Sunday, February 16, 2020

Today -100: February 16, 1920: In control

Headline of the Day -100: 

Yeah, no.

One of the ways in which he attempts to demonstrate his return to “control” is by warning the Allied governments that he doesn’t like their agreement for settling the territorial dispute between Italy and Yugoslavia, especially the fact that they didn’t consult the US. He really did think the entire world should just sit on its hands for however many months he recuperated from the stroke they didn’t know he had. He threatens to withdraw from European affairs if they continue threatening Yugoslavia, or at least if they continue doing it without him (tomorrow this will be corrected by the White House: he was only threatening not to participate in the gifting of Fiume to Italy, not in all European affairs).

European newspapers question whether Wilson is really in a position to make this sort of threat, given that 1) he can’t get the peace treaty ratified, and 2) he’ll probably be replaced by a Republican a year from now.

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Today -100: February 15, 1920: The mental expert that was employed at the White House was discharged too soon

The NYT points out that Wilson’s complaint that Lansing informally calling together the Cabinet was unconstitutional is wrong since the Constitution doesn’t actually mention the Cabinet.

Republican congresscritters say that Pres. Wilson’s letters to Secretary of State Robert Lansing suggest that he is still not fit, physically or mentally, to resume presidenting, Sen. George Norris, R-Nev: “the mental expert that was employed at the White House was discharged too soon.” (It’s funny because it’s true). Rep. Martin Madden (R-Ill.): “The president admits that he was not able to function and therefore no one else must.” (It’s funny because it’s an accurate account of Wilson’s position). Democrats are grimly refusing to comment.

Lenin supposedly predicts that the recent peace agreement with Estonia will be revisited, and Russia will grab back parts of the country inhabited by ethnic Russians, when Estonia has finished passing through its “Kerensky period” into Soviet rule.

NYC Health Commissioner Royal Copeland (he’s a homeopathist, you know) says the influenza epidemic is almost over.

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Friday, February 14, 2020

Today -100: February 14, 1920: Of resignations, executions, sugar, and booze cruises

Secretary of State Robert Lansing resigns after the Oval Office releases a letter from Pres. Wilson accusing him of usurping presidential authority by calling informal sessions of the Cabinet while Wilson was indisposed. Lansing responded that everyone was denied communication with Wilson for months, so what was he supposed to do? Wilson responded nothing, he was supposed to do nothing, and just wait for months and months. He says that Lansing has been increasingly reluctant to accept Wilson (or whomever)’s guidance and direction (in other words, Lansing has been insufficiently supportive of the League of Nations project). Lansing responds that Wilson has been ignoring his views for over a year (he was snubbed and sidelined at the Paris negotiations) and he would have resigned then except it would have looked bad abroad. And then came “your serious illness, during which I have never seen you,” so again he didn’t feel he could resign. He says he’s leaving office now “with a sense of profound relief.”

White military leader Adm. Alexander Kolchak and White PM Viktor Pepelyayev were executed in Irtusk on the 7th. The West is trying to figure out how they fell into Bolshevik hands. They were sold out, of course, as was the custom.

Switzerland joins the League of Nations. It will be allowed to retain its neutrality and abstain from any League-ordered military actions, although it will have to join economic sanctions. Everyone denies this could be a precedent for the US; Switzerland is a special case.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer Austen Chamberlain blames the high cost of sugar on Americans, who’ve been ingesting tons of the stuff since prohibition came in. He thinks moderate drinkers like himself, who get their sugar from alcohol, are good citizens.

The Mauretania arrives from New York; despite setting sail with a record amount of booze on board, passengers drank not so moderately from the minute it hit the three-mile zone until it reached Southampton, drinking the ship entirely dry. The Cunard line assures thirsty passengers that they will be increasing storage room for future voyages.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Today -100: February 13, 1920: Of citizens of the Internationale, suffrage, generals, and referenda

The NY State Assembly is still considering the expulsion of those 5 elected Socialist members. State Attorney General Charles Newton signs a brief that they “come here under the false pretense of being loyal to their Government, when in fact they are really citizens of the Internationale, and desire above all things the destruction of this Government.”

Arizona ratifies the women’s suffrage Amendment. 31 down, 5 to go. It was unanimous. In the Virginia House of Delegates, however, it is defeated 62-22; it had already been defeated 24-10 in the state Senate. This has been the pattern: near unanimity when the vote is in favor, large No majorities when the vote is against.

Poet-Aviator-Kidnapper Gabriele D’Annunzio releases Gen. Nigra, who his forces grabbed up a couple of weeks ago.

The first referendum has been held in Schleswig. They’re doing it by zones. The north zone voted 3:1 to join Denmark. Germans living in the province now have 2 years to decide whether to become Danes or keep their German citizenship, in which case they will have to leave within a year.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Today -100: February 12, 1920: Because nothing says criminal anarchy like “business manager”

Benjamin Gitlow, a former one-term Socialist member of the NY State Assembly, is convicted of “criminal anarchy,” for his role as business manager of The Revolutionary Age, and sentenced to 5 to 10 years.

Idaho ratifies the women’s suffrage Amendment. 30 down, 6 to go.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Everyone’s a critic.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Today -100: February 11, 1920: We failed to restore Russia to sanity by force

One of Woodrow Wilson’s doctors, urologist Hugh Young of Johns Hopkins, is interviewed by the Boston Sun. “From the very beginning the medical men associated with the case have never had anything to conceal,” he lies. All Wilson’s organs are now functioning normally, he lies. Wilson’s brain works even better than before his illness, he lies. The only reason Wilson hasn’t been seen outside more is that the weather’s been bad, he lies. Wilson is bright and tranquil and serene, he lies. Still, he uses the term “cerebral thrombosis,” which is the first official admission that Wilson had a stroke.

British Prime Minister David Lloyd George tells Parliament that Russia must be “restored” under an anti-Bolshevik government. Admitting that military intervention and propping up various White armies has failed (I don’t know if the West knows yet that Adm. Kolchak has been executed), he still intends to win through economic something or other. Trading with Russia but not recognizing its government.  “We failed to restore Russia to sanity by force. I believe we can save her by trade. Commerce has a sobering influence.”

French PM Alexandre Millerand informs Germany that because of its non-compliance with the peace treaty, the occupation of the Rhineland will now be indefinite. This is a power move against Lloyd George’s recent dominance of Allied policy and his lack of interest in pressing too hard for the extradition of German “war criminals” (the former crown prince offers to stand trial in place of the other 889, “if the allied and associated powers want a victim”). In fact, Millerand  made this announcement without consulting with LG or Italy’s PM Nitti.

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Today -100: February 10, 1920: Of lynchings, military training, doctrines, freak pitching, and monkey glands

On the streets of Lexington, the Kentucky National Guard fights a mob determined to lynch a black man, Will Lockett, who was being tried for killing a 10-year-old white girl. The Guards shoot into the mob, including with machine guns, killing at least 5 and wounding 17+. Lockett is then sentenced to die by the electric chair (he was arrested, “confessed,” indicted, tried and sentenced in 6 days). Meanwhile, members of the mob attack hardware stores and pawnshops and seize all the guns they can find. There are rumors that 1,500 “mountaineers” will descend on the city. Martial law is declared.

Woodrow Wilson (or whomever) writes to warn the House Democratic caucus against making a decision on compulsory military training, thereby making it a party issue. Also, he supports “moderate training projects” for their “great disciplinary and other advantages” for young men. The caucus ignores him and votes to oppose universal training.

Another revolt against Japanese colonial rule in Korea. Insurgents, supposedly armed by Russia, attack Japanese army outposts.

Germany is drawing up its own list of Allied soldiers and officials responsible for war crimes, because two can play at that game.

Secretary of State Robert Lansing refuses El Salvador’s request that the US explain the Monroe Doctrine before it signs the Versailles Treaty, which mentions the doctrine.

The US refuses to recognize the independence of Lithuania, preferring a united Russia.

New Jersey ratifies the federal women’s suffrage Amendment after a Democratic filibuster in support of a referendum. 29 down, 7 to go.

The people in charge of baseball ban “freak pitching,” which includes the spitball, although each team can designate two spitballers for the next season only. There are other rule changes, but I lost interest. I feel tricked into momentarily caring about sports by the phrase “freak pitching.” Are there any other phrases in today -100’s sports section that could do that? Yes, yes there are:

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Sunday, February 09, 2020

Today -100: February 9, 1920: Of hoovers and fugitives

Herbert Hoover says he’s not seeking the presidency. Which is not the same thing as saying he wouldn’t accept the nomination. He’s also not saying whether he’s a D or an R, saying he wants to see what the parties stand for first. He does say he’d support whichever party favored the League of Nations.

Some of the Germans deemed war criminals by the Allies are slipping into Switzerland to avoid possible extradition. There’s no Swiss law against fugitives entering the country.

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Saturday, February 08, 2020

Today -100: February 8, 1920: Of reservations, doctrines, suffrage, piracy, and breakers of marriage

Sen. George Hitchcock (D-Neb.) shares with the Senate a letter Pres. Wilson wrote him a couple of weeks ago accepting Hitchcock’s proposed compromise reservations to the League of Nations.

Since the US got a mention of the Monroe Doctrine included in the League of Nations Covenant, some Latin American countries are putting off joining the League until the US explains exactly what the Monroe Doctrine entails.

Nevada ratifies the women’s suffrage Amendment. 28 down, 8 to go.

D’Annunzio’s men capture a destroyer and a food train.

Soviet Russia now has an official “Breaker of Marriages” to grant divorces, and he’s breaking hundreds of marriages a week. “All that appears to be required is the signature of the person desiring freedom from matrimony,” the scandalized NYT reports from its fainting couch.

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