Monday, January 31, 2011

Not that there’s anything wrong with that


Quote of the Day, John Boehner on Barack Obama: “I’m sure I’ll have to give him strokes.”

Today -100: January 31, 1911: Of non-mobs, water landings, and scoffers


The rebels who captured Mexicali have sent a letter to the sheriff of Imperial County, California, warning against an attempt being planned (by whom the letter does not say) to make a raid across the border to release one of the rebels’ prisoners. The letter notes that this would violate the US’s neutrality laws, and adds in a P.S., “You must bear in mind that we are not a mob. We are fighting for our principles.” The rebels have since left Mexicali, taking $2,000, plus $500 in ransom for the sub-prefect.

Headline of the Day -100: “M’Curdy Flies Nearly to Cuba.” You know, nearly really doesn’t cut it. Attempting the first ever trans-oceanic flight, Douglas McCurdy took off from Key West but an oil leak forced a water landing 10 miles from Havana. He (and his plane) were picked up safely by a destroyer.

Margaret Shipley has completed her 8-day fasting trance and says that her blindness is, um, somewhat better now, but “Not enough at least to satisfy the scoffers.” Yet.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Daily Telegraphy


We learn today from the world’s greatest newspaper that:

Footage on China Central Television which purported to be of the J-10 fighter was actually taken from the movie “Top Gun.”

A 19-year-old in the West Midlands had a fatal traffic accident because a slug had crossed the road (shorting out traffic lights controlling the approaches to a single-lane bridge).

But really, a picture is worth a thousand blog posts (well, a picture on this blog of Berlusconi’s favorite showgirl/dental hygienist/regional councillor/pimp Nicole Minetti in a yellow bikini on a swing is currently 1,000 times more popular than any of my blog posts), and today the Telegraph provides us with:

Pigeons going Hitchcock on the papal ass,


and Nicolas Sarkozy, representing France in Addis Ababa.



Today -100: January 30, 1911: Of lynchings, trances, oysters, and Atlantis


Mexicali falls to the rebels. They’re trying to capture border towns to facilitate easier smuggling of weapons from the United States.

A black man is lynched in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, after supposedly attacking a white child in the house where he worked. His body is left hanging from a pine tree, riddled with bullets.

Ecuador’s president gives in to the large crowds that have been protesting outside the presidential palace for days, and will not lease the Galapagos to the United States.

Margaret Shipley, 25, blind since birth, has been conducting a public fast and self-hypnotic trance in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. She had announced that on Monday night she will awake and will be able to see again. Evidently a child evangelist promised her that an 8-day fast would restore her sight. And Heaven told her that she also had to dress in spotless white, recline on a white couch, and part her hair in the middle. And no one is to touch her during these days, or “he will fall dead and everything will be spoiled.” 25,000 people have come to witness the event, filing past her room. A NYT editorial declares Ms. Shipley “densely ignorant, grossly superstitious, and dreadfully weak of mind” but is especially alarmed by the number who made the pilgrimage to see her, which it blames on “the imperfection of our civilization, the inadequacy of our educational system, and the persistence among us, here and there, or great groups of people who are still living in the Dark Ages.” Will Shipley see again? Tune in tomorrow.

Headline of the Day -100: “England Rushes To Defend Her Oyster.” Evidently the NYT ran an editorial I missed attacking the English oyster (“a brown thing that tastes like copper”), and the British papers have responded, the Daily Express saying... oh, who cares, it’s a feud over oysters.

Leo Frobenius, the German African explorer, sends word that he has discovered evidence of the existence of Atlantis. In Togo. An ancient bronze bust with Greek markings. Which proves that the Athenians invaded Atlantis. In Togo.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Today -100: January 29, 1911: Of guillotines, crimes passionelles, matches, badgers, and bigamists


A Paris jury sentences a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old to the guillotine for killing a bank collector. “Alluding to the different prison rĂ©gime to which they would be henceforth subjected, one of them said: ‘Now, at last we can play cards,’ and the other added, ‘Yes, and drink wine.’”

France is moving to change the law – yes, an actual written law – allowing a husband to kill his wife’s lover. It may also equalize the law of adultery. At present a husband guilty of adultery can only be fined around $5, while a wife can be imprisoned.

A (unnamed by the NYT) London newspaper says that there are many more pretty British women now (-100) than there were a year ago. It attributes this to their getting more rest because there have been fewer parties and bridge has gotten less popular. I think the fewer parties thing is because the death of Edward VII put a crimp on the London season.

At the strong request of President Taft, The Diamond Match Company (aka, the Match Trust), has granted everybody free use of its patent for matches manufactured without white phosphorus. Match workers tended to get poisoned, which produced something called phossy jaw (do an image search in your favorite search engine if you want to be grossed out).

Disappointing Headline of the Day -100: “Banker Badger Victim.” A couple kidnapped a banker and forced him to write a check (but he was able to throw a help note out the window). No actual badgers involved.

King George V has instituted criminal libel proceedings against Edward Mylius (that is, a criminal trial, not a civil suit; Mylius has been in prison since December) for reports in the republican newspaper The Liberator (printed in Paris) that the king is a bigamist, having married the daughter of an admiral.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The people of Egypt have rights that are universal


Obama made a statement about Egypt, after having spoken by phone with Hosni Mubarak. He had the difficult task of trying to give the appearance of supporting democracy in Egypt without actually suggesting that its undemocratic government step down.

AND THE PEOPLE OF THE UNIVERSE HAVE RIGHTS THAT ARE EGYPTIAN: “The people of Egypt have rights that are universal.”

One of those rights is evidently access to the internet and social networking sites, which Obama called on the government to restore.

VERY CLEAR: “So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protestors.”

RESPONSIBILITY: “[T]hose protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek.” You’ll notice that he’s okay with cops using violence against non-peaceful protesters, but not with the demonstrators resisting brutal repression. Just as in his Cairo speech in ‘09, Obama is insisting that violence and revolution are not legitimate means of opposing barbaric, illegitimate dictatorships. That’s what Twitter accounts are for, I guess.

IS THAT THE SAME AS A SPUTNIK MOMENT? “this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise.”

RESPONSIBILITY: “When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.” Actually, as the unelected dictator, the only “responsibility” he has is to step the fuck down.

WHAT’S NEEDED RIGHT NOW: “What’s needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people: a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens...” The citizens told the government to fuck off, is that not meaningful enough for you? You’ll notice he’s not calling for a free, open, transparent democratic election to replace the government so there’s a legitimate basis for that meaningful dialogue. “...and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.” Not actual freedom and opportunity and justice, just a “path of political change,” i.e., a slow gradual process whose purpose is to put off freedom and opportunity and justice for as long as possible.

MORE PYRAMIDS BUILT BY SLAVE LABOR? “Put simply, the Egyptian people want a future that befits the heirs to a great and ancient civilization.”

AND THAT’S WHY THEY STOCK UP ON TANKS AND AMERICAN-MADE TEAR GAS: “Around the world governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens.”

Well then he won’t refer to you as a toadying moron


Vice President Biden on Hosni Mubarak, 2011: “[He] has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he’s been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with – with Israel. … I would not refer to him as a dictator.”

Vice President Bush to Ferdinand Marcos, 1981: “We love your adherence to democratic principles and to democratic processes.”

“In other words”.... Where have I heard that before?


George Bush will be interviewed by C-SPAN Sunday on the subject of why he doesn’t want to be interviewed by C-SPAN: “It’s tough enough to be president as it is without a former president undermining the current president. Plus, I don’t want to do that. In other words, in spite of the fact that I’m now on TV, I don’t want to be on TV.”

Today -100: January 28, 1911: Of revolutions, invasions, and expositions


A NYT editorial notes that the rebellions in Mexico and Honduras have received finances and arms from within the United States, and claims that neither country shows “any signs of genuine political revolution.”

Washington’s lower house votes to make women eligible for jury duty.

9 days ago I reported that Colombia had invaded Peru. Haven’t seen another word about that since, but now evidently Peru has invaded Ecuador (or, if you believe Peru, Ecuador attacked Peru).

Massive protest in Guayaquil, Ecuador, against the proposed lease of the Galapagos to the US.

Taft assures senators from the Pacific states that the re-negotiated treaty with Japan will “tacitly” allow existing restrictions on Japanese immigration to continue. Last November Taft met California Governor-Elect Hiram Johnson and asked him to get Californians not to stir up a racist fuss against the Japanese, in return for the forthcoming Panama Exposition being held in San Francisco.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Today -100: January 27, 1911: Of diriplanes, racial exclusion, women’s suffrage, and tariffs


A Lt. H.E. Honeywell is trying to make a combination airplane-dirigible, which he will call.... the diriplane. Good luck with that, lieutenant.

Another aviation first with military applications: Glenn Curtiss has taken off from the water (San Diego Bay) and landed on water. The military is still thinking of planes mostly in terms of aerial observation and scouting.

A US-Japanese treaty from 1894 is due to expire in 1912 and needs to be re-negotiated. Japan is demanding that the provision allowing racist US immigration laws be removed. Japan is basically happy to continue its agreement to restrict emigration to the US but doesn’t like the stigma of the racial exclusion laws.

President Taft has received a petition from prominent Jews demanding that the State Dept end its practice of not issuing passports to American Jews intending to visit Russia (which would not honor them).

The California state senate approves women’s suffrage 33-5.

I probably should mention the treaty with Canada for reciprocity of tariffs. There, I’ve mentioned it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Well?


Is everyone winning the future yet? If not, get on with it. The future won’t win itself, you know.



Today -100: January 26, 1911: Of revolutions and dock workers


The NYT has finally stopped pooh-poohing the Mexican Revolution. After a slow start, the insurrectos have been defeating the military every time they’ve engaged recently, and have just captured the border town of San Ignacio, 40 miles from El Paso.

The Sherman Anti-Trust Act is again used against a union. Members of the New Orleans Dock and Cotton Council are convicted of conspiracy to interfere with foreign commerce for a strike against a steamer that had been loaded by non-union longshoremen.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union Address 2011: Poised for Progress




Transcript.

6:05 The state of the Union is... running five minutes behind schedule.

And the question on all of our minds after Tuscon is... how many members of Congress are packing heat tonight?

Gloria Borger just explained that this isn’t like an Orthodox temple, with the men sitting on one side and the women on the other. Thanks for clarifying that, Gloria.

6:11 Is Boehner going to be doing that weird thing with his mouth all evening?

“And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this Chamber”. The Human Torch was supposed to come?

BECAUSE NO OTHER NATION HAS DEBATES, OR BELIEFS. “The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that’s a good thing. That’s what a robust democracy demands. That’s what helps set us apart as a nation.” This is that “exceptionalism” thing Palin’s always going on about, isn’t it?


6:14 “What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.” Fox News now shows that Al Franken is sitting next to Saxby Chambliss. I’m sitting next to my cat, which seems like a better deal. But can Christabel and I work together tomorrow? We shall see.

6:16 “We are poised for progress.” Any... time... now....

OBAMA GIVES A SHOUT-OUT TO DILDO.COM: “Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there’s an internet connection.”

THAT HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IS ONE OF THE FOUR MAJOR FOOD GROUPS? “[W]e are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea.”

I THINK HE HAS TIME AND SPACE MIXED UP AGAIN: “The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can’t just stand still.”

OUT! “We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.”


AL GORE, JOHNNY INTERNET SEED: “throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That’s what planted the seeds for the Internet.”

6:25 Biden keeps nodding. Boehner looks his eyes are entirely unfocused.

JUST LIKE MADONNA: “That’s what Americans have done for over two hundred years: reinvented ourselves.”

BECAUSE NOTHING SAYS ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY LIKE A MILLION NEW CARS: “we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.”

Also nuke plants and “clean coal.”

ON YOUR MARKS: “we also have to win the race to educate our kids.”

“Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done.” This is where it’s helpful to have Democrats sitting next to Republicans, who are now asking their seat-mates, “But isn’t that the nanny’s job?” (Poor John Kerry, by the way, forced by this faux-bipartisanship gesture into being the filling in a McCain-Lieberman sandwich.)


“We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair.” 6:29 everyone stands up to celebrate the winner of the science fair.

WE WON’T GIVE IT TO YOU, JUST SHOW IT TO YOU: “To all fifty states, we said, ‘If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we’ll show you the money.’” Also, everyone should respect teachers, and young people should become teachers.

He wants to get rid of the loopholes in corporate taxes. Good luck with that. That’s basically like the mission to Mars / hydrogen car thing that will never happen that shows up like a beautiful unicorn in every SOTU message. Fox cut to Bernie Sanders when Obama said that, because getting rid of corporate loopholes is obviously socialism of the worst kind.

RUMORS: “Now, I’ve heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about our new health care law.”

He wants to freeze domestic spending for the next five years.

LAME METAPHOR ALERT: “Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you’ll feel the impact.” So in this scenario you’ve already taken off, then discovered that the plane is overloaded, then somehow removed the engine while the plane was flying?


He wants to “find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations.” Way to be specific, Obama. But not to subject it to the “whims of the stock market.” Boehner applauded exactly once, limply.

WHAT WE CAN’T DO: “We can’t win the future with a government of the past.”

WHY IT’S CONFUSING TO BE A SALMON: “Then there’s my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they’re in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they’re in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they’re smoked.” Again, this is where bipartisan seating helps: Lieberman can explain smoked salmon to McCain.

GUESS WHO’S COMING TO FAMILY DINNER: “And as extremists try to inspire acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with the strength of our communities, with respect for the rule of law, and with the conviction that American Muslims are a part of our American family.”

7:02 I’d forgotten how boring these speeches are.

WE’RE REALLY BAD AT GEOGRAPHY: “And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia”.

THE MILITARY: NOW TOTALLY GAY FOR THE US OF A: “Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love.”


“And with that change [gays in the military], I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.” If we’re leaving divisive battles behind, why do we need military recruiters and ROTCies?

“We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything’s possible. ... That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working class kid from Scranton can stand behind me. That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father’s Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth.” Will he cry? Will he cry? No, he doesn’t cry, but he sure is blinking a lot.

WITH A DeLOREAN AND A FLUX CAPACITOR? “From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That’s how we win the future.”

He used the phrase “win the future” six times by my count. It started out meaningless, and did not gain meaning with each repetition.

(Update: Oh yeah, the state of the union is evidently “strong.” Gosh, an anodyne, essentially content-less word choice; how totally out of keeping with the rest of the speech.)

Today -100: January 25, 1911: Of anarchists, senators, the size of Congress, and progressives


Twelve Japanese anarchists are executed for conspiring against the royal family (see the interesting ExecutedToday.com post on this).

The Nevada Legislature ratifies the results of the non-binding popular re-election of US Senator George Nixon, even though Nixon is a Republican and the Legislature has a Democratic majority, because Nixon and his opponent had agreed to abide by the popular vote.

The Democrats in the West Virginia Legislature didn’t wait for the fugitive Republican senators to return and went ahead with the vote for US senators. The R’s in the lower house didn’t vote either – presumably in protest, although the NYT doesn’t say – and not surprisingly two Democrats were elected, William Chilton and Clarence Watson. Accusations of bribery were made in the election of Watson, a coal baron.

Congress is considering reapportionment under something called the Crumpacker Act, which only sounds like a bizarre sexual act. To avoid reducing the number of Representatives any state has, the Act foresees increasing the size of the House to 433, and more when Arizona and New Mexico become states. Some people consider this too large and unwieldy, too difficult to assemble a quorum. And Republicans, who did so badly at the state level in the 1910 elections, are afraid that newly Democratic state legislatures will gerrymander the new seats in favor of the D’s.

Theodore Roosevelt has refrained from adding his name to the Declaration of Principles of the National Progressive Republican League, on the advice of the Progressives who wanted the League to look like a movement for progressive legislation rather than for the election of certain candidates for certain offices in 1912.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Today -100: January 24, 1911: Of pogroms foreign and domestic, and droll objects


Turks in the southern province of Adana seem to be planning new massacres of Armenians, if marking their houses with a red cross and the word “death” is any indication.

Night riders in Hominy, Oklahoma, drive out all the black residents, with polite suggestions and dynamite.

The fugitive West Virginia Republican state senators agree to return from Ohio, with the issues at dispute with the D’s to be referred to committee for arbitration.

Madame Curie is defeated for admission to the French Academy of Sciences, because she is une femme.

In a New York theater, the performance of “a burlesque suffragette” wearing a man’s coat and a divided skirt, a “droll object,” was interrupted by real suffragettes in the balcony. “Look at us, we are real suffragettes. Do we look like her?” they yelled.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The norms and rules of the international system


The Israeli investigation of the flotillacide finds that shooting up the flotilla last May was totally cool. Self-defense, in fact. Defense Minister Ehud Barak says this proves “that Israel was a law-abiding country that could inspect itself and which respects the norms and rules of the international system.” Yes, that’s precisely what the latest whitewash shows. A country that can inspect itself and find itself to be innocent as the driven snow and as adorable as a newborn kitten.

However, I can agree that a country that mows down unarmed civilians on a humanitarian mission and then claims self-defense does indeed respect the norms of the international system, if you really want to judge yourself by the lowest possible standard of behaviour there is.

Today -100: January 23, 1911: Of gunboats and babies


A force from the US gunboat Tacoma boards the Hornet, a gunboat outfitted in New Orleans in support of Gen. Bonilla’s attempted takeover of Honduras.

Riots break out in the Chinese “treaty port” of Hankou when British police are believed to have killed a coolie. British and German gunboats landed troops, and 10 Chinese were killed in the fighting.

Headline of the Day -100: “Police Flee From a Baby.” An abandoned baby which the policemen (bachelors, the Times notes) didn’t want to have to carry around. One forced the 9-year-old who had found the baby to carry it to the station house, then faked stomach cramps to avoid having to take it to Bellevue.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

State of the Union adjective contest


I don’t think Obama actually did a “The state of the union is strong/hopeful/hungover” sentence last year, which is a mistake. It’s like the Alfred Hitchcock cameo: you can’t just relax and watch the movie until you’ve spotted him walking a dog or wrestling with a cello.

Still, even if he doesn’t play his role, my annual role here is to offer you this contest. Fill in this sentence: “The state of the union is _____” Fearful? Olbermannless? Tea Partying Like It’s 1773? Totally over “Glee”?

Today -100: January 22, 1911: Of senators on the run, young FDR, and buffalo


Sen. Thomas Carter (R-Montana) warns that the proposed constitutional amendment for popular election of the Senate is being used “to saddle the disfranchisement of negro voters upon the country by constitutional amendment” by removing the ability of Congress to regulate Senate elections.

The 15 Republican West Virginia state senators are still in self-imposed exile outside the state (having dinner with President Taft’s brother), but the 15 D’s think they can form a quorum without the R’s since 4 of them were never properly sworn in. So they may just go ahead and select the US senators.

An article in the NYT magazine section on a new 28-year-old New York state senator begins, “It is safe to predict that the African jungle will never resound with the crack of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s rifle”, unlike his fifth cousin. There’s not much to say about FDR, because he hasn’t accomplished much of anything yet, beyond leading insurgent D’s unwilling to accept Tammany dictation about who the next US senator should be, but the article, which I imagine is the first real look at FDR in the press, says it at some length.

The US evidently suggested to Ecuador that the US lease the Galapagos Islands from it for 99 years for $15m, I guess for use by the Navy.

The last buffalo: the owner of the last existing herd of buffalo in the United States has sold 500 head to Canada and is killing off the remaining 20, in violation of Montana game laws.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A healthy lay status


The pope criticized Silvio Berlusconi for fucking all those prostitutes, saying, “The singular vocation that the city of Rome requires today of you, who are public officials, is to offer a good example of the positive and useful interaction between a healthy lay status and the Christian faith.” Um, yeah.

Today -100: January 21, 1911: Of flying high, football, invasions, poison, lynchings, and the Virginnies


A state representative in Missouri, a friend of the aviators Hoxsey and Johnstone, who both died in crashes last month, introduces a bill to ban planes flying at more than 1,000 feet.

A football game between Iowa University and the U of Missouri is called off because Iowa has a negro player and refused to bench him for the game. The two teams have agreed not to play against each other until he graduates.

Santo Domingo (the future Dominican Republic) invades Haiti. There’s a territorial dispute.

In the Trial of the Century of the Week, Laura Schenk is being tried in West Virginia for poisoning her husband, although there seems good reason to doubt whether he was actually poisoned. In an interesting tactic, the defense attorney offered poison to the jurors, 12 grains of sugar of lead mixed in water, to prove that it was too icky not to be detected. If the poison tastes like shit, you must acquit. Four jurors took up the invitation, tasting and then spitting out the beverage.

A negro named Oval Poulard is lynched in Opelousas, Louisiana, after shooting a deputy (who received only a minor flesh wound) who was trying to arrest him for discharging firearms.

Divorces can be so difficult. The Supreme Court is currently working on the 50-year-old divorce between Virginia and West Virginia, specifically the question of how to divide the state’s debt, which at the time of the split in 1863 was $33 million. VA wants WV to pay 1/3, WV wants to pay nothing.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What’s up, Baby Doc?


Baby Doc Duvalier denies that he has ambitions to become president. “Blood-soaked hereditary dictator yes, president no,” he reassured the Haitian people.

Today -100: January 20, 1911: Of passports, skyscrapers, and wine riots


For 30 years Russia has refused to recognize American passports held by Jews, in violation of the 1832 treaty between the two countries.

F.W. Woolworth announces plans to build the Woolworth Building, which at 57 stories will be the tallest skyscraper in the world (but shorter than the Eiffel Tower) and is expected to cost $12 million (it will actually cost $13.5m and open in 1913, and a very nice building it is too).

Headline of the Day -100: “Troops Stop Wine Riots.” By under-paid wine workers in the Champagne region of France.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Today -100: January 19, 1911: Of senators, war, and planes & boats


Henry Cabot Lodge is narrowly re-selected as US senator for Massachusetts, despite the fierce opposition of Gov. Eugene Foss.

Colombia has invaded Peru.

Aviator Eugene Ely successfully lands his plane on a naval cruiser in the San Francisco Bay, the first time this has been accomplished. Ely says, “I think the trick could be successfully turned nine times out of ten.” A great step forward in warfare. Hurrah.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bet that name’s looking a little limiting now, huh?


Officials of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party have spent the day frantically cold calling everyone named Lieberman in the Hartford phone book, looking for a new candidate to run for Senate under its imprimatur.

Wherein your faith in The Youth of Today will be restored


LA Times headline: “Student Apologized to Classmates after His Gun Went Off, Hitting Two Students.” Who says that kids today lack proper manners?

I’m starting to think the Catholic Church is a little weird


Indy: “Vial of Late Pope’s Blood to Be Kept in Polish Church after His Beatification.”

Today -100: January 18, 1911: Of segregation, fleeing senators, and leather


In a physical culture class in a public school in Flushing, NY, a white girl basically goes into hysterics when asked to dance with a black boy. An agitation is now beginning to return to segregated schools, which were abolished by Theodore Roosevelt in 1900 when he was governor.

The Calif. Legislature is considering a bill to segregate all Asians in the public schools. And Native Americans.

The West Virginia state senate is evenly split between the parties, but the D’s are trying to oust two R’s, so the R’s have been preventing a quorum. When the D’s issued warrants to arrest them as absentees, all 15 R’s have fled to Ohio.

An insane guy shoots at French Prime Minister Briand in the Chamber of Deputies, wounds the director of public relief instead.

Headline of the Day -100: “Stir in Central Leather.”

Monday, January 17, 2011

I watch Sarah Palin on Hannity so you don’t have to: You can spin up anything out of anybody’s statements


Her hope for the families of the Tucson victims: “May He turn their mourning, somehow, supernaturally into joy.” Yeah, God, get right on that, wouldja?

She didn’t deny that those were crosshairs on that map, but said that for many years maps have been used to target certain districts. So that’s okay then. In fact, Democrats invented the use of crosshairs on maps.

Ah yes, the obligatory Martin Luther King Jr quote: “A lie cannot live.” The lies about her, of course.Because even Martin Luther King was All. About. Her.

She used the term “falsely accused” I think 4 times about the linking of her and talk show hosts and the Tea Party to the shootings. I’m not really sure why that term annoyed me so much, but it did.

At one point she referred to the mainstream media and quickly corrected that to lamestream. Phew, hate to make a gaffe like that.

Asked about Obama’s speech, she said “some parts” of it hit home, but that it was too much like a campaign rally.

Re “blood libel”: “You can spin up anything out of anybody’s statements”. That term has been used for aeons; it’s double standards to criticize her for using it. And if her enemies didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all, she said twice as if she’d just come up with it.

One of the things that makes the US “exceptional” is that we have free speech. No other country in the world has free speech, evidently. Yay for us.

As such


Berlusconi says he couldn’t possibly have paid all those young women and under-aged girls to have sex with him, because he has been in a stable relationship with one woman since his wife divorced him for having sex with women he paid money to. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Former dictator Baby Doc Duvalier returns to Haiti “to help the people of Haiti,” and is not immediately tossed into prison (or torn apart by angry mobs).


Prime Minister Bellerive says Duvalier “is a Haitian and, as such, is free to return home.” He’s also a mass murderer and, as such, shouldn’t be free to do anything but rot in a cell. I have nothing funny to say about this.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide is still in exile.

Today -100: January 17, 1911: Of senators, Gypsy queens, and Coleman Livingston Blease


In a process that makes a good argument for popular election of US senators (Congress is just beginning to consider the 17th Amendment), NY Democratic “Boss” Murphy is trying to fix a Senate seat for his man William Sheehan, now that the D’s have taken control of the Legislature. Murphy called a caucus of the Democratic state legislators, but 25 of the 116 refused to come so that they would not be bound by the caucus vote. One of the 25 was brand-new state senator Franklin D. Roosevelt. Gov. Dix puts forward the odd proposition that legislators should vote in accordance with their own consciences and the will of their constituents, which is just adorable. Neither Democratic faction has enough votes to put through their candidate without R votes. This fight is going to go on for 74 days before a compromise candidate is chosen, and is way too complicated for me to detail here (or to put it another way, I’m too lazy to try to figure it all out).

Meanwhile, the NY Republican caucus nominates the incumbent, Chauncey Depew, nearly unanimously, with a couple of votes going to Teddy Roosevelt.

Immigration deports the new wife of the Gypsy King (who the Times informs us is “inclined to stoutness”). And after he paid $60 for her in Bosnia, too.

Headline of the Day -100: “Auto Takes His Trousers.”

The new governor of South Carolina, Coleman Livingston Blease, is sworn in. Let’s look at his inaugural speech at some length, shall we? He begins by crowing about his victory over “a set of political character thieves, the meanest and most contemptible people known to man,” who tried to “crown him with a crown of persecution, envy and malice.” He recounts how he called on the author of an editorial against him in The State to show up at one of his rallies and repeat his statements in person (the editor didn’t, possibly remembering how his brother, a previous editor, was shot dead in 1903 by Lt. Governor James Tillman, who blamed the paper for his having lost the 1902 governor’s race) (Tillman was acquitted) and demands that the Legislature pass a bill to punish newspaper editors and reporters who say false things about people with a fine and imprisonment. He goes on for quite some time, Sarah Palin-style, about the newspapers that sullied his reputation.

He calls for more support for Confederate veterans, “for any man who does not love the ex-Confederate soldier is either a Yankee or has negro blood in his veins.”

He calls for liberal spending for schools. Well, for schools for white children. But he is against compulsory education because it “dethrones the authority of the parents and places the paid agents of the State in control of the children, and destroys family government” by tacitly telling children “we are giving you what your unnatural parents would not give,” thus imparting “the spirit of rebellion against parental authority”. And he says everyone should stop “parad[ing] figures to show the percentage of the ignorance of” South Carolinians. Any government officials who make such figures public should be fired. What he’s really against, though, is “white people’s taxes being used to educate negroes. I am a friend to the negro race. This is proved by the regard in which negroes of my home county hold me. The white people of the South are the best friends to the negro race. In my opinion, when the people of this country began to try to educate the negro they made a serious and grave mistake... So why continue?”

He wants a law against smoking by boys (not girls?) under 16. Also one against possession of toy guns (and real guns) by children under 16.

He wants to amend the law which currently allows white convicts to be placed in the same camps as negro convicts and worked in the same squads, threatening to pardon any white prisoner so grievously treated.

He is in favor of counties enacting licensing systems for the sale of liquor but only if a majority of the white people want it.

He wants “to make executions for the crime of rape, or assault with intent to ravish, public, as I believe this will bring about more satisfactory results – allowing others, and particularly those of the younger generation of that race from which most of these culprits come, to have a full view of the punishment meted out.” This he says, might prevent some lynchings. Not that there’s anything wrong with lynchings, of course: “Some newspapers and some people, in every controversy between the white man and the negro, seem to take delight in taking the side of the negro and denouncing the lynching, but this is a white man’s country and will continue to be ruled by the white man, regardless of the opinions or editorials of quarter or half breeds or foreigners. The pure-blooded Caucasian will always defend the virtue of our women, no matter what the cost. If rape is committed, death must follow.”

He wants to make cocaine illegal. “I also, in this connection, beg leave to call your attention to the evil of the habitual drinking of Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola, and such like mixtures, as I fully believe they are injurious.” He recommends beer instead.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Today -100: January 16, 1911: Of healers, lynchings, and ether


The NYT applauds the arrest of a Christian Science “healer.” Usually they’re only arrested after someone dies, but not in this case.

Three negroes are lynched by a small mob in Shelbyville, Kentucky. One was a convicted murderer, but since his victim was only an old black woman, it looks like he just happened to be there when the mob broke down the jail door looking for the other two, each charged with “an attempt to detain” white girls.

The new craze in the Boston area for people wanting to get high is inhaling ether.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Today -100: January 15, 1911: Of horseless trucks, closed incidents, and racist medical students


Trend of the Day -100: “Horseless Truck Has Come To Stay.”

The Mexican government says the revolution is over, a “closed incident.”

Honduras, on the other hand, “admits existence of revolt.”

Medical students at Georgetown & George Washington Universities are boycotting the (required) class of a professor who let black students from Howard attend his last lecture. Both (all-white) universities are backing their racist students, who will be required neither to apologize to the professor nor attend classes with negroes.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Biden in Pakistan: We are not the enemies of Islam


Joe Biden was in Pakistan this week. He made some rambling remarks alongside Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani.

GILANI SUFFERS FOR HIS COUNTRY: “And I tell you that we have had numerous telephone conversations, and I thank you for always taking my call, and I thank you for your input.” Like all those calls when I was trying to update to Windows 7.

SO SADDENED, IN FACT, THAT SALMAN TASEER’S ACTUAL NAME HAS ENTIRELY SLIPPED HIS MIND: “The president and I -- indeed, the entire world, I would suggest -- were saddened, saddened by the cold-blooded murder of a decent, brave man. The governor was killed simply because he was a voice for tolerance and understanding.”

WHAT JOE WOULD RESPECTFULLY SUGGEST: “There are those also who accuse the United States of violating your sovereignty as we support your army and pursue terrorists where they hide. .... But I would respectfully suggest that it’s the extremists who violate Pakistan’s sovereignty and corrupt its good name.” Well technically those guys are mostly Pakistanis, so I’m not sure how exactly they violate Pakistan’s sovereignty. But even if they do, that doesn’t mean that assassinating them with drones on Pakistani soil doesn’t likewise violate Pakistan’s sovereignty. I feel silly even pointing out something so obvious, but Biden speaks as if he thinks he’s making some sort of logical argument here.

BECAUSE NOTHING SAYS RESTORING AND STRENGTHENING SOVEREIGNTIES LIKE MISSILE STRIKES BY ANOTHER COUNTRY: “Our goal is to work with your leaders and you, Mr. Prime Minister, to restore and strengthen sovereignties in those areas of your country where extremists have violated it.”


QUITE THE OPPOSITE: “The assertion that we disrespect Islam is actually quite the opposite. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the United States of America.” Or maybe it’s Gleeks, I always get those two mixed up.

REST AREA: “So I want to put to rest, which I know I will not by this simple assertion -- we are not, we are not the enemies of Islam”. Frenemies?

ADMIRES SO MUCH THAT JINNAH’S ACTUAL NAME HAS ENTIRELY SLIPPED HIS MIND: “America admires, admires the vision of your great founder, who said wisely, and I quote...”

Today -100: January 14, 1911: Of foreign banks, foreign spies, socialists & supes, and wills


A “foreign bank” in Pittsburg goes bankrupt and the owner blows his brains out. But depositors, described by the Times as “Gypsies, Poles, and Slavs, a number of them women, in fantastic headgear,” gathered in front of the closed bank demanding to see the body to ensure that he hadn’t faked his death and absconded.

The House is working on a bill to outlaw spies. In 1911, it seems, spying for a foreign nation was only a crime if the US was actually at war, in which case it fell under the treason laws. The timing is probably related to several recent incidents in Europe, such as British “hikers” being arrested in Germany making sketches of fortifications, but also to the activities of Japanese spies who got hold of blueprints to fortresses along the Pacific Coast and in the Philippines.

Teddy Roosevelt is to go hunting with a group of his Rough Rider pals in Mexico. Did no one tell him there’s a revolution going on there?

Taft goes to the top of the Washington Monument for the first time.

Eugene Debs calls for socialists to rise up in revolt, the nature of which he fails to specify, against the Supreme Court. On Lincoln’s Birthday. Debs particularly objects to the 6-month sentence given to an editor for posting a reward for the return of the fugitive ex-governor of Kentucky (which I’ve mentioned before), given that union leaders Moyer, Haywood and Pettibone were infamously kidnapped in Colorado by Idaho police and brought forcibly to Idaho in 1906.

In Brooklyn, Surrogate (like a judge) Ketcham rejects the will of millionaire Robert Thompson. 4 months before his death, the 70-year-old Thompson married a 27-year-old stenographer at his paper company. His relatives were not best pleased, including his dead first wife, “Muzzie,” whose displeasure from beyond the grave was made known through spiritual messages helpfully relayed by Thompson’s granddaughter, Marion A. Funk. The dead wife also said that if he did marry, he should cut the second wife from his will in favor of his grandchildren, and this he did. The surrogate ruled that the will was the product of fraud.

Carrie Nation collapses!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Caption contest


The memorial in Tuscon yesterday. Obama gazing beatifically into a new enlightened era of civility, or something, and John McCain (2nd row, 2nd from the left) glaring balefully at Obama. But what is he (either one, or both) thinking?


Today -100: January 13, 1911: Of fingerprints


Two burglars are the first people convicted in New York state on the basis of fingerprint evidence (actually, they decided to plead guilty when confronted with it).

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Congresscritters are a-scared


Rep. Peter King wants to ban people carrying guns within 1,000 feet of congresscritters and other federal officials. He doesn’t mention 9-year-old student council members; I guess they can take care of themselves. So the lesson he’s drawn from Tuscon is that he isn’t privileged and protected and pampered enough.

And Rep. Dan Burton wants to enclose the House gallery in plexiglas.

Funny. I’d like to enclose Rep. Dan Burton in plexiglas. Or carbonite. Or yak manure.

Today -100: January 12, 1911: Of injunctions


Samuel Gompers attacks Taft’s support for a proposed law on injunctions, which is supposed to rein in judge’s use of injunctions against strikes, but would institutionalize their use (judges have been citing “common law” when issuing these questionable injunctions).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Bullets. Lots of bullets.


US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are firing (do not click through to the original Belfast Telegraph story, which crashes Firefox)
250,000 bullets for every insurgent killed. Really, really bad shots? Or just really careful? “Sarge, I thought I’d probably killed him after shooting him 100,000 times, but I shot him another 150,000 times, just to be sure.” “Good thinking, private, you can never be too sure.”

Today -100: January 10, 1911: Little Oscar and the biplane of doom


Texas Governor-Elect “Little Oscar” Colquitt gets in a minor plane wreck. It was actually supposed to be a photo op of him in a plane on the ground, but he accidentally hit the accelerator and it went several hundred yards before the pilot, who was running along beside it or being dragged, managed to get the throttle closed.

Incidentally, Colquitt was a Democrat and the majority party in both houses of the Texas Legislature was the Prohibition Party.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

But not, you know, really


Boy it’s been a tough week for political metaphors, what with a congresscritter “targeted” by Sarah Palin actually being targeted by a loon with an automatic weapon. I mean, I’d hate for my metaphors to be taken as something I intended literally.

That said, fuck Sarah Palin.

Today -100: January 9, 1911: Of senators and remembering the Maine


The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote this week for a constitutional amendment for the popular election of US senators. Opponents may try to derail it by setting qualifications for electors or having the federal government oversee the elections, which would be opposed by Southern Democrats as potentially giving the vote to black people. But the Committee is expected instead to allow the states to set qualifications by making electors for Senate the same as for the lower house of the state legislatures (which is what the 17th Amendment says).

The WaPo reports that the Department of War has concluded that the Maine blew up in 1898 because of an internal explosion, not a Spanish torpedo. So, um, whoops.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Oops


Israeli soldiers kill 65-year-old Palestinian asleep in his bed in Hebron instead of the Hamas member who lived in the apartment downstairs. The IDF apologizes, saying, “Sorry, we meant to kill a different unarmed guy asleep in his bed.”

I’m kidding, of course.

The IDF never apologizes.

Today -100: January 8, 1911: Of monks & nuns, and women voters


Portugal bans monks & nuns from wearing distinctive dress. And anybody is empowered to arrest them for it, or any of the Jesuits already expelled from the country.

The 1910 election has been followed by criminal prosecutions of hundreds of people in various places for vote-buying. Maybe it was like that after every election, I don’t know. In the Billtown School District in Ohio, which is near, um, Ohio I guess, every single male has been disfranchised for vote-selling, so in the next election only women will be able to vote or stand for school trustee.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Today -100: January 7, 1911: Of pardons & peonage, fireworks, mosquitos, suffragettes, mutinies, and pensions


Taft refuses to pardon the president of a lumber company in Florida convicted of holding foreign laborers in involuntary peonage (however, Taft had previously commuted the sentence from 18 months to 6 months). Taft says that “Fines are not effective against men of wealth. Imprisonment is necessary.”

The city of NY has won a court ruling that may allow it to recover from William Randolph Hearst the $250,000 it had to pay out to victims of a fireworks display at Madison Square Garden on election night 1902, put on by the National Association of Democratic Clubs of which Hearst was president, which killed 18 people.

The House votes a $72 a month annuity to a soldier who volunteered for a medical experiment, allowing himself to be bitten by yellow fever mosquitos to test the theory that that’s how you get yellow fever. It is.


The Archbishop of Lyons, France, forbids Catholics reading four republican newspapers, says it is a sin to do so.

British suffragette leader Sylvia Pankhurst is visiting NY, giving speeches and raising money. The NYT article begins by referring to her as “a little rosy-cheeked slip of an English girl” and keeps up the condescension throughout, using the word “girl” a lot and calling her “little Miss Pankhurst.” It says she is 20 and looks younger. She is in fact 28, and doesn’t. She said she expects British women to be enfranchised “this very year.”

A couple of months ago, some sailors on 2 Brazilian battleships and some other ships mutinied, demanding more pay, the abolition of corporal punishment on ships, etc, or they would bombard Rio. Which they did. The Brazilian Congress voted to accept their demands and give them amnesty but naturally they were arrested when they set foot on shore. Since then 45 of the imprisoned mutineers have mysteriously died of sunstroke, gangrene and suffocation.

There is still no quorum in the Tennessee Legislature, so still no governor. The NYT notes that the situation can’t continue for long because without a government, pensions to Confederate veterans would be stopped and “No man or set of men with political aspirations would care to hazard even an indirect connection with such a situation as that.”

Thursday, January 06, 2011

More Daily Telegraphy: Cats do not talk


From the newspaper of record, the Daily Telegraph:

Scientists prove that women crying is a big turn-off for men. The scientists, wearing lab coats and everything, “collected tears from women watching a sad movie and then had a panel of 24 men smell them while at the same time looking at pictures of the opposite sex. This was then repeated using a salt water solution trickled down the cheek of the same women. When asked to rate the attractiveness of the pictures, the men who had sniffed the real tears found the images much less attractive than when smelling the fake tears.”

The makers of Super Scoop kitty litter are suing Fresh Step for its commercials suggesting that cats prefer the latter litter to the former, citing the alleged fact that “Cats do not talk”.


This nattily dressed gentleman, one Phoenix Jones, practices the trade of superhero in Lynwood, Washington.

Romania is imposing income tax on witches for the first time. The witches are resisting with, yes, spells.

Today -100: January 6, 1911: Of governors, skyscrapers, and first class tickets


Tennessee’s Governor-Elect Ben Hooper is still just governor-elect. A Fusionist, he’s pretty much an accidental, minority governor, his election the product of a bad split in the Democratic Party, mostly over prohibition. Now, mainstream Democrats elected to the Legislature are refusing to be sworn in until the Fusionists stop challenging the results in several seats D’s supposedly won. Without a quorum the Lege can’t swear Hooper in.

Chicago will limit all new buildings to 200 feet, a reduction from the current 260.

The Trial of the Century? The Pennsylvania Railroad files suit against Altern Miller, the president of the Union Electric and Power Company, for $2.16, the price of a first class fare, which Miller had refused to pay for the second part of his journey after being forced to stand from West Philadelphia to Belmar despite having paid first class. Miller vows to fight it to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Meet your new, orange Speaker of the House, America. Who’s crying now?


John Boehner was sworn in today as Speaker of the House,

Give it, Nancy! I said give it!

so I guess I have to start paying attention to John Boehner now, so let’s blog his stupid first speech as stupid speaker of the stupid House of Representatives.

Nancy, look out, he’s behind you, he’s behind you!!!


NOT LIKE THOSE CRAPPY, LAZY ONES – I’M LOOKING AT YOU, MASSACHUSETTS’S SEVENTH DISTRICT: “I am honored and humbled to represent a great, hard-working community in Congress.” (Note to any readers in Massachusetts 7th; I picked that number at random, I don’t even know where you are, except probably in Massachusetts, I’m sure you’re lovely, so no complaints please.)

YEAH, WE’RE ALL REALLY GRATEFUL, OHIO’S 8th: “The people of Ohio’s Eighth Congressional District continue to afford me the privilege to serve, for which I am deeply grateful.” And the privilege of leaving Ohio in the winter, or any time, really. (Note to Ohio... ah, screw it.)

Aaaand, he’s crying.

BECAUSE THERE WON’T BE ANY MORE ROAD MAINTENANCE FUNDING, SO THE CAN WOULD JUST FALL INTO AN ENORMOUS POTHOLE: “No longer can we kick the can down the road.”

BECAUSE WHEN YOU THINK HUMBLE, YOU THINK JOHN ANDREW BOEHNER: “The American people have humbled us.”

Humble


OR SELL IT TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER. YOU KNOW, WHATEVER. “Our aim will be to give government back to the people.”

SIZE DOESN’T MATTER: “We will dispense with the conventional wisdom that bigger bills are always better...”

NO PREMATURE LEGISLATION: “...that fast legislating is good legislating”.

HE CAN SOMEHOW GET THROUGH THIS SENTENCE WITHOUT LAUGHING MANIACALLY, THAT’S WHY THEY GAVE HIM THE JOB: “Above all else, we will welcome the battle of ideas, encourage it, and engage in it openly, honestly, and respectfully.”

Fondling the Speaker’s gavel. What, he’s fondling the Speaker’s gavel, why are you snickering?

OR EVER: “We will not always get it right.”

THAT IDEA: I THINK I’LL HAVE SOME MORE NACHOS: “More than a country, America is an idea”.


IT’S THE PEOPLE’S HOUSE? THAT’S GREAT, CUZ THE PEOPLE JUST GOT FORECLOSED ON: “Welcome to the people’s House. Welcome to the 112th Congress.”

Aaaaand, some more with the crying.


Another edition of “Why Do We Need To Keep Saying This?”


Lots of people have rightly piled onto Ross Douthat for his recent column. But let’s boil it down, shall we? The desire of infertile couples for adorable white babies places absolutely no moral obligation on women with unwanted pregnancies to fill that need. None.

Today -100: January 5, 1911: Of large dirigibles, earthquakes, anarchist demonstrations, and college women


A dirigible capable of carrying 50 passengers is supposedly being built. Its designer promises it will neither explode nor fall.

An earthquake in Russia, 7.7 on the Richter scale, destroys Vyerny, the capital of Semiryetchensk.

Chicago bans anarchists holding a demonstration in honor of the Sidney Street burglars.

The endless discussion in the NYT letters pages about the women’s suffrage movement in colleges continues with a letter from “E.K.R.”, whose daughter is a student in a “prominent college.” She informs him that “without doubt most girls comes out of college suffragettes. ... I have three other daughters, and I am quite sure that no other girl of mine shall go to college to have this stuff ground into her head. It seems to me too bad that our girls should have their poor little heads filled up with this nonsense, thereby constantly increasing the already large army of spinster ladies in the United States of America; for what young man, except one of those long-haired poltroons, would marry a girl who is both a college graduate and a suffragette?”