Sunday, January 19, 2020

Today -100: January 19, 1920: Of deserters and Gaelic


The Paris police plan to round up 1,000 US Army deserters they claim are living in Paris, many of them broke and engaging in crimes. The flics will arrest anyone in uniform without the proper papers. Wait, in all their criming they haven’t stolen some new clothes?

Sinn Féin win a majority of seats on the Dublin municipal council. They even win a few seats in Belfast. One of the new councilors, Michael Carolan, who fought in the Easter Rising, gives a speech thanking his voters... in Gaelic. In Belfast. Love it.


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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Today -100: January 18, 1920: Of the most Bolshevist act in New York, arks, and Fenian councillors


The New York Bar Association condemns the Assembly’s refusal to seat those 5 Socialist members. Former governor and former US Supreme Court chief justice Charles Evans Hughes says that the Assembly, “in the name of hatred of Bolshevism commit the most Bolshevist act ever performed in this state by depriving a part of the population of the right to be represented by their duly elected representatives.”

The “Soviet Ark” drops its deported radicals off in Finland, from whence they will be taken to the Russian border by train. The Finns have informed the Soviets of this plan and requested that Soviet troops stop shooting when the train arrives, but they have received no reply. Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman say they will not stay in Russia, but return to the US to save it.

The French National Assembly elects Paul Deschanel president of the Republic. His term in office will be most notable for his descent into eccentricity/insanity.

Sinn Féin does quite well in Irish municipal elections. There aren’t that many women candidates, but those are mostly SF, including Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington, woman suffragist leader and widow of Francis S-S, summarily executed for no very good reason during the Easter Rising.


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Friday, January 17, 2020

Today -100: January 17, 1920: Of prohibition, leagues of nations, dumping grounds for agitators, rejected tigers, and brown October ale


Prohibition is now in effect.

So is the League of Nations, although it’s mostly just sitting around, waiting for the US to show up. There’s an empty chair and everything.

The “Red Ark” containing Emma Goldman and 248 other deported aliens still hasn’t reached Russia. The ship broke down and needed several days to repair, and now Finland and Soviet Russia are negotiating. The Soviets seem reluctant to “be used as a dumping ground for agitators from America.” Finland may take custody of them and trade them to Russia for Finnish prisoners.

French Premier Georges Clemenceau drops out of the French presidential race after his caucus rejects him in favor of Paul Deschanel, with whom he once fought a duel. Clemenceau says he didn’t really want to be president anyway and only ran because his friends wanted him to.

The Allies will resume trading relations with Bolshevik Russia. This comes out of the blue and the reasons are obscure. The speculation is that Lloyd George has realized that the White forces are doomed, which they totally are. “The only official explanation of the move is that it is intended to reach the Russian peasants and thus weaken the Soviet Government. Some statesmen say that this reasoning is not clear to them.” The US was never part of the blockade of Russia.

Reginald De Koven, American composer of songs such as “Oh, Promise Me,” and light operas, most famously Robin Hood (1890), dies at a dance held in celebration of his recently opened Rip Van Winkle. Here’s a song, such as it is, from Robin Hood, praising a substance no longer legal in the United States.




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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Today -100: January 16, 1920: Of swarms, free cities, and Reds


Secretary of War Newton Baker tells Congress that Poland needs a large loan to enable it to withstand the onslaught of Soviet Russia. Loans should also be made to Armenia and Austria, he says. Gen. Bliss agrees with a suggestion by Rep. John Nance Garner that the Bolsheviks could “swarm over Europe.”

Italy agrees to give up its claim over Fiume, leaving it a “free city,” with its port and railroads controlled by the League of Nations and with its “Italian character” to be recognized, whatever that means. France and Britain are putting pressure on Yugoslavia to accept the deal.

A federal judge orders the release of 9 of the “Reds” being held for deporation on Ellis Island. 65 more will be bailed. The position of the Immigration Commission is that the burden is on the aliens to prove that they should not be deported.


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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Today -100: January 15, 1920: Of citizens


The House passes a bill giving Native Americans US citizenship, although it sounds like it’s really more about breaking up tribal property.


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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Today -100: January 14, 1920: Gloom


Oregon ratifies the women’s suffrage Amendment. 25 down, 11 to go. The measure is proposed by Sylvia Thompson, the only current woman member of the Legislature (and third ever woman member).

Protesters outside the Reichstag in Berlin, objecting to a bill setting up factory workers’ councils which they say are not good enough, allegedly attack soldiers, who respond with machine gun fire, as was the custom.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Last month driver’s licenses were introduced in Ireland, intended to curb Sinn Féin drive-by shootings. So in Sligo, a bunch of cars and trucks which belong to people who complied with that law – “driven under British permit” as the notices attached to them describe them – are sabotaged.


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Monday, January 13, 2020

Today -100: January 13, 1920: Whatever happened to pulling a sword out of a stone?


In an editorial entitled “A Severe Strain on Credulity,” the NYT calls bullshit on Prof. Robert Goddard’s claim to have invented a rocket that could operate in space because how could its forward motion continue in the vacuum of space? “To claim that it would be is to deny a fundamental law of dynamics, and only Dr. Einstein and his chosen dozen, so few and fit, are licensed to do that.” Goddard, “with his ‘chair’ in Clark College... does not know the relation of action and reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react – to say that would be absurd. Of course he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.”

The NYT will issue a correction to that editorial in its July 17, 1969 edition: “Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th Century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.” I can’t get a functional link, but it’s on page 43, the same page as an article by Isaac Asimov explaining that spacecraft maneuver like a squid.

The US will pull the last of its forces out of Siberia. They’ll help the remaining anti-Bolshevik Czech soldiers evacuate, and then they’re outta there and Japan can protect the trans-Siberian railroad itself.

The Monarchist Party in Hungary wants, as the name suggests, a king. They’re hoping a rich American will buy the position, paying off the country’s debts. None of the Habsburgs has enough money.


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Sunday, January 12, 2020

Today -100: January 12, 1920: Of rockets and colored and other unchecked profligates


Prof. Robert Goddard has invented a multiple-charge, high-efficiency rocket he thinks can reach beyond earth’s atmosphere, maybe even to the moon.

Headline of the Day -100: 


The Allied occupying forces in the Rhineland have issued an edict – I think this is real but I may be wrong – setting forth fines or imprisonment for anyone whose “words, manners or attitude” towards members of the occupying authorities or the occupation troops or indeed their flags are “insulting or improper.” According to irate Prussian Finance Minister Albert Südekum, this means any British, French or American negro soldier is placed “in a position to terrorize even the most harmless person against whom his brutal African instincts may wish to vent themselves. ... Rapine and murder may well become a pastime of these black fiends if this edict takes effect” as they can simply send the male relatives of any woman who catches their eye into detention, leaving her “unprotected game for colored and other unchecked profligates.” He notes that the edict is based on the armistice agreement which Woodrow Wilson signed, though it “practically encourages all those crimes for which, in the United States, negroes are burned at the stake. What do Americans think will be the effect of the return of those negro soldiers, whose licentiousness in Germany is officially encouraged, on the rest of their race?” In fact, the US Army points out, there are no negro units stationed on the Rhine.


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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Today -100: January 11, 1920: We won’t need any music


The Peace Treaty has been ratified. The Allies and Germany are now at peace. French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau refuses to shake hands with the Germans, which is very on-brand. The US was not, of course, present, but the State Department decides to piss on the event on general principles:



There are rumors that the German government has been overthrown, but nah.

The Supreme Council of the League of Nations will meet for the first time on the 16th. France, Britain, Belgium, Italy, Japan, Spain and Brazil will be on the council. Clemenceau decides against it being a big ceremonial affair. “No, we won’t need any music,” he growls (I assume; he’s a growler).

The House of Representatives again votes not to seat Victor Berger, 328-6. He was re-elected in a special election in Wisconsin’s 5th District after the last time the House refused him his duly elected seat. He says he’ll run again. The Socialists re-nominate him, saying “We will keep on nominating Berger until Hades freezes over if that un-American aggregation called Congress continues to exclude him.” Wisconsin Gov. Emanuel Philipp (R) says he won’t call another special election, he’ll just leave the seat empty.

A lot of Republicans have come out against the NY Assembly’s refusal to seat 5 Socialists, including Warren Harding, former governor and Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes, and now Sen. Borah.

Admiral Kolchak is reported to have been arrested by the White “All-Russian Government.” That’s not quite right, but it’s about now that he does get betrayed and handed over to the Bolsheviks for... disposal.

The London Tube introduces a railroad innovation: electrical signs in the cars announcing the stations. Mornington Crescent!

Gen. Pershing denies in a letter to the House War Investigation Committee that soldiers’ lives were wasted when pointless attacks were ordered on 11/11/18. FACT CHECK: soldiers’ lives were totally wasted in pointless attacks on Armistice Day.

The US Senate passes a bill against sedition.

100 or so Sinn Féiners attack a police barracks in County Galway with bullets and bombs. Doesn’t sound like anyone got killed.


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