Sunday, March 31, 2013

Today -100: March 31, 1913: Or pee on it

King Constantine of Greece will go to Salonika and stay there until peace is declared, in order to assert Greece’s claim to the region against Bulgaria’s. Some countries just plant a flag.

We’ve run into The Other Winston Churchill before, the American novelist who is not actually related to the British one. Woodrow Wilson is buying The Other Winston Churchill’s estate near Windsor, Vermont as a summer home.

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Scream and desperate efforts

With North Korea saying that it’s now in a state of war with South Korea, it seems like it’s time to start casting the role of Hawkeye for the MASH reboot. Suggestions in comments, please.

Actually, brainstorm...: Nathan Fillion as Hawkeye, Alan Tudyk as Trapper, Gina Torres as Hotlips, Adam Baldwin as Frank Burns, Ron Glass as Col. Potter, Jewel Staite as Radar, Sean Maher as Father Mulcahey and Summer Glau as Klinger (who has no trouble getting a Section 8)...

But I digress.

So just what is North Korea saying?
The service personnel and people of the DPRK [North Korea] have turned out as one in the sacred war for annihilating the enemy, their hearts burning with towering hatred and resentment...
Did I mention this is a statement by the Secretariat of the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea?
.... at the U.S. imperialists and south Korean group of traitors going reckless in their moves to destroy the symbol of the supreme dignity of the DPRK, not content with staging war exercises against the north. ...
Terrified by the toughest measures taken by the DPRK recently, the south Korean puppet group is letting loose a spate of invectives...
Worst. Episode of the Muppet Show. Ever.
These are scream and desperate efforts of those frightened by the invincible might of the DPRK winning victory after victory with all the service personnel and people united close around the brilliant commander of Mt. Paektu [that would be Kim Il-sung, you know, the first dictator] in single mind and their high spirit to annihilate the enemies.

The puppet group seems to have lost the ability of discerning the situation being stupefied with amazement. ...

The puppet group is sadly mistaken if it thinks it can hurt even a bit the unbreakable single-minded unity and the image of the dignified DPRK in which all service personnel and people have formed a harmonious whole with their leader.
The DPRK’s army and people are compelled to take notice of the ever stepped-up anti-DPRK invectives by the puppet group instigated by the venomous swish of skirt of the owner of the inner room of Chongwadae.
They mean South Korean President Park Geun-hye. To be fair, I hear the swish of skirt really is quite venomous.
The group of traitors pointing their fingers at the sky will never be able to evade punishment.
Because it’s not polite to point.

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Today -100: March 30, 1913: Of riddles, dirigibles, governors overboard, segregation and more riddles

Headline of the Day -100: “Mayor Riddle Arrested.” The Riddler became the mayor of Gotham City and... Actually the mayor of Atlantic City, pinched for procuring false testimony. The prequel to Boardwalk Empire, I guess.

The German Navy plans its own fleet of aircraft, in addition to the army’s fleet of aircraft, because everyone wants their own fleet of aircraft. They plan to spend $12½ million over five years (1914-18), mostly on dirigibles.

Huerta’s forces seize the governor of Sinaloa, put him on a ship to send him for trial in Mexico City, whereupon he “falls overboard,” as was the custom.

The LAT reports an alleged plot to divide Mexico, with the northern states joining the United States.

There has been some discussion recently of “segregation” in various legislatures (California, NY, Colorado) and in the letter pages of the Times. “Segregation” here meaning forcing prostitutes into red-light districts. One such measure just failed in the Colorado Legislature. The NYT explains how it happened:
Mrs. Agnes Riddle [the first Republican woman CO state senator, elected 1911] attacked it on the ground that “fallen men should be segregated the same as fallen women.”

Representative Biles announced his willingness to insert a section providing for her suggestion.

“But there would be no men left,” objected Mrs. Riddle. [She may actually have said that there would be no men left IN THE LEGISLATURE, but I’m not sure how trustworthy my info is]

The House burst into laughter, which lasted ten minutes. Just before the roll call on the bill, Mrs. Riddle arose and said:

“Let him among you who is without sin cast the first vote.”

No one voted.

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Today -100: March 29, 1913: Shafted!

The Ohio state militia is shooting looters in drowned Dayton.

King Ferdinand of Bulgaria accepts the sword of the commander of the fortress of Adrianople. When was the last time a surrender involved a sword?

Serbs are claiming that it was their artillery and their troops that took Adrianople, but the Bulgarian commander says Serb operations were “purely demonstrative.”

NY Supreme Court Justice Henry Bischoff falls down an elevator shaft to his death. He was on his way to his chambers on the 13th floor, which just goes to show. The elevator operator seems to have panicked and started the car moving before the shaft door was closed. 83 people were killed in elevator accidents in 1912 in Manhattan alone. Bischoff’s death could have been stopped by an automatic locking device (elevator doesn’t move when doors are open), but real estate interests have thwarted proposed legislation to require them. Remember, elevators don’t kill people, people kill people.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Today -100: March 28, 1913: It is not brute force that rules the world

Unfortunately Phrased Headline of the Day -100: “Relief Train Sent to Flood Sufferers.” Peru, Indiana survivors are experiencing outbreaks of smallpox, diphtheria, and measles. Railroad bridges are down all over Ohio and the property damage is said to exceed that of San Francisco in 1906.

The London Times reports that of 240 suffragette prisoners in 1912, 84 were released early due to hunger strikes, and 57 or so were forcibly fed.

Christabel Pankhurst responds in The Suffragette to Home Secretary McKenna’s calling suffragettes bad names: “the so-called fanatics and hysterics are the glory of the human race. It is through them that all good things come into being.” She says the ability of hunger strikers to win their release, “[t]his rending of prison walls”, “will establish for ever the truth that it is not brute force that rules the world.” Christabel will be one of the most jingoistic supporters of World War I – just saying.

Her sister Sylvia (who will be one of the most vociferous opponents of World War I), just released from prison, has an article in the same issue entitled “They Tortured Me.”

Suffragettes may or may not have burned down an empty house in Hampstead.

Although both houses of the New Jersey Legislature passed resolutions in favor of women’s suffrage, they may be void because of bad wording: giving the vote to every “male or female citizen” instead of every “male and female citizen.”

I’ve been remiss in not having mentioned the Marconi Scandal. There is a scandal. In Britain. Involving insider trading in the stock of the Marconi Company and by several members of Asquith’s cabinet, including Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George, Attorney General Rufus Isaacs, and Postmaster-General Herbert Samuel, just ahead of the announcement that it had won a large government contract. There is a parliamentary inquiry going on now. Like a lot of these political-financial scandals right up to the present (hello, John McCain), it’s basically too convoluted to really hurt anyone’s career, no matter how guilty they are. Headline of the Day -100: “Isaacs Indignant at Veiled Charges.”

Supposedly the Turks blew up Adrianople’s Grand Mosque and other religious sites before surrendering the town, “to prevent them from being profaned by impure feet.”

King Alfonso of Spain fell off his polo pony.

Mexican “President” Huerta’s brother-in-law, Enrique Zepeda, who Huerta appointed as governor of the Federal District, dragged a Maderist commander of rural guards, Gabriel Hernandez, out of prison, and had him shot dead and set on fire (Hernandez himself was known to execute prisoners), while hopped up on the marijuana (that’s what it says in the NYT). Zepeda then went to another prison, but they wouldn’t hand over anyone for him to kill, so he went out drinking, and was heard remarking that the country needed more summary executions. A bit later he was arrested in a brothel. In November he will be acquitted because of temporary insanity (i.e., the marijuana).

Obit of the Day -100: Mrs. May C. Brooke, the last surviving member of the Laura Keene Company who performed “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theatre when Lincoln was shot.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Supreme Court and the Skim Milk Marriage of Doom

In today’s Supreme Court discussions of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Kennedy says that “what has always been thought to be the essence of the state Police power, which is to regulate marriage, divorce, custody.” Who exactly has always thought that?

He also talked about “questions of the rights of children,” which seems to contain an implicit acceptance of the idea that having parents with similar genitals somehow infringes those “rights of children.” At any right, I’d be curious to know what Justice Kennedy sees as the rights of children. Maybe a list.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that DOMA creates two kinds of marriage, full marriage and “then this sort of skim milk marriage.” Ginsburg doesn’t know exactly what the gays get up to in their bedrooms, but she’s pretty sure it has something to do with low-fat dairy products.

Roberts, Scalia and Alito all claimed amazement that the Obama administration was still enforcing DOMA at the same time it was claiming that it was unconstitutional (Roberts said Obama should have exercised “the courage of his convictions”), because the justices evidently don’t understand the whole “separation of powers” thing. Alito: “The President’s position in this case is that he is going to continue to enforce DOMA, engage in conduct that he believes is unconstitutional, until this Court tells him to stop.” Yes, because it’s the law of the land until the Court rules otherwise, that’s how that fucking works.

John Roberts was also baffled by how so many straight people have mysteriously come to support gay rights in the period since DOMA was enacted in 1996, repeatedly asking the lawyer how The Gayz had managed it: “I suppose the sea change has a lot to do with the political force and effectiveness of people representing, supporting your side of the case?” “You don’t doubt that the lobby supporting the enactment of same sex-marriage laws in different States is politically powerful, do you?” “As far as I can tell, political figures are falling over themselves to endorse your side of the argument.” (“Falling over themselves” is probably some kind of kinky gay thing). “Well, but you just referred to a sea change in people’s understandings and values from 1996, when DOMA was enacted, and I’m just trying to see where that comes from, if not from the political effectiveness of -- of groups on your side of the case.” The lawyer responded by talking about “a moral understanding today that gay people are no different,” but it’s like Roberts just can’t understand that people form their opinions of social issues in any other way than through the sphere of politics and politicking: “I understand that. I am just trying to see how -- where that that moral understanding came from, if not the political effectiveness of a particular group.” It’s kind of weird, like he has never in his life had any conversations with normal people. Roberts’ questions also suggest that he doesn’t understand that equality of marriage might be a matter of concern for people who are not gay.

Roberts is.... kind of weird, is what I’m saying.

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Today -100: March 27, 1913: Of Adrianople, evil and insensate follies, and drinking at dances

Weather deaths in Ohio and Indiana may be in the thousands.

Adrianople falls to the Bulgarians and Serbians after a siege of 153 days. Let the looting begin!

Britain’s First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill suggests that the world take a one-year holiday from building warships, calling the naval arms race “evil and insensate folly.”

The Bull Moose Party (remember them?) is falling apart in the House of Representatives, with three Progressive Republicans refusing to support a Progressive for speaker. Evidently they plan to support Wilson’s policies while supporting the Republican Party machine at the same time. Good luck with that.

Headline of the Day -100: “Gaynor Won’t Stop Drinking at Dances.” That is, NY Mayor Gaynor’s order that all-night liquor licenses be revoked will not apply to one-night-only licenses for dance parties. I suspect the double meaning in that headline was deliberate.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Today -100: March 26, 1913: Of great storms, citizenship, and smallpox

Storms, Dayton, Ohio under water and blah blah blah. The “Great Storm of 1913.” 400 drown in Dayton. Peru, Indiana “appeals for coffins, doctors, nurses,” not necessarily in that order.

The lower house of the Massachusetts Legislature votes in favor of women’s suffrage 144-88, but it needs 2/3, so fails.

The petition of Harriot Stanton Blatch, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s daughter and a big-time suffragist in her own right, to have her American citizenship restored (she lost it because she married an English bloke) is rejected by a federal district court judge.

Sylvia Pankhurst is released from Holloway Prison and describes her experiences of forcible feeding in more detail than you probably want to read. When she decided she had had enough, she went on a sleep strike too, walking and walking in her cell for 28 hours.

Montenegro agrees to Austria’s demands that it let the civilians of Scutari evacuate, though with lots of grumbling about breaches of neutrality.

The Senate dining room is fumigated for smallpox (does that work?) after a former worker came down with it. Everyone in the White House, from Wilson down, is getting vaccinated.

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Monday, March 25, 2013

If liberté, egalité, fraternité doesn’t mean two French dudes boinking, I don’t know what it means

Yesterday there was a large demonstration in Paris against a proposed bill to legalize gay marriage (“mariage homo”) and adoption. The police used their batons on some of the protesters, which is not at all gay. What else wasn’t at all gay?

These people were demonstrating their love of fisting.

These girls are totally into bondage. (I’m not sure what the deal is with the French Revolutionary symbolism, the Marseillaise and those Phrygian caps.)

You know he’s totally thinking about Jean-Paul Belmondo.


Er, yeah.

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Today -100: March 25, 1913: Of Avignon Arkansas, undisclosed stationery, padlocks, and 1% solutions

Tornados kill 250 or so, mostly in Omaha and surroundings.

Arkansas no longer has two governors. When Gov. Robinson was elected to the US Senate, the president pro tem took over as acting governor; a few days later he was replaced as president pro tem but claimed that he was still governor; the new president pro tem disagreed, and for several weeks the two both kept gubernatorial offices in the State Capitol. The state supreme court has now decided in favor of the new guy, Junius Futrell.

Not only will William Wilson, the secretary of labor, not be paid until the next fiscal year begins in July, because Congress forgot to appropriate any funds to the new department, but none of the dept’s officers can be paid (those in the bureaus that were transferred to the Labor Dept’s aegis – the Immigration, Naturalization, Labor, and Children’s bureaus – are still funded) and it can’t buy, for instance, stationery. “Where [Wilson] gets the paper [he uses] has not been disclosed.”

British suffragette fun and games: “There was a curious incident at the Labour Conference in Manchester. While the Chairman was saying, ‘We desire passionately that women shall not be political outlaws,’ it was discovered that militants, to whom admission had been refused, had put padlocks on the doors of the hall.” Actually, they were not so much refused admission, as asked to sign a document promising not to heckle, demonstrate, or cause any annoyance.

Doctors’ organizations are complaining about a bill being considered by the NY Legislature to regulate doctors prescribing cocaine and make them keep records. The doctors call it an affront to their honesty and an insult to their intelligence.

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Today -100: March 24, 1913: Of duels, converts, ambassadors, and Jewish tragedians

It’s probably wrong to think of this as incredibly cool, but a performance of Carmen in Spain ended with a real sword duel on stage between the singers playing Escamillo and Don José, due to a love rivalry, with the former killing the latter. Now that’s entertainment!

Austria escalates its request to Montenegro to let the residents of Scutari evacuate before continuing military operations into a threat to go to war against Montenegro if it refuses. Oh, and all Catholics and Muslims in the Jakova region (i.e., Kosovo) who have been “converted” to Eastern Orthodox Christianity must be allowed to revert to their former faiths. Montenegro replies that it will set up a commission, with a representative from Austria and one from maybe Italy to investigate the conversions.

Wilson complains that only rich people can afford to be ambassadors and he’d prefer to be able to choose ambassadors based on, you know, ability (his choice to be ambassador to France just turned him down). They get paid $17,500 a year (members of Congress got $7,500, the president $75,000, which in real terms was WAY more than Obama gets), but have no official residences. The problem, really, is that all the rich ambassadors spend a fortune throwing banquets and balls, making the ones who can’t afford to do so look bad.

Col. Hugh L. Scott is about to be promoted, and the NYT thinks this will be seen as good news by the Indians and Moros who “have been helped by Gen. Scott [who] regard him with an affection that amounts almost to worship.” At least the ones he didn’t kill.

The story below that is about the son of an actor being arrested for stealing an automobile tire. The actor is described as a “Jewish tragedian,” which is redundant, surely?

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Today -100: March 23, 1913: Of the next war, assassinations, white persons (as commonly understood), freaks (again), and misapplied art

The Great Powers set out the terms of peace they think everyone should accept to end the Balkan War: large swathes of the Ottoman Empire ceded to the allies, including Crete, the establishment of Albania, no indemnity.

The Sunday NYT Magazine features Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on “England’s Next War.” He says there is no German menace. So that’s okay then. He talks a lot about submarine warfare and concludes that Britain needs a Channel Tunnel.

In a seriously botched story for which I can’t find any correction ever having been printed, the NYT says that the former Chinese Minister of Education, Gen. Sung, has been assassinated, but that before he died of his wounds, he received a letter saying, sorry, meant to kill the other Gen. Sung. None of that’s true. The guy who was actually assassinated, Sung Chiao-jen, was neither a general nor an education minister, but the president of the Kuomintang. He was engaged in an effort to restrict the powers of the president in favor of the parliament, which was why he was almost certainly ordered murdered by Provisional President Yuan Shikai and other members of the government. However, the assassin and his accomplices were all murdered before the investigation went anywhere.

The US District Court for D.C. rules against a half-German, half-Japanese man who claims that he is white and therefore eligible for US citizenship. The Court says, “In the abstractions of higher mathematics it may be plausibly said that half of infinity is equal to the whole of infinity; but in the case of such a concrete thing as the person of a human being it cannot be said that one who is half white and half brown or yellow is a white person, as commonly understood.”

Headline of the Day -100: “SAYS BIG GUN FIRE MADE EATON QUEER; Stepdaughter Asserts He Never Was the Same After Standing Too Near Cannon.” This was in the Trial of the Century of the Week, that of the widow of retired Rear Admiral Joseph Eaton, who claims she didn’t poison him, he poisoned himself.

Headline of the Day -100, Alliteration Division: “ELEPHANTS, PEANUTS AND FREAKS AGAIN; Blare of Big Bass in Barnum & Bailey Band Begins the Big Ballet. Ancient Animals Amuse All, and Active, Airy Athletes Annex Animated Admiration.” Freaks, by the way, had been absent from the big top since the merger of Barnum & Bailey with Ringling Brothers five years ago, but they’re back, because who doesn’t love a good freak show? The freaks include a 700-pound lady, the 19-inch-tall Princess Wee Wee, African pygmies, and of course Zipp, for whom no description is forthcoming beyond “amiable grotesque.” *Pauses for research into this important historical phenomenon...* Ah, that must be “Zip the Pinhead,” who has a Wikipedia page. The clowns performed a suffragette parade – the mind boggles.

The Academy of Misapplied Art of NYC holds an exhibition of “cubistic, past-impressionistic, futuristic, neurotic, psychopathic, and paretic” art, i.e., a parody of the recently closed Armory Show. I wonder if any of this art survived. I couldn’t find “Food Descending a Staircase” or “Emotions of a Lady of Sixty-Three on Roller Skates” on Google Images. Congrats to the NYT for reviewing this show, and for the phrase “outcube the cubists.”

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Today -100: March 22, 1913: Of sieges, lynchings, and hash

Montenegro rejects Austria’s demands that it let civilians leave besieged Scutari and let the Austrian consul investigate the alleged forced conversions of Catholics.

A black man accused of murder (he broke into the house of an old white man and demanded money when the old guy found him in the kitchen eating; the white dude shot at him, he returned later with his own gun) is lynched in Union City, Tennessee.

Manuel Bonilla, self-proclaimed president of the coup government in Honduras, dies of kidney trouble. Will this lead to a much-feared general revolution which will sweep away all the governments of Central America? Spoiler Alert: no.

Headline of the Day -100: “Soldiers in Home Demand More Hash.”

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Obama in the Middle East: A state of their own

Obama went to the West Bank today.

WHAT THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE DESERVE: “The Palestinian people deserve an end to occupation and the daily indignities that come with it. Palestinians deserve to move and travel freely, and to feel secure in their communities.” Yesterday when he was standing next to Netanyahu, as I noted, he said that Israel should be “strong and secure” but didn’t say the same about Palestine. Today, standing next to Abbas, he used the second s-word (although for Palestinians as individuals, not in the collective).

“Put simply, Palestinians deserve a state of their own.”

He says that the West Bank is wonderful and thriving and whatnot “in stark contrast to the misery and repression that so many Palestinians continue to confront in Gaza -- because Hamas refuses to renounce violence; because Hamas cares more about enforcing its own rigid dogmas than allowing Palestinians to live freely; and because too often it focuses on tearing Israel down rather than building Palestine up.” Yes, the Israeli blockade of Gaza has absolutely no causal relationship with misery and repression in Gaza, and everything is Hamas’s fault.

WELL, IT IS LITERALLY CONSTRUCTIVE, WITH THE BUILDINGS AND THE FENCES AND THE JEWS-ONLY ROADS BEING, YOU KNOW, CONSTRUCTED: “we do not consider continued settlement activity to be constructive, to be appropriate, to be something that can advance the cause of peace. So I don’t think there’s any confusion in terms of what our position is.” Yes, your position is that you won’t do a damn thing to stop it, ever; no confusion about that.

Indeed, he later responds to a question by refusing to call for Israel to stop building settlements before peace talks, calling that demand “constantly negotiating about what’s required to get into talks in the first place” and “put[ting] the cart before the horse.” In fact, all you have to do is negotiate a sovereign Palestine and a secure Israel and “the settlement problem will be solved.” So I guess we can solve the settlement problem without ever talking about settlements, because that’ll totally work.

Abbas drily points out that settlements violate international law.

Later in the day, Obama gave a speech in the Jerusalem Convention Center.

ALSO A NICE COFFEE CAKE: “I bring with me the support of the American people, and the friendship that binds us together.”

He repeatedly referred to Israeli Jews as “a free people in a land of their own.”

CLEAR: “That’s why we have made it clear, time and again, that Israel cannot accept rocket attacks from Gaza”.

THEY BUILT A STATE IN WHOSE HOMELAND? “Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.”

A WORLD THAT HAS CHANGED: “Arab States must adapt to a world that has changed. The days when they could condemn Israel to distract their people from a lack of opportunity are over.” Yeah, the rights of the Palestinians are just a “distraction” and any Arab state that brings them up must be doing so cynically to hoodwink their own people (which is not to say that that hasn’t happened, frequently, but Obama implies that that’s the ONLY reason anyone ever champions the Palestinians.

“Now is the time for the Arab World to take steps toward normalized relations with Israel.” Before Israel’s borders are settled and it comes to an accommodation with the Palestinian people? No, now is not the time.

“Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state”. And that they will either be expelled or remain as second-class citizens – you know, business as usual. Honestly, they should just recognize that already.

Oh, and somewhere in the middle of his speech, someone heckled him (in Hebrew) about Jonathan Pollard.

By the way, Israel has exerted a lot of pressure to pardon Pollard over the years, but has never been willing to tell the US exactly what documents Pollard handed over.

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Today -100: March 21, 1913: Of warships, arson, and cinders

Austria is sending six warships towards the Balkan war zone, supposedly for maneuvers, but actually to prevent Serbia and Montenegro gaining too much territory. We’re also getting stories about Catholics being forcibly “converted” to Eastern Orthodox Christianity.

Suffragettes supposedly burn down the mansion of Lady Smith, widow of George Smith, a less-than-competent general of the Boer War, the “defender of Ladysmith” (the town, not his wife).

Sensitive Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times, reporting an auto accident): “Man is Burned to Cinder Under Capsized Machine.”

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Obama goes to Israel: Meeting none of these challenges will be easy

Obama is in Israel, or as he called it, “the historic homeland of the Jewish people.” Oh, and some other people as well... what were their names again?

A COMMON STORY: Israel and the US, he says, “share a common story...” It’s total bullshit, but that’s why it’s called a “story” “...patriots determined ‘to be a free people in our land,’ pioneers who forged a nation, heroes who sacrificed to preserve our freedom, and immigrants from every corner of the world who renew constantly our diverse societies.” And the original inhabitants, mowed down in their thousands, because we don’t want our societies to be that diverse.

WHY WE STAND: “We stand together because we are democracies.” He must have not heard that the coalition deal for the new Netanyahu government this week includes rewriting the Basic Law to make democracy subordinate to Israel’s “Jewishness.”

THAT NOISE IS GUNFIRE AND THE MESS IS PALESTINIAN BLOOD: “For as noisy and messy as it may be, we know that democracy is the greatest form of government ever devised by man.”

He visited Pres. Shimon Peres.

INTO A RADIOACTIVE HELLSCAPE: Peres: “After the meeting we just had, I have all confidence that your vision can transform the Middle East.”

Obama: “Well, as with all our visits together, I have once again succumbed to your charms and I’m grateful to your hospitality.” Ewwwww.

Peres made him perform manual labor, as is the custom.

Do people still pay for trees to be planted in Israel, by the way? This was a common form of fund-raising for Israel in the early “making the desert bloom” phase, but they kept it up long after Israel had all the trees it wanted, after which the trees were planted, then immediately uprooted. I assume the same tree got “planted” over and over.

And of course Obama met Netanyahu. Both talked about how the US is giving Israel lots of money and military hardware so that Israel can defend itself “by itself.”

Obama says a two-state solution requires “a strong and secure” Jewish state (note that he’s stopped even pretending that Israel is secular or that all of its residents have equal status) and “a sovereign and independent” Palestine, which presumably has no need of strength and security.

He says that last year no Israeli citizen was killed by “terrorism emanating from the West Bank.” He didn’t say how many Palestinians were killed by the Israeli military (or by Jewish settlers), and I think we can be reasonably sure he doesn’t know how many were killed because it never occurred to him to ask.

TRUE DAT: “Meeting none of these challenges will be easy.”

On Syria’s alleged use of chemical weapons: “But as is always the case when it comes to issues of war and peace, I think having the facts before you act is very important.” Next up on Fox: a rebuttal from Dick Cheney.

“I believe that the Assad regime has lost all credibility and legitimacy.” He does not say when Assad had all that credibility and legitimacy.

He gave Israel a green light for a military attack on Iran (well how else would you read this?): “I think that what Bibi alluded to, which is absolutely correct, is each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military action, and Israel is differently situated than the United States. And I would not expect that the Prime Minister would make a decision about his country’s security and defer that to any other country -- any more than the United States would defer our decisions about what was important for our national security.”

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Today -100: March 20, 1913: Constantine of Byzantium?

George’s son Constantine will be crowned today, but will it be as Constantine I of Greece or Constantine XII, continuing the numbering from the Byzantine Empires?

Not-At-All-Racist Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Giant Negro Runs Amuck.”

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Today -100: March 19, 1913: Of assassinations and fanatical and hysterical women

King George I of Greece (aka, the King of the Hellenes) is assassinated while taking a walk in Salonika (Thessaloniki), which was recently captured from the Turks. Despite the assassination taking place on occupied territory during a war, it seems to have had nothing to do with the war, and his assassin, Aleko Schinas, is a Greek. The NYT already declares him “mad,” “degenerate,” “of low mental type,” and “an evil-looking fellow.” The Greek government will claim that he was a drunkard and certainly had no political motives at all, but in fact Schinas was a long-time anarchist activist, both in Greece and the United States. Further questions will be cut short by Schinas’s precipitate fall from a police station window a few weeks later.

George I was actually born a Danish prince, but was selected by the Greeks based on his eHarmony profile when he was 17, just shy of 50 years ago. His habits included taking long walks without guards. He was uncle to the kings/czars of England, Denmark, Norway and Russia.

The British Parliament discusses what to do with the militant suffragettes. There was a letter in the morning’s London Times from several pro-suffrage doctors about Lilian Lenton, who was released from prison last month because she was gravely sick. Home Secretary Reginald McKenna insists she was sick because she was hunger striking, but the doctors say she had pleurisy because of incompetently performed forcible feeding – the feeding tube was inserted into her lung rather than her stomach. The government lacked any legal authority to just release her like that, but wanted to ensure that if she died, it was not in prison. This is the game of hunger-strike chicken I mentioned a while back. McKenna accuses the prisoners of playing this game, saying that some suffragettes “pretended to take their food and surreptitiously starved themselves so that they became so weak and exhausted that they could not be dealt with [i.e., forcibly fed] and this for no other reason than the intention of dying in prison. ... to make martyrs of themselves in order that their cause may receive a further stimulus by their heroic example.”

MPs make various helpful suggestions. Lord Robert Cecil, a Tory supporter of women’s suffrage but not of militancy, suggests deportation. Someone asks where to; “Ireland” some wag suggests. Others suggest letting them starve themselves, because they wouldn’t actually do it, but McKenna insists that 30 or 40 would do so: “They are fanatical and hysterical women, who no more fear death in fighting what they believe to be the cause of women than the natives of the Soudan feared death when fighting the battle of the Mahdi.” He wants the ability to release prisoners temporarily, on license, the proposed Cat and Mouse Act.

Aristide Briand’s tenure as France’s prime minister ends after two months, brought down over plans to introduce proportional representation.

Tammany Hall puts out a story that Gov. Sulzer and Boss Murphy have met (at Delmonico’s, naturally) and settled all their differences. Sulzer denies it.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Today -100: March 18, 1913: Of feuds and meteorological strops

NY Gov. Sulzer and Boss Murphy both attend a dinner of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, but don’t speak to each other, which seems less than friendly.

Woodrow Wilson is returning gifts from people he doesn’t know. “To-day he returned a razor strop and a cake of shoe blacking. President Wilson shaves himself and is perfectly satisfied with the strop he now uses, which has the remarkable quality of being able, through its varying conditions, to forecast the weather.”

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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Today -100: March 17, 1913: Of canberras, birthday dinners, pellets of uncertain composition, and butterfly rights

Building began a few days ago on the site chosen for the future capital of the Commonwealth of Australia. The NYT claims that the word canberra, which was just chosen as the city’s name, means “laughing jackass” (that’s a bird) in one of the Aboriginal languages. Actually, no one really knows what canberra means.

Boss Murphy and Tammany Hall will boycott a birthday dinner to honor Gov. Sulzer and are pressuring Democratic politicians to stay away. The fight started over the refusal of Sulzer, an anti-Tammany Democrat, to appoint Murphy’s choice to be commissioner of highways (there are a lot of lucrative contracts in highways).

British women’s suffragists are no longer able to hold public meetings (outdoor meetings, anyway) without being mobbed and shouted down. Yesterday (Sunday), “General” Flora Drummond of the Women’s Social and Political Union attempted to give a speech in Hyde Park, only to meet with raucous interruptions, hurled clods of grass, oranges, and “pellets of uncertain composition.” A fight between the mob and police ensued, as was the custom. A meeting at Hampstead Heath was broken up non-violently, with shouting, singing and booing.

British papers are claiming there was a suffragette plot to kidnap Lloyd George.

Headline of the Day -100: “War over Butterfly Rights.”

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Saturday, March 16, 2013

Today -100: March 16, 1913: Of pressers, the gallantry of the guillotine, and unfit ragtime

Pres. Wilson met with 125 reporters in the White House. This is supposedly the origin of the institution of the presidential press conference, although Woodrow doesn’t seem to have actually answered any questions.

Hubertine Auclert, the most prominent French suffragist leader, deplores the fact that Frenchwomen are never executed, and demands an equal right to be guillotined. To do otherwise “classes women with lunatics and despoils them of their rights.” Madeleine Pelletier adds, “This gallantry of the guillotine is an insult to the feminine sex, as is gallantry in general.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Ragtime Unfit for King.” People are bitching that ragtime was played during the procession of the King to the opening of Parliament. I prefer to think that the king is unfit for Ragtime.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

The Pope Versus the Anti-Clerical Left-Wing Elements of Doom

The Vatican says that the stories linking Pope Francis (or, when he’s just hanging around the house, Frances) with the Dirty War in Argentina in the ‘70s are part of a campaign by “anti-clerical left-wing elements”.

You know, it’s precisely the tendency of the church to use phrases like “anti-clerical left-wing elements” that make stories of collaboration between the Church and right-wing dictatorships so very, very plausible.

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Today -100: March 15, 1913: We want Alsace!

The Delaware state senate rejects women’s suffrage.

Riots in Paris over the increase in the length of military conscription to 3 years. Socialists fight with members of the proto-fascist Camelots du Roi, who shout “We want Alsace!”, the French province annexed by Germany after the Franco-Prussian War.

British suffragettes are now painting over house names, because why not.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Today -100: March 14, 1913: Of shots, prisons, Easter bonnets, and rocket men

Everyone in the Navy is ordered to be inoculated against smallpox, starting with new Assistant Secretary Roosevelt (a couple of cases developed in the War Department, whose clerks share office space with Navy clerks).

NY Gov. Sulzer fires the superintendent of prisons, who had refused the governor’s order to replace the warden of Auburn Prison with a Democratic judge named Rattigan, which is the perfect name for a prison warden. Warden Rattigan. The state senate wants hearings. I believe this will become a bigger deal soon.

Headline of the Day -100: “Easter Hats Nipped in Bud.” Boston telephone operators will foreswear the customary chapeaus in solidarity with striking garment workers.

Rodman Law, a daredevil who has parachuted from skyscrapers and from the Brooklyn Bridge and starred in several movies that are not on YouTube, attempted to ride a 44-foot-long rocket from Jersey City to Elizabeth, NJ (12 miles), at which point he’d jump off and parachute safely to earth. Oddly enough, this has never been attempted before. Anyway, what actually happened was that the rocket was lit, and promptly exploded. Law was blown to safety, with nary an injury. In a couple of months he’ll be attempting to climb the Capitol Building. He will die of consumption in 1919, which probably wasn’t as much fun as blowing up on a giant rocket would have been.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Separated at “birth”?

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Today -100: March 13, 1913: Moral force

The NYT says of Pres. Wilson’s statement to Latin America yesterday: “It is known that Mr. Wilson cherishes the belief that the moral force of his Administration will be able to work out great reforms in all the Latin-American republics.” Because American “moral force” has always been so helpful to Latin American republics.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Name of the Day

The judge who struck down Bloomberg’s Big Gulp law is called Milton Tingling. Justice Tingling.

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Today -100: March 12, 1913: Of warnings, speeding tickets, the Isle of Pines, and Barrymores

Pres. Wilson issues a warning to the countries of Central and South America that the US will only “cooperate” with nations which are based on law and orderly processes of government. This is aimed at the former presidents of Nicaragua and Venezuela, who are supposedly conspiring to start a region-wide revolution.

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease’s negro driver is caught speeding again and is fined $15.75. Blease pardons him, again, and the police chief refuses, again, to recognize the pardon as applicable to convictions in the city Recorder’s court.

A few days ago Americans in the Isle of Pines, Cuba, began circulating a petition for the annexation of the island by the United States. Cubans are furious and want those responsible for the petition arrested for conspiracy against the sovereignty of Cuba.

Austria orders Serbia not to aid Montenegro in capturing Scutari. Austria and the other powers want Scutari to be part of a new Albanian state, not annexed to Montenegro as the allies are planning.

The actor John Barrymore is sued by a barber who he gave a black eye after, he claims, being given a haircut against his will when he only wanted a shave. A jury awards the barber $800.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Today -100: March 11, 1913: Of retirement, courts martial, Constitutionalists, petitions, crowns, and tubmans

NY Gov. Sulzer investigated whether state Supreme Court Justice Albert Gladding actually reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 last December, as suggested by the birth date Gladding put on his life insurance policy and elsewhere. Gladding says that for a long time he mistakenly thought he was born in 1842 instead of 1843.

“Mother” Jones is on trial in front of a military court in West Virginia for conspiracy to murder. The conspiracy consisted of giving speeches which caused striking miners to fight with guards, some of whom were killed. If convicted, she will be executed by firing squad. Ms. Jones says, “Whatever, bitches, I’m 80,” or words to that effect. The state offered her amnesty if she agreed to leave West Virginia; she refused.

The NY State Senate votes to ban the employment of women in factories between 10 pm and 6 am.

The opponents of the Huerta Junta are now being called Constitutionalists. They have captured Agua Prieta.

British suffragettes are arrested trying to deliver a petition to the king on his way to open Parliament. “A report that the King scowled at the suffragettes is semi-officially denied.” The petition said, “Votes for women is the only cure for militancy.”

Two railway stations are burned, presumably by suffragists.

In the Parliament-Opening ceremony, King George V wore his crown, a tradition dropped by Queen Victoria.

Harriet Tubman has died, at 93 or so (today’s article, running a bit behind, says she is dying; the NYT obit several days later is just four sentences long).

Also dead: Godfrey Morgan, the 1st Viscount Tredegar, a captain who led a section of the Charge of the Light Brigade, at 82.

There will be no booze in the White House (or at diplomatic functions, which was one of Bryan’s conditions for taking the secretary of state job).

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Today -100: March 10, 1913: Of unprecocious PhD’s

Prof. Leo Wiener of Harvard says that any child of ordinary intelligence could, with a proper education, follow in the steps of his son Norbert, who will earn his Harvard PhD in a couple of months. At 18. Started college at 11. “Norbert is not precocious,” says his father, adding that the media should ignore him until he actually accomplishes something.

Norbert Wiener, of course, invented cybernetics, probably in order to invent a computer that could explain why his father was such a dick.

Cuban Pres. Gomez vetoes the amnesty bill the US threatened him about.

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Saturday, March 09, 2013

Today -100: March 9, 1913: Of trespassing airplanes, speeding tickets, and frozen legislatures

Woodrow Wilson appoints Franklin D. Roosevelt, a NY state senator, as assistant secretary of the Navy, a job once held by his 5th cousin Theodore Roosevelt. Not that you should read anything into that.

Britain fines a French aviator 2 guineas for flying over England without permission, under the new law. Of course they couldn’t have done a thing about it if he hadn’t landed.

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease’s negro driver is given a ticket for speeding (the limit is 12 mph in Columbia; he was driving 30) and fined $3.75. Blease issues a pardon and demands that the fine be returned. The chief of police, one Clint Cathcart, refuses. Blease says until he gets the money back, he will pardon everyone convicted in that court.

Clarence Darrow’s jury-tampering second trial results in a hung jury (he was acquitted the first time). There will be no further trials.

Alaska’s first legislature is inaugurated, with limited powers. The House consists of 16 members, the Senate 8.

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Friday, March 08, 2013

Today -100: March 8, 1913: Of legally constituted governments and amnesties

US ambassador to Mexico Henry Wilson telegraphs that “I support the Provisional Government of Gen. Huerta because it is the legally constituted Government, and if it did not exist there would be no government, but chaotic conditions of worse character.” I hope someone asks for his definition of “legally constituted.” Note that the United States has not (spoiler alert: and will not) officially recognized the Huerta Junta.

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan sends a protest to Cuba about an amnesty law which will liberate political prisoners and, er, every other prisoner, including some not yet tried. The goal seems to be to indemnify members of the Gomez administration, which leaves office in May, against corruption charges. The NYT thinks this amnesty can only mean an American military intervention (they consider an amnesty absurd, but the provision which the US inserted into the Cuban constitution allowing it to invade Cuba at any time for any reason perfectly legitimate).

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Today -100: March 7, 1913: Of office-seekers, foolish virgins, and the draft

Woodrow Wilson announced that he would speak with no office-seekers, and they should all go and bug members of his cabinet, who will be allowed to appoint their own subordinates. And so the flood of supplicants commences. Bryan for one plans to eject Republicans from the State Department.

The London County Council elections are coming up, and admission to some of the election meetings is by ticket only to prevent suffragette heckling. At one meeting, after two interruptions, President of the Local Government Board John Burns demanded that all women leave – although women have the vote for LCC elections. At another meeting, he referred to suffragette hecklers as “foolish virgins.”

The Greek Army captures Yanina, taking 32,000 captives.

The French Parliament is debating (by which I mean yelling Gallic insults at each other) extending mandatory military service from two years to three years (men from families with more than 6 children will still serve only 2). The French will tell you this is only needed to respond to Germany’s increase in military spending.

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Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Today -100: March 6, 1913: Of cabinets, cigars, and cats and mice

After months of the press bugging Woodrow Wilson to give a hint as to his cabinet nominees, today he finally made his choices public when he sent his cabinet nominations to the Senate. They were all confirmed by the end of day. BY THE END OF THE DAY. Seven have already been sworn in, and the rest will be tomorrow.

William Jennings Bryan is secretary of state. Treasury sec is William Gibbs McAdoo, who will marry Wilson’s daughter in 1914. Lindley Garrison, the vice-chancellor of New Jersey, will be secretary of war, I assume because of the aptonym (3 days ago the Times reported that it would be another Garrison, NJ Supreme Court Justice Charles Garrison. Whoops.) Wilson first offered the job to A. Mitchell Palmer, who replied, “Dude, I’m a Quaker,” or words to that effect. Four of the cabinet (out of 10) Wilson never met before inauguration day.

There is also a secretary of labor, a cabinet position created by Congress a few days ago. He is William Wilson, the son of a Scottish collier who emigrated to Pennsylvania after he was blacklisted and the family evicted from their company-owned house during a strike. Young William went down the mines himself at age 9 and was elected secretary of the local miners’ benevolent association at age, wow, 14. He was later an official of the United Mine Workers and a member of Congress. In a fine bit of irony, Congress created his job but forgot to appropriate a salary for it, so for the time being the first secretary of labor will be working for free.

Pres. Wilson revokes Taft’s ban on cigar-smoking in the executive offices.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Women Hate Mann.” The women are the Chicago Woman’s Political Equality League and the Mann is James Robert Mann, Republican member of Congress and minority leader, the author of the Mann Act. He said of a woman in the D.C. suffrage parade hurt by one of the thugs that she should have been at home with her mother.

The British government has finally come up with a way to deal with hunger strikers that involves neither forcible feeding nor releasing hunger strikers from prison. The government will introduce a bill to release them under license, let them recover at home, then return them to prison. The recovery time would not count towards their sentences. The bill already has a nickname:

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Tuesday, March 05, 2013


The NYT has an article about a branch of the NYPD that “stag[es] interventions” with young people they think are going to become criminals:

“Officers not only make repeated drop-ins at homes and schools, but they also drive up to the teenagers in the streets, shouting out friendly hellos, in front of their friends.” So friendly.

They also keep dossiers on every juvenile who has gotten in trouble with the law, and try to get into their Facebook pages through fake profiles. You might call this sort of behaviour “stalking” or “police harassment,” but Det. Patrick Kennedy has another term:

“‘When they are all colored up like this in jackets and they go walking around other developments, that’s a problem,’ Detective Kennedy said. ‘They call that mobbing.’”

So your Street Vocabulary lesson for the day: when gangs get “all colored up” in jackets and walk around housing developments, it’s “mobbing,” when cops do it, it’s an “intervention.”

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Today -100: March 5, 1913: Our duty is to cleanse, to reconsider, to restore, to correct the evil without impairing the good

Woodrow Wilson’s official inauguration was today -100 (er, yesterday -100, but in today -100’s paper).

Here’s a little from his inaugural address:

We have been proud of our industrial achievements, but we have not hitherto stopped thoughtfully enough to count the human cost, the cost of lives snuffed out, of energies overtaxed and broken, the fearful physical and spiritual cost to the men and women and children upon whom the dead weight and burden of it all has fallen pitilessly the years through. The groans and agony of it all had not yet reached our ears...

Our duty is to cleanse, to reconsider, to restore, to correct the evil without impairing the good, to purify and humanize every process of our common life without weakening or sentimentalizing it. There has been something crude and heartless and unfeeling in our haste to succeed and be great. Our thought has been ‘Let every man look out for himself, let every generation look out for itself,’ while we reared giant machinery which made it impossible that any but those who stood at the levers of control should have a chance to look out for themselves.

There was a parade and everything. Not as entertaining or as violent as the women’s suffrage parade the day before, but it did have Native Americans, led by one Chief Hollow Horn Bear of the Lakota, who doffed his sombrero and exclaimed “White father, white father, white father!” Chief Hollow Horn Bear caught pneumonia during the parade and died of it, which is certainly symbolic of... something or other. The Indians were followed by a larger contingent from Tammany Hall, all wearing silk hats and carrying silver canes with which they saluted the president.

After the parade, Wilson and Taft returned to the White House for a farewell luncheon for the former president. So it may be a while before Taft actually leaves.

That may be the last “Taft was fat” joke in this blog.

With Taft’s exit, we come to an end of an era. I refer, of course, to the era of presidents with facial hair. Although if Hillary runs in 2016...

What was Theodore Roosevelt doing while all this was going on, you didn’t ask? He was viewing an exhibition of Futurist paintings in New York, which is certainly symbolic of... something or other.

Following Russia’s lead (in January), Britain has recently banned aircraft flying over it without permission, punishable by jail terms or, you know, being shot down.

Taft vetoes a bill to, among other things, abolish involuntary servitude among seamen. He says it would conflict with US treaty obligations. Not sure what he meant, and neither the NYT nor LAT are helpful about it.

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Monday, March 04, 2013

Today -100: March 4, 1913: 28

Woodrow Wilson is sworn in as the 28th president of the United States, with all due pomp and circumstance. (I have no idea what the word circumstance means in the phrase “pomp and circumstance.” Anyone?)

The NYT paints a picture: “Washington was Wilsonized for the day. Even the cheap, white-painted dairy lunch shops had his picture on their greasy bills of fare; and one of them announced grandly in letters three feet high: ‘White House Lunches Like Mrs. Wilson Will Cook Them–For 50 Cents.’”

But the big event of the day in D.C., in terms of spectacle and mayhem, was the women’s suffrage parade.

5,000 women, led, as was the custom, by Inez Milholland on horseback,

with bands, floats, and allegorical tableaux on the steps of the Treasury Building.

Maybe 500,000 people spectated (when Wilson slipped quietly into town, one of his staff asked where all the people were and was told they were watching the women).

The mayhem part was caused by the police, who had not properly cleared off the streets for the entire distance of the parade, and by rowdy men who were therefore able to harry and obstruct the marchers, jeering, slapping, spitting, tripping, etc, while the police stood by and watched, or even participated (after Congressional hearings, the DC superintendent of police was fired). Alice Paul, who organized the parade on behalf of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, said “The Boy Scouts were the only ones who did any effective police work”. The parade took hours longer than planned because of the obstructions. Eventually the secretary of war sent in some cavalry to restore order.

Alice Paul had tried to appease Southerners by making a group of black women from Chicago march separately, behind all the white marchers, but on the day they were allowed to march in the Illinois contingent.

The Woman’s Journal reported: “To those that feared that equal suffrage would make women less womanly, to those who feared that in becoming politically free we will become coarse and mannish looking.... the pageant offered the final word, the most convincing argument that human ingenuity can devise.”

Russian police in St Petersburg prevent suffragists speeches on Woman’s Day.

Headline of the Day -100: “Government Demands Hens.” When Armand Fallières became president of France in 1906, his wife brought in 34 hens to replace the inferior ones she found in the poultry yard of the presidential château (do you suppose Carla Bruni kept chickens when she was first lady?). When her husband’s term expired seven years later (did I mention that Raymond Poincaré recently became president of France? He totally did), the bureaucrats told her she could only take 34 hens with her, although the hen population had increased, and anyway the original two cocks were provided by the state. I’m assuming this argument will run for years and years.

Arts Headline of the Day -100: “Hisses Make Singer Insane.” A Swiss singer, unnamed, is hissed in the Imperial Opera House in Vienna during Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots, tries to stab herself with a hatpin. It ain’t over until...

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Sunday, March 03, 2013

Today -100: March 3, 1913: Of border skirmishes, and Jewish tailors

Various governors of Mexican states, and some rebel leaders, have been falling in line behind Huerta, although Zapata is demanding to be made governor of Morelos.

On the Arizona border, the 9th US cavalry – a negro unit – fights off a force of 60 Mexican soldiers, killing 6 of them. “It is said that the American troops became so excited that they crossed the boundary and pursued the Mexicans for some distance.”

The NYT gives an “amusing account” of how the Czar of All the Russias scared the shit out of a Jewish tailor. It seems that Czar Nicholas II had seen a particularly nice uniform on a colonel from the Crimean Dragoons. Naturally, he wanted one, and asked the colonel who his tailor was. He then had the tailor taken from his home without explanation by a military officer and, terrified, brought to the capital, where he spent four days making the uniform while his family wondered if he was alive or dead, before being well rewarded and returned to the Crimea. So amusing.

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Saturday, March 02, 2013

Today -100: March 2, 1913: Of starving militants, amnesties, nickels, and square eggs

Millicent Garrett Fawcett, president of the non-militant British suffragists (the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies), tells the NYT, “If the militants want to starve themselves in prison let them do so.” She doesn’t want hunger-striking prisoners released, because “the law must be vindicated at all costs,” but she opposes forcible feeding as “essentially cruel”. Militancy, she says, is harming the suffrage cause, both by alienating the general public and by giving “the Government opportunity for an exhibition of moral cowardice by allowing it to point to these outrages as a reason for refusing to carry out its pledges.” But militancy is “one of those hysterical outbursts which is eventually bound to consume itself”.

She adds that American suffragists kind of suck in comparison to British ones.

Headline of the Day -100: “Peace Is Near, But Nations Arm.”

Russia plans to issue an amnesty for prisoners, including (some) political prisoners, as part of the celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the Romanov Dynasty.

The new buffalo/Indian head nickel is out, replacing the Liberty Head nickel, and the NYT is not impressed. The lettering is too small, the art is uninteresting, the buffalo too deeply indented, and the Indian is “uncommonly unprepossessing”.

A special dispatch to the LA Times reports that a farmer in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, says his hen lays square eggs.

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Friday, March 01, 2013

Barack Obama and the not-at-all-fictitious caucus of common sense

Today Obama spoke to the press about the sequester.

WASTEFUL LOOPHOLES: “They’ve [Republicans] allowed these cuts to happen because they refuse to budge on closing a single wasteful loophole to help reduce the deficit.” What he’s done here is to take a Republican adjective – wasteful – and attach it inappropriately to the word loophole – itself a euphemism for a deduction that goes to people who vote for the party opposite to that of the speaker.

WELL, AS LONG AS HE’S ASKING POLITELY. “I do believe that we can and must replace these cuts with a more balanced approach that asks something from everybody”. By asking, he of course means taking.

A CAUCUS OF WHAT NOW? “I do know that there are Republicans in Congress who privately, at least, say that they would rather close tax loopholes than let these cuts go through. I know that there are Democrats who’d rather do smart entitlement reform than let these cuts go through. So there is a caucus of common sense up on Capitol Hill.” Of course there is. Wouldn’t you like to live in the pleasant alternative reality he lives in, the Obamaverse, if you will, where Jedi and Vulcans mind-meld all the live-long day?

Also, what is a smart entitlement reform when it’s at home?

WHO’S EVERYBODY? “Everybody says we need to cut $4 trillion”. I didn’t say we need to cut $4 trillion. Did you say we need to cut $4 trillion, readers?

CAN WE VIOLENTLY DISAGREE WITHOUT BEING VIOLENTLY DISAGREEABLE? “There are members of my party who violently disagree with the notion that we should do anything on Medicare.” How unreasonable of them to disagree with the notion that we should do anything; I mean all he’s asking for is anything. See, what he’s doing here is painting people who are against specific horrible proposals (chained CPI, raising the Medicare eligibility age etc) as being stubbornly opposed to change of any kind.

HE HAS A LOT OF CONFIDENCE: “The question is can the American people help persuade their members of Congress to do the right thing, and I have a lot of confidence that over time, if the American people express their displeasure about how something is working, that eventually Congress responds.”

ODDLY ENOUGH, BILL CLINTON DID KNOW HOW TO DO A JEDI MIND-MELD, BUT HE MOSTLY USED IT FOR... WELL, YOU KNOW: “most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right. ... And this idea that somehow there’s a secret formula or secret sauce to get Speaker Boehner or Mitch McConnell to say, you know what, Mr. President, you’re right”. Again, Bill Clinton did have a secret sauce, but he mostly used it for... well, you know.

“I think if there was a secret way to do that, I would have tried it. I would have done it.” So there are some secret powers he doesn’t claim to have. Good to know.

Asked about his administration’s brief before the Supreme Court in the Prop 8 case, he was good on gay marriage (although he seems to be going out of his way to avoid the word gay – is that new? – it’s always same-sex), but all over the place on his rationale. First he talked about his “long period of reflection” and his “evolution” on the issue, and that is was “important for us to articulate what I believe and what this administration stands for,” as if the fundamental rights of people in this country should be derived from what he personally feels comfortable with at any given moment. But then he says “if the Supreme Court asks me or my Attorney General or Solicitor General, do we think that [denial of gay marriage] meets constitutional muster, I felt it was important for us to answer that question honestly -- and the answer is no.” So what is the basis for supporting gay marriage, the “evolution” of social mores or equal rights under the 14th Amendment? Because the latter requires an end to unequal marriage everywhere in the country, regardless of whether there has been sufficient evolution on this issue in the parts of the country that don’t, you know, believe in evolution, and I don’t see Obama making any effort along those lines.

I wrote all that before continuing with the transcript, where the LA Times reporter asked a follow-up asking about that very thing. He flails a bit, saying that the Court asked specifically about Prop 8 and heightened scrutiny and what he would do if he were on the Court but he isn’t, none of which amounts to an answer about what he’s doing to remove this unconstitutional deprivation of rights.

OR IT COULD BE A DUMB APOCALYPSE: The sequester “is not going to be a apocalypse, I think as some people have said. It’s just dumb.”

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