Monday, April 30, 2012

A clear shot

Obama today made fun of Romney (aka “people”) for not wanting Osama bin Laden dead, because then he’d have to baptize him as a Mormon, or something. Actually, the Romney part isn’t my interest here. Let’s roll the tape:
As far as my personal role and what other folks would do, I’d just recommend that everybody look at people’s previous statements in terms of whether they thought it was appropriate to go into Pakistan and take out bin Laden. I assume that people meant what they said when they said – that’s been at least my practice. I said that I’d go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did.
“Take out.” “Go after.” “Clear shot.” He’s stopped pretending there was ever a capture option.

Today -100: April 30, 1912: Of policies of flabby indecision and helpless acquiescence

Sen. William Alden Smith will cut short the Titanic hearings, which he’d planned to continue pretty much until the end of time. For a start, all the other members of the committee are now boycotting it. He questioned members of the Titanic crew about the large sums they’ve been receiving for telling their story to the NYT: $1,000 for the surviving radio operator (and $750 for the Carpathia’s radio operator).

Woodrow Wilson says that the US is slowly turning to Socialism because the D’s & R’s aren’t giving them what they want. He accuses Taft & Roosevelt of fighting with each other “as to which had been most closely identified with special interests.” (I wonder when the phrase “special interests” was first used by politicians?)

President Taft is making speeches all over Massachusetts, starting each one saying how much he’d prefer not to be doing so: “I should not be here, and I am very sorry I have to be here. I deprecate the intervention of the president of the United States in a political controversy like this that requires him to come upon the stump in order that he may defend himself against misrepresentation.” He calls for giving presidents a single 6- or 8-year term, so that no future sitting president has to go through the unseemly business of campaigning for reelection.

Roosevelt, who made 19 speeches in Massachusetts yesterday, denies Taft’s accusation that he preaches class hatred. In fact, he says, the reforms he wants would be “the most effective kind of antidote to class hatred; whereas, if Mr. Taft’s policy of flabby indecision and helpless acquiescence in the wrongdoing of the crooked boss and the crooked financier is permitted to continue, there will really grow up class hatred in this country.”

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Blog biz

First, a reminder that comments do actually exist, post-JS-Kit, they’re just annoyingly invisible on the front page (any suggestions on how to rectify this situation are very welcome). You can comment/read comments on the individual post pages (click on the post title).

Second, about 10 days back the NYT wrecked its archive feature, the one I use for the Today -100 posts, and pestering them about it on Twitter doesn’t seem to be accomplishing anything. I’m a few weeks ahead, but unless they fix it or I find an acceptable alternative, this feature, beloved by literally ones of readers, will be done around June 24th and we’ll never know who the Democrats picked to run for president in 1912.

I can think of two alternatives, but I don’t think either is good enough to sustain us. Instead of an index, I can use the Times Machine feature, which shows images of the paper with links to the stories, but that would leave you with links only subscribers can use. Or there’s ProQuest, which I use for the LA Times, but 1) again, no links, because there’s individualized data in the URLs I wouldn’t care to share with the class, 2) it keeps timing out, 3) it seems to miss a lot of the stories, 4) it’s less readable and more eye-strainy.

Are there other options out there?

Also, I hate the new Gmail design, Google Reader has stopped telling me how many unread articles I have, and I like pineapple but am allergic to it. Someone please fix all that.

Today -100: April 29, 1912: There is no death

The surviving Titanic crew return to Britain. The Board of Trade had been planning to hold them incommunicado until they’d testified before an inquiry, but when their ship arrived at Plymouth, the president and secretary of the British Seafarers’ Union took a sailboat alongside it and shouted over to them that they shouldn’t speak until they’d consulted with their union. Eventually, the authorities gave up on holding them captive.

Back in the US, there was a revolt against the Senate Titanic committee’s chairman, Sen. William Alden Smith (R-Mich.), who has tended to ask silly questions and is letting the whole thing meander and drag on. Several senators threatened to resign the committee.

Titanic victim and journalist W.T. Stead has evidently sent a message from the spirit world to Mrs. Cora Richmond, pastor of the spiritualist Church of the Soul. It seems that “There is no death.” So that’s okay then. (Actually, the prose of his message from the afterlife is quite purple, so I guess some things really don’t change with death: “I awoke as one awakening from a horrible dream. My son, my son, yes, the first to meet me. He was one of the rescuers from that realm where lifeboats are never lacking.”)

I guess I haven’t been keeping up with the saga of the Paris motor-car bandits. Last week their chief, Jules Bonnot, killed the deputy chief of the Paris Detective Service, so now he’s been killed in turn in a big ol’ shoot-out. And dynamite, the cops used dynamite.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Today -100: April 28, 1912: Of child fairs, Japanese women, commercialized disasters, and the Sausage King

Evidently in Friedrichshafen, Germany, there is an annual child fair, in which children of both sexes between 11 and 16 are sold to the highest bidders for farm work.

Woodrow Wilson is opposed to the recall of judges, but says he can see why some people (Roosevelt for a start) are in favor, given that in many parts of the country the judiciary is controlled by party interests and works to safeguard special interests rather than enforce the law.

In Japan, a bill to end the ban on women attending political meetings is rejected by the Diet. The chairman of the committee that rejected the bill said that women who participated in politics would neglect their domestic duties and might disagree with their husbands, which would lead to bickering and disunity in the family. The sponsor of the bill denies this, because Japanese women are not in any way like the “impudent hussies of Europe and America” and are quite docile, as women should be. For example, he points out, most Japanese politicians keep concubines, and their wives are totally okay with this.

Philadelphia Mayor Blankenburg bans movies depicting the sinking of the Titanic because it is just wrong to “commercialize such a terrible disaster.”

The Sunday magazine has a long article on the Titanic.

William Harris, London’s Sausage King, has died. He was a bit of an eccentric (although not as eccentric as the sub-hed “Always Wore Evening Dress” first made me think – turns out he wore dress clothes, an opera hat and patent-leather shoes at all times, not an evening dress). He named all three of his sons William and all three of his daughters Elizabeth. Anyone who wrote a poem about sausages, no matter how crap (the poem, not the sausages), was assured of getting a quid or two (or a pound of sausages). For example:
Have you seen the Sausage King?
His sausages are just the thing.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Today -100: April 27, 1912: He means well, but he means well feebly

In history-repeats-itself news, 1) the ocean liner Empress of Britain hits an iceberg, but isn’t badly damaged, and 2) in a re-run of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, 25 people jump from a burning factory in the Bowery; one hits head-first and dies.

Theodore Roosevelt responds to Taft’s speech: “It is a bad trait to bite the hand that feeds you.” [Insert fat joke here]. He seems especially pissed that Taft released his 1907 letter ordering his attorney general to postpone anti-trust actions against the International Harvester trust as well as cordial personal, private letters TR had sent Taft in 1910-1, which Taft is releasing to show that TR didn’t always think he was a big ol’ loser. TR says by this action Taft has been not only “disloyal to our past friendship, but has been disloyal to every canon of ordinary decency and fair dealing”. “Such conduct represents the very crookedest kind of a crooked deal” and for Taft to say he had not been disloyal is “the grossest and most astounding hypocrisy.”

He accuses Taft of a “quality of feebleness, yielding to the bosses and the great privileged interests,” although he concedes “I do not think Mr. Taft means ill; I think he means well. But he means well feebly, and during his administration he has been under the influence of men who are neither well meaning nor feeble. It is this quality of feebleness in a normally amiable man which pre-eminently fits such a man for use in high office by the powers of evil.”

The Missouri Republicans will send rival Taft & Roosevelt delegations to the national convention.

Secretary of War Stimson says he plans to equip the army with 120 airplanes, including 8 in Hawaii, 8 in Panama and 16 in the Philippines.

The Japanese administration in the colony of Korea is trying 82 Koreans for attempted assassination of the governor-general. It says the bombs they planned to use came from Russia and China via American missionaries.

Last year, Taft vetoed the Arizona statehood bill because the territory’s prospective constitution included the recall of judges. Well, now AZ is a state and can do what it likes and an amendment for recall has passed the Legislature (unanimously in the lower house) and been signed by the governor.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Today -100: April 26, 1912: Sometimes a man in a corner fights

Taft made several campaign speeches in Massachusetts, going negative on Roosevelt, reluctantly, or so he claims: “This wrenches my soul... I do not want to fight Theodore Roosevelt, but then sometimes a man in a corner fights.” Roosevelt, he says, can’t be trusted because he promised never to run for president again (which is arguable), and that if he considers himself so indispensable now, he might continue to do so and can’t “safely be intrusted with successive presidential terms.” He complains about TR’s “appeals to discontent and class hatred” and accuses him of distorting Taft’s words and taking them out of context. He says that if there was fraud in the NY primaries as Roosevelt says, the courts are open to him to seek redress. He also denies Roosevelt’s attempts to link him with the corruptly elected Sen. Lorimer of Illinois, TR’s charges that his supporters have been fired from patronage jobs (they have), and other charges, in a point-by-point rebuttal.

Taft also gave an address to a dinner of newspaper publishers, by telephone (they were in NY, he was in Boston). They each had to listen on their own receiver. Also addressing them telephonically were the prime minister of Canada, the actor Lewis Waller, who read Kipling’s “If” to them, and José Collins, who sang to them, and a couple of women whose phone conversation leaked through the line while the prime minister was trying to speak.

Another Republican convention, another fight. In Pulaski County, Arkansas (which includes Little Rock). The nephew of the chairman of the county Republican organization was hit over the head with a tomato can by one of the Roosevelt supporters trying to gain admission to the convention. This was followed by a general melee.

Venice inaugurates the Campanile of San Marco. I had no idea that the current Campanile was a replica (the old one fell down in 1902), only a couple of years older than the replica on the UC Berkeley campus.

Titanic Butt Headline of the Day -100: “Students to Honor Butt.” Oh, Titanic Butt headlines, how we’ve missed you! (Elsewhere in the paper, a near miss for another Titanic Butt Headline when Taft sends an army major to Halifax to look at the recovered bodies and see if one of them is Maj. Butt: “Taft Orders a Search.” They could have gone with “Taft Orders a Search for Butt,” but no.)

Love Story or Whatever of The Day -100: A German dude, J. Paul Schabert, in Reno to get a divorce, hears that his wife was on the Titanic and was rescued, abandons his divorce suit and races to New York where they are reconciled.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Today -100: April 25, 1912: Where do icebergs come from?

The House of Representatives votes 81-25 to allow the Territorial Legislature of Alaska to vote on women’s suffrage. The House divided almost exactly on North-South lines. An unfortunately unnamed congresscritter interrupted Victor Berger’s pro-suffrage speech to ask whether, if women had the same rights as men, they would they have the same privileges as they did on the Titanic. Berger says they would, because women are more important to the race than men.

Taft wins the Republican conventions in Iowa and Rhode Island.

Taft sends to the Senate letters Theodore Roosevelt wrote to his attorney general in 1907 ordering him to postpone anti-trust action against the International Harvester company.

The NYT blames the outbreak in Fez against Morocco’s new French masters on “the blind loathing of the Mohammedan masses for all Christians”.

The city editor of the Spokane Chronicle is shot dead by a crazy Russian, who said too much had been printed about the Titanic. He also claimed to have been on the Titanic, which he wasn’t.

The British are beginning to get annoyed at the US Senate’s decision to arrogate to itself the power to investigate the sinking of a British ship. The London Times notes that the questions have been rather ignorant and aimed at finding someone to pillory (although I’m sure everyone was charmed by Sen. William Alden Smith [R-Mich.]’s questions to Fifth Officer Lowe, “Where do icebergs come from?” and “Of what is an iceberg composed?”)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A very Hope-y Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day

Another year, another wishy-washy presidential statement on “Armenian Remembrance Day,” as he calls Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day, because he failed to remember the genocide. HI-larious! Armenian Remembrance Day could be the day we all remember some random Armenian, possibly one of the Kardashians.

As is traditional with these statements, the passive voice abounds. 1.5 million Armenians “were brutally massacred” – I guess by person or persons unknown – and they “senselessly suffered and died”. He says “My view of that history has not changed,” but he doesn’t remind us what that view of that history is, for those who came in late, i.e., sometime in the last four years. He suggests that “Moving forward with the future cannot be done without reckoning with the facts of the past. The United States has done so many times in our own history, and I believe we are stronger for it.” Yes, if there’s one thing Americans are known for, it’s reckoning with the facts of the past.

In fact, Obama doesn’t even reckon with the facts of the present, since he “commit[s] to bringing a brighter future to the people of Armenia” but fails to mention the status of the Armenians remaining in Turkey and elsewhere.

“Although the lives that were taken can never be returned, the legacy of the Armenian people is one of triumph.” So that’s okay then.

Today -100: April 24, 1912: Of presidents fighting back, Moroccans fighting telegraph operators, and binoculars

This must be at least the third time I’ve seen a story along these lines: the Cabinet urges Taft to fight back against Roosevelt. Among other things, they want him to release some of TR’s correspondence. Taft is about to make some campaign speeches in Massachusetts (which will have its first ever primaries this year) and this is actually something new: it’s unprecedented for a sitting president to campaign openly for re-election.

Taft wins the New Hampshire primary. This is the first presidential primary ever held in New Hampshire and indeed in New England.

Moroccans are evidently not so happy with their new “protectorate” and attacked and killed a bunch of French soldiers in Fez. There have been stories running for days about the four brave French telegraph operators who held off their attackers for hours before being killed (it’s all very Rudyard Kipling but, you know, French). The Jewish quarter of Fez was set on fire, as is traditional.

More bodies are recovered from the wreck of the Titanic.

The Titanic’s lookout tells the Senate’s Titanic hearings that the ship might have been saved if he had been given some binoculars.

Monday, April 23, 2012

These guys toughed it out

Here’s the thing about Barack Obama. He can look just as solemn and intense staring at a souvenir football, as he did this afternoon,

as he can when staring at an eternal flame at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, as he did this morning.

So today he met Elie Wiesel and other Holocaust survivors, and also the Fighting Falcons, and gave speeches to both. See if you can tell which excerpts are from which speech:
And most of all, we are honored to be in the presence of men and women whose lives are a testament to the endurance and the strength of the human spirit -- the inspiring survivors.

Even when they were dogged by injuries, this team pulled together when it mattered most.

These guys faced a brutal schedule, but they never backed down.

despite all the tanks and all the snipers, all the torture and brutality unleashed against them, the Syrian people still brave the streets.

As Coach Calhoun said, “This group had a warrior spirit in them.”

To stare into the abyss, to face the darkness and insist there is a future -- to not give up, to say yes to life, to believe in the possibility of justice.

These guys toughed it out

So God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

and God bless Air Force.

Today -100: April 23, 1912: Of Bram Stoker, waifs, and rioting Zionists

Bram Stoker dies. The two articles about him in today’s NYT mostly refer to him as Henry Irving’s theatrical manager. Dracula is mentioned only in a list of his writings (unless you count the comment that “his stories, though they were queer, were not of a memorable quality.”)

More Titanic waifs. A different two “waifs” than those in yesterday’s story. Two French children, Louis and Lolo, roughly 3-4, may be the children of a French woman whose estranged husband kidnapped them after telling friends he was going to America. Ship officers, enforcing the “women and children” first rule, evidently kept the kids’ father from entering the lifeboats. That rule certainly created a lot of widows and orphans.

Virginia Brooks is elected president of the Board of Education of West Hammond, Ill. (which is now Calumet City) “after scenes of violence, during which her women supporters all but drowned one political foe and administered beatings to others.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Zionist Riot Over Smoking.” That is, residents of Zion City, Illinois, a planned community built a few years ago by a faith healer in association with his Christian Catholic Apostolic Church. Smoking is banned in the town, but some “crusaders” learned that factory workers were smoking, so they formed a posse to escort those workers forcibly to view the “no smoking” signs. The workers resisted and... now, “Every person in Zion City owning a revolver carried it to-day. Others paraded the street with pieces of lead pipe.”

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Today -100: April 22, 1912: Of compromise candidates, the excessive pursuit of luxury, and waifs

Justice Charles Evans Hughes sends reassurances to President Taft that he won’t accept the Republican nomination for president as a compromise candidate.

And a former Texas land commissioner, A.J. Baker, announces his candidacy for vice president for the Democrat party. Evidently people did that then.

Cardinal Gibbons, the Archbishop of Baltimore, blames the Titanic sinking on “the excessive pursuit of luxury.”

Tear-Jerking Titanic Headline of the Day -100: “Seek Waifs of Titanic.”

There are no funny headlines about Archibald Butt today. Let the national mourning begin.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Today -100: April 21, 1912: War is right and peace is wrong

The White Star Company is keeping the Titanic crew members who testified before Congress under guard aboard the Celtic. They have been told they’ll be fired if they talk to the press. A NYT editorial denounces the crew’s ill-preparedness for the fact that so many of the lifeboats were launched with only a few people in them.

In addition to the much-vaunted “chivalry” of the men, such as Astor, who died so that women & children could live (a subject under some discussion by British suffragists), there has also been praise for the women who refused to let that policy turn them into widows and chose to stay with their husbands to the end.

Titanic Butt Headline of the Day -100: “Pope Mourns for Butt.” Runner-up: “Official Praise of Butt.”

A petition signed by many German academics, lawyers, military men, scientists, etc, has been sent to Russia, denouncing the notion of ritual murder by Jews.

Roosevelt wins West Virginia’s county-level primaries.

Headline of the Day -100: “War Is Right, Peace Wrong, Says German General.” Friedrich von Bernhardi, author of “Germany and the Next War,” a best-selling (in Germany) bit of warmongery. Sadly, Gen. Bernhardi did not die in Germany’s next war.

Some French dude invents a motorless, hand-cranked airplane.

The revolution in China seems to have made little difference to the occupation in Tibet (yet another sentence that applies to Today or Today -100). The Chinese army is using machine guns to mow down thousands in Lhasa.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Today -100: April 20, 1912: Of suffrage in Arkansas, Mormons, the Nevada & Oregon primaries, immigrants, and the Titanic hearings

The proposed women’s suffrage amendment to the Arkansas state constitution for which suffrage groups are circulating petitions is so worded as to apply the “grandfather clause” in order to disenfranchise black women.

The Daughters of the American Revolution condemn Mormonism, saying that Mormon missionary work is another form of white slavery.

Roosevelt wins the Nevada Republican primary, by a lot. Champ Clark wins the Democratic primary, followed by Harmon, then Wilson. TR and Woodrow Wilson win the Oregon primaries.

The Senate passes the Dillingham Immigration Bill, requiring that every male immigrant be literate. Unlike earlier versions of the bill, Canada is not exempt. An amendment to exclude all negro immigrants loses 28-25. An amendment for the deportation of aliens conspiring to overthrow other government (i.e., Mexico) passes. Chinese will of course continue to be excluded.

Steamship lines have agreed to take more southerly, but longer, routes in the future.

The Senate is already investigating the Titanic sinking. It’s been focusing on how many of the lifeboats were launched with only a few people in them. It heard from J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Company, who was onboard as a passenger and who has been taking a lot of shit – and I mean a lot of shit – for still being alive.

Titanic Butt Headline of the Day -100: “Butt Was Tireless in Helping Women.” Runner-up: “Roosevelt’s Praise for Butt.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Today -100: April 19, 1912: Of plain bribery and corruption, and waving farewells

Taft’s campaign manager Rep. William McKinley (no relation) asks if “the lavish expenditures of money” by Roosevelt supporters is responsible for his victories in Pennsylvania and Oklahoma. “Plain bribery and corruption,” he calls it, claiming that they spent between $250,000 and $500,000 in Pennsylvania.

Italian warships bombard two Turkish forts at the entrance to the Dardanelles.

They finally have the numbers: 1,595 went down with the Titanic, 745 survived. Which isn’t what Wikipedia says.

Titanic Headline of the Day -100: “Col. Astor Went Down Waving Farewells to His Bride.”

Onboard the Carpathia, women Titanic survivors raised $7,000 for needy survivors.

Poetical Titanic Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “The Carpathia’s Arrival: Like Pall Bearers at a Shadow Funeral Tugs Clustered Around the Ship of Sorrows.”

Titanic Survivor Names of the Day: Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon.

Titanic Butt Headline of the Day -100: “Taft Despairs of Butt.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Outside of officially sanctioned purposes

According to an Army spokesmodel, “It is a violation of Army standards to pose with corpses for photographs outside of officially sanctioned purposes.” Ya know, that kind of raises the question what officially sanctioned purposes require posing with corpses.

Today -100: April 18, 1912: Of survivors, reservations, and the high priestess of red anarchy

The Carpathia has been in only spotty wireless communication, so the names of 300 of the survivors (and therefore by process of elimination the names of all the dead) are unknown.

Taft sends his secretary of commerce and labor to New York to take charge of the immigration inspection of the Titanic survivors. NYC Mayor Gaynor has offered housing for any steerage passengers who need it. The Cunard Company (owners of the Carpathia) and the city of NY will make sure reporters and photographers don’t get near the survivors.

Titanic Butt Headline of the Day -100: “Taft Still Hopes for Butt.”

The New Mexico Legislature is asking Congress to let white people (well, non-Navajos, but we know what they really mean) settle in the Navajo Reservation. Also, they’re pretty sure there’s gold and silver on the land, and they want that too.

An issue in the Texas gubernatorial race is Confederate pensions. Gov. Colquitt is accused of not being as supportive of them as he should be.

From the peerlessly objective LA Times: “Emma Goldman, the high priestess of red anarchy, and recognized leader of American nihilism, is to play ‘Joan of Arc’ – with her own interpretation of the role of Maid of Orleans – to the tattered army of I.W.W. malcontents boiling like some ill-smelling cauldron on the outskirts of San Diego.” (The LAT also likes to call the IWW the “I Won’t Works.”)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Today -100: April 17, 1912: Of parliamentary machines, women and children first, and Taft concerned

The Irish Home Rule Bill passes its First Reading in the House of Commons, 360-266. Tory opposition leader Bonar Law threatens civil war, declaring that the people of Ulster are ready to resist this measure with their lives, and that if it is not put to a referendum, “you will succeed only in breaking the parliamentary machine.”

They still know the names of less than half the Titanic survivors, which is all that the Carpathia wirelessed, possibly because of electrical storms.

(The Carpathia, by the by, was torpedoed by the Germans in 1918.)

The LAT says that relatives of lost Titanic passengers won’t be able to collect damages from the White Star line because the ship was on the high seas, covered by no nation’s laws. They can be reimbursed for lost property (which was insured, so the company will lose nothing).

The NYT editorializes on the importance of the unwritten “women and children first” rule. If men violate it, “they will find themselves shunned as alien to humanity wherever they go ashore. ... However valuable to his race a man may be, he can serve it best by giving his life for the inexorable maintenance of this ancient custom.” The narrative of civilized, chivalrous men calmly giving up their places on the lifeboats to women ‘n children will be central to the story this era told itself about itself (another NYT editorial two days from now: “There was no disorder, no rioting, the rule of the sea prevailed over the rule of nature. With band playing and the lights of the sinking ship still burning, the doomed company awaited the end. They died like heroes, they died like men. It is a tragic and dreadful story, but it tells us how civilization conquers the primal, savage instincts and brings into being and dominance the higher and nobler qualities of man’s nature. There is not in history a more splendid and inspiring example of self-control, of sacrifice, of courage, and of manliness.”)

Of course in 2½ years it’ll be all made-up propaganda about Huns ripping the fetuses out of pregnant Belgian women with bayonets.

Titanic Butt Headline of the Day -100: “Taft Concerned for Butt.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Berlusconi’s usual generosity

Silvio Berlusconi explains that his giving large sums of money to prospective witnesses in his trial for paying a underage prostitute for sex, including 100,000 to showgirl slash dental hygienist slash regional councillor slash pimp Nicole Minetti was an example of his “usual generosity,” (update: correction, that’s his lawyer speaking) and that “When someone in difficulty asks for help, you don’t ask what for.” Of course since she’s about to go on trial for procuring prostitutes for him, he probably didn’t need to ask what for. “When I am confronted with dramatic and touching cases, I don’t hesitate to intervene whether it be for individuals or for charities.” Yeah, touching... cases.

Berlusconi is finally on trial for the underage prostitute thing. Evidently his parties featured women, including Lombardy regional councillor (that’s roughly the equivalent of a US state legislator) Minetti, dressed as nuns, stripping. Also, a stripper dressed as AC Milan footballer Ronaldhino. Also, twins.

Today -100: April 16, 1912: Of enemies of toil and order, and the Titanic, the wonder ship of brief career

Headline of the Day -100, some more objective coverage by the LA Times of the IWW plan to send members to San Diego to assert the IWW’s right to organize in the city without being beaten and kidnapped by vigilantes: “Hoboes in Marching Order. Enemies of Toil and Order Invade Fresno En Route to San Diego.”

The Titanic hit an iceberg and you know the rest. Fortunately, it was insured.

Among the non-millionaire dead (and at this point it’s not known who or how many survived; the Carpathia, the only ship that arrived in time to rescue survivors, hasn’t radioed a list of them yet) are:

-Taft’s military aid Archibald Willingham Butt, aka Major Butt (NYT: “Throughout Washington to-night every comment on the disaster is followed by the expression, ‘I hope Butt is safe.’”).

-W.T. Stead, editor of the Review of Reviews, one of the creators of modern journalism, who once (1885) set out to uncover the white slave trade and confirm that one could buy a virgin for £5 (he had a doctor confirm her virginity)(He also found out that you can go to jail for buying a little girl from her mother at least you can if you don’t also pay off the father).

-Painter Frank Millet, coming over because he’d been commissioned to paint four panels of the new Wisconsin State Capitol.

-Jacques Futrelle, an author who created a Sherlock-Holmes-type detective, Professor Augustus van Dusen, “The Thinking Machine.”

-The Titanic’s captain, Edward Smith, who went down with the ship.

An interesting point, which may or may not actually be true, about the insufficient number of lifeboats: it was impossible to carry enough lifeboats to hold all the passengers and crew and also have them in positions where they could be lowered into the water quickly.

On the other hand, without the invention of the Marconi wireless, there would have been no survivors.

Titanic Headlines of the Day -100: LA Times: “Wonder Ship of Brief Career in the Graveyard of the Sea.” For a story which opens rather crassly by totting up the fortunes of the richest men on the Titanic: John Jacob Astor IV, $150 million, Benjamin Guggenheim $95 million, etc. (For comparison, the Titanic itself was worth $7,500,000.)

Newburyport (Mass.) Morning Herald: “Band Played Till End!”


The Onion:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

So Warren Buffet is the new Joe the Plumber?

In his weekly radio address, Obama talked about the “Buffet rule”.

IT’S WORTH POINTING OUT THAT YOU’RE ALL SUCKERS: “as many Americans rush to file their taxes this weekend, it’s worth pointing out that we’ve got a tax system that doesn’t always uphold the principle of everyone doing their part.”

1) THEY DON’T NEED TO “ASK”, 2) THEY DON’T “ASK” FOR ANYTHING: And we can’t afford to keep spending more money on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans who don’t need them and didn’t even ask for them.”

IF I’M GOOD, HE LETS ME CALL HIM WARREN: “As Warren points out, that’s not fair and it doesn’t make sense.”

Today -100: April 15, 1912: Of armed marches, so-called hunger strikes, and...

A boat ferrying passengers disembarking from the British steamship Seang Chun sinks in Amoy (China), drowning 40. On another day, this might be bigger news.

The Industrial Workers of the World plan to send large contingents into cities where they have recently been violently driven out by Vigilance Committees, including San Diego, Fresno, L.A., Spokane, Kansas City, etc. Or as the always hysterically anti-union LA Times’s headline terms it, “I.W.W.’s Plan Armed March on San Diego.”

A NYT editorial complains about British suffragettes getting out of prison through use of “the so-called hunger strike” (the term hunger strike was new in the English language, popularized by the suffragettes but adopted from the Russian) and says that forcible feeding by tube is not torture. So why don’t ordinary criminals use it to get out of prison? Probably, says the Times, because of “the low intelligence of the ordinary criminal, his acceptance of confinement as more or less a matter of course, to be made the best of, and his inability to resist the temptation to eat when he is hungry.”

When today’s edition of the NYT went to press, they knew only that the Titanic has hit an iceberg and that rescue ships are on the way.

The NYT notes that several steamers have recently arrived in NY with damage caused by making their way through ice packs.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Today -100: April 14, 1912: Of campaign contributors, Republican fights, and the dangers of the bells of Venice

The House Committee on Election of the President and Vice President unanimously supports a bill to make public the names of contributors of $100 or more to presidential campaigns, as well as the amounts spent and what on.

Another Republican convention, in Davies County, Missouri, turns into a brawl.

To everyone’s surprise, Roosevelt wins the Pennsylvania primary.

And Woodrow Wilson wins the D. primary there.

The courts are ordering deportations of IWW members of foreign origins.

Taft signs a bill to put a prohibitively high tax on white phosphorus matches. There was no legal way to outright ban the things, even though they tended to poison the workers who manufactured them, so they’re doing this.

Several British suffragettes imprisoned for the window-smashing raid in London have secured their release through a hunger and thirst strike.

Headline of the Day -100: “POPE MUST NOT HEAR PEALS.; Physician Forbids Listening to Venice Bells Lest It Kill Him.” He was going to listen to them over the telephone, because he’s homesick, but his doctor thinks the emotional impact would give him a heart attack. Also, they can’t figure out how to transmit the sound of the bells over the phone.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Today -100: April 13, 1912: If England drive us forth / We shall not fall alone!

Clara Barton, one of the first female employees of the federal government in the 1850s, a nurse during the Civil War and other wars throughout the world, and the leading founder of the American Red Cross and its president for many years, dies at 90.

In the British Parliament, Liberal MP Joseph Martin calls Rudyard Kipling’s anti-Home Rule Bill poem “Ulster” seditious and asks whether it will be prosecuted. I don’t know about seditious, but pee-yoo:
The dark eleventh hour
Draws on and sees us sold
To every evil power
We fought against of old.
Rebellion, rapine hate
Oppression, wrong and greed
Are loosed to rule our fate,
By England’s act and deed.

The Faith in which we stand,
The laws we made and guard,
Our honour, lives, and land
Are given for reward
To Murder done by night,
To Treason taught by day,
To folly, sloth, and spite,
And we are thrust away.
And it doesn’t get any better from there.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Today -100: April 12, 1912: Of weapons, icebergs, contentious conventions, and Irish Home Rule

The House passes a bill banning weapons in D.C., including knives with blades longer than three inches.

Foreboding Headline of the Day -100: “Carmania [a Cunard liner] Meeting Many Icebergs.”

The Republican state convention in Michigan turns into a riot between Taft & Roosevelt supporters. Both sides name their own delegates to Chicago, literally at the same time and in the same hall.

Prime Minister Asquith introduces the Irish Home Rule bill.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bottom up

Obama yesterday: “In this country, prosperity has never trickled down from the wealthy few. Prosperity has always come from the bottom up, from a strong and growing middle-class.”

See, Barack, the middle class are not the bottom, thus the word “middle.” You have literally forgotten about the existence of the poor, or “lower” class.

Today -100: April 11, 1912: Of primaries, reds, titanics, and human dykes

The Republican establishment in Illinois is scheming to rob Roosevelt of the fruit of his primary upset by controlling the Congressional-district conventions and selecting Taft delegates to the national convention.

The NYT, in denial, insists that Illinois did not, all appearances to the contrary, go Progressive. They say this is proved by the strong vote for former Speaker Joe Cannon, a reactionary old-guard Republican, in his district. They say the real issue in Illinois is not Taft or Roosevelt but Senator William Lorimer (R). Lorimer was just “cleared” by another whitewashing investigation into his bribery-fueled election to the Senate, but was denounced loudly by Roosevelt in speeches right there in Illinois (Spoiler Alert: Lorimer will finally be expelled in July). Roosevelt said that Taft, Lorimer, Guggenheim, and their allies want to make “a government by corporation attorneys.” The NYT says this language shows he is not fit to be president.

Taft’s people also insist their Illinois defeat was due to “local issues.”

Roosevelt, who speaks entirely in editorial cartoons, says “We knocked them over the ropes in Illinois.”

Some desperate Republicans are suggesting that the party needs some third candidate in place of Taft or TR, such as Supreme Court Justice and recent NY governor Charles Evans Hughes.

There is some question whether the Electoral College this year should be based on the pre- or post-reapportionment numbers.

A Superior Court judge in Seattle is asking suspected “reds” applying for citizenship whether they would obey court orders that conflicted with those of their union. When one Lars Emanuel Boman said “A man who belongs to an organization should stick to it,” the judge told him to fuck off, and if anyone else in the court “would supplant the Stars and Stripes with the red flag,” they could also fuck off. A dozen walked out.

The Ohio Constitutional Convention rescinds its invitation to US Assistant Attorney General William Lewis to speak, presumably after realizing that he’s black.

Foreboding Headline of the Day -100: “Titanic In Peril on Leaving Port.” The huge ship created so much suction (I know there’s a technical boating term for that) that another liner broke free of its mooring and almost crashed into it.

Headline of the Day -100: “Human Dike Used to Hold Back Flood. Negroes Lie on Top of Weakening Levee and Save Day Near Greenville, Miss.” Yes, when they ran out of sandbags, they used negroes.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I wish they weren’t called the Bush tax cuts

George Bush says he wishes the Bush tax cuts weren’t called the Bush tax cuts, because “If they were called someone else’s tax cuts, they’d be less likely to be raised,” because everyone hates him. Evidently someone finally told Bush that everyone hates him. Good. I’d hate if he went the rest of his life without coming to that realization.

Oh wait, then he says he doesn’t criticize Obama because “I don’t think it’s good for our country to undermine our president and I don’t intend to do so.” So evidently he still thinks that his criticizing Obama would undermine Obama. I guess he doesn’t realize that everyone hates him after all. Sigh.

IN OTHER WORDS: “we believe that government oughta trust the people, the collective wisdom of the people. In other words, we trust people when it comes to spending their money, and so should the government.”

SO-CALLED BECAUSE THEY FUCKING ARE: He objects to taxes being raised on “the so-called rich.”

WHAT THE VOICES IN HIS HEAD OFTEN ASK HIM: “I’m often asked ‘Do you miss the presidency?’ I really don’t.” Although “it was really inconvenient having to stop at stop lights”. Actually, he may just miss the days of drunk driving all over Houston.

A fair fight

Maverick John McCain & Holy Joe Lieberman issue a statement from a refugee camp for Syrians in Turkey, saying the usual stuff. Including that the international community needs to supply the Syrian rebels with arms because “The slaughter in Syria has now claimed more than 10,000 lives. And it is not a fair fight.”

No one who uses the term “fair fight” about a war deserves to be taken seriously.

Today -100: April 10, 1912: The man that pulls the rope should hang by the rope

There have been few real opportunities to test the relative popularity of Taft & Roosevelt, with there being so few primaries and no such thing as opinion polls. This means that the Illinois primary is especially important symbolically and as a measure of what the voters might do in November. And TR kicked Taft’s ample behind, gaining more than twice as many votes. Roosevelt supporters are making the case that while the Tafties, with their tight grip on the party machinery, can secure Taft’s re-nomination, the Illinois primary shows that he’s too unpopular to win the general election.

On the Democrat side, Speaker of the House Champ Clark beat Woodrow Wilson by better than 3 to 1.

A black man, Thomas Miles, is lynched in Shreveport, LA, after he is acquitted “because positive proof was lacking that he wrote letters to a young white woman”.

Pres. Taft makes an anti-lynching speech at Howard University, saying “The man that pulls the rope should hang by the rope.”

NY Governor Dix is planning a European vacation. On the Titanic, when it returns to England from its maiden voyage (which commences.... today).

Monday, April 09, 2012

Long division

One of Obama’s spokesmodels calls an anti-gay marriage initiative “divisive,” which is a rather weak way of saying hate-mongering. Also, as far as I know Obama still opposes gay marriage but he’s against anti-gay marriage measures – how does that work?

Anyway, it just reminded me that I’ve been meaning to point out that “divisive” is the trendy tut-tutting put-down of this election cycle, used by all sides (so everyone’s united against divisiveness, because disagreement is icky). Newt Gingrich, for example, has used it against Obama’s comment that Trayvon Martin looked like his hypothetical son, and Romney against the Occupy movement.

Today -100: April 9, 1912: Of delegates, the elusive Christabel, and dead guards

The Louisiana Republican Convention excludes “several negroes who declared they were delegates”. Pro-Roosevelt delegates.

Christabel Pankhurst Rumor of the Day: Boston, she’s totally in Boston (she isn’t).

Headline of the Day -100: “Dead Man on Guard Over Insane Woman.”

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Today -100: April 8, 1912: Of fighting senators, Mormons, and women in Turkey

Headline of the Day -100 (LAT): “Senator From Arizona Fights Negro.” Marcus Aurelius Smith (D), a new senator from the new state, beat up a hotel elevator operator who finished taking another passenger up when the senator wanted to be taken down.

The Mormon church comes out in support of Taft. So that settles that.

The British Daily Chronicle reports on the backlash against women’s rights in Turkey. Women were briefly encouraged to liberate themselves at least a little after the 1909 revolution, but some of those who, for example, stopped wearing the veil, have been beaten by their fathers, divorced by their husbands, etc. The government has also cracked down on women entering European shops without escorts, gatherings of women, etc.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Today -100: April 7, 1912: It’s a vagina, not a troop-carrier

Rep. William Francis (D-Ohio) introduces a bill to grant a pension to a Mrs. Sarah Brandon, 16 of whose children (out of, dear Christ, 33 total) fought for the North during the Civil War. She claims to be 114 years old.

More vigilante anti-Wobblie activity in San Diego: 5 masked men kidnap a pro-IWW newspaper editor, drive him 25 miles, and turn him loose in Escondido.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Today -100: April 6, 1912: Of the elusive Christabel and airboatmanship

Christabel Pankhurst Rumor of the Day: The NYT says that Christabel Pankhurst wasn’t on the Mauretania after all, but she was definitely spotted dining at the Hotel Majestic in NYC. Nope.

The captain in charge of the US Navy’s aviation dept says the word for the art of flying hydro-airplanes should be “airboatmanship.” So that’s that settled (this post will bring the total number of Google hits for the word airboatmanship to 3).

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Today -100: April 5, 1912: Of cats, piles of skulls, fugitives, and forced flag-kissing

Germany is considering a tax on cats to pay for armaments.

President David Starr Jordan of Stanford University says that nations should be gentlemen and arbitrate their differences rather than go to war. He says that if the skulls of the victims of the Napoleonic Wars were placed together, the pile would be 31 times as tall as the Washington Monument, and 31,000 times as awesome. Okay, he didn’t say that last part, but it totally would be.

Christabel Pankhurst Rumor of the Day: The NYT reports that fugitive British suffragette Christabel Pankhurst has reached the United States and is living in NYC under an assumed name. According to a Major George William Horsfield, who claims to have spotted her aboard the Mauretania and seen through her clever disguise (a veil), “No one who has ever seen her aggressive-looking face, with its over-hanging black eyebrows, could make a mistake.” And yet...

Deputies and armed San Diegans meet a train on which 100 Wobblies were arriving and force them to kiss the American flag, then throw them out of the county into Orange County.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

I think they take their responsibilities very seriously

Obama gave a speech yesterday to the Associated Press Luncheon.

BOY, THAT GUY’LL BE KIND OF FUCKED, WILL HE? HATE TO BE THAT GUY. “Whoever he may be, the next president will inherit an economy that is recovering, but not yet recovered, from the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression.”

“TOO MANY,” HE SAYS, BUT HE NEVER TELLS US HOW MANY IS JUST THE RIGHT NUMBER: “Too many Americans will still be looking for a job that pays enough to cover their bills or their mortgage. Too many citizens will still lack the sort of financial security that started slipping away years before this recession hit.”

AND LET’S FACE IT, WE DON’T MAKE ANYTHING IN THIS COUNTRY ANY MORE: “I believe this is a make-or-break moment for the middle class”.

ALSO, TRYING TO IMPRESS CHICKS: “I believe deeply that the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history.”

RUPERT MURDOCH? “Show me a business leader who wouldn’t profit if more Americans could afford to get the skills and education that today’s jobs require.”

THE ENTIRE ECONOMY? WHAT ABOUT THE CAR ELEVATOR BUSINESS? “What drags down our entire economy is when there’s an ever-widening chasm between the ultra-rich and everybody else.”

He says the “trickle down theory” has been tried and failed, and that Paul Ryan’s budget (he never mentioned Ryan by name) is “so far to the right it makes the Contract with America look like the New Deal.” He notes that Romney (he does invoke the Mittster’s name) called the Ryan budget “marvelous.” He calls it “a Trojan Horse” and “thinly veiled social Darwinism.” So it’s social Darwinism in a wooden horse which is wearing a veil.

OBAMA WANTS TO BE JUST LIKE REAGAN, IF ONLY THE REPUBLICANS WOULD LET HIM: “Ronald Reagan, who, as I recall, is not accused of being a tax-and-spend socialist, understood repeatedly that when the deficit started to get out of control, that for him to make a deal he would have to propose both spending cuts and tax increases. Did it multiple times. He could not get through a Republican primary today.” The deficit didn’t “get out of control,” Reagan and the Republicans cut taxes drastically on the rich, then pretended to be shocked at the increase in the deficit.

NOTE HOW HE ZOOMS RIGHT IN ON THE IMPORTANT THING ABOUT “SIGNIFICANT CHANGES TO ENTITLEMENT”: THE EFFECT ON DEMOCRATS’ POLITICAL INTERESTS. “I’ve got some of the most liberal Democrats in Congress who were prepared to make significant changes to entitlements that go against their political interests, and who said they were willing to do it. And we couldn’t get a Republican to stand up and say, we’ll raise some revenue, or even to suggest that we won’t give more tax cuts to people who don’t need them.”

He goes on to point out that all of his current positions are the past positions of Republicans: cap & trade, mandatory insurance, etc.

I DIDN’T LEAVE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY, THE REPUBLICAN PARTY LEFT ME: “So as all of you are doing your reporting, I think it’s important to remember that the positions I’m taking now on the budget and a host of other issues, if we had been having this discussion 20 years ago, or even 15 years ago, would have been considered squarely centrist positions. What’s changed is the center of the Republican Party.” Although to be fair I don’t think they’d have liked the idea of a black president back then either.

WILLING? WE ARE TOTALLY SCREWED. “And that’s part of what this election and what this debate will need to be about, is, are we, as a country, willing to get back to common-sense, balanced, fair solutions that encourage our long-term economic growth and stabilize our budget.”

SO TOTALLY, TOTALLY SCREWED: “So I don’t anticipate the Court striking [health care reform] down. I think they take their responsibilities very seriously.”

Today -100: April 4, 1912: Of universal alphabets, small sheep men, and auto bandits

Alexander Graham Bell testifies before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs in support of adoption of a universal alphabet.

Headline of the Day -100: “Taft Aids Small Sheep Men.”

Paris police capture the head of the gang of auto bandits that’s been plaguing the city (bandits who use cars, not car thieves). Before they could stop him, he swallowed something and shouted, “Ah, now it is good-bye to all.” However, what he evidently thought was prussic acid wasn’t, so it wasn’t good-bye to all.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012


Okay, I enabled Blogspot’s commenting system, as of the previous post, but it only shows up on that post’s unique URL, not on the home page. Anyone know what’s wrong?

This atrocious act

Palestine has committed another “atrocious act” proving its “failure to meet the basic requisites of peace.” It must be punished.

Today -100: April 3, 1912: Of election joy, hissing carnivals, aroused Republicans, titanic tests and sacrifice cults

Robert La Follette wins the Wisconsin Republican primary.

Headline of the Day -100: “Dies of Joy Over Election.” Some dude upon hearing the news that his son won an alderman race in Chicago. Which turned out to be wrong.

Hissing Headline of the Day -100: “Suffragists Hold a Hissing Carnival.” Hissing at politicians in Albany (where a women’s suffrage bill was just passed, then tabled) during speeches given at a benefit performance of Shaw’s pro-suffrage play “Press Cuttings” (not his best work).

Sexy Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Republicans Are Aroused.” Taft supporters in Riverside start a newspaper. Presumably so they can use it to cover their arousal.

Foreshadowing Headline of the Day -100: “Titanic Tests Her Speed.”

The Massachusetts Legislature votes against women’s suffrage.

Remember the voodoo sacrifice cult in Louisiana and Texas? The NYT runs its, what, third story? about the group responsible for the murders of 35 black people, after the head, one Clementine Barnabet, is arrested and confesses to personally killing 17 of those victims.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Sunday, April 01, 2012

One of these is not like the others

Caption contest (in the UAE, the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, the United States, and Kuwait).

Bonus question: any preferences for a commenting system to replace JS-Kit/Haloscan? Disqus or Blogspot?

Today -100: April 1, 1912: Of protectorates, maniacs, and invasions

The sultan of Morocco is coerced into signing a treaty of “protectorate” with France.

The “maniac” who attacked Sen. Thomas Gore with a club yesterday had actually wanted to kill Theodore Roosevelt (Jesus told him to do it after a head injury, or something), but TR took a different route through Wisconsin and I guess a blind guy makes an easier target.

Secretary of War Stimson is denying reports in the NYT that various national guard commanders were called to Washington to plan for a possible invasion of Mexico.