Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Today -100: June 28, 1917: Over there


The first US troops arrive in France.

The Pan-Russian Congress of Soldiers’ and Workers’ Soviets votes against a separate peace with Germany, but it wants peace now, given that “The present war arose in consequence of aspirations of imperialists, prevailing among the ruling classes of all countries and tending toward the usurpation of markets and submission to their economic and political influence of small and decadent nations.” Decadent? The Congress also opposes a war that ends with the defeat of one side, which would only lead to more wars.

6 suffragists are sentenced to 3 days for picketing the White House. Too short for a hunger strike.

The NYT claims Lenin just attempted a rising against the Russian government, with German money.

Eleftherios Venizelos takes office as Greek prime minister.

The US War Department rejects the offer of some short dude to form “bantam regiments” of men too small to join the army (below 5’4” and 120 pounds).


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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Today -100: June 27, 1917: Of air raids


The recent German raids on London by fixed-wing planes have led to demands for reprisals in kind on German towns, but Minister of War Lord Derby tells the House of Lords that Britain should not try to imitate German brutality. Baron Montagu says that the Germans have a perfect right to bomb London.


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Monday, June 26, 2017

Today -100: June 26, 1917: Of pickets and prohibition


The situation in front of the White House is escalating, with 12 suffragists arrested yesterday. Notably, only one of them is married.

Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore opposes the prohibition clause in the food bill.


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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Today -100: June 25, 1917: It would be better for you to face ten German bayonets than one tigree mother of Russia and the curse she lays upon you


Headline of the Day -100:


The Russian Women’s Battalions of Death issue an appeal/threat: “And you others, soldiers in name but Judases in fact, who are selling Russia to the foe, know that the time will soon be at hand when it would be better for you to face ten German bayonets than one tigree mother of Russia and the curse she lays upon you.”

Germany orders that all publications discussing questions of public interest be submitted to military censorship.


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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Today -100: June 24, 1917: The soviets are getting a little uppity


The Pan-Russian Congress of Soldiers’ and Workers’ Soviets votes to dissolve the Council of the Empire and asks for the Duma to be dissolved as well. Or I guess dissolve itself, since it was the czar who used to do that. The soviets don’t actually have the authority to dissolve anything, but hey.

The House passes the Food Administration Bill 365-5, with the surprise inclusion of an amendment banning the production of liquors during the war and authorizing the president to seize all existing stocks.

The Justice Dept bans pro-German newspapers printed in Mexico from entering Texas.


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Friday, June 23, 2017

Today -100: June 23, 1917: Loud and boisterous talking is the worst kind


The Chicago City Council begins moves to impeach Mayor Big Bill Thompson. He is considered pro-German, won’t help raise the Liberty Loan, and wasn’t nice to Balfour when he came to town. Thompson tries to adjourn the Council, but it refuses to go.

Two of the White House women’s suffrage picketers, Lucy Burns and Katherine Morey, are arrested with a banner displaying only Woodrow Wilson’s words about democracy and people having a voice in their own government (who thought there would be ironic protest banners in 1917?). They are charged with obstructing traffic, unlawful assemblage, and “loud and boisterous talking.”

Germany officially divides Belgium into two bits, Flemish and Walloon.


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Thursday, June 22, 2017

Today -100: June 22, 1917: Of former kings, women’s battalions of death, pickets, and who owns the news


From exile, former Greek King Constantine I says he’s still the king.

The NYT has an AP article on the Russian Women’s Battalion of Death, a source of endless interest to the Western press, although not enough interest that they don’t mangle the name of its “girl commander,” “twice wounded girl officer” (she’s in her late 20s) Yashka Boshkareva. Boshkareva points out that the battalion still uses the disciplinary system of the tsarist army, with none of that soldier self-government stuff. And yes, they shave their heads.

The Associated Press wins a lawsuit against Hearst’s International News Service, which was stealing its news stories. It’s an interesting legal decision, by the 2nd Circuit Court, in that news is held to be property. News is evidently something distinct from facts.

Suffragist pickets outside the White House are again attacked by angry mobs.

The Maryland House of Delegates votes down women’s suffrage 56-41.

The FTC recommended that the railroads, coal mines and coke producers be run by the government. Big Business is not best pleased, nor by the administration’s attempts to keep prices on raw and manufactured goods down or the president’s new powers to embargo the export of any products he likes.


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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Today -100: June 21, 1917: America Is Not A Democracy


Headline of the Day -100:
As a delegation from Russia visits the White House, a suffrage banner hoisted by the National Woman’s Party’s White House picketers informs them (in English), “President Wilson and Envoy Root are deceiving Russia. They say, ‘We are a democracy. Help us win a world war, so that democracies may survive.’ We, the women of America, tell you that America is not a democracy. ... Help us make this nation really free. Tell our Government it must liberate people before it can claim free Russia as an ally.” Reporters are on hand, having been told this was coming. Crowds tear the banner apart, because freedom, to the annoyance of police who wanted it as evidence. No arrests are made, though police warn the suffragists there will be if they do it again. They will do it again. A lot of Washingtonians are quoted disapproving of the banner, none in favor. Rep. Jeanette Rankin, a former suffrage activist herself, expresses no opinion either way, which is disappointing.

Russia indicts government officials from the Czarist era, including former Prime Minister Boris Stürmer and various cabinet ministers and governors. The most interesting charge is against former Interior Minister Alexander Protopopov for stealing the original telegraph dispatches between Rasputin and the czar and czarina. 


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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Today -100: June 20, 1917: Of women’s suffrage, fecking rioting, and German titles


The British House of Commons votes 214 to 17 for women’s suffrage, on an unequal basis. Even former Prime Minister Asquith votes for it. Efforts to expand the provision to women below the age of 30 are turned down.

The release of Irish political prisoners is celebrated in Dublin by rioting, as is the custom. Actually, the article calls it rioting, but it sounds much more like ordinary or garden-variety demonstrating. The Sinn Fein flag is hung on the wreckage of the Central Post Office. The police don’t intervene until 2 in the morning, which does seem to be the time to tell the marching bands to go the feck home.

Did I do that right? Feck?

King George is forcing all the princes and princesses of his large family who are English subjects to drop any Germany titles (lookin’ at you, Prince Louis of Battenberg).

The Austrian Cabinet resigns because the Polish deputies in the Reichsrath are now joining other Slavs in refusing to vote for the war budget.


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Monday, June 19, 2017

Today -100: June 19, 1917: This disagreement will be resolved by a Marx Off to see who can interpret Marx faster, probably


The All-Russian Congress of all Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviets calls for a new treaty with the Allies aligning their war aims and rejecting a separate peace with Germany. Lenin is not pleased, and calls War Minister Kerensky’s call for a new offensive treason to international socialism. Kerensky accuses Lenin of misinterpreting Marx.

102 US coal corporations and 51 persons associated with them are on trial for conspiring to fix prices.

Annie Besant, the Theosophist leader who will soon be president of the Indian National Congress, is banned by British Indian authorities from lecturing, publishing, or participating in meetings. Also her letters will be censored and she’s banned from Madras City.

Irish political prisoners jailed after the Easter Rising are released. This is partly to make sure the Irish Convention goes ahead, partly to keep the US sweet. Also released are Sinn Feiners who organized a banned meeting on June 9th to protest against the imprisonments; a police inspector was killed as police broke up the meeting.

An Army training camp for negro officers opens. It’s in Iowa, because of course it is. White officers will train the negroes, who will run segregated negro regiments.

Haiti breaks relations with Germany.


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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Today -100: June 18, 1917: Meet Countess Sofia Panina, the woman pioneer you’ve never heard of


Headline of the Day -100:


When a Frenchman has to find something nice to say about an American, but he’s just so... American.

The Russian Duma votes for starting an immediate military offensive. Why that required a secret session is unclear.

Also, the Russian government is joined by a new Assistant Minister of Social Tutelage (aka State Welfare), Countess Sofia Vladimirovna Panina of the Kadet Party, the first woman cabinet minister in any country ever. She plans for her staff to consist mostly of women. The Bolsheviks will put her on trial, and she will spend the last decades of her life in exile.



An independence movement is growing in Catalonia.


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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Today -100: June 17, 1917: We ask you to fight for our freedom equally with yours


Woodrow Wilson gets tired of waiting for Congress to pass legislation authorizing a Food Administration, so he just goes ahead and tells Herbert Hoover to start organizing the housewives of America to use food efficiently under his directions.

Charles Jonnart, the French former governor-general of Algeria who spearheaded the Allies’ successful efforts to force Greece’s King Constantine to abdicate, publishes a proclamation telling the Greeks that that forcible abdication and the military occupation of Athens are all in the interests of “the independence, greatness, and prosperity of Greece.” Greece has been freed from the German-Bulgarian yoke, he says. Constantine is now out of the country, on his way to exile in Switzerland.

Elihu Root, in Petrograd heading a mission from the US, tells the Russian people, “we are going to fight and have already begun to fight for your freedom equally with our own, and we ask you to fight for our freedom equally with yours.”

Kaiser Wilhelm sends a telegram to ousted Greek King Constantine, his brother-in-law: “I assure you that your deprivation can be only temporary. The mailed fist of Germany, with further aid from Almighty God, will restore you to your throne, of which no man by right can rob you. The armies of Germany and Germany's allies will wreak vengeance on those who have dared so insolently to lay their criminal hands on you.” Criminal hands are the worst kind.

The new Greek king, Alexander I, the NYT reports, likes driving cars fast.

Headline of the Day -100:


Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman are being held on $25,000 bail, which they cannot raise. The article quotes a surprisingly long extract from an anti-draft pamphlet.

The British government use the Defence of the Realm Act to ban all dog shows. Something about the dogs eating too much food that might go to soldiers. Also, all unregistered dogs are to be killed.

Alice Hill Chittenden, president of the NY State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, warns of the “servant slacker” and says the role of American women in this war is to stop “noisily pursuing useless activities” like, oh for example, women’s suffrage, and spend their time supervising their servants and keeping their cooks from wasting food. This article is everything you expect an anti-suffrage woman to say about servants.


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Friday, June 16, 2017

Today -100: June 16, 1917: Of anarchists and conscription


Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman are arrested by the feds at the oxymoronic “anarchist headquarters” for conspiring to “aid, counsel, and induce” men not to register for the draft.

Headline of the Day -100:

The NYT now regularly uses loaded terms like slackers and shirkers and  sedition and patriotic (and unpatriotic) in its news reporting.


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Today -100: June 15, 1917: Deceitful peaces are the worst kind


Headline of the Day -100:

In a Flag Day address, Pres. Woodrow Wilson lays out the case for war against Germany, which “denied us the right to be neutral” by sending “vicious spies and conspirators” (vicious spies and conspirators are the worst kind), and by “impudently” denying us the use of the high seas. But we are not at war with the German people we will be attempting to slaughter. “They did not originate or desire this hideous war or wish that we should be drawn into it; and we are vaguely conscious that we are fighting their cause, as they will some day see it, as well as our own.” (Historical question: have the Germans ever seen it, and have they sent us a nice card and maybe an edible arrangement?). He spends a surprising amount of time painting Austria as a puppet of Germany, considering the US and Austria are not at war. He describes Germany’s calls for peace as a “sinister intrigue” (sinister intrigues are the worst kind) because Germany’s bargaining position can only decline from here.

Theodore Roosevelt also speaks, at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Nebraska’s statehood. He complains that we didn’t go to war much earlier, calls for “an absolute and undivided Americanism” during this “war for liberty and democracy” and for the suppression of German-language newspapers, and says churches which don’t fly flags should be closed. Also, everyone should give to the Red Cross. He says, “I wanted to go to war and the people wanted me to go. But now I am feeling fine. I keep my good health by having a very bad temper, kept under good control.”

Japan thinks that with the US and Japan now on the same side of the war, the US should recognize Japanese paramountcy in China.

The first result of the forced abdication of Greece’s King Constantine: the Allies occupy Athens, because of course they do.


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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Today -100: June 14, 1917: Of air raids, glasses, and horses


German planes bomb London, killing over 100 people. All civilians, Britain will claim. It was a daytime raid and – a detail the NYT misses – the first air raid on London composed of airplanes rather than Zeppelins. One silly theory is that the Germans were trying to kill American Gen. Black Jack Pershing, currently visiting London.

The War Department has decided not to draft men with tuberculosis, but it will take men with glasses, since the outdoor life will cure them of their ocular deficiencies because that’s totally how eyes work.

The committee drawing up new election rules for Russia will give the vote to... the former czar.

Germany will start food rationing for horses. But they won’t stop horse racing, because none of the other warring countries stopped horse racing so they won’t either.


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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Today -100: June 13, 1917: Of conscription, abdication, and rumors


Sen. William Calder (R-NY) points out that basing conscription on districts’ population, as the Selective Draft Act envisions, means that in areas with proportions of draft-exempt immigrants, this will mean drafting high proportions of citizens.

King Constantine I of Greece abdicates, forced out by Allied threats to bomb Athens if he doesn’t. His younger son Alexander will now be king, because the Allies didn’t like older son Crown Prince George either.

The US Secret Service is arresting people (12 so far) who have been circulating a (false) rumor that US ships were in a battle with German ones and several were sunk and there was a mutiny on one ship.


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Monday, June 12, 2017

Today -100: June 12, 1917: We can put an end to disloyalty, and we are going to do it


A policeman is killed at a banned Sinn Fein meeting in Dublin as the cops arrested speakers, including Count Plunkett, MP, because there is totally a Sinn Fein member of Parliament named Count Plunkett. He was elected in a by-election in January. All three of his sons were sentenced to death after the Easter Rising and one was executed.

Headline of the Day -100:


US marshals raid an anti-conscription meeting in New York City called by Emma Goldman, and arrest men not carrying registration cards. US Marshal Thomas McCarthy says he’ll stop any further such meetings and arrest Emma Goldman and “all of her kind” if they organize any more meetings. “We can’t stop free speech as contemplated by the Constitution, but we can put an end to disloyalty, and we are going to do it.” Marshal McCarthy does not do irony.

The Canadian government introduces a bill for conscription.


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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Today -100: June 11, 1917: Of the Women’s Battalion of Death


Russian War Minister Kerensky’s wife Olga enlists in the Women’s Battalion of Death. This isn’t actually true, but I believe this is the first NYT mention of the Battalion, which was ordered formed last month, although women have been allowed to serve in the regular army for a couple of years (each one had to be individually approved by the czar). The efficacy of those soldiers, combined with the lobbying of “Yashka” Boshkareva, a semi-literate peasant soldier, and the idea of embarrassing male soldiers into resuming active military operations, led the Provisional Government to create several of these units. Being all-volunteer meant they were more gung ho than the male conscripts, who were not in fact embarrassed into fighting or into backing up the battalions or holding positions the female units captured. Boshkareva fell afoul of the Bolsheviks and was executed in 1920. There’s a recent okay, by-the-numbers Russian movie on the Battalion.

The Swedish Riksdag rejects women’s suffrage.


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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Today -100: June 10, 1917: 4,000 men in a week


The Central Powers are holding 874,271 prisoners of war. Of whom more than 2 million are Russian.

William Redmond, MP for County Clare and brother of Irish National Party leader John Redmond, is killed in action.

Headline of the Day -100:

No comment.


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Friday, June 09, 2017

Today -100: June 9, 1917: Of hysterical and unseemly appeals, yachts, overly political PJs, and driver’s licenses


Sen. Warren G. Harding (R-Ohio) in a Memorial Day speech calls the administration’s Liberty Loan appeal “hysterical and unseemly.” Sen. J. Hamilton Lewis (D-Illinois) accuses him of undermining the loan program and of telling his German constituents that the US, contrary to what Wilson is saying, is fighting the German people rather than the Hohenzollerns. Harding alludes to the remarks of a “certain gentleman” in a recent secret session of the Senate containing facts which would startle the American public, if only he were able to divulge them, “But I cannot talk of it here”.

Henry Ford donates his yacht to the government for use as a submarine chaser.

The American Red Cross rejects 37 pairs of pajamas intended for US soldiers donated by the Woman’s Political Union of Roselle, New Jersey, because they came with “Votes for Women” tags.

Prohibition will be enforced on the navy and marines too, not just the army.

A new law will require driver’s licenses in New York City for everyone who actually, you know, drives. This is purely for identification purposes – there is no driving test. Also, it seems to be a state law applying only to NYC.


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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Today -100: June 8, 1917: Of conchies, Romanovs, and vivisection


Theodore Roosevelt doesn’t think much of conscientious objectors.

The workers’ section of the Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet vote to send ex-Czar Nicholas and his family to Kronstadt. The Leninists had suggested putting them to work in the gold mines of Siberia.

Rutgers University’s application to the state of New Jersey to teach using vivisection is turned down.


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Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Today -100: June 7, 1917: Of Alsace-Lorraine and socialist congresses


The French Chamber of Deputies’ insistence that peace terms must include the restoration of Alsace-Lorraine (and indemnities) is pissing off German socialists, who want peace but also want to retain the provinces, which are German and have always been German, according to Germans with either relatively short memories or relatively long memories.

In Iowa, several men from Alsace-Lorraine registered for the draft, but will be exempt because the US considers them German, even though they think of themselves as French (the US insists this is not taking a position on who owns the provinces, just what their status was at the start of the war).

The Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet will summon an international socialist congress in Stockholm next month. They think peace would more likely come from talks with other representatives of the proletariat than between nation-states.


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Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Today -100: June 6, 1917: Of registration


National Registration Day passed off successfully, with estimates of over 10 million men having registered. There is little resistance, and that mostly by individual agitators. A march in Butte (evidently organized by Finns) is dispersed by soldiers with bayonets and the Negaunee, Michigan sheriff swears in all the men who registered to prevent an anti-conscription march. Navajos drive off an Indian agent who comes on their reservation to try to register them. Ute Indians also resist, pointing out that they don’t have the vote. A man in Waterbury, Connecticut asks to be exempted because he’s supporting a wife and two children here and another wife and three children in Russia.

Headline of the Day -100: 



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Monday, June 05, 2017

Today -100: June 5, 1917: Of registration, awed anarchists, Albanias, and the Pulitzers


Preparing for Registration Day today, the government claims to expect everything to go smoothly, with minimal resistance. Men will just be registering today; any claims for exemption (conscientious objection, being a foreign citizen) will be made later. Secretary of War Newton Baker says men should “rejoice” at the opportunity to register. Rejoicing will be vigorously enforced:



Austria-Hungary is talking about a peace without annexations of Russian territory, but it still plans to annex Serbia, take Italian territory, and it will demand an indemnity. Also a dependent (but nominally independent) Albania, and the Balkan states forced into a customs union with Austria.

Italy also wants indirect control of an independent-but-not-really Albania.

The first ever Pulitzer Prizes are awarded. The New York Tribune wins best editorial for one on the anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania that used the phrase “wanton murder.” Other winners are the French ambassador J.J. Jusserand for “With Americans of Past and Present Days” and a bio of Julia Ward Howe.


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Sunday, June 04, 2017

Today -100: June 4, 1917: Of concrete expressions of a new idea for democracy, and the mad hatters


Russia’s Provisional Government threatens to cut off the Kronstadt fortress if the Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet doesn’t give it back. The Kronstadt revolt is led by Anatoly Lamanov who is a third-year chemistry student. He believes Russia should devolve power to the communal level and that Kronstadt is leading by example as “the concrete expression of a new idea for democracy.” But the fort will still be ready to fight off any Huns who show up.

Headline of the Day -100: 

This stems from the ridiculous 1908 Supreme Court ruling that a boycott of Danbury hat companies using scab labor during a 1902 strike was illegal under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. The company was awarded heavy damages and is now seizing hatters’ homes. It plans to shut its factories while that’s going on, because of the aforementioned fear of revenge. Just as an aside, mercury was a major component of hat manufacturing, so it was a pretty fucking dangerous trade.


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Saturday, June 03, 2017

Today -100: June 3, 1917: Of objectionable zitheads, parading anarchists, submarine warfare, and banned leaflets


An article in the NYT Sunday Magazine section explains the standards theoretically used by army surgeons to inspect potential recruits, but somehow I doubt that anyone is really rejected for excessive acne (because “The man must not be objectionable to his tent mates”).

Armed anarchists parade in Petrograd.

When Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare, the German people were told that it would end the war in two or three months. Well, Germans have calendars, and...

The US is considering giving every soldier and sailor free life insurance out of the goodness of its heart. $4,000.

British and French airplanes have been dropping leaflets on Belgium. The German occupation authorities impose a fine of 10,000 marks and 3 years’ imprisonment for any Belgian reading them.


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Friday, June 02, 2017

Today -100: June 2, 1917: Of draft dodgers and fortresses


Pres. Wilson warns the young men fleeing draft registration by traveling abroad that they will be prosecuted when they return. US borders and outgoing ships are now being watched carefully and new passports not being issued to draft-age men.

The Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet decides that it’s in sole control of the Kronstadt fortress now, and the provisional government can go suck eggs.


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Thursday, June 01, 2017

The fruits of our labor will be seen very shortly even more so


Today Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord.

SO SAD. BIGLY SAD: On a failed robbery in Manila that wasn’t terror: “But it is really very sad as to what's going on throughout the world with terror.”

WE DON’T: “It was a very, very successful trip, believe me.”

STILL DOESN’T KNOW ISRAEL IS IN THE MIDDLE EAST: “We’re also working very hard for peace in the Middle East, and perhaps even peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

WE (SIGH) DO: “And believe me, we’ve just begun.  The fruits of our labor will be seen very shortly even more so.”

HE NOT ONLY DOESN’T KNOW THAT ISRAEL IS IN THE MIDDLE EAST, HE DOESN’T KNOW THAT THE UNITED STATES IS IN THE WORLD: “The Paris Climate Accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries”

WHAT A CYNIC (WITH NO UNDERSTANDING OF CLIMATE SCIENCE) WOULD SAY: “This agreement is less about the climate and more about other countries gaining a financial advantage over the United States.  The rest of the world applauded when we signed the Paris Agreement -- they went wild; they were so happy -- for the simple reason that it put our country, the United States of America, which we all love, at a very, very big economic disadvantage.  A cynic would say the obvious reason for economic competitors and their wish to see us remain in the agreement is so that we continue to suffer this self-inflicted major economic wound.”

MAYBE HE THINKS WE’RE FINLAND? “The United States, under the Trump administration, will continue to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth.  We’ll be the cleanest.”

OH, LET’S: “So if the obstructionists want to get together with me, let’s make them non-obstructionists.”

He wants to re-negotiate the Paris Accord, although if climate change isn’t real I’m not sure why we’d bother.

WHAT HE’LL ENSURE: “I will work to ensure that America remains the world’s leader on environmental issues”.


NOVEMBER 8, 2016: “At what point does America get demeaned?  At what point do they start laughing at us as a country?”

HORRIFIED SNIGGERING, YES, LAUGHING, NO: “We don’t want other leaders and other countries laughing at us anymore.  And they won’t be.  They won’t be.”

YEAH, FUCK PARIS!  “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” (Actually, Hillary kicked his ass in Pittsburgh.)

(Update: He made two of those cracks, the second being about putting Youngstown, Detroit etc before Paris, France. He does know that the city is just the place the agreement was signed, right? The Accord wasn’t issued as a decree by the mayor of Paris. Or is it just an attempt to tap into American anti-French sentiment like failed missionary Mitt Romney used to?)

NICE NAME: “Beyond the severe energy restrictions inflicted by the Paris Accord, it includes yet another scheme to redistribute wealth out of the United States through the so-called Green Climate Fund -- nice name –”

SURE, DIMES ARE AMERICAN MONEY: “Many of the other countries haven’t spent anything, and many of them will never pay one dime.” Yeah, the idea is to distribute money from the rich countries to the poor ones. There wouldn’t be a lot of point to it if everyone was paying in.

IS THAT THE SAME NOBODY WHO DIDN’T KNOW HEALTH CARE WAS COMPLICATED? “And nobody even knows where the money is going to.”

WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU; IT WAS ALWAYS NON-BINDING: “Believe me, we have massive legal liability if we stay in.”


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Today -100: June 1, 1917: Over where?


The House again votes down Wilson’s censorship provisions in the Espionage Bill, 184 to 144. Many of those opposing it express a touching faith in the patriotism of US newspapers.

US medical societies are asking the government to abrogate or suspend German drug patents for the duration. They’re especially worried about the supply of Salvarsan, because there’s a war on, and where there are soldiers and sailors, there’s syphilis. Lots and lots of syphilis.

At the Stockholm international socialist peace conference, German socialists insist that Germany must keep Alsace-Lorraine.

The Justice Dept arrests more people for counseling resistance to draft registration, including two Columbia students and one (female) from Barnard.

In Austria, a minor government official is sentenced to 5 years for distributing the (American) song “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier.”

George M. Cohan publishes the song “Over There.” Here’s Cohan singing it in 1936 (1 minute in):



Here’s the first recording of it, by Nora Bayes in 1917:



She says “Sammies” instead of “Yanks.” And finally, Enrico Caruso in a 1918 recording. Kind of funny with his accent.




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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Today -100: May 31, 1917: The first duty of a man is to be a man


In his Memorial Day address, Woodrow Wilson says “We did not set this government up in order that we might have a separate and selfish liberty”. “America will once more have an opportunity to show to the world that she was born to serve mankind.” (Warning to the world: It’s a cook book!).

At his own speech, Theodore Roosevelt tells young men not to wait to be drafted. “The first duty of a man is to be a man.”

What is it with race riots this week? A couple of hundred negroes in Harlem fight cops trying to arrest a man.

The Germans have evidently been asking Turkey not to expel Jews from Jerusalem, because it looks bad.

Anti-black violence continues in East St. Louis, although reduced by rain and the National Guard. Blacks are fleeing the city.

Some draft-age males are escaping to Cuba and Mexico to avoid registration. France plans to force expatriates to register, or something. Also, June 5, National Registration Day, doesn’t really work in Alaska, because ice, so they’ll need a later date. Attorney-General Thomas Watt Gregory orders stenographers to attend anti-draft meetings to take down speeches with a view to prosecution.


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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Today -100: May 30, 1917: No evasive reply is acceptable


The Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet says that its policy of “peace without annexations or indemnities” means there should be an immediate offer of peace negotiations. And if Russia’s allies don’t agree to make this offer, they “take equal responsibility on themselves with the Governments of Germany and Austria-Hungary for the continuance of the war. No evasive reply is acceptable.”

The Russian War Ministry orders all monks sent to the front lines to work in sanitation. Try not to think about how long Russian Orthodox monks’ beards are.

And in other news from Russia: vodka riots! Or, as they call that in Russia: Tuesday.


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Monday, May 29, 2017

Today -100: May 29, 1917: I think it would be a good thing if all our young Quakers should go to jail


Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies votes 136-3 in favor of war on Germany, or to be more precise, to revoke the decree of neutrality. Brazil won’t actually declare war until October.

The Justice Department arrests 9 men in Texas, claiming that a co-op had been infiltrated by German spies, or something, and turned into an anti-conscription action group, or something, with weapons and a secret oath and everything. And some others in the “feud region” of Virginia (including a McCoy) are arrested for plotting to murder draft officials and declare a rebellion. And 10 Detroit socialists are arrested for distributing anti-conscription literature.

There have been a lot of wild tales lately about forthcoming miracle weapons. The latest: a Brooklynite, Dr. Dayve De Waltoff claims to have invented a vastly superior explosive which he has named... wait for it... Terrorall. A mere five (5) grains of Terrorall would suffice to blow up the Woolworth Building, if that’s your idea of a good time.

Race war in East St. Louis, Illinois, with white mobs determined to force out the blacks who have been arriving from Mississippi to work, including in munitions factories.

Some Quakers are annoyed that the government so readily exempted them from the draft, depriving them of “their much cherished privilege of suffering for their convictions.” Says Isaac Sharpnell, president of Haverford College, “I think it would be a good thing if all our young Quakers should go to jail.” It would certainly make running an all-male Quaker college easier, huh Ike? The Quakers (at least at a NYC meeting) won’t admit any new members who are military-age males (which is irrelevant to the Draft Act, since the exemption doesn’t apply to those who joined after conscription was announced).

Russian monks want the vote.

Arthur Balfour, who was touring the US with great fanfare, has moved on to Canada, where he tells the Canadian Parliament “No greater miracle has ever happened in the history of civilisation than the way in which the co-ordinated British democracies worked together with a uniform spirit of self-sacrifice in the cause in which they believed not merely their own individual security, but the safety of the empire and the progress of civilisation and liberty itself were at stake,” which might have been more convincing if not for the anti-conscription riots a few days ago in Quebec.


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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Today -100: May 28, 1917: Half the fun is saluting, ammiright?


Food dictator Herbert Hoover wants to “enlist” every housewife in the nation in his food administration and sign a pledge to carry out its culinary instructions. There will be serious pressure on women to do so.

The new censorship & propaganda czar George Creel releases proposed regulations of things newspapers should not write about. In addition to the obvious (troop movements, etc), it includes: disagreements between the Allies, speculation about peace, articles offensive to allies or neutral countries, etc. The idea was that if newspapers would agree to this voluntarily, there would be no need for the censorship law the administration is having trouble getting Congress to pass. There has been no such agreement.

Russian Minister of War Kerensky promulgates new rights for soldiers including freedom of opinion, no obligatory saluting, etc.


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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Today -100: May 27, 1917: Of race riots, deadly pencils, and millionaire actors


There’s a race riot in NYC’s Upper East Side, following an incident where a bartender over-charged a black man that escalated thanks in part to some incompetent policing by National Defense Guards, who were covering for regular cops taking the sergeant’s exam. White and black men attack each other with razors and guns, and police shoot one black men dead.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Baron von Rosen of Sweden is arrested in Norway with “an amazing collection of bombs, poisons, and deadly bacilli”. And exploding pencils! Which blow up whoever tries to sharpen them. But evidently the good baron is breaking no Norwegian law, so they let him go and tell him to leave the country.

The film industry has stopped blabbing about how much it’s paying its stars now that Congress is looking for sectors of the economy to soak in order to pay for the war, but three stars are evidently making more than $1,000,000 a year. And yes, they’re Charles Chaplin, Mary Pickford (the Bank of America’s sweetheart), and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.


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Friday, May 26, 2017

Today -100: May 26, 1917: Base instruments have begun to speak of the preservation of each soldier’s life


Rear Admiral William Sims, in charge of the US destroyers off Europe, complains that “the German spy system” informed Berlin that the destroyers were coming four days before they arrived (how he knows this is unclear).

The Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet “menaces” Gen. Mikhail Alexiev, telling him to shut up after he gives a speech denigrating the notion of a peace without annexations or indemnities and complaining about the tendency among soldiers “to peace and ease instead of activity” while “base instruments have begun to speak of the preservation of each soldier’s life.”

New Jersey socialist Frederick Superior (!) has been posting circulars saying “Impeach Wilson” and “Free Speech Denied.” The police rather make his point by arresting him for sedition.


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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Today -100: May 25, 1917: I do not think I should have enjoyed my luncheon if I had known I was eating off a German plate


It is now illegal in the US to sell booze to members of the Army in uniform. Sailors and marines seem not to come under this law.

The Washington Herald complains that after it wrote about the fatally defective shells supplied by the Navy to the Mongolia, the new chief propagandist George Creel called them up, “questioning the spirit and correctness” of the editorial. The Herald warns of censorship. Creel denies attempting to control them. He was totally attempting to control them.

Sinn Fein officially rejects Lloyd George’s proposed Irish convention unless it is elected by universal suffrage (unclear if this includes women), has the power to declare independence, and can’t have its decisions vetoed by the British government.

Headline of the Day -100: 


Baseball’s National Commission bans the bean ball.


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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Today -100: May 24, 1917: Of passports, tiszas, and potatoes


The US refuses passports to socialists who had intended to travel to the Stockholm peace congress, and threatens to prosecute any Americans who manage to attend it anyway.

Hungarian Prime Minister Count István Tisza and his cabinet resign. Tisza has been increasingly at odds with the Empire’s central government since the accession of Emperor Karl, and he especially opposes moves to expand Hungary’s very limited franchise (although he was willing to grant it to soldiers... if they had medals of courage).

Headline of the Day -100: 

Pretty sure these are euphemisms for sex acts which commoners are forbidden from engaging in upon pain of death (see also “eating a swan”).


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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Today -100: May 23, 1917: Of censorship, deserters, dissolving empires, black empire menaces, and lynchings


The Republican caucus votes to oppose press censorship being reintroduced in the Espionage Bill’s reconciliation process. Pres. Wilson, however, demands censorship.

Russian War Minister Kerensky orders an operation that captures 30 army deserters. Since the Revolution, soldiers have been deserting with impunity.

Finland would like to be independent of Russia now, please and thank you.

And Hungary, whose equivocal commitment to the Austro-Hungarian Empire was based in part on a fear of Russian territorial acquisitiveness which is now assuaged by the Russian Revolution, is also thinking seriously about independence.

Headline of the Day -100: 


South African Gen. Jan Smuts says Germany wants a large empire (citing a captured map) in central and southern Africa so that it can use Africa’s “huge population” to create “the most powerful army the world had ever known,” a black army that would threaten South Africa and of course “the whole of the civilized world.” He hopes that the future League of Nations will ban the military training of African colonial populations (perhaps unaware of the role of Senegalese Tirailleurs, among others, in the French Army).

Wisconsin Governor Emanuel Philipp vetoes a bill for a referendum on prohibition.

Headline of the Day -100:

She did, however, decline an offer to apply the match herself. Southern ladies do not do such things themselves, they have baying mobs for that.


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Monday, May 22, 2017

Today -100: May 22, 1917: Lenin always did love a good balcony


The US steamship Mongolia, which last month sunk a u-boat, limps back into port after a shell explodes (or something like that) during target practice, killing a couple of nurses who were on their way to the war. Evidently there have been two other such incidents on the commercial vessels which Pres. Wilson ordered armed, suggesting the Navy is supplying them with defective ammunition. The St. Louis found, when practicing targeting by shooting at glaciers, that 14 of 48 shells fired were duds.

Atlanta, or at any rate 73 blocks of it, burns down. The fire started in “an obscure negro section” of the city. Dynamite is used (ineffectively) in a 10-hour struggle to put the fire out.

A Russian court orders Lenin and his followers to vacate the expropriated palace of ballet dancer (and former mistress of Tsar Nicholas II) Mathilde Kschessinskaya, who skedaddled for Paris. Presumably the government wants him out because he’s been using the balcony to make incendiary speeches.

Headline of the Day -100: 

The NYT scoffs at a new California law requiring windows in hotel rooms.


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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Today -100: May 21, 1917: Of Belgians, compulsory labor, and anti-coup coups


Germany is deporting Belgian officials who oppose the splitting of Belgium into Flemish & Walloon units.

Theodore Roosevelt gives up on leading troops into battle, but takes credit for the US sending troops to France earlier than Wilson had planned.

West Virginia enacts a law requiring able-bodied men aged 16 to 60 to work at least 36 hours a week or be forced to work for city or county governments.

Costa Rica has uncovered a plot to reverse the coup that put Federico Tinoco into power in January. Tinoco is portraying the plot as instigated and funded by Germans in the United States.


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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Today -100: May 20, 1917: Eat Plenty, Wisely, and Without Waste


The new Russian Cabinet declares against a separate peace and for a peace without annexations or indemnities, based on national self-determination. Aleksandr Kerensky, promoted from Justice Minister to War Minister, says he will enforce discipline in the army. Good luck with that, Alex.

Pres. Wilson asks Congress for extensive powers over food production and appoints Herbert Hoover as his Food Administrator, rejecting the titles “food dictator” or “food controller.” Hoover has a motto and everything: “Eat Plenty, Wisely, and Without Waste. Also, Pineapple on Pizza is Just Wrong.”


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Friday, May 19, 2017

Today -100: May 19, 1917: The business now at hand is undramatic, practical, and of scientific directness and precision


Pres. Wilson sets June 5th as Registration Day, when 10 million men aged 21 to 30 are required to register for the draft. They will be chosen and sent (in a few months) to train in 32, um, concentration camps. Man, Hitler just ruined that phrase for everyone, didn’t he?

Fun fact: the term concentration camp was coined by the British during the Boer War for the places they stuck Boer women and children, some of whom starved to death.

But Roosevelt won’t be going, the White House says. Wilson dismisses the argument that TR would rally morale, saying “The business now at hand is undramatic, practical, and of scientific directness [or definiteness; the story uses both in different places] and precision.” Dude should totally write motivational posters.

Sinn Fein says it will boycott the proposed Irish convention and ignore any constitution it comes up with.


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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Today -100: May 18, 1917: When was this ever denied to any man?


The Army Draft bill passes the Senate 65 to 8. The amendment allowing Roosevelt’s volunteer divisions is put back in after a debate in which William Stone (D-Missouri) attacks TR’s temperament and military competence, noting that he led the Rough Riders into a hole from which they had to be rescued... by a negro regiment. TR is defended by his former running mate Hiram Johnson, who says “This privilege is asked by a man who is in the twilight of life [He’s 58!], so that he may lay down his life for his country. ... When was this ever denied to any man?” Ominously, the Senate rejects a clause that would have ended conscription when the war is over. The good news: Registration Day will be a holiday! With parades and speeches and mandatory signing up for possible death and everything!

Headline of the Day -100: 


Army commanders complain that the soldiers have heard the phrase “peace without annexations” and are interpreting it as a reason not to engage in offensive warfare. Which seems like as good an excuse as any, actually.

There’s some agitation in Russia for the publication of secret treaties.

The Irish Nationalist Party rejects Lloyd George’s nice offer of Home Rule plus partition. They do accept the “well if you don’t like my idea just hold a convention of Irish people” part, but of course the Ulsterites reject that. As will Sinn Fein.

Headline of the Day -100: 

I’m not a beer drinker, but I understand they have a lot to answer for here. Kennedy Jones, the Daily Mail editor who was just appointed director-general of Food Economy, explains (to people who wonder why they should ration their bread intake while others are drinking beer) that barley will no longer be malted. He says science proves that beer is nutritious and “beer has been, for centuries, a part of the daily diet of our working classes” and men who work at heavy manual labor “must drink considerable malty liquid. ... It is a scientific fact.” Can’t argue with science.


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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Today -100: May 17, 1917: He is the very model...


New York Gov. Charles Whitman offers Theodore Roosevelt the rank of major general in the state militia.

British Prime Minister Lloyd George proposes Home Rule for Ireland that excludes Northern Ireland for at least 5 years. Or alternately, the Irish might hold a convention and work it out for themselves. Basically, he wants this issue out of the way because of its effect on the US.

US destroyers join the British fleet on anti-u-boat patrol.

The Senate holds a closed-door session on war appropriations, during which the Wilson administration is assailed for failing to explain much of anything about how it plans to spend all that money. Every single detail of the closed-door session leaks to the press, as is the custom.

Wilson gives up on getting Congress to pass a censorship law. For now.

Germany seems to be considering a compromise on the future of Alsace-Lorraine, but not the one you’d think. They might split it between Prussia and Bavaria. Evidently this is a bribe to get the Catholic Zentrum party, which is strong in heavily Catholic Bavaria, to continue supporting Chancellor Bethmann-Hollweg.

In solidarity with the food economy being practiced by his subjects, the food served by King George V has been reduced to “the utmost simplicity” and guests must cut their own bread. And no toast.

CUT THEIR OWN BREAD!


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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Today -100: May 16, 1917: A program of conquest helps us as little as a program of reconciliation to win victory and the war


Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg tells the Reichstag that he rejects demands that he express Germany’s war aims coming from both the left (no annexations or indemnities) and the right (big-ass annexations and indemnities). To declare what Germany is fighting for, he says, “would not serve the country’s interests.” He says if he renounced annexations, the enemy could continue to fight without risk. And he has the kaiser on his side, so suck it.

He does make an exception for Russia, which he tells that there is a No Annexations deal to be made which “excludes every thought of oppression and which would leave behind no sting and no discord.”

The Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet agrees to join a coalition government. Meanwhile, several commanding generals have resigned over the new policy allowing soldiers to vote on whether to obey orders. The Petrograd Soviet’s main strategy seems to be encouraging Socialists in Germany and Austria to prevent their armies being used as “the executioners of Russian liberty.”

The Turks are supposedly deporting the Jewish population of Jaffa. During Passover, no less.

Headline of the Day -100: 

You’d think he’d have more important things to do than stand in an intersection in a yellow rain jacket and wave cars through, but...


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Monday, May 15, 2017

Today -100: May 15, 1917: Of espionage, choates, and purely destructive


The Senate passes the Espionage Bill, with the censorship (and prohibition) provisions stripped out.

Famous lawyer (and former US ambassador to Britain) Joseph Choate, dies.

The NYT calls the Petrograd Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet “a purely destructive force.” In general, the Times is soooo over the Russian Revolution.


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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Today -100: May 14, 1917: Ours is not a true democracy


Carrie Chapman Catt points out that the US can’t talk about making the world safe for democracy until it gives all women the vote: “There is nothing more illogical than to insist that men have the divine right to rule over women and say at the same time that kings haven’t divine right to rule over men.”

Gen. Lavr Kornilov reportedly resigns as commander of the Petrograd Military District, unwilling to continue to tolerate the interference of the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Soviet. I know he didn’t resign at this time, so I guess he’ll change his mind.

Germany allows (and indeed encourages) another 280 Russian “agitators” to return to Russia from exile in Switzerland, including future secretary of the Comintern Angelica Balabanov.

Headline of the Day -100: 



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Saturday, May 13, 2017

Today -100: May 13, 1917: This is no war for mere spontaneous impulse


The House is delaying the conscription bill, in part to try to force Theodore Roosevelt’s volunteer divisions into it. That amendment is sponsored in the Senate by Warren G. Harding, by the way. Says former Speaker of the House Uncle Joe Cannon, “I want Theodore Roosevelt to carry the heart of America to the trenches of France”. Walter Chandler (R-NY) says “Roosevelt will fight, and everybody knows it. He is the fighter of the age”.

At a Red Cross event, Woodrow Wilson says, “This is no war for amateurs.” I wonder who he could mean? “This is no war for mere spontaneous impulse. It means grim business on every side of it.” But he finds a bright side too: it will heal the last division between North and South, “and when effort and suffering and sacrifice have completed the union, men will no longer speak of any lines either of race or association cutting athwart the great body of the nation.”

Rep. J. Thomas Heflin (D-Land of Cotton) suggests that ships could survive a u-boat torpedo if bales of cotton were placed along the sides so if the ship is holed it will still float. And when the submarine surfaces to check out the damage, you could just shoot it.

It is quite possible that Rep. Heflin is 6 years old.

The Virgin Mary appears to 10-year-old Lúcia Santos and her younger cousins Francisco and Jacinta Marto in Fátima, Portugal, tells them secrets and promises to appear again. A Felliniesque carnival will grow up around the subsequent appearances. There will be an official cult and everything. And today, Pope Francis is going to canonize the girls, unjustly spurning the girls in Cottingley who just about the same time took pictures of fairies that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle thought were real.


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