Monday, October 31, 2011

The White House explains...

why atheists and the ACLU can go fuck themselves.

“A sense of proportion,” indeed.

Today -100: October 31, 1911: Of imperial apologies, boxed generals, indiscriminate slaughters, and going to the theater

Chinese Emperor Hsuan-Tung issues edicts granting full constitutional government and apologizing for his past actions: “I have reigned three years and have always acted conscientiously in the interests of the people. But I have not employed men properly, as I am without political skill.” To be fair, he is 5 years old (you may remember the little guy as the protagonist of Bertolucci’s film The Last Emperor.) “Much of the people’s money has been taken, but nothing to benefit the people has been achieved.” He observes, “The whole Empire is seething. The spirits of our nine deceased Emperors are unable to enjoy the sacrifices properly”. Obama never mentions ghosts in his State of the Union speeches. The emperor promises a new cabinet with no members of the nobility, amnesty for political prisoners from all the recent revolutions, the abolition of old laws, etc. (Spoiler alert: too little, too late, little emperor dude).

Headline of the Day -100: “General Escaped in a Box.” Gen. Chong-Piao, commander at Wu-Chang, escaping the Chinese Revolution there.

The NYT correspondent reports that the Italian Army has responded to an attack on it in Libya with “indiscriminate slaughter.”

In a speech in Chicago, President Taft suggests that the Republicans may be turned out in the 1912 elections. It is believed that he’s feeling a little demoralized after a rather lukewarm reception during his tour of the country, especially in the West.

A black man sues NYC’s Lyric Theatre for refusing to let him and his female companion sit in the orchestra seats he’d purchased over the telephone (they offered him the balcony). It is illegal in NY to exclude people from a theater on the basis of race, color or previous condition of servitude.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Today -100: October 30, 1911: Of picturesque troop movements, lost legs, and Pulitzers

20,000 Chinese soldiers are demanding complete constitutional government, or they will join in attacking the Manchu dynasty. Manchu women in Beijing (those who aren’t fleeing the city) are trying to look more Chinese, wearing Chinese dress including special shoes to make their feet look small. “Picturesque movements of Manchu troops through the city gates occur silently after nightfall to prevent excitement among the population,” writes a correspondent who seems to think he’s reviewing a pageant put on for his amusement – “picturesque” indeed!

Headline and Lawsuit of the Day -100: “GETS $15,000 FOR LOST LEG.; Court Then Sets $10,000 as the Value of the Same Man's Wife's Love.” C. H. Kealiher sued his parents-in-law, who alienated the affections of his wife, their daughter, and then “suddenly became friendly and tried to sell him a half interest in an Alaska mine.” While he was inspecting the mine, the father-in-law took charge of the bucket elevator, “threw on all speed, and he came up so fast he was whirled around the drum like a pinwheel until the bucket was smashed, and he sustained injuries that necessitated the amputation of a leg.”

Joseph Pulitzer dies.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Romney explains “this problem”

Twitt Romney on Occupy Wall Street:
If we had 6 percent unemployment, instead of 9.1 percent unemployment, this wouldn’t be going on. So if we had a president who had understood what it took to reboot the American economy and get us back to work, we wouldn’t have this problem, or we wouldn’t have people protesting, because they’d be working. There are some people in that protest effort who are just angry that they can’t find work. And that their costs are going up and their income is going down. And I certainly sympathize with those people. I’m sure there are others in the group that have less benevolent sentiments and are intent on just causing difficulty of one kind or another.

So the only motivations for protest (or “this problem”) that Romney finds acceptable (or “benevolent”) are self-interested, apolitical ones which do not challenge the financial establishment (“cause difficulty of one kind or another”) or economic inequality in any way.

Today -100: October 29, 1911: Of unknown Eskimos, elephants, Muslims, holy wars, and boning

Explorers for the American Museum of Natural History have discovered a hitherto unknown tribe of Eskimos. Who shared their food with the explorers, but also insisted on sharing all the explorers’ food, before sending them on their way without any food.

The king and queen of England, aka the emperor and empress of India, will be visiting India for a coronation durbar. But no one can convince Queen Mary to ride an elephant. And as everyone knows, you can’t have a decent durbar without elephants. Lots and lots of elephants.

In 1911, there were approximately 200 million Muslims in the world. Of these, 95 million are located in the British Empire, compared to 90 million Christians. British Christians are getting worried about this.

The Vatican is evidently distancing itself from the bishops and clergy in Italy who are calling the war in Libya a holy war.

The first Solvay Conference, one of a series that brought together eminent egg-heads and essentially kick-started 20th century physics, opens (click for whole picture).

Note Albert Einstein, 2nd from the right, Marie Curie sitting. Also Ernest Rutherford, Max Planck, Henri Poincaré...

ProQuest Typo of the Day (LAT): “BONING DEFENDED.; An English Clergyman Says He Is Ashamed of the Opposition to Boning Matches.”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Especially church picnics, probably

Miami Herald headline: “Colombia Elections Come amid Violence and Corruption Charges.” But to be fair, so does everything else in Colombia. The headline might as well have been “Colombia Church Picnics Come Amid Violence and Corruption Charges.”

Massive fraud, 41 candidates assassinated this year alone, or, as President Santos puts it, a great improvement in political violence.

That free trade agreement was such a good idea.

Today -100: October 28, 1911: Of presidential hands, the comic opera of South Carolina politics, and bricks

In a speech in Chicago, President Taft implicitly denies that he has any political motive in going after US Steel: “I would rather cut off my right hand than to do anything to disturb the business of this country, especially with a motive of cultivating political success.” And you know he’s serious, because his right hand is his eatin’ hand.

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease, while waiting at a hotel with friends to see if the editor of the Spartansburg Journal will take up Blease’s challenge to show up and repeat his remarks that Blease was “the villain in the comic opera of South Carolina politics” (the editor did not show), is overheard saying “If I were not in politics I would whip the newspaper editor who lied about me. If I were not man enough to do it, I would get a double-barreled shotgun and kill him,” adding “Pistol manufacturers make all men the same size.” Not such idle words in South Carolina, where the lieutenant governor shot and killed the editor of The State in 1903.

Headline of the Day -100: “BRICKMAKERS WIN FIGHT.” Presumably with bricks. Brickmakers have succeeded in blocking plans to build new firehouses in New York state out of concrete. Key to winning the argument: the destruction of Austin, Pennsylvania a month ago when the dam broke. The only buildings that survived were made of brick.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Today -100: October 27, 1911: Of steel trusts and disappointed boy scouts

The US government files suit to dissolve US Steel for violations of the anti-trust laws.

China: the minister of war is reported to have been killed by his own troops. And the rebels have taken the city of Canton and Szechuan province.

The Turks are finally beginning to win some of their battles with the Italians in Libya. Prisoners on both sides are being shot and/or mutilated.

Headline of the Day -100: “Taft Disappoints Boy Scouts.” They waited in the cold for him to give a speech, but all he did was tip his hat at them and drive on; didn’t even get out of the car. The Minnesota governor, who was in the car, later rebuked Taft.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Newt, Calista & the Giant Replica Ax of Doom

Click for bigger – it’s the facial expressions that make this pic.

Caption contest.

Today -100: October 26, 1911: Of war chests, college yells, and hair

Chinese revolutionaries have captured the government’s war chest of 1.5 million taels (however much that might have been in real money). This means government troops can’t be paid. Things are also tense in the fairly new National Assembly, which is threatening that if the powerful minister of posts and communications isn’t fired and punished, the Assembly will dissolve itself. Sheng Hsuan-Huai, for that is his name, was largely responsible for a policy of strengthening the national government at the expense of the provinces, one of the causes of the Revolution.

Speaking at the University of Minnesota, President Taft suggests that students could spend their time better than in “barbaric yells.” “The President’s remarks about college yells were called forth by the greetings he received from the Minnesota students under the leadership of ‘cheer leaders’ who jumped in front of Mr. Taft and went through various sorts of gyrations.” He says that back in his day, college students “got along with a less sharp yell and a somewhat more graceful hurrah.”

Crime of the Day -100: Rae Bogert, a department store model, is mugged for her hair. Which was chestnut.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rick Santorum, king of the unintentional double entendre

The Frothy One: “And I stood up from the very beginning back in 2003 when the Supreme Court was going create a constitutional right to sodomy and said this is wrong we can’t do this. And so I stood up when no one else did and got hammered for it. I stood up and I continue to stand up.”

Persecution avoided. Phew.

This Salon excerpt from Glenn Greenwald’s new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, reminds me that I meant to mention this quote from Little Leon Panetta in yesterday’s NYT, about why he supported impunity for Bush admin torturers: “If I’d spent my time persecuting people for the past, I would have never been able to have gotten any traction to move forward with what I wanted to achieve.”

“Persecuting.” Says it all right there, doesn’t it?

Today -100: October 25, 1911: Of roving bands, the Burgs, and Santa Claus

In Mexico, “roving bands of Zapatistas” are looting and burning villages.

Archduke Ferdinand renounces his archdukitude and all his privileges as a member of the Austrian royal family so he can marry the woman he loves, the daughter of a Swiss professor. He will now be known as plain old Ferdinand Burg and will live with Mrs. Burg in Switzerland. The name Burg was evidently just made up. If you’re confused right now, as I was, it turns out that the Archduke Ferdinand whose assassination started World War I was Franz Ferdinand, and this one is his younger brother Ferdinand Karl. Being out of the royal family (officially banished, in fact) only kept him alive a few months longer than his brother; he died of tuberculosis in 1915; Mrs. Burg died in 1979 at 99.

This year, all letters sent to Santa Claus will be destroyed. In the past few years the Post Office had distributed them to charities, but there were abuses, whatever that means.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Today -100: October 24, 1911: Of race wars, neutrality, and gliders

After yesterday’s race war in Coweta, OK, martial law is in effect. At least for the black population, who are being subjected to mass arrests and whose homes are being searched for weapons by the state militia.

Taft signs a proclamation declaring neutrality in the war between Italy and the Ottoman Empire.

Winston Churchill changes jobs, from home secretary to First Lord of the Admiralty (changing places with Reginald McKenna). Which sounds like a demotion, but Churchill liked to play with boats.

Orville Wright’s glider crashes, but he’s okay. Wright is doing experiments to make airplanes more stable by adding ailerons.

Other aeronautical innovators are continuing the attempts to weaponize the skies. In a first, the Italians are using airplanes for aerial surveillance of Turkish infantry positions in Libya.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Freedom, ain’t it grand

Libya’s new regime legalizes polygamy, which Qaddafi had banned, so there’s that.

The murder of Qaddafi doesn’t bother me as much as the new regime’s instinctive response, which was to lie about it.

Today -100: October 23, 1911: Of race wars, and the greatest nation

A race war is threatened (some would say has already begun) in Coweta, Oklahoma. In a fight, a black man killed the white city attorney and wounded two other white men. He was then lynched – twice. That is, a mob hanged him, but he was cut down before he strangled by white people concerned that it would start a race war. As the deputy sheriff tried to take him to jail, he was shot fifty or so times by people who presumably didn’t share that concern. As this story went to press, blacks were arriving from the surrounding country, threatening to burn the town down. The sheriff is arming the white citizens of Muskogee (20 miles away) to help out and the National Guard is being sent in.

The US government’s chief chemist, Dr. Harvey Wiley, addressing the convention of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, says “If a country treats its women right, eats more sugar and consumes more soap per head than any other country, then it is the greatest nation.”

If you’re wondering, by that standard the United States was evidently the greatest nation in 1911. And in 2011 I’m guessing we still have at least the sugar thing nailed.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


Hillary Clinton claims the secret meeting with the Haqqani network wasn’t actually a negotiation: “We had one preliminary meeting to essentially just see if they would show up for even a preliminary meeting.”

Today -100: October 22, 1911: It’s a great pleasure to be gold bricked in this way

The latest trendy accessory among the fashionable set in Paris: wild animals – panthers, lions etc. Monkeys, however, have fallen out of favor since last season.

Sun Yat Sen has raised $10,000 in Chicago for the Chinese Revolution.

The US has sent a dozen ships to China to protect American property. And by American property, I mean Standard Oil’s property.

The Newark Telegraph Herald is beginning a new service for its subscribers: having its newspaper read to them over the telephone on trunk lines (so basically like radio). It will offer stock market reports in the early morning, followed by general news, cooking and fashion in the late morning, fashion in the afternoon, children’s stories from 6 to 8, then vaudeville, concert music, opera and whatnot until late.

President Taft visits Deadwood. He “received a noisy welcome”. No word on whether he met Al Swearengen (oh, all right, the cocksucker was dead by then). He went down a gold mine and was given a gold brick worth $300. “It is a great pleasure to gold brick the president,” said Rep. Martin. “It’s a great pleasure to be gold bricked in this way,” replied Taft. Oh, how they laughed.

Friday, October 21, 2011

John McCain has a sad

Because of the announcement of “Ending the War in Iraq,” as the White House website put it. McCain: “Today marks a harmful and sad setback for the United States in the world.”

Let this be a lesson to you, Johnny Depp

Andy Hamilton (on BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz) says Qaddafi’s death proves the old show biz adage that you should be nice to people on the way up because you might meet them again on the way down.

By the way, here’s an old post of mine on Qaddafi that seems rather popular on Google just now.

Today -100: October 21, 1911: Of wars, trilling, and snails

Italian troops bombard and occupy Benghazi.

As promised, suffragists interrupted Roosevelt’s talk at Carnegie Hall when he refused to take their questions. The NYT says they “shouted and trilled ‘Votes for Women! Votes! Votes! Votes for Women!’”

Headline of the Day -100: “Snail Eaters in Despair.” The heat wave in France means there aren’t many snails about.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Republican Debate: I’ll bump plans with you, brother


WHAT SORT OF JOBS DO MICHELLE & MARCUS CREATE? SUGGESTIONS IN COMMENTS, PLEASE. Bachmann would oppose a federal sales tax because “my husband and I are job creators.”

She adds that sooner or later liberals would increase it from Cain’s 9% to “maybe 90 percent”.

MANIPULATING THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WITH A 10-MILLION-WORD MESS: Cain says it’s not true that 9-9-9 would raise taxes on most people who aren’t rich, without offering any actual proof. He says “the reason that our plan is being attacked so much is because lobbyists, accountants, politicians, they don’t want to throw out the current tax code and put in something that’s simple and fair. They want to continue to be able to manipulate the American people with a 10-million-word mess.”

Rick Santorum is given the opportunity to inaugurate the Kill Cain with Condescension Campaign™, and does by calling him “well-meaning.” He objects to the elimination of deductions for breeders, saying “we’re going to - we’ve seen that happen in Europe, and what happened? Boom! Birth rates went in the - into the - into the basement.” Boom? That sound effect is a little disturbing. And what’s going on in the basement, exactly?

AND IF THERE’S ONE THING REPUBLICANS CAN’T ABIDE, IT’S KNEE-JERK REACTIONS: Cain responds, “I invite every American to do their own math, because most of these are knee-jerk reactions.” Cain sure knows how to make himself popular with the American people:

I LOVE YOU BROTHER: Perry continues the Kill Cain with Condescension Campaign™: “Herman, I love you, brother, but let me tell you something: You don’t have to have a big analysis to figure this thing out.” Which is just as well, because Perry doesn’t really do “big analysis.” He says that he’ll have his own economic plan at the end of the week; once again, he’s shown up at a debate without an economic plan. But once he does have one, “I’ll bump plans with you, brother - and we’ll see who has the best idea about how you get this country working again.” Do you think he focus-grouped whether he could get away with “bro,” and decided to stick with “brother” instead?

REPLACE THE TAX CODE WITH ORANGES? WHY THAT’S SO CRAZY, IT MIGHT JUST WORK! Perry says that adding a federal sales tax on top of state sales taxes is “not going to fly.” Cain says that’s mixing apples and oranges. “The state tax is an apple. We are replacing the current tax code with oranges. So it’s not correct to mix apples and oranges.” See, I would have thought that the state tax would be the orange and the federal one would be the apple, but then I live in California.

Cain then tells Perry, who hadn’t said a thing about value-added taxes, “So you’re absolutely wrong. It’s not a value-added tax.” He complains that none of his opponents understand the plan. Perhaps because they weren’t thinking in terms of fruit metaphors. Everything’s clearer with fruit metaphors.

Ron Paul says he would replace the income tax with nothing. Not even a citrus fruit of some sort.

THAT’S AN APPLE: Romney asks Cain directly, “are you saying that the state sales tax will also go away?” “No. That’s an apple.” Romney again insists that people would be paying both federal and state sales tax, and Cain increasingly hysterically talks about various fruit products, as if it’s some form of logical argument, and why are people still talking about this after he invoked the argument-ending authority of produce.

Romney joins the Kill Cain with Condescension Campaign™: “I like your chutzpah on this, Herman, but...” As does Gingrich: “I think that Herman Cain deserves a lot of credit. He’s had the courage to go out and take a specific, very big idea,” but...

Bachmann wants everyone to pay taxes, “even if it’s a dollar. Everyone needs to pay something in this country.” I suppose this is isn’t as stupid a strategy as it sounds, since everyone pays taxes and knows they pay taxes, so they’re all willing to stick it to the mythical freeloader who pays no taxes.

Anderson Cooper asks Perry if he’s read Romney’s plan, and for some reason the laziest person in this race fails to answer. He says we need “to create an environment where the men and women get back to work.” Since he plans to end all environmental regulations and drill for every last ounce of oil and coal, I’m assuming that by “environment,” he means “nightmarish hell-scape.” “It’s the reason I laid out a plan, Newt, this last week to get this energy that’s under our feet.” Under your feet in Las Vegas? Have all those bullet-ridden gangsters and strangled prostitutes and chorus girls turned into petroleum already?

Then Gingrich attacks Romneycare, and Romney says he got the idea of individual mandates from Gingrich. Zing!

“YOU LUUUUV MEXICANS.” “NO, YOU LUUUUUUUUUVVVVVV MEXICANS, YOU WANT TO MARRY MEXICANS.” Perry says Texas has “one of the finest health care systems in the world”. And the reason so many people are uninsured there is because of “illegals” and “they’re coming here because there is a magnet. And the magnet is called jobs. And those people that hire illegals ought to be penalized. And Mitt, you lose all of your standing from my perspective because you hired illegals in your home, and you knew for - about it for a year. And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about that you’re strong on immigration is, on its face, the height of hypocrisy.” Romney says giving college tuition credit to “illegals” is a magnet and supports amnesty.

Romney explained that when he was told that his lawn was being mowed by (gasp) illegal aliens, “So we went to the company and we said, look, you can’t have any illegals working on our property. That’s - I’m running for office, for Pete’s sake, I can’t have illegals.”

Herman Cain failed to answer a direct question about whether the border fence he wants would be electrified or not.

Perry wants Predator drones on the border.

Bachmann: “Well, I think the person who really has a problem with illegal immigration in the country is President Obama. It’s his uncle and his aunt who are illegal aliens who’ve been allowed to stay in this country despite the fact that they’re illegal.” She wants a “double-walled fence with a - with a area of security neutrality in between.” I’m not sure what exactly that means, but it sounds rather like the Berlin Wall.

Romney says we just have to “turn off the magnets” – sounds rather like Wile E. Coyote.

Michelle Bachmann agreed: “I think there’s a very real issue with magnets in this country.”

She thinks we need to deal with “anchor babies,” but that somehow she can eliminate the citizenship of people born in this country without amending the 14th Amendment.

HOLD ON, MOMS OUT THERE: Bachmann explains the housing crisis, which evidently mostly effects women in the 1950s or something: “Every day I’m out somewhere in the United States of America, and most of the time I am talking to moms across this country. When you talk about housing, when you talk about foreclosures, you’re talking about women who are at the end of their rope because they’re losing their nest for their children and for their family. And there are women right now all across this country and moms across this country whose husbands, through not fault of their own, are losing their job and they can’t keep that house. And there are women who are losing that house. I’m a mom. I talk to these moms. I just want to say one thing to moms all across America tonight. This is a real issue; it’s got to be solved. .... Hold on, moms out there. It’s not too late.”

CASH WOULD BE FINE: Cain still hates the Occupationistas: “But my point is this: What are the people who are protesting want from bankers on Wall Street? To come downstairs and write them a check? This is what we don’t understand.” They should be protesting at the White House. Obviously.

HOW CAN I TRUST YOU WITH POWER IF YOU DON’T PRAY? Asked if a candidate’s religion should be taken into account, Santorum says yes. Gingrich says yes, because of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and “how can you have judgment if you have no faith? And how can I trust you with power if you don’t pray? Who you pray to, how you pray, how you come close to God is between you and God. But the notion that you’re endowed by your creator sets a certain boundary on what we mean by America.”

AMERICANS UNDERSTAND FAITH: Perry: “But the fact is, Americans understand faith, and what they’ve lost faith in is the current resident of the White House.”

Romney: “that idea that we should choose people based upon their religion for public office is what I find to be most troubling”.

WE’RE BEING DISSED! Bachmann says the alleged Iranian assassination plot shows that Iran “disrespect[s] the United States,” and Iraq’s refusal to give immunity to US troops after this year shows “how disrespected the United States is in the world today” and we need to nuke Iran or something. If she is president, “We will be respected again in the world.”

No, really, that’s what she said.

Santorum says Iran “attacked” us (the alleged plot again) because we’re the supreme leader of the secular world.

Perry wants to cut foreign aid and defund the UN, and Palestine is trying “to have themselves approved as a state without going through the proper channels”. Oh dear, did they not fill out all the forms?

Paul, of course, wants to end all foreign aid, even for Israel, which just “teaches them to be dependent.”

Bachmann wants Iraq and Libya to “reimburse” us for “liberating” them.

Cain, who earlier today said that he’d consider letting Guantanamo prisoners go in exchange for American prisoners, now says he would “never agree to letting hostages in Guantanamo Bay go.”

Since everyone was saying they wouldn’t negotiate with terrorists, Ron Paul asks if everyone on the stage would condemn Reagan for the arms-for-hostages deal. Santorum says it’s not the same thing because Iran’s a sovereign country and not a terrorist organization.

Santorum says he can beat Obama, no matter what the polls say, because “No one in this field has won a swing state. Pennsylvania’s a swing state. We win Pennsylvania, we win the election.” And what happened the last time you ran in Pennsylvania?

THE GOOD NEWS: Bachmann: “The good news is the cake is baked. Barack Obama will be a one-term president.” She added, “I am the most different candidate from Barack Obama than anyone on this stage.”

Gingrich says he’s the strongest candidate “because of sheer substance”. And he would challenge Obama to seven three-hour debates. Anderson Cooper says CNN would love to host them. Speaking for every blogger, everyone on Twitter who covers these things, No. Just no.

Today -100: October 19, 1911: Of Nanking, brown people over the sea, heckling, theories the great American government cannot be run upon, & marijuana

The Chinese revolutionaries seem to have captured Nanking.

Vice President James Sherman says the US has really improved conditions in the Philippines or, as he puts it, “we are and have been pursuing the wise course and we have brought to these brown people over the sea blessings which they never could have acquired had they remained under Spanish rule or been left to themselves.” One of those blessings: when we arrived Filipinos spoke many different dialects; soon, according to Sherman, they will only speak English.

Elizabeth Freeman, a suffragist who spent some time in Britain studying the more radical tactics of the movement there, announces at the annual convention of the Woman Suffrage Party of Manhattan that she plans to heckle Teddy Roosevelt at Carnegie Hall: “I shall send up some written questions, and if they are not answered I shall get up and ask them as we did in England. I understand it is not the custom here to ask questions verbally or heckle, but heckling would do good.”

Secretary of Agriculture James Wilson speaks at the International Brewers’ Congress, to the great outrage of prohibitionists. Wilson says prohibitionists probably have the best of motives, but “the great American government cannot be run upon the theories they hold.”

California’s inspector of the State Board of Pharmacy asks the state to add marijuana to the list of banned narcotics.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Headline of the Day

Associated Press: “KC Bishop Charged for Not Bringing Porn to Police.” Too lazy to download their own? Or did they figure a bishop probably has the best stuff?

Today -100: October 18, 1911: You have got to become part of those awful people

Taft, in California, has some advice for the newly enfranchised women of the state: “It won’t do for you to say, ‘Oh well, we will not go down to those awful polls where those awful persons stand around.’ You have got to become part of those awful people and make those awful persons better. ... Meanwhile we, of the slow and more conservative East, will watch the things you are going to try, and follow you and avoid the pitfalls that you may encounter.”

Monday, October 17, 2011

Um, right


Today -100: October 17, 1911: Of progressives, dynamite, marines, and lynchings

The Progressive Republicans (curious creatures, now sadly extinct) hold their first convention and endorse Robert La Follette for president in 1912. And they want presidential primaries to enable them to make that choice.

Some other people who don’t like President Taft plant dynamite under a viaduct in California over which his train was scheduled to pass.

The US is sending the cruiser New Orleans, and 100 marines, to Shanghai.

Black man allegedly attacks white woman in Forest City, Tenn., and... oh, you know, the usual.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Over-identify much?

Obama, at the Martin Luther King Memorial dedication: “Even after rising to prominence, even after winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. King was vilified by many, denounced as a rabble rouser and an agitator, a communist and a radical. He was even attacked by his own people, by those who felt he was going too fast or those who felt he was going too slow”.

Today -100: October 16, 1911: Never be president

William Jennings Bryan admits, “I shall never be president.” What was your first clue?

Horse-and-wagon thieves have become very active in NYC.

Sun Yat Sen’s people are promising women’s suffrage in China.

NYT Index Typo of the Day. The typo is just an extraneous comma, but wow: “BRITISH CABINET CHANGES. - Churchill Expected to Become Irish, Secretary to Lead Home Rule Fight.”

Churchill won’t become Irish Secretary, by the way.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Today -100: October 15, 1911: Of justices, air fatalities, and posing

Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan dies. He was 78 and was appointed to the court in 1877 by Rutherford B. Hayes. He adhered at one time or another to a rather large number of political parties: Whig, Know Nothing, Kentucky’s Opposition Party, the Constitutional Union Party, the Democratic Party, and finally the Republican Party. Although something of a racist personally, he dissented in several key badly decided civil rights cases in the Court, notably as the sole dissenter in Plessy v. Ferguson (the NYT obit mentions many of his “famous dissents,” but not Plessy, which is his most famous dissent now, but I guess in 1911 segregation was accepted so matter-of-factly that Plessy would have been considered simple common sense). Harlan also dissented in the “insular” cases after the Spanish-American War, which allowed the US to acquire colonies without extending the protection of the Constitution to them. Arguably Harlan was more liberal in his rulings than his namesake grandson, who was also a Supreme Court justice (1955-71). Taft will now get to appoint the fifth justice of his first and (spoiler alert) only presidential term, the first president to name the majority of the Court since Washington.

The number of fatalities in airplane accidents since Kitty Hawk has reached 100. Congratulations, Hans Schmidt! 37 were French, 16 Americans, 12 Germans, 8 Italians, 7 British and 5 Russian. The first was in 1908, 4 died in 1909, 32 in 1910, and so far 63 in 1911. Progress!

A NY state supreme court justice dismisses an injunction by the Independent Moving Picture Company against Mary Pickford, who quit them for rival Majestic, on the grounds of her being a minor (19). The NYT refers to her work as “posing,” suggesting a reluctance to dignify film work with the word “acting.” Whatever it is she does, she earns $175 a week doing it, plus cushy jobs for her husband and sister.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Another war! Yay?

The US is now at war with the Lord’s Resistance Army, because why not? Sending troops into a new country is now so routine that the president can do it without bothering to make a speech to justify the necessity of putting American lives at risk and taking African lives, slipping the news out in the Friday News Dump™.

Today -100: October 14, 1911: Of revolutions, aerial warfare, and bathtub suits

The leader of the Chinese Revolution, Sun Yat Sen, is in Chicago raising money while the fighting is going on, although his people were pretending he was in China, where rebels have proclaimed a republic. Sun Yat Sen is calling for China for the Chinese, a republic, a president – hint hint – elected by universal suffrage, bans on opium, slavery and foot-binding, and equal rights in land. The NYT has just figured out that this is a real revolution, carefully planned out, and not just the usual outbreak of disaffected violence. It says, “Hitherto the movements against the Manchu dynasty have been intensely reactionary, and especially have been animated by bitter opposition to foreigners in every direction.”

For some reason, Italian nationals are being killed in the Ottoman Empire, including 13 railroad workers in Syria (this may well just be a rumor). Italy is threatening to attack Smyrna and Salonica if this continues.

Italy is planning to drop bombs on Libya from dirigibles and airplanes.

Headline of the Day -100: “Government Wins the Bathtub Suit.”

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Iran must pay a price, evidently

Obama held a press conference with the South Korean president today.

On the alleged plot by Iran to hire some guy to hire Mexican drug lords to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US, he said the “facts are there for all to see,” and then mostly said he’d let the attorney general tell us what those facts are. But after all “we would not be bringing forward a case unless we knew exactly how to support all the allegations that are contained in the indictment.” See, that proves it, because everyone ever indicted by the US government is guilty. Quod erat demonstrandum. “What we can say is that there are individuals in the Iranian government who are aware of this plot.”

He accused Iran of “a pattern of dangerous and reckless behavior” and worse, “that Iran in fact has been hypocritical when it comes to dealing with the Arab Spring”. Oh noes, not being hypocritical, they are totally worse than Hitler. This hypocrisy is shown by “their own repressive activities,”

and by their propping up a repressive Middle Eastern government, Syria’s, while it’s “killing their own citizens.” Oh, the hypocrisy of it all.

Obama added, “We believe that even if at the highest levels there was not detailed operational knowledge, there has to be accountability with respect to anybody in the Iranian government engaging in this kind of activity.” Because if Obama stands for anything, it’s holding those at the highest levels of government accountable for bad behaviour.

Today -100: October 13, 1911: Up with women’s suffrage, down with the Manchus

The California referendum on women’s suffrage passes, very narrowly. Men in San Francisco and Oakland vote heavily against it, presumably because they feared women would bring in prohibition, but there is majority support in Los Angeles and the rural areas, which the NYT headlines as “California Farmers Give Votes to Women.”

Arthur, Duke of Connaught and uncle of the king (one of Victoria’s kids), arrives in Canada as the new governor-general.

The recall, initiative and referendum also pass (I’m assuming this means citizen-initiated ones, since referenda obviously already existed), ushering in the modern age of California politics, with medical marijuana and Prop. 13 and so on.

The Chinese Revolution is picking up steam. The slogan is “Down with the Manchus!” Especially Fu. I never trusted that guy.

An Italian proclamation assures the Libyans that they have not been enslaved by Italy. Rather, they have been liberated from the Ottoman yoke. So that’s okay then. And Libyans will be allowed to continue being Muslim, if that’s what they really want.

Headline of the Day -100: “Spanish Queen Sold for $10,000.” A horse named Spanish Queen, as it turns out.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Republican Debate: The Devil is in the details

What’s it been, two whole weeks since the last debate? How I’ve missed you, pointless debates. This one is all about the economy.

In honor of the Racist Rock of Doom, I will be referring to the esteemed governor of Texas as Ricky Poopyhead throughout. If you don’t like it, you can paint over his head. I may also have added a phrase to all of Herman Cain’s quotes.


Herman Cain started by talking about his 9-9-9 plan, and never stopped: “I have put my 9-9-9 plan on the table, and (I don’t have the facts to back this up, but) it starts with throwing out the current tax code and putting in the 9-9-9 plan.” So his plan starts with putting his plan in. Sounds like a plan!

Ricky Poopyhead wants to open up “this treasure trove that America’s sitting on”. I’ve never heard America’s ass called that before. “It’s time for another American Declaration of Independence. It’s time for energy independence.” Yes, drilling for oil is exactly like overthrowing British rule. Maybe the Teabaggers activists should stop dressing up in tricorn hats and start dressing up as the Men from Texaco (they work from Maine to... well, never mind). “But, clearly, we’re going to be focused on initially the energy industry in this country and making a America again independent, and clearly the place where domestic energy needs to be produced from.” Yes, America is the place where domestic energy needs to be produced from.

Asked what his economic plan is, Ricky Poopyhead whined that it wasn’t ready yet: “Mitt’s had six years to be working on a plan; I’ve been in this for about eight weeks.”

Bachmann says the economic collapse was not the fault of Wall Street but of federal regulation of the mortgage market and “Feddie,” er Freddie and Fannie. In fact (SPOILER ALERT), there will not be a single word of criticism of Wall Street or the bankers throughout this economy-themed debate.

Gingrich explains that the Occupyistas break down into two groups, professional left-wing agitators and “sincere middle-class people who, frankly, are very close to the tea party people in actually caring. You can tell which group is which. The people who are decent and responsible citizens pick up after themselves. The people who are just out there as activists trash the place and walk off and are proud of having trashed it. So let’s draw that distinction.” Trash the place and walk off, proud of having trashed it. Surely as apt a description of Wall Street, or indeed of Newt Gingrich’s entire career, as one could ask for. He called for firing Bernanke, which he would not have the power to do because the Fed chair serves a fixed term. He also wants to put Barney Frank and Chris Dodd in jail, because why not.

RICK SANTORUM DOESN’T WANT TO BRAG: Santorum brags: “I don’t want to brag, Governor, but Pennsylvania is the gas capital of the world right now, not Texas”. Oh, anywhere you happen to be is the gas capital of the world, Frothy.

Gingrich: “the most recent U.S. government intervention on whether or not to have prostate testing is basically going to kill people.” So Gingrich thinks you should get a prostate exam, guys. Should make for the catchiest campaign slogan since “Tippecanoe and Colonoscopies Too.”

Gingrich says Palin was unfairly attacked for the death panels thing. There are death panels and he’s against them. And for prostate exams, he can’t emphasize that enough.

Bachmann is also against death panels: “the way that ‘Obamacare’ runs, there’s a board called IPAB [Medicare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board]. It’s made up of 15 political appointees. These 15 political appointees will make all the major health care decisions for over 300 million Americans. I don’t want 15 political appointees to make a health care decision for a beautiful, fragile, 85-year-old woman who should be making her own decision.” And what does that beautiful, fragile, 85-year-old woman want? Pudding and the sweet release of death, I’m guessing. “I think that senior citizens across the country have no idea that President Obama plans for Medicare to collapse, and instead everyone will be pushed into ‘Obamacare.’”

Huntsman says he thought Cain’s 9-9-9 thing was the price of a pizza or something. Later, Bachmann says, “When you take the 9-9-9 plan and turn it upside down, I think the Devil is in the details.” You can tell which campaigns can’t afford gag writers.

What happens when you turn Michele Bachmann upside down? America wants to know. Well, I want to know.

That subtle 999 upside down reference is aimed at Herman “Mark of” Cain, because Teabaggers can’t remember which black person they’re supposed to think is the Antichrist in the same way that I got many Google Images hits from people looking for pictures of Sarah Palin eating a corn dog because they (understandably) mixed up Bachmann and Palin.

Cain explains that “(I don’t have the facts to back this up, but) 9-9-9 will pass, and it is not the price of pizza because, it has been well-studied and well-developed. ... It didn’t come off a pizza box, no.” Although oddly it does have cheese stuck on it.

WHERE MITTENS HAS SPENT HIS LIFE: Romney: “I’m not going to have to call up Timothy Geithner and say how does the economy work, because I’ve spent my life in the economy.” He also “wouldn’t keep Ben Bernanke in office. I’d choose someone of my -- of my own –” Again: fixed term; wouldn’t have the power to fire him; you can look this shit up. Twitt wouldn’t mind replacing Bernanke with Milton Friedman, except for the being dead part. “Although what Milton said to us was, he said, you know, if you took all the economists in America, and you laid them end to end, it would be a good thing.” Kinky.

By the way, the actual joke is that if all the economists were laid end to end, they still wouldn’t reach a conclusion, and it was made by Bernard Shaw.

CONCEPTUALLY: Cain evidently supported the Wall Street bailout in 2008. “Conceptually, I made that statement based upon the concept”.

WHY AMERICANS ARE SO UNTRUSTWORTHY: Rick Poopyhead: “One of the reasons that I think Americans are so untrustworthy of what’s going on is because they never see a cut in spending.”

Gingrich on the debt ceiling/supercommittee bill: “And the bill basically says: We’re either going to shoot ourselves in the head, or cut off our right leg. And we’ll come in and -- around Thanksgiving, and we’ll show you how we’re going to cut off the right leg. And the alternative will be shooting ourselves in the head.” I’m not sure what he’s talking about but I suspect you really don’t want to go to Newt’s house for Thanksgiving.

NOT JUST A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS OF WASHINGTON, BUT A LEADING VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS OF WASHINGTON. Bachmann: “Charlie, last summer I was a leading voice in the wilderness of Washington, and a lone voice as a matter of fact, saying: Do not increase the debt ceiling.” She says that one day tax rates will be 75%. “I’m a federal tax lawyer; that’s what I do for a living.” Someone check her for head trauma, she seems to have forgotten the last 18 years of her life. She says that we have to cut spending and balance the budget and cut taxes. I’m sure it all adds up: she’s a federal tax lawyer, that’s what she does for a living, after all.

Charlie Rose helpfully points out that under Cain’s 9-9-9 plan, Americans would pay 9% more for pizza and beer.

Cain says that he doesn’t have the facts to back this up, but Americans would “have the flexibility to decide on how much they want to spend it on new goods, how much they want to spend it on used goods, because there is no tax on used goods.” So we’ll all have to buy our pizzas used, I guess.

Romney makes a joke about Chinese drivers, I’m guessing: “If you’re not willing to stand up to China, you’ll get run over by China. And that’s what’s happened for 20 years.” Sounds messy.

Ricky Poopyhead: “We’re missing this so much. What we need to be focused on in this country today is not whether or not we’re going to have this policy or that policy. What we need to be focused on is how we get America working again. That’s where we need to be focused.” As Yoda said, there is no policy, there is only do. Evidently if we just start drilling on “this absolute treasure trove of energy” we’re sitting on, manufacturing will come back from China. “You free up this country’s entrepreneurs where they know that they can risk their capital and have a chance to have a return on investment and all of this conversation that we’re having today becomes substantially less impactful.” Oh, I don’t think your conversation could possibly become less impactful, Governor Poopyhead.

Santorum says he wants to go to war with China.

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WANT HEALTH CARE TO WORK LIKE A WHAT NOW? Romney says everyone else has to have a plan with which to replace Obamacare because “the American people are not satisfied with the status quo. They want us to solve the problem of health care, to get it to work like a market, and that’s what has to happen.”

After the break, the candidates were allowed to question each other.

Bachmann asks Ricky Poopyhead, You used to be a Democrat; why do you hate Ronald Reagan?

Cain asks Romney if he can name all 59 points in his plan, because he can tell you what all three 9’s in his plan are. The RomneyBot can, and starts to do just that.

Gingrich asks Romney why he proposes cutting capital-gains taxes only on people with income below $200,000 and not on the rich. Why are you fighting a class war against the rich, Mittens? Romney says the rich are doing fine and the very poor have a safety net (which he wants to destroy).

Romney asks Bachmann how she’d get people back to work. She begins by mentioning being “a mother of 28 children”, so I guess she’d get people back to work running baby farms. Also, she’d eliminate all government regulation. And Obamacare.

Santorum asks Cain how he’d stop Congress from increasing the the 9’s in the 9-9-9 plan. Cain says he would include a provision saying that future Congresses could only raise the taxes by a 2/3 majority. Such a provision would, of course, be unconstitutional.

Cain says he has two candidates to replace Bernanke, but “I cannot give their names”. I guess he didn’t have the names to back this up.

Cain says when he said that people shouldn’t blame Wall Street if they didn’t have a job, he didn’t mean people who don’t have jobs, he meant the protesters. So that’s okay then.

Romney is given a chance to say that he opposes Congressional Republicans letting the payroll tax rise, but he doesn’t, muttering something about little Band-Aids.

Ricky Poopyhead says the reason there’s poverty in America is because of Obama. Santorum says it’s because of the breakdown of the American family: “the word ‘home’ in Greek is the basis of the word ‘economy,’” he said as if he’d just proven something profound.

The candidates were asked how they could recognize the pain Americans are feeling. Bachmann says she and Marcus “have broken hearts for at-risk kids, Charlie. That’s why we took 23 foster children into our home.” I won’t even touch that one. Cain says he “was po’ before I was poor.” Which I guess means they couldn’t even afford an r and an extra o. Gingrich says he has unemployed relatives, and he occasionally thinks of them when shopping at Tiffany’s; “We have, I think, a pretty good sense of the pain level.” The empathy just flows off him, doesn’t it? Ron Paul says he believes in liberty. Huntsman says “And when I saw on the faces of people who had the dignity of a job, you knew what it meant to moms and dads and entire families.” So he, like, saw faces. Ricky Poopyhead and Twitt Romney ignored the question and said whatever they felt like saying.

I promise that I have now retired the “Ricky Poopyhead” thing forever.

Today -100: October 12, 1911: Of tests of guessing, lynchings, patronage-grabbing, and dead whales

New Jersey Governor Woodrow Wilson says that President Taft’s administration of anti-trust laws is haphazard and unpredictable “and you cannot conduct sound business upon a test of guessing.”

Two negroes are lynched in Caruthersville, Missouri. One was supposedly a robber, the other supposedly “attacked” two white women. 75 masked men broke down their jail cell doors, shot them up and left them floating in the Mississippi. Mayor Garrett says, “I am not a detective. Unless a complaint is made by some one who can prove that a mistake was made in killing the negro, I will take no action. I do not favor arresting anyone on suspicion.” His commitment to the rule of law is an example to us all.

One of New York State’s responses to the Triangle fire was to establish an office of state fire marshal, to investigate all fires outside the city of New York. The new fire marshal immediately asked for, and was granted, exemption from normal civil service rules in the appointment of deputies. The NYT accuses him of adopting the spoils system as “part of the sweeping patronage-grabbing of the machine controlling the party in power.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Fight Over Dead Whale.” A beached sperm whale in Ocean City, NJ. “The Ocean City officials don’t know what to do with it, but refuse to permit anyone else to do anything in fear that they will miss something.” Scientists want the organs and skeleton, but haven’t been allowed to harvest them, while the thing rots and the city negotiates to sell the blubber for oil and the whalebone for corsets.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Adding to the sum of world knowledge, no doubt

Do you know where Sarah Palin is right now? The World Knowledge Forum, in Seoul. That is all.

Today -100: October 11, 1911: Of arson

Dr. Dumas, the mayor of Cass Lake, Minnesota, is found guilty for being part of a gang that burned and robbed a post office, and broke into safes and burned down buildings for the insurance money.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The return of the spurtle

I don’t know how it’s come to this, but for the third year in a row I am blogging about the winner of the “highly-coveted Golden Spurtle.” But then, I’m informed that Anna Batchelor, who long-time readers will no doubt recall having won the specialty porridge category two years ago, has 1,400 followers on Twitter, so clearly I’ve been wasting my time covering politics. I can report that last year’s winner celebrated with a tattoo – of what, we are not informed, but presumably a bowl of porridge – and will now be getting a second one to celebrate his win in the specialty category.

Today is both World Porridge Day and Indigenous People’s Day (Berkeley only). Celebrate accordingly.

Today -100: October 10, 1911: Of bliss, retaliation, and crucifixes

Name of the Day -100: McKinley’s secretary of the Interior Cornelius Bliss, who has died from heart disease “due in great measure to extreme age.” If you’re wondering what counted as extreme age in 1911, Bliss was 78.

Turkey is threatening to expel all Italians and impose a 100% surtax on Italian goods.

Headline of the Day -100: “Priests Lead Rebels With Crucifixes.” The failed royalist revolt in Portugal.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Today -100: October 9, 1911: Of slavery, souls, and straw hats

Italians capture Tobruk. The Turks are really crap at this whole war thing.

Italy issues a proclamation abolishing slavery in Libya.

Evangelist Billy Sunday calculates the cost of soul-saving in Boston at $450 per. Local ministers disagree, putting the cost at anywhere from $3.12 (Methodist) to $70 (Baptist) to $143 (Congregationalist).

Headline of the Day -100: “Killed in Straw Hat Row.” Well, it was out of season.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Today -100: October 8, 1911: Of messing with Texas, wars, and Cubists

The Mexican consul at San Antonio has been recalled for the high crime of saying that “Texas is hell” after the lynching of a 14-year-old Mexican.

The Italian-Ottoman war continues to spread. Some sort of naval engagement (two different stories in today’s paper give very different accounts) leads to Italian destroyers firing on the Albanian town of St. Juan de Medua.

The NYT Sunday magazine section has an article on Cubism, the first mention of the movement listed in the NYT index (and the second to mention Picasso, “wildest of wild men”). It explains that Cubists “believe that the right way to paint persons and things is to paint them in cubes, squares, and lozenges.” “Is this art or madness? Who knows?” The article continues not knowing for several hundred words.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Today -100: October 7, 1911: Of crosses, lynchings, dead Chinese, and angels

Italy has appointed Admiral Borea d’Olmo as the new governor of Libya. And the “cross of Christianity has been raised” over the land for the first time since 1551. So I guess Libya is Christian now.

A second trial of one of the Coatesville, PA lynch mob which burned Zack Walker, this one a 16-year-old, results in acquittal.

Something like 10,000 have been killed in the Chinese uprising. This time it gets 99 words in the NYT, which is an improvement.

Headline of the Day -100 (LAT): “Auto Strikes Angel.” Someone named Lewis Angel.