Friday, April 30, 2010

Not a serious thing

Tony Blair enters the electoral fray, to remind the British people that there is someone they despise more than Gordon Brown.

His contribution is to attempt to win back disaffected voters who are considering voting LibDem by disparaging them. Such a vote, he said, is “not a serious thing”. “The fact that it might seem an interesting thing to do is not the right reason to put the keys of the country in their hands.” Possibly the British tolerance for being patronized to by smug bastards is higher than mine, but I can’t imagine this sort of dismissiveness being particularly persuasive. And unlike Gordon Brown, he knew his microphone was on when he slagged off a large segment of the population.

Papers, please

The Democrats are thinking about requiring everyone to carry national ID cards with biometric info. The British government likes to propose this every couple of years and what always stops it is not civil liberties concerns, but the fact that they’re expensive. Good luck to the politician who votes for making every American stand in line at the DMV or post office and write a check for $50 or $80.

Stupid and cruel

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov denies having his former bodyguard Umar Israilov, who had filed a complaint against him at the European Court of Human Rights, killed on the streets of Vienna. Said Kadyrov, “Excuse me, but it would be so stupid and cruel to kill a person in the city center. Why would I need to do this?”

Because you’re stupid and cruel.

This has been another edition of simple answers to stupid questions.

Today -100: April 30, 1910: Of white slaves, rich Nicaraguans, cannibals, and musty European aristocrats on elevators

NYC District Attorney Charles Whitman proves that the white slave traffic is real. His female undercover operatives went into the Tenderloin and purchased four under-aged girls (described by the NYT thusly: “Two of them are Jewish and two American.”) (one of them, believed to be 15, cried because she had to leave her teddy bear behind). Whitman claims that the grand jury investigating white slavery has forced the trade to lie low: “One large dealer declared to the agents that though two years ago he could have sold them all the girls they wanted for $5 to $10 apiece, he would not risk selling one now for $1,000.” The price paid for the four is being kept a secret until the trial. (Update: $40 for the Jews, $120 for the Americans, who are also younger.)

There are plans for a delegation of rich Nicaraguans to visit the US in order to beg Taft to intervene militarily in the civil war there and re-establish conditions conducive to their continuing enrichment.

Two Presbyterian missionaries were eaten by cannibals on Savage Island (aka Niue). In an extinct volcano, no less.

A letter, responding to a story I’m unable to find, asks, “Can it be true... that in one of our leading hotels a lady was made to get out of one of the passenger elevators because of the pre-emption exercised by a lady of some musty European aristocracy? Is there a hotel in this liberty-loving country that would endure such dictation?”

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Today -100: April 29, 1910: Of trouser-wearing women

A NYT editorial expresses relief that the NY Assembly refused to consider women’s suffrage, which would mean “a radical change in the present structure of society and the relations of the sexes. ... We are willing to admit that the social system at present has its evils, but the home is now the basis of all society, and when the home is destroyed there must be chaos before some new order, of which only the haziest ideas are now entertained, is established.”

But while that danger has been averted in NY, Kansas is moving slowly but inexorably towards that awful new order: a widow wrote to the governor asking if she might be allowed to wear men’s trousers while working at home. He asked the attorney general, “who ruled there was no law prohibiting a woman from wearing men’s trousers, especially if she were the head of the house.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Don’t burn

Teheran’s police chief is threatening to arrest women with suntans. Where does he think he is, Arizona?

Oklahoma logic

Oklahoma passes two more anti-abortion measures over Gov. Brad Henry’s vetoes. One requires the patient to have an intrusive ultrasound and to be forced to listen to a detailed description of Your Fetus, because they should have all the facts before making a decision, while the other allows doctors to lie to women pregnant with disabled fetuses to trick them into going through with the birth, because women should not have all the facts if they might make a decision of which the doctor disapproves.

If Gordon Brown weren’t so lame, you’d feel sorry for him for being so consistently lame

The British have imported into their election yet another American political innovation, the open-mike incident. Gordon Brown has a nice chat with a voter, gets into his car and starts complaining that they let this “bigoted woman” near him, still with a tv mike on him. And Gordon Brown being Gordon Brown, the hapless sad-sack that he is, she happens to be a grandmother who, before she retired, worked with disabled children.

Today -100: April 28, 1910: Reasonable enough

The NY Assembly voted 87-46 against further consideration of a women’s suffrage amendment to the state constitution. Assemblyman James Shea (R-Essex) said he felt qualified to speak for married men: “I provide a home for my wife and I expect her to do her share in maintaining it, and I think that is reasonable enough. If we give women the vote our wives will soon be absorbed in caucuses instead of in housekeeping. ... When I come home at night I expect my wife to be there, and not in a political caucus or locked up in a jury room with eight or ten men.” Assemblyman Albert Callan (R-Columbia County) said he could speak for unmarried men, and his mother and sister threaten that if he votes for it “they will close the door against me.”

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Will this blog sell out?

I just received an unsolicited offer (the first of its kind) from a betting website which wants to put an ad on this blog. They’re offering $500 for one year. Not going to do it, but thought y’all might be interested.

Are mooseburgers kosher?

Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin is evidently not intended as a joke, although its URL is, which... really?

CONTEST: Clearly, Jews for Sarah needs a catchy slogan or possibly a song. Which is where you all come in...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Compare and contrast: Heinz & Butch

Austrian President Heinz Fischer (who was just reelected) refused to attend the funeral of the evil twin in Poland because it was his chauffeur’s day off.

A more, um, hands-on politician, Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, was hospitalized briefly last week with some sort of bacterial infection. He “began feeling ill Saturday while helping Lt. Gov. Brad Little brand and castrate calves.”

Today -100: April 26, 1910: Of various judicial matters

Taft did officially nominate Charles Evan Hughes to the Supreme Court, but on the understanding that it not take effect until October (evidently the Supreme Court just took 6 month vacations back then), allowing him to participate in the process of choosing his successor. The whole thing was done by letter: Taft sent a letter on the 22nd offering Hughes the job, without knowing if he’d accept it, and Hughes responded by letter on the 24th. One possible obstacle to Hughes accepting was the small salary of a Supreme Court justice, $12,500.

The Supreme Court is currently considering whether corporal punishment in schools is legal.

The Louisiana Supreme Court rules that Jim Crow laws do not apply to octoroons or quadroons.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Would explain a lot

Obama eulogy for the W Virginia miners: “These miners lived - as they died - in pursuit of the American dream.” The American dream is at the bottom of a coal mine?

Today -100: April 25, 1910: Of Clara Shortridge Foltz

It was a slow news day (on page 1: President Taft invites Sgt Thomas Morley of the Pittsburg police, who looks just like him, to sit next to him at a baseball game), so let’s focus this post on our...

Person in the News -100: Clara Shortridge Foltz (1849-1934), who just became a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles, the only woman deputy DA in the country. Wikipedia and, better yet, this article (well worth reading), say she was the first woman lawyer in California, in 1878 (she was a divorced mother of 5). Since the law had said that lawyers in CA had to be white and male, she herself wrote a new law deleting both disqualifications and got it passed (on the second try). Then she had to sue the Hastings College of Law, a public school, to force it to admit her (reported in the San Francisco Chronicle under the headline “Two Lady Lawyers Who Demand Admission to the Hastings Law College--How They Dress”), and when Hastings appealed the ruling she represented herself again before the state Supreme Court. She helped create both the public defender system and the parole system in California, and got SF to stop putting defendants in iron cages during their trials.

A San Francisco DA once closed a case in which she represented the defendant: “She is a WOMAN, she cannot be expected to reason; God Almighty decreed her limitations ... this young woman will lead you by her sympathetic presentation of this case to violate your oaths and let a guilty man go free.”

She was the president of the California Woman Suffrage Association in her 30s and drafted the suffrage amendment that passed in 1911.

She was a descendant of Daniel Boone and the sister of Sen. Samuel Shortridge (R-CA, 1921-33). She ran for governor of California in 1930 in the Republican primary at 81.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Today -100: April 24, 1910: Of Russian Jews and scouts

Russia will “expel fewer Jews” living outside the pale of settlement.

A paramilitary movement for boys will be established, following the model of a group in Britain. The American version will also be called “Boy Scouts.”

Friday, April 23, 2010

Enough? Not possible.

British Foreign Minister David Miliband’s message to the voters: “Look, you’ve punished us enough about Iraq.”

Cat pictures

Christabel, taken today. Because why not?







Church action

At St Peter’s Square, the Pope Ratz spoke of his meeting with Maltese victims of clerical sexual abuse. He said, “I shared with them their suffering...” No, no you didn’t. That may be the most insulting thing you’ve said yet. “...and emotionally prayed with them, assuring them of church action.” Oh, I think they’ve gotten got enough “action” from the church.

Today -100: April 23, 1910: Of justice delayed, and the return of the comet

Taft is widely believed to have offered the vacant Supreme Court seat to NY Governor Charles Evans Hughes, and Hughes to have accepted, but the nomination probably won’t be official until November, so Hughes can campaign for the Republicans in the elections.

It was dark in Chicago, creating fear among the “more ignorant,” who attributed it to Halley’s comet. “In street cars women became hysterical, and in the foreign quarters policemen were appealed to to put at rest the fears of the nervous.”

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Don’t you hate it when one form of xenophobic bigotry gets in the way of another form of xenophobic bigotry?

The Belgian government collapses in a conflict between Flemish and Walloon speakers over one voting district which is (gasp) bilingual, scuttling plans to pass a law banning the burqa.

British leadership debate: Securing our future for the future

Second British leaders’ debate today. Gordon Brown wore a red tie, his party’s color, Nick Clegg wore a yellow tie, his party’s color, and David Cameron came so close, wearing a purple tie.

From Gordon Brown’s opening statement: “Like me or not, I can deliver that plan...” That noise you heard was several million British people all saying “Not” at the same time.

Nick Clegg (LibDem and it’s all his fault) defended the European Union (“Size does matter,” he actually said), while noting that it took 15 years to define chocolate (yummy?). He pointed out (correctly) that the Tories ally themselves in the European Parliament with “a bunch of nutters, anti-Semites, people who deny climate change exists, homophobes”.

Clegg again won the debate, by seeming like a more or less real human being who believed what he was saying. This is the advantage of being the one person there with no chance of being prime minister.

In the first debate, Brown and Cameron tried to go after LibDem voters by starting every sentence “I agree with Nick.” But that just it made it look like they were okay with the possibility of a hung Parliament and a coalition government and that it was therefore okay for people to vote LibDem. So this time, both of them 1) disagreed with Clegg, 2) pointed out whenever the other one disagreed with Clegg about anything. Brown said that Cameron & Clegg reminded him of his two boys “squabbling at bath time.” That noise you heard was several million British people all singing “Rubber ducky, you’re the one, / You make bath time lots of fun” at the same time while picturing Cameron & Clegg naked in a bath together. Later, Cameron said that the more Brown & Clegg quarreled, the more he thought everyone should vote for the Tories. Had he not thought that before?

Cameron and Clegg used the word “proper” a lot.

Brown, who again came with the most prepared (and over-rehearsed) lines, said “David is anti-European [he isn’t, I think, but much of his party is], Nick is anti-American [he isn’t]” and “David’s a risk to our economy, Nick’s a risk to our security,” the latter because Clegg sees no need to spend billions to upgrade the Trident nuclear missile system. Brown told him to “get real.” Cameron said that Trident is necessary for “securing our future for the future.”

Clegg said, “I’m not a man of faith.” That would never happen in the US. That was in response to a question about the pope, who is visiting the UK this year. No one was willing to take up the No Popery banner or say that they’d arrest him on sight.

Brown: “If you’re gay or straight, you have a place in British society.” Which will be news to Americans, who think all you guys sound gay.

All three (sigh) are in favor of the war in Afghanistan, although Clegg kept saying that in the next war Britain should bring “proper” weapons. Brown seemed to want to go to war in Yemen and Somalia. Did anyone even mention Iraq?

The fringe UK Independence Party was not represented in the debate, but I’ve been meaning to mention its election motto: Sod the lot.

Today -100: April 22, 1910: Not exaggerated

Mark Twain is dead. His daughter was with him, and her husband, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, which seems like the sort of name only a humorist could have invented.

A Rev. Thomas Chalmers of the Jewish Evangelical Society wrote to NYC Mayor Gaynor asking for a license to preach Christianity to Jews on street corners in Jewish parts of the city. Gaynor did not provide the license and wrote back, “Do you not think the Jews have a good religion?” and asks “Would you not annoy them and do more harm than good? How many Jews have you converted so far?” If Chalmers ever responded, the NYT doesn’t seem to record it.

The Illinois Supreme Court upheld a law banning the employment of women in factories or shops for more than 10 hours a day.

Headline of the Day -100: “Again Buying Rubbers in London.”

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Today -100: April 21, 1910: Of Gay Paree and arbitration

Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt in Paris, City is Gay for Him.”

The Journal des Débats says TR is “the representative man of the twentieth century democracy.” Yup, totally gay from him.

Secretary of State Philander Knox believes that disarmament of all the nations of the world is possible through the establishment of a court of arbitration. Why that’s so crazy, it might just work! (Spoiler alert: it didn’t.)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Texas logic: protecting traditional divorces

AP: Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott “is appealing a divorce granted to a gay couple in Dallas, saying protecting the ‘traditional definition of marriage’ means doing the same for divorce.”

Today -100: April 20, 1910: Of speed traps

A new NY law on automobiles includes a provision keeping proceeds from tickets at the state rather than local level, to prevent speed traps. The Online Entymology Dictionary says the term “speed trap” dates from 1906.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sitting and thinking

The George W. Bush Institute is open for bidniz. And George gave a little speech.

HE’S STILL THE REMINDERER: “We’re going to focusing on the freedom agenda to remind the country that free societies are in our national interest.”

SITTING AROUND: “I was nervous about starting a think tank, that we’ve got people to come, sit around and think. It’s important to have experts sit and opine, but we also have to act.”

Caption contest

From National Army Day in Iran.

Today -100: April 19, 1910: Of laughing in the Senate, and Siamese twins

A petition for an amendment to the US constitution for women’s suffrage signed by 500,000 people, was presented to the Senate. Suffragists in the galleries were several times ordered not to show emotion by laughing or applauding (NYT sub-head: “Dare to Laugh in Senate.”)

Wosa Blazek, one of a pair of Czech Siamese twins, gave birth.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Today -100: April 18, 1910: Of ghosts, owls, and complacent sinners

The unions representing the striking Philadelphia trolley workers declare the strike over, on the company’s terms, over-ruling a referendum of the strikers which showed a slight majority for rejecting the terms.

The NYT blames a revolt that has broken out in Guatemala on former Nicaraguan President Zelaya.

At a mass meeting associated with National American Woman’s Suffrage Association’s annual convention, Beatrice Forbes-Robertson says that American opponents of women’s suffrage divide into the ghosts, the owls (or hooters) and the complacent sinners. Ghosts feared that only bad women would vote, that women would deprive the men of their darling vices, that women wouldn’t vote, or that they would do nothing else but vote. (It’s unclear from the article who owls might be.)

French suffragists are planning to stand, illegally, for election to the Chamber of Deputies next week. One of them, Marguerite Durand, running in the Ninth Arrondissement, “produced a male idiot on the platform, sarcastically explaining that he had a right to vote and she had not.” (A recent court case established that idiocy is not a bar to the exercise of the franchise.)

It seems that Tenn. Governor Patterson has actually issued lots of pardons to convicted murderers, not just those who happen to be his friends, 152 of them since taking office in 1907.

Charles Green, professor at the Harvard Medical School, says that co-education endangers the future of the American home and that boys and girls should be segregated after kindergarten. He cites the danger of [CHEAP LAUGH WARNING] “the effect on the nervous system of children of both sexes of constant intercourse in the school room.”

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Today -100: April 17, 1910: Of elections, eating hippopotami, and booty

Headline of the Day -100: “Negro in Cuban Cabinet.” Martín Morúa Delgado, Sec. of Agriculture and Commerce.

The Mississippi Legislature agrees to Sen. Le Roy Percy’s suggestion of a primary election to validate his election by the Legislature. This is just weird. In these pre-17th Amendment days the power to elect US senators remained with the Lege, so this is an election without the force of law, although Percy promises that if he loses, he’ll resign and let the governor pick someone else, presumably Vardaman (in the decades before the passage of the 17th Amendment in 1912, states were increasingly using advisory popular elections). But this one would be a primary with no general election, so that the only citizens who would get to vote for this office are registered Democrats.

An article in the NYT Sunday magazine section suggests solving the high cost of meat by importing animals from Africa and elsewhere. Hippopotami, yaks, antelopes, llamas, giraffes, white rhinoceroses. Hippos, for example, could graze in parts of the country (Florida) not previously used for pasturage. Prof. W.N. Irvin of the Bureau of Plant Industry in the Dept of Agriculture has eaten hippo and says it’s like a blend of beef and turkey, no wait beef and pork. “I predict that in five years hippo steak will be found quite common on the menu of the average New York and Chicago restaurants.”

Other Headline of the Day -100: a man was arrested trying to sell a diamond ring he’d stolen from the jeweler he worked for. The headline: “Caught Selling His Booty.”

Friday, April 16, 2010


Britain held the first ever party leaders’ debate yesterday, and the Lib Dem, Nick Clegg, won. David Cameron, the (sigh) next prime minister, who has been variously described as looking like he’s wearing a David Cameron mask and as having too few features on too much face,

said Clegg had “sung a good song.” He said of his own failure to fight back against Gordon Brown’s ponderous pot-shots at him (“this is not question time, it’s answer time,” “You can’t airbrush your policies even if you can airbrush your posters,” and about twenty attempts to bring up Lord Ashcroft, the Tory party treasurer who doesn’t pay any British taxes because he claims to live in Belize) that he hadn’t wanted to get “snippy-snappy.” And of his failure to talk about his political ideas during the debate, Cameron said, “Well, all the questions were all rather subjecty subjects.”

He also said, while being endorsed by Gary Barlow of Take That, “Last night in the TV debate I felt a bit like I was in Britain’s worst boy band, so it is helpful to share a stage with a founder member of Britain’s best ever boy band.” David Cameron has a favorite boy band. What is Gordon Brown’s favorite boy band? I fear we will find out before May 6.

Today -100: April 16, 1910: Of bribery and imperialism

New US Senator Le Roy Percy of Mississippi, addressing the forthcoming trial of a man who attempted to bribe a state legislator to vote for him, is offering to put his seat up for election by the people, Democratic people anyway, in a primary against his rival for the office, former Governor Vardaman, assuming Vardaman accepts.

The Massachusetts Legislature passes a resolution against the US expanding its territory through conquest.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Geography lesson

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the deposed president of Kyrgyzstan, left the country for Kazakhstan today, saying, “I’d have done this earlier but I only just found out that Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are two entirely different countries. Who knew?”

April 15th

means one thing: no more of those people dressed up as the Statue Liberty to advertise tax-prep places. So sad. So sad.

Today -100: April 15, 1910: Of old barbarism and Taft on women’s suffrage

The NYT calls Tenn. Gov. Patterson’s pardon of Duncan Cooper for the murder of ex-Sen. Carmack “the old barbarism”: “The view that the Coopers took of their relations to society and to their victim was worthy of an Apache, or a head-hunter of Borneo. Gov. Patterson’s view of his relation to the law, which he has sworn to respect and execute, is flagrantly aboriginal and savage.”

The House of Commons votes to end the House of Lords’ ability to veto legislation. It turned down a Tory amendment leaving it the ability to veto just one thing, Irish Home Rule. Now the bill goes... to the House of Lords.

President Taft gave a speech to the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association convention. Some of it was received with hisses, to the embarrassment of NAWSA’s leaders. I’ll give extended excerpts, and you can see if you find yourself hissing too.

He began by saying that back when he was graduating high school at 16, he was a strong supporter of women’s suffrage. He had read John Stuart Mill’s Subjection of Women, and his father was a suffragist. But “in the actual political experience which I have had I have modified my views somewhat.”

In theory, he said, representative government is good because “every set of individuals who are similarly situated in the community, who are intelligent enough to know what their own interests are, are better qualified to determine how those interests shall be cared for and preserved than any other class, however altruistic that class may be”. But there are two qualifications: “One is that the class should be intelligent enough to know its own interests. The theory that Hottentots or any other uneducated, altogether unintelligent class is fitted for self-government at once or to take part in government is a theory that I wholly dissent from — but this qualification is not applicable here.

“The other qualification to which I call your attention is that the class should as a whole care enough to look after its interests, to take part as a whole in the exercise of political power if it is conferred. Now if it does not care enough for this, then it seems to me that the danger is, if the power is conferred, that it may be exercised by that part of the class least desirable as political constituents and be neglected by many of those who are intelligent and patriotic and would be most desirable as members of the electorate. [Hisses] Now my dear ladies, you must show yourselves equal to self-government by exercising in listening to opposing arguments that degree of restraint without which successful self-government is impossible...

“If I could be sure that women as a class in the community, including all the intelligent women most desirable as political constituents, would exercise the franchise, I should be in favor of it. At present there is considerable doubt upon that point. In certain of the States which have tried it woman suffrage has not been a failure. It has not made, I think, any substantial difference in politics. I think it is perhaps possible to say that its adoption has shown an improvement in the body politic, but it has been tested only in those States where population is sparse and where the problem of entrusting such power to women in the concentrated population of large cities is not presented. For this reason, if you will permit me to say so, my impression is that the task before you in securing what you think ought to be granted in respect to the political rights of women is not in convincing men but it is in convincing the majority of your own class of the wisdom of extending the suffrage to them and of their duty to exercise it.”

NAWSA President Anna Howard Shaw later responded that she would “draw the voting line horizontally, not diagonally, and exclude from the privilege of voting not only ignorant women, but also illiterate men.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

An unknown, large vehicle

The US military statement said that “an unknown, large vehicle” approached its convoy near Kandahar, so they had to shoot it up. “Upon inspection, ISAF forces discovered the vehicle to be a passenger bus.” Really. What was their first clue?

An unknown, large vehicle

Today -100: April 14, 1910: Of pardons and plots and dirigibles

Tennessee Governor Malcolm Patterson pardoned Col. Duncan Cooper for the murder not a year and a half before of Edward Carmack, former congresscritter (1897-1901), US senator (1901-7) and racist pig (1858-1908). Carmack had run for governor against Patterson in the 1908 Democratic primary, and Cooper was a good friend of the governor, who was a witness for him at the trial. After the primary, Carmack libeled Cooper repeatedly in the Nashville Tennessean, of which he was the editor. Cooper wrote to Carmack, “If my name appears in The Tennessean again, one of us must die.” The next day it did, and one of them did. Cooper’s son, also involved in the shooting, will receive a new trial (and be acquitted).

In his pardon statement, Patterson calls Cooper “D.B. Cooper.” Huh.

The US ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, claims there is a plot to embarrass him, although he does not see who the plotters might be. They did so by leaking the text of a speech he gave to a newspaper in Spain. He said that Charles V, 16th century king of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor, enslaved the bodies and souls of people in two hemispheres in the name of God, and that the rise and development of Mexican civilization was the result of Aztec and Toltec blood.

The largest dirigible ever built in France, the Clement-Bayard II, has been completed, with a lifting power of 7,700 pounds beyond the car and motors. It is designed to carry 20 passengers and four crew.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Obama press conference: Sanctions aren’t a magic wand

Obama held a press conference following the Nuclear Security Summit.

CONCRETE COMMITMENTS: “I said this morning that today would be an opportunity for our nations, both individually and collectively, to make concrete commitments and take tangible steps to secure nuclear materials so they never fall into the hands of terrorists who would surely use them.” As paper weights? Surely you need a weapon to put them in as well.

NO, JUST SHORT ULTIMATUMS: “This was not a day of long speeches or lectures on what other nations must do.”

IRAN AND NORTH KOREA WERE NOT INVITED: “We listened to each other, with mutual respect.”

WHAT EXACTLY WAS SERVED AT THAT DINNER? “Coming into this summit, there were a range of views on this danger. But at our dinner last night, and throughout the day, we developed a shared understanding of the risk.”

THEY’RE VULNERABLE AND THEY JUST WANT TO BE HELD: “I am very pleased that all the nations represented here have endorsed the goal that I outlined in Prague one year ago -- to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years’ time.”

DAMN, LOOK AT THIS GAFFE, HE IS JUST LIKE GEORGE BUSH: “So we’ve committed ourselves to a sustained, effective program of international cooperation on national [sic] security, and we call on other nations to join us.”

THE CANADIAN THREAT HAS BEEN DEFUSED; I REPEAT, THE CANADIAN THREAT HAS BEEN DEFUSED: “Canada agreed to give up a significant quantity of highly enriched uranium.”

“PEACEFUL NUCLEAR ENERGY” – LIKE IT’S THE ENERGY’S FAULT: “for nations that uphold their responsibilities, peaceful nuclear energy can unlock new advances in medicine, in agriculture, and economic development.” Agriculture?

CBS’s Bill Plante asked whether all these agreements he was announcing weren’t entirely voluntary. Took Obama a while to admit there was no enforcement mechanism.

NOT A MAGIC WAND: “Sometimes I hear the argument that, well, sanctions aren’t really going to necessarily work. Sanctions aren’t a magic wand.”

Scott Wilson of the WaPo asked if it wasn’t hypocritical never to call on Israel to declare its nukes and sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Obama decided he was comfortable with his hypocrisy: “And as far as Israel goes, I’m not going to comment on their program.” Heaven forfend. “What I’m going to point to is the fact that consistently we have urged all countries to become members of the NPT. So there’s no contradiction there.” Bullshit, yes, contradiction, no. Later, he said more or less the same thing about Pakistan. He added that the security around Pakistan’s nuclear facilities was okay, but there can always be improvements, mentioning that time when US nukes were loaded on a plane without anyone realizing. Of course our military probably has fewer friendly ties with Al Qaida and the Taliban than Pakistan’s.

PHFEW: Asked if the sanctions he’s proposing for Iran aren’t exactly the tactic that failed against North Korea: “Well, I’m not going to give you a full dissertation on North Korean behavior.”

NOT A MAGIC WAND, REDUX: “As I said, sanctions are not a magic wand. Unfortunately, nothing in international relations is. But I do think that the approach that we’ve taken with respect to North Korea makes it more likely for them to alter their behavior than had there been no consequences whatsoever to them testing a nuclear weapon.” So, doing something which has no effect is better than doing nothing which has no effect.

SAINTLY, EVEN: “I think the work that we’ve done in recent days around nuclear security and nuclear disarmament are intrinsically good. They’re good just in and of themselves.”

A PARTNER WITH HOT SPOTS: “And I remain committed to being a partner with countries around the world, and in particular hot spots around the world”.

WHETHER WE LIKE IT OR NOT: “It is a vital national security interest of the United States to reduce these conflicts because whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower”.

SO THEY’LL BE MEASURE NOT IN DAYS OR WEEKS BUT IN TIME? “But I think on all these issues -- nuclear disarmament, nuclear proliferation, Middle East peace -- progress is going to be measured not in days, not in weeks. It’s going to take time.”

Reporting abuse

Guardian headline: “Vatican Tells Bishops to Report Abuse Cases to Police.” Boy, I hope the Vatican was a little more specific in its instructions, because to listen to some of the bishops lately, you can see them sitting in a police station showing the cops on a doll where the Zionist homosexuals abused the church.

Not swift

John McCain sends out an email via his PAC on the Supreme Court vacancy. It comes with a questionnaire. For example, it asks how the Senate should respond to Obama’s request for a swift confirmation process, and you might choose to check “Yes, I agree with President Obama that Senators should confirm his nominee as quickly as possible, without proper scrutiny of a nominee’s qualifications and philosophy.” McCain gives his own view: “I am committed to ensuring his nominee receives a vigorous and thorough confirmation process as mandated by the Constitution.” Because when you think vigorous and thorough, you think John McCain.

Today -100: April 13, 1910: Of hunting royalty, eggs, Tong wars, and co-eds1

When Roosevelt was in Rome, Abbot Lawrence Janssens of the Benedictines tried to visit him (he wasn’t in). Since the pope had refused to see TR unless he promised not to see Methodists as well, the Vatican publicly repudiated the abbot, adding, “It did not wish Mr. Roosevelt to bracket the Pope with other more or less royal personages he will boast of having hunted in Europe after his African hunt.” (Update: as a result, Janssens was soon forced out of his position as secretary of the Congregation of Affairs of Religious Orders.)

More attacks in New York on kosher meat dealers and shops in an attempt to enforce the meat boycott. Rumors have it that meat wholesalers in the city have been buying up eggs in large quantities in order to raise their price, thereby preventing them being used as a substitute for meat. And in Brooklyn, the high price of beef, pork, lamb etc has led to the poor turning to goat meat.

In rhyming news, Fong Hong has been shot in Tong war.

Tufts college will cease to be co-ed. A separate college will be started for women students.

Monday, April 12, 2010


When the (evil twin) brother of the late Polish President Kaczynski went to identify his body, Vladimir Putin, according to the London Times, “asked if he could go along as well”. Kaczynski said no.

Little-known fact: one of Putin’s hobbies is examining the bodies of airplane crash victims.

The Jobbik party, a Hungarian nationalist party (and if you guessed that “nationalist” meant anti-Semitic and anti-Roma, you guessed correctly) won 16.7% in the 1st round of parliamentary elections. Now I’m afraid the London Times confused me somewhat here, since the story mentioning that the party “has a uniformed wing that marches in military formation” was accompanied by this picture.

It turns out that those people are not from Jobbik’s Magyar Garda at all but from the Association of Cultural Preservation for Hungarian Hussar Unit. The Magyar Garda look rather less festive,

although they do have the feather, which is a nice touch.

Also from the London Times (that pay wall in June is beginning to worry me), someone in Kandahar asks about today’s incident, “Even they must know a bus is full of civilians? If they are afraid of a bus, how can they continue with an operation in Kandahar?” And the head of security in the Kandahar police dept dismissed protesters thusly: “They were unemployed people and some of the bus passengers.”

Today -100: April 12, 1910: Of housewives, Deadwood, and the dangers of polygamy

The Central Kentucky Women’s Clubs are objecting to housewives being classified in the Census as having no occupation.

This story is for you “Deadwood” fans: Seth Bullock, US marshal in Deadwood, has been invited to join his old friend Teddy Roosevelt (they met when TR was a deputy sheriff in ND in the 1880s) in England, and is going.

Morocco’s grand vizier has been poisoned by three of his wives.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Today -100: April 11, 1910: Of negro voting

Maryland Governor Austin Lane Crothers vetoes the Negro Disfranchisement Bill. However, he will allow a referendum creating a $500 property qualification for negroes.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Pope postponed punishing pedophile priest

NYT: “Bishop Cummins had first petitioned the doctrinal office to defrock Mr. Kiesle in 1981. He also wrote directly to Pope John Paul II. Cardinal Ratzinger requested more information, which officials in the Oakland Diocese supplied in February 1982. They did not hear back from Cardinal Ratzinger until 1985, when he sent the letter in Latin suggesting that his office needed more time to evaluate the case.”

What did they have to do that was more pressing than investigating a priest who tied up and sexually abused two boys? What was it they considered a better use of their time?


Polish President Lech Kaczynski has died in a plane crash. This blog expresses condolences to the surviving evil twin.

Today -100: April 10, 1910: Of Russian Jews, reincarnation, and bosh

The expulsion of Jews from parts of Russia is intensifying. And private schools are forbidden from taking a higher proportion of Jewish students than the quota enforced on the public schools.

The Theosophists have decided that William Sidis, the 11-year-old boy genius studying mathematics at Harvard, is the reincarnation of Euclid. Sidis responded, “What bosh!”

Friday, April 09, 2010


I’ve been totally stale and uninspired for days. It happens. Here’s something I wrote a couple of days ago and didn’t bother posting:

The British Conservative Party has lost the gay vote. Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling (and is there a more Tory name than Grayling?) (Yes, yes there is: Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, parliamentary candidate for South Dorset – the grandson, or something, of Admiral The Honourable Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, owner of the best name in the history of the universe – who is calling himself plain old Richard Drax, which does make him sound like a Bond villain, but not like a complete tit) said that it’s okay for bed & breakfast owners to refuse to accommodate gay couples. Days later, David Cameron has yet to comment.

And then I had something about the danger to politicians daring to block gay men from their beloved B&B’s, but I don’t want to say something that could be misconstrued and endanger my chances of Obama naming me to replace John Paul Stevens.

Today -100: April 9, 1910: Of legislative orgies

The Speaker of the New Jersey House of Assembly denies that there was an orgy in the Assembly: “Not a single woman and no liquor of any kind were in these rooms at any time.” Instead, they were hard at work all night on the McCran Water Bill and the Railroad Valuation Bill. So that settles that.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Today -100: April 8, 1910: Of Republican discord

The news today is all about disharmony within the Republican Party.

The NYT thinks Secretary of State Philander Knox and Treasury Sec. Franklin MacVeagh are about to resign. The NYT is wrong; both served until the end of the Taft administration. But it analyzes the causes of their supposed respective discontents at length.

And the “story runs in Washington” that many Republicans would be perfectly happy to lose the House in November if the Republican “insurgents” were also hurt, since the R’s would still retain the presidency and the Senate and the D’s in the House would likely screw up and lose again in 1912. The NYT (which in 1910 was more than a little Republican-leaning) thinks this is wrong-headed, and that opposition to Taft’s unpopular Payne-Aldrich tariff might be a winner for the D’s, with discontent growing over high prices (a meat boycott in Harlem, for example, just turned violent, with women attacking butcher shops and pouring kerosene over meat purchased by women who violated the boycott).

The Indiana Republican Party’s convention refused to endorse the tariff, and Taft responded by canceling plans to visit Indianapolis.

And looming above all this: the imminent return from his year-long world shoot-em-up tour of the prodigal Rough Rider.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Today -100: April 7, 1910: Of dead animals, socialist utopias, and Jews

On his African trip, Teddy Roosevelt sent 11,397 specimens of slaughtered vertebrates to the Smithsonian. That’s 4,000 birds, 2,000 reptiles and batrachians, 500 fishies, and 4,897 mammals. That’s the difference between TR and Dick Cheney: Cheney never sent any lawyer specimens to the Smithsonian.

Milwaukee’s mayor-elect, the socialist Emil Seidel, says “There will be no Utopia, no millennium, none of the wild antics that our opponents have charged to us.” But he promises that the street cars will be cleaner.

At the B’nai B’rith’s annual banquet, President Taft said that he likes Jews “because they are essentially artistic, because they make excellent citizens, and are in favor of law and order.”

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Old times, they... oh you know

Governor of Virginia Bob McDonnell declares April Confederate History Month. Some might find this offensive, but I’m fine with it: maybe they’ll finally get it through their thick skulls that they fucking lost.

His declaration states that the Confederacy leaders and military “fought for their homes and communities and Commonwealth...”, oh, and something else, what was that other thing they fought for again?

“ a time very different than ours today.” Which is what McDonnell said about his own college thesis.

“WHEREAS, all Virginians can appreciate the fact that when ultimately overwhelmed by the insurmountable numbers and resources of the Union Army, the surviving, imprisoned and injured Confederate soldiers gave their word and allegiance to the United States of America, and returned to their homes and families to rebuild their communities in peace...”

The declaration contains not a single word about slaves.

Today -100: April 6, 1910: Of Milwaukee reds, Illinois wets, and Rome Methodists

Milwaukee elects not only a socialist as mayor, Emil Seidel, the first socialist mayor of a major American city, but also a socialist majority on the city council (21 Social Democrats, 10 Democrats, 4 Republicans, with an even larger majority on the Board of Supervisors).

In Illinois, 28 towns voted for prohibition, 26 (mostly larger towns and cities) voted wet, several of which had gone dry two years before.

The American Methodist College in Rome issued a nyah nyah statement about Roosevelt’s spat with the pope, applauding Italians who had converted from Catholicism and saying that for the Methodists “To be anathematized by the Roman hierarchy is to be named a friend.” In response, TR canceled the reception he had planned at the American embassy, just in case some of the Methodists showed up.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Today -100: April 5, 1910: Of booze, the bull moose & the pope, and the sabbath

36 Michigan counties voted on prohibition, and 19 went dry. Of the 10 counties that went dry 2 years ago, 2 voted to let the saloons reopen.

Multiple stories in today’s paper giving the opinions of pretty much everyone on the planet of Roosevelt’s little scheduling problem with the pope.

President Taft visiting Worcester, Mass. on Sunday, pissing off a lot of church folk because he participated in a parade and a meeting – on the sabbath. Rev. Edward Eells noted that Roosevelt once gave up a bear hunt that fell on the sabbath.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Petty gossip

At Easter mass, Cardinal Angelo Sodano preached (if “fuck you” can be considered preaching), “Holy Father, the people of God are with you, and do not let themselves be impressed by the gossip of the moment, by the challenges that sometimes strike at the community of believers.”


(Update: Reuters gives the line as “petty gossip of the moment”.)

Today -100: April 4, 1910: Of disfranchisement, the bull moose & the pope, trolley lynchings, and pecan-headed parsons

The Maryland Legislature votes to disfranchise blacks in state and municipal elections, using the extremely dubious claim that the 15th Amendment, which Maryland never ratified, doesn’t apply to those elections. The national Democratic Party is worried that this will hurt them in November, possibly threatening their chances of taking back the House of Representatives, which depend in part on winning over some black voters in several states. The article mentions in passing that the minority (Democratic) leader in the Senate, Sen. Hernando De Soto Money of Mississippi (a former Confederate soldier), believes that the 14th and 15th Amendments weren’t constitutionally ratified.

You’ll remember that two months and 100 years ago, the pope canceled a meeting with former Vice President Fairbanks because Fairbanks was also going to speak in the American Methodist Church in Rome. Now, Teddy Roosevelt is visiting Rome, and received a preemptive warning from the Vatican that the same thing would happen if he dared speak to the Methodists (which he actually had no plans to do). TR replied that he refused to “submit to any conditions which in any way limit my freedom of conduct,” and so the pope won’t see him. TR explained in a letter to The Outlook that he thought most Americans, Catholic as well as Protestant, “will feel that I acted in the only way possible for an American to act”.

Yet another Philadelphia trolley runs over yet another child, 3-year-old John Traconnelli, and an “enraged crowd of foreigners” (i.e., Italians) set about lynching the conductor and motorman, but were thwarted by their being armed, and the police showing up.

Epithet of the Day -100: Rev. John Wesley Hill, doing the Glenn Beck thing 100 years early, attacks what he sees as socialism in churches. But the important thing is the epithet: “pecan-headed little parsons.”

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Because if you’re going to have trauma, it should at least not be banal

The regional governor-elect of Veneto, Italy, Luca Zaia of the Northern League, said he will (illegally) prevent the administering of RU-486 because “It banalizes the trauma of abortion”. I’m sure Italian women will thank him for saving them from banality.

Today -100: April 3, 1910: Of premature burial and the red threat in Milwaukee

An article in the NYT Sunday magazine section reports a Lancet study which says that almost no one is ever buried alive.

The NYT has been warning that Milwaukee might just elect a socialist mayor, Victor Berger, Tuesday (spoiler alert: it will). The elections have been enlivened by the R’s and D’s bringing up an old quote of his: “Let every Socialist have a good rifle and the necessary rounds of ammunition in his home and be prepared to back up his ballot with his bullets if necessary.”

Friday, April 02, 2010

Blessed are the cheesemakers

Israel bombs Gaza, destroys a cheese factory.

Today -100: April 2, 1910: Of race

Jack Johnson, the world heavyweight champion boxer, is the subject of a short article in today -100’s NYTwhich is unique in not mentioning that he is a negro, although it might be taken as implied by the story. He was in court in Chicago on a speeding charge and not only insisted on a jury trial, but that at least two jurors be black.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Let’s make fun of a state where no one reads this blog anyway

The ACLU turned down a $20,000 donation from the American Humanist Association to fund a prom for that lesbian in Mississippi, because “the majority of Mississippians tremble in terror at the word ‘atheist.’”

CONTEST: What other words make the majority of Mississippians tremble in terror?

Today -100: April 1, 1910: Of death from above, helpful imperialists, suffrage, and street cars

The French Minister of War, Gen. Jean Jules Brun, denies that Germany is far ahead of France in aeronautics, plans to ask Parliament for $4 million to catch up. He’s also trying to figure out which is better, dirigibles or airplanes.

Liberia, experiencing some unrest, has received a friendly offer from the German cruiser Sperber to send in some troops to, you know, help out. Liberia not only said no, but ordered the Sperber to leave its waters or “take the consequences.” The Sperber left.

The Massachusetts House of Reps voted against women’s suffrage 47-148, with five pairs.

A St. Louis municipal court rules on one of the burning issues of everyday life: “Title to a seat in a street car rests in the man who gets it first in preference to the man who sees it first.”