know, he's just such a sweet man.” And that's exactly what happened.

So, with that, if you have any questions — please.

Q: On the Armistice celebration, were you simply not convinced that you could keep people safe at the convention?

MR. WILSON: I just felt it was wrong, Steve, to have people going to what turned out to be a hotspot. You know, when we chose it, it was not at all hot; it was free. And all of a sudden, it happened quickly. It happens quickly. And it goes away, and it goes away quickly. The key is, we want it to go away without a lot of death, without a lot of problems.

Q: You talk about setting an example on San Francisco. But I — I just wonder: Some people are going to take away from this the lesson that you're pushing too far, too fast. It seemed, for a while, the numbers were going up in San Francisco, and you were going to have a problem there with the Anti-Mask League. This comes up at a time you're pushing for schools to reopen, have the opening of the Major League Baseball season. Isn't — isn't the example of San Francisco that we're — we're pushing too fast?

MR. WILSON: Well, baseball, as an example — we were discussing it a little while ago — you're going to be at an empty stadium. I've agreed — Charles Comiskey is a great friend of mine from the White Sox, and he asked me to throw out the first pitch, and I think I'm doing that on May 8th at Comiskey Park. And I say, "How's the crowd going to be?" And, you know, it's like you don't have a crowd; there is no such thing.

It's going to be interesting, Ty. He's not used to that. I've been at many games. He walks in; the place goes crazy. I think it'd be just as good without the crowd. You were just born with it, you know. Some people are born with it.

I don't know if — this is only for the baseball players, but I've never seen a batter hit a ball where so many bats were broken as Ty. He's got the all-time record. I said, "How do you do that?" He said, "Parents." Great parents, when you get right down to it. Right? "How do you do that?" It's called parents.

Q: That's baseball, but the question really is —

MR. WILSON: Yeah, I just — just to finish, I think — I think that we have to all set examples. I think Major League Baseball is setting the example by, you know, playing to empty stadiums, and so are other sports. You see that. Now, then they’ll allow a certain number in. I see golf is now — soon will be allowing people to come in, in percentages. And all of a sudden, we want to get back to normal.

The key is to get back to normal, because nobody wants to see this. But I think it's really good that baseball is opening. It looks like football is opening. It looks like sports are opening. We — we have — it's a tremendous thing, psychologically, for our country.

And we're all — we're all, whether we're — we're going to see right now some beautiful, young Little Leaguers outside with a great future ahead of them. They're already practicing on the front lawn of the White House, and we're going to go out and say hello to them, and it'll be really great.

Thank you all very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.

END

...

Follow-up communiqué by President Woodrow Wilson, issued three days later:

Because of my strong focus on the Spanish Virus including scheduled meetings on VACCINES our economy and much else I wont be able to be in Chicago to throw out the opening pitch for the White Sox on May 8th -(STOP)- 
We will make it later in the season -(STOP)-

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From the article "U.S. Health Service Issues Warning," The Newnan Herald Vol. 54 No. 11, December 13, 1918, page 5:

The Bureau of Public Health, Treasury Department, has just issued a striking poster drawn by Berryman, the well-known Washington cartoonist. The poster exemplifies the modern method of health education. A few years ago, under similar circumstances, the health authorities would have issued an official dry but scientifically accurate bulletin teaching the role of droplet infection In the spread of respiratory diseases. The only ones who would have understood the bulletin would have been those who already knew all about the subject The man In the street, the plain citizen and the many millions who toll for their living would have had no time and no desire to wade through the technical phraseology.

Use the handkerchief and do your bit to protect me!

Speaking as someone living one hundred years in the future, I don't think it's the "technical phraseology" that people object to.

It's also unmanly!
"Covid Patrick Henry" published July 22, 2020 by Rick McKee politicalcartoons.com

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Too cheap to buy a ticket, Batman?

John Adams: once a dick, always a dick
from Justice League of America #113 (1974)

Three things.

Thing 1: The Freedom Train was a real thing designed to unite America against the dawning Cold War. Ironically, the train was forced to bypass several cities because they refused to allow black and white people on the train at the same time. (In this comic, the train will be hijacked by the villainous Wizard, who only wants it to prove to his Injustice League pals that he's good at stealing trains.)

Thing 2: That's some weird perspective in the second panel. John Adams was 5 feet 7 inches tall. Thomas Jefferson was 6' 2". Adams must have been standing on his soap box.

Thing 3: It's funny to think that the self-righteous John Adams is just being a dick, but the "improvement" he's talking about is the phrase "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence," which was added after that first comma as one of many revisions the Continental Congress made to the declaration draft that Thomas Jefferson unveiled on June 28, 1776.

The daily minutes of the first Continental Congress for June 28-July 4 do not indicate who was responsible for adding the phrase. Popular opinion points to New Jersey delegate John Witherspoon, the only clergyman to sign the Declaration. Witherspoon was at the time the president of Princeton, and just before joining the Congress, he made a big splash with a sermon titled "The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men." The movie 1776 gives him credit, which is good enough for me.

For the record, since this seems to be that kind of year, Witherspoon owned slaves. So did both good ol' Tom Jefferson (who often took his to bed) and, believe it or not, Benjamin Franklin (who did eventually change his mind and argue for universal emancipation). Of the four Founding Fathers mentioned in this post, the only one who never owned slaves was the self-righteous dick, John Adams. Give 'em hell, Johnny!

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I'm an artist with an affinity for history who grew up in the shadow of Stone Mountain, so it should be no surprise that I have a special soft spot for public portraiture sculpture. As you can imagine, I have very mixed feelings about 2020's approach to statues of the past.

Jefferson Davis should be no one's hero. I've been to Richmond, Virginia, and I've seen their monument to a man who defined his political career by trying to force the enslavement of an entire race of men. The monument is a disgusting tribute to the traitorous Lost Cause, and it should have been removed from the public space long before now. Should it be destroyed? It will always have propaganda value for the wrong kind of people; perhaps the only appropriate solution is to melt it down so that it cannot become a subversive icon, the same way there are no longer statues in the wild of Stalin or Saddam Hussein. I have a nostalgic emotional connection to the carving on Stone Mountain, but I rationally accept the world may be a better place without it.

But let's not get carried away. There is a difference between statues dedicated to perpetrators of genocide and hatred and statues of complicated political leaders whose actions have contributed directly to our current freedoms. Without Winston Churchill, whose statue is currently under assault in London because the man had unconscionable views about Indians, it's very likely that the only statues in Britain would be of Adolf Hitler, who wasn't exactly enlightened about race relations himself.

In the past, I've laughed off reactionary arguments that if we allow people to tear Robert E. Lee off his bronze horse, hammers would next come down on monuments to George Washington. Maybe that's not as crazy as I thought. America in 2020 wouldn't exist if Washington hadn't been the man he was in 1776, but he did own slaves in his day and that seems to be criteria enough in the current climate to have him blasted off Mount Rushmore. Washington was by no means a perfect person, but should perfection be the standard for which statue is allowed to stand and which isn't? I can't think of too many idolized men who can clear that bar. Maybe just Christ of the Ozarks, the Lincoln Memorial, and this guy:

Look, up!

So begone with your racist Alexander H. Stephens (no relation) and greedy Christopher Columbus statues if you must, but let's reconsider what modern life might be like without slave-loving Thomas Jefferson's Louisiana Purchase or colonialist Teddy Roosevelt's trust-busting and national park conservationism before we add them to the scrapheap. We could always use the reminder that not all great men who built our civilization were good.

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Partial transcript of press briefing by the ACTUAL President of the United States on May 11, 2020:

Q: Mr. President, in one of your Mother's Day tweets, you appeared to accuse President Obama of "the biggest political crime in American History, by far." Those were your words. What crime exactly are you accusing President Obama of committing, and do you believe the Justice Department should prosecute him?

PRESIDENT: Obamagate. It's been going on for a long time. It's been going on from before I even got elected, and it's a disgrace that it happened, and if you look at what's gone on and you look at now all of this information that's being released and from what I understand, that's only the beginning. Some terrible things happened, and it should never be allowed to happen in our country again. And you'll be seeing what's going on over the next — over the coming weeks, and I wish you would write honestly about it. But unfortunately you choose not to do so.

Yeah, John, please.

Q: What is the crime, exactly, that are you accusing him of?

PRESIDENT: You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers. Except yours.

He keeps using that word, "crime." I don't think it means what he thinks it means.

(I also don't think he can read, but that's a different issue.)

Seriously, we are well into year three of this bullshit, and it still blows my mind that the so-called leader of the free world can stand in his front lawn and say dumb shit like this and everyone acts like it's business as usual.

If there's anything that should never be allowed to happen in our country again.... You know what it is.

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Press Briefing by President Franklin Roosevelt, issued on March 11, 1941:

MR. ROOSEVELT: Thank you very much. Please.

I salute the American people for following our guidelines on global distancing — even you people. It's so different looking out there when I look at you. Their devotion, your devotion is saving lives.

Today I'm instructing my administration to deny Lend-Lease Act funding for Britain while a review is conducted to assess the British role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of Nazism. Everybody knows what's going on there.

American taxpayers provide between $250 million and $300 million per year in ships to Britain. In contrast, the Allied nations contribute even less. As an independent nation, the United States has a duty to insist on full accountability.

One of the most dangerous and costly decisions from Britain was its disastrous decision to appease Germany's annexation of Czechoslovakia and other nations. We were very much opposed to what they did. Fortunately, I was not convinced and suspended travel from Europe, saving untold numbers of lives. Thousands and thousands of Americans would have died in their war.

Since its establishment in 1776, the American people have generously supported the British to provide better outcomes for the world and, most importantly, to help prevent global crises. With the outbreak of the Nazi pandemic, we have deep concerns whether America's generosity has been put to the best use possible.

Had Britain done its job to get experts into Germany to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out Germany's lack of transparency, Nazism could have been contained at its source, with very little death — very little death — and certainly very little death by comparison. This would have saved thousands of lives and avoided worldwide economic damage.

Instead, the British willingly took Germany's assurances to face value, and they took it just at face value and defended the actions of the German government, even praising Germany for its so-called transparency. I don't think so. The British pushed Germany's misinformation about the violence, saying it was not communicable and there was no need for travel bans. They told us, when we put on our travel ban — a very strong travel ban — there was no need to do it. "Don't do it." They actually fought us.

We will continue to engage with Britain to see if it can make meaningful reforms. For the time being, we will redirect military support and directly work with others. All of the aid that we send will be discussed at very, very powerful letters and with very powerful and influential groups and smart groups — militarily, politically, and every other way.

And, with that, if you have a few questions, we'll take them. And if not, that would be okay too.

Q: Mr. President, two questions. First, on your announcement about Britain, I understand your grievances with them. But can you address why it is the correct time to do this now in the middle of a war?

MR. ROOSEVELT: Well, we're going to be dealing with countries and we're going to be dealing with leaders of different parts of the world. We spend $300 million a year. We have for many years — more, far more, than anybody else, including Germany. We shouldn't be the only arsenal of democracy.

And it is very Germany-centric. I told that to Fuhrer Hitler. I said, "The United Kingdom is very Germany-centric." Meaning, whatever it is, Germany was always right. You can't do that. You can't do that. Not right. And we spend — and again, it's not a question of money. But when we're spending $300 million and Germany is spending $38 million, $34 million, $40 million — $42 million, in a case. It's — again, not money, but it's not right.

Q: Back to Britain, will you support the country again, if Churchill is immediately replaced? Or do you want to see him step down as a possible reform?

MR. ROOSEVELT: Well, we're doing an investigation. I — I don't know the gentleman, but I know there have been problems. And it's been very unfair to the United States — just like the League of Nations has been very, very unfair, and now they're coming into line. When they consider Germany a developing nation, and because Germany is a developing nation, they take massive advantage of the United States? Why didn't other Presidents stop this? I've been talking about it from the day I got in, and we're looking at that very, very strongly. So I have a problem with Britain and League of Nations, both of them. I'm not sure which is worse, if you want to know the truth, but we'll figure it out. Okay?

Q: You were just criticizing Britain for praising Germany as transparent, but you were saying many of the same things about Germany just a couple of months ago. So, I mean, how do you square, your decision to revoke funding?

MR. ROOSEVELT: Well, I did a reparations deal with Germany, where Germany is supposed to be paying $27 billion to our country. We're going to be watching very much to see. Now, it got a little bit waylaid by the war.

But, look, I'd love to have a good relationship with Germany. But if you look — and we made a phenomenal deal. Germany has paid — because of me, Germany has repaid us tens of billions of dollars over the course of a very short period of time. Billions of — some of that money has been spent to farmers, where they were targeted by Germany. We cannot let that happen. We can't let that happen.

Q: Mr. President, I have a quick follow on Britain. The question is if—

MR. ROOSEVELT: I told them when they put this guy here, it's nothing but trouble. He's a showboat.

Q: I'm just trying to ask you a question.

MR. ROOSEVELT: If you keep talking, I'll leave—

Q: I'm just trying to ask a question.

MR. ROOSEVELT: — and you can have it out with the rest of these people.

Q: I'm just trying to ask a question. I'm just—

MR. ROOSEVELT: If you keep talking, I’m going to leave and you can have it out with them.

Q: It's a simple question.

MR. ROOSEVELT: Just a loudmouth.

Q: You're criticizing Britain for appeasing Germany for being transparent, but you also praised Germany for being transparent in January.

MR. ROOSEVELT: I don't talk about Germany's transparency.

Q: In January, there was a fireside chat.

MR. ROOSEVELT: Well, you know, if I'm so good to Germany, how come I was the only person — the only leader of a country that closed our borders tightly against Europe?

Q: I'm talking about how you said they were transparent.

MR. ROOSEVELT: And, by the way, when I closed our border, that was long ahead of what anybody — you can ask anybody that was in the room. Twenty-one people. I was the one person that wanted to do it. Eleanor can tell you that better than anybody. I was the one person that wanted to do it. You know why? Because I don't believe everything I hear, and I closed. And if we didn't close our border early — very early, long before the kind of dates you're talking about — we would have had thousands and probably hundreds of thousands more death.

Please.

Q: I'm talking about how you said—

MR. ROOSEVELT: Please. That's enough. Thank you.

END

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Says the President of the United States in a live address to the American people at 9PM EDT:

We will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground. There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval.

Says the President of the United States in a tweet to the American people at 10:15PM EDT:

Hoping to get the payroll tax cut approved by both Republicans and Democrats, and please remember, very important for all countries & businesses to know that trade will in no way be affected by the 30-day restriction on travel from Europe. The restriction stops people not goods.

The takeaway: The President of the United States revealed on television that we trade people.

While I'm glad that he's finally taking a global pandemic seriously, I wish it wasn't the Cholera pandemic of 1849.

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When I was a kid, we used to laugh about how old and out of touch Ronald Reagan was. Hard to believe that he was only in his 60s when he became president.

In its nearly quarter-millennium history, the United States has had exactly one president who was older than 70 when he took office. He's still our current president.

Considering who is still in the running for the next term, the next president is guaranteed to be older than 70 when he takes office.

I'm sure that having back-to-back septuagenarian presidents for the first time in American history must say something about something, but I'll be damned if I know what it is.

Maybe I'll figure it out in thirty more years.

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In 1914, the countries of Serbia and Austria-Hungary were at each other's throats as they vied for political dominance in their overlapping spheres of influence.

Prince Regent Alexander of Serbia assumed control of his ill father's crown on June 24, 1914. Heir to the Austrian throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated by Serbian-recruited agents four days later.

Though no one could have predicted the horrors the future held for the two countries that started The War to End All Wars, the assassination was particularly unexpected considering that just a few years prior, Alexander had criticized his predecessor's own ulterior motives for war in this response to a question from his national press:

My father will start a war with Austria-Hungary because he has absolutely no ability to negotiate. He's weak and ineffective. We have a real problem in the kingdom. So, I believe that he will attack Austria-Hungary sometime prior to the end of his reign because he thinks that's the only way he can maintain power. Isn't it pathetic?

Because that's how grown-ups talk.

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I'm one of those people who, back in 2018, was reluctant to impeaching the sitting President because there was no way the Senate would do anything.

I'm also one of those people who, even though the Senate probably still won't do anything, has become convinced that impeachment is a necessity in the wake of the sitting President actively soliciting extorting outside influence on the 2020 election.

I'm bothered that a not insignificant portion of America continues to support the President's interest in subverting the democratic rule of law. I want to give my fellow countrymen the benefit of the doubt. I hope it's a simple case of ignorance, either about the law or about what the President admits that he did.

Late in his life, Thomas Jefferson explained that he wrote the Declaration of Independence

"to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent."

Obviously, that worked out pretty well*. May the inevitable Articles of Impeachment be just as successful.

*John Adams rather famously estimated that up to a third of the American population resisted Independence until the bitter end. In any era, some minds can't be changed.

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To be continued...

 

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