Sunday, February 19, 2017

Today -100: February 19, 1917: Of Jews, enemy aliens, potato wars, and zapatas

Russia plans to ease restrictions on Jews’ ability to enter certain professions, form companies, etc. and to ease up on residency restrictions. And wounded soldiers, including from the Russo-Japanese War, will get the same privileges as Christians, whatever that means. Prime Minister Prince Golitzin says “The experience gained in putting these reforms into practice will serve as valuable material for the final solution of the Jewish problem.” Um, right.

Rep. George Edmonds (R-Pennsylvania) introduces a bill requiring enemy aliens to register in time of war.

Headline of the Day -100:

The Food Controller has fixed a price for potatoes that retailers are refusing to sell at, and consumers are getting pissed at the prices.

Emiliano Zapata issues a manifesto renouncing all treaties the Carranza regime makes with foreign nations. And anything else the new Congress does.

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Saturday, February 18, 2017

Today -100: February 18, 1917: If one must go it will have to be you

Headline of the Day -100:

Or, as they’ll think of this in a quarter-century, the good old days.

Headline of the Day -100:

The nature of which is, shhh, a secret.

The US State Dept is “negotiating” a treaty with the Dominican Republic to put a US-nominated man in charge of the country’s finances, US officers in charge of its police, US engineers in charge of its public works, etc.

A bill is introduced in the South Dakota State Senate requiring that every appendix which has been surgically removed be sent to the state lab and if found healthy the surgeon will have to return their fee.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Today -100: February 17, 1917: Of cannons and prohibition

Wilson’s Cabinet still hasn’t decided whether to arm merchant ships, which would 1) give them some protection against u-boats, but also 2) ensure that u-boats would never give ships warning and allow crews to evacuate. Also, it 3) might lead to war.

The Minnesota Legislature votes for a referendum on prohibition in 1918 while the Texas Lege rejects a prohibition resolution.

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trump press conference: Russia is fake news

Trump held a surprise press conference today.

OUT OF CONTROL: “We have to talk about it to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control.  The level of dishonesty is out of control.”

TO BE HONEST: “To be honest, I inherited a mess -- it’s a mess -- at home and abroad.  A mess.” When he gets a word he likes, he really pounds it into the ground.

“Obamacare is a disaster, folks.  It’s a disaster.  You can say, oh, Obamacare -- I mean, they fill up our alleys with people that you wonder how they get there, but they're not the Republican people that our representatives are representing.” Filling up our alleys? What even...?

“We’ve had great conversations with the United Kingdom -- and meetings -- Israel, Mexico, Japan, China, and Canada.  Really, really productive conversations.  I would say far more productive than you would understand.” That’s become his formulation for good news, hasn’t it? Things are going better than anyone knows, better than you’d understand, etc.

YOU GUESS WRONG. REALLY, YOU SHOULD STOP GUESSING; YOU’RE NOT GOOD AT IT: “I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.”

A FINE-TUNED MACHINE: “I turn on the TV, open the newspapers, and I see stories of chaos.  Chaos!  Yet, it is the exact opposite.  This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine, despite the fact that I can’t get my Cabinet approved, and they’re outstanding people.” You know, I don’t really have a handle on Trump’s thought processes yet; I can’t tell if he actually believes everything is going great.

A WALL THAT WORKS. AT, YOU KNOW, WALL STUFF: “And the wall is going to be a great wall, and it’s going to be a wall negotiated by me.  The price is going to come down, just like it has on everything else I’ve negotiated for the government.  And we’re going to have a wall that works.  We’re not going to have a wall like they have now, which is either nonexistent or a joke.”

The 9th Circuit is “in chaos” and “frankly, in turmoil.”

Going on (and on) about leaking, he says the press “should be ashamed of themselves.  But, more importantly, the people that gave out the information to the press should be ashamed of themselves.  Really ashamed.” Never having experienced it himself, I don’t think he knows how shame works.

On Michael Flynn: “when I looked at the information, I said, I don’t think he did anything wrong.  If anything, he did something right.  ... You know, he was just doing his job.  The thing is he didn’t tell our Vice President properly, and then he said he didn’t remember.  So either way, it wasn’t very satisfactory to me.” So, negotiating with Russia without legal authority to do so is okay, just doing his job (what job? Trump wasn’t president yet, so Flynn’s job was... nothing?), and the only problem was what he said to Pence.

“Russia is fake news.” Hell, there may not even by such a country. It just sounds fake, doesn’t it? Russia. Russsshhhhaaa.

Confronted about his false statements earlier about his massive Electoral College win: “Well, I don’t know.  I was given that information.  I was given -- actually, I’ve seen that information around.” Dude, it’s numbers, you can’t pretend that there’s some “information around” that changes numbers. Also, “I was given that information” is like he’s saying, “What can I do? If people tell me things, I have to believe them, don’t I, it’s not like there’s some way of checking to see if random things random people tell me are true or false.”

WHAT HE’S DEALING WITH: “So I don’t want classified information getting out to the public.  And in a way, that was almost a test.  So I’m dealing with Mexico.  I’m dealing with Argentina.” Dealing with Argentina? What’s going on with Argentina? The top Reuters story from the Argies today is “Argentina's rising grains production strands vessels in river traffic.” That’s probably what Trump’s dealing with, right?

By the way, is it actually illegal to leak what a president-elect and his people are doing?

“But I am having a good time.  Tomorrow they will say, Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.  I’m not ranting and raving.” [Ron Howard voiceover: “But he was ranting and raving.”]  “I’m just telling you, you’re dishonest people.  But -- but I’m not ranting and raving.  I love this.  I’m having a good time doing it.  But tomorrow the headlines are going to be:  Donald Trump Rants and Raves.  I’m not ranting and raving.” Well, I wasn’t convinced that you’re not ranting and raving the first 3 or 4 times you said it, but...

BETTER THAN ANYBODY: “I don’t mind bad stories.  I can handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it’s true.”

WORKING HARD, OR FAKELY WORKING? “you take a look at Reince, he’s working so hard just putting out fires that are fake fires.” I’m picturing a fake fireman’s helmet and a fake fire extinguisher.

“Putting out fires that are fake fires” may be my favorite thing today, and I just had ice cream.

WHY YES, WE DO KNOW WHAT URANIUM IS, BUT WE CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR WHAT YOU THINK IT IS: “We had Hillary Clinton give Russia 20 percent of the uranium in our country.  You know what uranium is, right?  It’s this thing called nuclear weapons and other things.  Like, lots of things are done with uranium, including some bad things.  Nobody talks about that.”

NO ONE CAN BELIEVE IT. “I can’t believe I’m saying I’m a politician, but I guess that’s what I am now.”

Bart Simpson book report time: “If Russia and the United States actually got together and got along -- and don’t forget, we’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they.  There’s no upside.  We’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are they.  I’ve been briefed.  And I can tell you, one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it:  Nuclear holocaust would be like no other.  They’re a very powerful nuclear country and so are we.”

In response to a question about how he’d deal with the rise of anti-Semitic attacks in the US since the election, which he cut off and pretended to be mortally offended by: “Number one, I am the least anti-Semitic person that you’ve ever seen in your entire life.  Number two, racism -- the least racist person.” He says the reporter should take Netanyahu’s word for it that Trump isn’t anti-Semitic. Funny thing was, the reporter, Jake Turx of Ami Magazine, a Hasidic magazine I guess for teens, who is identified in the White House transcript as “(inaudible) from (inaudible) Magazine,” hadn’t actually accused him of being anti-Semitic himself, and in fact had prefaced his question by saying he wasn’t doing so. So Trump showed his philo-Semitism by calling a Jewish reporter a liar and telling him to be quiet and sit down.

He asked a black reporter to set up a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus when she sees them at the meetings all black people attend.

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Today -100: February 16, 1917: Of wolves, pflugs, election conspiracies, prohibition, and the ideals of representative government

Somewhere in Poland, a fight between German and Russian soldiers is interrupted by a pack of wolves. Both sides stop to shoot wolves, and then go their separate ways. It’s a weird war.

As former US ambassador to Germany James Gerhard, making his way back to the US, is crossing the French border, he has French authorities arrest an embassy employee traveling with his party, one Oscar Pflug, of whom Gerhard has become suspicious. With no evidence of wrong-doing, Pflug will be released in three weeks.

Germany releases the crew of the Yarrowdale.

The Indianapolis police chief, five captains and sergeants, and the city sealer (whatever that might be) are charged with election conspiracy.

The House Judiciary Committee favorably reports out a constitutional amendment for prohibition, while the Senate moves to ban the importation of liquor into dry states (the “bone dry” measure) and exclude liquor ads and periodicals containing such ads from the mails in states which ban such advertising.

Germany is proposing to the US that in event of war neither side will intern the other’s citizens resident in their country in concentration camps or seize their property or disregard their patents, and that those citizens have freedom to return home. Ships should also be able to leave the other country’s ports but can’t be forced out without a guarantee of safe conduct from all enemy powers.

Germany has reversed itself and will allow Herbert Hoover’s Relief Commission to continue its work in Belgium and northern France.

The Prussian Diet discusses possible reform of Prussia’s insanely retrograde system of representation (there are three tiers, determined by the total amount of tax paid by the tier, so the small number of rich people in tier 1 elects the same number of MPs as the vast majority of the population in tier 3) (for god’s sake no one tell Trump about this).

The Ohio Legislature passes women’s suffrage, though only for presidential elections. Mrs. Arthur Dodge, president of the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, referring to the previous failures of women’s suffrage referenda in the state in 1912 and 1914, accuses the Legislature of being “false to the ideals of representative government.”  Mrs. Dodge is a little unclear on the concept of representative government (she also doesn’t point out that Ohio legally, though not in practice, restricts its electorate to “white males”). She calls on the governor to be “man enough” to veto it. The governor’s name is Cox. Just saying. There is already an effort to collect signatures (in saloons, mostly) for a referendum to reverse this.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Why are Jews called Jews?

Trump and Netanyahu held a press conference at the White House today.

According to Trump, “America and Israel are two nations that cherish the value of all human life.” Imma just gonna leave that one sitting there.

Trump demonstrated his deep understanding of the complexities of Middle East politics: “So I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.  (Laughter.)  I’m very happy with the one that both parties like.  I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two.  But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians – if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

Netanyahu made this cogent argument in favor of the Jewish people having a historical right to occupy Israel: “why are Jews called Jews?  Well, the Chinese are called Chinese because they come from China.  The Japanese are called Japanese because they come from Japan.  Well, Jews are called Jews because they come from Judea.” Boy, you can’t argue with that logic.

No reporter asked him why Palestinians are called Palestinians.

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If there’s better verbiage out there, I will gladly use better verbiage

Sean Spicer called the Canadian prime minister “Joe Trudeau” today, so that’s his name now. Sorry, Joe. Sorry, Canada.

Anti-abortion Oklahoma state legislator Justin “Joe” Humphrey (all Justins are now officially Joe) is sponsoring a law to require that “hosts,” as he calls pregnant women (“I think I used the proper verbiage. When I used the term host, it’s not meant to degrade women. If there’s better verbiage out there, I will gladly use better verbiage. I just couldn’t find it.”) (I’m sure there are many things “Joe” can’t find: his ass with both hands; a clitoris; an ounce of human decency) name the father of their fetus and get permission from him before an abortion.

By the way, does “Joe” Humphrey wear a stupid cowboy hat and a stupid string tie? What do you think?

I assume it has little chance of becoming law, but just in case, I will advise what I have with previous coercive anti-abortion laws: lie. If this passes, every woman seeking an abortion in the state of Oklahoma should name the same (pro-choice, obviously) man. An ACLU lawyer, say, or Joe Biden. Sorry, “Justin” Biden.

(Update: A lot of the response to this bill has been of the “What about rape?” variety, and... no. Raising the worst-case scenario for giving men control over women’s bodies implies that there might be a best-case scenario, an acceptable type of forced pregnancy and just no.)

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Today -100: February 15, 1917: Of Lyman laws, contraband, and revolts

An Austrian u-boat sinks an American schooner the Lyman Law – seriously, they’re going after sailboats now? – in the Mediterranean. It probably didn’t break international law, though since the u-boat gave warning, let the crew evacuate, and then placed a bomb on the boat rather than using torpedoes, for some reason. Or maybe it did: the Lyman Law was carrying lumber, which Austria considers contraband but the US does not.

Speaking of contraband, the British plan to hold the ship the Frederik VIII for a week or two when it arrives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to check for rubber and other contraband. Which should be awkward since the ship will contain the former German ambassador to the US, Count Johann von Bernstorff, who is returning home.

The German people are being told that Wilson is hesitating, as seen by his reluctance to arm private vessels. They’re also happy that his appeal to the neutral nations to follow his lead failed. Another sign: former US Ambassador Gerhard is in Switzerland, evidently not planning to return to the US and leaving open the possibility of returning to Germany.

The US informs Cuban rebels that it won’t recognize any government they form and will intervene militarily to protect the existing regime. The British, naturally, are pretty sure the Germans are behind the revolt.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Today -100: February 14, 1917: Of submarine grips, conchies, impertinence, psychiatrists, and field marshals

Headline of the Day -100:

I just can’t keep up with all these early-20th-century sex terms.

A by-election is held in Rossendale in the north of England. The Liberal Party candidate Sir John Henry Maden, a cotton baron who represented the constituency in Parliament once before, beats Albert Taylor, an independent who runs the Slipper Operatives Union when he’s not in prison as a conscientious objector, which is where he is now. The vote was 6,019 to 1,804.

The NYT finds Carranza’s note to the neutral nations suggesting an embargo of food and munitions exports to the European belligerents “impertinent” and poor repayment for the great favor the US just did Mexico of removing Pershing’s soldiers from its soil. The Times says it would like to see the “German original” of Carranza’s note, which it sees as “fresh and convincing evidence of active and persistent German intrigue in Mexico.”

Headline of the Day -100:  

Imagine, a psychiatrist in New York! Actually, Dr. Mortimer Raynor has just been hired to shrink heads in the city’s various penal institutions.

Germany reportedly drafts all the officials of trade unions and socialist organizations who were previously exempt.

Kaiser Wilhelm meets new Austrian Kaiser Karl and makes him a field marshal in the German Army, which sounds like an alpha-male power game to me.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

Today -100: February 13, 1917: Of sailors, u-boats, embargoes, and spies

Germany orders American relief workers working under Herbert Hoover out of occupied Belgium and northern France.

Germany says it will hold 72 American sailors (or 64 according to tomorrow’s paper or 59 next month) who were taken off the British freighter Yarrowdale in December ago as hostage until the US promises not to hold German crews stuck in US harbors (Germany was getting false reports about the treatment of its sailors, which the US thought had been debunked but evidently not to Germany’s satisfaction).

The US rejects Germany’s offer to negotiate modifications to Germany’s submarine warfare, saying it must rescind the January 31st proclamation resuming unrestricted warfare and there will be no discussion on the subject.

Mexico’s Carranza proposes that all neutral countries stop exporting munitions and food products to belligerent nations. If you’re wondering what commerce Mexico would have to give up, it does supply oil to British ships.

Wilson gives Panama Canal Zone governor Chester Harding authority to deport anyone he wants without appeal, suspected spies presumably.

Speaking of suspected spies, Margaretha MacLeod (stage name = Mata Hari) is arrested in Paris.

There’s been some sort of baseball strike.

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Today -100: February 12, 1917: We are no barbarians

Germany has evidently approached the US, using Switzerland as an intermediary now that the countries no longer have diplomatic relations, asking for suggestions from the US for how to modify its submarine warfare to not kill so many Americans.

Before finally allowing US Ambassador James Gerhard to leave Germany, the Foreign Secretary Arthur Zimmermann tried to get him to reaffirm old treaties between the US and Prussia dating back to 1799 about the treatment of nationals (and their businesses) stuck in each other’s country during a war. Gerhard replied that he was no longer ambassador so suck it Fritz.

The NYT Germany reporter says Germans are being very polite to American acquaintances and even strangers just now and being very helpful. “‘We are no barbarians’ is the phrase often repeated.”

The elections in Cuba are marked by mass arrests of Liberals and rebellions by soldiers, as was the custom. There was a plot to kidnap President García Menocal and force him to resign, or quite possibly that’s a story to justify arresting lots of people.

Remember how early last year a mob in Sylvester, Georgia seized five black men from the jail and lynched them, even though none of them was Jim Keith, the man they were looking for, who had supposedly killed a sheriff? Funny story. Keith was convicted of complicity in the murder, but a second trial just exonerated him and the other 5. Whoops.

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Saturday, February 11, 2017

Today -100: February 11, 1917: 8 weeks tops

Headline of the Day -100:

Secretary of State Robert Lansing says the US in on the verge of war but may still avoid being “forced into” it. He inserted this into a speech at Amherst on college spirit, which he says is just like patriotism in that it is not based on material interest or selfish motive.

The initial rush of Germans and Austrian immigrants applying for US citizenship is falling off. One notable aspiring American is Ladislaus Majphenje of Hungary, 32, who is an elevator operator in New York City. And a baron. He’s willing to give up his title.

Headline of the Day -100:  

One of the many British ships sunk this week is the steamer Japanese Prince, whose crew included 25 American muleteers, and this time they’re white so they actually count (we know this because the NYT was careful to point out their race; I think muleteers were generally black).

The Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage is not happy about stories that pacifists are quitting the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association and joining the CU.

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