Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today -100: November 30, 1910: Of head scenes and polar expeditions

The Chicago Opera Company refuses to perform Strauss’s opera Salome after the police order them to censor the “offensive” features, especially the “head scene.”

Capt. Scott’s expedition starts for the Antarctic.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Camp, you say? That reminds me of something, but what? Concentrate... concentrate...

Consecutive stories in the Independent:

# Israel to build giant detention camp for migrants
# Israel tries to clean up its image abroad

Today -100: November 29, 1910: Of elections

The British Parliament is dissolved, with the second general election of the year to be held in December. It will be fought largely on the issue of the legislative veto of the (overwhelmingly Tory) House of Lords. The king has promised Prime Minister Asquith that if the Liberals win another election and the Lords remain stubborn, he will name as many new peers as are needed to pass the veto – and it could be hundreds. But Asquith is not allowed to tell the public this because of the traditional secrecy of communications between prime ministers and monarchs.

Ireland is also an important election issue, with the Liberals promising Home Rule and the Tories – most of whom call themselves Unionists precisely to highlight this – promising to continue ruling Ireland from London. We’re just beginning to see the notion of a divided Ireland emerge as a response to the imminence of Home Rule. A meeting of delegates from Ulster adopts a resolution to refuse to pay any taxes or obey any laws passed by a parliament in Dublin. It also plans to set up an Ulster militia and purchase arms. (I suspect their definition of Ulster is 9 counties, rather than the 6 that wound up being excluded from the Republic of Ireland).

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Oh noez! Responsible, accountable, and open government is in trouble!

According to the White House, the latest WikiLeaks doc dump “runs counter” to the goal, which President Obama completely and entirely supports, of “responsible, accountable, and open government at home and around the world”. Huh. Must be the kind of responsible, accountable, open government that requires lots of secrets.

WikiLeaks has also “put at risk... the cause of human rights”. Um, how do you figure that?

Today -100: November 28, 1910: Of hot sweeties

The strike by the NYC vendors of hot sweet potatoes (“hot sweeties,” in the vernacular) has failed. Many of them will now sell baked apples instead.

Speaking of hot sweeties, a NYT editorial suggests that the British judge who presided over trials of suffragettes last week missed an opportunity to sentence them to something more creative than “40 shillings or a fortnight,” “which matches ill with the innovation presented to the contemplation of the world by the spectacle of a lady kicking a Cabinet Minister’s shins. ... Possibly a clue might be found in the ladies’ ambition to be treated as men. Why not grant their heart’s desire? Why not cut their hair short, for example... Since the ladies kick, why not apparel them for the pastime? That is to say, why not put brogans on them, and trouserettes? Then they might be provided with a ticket of leave good as long as they wore their new clothes.” Somehow I don’t think they’re taking the women’s suffrage movement very seriously.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Today -100: November 27, 1910: Of lumber slaves, fires, planes and cigar lighters

In France, a sailor charged with deserting his ship in Portland, Oregon proves that he had been drugged and put to work as a slave in a lumber camp in Oregon for several months.

24 women and girls are killed in a fire in a four-story building in Newark, NJ, which housed a gas lamp factory on the 3rd floor (where the fire started), a couple of paper box factories below that, and the Wolff Muslin Undergarment Company on the 4th floor, from which came most of the dead. One of the two fire escapes, all NJ law required on the 150-foot-long building, was blocked by flames. Many of the factory workers jumped as the flames reached them, only to be impaled on the spikes of a gate.

A newspaper in Virginia arranges for a plane to fly over the Virginia State Penitentiary, so the lifers can see a plane for the first time. They were suitably awe-struck.

Tourist advice: if you are traveling in France in 1910, be aware that pocket cigar lighters are illegal, because they infringe on the match monopoly, an important source of government revenue.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Good enough for Afghanistan

As of today, we have been in Afghanistan for as long as the Soviets were. USA! USA! USA! Proudly capturing Osama bin Laden for 9 years, 50 days.

David Petraeus says the goal is to ensure that Afghanistan “is never again a sanctuary to al-Qaida or other transnational extremists,” which we will do by “help[ing] Afghanistan develop the ability to secure and govern itself. Now not to the levels of Switzerland in 10 years or less, but to a level that is good enough for Afghanistan.” Dare to dream, general, dare to dream.

Today -100: November 26, 1910: Of those who have become mannish in their ways

Cardinal Gibbons (only the second Catholic cardinal from the United States) tells girl students at St Catherine’s Normal School not to follow women’s suffragists or, as he calls them, “those who have become mannish in their ways and who fight for a place in politics.” Because “The place for the woman is in...” wait for it... “the home.”

An elephant named Queen, of the Frank A. Robbins Circus, is executed with cyanide after having trampled her keeper (she also killed a little girl, but that was some years ago). Queen was supposedly 87 (that would be really old for an elephant, but not impossible).

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving thanks

for the Tom DeLay money-laundering conviction. I’m sure the footage of the verdict being announced will be played on tv every Thanksgiving. “It’s a Tom DeLay guilty verdict, Charlie Brown!” Snoopy dance, everybody!

The White House turkeys were named Apple and Cider. CAPTION CONTEST!

“Live long and prosper”

Today -100: November 25, 1910: Of men on horseback and creeps united

Apropos of Taft’s visit to Panama, the NYT notes that it’s not especially healthy for the canal workers because “Only brown men and black ones can really live in the tropics. The white man can rule there, but if he stays too long he invariably either dies or degenerates.”

Madero’s statement says that as soon as Mexico City and half the states have been liberated, he will organize new elections.

The NYT reports a rumor that Madero was seriously wounded in the fighting. Or possibly just fell off his horse.

Another NYT Index Typo: “SPECIAL SERVICES FOR THANKSGIVING; All Creeps Unite in Praise for the Benefits of the Last Year.” Creeds; all creeds unite. And yes, the distinction is often a subtle one.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Today -100: November 24, 1910: Has the Mexican Revolution been completely repressed?

Francisco Madero declares himself “President of the Provisional Government of Mexico,” and orders his followers not to attack Americans or banks. Madero’s brother Gustavo arrives in Washington to deny that the rebellion is anti-American.

However, the Mexican foreign minister tells the NYT that the revolt has been “completely repressed.”

Massachusetts Governor-elect Foss changes tack, appealing to Henry Cabot Lodge to agree that no decision on the senatorship be made by the Legislature and that a new law be enacted for direct election of senators.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I submit to you that your empire is illogical

In 2002, it came out that despite the fact that the one thing that was always mentioned about Mullah Omar every time his name came up in news stories was that he was deficient in the eye department to the tune of one, the wanted pictures of him which the CIA had been dropping all over Afghanistan were of someone with two eyes. As I wrote at the time, “In the kingdom of the American intelligence community, the one-eyed man is king.”

Clearly the “Taliban leader” we have been negotiating with (and paying off) is not the “imposter” he is depicted as, but works for that alternate-reality Taliban’s Two-Eyed Mullah Omar. Expect to see McCain and Lieberman on the talk shows this Sunday calling for a preemptive strike on the Mirror Universe, before it’s too late.

Unfortunately Phrased Headline of the Day

“Pope Softens Stance on Condoms” (AP). That does tend to happen at his age.

Today -100: November 23, 1910: Of demented creatures, the Mexican Revolution, and lunacy commissions

British suffragettes “assaulted” Prime Minister Asquith, the NYT says, and threw stones at the houses of Asquith, Churchill, and other Cabinet members. As contemptuously condescending as the NYT’s reporter was, that of the London Times was worse: “The rioters yesterday appeared to have lost all control of themselves. Some shrieked, some laughed hysterically, and all fought with a dogged but aimless pertinacity. Some of the rioters appeared to be quite young girls, who must have been the victims of hysteria rather than of deep conviction. ... The women behaved like demented creatures, and it was evident that their conduct completely alienated the sympathy of the crowd.”

There are revolts and fighting between rebels and the army throughout Mexico, and signs of serious division within the army. A document was supposedly found in some revolutionary’s house detailing a plan to to dynamite the building of the newspaper El Imparcial and to assassinate many government officials and display their bodies suspended from electric-light wires. President Díaz would be spared because of his past services to the country.

Headline of the Day -100: “Lunacy Commission Takes Up Food Theft.”

Monday, November 22, 2010

Awkwardly Phrased Headline of the Day

From an op-ed piece in The Guardian: “The Pope’s Shift on Condoms Is the Thin End of the Wedge.”

Today -100: November 22, 1910: Of senators, Jim Crow, assassinations, revolutions, and new constitutions

Unlike Foss in Massachusetts (see yesterday), NY Governor-Elect Dix says he will leave the matter of electing a US senator entirely up to the Legislature, and won’t even express a preference.

Democrats on the Baltimore City Council are moving towards adopting an ordinance for residential racial segregation. A committee report says “No fault is found with the negroes’ ambitions, but the committee feels that Baltimoreans will be criminally negligent as to their future happiness if they suffer the negroes’ ambitions to go unchecked. The existence of such an ambition is a constant menace to the social quietude and property values of every white neighborhood in Baltimore.” To quote Jimmy McNulty, “What the fuck is wrong with this city?”

The editor of the Kentucky newspaper Appeal to Reason is sentenced to 6 months in federal prison and a $1,000 fine for mailing envelopes on which was printed “$1,000 reward will be paid to any person who kidnaps ex-Governor Taylor and returns him to the Kentucky authorities,” which the jury considered defamatory and threatening. The NYT doesn’t explain, but this is about the 1900 assassination of Gov. William Goebel, which I mentioned on the 18th when another of the (alleged) conspirators was elected to Congress. William Taylor was initially declared the winner of the 1899 elections but served only 50 days before the legislature reversed the results (there was so much corruption and partisan maneuvering I really don’t know who actually won the election). So the assassination was a subtle means of keeping Taylor in office, but didn’t work and Goebel was inaugurated before dying of his wounds. When the indictments started coming down, Taylor fled to Indiana, whose governor refused to extradite him. Thus the reward for Taylor’s return to Kentucky (in 1909, after the reward announcement, Taylor was pardoned by another Republican governor).

Old Mexico: Rebels capture the town of Gomez Palacio. 300 Federal troops evidently go over to their side. Francisco Madero has crossed into Mexico from the US.

New Mexico: The constitutional convention has finished its work. Hispanics, suspicious of the Federal enabling act requirement that all state officers and legislators must speak English, demanded equality before the law. So provisions ban any distinction based on inability to speak English for jury duty, the franchise or other officials not covered by the Federal act and also ban separate schools for whites and Hispanics.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Obama press conference at NATO: I understand people’s frustrations

Obama held a press conference following the NATO summit in Portugal.

UNLESS YOU COUNT BRANGELINA: “For more than 60 years, NATO has proven itself as the most successful alliance in history.”

THOSE DARNED SKEPTICS: “At no time during these past six decades was our success guaranteed. Indeed, there have been many times when skeptics have predicted the end of this alliance.” For example, those skeptics skeptically pointed out that the whole reason for the thing ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

WHAT IT IS IMPORTANT FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE TO REMEMBER: “It is important for the American people to remember that Afghanistan is not just an American battle.” There are also a lot of dead Afghan shepherds.

GROWING THREAT: “we agreed to develop a missile defense capability for NATO territory, which is necessary to defend against the growing threat from ballistic missiles.” Growing threat? What growing threat?

DE-STRAINING ACCOMPLISHED! “The second message I want to send is that after a period in which relations between the United States and Europe were severely strained, that strain no longer exists.”

WHERE’S THE TRUST? WHERE IS THE TRUST? On the “New START” treaty: “And Ronald Reagan said, trust but verify -- we can’t verify right now.”

SO WE DID HAVE AN ENGRAVED INVITATION: Asked whether Karzai saying the US military should stop doing certain things (night-time raids, killing civilians, employing mercenaries) meant that we were in some way obligated to stop doing those things: “Now, to go to the point about President Karzai, we are there are their invitation. You are absolutely correct. Afghanistan is a sovereign nation.” Define sovereign. Define nation.

AN ENTIRELY LEGITIMATE ISSUE: And on the killing of Afghan civilians: “That’s an entirely legitimate issue on the part of President Karzai. He’s the President of a country and you’ve got foreign forces who, in the heat of battle, despite everything we do to avoid it, may occasionally...” Occasionally! “...cause civilian casualties, and that is understandably upsetting.” Nice of you to understand. “I don’t fault President Karzai for raising those issues.” Oh good. “On the other hand...” Oh Christ, he’s going to do an “on the other hand” about the killing of thousands of civilians “...he’s got to understand that I’ve got a bunch of young men and women from small towns and big cities all across America who are in a foreign country being shot at and having to traverse terrain filled with IEDs, and they need to protect themselves. And so if we’re setting things up where they’re just sitting ducks for the Taliban, that’s not an acceptable answer either.”

CONFESSION TIME: “With respect to the TSA, let me, first of all, make a confession. I don’t go through security checks to get on planes these days, so I haven’t personally experienced some of the procedures that have been put in place by TSA.” Nevertheless, “I understand people’s frustrations.” No you don’t. And that could soooo easily be rectified with a little presidential-junk-touching sexytime session at the White House.

WHAT HE’S SAID TO THE TSA: “And what I’ve said to the TSA is that you have to constantly refine and measure whether what we’re doing is the only way to assure the American people’s safety.” But they’re too busy measuring the American people’s collective junk.

“But at this point, TSA, in consultation with our counterterrorism experts, have indicated to me that the procedures that they’ve been putting in place are the only ones right now that they consider to be effective against the kind of threat that we saw in the Christmas Day bombing.” (He used the term “Christmas Day bombing” twice, although in fact it was only an attempted bombing. That said, if Obama wants to refer to that event, he has to use the phrase “underwear bomber” just like every one else.)(I just want to hear Barack Obama say “underwear bomber.”)

Today -100: November 21, 1910: Of Tolstoy, petty political uprisings, and demented viragoes

Leo Tolstoy has died.

The NYT finds no evidence that a revolution has actually started in Mexico, as it was supposed to do yesterday when Madero returned to Mexico, except for an outbreak at Guerrero. But as a precaution, all bullfights have been canceled in Mexico City.

A NYT editorial craps all over the “petty political uprising” that is the Mexican Revolution, as well as its leader, former presidential candidate Francisco Madero. Says the Times, “The sooner Gen. Diaz silences Madero, however, the better it will be for the peace and credit of his country. The most pitiful revolution is dangerous in a country whose population includes 52 different varieties of the Indian.”

Massachusetts Governor-Elect Eugene Foss demands that either Henry Cabot Lodge “surrender his seat in the United States Senate by withdrawing from his contest for re-election” or Foss will stump against him up and down the state in the time left before Foss takes office (a reminder: it was the Legislature, not the people of the state who would have the final say).

In what will not be the last incredibly condescending editorial on the subject of women’s suffragists, American or British, the NYT says that the women who marched on Parliament Friday took advantage of the “fact” that they would be treated more gently than would men who did the same thing, in which case there would have been “more or less killing and wounding as the first result, and later some trials for high treason, with hangings not far out of sight”, whereas women only suffered “dishevelment of hair and clothing,” a few arrests and brief imprisonment. “In other words, it was not war that the women made, but a ‘scene,’ and while it would not be either fair or true to say that all women love ‘scenes,’ it is both to say that a good many of them apparently do – that none of them seems to fear the public exhibition of emotion anything like as much as most men. So, in a sense – and a reassuring sense, too – while the riot may have been ‘unladylike’ – which is no very grave condemnation – it was quite ‘womanly,’ in that it would have been possible only for women.”

In fact, the 119 women arrested on Black Friday were all released without charge on Home Secretary Winston Churchill’s orders, in part to prevent publicity being given to the abuse and sexual humiliation the police inflicted on the protesters. For this leniency, he was criticized by the Times of London and other papers, including the Daily Express, which referred to the women as “demented viragoes” and “sexless creatures.”

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Today -100: November 20, 1910: Of princes flying, Yalensians hugging, congressmen punching, and deer killing

Admiral Prince Heinrich of Prussia, the kaiser’s younger brother, has been taking flying lessons.

The NYT offers a heart-warming vignette from the Harvard-Yale game: “ELDERLY YALENSIAN HUGGED THE PORTER; ‘Are You for Yale?’ He Demanded. ‘I Is,’ Replied the Negro, and That Was Enough.” (The game tied 0-0).

Mexican President-For-Not-Much-Longer Díaz reassures an American tourist agency that the beginning of the Mexican Revolution is “of no real importance against the peace of the republic”.

Congresscritter Charles Evans (D-Georgia) gets into a fistfight with the editor of the Savannah Press, a Mr. Pleasant A. Stovell, over the latter’s coverage of the former’s election. Evans won.

Roosevelt visits the White House for the first time since leaving office, making sure to come while Taft is out, and also goes to the Smithsonian, which is now pretty much just a large collection of things he’s killed. It was a trip down Memory Lane for the Colonel: Ah, that’s my first elephant, why I remember shooting into a herd of hippo and killing this one...

Headline of the Day -100: “Maine Deer Kill Poor.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

All the news the Daily Telegraph sees fit to print

Today’s paper tells us that Sarah Palin really admires Simon Cowell.

And that the world’s tallest couple (she’s 6'6, he’s 6'10.4") live in Stockton.

And that Silvio Berlusconi ordered a new penis for a 2nd century statue of Mars, at a cost of 70,000. It’s attached with a magnet. “Experts studied statues of male nudes from the same period in order to determine what the dimensions of the prosthetic penis should be”. (One of the commenters on the article heard the story on the BBC, reported by David Willy.) He also had a hand restored to Mars and one to the Venus statue with which it’s paired. I suppose we should be thankful he didn’t give Venus a boob job.

Before & after:

Speaking of Berlusconi and art, here’s a picture (which I cropped) from yesterday’s NYT, showing a horse’s ass and a painting.

Today -100: November 19, 1910: Of wild men & wild beasts in Africa, wild revolutionaries & wild troops in Mexico, and wild suffragettes & wild bobbies

Theodore Roosevelt gives a lecture to the National Geographic Society on his African safari entitled... wait for it... “Wild Men and Wild Beasts in Africa.”

In Puebla, Mexico the police try to break up an indoor anti-Díaz meeting. A woman in the building shot and killed the police chief. Other police were killed by a bomb and ultimately 100 people died in the fighting. As of the last report, federal troops were besieging a house full of rebels and shouting “Long live the Supreme Government!”, an uplifting slogan if ever I heard one. The revolution is... on.

NY governor-elect Dix spent $4,372.32 on his campaign and received contributions of $575.

A story that seems to have been cut from the paper, leaving an orphan sub-headline appended to the previous story: “Candidate for Judge Bought No Cigars -- Garretson Spent $6,503.”

AFL President Samuel Gompers says the supremacy of the Caucasian race in unions must be maintained. Negroes, he says, “cannot all be expected to understand the philosophy of human rights. They are less than two centuries away from the barbarians of their own African lands and a little less than a half century removed from chattel slavery.”

In London, suffragettes were attacked by the police and 116 arrested on what quickly became known as Black Friday. Or, as the NYT puts it, “Suffragettes Riot, Spill Real Blood” (Here’s the London Times coverage). 1,000 women led by Emmeline Pankhurst “charged” (i.e., marched on) Parliament to demand a vote on the women’s suffrage bill before the next general election, which is likely to be next month, if the House of Lords rejects a bill restricting its power of veto over bills passed by the Commons (spoiler alert: it will). Pankhurst and two other women were eventually allowed in to see Prime Minister Asquith’s secretary, who told them Asquith wouldn’t see them and there would be no vote. By chance, Asquith came into the room while this was going on, but upon seeing the women scurried quickly back into the House chamber. The Women’s Social and Political Union published depositions from women on the march who had been abused by the police – pinched, squeezed, obscenities whispered into their ears, etc etc – but the government refused to investigate.

Oh, the “real blood” mentioned in the headline belonged to a constable. His hand got cut.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A very Hope-y Thanksgiving

During the Bush years, the American public was invited to vote on the White House website on names for the two White House turkeys. And also on this website. Since the Obamaites have discontinued the tradition, what was once the alternative Name Those Birds Contest is now the only game in town. Have at it in comments, and here are some to start you off:
  • Tea and Party
  • Quantitative and Easing
  • TSA and Junk
  • I’m and You
  • Reid and Pelosi
  • Speaker and Boehner
  • Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell (still)
  • Sanity and/or Fear
  • Shellacking and.... oh I can’t think of another term to pair with this, so I guess just another Shellacking, because it’s been that sort of year

I fear for our democracy

News Flash of the Day: WaPo headline: “GOP May Be Less Eager Than Obama for Bipartisanship.”

My favorite quotes from the NYT Magazine article on Sarah Palin: “I just tweet; that’s just the way I roll.”

And: “Palin told me that because of the media’s unfairness toward her, ‘I fear for our democracy.’ She cited a recent Anchorage Daily News article that commented on her casual manner of dress at a rally for Joe Miller”. Yup, that’s it, democracy’s a gonner.

Today -100: November 18, 1910: And the band played Ragtime

Another false rumor of an armed band of Mexicans crossing the border, this one said to be advancing on Marathon, Texas.

Taft is visiting the Panama Canal construction zone. His inadequate reply to the grievances of 100 boilermakers has set off a mass resignation.

Massachusetts Republicans plan to ask the incoming US House of Representatives not to seat newly elected congresscritter James Curley, who once served a year in prison for taking other people’s civil service (post office) exams for them. The Massachusetts Legislature some time back refused to seat his brother Thomas, who was convicted of the same crime. James Curley was elected to the Boston Board of Aldermen in 1904 while still in prison, and will be elected mayor of Boston for his fourth term in 1945 while under indictment for mail fraud. His slogan: “Curley Gets Things Done.” He certainly did. (He also got 6-18 months in the pokey, did not resign his office, to which he returned when Truman pardoned him after 5 months).

Another controversial congresscritter-elect: Caleb Powers (R-KY), who stood trial several times, resulting in overturned convictions and a hung jury, for being the master-mind in the 1900 murder of Governor William Goebel (the only sitting governor ever assassinated, sort of – he was inaugurated a day after being shot and three days before he died); he was pardoned in 1908. The Times thinks that since Curley & Powers are of different parties, the House will simply let both in as a compromise, which I assume was what happened, since both were allowed to sit in Congress (multiple terms).

Reporters finally catch up to Theodore Roosevelt for the first time since the election, but he has absolutely nothing to say about it “now or in the future.”

Ralph Johnstone, the trick-bicycle-rider-turned-aviator (his unfulfilled ambition was to do a loop-the-loop in a plane; Wilbur Wright told him if he tried it, he’d be fired, successful or not) and holder of the current altitude record, crashed after his plane... I think the technical term is “fell apart”... in the sky during an air show. “Scarcely had Johnstone hit the ground before morbid men and women swarmed over the wreckage fighting with each other for souvenirs. One of the broken wooden stays had gone almost through the airman’s body. Before doctors or police could reach the scene, one man had torn this splinter from the body and run away, carrying his trophy. The crowd tore away the canvas from over the body, and even fought for the gloves that had protected Johnstone’s hands from the cold. ... The band in the grand stand, blaring away under contract, never ceased to play” (Ragtime, of course).

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Today -100: November 17, 1910: Of trifles

The NYT reports concerns that another “trifle” could set off conflict with Mexico – like another trifling Mexican citizen being tied to a trifling stake and set on trifling fire, presumably. But the NYT reassures its readers that in such an event, the US military could kick Mexico’s ass.

Taft, visiting Panama, reassures everyone that the US won’t annex Panama, unless it does. At a dinner in his honor given by the Panamanian president, Taft said that the treaty between the two countries made the US guarantor of the integrity of the Panama Republic “and therefore, in a sense, the guardian of the liberties of her people secured by its Constitution. Our responsibility, therefore, for your Government requires us closely to observe the course of conduct by those selected as the officials of your Government after they are selected, and to insist that they be selected according to law.” So nothing would justify annexing territory “unless there were some conduct on the part of the Panama people which left them no other possible course.” I’m sure everyone was very reassured.

The Honolulu YMCA refuses to admit a Japanese man – the Japanese vice consul, in fact – on the grounds that “the social incompatibility would militate against the usefulness of the organization.”

Startling Headline of the Day -100: “The Nigger Wins By a Nose.” Yes, “The Nigger” is what some sensitive soul named their racehorse. (After that, I came across the headline “Indians Whipped by Law Students,” which I’m happy to report is only about a football game.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Today -100: November 16, 1910: Of smoking & voting, trust, cowboy leaders, and porcupine prospectors

One result of the introduction of women’s suffrage in Washington: Seattle’s City Council is considering a bill to ban smoking in polling stations.

James N. Huston, the Treasurer of the United States under Benjamin Harrison, is on trial with several others for fraud through their National Trust Company. Here’s a letter entered into evidence which the company wrote to the National Bond Company in reply to a request for information on the company’s history:

You can see why they called it the National Trust Company.

Anti-American violence is still occurring sporadically in Mexico, and there are (false) rumors that 400 Mexicans are marching on Rock Springs, Texas, the town where a Mexican national was burned at the stake two weeks ago. 2,000 armed American ranchmen and cowboys (many of them former Rough Riders from the Spanish-American War) have poured into the town to defend it. The “cowboy leaders” issued a statement claiming that the lynching was not racially motivated: “the cowardly brute’s nationality was not considered.” So that’s okay, then. In fact, they claim, many Mexicans took part in the lynching and it was they who insisted that burning rather than hanging was the proper course of action.

Another move towards militarizing aviation: a plane has taken off from a ship, the scout cruiser USS Birmingham, and flown five miles to shore. They haven’t figured out how to land a plane on a ship yet, but they’re working on it.

Headline of the Day -100: “Miners Die in New District: Porcupine Prospectors Cut off from Base of Supplies.” Porcupine prospectors were hardy men, working in the porcupine mines of Canada... oh, all right, there’s evidently a mining district in Northeastern Ontario called Porcupine.

Monday, November 15, 2010


Not that I don’t think victims of government torture should be compensated, but the British government, in settling the court cases of seven former Guantanamo detainees (including Binyam Mohamed), is paying them millions of pounds purely in order to suppress the evidence that would come to light in the trials about British complicity with torture. A Cabinet Office statement today complains about the “totally unsatisfactory situation” where, in David Cameron’s words, the “reputation of our security services has been overshadowed by allegations about their involvement in the treatment of detainees held by other countries”. Don’t you hate it when your reputation is “overshadowed” by the facts about the awful shit you did?

So what’s on the minds of the 2008 Republican ticket today?

The Passion of the Snooki, or something.

Today -100: November 15, 1910: Of ostriches

In New Jersey, William Ford is on trial for obtaining $2,000 from a William Koch ostensibly to start up ostrich races at county fairs. As an opponent of animal cruelty but a proponent of awesomeness, I’m a little conflicted on this one.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The sober guy

George W. Bush, Decision Points: “Being the sober guy helped me realize how mindless I must have sounded when drunk.”

Today -100: November 14, 1910: Of hot sweeties, accidental colonialism, and lynchings

Headline of the Day -100: “Sweet Potato Men Revolt.” That conjures up a rather odd but pleasing image. In fact, these revolting sweet potato men would be street vendors. Does New York still have sweet potato men? The 900 or so sweet potato men, who rent their push-cart-charcoal-stove contraptions for 30 to 50¢ a day, have been told this year that they will also have to buy their potatoes from the owners, at inflated prices. Thus the revolt against what they call the Hot-Sweetie Stove Trust.

A NYT editorial on the Philippines is a lovely example of the thesis, not entirely unknown down to the present day, of American Innocency. “We took the islands practically by accident, as the only feasible policy, the only rational alternative to leaving them to chaos and rapine in the feeble hands of Spain, or as the result of savage civil war among the natives. We took them with the intention and the promise that ‘when the Filipino people as a whole show themselves reasonably fit to conduct a popular self-government... and desire complete independence of the United States they shall be given it.’” (That quote is from Taft when he was governor of the Philippines).

Mexican President-for-Life Díaz responds publicly to a telegram sent privately by Taft about the burning at the stake of Mexican national Antonio Rodriguez in Texas. Evidently Taft promised to punish the guilty parties (although the federal government would have had no power to do any such thing in 1910). Meanwhile, a Mexican has shot the police chief of Anadarko, Oklahoma and the State Dept has written to the OK governor asking that he prevent the man being lynched (if he is captured).

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Nothing more intimate

What’s more disturbing, that Obama’s newly appointed commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos vocally opposes ending Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, or that he did so on the grounds that “There’s nothing more intimate than combat”?

Let’s see, there’s the Intimate Service Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Cuddling Above and Beyond the Call of Duty award, the...

Today -100: November 13, 1910: Of rots and spots, and smoking women

The New York World has an exposé about the market in NYC for rotten eggs, 1,000 cases a day of “rots and spots” sold to bakers. My advice after reading this story: do not buy a sponge cake in 1910 New York.

Lillian Stevens, president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, insists that the women of America are not taking up smoking. “In the course of my travels in England and American I have never seen a woman with a cigarette in her mouth, except in certain localities in New Mexico, where the surroundings were not at all pleasant to contemplate.”

Friday, November 12, 2010

Today -100: November 12, 1910: Of racing, peace, and peers

J.C. “Bud” Mars races a horse with his airplane. He won, but he cheated.

The NYT analyzes the election results: “The country voted for peace last Tuesday”. The Republican Party lost because under Roosevelt’s guidance it is becoming the radical party and the Democracy (as the Times likes to call the Democrats) has become conservative post-William Jennings Bryan.

With negotiations for reform of the House of Lords broken down, Britain is heading towards its second general election of 1910, to be fought on the issue of the Lords’ veto. The suffragettes will be working for the defeat of Liberals, pointing out that Prime Minister Asquith has been vetoing votes for women.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Just admit you want to kill people

Arthur Silber notes that no one has resigned from the Obama administration over its claim to have the power to murder American citizens (and anyone else) at will, with no judicial oversight. Which reminds me that I’ve been meaning for some time to point out that Obama has never been asked to make this claim in his own words out of his own mouth. Remember when presidents used to take questions from the press from time to time? Me neither. In this regard, Obama may be even more embubbled than Bush was, although Jon Stewart did call him “dude” that one time, and the republic’s foundations trembled.

In the same way, he’s been able to wage undeclared wars in Pakistan and Yemen without ever being forced to acknowledge his lethal actions, much less make any sort of public argument for their necessity.

Speaking of acknowledging shit, everybody points out that Bush’s memoirs admit that he ordered waterboarding (“Damn right!”), but as an admission of torture it actually goes further: “No doubt the procedure was tough, but medical experts assured the CIA that it did no lasting harm.” In other words, he admits that waterboarding caused physical harm, just not lasting harm.

Also, I want the names of these medical experts. Some medical licenses need to be revoked.

Today -100: November 11, 1910: Of unknown Mexicans and unknown mobs

The NYT follows up on the Texas lynching that caused all the insulting of flags and whatnot in Mexico City. On November 3rd a 20-year-old Mexican national, Antonio Rodriguez, was begging for food in Rock Springs. A rancher’s wife “talked mean” to him, so he shot her; he was taken from his jail cell and burned at the stake. No arrests were made. The coroner’s jury’s verdict was that “an unknown Mexican met death at the hands of an unknown mob.” NYT: “No effort was made to discover the identity of the members of the mob and little was thought of the occurrence until the trouble was reported in Mexico City.” Secretary of State Philander Knox: “It is most unfortunate that the brutal crime in our country of which a Mexican was victim should be made the excuse for a demonstration of hostility toward Americans in Mexico.”

NY Supreme Court Justice Crane denies a decree of separation to a Mrs. Edith Robinson, whose husband hit and yelled at her, because she nagged him. Crane rules: “When the wife tantalizes the husband into a temper the resulting hasty words and violent deeds may not amount to cruel and inhuman conduct, as the law uses these words, although men agree that insults and violence to a wife are inhuman. Otherwise she would be permitted when seeking relief in court to profit by her own acts.”

The Prussian and Bavarian governments are refusing to let the Vatican make Catholic professors and clergy take an oath against modernism.

A black man, Thomas Jennings, is convicted for murder in Chicago on the basis of fingerprints he left in fresh paint – the first ever conviction in the US based on fingerprint evidence.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Today -100: November 10, 1910: Of gifts and insulted flags

Women’s suffrage referenda passed in Washington state (having previously failed in 1889 and 1898, this time it succeeded 52,299 to 29,676), the fifth state to enfranchise women and the first to do so in 14 years, but failed in Oregon (for the 5th time, and by the widest margin yet), Oklahoma (88,808 to 128,928) and South Dakota. Condescending Headline of the Day -100: the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: “Women of the State Get the Ballot by Gift of Men.”

“Our flag insulted” in Mexico City and the NYT is outraged.
The flag was torn down, trampled and spat upon “[w]hile the police looked on and seemingly made no effort to prevent it”. The Mexicans were objecting to an incident a few days ago in which a Mexican was burnt at the stake in Rock Springs, Texas (the story doesn’t seem to have made the Times, so I don’t know what the Rock Springs police were doing while that occurred). The newspaper El Diario del Hogar calls Americans “giants of the dollar, pigmies of culture, and barbarous whites of the North.” Rioters attacked actual Americans, not just the flag, including the ambassador’s son.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Now, a word from your sponsor

Another Bush (and earlier) policy unchanged by Obama: utilizing the list of state sponsors of terrorism as a carrot/stick to achieve ends unrelated to terrorism, rather than for, you know, listing states that sponsor terrorism. NYT: “President Obama has told Sudan that if it allows a politically sensitive referendum to go ahead in January, and abides by the results, the United States will move to take the country off its list of state sponsors of terrorism as early as next July, administration officials said Sunday.”

Today -100: November 9, 1910: Election 1910

Election results are coming in.


-Woodrow Wilson (D) is elected governor of New Jersey, his first elective office, on a huge swing to the Democrats that also carried the legislature and 8 of 10 congressional seats.

-Simeon Eben Baldwin (D) is elected governor of Connecticut, despite Roosevelt having called him retrogressive (and despite no other D winning state-wide office). The NYT is sorry that Baldwin probably won’t be suing the Colonel for the slander, given that since he won it would be difficult to prove damages; the Times says we have “lost an entertaining lawsuit.”

-John A. Dix defeats Henry L. Stimson in NY by almost 2 to 1, reversing Charles Evans Hughes’ almost equally large win in 1908. The D’s take the Legislature as well. Republican voters largely just stayed home.

-Eugene Foss (D) wins in Massachusetts, another state where D’s failed to win other state-wide offices.

-John Tener (R), a former minor-league baseball player who was once given the job of explaining baseball to the Prince of Wales, wins Pennsylvania.

-Progressive Republican and radical reformer Hiram Johnson wins in California. Sorry not to have had more on that; the NYT sucked on California.

-Judson Harmon, incumbent D governor of Ohio, crushes Warren G. Harding. This is a special humiliation for Taft, whose state Ohio is.

Congress: Democrats will increase from 172 seats to 230, Republicans drop from 219 to 162, losing control of the House for the first time in 15 years. Most of the D gains were in NY, Mass., NJ, Penn, W Virginia and Illinois. R did better in states where the party is controlled by Rooseveltite progressives rather than the old guard.

There will be a socialist congresscritter, the first ever: Victor Berger of Wisconsin.

Senate: Democrats have taken control of at least 4 of the legislatures of 24 states now represented in the US Senate by Republicans (Maine, New York, Missouri, New Jersey, and probably Indiana & West Virginia), meaning a gain, when those new legislatures pick senators, of 7 seats, but Republicans will retain a majority of 12 out of 92. 12 of the Republican senators who lost their seats were members of the party’s old guard.

Whatever happened to voting in schools? In New York, Stimson’s polling station was in a barber shop, Gaynor’s was in a tailor’s shop. In Sagamore Hill, Teddy Roosevelt voted in a fire station, along with son Kermit, best known for his role in overthrowing the elected government of Iran in 1953, voting for the first time, and various Roosevelt family retainers, including his negro butler. He reminisced for the press about his own first time voting 31 years before, with his then butler, also negro. Woodrow Wilson voted in a furniture shop.

NYC election investigators swore out a warrant for illegal registration for US Attorney General George Wickersham when they couldn’t find him at his address on East 61st, but later withdrew it when they figured out who he was and that he was probably in, you know, Washington.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 28, is elected to the NY state senate, his first but not last public office.

Democrats actually did relatively badly in cities, evidently because of hostility from the labor vote. One big exception is NYC, which will have an entirely Democratic congressional delegation.

New Hampshire Name of the Day -100: Congressman Cyrus A. Sulloway (R), reelected. Was there ever a more perfect name for a New Hampshire congressman than Cyrus A. Sulloway?

In a negro town in Oklahoma, blacks took over a polling station and threw out the white election officials, declaring they would vote despite the grandfather clause. And in Tulsa, a negro minister who was turned away from his polling station got the US Commissioner to swear out a warrant for the arrest of the election officials responsible. And US marshals arrested election officials in McAlester who refused to let blacks vote without bothering with the formality of the literacy test.

Headline of the Day -100: “King Pelted With Paper.” Albert, king of the Belgians, is pelted with a million slips of paper demanding universal suffrage.

Electoral Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt Went to Bed.”

Monday, November 08, 2010

That’s not particularly persuasive to us

Obama was interviewed by 60 Minutes, which has provided an unusually folksy transcript, with many lottas and gottas and dropped g sounds being attributed to Obama.

It’s all pretty much the same thing as he’s been saying since the election: it’s the fault of the economy not his policies, he hopes for more cooperation between the parties, etc. Any faults were of implementation rather than policy, and that is attributable to the “emergency” he found upon taking office: “But necessity created circumstances in which I think the Republicans were able to paint my governing philosophy as a classic, traditional, big government liberal. And that’s not something that the American people want. I mean, you know, particularly independents in this country.” So Americans hate liberals. And all “independents” are to the right of the Democratic Party. In fact, there is nothing and nobody to the left of the Democratic Party.

Indeed, asked about the Tea Party, he said, “We have a long tradition in this country of a desire for limited government, the suspicion of the federal government, of a concern that government spends too much money. You know? I mean, that’s as American as apple pie.” Any minute now, he’s going to start ranting about death panels.

George Bush had a lot of (or as the CBS transcript would doubtless put it, lotta) made-up conversations with the American people and with the voices in his head. Let’s see what Obama’s made-up conversations sound like: “So, people are looking and saying, ‘Well government intervened a lot, spent a lot of money, and yet, I still don’t have a job or my neighbor still doesn’t have a job or that home is still being foreclosed down the block.’ And our argument was, ‘Well, we had to take these steps to stabilize the economy and things would be a lot worse if we hadn’t taken these steps.’ And people say, ‘Well, you know what? That’s not particularly persuasive to us.’” Yes, the fake America that Obama talks to, in his head, says things like “not particularly persuasive”. Don’t ever change, fake America in Obama’s head.

WHAT OBAMA ENJOYS MOST ABOUT THE PRESIDENCY: “You know, the thing I enjoy most about the presidency is when I’ve got a chance to interact with folks in a backyard town hall, in you know, buyin’ some donuts in a store. You know, that’s when things aren’t scripted, that’s when you’re not, you know, spending all your time just goin’ through a bunch of talkin’ points.” So what he enjoys most about the presidency is buying donuts. Hey, do you suppose he knows that you don’t have to be president to take to people in backyards or go buyin’ some donuts in a store? He doesn’t even get free donuts, and he’s the freaking president.

GET BOUNCING, PEOPLE! “And you know, the country has bounced back. It’s not bounced back all the way, but people are tough, and folks work hard, and they’re not easily shaken.” Line from the next James Bond movie: “Vodka martini, shaken, not bounced.” Also, maybe we’d bounce better if we were less tough and more, you know, rubbery.

Asked if he ever gets discouraged and indeed if he is discouraged now: “No you know, I do get discouraged, I mean, there are times where you think, ‘Dog-gone-it you know, the job numbers aren’t movin’ as fast as I want.’” Boy, the fake Obama in Obama’s head is a lot less erudite than the fake America in Obama’s head.

A crucial time

John McCain posted this picture with the caption “@JoeLieberman @Grahamblog & I had good meetings with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad today at a crucial time.”

Judging by McCain’s appearance, I think by “crucial time” he meant that he needed to go to the bathroom.

Can we do better than John McCain? CAPTION CONTEST!

Lost & found

When I wrote my post on McConnell’s Heritage Foundation speech last week, I deleted mention of one piece of moronity. Talking about the stimulus, he said, “And it shouldn’t be lost on anybody, by the way, that the only one that refused a bailout, Ford, is the one that’s doing best today.” Yes, clearly what hurt Chrysler and GM was accepting the bailout money. The logic is inescapable.

Today -100: November 8, 1910: Happy Dough Day!

Yesterday was the day before election day, the day traditionally known in Tammany as “Dough Day,” when all the money is distributed to district leaders (although Boss Murphy, who has delusions of respectability, likes to call it Paraphernalia Day).

A Wright Brothers’ plane carried some silk for a dry goods company – the first ever commercial air flight.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Polluted with the things of a carnal-minded society

From NYT story about people who object to tolerance programs in schools:
“We do not want the minds of our children to be polluted with the things of a carnal-minded society,” Mr. DeMato, 69, told his flock at Liberty Baptist Church.
But what about you, readers? Are your minds polluted with the things of a carnal-minded society? Let’s put it to a little test. When you read that quote did you think

a) He probably hates gay people because he’s sixty-nine years old.

b) What an odd sexual position from which to deliver a sermon.

c) DeMato, DeMahto, let’s call the whole thing off.

If you chose a, your mind is not unduly polluted with the things of a carnal-minded society. If you chose b, your mind is in fact quite polluted with the things of a carnal-minded society. If you chose c, you’re just weird.

Today -100: November 7, 1910: Of profanity, tariffs, and women’s suffrage

Several thousand Catholics marched in Washington D.C. to protest against profanity.

Dix and Stimson hold a debate of sorts, via telegram. Stimson sent a series of questions, mostly about tariffs, to Dix, who now responds, denying any inconsistency in his demands for a reduction in tariffs. Tariffs, with their “natural offspring – the trusts and combinations – which have increased the cost of the necessaries of life. No one knows this better than you, for you and your former law partner, Senator Root, had charge of the organization of more trusts and combinations than any other firm of corporation lawyers in the country.” (The governor of New York, of course, has nothing whatsoever to do with tariff policy.)

The National American Woman’s Suffrage Association says that 20% of Republican and Democratic candidates for Congress are in favor of women’s suffrage. That is, 180 of 672 candidates replied to NAWSA’s survey, of whom 107 (64 D’s, 43 R’s) support full suffrage, 36 (21 D’s, 15 R’s) favor partial suffrage (municipal or school board but not federal, for example), and 9 (all D’s) were completely opposed. The rest gave noncommittal replies.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

The formula is simple

Do conservatives really call Marco Rubio the “great right hope”? Trust the Repugs to adapt a racist term for a brown-skinned guy.

Mitch McConnell’s post-election speech at the Heritage Foundation, though widely quoted in snippets, is worth a skim.

“By sticking together in principled opposition to policies we viewed as harmful, we made it perfectly clear to the American people where we stood.” Well, you made it perfectly clear what you stood against, which is not the same thing. He doesn’t seem to know the difference.

He complains that since the 2008 election, “The Democrats’ idea of consensus was for Republicans to do whatever the administration wanted us to.” Which was bad. So he presents his idea of consensus, which you’ll be surprised to hear is for Obama to do whatever McConnell wants him to do: “If the administration wants cooperation, it will have to begin to move in our direction.” No hint that cooperation could ever involve the R’s moving in Obama’s direction.

But of course they can’t do that, because the Republicans are the American people and speak for them: “The formula is simple, really: when the administration agrees with the American people, we will agree with the administration. When it disagrees with the American people, we won’t. This has been our posture from the beginning of this administration. And we intend to stick with it.” Take a moment and just take in the arrogance of that statement. Also note that he can’t be saying that the position of the American people, with which the administration is invited to “agree,” was set forth by this week’s election, since that simple formula has been “our posture from the beginning of this administration.” That is, from January 2009 to November 2010, when the House, Senate, and presidency were all dominated by Democrats elected by the American people. So elections must be irrelevant to the determination of the position of the American people, which is always conservative and always unitary. Hard to know why the Republicans bother to let us vote really; we might just continue to elect people who don’t agree with the American people.

Today -100: November 6, 1910: Of elections, Crippen, co-eds, the true protector of Islam, and fertilizer wars

The Arizona Constitutional Convention is fighting over whether to include the local option for prohibition.

Dr. Crippen loses his appeal against the death penalty for killing his wife (or whoever that torso was), and will be hanged in a couple of day.

A few days ago, Henry L. Stimson, Republican candidate for governor of NY, spoke to several campaign rallies in NYC, driving from one to the next, while Roosevelt did the same 20 minutes later, so that if people wanted to hear TR, they’d have to sit through Stimson. Yesterday, the Saturday before election day, Stimson repeated the performance, but without TR as his closing act, so that the audiences were rather smaller, in one case so small that he refused to speak. There was a large audience at a Cooper Union meeting which amounted to “a grand testimonial meeting in favor of Theodore Roosevelt,” whose name was repeatedly cheered and who was praised to the skies by all the speakers, who “accepted the charge that he is the issue in this campaign”. Gov. John Franklin Fort of NJ said TR was at least as great as Lincoln and “as great as any man that ever lived and wrought in this land”. A man in the audience who called for him to “keep to state issues” was threatened by members of the audience until he left.

Pope Pius X has instructed the papal nuncio of Munich to order ecclesiastics under his authority not to read newspapers.

H.B. Hutchins, president of the University of Michigan, urges women students to study only subjects that would fit them to become homemakers and mothers. “Deliver me from the woman who comes to the university to prepare for a career.”

And a NYT editorial declares that women’s suffrage is unnecessary and that women themselves “do not favor suffrage for their sex, for very good and sane reasons”.

A meeting of Muslims in Constantinople acclaims Kaiser Wilhelm the “true protector of Islam” and appeals to him to save Persia from Anglo-Russian aggression.

Judge Simeon Baldwin, Dem. candidate for governor of Connecticut, says he will sue Roosevelt for slander for misrepresenting his views on labor law.

Roosevelt gives a speech in Cleveland, although since his progressives are not in charge of the Ohio Republican Party, he didn’t have much to say about the actual candidates. This is the sum total of what he said about gubernatorial candidate Warren G. Harding: “If Mr. Harding is elected you will have a governor who will put through a public utilities bill.” I don’t think they’d invented the bumper sticker yet but wouldn’t that be a great one?

State prohibition amendments will be up for vote by the electors in Florida, Missouri, Oregon and Texas, while Oklahoma will vote on substituting local option for the current state-wide prohibition.

Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Washington’s male voters will vote on women’s suffrage and Oregon’s on granting suffrage to all taxpayers, regardless of sex. Oregonians will vote on 32 initiatives and referenda, including two on liquor and one for a constitutional convention.

One place there won’t be elections any time soon is Nicaragua, where members of the regime of self-proclaimed Nicaraguan President Estrada sign a convention keeping him in power another two years. The US Special Commissioner Thomas C. Dawson also signs, although with what authority is unclear.

In Britain, suffragists will begin a “suffrage demonstration week” in favor of the women’s suffrage bill. So was the NYT headline “Votes for Women Weak” a typo or a pun or what?

A war between the US and Germany seems inevitable, says the NYT (although Germany thinks the US is bluffing). A tariff war. Over potash. That is, fertilizer.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Today -100: November 5, 1910: Of annexations and the seltzer of doom

Today -1 I ran the first Today -100 post. Seems like only Today -0.75, doesn’t it?

The Chinese emperor decrees the establishment of an Imperial Parliament in 1913. “The police went from house to house informing the occupants of the edict.”

Rumors are going around Panama that Taft’s forthcoming visit is part of a plan to annex it to the United States. This has been denied.

The writer of a letter to the Times shares a pamphlet he received which was put out on behalf of the Prohibition Party, “Fruits of the Liquor Traffic: a Brief Record of 100 Murders Caused by Drink,” by Gomer D. Reese. One of these “murders” was one Harris Cohen, aged 70, who, the letter-writer relates, no doubt paraphrasing slightly, “feeling unwell, viciously and deliberately entered a saloon in Trenton, N.J., calling for and obtaining a ‘seltzer,’ and having publicly imbibed the same, incontinently fell dead of heart disease. Will Mr. Reese kindly explain, before this cruel campaign is over, just what he would have us learn from this horrible example? 1. Was the seltzer very bad? 2. Or, being good, was the said awful Cohen so accustomed to stronger drink that the shock of plain seltzer slew him? 3. Is it wicked to drink seltzer? 4. Had we not better drink nothing?”

All good questions.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Today -100: November 4, 1910: Of canting and sickening hypocrisy

Henry L. Stimson reviews yesterday’s Carnegie Hall speech by his rival John A. Dix: “Canting and sickening hypocrisy, calculated to turn a man’s stomach.” The hypocrisy is that Dix wants tariffs reduced, but two years ago his partner in the wallpaper biz asked for increased duty on imported wallpaper. Aren’t you offended by Dix’s “sanctimonious cant”? Stimson thinks you should be.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Obama press conference: Taking a shellacking

This afternoon Obama held a press conference on the subject of how it’s all the economy’s fault.

THOSE WHO HAD BOTH WON AND LOST? HOW VERY ZEN: “Last night I had a chance to speak to the leaders of the House and the Senate and reached out to those who had both won and lost in both parties.”

LIKE WHEN BIDEN GETS INTO THE BOURBON: “I can tell you that some election nights are more fun than others.”

MOSTLY THEY SAID “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY BACKYARD?” “Over the last few months I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country and meet people where they live and where they work, from backyards to factory floors. I did some talking, but mostly I did a lot of listening.” Obama is renowned for his listening skills.

What Obama has learned during the course of all this listening, is that “People are frustrated -- they’re deeply frustrated -- with the pace of our economic recovery and the opportunities that they hope for their children and their grandchildren.” See, they’re not frustrated with him, it’s with the economy. And not even the trend of the economy, but the pace of that trend. So it’s all good.

WAIT, THERE’S A REASON? “There’s a reason we have two parties in this country, and both Democrats and Republicans have certain beliefs and certain principles that each feels cannot be compromised.” Funny, I’m pretty sure we have more than two parties. I mean, I voted for candidates from three parties yesterday.

ALTHOUGH ONE SEEMS TO HAVE A MONOPOLY ON TRI-CORNER HATS: “As I’ve said before, no person, no party, has a monopoly on wisdom.”

WHAT HE DO BELIEVE: “I do believe there is hope for civility.”

IT ALMOST SEEMS LIKE HE’S TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING OTHER THAN THE ECONOMIC SITUATION HERE: “And that’s because I believe in the resiliency of a nation that’s bounced back from much worse than what we’re going through right now -- a nation that’s overcome war and depression”. So get bouncing, America.

AP’s Ben Feller asks if “who do you think speaks to the true voice of the American people right now: you or John Boehner?” Oddly, Obama never addressed that important question, although I guess if we hear the true voice of the American people and it’s either unsettlingly robotic or choking back tears, we’ll have the answer.

If you were waiting for a big admission of his shortcomings, here it is: “And we were in such a hurry to get things done that we didn’t change how things got done. And I think that frustrated people.”

WHAT HE’S NOT GOING TO ANTICIPATE THAT THEY’RE NOT GOING TO, WAIT, WHAT? “Well, what is absolutely true is, is that without any Republican support on anything, then it’s going to be hard to get things done. But I’m not going to anticipate that they’re not going to support anything.”

Jake Tapper asks the big question: “what does it feel like?” Obama: “It feels bad.”

WHAT THE SMARTEST THING FOR US TO DO IS: “I think the smartest thing for us to do is to see if we can get Democrats and Republicans in a room who are serious about energy independence and are serious about keeping our air clean and our water clean and dealing with the issue of greenhouse gases”. So, not a very large room. Which saves on the cost of heating it. See, where’re half-way there?

POSSIBLY THE MOST DISTURBING-SOUNDING SENTENCE OBAMA HAS EVER UTTERED: “Cap and trade was just one way of skinning the cat; it was not the only way.”

He says eliminating Don’t Ask Don’t Tell shouldn’t be a partisan issue.

WHAT HE DOESN’T THINK ANYBODY DENIES: “So I don’t think anybody denies they think we’re in a ditch. I just don’t think they feel like we’ve gotten all the way out of the ditch yet. And to move the analogy forward that I used in the campaign, I think what they want right now is the Democrats and the Republicans both pushing some more to get the car on level ground. And we haven’t done that.” In this analogy is the Auto Club China?

Hans Nichols of Bloomberg asks “if you’re going to have John Boehner over for a Slurpee”. Obama: “they’re delicious drinks.” Boehner would get an orange Slurpee, of course.

WHAT THERE IS A INHERENT DANGER IN: “There is a inherent danger in being in the White House and being in the bubble. I mean, folks didn’t have any complaints about my leadership style when I was running around Iowa for a year.” So maybe you should be doing that, then. Also, you didn’t have a leadership style per se because you weren’t actually a, you know, leader yet.

WHAT THEY WERE ABLE TO DO: “And they got a pretty good look at me up close and personal, and they were able to lift the hood and kick the tires”. They did what you to you now? Show us on this Tonka truck where the Iowans touched you.

WHAT ONE OF THE CHALLENGES THAT WE’VE GOT TO THINK ABOUT IS: “And one of the challenges that we’ve got to think about is how do I meet my responsibilities here in the White House, which require a lot of hours and a lot of work, but still have that opportunity to engage with the American people on a day-to-day basis, and know -- give them confidence that I’m listening to them. Those letters that I read every night, some of them just break my heart. Some of them provide me encouragement and inspiration. But nobody is filming me reading those letters.” Well, they should probably get right on that.

“But, I mean, I think it’s important to point out as well that a couple of great communicators, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, were standing at this podium two years into their presidency getting very similar questions because the economy wasn’t working the way it needed to be and there were a whole range of factors that made people concerned that maybe the party in power wasn’t listening to them.” Well, to be fair, Clinton had someone behind the podium giving him a blow job, and Reagan was staring off into space waiting for the director to tell him to get on a horse.

So evidently, presidential popularity is entirely a function of the economy and nothing to do with his policies. He could be Reagan or Clinton or Millard Fucking Fillmore. I’m pretty sure this is exactly the message the American people were hoping for from him.

WHAT HE’S NOT RECOMMENDING: “now, I’m not recommending for every future President that they take a shellacking...”

Although about the time President Palin takes office, Bristol should be giving birth to little baby Shellac.

NOW HE’S JUST TALKING ABOUT EVOLUTION TO PISS THE REPUBLICANS OFF: “But I do think that this is a growth process and an evolution.”

WELL, THE SEX JUST IS’NT THAT GOOD ANYMORE: “And the relationship that I’ve had with the American people is one that built slowly, peaked at this incredible high, and then during the course of the last two years, as we’ve, together, gone through some very difficult times, has gotten rockier and tougher.”

WHAT MAKES HIM COME AWAY FEELING SO MUCH MORE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THIS COUNTRY: “because when I travel around the country, even in the toughest of these debates -- in the midst of health care last year during the summer when there were protesters about, and when I’m meeting families who’ve lost loved ones in Afghanistan or Iraq -- I always come away from those interactions just feeling so much more optimistic about this country.” Well that makes it all okay.