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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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A recent survey by the University of Chicago has found that Americans are the least happy we've been in nearly 50 years.

There are probably a lot of reasons for that, but I think it's because 1971 was the last time you could buy this as a 3' x 2' poster for just $1.50 (plus .25¢ postage and handling):

Peaceman

May Superman and peace never go out of style.

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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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At approximately 6:30PM, Monday, June 1, 2020, amid a week of national protests and riots against unjust authoritarian force, federal agents forcibly dispersed a televised, peaceful protest in Lafayette Square north of the White House. Mounted armed men, pepper spray, and gas canisters were further used to displace reporters and the clergy of St. John's Episcopal Church, which an arsonist had attempted to burn the night before. Though the Capitol Park Police issued a statement that their actions were taken in direct response to increased violence from protesters, multiple sources would later report that the U.S. Attorney General had given the order that the park should be cleared about half an hour earlier.

At approximately 7:00PM, following a speech in the White House Rose Garden in which he declared himself "an ally of all peaceful protesters" and closed by vowing to "pay respects to a very, very special place," the U.S. President led the Attorney General, other cabinet members, and the White House press pool — who reported on the discomforting effects of lingering gas in the air — on a walk across the conveniently cleared Lafayette Square to St. John's where the president posed holding a bible above his head. Despite this event being obviously pre-planned, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington later confirmed that the White House had not notified the church of any intention to stage the photo op with their building, nor is the president a member of their congregation.

This sequence of events demonstrates that a group of legally assembled Americans, clergy actively practicing their religion, and the free press, were all oppressed by police forces in order to accommodate the whims of an American president hoping to generate an iconic image for purely political purposes. I don't care what political party you support; that's bullshit.

Dear future self: all of those senators he references have actually voiced opposition to this event

Fuck you, dude.

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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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As I type this, the United States has 1.188 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 68,276 deaths. More Americans have already died in the past 2 months from COVID-19 than died in the entire Vietnam War. And it's not over yet. By the time you read this, those numbers will be worse.

A quick computation of those figures reveals a current mortality rate of nearly 6%. If you've been paying attention (what else have you got to do?), you may remember that back at the beginning of March, the World Health Organization was estimating a 3.4% mortality rate — an estimate our wise president chose to call "a false number" in a live television interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News. He objected to the WHO number not because it was too low, but because it was much, much to high. "I would say the number is way under one percent," said the president.

(Footnote for future historians: That comment was made on March 4. A month later, April 14, Trump withdrew funding to the WHO claiming that they failed to report the true danger of the virus back in January. Quote: "The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain that and share information in a timely and transparent fashion." By that logic, I guess we should stop funding the current American president, too.)

Testing continues to be a problem, so we can't really be sure that the 1,188,122 number I referenced above is the true extent of the contamination. If we assume that the actual mortality rate is closer to 3.4% previously observed in other countries, it would mean that over 2 million Americans currently have or have had the disease. That's over a million hidden, untreated, pandemic-spreading cases. Sure seems like someone should be thinking twice about opening those shopping malls, Governor Kemp.

Also unreported in all those grim details is another victim of COVID-19. Specifically, I'm talking about my flattop.

Egghead!

I haven't seen a barber in over a decade, but in an act of solidarity (and maybe a little laziness), I decided to go ahead and trim my hair down to the scalp. Does it make me look more bald or less?

These days, the fact that I'm alive and well enough to worry about such things feels like an accomplishment.

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Art by Jack Kirby and Chick Stone, words by the actual President of the United States:

Credit to Twitter:@PresVillain

So brilliant, I wish I'd thought of it. But the credit belongs to twitter.com/PresVillain.

But wait! The joke works even better if you know the original panel from Tales of Suspense #66 (1965), written by Stan Lee:

He was being sarcastic!

Don't worry, Captain America survives, but by the end of the issue, he's heiling Hitler. Stupid disinfectants.

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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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An editorial cartoon in the newspaper got me to thinking about how Superman would handle something like the COVID-19 outbreak. In the cartoon, he was staying home to prevent the further spread of the disease. That's cute, but it's frankly a waste of Superman's power. No one who can hold his breath indefinitely as he flies through the Sun to disinfect himself needs to worry about a shortage of Purell.

Ironically enough, a plague was among the problems that Superman 2020 had to deal with in the far flung future of... 2021.

They're not dead; they're Transformers!

Remember Superman 2020, aka Superman III? He's Superman's grandson, the son of the son of Superman. We last discussed his adventures, written at the dawn of the 1980s, in January. (You know, way back when the threat to the world was white supremacy. Damn. What's it going to be by July? My bet is on Godzilla.)

Anyway, at the end of his first year in action, Superman was confronted with an uncomfortably familiar danger when the doors of the closed city of New Metropolis were opened on New Year's Day 2021, and everyone in the city was found dead.

What, did HIV and Ebola not make the news in New Metropolis?

I did mention this was written in 1982, right? Legionnaires Disease was discovered in an outbreak in 1976 which killed 15% of the original cases. Thirteen thousand cases are diagnosed per year in the US, and modern techniques have squeezed that fatality rate down to about 10%. (For comparison, COVID-19 is still killing under 2% by most reckoning, though it has infected over 26,900 Americans in the past three months alone.)

Maldavia did indeed have a 21st-century outbreak of flu that shut down the country and killed 6% of those infected, though that was in 2017, not 2014. Still, I'd say that's close enough that Nostradamus would have gotten credit for the prediction.

Remember those white supremacists I was speaking of earlier? Superman made about as much progress defeating them as Spike Lee did. When the hero arrives to help the panicked population, those dicks were quick to rush to social media to throw blame. (Life imitating art, or the other way 'round?)

You gotta admit, his logic checks out

Hey, if he were really at fault, I'm sure the authorities would have called it the "Superman Virus" in public addresses instead of referring to it by its scientific name. Because authorities have a responsibility not to mislead the public. Or so I've heard.

It turns out that Superman isn't the cause of the virus but the solution. Using his aforementioned super-breath, he distributes the cure throughout Metropolis' atmosphere, causing it to literally rain medicine.

Thanks, Gramps!

It only took Superman eight pages to thwart a plague and save the world, proving that you can save everyone without a single test kit so long as you have one Man of Steel. My hero.

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To be continued...

 

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