Monday, July 28, 2014

Today -100: July 28, 1914: We have stood this sort of thing for seven and a half years. It is enough.

Today’s paper is incoherent as hell, with some stories saying the chances of war have receded, but a two-paragraph last-minute report says that Austria has invaded Serbia at Mitrovicza.

British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey is proposing a conference of European ambassadors to prevent war (update: actually, it sounds like he’s only trying to prevent war between Austria and Russia, which would bring in those countries’ allies, not war between Austria and Serbia). Russia claims not to be mobilizing its army (Spoiler Alert: Russia is totally mobilizing its army. Russia is big, so it has to start mobilizing early or the war might start without it). In keeping with the theme of the NYT contradicting itself, elsewhere it says that Tsar Nicholas ordered a partial mobilization, with the words, “We have stood this sort of thing for seven and a half years. It is enough.” (To be fair to the Times, the tsar was pretty contradictory on the question of mobilization himself. Also contradictory: my use of tsar/czar).

Cossacks shoot at German army officers who were supposedly crossing the border in the wrong place.

Headline of the Day -100: In the Cologne Gazette, expressing Germany’s attitude toward Russia protecting Serbia from Austria: “Hands Off!”

A NYT editorial entitled “The Man of the Hour” thinks that Kaiser Wilhelm is the dude who could make the little local difficulty between Austria and Serbia escalate into a war involving Russia, France, and Britain, “and the civilization of Europe would give way to savagery, the greatest war of all human history would be in progress. That is too dreadful for imagining, and because it is too dreadful it cannot happen.” Pfew, for a minute there I was worried.

According to the NYT, no one’s prepared for the greatest war of all human history. “Servia Hopeless If Left Unaided,” says one headline.
“Austria-Hungary Is Not Ready For War,” says another. All true. In fact, one reason it took so long after the assassinations for Austria-Hungary to issue an ultimatum to Serbia is that many of the troops from agricultural areas were on harvest leave.

So who is prepared for the greatest war of all human history? Lloyd’s of London, which has set a premium of 40 guineas per cent. (whatever that means) against the start of a Serb-Austrian war.

Dublin crowds attack military barracks in response to yesterday’s bloodshed, but are dispersed by the police. The assistant commissioner of police who called in the military yesterday is suspended, leading the police commissioner to resign in protest. Even in John Bull’s Other Island, using the military against civilians is no small thing. Dublin municipal authorities are also not happy that they were not consulted. John Redmond tells Parliament that Catholics “will no longer be bullied and punished for conduct which is allowed to go scot free in Ulster” by Protestants. Prime Minister Asquith says “The difficulties in Ireland are due to the attempts in this House to govern a people they cannot understand by a parliament imperfectly equipped for the task” (in other words, they’re an argument for Home Rule). Tory leader Bonar Law says the government should have enforced the law in Ulster before or resigned and held a general election.

The Constitutionalist governor of Nuevo Laredo state, Mexico, Gen. Antonio Villareal decrees that the Catholic Church sucks and its activities will be limited. Foreign priests will be expelled from the state, priests will stay out of politics or be expelled, confession is banned, etc.

At the Madame Caillaux trial, Joseph Caillaux introduces what he says is evidence that Gaston Calmette took bribes from Hungary, in the form of documents given him by Count Karolyi, leader of the Hungarian Radical Party, and also Calmette’s will, showing that he left a suspiciously large amount of money. Asked by the judge how he happened to have a copy of the will, Caillaux replies, The same way Calmette got hold of my private letters. Henri Bernstein, the controversial playwright, insists on being heard. “Why certainly, random spectator,” I’m assuming the presiding judge said, “The more the merrier.” Bernstein accuses Caillaux of standing on a coffin and making a pedestal of it.

Headline of the Day -100: “War Scare May Affect Tennis.”

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Today -100: July 27, 1914: The interest of civilization and humanity

Headline of the Day With the Word “War” In It -100: “Francis Joseph in War Mood.”

Headline of the Day With the Word “War” In It -100, Runner Up: “British Troops Shed First Blood in Ulster War.” Trying to seize rifles smuggled to the Nationalist Volunteers in Dublin. Four or more are killed with bullets and bayonets by the King’s Own Scottish Borderers. Some of the police refused to attack and have been suspended. I’m unclear on how many of the 1,000 rifles the authorities managed to capture.

Headline of the Day With the Word “War” In It -100, Miss Congeniality: “10,000 Sing War Songs.” Germans. In Brooklyn. The Allied Germanic Societies of Brooklyn sends the kaiser a telegram congratulating him on his forthcoming war, by which they hope “the supremacy of the German race in Europe shall be established for the future in the interest of civilization and humanity.” Nothing expresses civilization and humanity quite so well as the strains of “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles.”

Although the war hasn’t officially kicked off, rumor says that Serbs shot across the Danube at ships transporting soldiers.

Belgium is preparing for war by mining its bridges. Britain’s King George is preparing by canceling plans to go to the race track, because sacrifice.

Carranza says he intends to issue an amnesty, but won’t promise one, because “amnesty is only granted by the conqueror to the conquered as an act of generosity” rather than as a condition of surrender.

The US Navy will now allow enlisted men to buy their way out of their enlistments. Enlisted men guilty of drunkenness, or overstaying their leaves twice, will be dishonorably discharged. The Navy can afford to do this because there is a waiting list to get in.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Today -100: July 26, 1914: War will be a relief

Ten minutes before Austria’s ultimatum was due to expire, Serbia gave a reply, which Austria considers insufficient. It accepted every one of the ten conditions (although with caveats along the lines of Sure we’ll suppress anti-Austrian propaganda, expel from the military people working against Austria etc, just as soon as Austria proves they exist) except the one allowing Austrian officials to come into Serbia and try Serbian subjects, which they accept only in as much as it agrees with “the principle of international law, criminal procedure, and good neighborly relations,” and it wants the Hague Tribunal to rule on it.

Austria is under martial law. Serbia is removing the royal family and government from Belgrade to Kragouyevatz, further from the border. The Tsar orders the mobilization of the Russian Army. Excited pro-war crowds gather in Berlin, Vienna, and Paris, the latter shouting “To Berlin!”, which readers of Zola’s Nana will remember they also shouted in 1870. Probably best not to recycle slogans from your most humiliating defeats. A “prominent banker” in Berlin tells the NYT reporter, “The atmosphere had become insufferable; war will be a relief.” (Spoiler Alert: war will not be a fucking relief).

The chief of the Serbian Army’s general staff, Gen. Putnik, chose this time to be in Austria, and is arrested.

Mexican Gen. Terrazas sells 300,000 head of cattle to some Texan for $4 million. He will split the proceeds with Pancho Villa, who will then give him his son back.

Joseph Caillaux’s letters to his then mistress, the current Madame Caillaux, are finally read in court. They make clear that the relationship was an adulterous one, if anyone in France was still out of the loop on that one, and revealed his cold-blooded strategizing about ending his marriage only after the next election (“What is irksome for us both is that for long months we shall have to employ extreme precautions”). As the lawyer got to the bit about “A thousand million kisses upon every part of your adorable little body,” Madame C. fainted.

There was a lively discussion between two of the judges in the case over the presiding judge’s handling of the trial, which resulted in a challenge to a duel. Between two judges. But first, they have to ask the Ministry of Justice for permission to duel (Spoiler Alert: the Great War will begin before all this dueling admin is completed. Paperwork, man).

Several hundred members of the Virginia Militia attack a jail in Gordonsville in an attempt to lynch a negro who supposedly attacked a militiaman.

An LA Times article on “Griffith of the Movies” mentions that D.W. is working on a big drama based on Dixon’s novel The Clansman (yes, that would be Birth of a Nation). It describes him getting negro children to gambol about happily by throwing dimes for them to dance for... and then doing the same for an old negro (with a shiny half dollar).

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Today -100: July 25, 1914: Of letters, ultimata, volunteers, and Hawaiians

The Madame Caillaux trial continues. Yesterday Joseph Caillaux’s first wife, after a display of reluctance so theatrical it’s hard to believe it was innocent, handed the two remaining letters that Calmette hadn’t published at the time of his untimely demise over to the defense lawyer Fernand Labori, putting him in the position of either using letters that put the Caillauxes in a bad light (they were written by Joseph to Henriette to Henriette while he was still married to Berthe) or looking like he was suppressing them. For now, after Berthe repeatedly refuses to take them back, he’s keeping them under wraps.

Imperial Arrogance of the Day -100: “The Haitian and Dominican situations are being closely watched by American naval officers on the scene, who have given stiff warnings to the combatants in both island republics that peace must soon be restored and that no interference with foreigners or their property will be tolerated.”

The Colorado Democratic Party county assemblies are meeting to elect the state assembly which will name the party’s candidates. Everyone wants to (and will) dump Gov. Elias Ammons, whose siding with the bosses during the coal mine strike/Ludlow Massacre looks like costing the party working-class votes for some reason.

Germany says the Austria/Serbia kerfuffle is Austria’s business and it won’t involve itself... Unless, of course, some other Power involves itself and prevents Austria getting satisfaction from Serbia.

Some other Power, aka Russia, asks Austria to extend the ultimatum it gave Serbia, implying war to defend its client if Austria refuses.

There are demonstrations against war in Vienna, where the people think that Germany is pushing an unwilling Austrian government into provoking war so that it can start a “preventive” war with Russia. Austria is calling its reservists outside of the country to join their units.

Also preparing for mobilization: the Ulster Volunteers, as the conference called by King George to end the Northern Ireland crisis fails. The Irish Nationalists were more or less willing to concede the exclusion of Ulster, but no agreement could be reached on how many counties that means. County Tyrone (which is majority Catholic) was an especial sticking point.

Prince Jonah Kuhio, Hawaii’s delegate to Congress, campaigns for re-election for a 7th term. He says the native Hawaiians should vote for a Hawaiian: “If the Haoles [pale-skinned devilswhites] had a majority here they certainly would elect a white delegate.”

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Today -100: July 24, 1914: My dignity forbade me to live any longer with you

Headline of the Day -100: “Austria Ready to Invade Servia, Sends Ultimatum.” That said, the NYT doesn’t seem hugely alarmed:

The 48-hour take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum is for the arrest of everyone involved in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the suppression of all organizations fomenting rebellion in Bosnia (formally annexed by Austria in 1908, but which Serbia would rather like for itself)(one of the organizations, which it names, has several Serb cabinet ministers among its members), the suppression of cross-border arms trafficking, an official disavowal by the Serbian government(in words specified by the Austrians) of “this criminal perverse” anti-Austrian propaganda, the firing of army officers and government officials guilty of anti-Austrian propaganda (Austria has a little list, some of whom were definitely involved in the assassination, although Austria didn’t have proof), and for Serbia to accept Austrian “assistance” in suppressing these groups. You might very well think that Austria doesn’t really expect its demands to be met.

But on to the important news: the Madame Caillaux trial, of course. Joseph Caillaux’s first wife, Berthe Gueydan, who supplied Calmette with letters from Caillaux to her and to his future second wife, testifies. She claims she has no idea how Calmette got her photographs of the letters, no idea at all. But mostly she recited the history of the failure of her marriage. At length. Nor does she care for the defendant: “All the pity has gone to the intruder who defiled my home to take my place,” she complains.

After three hours of that, Joseph Caillaux responds that his only mistake was in marrying her (and seducing her away from her first husband, he doesn’t add). It’s all very Jerry Springer, but it’s also part of a strategy to present Madame Caillaux as the sort of woman worthy of receiving a “crime of passion” free pass. He addresses Berthe directly, telling her that unlike the meek, mild murderess he’s currently married to, she was simply too strong-willed: “Between a man to whom everyone grants authority, vigor, and power, and you in whom those qualities are overdeveloped as well, it was impossible that things would last. ...My dignity forbade me to live any longer with you.” He says any wrongs he did her are more than compensated by the generous alimony he paid, and reminds everyone that she came into the marriage penniless.

After all the histrionics, the spectacle later in the day of two former prime ministers accusing each other of lying was something of an anti-climax. Caillaux had testified that Jean Louis Barthou told him that Berthe had shown him the letters. Barthou denies it.

A woman who watched some of the trial, Jeanne Beclard, the divorced wife of the under-secretary of state for fine arts, goes insane and has to be hospitalized. It seems that she showed up at Caillaux’s headquarters the previous evening intending to shoot him, but hadn’t gotten in.

William Barnes, the chairman of the NY state Republican Party, sues Theodore Roosevelt for libel for accusing him of being a “corruptionist” and comparing him to his counterpart in the D. party, Tammany Boss Murphy (“These machine masters secure the appointment to office of the evil men whose activities so deeply taint and discredit our whole governmental system”). TR says, “Let Mr. Barnes go ahead. I never say anything I can’t make good.” TR is promoting the alliterative Harvey Hinman as a fusion candidate for governor of New York, that is, he will try to have him nominated in both the Progressive and Republican party primaries.

Russian police and Cossacks are shooting strikers on the streets of St Petersburg, as was the custom. Evidently they held back until France’s President Poincaré’s visit was over.

(Oh, and Austria timed its ultimatum to coincide with President Poincaré and PM Viviani both being out of France – and it’s a loooong boat ride back from Russia.)

Carranza accuses Huerta of having sold 100,000 acres of Baja to the Rothschilds, keeping most of the money himself, and with a stipulation that they import at least 50,000 Chinese workers to raise cotton on the land.

Woodrow Wilson loses another nominee to the Federal Reserve Board, Thomas Jones, whose connections to the Harvester Trust aroused opposition.

Dr. Goldwater, NYC health commissioner, wants dogs kept leashed or muzzled all year round instead of just during the summer months as current law requires, based on the theory, long disproved by 1914, that rabies is caused by heat. There is no pound in the city, so stray dogs are chloroformed. Dr. Goldwater doesn’t really see the point of people keeping dogs in the city.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Today -100: July 23, 1914: Cheap at half the price

An armistice is signed between the two sides in Mexico.

Pancho Villa goes on vacation.

Dorothy Evans of the Women’s Social and Political Union is arrested with explosives inside the home of the lord mayor of Belfast.

George Fred Williams, the US ambassador to Greece who resigned over Albanian policy, “went to Santa Quaranta [Albania[ with the intention of assuming the direction of Albanian affairs, but was politely requested to leave.” In November, when Williams (who was a one-term member of Congress from Massachusetts in the 1890s) returns to the US, surprisingly not in a strait-jacket, he will say he could have been king of Albania if he’d only had $25,000. He would have set up a cantonal form of government, like Switzerland. The Albanian people totally begged him to be their head, he says.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Today -100: July 22, 1914: Today the cry of civil war is on the lips of the most responsible and sober-minded of my people

There’s some sort of large-scale revolutionary strike movement going on in Russia. The NYT is a little short of details.

Persia’s shah comes of age (16) and takes his oath. The crown is a little too big for his head. Literally.

Joseph Caillaux testifies at his wife’s trial in what the NYT accurately calls “a theatrical defense of himself.” He says the whole thing was his fault because he didn’t act first (shoot Calmette himself, I guess). He pointedly tells the court that he only knew true happiness with his second wife, the defendant, and not with the former wife who gave his private letters to Calmette. He says Calmette was part of a campaign against him by “the interests behind Le Figaro” motivated by opposition to the income tax Caillaux was trying to bring in as minister of finance (elsewhere he implies that Calmette took German bribes). Calmette’s actions in printing his personal letters were designed to “get at me politically through my honor, my honorableness, and at the same time to get at my wife through her honor, because it was our household itself that he was after.”

Caillaux goes on to defend his politics, his career, and his negotiations with Germany over Morocco in 1911. He then called up a Figaro staffer and demanded he produce government documents Calmette had in his possession (which were, though the public didn’t know this, three 1911 telegrams from the German foreign ministry to the German ambassador to France, intercepted and decoded by the French government, about secret conversations between the two governments on the Moroccan crisis. The government will falsely describe these documents as “nothing more than faked copies of documents that do not exist and that have never existed”). In the somewhat unstructured court proceedings of the period, if your name was mentioned, you had the right of reply and could just interrupt the trial to make a speech, like Caillaux is doing, or question witnesses. The victim’s family’s lawyer had the same privilege.

This is all the French newspapers are talking about, and will occupy the majority of real estate on their front pages until just before the war breaks out.

The Berlin police says there is no such thing as a white slave trade.

The conference on Ulster and Home Rule opens. King George begins, saying that the trend of events in Ireland “has been surely and steadily toward an appeal to force, and today the cry of civil war is on the lips of the most responsible and sober-minded of my people.” Liberals object to this language as echoing the Tory line, and, on constitutional grounds, to the king intervening at all.

Pres. Wilson orders that the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company be sued as a monopoly.

Pres. Wilson meets Fernando Calderon, who will be the foreign minister of Mexico when the Constitutionalists take power.

On Friday there’ll be another World War I fest on TCM. We’ve got, among others, Chaplin’s Shoulder Arms, a World War I short actually made during World War I, with a surprisingly grim (although comical) view of life in the trenches; King of Hearts (I’ve been avoiding re-watching this movie for years, for fear that something I quite liked when I was young will turn out to be the sort of thing that only the young like); and the really-shouldn’t-work-but-it-really-does Oh! What a Lovely War.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

A normal summer for our kids

(Written before the invasion of Gaza, but not posted because AT&T sucks):

Israeli Foreign Minister Unholy Avidor Lieberman explains why mass slaughter and occupation of Gaza is absolutely necessary: “It is not possible to ensure summer vacation, a normal summer for our kids, without a ground operation in Gaza.”

You don’t even want to know what he’s willing to invade to preserve Spring Break.

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Today -100: July 21, 1914: Never do we discern the voice of a woman

Headline of the Day -100: “Huerta Sails Away, Escaping Assassins.”

Carranza says he will accept an armistice pending negotiations for the handover of the government to him, but he still demands a surrender without conditions. He will grant a general amnesty, except for the murderers of Pres. Madero.

Headline of the Day -100: “Naps Stumbling Block for Senators.” As is always the case.

(That’s a baseball story.)

IWWer Becky Edelson, whose sentence of three months in the workhouse for refusing to give bond to keep the peace after making a street-corner speech was confirmed on appeal yesterday, plans to hunger strike. The IWW is sending out some rather premature funeral notices. Commissioner of Corrections Katherine Davis says “there won’t be any starving to death on Blackwell’s Island by Miss Edelson,” threatening forcible feeding.

Henriette Caillaux’s trial begins. She says she didn’t intend to kill Le Figaro editor Gaston Calmette: “It is terrible how these revolvers go off when they begin shooting – one can’t stop them!” She also insists that she is a bourgeoise. She says she was worried for months about the prospect of her husband’s letters being published to throw contempt upon him, the government of which he was minister of finance, the Radical Party of which he was president, “and strike through him the Republic.” Le Figaro describes her as having “physiognomy that hinted vaguely at a kind of Parisian elegance, but without distinctiveness and without charm” and “the banality of a shopgirl”. But “in her testimony she was harsh, dry, and without any emotion whatever... What we hear in [her speech] is the tones of parliament, never do we discern the voice of a woman.”

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Today -100: July 20, 1914: Of $2.50, Hindus, wrong impressions of conditions in Austria, and Salome costumes

25 Wobblies are arrested in Aberdeen, South Dakota, holding street meetings after the Commercial Club ran an ad asking farmers not to pay harvest hands more than $2.50 a day.

King George intervenes in the Northern Ireland issue, calling a conference of all parties.

I don’t believe I’ve mentioned the ship that’s been sitting in Vancouver harbor for three months with 350 would-be immigrants to Canada who are not being allowed off the ship because they are “Hindus,” barred by Canada’s racist immigration laws despite being fellow British subjects. There have been court fights, questionable hunger strikes, repeated attempts to land, and actual fights. Now the authorities attempt to put food on board the ship, preparatory to forcing it to return from whence it came. The “infuriated Hindus” repel the supplies, pelting the police who attempt to board from a tug with coal.

A Bishop Alexander and a Prof. Getseff have been touring the US raising funds on behalf of oppressed Russians in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But in Passaic, New Jersey, the professor is prevented from giving a speech by a large mob using the argument of the hurled egg to make the point that the two are “trying to give a wrong impression of conditions in Austria.”

Long Beach, NY police crack down on bathing suits they consider unsuitable, arresting men and warning women. “Salome costumes won’t go here,” says one cop.

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