Thursday, May 31, 2012

Today -100: May 31, 1912: Get him a nurse and a perambulator

Wilbur Wright dies of typhoid fever at 45.

There’s some nonsense about a memo from then-President Roosevelt about some architectural alterations to the White House being “permanent during my lifetime,” which some people are claiming means he envisioned making himself president-for-life, or something. TR says this can only be “heeded by men with brains of about three guinea-pig power.” He’s not wrong.

Headline of the Day -100: “Talk of Imperialism Annoys Roosevelt.” At Gettysburg for a Memorial Day speech, TR says that just like the talk by “foolish people” after the Civil War about the North establishing a dictatorship, so too if any man talks about Roosevelt making himself a dictator, “get him a nurse and a perambulator.”

Possibly needing an especially sturdy perambulator, Taft, making his Memorial Day speech at Arlington, says the Civil War was all about preserving the limitations of the Constitution and popular representative institutions, by which I assume he means no one serving a third presidential term.

US Marines will guard mines in Cuba.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Today -100: May 30, 1912: Of lepers and falling window-washers

Headline of the Day -100: “Back Porch for Leper.” Health authorities will let a leper in Bay City, Michigan stay in his own home, but he has to build a new back porch, stay off the front porch and not leave his property. His wife will stay with him and be similarly quarantined, but their four children can’t live with them.

Headline of the Day -100, Runner Up: “Hurt by Falling Workman.” A window-washer fell from the 8th floor of a Chicago office building onto a Rev. Henry Heck (!) breaking his ankle. The rev’s ankle, that is. The window-washer died, although that part didn’t make the headline, and his name didn’t make it into the story. Priorities.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Today -100: May 29, 1912: Of feeble Republicans, sleeping Roosevelts, machete-wielding Cubans, and the kaiserin’s hats

In Texas, it’s the Taft supporters who split from the main Republican state convention to hold their own. Usually it’s the other way around.

Theodore Roosevelt easily defeats Taft in the New Jersey primaries. The NYT is very, very disappointed: “The Republicans of New Jersey must be accounted a feeble folk.”

Election Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt Sleeps at Ease.” But wakes up carrying a big stick.

NJ Gov. Woodrow Wilson also wins his primary.

There’s a small push, which will go nowhere, to nominate Robert Lincoln, son of the president (and a critic of Roosevelt’s), as Republican candidate for president.

The Senate concludes its investigation into the Titanic disaster. Votes $1,000 for a gold medal for the captain of the Carpathia. Votes a spanking (they’ll leave actual punishment to the British authorities) for the captain of the California, which ignored the Titanic’s distress signals, and for the late Capt. Smith of the Titanic, and for the White Star Line’s executives for ordering insufficient lifeboat drills, and for Leonardo DiCaprio, “who knows what he did.” The report calls for various reforms in ship safety: more lifeboats, life preservers, etc etc.

The State Dept explains to Cuba: “If a commander of an American force now on the island sees or hears of a Cuban holding his machete over the head of an American, he certainly is not going to enter into negotiations with Cuba nor question Washington as to whether he shall stop it or not.”

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Kaiser Buying Hats for Wife Called Good Omen.” The Temps (Paris) thinks that a monarch who chooses his wife’s hats himself isn’t preparing for war.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Today -100: May 28, 1912: Of lynchings, the restless and the reckless, frothing reds, and Dutch necks

Taft responds to Cuban President Gomez’s cablegram, insisting that he didn’t intend to intervene in Cuban affairs, this time. Still sending the Marines, though.

A black man is lynched in Robertson County, Tennessee; shot 100 times.

The NYT wants Republicans in at least one primary, that of New Jersey tomorrow, to not vote for Roosevelt. “It would be unjust and untrue to say that all of Mr. Roosevelt’s followers are revolutionists, that all of them are dangerous radicals. But it is true that the unstable, the ignorant, or the half-informed, the restless and the reckless part of our political society is to be found in the Roosevelt ranks. Are the men of substance and soberness going to let the party they have so long and so loyally sustained be destroyed by what Mr. Roosevelt correctly describes as the ‘crowd’? ... The conservative Republicans have acted this year as if they had lost interest in their party.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Frothing Reds Leave in Irons.” The LA Times gloating over the deportation of two foreign IWW activists, Abraham Joseph Dumont and Albert Wilson.

Confusing Headline of the Day -100: “Dutch Necks Forbidden.” Some sort of fashion thing, and Western Union employees can’t wear them.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Today -100: May 27, 1912: Of marines, smart sets, and pie

Cuban President José Gomez protests against the US sending Marines, and anyway we can kill our negroes without any gringo help, thank you. He has also refuses an offer of aid from 500 American cowboys.

Theodore Roosevelt, writing in The Outlook, notes that in the 11 states that had primaries, Taft received only 48 delegates out of the 324 selected and has only won victories in states “where the party is in control, not of the people but of the bosses.” So a Republican national convention that nominates Taft “would have to defy the will of the voters.”

The San Diego police have told the LAT that many fugitives are taking refuge in the unwashed ranks of the IWW forces converging on SD, including safecrackers, murderers, burglars, and hold-up men.

1912 sports news: The NY Giants arrive in Paterson for a game and are horrified to find that the team they were scheduled to play is a negro team, the Smart Sets. After arguing about it for a while, they finally agreed to play, although their pitcher, Louis Drucke, insisted on being announced by a different name. After various displays of ill temper, the Giants stormed off the field during the 10th inning (tied at 3-3). Their bus was surrounded by the crowd, which threw things at it.

1912 nutrition news: The New York Medical Journal says that pie is good for you.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Some great conspiracy

David Cameron: “Some people are saying there was some great conspiracy between me and Rupert Murdoch to do some big deal to back them in return for support. Rupert Murdoch has said that’s not true, James Murdoch has said that’s not true, I have said that’s not true. There was no great conspiracy.” So that settles that.

Today -100: May 26, 1912: How can a man speak of the questions of the day when a prizefight is going on?

One of Theodore Roosevelt’s guards is run over and killed by TR’s car in Atlantic City after he fell off its running board. Meanwhile, Taft is driving around New Jersey at speeds of up to 70 mph.

In Elizabeth, NJ, Roosevelt says Taft can’t win the popular vote and can’t win over the Republican national convention either without “deliberate cheating,” i.e., refusing to sit TR delegates.

Woodrow Wilson asks, “How can a man speak of the questions of the day when a prizefight is going on?” How indeed.

2,000 people help lynch a black man in Tyler, Texas. They make him confess to attacking a white woman, then set him on fire, as is the custom.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Today -100: May 25, 1912: Of terrorists, vigilantes, limousines, and negro elks

Taft campaign manager Rep William McKinley (R-No Relation and Stop Asking Already) says Roosevelt and his supporters “will resort to every known means to terrorize the Chicago convention.”

The chief of police of San Diego claims that the IWW has armed men in town, who were chosen by lot to assassinate the mayor, district attorney, police chief, etc.

The LA Times’ support of the anti-IWW vigilantes in San Diego was totally in character, but I’m a little surprised at the NYT also doing so.

Every year, students at Dickinson College are collectively assessed a charge for damage to school property during the session. Students angry at an increase in the charge this year to $1.95 each, stone the dean’s house in protest. Getting their money’s worth, I guess.

The limo of Max Blanck, one of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company’s two owners, hits two children in two separate incidents on the same day. The same chauffeur was driving both times, but one time he was driving Max and the other time his wife. Both instructed him not to tell the other, but they found out when a reporter came to ask about one of the incidents, and hilarity ensued – “Do you mean to say you had an accident and didn’t tell me of it?” “Well, you didn’t tell me of your accident either, did you?” It’s like a really crappy episode of a really crappy sitcom, starring Max Blanck as the lovable scamp who should have been in jail for manslaughter instead of tooling around New York.

Headline of the Day -100: “Negro Elks Restrained.” A black fraternal lodge is enjoined from using the name Elks.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Today -100: May 24, 1912: Of battleships, ever victorious Italians, and muck

Democrats in the House refuse to include funds to build new battleships in the Navy budget.

Riots and a general strike in Budapest over the postponement of a bill for universal male suffrage end when the government reverses itself.

In Libya, the Italians have been dropping leaflets from airplanes telling the Arabs that they should surrender because Italy is totally winning the war, which “indicates that God is the protector of the Italians. As for the Turks, they have the habit of lying, and they will tell you that these things are not true. But we swear that all these things are true.” Other letters assure the Arabs that “the ever victorious Italians” consider them as their own children. Children that they will drop bombs on, “annihilating you and your domestic animals” but “take refuge with us and you will be treated with kindness.”

The US is sending 700 marines and some gunboats to Cuba because of the “negro uprising,” supposedly just to protect Americans (and American-owned property, naturally).

The NYT explains that while negro Cubans performed well in the fight to overthrow Spanish rule and were thwarted in their desire for their share of public offices and whatnot after independence, “The plain truth is that Cuba had to decide whether she would be a black or a white republic, and a black republic meant in time another Haiti.” The NYT doesn’t mention this, but the proximate cause of this rebellion is a law banning the negroes from forming a race-based political party.

Headline of the Day -100: “Urge Prussia to Keep Muck.” That’s conductor Karl Muck, who plans to move from Germany to Boston to take up the directorship of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Today -100: May 23, 1912: Of undoubtedly pure motives

Women’s Social and Political Union leaders Emmeline Pankhurst and Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence are sentenced to 9 months for conspiracy to break windows. The jury recommended leniency on the grounds of the “undoubtedly pure motives underlying the agitation,” but Lord Chief Justice Coleridge ignores them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Today -100: May 22, 1912: Whereas Taft is round in the middle

Theodore Roosevelt wins the primary in Ohio, Taft’s home state (TR 165,809, Taft 118,362, LaFollete 15,570). Taft was counting on the black vote but didn’t get it. Ohio Gov. Judson Harmon beats Woodrow Wilson in the Democratic primary. D. voters could actually vote for the candidate they preferred, while R’s had to vote for delegates, with nothing printed on the ballot indicating who they supported. The Taft people tried to put large banners near polling places listing Taft delegates, some of which were torn down. The Roosevelt people (including election officials) handed out cards.

Prince George of Cumberland dies in a car accident. This will evidently end the Guelph claims to the throne of Hanover. Whatever.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Today -100: May 21, 1912: Marching on the swampy ground of trickery and humbug

At the London conspiracy trial of Women’s Social and Political Union leaders, Frederick Pethick-Lawrence (treasurer) says the true conspiracy was that of the Liberal Cabinet, who were not open to listening to reason and argument: “The methods of the politician were the methods of trickery and chicanery. For two years they went on in a constitutional way, but they were marching on the swampy ground of trickery and humbug.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt Drinks Too Much Milk.” The Tafties have been spreading a rumor that Roosevelt’s a booze-hound. He insists he’s never had a martini or highball in his life.

Negro uprising in Cuba!

Albert, King of the Belgians, is suing a newspaper for reporting various rumors about his private life, including one that Queen Elisabeth caught him in flagrante with a chambermaid, pulled out a revolver and shot her dead. Evidently that’s not true.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Today -100: May 19, 1912: Here you are, boys; start at once

Roosevelt has discovered that Alphonso Taft, the president’s father, was one of the people trying to get Grant a third, non-consecutive term as president in 1880. If that doesn’t prove that Roosevelt deserves another term, nothing does.

The NYT graciously refrains, unlike some, from calling Theodore Roosevelt insane: “We decline to throw the charitable mantle of insanity over Col. Roosevelt. He is as sound in mind as any other calculating and unscrupulous demagogue.”

The lord mayor of Belfast, R.J. McMordie, tells Parliament that 300,000 young men in Northern Ireland have armed themselves. He complains that Parliament is ignoring this state of affairs in passing the Home Rule Bill, saying “Here you are, boys; start at once.”

The LA Times on the tar & feathering of Ben Reitman: “Lynch law is to be deplored, but it is sometimes better than no law at all. ... Maybe he got on the whole about what was coming to him.”

Baseball news: the Detroit Tigers walk off at the beginning of a game to protest the suspension of Ty Cobb, who last week went into the stands to beat up a spectator –- a crippled man missing one hand and several fingers on the other hand. Rather than face a $1,000 fine for forfeiting, the manager recruited a whole new team from the spectators, who lost to the Athletics 24-2. Naturally, everyone in Detroit supports Cobb. Mayor William Thompson says “Cobb was perfectly right in resenting with his fists insulting remarks from the stands. The fan who insulted Cobb deserved what he received.”

Friday, May 18, 2012

Today -100: May 18, 1912: Debs-Seidel 1912!

The British court of inquiry into the Titanic sinking interrogates survivors, including Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff-Gordon, over whether they and other passengers had objected to the suggestion that their lifeboat row back and pick up more survivors. Which it didn’t, they say.

The Arizona Legislature is discussing a bill to segregate public schools (or possibly just remove black children altogether from any school attended by white children, the LA Times isn’t clear). During the debate, Rep. A. G. Curry calls the Speaker a “nigger lover” and is removed.

The Socialist National Convention nominates Eugene Debs for president and former Milwaukee Mayor Emil Seidel as his running mate. The party also adds to its constitution a commitment to women’s suffrage and a provision for the expulsion of any member who advocates violence or sabotage by the working class.

Philipp Scheidemann, Socialist Reichstag deputy (and future Weimar chancellor), points out that the kaiser’s threat to incorporate Alsace-Lorraine into Prussia (“smash the constitution of that province into fragments” is how he delicately put it) is “a momentous confession” that being part of the Prussian state is “the most severe punishment that can be inflicted upon a people – a punishment like imprisonment and the forfeiture of civil rights.” The Conservatives storm out of the chamber in protest.

LA Times headline: “Iron Hand Used to Stop Misconduct of Vagrants.” Or to put it another way, vigilantes are threatening (“resumed their programme of ‘friendly advice’”) anyone who posted bond for IWW members arrested for making speeches in the street, in an attempt to get their bails revoked. The vigilantes will also read all articles proposed for the two pro-IWW newspapers and decide if they get to print them.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Today -100: May 17, 1912: The elector’s bullet is his ballot

The London Times reports that in the conspiracy trial of Women’s Social and Political Union leaders in Britain, Emmeline Pankhurst’s lawyer, the Irish Nationalist MP Timothy Healy, quotes... someone... saying “the days are past for rioting” because people have the franchise now. “Formerly, when the great mass of the people were voteless they had to do something violent to show what they felt; today, the elector’s bullet is his ballot.” Obviously, Healy points out, this doesn’t apply to women, who are therefore perfectly justified in breaking a few windows. Then he reveals that he was quoting the attorney general, Rufus Isaacs, who is prosecuting the case but was temporarily out of the room.

The anarchist Ben Reitman (Emma Goldmans’ manager) describes how he was grabbed by vigilantes in San Diego, taken into the desert, and tortured. Pretty horrific stuff. The Citizens’ Committee (i.e., the thugs responsible) try to stop the publication of the IWW-friendly San Diego Herald and Labor Leader and threatens every printer in town in an attempt prevent news of the vigilante violence being publicized. Reitman is trying to get warrants sworn out against his kidnappers from L.A., but the San Diego Under Sheriff says he’ll ignore any warrants not sworn out in SD, where Reitman is understandably reluctant to set foot again.

The Mexican government buys three airplanes to use in their war against the Orozco rebels.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Today -100: May 16, 1912: Of men on horseback, dead kings, red flags, and puzzlewits

Sen. Boies Penrose (R-PA) is thrown by his horse, spooked at the sight of a steamroller (Penrose “departed from his back parabolically”). His elbow is bruised. What I’m saying is, 100 years ago senators still rode around Washington D.C. on horseback.

More on the death of King Frederik VIII of Denmark: he died of apoplexy while walking alone on the street in Hamburg (in the Goose Market). Unrecognized and without i.d., he spent five hours in the municipal morgue.

The new king is Christian X, which sounds like a Black Muslim who is painfully unclear on the concept.

The Austrian prime minister, Count Karl von Stürgkh, goes suddenly blind. It is said to be hopeless, but I think not.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee reports out favorably the McCall resolution for an international ban on war for the acquisition of territory. (Elsewhere in the NYT, an editorial deplores the Democratic proposal to grant independence to the Philippines eight years from now, whether “the people are ready and fitted for it and wish it” or not.)

Spokane follows Seattle in banning red flags being carried in parades, requiring all such parades to be headed by an American flag, twice the size of any other flag, and also bans IWW street meetings.

Competing Taft and Roosevelt conventions were held in Washington state (after Roosevelt delegates, even uncontested ones, were thrown out of the state convention)(or so they say), and will each try to get their delegates seated at the National Republican Convention.

I must have missed it, but Roosevelt called Taft a “puzzlewit.”

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Today -100: May 15, 1912: Of spectacular candidates, crooks, red flags, and dead kings

Roosevelt wins the California primary, on a low turnout, coming in first in every county but San Joaquin, where La Follette wins. The NYT blames TR’s strong showing on women, voting in their first presidential election in the state, saying they “voted for the spectacular candidate.” Champ Clark wins the D. primary with more than twice the number of votes as Woodrow Wilson.

In Steubenville, Ohio, Roosevelt denies the class warfare charge: “I preach hatred toward no class except the class of crooks – political crooks or financial crooks, big crooks or little crooks. Even then I do not preach hatred of the crook himself, but of his crookedness.”

Mexican President Madero is “highly elated” over Gen. Huerta’s victory over the Orozco rebellion. So that’s okay then.

Seattle bans the carrying of any flag (i.e., the red flag) other than that of the United States. All parades must be lead by an American flag no smaller than 54 X 66 inches.

King Frederik VIII of Denmark dies on a visit to Germany. He is best known for the song “I’m Freddy the Eighth, I Am, I Am,” probably.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Today -100: May 14, 1912: Of amendments, dancing, outrageous romantic lying, and honeyfugling

The Senate Judiciary Committee votes for a Constitutional amendment changing the presidency to a single 6-year term. Yes, it’s aimed at Roosevelt (the NYT editorializes that the notion of a president not being eligible for re-election must have gained “great multitudes of conversions” in the last month). One argument against the amendment is that the American people should be forced to pay attention to public business more often than sexennially.

The House passes a resolution in favor of another Constitutional amendment, for the direct election of senators. It includes a provision for federal supervision of elections, which Southern racists, i.e. the entire Southern delegation, oppose, joined by only two Republicans, Knowland and Kahn, for equally racist (anti-Japanese) reasons.

Italy has succeeded in closing off the Aegean, preventing Turkey sending ships & troops to Libya.

Paraguay defeats a rebellion led by ex-President Alvino Jara, who is killed.

The Methodist church’s conference decides against allowing dancing.

George Bernard Shaw writes to the Daily News against the “explosion of outrageous romantic lying” by journalists and others about the Titanic to fulfill the narrative demands of “romance in a shipwreck,” which filled news reports whether true or not. These demands: That the captain must be a superhero, “a living guarantee that the wreck was nobody’s fault”. “Such a man Captain Smith was enthusiastically proclaimed on the day when it was reported that he had shot himself on the bridge, or shot the first officer, or been shot by the first officer, or shot anyhow to bring the curtain down effectively.” “The officers must be calm, proud, steady, unmoved in the intervals of shooting the terrified foreigners.” Everybody must face death without a tremor, though in reality the crew didn’t tell the passengers that the ship was sinking to prevent a panic, and the band was ordered to play Ragtime to reassure the passengers.

Arthur Conan Doyle naturally responded in the same paper a week later, singing paeans to those very romantic demands. The officers did do their duty and Shaw “tries to defile the beautiful incident of the band by alleging it was the result of orders issued to avert panic.” Shaw responded “there is no heroism in being drowned when you cannot help it.”

Your Old-Timey Vocabulary Word of the Day (from a Taft speech in Ohio): honeyfugle. To deceive or swindle.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The contrasting features of both genders

In 2004, Twitt Romney testified to Congress against gay marriage: “The children of America have the right to have a mother and a father.” It’s always bizarre when social reactionaries use the language of “rights,” isn’t it? “Of course, even today, circumstances can take a parent from the home, but the child still has a mother and a father. If the parents are unmarried or divorced, the child can visit each of them. If a mother or a father is deceased, the child can learn about the qualities of their departed parent. His or her psychological development can still be influenced by the contrasting features of both genders.”

The contrasting features of both genders. I’ve said this before: homophobia is a subset of sexism.

Today -100: May 13, 1912: Of wet corpses, butt missions, duels, and horse thieves

The Titanic’s bodies are still being recovered, four weeks after the sinking.

President Taft thinks “there is a conspiracy for the purpose of arousing religious prejudice against me.” Specifically, anti-Catholic prejudice, with claims that Taft is favoring the Catholic church. Taft himself is a Unitarian, but there were rumors that Major Butt was in Europe on a mission from the president to the Vatican (sub-hed for this story: “‘Butt Mission’ a Falsehood”) and that Taft wired congratulations to the new Apostolic Delegate, both of which he denies. But he did countermand an order by the Indian Commissioner banning nuns wearing their habits when teaching in Indian schools.

Theodore Roosevelt sweeps the Minnesota primaries.

In a duel in Hungary, one of the duelists accidentally chops off the hand of one of the seconds, who didn’t get out of the way fast enough when the duel started.

Italy extends the franchise to illiterates (over the age of 30).

I seem to have missed a story last week where the San Diego police killed Joseph Mikolasek, an IWW member (who came after the cop with an ax, if the LA Times and the SD police are to be believed, which they probably aren’t)(Update: a quick Google search tells me that Mikolasek was either 1) shot by cops in his own home, 2) shot down in front of IWW hq, or 3) died in jail. Thanks a lot, Google). Anyway, the IWW plans a procession (with the body) to protest the death, tomorrow. But today, the grand marshal is arrested as a horse thief.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Today -100: May 12, 1912: Of senators, serial killers, red flags, automobile brigands, dueling, and unwanted Canada

The House will vote next week on a constitutional amendment for the popular election of US senators. But evidently 9 Pacific Coast congresscritters will vote against it in exchange for Southerners voting against abolishing the mints at San Francisco and Carson City.

Remember the Atlanta Jack the Ripper? Just killed his 20th black woman, or “comely yellow girl,” as the NYT puts it.

Indianapolis Police Superintendent Martin Hyland bans red flags from tomorrow’s socialist parade (there’s a, um, National Socialist Convention).

The NYT claims the Paris automobile bandits (or “automobile brigands” – we don’t use the word brigand enough these days) are actually anarchists.

The German Reichstag’s Budget Committee asks the chancellor to wipe out the practice of dueling in the army.

Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt Denies He Wanted Canada.”

Friday, May 11, 2012

Today -100: May 11, 1912: Of yellow perils, veterans, draft riots, and dancing

The Dillingham Immigration Bill, passed by the Senate but not the House, would add a literacy requirement for male immigrants, and, they’ve just noticed, would probably accidentally remove the enforcement mechanism for the exclusion of Chinese, because Chinese immigrants would now only have to carry the same papers as other immigrants, not ones with their picture, as under previous racist immigration laws, which also provided for immediate deportation of any Chinese immigrant found without their papers on them, and it would abolish the provision that they prove, by the testimony of two white witnesses, that they were in the country legally before the first Chinese exclusion act of 1892.

The House votes 175-57 for pensions for every Civil War veteran 62 and older (I guess former child soldiers are screwed) who served at least 3 months. An amendment to segregate negro veterans in separate but no doubt equal old soldiers’ homes was defeated 137-43. The 43 were all Democrats.

Charles Appleby, 88, is suing the city of New York for damages to his property, the Hotel Allerton, which was burned down during the draft riots of 1863 (plus 50 years’ interest).

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The barber of severe conservatism

Today -100: May 10, 1912: Of black perils, home rule, imperious ambitions, vanities, and mysterious antipathies, and ham strikes

South African Prime Minister Louis Botha announces there will be a commission into the “black peril.”

The Irish Home Rule Bill passes its second reading in Parliament 372-271.

There is a rumor that Theodore Roosevelt plans to be a delegate at the Republican National Convention.

Secretary of State Philander Knox, in a speech in L.A., says Theodore Roosevelt is a man “prompted by whims” and of “imperious ambitions, vanities, and mysterious antipathies.” And your point is? He attacks TR’s “new nationalism” as an assault on the autonomy of the states that might lead to a new civil war. Knox was Roosevelt’s attorney general (inherited from McKinley).

A white man is sentenced to hang (and his brother to life imprisonment) for killing a black man in Alabama. Huh. Didn’t think that was illegal in Alabama.

Headline of the Day -100: “Crew Strike for Ham.” The crew of the United Fruit Company’s steamship Admiral Farragut wanted ham instead of corned beef.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Two things I haven’t figured out about Mitt Romney yet

1) How intelligent is he? Smarter than George Bush, dumber than Barack Obama, sure, but where in that large gap does he fall? Part of the problem is that he’s so conventional in his thinking that it can barely be said to be thinking at all. And he says a lot of stupid things, but they generally arise from his narrow experiences, even narrower circle of acquaintances, and a complete lack of empathy rather than from faulty thought processes per se.

2) Why does he want to be president? The thought that he feels his privileges oblige him to give something back to his country is too ludicrous to be entertained, he seems too smugly self-satisfied to be haunted by the daddy issues that motivated GeeDubya, and he doesn’t have an agenda he’s burning to impose on the country. Sure, he wants to lower taxes on his rich friends, but does he seem like someone who would go this far out of his way for the benefit of his friends?

I’ll give Obama one thing on gay marriage: he has ensured, I think, that he will be the last Democratic presidential candidate to oppose gay marriage.

Because it’s all about him

Obama: “for me personally it is important for me to affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

North Carolina’s long proud history of being stupid

North Carolina banned white people marrying blacks or Indians in 1715 and again in 1875 (blacks being defined as those with at least 1/4 black blood). Just for the hell of it, blacks were banned from marrying Indians in 1887.

NC was the only state to file a brief in support of Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Loving in 1967.

NC finally legalized interracial marriage in 1977 (technically the ban was invalidated by the Supreme Court in Loving, but it remained on the books until the state enacted a new constitution in 1971. The 1977 law recognized the legal validity of interracial marriages not recognized by the previous laws.

What is legal in NC: 14-year-old girls marrying. If they’re pregnant.

Today -100: May 9, 1912: Of miscegenation and dollar diplomacy

The German Reichstag votes 203-133 to reverse the attempt of the government to make inter-racial marriage illegal in German colonies.

Two “Dollar Diplomacy” treaties die in split Senate committee votes. They were with Honduras and Nicaragua, and would have allowed American syndicates to take over the debt of those countries and lend them money guaranteed by the US government, with the countries’ customs receipts as collateral. Something like that. Neo-colonialism.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

June 2012 California proposition recommendations

Prop. 28. Re-jiggers term limits for the Legislature because evidently that’s what makes California politics so terrible. 28 would reduce max time in office from 14 years to 12, but allow those 12 to be served in one house.

Term limits are an insult to representative democracy: either you believe the voters can be entrusted to select their leaders, or you don’t.

Given that, it’s a little hard to care a great deal about these repeated attempts to play around with the rules for term limits. The changes proposed here would do away with some of the nonsense entailed in the scramble by legislators to switch from the Assembly to the Senate or vice versa, so that’s an improvement. On the other hand, the hard 12-year limit seems to mean that anyone who took over a seat mid-term after someone died or resigned would have to quit and force an unnecessary special election 12 years later.

I will probably vote a very unenthusiastic Yes, but if you wanted to skip the initiative so as not to vote for any term-limits measure, I wouldn’t argue with you.

Prop. 29. $1 a pack tax on cigarettes (plus sales tax on top of that) to fund cancer research (not treatment).

A rather high tax on addicts (“those who choose to smoke,” as the yes argument calls them), mostly going to a fund overseen by appointees (one of whom must have been treated for a tobacco-related illness!) and UC chancellors. There’s no reason to think that this group would be qualified to determine where research money can be best spent to bring about a breakthrough, and in general I’d rather see the feds rather than the 50 states trying to cure cancer. Also, why is California creating a fund just for smoking-related cancer? Because it would have looked bad imposing a tax on bras to fund breast cancer research and calling it a “user fee?”

Lastly, I don’t smoke myself, but I don’t really see their greater likelihood of getting sick as a justification to punish them financially.

As much as I hate to be on the same side as the expensive Big Tobacco campaign against Prop. 29 or the hysterics who wrote the no argument (hurts schools! doesn’t clean up Sacramento’s wasteful spending!), this is a No.

Today -100: May 8, 1912: Of $30 dinners, 3-cent pieces, wills, effeminate schoolboys, and waifs

Two competing Republican conventions are held in Arkansas. Each elects competing slates of delegates to the national convention. The Taft convention also voted for women’s suffrage, “when the women have all signified their desire to vote.”

In Washington state, Taft’s loss to Roosevelt in Pierce County is attributed to a $30-a-plate dinner he attended last October (rather than holding a $1 dinner that more people could have afforded to come to). Still, I’m pretty sure Taft ate $30 worth.

Punch cartoon this week.

The caption reads: Uncle Sam (philosophically watching the Taft-Roosevelt scrap): “Wal! I guess old friends are the best!”

A letter to the NYT by Alice Hill Chittenden, who will soon take on the exalted post of president New York State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage, writes that evolution means the increasing differentiation and specialization of the sexes and that the women’s suffrage movement “is in fact largely a condition of hysteria”.

The NYT defends Maryland’s negro voters against accusations made by Taft’s campaign manager that they were bribed to vote for Roosevelt. But the paper does press its case against democratic elections, insisting that if Maryland’s turnout had been higher, Roosevelt wouldn’t have done nearly as well, and that the “more intelligent Republicans” voted for Taft.

The House has voted for the minting of three-cent coins, which have been lobbied for by cities where that’s the fare on street cars. The vote also calls for a half-cent coin.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Are Our Schoolboys Effeminate?” Responding to the director of public schools in Munich, Georg Kerschensteiner, who says that the reliance of American schools on women teachers is producing “effeminacy and flabbiness” in schoolboys, the LAT says that the US has lots of college athletes, boxers, soldiers, etc., so there. It also says that everyone has aspects of both sexes: “temperamentally and psychologically every individual is really bi-sexual.”

81 “frowsy and illiterate” (according to the LAT) IWW members hijack a freight train, forcing the crew to bring them to San Diego, where they are promptly arrested.

The will of John Jacob Astor, who went down with the Titanic, specifies that his widow will lose the rather large income he bequeathed her if she remarries, which is a thing men used to put in their wills. This is the guy whose chivalry was highly praised when he died.

The “Titanic waifs” have been identified and their mother is coming from Paris to claim them (one of the waifs, Michel Navratil, Jr., will die in 2001, the last male Titanic survivor).

Monday, May 07, 2012

Today -100: May 7, 1912: I am not engaged in going about cutting off the heads of bosses

Roosevelt supporters hold one of those separatist conventions in Washington County, Tennessee, but it is captured by Taft supporters.

Taft expresses support for a plan to allow federal employees to retire at 70 with a pension worth half their salaries.

Roosevelt wins the popular vote in the Maryland primary, but Taft delegates will have the majority in the state convention. By state law, the convention will have to instruct delegates to the national convention to vote for Roosevelt, but only on the first ballot.

Champ Clark won the Democratic primary.

Taft denies Roosevelt’s charge that the political “bosses” all support him, and names several who support TR. However, he also says that he won’t go after the bosses: “I am not engaged in going about cutting off the heads of bosses. I cannot do it. It is not my function. It is the function of the people at home to reform matters. I don’t recollect in the seven years that Theodore Roosevelt was president that his path was strewn with the bodies of dead bosses that he had killed.”

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Turks Repulse Italians.” In Rhodes. Not that that stopped Italy appointing a governor.

NYT headline: “Home Rule Debate Tedious.” Everyone’s a critic.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Today -100: May 6, 1912: Of crooked misrepresentation

Compare and contrast these headlines on the Italian capture of Rhodes. NYT: “Rhodes Was Easily Taken.” LAT: “Use Bayonets on Turks.”

San Diego releases 16 IWW members from jail, where they have been held without trial for two months for violating the city ordinance against makes speeches in the street, but they are told to return for trial next month.

Theodore Roosevelt accuses President Taft of knowing that Taft delegates in Kentucky, Indiana, NYC and elsewhere were elected by “barefaced fraud. He stands guilty of connivance at and condonation of these frauds”. Taft “has stood for crooked misrepresentation of the will of the people.” He notes that since Taft started anti-trust suits against Standard Oil and International Harvester, their stocks have risen: “Evidently Wall St. has made up its mind that Mr. Taft’s prosecutions are fake prosecutions.”

Here’s my favorite putdown from TR’s statement: “he never discovered that I was dangerous to the people until I had been obliged to come to the conclusion that he was useless to the people.” Ouch.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Today -100: May 5, 1912: Even a rat in a corner will fight

Taft on Roosevelt: “He thinks the job is more than running the government. The job, he thinks, is to introduce social revolution.” He added, in a campaign speech in Maryland: “I am a man of peace, and I don’t want to fight. But when I do fight I want to hit hard. Even a rat in a corner will fight.”

Roosevelt, also scheduled to give a campaign speech in Maryland, had to wait for a fight between two dogs to end.

Half of the Mississippi delegates to the Republican National Convention are black, sounds like by quota. Booker T. Washington is lobbying the black delegates to switch from Taft to Roosevelt.

A big women’s suffrage parade in New York City. 10,000 people (1,000 of them male)(Teddy Roosevelt was invited, but didn’t come), 2 hours. The women wore white. Watched by huge crowds, including some hecklers: “They were for the most part the young men with their hats on the sides of their heads – of the same class that make nuisances of themselves at Coney Island in the Summer.” Banners read Votes for Women and “All this is the natural consequence of teaching girls to read.”

The NYT news coverage of the parade is surprisingly uncondescending, its editorial not so much. It calls the women marchers “obviously healthy and presumably intelligent” (which is restrained when compared to the way the London Times throws around the word “hysteria” when discussing British suffragists), but declares that women’s suffrage would play havoc with society and that men need to be “firm and wise enough and, it may as well be said, masculine enough to prevent them.” The editorial does the slippery slope thing: “Granted the suffrage, they would demand all that the right implies. It is not possible to think of women as soldiers and sailors, police patrolmen, or firemen, although voters ought to fight if need be”.

French Army Lt. Col. Gombault has an article bringing to France’s attention the fact that the army has only 21 dirigibles, while the Germans have 29.

The Italian navy occupies Rhodes.

The Mexican rebels appoint a pretender to the presidency, Emilio Vasquez Gomez.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Today -100: May 4, 1912: As it is bossism, what’s the use?

Secretary of State Philander Knox, traveling through Texas, refuses to see delegates from the Mexican rebels.

War Headline of the Day -100: “Italy Finds Tripoli A Hard Nut to Crack.” According to a lecture by explorer and author Charles Wellington Furlong, who has explored the region, Italy failed to consider that Arabs and Turks are all Muslim and might bond against the Christian colonialist invaders. Also, it’s impossible to live off the land in the desert, so all the Italian army’s supplies have to be brought in and transported, and the Italians don’t have any camels.

Another member of the Coatesville, Penn. lynch mob is acquitted, and the state gives up on the rest of its planned trials (including that of the police chief).

In a Maryland speech, Theodore Roosevelt claims that large sums of money are being used to buy negro votes in Monday’s primaries, and accuses anyone who sells his vote of treason to the Republic and, in the case of negroes, of injuring their race.

Roosevelt, who is in Delaware, refuses to make any speeches in the state: “If you had direct primaries in Delaware I would only be too glad to make a personal appeal to the people. But, as it is bossism, what’s the use?” Indeed.

Sexist Headline of the Day -100: “Women Sputter at Senate.” Actually, the Senate Office Building closed the only women’s rest room, so sputter might actually mean......... (Oh wait, “rest room” seems to have meant waiting room rather than, you know, rest room. Although I still like the last sentence of the article: “women having business with Senators will have to stand up.”)

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Today -100: May 3, 1912: Of disturbing doctrines, lynchings, kaiser-farmers, zeppelin challenges, and flags

Sub-Headline of the Day -100: “TAFT TALKS PROSPERITY.; In Southern Speeches He Opposes Doctrines That Would Disturb.”

The Grand Jury in Fort Smith, Arkansas, indicts 23 for the lynching of a black man (hanged on a trolley pole) in March.

Kaiser Wilhelm has bought two farms in German South-West Africa (Namibia) and will raise sheep. Not a metaphor.

Headline of the Day -100: “Challenged by Zeppelin.” Not a flying machine but Count Zep himself, who has challenged the secretary of the failed Zeppelin Arctic Expedition, Theodore Lerner, to a duel. But it’s on hold pending some lawsuits between them. Which seems like the worst of both worlds.

Some IWW types (from the affiliated Italian Socialist Federation) trampled an American flag and put up an IWW flag in Union Square, and evidently there’s not going to be an end to the hand-wringing and outrage any time soon.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Today -100: May 2, 1912: Of delegates, plots against Canada, shiftless gangs, and prince-aviators

Because Theodore Roosevelt lost the popular vote in Massachusetts (74,808 to 71,158), he asks the elected delegates-at-large he won to ignore their pledges and vote for Taft at the Republican National Convention, which is jolly sporting of him (his larger game is to turn around and demand that the will of the people also be respected in the many states throughout the US where the Republican machine is thwarting it, and especially to pressure the 20 Taft delegates from Illinois to follow the overwhelming preference of Ill. voters)(it also seems that many of the votes for Taft delegates were invalidated because there were 9 Taft delegates on the ballot and many people voted for all of them, but were only supposed to vote for 8).

The Mexican ambassador says the current revolution isn’t a real revolution, just a bunch of brigands and Indians, and will be put down within three months.

A Senate resolution asked the president if it’s true that the Japanese are trying to take over the harbor of Magdalena Bay in Baja California, Mexico, as a naval base. The White House says no, but that an American company did try to sell some land in the area to a Japanese syndicate. So the Senate is still bubbling with racist paranoia and muttering about the Monroe Doctrine.

Speaking of conspiracy theories, our Headline of the Day -100 comes from the Daily Mail in London: “The Plot Against Canada: Amazing Revelation.” See, last week when President Taft published his private correspondence with Roosevelt, he included one from January 1911 about the Canadian Tariff Reciprocity Treaty, which later failed in the Canadian Parliament because of fears that the US was secretly planning to absorb Canada. Taft wrote that the treaty would make Canada “only an adjunct of the United States.” He meant economically rather than literally (he told TR that much of Canadian business would move to Chicago and NY), but the Daily Mail, as is its wont, is quite upset.

IWW marchers are still on their way to San Diego, and the LA Times is there with up-to-the-minute unbiased coverage, and an unusual number of sub-headlines: “Mischief Makers / Not Invited, Unwelcome / Shiftless Gang Arrives Here on Its Way South / Is Run Out of Every Town Along the Road / Mobilization at San Diego to Rant and Revile.”

Prince Axel of Denmark is going to take flying lessons.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Obama goes to Afghanistan to spike the football, and by football, I mean bin Laden’s bullet-ridden corpse

So Obama went to Afghanistan to celebrate Hey-Do-You-Remember-How-I-Totally-Killed-Bin-Laden-That-Time Day. First he visited with the troops, who may have noticed that their lives were totally unchanged as a result of that killing.

IT’S FRANCE, AND THAT GUY STOLE SOME BREAD, AND THAT OTHER GUY IS CHASING HIM, RIGHT? “And I know that sometimes, out here, when you’re in theater, it’s not clear whether folks back home fully appreciate what’s going on.”

AND YET... “We did not choose this war...”

AND YET... “We don’t go looking for a fight.”

YOU MAKE IT SOUND SO SEXY: “But when we see our homeland violated...”

BECAUSE WHEN YOU’RE THERE, IT’S A TOTAL BUZZ-KILL: “And when you’re missing a birthday or you’re missing a soccer game or when you’re missing an anniversary, and those of us back home are able to enjoy it, it’s because of you.”

CUE PORN MUSIC: “And I want everybody here to know that when you get home, we are going to be there for you when you’re in uniform and we will stay there for you when you’re out of uniform.”

Later, he gave an address to the nation (the American nation, not the nation he was actually in, which was just the backdrop, well Bagram Air Base was the backdrop, so not even really that).

He said that the agreement he signed with Karzai will bring about “a future in which war ends, and a new chapter begins.” A new chapter? So this whole thing was just a chapter? How the fuck long is this book, anyway?

“Where can I get me one of those hats?

“And so, 10 years ago, the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al Qaeda could never again use this country to launch attacks against us.” Note that that goal could be accomplished either by destroying Al Qaida or by destroying the country...

FOR A NUMBER OF REASONS: “Despite initial success, for a number of reasons, this war has taken longer than most anticipated.” Basically the only thing he’ll admit went wrong is the time-frame.

THERE’S THAT (UNDEFINED) WORD AGAIN: “We broke the Taliban’s momentum.”

Today’s agreement includes “shared commitments to combat terrorism and strengthen democratic institutions... advance development and dignity for their people... transparency and accountability, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans”. Wow, all that from this particular piece of paper, makes you wonder why we didn’t think of that long ago.

OUT OF BUTTER: “Our goal is not to build a country in America’s image”.

WHAT HE RECOGNIZES: “I recognize that many Americans are tired of war.” So it’s a purely emotional reaction, not a reasoned critique of a failed policy or a principled opposition to organized violence. We just all need a good nap and we’ll be as right as rain. This dismissive “tired of war” crap, which Bush also used a lot, really pisses me off.

BECAUSE NOTHING SAYS UPHOLDING HUMAN DIGNITY LIKE A DECADE-LONG WAR: “Here in Afghanistan, Americans answered the call to defend their fellow citizens and uphold human dignity.”

Today -100: May 1, 1912: Of funeral ships, primaries, trusts, and women talking

The cable ship Mackay-Bennett reaches Halifax with 190 of the Titanic dead. They’d already dumped 116 more into the ocean, only 57 of whom were identified (the rest didn’t have enough left to be identifiable), thus leading to tedious plot developments that go nowhere on “Downton Abbey.” 60 of the bodies brought in have not been identified, and are believed to be mostly crew members.

In the Massachusetts primary, Republican voters split nearly evenly between Taft & TR (however, voters also voted for 8 at-large delegates, and the ones they elected are all pledged to TR, it said so right on the ballot). The NYT thinks this result discredits the whole idea of popular primaries, “a first-rate device for splitting a party wide open and inviting defeat on election day.”

On the Democratic side, Champ Clark defeats Wilson, but turnout was much lower than for R’s. Also, the ballot had a little flaw in that there were delegates pledged to the state’s Gov. Foss listed on the ballot, 36 of whom were elected, but Foss himself was not on the ballot. Some consider that those delegates are morally obligated to ignore their pledge and follow the results of the popular vote.

The Taft Admin files an anti-trust suit against International Harvester. One can’t help thinking that the timing is political, since the Tafties have been attacking TR for having halted this action when he was president five years ago.

The LA Times reports ever so respectfully about the forthcoming big women’s suffrage parade in NYC, suggesting that the order that marchers not talk while marching will be impossible for women to obey.