Why Does Nixon Pull His Punch?

Westbrook Pegler

El Paso Herald-Post/October 7, 1960

NEW YORK – The great debate between Nixon and Kennedy on TV was a 10-round, no-decision Barney between a counter puncher and a bum who was afraid to lead. A good referee would have tossed them both through the skylight. About halfway through, I looked at a man sitting on the next stool in the Little Gem, a man with a chewing gum ear who used to fight under the name of Leo Brady, and asked: “Do you think this thing can be one of Those Things?”

“I was just going to ask you,” Leo said. “If I ever saw a Barney this is one.”

In the time that we come from, Leo Brady and I, a Barney was a Barney O’Leary, but we searched way back in memory and we could not remember who Barney O’Leary was or why those things were called Barney. But the Merry Widow was still echoing in our land about that time and whenever the boys went past round three without bloodshed or a knockdown, the rhythmic round of stomping would be heard booming on the board floors of the hanging gallery, then the derisive clap-clap-clap, then the whistling of the waltz.

Once in a while the referee would step between them and appeal to their better instincts to save the manly art of self-defense from another blot on its fair escutcheon by striking a few furious volleys of lefts and rights to the head and body. But I do not recall single mockery in which the better instincts of the principals responded to this heart-cry.

The referee would step through and they would lock arms about each other and sway in close embrace until the next bell. They were lost to shame.

I thought Nixon scored more near misses, but it was plain to me that he did not want to rile Kennedy and start him swinging. Nixon looked peaked and out of shape and Kennedy’s face was pulpy and his lids were puffy. When Kennedy is fine, his features are sharp. Anyway, he looked bloated, and he dogged it when he should have been boring in and bulling Nixon from rope to rope. I was surprised to discover that he had so much dog or geezer in him, after his brash defi in his acceptance speech in Los Angeles. But he certainly did tin-can it from the opening bell to the end.

Nixon may have thought he had an excuse in his intimation during the Chicago convention that he would leave the dirty work to Kennedy, but for his part would keep the campaign clean. Kennedy could take “the low road.”

This seemed to have taken the brash out of Kennedy, because he tried to out-gentleman a guy who is pretty good with the knee and the glove Iaces across the eyes himself.

On the whole, though, I blame Nixon more than Kennedy. After all, Kennedy has no philosophy or program in his heart. He just wants the power of the presidency for a good deal, the same reason that F. D. Roosevelt wanted.it. They both were rich, petulant and spoiled by adoring family women, and had no belly for the rough-and-tumble of masculine society. Roosevelt went around fluting melodious head-sounds against extravagance and promising strict economy, hut his only economy was to reduce the salaries of Army officers who couldn’t do anything about it. Then came the wildest extravagance in all history.

Kennedy’s theme song is scored for gas pipe, wash board, bongo and Dakota whistle. It doesn’t mean anything so it means everything and Nixon could tear him to tatters analyzing this gibberish. If Nixon has any belly for this fight he could say, “Well, who rescued Soviet Russia from Hitler and Japan and who smothered Stalin with railroad trains, diesels, synthetic rubber factories and tire plants, and who gave Stalin the Baltic states, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Balkans and the islands north of Japan? Wasn’t it your man Roosevelt?”

But Nixon won’t even jab.

It wasn’t Castro, was it, who deported millions of men and. women, the relatives of millions of our own Americans, from their native countries in Eastern Europe to the mysterious wilderness of Russia’s terra incognita in the Arctic Circle?

And this was done by the fawning permission of Roosevelt and Truman. Wasn’t it?

Why doesn’t Nixon haul off on the subject of Jack’s friends in the union rackets? What has Nixon got to lose? The rank and file would vote for anybody with the courage to fight for them.

Government is Enemy of People

Westbrook Pegler

El Paso Herald-Post/October 3, 1960

NEW YORK. – The Wall Street Journal says, “Few Americans, we suppose, would, disagree with this- statement: ‘The U. S. Government is not the enemy of the people.’” That triple-jointed negative almost hides its own meaning, but in simple Americanese, the Journal means to argue that the U.S. Government is not the enemy of the people. That proposition is a mistake, which I will now refute.

In the first place, however, be it understood that “the Government” is not the country, but the country’s political management. It consists of a gang of politicians who, by the time they have achieved power in Washington, have lost their natural respect for the rights of people as human beings and their own sense of honor as individuals.

The bureaucracy, in descending scale, is an auxiliary of the management. Owing its living and its powers to the management, this monstrous mass obeys the management’s evil design against the people.

This truth is seen in terrifying clarity whenever an unfortunate citizen overspeaks himself against the management or the President and may find himself harried by the Internal-Revenue Bureau. He is a citizen alone, but the management has literally thousands of fly-cops, accountants, cowed and servile informants hidden in the counting rooms of banks, and swarms of lawyers to throw into action against him. The Government does not worry. It sleeps well.

But the victim must hire his own lawyers and accountants, and pay for court records, at as much as $4 a page. He is ruined, His earnings stop and his assets are seized by order of the Government’s own courts. So the Government destroys its critics and the warning is plain to all others.

Very brief association with the management in Washington creates within the politician a second self, sordid and utterly dishonest, which lives by a code of rules and morals repulsive to his normal, personal self.

Thus we find even Senator Barry Goldwater, an amazingly decent man in his private life, at friendly ease with Jack Kennedy even though he has accused Kennedy of complicity in conduct which ought to forbid even the bleak civility of a soundless movement of the lips in a Capitol elevator. Goldwater ought to despise Kennedy. But this immoral condition permits members of the management as such to commit flagrancies without inner shame or public embarrassment.

I am confident that this will be put down as vitriolic, scurrilous, insensate temper, but I have developed a serene contempt for the servile, irresistible hankering for royalty which always unnerves Americans in the -presence of a President.

This was worst in the case of Roosevelt II, but three Presidents who have reigned since I came of age have thrown my country into wars which were none of our business and in each case Congress, as. part. of the managerial apparatus, gave overwhelming consent. But the people certainly were unwilling because they resorted to a maze of excuses to escape the draft.

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Henry Morgenthau were conspicuously indispensable to the home front in the First War, but nobody was more ferocious in hounding appeasers into the ranks in the Second.

The Government is an immoral institution, for it commits outrages which would be criminal if they were done by individuals.

The repudiation of gold by Franklin D. Roosevelt was a colossal swindle which, on appropriate scale, would have been statutory fraud if done by you.

Social Security is another, in which the people are forced to buy annuities of uncertain value on the seller’s terms and subject to constant upward revision of the price.

The members of a whole nation are guilty of the crimes of the general management, as Eleanor Roosevelt said of the German people when she wanted to punish them for Hitler’s misconduct.

By the same process, Walter Reuther’s subjects are personally guilty of the crimes of the UAW, for the UAW is Government imposed on 300,000 Faceless Men. Thus also the national U. S. management is Imposed on a baby who is born today.

Garner Personifies Patriotism

Westbrook Pegler

El Paso Herald-Post/June 13, 1962

NEW YORK.—I feel a temptation to sentimental extravagance in thinking of John M. Garner. His honesty and his patriotism, not merely to our geographical country but to our beautiful old ideals, are a treasure which few of us comprehend. Few of us have been able to visit the Kremlin, but I think of it as a mausoleum where the soul of Russia awaits resurrection, a shrine of something impalpable, spiritual and unspeakably potent. We have nothing that may be compared with it. I have felt a similar emotion in St. Peter’s and in St. Paul’s in London.

It seems ludicrous to hint that I would sense a spiritual vibration in thinking of this frail, very untidy, lovely old man in the little town of Uvalde, Texas, but he personifies virtues we recklessly repudiated with the advent of Roosevelt. Garner was manly.

Vice President Garner was so modest that he failed to establish in the public mind the contrast between a good American and a frivolous, avaricious adventurer with a counterfeit “background” of aristocracy.

Bascom Timmons performed a public service with a book published in 1948 called “Garner of Texas: A Personal History.” It did not sell very well. The book claque in New York has more praise for dirty things.

But I find comfort in Timmons’ life of John Garner, like an old woman fingering her Bible. Garner’s son, Tully, walked into his father’s office the day after Garner voted for Woodrow Wilson’s war and said, “I aim to go, Dad.” The old man said, “Hell, you are going! I would not vote to send other boys to war if I hadn’t known I was sending my own. And one more thing. Your mother and I will want to hear from you, but promise me you’ll never ask me a favor. I might be in a position to get it and I don’t want to be exposed to temptation.”

Garner almost fought Roosevelt on recognition of Russia. The country was against recognition, but Roosevelt and his cult wanted recognition.

Gamer said: “If this outfit has kept its word to anyone or done anything in good faith, I have not heard about it. My considered judgment is that the United States will gain nothing and lose a lot.”

In 1931, President Hoover called Garner hurriedly from Uvalde. For the first time Garner travelled by air and when he stepped from the plane in Washington he pulled from his coat pocket a slip of paper which Mrs. Garner had put there. She had written: “The Lord watches over you and keeps you in perfect safety. His spirit is guiding, protecting and inspiring you in all your ways.”

Notwithstanding Garner’s counsel Roosevelt “personally” did recognize Russia on Garner’s 65th birthday, Nov. 22, 1933. That was our death warrant, but you will find exultation in the morning papers of the next day by men and women who are still influential among us in Washington and New York.

Garner said: “It’s all through. The dishes wiped. I hope it turns out better than I think it will. This outfit wants to pull down our Government.”

Garner often walked out of Cabinet meetings because Roosevelt prattled “500 words for every one that he listens to.” He thought Henry Wallace had “crazy” ideas, but that Henry Morgenthau had none at all and was “the most servile man I have ever seen, and I mean servile, not loyal.”

The Garners lived in three rooms in the Washington Hotel, a converted office building, and took most of their meals in the coffee shop. He was richer than Roosevelt, even then.

Both his wife and his son were carried on his official payroll until he became Vice President.

But, Timmons writes, “when a radio sponsor offered him $100,000 a year, he said. ‘I am not worth it as John Garner and any value I have attained as Vice President is not for sale.”

He rode the street cars until he became speaker of the House.

They rarely accepted an invitation to dinner.

He had $100,000 to invest in 1933 and stocks were very low. He knew how he could double or treble the money, but he bought land and Timmons said that in 1918 Garner had made $200,000 or $300,000 thereby.

Hitler Tried to Keep Us Out of War

Westbrook Pegler

El Paso Herald-Post/March 23, 1962

NEW YORK. — An American lawyer who interviewed Rudolf Hess at Spandau Prison, Berlin, in 1947, said the other day that Hess informed him his mission on his parachute drop into Scotland in May, 1941, was to transmit an offer of peace from Hitler to Churchill. Thus Hitler would have taken Great Britain out of the war and frustrated Franklin Roosevelt’s determination to throw us into it. Hitler had shrewdly refrained from creating a legal excuse for Roosevelt to make war on Germany.

Roosevelt even sent a pro-Communist ambassador to Berlin, a seedy pedagogue named William E. Dodd, whose daughter with her husband defected to the far side of the Iron Curtain a few years ago. True, Germany was raucous and spied on us, but German Communists had waged bloody civil war in Germany and American Communists flaunted the American passport in Germany for protection.

Rudolf Hess was second in Hitler’s political machine. In this status he flew to Scotland and dropped by chute. There are inexcusable defects, including lies, in the historic account of this. Churchill has written thousands of pages, but not about Hess.

Robert E. Sherwood, a playwright, wrote an idolatrous account of the joint war career of Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins, including a version of the Hess matter so weak and loose that a decent city editor might have thrown him out for payola.

Sherwood would have had us believe that Roosevelt never did insist on knowing Hess’s mission when all Roosevelt had to do was phone Churchill. But any admission by Sherwood that Hess offered peace to Britain would only prove that Roosevelt was determined to throw his country into war to save Russia.

My informant is Robert M. Donihi, formerly of our State Department, later a staff lawyer in the Nuremberg “war crimes” trials and occasional political candidate. He is legislative assistant to Senator Winston L. Prouty of Vermont in Washington.

Commenting on my discussion of the Hess thing, Donihi wrote a mutual friend: “Pegler is quite right. Hitler and Hess concluded that there was no chance of whipping the Soviets if the United States were to come into the war. They thought Hess might have contacts in England to influence Germany into an attractive separate peace. Roosevelt could get away with a war to help Britain but he knew he couldn’t persuade Congress to declare war on Germany just to help Russia alone.”

Hess told Donihi he never was given an opportunity to meet high echelon persons in England. “Churchill,” says Donihi, “referred to him as ‘the mad Hun’ without ever talking to him. The man who replaced Hess as No. 2 Nazi was, and is, Martin Bormann. He had been Hess’s private secretary.

Mr. Donihi explained that as a pro-Soviet Communist planted in Hitler’s inner circle, Bormann relied on other Communist agents in England and other countries to discredit Hess. Then Bormann would become Hitler’s first lieutenant in Berlin, doing an inside job for Stalin. Bormann has been “missing” since the fall of Berlin. Donihi thinks he is in Russia.

After Hess got life in solitary in the “war crimes” trials, Donihi continued to nag at the mystery. Hess’s “offense” was not a “war crime” except to Russia. Donihi believes he is the last American to see Hess whose defense he had assisted in the trial. After 1947, the Russians prevented further interrogation of Hess.

“Hess,” Donihi said, “told me the entire story of his flight, the reasons for it, circumstances, etc.”

Donihi insists that, contrary to common superstition, Hess had a military pilot who flew back to Germany after the jump.

Be it remembered that when Hess jumped, Hitler and Stalin were still honeymooning, only a month before Hitler jumped the Russians in a crazy gamble to beat Stalin before Roosevelt could drag the Germans off Russia’s back.

The Duke of Windsor had tried to maneuver Britain out of the war. He had no use for Hitler, but no more for Stalin, and like many Americans he wanted a head-on scrap between those two. Like most British and Americans of impartial intelligence, he regarded Hitler and Mussolini as short-term fools. He was right.

Instead, Roosevelt made naval war on Germany in the North Atlantic and threw his country into the holocaust.

The Passing Show

Ambrose Bierce

San Francisco Examiner/February 4, 1900

WASHINGTON, February 1.—Senator Mason of Illinois is without a skin; his nerves are all out-of-doors, exposed to the rude touch of whomsoever curiosity may lure or malevolence incite. He winces when observed, and when a thumb is bitten at him he shudders. On Monday last he “rose to a question of privilege” to hurl back an allegation made by Allegator Van Sittart, the British consul at New Orleans. The part of the allegation which Senator Mason took the trouble to hurl back at a considerable expenditure of energy that was given him by Providence in trust for mankind consisted of the following words as reported in a newspaper:

“But what are the people of my country to think when such men as Senator Mason adopt the role of mountebank in the Senate chamber of the United States and hurl invectives at England, the friend, and encourage the half- civilized people who are fighting her? I have been in this country five years and understand fully what it all means. I know nothing can come of it except votes from the constituency for whose benefit it was done. It was never intended that such speeches should change the friendly relations between England and the United States; consequently it was all for show and for votes.”

This, Senator Mason described as “hardly worth attention except that it is the expression of one of the accredited representatives of England to the United States”—a gentleman who in his next sentence he called “an English diplomat.” It is to be regretted that the customary and time-tried distinction between diplomatic and consular officers does not commend itself to Mr. Mason’s intelligence, but that is a matter which can perhaps be adjusted when necessary by a conference committee representing both parties to the disagreement. Meantime a good deal of needless friction might be avoided by a stern and heroic resolve of our Senators and Representatives to give more time to the discharge of their Constitutional duties and less to the affairs of Great Britain and the South African republics. If in pursuance of this modus vivendi any honorable member of either House should fail to hold his tongue with one hand, there could be no objection to his employment of both.

After all, Mr. Van Sittart denies that he said anything of the kind. It is to be hoped he did not, for Senator Mason is not a mountebank and it makes no difference to him what the voting population of Illinois thinks of him; he is elected by the State Legislature, and he knows it. Let us be always just, even to the lowly; when a United States Senator “rises in his place” and makes “the halls of legislation” ring with denunciation of Great Britain for what is none of our business, it is not because he needs votes, but because he needs manners.

If, Sheldon, you show us

   How Christ, scorning pelf,

Would edit a newspaper,

   That will be strange;

But show us how Satan would

   Carry himself

   If pulpited—nobody’ll notice the change.

From the “Queen’s speech” in opening Parliament I make (with indignation) this extract: “I regret that, owing to insufficient rainfall in autumn over a great part of Western and Central India, the harvests and pasturage have failed to such an extent as to make a famine.”

That will not do, madam. As “Empress” of two hundred and fifty million hapless wretches who groan beneath your iron heel, your manifest duty was to assure them a sufficient rainfall. In this country, the most enlightened on the face of the earth, many millions of freemen (sons of revolutionary sires and mostly in sympathy with the embattled farmers of South Africa) have their considering eyes upon you as you sit in fancied security in the parlor of the Tower of London, eating bread and honey and fondling your gold crown while the victims of your misrule in India devour their cotton headgear without salt.

War—even a little war like ours—is a horrible business; not so much because of the privation, suffering and death afield as because of its effect upon the minds of the non-combatants. A nation fighting is like a dog fighting; or, for that matter, a man. It has no powers of reason—nothing but a blind, passionate fury that is neither vincible to suasion nor pregnable to sense. Those who are not incapable of justice to the enemy are as bigoted in his defense as the others in his vilification. If these disagreeable phenomena are less conspicuous in our national life today than they were during the civil war it is only because the present affair touches our interests and therefore our feelings, less nearly; we are no better than we were then. The fury of the non-combatant awaits the great occasion, that is all. On the real war, which God willing, we shall have if we get our deserts we shall doubtless calumniate the enemy and one another with the same lack of common sense that served to distinguish us from our asylumed idiots in the crazy days of the great rebellion. I don’t know why human beings should not acknowledge the lonely virtues of Aguinaldo, nor why Senator Pettigrew should not acknowledge ours. These unripe reflections are the fruit of a debate in the Senate on Wednesday last, when the Senator from Calumpit sought to have a “resolution” read, consisting mainly of Aguinaldo’s version of a conference between himself and Admiral Dewey. The Senator had already tried in vain to have that statement printed at the expense of the Government, and the impudence of this second attempt was very properly resented, but not resented very properly. Mr. Hawley of Connecticut, for example, objected to the reading as “treason” which Is very like calling a throbbing boil an active volcano. Mr. Pettlgrew as a traitor would at least engage the interest of the curious; as a bore he is without distinction.

Mr. Lodge was hardly more reasonable than Mr. Hawley. He denounced Aguinaldo’s statement as false and said he wanted all the facts which he proceeded to supply by reading a letter of denial from Admiral Dewey. That was opportunity to Mr. Gallinger of New Hampshire, who solemnly said that to him the question was simple; whether we should believe “a man in open rebellion, or the hero of Manila Bay.” With all due respect for this logician, the question is not quite so simple as that. Men of sense, even in war time, do not believe what they will, but what -they must; they believe according to what seems to them the preponderance of evidence. To such the fact of a man being “in open rebellion” as was Cromwell, Washington (he of the hatchet) and Lee is not proof of his inveracity; nor, does the fact that another man is the “hero” of something; that is to say, the victor in a battle, establish beyond question his credibility as a witness. But Mr. Galllnger was not content to set up his monumental criterion and have it shining in the admiration of mankind. He went on to say that doubtless the loyalty of the American people would come to the rescue of Admiral Dewey, whose words would be believed in preference to the words of a man “engaged In shooting the soldiers of this republic” and doubtless these interesting phenomena really will ensue, for Mr. Gallinger’s countrymen are no wiser than Mr. Gallinger. They have all manner of solemn convictions, but Sentiment Is the bell-wether of the whole flock.

I know no more about the relative credibility. of General Agulnaldo and Admiral Dewey than a babe unborn—no more than Senator Gallinger himself. A fairly good working presumption would be that at a pinch both can “say the thing which is not” if they diligently try to; most of us can. I have never found that illustrious personages, even men of high rank, are more truthful than the humble folk who stand with hats half-masked to see them go glittering by to the Temple of Fame. Yet I dare be sworn that Senor Gallingero of the Filipino Congress has many a time mounted his hind legs and “nailed” an Americano lie with the simple word of Emilio Aguinaldo, Field Marshal and Dictator.

Count Boni, so the Masters say

   In Heraldry (they’re furious)

Wears fifteen pairs of “pants” a day

   And honors that are spurious.

His title if he must forego

   (And quite a pretty war it is)

Yet snatch not at his trousers, O

   Sartorial authorities.

Possibly Congress can afford to ignore the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, but a combination of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and the overland railways is another kind of snap-dog. If the railway gentlemen can subsidize the governments of these countries with a larger sum than ours would give them for a right of way through their worthless dominions they will indubitably accept it. Considerations of morality and international comity do not count for much with the rogue republics of Central America. Under these circumstances it may be expedient to discover great commercial possibilities in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and find that the logic of events has thrust upon us responsibilities that we cannot evade. It may, indeed, become necessary to discern in all Central America a wicked indisposition to accord the elective franchise to Yankee Uitlanders.

A coal-and-wine merchant in Paris having sub-let a part of his shop to a cobbler had trouble with his landlord about it; but he showed the court that his license permitted him to “sell coal, wine, et cetera.” He held that et cetera covered cobbling and won his case. This recalls the London shoedealer who, when his pedamic competitor across the wav ostentatiously displayed the motto, “Mens Conscia Recti” outdid him by flinging to the battle and the breeze the glittering legend, “Mens, Womens and Childrens Conscia Recti.” And that, in its turn, reminds me of some of the Latin which one has the happiness to hear in the hauls of legislation on Capitol Hill.

Why didn’t Buller, applying right

The rules of his art, advance to White

   And out of trouble get him?

O, well, for one thing (more are in sight

To military children of light)—

  Old Joubert wouldn’t let him.

The amenities of debate in the House of Representatives are not devoid of Interest. On Wednesday last Mr. Linney of North Carolina addressed the House on—but that is “another story,” “a detail,” what you please; the importance of the subject is sometimes dependent on that of the speaker. Mr. Williams of Mississippi afterward accused Mr. Linney of having called some other member an ass.

“The gentleman is mistaken,” interrupted Mr. Linney, “I did not brand any one in the way he says.”

“O, I heard it,” retorted Mr. Williams. “When some gentleman wanted to interrupt the gentleman from North Carolina, he said: ‘O, I do not refer to you. I referred to another ass.’ That is what he said. It is the ‘record’ and will be found there to-morrow unless he revises it out.” There was no further denial, but I dare say the remark will not be found in the “Congressional Record.” Honorable gentlemen have a trick of revising out a good deal that they say and revising in a good deal that they do not say. The momentous question remains, whom did Mr. Linney call an ass, or whom did be call asses—for by obvious inference he had in mind at least two—the gentleman to whom he referred and the gentleman to whom he did not. I suppose they will be heard from later, particularly if the taunt is true, for it is observable that the man has the strongest objection to being called an ass who has no objection at all to being one. Anyhow, it is sad to think that the House of Representatives should be so rich in asses and the Senate have none at all.

“The great need of Washington at the present time,” says Mr. Warner of the Board of Trade, “is a municipal building.” I beg his pardon; this is a matter to which I have given the deepest study. The great need of Washington is a good French restaurant.

“Ladysmlth, Mafeking and Kimberley,” says, Dr. Leyds, “are simply prisons, with the sole difference that the prisoners consume their own provisions.” O, no—there is another difference; they require four or five times their own number of keepers who also are not air-eaters. Dr. Leyds is deep, but not unfathomable. In a dry season you can wade him.

The Senate has adopted a resolution looking to the enlargement of the Capitol, in order that Senators may have more elbow room. There would be room enough if Senators would keep their hands in their own pockets. The resolution was introduced naturally by Senator Hoar, whose innocent enjoyment of his own magnitude is abated by his sense of the pressure of his cosmic environment: He is hemmed in on all sides by the points of the compass. Of him it cannot be said that he knows no north, no south, no east, no west. He knows all too well and they affect him with an acute discomfort. When he walks they chafe him.

The bullet that pierced Goebel’s chest

Cannot be found in all the West;

Good reason: It iIs speeding here

To stretch McKinley on the Bier.

British Soldier Shows His Fighting Qualities at Spion Kop Battle

Ambrose Bierce

San Francisco Examiner/February 3, 1900

WASHINGTON. February 2.—Before withdrawing from Spion Kop the British troops, according to General Duller, endured a loss of 40 per cent. To those who favor the British cause—and I am one of them—this is encouraging news. It breaks a long record of defeat without fighting and promotes the hope that the British soldier has begun to display soldierly qualities.

The first of soldierly qualities is the courage to fight and fight hard. Up to the day of Spion Kop there had been no hard fighting in South Africa. In all previous engagements either the attack or the defense has given way before its losses justified it in so doing. Generally speaking, it has been the attack, and, generally speaking, the British have done the attacking. The inevitable inference is that they have not fought as well as their antagonists.

It is all very well to talk about “terrific fighting” (as Lord Methuen ridiculously did), but there is one, and only one, inffallible test of such civilian vaunting, namely: the percentage of killed and wounded. Fighting is not terrific where that is only 7 or 8 percent of the troops actually engaged. Losses by capture in the open field do not count; they are presumptive evidence of feeble resistance. Great Britain can hardly point to her thousands of soldiers in Pretoria as proof of gallantry and endurance. If they had fought better when, by the blundering of her officers, they were cut off from their comrades, there would be fewer of them there.

Advantage of the Boers

It is admitted that in the South African war (still gravely called the Transvaal war, although not a shot has been fired on Transvaal soil), the Boers and their allies have a tremendous advantage in everything but numbers. That has nothing to do with what we are considering the fighting and staying qualities of the British soldiery. An enemy’s advantage calls for greater sacrifices to overcome it, and these sacrifices are not yet in evidence. In the British defense of Spion Kop we have the sole exception, and even there the endurance seems to have been not voluntary, but compulsory—the defenders could not retire during daylight without extermination. As soon as they could safely retire they did, and they did well. In the general operation, in which that bloody affair was included, two-thirds of General Buller’s army was engaged in an offensive movement against the enemy’s position, and after more than a week’s fighting gave it up and retreated, with a total loss of but a little more than 1,400.

As to the terrible Boer artillery, of which we bear so much in palliation of British defeat, it seems, excepting in the instance of Spion Kop, to have been about as harmless as the guns pitted against it. It is of record that it killed a dog in Mafeking and a child or two in Ladysmlth, and it makes an appalling noise. And that is about all that artillery ever does in land fighting, except when working upon masses of contiguous fugitives too much preoccupied with important matters for remonstrance.

Bloody American Unities

In the American civil war it came to be expected that in a general engagement we should experience a loss of from 15 to 20 per cent. On certain parts of the field and in isolated fights a loss of 40 and 50 per cent was not so exceptional as to cause surprise. I have myself seen a small brigade of 1,500 men attack an entrenched enemy and, fighting a hopeless battle, lose 700 men in twenty minutes. Perhaps this is too exacting a standard. The battles of the American civil war were more bloody than any in modern history possibly because Americans have a brutal and barbarous disregard of human life as is seen in our nearly 10,000 homicides annually, mostly unpunished. But compare the English at Maagersfontain and Badajose and Colenso with the English at Balaklava and Sebastopol. I will not take into consideration such battles as that at Omdurman, between “Tommy Atkins” and the war-like, but unmilitary “Fuzzy-Wuzzy,” who, if he once “broke a British square” was nevertheless an easy prey to the British machine gunner. There is nothing—can be nothing—in such work to justify the British boast, as made by a sympathetic poet:

We are the men that were the men

Of Malaplaquet and Agincourt.

Of course it is understood that modern long-range cannon, small arms of “precision” and other “destructive weapons” have materially reduced the mortality in cattle from what it was when men fought hand to hand with sword and spear—even from what it was when the cavalryman’s saber and infantryman’s bayonet had more than a moral urpose. When it is possible to fight at a distance measured by the thousand yards most of the fighting will be done at that distance and will be comparatively innocuous; but the least an army suffers from an enemy’s fire the longer it ought to hold out. It can stand and fire till it loses as many men as it wants to. My point is that the British don’t seem to want to lose very many of themselves, at either long-range “sniping” or “in-fighting” on a parapet. As long as an assailant is not himself dead or disabled he can go forward if he will. It is simply a question when to quit. In the South African war there has been too much early quitting. Of course it has been always explained; but what cannot be explained is the necessity of so much explanation.

What Does It All Mean?

What does it all mean? For one thing, obviously enough, incapable generalship For another, only less obviously, defective organization. But is there another element? It is to be remembered that most of the collisions which resulted in failure of the British attacks the men have not been recalled from the enemy’s glacis; no command has been given by their Generals for them to retire from a hopeless task, and none could have reached them if it had been given. They gave it up of their own motion, scuttling back to their own lines one by one, as opportunity presented; and excepting instances of such needless surprise or ambuscade as that in which Wauchope fell, they did this without having suffered any very great loss in killed and wounded. Is it possible that the unfriendly German critics are right that England, like Spain and many another nation, is already taking her turn at military decadence as all must eventually do? Is her power on the wane? That power has always been not her wealth, not her vast sea armament, nor her enlightened Institutions, but the courage and devotion or her sons. Are these failing her? Amongst her many resources, can she no longer count upon that first and last line of aggression and defense, the breasts of her soldiers?

I am not prepared to believe it. I hold and hope to continue to hold my lifelong conviction that next to the incomparable Turk the Englishman is the best fighter in the world. Certainly he was two generations ago, and it is difficult to think that while his empire has been extending itself to so stupendous dimensions, his ships multiplying themselves incalculably on every sea and his capital dictating the commercial and financial policies of the world he has himself sunk to the low estate of military degenerate. But in candor it must be confessed that all the current explanations of the paralysis of the British arms in South Africa leave something to be desired—fall somewhere short of entire adequacy. If the British soldier has really become the base and vulgar brute that Mr. Kipling delights proudly to paint him, all is clear.

The Passing Show

Ambrose Bierce

San Francisco Enquirer/January 28, 1900

WASHINGTON, January 26.—Said Mr. Andrew Carnegie in an address to a young men’s bible clans:

“The cry goes up to abolish poverty, but it will Indeed be a sad day when poverty is no longer with- us. Where will your inventor, your artist, your philanthropist, your reformer, in fact, anybody of note, come from then? They all come from the ranks of the poor. God does not call his great men from the ranks of the rich.”

That is not altogether true. The notable men do not all come from the ranks of the poor, though Mr. Carnegie does, and that gives him the right to point out the sweet “uses of adversity,” as did Shakespeare and many others. The rich supply their quota of men naturally great, but through lack of a sufficiently sharp incentive many of these give us less than the best that is in them. When God is giving out genius he does not study the assessment rolls.

As to the rest, Mr. Carnegie is quite right A world without poverty would be a world of incapables. Poverty may be due to one or more of many causes, but in a large, general way it is nature’s punishment for incapacity and improvidence. Paraphrasing the poet, we may say that some are born poor, soma achieve poverty and some have poverty thrust upon them—“by the the wicked rich,” quoth the demagogue. Dear, delicious, old demagogue!—whatever should we do if all were too rich to support him, and his voice were heard no more in the land?

I dare say Mr. Carnegie was not unaware, Scot though he is, that his views on poverty lent themselves felicitously to the purposes of the vigilant humorist and invited the ridicule which they would have escaped had he uttered them while he himself was poor; for, in popular appraisement of the value of what is said a detaining factor is the character or condition of the person who says it. When the devil is dead that matter will be ordered otherwise. Frequently a curse to the individual, poverty is a blessing to the race, not only because by effacing the unfit (Heaven rest them!) it aids in survival of the fit; not only because it is a school of fortitude, industry, perseverance, ingenuity and many another virtue, but because it directly begets such warm and elevating sentiments as compassion, generosity, self-denial, thoughtfulness for others—in a word, altruism. It does not beget enough of all this, but think what we should be with none of it! If there were no helplessness there would be no helpfulness. That pity Is akin to love Is sufficiently familiar to the ear, but how profound a truth it is no one seems to suspect. Why, pity is the sole origin of love. We love our children, not because they are ours, but because they are helpless; they require our tenderness and care, as do our domestic animals and our pets. Man loves woman because she Is weak; woman loves man, not because he is strong, but because, for all his strength, he is needy; he needs her. Minor affections and good will have a similar origin. Friendship came of mutual protection and assistance. Among the well-to-do hospitality is vestigial; primarily it was compassion for the wayfarer, the homeless, the hungry. If among our “rude forefathers” none had needed food and shelter we should have today no “entertaining,” no social pleasures of any kind. Modern life would be barren of all the social graces and sentiments distinguishing it from existence in Kansas. Russell Sage would be the typical American gentleman, and the Bradley-Martins, who were driven from their country for pouring money into the pockets of their industrious countrymen and countrywomen, would be with us, inhospitably popular and meanlv safe.

Poverty is one kind of helplessness. It is an appeal to what within us is “the likest God.” In its relief we are made acquainted with ingratitude. Ingratitude, like spanking, or ridicule, or disappointment in love, hurts without harming. It is a bitter tonic, but wholesome and by habit agreeable. Look at Mr. Carnegie himself, “after taking.” Is he the worse for it? No; with each successive dose he grows visibly stronger to endure another. Obviously he has learned to like the stuff—pays out millions a year for it—has paid some ten millions already and seems only to have begun; (True, there is a good deal of dissatisfaction with the form of his benevolence, and he ought, I suppose, to give to the poor of this generation only, and give them nothing but what they can eat up.) This, therefore, is how we demonstrate one of the advantages of poverty: Without poverty there could be no benevolence; without benevolence no ingratitude—whereby human nature would lack its crowning glory and supreme credential.

I go further than Mr. Carnegie; not only do I think poverty necessary to progress and civilization, but I am persuaded that crime, too, is indispensable to the moral and material welfare of the race. In the ever needful effort to limit and suppress it, in the immemorial and incessant war between the good and the evil forces of this world, in the constant vigilance necessary to the security of life and property, in the strenuous task of safeguarding the young, the weak and the unfortunate against the cruelty and rapacity ever alurk to prey upon them—in all these forms and phases of the struggle for existence are generated and developed such higher virtues and capabilities as we have. A country without crime would breed a population without sense. In a few generations of security its people would suffer a great annual mortality by falling over their own feet. They would be devoured by their cows and enslaved by their dogs.

The knowledge of how to go in when it rains would be a lost art. In brief, all that is malign in human nature is as wholesome, as needful, as “educational”‘ as all that is malign in our physical environment. Poverty, crime, vice, folly, storm, fire, earthquake, inundation, cold, wild beasts and snakes—all are teachers in nature’s great training echool. Does it follow that we should cease to resist them—should encourage and promote them? Not at all; their best beneficence is found in our struggle to suppress, overcome or evade them. The hope of eventual success is itself a spiritual good of no mean magnitude. Let all the chaplains of our forces encourage and hope and pray for that success. But for my part, if I thought victory imminent or possible I should sneak away into the bush and put up a petition for a serious but indecisive reverse.

Believing himself a victim of religious persecution, polygamist Roberts willnot accept the decision of the Gentile House of Representatives, but declares that he will carry his case to the Supreme Court. Very well; that is his undoubted right, but has he intelligently canvassed the situation? Does he think that the justices of that court are Mormons?

One may hold, with Senator Beveridge that, having acquired the Philippine Islands (by what means I would rather not say), it is our duty to keep them, yet not hold with Senator Beveridge that our right to do so is derived from a divine mandate. It must comforting and fine to think that way, but some of us are willing that Americans shall forego the spectacular advantage of strutting and swelling as a new Chosen people. An inflated turkey-cock is not the most pleasing type of expansionist.

When an American is heard in loud and hot advocacy of the cause of the Boers—“the sacred cause of liberty,” and the rest of it—ask him some of the following questions:

When did the Boers first come under British rule?

How?

Was it with their own consent?

What were the circumstances of their secession?

Was it because Great Britain abolished negro slavery among them?

After their “great trek” (mention date) upon lands known to them to be claimed, by what nation did they settle?

Upon whom did they afterward call to save them from anarchy, bankruptcy and eventual extermination by the natives?

Did they then voluntarily renounce their independence, and return to a former allegiance?

To whom?

Having been rescued at a great expenditure of blood and treasure (whose) did they, or did they not, repudiate their solemn pledges, set up negro slavery again and surprise and slaughter small garrisons of their deliverers?

On what conditions were they given virtually a new independence?

In whom, by solemn treaty, was it then agreed that the government should be vested in themselves or in the “inhabitants” of the country?

What proportion of the inhabitants of the country six months ago were Boers?

What proportion of the land did the Uitlanders own by purchase from then?

What proportion of the taxation was borne by the Uitlanders?

Had they, as “inhabitants of the country,” any part in its government?

Where and what is the evidence of the British Government’s or any British officials’ connivance in the Jameson raid?

In the course of peaceful and orderly negotiations, did either party to the present war suddenly issue an impossible and insulting ultimatum, and, almost before the other could reject it, invade and “annex” the other’s territory?

Which party, if either, was the less prepared for war, and therefore, presumably, the less desirous of it?

I do not say that any, or all, the foregoing questions, if answered truthfully, would “fix” the blame for the South African war; I only say that the person who cannot, or will not, answer them is intellectually or morally incompetent to discuss the matter, or hold any “sympathies” either way. Popular “sympathies” have no basis in worth. They are the feeling of the average man, who, not having been taught to think, cannot be trusted to feel. When one’s heart gets in to one’s head it is the sole tenant. As a distinguished writer has pointed out, we recently sympathized with the modern “Greeks” (a scurvy race) because the ancient Greeks, to whom they are nowise related, produced great works of art. We had this justification—their enemies, the Turks, have another religion than ours, and we had so long vilified them that we had come to believe in our own calumnies. If a nation would preserve the purity of its convictions it should not tell the same set of lies for more than a century at a time. Excessive calumniation deceives no one but the calumniator. Nothing is less perilous than moderation in lying; no one is overcome by the strength of his own restraint.

I should like to ask the audible brotherhood of Boerophiles a few questions of another sort, irrelevant to their own convictions, but closely related to their “sympathies”:

What Is a Boer?

Are the Boers a pure race, or a mixed?

Are any of them Dutch?

What proportion of them has negro blood?

What proportion can read and write?

They are religious—are they also moral?

Are they kind masters to their slaves, or do they cruelly mistreat them?

Are they, like other isolated peoples, insupportably conceited, believing themselves the salt of the earth, and others scum?

Are they the Kalmucks of Africa?

I should not advise the rising young Boerophile to answer these questions off-hand; he is likely to go wrong if he does. The best way would be to wait until some veteran of his faith newly pitchforked into Congress, with a smell of the woods and templed hills in his hair, proposes a resolution of sympathy with the “embattled farmers.”Then ask the questions and let him do the answering. It will be merry to note the star-spangled stammer of that worthy man.

The Rev. Mr. Sheldon, author of a book whose influence is felt hither and yawn, has undertaken to conduct for six days a Topeka secular newspaper “as Christ would do it.” The main thing is to remove it from Topeka. He will first take it out on the prairie, and then on the man that got up the scheme.

The following anecdote has not the distinction of engaging my belief: Mr. Richard Harding Davis, the illustrious author )who prudently ducks his head in passing beneatgh the Dewey arch), recently visited Asheville, N.C. One day he was strolling along a road with a friend when an enormous meteorite shot smoking from the skies, “with hideous ruin and combustion down,” and struck the earth somewhere with an impact that shook the entire frame of things and a thunderous explosion which it required the better part of a minute for Mr. Davis to reach. His companion was speechless with terror, not so the hero of Santiago de Cuba. He simply fashioned his visage to the cut of his contempt, and, looking upwards, said “Never touched me.”

More successfully directed it would have deprived the world of a most charming writer.

Brigadier-General (of volunteers) James H. Wilson, commanding a military department in Cuba, has been revisiting the earth and uttering his mind anent the Tropicans over whom he holds dominion. According to him two-thirds of the Cubans are white, and all are saints excepting those that are angels. In a mixed population like that there must be, one would suppose, elements of discord and contention. If the two classes are nearly equal in numbers they will naturally fight for supremacy as soon as our troops are withdrawn. With a view to preventing “the effusion of blood” (dear, familiar old disaster), it may be as well to occupy the island with mortals for a long time. By the way, which of the two Cuban factions does a good man join who dies in Puerto Rico?

It matters very little whether the wealthy Mr. Clark of Montana be given a seat in the United States Senate or not, but investigation of his claim to it has brought out two “definitions” of capital importance. Two witnesses confessed to having said “the thing which is not,” but in acknowledging their indiscretion they did not admit that they lied. “A lie,” said one, “is a false statement made to one who has a right to know the truth.” Said the other: “A statement is not a lie if made with the understanding that it is false,” he means when both stater and statee so understand it. To a delinquent discernment it might seem that in this latter case the moral character of such a statement is of no consequence, for it is easy to refrain from telling an untruth by which nobody is deceived. But is it easy? Do the masters and apprentices of fiction find it easy to refrain from writing stories that are not true? Could Mr. Kipling stop if he tried? If Mr. Marlon Crawford did not turn out a regular two novels a year would he not be sick? For the life of her could Gladys Imogen Jukes stay her red right hand from fabrication of love tales for “the salesladies’ delight?” Lives there a man with soul so dead as to write untrue stories which fool nobody if he could help it? Driven by some imperious necessity of his nature, man must say the thing that is not. Those of us who are not in trade, politics or the professions naturally take to writing fiction and history.

As to the first of these two negative definitions of the verb “to lie” I am in entire agreement with it, having myself many times in speech and print urged that truth is too rare and precious to be wasted on the unworthy. Seasonably and unseasonably I have acclaimed this gospel of moral economy and pounded the pulpit in its propagation. Vox in deserto! None would heed. Now that a co-apostle has formally declared it before a committee of the United States Senate, I am not without a hope that it will prosper in the hearts of men; that its light will crown them like a visible benediction and be as a lamp to their feet; that eventually it may supersede all others and inferior religions, binding the whole race into one holy brotherhood—the Universal Church of Judicious Inveracity.

Count Boni—nay, we’ve no counts here,

   (In democratic ways we’re schooled)

They cannot breathe our atmosphere—

You’re simply Mr. Anna Gould.

So, Mr. Anna Gould, is’t not

   A most peculiar circumstance

That curiosity is hot

   About your loss in games of chance?

Six hundred thousand dollars gone?

   Why, that’s a trifle which

You’d scorn. Yet all this roar is on

   Because you are so reeking rich.

This world’s a crazy little ball;

   We worship Mammon, lip and lung.

If soma poor wretch had lost his all

  No ear would open to his tongue.

To rank we never, never do

   Bow down. But when the fires have cooled

On Sycophancy’s altars you

   Can still be Mr. Anna Gould.

Pulitzer Award for Iron Curtain Story

Westbrook Pegler

Indianapolis Star/May 15, 1956

NEW YORK William Randolph Hearst Jr. and his two sidekicks, Joe Kingsbury Smith and Frank Conniff, have won a Pulitzer award for drilling a hole in the Iron Curtain on their trip to Moscow last spring. The Rover boys took some ribbing because they didn’t know what it was all about, but neither did anyone else, including our State Department and that still goes today. All we all know is that my leader and his task force discovered something, the scope and meaning of which have been spreading, meandering and deepening ever since. Eisenhower was emboldened recently to insinuate that if the Kremlin should start anything we would belt the bums through the transom, and this new confidence on our side dotes from the experience of our wide-eyed Rover boys. The repudiation of Stalin and of the weird Moscow, trials, which paper-collar Joe Davies found tolerable, and the political rehabilitation of the Reds who died against the wall are further developments of the story which they undeniably discovered.

Occupation of Paris

A cub reporter happened to pass the Opera station of the Paris subway one morning in 1940 as a platoon of German soldiers hustled up the stairs. This kid had an exclusive piece on the actual occupation of Paris although he did not quite know this at the moment. The Germans had taken to the subway at an outlying station to save shoe leather and avoid pestiferous fighting with rear-guards and reckless civilians on the way in. So our boys, Will and Joe and Frank, have dealt themselves into a circle, more like a rabble, if you will permit me, of those who are referred to as “Pulitzer-prize-winner so-and-so” and this will set Will’s old man to chuckling because Pulitzer was his enemy, with no holds barred. It is not immodest of me to say that I got one of those baubles some years ago. But, as I remarked to my leader in my address to the throne congratulating him on his recognition, I wasn’t a Hearst hand then and probably would have been passed over in favor of the New York Times if I had been. Any Hearst man who gets it makes it the hard way and our Will made it the hardest way of all because of his name.

Some of The Winners

I was discussing this proposition with some veteran misanthrope the other day and the prevailing opinion was that the Pulitzer awards always were a publicity gag primarily for the Pulitzer papers and secondarily for papers which string along with European ideologies. The United Press has had great reporters including Lyle Wilson, commanding the Washington bureau, and, in the days way back, Karl Bicker, who knew move about Soviet Russia than the whole American corps together. But the U.P. has never smelled a Pulitzer award. The International News can run rings around the A. P. most of the time and the A. P. never has had a writer-reporter who could carry Hob Considine’s machine. But neither has the INS ever been bidden into the circle of the roses although the A. P. got three nods in eight years for “International reporting;” three in six years for “telegraphic reporting;” three in 18 years for “reporting” and one in “national reporting,” a score of 10 to 0 against outfits which always are at least at last accurate and truthful.

The preponderance of New York Times men in the roster of these celebrities is grotesque although Arthur Krock of the Times, who got two awards, is readily acknowledged one of the best of our time. Still, the Times has 2t awards, including three “special citations” and this year’s bauble to Arthur Daley, the sport page columnist, who “covers” nothing, for his “coverage” of sports. Furthermore, Charles Bartlett of the Chattanooga Times, an outpost of the New York Times, got one for a good but routine job on Harold Talbott, who resigned as secretary of the Air Force on a petty issue of conflict of interest. Under Truman or Roosevelt, Talbott would have stuck it out, Bartlett’s undertaking would have been unsuccessful and the story would have amounted to nothing. So actually, Eisenhower deserves an assist here and a cut of the check which goes with the prize. One year, a Washington man for the Times got an award on general principles for no specific feat of reporting, writing or biting his nails.

Pulitzers Last Survivor

The Post-Dispatch, Pulitzer’s last surviving paper, holding the fort for the Roosevelt myth and morality in St. Louis, has 13 awards, including one to an old defender of the faith which was tentatively voted to another and then withdrawn at Joe Pulitzer Jr.’s entreaty and conferred on his man because the guy was getting on in years. Pulitzer’s old World and Evening World, now extinct, got nine, but they conked out 25 years ago. The World-Telegram, which carries on the name and a good deal of Pulitzer’s politics, has had five. The Herald Tribune has had nine awards including one for a handout from a law office on behalf of a client accused of communism who was convicted and went to prison. Some, at least, of the Pulitzer board knew or had wind of the facts when the prize was granted to a favored political organ.

The Pulitzer awards have become political salutes and Bill, Joe and Frank of the Hearst outfit would be well advised to take their bottle caps to some assay office for analysis and report. Nevertheless, congratulations!

Sandburg Hits Wealth Midst Waldorf Splendor

Westbrook Pegler

Indianapolis Star/May 14, 1956

NEW YORK Quaint, homespun Carl Sandburg, the high-split Swede from Galesburg, Ill., went philosophical a few days ago and, in an interview over breakfast at the Waldorf-Astoria on squalid, crime-haunted Park Avenue, where orange juice is only 75 cents, observed that the American people are in danger from our “fat-dripping prosperity.” Choosing a quote from Albert Einstein to express himself, Sandburg said, “To make a goal of happiness has never appealed to me!” Furthermore, “All these things in the advertisements—any time the main goal of life is to get them so that they override your other motives, there’s danger.”

Sandburg is a prosperous commercial biographer of Abraham Lincoln, whom he resembles in the length of his legs and the close proximity of his buckle to his collar button. He has dabbled in doggerel music of the type which insinuates that the best people are the lowest, and has caught the brass ring riding a winged horse named Pegasus. He is the foremost American poet except Ezra Pound of Idaho, another inveterate and indomitable professional hick who is locked up for life in the national booby-hatch in Washington for the simple reason that if the federal government should dare to give him a trial he would surely be acquitted. That would mean that he had been confined in a lunatic asylum for about 11 years merely because when in Rome he sometimes brandished his walking stick at kids who hooted at his 10-gallon Idaho hat and floppy poetical necktie. In brandishing his stick he evinced insanity, and that is why the best poet we ever produced has been imprisoned in a bedlam for 11 years.

Bryan Also Valued Dollar

To comprehend Mr. Sandburg’s true attitude toward “fat-dripping prosperity” we would have to look at his accounts and his correspondence with his publishers. William Jennings Bryan, who shared some of Sandburg’s outwards and was known as The Commoner, had an eagle eye for a dollar. The man who hired him for $5,000 a Sunday to preach the word to prospective customers for real estate at Coral Gables recalled that, toward the burst of the bubble, The Commoner always demanded his fee in currency. He had to have the money in his fat. sweaty fist before he would so much as spread his wings above the pulpit invoking God’s blessing on all those good people who were about to invest their savings in those beautiful bargains.

Mr. Sandburg’s agent and his publishers, were they free to speak, might enlighten us on bis attitude toward the profit motive and material riches. As it is, however, when a man deplores “fat-dripping prosperity” and repudiates happiness as a desirable goal from a breakfast table in the Waldorf, he leaves gaps in our understanding of his message.

This is the first time I have known any person pretending to superior intelligence to attack happiness as a debilitating agent. Mr. Sandburg seems here to repudiate one-third of the purpose stated by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the motive of our religion and much of our poetry. The “things in the advertisements” include the finest automobiles ever made, a proletarian conquest of the horse and buggy, so I find my poor sightless feet fumbling to follow his line.

Antithesis Of Squalor

“These things in the advertisements” provide the jobs which provide the money to provide the rose-embowered ranch-style houses with radiant heating and refrigerated air and freezers and royalties for Carl Sandburg. That prosperity is the antithesis of the squalid condition which Lincoln surmounted, thus providing, free of charge to Sandburg, the raw stuff for that professional success which strokes the vanity from which he derives the happiness which he now affects to despise lest happiness undo him.

Einstein, himself, never seemed unhappy, and the late Ben Stolberg tossed off .a phrase fit for his epitaph when he wrote that Einstein had a happy knack of backing bashfully into the limelight. He was always doing it, and so does Sandburg now. However, Einstein seemed happy to affect an appearance of humble poverty denoted by his frazzled old sweater jacket, and here he was not quite loyal to his professed concern for his fellow-men. For if all of us should make a sweater jacket Iast until the last ravelings, the knit-goods trade would go bankrupt and gaunt mothers clutching rickety babies in ragged shawls would pick at garbage cans as Einstein saw them in Vienna. I understood that he deplored this, but I am darned if I quite know. Maybe he thought this a good condition lest happiness corrupt Madonna and Child. Maybe Sandburg did, too, there over his orange juice in the squalor of the Waldorf, though, again. I say, a look at his balance sheet would put things in sharper focus.

Enemies of the Canal Fail and are Left Sadly Lamenting

Ambrose Bierce

San Francisco Examiner/January 17, 1900

Favorable Reports on Hepburn’s Nicaragua Waterway Bill in Congress Are the Country’s Answer to the Impudent and Disingenuous Proposal of the Conspirators Who Would Block the Scheme.

Only Obstacle to the Speedy Construction of the Canal Is the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, Which Provides That Britain Must First Give Consent, but Uncle Sam May Arrange for Its Abrogation.

WASHINGTON, January 16. The several sorts of disreputables that have been antagonizing the Nicaragua Canal project appear to have played the last effective card which they have dealt themselves from the bottom of the pack. By deciding to report the Hepburn bill, the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce has assured its consideration early enough in the session to bring it to a vote, which is all that can be asked by any supporter generously willing to give the devil a chance. In this vale of tears, nothing but Senator Stewart of Nevada is absolutely inevitable, but to the bright band of gentlemen interested in the Straits of Magellan I commend an affirmative vote in both Houses on the Hepburn bill as a fairly good example of the foregone conclusion without a visible string to it. It is pretty well known who these persons are.

By a remarkable coincidence most of them are connected with transcontinental and transisthmian railroading. Quite recently, however, their quickened consciences persuaded them to atone for their sins against the Nicaragua Canal by promoting the one at Panama. They arranged a deal with the French stockholders by which the scheme was to be “Americanized,” and then patriotically asked that it be given a “hearing” by the government. The “hearing,” they figured, would last a matter of five years, and by due diligence might be prolonged to ten. During that period the overland railways would strive to please by handling their traffic between east and west, as at present. The favorable report on the Hepburn bill is the country’s answer to this impudent and disingenuous proposal and the conspirators are left lamenting. The venerable C. P. Huntington, I am told, is of the solemn conviction that it serves them right. This great and good man finds nothing so little to his taste as any kind of badness. It was he who wrote the glowing lines:

“Am I a soldier of the Cross, a follower of the Lamb?”

Over wide regions accessible to the contagion of his own belief it is thought that he is.

Defeat of the domestic obstructionaries does not, unfortunately, assure immediate construction of the canal on the passage of the bill. There is still a lion in the path—and it happens to be the British lion. The beast is dispositioned rather amicably toward us just now, and somewhat preoccupied with matters elsewhere; but he will have to be reckoned with. Under the Hepburn bill the canal is to be constructed, owned, controlled and defended by the United States; under the Clayton-Bulwer treaty the United States are pledged not to construct, own, control and defend any such canal without the consent of Great Britain. Great Britain has not consented. She once intimated her willingness to abrogate the treaty if we would neutralize the canal, but the fact remains that the treaty is not abrogated, nor would neutralization of the canal abrogate it. Its validity baa been recognized by every administration since its ratification. Congress cannot expunge it by ignoring it, as the Senate—a part of the treaty-making power—has once actually done by passing this very bill. There Is no hope of a President of the United States signing the Hepburn bill, or any bill like it, until the Clayton-Bulwer treaty has been formally abrogated by mutual assent.

Divided among a multitude of men in Congress, responsibility is to each a light affliction, and does not always deter from folly; centered upon the shoulders of one man in the White House, it makes itself felt. This was illustrated in the days immediately preceding the Spanish war. Under two administrations Congress was “ready” a long time before the army and navy were. It would have begun the fighting with a light heart and without other equipment when we had neither powder nor shot enough to fight a battle with. Two presidents of different policies and characters strained their authority to the breaking stress to keep the merry gentlemen at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue from cutting the throat of their country. It is be urged against these incidents that they are an imperfect foundation for an argument against the dreaded One-Man Power, I confess in all humility that they are open to that serious objection; but at the same time I crave leave to explain that I had nothing to do with the cause that brought them about.

If the Hepburn bill force the hand of the Administration in securing abrogation of the inhibiting treaty it will have accomplished something good which, it is to be feared, its authors and advocates have not in mind. Its advocacy by men believed to be in the Administration’s confidence seems indeed to indicate that abrogation is already assured. Let us hope so, for certainly the American people will never consent to forego the advantage of controlling any trans-Isthmian canal that may exist, even if it should happen to have been “made in France.”