Sunday, February 28, 2010

Berlusconi and the Silvioettes

Berlusconi has picked the latest batch of unqualified hotties as candidates for regional elections. Let’s meet them, shall we?

Nicole Minetti, a showgirl slash dental hygienist, who treated Berlusconi – I’ll bet she did, I’ll bet she did – after he was hit with that statue.

Former Miss Italy 2001 finalist Italia Caruso,

Giovanna Del Giudice, who Berlusconi “discovered” in a nightclub and made her a star, or at least a weather girl on one of his channels,

and model Graziana Capone, the “Italian Angelina Jolie.”

Minetti says, “I have my CV, I am prepared and I am up to fulfilling the role. Can you stop publishing photos from when I worked in TV?”

No, no we can’t.

John Reed

Well this is sad. D’Oyly Carte singer John Reed has died, and I can’t find his rendition of the Nightmare Song from Iolanthe on YouTube. Also – no obit in the London Times?

Today -100: February 28, 1910: Of trolleys, elevators, nails and x-rays, and suffrage and socialism

The Philadelphia unions vote for that general strike in support of the trolley-car operators, although the start will not be for six days. The violence ramped up again, now that the State Police have left the city to shoot at the Bethlehem Steel strikers instead. At 6th street, a crowd was smashing the windows of trolley cars; a motorman of an approaching trolley turned on full power in order to plow through the – then he got scared and jumped out. The car jumped the rails, hitting the crowd and smashing into a candy store, killing two people, one of them a child.

Chicago elevator operators have voted to strike. There are over 800 of them in the union. Well, I thought that was interesting.

Surgeons at Beth Israel used an X-ray machine to guide forceps in removing a nail from a 9-year-old boy’s lungs (he’d swallowed it).

Yesterday -100 was woman’s day for the American Socialists, which held women’s suffrage meetings all over the country. The NYT has been printing red-scaredy-cat letters for days, warning that women’s suffrage means socialism and socialism means women being shared in common. In New York, there was a large meeting where, as the NYT subhed puts it, “Speakers at Carnegie Hall All Women Except One, and He Denounces Man.” The sex traitor was one Franklin H. Wentworth of Salem, and you can read his speech (which was published) here if you want to, which trust me you don’t, though here’s a not-too-bad bit 20 pages in: “I do not fear the free woman. I fear only the enslaved woman. The man who fears to see his mate walk the earth a free and untrammeled being is himself at heart a slave, unworthy of his mother’s agony. I do not know what woman will do when she is free. I am willing to trust her. I do not even know what man will do when he is free! But what I do know is that all outworn institutions of human tyranny that fear the free man are the same ones that doubly fear the free woman”.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Name of the Day

The White House announces a new social secretary, who clearly deserves the job on the basis of her name alone: Julianna Smoot. White House Social Secretary Julianna Smoot.

Womb lynchings

In a tactic they must hope won’t get back to their white Bible Belt base, anti-abortionists are targeting black communities with claims that abortion is a “conspiracy” to keep the black population down. Says the NYT, “Black abortion opponents... sometimes refer to abortions as ‘womb lynchings’”. Sigh. Of all the anti-abortion arguments, this one is as contemptuous of women as any I’ve recently heard. Will black women respond positively to a campaign that tells them they are the idiot dupes of white racists?

(And Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona said today that the abortion rate among black women means that “Far more of the African-American community is being devastated by the policies of today than were being devastated by policies of slavery.”

Today -100: February 27, 1910: Bunga bunga!

At the other big strike in Pennsylvania, the State Police shoot at strikers at the Bethlehem Steel Works, killing one and wounding two others. The NYT keeps stressing that some of the strikers are “foreigners,” and darkly notes that foreigners have bought up every pistol for sale in the area.

A bomb went off in a NYC tenement. Someone, presumably a member of the Black Hand (as the Mafia was known), was trying to put it together in his apartment. He escaped before police arrived, but did leave behind three fingers.

The NYT has caught up with the story of the Dreadnought Hoax, actually carried out in England on the 7th. Several members of the Bloomsbury Group, which first made itself known to the wider public with this event, disguised themselves as princes from Abyssinia and were given a royal tour of the H.M.S. Dreadnought, the most powerful battleship in the Royal Navy or indeed the world. This is them:

The one on the left, “Prince Sanganya,” is Virginia Woolf (Virginia Stephen, as she then was). To her right are Duncan Grant, Adrian Stephen (Virginia’s brother), playing the translator, Anthony Buxton, Guy Ridley and Horace de Vere Cole, playing a Foreign Office attaché (as of late February, their real names were not known beyond their circle of friends). They blacked up, put on false beards and shoes with turned-up toes, and spoke in a gibberish comprised of bits of Greek and Latin, pointing and exclaiming “Bunga bunga.” For some time thereafter, people on the streets muttered the phrase whenever a sailor from the Dreadnought went past. (Update: I’ve just discovered that the term has an altogether less pleasant meaning now.) After the incident, the ship was sent out to sea until the embarrassment died down.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A study in contrasting obituaries

From Friday’s NYT obits page. Lucky: Robert Myers, an actuary who in 1934 determined that the optimal retirement age for the planned Social Security program was 65, has died at the age of 97.

Unlucky: Kermit Tyler, who was at the aircraft tracking center in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, and responded to reports that radar had picked up a whole bunch of incoming planes, “Don’t worry about it.”

Today -100: February 26, 1910: Of lamas, trolleys, and more trolleys

China announces that it has deposed the Dalai Lama, calling him “an ungrateful, irreligious, obstreperous profligate who is tyrannical”. He is accused, among other things, of intrigue and refusal to pay tribute to Peking. The edict also declares all Tibetans to be Chinese subjects.

John Murphy, President of the Central Labor Union of Philadelphia says there will be a general strike if the trolley car strike is not settled within two days, and predicts bloodshed if the general strike occurs, noting “There are men in the Northeast who can shoot as straight as any trooper who ever drew a breath.” A warrant for inciting to riot is sworn out for him. The street car company rejected a plan for arbitration presented by a committee of clergymen.

The Edison Company tests a trolleyless street car that runs off batteries rather than overhead wires. They claim it can go 150 miles on a single charge, at speeds up to 15 mph.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Still not done making fun of McCain

In that clip two posts back, Obama told McCain, “The election’s over,” and McCain responded, “I’m reminded of that every day.” Do you think he has an aide (or possibly Lindsey Graham) whose task it is to remind him of that fact every day, or does Cindy leave post-it notes on the bathroom mirror: “Your name is John,” “You are a United States senator,” “You are not the president (sorry),” “You are a ‘maverick,’” “The nice man who just gave you the sponge bath is named Lindsey,” etc.

The Arizonans hate California

McCain, at the health summit: “I won’t talk about California, because the Arizonans hate California, because they’ve stolen our water.”

I did not know that. But speaking for all Californians, I can say that we don’t hate Arizonans. We never think about Arizonans. Ever.

Unsavory – I say that with respect

Today -100: February 25, 1910: Of trolleys and duels

The Pennsylvania state police have “awed” the trolley car strikers. In other words, they fired on several crowds, although they seem to have killed only one person so far.

In France, two senators, Raphaël Milliès-Lacroix and Lintilhac, fought a duel in a park in Paris. Some dispute over the secret ballot. With swords and everything. Milliès-Lacroix, the former colonial minister, stabbed Lintilhac in the forearm and the seconds stopped the duel. Dueling was almost never legally punished in France, and quite popular among certain politicians – Georges Clemenceau, prime minister 1906-9 and 1917-20, fought 22 duels. The practice largely died out, rendered absurd by World War I, although Gaston Deferre, the Socialist party leader and mayor of Marseille, fought his last duel with swords in 1967.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


NATO sort of admits that an air raid in Afghanistan December that killed 8 boys aged 12 to 18 in their home was a “mistake.” An unnamed NATO official says “Knowing what we know now, it would probably not have been a justifiable attack.” What sort of human being feels the need to insert the qualifier “probably” into that sentence?

Some of us have waited impatiently our entire lives for this news: jet packs will be manufactured for sale.

The Navy will allow women onto their watery phallic symbols submarines. One supporter of this decision (but not of repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell): Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead.

Headline of the Day

LA Times: “L.A. Obesity Summit Will Feature Schwarzenegger, Clinton.” As before and after?

Today -100: February 24, 1910: Of lamas, fingers, trolleys, and great white chiefs

I just read about the current Dalai Lama visiting Universal Studios in Hollywood, then I switched to the 1910 paper, in which the very first story is about his predecessor fleeing Lhasa, which was being occupied by 25,000 “anti-Buddhist” Chinese troops (drilled by Japanese officers). China was trying to reduce the number and influence of lamas in Tibet (for example by killing them and sacking their monasteries) and settle Chinese immigrants there. In Tibet history doesn’t repeat itself, it reincarnates.

A NY Supreme Court jury awarded a 15-year-old who worked for the George Sclecher Piano Company of Ossining who lost four fingers in an industrial accident $4,000 (a grand, er, a thousand dollars, each).

In response to the Philadelphia trolley strike, now in its fifth day, the city government yesterday called in something called the State Fencibles, which was some sort of non-governmental militia. They were completely routed by the strikers, who had a lot of fun with them, pulling their hats over their eyes and so forth. The state police, which is basically a military body created to fight coal strikes, is now being called in. There was somewhat less violence today.

The NYT reports a great relief in the US Senate that the Mississippi Legislature did not elect as the new senator (replacing the Confederate colonel who once discussed with John Wilkes Booth a plan to kidnap Lincoln) James Vardaman, the former governor (1904-8), aka the “Great White Chief,” a white supremacist (“if it is necessary every Negro in the state will be lynched, it will be done to maintain white supremacy”) whose main concern was repealing the 14th and 15th Amendments. Instead, the new senator will be Le Roy Percy, who is much... calmer on racial issues. In 1912, when senators were first chosen by popular election, Vardaman defeated Percy in the primary and was elected to the Senate, but lost in the 1918 election, having voted against World War I.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Today -100: February 23, 1910: Of kisses and votes

A letter to the Times from “Anti-Suffragist” points out that Socialists support women’s suffrage, which “only goes to prove what rational and careful persons pointed out long ago – that woman suffrage leads to Socialism. The yellow banner of the suffragists is very apt to turn a bloody red, and their ‘votes for women’ battle cry is a call to the road to ruin.”

But there will be no kisses on the road to ruin. Suffragist Alma Webster-Powell writes in to deny an earlier report in the paper about her proposed tactics: “I have never advocated the exchange of kisses for votes. Indeed, my inclination would be quite different, and instead of sending pretty maids [young women, I presume, rather than domestic servants] to Albany to woo votes with kisses, I would send our strongest women to force justice with horsewhips. Force applied in a noble cause is never undignified”.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Extremely saddened

Headline of the Day (the USA Today):
“Pediatricians Call for a Choke-proof Hot Dog.”

NATO air strike kills 27 Afghan civilians, Gen. Stanley McChrystal is “extremely saddened,” rinse, lather, repeat.

McChrystal added, “I have made it clear to our forces that we are here to protect the Afghan people and inadvertently killing or injuring civilians undermines their trust and confidence in our mission.” Um, right, inadvertently killing people does undermine their trust and confidence in your claim to be protecting them. “We will redouble our effort to regain that trust.” Re-gain?

Today -100: February 22, 1910: Of trolleys and booze

The Philadelphia PD arrest Clarence O. Pratt, the national organizer of the Amalgamated Association of Street and Electric Railway Employees, for “conspiring to incite to riot,” and refuse to recognize a discharge after bail is entered for him. The arrest will likely lead to sympathy strikes. Although there have been over 150 arrests, worries that police are too sympathetic to strikers in their own neighborhoods has led to cops being shifted en masse to other districts.

The Virginia Legislature votes against a state-wide referendum on prohibition.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Today -100: February 21, 1910: Of trolleys

A trolley strike in Philadelphia has evidently led to “mob rule,” with rioting, the destruction of 297 trolley cars (update: the next day’s paper says 375, but explains that some of those just had their windows broken), tracks obstructed, and many dead and injured.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

We hardly knew ye

Fran Lee. She was an actor, broadcaster, consumer and health and safety advocate, she lived 99 years, she will be remembered for dog poop.

It’s all about the context

The Justice Dept exonerates John Yoo & Jay Bybee, overriding its own Office of Professional Responsibility, because “the ethics lawyers, in condemning the lawyers’ actions, had given short shrift to the national climate of urgency in which Mr. Bybee and Mr. Yoo acted after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. ‘Among the difficulties in assessing these memos now over seven years after their issuance is that the context is lost,’ Mr. Margolis said.” So that’s okay then.

(Update: Yoo said in as many words that the president can order a village of civilians massacred.)

Today -100: February 20, 1910: Of lynchings, dust, and funeral mutes

In Cairo, Ill., the inquest was held into the death of the one member of the lynch mob. The jury was most interested in determining which black deputy might have shot him. They didn’t, but the names of the four black deputies (which may – or may not, I’m unclear – mean people deputized by the sheriff for the occasion, after the militia failed to show up and he couldn’t find any white volunteers) who fired at the mob are now public. That’ll end well, I’m sure.

The local Catholic priest helpfully explains the race problem in Cairo: “Politics is the ruin of Cairo. The whites purchase the negroes’ votes, and that brings the negroes here. To my mind it is a disgrace that a white man should climb into office by the purchased votes of negroes. But so long as the negro can vote in Cairo this will be the trouble.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Strike Against Dust Settled.” Granite cutters in Vermont, unhappy with the dust caused by pneumatic brush hammers.

But that isn’t the Strike of the Day -100. That would be the strike being considered in Paris by the funeral mutes (croque-mortes). Since the separation of church and state in France, the undertaking profession is now supervised by the government rather than the Catholic Church, so the mourners-for-hire, rather than being paid a salary or a fee or however that worked, now have to beg from the real mourners.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lamest attempt at a guilt trip ever

Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama “seriously hurts the national feelings of the Chinese people”.

You can’t spell CPAC without ac

Sadly, I just could not force myself to watch any of it for more than 15 seconds at a time. 1) Tune to C-SPAN. 2) “It’s the Star Spangled Banner, Obama, get over it!” 3) Turn off C-SPAN.

Actual quote.

Today -100: February 19, 1910: Of lynchings, the negro problem, and elephants

Cairo, Illinois update: no lynching, thanks to a sizeable contingent of soldiers. One of the lynch mob, the son of a former mayor, is dead from shots fired by the deputies (six of whom were black, interestingly, enlisted for this duty only when white ones refused, if I’m reading the NYT correctly), and four were wounded, including an AP reporter. And the black purse-snatcher, who plead guilty, is sentenced to 14 years. The purse contained “a silver dollar to which a postage stamp had become attached.”

Taft spoke about the “negro problem” in the South, which he believes can be solved through education of the negro and increasing the wealth of the South.

In San Francisco, three elephants left a parade and “ran amuck” for 30 blocks.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hopey and Dalai

Caption contest:

Today -100: February 18, 1910: Of colds, warpaths, primaries, and lynchings

Kaiser Wilhelm is sick! Okay, it’s not much of a story, but the NYT took advantage to sneak in a little alliteration in its headline: “Kaiser Confined by a Cold.”

However, the Headline of the Day -100 would have to be “Mad Mullah on Warpath.”

Illinois enacts direct primaries (as opposed to nominating conventions). Three previous attempts since the 1890s were struck down by the courts.

In Cairo, Illinois, the site of two lynchings in November 1909, there were shots exchanged between sheriff’s deputies and a mob trying to lynch a negro accused of... purse snatching. At the time the story was filed, the mob was threatening to lynch the deputies as well.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Our presence did not leave good memories

Sarkozy visited France’s former colony, Haiti, and cancelled its debt, which is pretty much the least France could do for Haiti. Sarkozy acknowledged, with atypical Gallic understatement, “Our presence did not leave good memories.”

The Miami Herald tells us: “Haiti and France have had uneasy relations ever since slaves on the western side of the island of Hispaniola fought off French troops and declared independence in 1804.” Gosh, I’d think the uneasy relations started some time before 1804, possibly when the French kidnapped people in Africa and put them in chains, then transported them to a life of slavery in this island they’d seized. Uneasy relations, sheesh.

Batman needs to kick some Virginian ass again

Virginia passes a bunch of pro-gun bills, including allowing them in shelters – that’ll work out well – as well as churches and restaurants that serve alcohol. Also, you can shoot a burglar. And they’re rescinding the ban on buying more than one handgun per month. Which means VA will once again become the number one provider of guns to the gangs of Gotham City New York (the ban was originally enacted in 1993 when VA was embarrassed by having its gun policy illustrated in a Batman comic book).

Today -100: February 17, 1910: Of being hammered, and 9¢ of waste

Speaking to Civil War veterans, Taft said that the criticism with which he was “hammered” during his first year in office was nothing compared to what Lincoln faced, and anyway every president faced intense criticism, with the possible exception, he added wistfully, of Teddy Roosevelt.

A letter to the Times notes that some contractor pays $1,717 a week to take whatever he wants from the city dumps and sells salvaged junk for $350,000 per year. The letter-writer thinks this proves that all the talk about the high cost of living is nonsense because people are wasting so much stuff. The NYT rather sarcastically headlines this letter “New York Extravagance. Proof That Each of Us Wastes at Least 9 Cents a Year.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Today -100: February 16, 1910: Cocaine goes wrong

NY State Senator Timothy D. Sullivan, the corrupt Tammany politician, had a problem with cocaine. Evidently it was used during a minor operation – as an anaesthetic? – went to his heart and nearly killed him. “About once out of 7,000 times,” he said, “cocaine goes wrong.” They all say that.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A major shootout

Another quote from Cheney’s “This Week” interview: “I can remember a meeting in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House where we had a major shootout over how this was going to be handled between the Justice Department, that advocated that approach, and many of the rest of us, who wanted to treat it as an intelligence matter, as an act of war with military commissions.”

Maybe a guy who once shot his friend in the face should pick another metaphor than “major shootout.”

A capital crime in Afghanistan: digging.

Headline of the Day

The Independent: “Bishops Meet Pope over Child Abuse Scandals.” Is that like “bishops meet pope over coffee”?

Today -100: February 15, 1910: Of trains and planes and war balloons

Taft tells that delegation of airplane boosters that strict economy means he won’t be endorsing their project for war balloons and military planes this congressional session, but might do so next session.

Not much going on today, although there were I think 3 different stories about train accidents, including a head-on collision between two trains in Georgia which killed eight people and an incident in which a train bumped Andrew Carnegie’s carriage, causing no injuries but upsetting his lunch party (headline: Carnegie Shaken Up) – guess which story, both on the front page, is longer.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A big supporter of waterboarding

Dick Cheney went on “This Week” this morning, because nothing starts off Valentine’s Day right like Dick Cheney, and said about what you’d expect Dick Cheney to say.

If the Obamaites are going to take credit for Iraq, “it ought to go with a healthy dose of ‘Thank you, George Bush’ up front and a recognition that some of their early recommendations, with respect to prosecuting that war, were just dead wrong.” Is there such a thing as a healthy dose of Thank you, George Bush?

The Underpants Bomber should be tortured – “the professionals need to make that judgment ... how they can best achieve his cooperation” – and says the Obamaites “didn’t know what to do with the guy.”

“I was a big supporter of waterboarding.”

Thinks we should be threatening Iran with war.

Thinks it’s time to reconsider gays in the military. Then send the gays to invade Iran.

But you knew that

Today -100: February 14, 1910: Of war balloons

The president of the Aero Club will meet the president of the United States to urge the military necessity for airplanes and dirigibles. He will point out that there is a war balloon gap: Germany has 14 military dirigibles and 5 airplanes, France 7 and 29, Russia 3 and 6, England 2 each. The US Army has just 1 dirigible and 2 planes.

Is there a more chilling phrase in the military lexicon than “war balloon?” I think not.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Some good news, at last, for Marya Aman

The Israeli High Court has ordered the government to provide the family of Marya Aman, the 8-year-old girl paralyzed by an Israeli rocket attack (details at my previous post on Marya, with links to earlier posts), with a home near her Jerusalem hospital, and to allow her father to actually leave the hospital without fear of arrest and deportation for the first time in 4 years.

Good News of the Day with Rather Unfortunate Headline of the Day

NYT: “Gay Guardsman Has Returned to Drills With His Unit”

Today -100: February 13, 1910: Of Lincoln, boy highwaymen, aeroplanes and dirigibles, and the physical condition of women

In 1910, Lincoln was still a living memory. At the Graduates’ Club of the City of New York, Lincoln Day speeches were given by people who knew him personally. And the principal speaker at a Springfield, Illinois banquet at which the governor was toastmaster was Booker T. Washington, who recounted that his first knowledge of Lincoln was in a slave cabin, hearing his mother pray that Lincoln might succeed. NYT headline: “Negro at Lincoln’s Home.” Sigh.

A better headline, to a story about a “boy highwayman” who robbed a bank in Highland, CA, then escaped arrest by joining the posse looking for him: “Robber Pursues Himself.”

Airplane factories are having trouble keeping up with demand, with 600 expected to be delivered for the spring season. People wanting immediate delivery are having to pay as much as $8,200. The cheapest, the Demoiselle, is only $1,000.

France has many more planes flying about than the US does, and manufactures more of them.

The British Army has developed a military dirigible.

William Jennings Bryan declares war on liquor. He castigates the shift from locally owned saloons, which the community could pressure, to branch saloons owned by liquor producers, which “adds the evils of the trust system to the evils of the saloon itself. The saloon is constantly used to debauch politics, and to prevent the intelligent consideration of public questions.”

Dr. D.A. Sargent, Direct of Physical Training at Harvard, says that the physical condition of woman has been improving rapidly, but it would be “absurd” to say that she will ever be the physical equal of man. Nor is it desirable, because that would “interfere with her physiological functions”. By “physiological functions,” he of course does not mean respiration, digestion, etc, but rather pumping out babies. However, he does say that women are now far improved from the “weak, hysterical little thing” of a few years ago.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Name (and Title) of the Day

The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales Igor Judge (presiding
over the case of Binyam Mohamed, tortured by the Americans with the complicity of MI5). That is, Lord Chief Justice Lord Judge.

Happy Lincoln’s Birthday

Hope everyone is celebrating in an appropriate manner. Remember: it’s split a rail and free a slave, not vice versa.

Today -100: February 12, 1910: Of $10,000 bills and no taxation without representation

Chicago music teacher Belle Squire will refuse to pay her property tax in protest at the lack of women’s suffrage. She says paying would encourage tyranny.

The Wall Street messenger who lost the $10,000 bill (which still hasn’t been found) is in jail, charged with grand larceny, with a $10,000 bond. Also, it seems that he likes to shoot craps with other messengers.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Morale welfare recreation

Employing a prostitute, and charging the US for her, isn’t among the 10 or even the 100 worst things Blackwater has ever done.

Today -100: February 11, 1910: Of duels, unknown biological laws, hung parliaments, deportations, kids in jail, Japanese exclusion, and horse thieves

A jail guard and a police superintendent fight a duel on the streets of Chattanooga. The former dies, “his body perforated with bullets.”

Dr. James Walsh, Dean of Fordham University Medical School, says that if women’s suffrage were granted, “nature would eliminate form the race all who cared about exercising it in the course of three or four generations. He quoted history in support of his argument, and showed how often women had made a sudden burst to the front in intellectual matters, to fall back again inevitably to domestic duties through the working of some unknown biological law.” And he’s the dean of Fordham University Medical School, so he should know.

In Britain, Asquith is putting together a new cabinet. Given the Liberals’ lack of a parliamentary majority, he will have to attend carefully to the demands of other parties. John Redmond, head of the Irish Nationalists, says he will subordinate every other issue to Home Rule for Ireland: the 72 Nats will vote for Asquith’s budget if they get it, and against it if they don’t. The Labour Party has met and adopted a demand for adult suffrage, which would eliminate the remaining property qualifications for men and extend the franchise to women (this will be unwelcome to most women’s suffragists, who want a stand-alone measure giving women the vote on the same terms as men. Given that relatively few women owned property, this means that what even the most radical suffragettes are calling for is an electorate that would be 90% male.) Interestingly, in 2010, with the polls predicting a similar hung parliament after the next elections, Gordon Brown has developed a sudden interest in parliamentary reform, although in its weakest form, the Alternative Vote.

Headline of the Day 1: An Italian silk finished insists on pleading guilty to assault in the first degree in a NYC court rather than a lesser charge, preferring a long prison sentence here to deportation back to Italy “where he would be under the surveillance of authorities he had found unkind.” Headline: “Prefers Jail to Italy.”

Headline of the Day 2: “10-Year-Old Jailed For Debt.” A Newark boy who failed to pay $95.35 damages awarded against him by a court after a fight with a 16-year-old. However, by evening his lawyer had put up a bond and got him out.

The House Immigration Committee votes unanimously for the Japanese Exclusion Bill.

The NYPD have arrrested the leaders of a gang of horse thieves operating in Manhattan and Long Island. In 1910, Manhattan had horse thieves. And Chattanooga had duels.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

To begrudge or not begrudge

Obama says of multi-million-dollar bonuses paid to bankers, “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.” Speak for yourself, dude, I totally begrudge people success and wealth. How ‘bout you, readers?

  • No, I do not begrudge people success or wealth
  • Yes, I begrudge people success or wealth with a fiery passion of begrudgitude

Today -100: February 10, 1910: Of the vermiform appendix of football and management 1910-style

With constant talk about changing the rules of football to make it less lethal, the Yale football coach says the forward pass is the “vermiform appendix of football, a totally useless and highly dangerous play.”

One of Andrew Carnegie’s executives, an Alexander R. Peacock (the interwebs say that when Carnegie chose him, he asked, “Peacock, what would you give to be made a millionaire?” and Peacock replied, “A liberal discount for cash, Sir.”), upon finding that some of his employees had embezzled $25,000, “locked himself in a room with each of these men, one at a time, and beat them soundly with his fists. Then he drove them from his office. He declines to prosecute them.”

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Today -100: February 9, 1910: Of the feminine nature

NY state senator Edgar Brackett introduces a bill to put the question of women’s suffrage to a vote of all women over 21. Suffrage groups strongly oppose the idea. A NYT editorial, which isn’t quite sure whether Brackett is pro- or anti-suffrage (anti, I think), notes that such a referendum would have no legal force and that if it failed it wouldn’t stop the suffrage agitation because “Is it not a part of the feminine nature to seek more eagerly and persistently privileges that have been denied?”

Monday, February 08, 2010

Still more Sarah Palin (sorry): I’m never going to pretend like I know more than the next person

North Korea says it will take “all-out strong measures to foil the treacherous, anti-reunification and anti-peace moves of the riff-raffs to bring down the dignified socialist system,” using its hitherto unrevealed “world-level ultra-modern striking force.” So keep an eye out for that.

Speaking of world-level ultra-modern striking forces, Sarah Palin was interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox yesterday:

EVEN MORE SO MERGING: WALLACE: How do you see yourself as a member of the Tea Party movement or a member of the Republican Party? PALIN: Oh, I think the two are and should be even more so merging because the Tea Party movement is quite reflective of what the GOP, the planks in the platform are supposed to be about.

A BEAUTIFUL MOVEMENT: “When the GOP strays from the planks in the platform, a people’s movement like the Tea Party movement is invited in to kind of hold these politicians accountable again and remind them of their constitutional limits there on the federal level and it’s a beautiful movement.”

SOME KIND OF REPLICATE: “No, I would hope that the Tea Party-ers don’t believe that they need some kind of well-oiled machine, some kind of replicate of the GOP or the Democrat Party and instead they remain a movement of the people uprising and saying, listen to us, we have some common sense solutions that we want our politicians to consider and to implement and this is much bigger than a hockey mom from Wasilla.”

GENERAL PERSONA REPORTING FOR DUTY: “PALIN: [Obama] has some misguided decisions that he is making that he is expecting us to just kind of sit down and shut up and accept, and many of us are not going to sit down and shut up. We’re going to say no, we do not like this... WALLACE: Wait, wait, where’s he saying sit down and shut up? PALIN: In a general just kind of general persona I think that he has when he’s up there at, I’ll call it a lectern. When he is up there and he is telling us basically, I know best, my people here in the White House know best, and we are going to tell you that yes, you do want this essentially nationalized health care system and we’re saying, no, we don’t.”

She explained that she wants to remove women’s right to choose in order to empower women: “I want to empower women though. I -- I want -- and -- and if Trigg is an example, and if Pam Tebow’s son, Tim Tebow is an example of the potential for every human life, then so be it. Let Trigg be that example. I want women to know that they are strong enough, and they are smart enough to be able to do many things at once -- including carrying a child.”

I’M LIKE NO: On resigning as governor: “And we said, ‘We’re going to get out there, and we're going to fight for Alaska’s issues,’ which usually involve energy independence. We’re going to fight for these issues on a different plane. And we’re not going to let you guys win. ... look it, I’m sitting here talking to Chris Wallace today. I think some of them are going, ‘Dang, we thought she’d sit down and shut up after we tried to do to her what we tried.’” ... So in that last -- in that lame duck session I’m like no.”

WHAT SHE’S NOT ONE TO BE: “Oh, you know, Rahm Emanuel, I think he had some indecent and insensitive ways of being, including his language. ... I’m not politically correct. I am not one to be a word police.” Although she does seem to have tasered a lot of words.

AND HEAVEN FORFEND SARAH EVER BE ABSURD: On running for president in 2012: “I think that it would be absurd to not consider what it is that I can potentially do to help our country.”

PLAYING THE WAR CARD: On how Obama might win re-election: “Say he played, and I got this from Buchanan, reading one of his columns the other day. Say he played the war card. Say he decided to declare war on Iran, or decided to really come out and do whatever he could to support Israel, which I would like him to do. But that changes the dynamics in what we can assume is going to happen between now and three years. Because I think if the election were today, I do not think Obama would be re-elected.”

TOO LATE: “WALLACE: What role do you want to play in the country’s future? PALIN: First and foremost I want to be a good mom.”

WHAT SHE’S NEVER GOING TO PRETEND LIKE: “And then I do want to be a voice for some common-sense solutions. I’m never going to pretend like I know more than the next person. I’m not going to pretend to be an elitist. In fact, I’m going to fight the elitist because for too often and for too long now, I think the elitists have tried to make people like me and people in the heartland of America, feel like we just don’t get it and big government is just going to have to take care of us.” Heaven forfend our Sarah ever feel like she just doesn’t get it.

Today -100: February 8, 1910: Of really old beef, corsets, and a loving sort of whipping

The House committee investigating the high cost of food and the activities of the beef trust, which led to the meat strike, hears from a D.C. food inspector that Teddy Roosevelt liked to keep his beef aging until it was ready to fall to pieces before serving it. Evidently rich people liked really old, virtually rancid beef.

Dr. R. W. Lovett, professor in orthopedics at the Harvard Medical School, says that women should wear corsets.

U.S. Commissioner of Education Elmer Ellsworth Brown says “It strikes me that it is better to have a boy whipped than to let him go straight to the devil.” However, “There are cases, undoubtedly, where a loving sort of a whipping has shunted a boy off the downward track, but it is pretty hard to tell in any given case whether it will have that effect or not, and there are so many evils attending that form of punishment that it seems to be slowly dying out in this country.”

Sunday, February 07, 2010

More Sarah Palin: talk to the hand

More from Palin’s tea party convention speech.

THINK OF THAT: “Do you love your freedom? (Cheers, applause.) If you love your freedom, think of that.”

REAL PEOPLE, NOT THOSE FAKE PEOPLE: “I look forward to attending more tea party events in the near future. It is just so inspiring to see real people, not politicos, not inside-the-Beltway professionals, come out and stand up and speak out for common-sense conservative principles.”

WE’RE TIRED, AND IT HURTS OUR NECK: “We’ve gotten tired now of looking backward. We want to look forward.”

“I caution against allowing this movement to be defined by any one leader or politician. The tea party movement is not a top-down operation. ...This is about the people, and it’s bigger than any king or queen of a tea party.” In other words, please don’t depend on me to do any actual leading, I’d just abdicate half-way through my term of office.

“[W]e should acknowledge that on Christmas Day, the system did not work. Abdulmutallab passed through airport security with a bomb...” How long do you think it took her to memorize “Abdulmutallab”? Or did she write it on one of her body parts?

She complained that Abdulmutallab was mirandized. “The protections provided, thanks to you, sir, we’re going to bestow them on a terrorist who hates our Constitution and fights to destroy our Constitution and our country? This makes no sense because we have a choice in how we’re going to deal with the terrorists. We don’t have to go down that road.” That awful, awful constitutional road.

Did you know that the Underpants Bomber was entirely the fault of Barack Obama? It’s true: “The events surrounding the Christmas Day plot reflect the kind of thinking that led to September 11th. The threat then, as the USS Cole was attacked, our embassies were attacked, it was treated like an international crime spree, not like an act of war. We’re seeing that mind-set again settle into Washington.”

WHAT WE NEED: “We need a foreign policy that distinguishes America’s friends from her enemies”,

DISSIN’ THE TENTH: “They were going to disrespect the 10th Amendment of our Constitution by essentially bribing us with, take this federal money, and then we’re going to be able to mandate a few more things on you, though.”

NOPE, NO IRONY HERE: “And underemployment now is 16.5 percent. We’ve got all these people who have just kind of given up right now”.

LAME DR. SEUSS: “Is that hope? Nope! It’s not hope!” said the dope.

“When our families, when our small businesses, we start running our finances into the red, what do we do? We tighten our belts, and we cut back budgets. Isn’t that what we teach our children, to live within our means?” Well it sure isn’t “use a condom.”

MORE LAME DR. SEUSS: “So what we’ve got to do is ax that plan for cap and tax”.

WHAT SHE SPENT THE LAST YEAR DOING: “Now, like a lot of you perhaps, I spent the last year thinking how to best serve. How can I help our country? How can I make sure that I, that you, that we’re in a position of nobody being able to succeed when they try to tell us to sit down and shut up, how can we best serve?”

“And you don’t need a proclaimed leader, as if we’re all just a bunch of sheep and we’re looking for a leader to progress this movement.”

NO SHEDDING ON THE COUCH: “I do believe that God shed his grace on thee.”

In the Q&A she referred to the “lame-stream media.”

BOTTOM LINE: “And when it comes to national security, as I ratchet down the message on national security, it’s easy to just kind of sum it up by repeating Ronald Reagan when he talked about the Cold War. And we can apply this now to our war on terrorism. You know, bottom line, we win, they lose. We do all that we can to win.” I wonder why no one ever thought of winning before?

Tea and mooseburgers: How’s that hope-y, change-y stuff workin’ out for you?

Sarah Palin spoke at the tea party convention.

OKAY, HOW’S THAT DOPEY, DERANGE-Y STUFF WORKING OUT FOR YOU? “How’s that hope-y, change-y stuff workin’ out for you?”

LIKE, DID YA EVER NOTICE THAT DOG SPELLED BACKWARDS IS GOD? “Let us not get bogged down in the small squabbles. Let us get caught up in the big ideas.”

LECTERNS ARE ENDANGERING AMERICA! LECTERNS ARE EMBOLDENING THE TERRORISTS! “Treating this like a mere law enforcement matter places our country at great risk because that’s not how radical Islamic extremists are looking at this. They know we’re at war, and to win that war we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.” I love the airy dismissal of “mere” law enforcement, and the suggestion that the way we “look at this” should be determined by radical Islamic extremists.

AND THEN MAYBE THE DESERT MENU: “America is ready for another revolution”. She also called Scott Brown’s election a “chowder revolution.”

BUT ONLY IF PEOPLE WHO ARE SEEKING FREEDOM FROM REPRESSIVE REGIMES ARE AS CONFUSED AS SARAH IS: “Around the world, people who are seeking freedom from repressive regimes wonder if Alaska is still that beacon of hope for their cause.”

GROUND-UP BEEF (OR MOOSE): “The tea party movement is not a top-down operation. It’s a ground-up call to action that is forcing both parties to change the way that they’re doing business, and that’s beautiful”.

SO TIRED: “We are just so tired of hearing the talk, talk, talk.” Says the person giving a speech, who quit her job in order to go on tv and talk.

WHAT SARAH WILL DO: “I will live, I will die for the people of America.” She did not say how she was planning to do that. Suggestions on how Sarah can die for the people of America in comments.

The national debt “should tick us off.”

WHAT THE FUTURE OF POLITICS IS: “The tea party movement is the future of politics”.

DON’T FAKE IT: “I would not be making the promises of bipartisanship if the promises can’t be fulfilled. Don’t fake it, don’t pretend that you want to work with the other party on [health care] because distrust is building and that makes us distrust all the decisions coming out of Washington and it makes us a less secure nation”. The logic is impeccable.

(Update: I’ve got the transcript now. More here.)

Today -100: February 7, 1910: Of shirtwaist strikers, gubernatorial candidates, colored meetings, Sioux in Central America, and veeps and popes

The Philadelphia shirtwaist strike is over. Wages will be decided by a shop committee, with binding arbitration in case of disagreement with the employers; a 52½-hour work week. No recognition of the union. The NYT hasn’t mentioned the NY strike in quite a while; I’m assuming it petered out.

Marilla Ricker (1840-1920), the first woman lawyer in New Hampshire, has announced that she is running for governor of the state (no, women did not have the vote in NH).

Mrs. Alva Belmont, president of the Political Equality Association, speaking at a presumably black Baptist church, invites black supporters of women’s suffragists to join the Association. The NYT says this was the first “colored meeting” in support of women’s suffrage ever held in NYC.

Chief Little Bison visited Nicaragua, where he hopes to relocate 8,000 Sioux from the South Dakota reservation, but President Madriz is worried that it’s some sort of plot with the insurgents under Gen. Estrada.

Former Vice President Fairbanks is visiting Italy. The pope cancels a scheduled meeting with him because he also planned to speak in the American Methodist Church in Rome. The pope objects to Methodists proselytizing among Italian Catholics.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


WaPo headline: “U.S. Outpost in Afghanistan Was Left Vulnerable to Attack, Inquiry Finds.” So the outpost that was attacked was vulnerable to attack, you say? Good job, military inquiry!

Today -100: February 6, 1910: Of Poles, suffragette militancy, patents, lost money, and medical risks

President Taft has promised to attend the American-Polish national congress in May, and Germany is pissed off. Rather like China complaining about Obama meeting the Dalai Lama. The Conservative Post (Berlin) says this would be a deliberate and unfriendly challenge to Germany, Russia and Austria, the countries which carved up Poland.

British suffragette leader Christabel Pankhurst tells the NYT that the Women’s Social and Political Union will declare a truce in militant tactics as an experiment to see whether the new cabinet and the new Parliament will “yield to peaceful agitation”. She thinks that the loss of Asquith’s majority may make him more amenable to pressure (Spoiler alert: no it won’t).

In 1909, 37,261 patents were issued. Of those, 5,232 went to New Yorkers, the most of any state. 38 went to Nevada.

A messenger boy for the stock exchange company Hornblower & Weeks lost a $10,000 bill. He stopped to show it to his friends and it disappeared.

Dr. William Lawrence Woodruff, the author of Therapeutics of Vibration: The Healing of the Sick, an Exact Science, who believed in “the simple life and Spartan methods of raising children” and “first practiced his theories on his infant children, who thrive on coarse foods and ice baths and the wearing of only a single garment even in the coldest weather,” has died. A fat patient fell on him.

Friday, February 05, 2010


WaPo headline: “Snowstorm’s Intensity Has D.C. Region Hunkering Down.” Since it’s D.C., I suspect a euphemism.

CONTEST: What does it mean for residents of Washington D.C. to “hunker down?”

Today -100: February 5, 1910: Of British elections

Nothing of interest in the NYT today, so I’ll backtrack to the British general election, which I think is finally finished. In those days voting didn’t take place in one day but over a couple of weeks – someone could lose in one constituency, then stand again somewhere else in the same general election. The result was a near exact split between Conservatives and Liberals, 273 to 275, but with the Liberal government firmly in control of Parliament with the support of the Irish Nationalists (82) and Labour (40, up from just 2 in 1900 and 30 in 1906). But the closeness between the two major parties gave the heavily Conservative House of Lords the excuse to continue obstructing implementation of the Liberal platform, leading to another “peers versus the people” election in December.