Sunday, September 30, 2012

What, you got something better to do?

On Fox News Sunday, Paul Ryan refused to explain which tax loopholes he’d close, because it would be very time-consuming, with the time and the math and the counting on his fingers and toes.

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Today -100: September 30, 1912: Of non-lynchings, red flags, Balkan wars, and kid gloves

A mob is thwarted from lynching Hugh Long, the mayor of Wagener, South Carolina and state representative-elect, after he shot and killed one Pickens N. Gunter, president of the Bank of Wagener, over their political differences. (Long will be acquitted next June).

Police in Lawrence, Massachusetts attack an IWW parade, essentially because they had red flags.

Russia is mobilizing seven army corps, as a precaution in case it gets involved in the increasingly likely war in the Balkans. Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece have all been issuing threats against the Ottoman Empire.

Socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs holds a rally in Madison Square Garden. The NYT says the audience was equally divided by gender. Debs calls Woodrow Wilson “the kid glove on the paw of the Tammany tiger.” He notes that Taft, Roosevelt and Wilson have never had to look for a job, never been on strike, been slugged by a capitalistic policeman, been in jail, or produced enough to feed a gallanipper (mosquito).

Woodrow Wilson demands that the upcoming New York Democratic Convention not be run by Boss Murphy (Wilson’s been trying to force Gov. John Dix, Murphy’s man, out of office).

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Today -100: September 29, 1912: Of covenants, the typical Englishman of the year 3912, non-thinking people, and bears

Northern Irish Protestants sign the Covenant, pledging to resist Home Rule and never recognize the authority of an Irish Parliament, “in sure confidence that God will defend the right.”

A Dr. Forbes Ross suggests that with the current eugenic trends in England, 2,000 years from now the average Englishman’s face will be that of a typical criminal, with prognathous jaws and face, receding forehead, broad, flat nose, well-marked canine teeth, small eyes, short neck, head set well back between the shoulders, and a depraved gorilla countenance.

Taft attacks Roosevelt, though not by name, saying the Bull Moose Party split off from the Republican Party “not for any one principle, or indeed on any principle at all, but merely to gratify personal ambition and vengeance, and in the gratification of that personal ambition and vengeance, every new fad and theory, some of them good, some of them utterly preposterous and impracticable, some of them as Socialistic as anything that has been proposed in the countries of Europe... have been crowded into a platform in order to tempt the voters of enthusiastic supporters of each of these proposed reforms. ... an entire willingness to destroy every limitation of constitutional representative government in order that, by short cuts, these various reforms... may be accomplished by the decree of a benevolent despotism to be supported by the acclaim of hero-worshiping, emotional, undiscriminating, superficially minded, and non-thinking people.” Adding, probably, “But if superficially minded, non-thinking people want to vote for me instead, that’s cool.” Seriously, is that how you try to win back disaffected Republican voters? The rest of the speech was about the need to preserve the protective tariff.

An engineer, Carroll Livingston Riker, has written a book (which astonishingly seems to have been republished this year) proposing the building of a wall into the Atlantic from Newfoundland to redirect the Gulf Stream to the Arctic, melting the Polar ice caps and heating up the Earth, and all for only $190 million, less than the cost of building the Panama Canal.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Kaiser Throws Carrot To Bear.”

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Today -100: September 28, 1912: Of insurrections

Roosevelt is campaigning in the South (Louisiana today, Tennessee yesterday), which he knows will never vote for anyone but a Democrat.

Evidently Augusta, Georgia is in a state of “insurrection.” Ah, that means that locals were a tad upset about National Guard shooting at striking trolley workers, killing one.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Today -100: September 27, 1912: Of very delightful meetings

William Howard Taft and Woodrow Wilson meet at the Copley Plaza Hotel, Boston, the only time their paths will cross during the campaign. Wilson said afterward, “It was a very delightful meeting. I am very fond of President Taft.” They exchanged pleasantries about how their voices were holding out. The NYT notes that an hour before the two met, Wilson made a speech declaring Taft totally ineffectual. Oddly enough, Wilson had spent the previous night at the Taft Hotel in New Haven, in a bed specially made for President Taft.

Joseph Smith, president of the Mormon Church, endorses Taft (I think because he didn’t invade Mexico, endangering the future status of the Mormon polygamist colonies there). So that’s one state in the bag. One more state, and he’ll have two.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Another caption contest (aka, a leftover picture I can’t think of anything to do with)

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Zombie-Eyed Granny Hunting (or, be vewwy, vewwy quiet, I’m hunting interns)

Caption contest:

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Today -100: September 26, 1912: Of aroused judges, and tea

Headline of the Day -100: “Divorce Judge Aroused.”

Mary Wood, President of the Pasaic, NJ branch of the Equal Suffrage League, resigns, saying the members do nothing but drink tea.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Obama at the United Nations: There’s no video that justifies an attack on an embassy

Obama spoke this morning to the UN General Assembly (otherwise known as the bit of the UN that doesn’t count because France doesn’t have a veto in it).

HE WAS A STEEL-DRIVING MAN: “Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentleman: I would like to begin today by telling you about an American named Chris Stevens.”

IT’S JUST ALWAYS ALL ABOUT US, ISN’T IT? “The attacks on the civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America.”

SO IT’LL JUST BE CANADA AND MONACO? “Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations.”

Then he talks about the Arab Spring. “the world has been captivated by the transformation that’s taken place, and the United States has supported the forces of change,” adding, “except for, you know, Bahrain. Oh, and the Saudis, and, um...”

IT’S JUST ALWAYS ALL ABOUT US, ISN’T IT? “We were inspired by the Tunisian protests that toppled a dictator, because we recognized our own beliefs in the aspiration of men and women who took to the streets.”

AND BY ULTIMATELY, I MEAN AFTER DECADES OF BEING ON THE OTHER SIDE: “We insisted on change in Egypt, because our support for democracy ultimately put us on the side of the people.”

THE UNITED STATES IS ALWAYS GOOD AT TELLING EXACTLY WHEN THE INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLE STOP BEING SERVED BY A CORRUPT STATUS QUO: “We supported a transition of leadership in Yemen, because the interests of the people were no longer being served by a corrupt status quo.”

WELL, ASPIRATIONS AND AIR STRIKES: “We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition, and with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council, because we had the ability to stop the slaughter of innocents, and because we believed that the aspirations of the people were more powerful than a tyrant.”

OR TO TAKE THAT SECOND CRULLER: “Those in power have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissidents.”

LOOKIN’ AT YOU, ROMNEY: “In hard economic times, countries must be tempted -- may be tempted to rally the people around perceived enemies, at home and abroad, rather than focusing on the painstaking work of reform.”

It occurs to me that while he once again castigates the “crude and disgusting video” whose “message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity,” at no point has he ever specified what problems he has with the film. What do you find so disgusting, Barack? The acting? The portrayal of Mohammed? Or are you simply outsourcing your disgust – Muslims claim to find it disgusting, therefore in solidarity we all have to?

In the next paragraph, he notes that he himself is a Christian, because of course he did. But we don’t have blasphemy laws protecting the sensibilities of Christians. And “As President of our country and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day -- (laughter) -- and I will always defend their right to do so.” Oh good, he just implicitly compared himself to Mohammed; that’ll go down well.

He goes on for a bit with a boilerplate defense of free speech – okay, but not particularly inspired – then uses a word, well let’s see if you spot the problematic word: “We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech -- the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.” The word, of course, is blasphemy, which does not belong in any proper defense of free speech.

ON THIS WE MUST AGREE (BUT DON’T): “And on this we must agree: There is no speech that justifies mindless violence. There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents. There’s no video that justifies an attack on an embassy.” Mindless violence? It’s precisely the minds behind the violence that’s the problem.

BUT SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET: “In this modern world with modern technologies, for us to respond in that way to hateful speech empowers any individual who engages in such speech to create chaos around the world. We empower the worst of us if that’s how we respond.”

AND BY “BE CLEAR,” I MEAN “LIE LIKE A WEASEL”: “Now, let me be clear: Just as we cannot solve every problem in the world, the United States has not and will not seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad.”

AND HERE’S THE PART WHERE HE TAKES BACK WHAT HE JUST SAID ABOUT FREE SPEECH: “It is time to marginalize those who -- even when not directly resorting to violence -- use hatred of America, or the West, or Israel, as the central organizing principle of politics. For that only gives cover, and sometimes makes an excuse, for those who do resort to violence.” So Mr. Free Speech wants to suppress speech that “gives cover” or provides an excuse for violence. And I’m not sure what “marginalize” is supposed to mean, although I can guess, but the assumption behind the word is that the majority have the right to decide what sort of speech is acceptable.

UNLESS YOU COUNT FLAG RECOGNITION 101: “Burning an American flag does nothing to provide a child an education.”

UNLESS YOU COUNT WINDOW REPAIRERS: “Attacking an embassy won’t create a single job.”

FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE GREAT SATAN....The impulse towards intolerance and violence may initially be focused on the West, but over time it cannot be contained.”

He says of “extremists,” “They don’t build; they only destroy.” You didn’t build that!

OH GOOD, I WAS HOPING SOMEONE WOULD TELL ME WHEN IT WAS TIME FOR THAT: “It is time to leave the call of violence and the politics of division behind.”

GUANTANAMO? “On so many issues, we face a choice between the promise of the future, or the prisons of the past.”

WHEREIN OBAMA TELLS MUSLIMS HOW TO BE CREDIBLE: “The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam. But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.” That sentence is weird, right?

WALK, NO, WADDLE, YES: “Understanding that such a [Middle East] peace must come through a just agreement between the parties, America will walk alongside all who are prepared to make that journey.”

REALLY? HAVE YOU CHECKED WITH STEPHEN HAWKING? On Iran’s nuclear program: “But that time is not unlimited.”

WHAT WE RESPECT: “We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace. And make no mistake....”

“...a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained. It would threaten the elimination of Israel...” Or would if Israel didn’t have several hundred nukes. “...It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty.” The one Israel didn’t sign.

HAS ANYONE TOLD THE IRAQIS? “The war in Iraq is over. American troops have come home.” Well, been transferred to Afghanistan. “We’ve begun a transition in Afghanistan, and America and our allies will end our war on schedule in 2014.” It says so right here on Google Calendar.

SO THERE’VE BEEN NO MORE THAN SIX ANGRY MOBS??? “for every angry mob that gets shown on television, there are billions around the world who share similar hopes and dreams.”

IS THAT LIKE WHEN ROOMMATES’ MENSTRUAL CYCLES SYNCH UP? “They tell us that there is a common heartbeat to humanity.”

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For 6½ years this blog and many others relied on the commenting service Haloscan/Echo/JS-Kit. Thousands of comments were made here from 2005 to earlier this year and were entrusted to it. But Haloscan/Echo/JS-Kit decided to get out of the commenting biz, so on Monday, all those comments will vanish. All that cleverness, outrage and snark, gone.

There seems to be no way to import them into the Blogger system.

This is quite upsetting.

I switched to the Blogger comments system a few months ago, so you can make comments or, about twenty times more frequently, try to get spam past the filtering software. Seriously, does it seem likely that readers of this blog are that interested in Louis Vuitton bags?

Anyway, I wish Haloscan/Echo/JS-Kit luck in its future endeavours.

And by luck, I mean syphilis.

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Today -100: September 25, 1912: Of marines, bull moose heads, and imbeciles

President Taft sends marines to patrol the disputed Haiti-Santo Domingo border, where Dominican rebels have been interfering with the Americans collecting the Dominican customs duties.

Roosevelt is campaigning in Oklahoma in a car decorated with the head of a bull moose. Gross.

Headline of the Day -100: “Ohio’s Many Imbeciles.” The president of the State Board of Administration says that if they don’t start sterilizing them forcibly, the state will go bankrupt within ten years from the cost of supporting the weak-minded. There are over 100 of them in the state institution.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Today -100: September 24, 1912: Of petticoats

Sign of the Times -100: A letter to the NYT bemoans the vanishing of the petticoat industry, thanks to “freakish French fashion, which insisted that women show their shapes instead of draping their shapely forms.”

Want to know what Woodrow Wilson sounded like? The Library of Congress has five brief recordings dated today -100.

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

The State Department deploys its strongest Word of Condemnation

saying the reward offered by the Pakistani Minister for Railroads and Assholery for the murder of the Innocence of the Muslims auteur is “inflammatory and”... wait for it... wait for it... “inappropriate.”

I’m sure Ghulam Ahmad Bilour feels thoroughly chastened.

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Today -100: September 23, 1912: Of pathetic spectacles, nun grabs, angel dicks, and moose bribery

Theodore Roosevelt’s running mate, California Gov. Hiram Johnson, denies that he called President Taft “the most pathetic spectacle in our history.” Rather, he says, he said that politically Taft was the most pathetic spectacle in our political history. So that’s okay then.

NYT Index Typo of the Day -100: “TAFT LETS NUNS KEEP THEIR GRAB.” Nuns teaching in schools on Indian reservations will be allowed to wear their habits (but only the 51 nuns who are already teachers, not any future ones). Note that these are government employees in nun garb.

Paris authorities are refusing to unveil Jacob Epstein’s sculpture of an angel with a large penis on Oscar Wilde’s tomb (I’d include a picture, but I can’t find one from before some moron castrated the poor angel in the 1960s). Rodin supports Epstein, “a talented artist who will make his mark.” With penises!

Several suffragettes heckle British Chancellor David Lloyd George at a meeting in Llanystumdwy and are attacked by the audience. One of them is beaten and her clothes torn off and distributed amongst the crowd as souvenirs, as was the custom. (A longer description appears in the NYT magazine section in October).

Elsewhere, a suffragette threw a worm at Winston Churchill as he was playing golf.

Headline of the Day -100: “Charges Moose Bribery.”

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Today -100: September 22, 1912: Of whiskers, gum, stones, and so-called civil rights

Headline of the Day -100: “ROBBED OF HIS WHISKERS.; Old Bridge, N.J., Resident Reports an Odd Hold-Up.”

The British are developing the American habit of gum-chewing.

Northern Irish Headline of the Day -100: “Ulster Leaders Stoned.” Would explain a lot.

It’s the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation (well, of Lincoln’s threat to issue it if the South didn’t surrender), and the NYT Magazine has an article about how “The Negro Has Accomplished Much Since Emancipation.” Let’s see how much I can read before I throw up. Well, it seems that in 1862 negroes were “ignorant, untrained, emotional, an easy mark for promoters and hypocrites, and in no sense equal to the obligations forced upon him for political uses,” but they’ve gotten somewhat better since then by working hard and not expecting anything from white folks. And Southern negroes “have not taken an active part in politics for years; but they have lost nothing of really intrinsic value by their abstention... and do not seem to feel the loss of their so-called civil rights.” So that’s okay then.

Want to know what Teddy Roosevelt sounded like? The Library of Congress has three short recordings dated today -100.

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Today -100: September 21, 1912: Of lost hope, alliances, warplanes, and making imperial ends meet

Election 1912 Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt Has Lost Hope.” According to one letter he allegedly wrote to some unnamed person in London (this story is sort of like the Huffington Post -100).

Bulgaria, Serbia, Montenegro, and Greece (which last week initiated conscription) form a military alliance against the Ottoman Empire. The Balkan League.

(Usage note: In English, Serbia was called Servia until early in World War I, when it was decided that Britain’s brave little ally needed a less, um, servile-sounding name.)

The Interparliamentary Union, whatever that is, approves a ban on the use of airplanes in warfare, proposed by Belgium’s former prime minister (and Nobel Peace Prize winner) Auguste Beernaert. So that settles that.

Congress snuck into the Post Office Bill a provision that any newspaper going through the mail has to display the names of its owners, editors, and publishers.

In Britain, Dr. Elizabeth Wilks of the Tax Resistance League has been protesting the lack of women’s suffrage by refusing to pay income taxes. Thanks to a quirk of British law (tax law hasn’t caught up with the notion that married women can own property in their own right, which has been the case for a few decades now), it’s actually her husband who has to report her income (but he has no legal power to compel her to tell him what her income is) and pay the tax. Indeed, when the Inland Revenue seized her furniture, she went to court and won a claim that they could only go after her husband for her income tax. So now Mark Wilks, who in any case can’t afford to pay her tax from his own, smaller income (he’s a schoolmaster) is going to jail.

The former Empress of France Eugénie is shocked at the current price of gowns in Paris. Why, when she was empress, she never paid more than $120. “Even then I was accused of extravagance. If I had had to pay what you ladies pay I should never have been able to make both ends meet.”

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kerry joins the Appropriateness Police

John Kerry castigates Iraq for letting Iranian planes overfly its territory on the way to Syria: “It just seems completely inappropriate that we’re trying to help build their democracy, support them, put American lives on the line, money into the country, and they’re working against our interest so overtly.”

Oh the utter ingratitude, after all we’ve done to for Iraq.

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Just a reminder

that Adnan Latif died in Guantanamo 12 days ago, and the government won’t tell us the cause of death.

We know he was a hunger-striker and was presumably forcibly fed, although the government claims that he wasn’t hunger striking at the time of his death. Of course, the Pentagon no longer tells us how many hunger strikers there are at Guantanamo.

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Today -100: September 20, 1912: Of recalls and covenants

Theodore Roosevelt says he’d be okay with the recall even being applied to the office of president.

Next month, Ulster Unionists will all sign a “Covenant” to fight “the present conspiracy to set up home rule in Ireland”.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Today -100: September 19, 1912: Of in-touch candidates, airships, and dead mules

Election 1912 Headline of the Day -100: “West Finds Wilson in Touch With Life.” Evidently he’s not a cold scholar after all (spoiler alert: yes he is). Woodrow Wilson, campaigning in Minnesota, is doing the Romney thing of trying to connect to regular voters. He said the best response to Roosevelt’s idea of tight regulation of trusts is “Rats.” NYT: “When he added ‘Let Roosevelt tell it to the marines,’ the crowd became decidedly hilarious.”

Wilson speaks warmly of President Taft’s integrity and patriotism; “If he has got into bad company it is no fault of his, because he didn’t choose the company; it was there beforehand. And if he has taken their advice it has been because they were nearest to him, and he didn’t hear anybody else. That is why I would rather have the advice of a crowd like this than the advice of a Cabinet.” That is a nicely done takedown of the chubby chief executive.

Military Headline of the Day -100: “Navy Unafraid of Airships.” Even the newest battleships will not be equipped with anti-aircraft guns or protection against aerial bombs. Rear Admiral Twining thinks ordinary rifles are sufficient protection against planes and airships.

On the other hand, the British army had to abandon army maneuvers because aerial scouting made the implementation of strategic plans impossible.

The Army convenes a board of inquiry consisting of five officers to investigate which of two cavalry horses kicked a mule to death.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Romney and the Dependents of Doom

Romney went on Fox today in yet more damage control. He says he’s not really writing off the 47% (except on his taxes, ha!): “we go after every group we can to get votes.” Interesting that he thinks of voters as “groups.”

He says, more in sorrow than in anger, that he just won’t be able to get the votes of “those that are dependent upon government,” which is not a condescending way to describe people collecting entitlements at all.

He says his policies will give people “the privilege of higher incomes that allow them to be paying taxes,” as opposed to those with the privilege of super-high incomes that allow them to pay no taxes.

He repeated the bit about the 47% who “pay no tax” not responding to his message about lowering taxes. That’s nonsense, because this line of his has always been a, for lack of a better term, double dog whistle. See, the rich people hearing that line know that he shares their contempt for the poors, while the lower class all know that they do, in fact, pay taxes (there’s a reason Mitt leaves off “income” before “tax”), so Mitt must be talking about someone else, you know, those people.

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Today -100: September 18, 1912: Of dead cocks, moral mandates, turned heads, gentleman burglars, small bills, and pink lemonade

Campaigning in Tuscon, Theodore Roosevelt calls Taft “a dead cock in the pit”.

The US has issued a public note to the Nicaraguan government and rebels, saying that the latter are very naughty boys and that “the United States has a moral mandate to exert its influence for the preservation of the general peace of Central America, which is seriously menaced by the present uprising”. The US’s purpose, it says, is to foster true constitutional government and free elections. This it justifies under the Washington Conventions of 1907, which the Central American nations took as banning them supporting rebellion in other countries, not as giving the US a “moral mandate” to suppress internal rebellions militarily.

Cardinal Gibbons, the Archbishop of Baltimore, says that if women had the vote, “there is a probability that on the slightest provocation she would seek divorce. ... It might have the effect of turning their heads.”

Alphonse Bertillon, the French cop who introduced the collection of detailed description of criminals through measurements (anthropometry), which is what they had before fingerprints, says there is no such thing as a “gentleman burglar.”

New American paper currency will soon be issued, reduced in size by 1/3 (to the present size).

The Dutch Socialist Party organizes a (banned) demonstration for universal (male and female) suffrage to coincide with the opening of Parliament. The police “repulsed them with bare swords,” which may be a euphemism; it certainly sounds like a euphemism.

Obituary of the Day -100: Henry “Bunk” Allen, inventor of pink lemonade.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

The worst thing about Romney’s remarks

and the three-question press conference slash damage control session tonight, in which he said he was just talking about “process” at the fundraiser, was how he consistently states that people’s voting behaviour will be based entirely on their personal economic self-interest, not on their ideals, not on the public good. It’s a very impoverished view of democracy, viewing people’s relationship with their government as a strictly financial interaction.

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WaPo headline: “Romney Campaign Faces Distractions.” Is Romney speaking honestly distracting from Romney lying?

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was Romney disparaging people who expect free stuff... at a fundraiser?

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It’s amazing how many times we get to say

all right, TODAY is the day Romney lost the election.

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Today -100: September 17, 1912: But then, they saw that coming

Scotland Yard bans advertising by palmists and crystal-ball gazers.

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Today -100: September 16, 1912: Of red flags

Providence, RI police fight with IWW demonstrators who refuse to take down a red flag.

Remember the war between Italy and the Ottoman Empire over Libya? Officially still going on, although I don’t think anyone’s been killing anyone for some time. Unofficial negotiations just broke down. Italy was proposing that Turkey declare its Libyan provinces independent, whereupon Italy would immediately annex them. That’s Italy’s idea of a compromise.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Today -100: September 15, 1912: Of outworn academic doctrine and splits

Oh dear, Roosevelt is playing the egg-head card against Woodrow Wilson. A few days ago, Wilson criticized the Bull Moosers and TR’s plans to increase the power and size of government to match the increase in power and size of corporations. Wilson said that the “history of liberty is a history of the limitation of governmental power” and “As to the monopolies, which Mr. Roosevelt proposes to legalize and to welcome... I do not look forward with pleasure to the time when the juggernauts are licensed and driven by commissioners of the United States.” [I may have quotes from 2 different recent speeches there.] TR calls this “a bit of outworn academic doctrine which was kept in the school room and the professorial study for a generation after it had been abandoned by all who had had experience of actual life.” Also, liberty equaled limitation of government power when there were kings, not when power is held (ha!) by the people.

I suppose it’s inevitable that the anti-intellectual card would be played against the former president of Princeton, but by Roosevelt? TR wrote more books and articles than Wilson ever did, on a wider variety of subjects, including history, zoology, ornithology, literature (here he is on Dante), and certainly read more (Wilson was a slow reader) and in more languages (he was a big fan of German poetry). TR was no great thinker, but if you compare him to recent “smart” presidents like Clinton and Obama, his range of intellectual interests was much greater.

California holds county party conventions. At many of the Republican ones, Taft supporters bolt to hold separate conventions, including Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Riverside, etc.

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Friday, September 14, 2012

A lot of things that aren’t accurate

Yesterday (but airing today), George Stephanopoulos interviewed Romney.

Walking slightly back his attack on the tweets by the US embassy in Cairo, he now suggests the problem isn’t that they were issued after the attack on the embassy as he first falsely claimed, but that they “stayed up on their website for, I think, 14-15 hours.” So he’s complaining that while mobs were attacking the embassy, the embassy staff wasn’t editing its Twitter account.

He suggests that he said the statement (tweet) was “inappropriate” (I seem to recall that the actual word he used was “disgraceful”) and that the White House also thought it was “inappropriate” (although he initially attributed it to “the Obama administration,” which by the transitive property states that the White House condemned itself, in total agreement with Romney’s condemnation of it. Who said there’s no agreement in politics any more?

Mittens repeats the word “inappropriate” over and over (including “not appropriate,” 9 times during the interview), and can I just say how annoying I find the use of that condescending, nanny-scold word by pretty much fucking everyone?

He says that Obama’s comment that Romney “shoots first and aims later” is just “politics.” As opposed to whatever it is he thinks he’s been doing.

He says he never intends to see Ed Wood’s Life of Brian and “the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is...” wait for it.... “simply inappropriate and wrong.” And fuck you Trey Parker and Matt Stone.

He thinks people should never offend other peoples’ faiths. As opposed to knocking at their doors at dinner time to tell them that their religion is wrong and would you like a free copy of the Book of Mormon.

He wants “to bring Egypt closer to us. I think it’s important for them to understand that it’s an advantage to have a close relationship with the United States”. Just ask Mubarak, the dictator we armed and help keep in power for decades. Egypt, he says, “is the heart of the Arab world.” Except for not being Arabs. And he wants to keep them as an ally, by which he means, “I would do virtually everything in my power to make sure they understand what the requirements are to remain an ally of the United States”. Funny how the “requirements” are all on one side.

Asked what his “red line” would be for Iran (another country for whom the requirements are all on one side), he says “Well, my red line is Iran may not have a nuclear weapon. It is...” wait for it... “inappropriate for them to have the capacity to terrorize the world.” UnfitMitt (© Watertiger, I think) doesn’t seem to understand what everyone else means by red lines in this context, which is the steps well shy of having a nuclear weapon (centrifuges, enrichment to a certain level, etc) that would cause us to attack.

He says he wouldn’t reappoint Ben Bernanke. Of course Bernanke’s term doesn’t expire until 2014, so that could get a little awkward.

He won’t raise taxes on middle-income people, which he helpfully defines for us as “$200,000 to $250,000 and less.”

He refuses to say which deductions he’d eliminate because “I’ve found that you have to work with the people across the aisle. ... So if I’d have come out and said, ‘Here this is my bill. This is the way I want it,’ you’d never get it done. You lay out your principles.” So he’s laying out principles rather than a plan, except he earlier referred to it as “my plan... my tax plan... my plan”.

Little George brings up a stupid poll question ABC asked, “Who would you rather have dinner with?” No one wants to have dinner with Mittens, probably because they find unicorn meat to be too gamey. George asks what dinner would be like at the Romney home, and evidently it involves his grandchildren climbing all over you and throwing food across the table, like anyone believes Mittens would tolerate that sort of behaviour for a minute. But note that in his attempt to make himself more likeable, he doesn’t say a thing about himself but about the genetically perfect clone-babies.

What will Obama do to him during the debates? “Well I think he’s going to say a lot of things that aren’t accurate. ... But I think the challenge that I’ll have in the debate is that the president tends to, how shall I say it...” Yes, Mitt, how will you say it? “ say things that aren’t true.”

During debates, Ann is always in the front row, “I look and see her. Typically, her eyes are down. She’s more nervous in the debates than I am.” And certainly not from shame at all.

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Today -100: September 14, 1912: Of happy wilsons, claims, seppukus (if that is the correct plural), scandals, and forcible bathing

Headline of the Day -100: “Wilson Boyishly Happy.” A major squabble between him and NY Gov. John Dix, who he denounces as a tool of Tammany, which is fair enough.

Mexico rejects the Manning & Mackintosh claim, but they don’t explain what it’s about either. I suspect no one really knows.

Count Nogi Maresuke, a general in the Imperial Japanese Army and former governor-general of Taiwan, commits seppuku to coincide with the funeral of the emperor. The same emperor had refused him permission to kill himself in atonement for the loss of life during the siege of Port Arthur during the Russo-Japanese War. Nogi’s wife also kills herself.

Nogi will now pass into history as some sort of super-bushido, the epitome of Japanese military somethingorother. Not sure what this makes his wife.

The US State Department is not quite sure how to respond to a patriotic ritual suicide. Condolences? Congratulations?

Unhelpful Headline of the Day -100: “Scandal Attacks English Statesman.” Specifically, “a prominent and much-hated leader.” The article goes on for some length but fails to name him (Lloyd George?)

Last month, the British Medical Journal had an article by several pro-suffrage doctors which denied the British governments claim that the forcible feeding of hunger-striking suffrage prisoners was not dangerous and painful. Today, the Lancet responds by publishing a parody of that report by a Dr. Charles Mercier. Evidently finding hilarious and unbelievable the idea that forcible feeding fails in its objective of providing adequate nutrition, his article is entitled “Preliminary Report on the Forcible Bathing of Prisoners,” which purports to find that dirt actually adheres more readily to the forcibly bathed etc etc. Hilarious.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Today -100: September 13, 1912: Of majors and federation all round

A Charles C. Young is believed to be the first black major in the US Army (and the only black graduate of West Point). He is the military attaché to Liberia.

In what the London Times describes as his “annual visit to his constituents in Dundee”, Winston Churchill proposes several local English parliaments, “federation all round.” Much heckling of the speech by suffragettes. Actually, you can pretty much take that as read for any speech by any cabinet minister for the next two years.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

I don’t think that we ever hesitate

Twitt Romney spoke this morning (always a mistake).

ESPECIALLY ANN: “OH, I’M STILL MARRIED TO THAT DOUCHE: “Americans woke up this morning with tragic news”.

He refers to the “attack in our embassy in Benghazi,” suggesting he’s still not paying much attention to the actual facts (it was the consulate).


WHAT HE HAVE CONFIDENCE IN: “We have confidence in our cause of America.”

SPEAKING OF STANDING BY STATEMENTS... “I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions.” This is a Dubya-like inability to admit having gotten even the tiniest thing just the tiniest bit wrong.

DUNNO, I’M NOT A MORNING PERSON MYSELF: “It’s never too early for The United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values.”

SPEAKING OF SPINNING OUT OF CONTROL... “America leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don’t spin out of control.”

THAT’S A LONG FUCKING SPRING: “Over the last several years we’ve stood witness to an Arab Spring...”

SEE IF YOU CAN SPOT THE KEY WORD IN THIS NEXT BIT: “...that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region but it also possess the potential for peril if the voices of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events.” The key word is “allowed.” By us.

SO HE’S AGAINST SEASONS NOW: “We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring does not become an Arab Winter.”

Then he condemned the US embassy in Egypt for its tweet against Ed Wood’s Life of Brian. They “stand in apology for our values. ...An apology for America’s values is never the right course.” To be fair, stupid, offensive films kind of are our values. He later called the embassy’s or possibly the administration’s statements on the film “disgraceful.”

Did he maybe just a little jump the gun yesterday, speaking before he had all the facts? “I don’t think that we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles.”

HEY, HIS FOREIGN POLICY HAS THREE BRANCHES. JUST IN CASE YOU DIDN’T THINK IT HAD BRANCHES AND WAS JUST A BUNCH OF SLOGANS: “I think president Obama has demonstrated a lack of clarity as to the foreign policy. My foreign policy has three fundamental branches. First, confidence in our cause, a recognition that the principles America was based upon are not something we shrink from or apologize for. That we stand for those principles. The second is clarity in our purpose, which is that when we have a foreign policy objective we describe it honestly and clearly to the American people, to Congress and to the people of the world. And number three is resolve in our might.”

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The first response of the United States must be outrage

Romney on the killings of the ambassador to Libya and others: “When our grounds are being attacked, being breached, the first response of the United States must be outrage.”

Evidently, as the rest of his remarks indicate, the first response of the United States must be outrage against Barack Obama.


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What all the fuss is about

Here’s the 14-excruciatly-bad-minutes-long trailer for the movie about Mohamed that’s causing all the rioting. Sort of an Ed Wood’s Life of Brian. The movie that dares to ask the question, was the Prophet Mohamed a top or a bottom?

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Today -100: September 12, 1912: Of Balkans, and missing suffragettes

Bulgaria is threatening to go to war with Turkey unless Macedonia is given autonomy.

British suffragette leader Christabel Pankhurst has surfaced in Paris, from where she will general the Women’s Social and Political Union. She can’t be extradited because the charges against her are political, not criminal.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Today -100: September 11, 1912: Of lynchings, janitors, old soldiers, and corsets

A mob in Cumming, Georgia lynches a black man.

The US allows Mexico to send troops through US territory to fight rebels in Sonora.

It’s illegal in California for schools to hire Japanese janitors, according to the LAT.

With a retirement, there remains but one Civil War veteran on active service in the US Army, Col. John Clem (he was a 13-year-old drummer boy when the war ended).

Headline of the Day -100: “Corsets Fatal to Him.” An English amateur actor dies of asphyxia.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Today -100: September 10, 1912: Of interventions, contributions, and winstons

Taking the hint from all that intervention talk, Mexican President Madero diverts troops away from fighting the rebels to go protect Americans in the north.

The DNC releases the list of its contributors. Corporations are not allowed to contribute.

The Bull Moose Party will run Winston Churchill for governor of New Hampshire. Not that Winston Churchill, some other Winston Churchill, a novelist, no relation. So we’re meant to believe another Mr. and Mrs. Churchill randomly named their kid Winston. Fine, that’s totally believable.

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Sunday, September 09, 2012

Today -100: September 9, 1912: Of intervention, Romneys, and legs

There is increasing talk of the US intervening in Mexico.

The Senate sub-committee on Mexico hears from the head of the now abandoned Mormon colony in Mexico (one Junius Romney, Mitt’s grand-dad) that the Mexican rebels want the US to intervene in the revolution, and that rebels are demanding Americans in Mexico surrender their arms.

Heartwarming Story of the Day -100: Peter Waltar of Wilkesbarre, PA, was run down by a trolley and his left leg amputated. And who was in the very next hospital bed? His son, who had been in some sort of freight train accident and had just had both legs amputated.

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Saturday, September 08, 2012

Today -100: September 8, 1912: Of hatchets, claims, race riots, lynchings, and short ballots

Margot Asquith, the prime minister’s wife, was hoping for a souvenir: the hatchet thrown by suffragettes at her husband’s coach in Dublin. But it’s in the hands of the court.

The State Dept won’t push the $100 million Manning & Mackintosh claim on Mexico, mostly because they don’t have any idea what it’s about either, I’m guessing.

Vice President Sherman “laughed” over the story that he’s so sick he may have to decline renomination, saying, “You will find my name on the Republican ticket on the 5th of November.” True. Also, the obituaries page.

A “race riot” begins in Brownsville, Brooklyn, when a negro pulls the whiskers of an elderly white man waiting for a train.

After the attempted cross-border horse-stealing incident, Taft has ordered troops to the Mexico-Texas border. And Treasury has authorized the export of 500 rifles & 150,000 cartridges to Mexico for Americans to use to protect themselves and their property.

A black man is lynched in Princeton, West Virginia, after an attack on a white girl, although he bore no resemblance beyond gender and race to the description of the victim. Gov. Glasscock says he will prosecute the lynch mob, and being Glasscock, the un-Blease as it were, it might even be true.

The NYT prints a not hugely interesting letter from Franklin D. Roosevelt of Hyde Park in favor of the short ballot (removing offices like attorney general, controller, state engineer etc from the NY ballot and making them appointive).

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Friday, September 07, 2012

Today -100: September 7, 1912: Of suicides, horses, claims, bull moosers, and altitude

The Paris authorities refuse to allow a Monsieur Paul Robin to be cremated, because he committed suicide. That’ll show him.

Mexican rebels cross the border to steal some horses from the US 3rd Cavalry. It does not end well for them.

For 50 years Mexico has been contesting something called the Manning & Mackintosh claim, first with Britain, and now with the US, or the syndicate which now owns the claim. Claim for what, the article never explains, but the syndicate is demanding $100 million from Mexico, including interest. Maybe Mexico knows what they’re on about.

Much of the Taft-Roosevelt fight is taking place in the courts. A US Circuit Court just refused to kick 8 Roosevelt electors off the Republican ballot in Kansas.

The New York Bull Moose Party convention nominates for governor Oscar Straus, TR’s secretary of commerce and labor (the first-ever Jewish cabinet member) and former ambassador to the Ottoman Empire.

A new altitude record is set by Roland Garros in France, 16,240 feet. At which point his engine cut out and he had to glide to earth.

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Thursday, September 06, 2012

In which I try to live-blog Obama’s convention speech, but completely lose interest and sputter to a halt

He starts off being a dick to Malia and Sasha. Yes, they have to go to school in the morning.

And he accepts the nomination. Should have let some suspense build.

His grandmother worked in a ‘bama assembly line in World War II?

(Sorry, got bored and went to the kitchen to make myself an egg cream. In honor of our first black president, I used too much chocolate syrup.)

Climate change is not a hoax. Oddly enough, it’s a pun.

I was more amused than I should have been by the woman holding the “Forward” sign upside down.

It’s not a proper egg cream without Fox’s U-Bet, by the way.

“My opponent and his running mate are... new to foreign policy.” “Cold war mind warp.”

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Biden’s convention speech, literally

Biden begins by complaining that Jill didn’t accept his marriage proposal until the fifth time.

FOR EXAMPLE, OBAMA NOW KNOWS THAT MY FIRST NAME IS JOE. “We’ve learned a lot about one another.”

THAT WORD, IT DOES NOT MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: “the enormity of his heart”

Biden keeps saying “Barack” because he’s totally on first-name terms with him.

UNLESS YOU’RE VICE PRESIDENT, OBVIOUSLY. A job is about much more than a paycheck.

WHO LET BIDEN IN HERE? At every critical meeting, Barack asks the one fundamental question.

LIKE A TRANSFORMER? “My dad was an automobile man.”

Fine, he doesn’t know what literally means either.

Romney looked at the auto bailout “the Bain Way.” Good one.

Oh, it took this long to get to the dancing-on-bin-Laden’s-watery-grave portion of the speech.

Killing bin Laden was about “healing an almost unbearable wound in America’s heart.” Sigh.

Oh fer fuck’s sake, he gets the crowd to chant “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”

He keeps saying literally, wrongly.

It literally amazes him.

“We have no intention of downsizing the American dream.” Or the big gulp. Lookin’ at you, Bloomberg.

Fallen angels, is that what we’re calling dead soldiers now?

NOT FIGURATIVELY: “The direction we turn is not figuratively, it’s literally in your hands.”

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Today -100: September 6, 1912: Of deceivers and lieutenant generals

Harriot Stanton Blatch complains that Roosevelt and the Progressives did nothing to assist the women’s suffrage amendment in Ohio. “I went out there with an open mind, but I found that men are deceivers ever.”

Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, former governor-general of the Philippines, dies of complications of having a hilarious name. Actually, he dropped dead while reliving the glory days of the Civil War in a speech to a veterans’ group. He was, of course, Douglas MacArthur’s father. And the last person to hold the rank of lt. gen., which was abolished.

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Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Today -100: September 5, 1912: Of constitutions, new lawns, phonographs, and cattle-maiming

Ohio voters vote on no fewer than 42 constitutional amendments, passing 34. Women’s suffrage, however, lost 249,420 to 336,876. One to remove the word “white” from the definition of citizens eligible to vote also lost, 242,735 to 265,693, although blacks were in fact able to vote both before and after 1912, despite an 1868 law imposing heavy punishments for their doing so (the word “white” was removed in 1923). An amendment to end capital punishment also lost. Winning amendments include the initiative and referendum, preferential primaries, ending poll taxes, a minimum wage, and something about licensing saloons, which is of course the only one most people cared about.

The NY Times doesn’t like the amendments that won, saying “Ohio could not have done worse if the women had voted.”

Caroline Riley of the National Suffrage Association blames the defeat of women’s suffrage in Ohio on the combined forces of the “grafters, boodlers, monopolists, machine politicians, gamblers, white slavers, and others of that class.” You know, men.

NYT Index Typo of the Day -100: “FACTORY TO QUIT OHIO.; Shoe Company Official Declares the New Lawn Will Drive It Out.” Laws, that is. The shoe guy cites the initiative and referendum, but of course it’s really about the minimum wage thing.

Headline of the Day -100: “Edison Forgets to Sleep.” He’s working on perfecting the iPod disc record.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is interested in cattle-maiming. That is all.

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Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Today -100: September 4, 1912: Of vasectomies, and waitresses at Chinese restaurants

The Washington State Supreme Court upholds a law for sterilizing habitual criminals and those found guilty of unnatural crimes (in this case, a child rapist). The court decided a forced vasectomy is not a cruel punishment (unusual punishments were okay under the Wash. constitution).

In the Vermont state elections, the presence of a Bull Moose candidate results in no one winning a majority for governor, which means that the Legislature gets to decide.

Panama has finally agreed to the US’s demand that that police captain be fired.

The Los Angeles police chief recommends to the Police Commission that white women be banned from working at restaurants owned by Orientals, as they often fall into the moral clutches of foreigners.

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Monday, September 03, 2012

Today -100: September 3, 1912: Of short-sleeve riots, fat men and baronesses & boars

Headline of the Day -100: “Short Sleeves Cause Riot.” A bishop in a cathedral in Rome interrupted a confirmation to order a woman with the aforementioned sleeves out of his church. She didn’t leave, so he attempted to remove her physically, but was stopped by several men. Later, he tried to give an address from the window of the episcopal palace and was pelted with tomatoes, as was the custom.

Sports Headline of the Day -100: “Fat Man Breaks Arm in Baseball.” The Fat Man’s Club (I’m assuming) of Montclair, NJ, playing the Thin Men’s Club. The fat men won, as is so often the case in life.

Berlin: the Baroness Frieda von Eckhardstein is accidentally shot and killed during a boar hunt by Count von Finckenstein. The moral of the story: German names are funny.

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Sunday, September 02, 2012

Today -100: September 2, 1912: Of money in politics, and lawsuits

Theodore Roosevelt writes a long letter to Sen. Clapp, chair of the Senate Sub-Committee on Privileges and Elections (because they wouldn’t let him testify), about the charge that he knew about Standard Oil’s 1904 campaign contributions. Wait, the Standard Oil guy says he gave the $100,000 to a guy who’s dead now, in cash, not a check, and he didn’t keep the receipt?

A lawsuit in Spain over ownership of the Alhambra Palace has been decided, with the Marquis Campotejar having to give it up to the king, plus court costs, which must be considerable, given that the lawsuit has been going on for a century.

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Saturday, September 01, 2012

Today -100: September 1, 1912: Of pardons, mooseless in Maryland, and mooseful in San Francisco

South Carolina’s Sen. Ben Tillman says that SC Gov. Blease promised in a speech (not sure when exactly) that he would pardon anybody who killed certain of his enemies.

In the continuing collapse of the Bull Moose Party as anything other than a vehicle for Theodore Roosevelt’s third-term ambitions, the Maryland Moosers have decided not to run candidates for Congress, but to ask members to vote for Republicans.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times): “Completing Theft of Republican Organization.” The San Francisco Republican County Central Committee ousts all the Taft supporters on the committee.

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