Sunday, December 17, 2017

Today -100: December 17, 1917: Not the fortress, but the guillotine

Germany and Russia sign a 4-week armistice, with peace negotiations to follow. Germany promises not to transfer troops to other fronts.

The Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet declares the Constitutional Democrats (Kadets) enemies of the people. Trotsky says “You are perturbed by the mild terror we are applying to our enemies. But know that within a month this terror will take the terrible form of the French revolutionary terror – not the fortress, but the guillotine.”

There are rumors – false, of course, that the Tsar has escaped.

The Vatican says its only regret about the capture of Jerusalem is that the soldiers involved were not all Catholics.

Former French Prime Minister Joseph Caillaux is being investigated by the Chamber of Deputies for making unpatriotic speeches in Italy. Caillaux says the forgery industry has declined since the days of the Dreyfus Affair and accuses the French ambassador to Italy of making it all up, after a spat in which the ambassador’s wife refused to receive Caillaux’s wife, the famous unconvicted murderer.

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Saturday, December 16, 2017

Today -100: December 16, 1917: Please don’t let any one get the idea that we discussed peace

The Bolsheviks say they have captured Gen. Alexey Kaledin of the Don Cossacks. They have not.

“Pro-Germans” petition for Rep. Fiorello La Guardia to be removed from Congress because he’s off in the military doing military things. So far Speaker Champ Clark is taking no action because La Guardia is not violating the law by taking two salaries.  In fact, he’s not currently getting either salary, and he is furious. The House will later grant him a leave of absence and eventually agree to pay him (his congresscritter’s pay is 3 times what he’d get as a captain in the Army Air Service, so that’s good for him).

Col. House returns from Europe, where he consulted with Allied leaders about war and only war: “I didn’t talk peace with a soul in Europe. I didn’t discuss war aims. ... Please don’t let any one get the idea that we discussed peace.” Heaven forfend.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

Today -100: December 15, 1917: Only good enough for German fertilizer

More delegates to the Russian Constituent Assembly show up, but the Bolshevik government stations sailors with orders to keep them out. Members are threatening to go to Kiev, and some government employees, now on strike, are threatening to go with them.

Pope Benedict celebrates the “liberation of Jerusalem” by British troops.

Kate Richards O'Hare, the Socialist writer, editor and lecturer, is sentenced to 5 years for a speech in Bowman, North Dakota opposing the war and conscription. Mothers who raised their sons to be cannon fodder, she said, are no better than brood sows, and young men who volunteer are “only good enough for German fertilizer.”

A NY judge does one of those join-the-military-or-go-to-jail things with a man who committed petty larceny ($40). Army recruiters are livid.

Gen. Skalon, one of the Russians negotiating a truce with Germany, shoots himself. This may be bullshit. Certainly the NYT identifies him as the former governor-general of Russian Poland, but that Skalon died in 1914, so I don’t know.

Headline of the Day -100: 

1917 porn was just weird.

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Today -100: December 14, 1917: Only the simplest of living is patriotic

The Russian Constituent Assembly assembles. Well, only about 50 of the 600 actually show up, so they adjourn for a day, when 40 show up. The Assembly was initiated before the October revolution, and now the Bolsheviks don’t want one, and arrest some of the delegates. The government orders the arrest of all Constitutional Democrat (Kadet) leaders, on general principles and, Trotsky says, to save them from being lynched. He’s considerate that way.

Food Czar Herbert Hoover asks American families to add a porkless day to their meatless day and wheatless day. “In this emergency only the simplest of living is patriotic,” he says. In 12 years Hoover’s economic policies will lead to many Americans living very patriotic lives indeed.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Today -100: December 13, 1917: Of alien enemies, first shots, and rankins

There are a lot more citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire living in the United States than Germans, and many of them are essentially refugees from the oppressed minority nationalities of the Empire – Czechs, Slovenes, Poles, etc – so Wilson won’t make them register or restrict their movements like he did the Germans (males over 14 do have to get permission to leave the country). Also, the war would grind to a halt without  miners, steelworkers etc from the Dual Monarchy. Wilson’s proclamation on all this doesn’t even use the term “enemy aliens” (which the NYT mistakenly calls “alien enemies”).

The first American to shoot at Austria after the declaration of war is Rep. George Holden Tinkham (R-Massachusetts), who fires a shell into Gonfo. Since he’s not in the military, Tinkham committed a war crime punishable by execution. (Spoiler Alert: he will not be executed).

The House of Representatives gives the chairmanship of the new Committee on Woman Suffrage to John Raker (D-CA) rather than to the only, you know, woman in the House. Jeanette Rankin really wanted the job but wasn’t supported by her own Republican party. I know! Republicans being dicks to a woman.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today -100: December 12, 1917: Of short shrifts, great futures, and military justice at its finest

Russian officials stranded in London are quite sure that an alliance of the Don Cossacks and the non-Bolshevik parties will “make short shrift of the Bolsheviki.”

According to Wikitionary, a short shrift was originally “a rushed sacrament of confession (shrift) given to a prisoner who was to be executed very soon.” I feel like I should have known that before now.

Headline of the Day -100: 

That’s Col. Sir Mark Sykes of the secret Sykes-Picot agreement recently made not-so-secret by Trotsky, on how swell Zionism is gonna turn out.

13 black soldiers are hanged for the race riots in Houston in August. 41 more are sentenced to life imprisonment.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

Today -100: December 11, 1917: It’s on. Oh, IT IS ON.

Panama declares war on Austria-Hungary.

Jerusalem surrenders to British troops in this, the 822nd year of the Crusades. Gen. Edmund Allenby enters the city on foot to show respect for the holy sites of the city he’d been respectfully besieging.

Portuguese coup leader Sidónio Pais reassures the Allies that Portugal will stay in the war, doing whatever it is that Portugal is doing in the war. Ousted Prime Minister Afonso Costa is arrested. The war minister and the commander of the fleet seek sanctuary on British warships.

The Supreme Court rules that there is no 14th Amendment right to possess alcohol.

The Supreme Court rules that employers may impose an open shop, that is make a condition of employment that employees not join a union. It says attempts to unionize, in this case a mine, may be illegal even if they’re completely peaceful, for example by “persuading man after man to join the union, and having done so, to remain at work, keeping the employer in ignorance of their number and identity, until so many should have joined that by stopping work in a body they could coerce the employer and the remaining miners to organize the mines, and that the conduct of the defendants in so doing was unlawful and malicious.” Forcing the mining company to accept unionization through “fear of financial loss” is thus illegal. What power do they think a union has, if not a threat of financial loss? Loud tutting? And how does the Court think the mine got miners to agree not to join the UMW in the first place, if not a threat of financial fucking loss? This is just terrible supreme courting.

The government now regulates bakeries, requiring standard 16- and 24-ounce loafs of bread using less milk and sugar and animal fat.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Today -100: December 10, 1917: Of civil wars, armistices, and swear words

The Bolshevik government announces that Gens. Kornilov and Alexey Kaledin of the Don Cossacks have started a revolt in the Don region “against the people and the revolution.” The counter-revolution and civil war begin here.

The Russian and German positions in the armistice negotiations seem quite far apart.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Today -100: December 9, 1917: Of coups, enemy aliens, and armistices

A revolution in Portugal (actually more like a coup) led by Sidónio Pais forces the government to resign. Pais will exercise increasingly dictatorial powers for a year until he is assassinated.

One consequence of the US declaring war on Austria: newly enemied aliens from the Empire have to be weeded out of the US military.

Trotsky informs the Allies that Russia will only sign an armistice with Germany on condition that it not move troops to the western front (a condition Germany has been scoffing at). On the 7th, for the first time since the war began, not a shot is fired on the Russian front. Trotsky is suspending negotiations a week to give the Allies time to say whether they will join an armistice and, if not, to state what their war aims are.

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