Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Today -100: February 29, 1912: Of routs and leather minorities

Headline of the Day -100: “CAVALRY ROUTS WOMEN.” At the Lawrence, Massachusetts mill strike.

Kinky Headline of the Day -100: “Leather Minority Ignored.” Minority shareholders of the Central Leather Company.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Today -100: February 28, 1912: Of cowboys and Mexicans

The new Sun Yat-Sen government in China has lost no time in threatening to start a war, with the Netherlands yet. Evidently Dutch soldiers in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) killed some Chinese people, and China will send ships to bombard Batavia (Jakarta) if it doesn’t receive an indemnity.

Headline of the Day -100: “Cowboys Rout Mexicans.” Some Mexican rebels who crossed the border in a cattle-stealing raid.

Rebels have captured Juarez. President Madero says yeah, whatever.

The NYT absolutely will not shut up about Roosevelt’s promise in 1904 not to seek another term, which TR now says meant another consecutive term.

9 Republican governors come out in favor of Taft. 7 support TR, 1 LaFollette, which leaves 5, of whom the Tafties claim 3.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Today -100: February 27, 1912: Down with the fools!

Two near casualties of the turmoil in Mexico: employees of a London phosphate company on Clipperton Island, a French possession (which Mexico also claimed) in the Pacific Ocean 600 miles off Acapulco (today it’s uninhabited). The Mexican government forgot to send a scheduled supply ship.

Charles Maurras, editor of the far-right newspaper L’Action Française, duels (with swords) the editor of L’Autorité, Paul de Cassagnac. When French editors edit, they fucking edit! Maurras is wounded in the arm but sadly is not hurt more seriously. He will duel Cassagnac’s brother Guy next.

Someone leaks the private letter Roosevelt sent Taft a year ago offering to raise and lead a cavalry regiment if the US went to war with Mexico.

A man dressed like a clergyman fires a gun in the lobby of the British Houses of Parliament, shouting “Votes for women! Down with the fools!” Samuel Henry also claimed the government had suppressed his book, “Tolstoy on the Messiah.” At his trial he said that firing a gun in the air is “a simple, straightforward way of drawing attention to a fact.” The magistrate replied, “That is not the proper way to do it.”

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Wicky fwows up

Rick Santorum: “What kind of country do we live that says only people of non-faith can come into the public square and make their case? That makes me throw up.”

People of non-faith?

Today -100: February 26, 1912: Of hats and rings

Theodore Roosevelt finally responds to a letter from 8 governors asking him to run for president (the cynics among you will rightly suspect that he asked them to write the letter), and says that why yes he will accept the Republican nomination, if it should happen to be offered to him.

Woodrow Wilson is asked by a reporter if he will fight his opponent for the Democratic nomination Beauregard “Champ” Clark’s monopolizing of the “dog song,” which the reporter describes as making a universal appeal to the spirit of Democracy (i.e., the Democratic Party). Wilson asks to hear the song. It goes a little something like this:
Every time I come to town
The boys keep kicking my dog aroun’
Makes no difference if he is a houn’,
Gotta quit kickin’ my dog aroun’.
Wilson decides the song is not worth fighting over.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Taft Showing Rapid Strides.” I would have thought more like waddles.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I’m an elite snob, and I vote, motherfucker

Prick Santorum has gotten some attention for saying that Obama is a snob for wanting Americans to go to college, which are to Santorum’s mind giant de-christianization factories. But it’s not just knowledge that Frothy despises, it’s smarts: “Barack Obama’s view of America is the same view, well, that the sovereigns of old had, which is that Americans are better off being ruled by smart people, the elite snobs.”

It’s not often that politicians will come right out and brag about not being smart, although most politicians know that Americans largely share Santorum’s suspicion of smart people, the feeling that smart people are laughing at them behind their backs (as well they should be). You never heard Bill Clinton talking about his Rhodes Scholarship.

The WaPo article contrasted the bumper stickers at Santorum & Romney rallies:
Santorum’s was a car-decorating crowd: “Abortion is NOT Healthcare.” “Warning — In Case of Rapture, This Car Will Be Unmanned.” At the Romney rally, the most you got was “My Child Is an Honor Student”.
If Santorum’s supporters had a child who was an honor student, they’d shackle her in the basement and whip the book larning out of her.

Today -100: February 25, 1912: Of bombardments, booze, co-education, and decolletage

Italian warships bombard Beirut, killing 60, because why not.

The LAT reports that “official circles” in Constantinople believe Italy is trying to provoke “Moslem fanatics” to massacre Christians in Beirut.

Woodrow Wilson supports local option on liquor, but he says that because the issue is so divisive and cuts across normal party loyalties, he prefers to avoid the Democratic Party taking a position. Wilson had to make a public statement because a letter of his advocating prohibition in Texas last year just became public. He says statewide prohibition is okay in Texas because that state is so homogeneous.

Virginia’s state senate votes down a proposal to establish a women’s college associated with the University of VA.

Mexican President Madero orders Federal troops to take no prisoners in fighting the rebels.

The pope has banned ecclesiastics from attending any social functions (possibly just in France?) where women show too much cleavage.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Today -100: February 24, 1912: Of strikes, annexations, and heckling

Secretary of State Philander Knox is going to Colombia after all, and the ambassador who said he wouldn’t be welcome has been recalled.

The Lawrence, Mass. strikers plan to send their children away to NYC and Philadelphia. Lawrence police are determined to stop them.

The Italian parliament officially annexes Libya (Italian North Africa, as it is now known; the name Libya is some time in the future) by a vote of 431 to 38.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George speaks, or tries to speak, at a meeting of moderate suffragists at the Albert Hall, but is heckled (London Times sub-hed: “A Much Interrupted Speech”) continually by less moderate suffragists.

And NY State Senator Harold Bayne is laughed at during a speech to the Woman’s Suffrage Party in which he says that “In time, the average woman will have the intelligence of the average man.” Sen. Bayne is a very average man indeed.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

This must be some definition of honorable with which I was not previously familiar

Sgt Frank Wuterich, the only person involved in the Haditha Massacre the military managed to convict of anything, if not actually put in prison, has been given a general discharge under honorable conditions from the Marine Corps.

He gets to keep all his veterans benefits, because of course he does.

Today -100: February 23, 1912: The fight is on and I am stripped to the buff

Teddy Roosevelt is rumored to have told an Ohio politician who asked him about maybe possibly running for president again: “My hat is in the ring. The fight is on and I am stripped to the buff.”

There’s a taxicab drivers’ strike in Paris. Strikers have been leaving bombs in taxis, blowing up 20 so far.

Headline of the Day -100: “Fruit Man Attacks Court.”

(Update: Let’s pair that one – or should I say pear that? – no, no I shouldn’t – with a headline from tomorrow -100’s paper: “Butter Men Try to Stop Inquiry.”)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Republican Debate #20: Oh, look at him talking about these things

Transcript, part 1, 2, 3, 4.

CNN asked those of us watching at home to rise for the National Anthem. I did not, and surprisingly was not struck down by lightning bolts from Uncle Jesus and/or Uncle Sam.

BE VEWWY VEWWY QUIET: The CNN intro calls Ron Paul “the delegate hunter.”

HEH HEH, HE SAID BOTTOM: In their opening statements, Santorum says he wants to “include everybody from the bottom up,” because it’s always nice to start a debate off with a good snigger.

(Update: searching the transcript, I find that Santorum said Ron Paul is in the bottom half of Republicans by conservative voting record, he used the phrase “bottom line” 3 times, and no one else used the word bottom at all. Hmmm.)

MASTER OF HIS DOMAIN: Romney says the promise that if you worked hard, went to school and learned the values of America, you’d be rich and secure has been broken by Obama. Bad Obama, bad! Then he (mis)quotes George Costanza (when they’re applauding, stop) (I see Romney as more of an Elaine, what do you think?).

Gingrich promises $2.50 a gallon gasoline.

Ron Paul explains that the reason his commercial says that Rick Santorum is a fake is because Rick Santorum is a fake. Santorum offers to let Paul touch him.
SANTORUM: I’m real, John. I’m real.

PAUL: Congratulations.

SANTORUM: Thank you.
Paul: foreign aid goes to “all our enemies.”

For the second time, Romney says that if businesses don’t balance their budgets, they go out of business. Hey, have you noticed that that doesn’t happen with nations,* so that maybe that analogy is flawed?

*except Greece.

Santorum admits he was an “earmarker,” defends it by saying the government’s budget priorities aren’t always right and he had to redress them in Congress. And he would ban earmarks. Mittens says he didn’t follow that. Mittens admits he asked for earmarks for the Olympics, defends it by saying it’s traditional. And he would ban earmarks. Also, too, the bridge to nowhere.

Mittens keeps mentioning the Olympics, because surely Americans’ love of luge and bobsledding will propel him straight into the White House.

Gingrich’s attempts to smile avuncularly are astonishingly creepy.

Romney says Obama “gave” the auto companies to the UAW. Gingrich says the bailout was “an unprecedented violation of 200 years of bankruptcy law by Barack Obama to pay off the UAW”.

Paul: “I opt for the free market in defense of liberty. That's what we need in this country.”

GINGRICH ALWAYS WANTS TO BE CLEAR: Gingrich to moderator John King: “But I just want to point out, you did not once in the 2008 campaign, not once did anybody in the elite media ask why Barack Obama voted in favor of legalizing infanticide. OK? So let’s be clear here.”

LOOK AT HIM. LOOK AT HIM!!! Asked about his opposition to contraception, Santorum complains about children raised out of wedlock, which would obviously cease to happen if we outlawed Planned Parenthood, or something. “The left gets all upset. ‘Oh, look at him talking about these things.’”

DON’T BLAME THE PILLS. Ron Paul says it’s not the pills (i.e., The Pill) that create immorality, “I think the immorality creates the problem of wanting to use the pills. So you don’t blame the pills.” He invokes the NRA slogan “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” So I guess pills don’t fuck people, sluts do. Or something. At any right, libertarian Ron Paul is no more in favor of women having sexual autonomy than anyone else on that stage.

Romney also hates out-of-wedlock births, which are especially high “among certain ethnic groups.”

Romney denies that the Catholic Church in Massachusetts was ever forced to provide Morning After pills to rape victims, that’s just crazy talk.

THE POWER OF FORCE: Gingrich says that’s not what he heard, and this just shows the problem with government providing services: “you inevitably move towards tyranny, because the government has the power of force.” Astonishing (well, no it isn’t, not at this stage in the degeneration of our political discourse) that Gingrich could talk about the power of force in this scenario and not be referring to that used by the rapist, whose victim Gingrich is trying to force to carry his baby, because otherwise you’d have tyranny.

See in this scenario, the Republicans see the Catholic Church as the real victim, not the rape victim.

Everyone talks about how they hate Planned Parenthood. As well as planned parenthood.

WHO KNEW? This is new: Romney says we once have Obamacare because Arlen Specter voted for it, and Arlen Specter (“the pro-choice senator of Pennsylvania”) was only re-elected because Santorum supported him, so Obamacare is all Santorum’s fault. “So don’t look at me. Take a look in the mirror.”

Gingrich would move half of Homeland Security personnel to the border with Mexico.

Someone was wondering who would be the first to talk about the threat of Hezbollah in Latin America. It was Romney.

Gingrich denies that Iran is a rational actor. And that if Israel, which presumably is a rational actor, wants to bomb Iran... (I put in the ellipses because he didn’t finish the sentence).

Gingrich: “I’m inclined to believe dictators.” Well, Santorum’s inclined to believe the voices in his head, so...

VOTE FOR OBAMA AND THE WORLD BURNS: Twitt Romney says Obama shouldn’t have removed Eastern European Star Wars sites without getting Russia to support “crippling sanctions” against Iran in exchange. And Obama shouldn’t oppose Israel taking military action against Iran. And we should take military action against Iran. If Obama is elected, Iran will have nukes “and some day, nuclear weaponry will be used. If I am president, that will not happen. If we reelect Barack Obama, it will happen.”

Santorum: Syria and Iran is an axis. And Obama is “afraid to stand up to Iran.”

The first thing Gingrich would do to deal with Syria would be drilling on federal lands and offshore and eliminating the EPA.

Gingrich and Romney say we should get our good buddies in the Middle East to arm the Syrian opposition.

Gingrich: “This is an administration which, as long as you’re America’s enemy, you’re safe. You know, the only people you’ve got to worry about is if you’re an American ally.”

I’LL BET HE DID, I’LL BET HE DID: Santorum voted for No Child Left Behind in the Senate even though it was against his principles, to “take one for the team,” even though he was always picked last for the team, I mean every single time. But he made a mistake and will never support education again in any way, shape or form. Also, he’s “a home schooling father of seven,” so for god’s sake give me a job so I can get away from the little fuckers.

Romney just wants to screw the teachers’ unions.

Gingrich says teachers’ unions don’t care about the kids. And something about schools teaching self-esteem.

(Somewhere in there, but it seems to be missing from the transcript, the candidates were asked to summarize themselves in one word, Gingrich said cheerful, Romney said sneezy, Santorum said dopey, and Paul said sleepy. Actually, Romney said resolute, although if you don’t like that word he’ll come up with another one.)

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

Paul: That I’m a hobbit That I can’t win. Why there was this one poll one time in Iowa that showed that I could maybe win.

Gingrich ignored the question. Romney did the same, except King called him on it. Romney: “You know, you get to ask the questions want, I get to give the answers I want” “Fair enough,” King responds. No, not really, but those words tell you everything you need to know about cable news.

Santorum says his campaign shows he’s “someone who can do a lot with a little.” The fact that he has a lot of children also shows that.

He has a tiny penis, is what I’m saying.

Actually, he is a tiny penis, is what I’m saying.

What’s your one-word summary?

Today -100: February 22, 1912: Of martians, recalls, and duels

Headline of the Day -100: “What Martians Are Like.” Edmond Perrier, the director of the French Botanical Society, says they’re tall, like Scandinavians, but twice the size of human beings, with big noses and white hair and thin legs and no necks.

Addressing the Ohio constitutional convention, Theodore Roosevelt endorses the recall of judges (as well as other progressive causes such as the initiative, referendum, and direct election of senators and presidential electors), flatly disagreeing with the view that “the American people are not fitted for popular government, and that it is necessary to keep the judiciary ‘independent of the majority of the people.’” Just like Newt Gingrich! Though he does not say it, everyone knows that keeping the judiciary independent of the majority the people is a strongly held view of President Taft, who vetoed statehood for Arizona until it removed a provision for judicial recall from its constitution. TR, however, says that “it is both absurd and degrading to make a fetish of a judge or of any one else.” Of course, Scarlett Johansson hadn’t been invented yet. He gives as an example of the sort of judicial behaviour the people should be able to reverse by referendum the recent NY court of appeals decision striking down a workmen’s compensation act. He’s saying, basically, that the final say on the proper interpretation of the Constitution should belong to the people.

The NYT declares that by this speech, Roosevelt has removed himself from the Republican Party. The editorial declares him a dangerous radical.

The commander of the Palatine Guard at the Vatican, a nephew of the late Pope Leo XIII, challenges Prince Alberi to a duel. The pope sends him a letter telling him to knock it off.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Today -100: February 20, 1912: Of justices, corruption, lynchings, and republican forms of government

President Taft nominates Mahlon Pitney to fill the vacant Supreme Court position. Pitney is a former congresscritter, a former justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court, and is currently Chancellor of New Jersey, whatever that means. He was also the great-grandfather of actor Christopher Reeve.

Sen. Isaac Stephenson (R-Wisc) is exonerated by a Senate committee of a charge of winning his seat through corruption. The minority report, however, signed by 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats, notes that he spent $107,793 on his 1908 campaign and that the state legislators who supported him also spent large sums, saying (actually quoting the majority report), “Such expenditures were in violation of the fundamental principles underlying our system of Government, which contemplated the selection of candidates by the electors and not the selection of electors by the candidate.” How quaint.

Secretary of State Knox has decided not to go to Colombia after all.

A Shelby, Tenn. mob keeps trying to lynch three black men accused of killing a railroad cop who “had tried to quiet boisterous negroes in the ‘Jim Crow’ car.” In two separate attacks, the mob has killed one of the men and wounded the others.

The Supreme Court, in a case brought by the Pacific States Telegraph and Telephone Company, refuses to declare the provisions in the Oregon constitution for initiatives and referenda unconstitutional, although its ruling is on jurisdictional grounds, saying it is up to Congress to decide if they violate the Constitutional guarantee of a republican form of government.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Today -100: February 19, 1912: Of ignorant heathen masses, and dis-invitations

Mexican President Madero asks the Permanent Committee of Congress to suspend the free press. It says no.

A letter in the NYT from one “G.B.R.,” which is mentioned in an editorial which suggests that G.B.R. is someone famous, says the US can’t recognize the republic in China, that is, “the ignorant, heathen mass of China,” without calling into question its refusal to give independence to “the more intelligent Christian” Filipinos, which G.B.R. doesn’t want to do.

In response to Secretary of State Knox’s plans to visit Latin America, the Colombian ambassador says that Knox can fuck off. Still pissed off about the whole Panama thing, evidently.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


Oh fer... this is gonna be a Republican thing now, isn’t it?
At another point, as Santorum was talking about the Constitution, he uttered the words, “And endowed by –”

“Their creator!” the crowd shouted back, giving Santorum a standing ovation.

Today -100: February 18, 1912: Of the pleasures of joy riding

The NYT makes fun of a new California law taking away “one of the pleasures of ‘joy riding’” by making it a felony to have an accident while driving an automobile while drunk. However, a superior court judge has ruled the law unconstitutional because it discriminates between vehicles (i.e., it is not illegal to drive a horse-drawn wagon drunk). The case has been appealed to the CA Supreme Court.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Today -100: February 17, 1912: Of cavalries, queues, and warships

Congress votes to reduce the cavalry from 15 regiments to 10, and to increase the term of enlistment in the Army from its current 3 years to 5. The military and the Taft administration opposed both measures.

New Chinese president Yuan cuts off his pigtail.

The NYT says that the purpose of Secretary of State Philander Knox’s trip to Latin America will be “to bring about an understanding with Mexico and impress on the Mexican people the friendliness of this Government toward their republic. It is the belief that this may be best accomplished by sending the American Secretary of State in a warship with full honors as a special ambassador of peace and good-will.” Because nothing says peace and good-will like a warship.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Parable of the Kosher Deli

One of the witnesses at Darrell Issa’s Sausage Fest Committee today was the Bishop of Bridgeort, representing the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. He recounted for the committee what he called “The Parable of the Kosher Deli.” In it, “once upon a time” a law mandated that any business serving food had to serve pork, including kosher delicatessens, which pisses off the Orthodox Jews but “those who support the mandate respond, ‘But pork is good for you. It is, after all, the other white meat.’ Other supporters add, ‘So many Jews eat pork, and those who don’t should just get with the times.’ Still others say, ‘Those Orthodox are just trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else.’”

What’s hilarious is that he goes on and on about this pork thing, without ever mentioning women or contraception. Here’s a bit more:
the question generated by a government mandate is whether the government will impose its belief that eating pork is good on objecting Orthodox Jews. Meanwhile, there is no imposition at all on the freedom of those who want to eat pork. That is, they are subject to no government interference at all in their choice to eat pork, and pork is ubiquitous and cheap, available at the overwhelming majority of restaurants and grocers. Indeed, some pork producers and retailers, and even the government itself, are so eager to promote the eating of pork, that they sometimes give pork away for free. In this context, the question is this: can a customer come to a kosher deli, demand to be served a ham sandwich, and if refused, bring down severe government sanction on the deli. In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is no.
The answer to a deeply stupid question, that is.

Today -100: February 16, 1912: Of presidents and forts

Sun Yat-Sen resigns as provisional president of China; National Assembly elects Yuan Shi-Kai.

A Turkish fort fires on a British cruiser, mistaking it for Italian. Oops.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Today -100: February 15, 1912: 48

Arizona is now a state. Evidently, the official national flag still has only 46 stars, because they only inaugurate new flags on July 4ths. George W.P. “Old Walrus” Hunt (D) is inaugurated as the state’s first governor.

41 people associated with the International Association of Bridge and Structural Iron Workers are arrested for complicity in a “vast dynamite conspiracy.” Many more have been indicted but not yet taken into custody.

The Georgia Republican Convention meets, and systematically excludes all Roosevelt supporters. c.300 of the 500 delegates were African-American (the delegates selected to be sent to the national Republican Convention, instructed to vote for Taft first, last and always, will be half white and half black).

The big mill strike in Lawrence, which I guess I haven’t written much about, is ending, and the employers are black-listing all their Italian workers.

Percival Roberts, Jr., a director of the US Steel Corp., tells the Congressional investigating committee that his workers actually prefer 12-hour days. Why, you can hardly find any workers willing to take up 10-hour jobs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I know it was you, Barack. You broke my heart. You broke my heart.

Obama and his li’l friend Al Pacino at the White House yesterday. But what are they saying? CAPTION CONTEST!

Today -100: February 14, 1912: Of missed wars, whuppin’s, and canals

Headline of the Day -100: “Europe Just Misses a War.” The LA Times reports that a war recently almost broke out between France and Italy. After Italy seized Turks on a French steamer (that only sounds kinky), a French destroyer approached Italian fortifications in Sardinia “with an air of defiance.” The Italians fired blank shots across its bows and it retreated, as is traditional.

Midland, Texas: During a trial of some sort, a commissioner called the judge a liar, the judge announced that the court was adjourned until he’d “whipped” the commissioner, he did so, reconvened the court, and fined himself for fighting. Texas!

Tourists have been flocking to Panama to see the Canal before it’s filled with water next year.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Today -100: February 13, 1912: Of miscegenation, New York from above, perpetual motion, abdications, and political emotionalists or neurotics

Germany bans interracial marriage in its Samoan Island colonies.

Frank Coffyn flies over NY in the first attempt to film the city from the air. He and his cameraman weren’t up long, because it was really cold, and he plans to try again, so I’m not entirely sure if this footage (8½ minutes) is from today -100, but it is from Coffyn in 1912.

Disappointing Headline of the Day -100: “Perpetual Motion Victim.” Hans Edgar Friese spent all his money trying to invent a perpetual motion machine, which fails to work, then kills wife and himself.

China’s Boy-Emperor Pu-Yi abdicates in an edict which asks the question, “How can we oppose the desires of millions for the glory of one family?” How indeed.

New Chinese president Sun Yat-Sen is an American citizen, born in Hawaii. But where’s the birth certificate?

President Taft, speaking to the Republican Club dinner at the Waldorf (before going on to another dinner at the Dry Goods Association, because he’s President Fucking Taft and he will eat just as many dinners as he damn well pleases). He complains about the Progressive calls for initiative, referendum and recall, “the effort to make the selection of candidates, the enactment of legislation, and the decisions of courts to depend on the momentary passions of a people necessarily indifferently informed as the issues presented”. But, hey, vote for me in November, indifferently informed people! “Such extremists are not progressives – they are political emotionalists or neurotics”.

The rebellion in Chihuahua is reportedly defeated.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Today -100: February 12, 1912: Of electrocutions, bucks, and undesirable Hungarians

The Maryland Legislature is considering a bill to change the method of execution from hanging to electrocution, but the warden of the state pen suggests chloroforming prisoners to death.

The Treasury Dept. plans to start printing the money using power printing-presses. The unions are fighting these plans.

The governor (self-proclaimed) of rebel Chihuahua state, Aurelanio Gonzales, says “Mexico must rise en masse and resist the invaders.” He means the United States, which hasn’t actually invaded but is mobilizing troops on the border.

Gov. Woodrow Wilson is having some difficulty getting Hungarian-Americans behind his presidential campaign, due to a passage in his History of the American People describing Hungarian immigrants as a “coarse crew, bred in unwholesome squalor,” “less desirable than the excluded Chinese.” Wilson writes a letter of apology, which seems to say that he likes Hungary, just not Hungarians, or something.

Followers of this feature might be interested in a BBC radio program, available here for the next 6 or 7 days, about the British suffragettes of the Edwardian period, featuring interviews of suffragettes recorded in the 1970s by historian Brian Harrison (1 hour).

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Today -100: February 11, 1912: Of blacklists, warplanes, accessions, and Futurists

Hearings on the steel monopoly are told that the steel trust kept a blacklist of union members, and that during a strike in 1909, the American Tinplate Company (a subsidiary of US Steel) advertised for Syrians, Poles and Romanians to work as scabs. The man whose job was to recruit these foreign laborers explained that he always tries to meet the wishes of employers. “I wouldn’t send an Irishman to a brewery, because he would probably be turned down.”

Frank Coffyn, the Wright Company aviator currently instructing US Army aviators in the use of Wright planes in Georgia, says there is no military need to fly above one mile, which should be high enough to keep them out of artillery and bullet range. But he does doubt that dropping bombs from planes can be accurate enough to be useful at that height. He says, “I believe that some day aeroplanes will fight aeroplanes and that there will be machines that may be called aeroplane destroyers, and maybe some day, still farther away, aeroplane-aeroplane-destroyers”. Dare to dream, Frank, dare to dream.

Arizona will soon be the 48th state, but when? There was talk of doing it on Lincoln’s birthday, but Taft will be out of D.C. and unavailable to sign the proclamation that day. And they want to avoid the 13th as unlucky (it’s not even a Friday). So they’re thinking about Valentine’s Day, which also happens to be the 50th anniversary of the day AZ was declared a Territory of the Confederate States of America.

A big exhibition of Futurist art, or, as the NYT puts it “‘art,’” opens in Paris. "The pictures bear such titles as ‘The Street Entering a House,’ ‘Those Who go,’ and ‘Those Who Remain,’ but no case has yet been reported of a visitor establishing a connection between the picture and the title attached to it.”

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Cardboard Khomeini comes again

Don’t know how I missed this, but last week, for the 33rd anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, they paraded cardboard cutouts of the Ayatollah Khomeini along the route he took on his return from exile. This is the greatest thing ever.

Today -100: February 9, 1912: Of suffrage, escapes from Belfast, and slapstick

The Virginia Legislature votes down women’s suffrage. One representative, a Mr. Love, said he wanted women to remain in their present high realm and not have to mingle with negroes at the polls on election day.

Churchill gave his home rule speech in Belfast and was not torn apart by Unionists, although he was hit in the face with a flag by a suffragette. Then he escaped by a special train two hours before his announced departure time, because why take chances.

Headline of the Day -100 (LAT): “Pie Knocks Out Bandit.” A robber tried to stick up a restaurant in Denver. He told the night manager, coming out of the kitchen with hot custard pies in each hand, “Hold up your hands.” She said, “I won’t drop these pies for any villain like you.” He told her, “I don’t care what you do with the pies, but don’t move.” So she threw one of them at his face. Life back then really was exactly like it’s portrayed in silent films.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

A note to liberals

who support Guantanamo and killing people with drones: you are not liberals. That is all.

Today -100: February 8, 1912: No hurry indeed

President Taft drops 8th Circuit judge William Cather Hook from consideration for the vacant Supreme Court seat. He had pretty much made up his mind for Hook but opposition arose because of his upholding of Jim Crow laws in Oklahoma.

Kaiser Wilhelm gave the traditional opening speech to the newly elected Reichstag. Unlike in Britain, they have to come to him in his palace to hear it. But the Socialists, one-fourth of the MPs, didn’t. Willy demanded a bigger army and a bigger navy.

It is reported that Germany’s war contingency plans call for sending all 50 military airplanes on a bombing raid on Paris the minute war is declared.

Headline of the Day -100: “No Hurry to Talk Peace.” The 3rd Peace Conference has been re-scheduled for 1915.

Turkey orders the closing of all Italian institutions in Turkey, including banks, insurance companies and an orphanage.

The Russian Duma asks the minister of interior why he illegally ordered newspapers not to write anything about Rasputin and why he seized those two newspapers for doing so. Also, a bishop and an abbot who Rasputin doesn’t like were ordered into exile.

Condescending Racist Headline of the Day -100: “Chinaman a Journalist Now. Anyway, He Has a Degree from the University of Missouri That Says So.” And a job as a, you know, journalist. Hin Wong, raised in Hawaii, plans to move to China (where he will indeed be a journalist until his death in Hong Kong in 1939).

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Obama and the Marshmallow Cannon of Doom

Caption contest.

Today -100: February 7, 1912: Of cunnels, mad monks, darts, and spies

Minstrely Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Georgia Whites for Taft. Negroes are for ‘Cunnel.’” It seems there were competing Taft & Roosevelt primaries for the state Republican convention, which will in turn elect delegates to the national convention. And while whites support Taft, blacks support what it took me a minute to realize was dialect for The Colonel (as TR liked to be called).

Florida Republicans will send competing Taft/Roosevelt delegations to the national convention, which will have to sort it out. The majority of delegates, pro-Cunnel, stormed out after the temporary chairman (a pro-Taft negro, as it happens, although the NYT notes that the black delegates were pro-TR) issued a series of rulings against them. They then organized separately to name their own delegation (Florida, like a lot of states, doesn’t have presidential primaries).

A couple of Russian newspapers are seized for saying bad things about Rasputin.

The French have invented a “terrible air weapon,” a 6-inch long “dynamite dart,” not actually dynamite, just a heavy dart that can be dropped on enemy soldiers from airplanes.

There is finally an armistice in the Chinese Revolution, but negotiations continue. The Empress Dowager is demanding the continued use of imperial titles, with commoners to continue showing the proper regal homage, the imperial family to retain its palaces and the Imperial Guard, paid for by the public, etc.

More in the spy wars: Brits are angered that one of their spies, Bertrand Stewart (actually a lawyer who thought he’d like to play at spies, but he did so with MI6’s bemused knowledge; a German agent lured him into the country by promising to sell him secret documents, then arrested him), is sentenced to 3½ years. The British press is suggesting that the evidence in the secret trial was too weak (it wasn’t) and the sentence is too severe. His father, however, expresses nothing but respect for the “judgment of the Supreme Court of an enlightened and friendly country,” while saying that his son’s actions “are no proof at all of anti-German feeling among the people of England. They merely show that ‘young men will be young men’” (Bertie is 39). Germany released him early, in 1913, in plenty of time to get killed in action in France one month into the Great War.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Today -100: February 6, 1912: Of bad barbers, time-outs, and turkey trots

Front Page Headline of the Day -100: “GOV. WILSON A BAD BARBER.; On Eve of Stumping Tour He Cuts His Lip While Shaving.”

The La Follette campaign seems to be shutting down, and Fightin’ Bob himself will take a few weeks’ rest.

The “turkey trot” has reached London, although stripped of the features found so objectionable in certain parts of New York society, but the London Times pronounces the dance “abominably ugly.”

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Today -100: February 5, 1912: Of parachutes and censorship

Franz Reichalt, an Austrian tailor whose hobby was making experimental parachutes, got permission to test his latest from the Eiffel Tower, although he was supposed to use a dummy. Instead, he did the jump himself. He will be missed.

Utah Gov. William Spry is demanding the suppression of movies depicting Mormons.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Today -100: February 4, 1912: Problems

The NYT catches up to Robert La Follette’s melt-down, noting “Newspaper reports did not convey any idea of what really happened”. Fightin’ Bob needs a rest, his friends say. Also, he told the newspaper publishers that they are doing a crappy job, serving the interests of big business and no longer bothering to educate public opinion.

With rebellion increasing in Juarez, Taft warns against anyone shooting across the border into the US, and orders the mobilization of 15,000 troops along the border, with a view to maybe invading Mexico to enforce the no-shooting rule.

In Britain, the Women’s Industrial Union is trying to discover the cause of the “servant problem.” Evidently it’s that people don’t like being treated like servants.

Speaking of problems, the University of Virginia has received a grant for a fellowship “for the study of the negro.” The fellow will “prepare a paper on some aspect of the negro problem.” Like “servant problem” in the previous story, “negro problem” is a term that comes up pretty regularly and is never defined, although needless to say the people reading the NYT were not interested in the problems affecting servants and negroes, just in the problems caused by servants and negroes.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Today -100: February 3, 1912: I believe in women’s suffrage wherever they want it

The NYT covers the speeches by politicians at the banquet of the Periodical Publishers’ Association of America, but misses the big story, which came after the paper’s deadline.  It covers Woodrow Wilson’s speech but gives a scant three sentences to that of Robert La Follette, who basically destroyed his presidential chances, such as they were, with a Rick Perry-esque performance, but longer.  More than two hours long, in fact, rambling, repetitive (literally: he re-read certain paragraphs several times without noticing) and possibly drunken.  To be fair, he a) had recently had food poisoning and b) was worried about his daughter, who had a major operation scheduled for the next day, but the speech made many people think he was in the middle of a nervous breakdown, and Progressives switched their support to Roosevelt in droves.

The Association held a straw vote, which seems a rather unprofessional thing for publishers to do.  TR won.

First Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill will come to Belfast soon to give a Home Rule speech.  It is expected that he will be met by 60 to 80,000 armed men – 30,000 will have revolvers and many will have clubs – one foot longer than the ones the police have.

A British submarine sinks with all hands (13 of them) off the Isle of Wight after being in a collision with the appropriately named gunboat Hazard.

Roosevelt writes an editorial in Outlook supporting women’s suffrage, sort of.  (It can be read here [pdf, 5 pages]).  He wants women-only statewide referenda on women’s suffrage to decide the issue: “I believe in women’s suffrage wherever they want it.  Where they do not want it the suffrage should not be forced upon them.”  He doesn’t think it’s a big deal either way: “I do not regard the movement as anything like as important as either its extreme friends of extreme opponents think.  It is so much less important than many other reforms that I have never been able to take a very heated interest in it.”  And most of the women with whom he associates oppose suffrage “precisely because they approach life from the standpoint of duty.”  And women are much more important as wives and mothers, which suffrage must not change.  “No woman will ever be developed who will stand above the highest and finest of the wives and mothers of today and of the yesterdays.  The exercise of suffrage can never be the most important of women’s rights or women’s duties.  The vital need for women, as for men, is to war against vice, and frivolity, and cold selfishness, and timid shrinking from necessary risk and effort.”

Thursday, February 02, 2012

We either believe in markets or we don’t

Yesterday Rick Santorum (who has an ill/dying child himself), after sneering at people for complaining about the high prices of drugs when they pay $900 for an iPod, and they just want health care for free, told a mother whose son depends on a million-dollar-a-year drug that  “He’s alive today because drug companies provide care. And if they didn’t think they could make money providing that drug, that drug wouldn’t be here. ... Fact is, we need companies to have incentives to make drugs. If they don’t have incentives, they won’t make those drugs. We either believe in markets or we don’t.”

This gives me an excuse to bring up Eflornithine again. That’s a drug that’s effective against sleeping sickness, but the pharmaceutical company that owned the patent stopped manufacturing it in the mid-1990s because they weren’t seeing enough of those “incentives” Santorum touts, as is the case with drugs treating diseases that affect small numbers of people or, in this case, large numbers of poor people in sub-Saharan Africa.

There was a happy ending for the Africans, though. Eflornithine also treats unwanted facial hair in rich white women, and that’s a market Big Pharma knows how to market to, so it went back into production.

Drugs can also be problematic from the capitalist point of view if they’re too successful. In 2006, Genentech blocked the use of colon cancer drug Avastin for blindness because it was successful in such low quantities that it cost only $42 a dose, whereas the no-more-effective drug in common use for macular degeneration cost $1,600 a dose.

We either believe in markets or we don’t.

Today -100: February 2, 1912: Of planes, operas, and term limits

In another first in the history of warfare, Capt. Monte, an Italian aviator, is shot by Libyans while he was dropping bombs on them from above. He was able to get his plane, which was also shot up, back to base.

Juarez is in revolt against the Madero government, and names Emilio Gomez as provisional president.

The German police ban the performance in Berlin of Otto Neitzel’s opera “Barbarina” because one of the characters is Frederick the Great (1712-86).

France plans to keep employing the existing Moroccan officials in its new colony, excuse me, protectorate, but they will be “advised and supervised” by French officials.

Rep. James Slayden (D-Texas) introduces a resolution against presidents running for a third time (i.e., Theodore Roosevelt).

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Or, you know, precisely the opposite, which is kind of the problem

Ha’aretz: “The United States criticized a recently declared Israeli plan to subsidize construction in several West Bank settlements on Tuesday, with a top U.S. official calling the move ‘unconstructive.’”

Today -100: February 1, 1912: Of Panamans, abdications, and hoboes

Headline of the Day -100: “Panamans Hoot Colombia.” Evidently the residents of the brand-new country of Panama were called Panamans then.

The boy-emperor of China has finally abdicated (disagreements among the revolutionaries led the imperials to stall for a while, hoping to avoid abdication).

The state of Pennsylvania indicts three more of last August’s Coatesville lynch mob, despite previous acquittals. This time, they plan on a change of venue.

The national hobo convention is scheduled for Cincinnati. Which is not best pleased.