Thursday, November 27, 2014

Today -100: November 27, 1914: We will again save the republic


Carranza arrives at Vera Cruz, declares it the new capital, or temporary capital, or something.  “We will again save the republic,” Carranza says.

Prime Minister Asquith says he won’t bring in legislation to ban football.  Or to seize all football grounds for military purposes.  Yet.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Germany accuses Britain of a war crime: a British airplane was forced down behind German lines, and beside the pilot was a German prisoner, very cold and very naked, who’d been taken up in an attempt to scare him into revealing military secrets.  The pilot was then shot.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times):  “Russian Girl is Crucified.”  Another Fog of War story, one hopes.

A British battleship, the Bulwark, blows up in Sheerness Harbour, killing 738 of the crew. Not enemy action. Maybe it’s not a good idea to store shells next to the boiler room bulkhead after all.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes denies Leo Frank a writ of error on technical grounds, but expresses doubt that he received a fair trial, given the presence of a threatening mob.

Retired Tammany Boss Richard Croker’s marriage comes off. Since he was marrying an Indian, there was a crowd in front of the church of “ragamuffins in black face and motley attire, masquerading in honor of Thanksgiving Day”.  Elsewhere in the paper, the NYT complains that “Army of Beggars Mar Thanksgiving.”

This blog wishes you and your army of beggars a happy Thanksgiving.


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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Today -100: November 26, 1914: Of pardons, Bavarians, football, Christmas ships, internment camps, and Indian maids


Outgoing South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease will pardon or commute the sentences of 75 prisoners for Thanksgiving.  I’m still not sure what’s up with his campaign to use his pardon power to empty the jails.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: More stories about how disaffected the Bavarian troops supposedly are, fraternizing with French soldiers and not shooting at them but into the air.  I’m not sure whether this propaganda campaign (at least, I’m pretty sure it’s not true) is aimed at reassuring the French or dividing the Germans.

After the weekend, the British newspapers conducted a tut-tut campaign about how many healthy young male spectators there were at football matches and how few of them responded to army recruiters.  So the next step is a campaign to ban football, because of course it is.  A question will be asked in Parliament tomorrow.

One of the ways in which the US is helping out with the war is the “Christmas ship,” a philanthropic scheme to send presents to European children (and sell copies of the newspapers sponsoring the scheme, of course).  It was the least we could do.

The Duchess of Marlborough (née Consuelo Vanderbilt) has zeppelin-proofed her London home, Sunderland House.

Germany orders a census of all the animals in Germany, for rationing purposes.  Also, to save flour, Berlin bakers are banned from baking bread more than twice a day, which they do because everyone prefers fresh bread.  Berliners will eat stale bread and by god they’ll like it, officials declare.

British guards shot several rioting interned Germans at the detention camp on the Isle of Man.  News of this has reached Germany and there are now fears of reprisals against British prisoners.

Zapata’s forces move into  Mexico City as Gen. Blanco’s forces hastily depart, leaving barely any time for mobs to form and start looting. This is why you need to be prepared and draw up a shopping list.  Pancho Villa plans to enter the capital tomorrow.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Croker Is To Wed Indian Maid Today.”  Richard Croker, the former Boss of Tammany Hall, will marry Beulah Edmonson, a Cherokee woman “who last year rode a pony and sang Indian songs in the Hippodrome,” and rode a horse at the head of a suffrage parade in D.C..  The NYT says she’s 50 years younger than him, but it’s really 40, 41 years, tops.


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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Today -100: November 25, 1914: Of invasions, missionaries & dwarfs, salaams, and Florida property


H.G. Wells suggested that if Germany invaded Britain, civilians should defend the country with carving knives or any other weapons they could find.  The government is trying to shut down this sort of talk (which would violate the rules of war and make the entire population of Britain legitimate military targets), but won’t say what it’s plans in case of invasion actually are.

Headline of the Day -100:  “German Missionary Tries to Blow Up Ship.”  In West Africa somewhere, a British gunboat called the Dwarf.  He says he’s a soldier first and a missionary afterward.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100 / Headline of the Day -100: “Salaams of Indian Stay German Fire.”  One of Britain’s Indian troops was scouting at night when a German spotlight fell on him.  He started salaaming (bowing) his way to the Germans, where he pretended to be a disaffected colonial who just wanted to fight the British.  The next day he said he could come back with more like-minded Indians, so they let him go, like the lunk-headed Germans they are, not realizing that every single subject of the Raj is completely loyal to the king.

That article says that the Indians in Europe have been engaged in trenching and counter-trenching.  I have no idea what that means and no, Google, I did NOT mean “define contour-trenching.”

More Fog? Germany is said to be dismantling locomotives for their copper and brass, to make more bullets.

Zapata’s forces are entering Mexico City, which Carranza’s troops have all left.

E.C. Chambers, on trial for using the mails to defraud by the sale of Florida (swamp)land, claims that William Jennings Bryan himself inspected the land back in ought-ten and declared it perfectly good land (though under two feet of water) and later bought some.

I don’t normally do birth anniversaries here, but what the hell: Joe DiMaggio, whose autograph my father failed to get twice, once in the 1940s and once in the 1970s.


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Monday, November 24, 2014

There’s never an excuse for violence


I’m reading Obama’s comments on the Ferguson grand jury rather than watching them on tv because I can’t stand to hear his voice any more. To be fair, there hasn’t been a president in my lifetime whose voice I could stand to hear this far into their presidency.

“our police officers put their lives on the line for us every single day.” They sure put SOMEONE’s lives on the line every single day.

“As they do their jobs in the coming days, they need to work with the community, not against the community, to distinguish the handful of people who may use the grand jury’s decision as an excuse for violence...” Okay, this is my first Fuck You, Obama Moment™ in this address. You can argue that violence, setting a police car on fire, for example, is not the appropriate response, but the word “excuse” suggests that Some People just love them some violence and have no other motivation beyond their love of violence, and don’t really care about Michael Brown at all.

“...distinguish them from the vast majority who just want their voices heard around legitimate issues in terms of how communities and law enforcement interact.” The police don’t get to decide what “legitimate issues” are. Also, Obama, since you inserted that word “legitimate” in there, maybe you can tell us which issues related to cops shooting unarmed black kids are illegitimate? Because we’d really like to know.

“The fact is, in too many parts of this country, a deep distrust exists between law enforcement and communities of color.” How many parts is the right number?

“And there are good people on all sides of this debate”. There are also a lot of assholes. But I’ll bet you won’t talk about them.

“We have made enormous progress in race relations over the course of the past several decades. I’ve witnessed that in my own life. And to deny that progress I think is to deny America’s capacity for change.” This just occurred to me, and I haven’t read his memoirs, but has Obama ever talked about any discrimination he has personally felt in his life?

“there are issues in which the law too often feels as if it is being applied in discriminatory fashion.” How often is the right amount?

“That [progress] won’t be done by throwing bottles. That won’t be done by smashing car windows. That won’t be done by using this as an excuse to vandalize property.” There’s that word again.

“Those of you who are watching tonight understand that there’s never an excuse for violence”. Tell that to the fucking grand jury.

Or the Iraqis, Afghans, etc, yeah yeah, but I think we all know “there’s never an excuse for violence” was never intended to apply to Johnny Foreigner.

“But I think that we have to make sure that we focus at least as much attention on all those positive activities that are taking place as we do on a handful of folks who end up using this as an excuse...” You’re really beginning to piss me off, dude. “...to misbehave...” Oo, I love it when he talks to us like we’re naughty children. “...or to break the law...” Yeah, I don’t think anyone’s too impressed with “the law” this evening. “...or to engage in violence.” “There is inevitably going to be some negative reaction, and it will make for good TV.” I mean, not “Breaking Bad” good, but still pretty good.

Oh, and I hear Officer Wilson is engaged, and not to a big hairy cellmate named Bubba. Congratulations, Officer Wilson!


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Today -100: November 24, 1914: That’s a lot of bullets


After seven months, the American occupation of Vera Cruz ends, “with little show of enthusiasm on the part of the Mexicans.”  In the end, they just left, without deciding to which of the competing Mexican regimes to hand over the port, the customs house, and seven months of customs duties.  Carranza’s soldiers take over the town, following two blocks behind the withdrawing Americans, and issue orders that everyone has to turn in their weapons or face execution, anyone who commits crimes will face execution, and all the saloons are closed until further notice.  Which probably explains the lack of enthusiasm.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Wilson To Receive Women.”  For Christmas?  Actually, he will receive and, I’m gonna predict, condescend to, a women’s suffrage deputation.

The Belgian authorities in Antwerp are refusing to pay the fine demanded by Germany until they stop requisitioning anything they want from the city.

Germany complains to the US and other neutral nations that Britain is violating the laws of the sea in seizing what it declares to be contraband.

Someone or other has calculated that it takes 168 pounds of bullets, which is 5,860 bullets, to kill a man on the Belgian front.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Football, Not War, Attracts English.”  English newspapers are working themselves into a froth, as is the custom, over this.  Recruiters at Saturday’s games succeeded in getting only one man to take the king’s shilling.  Now that the first giddy rush to arms is over, recruitment is way down. They’ve raised the pay, already the highest in Europe (they’re the only warring country without conscription) and reduced the minimum height to 5’3”.

A British patrol trawler, the Dorothy Gray, rams a German U-boat, the U-18, off Scotland’s coast, causing it to founder and surrender.  26 crew are taken prisoner, only one died.


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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Today -100: November 23, 1914: Of spies, plots, and again being a state


Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: the Allies have reportedly shot René Colaert, the mayor of Ypres (which is currently being destroyed by the battle of the same name; the town hall was blown up yesterday), as a spy for Germany.  None of which is true.

Russia arrests several Social Democratic members of the Duma for a supposed revolutionary plot to overthrow the state.

More Fog, from the Morning Post (UK): Kaiser Wilhelm is said to have demanded that Austria transfer all its troops to the defense of East Prussia because he thinks Austria itself is a lost cause. The Austrians would prefer that German troops help them defend Cracow. There’s also a story that retreating German and Austrian troops quarreled and shot at each other.

Still more Fog? Honestly, I don’t believe anything I’m reading today.  The military governor of the Austrian fortress of Cracow says civilians aren’t obeying his order to leave the city fast enough, so he’ll have any that don’t do so shot.

A committee of the Colorado Legislature demands that outgoing Governor Ammons “prepare to accept for the people of this State the responsibility of again being a State” and send the national guard back into the strike regions so that federal troops can leave.  They want him to issue a proclamation that everyone should obey the law and refrain from “incendiary utterances” and tweets, and make clear that every able-bodied man from 18 to 45 is a member of the state militia whether they like it or not. The governor-elect talks of deporting from the state any strikers who break the law.  Neither governor suggests that the mining companies accept Wilson’s proposed truce, much less negotiate in good faith with the miners.


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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Today -100: November 22, 1914: Of unfriendly unhostile acts, free countries, swapped giants, and little lord fauntleroys


Turkey explains why it fired on a US launch in Smyrna.  See, they were just friendly warning shots, warning the launch that the harbor was mined and they shouldn’t enter it.  The Wilson administration is pretending to believe this, although we’re not quite sure what the captain of the Tennessee believes, since he reported the shots as “unfriendly” but also as “not intended as a hostile act,” whatever all that means.  It also seems that US embassy was informed that the port of Smyrna had been closed but didn’t have the means of communicating that information to US Navy ships.

The NYT Magazine asks “Did You Ever Hear of a Free Country Called Moresnet?”  Moresnet was a tiny sort-of-nation between Belgium and Germany, sort of jointly but very loosely administered by both, without a real government or courts.  And (Spoiler Alert) it won’t last long.

Evidently not just Carranza fled Mexico City, but also the entire police force.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Swap Giant for Dwarfs.”  William Hempstead, an eight-foot-tall Englishman stuck in Germany at the start of the war, is exchanged for two Germans who are under two feet tall, and are you fucking kidding me?

Headline of the Day -100:  “LORD FAUNTLEROY,' ORIGINAL, MARRIES.”  That’s Vivian Burnett, the son of novelist Frances Hodgson Burnett, is forever stuck with being called Little Lord Fauntleroy, the effeminate character his mother modeled on him.  Indeed, in 1937 the NYT reported his death at 61 under the headline “Original Fauntleroy Dies in Boat After Helping Rescue 4 in Sound.”


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Friday, November 21, 2014

Today -100: November 21, 1914: Of uniforms, knives, vicious lobsters, and illicit newspapers


Headline of the Day -100:  “Leaves Battle Front to Visit His Tailor; Marquis of Anglesey, His Coat Shot Away, in London for New Uniforms.”  The article notes that his uniform may have been more than usually fragile because it was made by a fashionable tailor, and that the previous Maquis of Anglesey, “Toppy” Paget, was renowned for his wardrobe of more than 300 coats (and for cross-dressing, but the NYT doesn’t mention that part).

Mexican Rumor of the Day -100: Gen. Lucio Blanco is now in charge, having imprisoned Gen. Obregón.

The US has decided to keep the customs duties it collected while occupying Vera Cruz until there’s a stable government in Mexico.  Could be a while.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Slew 1,200 With Knives.”  Moroccan troops.  Either the French didn’t trust with guns or they simply didn’t need them.  They attack Germans who were desecrating a graveyard at Tracy-le-Val by digging trenches in it.  I’m guessing there’s some slight exaggeration in this story from Le Temps.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Bitten By Vicious Lobster.”  A helper in the kitchens of the Hotel Klein in New Brunswick, NJ, is bitten on the finger by a lobster he was trying to grill.  He had to go to the hospital for more than a month and has now won $210 + medical expenses in court.  Don’t know what happened to the vicious lobster, who I have decided was named Harold, but I fear the worst.

Canada bans four German newspapers.  It is now illegal to sell or even possess one.

The British Parliament votes to raise another 1 million soldiers, in addition to the existing 1.1 million.  They are assured that will be quite enough to ensure victory.


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Thursday, November 20, 2014

We’ll miss her when she’s gone. She is going, right? Please tell me she’s going.


Michele Bachmann complains about Obama’s immigration policy: “millions of unskilled, illiterate, foreign nationals coming into the United States who can’t speak the English language.” And they’ll take away jobs producing hilariously oblivious straight lines from hard-working American idiots.


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Today -100: November 20, 1914: Of bigger armies, volunteer prisoners, and squandered shells


Headline of the Day -100:  “Taft for a Bigger Army.” Also, bigger pants, bathtubs, pies.  However, he supports Wilson’s policy of staying out of the European war.

After multiple scandals at Sing Sing, the new warden will be Thomas Mott Osborne, a prison reformer who spent a week as a volunteer prisoner in Auburn Prison last year, just like Robert Redford in that movie, and wrote a book about it.  He is opposed to capital punishment and won’t attend executions, but says if there are to be executions, they should be public.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Squandered Shells to Please the Kaiser.”  While he was touring the front.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Today -100: November 19, 1914: Three hundred miles of cannon spoke


A committee of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) submits a report in favor of the restrictive immigration bill (including literacy tests) pending before Congress.  It says that the European war will be followed by mass migration from the affected countries, but those governments will offer inducements to the fit to stay and aid in restoration while encouraging those crippled by the war – “these bits of wreckage” – to emigrate to America.

Carranza moves his capital from Mexico City to Orizaba.  The other president of Mexico, Eulalio Gutiérrez, is rumored to have been put in jail by Pancho Villa for approving the idea of Villa and Carranza going into exile.

Turkish forces in Smyrna shoot at a US Navy launch (which was flying the US flag) from the cruiser Tennessee.

German troops have reportedly captured the governor of Warsaw (Russian Poland).  He is being confined in the “best hotel” in Gnesen.

Germany is trying to forcibly recruit Belgian Civil Guards into its war with Russia.  They are resisting, hiding, and attempting to escape into Holland.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Even the overly credulous NYT doesn’t really believe this one: A Cossack general named Arintinoff captured Czernowitz, in Austrian Poland, and told the town rulers that, following the Austrian example in Kaminez Podolski, he wanted 600,000 rubles in gold and silver (reduced, after much begging, to 300,000) by the next day or he will blast the city.  So they milked every last peasant (the rich people having already fled town), collecting trinkets, jewelry, menorahs, church ornaments etc, and just managed to raise it by the deadline, whereupon the general told them to take it back, he just wanted to show them what it’s like.

A little light googling doesn’t show up a Gen. Arintinoff or Arintinov or Rintintinoff, except for this tale.

Rudyard Kipling shits out a poem in praise of the late Lord Roberts:
He passed in the very battle-smoke
Of the war he had descried.
Three hundred miles of cannon spoke
When the Master Gunner died.  Etc.


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