Friday, September 30, 2016

Today -100: September 30, 1916: Of handshakes and outrageous buttons

Former presidents Roosevelt and Taft will both attend a reception for Charles Evans Hughes at the Union League Club, but Roosevelt makes it clear that this will not be a reconciliation with Taft. In fact, he won’t make a move to shake hands with his former war secretary, although he will be in the receiving line so he may have to shake Taft’s hand, but it’ll just be an ordinary hand-shake, it won’t have any special meaning. The event’s organizers have been pushing the reconciliation angle, presumably because it’s more of a draw than boring ol’ Charles Evans Hughes. Roosevelt is also really pissed to hear that there were plans to put out a button with a picture of himself, Taft and Hughes – “outrageous,” he says.

Hughes says he supports the 8-hour day, really he does. No, it’s just the Adamson Bill for railroad workers he opposes, because it will mean an increase in wages, and the public will have to pay for it. I’m not sure who he thinks pays when workers in other industries get fewer hours at the same wages.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Today -100: September 29, 1916: Britain has only begun to fight

On Crete, Eleftherios Venizelos forms an alt-government at an “armed meeting of Cretan people.” They’re armed and they dare you to make that joke. Back in Athens, the king’s capitulation on going to war actually seems to be confined to going to war against Bulgaria, whose troops are presently occupying Greek Macedonia.

British War Minister Lloyd George says that any talk of peace by neutral countries, including the US, will be considered as pro-German and unneutral because the Allies are totally winning now and “Britain has only begun to fight; the British Empire has invested thousands of its best lives to purchase future immunity for civilization; this investment is too great to be thrown away.” He then goes on a bit about how “the British soldier is a good sportsman” and fights and dies like a sportsman and fair play and Jesus I can’t believe we’re still using sports metaphors to describe this horror. “Even when beaten like a dog he was a game dog.” OK, you can go back to the stupid sports metaphors now. Asked whether the allies were similarly game, he says that France will stick to the end and Russia will “go through to the death.”

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Today -100: September 28, 1916: Of plebiscites, sympathy strikes, and demoralized Germans

The Danish Parliament will hold a plebiscite on the sale of the Danish West Indies to the US. A plebiscite of the Danish people, not the Danish West Indians, obvs.

The attempt in New York at a general strike in sympathy with the street car etc workers fails miserably. So much for solidarity.

King Constantine of Greece gives in to the revolt and will graciously allow Greece to go to war.

In war spin news, the British say German troops on the Somme are totally demoralized, and Germany says British tanks are total failures (their specific criticisms – that the tanks are slow, prone to break-down, miserable environments for their crew – are all true).

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Today -100: September 27, 1916: Of provisional governments and executions

A memorial from the Army chief of staff and 500 officers addressed to Greece’s King Constantine demands that Greece enter the war. Former PM Venizelos says his provisional government isn’t actually superseding the Athens government, which makes no sense.

Supposedly the Carranzistas have executed 600 suspected Pancho Villa supporters in Chihuahua.

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Today -100: September 26, 1916: Of men on horseback

Former Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos leaves Athens for Crete to head the revolutionary movement intended to bring Greece into the war on the side of the Entente. He’s accompanied by the chief admiral and is supported financially by Leonidas Embericos, the richest man in the country.

Thomas Dixon, author of the novels that D.W. Griffith adapted into The Birth of a Nation, plans to commission a statue of his uncle, Col. McAfee, on horseback in Ku Klux Klan robes, to be placed in front of the Shelby, North Carolina Court House. There is some controversy about this.

The Mexican-American Commission is absolutely not discussing internal Mexican matters, says Mexico.

New York public schools opened yesterday, belatedly, but an estimated 10% of children were kept home by polio-fearing parents and another 4 or 5% were sent home because they’d been out of the city and didn’t have health certificates. Classrooms have all been sprayed with oil because science.

A bomb goes off in a Chicago movie theatre, evidently from a dispute between two projectionists’ unions. It’s the Chicago way.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Today -100: September 25, 1916: The ancient struggle for dominance between zeppelins and turnips... continues

The “Great Secret Order” is meeting in Cleveland. The anti-Catholic group claims to be able to order 5 million people to vote as a bloc and elect whoever they pick, probably Hughes.

The British have been getting better at defending against zeppelin raids, and on Saturday shot down two over Essex. There were survivors from one of the airships. They were taken into custody by a single village constable. One farmer complains that “The wreck had made a sad mess of one of our trees and there were a good many mashed turnips in the field.” Oh, and eight dead bodies, most of them burned to death, one decapitated, but getting back to those mashed turnips....

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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Today -100: September 24, 1916: Of TB, tanks, war whoops, polio, britlings, and gardeners

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: France claims that Germany is deliberately infecting POWs with tuberculosis in secret prison camps and then returning them to their home countries (or to neutral countries).

Germany may complain to the International Red Cross about the British use of tanks, which it says is contrary to the recognized methods of civilized warfare. Because the Germans are all about civilized warfare.

Headline of the Day -100:

The Germans’ll probably complain about this too.

US Secretary of War Newton Baker has supposedly told Secretary of State Robert Lansing that Pancho Villa is definitely, absolutely, positively dead.

New York City polio death toll = 2,233. Schools are reopening tomorrow, but attendance will not be mandatory.

The NYT reviews H.G. Wells’s latest novel, Mr. Britling Sees It Through. They like it. I would say that while showing the limitations of the form of the Edwardian novel in dealing with the subject matter of the war, it is an excellent portrayal of the effects of the war on the psyche of a certain stratum of English society on the home front.

British novelist Marie Corelli asks her local military tribunal not to draft her gardener. The army’s man on the tribunal says rude things about her garden and they refuse the exemption.

The Women’s Republican National Committee is sending a trainload of women to speak on behalf of Charles Evans Hughes in 28 states. Alice Chittenden of the New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage complains that the women all seem to be supporters of women’s suffrage.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Today -100: September 23, 1916: Of Greek splitters and sympathetic strikes

Large portions of Greece have declared themselves independent of King Constantine and his government.

A general strike is called for New York City. After all, good union men can hardly be expected to go to work on public transportation manned by scab labor (actually, they can: the general strike will be a miserable failure).

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Today -100: September 22, 1916: Who is ever going to think of Greece, save with shame?

Former Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos refuses to deny plans to set up a revolutionary government in opposition to King Constantine and take Greece into the war on the Entente side. He makes the case that whichever side wins the war, Greece is sure to lose land to either Bulgaria or Serbia if it has not allied itself to someone. “Who is ever going to think of Greece, save with shame, if we have stood idly by while half the world has battled for civilization?” Meanwhile, PM Nikolaos Kalogeropoulos denies that King Constantine is pro-German, saying he is only pro-Greek. Asked by an AP reporter about his own attitude toward the Entente, Kalogeropoulos, whose name makes me so grateful for copy-and-paste, says he’s been smoking French tobacco for 45 years. Crete’s local administration is overthrown, and King Constantine advises new army recruits to display blind devotion to their superior officers and ignore people who “sell patriotism like retailers.”

New York City Mayor John Purroy Mitchel threatens to bring in the military to crush any sympathetic general strike called in support of striking train workers.

A NYT editorial mentions a lynching in Olathe, Kansas, but doesn’t give many details and there is no news story. A mob took convicted murderer Bert Dudley, who killed farmer Henry Muller and his wife, from the jail the night before he was due to be transferred to the state pen to start his life sentence. In a whimsical touch, the lynch mob chose Dudley Road as the locale for the hanging (the town later changed the street’s name). There’s an 8-minute film about the lynching here.

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