Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Today -100: May 31, 1911: I want to make all the stronger nations ask us not to hurt them

Woodrow Wilson, in North Carolina, when asked about a possible presidential run, says “It is too far off to talk about.”

A Mexican is lynched in Barstow, Texas for shouting “Viva Díaz!” during a celebration of the success of the Revolution.

Ray Harroun wins the first Indianapolis 500, driving a Marmon Wasp (the very one pictured below), winning around $15,000. He drove the 500 miles at an average speed of 74 mph. Harroun’s great innovation, used here for the first time in an automobile, was the rear-view mirror; his was the only car not to have a mechanic passenger to keep a watch on the road behind. There was one fatality, the driver of a car whose front wheels fell off and was thrown 20 feet – no one had invented the seat belt.

It was Memorial Day, which in those days was of course strictly about the Civil War (which I notice the NYT doesn’t initial cap). Compare and contrast: President Taft gave a speech at Arlington arguing that the US should “strain ever nerve... to avoid war in the future.” And just as Americans as individuals have (mostly) “progressed” away from fighting duels over insults to their honor, so nations should “refuse to go to war for an insult” and instead “submit to the arbitrament of a peaceful tribunal”. Teddy Roosevelt, on the other hand, addressing Civil War veterans at Grant’s Tomb: “I took part in a little war which came after your big war. It was all the war there was, and it was not our fault that there wasn’t war enough to go around.” He doesn’t support arbitration, especially over the Monroe Doctrine or Asiatic immigration, and he does support a big navy: “I don’t want to put myself in the position of having to ask strong nations not to hurt us. I want to make all the stronger nations ask us not to hurt them”.

Monday, May 30, 2011

News you missed this weekend (but not that much)

The king of Sweden denies he’s ever been in a strip club. Which means he’s totally been in a strip club.

Top news on Fox News: “Is Obama Chewing Gum at Joplin Memorial Service?”

From the BBC: “Police in southern Bangladesh say a woman cut off a man’s penis during an alleged attempt to rape her and took it to a police station as evidence.” Said a police spokesmodel: “As far as I am aware, this is the first time that a woman has brought a severed penis to the police station as evidence.”

Also from the Beeb: “Severed Head of Patron Saint of Genital Disease on Sale.” That’s St. Vitalis of Assisi. “He died in 1370, and word of his sanctity soon spread due to reports of numerous miracles performed on those with bladder and genital disorders.” “The Holy Cross Monastery, a Benedictine order in Rostrevor, County Down, did not even know who St Vitalis was, and after an internet search, declined to comment further on the matter of his or anyone else’s severed head.”

I’m conflicted. As fun as it would be to watch Michele Bachmann run for president, to do so she’d have to forego running for the Senate and I was looking forward to her debates with Al Franken.

To be clear, that was a picture of St. Vitalis of Assisi, not St. Michele of Minnesota. Although I understand Ms. Bachmann has also performed numerous miracles on those with bladder and genital disorders.

Name of the Day

From the world football scandal I couldn’t care less about but which has been dominating the BBC the last few days: Fifa president Sepp Blatter.

Are we entirely sure that name wasn’t dreamt up by Douglas Adams?

Wikipedia provides us this tidbit about Mr. Blatter: “In the early 1970s, Blatter was elected president of the World Society of Friends of Suspenders, an organisation which tried to stop women replacing suspender belts with pantyhose.”

Today -100: May 30, 1911: Of Gilbert, tobacco trusts, cows, and warplanes

W.S. Gilbert, of Gilbert & Sullivan, drowns after suffering a heart attack while attempting to save a young woman in a lake. He was 74.

The Supreme Court rules that the Tobacco Trust must be dissolved.

Pope Pius X publishes an encyclical attacking the Portuguese government for suppressing Catholicism.

Coincidentally, no doubt, a monarchist plot against the Portuguese government is discovered, and dispersed by the military.

Headline of the Day -100: “Biplane Strikes Cow.”

The Lake Mohonk peace conference adopts a resolution for an international agreement banning the use of airships in warfare. The NYT agrees.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Today -100: May 29, 1911: Of castles, making eyes, and Methodists & prohibition

Dancers Vernon and Irene Castle marry.

At Cornell during Spring Days, it is traditional for the law students to “arrest” people on false charges and extort money from them for fun and profit. One Henry Koch of Brooklyn arrests Governor John A. Dix on a charge of making eyes at the girls. Dix objects, but the arrest is supported Cornell’s president. The “Court of Injustice” fines Dix $1.

The Methodist Church asks Texas Governor Oscar Branch Colquitt to resign because he opposes prohibition. He refuses, saying prohibition is a political issue not a religious one and is not part of the Confession of Faith, so the church should butt out.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ratko and Skip and Hank

To answer a question I asked last week: 2004, Serbia stopped paying Ratko Mladic’s pension in 2004. He wants it reinstated.

Mladic’s son is named Darko. It’s like that family wants to turn out generation after generation of Bond villains.

At the other extreme, this week, on HBO’s movie “Too Big to Fail,” I heard the happiest, funnest name ever: Skip McGee, of Lehman Brothers. Hey, everyone, it’s Skip McGee! they must say every time he walks in a room. Mladic would have turned out very differently if his parents had named him Skip.

William Hurt was pretty good as Henry Paulson but his... face... didn’t quite match up.

Today -100: May 28, 1911: Of opium and trains

Britain and China sign a treaty to end the opium trade by 1917.

An attack on the train taking Porfirio Díaz out of Mexico forever is fought off. Asked why he thought the attack occurred, Francisco Madero said, “Oh, I suppose they did not have much love for him.”

Friday, May 27, 2011

Today -100: May 27, 1911: Of passports

Former President-for-Life Díaz sneaks out of Mexico. He is believed to be headed for Madrid. Madero resigns as self-proclaimed provisional president.

Russia reverses policy, will allow Jews with American passports to enter Russia. I’m not sure why this finally happened now (-100).

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Ratko Mladic has finally been arrested. My favorite Mladic stories:

On July 11, 1995, as Serb troops were surrounding Srebrenica, Mladic summoned the Dutch UN commander & officers to watch a pig being killed, and said that’s how he’d treat people like those protected by Dutch peacekeepers.

And he did.

After the massacre, however, he denied that Serb forces had raped Muslims because “we are too picky.”

Does anyone know if the Serb military ever stopped paying his pension? I know they still were 9 years after his war crimes indictment.

Today -100: May 26, 1911: Of air battles and resignations

The ill-fated Paris-Madrid air race, which kicked off with a plane falling on the French prime minister and killing the war minister, sees what the NYT calls “the first recorded battle of the air”, when an eagle attacks one of the pilots, who shoots at it. It carries off his cap. At least that’s his tall tale (the pilot’s, not the eagle’s), and he’s sticking with it.

Porfirio Díaz resigns. His letter of resignation reads in part: “The Mexican people, who generously covered me with honors, who proclaimed me as their leader during the international war” and so on for a bit, “that same people, Sir, has revolted in armed military bands, stating that my presence in the exercise of the supreme executive power is the cause of this insurrection. I do not know of any fact imputable to me which could have caused this social phenomenon, but permitting, though not admitting, that I may be unwittingly culpable, such a possibility makes me the least able to reason out and decide my own culpability.”

Part of the deal ending the Mexican Revolution (well, this phase of it, but they weren’t to know that) was that Maderists would take charge of half the states. In Coahuila, this has come up against the Legislature, which refuses to vote Venustiano Carranza (the future president of Mexico) in as governor. Madero threatens a coup in the state.

Madero also plans to have his forces cooperate with federals in crushing the socialist utopia established in Baja.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Obama-Cameron press conference: Momentum!

Obama held a press conference in London with huge-foreheaded British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Asked if the US will continue military operations in Libya until Qaddafi is overthrow/killed, Obama said, “we are strongly committed to seeing the job through, making sure that, at minimum, Qaddafi doesn’t have the capacity to send in a bunch of thugs to murder innocent civilians and to threaten them.” That’s the minimum? What’s the maximum? He also opposes an “artificial timeline” for withdrawal. Do you think he hears himself when he comes out with George Bush’s greatest hits like that and is horrified by what he’s become? Me neither.

I don’t think I’ve noticed this before, but Obama seems to have a strong belief in something he calls momentum. He talks here, as he has in the past, about breaking the Taliban’s momentum, and says of Qaddafi, “I believe that we have built enough momentum that as long as we sustain the course that we’re on, that he is ultimately going to step down.” But what does “momentum” mean in practical terms, and how does breaking it or sustaining it actually achieve these miraculous results?

Something similar pops up in a later answer to a question about Netanyahu’s description of the Palestinian demand for a right of return as a “fantasy.” He says that if the Israelis and Palestinians just start talking about future borders and Israeli (but I guess not Palestinian) security, “they can start seeing on the horizon the possibility of a peace deal, they will then be in a position to have a -- what would be a very difficult conversation about refugees and about Jerusalem.” So he’s depending on momentum to roll right through a resolution of those issues.

HE’S THE REMINDERER: “So, as much as it’s important for the United States, as Israel’s closest friend and partner, to remind them of the urgency of achieving peace, I don’t want the Palestinians to forget that they have obligations as well.”

He again says that the Palestinian government “tak[ing] the United Nations route rather than the path of sitting down and talking with the Israelis is a mistake” which “will not achieve their stated goal of achieving a Palestinian state.” First, it’s not an either/or. Second, if it would be so ineffectual, why is he so vehemently opposed to it? He hasn’t actually come out and described any harm that would be done by recognition.

Today -100: May 25, 1911: Of provisional presidents, interim presidents, and presidents for life

The Mexican interior minister asks Madero for help from the rebel forces to conquer “bandits and thieves.” Madero says no.

Demonstrations in Mexico City because Mubarak Díaz still hasn’t tendered his resignation as expected.

Madero, though still evidently calling himself the provisional president of Mexico, actually plans to let Francisco de la Barra succeed Díaz and organize elections, which Madero of course intends to win “if the people want me.” Catholics are beginning to organize a party to oppose him (Madero “has Protestant leanings,” whatever that means).

(Update: see Executed Today for a typically excellent post on the mother-and-son lynching of Laura and Lawrence Nelson in Okemah, Oklahoma.)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Netanyahu’s speech to Congress: Israel is what is right about the Middle East

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (an anagram of Junta By Inane He-Man)(h/t Dave Barry) gave an address to Congress today. But did he bring a nice coffee cake?

IF THE SECOND PART OF THIS IS TRUE, THAT WOULD JUST BE SO VERY SAD: “Israel has no better friend than America, and America has no better friend than Israel.”

WHEN? WHEN HAVE WE STOOD TOGETHER TO DEFEND DEMOCRACY OR ADVANCE PEACE? WHEN? “We stand together to defend democracy. We stand together to advance peace. We stand together to fight terrorism.”

If I were a rich man, Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.

NETANYAHU IS MR. SUBTLE, ISN’T HE? “Congratulations, America. Congratulations, Mr. President. You got bin Laden. Good riddance.”

WELL, IT’S AN ANCHOR OF SOMETHING ALL RIGHT: “In an unstable Middle East, Israel is the one anchor of stability.”

ON TOP OF ANOTHER NATION: “My friends, you don’t have to -- you don’t need to do nation-building in Israel. We’re already built.”

IN A WORLD...: “In a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted, Israel stands out. It is different.” A brave move, coming out against women being stoned and gays hanged. Bibi risks alienating his Republican supporters.

ENJOY: “Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights.”

A BASIC TRUTH: “This startling fact reveals a basic truth: Israel is not what is wrong with about the Middle East; Israel is what is right about the Middle East.”

What is wrong about the Middle East, of course, is Iran, and he went on about that for a bit, and how Iran would totally nuke D.C. if it had nukes.

HE MENTIONED THE HOLOCAUST! DRINK! “Less than seven decades after 6 million Jews were murdered, Iran’s leaders deny the Holocaust of the Jewish people, while calling for the annihilation of the Jewish state.”

All day long I’d biddy biddy bum, If I were a wealthy man.

I AM OUTRAGED AT THE OUTRAGE AT THE LACK OF OUTRAGE! “Now, there’s something that makes the outrage even greater. And you know what that is? It’s the lack of outrage.”

ALSO, THAT THEY’RE NOT VERY GOOD AT SPORTS: “Now, as for Israel, if history has taught the Jewish people anything, it is that we must take calls for our destruction seriously.”

PAINFUL COMPROMISES: “I’m willing to make painful compromises to achieve this historic peace... Now, this is not easy for me. It’s not easy because I recognize that in a genuine peace, we’ll be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland. And you have to understand this: In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers. We’re not the British in India. We’re not the Belgians in the Congo.” You might be confused into thinking that they’re foreign occupiers because of the 44 years of occupation. It’s like an optical illusion or something.

SO HELPFUL: “We’ve helped, on our side, we’ve helped the Palestinian economic growth by removing hundreds of barriers and roadblocks to the free flow of goods and people”. Of course we’re the ones put those barriers and roadblocks in place, but hey.

INSERT YOUR OWN OBVIOUS JOKE HERE: “The Palestinian economy is booming.”

I wouldn’t have to work hard. Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.

He goes on about the generosity of the Israelis. Every Israeli prime minister since the Oslo Accords were signed has been willing to pretend to be willing to establish a Palestinian state, with certain... conditions... but “so far the Palestinians have been unwilling to accept a Palestinian state if it meant accepting a Jewish state alongside it. You see, our conflict has never been about the establishment of a Palestinian state. It’s always been about the existence of the Jewish state. ... It’s time for President Abbas to stand before his people and say, ‘I will accept a Jewish state.’”

GENEROUS: “Now, the precise delineation of those borders must be negotiated. We’ll be generous about the size of the future Palestinian state.” Generous with stolen land.

VERY FIRM: “but we’ll be very firm on where we put the border with it.” And on what side of the border Palestinian refugees will be from the land from which they were expelled. And who gets Jerusalem.

WHAT YOU KNOW VERY WELL: “But you know very well that in the Middle East the only peace that will hold is a peace you can defend.”

BUT I THOUGHT THE ONLY PEACE THAT WILL HOLD IS A PEACE YOU CAN DEFEND? “So it’s therefore vital, absolutely vital, that a Palestinian state be fully demilitarized.”

Although he thought it was very important for Palestinians to recognize “a Jewish state” before anything else happens, it’s also very important for the UN not to recognize a Palestinian state. “Peace can only be achieved around the negotiating table. The Palestinian attempt to impose a settlement through the United Nations will not bring peace. It should be forcefully opposed by all those who want to see this conflict end.”

“But peace can only be negotiated with partners committed to peace, and Hamas is not a partner for peace.”

“So I say to President Abbas, ‘Tear up your pact with Hamas, sit down and negotiate, make peace with the Jewish state. And if you do, I promise you this: Israel will not be the last country to welcome a Palestinian state as the new member of the United Nations. It will be the first to do so.’” So he will recognize a Palestinian state as long as he can dictate who runs it.

If I were a biddy biddy rich, Yidle-diddle-didle-didle man.

Brown v. Plata: Antonin Scalia and the Intimidating Muscles of Doom

In Brown v. Plata, the Supreme Court upheld (5-4) a federal court order that California start releasing prisoners to alleviate unconstitutionally icky (i.e., care that “fall[s] below the evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society”) prison conditions, especially inadequate medical and mental health treatment. Let’s look at Scalia’s dissent (pdf, dissent begins on page 59), joined by Thomas, shall we?

Scalia drops any pretense to be a neutral arbiter of the law, explicitly calling for a desired outcome to shape legal interpretation: “There comes before us, now and then, a case whose proper outcome is so clearly indicated by tradition and common sense, that its decision ought to shape the law, rather than vice versa. One would think that, before allowing the decree of a federal district court to release 46,000 convicted felons, this Court would bend every effort to read the law in such a way as to avoid that outrageous result.” Bend every effort. Read the law in such a way.

Scalia objects strenuously to that whole “evolving standards of decency” thing, because he sees it as giving undue interpretative power to judges, and since he is against evolution, standards, and decency.

He denies that there should ever have been a class-action suit, because merely being a patient in a horrendously inadequate system doesn’t necessarily mean that your treatment was horrendously inadequate and your 8th Amendment rights violated (the “theory of systemic unconstitutionality”). Scalia argues that the lower court’s remedy, large-scale prison releases, is not narrowly drawn, as he thinks it should be, to deal only with those specific cases where the horrendously inadequate system provided horrendously inadequate care, while leaving the horrendously inadequate system intact. He grudgingly admits that a prisoner denied constitutionally required medical treatment might – might – be ordered released, but sees no reason to alter a system that will inevitably and predictably deprive prisoners of constitutionally required medical treatment.

And the majority of the 46,000 prisoners that would be released aren’t even part of the class: “Most of them will not be prisoners with medical conditions or severe mental illness...” Of course the California prison system’s facilities are also incapable of determining which prisoners even have medical conditions or severe mental illnesses. “...and many will undoubtedly be fine physical specimens who have developed intimidating muscles pumping iron in the prison gym.” Fat Tony is very intimidated by the thought of fine physical specimens with muscles formed by pumping iron in the prison gym. And a little excited. And a little ashamed that he’s a little excited. And a little excited that he’s a little ashamed.

Scalia suggests that the majority opinion’s rather anodyne and routine reminder to the 9th Circuit that its release order might be modified is a “ceremonial washing of the hands” to absolve the Supremes of responsibility for the awesome wave of bloodshed Scalia anticipates. For some reason the Nostradamus of the bench is able to see into the future and predict that releasing prisoners will result in injury and death, but not that subjecting prisoners to inadequate medical and mental health facilities will result, as the majority opinion says, in an inmate dying needlessly every 6 or 7 days.

(Alito, in a dissent joined by Roberts, admits “past instances in which particular prisoners received shockingly deficient medical care” – without bringing himself to admit that a system that hasn’t changed will produce more such instances in the future – but says that “such anecdotal evidence cannot be given undue weight in assessing the current state of the California system.” After all, the California prison system’s population is “larger than that of many medium-sized cities” and many people in medium-sized cities also have crappy medical care. So that’s okay then.)

Today -100: May 24, 1911: Of chimps, libraries, big bills, lynchings, and crippled naps

President Taft goes to the Bronx Zoo and shakes hand with a chimpanzee named Baldy. Baldy’s keeper, who is 180 pounds, says the chimp can lift him off his feet. “Every one looked expectantly at President Taft, wondering if he would offer to let the chimpanzee lift him. ‘Indeed?’ is as far, however as the President would commit himself.”

Taft is not only in the city to meet chimps but to open the new New York Public Library because, he says, the opening of a library reaching 8,000,000 is a matter of national importance. It will be the first and only public library in New York to open on Sundays. The $29 million library has an electrical plant as large as that of the city of Stockholm. Unlike in the great majority of libraries, the stacks will be open to most people, rather than patrons having to wait for someone to bring their books to them.

An 18-year-old messenger for a stock exchange company is convicted of grand larceny by a jury which did not believe that he “lost” a $10,000 bill.

A black man, Jim Sweat, who killed a judge and his (negro) cook in Gallatin, Tenn., is lynched by a mob of “the leading citizens of the town”. They stamped him almost to death, then hung him. Interestingly, only three years before, Sweat had murdered a (presumably black) servant who refused his invitation to a dance, but was sentenced to only one year and served only a little of that before receiving a pardon due to testimonials to his good character from prominent (i.e., white) citizens, including the judge he later killed.

Headline of the Day -100: “Badly Crippled Naps Beaten.” (Really, why did anyone think Naps was a good name for a baseball team?)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Obama at AIPAC: If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance

Three days after Obama made the speech about which Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.) said, “I am extremely troubled by President Obama’s call for Israel to ‘act boldly’ for peace” (h/t to Charles Davis), Obama gave another speech, to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

THE VALUES WE SHARE: “America’s commitment to Israel’s security flows from a deeper place -- and that’s the values we share. As two people who struggled to win our freedom against overwhelming odds...” So the values we share come from killing Brits. Fair enough. Everyone enjoys killing Brits.

PRIORITIES: “[D]espite tough fiscal times, we’ve increased foreign [i.e., to Israel] military financing to record levels.” So, although Twitt Romney said Obama threw Israel under the bus, Israel was pretty well cushioned down there by several billion dollar bills.

OBAMA DOESN’T WANT YOU TO MAKE A MISTAKE: “So make no mistake, we will maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge.”

SECURITY = LEGITIMACY, OR SOMETHING: “You also see our commitment to Israel’s security in our steadfast opposition to any attempt to de-legitimize the State of Israel.”

He beat up on Iran for a while, to great applause, then he went on for some time about how awful Hamas is and how Hamas should shape up or ship out, but “And yet, no matter how hard it may be to start meaningful negotiations under current circumstances, we must acknowledge that a failure to try is not an option.” He couldn’t say any more clearly that he wants Israel to put up a pretense of negotiations but doesn’t expect Israel to do anything that would make them a success. Netanyahu, of course, doesn’t even want to put on a dog and pony show for us.

SO WHAT DOES THE REACTION TO YOUR SPEECH TELL YOU ABOUT YOUR “REAL FRIENDS”? “I also believe that real friends talk openly and honestly with one another.”

He makes an argument that the “Arab Spring” requires Middle East peace talks: “a new generation of Arabs is reshaping the region. A just and lasting peace can no longer be forged with one or two Arab leaders. Going forward, millions of Arab citizens have to see that peace is possible for that peace to be sustained.” Er, so we used to be able to come to a “just and lasting peace” with dictators and absolute monarchs?

IF WE HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT: “No vote at the United Nations will ever create an independent Palestinian state.”

HOW ABOUT LIMERICKS? “Israel’s legitimacy is not a matter for debate.”

WHAT ISRAEL CANNOT BE EXPECTED TO DO: “we know that peace demands a partner -- which is why I said that Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with Palestinians who do not recognize its right to exist.” This formulation may be the least challenged pro-Israel trope. But what is this “Israel” whose right to exist Palestinians are expected to recognize? Netanyahu would claim Israel’s borders are set in stone, Obama said they should be determined by future negotiations. How do you recognize a state without set borders? Israel says no right of return for Palestinians but unlimited right of immigration for any Jewish person in the world, even if they’ve never set foot in Israel; Palestinians disagree. How do you recognize a state without a set population? Netanyahu and Obama speak of Israel as a “Jewish state of Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people” or even An oxymoronic “Jewish and democratic state.” If Israel’s legitimacy is not “a matter for debate,” what about that of the non-Jewish citizens of Israel? How do representatives of the Palestinian people recognize a state in which Palestinian people are defined as outsiders?

HOW WILL WE DO THAT? “And we will hold the Palestinians accountable for their actions and for their rhetoric.”

SO THERE’S MARCHING INVOLVED? “But the march to isolate Israel internationally -- and the impulse of the Palestinians to abandon negotiations -- will continue to gain momentum in the absence of a credible peace process and alternative.”

BECAUSE GOD KNOWS I TRIED TO AVOID PUTTING ANYTHING ORIGINAL INTO THAT SPEECH: “There was nothing particularly original in my proposal; this basic framework for negotiations has long been the basis for discussions among the parties, including previous U.S. administrations.”

BECAUSE GOD KNOWS I TRIED TO AVOID PUTTING ANY SUBSTANCE AT ALL INTO THAT SPEECH: “If there is a controversy, then, it’s not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately.”

THE STORY OF ISRAEL TEACHES US THAT PEACE IS POSSIBLE? “For if history teaches us anything, if the story of Israel teaches us anything, it is that with courage and resolve, progress is possible. Peace is possible.”

By the way, in neither speech did Obama say a word about the ongoing blockade of Gaza.

Today -100: May 22, 1911: Of ice cream cones, lynchings, swiftly revolving propellers, and peace

Lurking Death of the Day -100: “Think Death Lurks in Ice Cream Cones.” Children have been getting sick and two have died in Yonkers. Curdled milk in the ice cream? Cones made of sugar and paper? In those pre-FDA days, who knows.

Six blacks are lynched in Lake City, Florida by ten men who pretended to be cops and tricked the sheriff’s son into releasing them with a fake telegram. The men were suspected of killing a white dude in Tallahassee and had been moved 100 miles to Lake City to prevent them being lynched, but the mob went on a road trip.

And an old negro preacher who killed his wife and shot a deputy is lynched in Swainsboro, Georgia, the town’s second lynching this month -100.

French Minister of War Maurice Berteaux is killed at an air race when a monoplane crashes into the stands and Prime Minister Ernest Monis and his son are injured. Monis had to be dug out from under the wreckage. His nose was broken and two leg bones had compound fractures. Once again, I’m surprised by the level of gore the NYT is willing to print (also in the Florida lynching story): “Minister of War Berteaux was badly mangled. The swiftly revolving propeller cut off his left arm, which was found ten feet away from the spot where he was struck, the back of his head was crushed in, his throat gashed, and the whole of his left side cut and lacerated.” The pilot was fine. The race will continue tomorrow.

Madero signs a peace agreement ending the Mexican Revolution. President Díaz and his VP will resign shortly.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Today -100: May 21, 1911: Of lynchings, recall, divorce, electric shocks, and ice

A lynching in Bluefield, West Virginia of a “foreigner,” evidently not a black person, for attacking some woman. Hanged on the cross on the steeple of a Catholic church and shot 150 times.

The debate on Arizona statehood is still focused on the provision in its proposed constitution for popular recall of judges. Rep. Rufus Hardy (D-Texas) offers a rather odd historical analogy: Rome had the recall until Caesar refused to be recalled from beyond the Alps, and from that moment Rome lost her former liberty of popular action. Well, I’m convinced. Wait, was that Caesar thing an argument for or against the recall of judges?

Italy may legalize divorce. Currently, rich Italians hop over to Hungary or Switzerland, become citizens, get divorced and return home.

General Electric attempts to revive one of its electrocuted employees by repeatedly shocking him with 50,000 volts. The defibrillator is a long way away. 50,000 volts is closer to barbeque.

Fun Fact of the Day -100: “The President sits over a ton of ice each day”.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Some differences between us in the precise formulations and language

Obama met Netanyahu today. What fun. Afterwards, they came out to pretend not to loathe each other in front of the cameras.

Obama repeated his alleged support for “a contiguous, functioning and effective Palestinian state,” adding, “Obviously there are some differences between us in the precise formulations and language, and that’s going to happen between friends.” For example, Obama said he supports a contiguous, functioning and effective Palestinian state, and Netanyahu said, “Fuck the Palestinians.” You know, just differences in precise formulations and language.

They both agreed that Hamas, which at the last election was the party that garnered the most votes in the Occupied Territories, is not a viable partner for negotiation (“the Palestinian version of Al Qaida,” Bibi called them). Obama said, “it is very difficult for Israel to be expected to negotiate in a serious way with a party that refuses to acknowledge its right to exist.” Because they keep saying, “Does anybody hear something? I thought I heard something” when you’re trying to talk RIGHT NEXT TO THEM.

Netanyahu rejected the 1967 borders Obama called for because “they don’t take into account certain changes that have taken place on the ground, demographic changes that have taken place over the last 44 years.” Massive settlement activity, deportations, the occasional massacre, you know, demographic changes.

JEWZ IS SHORT: Netanyahu: “Mr. President, you’re the -- you’re the leader of a great people, the American people. And I’m the leader of a much smaller people”.

Today -100: May 20, 1911: Of armistices (armistix?), fainting sultans, and censorship

Some Mexican rebel generals are ignoring Madero’s armistice. And some rebel groups haven’t even heard of it, which is what happens when one of your tactics is cutting telegraph wires and railroad tracks.

of the Day -100: “Sultan Faints With Fear.” A “party of boisterous Kurds” rushed his carriage trying to hand him a petition.

Both houses of the Illinois Legislature pass a bill banning publication of the details of crimes or executions. In completely unrelated news, the US Senate is re-opening its investigation of the bribery in the Illinois Legislature that resulted in William Lorimer being elected to the Senate.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Obama’s Middle East speech: Strategies of repression and diversion won’t work anymore

Obama gave a speech on the Middle East today, at the State Department.

YOU’RE WELCOME, BILL: “I want to thank Hillary Clinton, who has traveled so much these last six months that she is approaching a new landmark – one million frequent flyer miles.”

HEH, HE SAID... OH, NEVER MIND: “I believe that she will go down as of the finest Secretaries of State in our nation’s history.”


AND IF THERE’S ANYTHING THAT BARACK OBAMA IS AGAINST, IT’S VIOLENCE AGAINST MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN AS A PATH TO CHANGE. HE HAS A NOBEL PEACE PRIZE, YOU KNOW. “He was a mass murderer who offered a message of hate – an insistence that Muslims had to take up arms against the West, and that violence against men, women and children was the only path to change.”

THEY’RE NOT “COOL” AND “WITH IT” AND “DOWN WITH THE KIDS” ANYMORE: “But even before his death, al Qaeda was losing its struggle for relevance”.

I’M PRETTY SURE “THE VAST MAJORITY” OF PEOPLE IN THE MIDDLE EAST ARE SAYING RIGHT NOW, “FUCK YOU FOR IMPLYING THAT WE ALL USED TO BE TERRORIST SYMPATHIZERS WHO HAVE NOW COME TO OUR SENSES, JUST FUCK YOU”: “By the time we found bin Laden, al Qaeda’s agenda had come to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end”.

GEDDIT, SPARK, GEDDIT? He tells the story of the Tunisian street vendor dude who set himself on fire. “Sometimes, in the course of history, the actions of ordinary citizens spark movements for change”.

BUT ROSA PARKS WASN’T ACTUALLY ON FIRE AT THE TIME, WAS SHE? “In America, think of the defiance of those patriots in Boston who refused to pay taxes to a king, or the dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat courageously in her seat. So it was in Tunisia, as that vendor’s act of desperation tapped into the frustration felt throughout the country.” I’m just thinking that encouraging people to express their discontent by setting themselves on fire may not be such a good idea.

EXCEPT IN BAHRAIN AND YEMEN AND SYRIA AND SAUDI ARABIA AND... “But the events of the past six months show us that strategies of repression and diversion won’t work anymore.”

AT LEAST, NOT IN WORDS. WAIT, WHAT? “In Benghazi, we heard the engineer who said, ‘Our words are free now. It’s a feeling you can’t explain.’”

YELLY, SHOUTY DIGNITY: “In Damascus, we heard the young man who said, ‘After the first yelling, the first shout, you feel dignity.’”

OIL OIL OIL ISRAEL OIL ISRAEL OIL: “For decades, the United States has pursued a set of core interests in the region: countering terrorism and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; securing the free flow of commerce, and safe-guarding the security of the region; standing up for Israel’s security and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace.”

WHAT’S GOOD FOR AMERICA IS BY DEFINITION GOOD FOR THE ENTIRE WORLD: “We will continue to do these things, with the firm belief that America’s interests are not hostile to peoples’ hopes; they are essential to them.”

BECAUSE IF THERE’S ONE THING THE US HATES, IT’S AGGRESSION ACROSS BORDERS. WAIT, WHAT? “As we did in the Gulf War, we will not tolerate aggression across borders”.

OH, THOSE SUSPICIOUS, SUSPICIOUS MIDDLE EAST PEOPLE: “failure to speak to the broader aspirations of ordinary people will only feed the suspicion that has festered for years that the United States pursues our own interests at their expense.” Suspicion!

WHAT THE UNITED STATES OPPOSES: “The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region.” Unless they’re Palestinians, obvs.

HOW MANY IS THE RIGHT NUMBER? “Unfortunately, in too many countries, calls for change have been answered by violence.”

WHAT THE UNITED STATES HEARD: “But in Libya, we saw the prospect of imminent massacre, we had a mandate for action, and heard the Libyan people’s call for help.” Actually, they called “Hey, we have oil!” It’s like when they say that women being attacked should yell Fire instead of Police.

LEGITIMATE AND CREDIBLE: O. says the Libyan “opposition has organized a legitimate and credible Interim Council.” Just as he kept saying that Qaddafi lost legitimacy without ever saying when and how he’d ever acquired legitimacy, now he fails to explain the process by which the Council acquired its legitimacy.

WHAT THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT MUST DO: “The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests”.

He accused Iran of “hypocrisy” for aiding Syria’s repression of protests. If there’s one thing Obama hates, it’s hypocrisy in... oh, you get the idea.

He does say that Yemen’s President Saleh “needs” to follow through on his lie that he will step down. And Bahrain should knock off the repression too.

BROADER LESSONS: “Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict.” What is the great example of how sectarian divides need not lead to conflict? Er, Iraq. “In Iraq, we see the promise of a multi-ethnic, multi-sectarian democracy.” So our model for the future is, oh dear lord, Iraq.

A BLOGGER? DOESN’T HE KNOW BLOGS ARE DEAD? UH, WAIT... “We will support open access to the Internet, and the right of journalists to be heard - whether it’s a big news organization or a blogger.”

That’s Benjamin Franklin, writing Poor Richard’s Blog

WOMEN! WE TOTALLY SUPPORT WOMEN IN THE MIDDLE EAST. “For the region will never reach its potential when more than half its population is prevented from achieving their potential.” It’s just basic mathematics. Which girls in the Middle East aren’t taught.

HOW MANY IS THE RIGHT NUMBER TO WAKE UP WITH FEW EXPECTATIONS OTHER THAN MAKING IT THROUGH THE DAY? “Too many in the region wake up with few expectations other than making it through the day”. Sorry for harping, but that “too many” thing just annoys me.

CAN WE PUT THAT IN OUR GAS TANKS? “The greatest untapped resource in the Middle East and North Africa is the talent of its people.”

NO COINCIDENCE: “It’s no coincidence that one of the leaders of Tahrir Square was an executive for Google.”

THINK OF THE CHILDREN: “For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region. For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could get blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own.” So that’s what the Arab-Israeli conflict has meant: Israeli (note the use of the term Israeli when he really means Jewish Israelis) children in danger from bombs and rockets and being hated by mean kids, while Palestinians are, um, humiliated. Funny, I could swear I’ve read about lots of Palestinian children being shot and blown up too. Maybe I imagined it.

Some people think the stalemate will go on forever. Obama disagrees. Phew.

“For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state.” I guess he means the attempt to get the UN to recognize Palestine is, for Obama, an effort to delegitimize Israel.

SHARING AND CARING: “As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values.” What shared history? Which shared values?

And then he launches into the fairly timid remarks that will be the only ones American politicians and pundits will be talking about: “But precisely because of our friendship, it’s important that we tell the truth: The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace. ... The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.” And he wants “borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps”. This is pretty much the least he could possibly have said.

NO OF COURSE PALESTINE DOESN’T GET TO BE SECURE TOO: “So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure Israel.”

BY ITSELF: “As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -- by itself -- against any threat.” Although we might send Joe Lieberman along.

“The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state.” Wait, didn’t you just say “every state has the right to self-defense” just two sentences ago? Also, sovereign and non-militarized is pretty much an oxymoron.

KINKY! “Suspicion and hostility has been passed on for generations, and at times it has hardened.”

WELL, TECHNICALLY THEY WERE CHANTING, “PEACEFUL, PEACEFUL, OW, I’VE BEEN SHOT, PEACEFUL...”: “For all the challenges that lie ahead, we see many reasons to be hopeful. ... In Syria, we see it in the courage of those who brave bullets while chanting, ‘peaceful, peaceful.’”

UNSETTLING: “For the American people, the scenes of upheaval in the region may be unsettling, but the forces driving it are not unfamiliar. Our own nation was founded through a rebellion against an empire. Our people fought a painful Civil War that extended freedom and dignity to those who were enslaved.” So the Middle East is just like two of our longest, bloodiest wars, so that’s okay then?

BIG FINISH: “But the United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves. And now we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.”

(Update: Robert Fisk: “And then we had to hear what America’s ‘role’ was going to be in the new Middle East. We did not hear if the Arabs wanted them to have a role.”)

Today -100: May 19, 1911: Of Pancho Villa & Mahler

Pancho Villa says he is quitting the rebel army and Mexico itself, and will move to the US and “cease to be a Mexican.” Francisco Madero, who announced Villa’s plans, “did not appear to be greatly grieved over his loss.”

Gustav Mahler dies. At the time, he was perhaps more famous as a conductor than as a composer.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Today -100: May 18, 1911: Of inaugurations, toothaches, and great institutions

Sen. Gallinger (R-NH) introduces a resolution for an Amendment to the Constitution changing the presidential inauguration from early March to late April. Not for any reasons of good governance, but because it’s too fucking cold in D.C. in March. At Taft’s inauguration, thousands of dollars were spent on grandstands “which when the parade passed were occupied only by snowdrifts.”

Harriet Stanton Blatch and other suffragists were ordered off the floor of the NY State Senate, where they were lobbying for the women’s suffrage bill. Some senators are horrified that after having pledged to support women’s suffrage during the last election to get women off their back, the bill might reach the floor and they would have to actually vote on it.

Headline of the Day -100: “Diaz, in Agony, Tells Cabinet He Will Quit.” Mexican President Porfirio Díaz has finally agreed to resign sometime in the next few days, to be replaced by Foreign Minister Francisco de la Barra acting in conjunction with Francisco Madero pending a new election within six months. The rebels will also be in charge of half the states. Oh, the “agony” bit: Díaz has a toothache.

Pancho Villa crosses into the US in a rage to find Col. Garibaldi and settle their personal feud (they are ostensibly both on the rebel side, but they clashed during the taking of Juarez), but the mayor of El Paso, backed by the Secret Service, takes Villa’s guns from him and sends him back to Mexico. “The United States Secret Service is a great institution,” commented Garibaldi.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Arnold Schwarzenegger: “After leaving the governor’s office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago.” What’s the douchiest part of that sentence?

Today -100: May 17, 1911: Spaniards versus pigs

Kosher Headline of the Day -100: “Taft Praises Jews.”

Non-Kosher Headline of the Day -100: “Spaniards Defeat Five Hundred Pigs.” The commander of Spanish troops in Spanish Morocco believed they were under attack by tribesmen one night and opened fire. Their commander sent a message to the Spanish consul claiming a great victory, then found out the next day that they had in fact routed a herd of pigs.

Meanwhile, in soon-to-be-French Morocco, French troops kill 100 rebel tribesmen.

British Chancellor David Lloyd George introduces a budget that includes an astonishing (to me, anyway) £1.5 million for the coronation. Also, members of Parliament will receive salaries for the first time (a sop to the Labour Party included in the bill, which is still working its way through the Lords, cutting back the veto power of the House of Lords). £2,000 per annum. Previously, only cabinet ministers received salaires.

Another of Count Zeppelin’s dirigibles, the Deutschland II, comes to grief, crashing into its hangar. It was windy. The Deutschland II lasted six weeks, a much longer career than that of the Deutschland I.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Today -100: May 16, 1911: Of guns, trusts, and pogroms

Gun control (permits for sale or carrying, registration of sales) passes the NY Legislature.

The Supreme Court affirms that Standard Oil must be broken up within 6 months. However, it also, in an act of gross judicial over-reach, construes the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to ban only “unreasonable” restraint of trade, despite the rejection of that language by Congress in 1890 and in attempts every session since then to so amend the Act, precisely because Congress didn’t trust the courts with the power to decide what constituted a reasonable or unreasonable restraint of trade.

Teddy Roosevelt refuses permission for the Progressive Republican League of Nebraska to put him on the Republican ballot for president in 1912.

Jews in Kiev have been expecting a pogrom ever since a boy was found murdered and mutilated near the Jewish quarter, leading to the traditional “ritual murder” rumors.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Nope, this still doesn’t make the IMF interesting. Important, but not interesting.

I’m a little surprised that every managing director of IMF hasn’t been arrested for sex crimes. Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s evident assumption that he has a droit de seigneur to use a Ghanaian maid however he sees fit just seems a natural extension of what the IMF does to the Third World every single day.

Strauss-Kahn had been thinking about running for president of France, so that probably won’t happen. Now if he were Italian....

Today -100: May 15, 1911: Of unions

President Taft, speaking to the convention of the Brotherhood of Railroad Men, opposes employees of the federal government being permitted to join unions and strike. Allowing strikes would be to “recognize revolution as a lawful means of securing an increase in compensation for one class, and that a privileged class, at the expense of all the public.”

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Today -100: May 14, 1911: Of the most ignorant man on military affairs in the United States

Says the newly chosen secretary of war Henry Stimson, “I’m probably the most ignorant man on military affairs in the United States.” Hell, it was good enough for Rumsfeld. Stimson may have intended it as a joke, but the NYT agrees with his self-assessment. However, Stimson does possess one great advantage: he is a protege of Teddy Roosevelt, who Taft wants to appease to stop him running against him in 1912.

There’s been a slight disagreement between Francisco Madero and Gen. Pasqual Orozco. Namely, the general pulled a gun on the provisional president and ordered him to fire his cabinet. Pancho Villa supported Orozco, demanding that federal Gen. Navarro – who was rather vicious during the fight for Juarez, ordering prisoners killed and the like – be turned over to his troops and executed. Orozco eventually calmed down. Soon after, Madero personally drove Navarro out of town, got him a horse, and he is now hiding out in the cellar of a department store in El Paso.

In Russia, Father Iliodor, aka The Mad Monk, has split with the Orthodox Church and with Rasputin, with the support of the Tsar.

Headline of the Day -100: “Insane Patient Celebrates.” The 42nd anniversary of her confinement to the NJ state asylum for a “mild but incurable mania.” No word on whether there was cake.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s, with extreme prejudice

Attorney General Eric Holder explains that the Bin Laden assassination was not an assassination because he could have surrendered if he’d done it really really quickly before all those bullets hit him, and that the assassination was completely legal under international law (no one asked Holder whether it was legal under Pakistani law).

And he explained what separates us from those who we are fighting: “I actually think that the dotting of the i’s and the crossing of the t’s is what separates the United States, the United Kingdom, our allies, from those who we are fighting.” He did not clarify what we use to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. I’m guessing bullets and blood respectively.

Today -100: May 13, 1911: Of foolish stories of intervention

Secretary of State Philander Knox sent the following instructions to the US ambassador to Mexico (see if you can read the first sentence out loud on a single breath): “You are authorized officially to deny, through the local press and otherwise, as under instructions to do so, all foolish stories of intervention, than which nothing could be further from the intentions of the Government of the United States, which has the sincerest friendship for Mexico and the Mexican people, to whom it hopes will soon return the blessings of peace, which is not concerned with Mexico’s internal political affairs, and which demands nothing but the respect and protection of American property and life in a neighboring republic. You will use the language of this instruction.”

Secretary of War Jacob Dickinson resigns, to spend more time with his coal mines. Taft nominates as his replacement Henry Stimson, failed Republican candidate for governor of NY in the last election.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Today -100: May 12, 1911: Of lassoes

Duuuuude! A few days ago, rebels in Mexico made a bloody horseback charge on a federal machine gun in Mazatlan, trying to put it out of commission, and one of them succeeded by... wait for it... lassoing it.

Madero names a provisional cabinet in his new capital of Juarez. The federals plan to court-martial Gen. Navarro for surrendering Juarez. Also entering Juarez: American criminals, pickpockets, and suspicious characters (according to Madero). The rebels are allowing US Secret Service agents into the city to arrest them.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Newt and the enemies of normal Americans

Probably you’ve seen the Mother Jones article “Newt in His Own Words,” widely linked on the interwoobs this week. Here’s some more they left out:

1978: Running for Congress for the first time against Virginia Shapard. She intended to commute to D.C. from Georgia and hire a nanny. He accused her of breaking up her marriage (this was just before his wife got cancer and he dumped her).

1994: “You cannot get to universal coverage without a police state.”

1994: called for Republicans to take back the Senate from the “enemies of normal Americans.”

1995: called for mandatory death penalty for drug mules, with mass executions, 30 or 35 at a time.

It wasn’t just Susan Smith’s murder of her two children that Gingrich blamed on “how sick the society is getting”. The following year, 1995, when a 9-month pregnant woman was murdered (along with her two children) and the fetus (which survived) cut out, I guess to be sold on the black market, Gingrich blamed the welfare state for creating moral decay.

In 1996 he explained what freedom is all about: “A mere 40 years ago, beach volleyball was just beginning. Now it is not only a sport in the Olympics. There are over 30 countries that have a competition internationally. There are some 13 states with 25 cities in America. And there’s a whole new world of opportunity opening up that didn’t even exist 30 years ago or 40 years ago, and no bureaucrat would have invented it. And that’s what freedom is all about. Freedom is about having a dream, and maybe I feel that particularly because the greatest Georgian of this century, Martin Luther King, went to the Lincoln Memorial and said in his extraordinary speech, ‘I have a dream...’”

1997: Clinton was thinking about apologizing for slavery. Gingrich said this would be “emotional symbolism” – one day after the House passed a Flag Burning Amendment.

By the way, in 1990, his opponent, David Worley, came within 1,000 votes of unseating him and might have won but the Democratic Party decided to give his campaign no funds because he broke omerta on talking about the pay raise Congress had voted itself.

(Update: Here’s one which I couldn’t find earlier because I googled pigs instead of piglets; Gingrich 1995 on why women should be kept out of combat: “If combat means living in a ditch, females have biological problems staying in a ditch for thirty days because they get infections and they don’t have upper body strength. I mean, some do, but they’re relatively rare. On the other hand, men are basically little piglets, you drop them in the ditch, they roll around in it, doesn’t matter, you know. These things are very real. On the other hand, if combat means being on an Aegis-class cruiser managing the computer controls for twelve ships and their rockets, a female may be again dramatically better than a male who gets very, very frustrated sitting in a chair all the time because males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.”)

Today -100: May 11, 1911: Of trousers & aviators, Juarez, modest women, and big mirrors

Headline of the Day -100: “Woman in Trousers Daring Aviator.” A... wait for it... girl is taking flying lessons. A Miss Harriet Quimby (who will be the first American woman with a pilot’s license but not the first aviatrix). The Times seems almost as shocked by her wearing trousers – “For more than a week it was not even suspected that she was not a man”. (Spoiler alert: Quimby died in a plane crash in 1912).

Lt. George Kelly, one of the Navy’s new pilots, dies in a crash.

Nicaragua’s President/coup leader Estrada resigns and flees the country.

Mexican insurrectos capture Juarez. Gen. Navarro surrenders (interestingly, to Col. Giuseppe Garibaldi, Jr., grandson of the liberator of Italy) and Madero invites him and his officers to dinner, then puts them on their word not to leave the city.

For what seems like the thousandth time, women’s suffrage fails in the New York Legislature (90-38). One assemblyman argued, “For every woman who wants the ballot there are ten modest women who don’t.” A legislator from the Independence League said he was not surprised to find the machine politicians opposing women’s suffrage. Harry Heyman of Queens harrumphed, “I would like to know what Mr. O’Connor means by machine politicians.” Replied O’Connor, “If you can find a mirror large enough, take a good look in it; there it is.” Burn, 1911 style!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Worth every penny

White House spokesmodel Jay “The Carny” Carney, asked yesterday about the National Journal’s estimate that the cost of tracking down Bin Laden has been $3 trillion, said: “I have no idea about that estimate, but I think most Americans would feel that it was worth every penny.”

My, it’s almost like the Obama administration has taken complete ownership of every one of George Bush’s foreign policies and his domestic “security” policies. But that couldn’t be right, could it?

Worth every penny. Every fucking penny. All 300 trillion of them.


Everything there is to know about human gullibility and human greed is summed up in one sentence

“One person was told a Rolex watch was needed to remove demons.”

Today -100: May 10, 1911: Of parades, the People’s Republic of Tijuana, and polar bears

A NYT editorial admits the success of this week’s women’s suffrage parade in gaining “for perhaps the first time the serious attention of their foes,” despite the fact that the parade “by all the established conventions was distinctly unfeminine and therefore obnoxious and ridiculous”. It did so because “more notably and more obviously than ever before, the suffrage women in this vicinity showed themselves as a class to be active, courageous, and determined,” where previously the movement had seemed to consist of a few leaders who did all the talking. “We now know that there is an army as well as Generals”.

What there isn’t, however, is support in Albany. The relevant committees of both houses of the Legislature refuse to report suffrage bills out.

The rebels in Mexico are in the process of capturing and/or burning Juarez. And socialist rebels have captured Tijuana, which is why it is a utopian socialist paradise to this day.

Teddy Roosevelt denies that he will spend the summer of 1912 hunting polar bears in the Arctic.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Today -100: May 9, 1911: Of incidents of war

Madero is claiming that Díaz’s promise to resign (eventually when he feels like it after all unrest ends completely), somehow “changes everything” and can lead to the resumption of peace negotiations.

In another sign that Madero doesn’t control all the rebels, there is an attack on Juarez by 150 or so rebels. They beat the federals, but have to withdraw because the main rebel army didn’t join them. Bullets crossed the border (didn’t Taft tell them not to do that?), killing five in El Paso, but the US has decided to treat the deaths as “incidents of war,” and not use them as an excuse for military intervention.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Today -100: May 8, 1911: Of the dictates of conscience, lepers, and savage Africans & big ships

Francisco Madero decides not to capture Juarez after all, in an effort to stave off American intervention by keeping the fighting away from the border and stray bullets from crossing it. Forces will be withdrawn from the north and will now focus on capturing Mexico City, which the insurrectos say they will do within a month (it would be easier if they hadn’t blown up all those railroad bridges). Madero is making a huge tactical change and giving up a militarily advantageous position in the north purely to appease the US.

President Díaz announces that he will resign – just as soon as peace is restored. Or as he puts it, “when, according to the dictates of my conscience, I am sure that my resignation will not be followed by anarchy.”

A father in Rhode Island is refusing to give up his 15-year-old son to the authorities. The kid has leprosy, and they want to confine him to either the Massachusetts leper colony on Penikees Island or the Pawtucket Pest House, for the rest of his life. Who wouldn’t want to live in a place called the Pawtucket Pest House?

Headline of the Day -100: “Savage Africans Menace Big Ship.” The British freight steamship Kasenga, now in Brooklyn, had some difficulties in East Africa.