Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Today -100: September 30, 1914: Of sieges, free and chained men, princes, and cadets

The Germans begins a siege of Antwerp.

Gen. Louis Botha, prime minister of South Africa, gives a speech justifying loyalty to the British Empire (many Afrikaners remember German support for the Boer Republics during the Boer War).  He claims to have inside knowledge of German plans for South Africa, which would make his audience’s hairs stand on end, if only he was at liberty to divulge them.

The French government suspends former prime minister Georges Clemenceau’s newspaper L’Homme libre (The Free Man), for criticizing the army’s medical services, or for calling for mild treatment for prisoners of war from Alsace, depending on which version you believe.  Clemenceau will evade the suspension by printing his paper under the name L’Homme Enchainé (The Chained Man).

Germany’s Prince Oskar won’t be returning to the front.  Heart trouble, supposedly.  The 26-year-old prince will live until 1958.

All 53 cadets at the Philippines’ police academy are discovered to be members of a possibly revolutionary secret society.  All resign from the academy.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Today -100: September 29, 1914: Of muzzles, pacifiers, and dead (but not really) princes

NYC Boy-Mayor Mitchel supports his health commissioner’s proposal to muzzle all dogs.

France claims to have re-occupied the bits of the Congo that it ceded to Germany in 1911 in exchange for it recognizing the French “protectorate” over Morocco.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Pacifiers Start North.”  The Pacification Commission, supposed to negotiate between Pancho Villa and Venustiano Carranza.  Villa is demanding Carranza resign as chief executive in favor of Fernando Calderon.

New York primaries: For governor, the Democrats nominate Martin Glynn to keep the job he got through the impeachment of Sulzer (who fails to win the Progressive Party nomination), and the Republicans District Attorney Charles Whitman.  For US senate, to replace the retiring Elihu Root, the D’s reject one Franklin Delano Roosevelt in favor of James Gerard – Tammany stooge, former state supreme court justice, and current ambassador to Germany – by more than 2 to 1.  The R’s pick James W. Wadsworth, Jr., a former speaker of the NY State Assembly but most recently a Texas rancher.  His wife Alice Hay Wadsworth (daughter of John Hay, Abraham Lincoln’s personal secretary and McKinley’s secretary of state) founded the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage.

The Albanian Senate elects a new prince, Burhan-Hamid, to replace Prince William, who fled a month ago (though neglecting to abdicate).  Nothing will come of this.

WHICH GERMAN PRINCE HAS SUPPOSEDLY DIED THIS TIME?  It’s Adelbert, yet again, killed by... DUM DUM DUM... a GERMAN bullet.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Today -100: September 28, 1914: Get your popcorn, we’ve got a train crash movie

Pope Benedict is not making any public statement about the destruction of the cathedral at Rheims.

Russia bans all Germans and Austrians from the vicinity of the fortresses of Petrograd, Kronstadt, and Vigorg.  The German language is also banned in those areas.

48 Colorado coal companies respond to Pres. Wilson’s plan for a strike truce.  They reject half of the recommendations (the ones that apply to the owners rather than the miners).  They reject re-hiring all the strikers and establishing grievance committees (who needs them when there are no real grievances anyway?).  And they want the federal troops to remain in Colorado until the UMW crawls away and the miners are disarmed.

Carranza will give up the post of First Chief next week, which used to be one of Villa’s demands, although now he’s demanding that no military leader in the revolution be a candidate for the presidency for at least 6 months, which doesn’t fit in with Carranza’s plans to run for the office.

Supposedly the Austrian public are not being allowed to talk to wounded soldiers, and three wounded soldiers who spoke to their families about conditions at the front were arrested.

Germany is mad at the Netherlands for releasing the British sailors it rescued from those three ships sunk by the U-boat, instead of interning them.  Near as I can tell, neutral Holland did exactly what international law called for.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Unburied Dead Strew Lorraine.”

Vitagraph almost kills several actors while making the film “The Juggernaut” about a train crash.  Everyone watching Rose Dugan (who doesn’t even appear in the imdb credits) almost drown thought her cries for help were just acting, evidently never having heard of SILENT movies.  The movie shows a real wreck of a real train.  The engineer (in real life, I mean) set the train going and jumped off, but it went a lot faster than it was supposed to, almost taking out one of the cameramen, and did take out one of the cameras).  When the engine hit the water its boiler exploded, which was unintended.  Compared to the usual use of hilariously obvious models for such scenes (Hitchcock’s Blackmail comes to mind), this film is still pretty spectacular.  Here’s a 3-minute preview of the restored version, including the crash scene and some not very good acting:

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Today -100: September 27, 1914: Tales will long be told and songs sung of the Battle of Coco Beach

A negro is lynched near Rochelle, Georgia for killing an overseer.

The Netherlands, which is neutral in the war, declares martial law along its border with Germany in order to prevent the smuggling of food and other goods into Germany.

The Salvation Army is banned from collecting alms in Los Angeles, where charities are required to spend all their funds within the city.

In 1914 Iceland had 1,300 telephones for a population of 85,000.  OK, a bit random, but I thought it was interesting.

The US Congress is debating a bill on the Philippines.  Republicans say this is the wrong time, given the world situation, to which Rep. Finis Garrett (D-Tenn.) replies, “Why, forsooth, is it inopportune...” which leads to the question, When was the last time someone used “forsooth” in a congressional debate?

French troops have seized Coco Beach in the German colony of Kamerun in what I’d like to think is called the Battle of Coco Beach.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Today -100: September 26, 1914: Of war revenue, POWs, and postcards

Villa and Carranza’s forces clash in Sonora State.

The US has decided to postpone evacuating its troops from Vera Cruz, supposedly because it hasn’t worked out the details of handing over the customs house.

The War Revenue Bill passes the House of Representatives 234-135.  No Republicans voted for it.

The British Admiralty publishes the reports of the surviving officers of the three ships sunk by the U-boat in the North Sea, and puts much of the blame on the captains of the second and third ship for making themselves targets by hanging around to collect the survivors of the first ship.  Orders are issued to all the ships of His Majesty’s Navy to put military considerations over humanitarian ones in the future.

In preparing for an exchange of prisoners with Russia, Germany has to admit that it holds only 50,000 Russian soldiers, not the 250,000 it’s been claiming.

Australian forces capture the town of Friedrich Wilhelm, capital of Kaiser-Wilhelmsland in German New Guinea.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Austria claims that Serbian Major Vojislav Tankosić, one of the conspirators in the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, whose arrest Austria demanded in its ultimatum to Serbia, is dead.  He isn’t.

The NYT reproduces the pre-written postcards provided to British soldiers:

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Today -100: September 25, 1914: Of common colds and common foes

Theodore Roosevelt is campaigning in New York for the Progressive candidate for US senate, Raymond Robins, a former coalminer, cowboy, union organizer, lawyer and Alaska gold prospector, among other professions.  His sister Elizabeth is an actress, writer and suffrage activist living in England, where she was the first English-language Hedda Gabler.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Kaiser Has a Cold.”  The poor dear caught the sniffles visiting soldiers near Verdun.  (Update: three days later the Times claims he fell into a water-logged trench.  As was the custom).

The Germans are using one of the lesser-mentioned but deadly twentieth-century military innovations: searchlights.

Emmeline Pankhurst gives a recruitment speech, saying that a war to crush militarism has the approval of suffragettes.  I can think of a few suffragettes who don’t approve the war, not least her daughter Sylvia.  Mrs P: “When the proper time comes, we shall resume that fight, but for the present we must all do our best to fight a common foe.”

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones

Obama addressed the UN today.

“We come together at a crossroads between war and peace”. Funny, seems to me like a pretty straight road from war to warsville.

“Russian aggression in Europe recalls the days when large nations trampled small ones in pursuit of territorial ambition.” You mean it recalls every single day in human history?

“The brutality of terrorists in Syria and Iraq forces us to look into the heart of darkness.” Or at least the Cliff’s Notes.

He complains about Russia sending troops into Ukraine, because, as the UN Charter clearly states, “borders are sacrosanct unless it’s Syria or something.”

“This is a vision of the world in which might makes right -- a world in which one nation’s borders can be redrawn by another”. Er, how does he think the border of Ukraine was drawn in the first place? Especially when he’s talking about Crimea.

“We believe that right makes might -- that bigger nations should not be able to bully smaller ones, and that people should be able to choose their own future.” Which is why we’re teaming up with Saudi Arabia to bomb Syria and Iraq.

“If the world acts together, we can make sure that all of our children enjoy lives of opportunity and dignity.” Dignity? Has he SEEN our children?

“Of course, terrorism is not new. Speaking before this Assembly, President Kennedy put it well: ‘Terror is not a new weapon,’ he said.” Actually, he was speaking (in 1961) about the Russian blockade of West Berlin. not about terrorism.

“we have reaffirmed again and again that the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam.” Because it gets a big laugh every time.

“Belief in permanent religious war is the misguided refuge of extremists who cannot build or create anything”. What, has he never heard of Hobby Lobby?

“No God condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning -- no negotiation -- with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force.” Fortunately the US speaks jive the language of force.

“The ideology of ISIL or al Qaeda or Boko Haram will wilt and die if it is consistently exposed and confronted and refuted in the light of day.” Because if there’s one thing that stops people becoming violent militant insurgents, it’s reasoned debate.

“And here I’d like to speak directly to young people across the Muslim world. You come from a great tradition that stands for education, not ignorance; innovation, not destruction; the dignity of life, not murder. Those who call you away from this path are betraying this tradition, not defending it.” Obama really has to learn that he can’t lecture everybody on every subject. He does not get to tell Muslims what Islam is. Especially since the only options he’s allowing people born into the Muslim “tradition” is between different ways of practicing Islam. No experimenting with Zen Buddhism or deciding that atheism makes sense to you.

He mentions Ferguson, but somehow sees it as a positive example of... something: “But we welcome the scrutiny of the world -- because what you see in America is a country that has steadily worked to address our problems, to make our union more perfect, to bridge the divides that existed at the founding of this nation. America is not the same as it was 100 years ago, or 50 years ago, or even a decade ago.” Yeah, the police are better armed. “Because we hold our leaders accountable”. Unlike the police.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Today -100: September 24, 1914: Of traitors, brutal and unholy wars, zeppelins, spies, and patents

Pancho Villa declares himself in revolt against “the traitor Carranza,” will march on the capital.

Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, calls the European war the “most brutal and unholy war in the history of mankind.”  Well, to be fair, by definition one war does have to be the most brutal and unholy war in the history of mankind.

London has reduced its street lighting by 2/3 out of fear of zeppelin attack (which hasn’t happened yet).

Germany suspends the socialist newspaper Vorwärts for three days for, depending on which story you read, 1) unfavorably comparing the treatment of prisoners by Germany with that by Britain and France, 2) saying that a German advance was actually a retreat, or 3) printing a letter from a soldier complaining about moldy bread.

The London Times thinks the sinking of those three cruisers yesterday was caused by German spies in Britain.

The German ambassador to the US says that Russian troops are brutalizing Jews in the parts of Galicia they’re occupying.

Austria-Hungary and Britain are cancelling each other’s patents.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The mad bomber strikes again

Today Obama made a three-minute statement to announce that he’s bombing yet another country.  Syria, if you’re keeping track at home.

“Today, the American people give thanks for the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform...”  Extraordinary service?  Bombing Muslim countries could hardly be more ordinary

“We were joined in this action by our friends and partners -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, and Qatar.”  He didn’t say which of these countries are our friends and which are our partners.

“the people and governments in the Middle East are rejecting ISIL”.  Well, the governments.  It’s not like any of those countries care what their people think, any more than Obama does.

“we will ... ramp up our effort to train and equip the Syrian opposition, who are the best counterweight to ISIL and the Assad regime.”  First, note that he refers to the Syrian opposition in the singular, like it’s one united band of brothers.  Second, note that the Manic Pixie Dream Insurgents (© Tom Tomorrow) aren’t being touted as a government-in-waiting for Syria, but as a counterweight, which I guess means their function is to keep the bloody civil war going without resolution for another few years.

“Last night, we also took strikes to disrupt plotting against the United States and our allies by seasoned al Qaeda operatives in Syria who are known as the Khorosan Group.”  ISIL, the Khorosan Group – do you ever feel like we’re being retconned?  “No, no we’ve been afraid of these guys for years, don’t know why you’ve never heard of them before, they’re like the Cardassians on Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

“I’ve spoken to leaders in Congress and I’m pleased that there is bipartisan support for the actions we are taking.”  Since there won’t be a vote, we’ll just have to take his word for it, because he’s “spoken to” leaders in Congress.  Come to think of it, he said “leaders” rather than “the leaders.”

“America is always stronger when we stand united” – and nothing says united like one man making decisions entirely by himself with no legal authority – “and that unity sends a powerful message to the world that we will do what’s necessary to defend our country.”  And quite a bit of shit that’s not necessary or advisable.  As usual.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Today -100: September 23, 1914: I’ve been looking all morning for Armageddon

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Prince Adelbert, Kaiser Wilhelm’s third son, is reported dead, for the second time this month.

Serb and Montenegrin troops have reportedly captured Sarajevo.  (Update: No, they haven’t.)

Some naturalized Italian-American citizens who were visiting Italy are being detained for military service.  Italy doesn’t have a naturalization treaty with the US, so it doesn’t recognize their US citizenship.

The French Army is considering changing its uniforms to something less colorful (red pants!) and target-y, as rather a lot of officers are getting sniped.  I don’t know if anyone’s talking about steel helmets, which haven’t been issued to soldiers in any army yet.

The NYT says the seeming pro-Allied bias of its war reporting is due to Germany banning war reporters and only issuing curt official statements.

In occupied Brussels, anyone found by the Germans with a French or English newspaper is shot, or at least that’s what they say they’ll do.

The British armored cruisers Cressy, Aboukir, and Hogue are sunk by a German submarine in the North Sea, with 1,400 or 1,500 lost, and 837 rescued by a Dutch steamer.  The 14-year-old obsolete ships really shouldn’t have been out there.  The British are saying the attack was by five U-boats, two of which were sunk, but it was a single U-boat, which wasn’t damaged, much less sunk.

Britain denies stories that Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey called for Germany to be carved up between France and Russia and its commerce taken over by Britain.

(click to embiggen.  Caption:  Old Lady: “I’ve brought back this war map you sold me yesterday, Mr. Brown. It’s not up to date. I’ve been looking all morning for Armageddon, and can’t find it marked anywhere.”)

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Today -100: September 22, 1914: So many of the Louvains of which we now hear so much

Pope Benedict is pissed at the destruction of the Cathedral of Rheims, says he cannot “believe it possible, in such a civilized epoch as the twentieth century, to be plunged back to the time of Attila.”

Brig. Gen. Christiaan Beyers, commandant-general of the South African army, resigns over Britain’s invasion of German Southwest Africa (Namibia), saying that South Africa had no quarrel with Germany.  He discounts all the talk of German barbarity, at least compared to that of the British during the Boer War: “With very few exceptions all the [Boer] farms, not to mention many towns, were so many of the Louvains of which we now hear so much.”

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The London Standard claims that Bavarian troops are almost on the verge of mutiny after fatal clashes in Brussels with Prussian troops who were defiling the portrait of Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, who was a Bavarian princess before marrying King Albert.

Supposedly, Austrian Field Marshal Vodinowski is executed for spying for the Russians and Field Marshal Foreich is fired after a particularly disastrous battle and shoots himself (the only Google references to Foreich refer to this incident, so I’m not convinced he actually existed).

The War Tax Bill is progressing through Congress.  It will replace the expected $100 million shortfall in import duties caused by the war with various stamp duties, taxes on brokers and museums and concert halls and theaters and bowling alleys and pool halls and tobacco dealers, and gasoline and beer and wine.  Republicans are insisting that no new taxes are needed and the $100 million could simply be cut from the budget.

Anthony Comstock files a complaint about the play “A Beautiful Adventure” (by Robert de Flers and Gaston Armand De Caillavet), which he calls “immoral, indecent, and totally improper.”  The assistant district attorney is being sent to judge for himself.  Director Charles Frohman says he’ll sue Comstock for slander.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Joshua Narins

Josh Narins died yesterday, after a protracted, cranky battle with scleroderma. He was 42-ish.

Josh had a vast online presence, from Twitter to Reddit to
his blog – pardon me, blogs, to his website on his theories about the interrelationship between language, nationality and conflict, to his numerous comments on bulletin boards and blogs, including this one, to Facebook and to other forms of social media you or I have never even heard of, but he did. And emails. His first email to me was precisely one week shy of ten years ago, and there have been hundreds since. He embodied the intellectual equality of the cyber age, corresponding with anyone and everyone who would respond to him, from the lowliest blogger to professors, politicians and Nobel laureates.  Despite a disease that made it all but impossible to sleep or eat, he was recommending readings on Islamic thought and movies and arguing with people on Twitter just a week ago, and now he is silent.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Today -100: September 21, 1914: The senseless Berserker fury knows no bounds

Rheims Cathedral is still on fire.  The French protest “this act of odious vandalism” and say there was no military reason to shell the cathedral.  The Germans say the French were shooting from that direction.  The London Times says “The senseless Berserker fury knows no bounds.”

Princes currently rumored to have been shot and wounded: Prince George of Serbia, Prince August Wilhelm of Germany.  Also, a Swiss official just back from Vienna says Austrian Emperor Franz Josef died a week ago but they’re keeping it secret to prevent a revolution.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: A German newspaper claims that on July 22 either British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey or the former ambassador to Germany said that the only way to avoid a civil war over Irish Home Rule was a war with Germany.

Pancho Villa declares himself Dictator of the North after a fight with Constitutionalist General Obregon, in which they barely refrain from shooting each other.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Today -100: September 20, 1914: Of cathedrals, flanks, submarines, footballers, and horses

The Germans shell the 13th century Rheims Cathedral, setting it on fire. This will feature heavily in Allied propaganda for some time to come, as in this French cartoon

and this 1915 Irish recruiting poster.

Headline of the Day -100: “PUSHING IN GERMAN FLANKS.; Allies Fail to Budge the Invaders’ Centre, However.” War, or bad sex?

A while back, I was saying that no one is defining their war aims. Well, the London Times says the war will go on “until German militarism, its causes, and its effects are destroyed once and for all. ... Not until the German people have been compelled to perceive this struggle in its true light, as a revolt of the invincible forces of civilization against the systematized ethic of barbarism forged by German potentates and Professors, can there be a prospect of lasting peace for the world.” See, and I didn’t think there were any concrete war aims.

An Australian submarine sinks, or at any rate disappears. Probably an accident. Anyway, Australia evidently had submarines.

Mexico’s Not-Provisional-President-Because-Woodrow-Wilson-Said-He-Can’t-Call-Himself-That Carranza orders the expulsion of 400 Catholic priests and nuns from the country.

Headline of the Day -100: “English Soccer Players Go to War.”

The French Army is selling off several hundred horses captured from the Germans.  They can’t be used by the French Army, because they only speak German, so they’re being sold off to farmers (who had their horses requisitioned by the army).

Columbia, already the largest university in the country, will have its largest class ever this year, as people who’d expected to study in Europe think better of it.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Today -100: September 19, 1914: Whoever knows the good-natured character of our troops cannot seriously pretend that they are inclined to needless or frivolous destruction

Austrian police ban the spreading of news about Austria’s war losses.

Automobiles are banned from leaving Paris except for military ambulances and the cars of officials and journalists.  Possibly to thwart the use of cars by spies, who are supposedly whizzing around Paris identifying concentrations of troops.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Von Kluck Flanked?”  That’s German Gen. Alexander Heinrich Rudolph von Kluck, the inspiration behind this British soldiers’ song, sung to the tune of Pop Goes the Weasel:
Kaiser Bill is feeling ill,
The Crown Prince, he’s gone barmy.
We don’t give a cluck for old von Fluck
And all his bleedin’ army.
Germany distributes a pamphlet in Italy, which says “With German energy we have determined to win, and we invite the Italians to win with us.”  Sure, they can bring their Italian... energy.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: a Belgian courier arrives in London with news that the Germans have mined all the public buildings and large private homes in Brussels, and filled the schools with straw, preparing to blow up and burn down the city.

Fog of War etc: Alfred Zimmermann, Germany’s assistant foreign secretary, adds a new detail to Germany’s propaganda about the Louvain massacre: the treacherous civilians included women and children who blinded wounded German soldiers.  Obviously, the “severest measures” were required, indeed were forced on the Germans, for their self-preservation.  “Whoever knows the good-natured character of our troops cannot seriously pretend that they are inclined to needless or frivolous destruction.”

Repulsive Headline of the Day -100:  “Repulse Germans 10 Times.”  My favorite bit in this dispatch from the First Battle of the Aisne: “All the next day the battle was of a ding-dong nature”.

Gen. Funston, in charge of the US occupation of Vera Cruz, wants Pres. Wilson to delay the ending of the occupation until October 10 so that all the refugees and priests and nuns can escape before the Constitutionalists inevitably slaughter them all, or something.

Evidently French youths have not been allowed to volunteer for the army before the age of 20 without permission of their father.  Now the government will allow mothers to give that permission, but only if the father is absent.

Germany is supposedly trying to conscript ethnic Germans in the parts of Russia it’s occupying, and hanging those who refuse to comply.

John Rizzo, a prisoner at Sing Sing prison who served as waiter to the warden, escapes after the warden’s dinner party.

The British Parliament suspends the £3,000/year annuity of the Dowager Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, a cousin of Queen Victoria who married a German 70-some years ago.

Turkey orders newspapers to call the renamed city of Petrograd by its old name St Petersburg.  I don’t know why.  Probably just to piss Russia off.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Today -100: September 18, 1914: Of feet, friendly fire, and withdrawals

Perhaps fortunately, I don’t have an image of the full page of atrocity photos printed in today -100’s Daily Mail, including one of a Belgian holding up the charred remains of his daughter’s foot.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The London Times reports that a bunch of German warships accidentally fired on each other.

Fog of War of the Day -100: Austria is supposedly trying to arrange a peace with Russia.

Woodrow Wilson says he ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Vera Cruz because he believes the Mexicans are now able to run their own country.  He does not say why it was up to him to decide when they were ready to run their own country. I guess he thought it was just obvious.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Today -100: September 17, 1914: Of dum-dums, liberty and the realization of national views, and stacks of corpses

Woodrow Wilson responds to Kaiser Wilhelm’s complaints about the alleged use of dum-dum bullets by the French and British, refusing to express any opinion at this time, saying it would be unwise, premature and inconsistent with American neutrality to do so.  He gives an identically phrased response to Belgian complaints about German atrocities.

When the Germans thought they had captured parts of France, they set about proclaiming themselves the new governors and putting up placards saying that if there was any sabotage, the commune (town) in which it occurred would face severe collective punishment.  Also, “Any locality where persons of the German Army are traitorously wounded, poisoned, or killed will be immediately burnt.”

A Russia proclamation being distributed in the parts of the Austro-Hungarian Empire its troops are occupying says that Russia “brings liberty and the realization of your national views” to oppressed nationalities.  Who knew?  Perhaps the Poles of Austrian Galicia can ask the Poles of the Russian Empire about that liberty and realization of national views.

One thing we’re not hearing much about is war goals.  That proclamation suggests that Russia intends the dismantling of the Habsburg Empire, but it’s short on specifics and obviously more propaganda than policy statement.  The rest of what we hear about war aims is mostly speculation and rumor: Germany wants to annex Belgium, Britain wants the complete dismantling of the German Navy.  Obviously France wants Alsace and Lorraine back and Serbia wants Bosnia, but even those aren’t being openly announced.

Rioters in Italy demand that Italy enter the war on the allies’ side.  The Radicals seem especially bloodthirsty, but everyone wants to get Italy’s claims for new territory (at Austria’s expense) in before everyone else divides up all the good bits.

French Gen. Joffre supposedly escapes an artillery ambush, thanks to fast driving by his chauffeur, a race-car driver.

Irish Nationalist leader John Redmond, evidently satisfied with postponed Home Rule (and postponed civil war), calls for Irish men to join the army.

The London Times says that during the battle of the Marne, at one spot German soldiers built a barricade of corpses six feet high.

The US resumes deporting illegal aliens, which was stopped at the start of the war.

The Colorado miners’ convention accepts Woodrow Wilson proposed three-year truce.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Today -100: September 16, 1914: The pen is mightier

The Allies recapture Rheims.

Pres. Wilson orders the withdrawal of US troops from Vera Cruz and thus from Mexico.  Carranza seems to be obeying Wilson’s demands that he not take the provisional presidency.  He will therefore be able, under the Mexican constitution, to run for the presidency.  It’s not clear to me why Wilson is so concerned about abiding by the details of the Mexican constitution.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Two of the German officers involved in the Zabern affair in 1913, in which the German military trod rather heavily over Alsatian civilians, are reported killed in action.  They aren’t, but Lt. Baron von Förstner will be be killed in action in 1915.

The French have supposedly taken prisoner the German general who would have been Governor of Paris if the Germans had, you know, captured Paris.

Germany threatens China for its supposedly allowing Japanese troops to use its territory in their march on Kiao-Chau.  In response it will “deal with” China “as it sees fit.”

The British House of Lords passes the bill to postpone Irish Home Rule. Tory leader Andrew Bonar Law makes a speech in favor of postponed treason: when the war is over and Home Rule is implemented, he says, Tories will support Ulstermen in whatever steps they think necessary to “maintain their rights.”

The Chamber of German-American Commerce will try to get Belgian movies showing German troops committing atrocities in Belgium banned in the US, as violating the spirit of neutrality.  They’re not even claiming that these films distort the truth, just that they would inflame public opinion.

That article quotes a letter sent by the National Board of Censors to movie producers last month asking that any war scenes (re-enactments, there is as yet no real war footage) be preceded by a request to the audience to “refrain from any expressions of partisanship as the pictures are shown.”

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease’s loss of influence continues.  Early in the year, his candidates for the Democratic State Convention almost all lost, and badly.  Last month, he lost his bid for the US Senate, and now his choice to succeed him as governor loses spectacularly to Richard Manning, who is more or less a progressive, by South Carolina standards.

Click to enbiggen.  The papers Kaiser Wilhelm is writing with the lie-ink say “Germans approaching Petersburg,” “Great Austrian victory,” “British fleet wiped out,” “Paris in flames.”  Envelopes are addressed to the American press, the Italian press, Dutch, Swedish.  Caption: “I’m not quite satisfied with the sword. Perhaps, after all, the pen is mightier!”

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Today -100: September 15, 1914: Of marnes, pro-Germs, race treachery, and refugees

The First Battle of the Marne.  Germany’s chance of a blitzkrieg capture of Paris as called for under the Schlieffen Plan, already hopelessly behind schedule due to Belgium’s surprising (to Germany) unwillingness to allow itself to be used as an autobahn, is definitively lost.

Is it an unintentional typo that refers to a made-up interview with William Jennings Bryan that appears in an Argentine newspaper as showing a “pro-Germ view?”

Irish Home Rule will be enacted this week, finally.  Well, put on the statute books.  Asquith intends to postpone implementation for at least a year, and modify the bill, possibly excluding Ulster, before it goes into effect.  The disestablishment of the Church of England in Wales will also be postponed.

Albert M.C. McMaster, a professor of modern languages at Sweet Briar College, writes to the NYT to refute the idea that England siding with France against Germany is race treachery.  In fact, he says, the English are racially most similar to the French, both being based in the Celt.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100:  Rumors in Paris that Gen. Alexandre Percin has been executed as a traitor for having failed to defend Lille and ignoring orders to relieve the fortress Namur.  It was considered suspicious that he had a German wife.  I think the wife bit is wrong, and I know the rest of it is.

Fog of War: Germany says there is a revolt going on in India. There isn’t.

First World War Problems: an American woman stranded in Britain without funds applies to the American Relief Committee (at the Savoy) for passage home, but goes on hunger strike when she finds out it will be third class.  She gives up in the afternoon when the chairman, a Mr. Herbert Hoover, offers her 4s to buy herself dinner.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Today -100: September 14, 1914: Of war shit

Germany is having trouble fighting a two-front war against France and Russia.  It’s not currently doing well in either.

And it’s not getting much help from Austria.  The Russian war minister is bragging that the Austrian army is so broken that Russia can safely ignore it and concentrate on Germany.  And he’s not exaggerating much.

Serbian forces, surprisingly aggressive in their tactics or perhaps figuring that the Austrian army has its hands full with the Russians, will try to capture Budapest (meeting up with Russian troops).

Belgian lawyers and judges are on strike, refusing to conduct trials while the Germans keep the public out of courtrooms in violation of Belgian law.

German troops invade Kenya, because why not.

Theodore Roosevelt has been making no public comments about the war.  He must be about ready to explode.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


John Kerry was in Egypt today, talking with his good friends in the coup government.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Today -100: September 13, 1914: It’s just a flesh wound

War Headlines of the Day -100:
Prof. Brander Matthews, a literature professor at Columbia, thinks the European war should be great for literature.  Although he predicts that it will take the form of drama rather than novels (the thought that it might be films doesn’t seem to have occurred to him).

South African PM Louis Botha says South Africa will back Britain in this war.  The whole Boer War thing is like totally forgotten.

Rumor of the Day -100: Two or even three of Kaiser Wilhelm’s sons are reported killed. I’m guessing we’re going to keep seeing these stories, so I’ll just do a major spoiler now and say that none of the princes were killed in action during World War I.  One did commit suicide soon after, though, and one became a Nazi.

Britain, France, Russia and Italy tell Turkey that it can’t unilaterally abrogate the treaties giving their citizens immunity from Turkish courts.  The US will say the same.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Today -100: September 12, 1914: We must go forth unflinchingly to the end

Supposedly, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria have signed an agreement to fight Turkey if it enters the war.

Woodrow Wilson instructs William Jennings Bryan to tell the Turkish ambassador to stop talking about lynchings in the South.

Rumor of the Day -100: the Turkish crown prince and the war minister are said to have either gotten in a duel, in which the latter received a fatal bullet, or, less formally, the war minister got angry during a discussion of policy and took a couple of shots at the prince, who returned fire.

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill gives a speech with the Churchillian line, “It is our life against Germany’s.  Upon that there must be no compromise or truce.  We must go forth unflinchingly to the end.”

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

We will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq

Last night, Obama gave a speech announcing our next war. Hurrah.

“We took out Osama bin Laden... and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia.” Enough with the euphemisms for killing.

“Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.” Safer than what, he doesn’t say. Gaza?

“We can’t erase every trace of evil from the world.” We must invest in giant-eraser technology.

He does the “Holy Roman Empire” thing on the Islamic State. “ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’” I have a problem with non-Muslims declaring what is or is not Islamic: Your beliefs which I do not consider to be true are not the same as these other beliefs which I also do not consider to be true. If you don’t believe in fairies, you have no standing to tell someone they believe in the wrong type of fairies.

“No religion condones the killing of innocents.” Innocents no, heathens, heretics, apostates, followers of false gods, people who believe in the wrong type of fairies, and bystanders killed in “just” wars, yes. Also homosexuals. And witches.

“And ISIL is certainly not a state. It is recognized by no government, nor by the people it subjugates.” I wasn’t aware that the US had a problem with Middle Eastern regimes not recognized by the people they subjugate. Must be a new thing.

“Last month, I ordered our military to take targeted action against ISIL to stop its advances.” Targeted action = blowing shit up.

“we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes”. As long as it’s systematic.

“we will not get dragged into another ground war in Iraq.” Obama - he kept us out of war.

“I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL...” He does not explain from what this authority magically derives. “...but I believe we are strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together.” He uses the word “believe” because it’s purely theoretical at this point. “So I welcome congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that Americans are united in confronting this danger.” How can you welcome it when you haven’t asked for it, as specified in the Constitution?

“Now, it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL.” Ah, dehumanizing the enemy, classic.

“taking out terrorists who threaten us”. There’s that euphemism again.

“America is better positioned today to seize the future than any other nation on Earth.” We’re invading the future now?

“Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world.” Like death and taxes, with both of which American leadership is intimately associated.

“It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists.” Not condescending to the entire rest of the world at all.

“Tonight, I ask for your support in carrying that leadership forward.” Although, like the “support” of Congress, it’s basically irrelevant to what I’m going to do anyway. Which is why this was such a bland speech, not intended to rally the nation or win over sceptics.

Listeners to this speech will be left unenlightened about what Obama’s goals are, how they can be measured, how he intends to go about fulfilling them, how long it will take, and how much it will cost.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Today -100: September 11, 1914: But is it good for the Jews?

German troops invade Nyassaland (then a British colony, now Malawi).

Japan denies being in negotiations with Britain to send troops to Europe.

The NYT complains about the senseless censorship by the warring countries of war news, such as the cutting of the names of places in which battles occur, despite the enemy presumably knowing that they were in a battle there.  Yet, they point out, that story yesterday about the Algerian soldier keeping a German head as a souvenir got through, giving support to German protests against the employment of colonial soldiers by France and Britain.  The NYT notes that this protest is just like the American colonists’ complaint in the Declaration of Independence about the British employment of “merciless Indian savages.”

The Women’s Freedom League (UK) points out, “One share of the arguments brought against the enfranchisement of women is to the effect that since women have no share in war they should not be given a voice in decisions of peace and war. After the sack of Louvain... can it be said any longer that women have no share in the horrors of war?”

Turkey abrogates the treaties dating back to 1056 exempting various foreigners from Turkish courts.

France says that Germany is making false claims about British and French troops using dum-dum bullets in order to justify doing so themselves.

The NYT is amused at the competing attempts of Russia and Austria, as well as France and Britain, to appeal to the Jewish residents of the regions of Russia in which the two armies are presently fighting.  The Times thinks that all the promises made will have to be kept, so this is a turning point for the better for the Jews.  Um, hurrah?

South African Prime Minister Louis Botha will not allow the union leaders he summarily deported to Britain some months ago to return.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Today -100: September 10, 1914: My heart bleeds for Louvain

Kaiser Wilhelm, in a letter to Woodrow Wilson (leaked to a Danish newspaper; the text will leak a week later) which mostly consists of complaints about supposed British and French use of dum-dum bullets (which they deny, although some soldiers are probably making their own) – “I solemnly protest to you against the way in which this war is being waged by our opponents, whose methods are making it one of the most barbarous in history” – and the audacity of Belgium’s “bloodthirsty population” resisting German occupation, says he regrets the necessity for reprisals and “My heart bleeds for Louvain,” and hints that he’s willing to negotiate an end to the war.  Britain is saying that any peace would require compensation by Germany to Belgium.

One discovery from the war: dirigibles are a lot less useful than expected, and more vulnerable to artillery.

Headline of the Day -100 (L.A. Times):  “Please Don’t Fire, It’s Our Airship.”  The British Admiralty announces that one of its airships will be cruising over London and please don’t shoot at it.

The Seattle school board bans any mention of the war by teachers.  Similarly, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Edward Hyatt issues an order to teachers not to discuss the war “until the war has closed, until man recovers his senses.”  “Is it not a worthy task, to keep the feet of a hundred million people in the path of honest industry and away from the gory fields of war?”

One of France’s Algerian soldiers brought back a trophy: a German’s head.  He is not happy that it was taken away from him.

A Butte, Montana barber who refused to cut the hair of a national guard private, for fear of offending his regular customers who don’t like the military occupation of Butte to break the miners’ strike.  Given martial law, the barber is tried by a major, who says he is guilty of insulting the governor, the uniform of the National Guard, the US Army, and the American flag, and sentences him to 60 days.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Today -100: September 9, 1914: The foreign barbarian yoke is gone

Woodrow Wilson proclaims October 4 a day for Americans to pray for peace in Europe.

Austria, whose troops (with Germany’s) are in Russia’s Polish territories, issues a proclamation to the Jews there asking for their support, saying that Austria brings equal rights and religious freedom.  “The foreign barbarian yoke is gone.”

British Chancellor David Lloyd George plans to out-spend his way to victory: “The first hundred million our enemy can spend as well as we, but the last they cannot, thank God.”

Christabel Pankhurst gives a speech suggesting that militant women might be able to rouse spirit of militancy in men.  She says, “The defeat of our country and the victory of Germany would be a calamity from the women’s point of view.”  Christabel is in the process of adjusting her rhetoric: where before Asquith’s government represented the worst of masculine attitudes, now Germany does.  Speaking of Asquith, she says, “I agree with the Prime Minister thoroughly at this time, and I hope he will never disagree again with me.”

Inez Milholland, who has mostly retired from suffrage activism to pursue her legal career, is suing  the Sociological Research Film Corporation for payment of her legal fees for her defense of the film “The Inside of the White Slave Traffic.” They respond that she can’t collect legal fees because as a Swede she is ineligible to practice law in New York (they’re right that she lost her American citizenship when she married a foreigner, although he’s actually Dutch not Swedish).

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Today -100: September 8, 1914: Of vigorous shelling, deadly traps, and vulgar traps

It looks like the immediate threat of a German attack on Paris is over.

War Headlines of the Day -100:

The Romanian people would really like to join the war on Russia’s side, but the king of Romania really wouldn’t like this.  Coincidentally, all of the king of Romania’s money is in German banks.

Pres. Wilson offers miners and mineowners in Colorado a plan to end the strike (and allow the removal of federal troops): a 3-year truce (he uses that word); striking miners to be re-employed; elected grievance committees, a majority of whose members must be married; no mine guards employed; no union recognition; no picketing or colonies for 3 years.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The London Standard: “One [Belgian] officer took his solemn oath that he had seen an infant carried through the streets on a bayonet.”

Turkey is rejecting plans for American naval vessels to help get Red Cross aid to Christians in Turkey.  The Turkish ambassador to the US claims that Britain is talking about atrocity stories in a “vulgar trap” to somehow get the US involved in the World War (that only makes sense if Turkey joins the war, but everyone now assumes that that’s inevitable).  The ambassador says that yes, there have been massacres, but the Armenians and Maronites were massacred “not as Christians but as political agitators engaged in undermining the Ottoman state.”  Just like Russia kills Jews and France kills Algerians and England kills Indians and the US lynches blacks and waterboards Filipinos.

During the sacking of Louvain, a Swedish diplomat asked a German lieutenant if he could take a picture.  In a delightful misunderstanding, the lieut., not understanding that Mr. Pousette meant he wanted to take a photograph with his camera, pointed him to a mansion which he said had particularly good pictures and told him to help himself.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, running for US Senate in NY as an anti-Tammany Democrat, thinks that Boss Murphy’s preferred candidate, Ambassador to Germany James Gerard, wouldn’t run if nominated, because ambassador to Germany is kind of an important job just at the moment.  “I am willing to concede the servility of some of the followers of Murphy, who run or withdraw from a ticket just as he decrees; I am not yet willing to believe that he can drag an ambassador away from important duties to make him the respectable figurehead for a bad ticket.”  Spoiler Alert: FDR is quite wrong about that.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Today -100: September 7, 1914: Days big with destiny

The German army invites residents of Louvain, Belgium to return to what’s left of it.  They pinky-swear there will be no more burning and looting if the Belgians behave themselves.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Kaiser Calls out Old Men.”  Some of the Landsturm troops spotted in Belgium have white hair.

Woodrow Wilson won’t campaign for any Democratic candidates for Congress this year.  He strongly hints that he’ll just be sittin’ in Washington, waiting for the warring European countries to ask him to mediate their little differences and save the day.  “These are days big with destiny for the United States, as for the other nations of the world,” he writes to Rep. Frank Doremus.

British newspapers strongly suspect that the agreement between Britain, France and Russia not to come to a separate peace had secret provisions...

1/3 of Oxford undergrads have volunteered for the army.

The Russians capture a German zeppelin.

King Victor Emmanuel of Italy falls off his horse.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Today -100: September 6, 1914: Russia was for the systematic oppression of the individual before it was against it

Germany captures the Rheims fortress.

France, Russia and Britain have signed an agreement not to make a separate peace and pledging to negotiate peace terms jointly.

Germany puts out an official statement on the destruction of Louvain.  It claims, again, falsely, that townies attacked German soldiers “after the Germans had been in pleasant relationship with the inhabitants of Louvain for more than twenty-four hours,” and further that those poor soldiers were “principally of middle-aged and peaceful men, themselves fathers of families.”

Congress is working on  replacing government revenues lost because of the drop in international trade.  They need to make up $100 million and they’re thinking it should mostly come from a tax on beer.

Baron Korff – the name of a baddy in a cheap spy film if ever I heard one – the Russian vice consul in NY, has an op-ed in the Sunday NYT saying that the Allied cause is about fighting German militarism, “accompanied by systematic oppression of the individual residing in German territory.”  That’s a Russian official denouncing the oppression of the individual, which wow.  He claims there was a secret plot, in which the late Archduke Franz Ferdinand was a prime mover, for Germany to annex the Germanic provinces of the Austrian Empire, which would become an exclusively Slavic nation and annex Serbia.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Christabel Emerges.”  The NYT welcomes the return of Miss Pankhurst to England, now that she’ll be agitating for the war, which is much more useful than agitating for the vote: “Christabel has at last found a mission worthy of her powers of reasoning and persuasion.”

The Russian military will allow Jews to be officers for the first time.

The mayor of Barwick, Georgia institutes a $25 fine for anyone found talking about the war.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Today -100: September 5, 1914: Who wants me?

The British Home Office urges that neither work nor relief be given to young single men.

1st appearance of the iconic Kitchener  poster (the model for those Uncle Sam Wants You posters).  Notice how his mustache follows you wherever you go.

Cardinal Mercier, the archbishop of Malines (Mechelen), Belgium, can’t return home from Rome after the conclave that chose the new pope, because the Austrian ambassador to Rome refuses to grant him safe passage unless he denies reports of German atrocities in Belgium.

Switzerland is relaxing and standing down its militia.  Given how badly Germany bogged down in Belgium while violating its neutrality, the Swiss do not think it will now do the same to Switzerland’s.

A NYT editorial attributes the rise of Democratic prospects in November, when until recently a Republican landslide had been expected (in these days before polling, it’s unclear how the NYT is judging electoral prospects), entirely to the European war making petty criticisms of Wilson look petty and putting jingoistic criticisms of Wilson’s relatively cautious approach in Mexico into a new perspective.
Headline of the Day -100:  “MACHINE GUNS IN ACTION.; British Soldiers Tell of the Terrific Execution They Do.”  Terrific.

Although Venustiano Carranza has been calling himself the Provisional President of Mexico for a year, he has now stopped calling himself that, because under the constitution a provisional president can’t run for election as Fully Fledged 100% We Really Mean It President.  The NYT asks, if Carranza isn’t president, who is?  “It is not customary for Mexico to be without a President. She frequently has two at a time.”  And will again.  Soon.

Headline of the Day -100:  “American Spunk Needed.”  The NYT thinks Americans have enough of the stuff to replace various chemical products which had been imported from Germany.

On the remains of the destroyed German cruiser Magdeburg, Russians find cats-o’-nine-tails in officers’ cabins, “and all bore signs of hard usage.”

The good news for Parisians is that the government is providing free trains for them to flee the city.

Supposedly, prayers for the success of Germany and Austria have been ordered said in every mosque in Turkey, which is believed to be the first time Muslims have ever prayed for Christians, or something.

In Britain, the Union of Democratic Control issues a circular letter calling for the end of secret diplomacy, for peace negotiations after the war to reflect the views of people rather than governments (the “Democratic Control” in their name), etc.  This was intended to be low-profile; the letter even says, “When the time is ripe for it, but not before the country is secure from danger, meetings will be organised and speakers provided”.  Ironically, attacks on it by MPs and the Morning Post as a German conspiracy forced the group to go public to explain itself.

Headline of the Day -100 (L.A. Times):  “Antwerp Sees Zeppelin.”

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Today -100: September 4, 1914: Of snow and boots, mobilization, exiles, outgoing princes and incoming popes

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Lady Churchill (Winston’s mother) says that Prince Friedrich Wilhem of Lippe, a general in the German army, committed suicide in shame after his regiment fired on other German troops, mistaking them for Belgians.  In fact, he was killed in battle in the ordinary manner.

Snow of War -100: 72,000 Russian soldiers have supposedly arrived in Scotland on their way to the Western Front (still with snow on their boots, as some very credulous but persistent rumors will have it).

Turkey is mobilizing its army and is expected to declare war on Russia at some point.  Kurds and Christians (Armenians) are resisting being drafted.

The British have captured the German governor of German Samoa and sent him into exile on Fiji, which must totally suck.

Christabel Pankhurst returns to Britain from her long Paris exile.

The (American) National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage will devote itself entirely to supporting the work of the Red Cross in Europe.  The Antis hope the suffragists will join them in a “truce.”

Prince William of Wied, whose venerable line has ruled Albania for lo these many weeks, flees to Italy, never to return.

The Archbishop of Bologna, Della Chiesa, is elected pope.  Benedict XV.

Mexico: Federal Gen. Higinio Aguilar calls on all former soldiers of the former Federal army to help him overthrow Carranza.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Today -100: September 3, 1914: Teach them how to shoot, and do it quickly

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The LA Times reports that Turkey has declared war on the Allies.  Although quoting “authentic word” “on the highest authority,” the LA Times is in fact wrong.

Supposedly, a shell almost killed Albert, King of the Belgians, blowing the rear wheel off his car.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Sioux Had Narrow Escape; Indians from Circus Saw Austrians Kill Many Supposed Spies.”  And saw 300 Serbs summarily executed for allegedly poisoning wells.

A British soldiers tells the London Standard, “The Germans are such sticklers for rules that I have seen their artillery keep firing away at a position of ours after it had been occupied by their own men”.  Never attribute to human error what can be attributed to a national stereotype.

An American newspaper, The Independent, interviews Count Johann von Bernstorff, the German ambassador to the US and Mexico.  It’s hard to say which of his lies is my favorite: Serbia rejected the “most important” of Austria’s demands, that it officially condemn Pan-Slavic propaganda and the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand to the officers of the Serb army; when Austria declared war on Serbia it promised Russia to maintain Serbia’s territorial integrity; France would have invaded Germany through Belgium if Germany hadn’t preemptively invaded Belgium first; the priests of Louvain distributed weapons to civilians who attacked German soldiers and “mutilated and treated [them] with acts of bestial cruelty,” etc.  Bernstorff condemns the use by France and Britain of African and Asiatic troops.

The French government is transferred to Bordeaux, but it does “recommend calmness and resolution” to the people of Paris, you know, the ones who aren’t fleeing to the south.

With Russian troops in East Prussia, the German papers are full of fake atrocity stories of their own: rapes, bayoneting children, etc.  As well as the ludicrous stories of Belgian women and children attacking poor defenseless German soldiers.

Quote of the Day -100: British Secretary of War Lord Kitchener: “Never mind whether they know anything about drill.  It doesn’t matter if they don’t know their right foot from their left. Teach them how to shoot, and do it quickly.”

Serbia is going to invade Austria while it’s otherwise occupied fighting Russian troops.

Despite the rebel victory in Mexico, the US is still occupying Vera Cruz, and says it will continue to do so until after general elections are held and the US recognizes a new Mexican government.

The Senate votes 46-16 for the Federal Trade Commission Bill, which will, among other things, ban interlocking boards of directors for competing companies, ban anti-competitive holding companies, etc.

Butte is under martial law, and the Montana National Guard are arresting leaders of the Mine Workers’ Union, but they cannot locate its president, “Muckie” McDonald.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Today -100: September 2, 1914: Who’s for the front?

The tsar changes St. Petersburg’s name to Petrograd, which sounds less, you know, German.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Kaiser Prepares Turkey for War.”  The Turkish army is supposedly being mobilized, with German officers integrated into it.  This is taken as proof that Turkey will soon enter the war on the German side, although German officers seconded to the Turkish army is nothing new.

It is suggested that if Turkey enters the war and stirs up the Muslims of India, Britain’s ally Japan might send troops to India.

The French introduce a delightful innovation: “steel arrows” dropped from airplanes onto the enemy.

Russia will allow Jewish doctors and students to take Red Cross courses, which they previously were not.

The four richest men in Belgium guarantee the $40 million “war tax” imposed by Germany on Brussels, so the city isn’t destroyed.

Headline of the Day -100:  “French Aviator Cheers Brussels.”  He drops pamphlets saying “Deliverance Soon.”  The Belgians love that movie; “Squea’ lakh ah piggeh!” they shout along with the movie in their delightful Belgian accents.

George Bernard Shaw says that Britain, France and Germany are jointly “committing a crime against civilisation for the benefit of Russia,” “half-civilized Eastern legions to whom we have taught the art of killing by machinery.”  He calls the war an “insane cause,” which we have to fight with all our might.  Whatever, dude.

Sir Edward Carson offers the use of the Ulster Volunteers – you know, the group formed to violently resist the British Army if Home Rule was implemented – for use in the war.

The NYT gleefully insists that “Senator La Follette and his doctrines received a smashing blow today in the [Wisconsin] State primaries”.  Actually, it sounds more like too many of his supporters entered the gubernatorial primary, dividing the vote and allowing old-line Republican Emanuel Philipp – a railroad tycoon, no less – to win the primary.

Don't see comments? Click on the post title to view or post comments.