Thursday, February 28, 2013

Today -100: February 28, 1913: Of veeps, divinely appointed punishment of unjust rulers, and joyful dead brides

Hilarious Headline of the Day -100: “MARSHALL TO HELP GOVERN THE COUNTRY; For First Time in Many Years Vice President Will Not Be a Figurehead.” That’s a great joke we get to hear once every four years or so, and it never gets less funny.

Marshall plans to live at the Shoreham Hotel. There was no official residence for VPs until 1974.

Marshall’s wife Lois says women should take care of dress reform and settle the domestic problem (meaning the servant problem, I think) before bothering about trying to get the vote.

Christabel Pankhurst writes in The Suffragette that hunger-striking prisoners will force the British government to choose either votes for women of death for women. She says that “revolutions are the divinely appointed punishment of unjust rulers,” which I guess makes suffragettes avenging angels or something. Christabel, whose sister Sylvia is currently being forcibly fed in prison and whose mother is out on bail, is still living in Paris.

Arthur Conan Doyle suggests that politicians refuse to deal with the suffrage issue until two years after the cessation of militancy.

Headline of the Day -100: “Joy Kills Bride Aged 105.” Marcellina Leon of Los Angeles fought her family in court to establish her competency to marry, dies five days marrying.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Today -100: February 27, 1913: Of labor, downgrading Jews, and treaties

Congress creates the Department of Labor (splitting up the Dept of Commerce and Labor) that Woodrow Wilson wants, after a Senate filibuster is abandoned. Taft thought 9 cabinet members was plenty, but gives in because he doesn’t want to be misinterpreted, he says.

Bulgarian Jews protest against the possibility of any Bulgarian territory being ceded to Romania, as Jews in the annexed area would have their rights reduced to those of Romanian Jews (i.e., none).

Taft asks the Senate to ratify a treaty with Nicaragua, giving the US exclusive rights in perpetuity to build a canal across it, in exchange for $3 million. Senators are somewhat miffed that they didn’t even know this treaty was being negotiated. Of course there are no actual plans to build another canal competing with the Panama Canal, so this seems to be just another version of the treaty the Senate rejected last May, putting control of Nicaraguan finances in American hands. Why Taft is springing this treaty on a lame-duck Senate four days from its adjournment, I don’t understand.

Wilson hasn’t met with Thomas Marshall, the vice-president-elect, since last July? Can that be true?

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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Today -100: February 26, 1913: Of spanking, governments NOT of retaliation or revenge, loud noises that strike fear and terror into the hearts of all present, despicable scoundrels, and dog livers

A letter to the NYT suggests the solution to British suffragette militancy: spanking. “Convert the Pankhurst movement into the spankhurst and it is strangled forever.”

Mexican coup leader Victoriano Huerta says that his will not be a government of retaliation or revenge. So that’s okay then. Amnesties have been issued for some of the regime’s opponents who it hasn’t already assassinated.

Zapata’s men are still out there, happily raiding and looting. They’re negotiating to join the regular army; they all want to keep the ranks they’ve granted themselves.

Rumor has it that another of murdered Mexican Pres. Madero’s brothers, Emilio, a general, has been killed. The NYT says this is based on “reliable information.” Man, their track record on getting events in Mexico right is abysmal. In fact, Emilio Madero would die in 1962 (after spending a bit of time in exile, he returned to Mexico and the army, retiring at 80).

Pres. Madero’s widow and mother go into exile in Cuba, as was the custom.

Huerta orders all the portraits of former dictator-for-life Porfirio Díaz, which Madero had had removed from public buildings, put back.

6,000 silk workers in Paterson, NJ go out on a strike called by the IWW, protesting new machinery. The police break up meetings (which they admit were not disorderly and therefore not illegal), prevent strikers parading from factory to factory to call workers out on strike, and arrest IWW organizer Elizabeth Gurley Flynn for “attend[ing] a meeting of tumultuous persons and did make loud noises that struck fear and terror into the hearts of all present against the peace and dignity of the State of New Jersey.” The police ride other IWW activists out of town on a rail, as was the custom.

Lord Alfred Douglas calls his father-in-law a “despicable scoundrel” on a postcard and two telegrams; father-in-law sues. They’re in a custody fight for Bosie’s son.

Another Antarctic expedition is not going well. Two members of Dr. Douglas Mawson’s expedition died. One fell through the ice, the other from illness brought on by eating dog liver, which is evidently not a good idea. Mawson himself missed his rescue ship by a matter of hours, so he’ll be stuck there until December.

In England, the master of a fox hunt takes out insurance against the hunt losing subscriptions because of a general European war.

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Today -100: February 25, 1913: They dare not let us die, because they are too cowardly

The US ambassador to Mexico, Henry Lane Wilson, issues a statement: “In the absence of other reliable information I am disposed to accept the Government’s version of the manner in which the ex-President and ex-Vice President lost their lives. Certainly the violent deaths of these persons were without Government approval... Mexican public opinion has accepted this view of the affair, and it is not at all excited. The present Government appears to be revealing marked evidence of activity, firmness, and prudence”. The State Dept will say that Amb. Wilson made this statement entirely on his own. Others... all right, me... will say that of course he exonerated the people with whom he conspired of cold-blooded murder.

Texas Gov. Oscar Colquitt is sending four companies of the Texas National Guard to the Mexican border. The federal government is afraid he intends to send them into Mexico, supposedly to protect American citizens in Matamoras, so the War Dept orders federal troops on the border to prevent them crossing. More federal troops are also being sent to the border in readiness for whatever, bringing the total up to 10,000.

The new Mexican regime is busily executing troops that don’t fall into line behind it.

British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst is arrested for supposedly ordering the attempt to burn down Lloyd George’s country house.

The NYT editorializes that this is an opportunity to suppress suffragist militancy once and for all, if only the authorities don’t release Mrs. Pankhurst when she hunger strikes (or, as they put it, if “the jail officers are not permitted to lose their wits when she pretends to prefer self-imposed starvation to obeying the law”). What the NYT is calling for is a game of hunger-strike chicken, based on a low estimate of the suffragettes’ dedication (or female willpower generally). The Women’s Social and Political Union also sees this as a game of chicken. Annie Kenney, the Pankhursts’ lieutenant, is quoted in the London Times: “We say, ‘Let us die.’ We are prepared to die. They dare not let us die, because they are too cowardly.” If women are allowed to die in prison, Kenney says, even non-militant suffragists will turn militant.

The US Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of the White Slave Act under the Interstate Commerce Clause. In other words, prostitutes are not human beings, who have the right to move between states, whether induced to do so or not, but products; the Act regulating their movement is thus akin to legislative control over inter-state trade in impure food or lottery tickets or pornography.

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Sunday, February 24, 2013

Today -100: February 24, 1913: Of Mexican traditions

Deposed Mexican President Madero and Vice President Suarez are murdered. The Huerta Junta is claiming this occurred when Maderistas attacked the escort taking Madero and Suarez to prison, and they were shot attempting to escape or in the cross-fire or something (no one else was hit). Nobody believes this.

Well, except the NYT, which thinks we shouldn’t jump to incredibly likely conclusions. After all, “Sentiment against [Madero] has been growing, and it is in accord with Mexican traditions to satisfy hatred by killing.”

Huerta is replacing all the governors with generals.

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Saturday, February 23, 2013


A few days ago (I just found the note I wrote on a scrap of newspaper), McNeil-Lehrer had on Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to talk about what sequestration means to our war machine. He reassured us that “we’re going to protect the wars in Afghanistan.”


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Today -100: February 23, 1913: Of repressed women, sent-down students, warts jubilees, and standing presidents-elect

Headline of the Day -100: “Repress the Women, Clamors England.” The women being suffragettes, of course.

The NYT passes along a ridiculous rumor that the anonymous person paying the fines of some of the suffragettes, much against their will, is none other than Lloyd George.

Cambridge University (and town) authorities are not happy about the mock funerals sometimes held for students who have been expelled. The authorities’ idea of tradition is only college fellows being allowed to walk on the grass. The students’ idea of tradition sounds more fun: in one case a mile-long procession complete with coffin and weeping widow, with every hurdy-gurdy that could be found, thousands of mouth organs, and the former student accompanied by friends in pajamas, wearing Chinese mustaches and opera hats.

German actors are appealing against the provision of the new national insurance law where they have to give their ages.

A Catholic priest in the German town of Schnittweiler insulted a woman from the pulpit and ordered her to leave the church because he didn’t like her clothes (too modern), saying “This is no comedy theater.” She sued for being insulted and was awarded 50 marks.

NYT Index Typo of the Day -100: “KAISER DESIRES NO GIFT.; Warts Jubilee Funds to be Devoted to Charitable Purposes.”

President-elect Woodrow Wilson rode a train from NYC to Princeton; this is front-page news at the New York Times. He had to stand part of the way (the New Jersey part). Fellow passengers knew who he was, but no one gave up their seat to him. Later he got one, but quickly gave it up to a lady, as was evidently not the custom, because he was the only one to do so.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Instrumental rape for everybody!

Indiana is moving towards requiring women who want the RU-486 pill to have not one but two transvaginal ultrasounds, before and after. The second one is to check that the pregnancy was indeed terminated, but peeing on a stick would of course be easier, cheaper and less invasive, so this is purely punitive. Fortunately, Indiana isn’t planning (yet) to send cops to physically drag women into clinics to force the second probe into her, so the provision requiring the second instrumental rape isn’t a mandate so much as an aspirational expression of what the legislators would like to see happen to sluts.

Another bill passed committee requires that the illustrations accompanying the “informed consent” forms be in color rather than black and white. I’m picturing a doctor handing her patient a consent form and some 3-D glasses.

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Today -100: February 22, 1913: Crimes excusable only in primitive people

Huerta reassures the US that he’s definitely, absolutely not going to have Francisco Madero killed. So that’s okay then.

Millicent Garrett Fawcett, president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, the major non-militant women’s suffrage group in Britain, gives a speech highly critical of the Pankhursts’ Women’s Social and Political Union’s escalation of militant tactics: “They had induced women, who ought to be symbols of refinement and civilization, to commit crimes that were excusable only in primitive people – in savages or in children. It was a very serious menace to our civilization.” However, she also castigates the government for force-feeding suffragette prisoners. (The next issue of the WSPU’s The Suffragette will fire back that Fawcett supported the Boer War and the use therein of concentration camps and farm-burning.)

Suffragettes may or may not have tried to burn down the grand stand of the Kempton Park Race Course. Starting at about this point in time, it will become a little hard to affix responsibility for fires, since The Suffragette will pointedly report on any fire anywhere in Britain, whether started by suffragettes or not. It’s going to be a great time to be an arsonist in Britain. Cabinet ministers are adding guards for fear they’ll be kidnapped or something.

Headline of the Day -100: “Wouldn’t Stamp Czar’s Face.” Russia withdraws postage stamps issued for the tricentenary of the Romanov dynasty, because patriotic postal employees are unwilling to stamp them.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Today -100: February 21, 1913: Of fugitive laws and donkeys

The Huerta junta in Mexican (I know it’s more of a dictatorship than a junta, I just like the phrase Huerta Junta) is putting out a story that Gustavo Madero, the former finance minister, the real power behind the throne of his brother the ousted president, was shot attempting to escape. Thing is, the NYT said yesterday -100 that he was told to run and then shot multiple times in the back, as was the custom in Mexico (they call it the “fugitive law”). Madero’s clothes and the stones he bled to death on were taken (by soldiers, onlookers? not made clear) as souvenirs; a shard of his glasses has already resold for $25.

Pres. Francisco Madero and Vice President José Pino Suarez, who were going to be sent into exile, are arrested instead.

There will be no donkeys in the inaugural parade. Repeat: NO DONKEYS! That is all.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Today -100: February 20, 1913: To wake him up

A secret (and no doubt very scared) session of the Mexican Congress elects Gen. Victoriano Huerta provisional president.

Gen. Félix Díaz cables the NYT that yesterday’s coup was “the beginning of peace and progress for the republic.”

In one example of the this peace and progress, Díaz has Pres. Madero’s brother Gustavo, who was arrested yesterday, murdered. Why did Díaz have custody of the Madero brothers? Because Gen. Huerta, who just two days ago was supposed to be fighting Díaz, handed them over to him. The two signed an agreement ending that fighting in the American Embassy, where Amb. Henry Wilson and the coup leader “chatted for some time and mutually felicitated each other on the end of the fighting.” Wilson isn’t even trying to hide his complicity in the coup.

The irony of this is that when Díaz was captured a couple of weeks ago, Pres. Madero decided to exercise mercy and not execute him.

The House fails to override Taft’s veto of the immigration bill.

Romania is threatening to go to war with Bulgaria, because why not.

Remember those suffragists marching from New York to DC for the inauguration? In Delaware a couple of Southerners asked whether they supported negro women voting. Ru-roh. “General” Rosalie Jones replied that it was up to “certain states” to “solve their own problems.”

In Britain, where suffragists are less wimpy, the country house of British Chancellor of the Exchequer Lloyd George is blown up. Mrs. Pankhurst gives a speech taking responsibility. Someone in the audience asks “Why did you blow him up?” “To wake him up,” she replied. Just to clarify, Mrs. P. didn’t personally blow anything up, and no one was in the house, which wasn’t actually Lloyd George’s house, but a house he planned to rent.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

You want pictures of the president playing golf? We got pictures of the president playing golf.

The press is bitching about being excluded from Obama’s golfing weekend extravaganza.

Fortunately, we can always go into the archives.

You’re welcome.

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Today -100: February 19, 1913: The people should embrace one another and live in peace

Just what Mexico needed: a coup. Troops loyal to Gen. Victoriano Huerta seize Pres. Madero and the vice president and all but one member of the Cabinet and Madero’s brother Gustavo, who was actually eating lunch at a restaurant with Huerta when Huerta had him taken into custody. They force Pres. Madero to resign and proclaim Huerta provisional president as reward for his complete inability to defeat Díaz’s forces. Díaz says he and his followers will declare allegiance to the Huerta dictatorship. The Times notes that “The peace was brought about through the intermediation of the American Ambassador, Henry Lane Wilson and other diplomats.” If by “intermediation” you mean conspiring to overthrow the elected leader of a sovereign nation (Amb. Wilson left Taft more or less in the dark about what he was up to).

Huerta makes a speech from the balcony of the National Palace: “The killing of brother by brother is over. The people should embrace one another and live in peace.” Sweet.

Stupid Headline of the Day -100: “Huerta Has Been a Loyal Soldier.”

Headline of the Day -100 (which I have slightly improved by the addition of three words): “Taft is Relieved By Madero’s Fall and Forthcoming Murder.” The article says that the Taft administration’s preference for Huerta over Madero is entirely based on the belief that the former will keep Americans resident in Mexico safer than the latter.

The Senate votes 72-18 to override Taft’s veto of the immigration bill, with its literacy requirement.

Lloyd’s of London is offering a special rate to insure golf greens against having “Votes for Women” inscribed on them with vitriol.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

So when Pope Benny has to clean out his desk

at the end of the month, do you think one of these guys

will hold his cardboard box for him while the others watch to make sure he doesn’t steal any office supplies?

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Today -100: February 18, 1913: All the news that the Times pulled out of its ass

With the telegraph wires from Mexico City operating under government censorship, the NYT is just printing random rumors now. Today’s: Díaz has seized the Presidential Palace!

Speaking of random rumors, the Times passes on one that Enver Bey, Turkey’s war minister, has been assassinated. He hasn’t.

The Nevada Legislature extends the residence period for a divorce from 6 months to 1 year, which will put a crimp in Reno’s divorce industry.

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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Today -100: February 17, 1913: Of peace, truces, hats in elevators, and the Armory Show

Woodrow Wilson is honorary president of the American Peace Society. I guess it’s like Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize. Wilson hopes to attend their next congress in May. The American Peace Society was founded in 1828 and still exists but now seems to call itself... oh lord... The Human Club.

A 24-hour truce in the fighting in Mexico City did not last 24 hours. More like 6.

A letter to the NYT addresses the pressing question: does etiquette really require taking one’s hat off in an elevator when there are women present? “W.J.L.” asserts that it does not and that “Etiquette without a basis of reason is a relic of barbarism”.

The Armory Show, an exhibition of Cubist, Fauvist, Post-Impressionist and Futurist art, opens in NYC. 1,600 works of art by all the European biggies, but also many Americans. Important in introducing modern art to the backward Americans, some of whom were not ready for it. Teddy Roosevelt wandered around the exhibition, pointing and saying “That’s not art!” and reviewed it in The Outlook: “The Cubists are entitled to the serious attention of all who find enjoyment in the colored puzzle pictures of the Sunday newspapers.” “Probably we err in treating most of these pictures seriously. It is likely that many of them represent in the painters the astute appreciation of the powers to make folly lucrative which the late P. T. Barnum showed with his faked mermaid.”

The painting that became synonymous with the Armory Show: Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2).

The NYT is pretty sure the painting’s actually an elaborate practical joke. The Literary Digest printed letters to the editor about the exhibition from various newspapers.

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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Today -100: February 16, 1913: Of French suffragettes, self-proclaimed presidents, voting kings, and bathtub trusts

French suffragists, the NYT says, will soon adopt British militant tactics, window-breaking and the like. They won’t, actually, but what’s interesting is that the demand of even this supposedly militant wing of French suffragists is for the vote for single, widowed and divorced women only, with a married woman allowed to vote only if her husband gives permission or is incapacitated.

Well, the NYT is just ignoring the fact that it reported yesterday -100 that Mexican Pres. Francisco Madero had resigned, which he hadn’t. Just pretending those front-page stories never happened. (Meanwhile, the LAT prints a story denying that Madero has been shot dead. And indeed he hasn’t been. Yet.)

Emilio Vásquez Gómez, released on bail in San Antonio, where he was arrested for violating the neutrality laws, crosses back into Mexico and declares himself president.

Taft and his Cabinet meet and decide again against military intervention in Mexico. Basically, Taft is too polite to leave that big a mess for Wilson, and too big a stickler for the Constitution to send in troops without Congress ordering it. Also, he thinks it would just make the situation in Mexico worse.

Maj. John Finley, Governor of the Southern Zone of the Philippines, is sent to Turkey on a mission from the US government to ask the Sultan to tell Muslims in the Philippines to submit to American colonial rule.

The House of Lords rejects Welsh Church disestablishment.

Franz Schuhmeier, an Austrian Socialist member of Parliament, is shot dead in a Vienna railway station by a Christian Socialist and labor union leader.

The Italian Superior Court rules that King Victor Emmanuel has a right to vote under the new franchise act, which would make him the first king anywhere allowed to vote (Queen Elizabeth II can’t). The king says, “Every man should take part in the affairs of the nation.” The Duchess of Sparta interjects, “And every woman.” The king shrugs his shoulders, as was the custom.

The Great Bathtub Trust Trial results in convictions for criminal conspiracy in restraint of trade. Fines totaling $51,007 are levied on the various individuals and corporations involved in the trust.

With 11 members of the West Virginia Legislature under indictment for bribery in the US senate election, State Senator Gray Silver leaps into action, introducing a bill to abolish the court in Kanawha County which is investigating.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Horrifying Headline of the Day

NYT: “Brooklynite Hits France, With Plans to Seduce.” Some microbrew guy who wants to introduce pretentious beers to Paris, but you know what this is the first step towards, don’t you? French hipsters! This man must be stopped.

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That is unfortunate

Obama on the filibuster of Chuck Hagel: “it’s just unfortunate that this kind of politics intrudes at a time when I’m still presiding over a war in Afghanistan”. I say let’s keep the filibuster, and end the fucking war. Problem solved.

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Today -100: February 15, 1913: Of weak, nerveless men, literacy, and bribes

The NYT incorrectly reports that Francisco Madero resigns as president of Mexico after six days of bloody fighting in Mexico City.

Taft still doesn’t officially have this (false) news, because the American ambassador’s message reporting it to him has to be put in cipher, then it has to be deciphered at the other end, and that all takes time.

The NYT prematurely cheers the fall of Madero, “a weak, nerveless man, incapable of governing”. They’re just happy that this brings the warfare to an end (ha!) so the US won’t have to intervene.

Taft vetoes the immigration bill because of its literacy clause.

Six more West Virginia legislators are indicted for taking bribes to elect a US senator. The grand jury plans to question every member of the Legislature.

Pres. Taft approves the expulsion of a West Point cadet, Elmer E. Adler, for getting married.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Today -100: February 14, 1913: Of bribes, strikes, and the next best thing to making laws

Col. William Seymour Edwards, a candidate for US senator for West Virginia, is arrested for attempted bribery of a state legislator to vote for him. This is the same Edwards who set up the sting against other bribe-seeking legislators, resulting in the arrests of five of them two days ago, so I’m not sure what’s going on here. The Legislature held its 7th inconclusive ballot for senator; one of the legislators under indictment showed up to vote.

After striking miners invade the West Virginia State Building to demand that Gov. Glasscock recall the soldiers he sent into the mining districts, Mother Jones and others are arrested for conspiracy in the death of Fred Bobbett during a strike-related riot.

British suffrage-leader-in-exile Christabel Pankhurst, in an editorial in The Suffragette, says that while women can’t make laws, “they have done the next best thing by raising themselves above the law.” This refers less to militancy than to the ability of suffragettes to escape imprisonment through hunger striking.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The State of the Union is... stronger (we’re grading on a curve now)

Tonight Obama delivered the Motherfucking State of the Motherfucking Union Address (MSOTMU).

HE’S JUST NOT WILLING TO ADMIT IT’S BEEN MORE THAN ELEVEN YEARS, NOT “A DECADE,” IS HE? “After a decade of grinding war, our brave men and women in uniform are coming home.”

RUBBLE? WHAT CRISIS WAS THIS? DID I MISS SOMETHING? WAS IT AN ASTEROID HITTING THE EARTH? WHAT IS THIS RUBBLE OF WHICH YOU SPEAK??? “So, together, we have cleared away the rubble of crisis, and we can say with renewed confidence that the State of our Union is stronger.” Stronger than what, he does not say.

AS OPPOSED TO JUST THE RIGHT NUMBER OF PEOPLE: “too many people still can’t find full-time employment.”

WHAT PART OF “CORPORATIONS THRIVE ON HUMAN MISERY” DO YOU STILL NOT UNDERSTAND? “Corporate profits have skyrocketed to all-time highs -- but for more than a decade, wages and incomes have barely budged.”

THE MIDDLE CLASS SHOULD BE A LITTLE WORRIED THAT IT’S ABOUT TO BE “REIGNITED”: “It is our generation’s task, then, to reignite the true engine of America’s economic growth -- a rising, thriving middle class.”

OUR UNFINISHED TASK: “It is our unfinished task to restore the basic bargain that built this country -- the idea that if you work hard and meet your responsibilities, you can get ahead, no matter where you come from, no matter what you look like, or who you love.” Slaves, women... he keeps forgetting those people. Also, the basic bargain that built this country was about fairness based on “who you love”? Unless the basic bargain that built this country had something to do with Jefferson fucking his slaves?

THAT SOUND YOU HEAR IS PAUL KRUGMAN GRINDING HIS TEETH: “we are more than halfway towards the goal of $4 trillion in deficit reduction that economists say we need to stabilize our finances.”

The sequester is “a really bad idea.” Almost makes you wonder how it got put into legislation. No, wait, it doesn’t.

He wants to cut Medicare... just like Simpson-Bowles!


AND YOU THOUGHT THE US DIDN’T MANUFACTURE STUFF ANY MORE: “The greatest nation on Earth cannot keep conducting its business by drifting from one manufactured crisis to the next.”

This speech is sprinkled with half-meaningful statistics. X million jobs have been created, gas mileage has doubled, etc but over what period of time? He doesn’t say; this is the sort of number meant to convey an impression of conveying information without actually doing so.

WE CAN HAVE IT ALL! “Now, the good news is we can make meaningful progress on [global warming] while driving strong economic growth.” Is “driving” really the word you wanted to use there?

CALM DOWN, KIDS, IT DOESN’T MEAN WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: “And tomorrow, my administration will release a new ‘College Scorecard’ that parents and students can use to compare schools”.

OFTEN WITH ACTUAL HARNESSES: “Our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants.”

SOUNDS DIRTY: “putting more boots on the Southern border”.

WHEREIN IS REVEALED WHAT MAKES YOU A MAN: “what makes you a man isn’t the ability to conceive a child; it’s having the courage to raise one.” And what makes you a sexist is talking about “what makes you a man.” (That said, how often do actual references to fucking make it into the SOTU? Not enough, that’s how often.)

DEFEATING THE CORE: “we can say with confidence that America will complete its mission in Afghanistan and achieve our objective of defeating the core of al Qaeda.”

He says he’ll withdraw 34,000 troops from Afghanistan over the next year and “by the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over.”

Except... he plans to continue “counterterrorism efforts that allow us to pursue the remnants of al Qaeda and their affiliates.” So the war will be dead, long live counterterrorism efforts.

A BIG SHOUT-OUT TO FLYING KILLER ROBOTS: “And all over the world, through a range of capabilities, we will continue to take direct action against those terrorists who pose the gravest threat to Americans.”

I THOUGHT WE’D ALREADY SENT THEM OFF TO DIE: “Now, as we do, we must enlist our values in the fight.”

HOW CAN WE TAKE YOUR WORD WHEN YOU WON’T EVEN USE THE WORD DRONES? “I recognize that in our democracy, no one should just take my word for it that we’re doing things the right way.”

He calls the North Korean nuke test a “provocation.” He’s feeling very provoked.

People affected by gun violence “deserve a vote” (on gun legislation). He’s not even asking that gun control bills be passed, because that would just be crazy talk, but that they not be bottled up, which is also crazy talk.

I’M THINKING DONUTS OF SOME KIND. MAYBE WITH SPRINKLES. “I’m announcing a nonpartisan commission to improve the voting experience in America.”

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Today -100: February 13, 1913: Of warships, dynasties, UFOs, and bacons

Now even Cuba is sending a warship to Mexico, to protect Cuban citizens there.

Russia is preparing for the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Romanov dynasty.

The British Parliament, tired of unidentified but presumably German airships flying over their country without permission, is working on a bill to make it illegal for foreign aircraft to do so, on penalty of being shot down. Which doesn’t mean Britain actually has the capability of shooting them down.

Name of the Day -100: President pro tempore of the Senate, Sen. Augustus Octavius Bacon (D-Georgia).

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Today -100: February 12, 1913: Of parades, bribes, and amendments

The Inaugural Committee has ruled that the inaugural parade for Woodrow Wilson will include no women.

Five West Virginia legislators are arrested for taking bribes to vote for William Seymour Edwards (Progressive), a Republican former speaker of the House of Delegates, for US senator. It was actually Edwards who initiated the investigation, calling in the Burns Detective Agency.

Taft orders preparations for an invasion of Mexico, in case it’s needed to protect foreigners in the capital, which is currently the site of artillery battles.

The House Judiciary Committee postpones consideration of a constitutional amendment for a single 6-year presidential term (now written to exempt Roosevelt, Taft and Wilson), leaving it to the next Congress. The idea will never be heard of again.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

Today -100: February 11, 1913: These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale

Congress votes to make it a federal crime to import booze into dry states.

The House adopts a bill banning inter-racial marriage in the District of Columbia. There isn’t even a debate.

Gen. Félix Díaz issues an ultimatum to Pres. Madero to resign. He says he wants nothing for himself but will back “any strong man” for the presidency.

The news that Scott of the Antarctic and his expedition all died last March is now known to the world and not just to the penguins. Scott’s last message concludes, “Had we lived, I should have had a tale to tell of the hardiness, endurance, and courage of my companions, which would have stirred the heart of every Englishman. These rough notes and our dead bodies must tell the tale”.

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Today -100: February 10, 1913: Of marches, revolts, and god-fearing Germans

Headline of the Day -100: “March 400 Miles, Slay 200.” Portuguese troops in Mozambique do the marching, in order to kill rebels who killed some settlers. As was the custom.

A military revolt in Mexico, led by Gen. Félix Díaz, who some scamp cadets release from prison. The presidential palace is under siege with President Madero inside.

Kaiser Bill says “We Germans fear God and nothing else in the world.” He says Prussia was conquered by Napoleon because it had lost its faith in God, and it unified Germany because it found that faith again.

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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Today -100: February 9, 1913: Of face-painting, war balloons, thomases, lynchings, plants, and Smoot machines

The latest Paris fashion: face-painting. Mauve, terra-cotta, etc, to match one’s dress. Evening functions only. The article speculates that women are trying to look like “the hideous female types conjured up by the diseased imaginations” of Futurist and Cubist artists.

Headline of the Day -100: “Airship Startles Primitive African Cave Dwellers.” An Italian “war balloon” flying over Libya.

The NYT has a scoop: Woodrow Wilson’s first name is actually Thomas.

In Houston, Mississippi, a negro is lynched, burned to death, for the murder of a white woman. This is actually the second lynching in the case, one day after a mob hanged an innocent – but equally black – man. This time they brought a court stenographer and carefully “questioned” the man before putting him on the pyre.

Theodore Roosevelt comes out in support of the Bulgarians against the Turks.

British suffragettes attack Kew Gardens, breaking greenhouse panes. Many rare plants bravely lose their lives.

Discussing how the Mormon Church is scrambling to form connections with the Democrats after strongly backing Taft in the election (for example, Utah’s DNC member William R. Wallace just converted from Mormonism to Woodrow Wilson’s Presbyterian Church), the NYT refers to a “Mrs. Susan Young Gates, who is known as ‘the feminine end of the Smoot machine’”. I’ll bet she is, I’ll bet she is.

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Friday, February 08, 2013

Today -100: February 8, 1913: Of warships, rubber atrocities, dreadnoughts, and intermarriage

Pres. Taft sends warships to several parts of Central America, in the belief that there are plans for revolutions in every single country there (except Costa Rica), because of the election of Woodrow Wilson.

Pres. Taft sends a report to Congress on atrocities in the rubber industry in Peru (Indian debt slaves and just plain slaves are killed and mistreated, imagine that). The government of Peru promises to do better, sending troops and missionaries to the rubber-producing regions.

German’s secretary of the Navy, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, owner of a rather amusing beard, signals an acceptance in theory of a ratio of 16:10 between British and German dreadnoughts, potentially ending the naval arms race of the last few years.

Washington State bans inter-racial marriages unless both people are American citizens (in other words, it’s aimed at stopping Japanese men from marrying white women).

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Thursday, February 07, 2013

Today -100: February 7, 1913: Of inspections

Some time ago one August Wolter was thrown out of the German military, allegedly for being mentally deficient. So he sends a telegram (possibly delivered it himself, dressed as a telegraph messenger, depending on whose version you believe) supposedly from the kaiser to the military governor of Strasbourg, saying he would be arriving that day for inspection. 18,000 soldiers hastily polish their boots and bayonets and line up; there’s a Zeppelin overhead and everything. Hilarity ensues.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Every member of Congress needs to get on board

Lindsey Graham defends Obama on drones: “Every member of Congress needs to get on board.” I’m all in favor of strapping every member of Congress to a flying killer robot, but where do we drop them? Outer Mongolia? The center of the Sun? Suggestions in comments, please.

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Today -100: February 6, 1913: Of boxing, assassinations, disestablishment, and dog brains

The New York State Athletic Commission bans inter-racial boxing.

An attempt by several farmers with machetes to assassinate the president of El Salvador, Manuel Araujo, leaves him fatally wounded (he will die in five days).

Parliament votes to disestablish the Anglican Church in Wales. The opposition to this is, of course, called antidisestablishmentarianism. (Do children on playgrounds still whisper to each other in awed tones of this semi-mythical longest word in the English language?) After the bill is passed, Welsh MPs start singing the Welsh national anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the first known instance of singing in the House of Commons.

Headline of the Day -100: “Put Dog’s Brain in a Man.” Doctors at the University Hospital in Ann Harbor, Mich., evidently stick a dog’s brain in place of the abscessed part of the brain of a W. A. Smith of Kalamazoo. Surgeons say he has a good chance to recover, yes he does, yes he does.

(A story two days later says it wasn’t an actual dog brain, it was the dura [outer membrane] of a dog’s brain.)

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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Today -100: February 5, 1913: Of pepper, islands, and dead explorers

British Cabinet ministers receive letters from suffragettes containing red pepper. Hilarity ensues.

William Jennings Bryan, widely and correctly rumored to be the next secretary of state, will visit the Isle of Pines, Cuba, possibly to support the campaign of the Americans who own most of that island to get the United States to annex it. The Cuban government is thinking about using it as a penal colony for the rebels captured during the “negro revolt.”

The widow of Capt. Scott, the Antarctic explorer, not knowing that she’s a widow, has left Los Angeles for a steamer trip to New Zealand where she thinks she will be reunited with her husband.

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Monday, February 04, 2013

Today -100: February 4, 1913: Even Says ‘Damn’

After a two-month armistice in the Balkan War and despite the negotiating positions of both sides being ridiculously close, the fighting resumes. Information is likely to be even spottier this time, now that all sides are banning war correspondents.

Delaware becomes the 36th state to ratify the, now, 16th Amendment, authorizing a national income tax (Wyoming and New Mexico follow suit later in the day). This is the first change in the Constitution in 43 years. Congress passed an income tax bill in 1893 which taxed all income over $5,000 per year, which just so happened to be the annual salary of a United States congressman, but it was declared unconstitutional, since the Constitution said that such taxes could only be allocated between the states based on population.

Cornered by a NYT reporter and asked about his Cabinet picks, Woodrow Wilson says “I am not here to amuse the newspapers” and that he is doing what is best for the country and if the newspapers expect him to do anything else, “I’ll be damned if I will.” NYT sub-hed: “...Even Says ‘Damn.’”

The California Legislature votes to ask Congress to ban Asian immigrants. Just one legislator objected, saying that orange growers need Japanese workers.

Congress bumps the pay of military officers assigned to the Aviation Corps 20%, presumably because of the rather high mortality among military aviators recently.

Sports Headline of the Day -100: “Lord Will Not Come to Yankees.” Harry Lord.

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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Today -100: February 3, 1913: Of wars

The current issue of McClure’s asks whether the US will ever fight Japan. No, no it won’t.

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Saturday, February 02, 2013

Today -100: February 2, 1913: Of amendments, wars civil, crown jewels, rats, and retired cows

The Senate votes 47-23 (the necessary 2/3) for a constitutional amendment for a single, six-year presidential term. If ratified by the states, Wilson’s term would be extended.

Switzerland is making military preparations in anticipation of a possible war between France and Germany, but that’s just crazy talk.

Rep. Charles Edwards (D-Georgia) proposes making “The War Between the States” the official legal designation for the Civil War.

A suffragette smashes a case holding the crown jewels in the Tower of London. All royal palaces are now closed to the public.

Male college students plan to release mice and rats during the women’s suffrage parade in DC next month, because hilarious.

Headline of the Day -100: “Taft Cow on Retired List.”

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Friday, February 01, 2013

Contraception convolution

Obama’s latest compromise on contraception insurance coverage, while seemingly ok from a pragmatic standpoint (I don’t have the energy to examine its convolutions, which seem to be designed to make it too complicated for the warriors against women to be able to explain why they’re outraged by it, and good luck with that), still accepts the principle that the religious/ideological views of employers have some sort of relevance to how the health needs of their employees are addressed. They do not. That is all.

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Today -100: February 1, 1913: Of pretty uniforms and golf courses

Headline of the Day -100: On reports that Rosalie Jones, who was to have lead another women’s suffrage pilgrimage, this one from New York to DC, arriving in time for Wilson’s inauguration, has had a nervous breakdown: “GLOOM IN SUFFRAGE CAMP.; Hear Gen. Jones Has Broken Down, but Pretty Uniforms Cheer Them Up.”

British suffragettes are now attacking golf courses, burning “Votes for women” onto putting greens with acid and the like. Now they’ve gone TOO FAR!

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