Thursday, January 31, 2013

Today -100: January 31, 1913: Of armistices, lame duck presidents, and names

The anti-Ottoman alliance has terminated the armistice, as of Monday (Feb. 3). This despite the Turks having agreed to surrender Adrianople, retaining only the Muslim shrines.

The House of Lords rejects Irish Home Rule 329-69. Under the Parliament Act of 1911, however, they no longer have a veto, only delaying powers.

The Senate is considering restricting presidents to a single six-year term. This is just the sort of reform that would appeal to Progressives, if it wouldn’t keep Roosevelt from running again.

The Russian Senate rules that Jews are allowed to give their children non-Jewy names. The Orthodox Church’s Holy Synod had objected.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013


NRA spokesmodel Wayne “Pepe” LaPierre told the Senate Judiciary Committee, “Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals.” Did any senator bring up Nancy Lanza? Well, I wasn’t watching, but I think I know the answer to that one.

He went on: “Nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families.” Sure, why should “government” get to decide what is “lawful”?

Actually, he answered that question later: criminals should get to decide what is lawful: “When it comes to the issue of background checks, let’s be honest — background checks will never be universal because criminals will never submit to them.” When enacting gun legislation, the NRA insists on the principle WWDSOKSPD: What Would a Deranged Sociopath on a Killing Spree Do?

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Today -100: January 30, 1913: Of lame ducks, white slaves, memorials, polygamy, and lepers

Three Progressive Republicans voted with the Democrats in the Senate against calling a closed-door lame-duck session to try to force through Taft nominations.

The NYC Aldermen’s Curran Committee, investigating police corruption, is told by a vice expert in the US Justice Dept that there are 26,000 white slaves in the city, “owned” by 6,100 pimps. Lots more freelance prostitutes, of course, because it’s New York. And the cops take money to look the other way, indeed sometimes mediate between prostitutes and pimps, but graft is much worse in Chicago.

Congress finally chooses between two proposed projects: 1) a memorial highway between DC and the site of the Battle of Gettysburg, which real estate speculators want and which Sen. Elihu Root says “would be lined with road houses and used principally by joy-riders”, and 2) the Lincoln Memorial. They’re gonna go with the latter. $2 million is appropriated.

The Colorado Legislature votes to call for a federal law or constitutional amendment banning polygamy. Oh, and another one for direct election of senators.

Headline of the Day -100: “Leper Shoots Leper.” At the leper colony in the Panama Canal Zone. But where do you put a leper convicted of a crime? Right back in the leper colony because there’s nowhere else.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Today -100: January 29, 1913: Of militancy, and eels

Wilford Webb, bearer of Arizona’s electoral votes, has turned up, after reading in the newspaper that he was supposed to have delivered the votes already (someone told him the due date was Feb. 1), and that he was liable to losing his generous travel expenses.

Yesterday: London waiting to find out what the suffragettes plan to do. Waiting...

Then some windows in shops and government offices are broken, and a “deputation” arrives at the Houses of Parliament to hold an interview with Chancellor David Lloyd George, whether he wants one or not. Several are arrested, and are threatening to hunger strike.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Olympic Hero Strangles Eel.” Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku, winner of the 100 meters in swimming. The Times says he’ll probably lose two fingers, but since he also won gold in the 1920 Olympics, I’m guessing not.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Today -100: January 28, 1913: Militancy, and yet again militancy!

Electoral college votes were due yesterday, but Wilford Webb, the bearer of the three Arizona votes, is missing. He left Phoenix ten days ago. DC hotels and clubs are being searched.

Headline of the Day -100: “England in Fear of Suffragists.” Following the unexpected ruling by the speaker of the House of Commons that a women’s suffrage amendment couldn’t be added to the government’s Franchise Reform Bill, the government withdraws the bill. Some suffragists think the whole thing was a conspiracy to “dish” them. Some are demanding that pro-suffrage members of the Cabinet resign in protest. Others are demanding a government women’s suffrage bill (which is the only practical way to get it through all its stages, overriding the inevitable veto by the House of Lords, before the next general election is due and they’d have to start all over from the beginning). Most are just furious. Militancy is about to resume. Police are everywhere. Shops are boarding up their windows. Mrs. Pankhurst, head of the Women’s Social and Political Union, calls for “Militancy, and yet again militancy!” Charlotte Despard, president of the Women’s Freedom League, declares that suffragettes will now break “man-made law” “in every possible way.”

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Today -100: January 27, 1913: Of diplomatic breaks, child labor, unwelcome gunboats, and porcelain men

The Balkan allies break off peace negotiations with Turkey.

President-elect Wilson meets social workers, tells them that child labor is a matter for the states, not the federal government.

Headline of the Day -100: “Our Gunboat Unwelcome.” The Wheeling, sent by Taft to Vera Cruz.

Headline of the Day -100, runner up: “Porcelain Men to Strike.”

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Today -100: January 26, 1913: Of noms du legislature, menacing Mormons, and pancakes

The governor of Wyoming refuses West Virginia’s request for extradition of WY state Rep. E.H. Manson, who is believed actually to be a Mr. F.G. Roberts who is wanted for forgery and stealing school funds. Gov. Carey claims it was a false charge brought to intimidate Manson into voting for Francis Warren (R) for US Senator.

Headline of the Day -100: “Mormons Menace the Swiss.” American Mormon missionaries, expelled from Germany into Switzerland as undesirables.

An article in, I think, the NYT Magazine on dueling in France says it is common and not very serious or dangerous, and sometimes it’s filmed for the cinema. An owner of some waste land near Paris has even set up a dueling ground you can rent out, with the distances all measured out, so that the seconds don’t have to do it each time.

Cops in Berkeley are shooting every cat they see, because it is thought that they spread smallpox.

Correction of the Day -100: “Pastor Didn’t Eat Pancakes.” A wonderfully snotty denial by a Rev. Harold P. Sloan that he won a pancake-eating contest.

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Today -100: January 25, 1913: Of immigrants, coups, and bosies

Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor, is in Washington lobbying in favor of the literacy provision in the Immigration Bill. Anything to keep down the influx of cheap labor.

During the Young Turks’ coup, Nazim Pasha, the commander of the Turkish army and possessor of an amusing mustache, was murdered, as was the custom.

Lord Alfred Douglas (aka “Bosie”) is declared bankrupt.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

What freedom is all about

Leon Panetta, on putting women into combat: “We deeply honor all of those past generations, combat soldiers and Marines, who fought and died for our freedom. And in many ways, their sacrifice has ensured that the next greatest generation will be one of men and women who will fight and die together to protect this nation. And that is what freedom is all about.” Killing and dying – freedom!


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Today -100: January 24, 1913: Of coups, suffrage, white gloves, and fear

The Ottoman cabinet and the grand vizier resign, evidently in the face of popular opposition to the humiliating surrender they propose in the Balkan War. And by popular opposition, I mean revolution or coup or putsch or something. Maybe all of the above. The Young Turks and the military are now in charge.

The Franchise Reform Bill is making its way through the British Parliament. It includes universal male suffrage, eliminating plural voting (people owning property in more than one constituency could vote in each of them) and a shorter registration period. But here’s the tricky bit: since both the Liberal and Unionist parties are split on the question of women’s suffrage (Labour is in favor, but doesn’t have many MPs), there will be a free vote on four competing women’s suffrage amendments. If one of the amendments wins, the government is committed to using the Parliament Act to override the inevitable veto in the House of Lords. Militant suffrage organizations have called a truce to the burning of letter boxes and such to deprive Antis of that excuse, but they suspect a trick.

And here it is: the Speaker of the House of Commons, to most people’s surprise, rules that a women’s suffrage amendment would so alter the character of the bill that it would have to start all over as a new bill (kind of a bullshit ruling, and contrary to the precedent of the Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884, to both of which women’s suffrage amendments were proposed – and laughed out of the Commons), which there is no time to do. The Liberal government can either proceed with the bill without a vote to include women’s suffrage, or abandon it altogether. Either move would bring great clouds of Pankhurst wrath on it.

Washington DC is now overstocked with white kid gloves, due to the cancellation of the Inaugural Ball.

Headline of the Day -100: “Murderer Dies of Fear.” Of the electric chair, with which he had a February 10th appointment.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Today -100: January 23, 1913: Peace?

The Ottoman government and the National Assembly agree to surrender Adrianople and let ownership of the Aegean islands be decided by the Great Powers.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Today -100: January 22, 1913: Of gunboats, turkey trots, and bacon rinds

Taft sends another gunboat to Mexico, this one to Vera Cruz.

Evidently the real reason Wilson cancelled the inaugural ball was that ragtime dances such as the turkey trot and the bunny hug might be danced.

Name of the Day -100: The DC district court refuses to force the secretary of the interior to reinstate the members of the tribal council of the Osages who he removed, including Chief Bacon Rind.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

We are made for this moment (although if you check the label, it says “Made in China”)

Barack Obama gave a speech today. Here it is in its entirety: “Hey, Mitt Romney, remember that guy? Me neither! (drops mic)”

BEEN USED TO WIPE THE ASSES OF 44 PRESIDENTS: “Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution.”

WHAT WE LEARNED: “Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free.” Live (and slaughter hundreds of thousands of people) and learn, I guess.

BIDEN INSISTED ON THIS PART: “Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce...”

SURE, RULES, THAT’S A GOOD ONE: “Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.”

EXCEPT FOR THAT WHOLE FLYING KILLER ROBOTS THING I SEEM TO BE GETTING AWAY WITH: “Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority”.


“America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive...” My next deal with the Republicans on Social Security will kill off all the old people. “ endless capacity for risk...” Have you seen the way we eat? “and a gift for reinvention.” Wait, are you admitting you’re really a Kenyan? Because that would be hilarious. “My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it -- so long as we seize it together.”

I’M PRETTY SURE THIS HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH SEX: “For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.”

BROAD SHOULDERS? YOU’RE CALLING THEM FAT, AREN’T YOU? “We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.”

YEAH, BECAUSE BEING BORN INTO THE BLEAKEST POVERTY TOTALLY HAS NO EFFECT ON YOUR CHANCE TO SUCCEED, AS LONG AS IT’S THE BLEAKEST AMERICAN POVERTY: “We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American; she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.”

BECAUSE WE TOTALLY WANT TO WORK HARDER: “So we must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder...”

THE GENERATION THAT BUILD THIS COUNTRY? WHAT? WHEN DOES HE THINK THIS COUNTRY WAS BUILT? “But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

ALTHOUGH, TO BE FAIR, WE DID TAKE THE NATION FROM THE INDIANS: “The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.” Okay, a defense of programs that are FIFTY AND EIGHTY YEARS OLD! I can’t believe this case still has to be made.

BETRAY, BAKE, WHATEVER: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

SCIENCE IS SOOOOO JUDGMENTAL: “Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires and crippling drought and more powerful storms.”

BUT THEN WE ALWAYS GET TALKED INTO THE “EXTENDED WARRANTEE” AT BEST BUY, SO... “We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.”

WHAT WE KNOW TOO WELL: “Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.” Vietnam, Grenada, Iraq, Afghanistan, you know, liberty.

Because the guy who describes our recent wars as being about liberty is the guy we can trust not to get us into more wars.

“We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.” Of course the previous paragraph (Obama’s, not King’s) was about using drones (he didn’t say drones, but from his past practice that’s what he meant) to “support democracy from Asia to Africa, from the Americas to the Middle East,” about which King would have had a few things to say.

“For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law, for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.” And can everyone please forget what his views on this subject were until less than a year ago.

Although if you want to celebrate the inclusion of the word “gay” in an inaugural speech for the first time by committing love on one another, go right ahead.

FOR EXAMPLE, SOME OF YOU SEEM TO DEFINE IT AS UNLIMITED FIREPOWER: “Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life. It does not mean we all define liberty in exactly the same way or follow the same precise path to happiness.”

Speaking of following different paths to happiness, in their own distinct ways, Antonin Scalia

and Martin Luther King Jr’s sister

both know one thing: it’s all about the hats.

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Justice, military and otherwise

Col. James Pohl, the show judge in Guantanamo show trials, rejects a defense request that he rule on whether the Constitution of the United States applies to military tribunals. Pohl says no. What sort of trial takes place where the triers refuse to say what laws the trial takes place under?

Edward Avery, a former Catholic priest currently in prison for that thing they do, insists at a civil trial that he wasn’t really guilty of raping children, “So help me God,” that he plead guilty because he was just afraid of getting a longer sentence than the piddling 2½ to 5-year one he received. Cool, let’s invalidate the guilty plea and put him back on trial.

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Today -100: January 21, 1913: It robs life of romance and offers in restitution a lady Alderman

At an anti-women’s-suffrage meeting in London, Lord Curzon, former viceroy of India, says that the enactment of women’s suffrage would place the Empire in the hands of women and make it the laughing stock of the world.

A debate is held in New York between suffragists and Antis. Charlotte Rowe, an anti, says that we can guess what sort of woman might be elected president, but “what kind of a man will such a woman’s husband be? One wonders what he will be doing when his wife is battling with the Senate or the House and upholding the country. Will he sit at the end of the table and pour the tea? Will he have to retire at the proper time with the wives of the diplomats? Will this weak man in the end revolt and ask for votes for men? ... Equal suffrage is a repudiation of manhood. It robs life of romance and offers in restitution a lady Alderman.”

The NY Assembly votes 123-7 to hold another referendum on women’s suffrage.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Today -100: January 20, 1913: You didn’t sink my battleship!

More naval battles between Greece and Turkey. One problem: neither side can actually hit anything. 800 shells fired, almost no hits.

Harvard University, you know, Harvard, accepts a $10,000 endowment fund for psychical research.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Today -100: January 19, 1913: Of diplomatic pressure, duels, and colonies

The Great Powers have given Turkey a diplomatic note urging it to give in to every one of the Balkan League’s territorial demands and saying that if it doesn’t, they will allow the war to resume, even if it means Constantinople falling. The theory is that the Ottomans will be more willing to be seen surrendering to Germany, France, etc than to the likes of Bulgaria and Montenegro.

The German Federal Council (whatever that is) refuses to do anything to stop dueling in the army. The Reichstag had asked that any officer who dueled be cashiered; this the Council rejects out of hand because of honor and shit.

Taft, in a speech to the Ohio Society of New York, says that if the Democrats give the Philippines their independence, it would mean the end of Democratic power for at least 25 years. Which is interesting not just because Taft vastly overestimates the attachment of average Americans to their distant colonial possessions, but because it belies Taft’s insistence that his attachment to the colony (of which he used to be governor-general) is based solely on the best interests of the Filipinos. He says that the Philippines must remain a colony for at least two or three generations, and then become independent only if they wish it (in other words, what they wish doesn’t matter for the next two or three generations).

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Today -100: January 18, 1913: Of censorship, duels, white women, and royal annulments

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease tells the Legislature that unless it passes laws to censor newspapers, people will shoot newspaper men, and “upon your heads will be the blood of that man.” If a vilified man “defends his honor with blood, who blames him? Certainly not a Lexington jury.” This is a reference to the 1903 murder by the lieutenant governor of the editor of The State and his subsequent acquittal.

French Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré is elected president by the National Assembly, amid rumors that he was about to fight a duel with Georges Clemenceau.

Insurrection in Angola against Portuguese colonial rule, or, as the NYT headline puts it, “Carry Off White Women.”

The House passes an immigration bill, including a literacy test (in any language) (admissible aliens can bring in their wives, parents over 52, etc even if they can’t read).

The marriage of Prince Georg and Archduchess Isabella of Austria is annulled. It lasted three days. There’s probably a story in there somewhere. Georgie will later become a Catholic priest.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Today -100: January 17, 1913: No rebellion would be better justified

The British Parliament passes Irish Home Rule 367-257. That just leaves... the House of Lords.

Tory leader Andrew Bonar Law says “No rebellion would be better justified” than that of Ulster Protestants (he doesn’t actually say Protestants – when he talks about Ulster, as in “The men of Ulster are ready to give up their lives at the hands of British soldiers,” he’s pretending that there are no Catholics in Northern Ireland).

Woodrow Wilson calls off the inaugural ball, which is too expensive and would stop the work of the Bureau of Pensions, in whose building it would be held, for two weeks.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Today -100: January 16, 1913: Of the criticism of Cubans, mixed breeds, negroes and negro-lovers

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease sends another message to the SC Legislature, this one all about the newspaper coverage of his remarks on the subject of lynching at the governors’ convention last month. He says “I care nothing for the criticism of Cubans, mixed breeds, negroes or negro-lovers.” He says that he didn’t say anything he hasn’t said many times within the state to applause “from the best people of my state.” And he wants a law against reporters giving “false impressions” of politicians’ speeches.

Mexican rebels are supposedly going to attack Acapulco imminently, and there are American citizens in Acapulco, so Taft sends a warship, as was the custom.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Today -100: January 15, 1913: Of boxing, naughty nymphs, and waldos

Inter-racial boxing is banned in Pittsburgh.

British suffragettes have declared a truce on militancy for the duration of the period in which a women’s suffrage amendment might be added to the government’s franchise reform bill. Prime Minister Asquith has agreed to meet a deputation of what the NYT calls “these naughtiest nymphs of suffragism”.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this, but the New York City police commissioner is named Rhinelander Waldo.

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Monday, January 14, 2013

Today -100: January 14, 1913: Progressives and only Progressives

President-elect Wilson says his Cabinet will consist of “progressives and only progressives.” He has yet to name a single appointee.

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease issues his annual message to the Legislature. He threatens to veto college budgets unless elementary schools (meaning white schools) are better funded. He wants the law against concealed weapons repealed, because “Negroes and some others habitually carry pistols, and then when they get into a difficulty they shoot down the law-abiding citizen, who is unarmed and not in position to take care of himself against the coward.”

The Senate removes Robert Archbald as judge in the Commerce Court, only the third time in US history that a government official was removed through impeachment. He took bribes from railroad companies, as was the custom.

A Monsieur D’Andrimont, a member of the Belgian parliament, gives a speech calling for the reorganization of the consular service. The foreign minister comments that D’Andrimont gave the same speech last year. D’Andrimont responds that he’s actually been giving that speech word for word every year for the last 13 years but no one ever noticed before.

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

Today -100: January 13, 1913: Of movies and peace talks

The Vatican bans motion pictures, even religious ones, from churches.

The Balkan War peace talks break up. The allies made maximalist demands on Turkey, but while Turkey was willing to give up huge swathes of land (and Crete), amounting, it points out, to four times as much land as the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine that France gave up to Germany in 1871, it draws the line at Adrianople, whose loss would leave Constantinople too exposed. Turkey also rather expected the great powers to do more to prevent the resumption of hostilities, which pose a threat of dragging everybody into an all-out European war.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Today -100: January 12, 1913: Of self-starters, war dead, and dressing for the theater

One of the automobile articles in today -100’s Sunday NY Times reports that the new self-starters have resulted in more auto purchases by women, who had been put off by all that cranking (that came out dirtier than I intended) (Update: but is it as dirty as this?: “It means a stoop and a pull, more or less vigorous in proportion to the power of the motor and its mood on the particular occasion.”). Another feature making automobiling easier and cleaner: electrical lighting, with headlamps no longer requiring oil lamps and matches.

Bulgaria admits to having lost 21,302 dead in the Balkan War (which is just on hiatus). Meanwhile, people back home are dying from infectious diseases since all the doctors are off treating wounded soldiers.

The Savoy Theatre in London has announced that patrons need not wear evening dress. Clearly this is the beginning of the end of the British Empire. The revolt against the old custom is partly from theatre-going members of the middle class who don’t have time to go home and dress because they, you know, work for a living, as well as American tourists.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

A responsible end

Today, the 11th anniversary of the arrival of the first illegally detained prisoner at Guantanamo, Obama met with Hamid Karzai. He took the opportunity to use the word responsible. A lot. “[by the end of 2014] Afghans will have full responsibility for their security, and this war will come to a responsible end.” “a responsible drawdown”. “And next year, this long war will come to a responsible end.” “a responsible plan”, “a responsible Afghan government” etc.

Where can I get me one of those hats?

UNFORTUNATELY, BY “AFGHAN FORCES,” I MEAN THE TALIBAN: “soon nearly 90 percent of Afghans will live in areas where Afghan forces are in the lead for their own security.”

“WITHIN REACH” IS THE NEW “LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL”: “With the devastating blows we’ve struck against al Qaeda, our core objective -- the reason we went to war in the first place -- is now within reach: ensuring that al Qaeda can never again use Afghanistan to launch attacks against our country.”

MORE SECURE – WE’RE TOTALLY WINNING THIS WEAKEST AND MOST VAGUE OF METRICS: “Today, most major cities -- and most Afghans -- are more secure, and insurgents have continued to lose territory.”

SEE? AFGHANS ARE DYING, SO IT WAS ALL TOTALLY WORTH IT: “And of all the men and women in uniform in Afghanistan, the vast majority are Afghans who are fighting and dying for their country every day.”

A DIFFERENT MISSION: “Starting this spring, our troops will have a different mission -- training, advising, assisting Afghan forces.”

AND NOTHING SAYS RESPECT FOR AFGHAN SOVEREIGNTY LIKE HEAVILY ARMED FOREIGN TROOPS WITH FULL IMMUNITY FROM AFGHAN LAWS: “Our teams continue to work toward a security agreement. And as they do, they will be guided by our respect for Afghan sovereignty”.

The talks with the Afghan government are about how many American troops will remain after 2014 and on the continuation of “targeted counterterrorism missions against al Qaeda and its affiliates,” in case you thought Obama actually planned to end this war two years from now.

DOES ANYONE KNOW THE EXACT DATE ON WHICH OBAMA GAVE UP EVEN PRETENDING THAT IT WAS POSSIBLE TO DEFEAT THE TALIBAN? “So we recommitted our nations to a reconciliation process between the Afghan government and the Taliban.”

I GUESS THE AFGHAN PEOPLE’S SACRIFICES ARE SIGNIFICANT BUT NOT TREMENDOUS: “Our forces continue to serve and make tremendous sacrifices every day. The Afghan people make significant sacrifices every day.”

Then Karzai spoke. He said the talks have made progress on issues of Afghan sovereignty, which he seems to define largely in terms of getting hold of the detainees currently held by the American military, an issue that for some reason Obama failed to mention.

He did mention the “hope” that he’ll be conducting “a free and fair election” some time, “without interference.”

I notice both Obama and Karzai refer to the war as having lasted 10 years, when it has in fact been more than 11.

WHAT HE’LL BE BRINGING BACK TO AFGHANISTAN: “I’ll be going back to Afghanistan this evening to bring to the Afghan people the news of Afghanistan standing shoulder to shoulder with America as a sovereign, independent country, but in cooperation and in partnership.”

Q&A time.

BECAUSE NOTHING PROMOTES FEELINGS OF COMFORT LIKE MASSIVELY ARMED FOREIGN SOLDIERS: Obama: “If we have a follow-on force of any sort past 2014, it has to be at the invitation of the Afghan government and they have to feel comfortable with it.”

PROTECTED: Obama on immunity for US troops in Afghanistan: “That’s how I, as Commander-in-Chief, can make sure that our folks are protected in carrying out very difficult missions.” Protected from what? The consequences of their actions?

Oddly, Karzai expressed complete lack of interest in the number of American troops that will remain in Afghanistan in 2015 and beyond: “That’s not for us to decide. It’s an issue for the United States. Numbers are not going to make a difference to the situation in Afghanistan.”

Has it all been worth it? Obama says absolutely: “we achieved our central goal, which is -- or have come very close to achieving our central goal -- which is to de-capacitate al Qaeda; to dismantle them; to make sure that they can’t attack us again. And everything that we’ve done over the last 10 years from the perspective of the U.S. national security interests have been focused on that aim.” Everything? Everything???

THE POSSIBILITY: Indeed, “there’s no doubt that the possibility of peace and prosperity in Afghanistan today is higher than before we went in.” Way to set the bar really, really high.

THE BEST OF SCENARIOS: “have we achieved everything that some might have imagined us achieving in the best of scenarios? Probably not. This is a human enterprise and you fall short of the ideal. Did we achieve our central goal, and have we been able I think to shape a strong relationship with a responsible Afghan government that is willing to cooperate with us to make sure that it is not a launching pad for future attacks against the United States? We have achieved that goal. We are in the process of achieving that goal.” It’s all about the process.

An Afghan reporter asks what protections women have that they won’t be screwed by the “reconciliation” process. Obama says it’s not up to us, and “The Afghan constitution protects the rights of Afghan women.” Of course it does.

No, really, where can I get me one of those hats?

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Today -100: January 11, 1913: Progress!

Booker T. Washington (in a letter to the NYT) says that the attitude in the South, including among newspapers and governors who aren’t Coleman Blease, is turning against lynching. He notes that there were only 64 lynchings last year.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Today -100: January 10, 1913: Of hats and tough border crossings

The latest in Paris fashion: Futurist hats.

Russia announces that it will shoot down any airplanes or balloons that cross its border.

Evidently Bulgaria bribed Romania into being neutral in the Balkan War by promising to give it some of its own territory, including the port city of Silistria. Romania now wants Bulgaria to cough up and is threatening to send in its army to occupy that land.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Happy birthday,

Dicky Trick!

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Today -100: January 9, 1913: Of duels

The president of the lower house of the Hungarian Parliament, Count István Tisza, fights his second duel of the year, with Count Aladar Széchényi, who shook hands with him at a club but the next day wrote him a note saying that it had been kind of dark and he wouldn’t have shaken hands with him if he’d recognized him. So, duel. With cavalry sabers. Tisza slashes Széchényi on the head. Next duel tomorrow.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Today -100: January 8, 1913: Forbidding wars

Headline of the Day -100: “Powers Forbid Renewal of War.” Who knew they could do that? (Spoiler Alert: they couldn’t.)

Germany may help fight the inequality of Jews in Russia. Because if Germany believes in anything, it’s equality for Jews. Okay, it’s actually because German medical students are annoyed at the number of Russian Jews forced to attend German universities because of the quota system in Russia (Jews can practice medicine in Russia, but only a few can study medicine).

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Monday, January 07, 2013

Today -100: January 7, 1913: Of negotiations

The Balkan War peace negotiations have been suspended after Turkey refused the allies’ demands, which were for it to give up all the land it has lost and then some. Turkey is not willing to surrender Adrianople. What’s surprising to me is how public all the negotiating is.

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Sunday, January 06, 2013

Today -100: January 6, 1913: Of aroostooks

Aroostook County, Maine, which the LA Times describes as the world’s greatest potato center, wants to split from Maine and become a state (Wikipedia says this was mentioned in the state legislature again in 2005.)

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Saturday, January 05, 2013

Today -100: January 5, 1913: Nick picked

The Idaho Supreme Court does indeed fine and jail (for 10 days) for contempt the publisher and two editors of the Capital News, simply for reporting Theodore Roosevelt’s remarks criticizing the Court’s ruling keeping him off the ballot. Roosevelt says this proves the need for the power to recall judges.

The British Medical Association’s attempt to get doctors to boycott the national insurance program, or at least extort higher fees out of it, has failed, as 10,000+ doctors sign up.

Rumor has it (correctly) that Taft will name Nicholas Murray Butler as his running mate for 1912. That is, the guy who will share in his humiliation next week and receive the 8 Electoral College votes won by Taft (Vice President Sherman died the week before the election). Butler, 50, has been president of Columbia University since 1901 (and will be until 1945), where he is perhaps best remembered for his efforts to restrict the number of Jews admitted. He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1931 for his work as president of the Carnegie Endowment, and from his position on the Pulitzer committee he prevented Hemingway being awarded the Pulitzer Prize for For Whom the Bell Tolls, which he found offensive. In 1920 he ran for the Republican presidential nomination under the slogan “Pick Nick as President for a Picnic in November,” but Harding stole his pic-a-nic basket. Dude had a PhD in philosophy and the slogan he chose was “Pick Nick as President for a Picnic in November.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Badger in Command of Atlantic Fleet.” Sounds like the name of a crappy children’s book, but in fact refers to Rear Admiral Charles J. Badger.

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Friday, January 04, 2013

Today -100: January 4, 1913: Of unions, insane congressmen, kinetophones, notaries public, and dandelions

Two of the trade unionists recently convicted of dynamite offenses are re-elected to their union posts (ironworkers, I think).

Two Congressional deaths this week: Ark. Sen. (and former Gov.) Jefferson Davis (no relation, although if you thought there was, he wouldn’t go far out of his way to correct you), a big fan of lynching, dies of apoplexy, and William Wedemeyer (R-Mich.), who lost his bid for re-election, goes insane on a trip to Panama, jumps off the steamship which was taking him back to a nice padded room in the states, and drowns.

Thomas Edison invents the Kinetophone, a phonograph record (cylinder) synched with a moving picture (it will prove unsatisfactory, and Edison will drop it when a warehouse fire destroys most of the recordings).

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease conducts a little purge, revoking the commissions of many notaries public who are opposed to him politically or who, he claims, wagered on the 1912 Democratic primary.

Headline of the Day -100: “Rockefeller Picks Dandelions.”

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Thursday, January 03, 2013

Today -100: January 3, 1913: Of figurative and literal duels

The new NY Governor William Sulzer says that he and not Boss Murphy of Tammany is the leader of the Democrats in New York State. Good luck with that, Bill.

The president of the lower house of the Hungarian Parliament, Count István Tisza (a former and future prime minister), and the opposition leader (and future prime minister and president) Count Mihály Károlyi, fight a duel, after Károlyi refused to shake Tisza’s hand. In the duel, Tisza wounds Károlyi’s arm with his sword.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Today -100: January 2, 1913: Of home rule, dumb princes, football riots, serfs, and minstrel jokes

Debate continues in the British Parliament on the Irish Home Rule Bill. Sir Edward Carson proposes an amendment to exclude Ulster. Prime Minister Asquith says no, and asks what would it take to prevent civil war in Ireland – another general election, a referendum? Opposition leader Bonar Law says if a referendum for home rule were passed, he would not encourage Ulster to resist, but without it, he would encourage resistance. Winston Churchill pointedly asks if he’s encouraging resistance now, and all parliamentary hell breaks loose, as was the custom. Bonar Law says that Ulster would sooner accept rule by a foreign power than by Dublin. Churchill “suggest[s] that Germany would meet the wishes of the Ulstermen”; more hell breaks loose. Bonar Law says that if the Home Rule Bill passes, “Let there be a rebellion, and I will assist.” Carson’s Ulster-exclusion amendment loses 294-197.

Prince Albert (the future King George VI) comes in 64th out of 65 naval cadets in his exams.

France has its very first football riot. The French team lost to the Scottish team 21-3 but evidently it was all the refs’ fault.

Russia abolishes serfdom. I thought they’d done that 50 years before, but evidently they exempted the Caucasus until now.

A holiday treat at San Quentin Prison: minstrel jokes. I don’t recall seeing that episode of “Oz.”

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Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Today -100: January 1, 1913: Of woman-like women’s suffragists, foreclosing on China, censorship, and scared empresses

The suffragist pilgrims who walked from New York City to Albany meet NY Governor-elect Sulzer, who pledges his complete support for women’s suffrage in New York. Reading their message, he informs them that his name is not William L. Sulzer, “it’s plain Bill Sulzer,” leading the NYT to report, not at all snidely, “‘I know his name is William L.,’ afterward persisted Gen. [Rosalie] Jones, woman-like.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Russian Threat to Foreclose on China.” China defaults on its indemnity to the six Powers (I think for the death of foreigners during the Boxer Rebellion). Russia is thinking about seizing, say, Manchuria, as collateral.

NYC Mayor William Gaynor vetoes an ordinance introducing censorship of the movies (by censors appointed by the Board of Education). He thinks it’s unnecessary because people simply wouldn’t go to immoral, obscene movies. What do the would-be censors think this is, he asks, Russia?

As of today, the US post office handles parcels (up to 11 pounds) as well as letters. In the next few days the NYT will be full of stories of people sending things through the parcel post they’re not supposed to be sending through the parcel post –- like opossums.

Imperial Headline of the Day -100: “Airship Scared Empress.” Someone dropped a wreath on the Potsdam palace on her birthday. In future, German airmen are requested not to fly over castles.

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