Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Obama’s Pretending the War in Iraq is Over speech: An age without surrender ceremonies

This time, it was the voluble Joe Biden who said it most succinctly: “We’re going to be just fine. They’re going to be just fine.” Obama spun that nonsense out at greater length, in a soporific monotone.


WHAT THIS MILESTONE SHOULD SERVE AS A REMINDER TO ALL AMERICANS OF: “But this milestone should serve as a reminder to all Americans that the future is ours to shape if we move forward with confidence and commitment.” Funny, I’d have said the last 7+ years of the Iraq war have shown that the future is not ours to shape, no matter how much misplaced confidence and commitment we exude.

MAYBE WE SHOULD BURN THAT DESK, JUST TO BE SURE: “From this desk, seven and a half years ago, President Bush announced the beginning of military operations in Iraq.”

“A war to disarm a state became a fight against an insurgency.” Here, Obama buys into the narrative that Bush began the invasion of Iraq to disarm Saddam Hussein. Wouldn’t want the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud, you know.

EXCEPT FOR THAT WMD SNIPE HUNT, OF COURSE: “The Americans who have served in Iraq completed every mission they were given.”

WHY WE FOUGHT: “Our troops fought block by block to help Iraq seize the chance for a better future.” And I’m sure the surviving residents of those blocks are standing by their piles of rubble, just being grateful for that chance for a better future.

“So tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended.”

“And Iraqi forces have taken the fight to Al Qaeda, removing much of its leadership in Iraqi-led operations.” And here (and elsewhere in the speech), Obama buys into the narrative that the Iraq war was about Al Qaida.

IT’S ABOUT FIVE MONTHS LATE FOR THAT “SENSE OF URGENCY” THING: “Tonight, I encourage Iraq’s leaders to move forward with a sense of urgency to form an inclusive government that is just, representative, and accountable to the Iraqi people.”

IRAQ = PAGE. “Now, it is time to turn the page.”

WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THAT? “This afternoon, I spoke to former President George W. Bush.”

I’M PRETTY SURE THERE IS SOMEONE WHO COULD DOUBT THAT: “Yet no one could doubt President Bush’s support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security.”

HE NEVER WANTS US TO MAKE A MISTAKE: “But make no mistake: this transition will begin - because open-ended war serves neither our interests nor the Afghan people’s.”

“Over seven years before, American troops and coalition partners had fought their way across similar highways, but this time no shots were fired. It was just a convoy of brave Americans, making their way home.” So the big victory is that they didn’t shoot at us when we were leaving. Hurrah.

IT’S HARD TO GET TO KNOW SOMEONE YOU JUST SHOT OR BOMBED: “Along with nearly 1.5 million Americans who have served in Iraq, they fought in a faraway place for people they never knew.”

THE LIGHT OF ELECTRICITY MORE THAN TWO HOURS A DAY WOULD ALSO BE NICE: “They stared into the darkest of human creations – war – and helped the Iraqi people seek the light of peace.”

HOW WE MUST EARN VICTORY: “In an age without surrender ceremonies, we must earn victory through the success of our partners and the strength of our own nation.”

PAINTED GRAY AND UNDERWATER? “Our troops are the steel in our ship of state. And though our nation may be traveling through rough waters, they give us confidence that our course is true, and that beyond the pre-dawn darkness, better days lie ahead.” So, if I understand this metaphor correctly, we’re traveling through rough waters on a ship built out of troops (I’m picturing the pirate comic in Alan Moore’s Watchmen) in pre-dawn darkness to better days.

Today Obama also issued a proclamation for National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Just saying.


At the Israeli whitewash investigation of the flotillacide, Major General Eitan Dangot of the IDF insists “There was no justification for the flotilla, because there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

What does the IDF find justified? As Lenin reminds us, shooting a 13-year-old Palestinian girl and then going over and emptying a magazine into her to “confirm the kill,” that was considered justified. (My old posts on the case.)

Today -100: August 31, 1910: Of seminary students, assassination fall-out, trolleys, and cardinals

The pope has ordered the closing of the seminary in Perugia, Italy, because the students gave an ovation to the king and queen of Italy.

The NYT reports that Henry Reed Rathbone is near death. They’re wrong by a year, but this story was new to me, not being an assassination buff: In April 1865 Rathbone, a Union army major, and his step-sister Clara were guests of the Lincolns at Ford’s Theatre. Rathbone received several stab wounds trying to stop John Wilkes Booth. He recovered and entered government service, but slowly went insane. In 1883, while US consul to Hanover, he shot Clara, who he had married in 1867, fatally, then tried to commit suicide by stabbing himself 6 times. He was committed to a German insane asylum for the rest of his life.

The trolley strike is still going on in Columbus. A couple of trolleys are dynamited, with passengers aboard, but no one is killed. The mob fights with soldiers.

Headline of the Day -100: “Brooklyn Helpless Before Cardinals.” Oh, baseball, not a Hitchcock, Tippi Hedren thing.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Today -100: August 30, 1910: Of Roosevelt Democrats

The governor of Colorado and the mayor of Denver call for Theodore Roosevelt (who they were introducing in the Denver Auditorium) to run for president in 1912. They are both Democrats.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

And if anyone can restore America’s honor, it’s Glenn Beck & Sarah Palin

Sorry, I just can’t. I didn’t read Beck’s speech and I got as far in Palin’s as “I must assume that you too know that we must not fundamentally transform America as some would want,” then I had to lie down.

So feel free to caption these here pictures:

(The Reuters caption says that Beck is introducing a representative Jew, a representative Indian, a representative guy unafraid to wear a pink shirt that in front of a bunch of people who think anyone wearing a pink shirt is a fag and must be killed, and a descendant of Protestant settlers.)

(Update: Palin tweets “So honored to be a part of the ‘Restoring Honor’ rally today in D.C.” Yes, Sarah, “restoring honor” meant restoring it to you, because it’s always all about you.)

Friday, August 27, 2010

Today -100: August 27, 1910: Of the Divine Right of Kings, 20th century style

Kaiser Wilhelm delivered a speech
in which he insisted that the crown came to him “by God’s grace alone, and not by Parliaments, assemblages of the people, or resolutions of the people”. Predictable shitstorm ensues.

Russia gives special permission to Oscar Straus, the US ambassador to Turkey, to enter visit St. Petersburg. Permission is required because Straus is Jewish.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Edward Kean, the Howdy Doody writer who coined that immortal word, has died. No mention of what his last words or, one hopes, word, might have been.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Today -100: August 25, 1910: Of colonies

Secretary of War Jacob Dickinson, visiting the Philippines, hears from Moros who want Mindanao annexed to the US, or made independent, but definitely not subsumed within the Philippines.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I don’t know how much tea he’s getting with his Mexican food...

but I’m pretty sure he’s getting a lot of pee.

Butter pecan burping during Ramadan

Another way in which Obama administration policies go further than Bush’s did: officials at Guantanamo no longer tell us how many hunger strikers they are force feeding.

But they do inform us that they are doing it in a culturally sensitive way, force feeding them only between dusk and dawn during Ramadan.

So that’s okay then.

“By last summer, staff were pointing to Butter Pecan flavored Ensure as popular with the chair-shackled captives. Flavor made no difference going down, one nurse explained, but a captive could taste it if he burped later.”

Today -100: August 24, 1910: Teddy Roosevelt is against a crook

Roosevelt gives a speech in upstate New York, supporting a state senator who VP Sherman opposes. TR sez, “the only kind of politics I care for is the kind of politics where decency is combined with efficiency,” whatever that means. He also said, “I am against a crook – rich or poor” and “There is only one person I place above the veteran, and that is the mother who does her full duty. I like all your crops, but I like children best.”

José Dolores Estrada, brother of the insurgent general, declares himself president of Nicaragua. He claims there will be an election within six months.

Fashion victim -100: A Pittsburg tailor fell asleep in his shop and died in his sleep, choked to death by a high collar.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Boars and zombies

Headline of the Day... well, it’s a tie:

“Italian Priest Shot Dead after Being Mistaken for Wild Boar” and “Minneapolis Will Pay $165,000 to Zombies.

Actually, the money will be paid to “seven zombies and their attorney.”

Contest: what would be a good name for an attorney’s firm that specializes in representing zombies?

Today -100: August 23, 1910: Of referenda, regime change, and Republicans

Arizona Democrats want the not-yet-state’s constitution to have provisions for initiatives and referenda, and are willing to risk the Republicans in Congress and the White House denying them statehood on that account.

The insurgents capture Managua without a fight. Madriz goes into exile.

The US has declared that it will consider it unconstitutional if Panama’s National Assembly elect the acting president, Carlos Mendoza, the VP who took over when President Obaldia died, to serve out the remainder of his term. Mendoza is black. (A week later he dropped out.)

Taft finally breaks his silence about the NY Republicans’ snubbing of TR, saying he had nothing to do with it and hanging his veep out to dry, releasing a telegram which he had sent to Sherman advising him to talk with Roosevelt before the vote by the committee on the chairmanship of the party convention – which Sherman failed to do. In fact, Taft suggests that when he spoke with Sherman before the vote, Sherman had not told him that his name would be put forward against TR’s.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Did someone forget to tell the Iraqis that the war is over?

A rocket killed an American soldier near Basra today.

Today -100: August 22, 1910: Of regime changes, German nudists, bites, and cucumbers

The Madriz government in Nicaragua is on the verge of falling, with the Estradists threatening Managua.

Korea is about to cease to exist as a nation and be annexed completely by Japan. Newspaper censorship has ensured that Koreans have no idea this is about to happen. The NYT thinks most Koreans will be better off under Japanese rule and won’t object too much to the change.

The King of Saxony and two of the princesses, taking a stroll through the woods, stumbled across a nudist. The princesses ran away, screaming.

John Tully of Brooklyn was bitten by a dog one month ago and then by a Mr. Stanford Waltbridge, also of Brooklyn, last Saturday. Headline of the Day -100: “Prefers A Dog’s Bite.” In case you were wondering.

Or is this the Headline of the Day -100: “Assaulted with Cucumber”? A grocer is the assaultee, the offending fruit being hurled at him by a youth he caught trying to shoplift it.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Loser issue

Jeb Bush says the Democrats are showing their desperation by focusing so much on the manifold failures of his brother. “It’s a loser issue.”

He said it, not me.

Today -100: August 21, 1910: Of Republican in-fighting and castles

Taft’s people have been claiming, truthfully or not I cannot say, that he didn’t even know about the scheme of the New York Old Guard Republicans to defeat Roosevelt as temporary chairman of the party convention in favor of VP Sherman (it should be noted that TR and Sherman were both New Yorkers). Nevertheless, the break between Taft and TR seems to be complete.

Speaking of Sherman, the House committee investigating Indian land contracts in Oklahoma exonerates him of having anything to do with the attempt to bribe Sen. Thomas Gore. It’s not clear how hard they really tried to find out the truth.

At an air meet in New York, a Lt. J.E. Fickel fired a rifle at a target on the ground from aviator Glenn Curtiss’s plane. This was the first time gunfire ever emanated from an airplane (but not the last). Fickel missed by six feet.

Kaiser Wilhelm is opening a big new imperial castle in Posen, Poland, a symbol of German control of Poland. The Polish nobility will be staying away from the dedication ceremony in droves. A new law in German Poland bans public political meetings held in Polish or any other language than German.

Friday, August 20, 2010

More news stolen from the Daily Telegraph

Karmic Death of the Day: Sam Mazzola, whose business included bear wrestling, is mauled by one of his bears.

Another albino child killed in Swaziland because, as you know, albino parts (in this case evidently her head) are great for magic.

The descendants of Ivan the Terrible and the Rurik dynasty are suing to regain ownership of the Kremlin. Funnily enough, no one has official title to it now.

Headline of the Day: “Japanese Man Kept Dead Mother in Backpack.” And if I know the Japanese, it was a Hello Kitty backpack.

Today -100: August 20, 1910: Of not whining

Theodore Roosevelt addressed the National Negro Business League. He told them “that they should not whine about privileges they did not enjoy, but should plunge ahead and make the best of the opportunities they have.” And “slouchy, ne’er-do-well” negroes hurt the whole negro race. And the best friends the negroes can have are their white neighbors in the South (say WHAT?).

Canadian MP Henri Bourassa, leader of the Quebec Nationalists, calls for annexation of Canada by the United States.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

News you can use

South Sudan plans to rebuild its cities in the shape of rhinos and giraffes.

The White House actually sent out someone to tell the press that Obama is a Christian.

A Disneyland hostess is suing to be allowed to wear a hijab. Did no one consider the obvious compromise?

The obvious compromise is Mickey Mouse ears over the hijab.

A man in a banana costume, brandishing a shotgun and his penis and shouting “something or other about white supremacy” in Washington state, is arrested for, among other things, indecent exposure (either because the banana costume was child-sized or because he was exposing himself to women, depending on which story you read). Name of the Day: the cop telling all this to the press: Sgt. Randy Pieper. Said Pieper, “he was drinking earlier in the day, but he didn’t really have a reason for the costume.”

Headline of the Day (and the photo caption’s pretty good too).

Today -100: August 19, 1910: Of sitting up, Teddy, trolleys, and slapping

The Times has naturally been keeping its readers apprised of every detail of Mayor Gaynor’s recovery from the shooting. Today’s report: Gaynor Expects to Sit up To-day.

Roosevelt has decided on a strategy: he will stand aside from the elections in New York and let the Old Guard Republicans take the blame for their inevitable loss to the Democrats. He will neither endorse nor criticize the Taft administration unless it, you know, starts it. And he’s definitely probably maybe not running for president in 1912.

The Columbus trolley strike continues, more peacefully (rocks thrown, one car dynamited, ok not that peacefully). Mayor Marshall is more or less daring the governor to remove him from office. Soldiers ordered to protect the scabs have been making generous donations to the strike fund.

Headline of the Day -100: “Governor Slaps Editor.” That’s Governor Denver Dickerson of Nevada and George Montrose, editor of the Carson City News, who may or may not have written an article accusing the governor of grafting $5,000 on a land deal for a new prison.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Who hijacked term moron?

Sarah Palin’s Twitter feed:

What “singular issue” does she mean? Abortion? Also, Sarah, if you’re looking to be crowned the Queen of the True Feminists, you might not want to refer to a “cackle” of women.

(Update: and in other tweets today, she advises Dr. Laura “don’t retreat...reload!” which I think means she wants her to say nigger a bunch more times, and called opponents of Dr. L’s hate speech “Constitutional obstructionists” – “her 1st Amend.rights ceased 2exist thx 2activists trying 2silence ‘isn't American,not fair’”).

The Burlington Coat Factory

is neither a factory nor in Burlington. Radical Muslim plot? Discuss.

Today -100: August 18, 1910: Of vivisection and California insurgents

The Washington D.C. Humane Society is threatening to sue the Bureau of Animal Industry of the Dept of Agriculture and other government bureaus for allegedly vivisecting dogs.

In California’s Republican primaries, Insurgents sweep up the nominations for every office, with Hiram Johnson winning 51 of the 52 counties (exc San Francisco). A couple of incumbent US congresscritters lose. Former congressman and state legislator Grove Johnson loses his bid for a seat in the Assembly. He was an Old Guard Republican and a bitter political enemy of Hiram Johnson; he was also his father. This election marks the end of Southern Pacific’s long dominance over California politics.

Headline-That-Sounds-Like-It’s-Dirty-But-Really-Isn’t of the Day -100: “Barber Out After Dick.” O.C. Barber of the Diamond Match Company – “America’s Match King” – will stump to rid the Republican Party of Old Guard types like Sen. Charles Dick.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Everyone’s a critic

I think it’s time to go to sleep. I just mis-read the WaPo as calling the flooding in Pakistan a tragedy of unimaginative proportion.

Today -100: August 17, 1910: Of Republicans and Roosevelt

Taft’s plans to change the leadership of the Republican party seem to have failed. Speaker Cannon in particular “is making it clearer every day that he intends to go down fighting and to do all the damage he can in the process.” The same could be said more or less of the entire Old Guard Republican leadership, who seem content to lose the 1910 elections if it means they retain control of the party in defeat. The Republican Party is fragmenting (which is fun to read even if it’s only in 1910, by the way) and “The use of the party whip to compel discipline in States where the insurgent sentiment has been growing has resulted disastrously in practically every instance.” Taft is simply too weak and uninfluential to hold the party together, especially with the return to America of Theodore Roosevelt. The old guard is trying to make Roosevelt, in the words of one anonymous party leader, “know his place,” and has just engineered his defeat for the post of temporary chairman of the NY state convention next month (evidently it’s more important than it sounds, if only symbolically) in favor of VP Sherman, who had worked hard to ensure the defeat of TR’s nephew, Theodore Douglas Robinson, for a state senate seat nomination, making the choice of him over TR especially insulting. TR, who is royally pissed off, will (probably) be at the convention as a delegate.

One “Roosevelt Republican,” insurgent Hiram Johnson, has won the first-ever direct primary for governor in California.

The NYPD has begun issuing photo i.d. cards to “persons of good character,” which will allow holders who break minor laws and city ordinances, especially while driving, to be served with a summons rather than be arrested. To get the card, applicants must send their personal details, employment and criminal history, with affidavits attesting to their character signed by three men who are over 21, not relatives, and not saloon-keepers.

Monday, August 16, 2010

He doesn’t have an American experience

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), responding to a constituent who called Obama a Muslim Marxist, said, “He’s at least a Marxist. And he surely understands the Muslim culture. ... He doesn’t have an American experience.” I love how merely understanding Muslim culture – pardon me, the Muslim culture – is elevated into something akin to treason. Yes, he understands stuff, let’s throw rocks at him.

Also, of course, King makes the assumption that Islam and “an American experience” are antithetical.

Also, Obama is a black man having abuse shouted at him by bigots – what experience is more American than that?

Mad Fucking Men

You know what I want to see? An episode of Mad Men written by David Mamet (that was his daughter as Peggy’s new friend in last night’s episode).

Today -100: August 16, 1910: Of infernal regions

Ohio Governor Judson Harmon sends the National Guard into Columbus, over the objections of the mayor. “When asked for his opinion of the new developments this evening, Mayor Marshall replied that he had nothing to say except that Gov. Harmon and Adjutant Gen. Weybrecht could go to the infernal regions.”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Today -100: August 15, 1910: Of trolleys, cayenne dough balls, popes and ladies with lamps

Violence in Columbus all day related to the trolley strike, with many rocks thrown. Also cayenne dough balls. And attempts to dynamite car sheds. Business groups are demanding the governor remove Mayor George Marshall from office for supposedly instigating the strike. The mayor has called for 2,000 volunteers to join the police force to put down disorder; precisely 0 have done so. The police have decided to stop arresting scabs who carry guns; “In consequence there was much firing by the strikebreakers to-day.”

The pope told a prominent (but unnamed) visitor that the Vatican doesn’t even have to respond to the government of Spain, because loyalty to the Church is such that PM Canalejas, who the pope said betrayed the Spanish nation, is likely to be removed by the Cortes. (Spoiler alert: he won’t be. He will continue in office two more years, until he is assassinated by anarchists).

Florence Nightingale dies. She was 90.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Speaking of lingering pains...

Sarah is at it again.

Those darn Muslims, always failing to show the proper tolerance of our intolerance!

Today -100: August 14, 1910: Of primaries, car accidents, and... Gaynor for President?

New Jersey’s former governor, E.C. Stokes, announces his candidacy for the US Senate. He will avail himself of the state’s 1907 Primary Act to put himself on the ballot of the Republican primary. Since senators were chosen by the Legislature, this is a voluntary act, and his rivals have not so far chosen to join him.

Since Mayor Gaynor seemed to have survived assassination, some people are talking about him as the next Democratic candidate for president. Or possibly for governor.

President Taft is paying to send the Italian laborer his son hit with his automobile on a lengthy vacation to Italy. Taft also paid his medical bills and gave him $500, more than he earned in a year.

Friday, August 13, 2010

From bias free of every kind, this trial must be tried

In the trial at Guantanamo of Omar Khadr, a colonel is removed from the jury for saying he agrees with Obama that Guantanamo should be closed. The prosecutor said he had “preconceived ideas that detainees were mistreated,” unlike the obvious open-mindedness of the jury members who said Guantanamo should remain open or the 7 jury members who have lost close friends in The War Against Terror (TWAT) – it is not clear how many of those 7 were among the officers who had volunteered to serve on the jury. More impressively, especially in the trial of a boy who was tortured into confessing, none of the jury members believe that the US ever tortures anyone into confessing.

NYT: “Much of the media tour is intended to convey that the 176 men the government is holding at Guantánamo are being treated humanely. Camp guards describe the curriculum for detainees, which includes a living-skills course on home budgeting and résumé writing.”

CONTEST: What advice might Omar Khadr and his fellow inmates have received on home budgeting and résumé writing?

Today -100: August 13, 1910: Of showers, trolleys, and conservationists

At a New York militia camp, members of Squadron C of Brooklyn are complaining about having to use the same showers as the Tenth Cavalry. Yes, the former are white, the latter black (New York state segregated its militia units?).

1/3 of Columbus cops are refusing to guard trolleys and the strikebreakers running them. They had been ordered to shoot anyone who refused orders to halt.

Interior Secretary Ballinger, who Taft is evidently planning to force out, tells the Commercial Club in Portland, Oregon that “The demagogue, the fanatic, the sentimentalist, the faddist are crusading under the banner of conservation”.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Today -100: August 12, 1910: Of the insanity defense, selfish farmers, and blowing up balloons

Gallagher’s lawyers intend to plead insanity for his assassination attempt on Mayor Gaynor.

A NYT editorial complains that farmers are organizing politically to defeat congresscritters who won’t pass pro-agriculture laws. The NYT does not like the idea of PACs, saying, “This puts politics frankly on a basis of selfishness, instead of patriotism. ... When farmers or unionists or Socialists or any other class of citizens seek any other object than the universal good they debase American citizenship.”

The German military tests field artillery against moving balloons, succeeds in blowing them up. The German military just likes to see children cry. And stuff blowing up. Actually, that does sound like a nice afternoon out.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

George Bush and the Mangoes of Doom

Bush is back in Haiti, evidently suggesting that the way for Haiti to recover from the earthquake involves mangoes in some way.

Seriously, how does anyone see that face and not punch it? How is that even physically possible?

Which reminds me of the shoe-throwing incident in Iraq, which reminds me that I meant to note that two Pakistani tv stations were taken off the air for reporting that a grandfather in Birmingham threw one or both of his shoes at President Zardari, presumably in protest at his leaving Pakistan instead of staying to deal with the floods.

Today -100: August 11, 1910: Of planes, bicycles, cars and trolleys

The French military is running tests to see if military scouting airplanes can be shot by scouts on bicycles and automobiles. They can.

The Columbus, Ohio trolley strike continues, with lots and lots of violence, rioting, scabs beaten to death, dynamite found on the tracks, etc etc. But, interestingly, the city council refuses to appropriate money for extra police to protect the trolley company’s property unless it shows greater willingness to settle.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Minnesotans against moon gods

Lynne Torgerson wants you to know that the fact that she is running against Keith Ellison, who is black, doesn’t make her racist. Why she’s even dated black men and loves black cock (she may not have said the last bit). No, she’s running against Keith Ellison because he’s Muslim and worships “the moon god Allah” and wants to impose Sharia law, the end.

On the front page of her campaign website, you can click a link to buy the book Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That Is Conspiring to Islamize America.

Dead Ted Contest

News has reached me through a series of... well, you know... that Former Senator Ted Stevens has died in a plane crash. Contest: make fun of Ted Stevens in comments.

Too soon?

Today -100: August 10, 1910: He took away my bread and meat

NYC Mayor William Jay Gaynor has been shot. Fatally, sort of: he will actually continue walking around, doing the mayor thing, for more than three years before a bullet fragment (which was not removed from his throat) kills him. Gaynor was posing for pictures aboard the ship he was due to sail to Europe on when he was shot: the picture above captures that moment. The person behind and to the left of Gaynor must be Street Cleaning Commissioner “Big Bill” Edwards, “of Princeton football fame,” all 350 pounds of him, who tackled the assassin, a fired employee of the Dock Department named J.J. Gallagher. “He took away my bread and meat, I had to do it,” said Gallagher, who will die of syphilis in 1913, several months before his victim’s belated death.

Among many other stories on the shooting, the NYT has the scoop that Mrs. Gaynor (who seems not to have been accompanying the mayor to Europe) had a premonition when she woke up today that something was wrong.

Gaynor is the only New York mayor ever assassinated, before or since.

(The NYT had an article on the Gaynor assassination yesterday. Thanks for the spoiler, dudes.)

Two strikebreakers hired by the Central Vermont Railroad who were arrested for rioting in Connecticut turn out to be sons of prominent Pennsylvania lawyers, one of them a D.A., who “went into strikebreaking for the sake of adventure”. Naturally they were released without trial.

Monday, August 09, 2010

At least it saves on thank you notes

The groom at a wedding in Turkey shoots an automatic weapon into the air, as is traditional, loses control of the automatic weapon, accidentally shoots and kills his father and two aunts.

My question is: does he still get to keep their wedding presents?

Today -100: August 9, 1910: Of Catholics in Iberia and vacations

The Vatican sends a telegram to the anti-government Catholic forces in Spain welcoming their “magnificent sentiments of unshaken Christian fidelity.”

The Vatican is also on the verge of rupture with Portugal. The Archbishop of Braga suppressed a Franciscan newspaper without asking the permission of the government, which saw this as interference in Portuguese internal affairs and reversed it by a royal decree. A “bitter campaign” against the government ensued. The government also plans to introduce civil registration of births, deaths and marriages, which would threaten one major source of income for priests, who are not happy.

NYC Mayor William Jay Gaynor, the NYT says, is about to sail to Europe for a month’s vacation.

Spoiler alert: no he won’t.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Today -100: August 8, 1910: Of trolleys, oaths, primaries, and for once a non-lynching

In Spain, an anti-government demonstration in San Sebastian is called off by direct order of the Vatican, though there were some incidents. At one point a group of the Catholics shouted “Death to Spain! Long live the Pope!” Death to Spain? According to the NYT’s easily amused Spanish correspondent, “Many amusing incidents occurred. Priests leading trudging bands of peasants took to their heels when they found the city in the possession of the military”, leaving the peasants to be fed by the soldiers before they were sent on their way. In Ceuta a priest pronounced an anathema against the government.

A trolleyman strike in Columbus, now several days in. I haven’t been following it very closely like I did the one in Philadelphia, but it’s got the same attacks on trolleys with fire and stones and dynamite. Not sure if scabs are running over children every day like they did in Philly. One trolley was emptied out and “set free at a good speed,” crashing into another car. Both cars were then set on fire. Sounds like a party.

In other strike news, in Winnipeg, “Twenty strikebreakers for the Canadian Northern car shops who refused to take the oath of allegiance to King George were deported to St. Paul to-day.”

Sen. Simon Guggenheim (R-Colo.) responds to accusations that he bought his seat by bribing members of the Legislature and that he was starting to do the same for 1912, and to an attempt by Democrats to enact a direct primary law, by saying that if he does run for reelection, he will seek the endorsement of Republican voters by a direct vote.

In Evergreen, Alabama, the arrival of troops prevented a lynching of two black men.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Today -100: August 7, 1910: Of scared presidents and Mexican chestnuts

An international syndicate will loan $1.5 million to Liberia, on the condition that the United States appoint officials to take charge of its customs duties and taxation. France, which has its own colonies in West Africa, is not happy.

The NYT is not impressed with Taft’s electioneering, saying that the mere fact that he felt the need to issue a statement setting out the reasons why Republicans supporting his administration should be elected to Congress shows that he is “a little scared.” In fact, the “regulars” have lost control of the Republican party conventions in several states, including Iowa and Kansas, to the “insurgents.” The Times thinks that “in the light of the deep disaffection manifested in his own party it would have been safer, as it clearly would have been more dignified, to maintain a self-respectful silence as to the political situation. Perhaps that would have required a more self-poised and a stronger nature than Mr. Taft’s, but his friends would have done well to advise him to assume a virtue though he had it not.” Ouch.

An article on Mexico in the NYT magazine section has the subtle title “How We Pull Diaz’s Chestnuts Out of the Fire.” Evidently the US has been arresting Mexican liberals on the US side of the border on trumped-up charges and detaining them without trial.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Today -100: August 6, 1910: Of railroad accidents and bribery

1,100 people were killed and 21,232 injured on steam railways in the US in the first quarter of 1910, a large increase over 1909. Plus 19 dead and 669 on electric railroads. And I think that’s only counting passengers and employees, not people who got run over.

The NYT has an hour-long “chat” with Vice President Sherman, who categorically denies having anything to do with the people who tried to bribe Sen. Gore. Sherman thinks Gore treated him unfairly. Jake Hamon, the alleged bribe-offerer, also denies the charge. The House nvestigating committee will not be calling Sherman.

Annoyingly, there is no Wikipedia entry for Hamon, who, it seems, was not seriously inconvenienced by these charges, remaining a prominent oil man and Republican fixer, one of the people behind the presidential campaign of Warren Harding. In 1920, Hamon was looking forward to taking a cabinet position under Harding when he was mysteriously shot. Before he died (6 days later) he said that he was cleaning a gun and it went off, but he was not believed and his lover was later tried for murder and acquitted.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

A religious institution

There’s a lot of confusion about what precisely marriage is in the American legal system. Jim DeMint, condemning the Prop. 8 ruling: “Today’s wrongful court decision is another attempt to impose a secular immorality on the American people who keep voting to preserve traditional marriage.... Marriage is a religious institution that was codified into law to protect it. ... If our marriage laws are valueless, they will become meaningless.” Clearly we need to ban not just gays from marrying, but also atheists. And, say, Jim, what about inter-faith marriages, should those be banned too?

Today -100: August 5, 1910: Of electric poles, bomb-throwing aeroplanes, bribery, and unintelligent policemen

Kinky Headline of the Day -100: “Electric Pole Kills Pleasure Seeker.”

Alarming Headline of the Day -100: “A Bomb-Throwing Aeroplane; C.B. Harmon to Try It Out at Garden City on Sunday.”

A civil war may have started in Spain, in Navarre and the Basque country.

The blind Sen. Thomas Gore of Oklahoma (Gore Vidal’s grandfather) testifies to the House committee investigating his accusation that a bribe was offered him to stop opposing a scheme to manipulate the sale of Indian lands to generate enormous fees. Gore says that the guy who offered him the bribe said that Vice President James Sherman was involved.

NYC Mayor Gaynor tells reporters what he learned by visiting the Night Court yesterday: “What I saw convinced me that the only necessity for the night court is for the prompt discharge of persons stupidly or unjustly arrested by stupid or vicious policemen”. Indeed, some of those he saw were, he claims, arrested to extort money. Children were arrested for playing, men for quarreling who should simply have been separated, men for talking “in a loud and boisterous manner,” several people for drinking out of a can. Gaynor repeatedly calls the police who made such arrests “stupid” or “unintelligent.” The night after Gaynor’s visit, there were a lot fewer cases brought to the night court.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

14 - 8 = 2

The Republicans were already talking about revising the 14th Amendment to make “anchor babies” stateless; Judge Walker’s decision striking down Prop. 8 will no doubt make them move to repeal it outright.

Walker based his decision on both the due process clause and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, which should make it harder to overturn.

The pro-Prop. 8 side based most of their argument on the supposed superiority of heterosexual marriage in the raising of children (which would also be an argument for declaring every man and woman who produce a child automatically married, whether they want to be or not – I’m looking at you, Bristol and Levi!). This argument is not only homophobic but also sexist, since it assumes that men and women possess different and innate qualities from each other. It is not said often enough, but most homophobia contains strong elements of sexism.

Today -100: August 4, 1910: Of boycotts, night courts, and booze in Texas

A boycott of American goods and merchants is announced in Canton in response to the ill-treatment of Chinese immigrants in San Francisco, specifically the new detention sheds on Angel Island.

NYC Mayor Gaynor makes a surprise visit to the Night Court, and discovers to his great displeasure that his order abolishing plainclothes cops has been simply ignored. Throughout the evening Gaynor intervenes to question various cops about their arrests (for example that of a boy playing in the street with a rubber ball), making everyone quite nervous. He spots one prisoner, arrested for drunkenness, sporting a big bruise on his forehead from the arresting cop’s club. Questioned by Gaynor, the cop admits having clubbed him, but denies that the bruise came from that.

Texas Governor Thomas Campbell asks the Legislature for a law banning saloons within 10 miles of a school.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Today -100: August 3, 1910: Of fan boys, lynch fines, coachmen, and grandfather clauses

Tice Shea of Belvidere, NJ, met Teddy Roosevelt on a back road and shook his hand. He was so excited (Shea, not Roosevelt) that he ran 2½ miles to tell his friends, but dropped unconscious just as he got into town. It took doctors four hours to bring him around.

Evidently Ohio’s anti-lynching law requires counties to pay a $5,000 fine for every fatal lynching. The gears are in motion for Licking County to cough up for the lynching of anti-saloon detective Etherington last month.

Headline of the Day -100: “Coachman Elected Over Millionaire.” The coachman, William Warren, was elected to the Manhasset, Long Island school board, defeating Stephen H. Mason, taxicab millionaire and the owner of a local estate. Warren was supported by Frances Hodgson Burnett, author of Lord Fauntleroy. He ran on the basis of being a father, pointing out that Mason and the other rich men on the board had no children.

The Oklahoma voters vote for fewer Oklahoma voters, specifically “illiterate” negro voters. The amendment to the state’s constitution (which is itself less than 3 years old) adds a literacy test for voters, along with a grandfather clause exempting from having to take the test anyone whose grandfathers had been eligible to vote before January 1, 1866 or were soldiers or lived in a foreign country. This amendment would be struck down by the Supreme Court in 1915, though Oklahoma kept trying variations. The NYT, which gives a scant one paragraph to this amendment at the end of a story about the primary elections and doesn’t report further in later editions, mentions that the Legislature changed the rules to make adoption of the amendment more likely. In fact what they did is put “For the amendment” in small print on the ballot; anyone who failed to scratch those words out with a pencil (which some precincts failed to provide) was deemed to have voted in favor.

Incidentally, the voting age in OK was 18.

Monday, August 02, 2010

A home to us

Original caption: “Salmah M Saleh (front), 52, Firjen Saleh (C), 44, and Paidi, 58, immure themselves in the soil during a protest at a slum area in Jakarta, Indonesia. At least five resident staged a protest to urge the government not to move their houses by force.”

“Well, when I say ‘house,’ it was only a hole in the ground, but it was a house to us.”


The United Arab Emirates blocks some of the features of BlackBerrys (is that really how the plural is spelled? That’s how the WaPo spells it. BlackBerries? BlacksBerry?). The feature which transforms owners of BlackBerriae into total dicks – still enabled.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Today -100: August 1, 1910: Of Crippen

Dr. Crippen has been caught, along with his mistress, Ethel Le Neve, on the SS Montrose just before it docked in Quebec. The captain became suspicious, mostly because Le Neve was disguised as a boy, and sent a wireless telegram to the British authorities – the first use of wireless communication to capture a suspect. Crippen will be returned to Britain for trial for the murder of his wife.

By the way, Chief Inspector Dew of Scotland Yard (Dew of the Yard!), who arrested Crippen, read him his rights.

(DNA evidence is now raising questions about the identity of the remains found in Crippen’s basement. The best explanations seem to be 1) something went wrong with a 100-year-old specimen, such as mis-labelling, 2) Crippen was performing abortions, one went wrong and he disposed of the evidence.)