Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Barack Obama and the Permission Structure of Doom

Obama held one of his increasingly rare press conferences today.

A SLOWLY UNFOLDING DISASTER: “on Syria, I think it’s important to understand that for several years now what we’ve been seeing is a slowly unfolding disaster for the Syrian people, and this is not a situation in which we’ve been simply bystanders to what’s been happening.” True: we’ve been supplying one side with exactly enough assistance to keep the situation at a bloody stalemate.

See if you can find the very Washington D.C. word in this sentence: “My policy from the beginning has been President Assad had lost credibility; that he attacked his own people, has killed his own people, unleashed a military against innocent civilians; and that the only way to bring stability and peace to Syria is going to be for Assad to step down and -- and to move forward on a political transition.” Only politicians would say that a value judgement like “Assad has lost credibility” or a statement of fact like “Assad has killed his own people” is his “policy.”

If Syria used chemical weapons it would be “a game changer” because “when you use these kinds of weapons, you have the potential of killing massive numbers of people in the most inhumane way possible”. Because if the United States stands for one thing above all others, it is killing massive numbers of people in the most humane way possible.

If it’s any help in establishing the official US definition of “humane,” yesterday a Gitmo spokesmodel said, “we will continue to treat each person humanely,” by which he meant forcibly feeding hunger-striking prisoners.

THE SYRIAN GOVERNMENT IS KILLING ITS PEOPLE WITH WHAT NOW? “and the proliferation risks are so significant that we don’t want that genie out of the bottle.”

AS OPPOSED TO ALL THE GOVERNMENTS THAT CARE MORE ABOUT THE WELL-BEING OF THEIR PEOPLE THAN ABOUT STAYING IN POWER. THE MANY, MANY GOVERNMENTS THAT CARE MORE ABOUT THE WELL-BEING OF THEIR PEOPLE THAN ABOUT STAYING IN POWER. “But even if chemical weapons were not being used in Syria, we’d still be thinking about tens of thousands of people, innocent civilians, women, children, who’ve been killed by a regime that’s more concerned about staying in power than it is about the well-being of its people.”

IF WE DON’T JOG, THE TERRORISTS WIN: “There are joggers right now, I guarantee you, all throughout Boston and Cambridge and Watertown.”

THEN WHY DID YOU FUCKING AGREE TO IT? “Congress responded to the short-term problems of flight delays by giving us the option of shifting money that’s designed to repair and improve airports over the long term to fix the short-term problem, well, that’s not a solution. So essentially, what we’ve done is we’ve said, in order to avoid delays this summer, we’re going to ensure delays for the next two or three decades.”

On whether he has “juice” in Congress: “But, you know, Jonathan, you seem to suggest that somehow, these folks over there have no responsibilities and that my job is to somehow get them to behave. That’s their job. They are elected, members of Congress are elected in order to do what’s right for their constituencies and for the American people.” So THAT’s why members of Congress are elected. I’ve been wondering that for years.

WHO SAYS WE DON’T BUILD ANYTHING ANYMORE? “And we’re going to try to do everything we can to create a permission structure for them to be able to do what’s going to be best for the country.” He thinks Republican congresscritters would do what’s going to be best for the country if only they had a permission structure, isn’t that just adorable?

GREAT MOMENTS IN MORAL OUTRAGE: “I think it is critical for us to understand that Guantanamo is not necessary to keep America safe.” And what is he going to do about it? “I’m going to re-engage with Congress to try to make the case that this is not something that’s in the best interests of the American people.”

NOT SUSTAINABLE: “And it’s not sustainable. I mean, the notion that we’re going to continue to keep over a hundred individuals in a no man’s land in perpetuity, even at a time when we’ve wound down the war in Iraq, we’re winding down the war in Afghanistan, we’re having success defeating al-Qaida core, we’ve kept the pressure up on all these transnational terrorist networks, when we’ve transferred detention authority in Afghanistan – the idea that we would still maintain forever a group of individuals who have not been tried -- that is contrary to who we are, it is contrary to our interests, and it needs to stop.” Context is fucking irrelevant to this argument. Guantanamo was wrong and unconstitutional even when we hadn’t “wound down” the war in Iraq, whether or not we are defeating “Al Qaida core.”

That said, while he’s busily re-engaging with Congress, the force-feeding of prisoners will continue: “Well, I don’t -- I don’t want these individuals to die. Obviously, the Pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best as they can.” Manage the situation, yeah, that’s one term for it. Torture would be another. Violation of human rights would be yet another.

He crows about getting the application form for the medical exchanges from 21 pages down to 3. “We’re using a really tiny font size,” he said.

Asked about Jason Collins, because of course he is, Obama says that even though Collins is gay, he can “bang with Shaq” and “deliver a hard foul.” I’ll bet he can, I’ll bet he can.

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Today -100: April 30, 1913: Of alien land

Secretary of State Bryan’s conference with California legislators aimed at persuading them to postpone passage of the racist Alien Land Bill ended late at night, and three minutes later the State Senate convened and guess what they did...

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Monday, April 29, 2013

Today -100: April 29, 1913: Of alien land, poets, and angry Churchills

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan meets in a closed-door session with the California Legislature and Gov. Hiram Johnson to ask them to delay the anti-Japanese Alien Land Bill, maybe appoint a commission or let the feds negotiate a treaty with Japan (a treaty to restrict the rights of its citizens abroad, really?), or apply the law to all aliens, not just ones “ineligible for citizenship.”

In Congress, Rep. Thomas Sisson (D-Miss.) says the US should, if necessary, go to war with Japan to protect California’s right to pass racist legislation. He says to exempt aliens from laws would give them greater privileges than American citizens. Which sounded nonsensical to me at first, but I think he’s saying that Asian non-citizens can be legally discriminated against on account of their race because non-white Americans can be legally discriminated against on account of theirs, and fair (or in this case unfair) is fair.

Journalist John Reed (you know, Warren Beatty in Reds) is arrested for refusing the orders of a cop to move it along when he was chatting with three strikers in Paterson, NJ. Asked in court what his business is, he says poet. He gets 20 days.

Bulgaria has evidently fought several battles with its former allies Serbia and Greece. Meanwhile, Montenegrin troops (with Serb backing) are taking up positions in preparation for a likely attack by Austria.

Headline of the Day -100: “Churchill Very Angry.” At being called to testify before the parliamentary committee on the Marconi scandal.

I just imagined Winston Churchill intoning, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” in a Winston Churchill voice and then turning into Hulk Winston. Awesome.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Today -100: April 28, 1913: Of Scutaris, and kings

Austria is sending 10,000 troops to force Montenegro to evacuate Scutari.

So Albania may get Scutari after all. But what it still doesn’t have is a king, and it’s put the Help Wanted sign out. Various European powers support various princelings from various Germanic and Scandinavian states for the job. The Albanians have offered the crown to Philippe d’Orléans, the Duke of of Montpensier, son of the French king deposed in 1848, but he turns them down. Austria would like to give it to Ismail Kemal Bey, who spent his life alternating between positions in the Ottoman government and living in exile before hitching his star to Albanian nationalism (Kemal will later irritably reject the idea of offering the throne to Teddy Roosevelt). Montenegro is attempting to install Essad Pasha, the commander of the Ottoman troops in Scutari who surrendered the city to Montenegro, which now begins to look rather suspicious. He declares himself king, to little effect. The NYT calls him “a native chieftain of the type that earned for the Albanians a reputation for barbaric simplicity, approaching savagery.”

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Today -100: April 27, 1913: Of degraded navies, shortcuts, and haircuts

Headline of the Day -100: “Opium Degrading the French Navy.”

I prefer to think that the French Navy is degrading opium.

300 soldiers from the Mexican Federal forces arrived in El Paso, intending to pass through US territory and re-enter Mexico at Juarez. Instead, the governor of Texas had them arrested. They are now being held at Fort Bliss until someone decides what to do with them.

Tonsorial Headline of the Day -100: “ASQUITH HAS A HAIRCUT.; News Recorded In London -- And They Complain About Our Papers!”

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Today -100: April 26, 1913: Of horses, unlawful assemblages, priests in cars, and dry canals

The lower house of the NY Legislature has evidently recently voted to ban the use of horses to pull street cars, and the NYT has an editorial about how wonderful horses are, because the NYT editorial page, then as now, is run by 12-year-old girls. “Happily for the glory of the horse he must survive in warfare”.

The Paterson silk-workers’ strike: the NJ grand jury indicts the IWW leaders, including Big Bill Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, on charges ranging from “unlawful assemblage” to disorderly conduct to inciting riot and preaching anarchy.

The Catholic Bishop of Treves forbids priests owning automobiles or even riding in them, as being contrary to proper priestly modesty.

The US’s Panama Canal Zone colony will ban saloons and the selling of alcohol from July.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Texas-sized party

The George W. Bush (Snicker) Presidential Library was dedicated today, and yes, that (Snicker) is part of the official title. All the living former presidents were there, some with teeth gritted more tightly than others.

Put your right hand on your heart, George. No, your other right.

Obama was there, which marks the first and last time a black man will visit the George W. Bush (Snicker) Presidential Library, and he gave a little speech.

WE’RE GOING TO TRY TO GET CARTER HAMMERED: “This is a Texas-sized party.”

A DIORAMA OF SHAME: “When all the living former presidents are together, it’s also a special day for our democracy.”

NEITHER OF WHICH WERE SPELLED CORRECTLY: “The first thing I found in that desk the day I took office was a letter from George, and one that demonstrated his compassion and generosity.”

WHICH JUST MAKES IT THAT MUCH SADDER: “And what I know is true about President Bush, and I hope my successor will say about me, is that we love this country and we do our best.”

ALTHOUGH THE HAGUE WOULD LIKE TO GIVE IT A SHOT: “Now, in the past, President Bush has said it’s impossible to pass judgment on his presidency while he’s still alive.”

TWO WORDS: FLIGHT SUIT. “He doesn’t put on any pretenses.”

UM, NO, BARACK. “He is a good man.”

Trying to hint at some sort of relevance to the present day, he talked about Bush’s “commitment to reaching across the aisle”. Yeah, if there’s one thing Bush is remembered for, it’s his commitment to reaching across the aisle. Obama has two examples: immigration reform, which didn’t happen, and No Child Left Behind, which was crap.

And Bush also gave a speech.

SHARED LAUGHTER AT HOW PIG IGNORANT HE IS: “There was a time in my life when I wasn’t likely to be found at a library, much less found one. [laughter]”

YEAH, UNLIKE THAT LAZY OLD FART CARTER: “I am very grateful to President Obama and Michelle for making this trip. [applause] Unlike the other Presidents here, he’s actually got a job. [laughter]”

THAT WORD, HISTORY, I DO NOT THINK IT MEANS WHAT YOU THINK IT MEANS: “History is going to show that I served with great people; a talented, dedicated, intelligent team of men and women who love our nation as much as I do.”

WOW, YOU’RE GOING TO BLAME HIM FOR THAT, I MEAN HE’S SITTING RIGHT THERE, DUDE: “Dad taught me how to be a President, before that he showed me how to be a man.”

Evidently, future generations are going to learn in this library “That we expanded freedom at home by raising standards at schools and lowering taxes for everybody. That we liberated nations from dictatorship and freed people from AIDS.” Freed people from AIDS?


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Today -100: April 25, 1913: No political party can make me a political hypocrite

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan calls in a bunch of foreign ambassadors to explain his plan for a cooling-off period and a thorough investigation of inter-nation disputes by a joint commission before the start of any war. However, he wants this done through bilateral treaties, not by creating any “peace league” of civilized nations.

President Wilson’s daughter Margaret says women’s suffrage is not necessary.

California Gov. Hiram Johnson says it is within the state’s “legal power and its moral right” to discriminate against Japanese people. He points out that the state constitution has been bigoted since 1879 when it called “the presence of foreigners, ineligible to become citizens... dangerous to the well-being of the State”. And he points out that it was the federal government that made Japanese and Chinese people ineligible to become citizens in the first place.

Carlos McClatchey of the Sacramento Bee explains in a letter to the NYT that the Japanese can never be assimilated, including through inter-marriage, that they lack morality – why, prostitution is “no bar to marriage” for them – and they are tricky and unreliable in money matters. One such trick is to buy a piece of farmland, after which the Jap can buy all the land around it “for a song, for no white people will live next to Japanese”. If not remedied, he says, in 50 years California will be Japanese.

Austria tells the other Great Powers that if they don’t get Montenegro’s troops out of Scutari, it bloody well will.

After the Mexican Chamber of Deputies refuses to set a date for new elections, citing the continued, you know, civil war, Gen. Felix Díaz withdraws as candidate for president.

The Woolworth Building opens. At 55 floors and 792 feet, it’s the tallest building in the world after the Eiffel Tower (and will be until the Empire State Building opens). The signal for the building to be lit was sent by Woodrow Wilson, pushing a button in D.C. The skyscraper was paid for entirely by F.W. Woolworth, with no mortgage.

NY Gov. Sulzer, who has been trying to get the Legislature to pass a bill for direct primaries, thus eliminating Tammany-dominated conventions, vetoes a bill to make some changes to the primary laws, saying it was “enacted in bad faith; wholly fraudulent,” a violation of the D party’s pledges, and so on. “No political party can make me a political hypocrite.” His tone is rather pissing off legislators.

The Cat and Mouse Bill passes Parliament. The Standard claims to have unearthed a suffragette plot to kidnap the son of Mr. Justice Lush, burn Harrow, and blow up the house of Reginald Blair, MP. The evidence: someone in a train overheard two women discussing the plot.

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Today -100: April 24, 1913: Of mines, scutaris, alien land bills, and more Little Dorrits

A coal mine in Pennsylvania blows up, killing 120 or so miners, mostly by asphyxiation. Coal mines are fun.

Montenegro, the only Balkan ally not to have signed an armistice with Turkey, captures Scutari after a six-month siege, defying the many threats of the Great Powers (especially Austria).

Secretary of State Bryan is heading to California to try to persuade legislators to ban Japanese from owning land in a way that doesn’t offend Japan (Wilson’s first response was that this was a state’s rights issue, but Japan has made it clear that it’s a question of the treaty rights enjoyed by its citizens). The Japanese ambassador denies reports that he threatened that Japan will go to war with the US if this bill passes.

The woman who was the model for Charles Dickens’s Little Dorrit has died. Thing is, I saw that exact same story 2½ years ago, about another person. How many Little Dorrits were there?

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Today -100: April 23, 1913: Of general strikes and lost planes

The Belgian general strike has more or less succeeded. The government, which had said it wouldn’t give in, does, at least to the extent of appointing a commission on extending the vote.

A German military airplane accidentally strays into France, again.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Today -100: April 22, 1913: Of pauses, strikes, cat & mice, alien land bills, mad dogs & princesses, and maniacs

Secretary of state Bryan is working on a proposal for all countries to delay any future wars for 6-month or 1-year cooling-off period. His plan includes a no-fair-building-up-your-military-during-the-cooling-off-period provision that makes it even more unrealistic than it already is.

The Paterson, NJ silk strike is now in its 9th week, and the owners have been bringing in AFL organizers to counter the leadership of the Wobblies. The two labor groups are now happily denouncing each other and breaking up each other’s meetings, as was the custom.

The British Parliament passes the Cat and Mouse Act, whose purpose is supposed to be to deal with hunger-striking prisoners without resorting to forcible feeding, but the government refuses to accept an amendment banning forcible feeding.

The California Legislature is still mulling over various anti-Japanese land bills, but Gov. Hiram Johnson, an alleged progressive, doesn’t know what all the fuss is about: “Californians are unable to understand why an act admittedly within the jurisdiction of the California Legislature, like the passage of an alien land bill, creates tumult, confusion, and criticism, and why this local act of undoubted right becomes an international question.” Oo, oo, I totally know the answer to this one. Johnson points out that Arizona, Washington, Illinois, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kentucky and Texas all have similar laws.

Royal Headline of the Day -100: “Mad Dog Bit Princess.” The princess is Princess Maria Immaculata, sister-in-law of the king of Saxony, and the dog is her own lapdog, which has been behaving oddly. She gets the rabies vaccination.

Other Royal Headline of the Day -100: “MANIAC NEAR KING GEORGE.; Swallows Half a Sovereign and Tries to Jump Through Window.” Actually, that’s all there is to the story (well, he also tried to swallow his glasses).

Um, the sovereign is a £1 coin.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Today -100: April 21, 1913: Are we in Russia?

As mentioned, the British home secretary has banned women’s suffrage meetings in Hyde Park and other public spaces because they were leading to riots. Turns out, the British public likes bans on public meetings even less than it likes suffragettes, so Hyde Park was just as turbulent yesterday -100 (Sunday), with cries of “Are we in Russia?” The London Times thinks they resent losing their Sunday “sport” of hassle-the-suffragette.

60 IWW activists arrive in Grand Junction, CO, march to police hq and demand food. 16 of them then went to a restaurant, ordered food and refused to pay. Posses are being organized.

Isadora Duncan says she will quit the stage and become a nurse (her two children both just died in a car accident).

In France, the anarchist auto bandit gang members are guillotined (publicly, as was the custom). One of them was pardoned and exiled for life to Devil’s Island. There’s a nice write-up at Executed Today.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Today -100: April 20, 1913: No court can tell me what to do

Featured in the NYT Sunday Magazine: “Famous French Duelist Defends ‘Affairs of Honor.’”

Belgian suffrage strike Day 6, still mostly peaceful.

Gov. Coleman Blease of South Carolina ignores a writ of habeas corpus, because “no court can tell me what to do,” and hands two fugitives wanted in New York for financial swindles over to NY detectives, suggesting they get their prisoners out of the state quickly, which they did, with the sheriff trying to serve the writ in hot pursuit in a high-speed car chase for the border.

The US Senate Woman Suffrage Committee hears from anti-suffragists. In the audience was “Dr. Mary Walker, who has the statutory right to wear trousers”. The only woman ever to win the Congressional Medal of Honor, and all anyone ever wants to talk about is the trousers (for example, this 1974 biography, “Dr. Mary Walker: The Little Lady in Pants.” Sigh.) A letter from Kate Douglas Wiggin, author of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, is read to the committee: “I would have woman strong enough to keep just a trifle in the background; the limelight never makes anything strong.” A letter from Mary Elliot Seawell, another author, writes that a constitutional amendment would also allow negro women to vote. Which would be bad.

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Simple answers to stupid questions

Former Pakistani dictator Musharraf is finally arrested. He puts out a video in which he asks, “Why I am being stopped from pursuing politics in Pakistan. Is it because I brought progress to Pakistan and added to its security?”

No. No it isn’t.

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Today -100: April 19, 1913: Of sugar, alien land, and the military-industrial complex

Now that Bulgaria and Turkey have a truce, the Bulgarian Army will attempt to take Monastir from its erstwhile ally Serbia.

Some things never change: the US consumes 1/5 of the world’s sugar, a greater per capita consumption than any other country.

The NYT blames the outrage in Japan against California’s proposed racist land law on the yellow press. Ha ha.

German Socialist leader MP Karl Liebknecht accuses German military contractors of providing anti-German material to chauvinist French newspapers to stir up international discord. He also says they are illicitly acquiring military secrets in order to held win contracts. This is definitely true: Krupps will cop to it tomorrow -100).

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Today -100: April 18, 1913: Of general strikes, law-abiding and industrious races, and popped balloons

The Belgian suffrage general strike is now up to 400,000, half the male working population. Strikers are sending their children to Germany, presumably on trains, which will stop functioning soon when the country runs out of coal. My favorite detail: “A company of strikers in Brussels is being taken by professors on educational visits to the museums.”

Sen. John Works (R-CA) proposes a bill to ban D.C. newspapers publishing the details of crimes, accidents and tragedies. Or, as they call it in D.C., Congress.

In a letter to the NYT, Cleveland G. Allen, a black journalist, complains that Woodrow Wilson got black people’s votes under false pretenses, and is now giving the few positions in the federal government formerly held by blacks to whites. The NYT responds: “The negroes of the United States are doing very well. Thanks to the leadership of men like Booker T. Washington they have become a law-abiding and industrious race and their interests are not centered in politics or office-holding. ... If President Wilson is doing precisely what Mr. Allen accuses him of doing, he will meet no protest from men like Dr. Washington, who have the interests of the race at heart.” It goes on to quote approvingly Elihu Root’s belief that granting negroes the vote was a mistake.

Sixty of the 100 imprisoned IWW members in Denver jail begin a hunger strike.

NY Gov. Sulzer is trying to get the Legislature to pass a bill for direct primaries and abolish Tammany-dominated (on the Democratic side, obviously) conventions.

A French army balloon explodes. Oh the humanité.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Today -100: April 17, 1913: I am insulted. Protect me!

The Belgian manhood suffrage strike continues to grow, to 300,000+. It’s day, 3 I think, and has been peaceful.

Some Germans visiting a casino in Nancy, France a few days ago were berated by some French students, and the German newspapers haven’t shut up about it since. The indignities supposedly inflicted on the tourists have only grown in the telling, in the German press anyway, while remaining on the level of youthful hijinks in the French press – “four or five young men surrounded the Germans, singing ‘You shall not have Alsace-Lorraine.’ One of the Germans went up to an official and said: ‘I am insulted. Protect me!’”

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Today -100: April 16, 1913: Of sore winners, arson, alien land, and two-cent lunches

The winners of the (not quite over yet) Balkan War are less and less unified. Bulgaria is happy to accept the Powers’ proposed terms, but Serbia wants more territory – a lot more territory – than the treaty the allies made before the war accorded it, and Montenegro is insisting on keeping Scutari, refusing monetary compensation (from whom?) for it.

British suffragettes burn down a house belonging to Arthur Philip Du Cros, anti-suffrage Tory MP and founder of Dunlop Rubber Company.

The home secretary bans suffragette meetings in Hyde Park and other public spaces in London on public order grounds. So the thugs who attack those meetings win.

The lower house of the California Legislature passes the Alien Land Bill 60-15. They’ve made it ostensibly non-racial by banning land ownership by aliens unless they declare their intention to become citizens, an option which is barred to Japanese by racist federal citizenship laws. If such aliens hold land more than a year after the bill passes (or in the future if an alien inherits land), the state can seize it.

Headline of the Day -100: “Two-Cent Luncheon Delights Roosevelt.” He had bean soup and an egg sandwich at a public school.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Today -100: April 15, 1913: Of arson trusts, general strikes, and mongolians

The Chicago Grand Jury says that arson in that city has been “organized into a perfect system” carried on by insurance adjusters, an “arson trust,” as they describe it.

Sports Name of the Day -100: there is a boxer who calls himself Kid Ghetto.

The general strike for suffrage in Belgium is spreading.

Headline of the Day -100: “Six Hundred Quit the I.W.W.” Well, not so much “quit” as submit to extortion. Here’s the article, datelined North Providence, RI, in its entirety: “After renouncing their connections with the Industrial Workers of the World and signing an agreement not to join the organization again under penalty of dismissal, the 600 operatives at the Esmond Blanket Mills returned to work to-day.”

Japan plans to appeal California’s proposed Alien Land Bill to the Supreme Court. Adorably, they think they’ll win by proving that Japanese are not of Mongolian origin. Because that’s why Californians hate Japanese people: it’s all just a wacky ethnological misunderstanding.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Today -100: April 14, 1913: Of assassination attempts, canters, and butts

An anarchist shoots at Spain’s King Alfonso, as was the custom. Three shots, all missed. Spanish anarchists were notoriously crappy shots, probably. The king rode back to his palace on a horse that had been wounded by one of the shots, so he was clearly a douche.

Headline of the Day -100: “BRYAN'S HORSE ARRIVES.; Secretary Plans Canters in Capital.” That’s what was wrong with Hillary Clinton: she never cantered in the capital.

Butt Headline of the Day -100: “TAFT PRAISES MAJOR BUTT.” (Titanic 1 year anniversary).

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

Today -100: April 13, 1913: Folded arms and not raised fists

New York state bans discrimination by hotels, theaters, music halls bath houses, barber shops, etc on the basis of race, color or creed, with fines of $100 to $500 and/or imprisonment up to 90 days.

The NYT has an article about the first issue of The New Statesman that somehow neglects to mention the magazine’s name. The Times does quote one of George Bernard Shaw’s articles, on the Marconi scandal: “We are an incorrigibly intemperate and ridiculous people in our cups of virtuous indignation. We are a nation of governesses.”

Emmeline Pankhurst is released from prison, nine days into her three-year prison term. The NYT criticizes the British government’s “feeble policy.” Mrs. Pankhurst is “stronger than the Home Office and the whole Liberal Government.” The New Statesman (possibly Shaw again) says of forcible feeding, “The fact that Mrs. Pankhurst can make [Home Secretary Reginald McKenna] unpopular by dying on his hands does not give him a right to add one ounce to the weight of her sentence.”

Headline That Sounds Dirty But Really Isn’t of the Day -100: “Still Pounding Scutari.”

Belgium is preparing for a general strike tomorrow for universal suffrage (or universal male suffrage, depending on which article you read). According to the Socialists’ posters, “This is a strike of folded arms and not of raised fists.” Currently, the vote is held by males over 25, with extra votes if they own property, have university degrees, work for the government, are married or a widower with children (max. 3 votes each). 60% of voters have 1 vote, 25% 2, and 15% 3. The current Catholic Party government would not have been elected without plural voting.

Nebraska bans marriages between a white person and anyone with 1/8th or more of black, Japanese or Chinese blood. Presumably blacks and Asians can inter-marry, because the Nebraska Legislature doesn’t care about the “purity” of any race but one. Native Americans were originally included in the bill, but were later removed; I don’t know why.

John B. Henderson, the former US senator (1862-9) from Missouri who wrote the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, dies at age 86.

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Today -100: April 12, 1913: Of hunger strikes, rag-tags, and sailors

Day 9 of Emmeline Pankhurst’s hunger strike. Holloway Prison officials are not forcibly feeding her – they don’t dare – but instead try to tempt her with much nicer food than the usual prison fare. Steak, chops, custard pudding, cocoa...

Suffragettes set fire to the grandstand of the cricket grounds at Tunbridge Wells. And break the windows of a Daily Standard editor. And are destroying fire alarms in London. Among other things. Oh, and one of them phoned the king on his private phone number. He hung up.

Misleading Headline of the Day -100: “Industrial Workers Quit.” Actually, IWW organizers fled from a posse organized by the Grand Junction, Colorado city government following a mass meeting demanding that the sheriff drive the Wobblies out of town. The LAT’s headline is “I.W.W. Rag-Tag Shoved Along.”

Three American sailors are killed in Guaymas, Mexico, possibly by the police chief, while they were drunkenly partying on shore leave.

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Today -100: April 11, 1913: Of train crashes, sherlocks, and blockades

A train is wrecked in Mexico, killing 20, because the passengers, afraid of rebels, insisted that the train speed up.

Name of the Day -100: Pres. Wilson appoints as postmaster for Baltimore one Sherlock Swann.

The Powers are now blockading Montenegro’s coast.

This won’t be in the papers, but the Cabinet discussed plans to segregate federal workers. There was no opposition.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Today -100: April 10, 1913: Bye bye Montenegro?

Pres. Wilson refuses to interfere with a bill being considered by the California Legislature to ban Japanese people owning property (state’s rights, you know; if the feds stopped racial discrimination in one state, who knows where it would all end).

Montenegro is threatening that if the Great Powers use force to prevent it annexing land the Powers want for an Albanian state, King Nicholas will abdicate and Montenegro will merge with Serbia.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Wherein Obama approvingly utters a phrase that embodies much that is wrong with America

Last week: “There doesn’t have to be a conflict between protecting our citizens and protecting our Second Amendment rights. I’ve got stacks of letters in my office from proud gun owners...”

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Today -100: April 9, 1913: Votes for women and damn the consequences

Pres. Wilson reads his address to Congress on tariffs in person, the “address from the throne,” and the republic does not end. Yet.

Oh, tariffs. Yeah, he wants them reduced.

China’s first-ever Parliament opens. The NYT notes that members are “nearly all dressed in European fashion”.

News of Emmeline Pankhurst’s health deteriorating in prison as she hunger strikes (but is not forcibly fed) is greeted with an attempt to blow up Dudley Castle. Painted on one of the castle’s cannons: Votes for women and damn the consequences.

Also, mail boxes. They’re destroying lots of mail.

Not six months after the last referendum on women’s suffrage in Michigan, there’s another one, and while the one last November was defeated very narrowly (and somewhat suspiciously), this time it’s losing much more decisively, with the Brewers’ Association offering cash prizes for high No votes.

A woman is elected mayor of Tyro, Kansas and women are also elected to a majority of town council.

That (still) unnamed US senator accused of attacking a married woman, who the US attorney refused to prosecute? The woman’s husband has sent a copy of her affidavit to every member of the Senate. Here’s a brief extract: “We first conversed for some time about patronage and the Senator began to make improper advances, and I reprimanded him and he apologized.” Hot stuff.

The 17th amendment, for the popular election of sex pests, sorry, US senators, is ratified by the 36th state, so it will be officially ratified just as soon as the states that have ratified actually send in their official notifications, which only 22 have.

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Monday, April 08, 2013

Today -100: April 8, 1913: Of borders and addresses from the throne

Britain’s foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey, says there would have been a Europe-wide war if the Powers hadn’t agreed on the borders for Albania.

Some members of Congress are opposing Wilson’s plan to address Congress in person because who does he think he is, the king or something?

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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Homicidal intent

The London Sunday Times reports that British soldiers are being given classes in body language: “The troops are being taught how subtle gestures, eye signals and changes to body posture can indicate that a ‘green-on-blue’ attack is imminent. Even the way an individual swings his arm or the direction his feet are pointing can provide a clue that he is hiding a gun. Troops are being told that three or more suspicious body language ‘cues’ may indicate ‘homicidal intent’.”

Afghans might be forgiven for thinking that nothing indicates “homicidal intent” so much as occupation forces being taught that they can and should shoot natives who look at them funny.

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Responsibly and judiciously

Secretary of War Chuck Hagel: “If we refuse to lead, something, someone will fill the vacuum. The next great power may not use its power as responsibly or judiciously as America has used its power over the decades since World War II.”

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Today -100: April 7, 1913: Of blockades, socialists, and jaywalkers

Although warships from Austria, Italy, Britain, France and Germany are blockading one of its ports, Montenegro refuses to give up its siege of Scutari, which the Powers want to go to Albania.

Woodrow Wilson plans to address Congress in person, something no president has done since Jefferson, to ask for tariff revision.

In Mondak, Montana, a negro is lynched (hanged, shot, burned). Later, authorities return his body to the jail for burial. Later still, someone breaks in to the jail, drags the corpse to the river and dumps it in.

Socialist candidates do badly in Berkeley municipal elections, except for a Mrs. Elvira Deals, who is elected to the school board.

Woodrow Wilson jaywalks, and the NYT (front page) is ON IT!

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Saturday, April 06, 2013

Today -100: April 6, 1913: Of dirigibles, wild women, and freaks

Oo, mysterious: an unnamed US senator is accused of “a criminal assault on a married woman,” but the US attorney refuses to prosecute.

The French parliament will be called back into session early, so it can authorize the purchase of more dirigibles for the military, to keep up with the Germans.

Headline of the Day -100: “‘Wild Women’ Burn and Smash for Vote.” The first retaliations for the imprisonment of Emmeline Pankhurst: the grandstand of Ayr racetrack is burned and the flower beds in Armstrong Park, Newcastle are “devastated.” Guards are now protecting various country houses and the Shakespeare memorials in Stratford.

The Sunday NY Times Magazine section has an article (with pictures) on Barnum & Bailey’s freaks.

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Friday, April 05, 2013

Today -100: April 5, 1913: Of zetas and zeppelins

The British authorities are more than a little worried about how WSPU suffragettes will respond to Emmeline Pankhurst’s prison sentence. Kidnappings? Assassinations? There’s already been some property damage: bombs on empty railroad cars, an empty house burned. Some of it maybe even by suffragettes.

Montenegro, still refusing to join the peace, is being blockaded by ships of all the Great Powers except Russia. King Nicholas says that acquiring the fertile agricultural lands of the Zeta Valley (as opposed to the “barren mountains” of Montenegro) “is a matter of life or death” for Montenegro, adding that he’s heard Zeta girls are totally easy.

German newspapers say that the crew of the Zeppelin 4 should have blown it (and themselves) up rather than land it in France.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013

We don’t want the smoking gun to be bellicose statements, or something

The State Dept on why it was totally necessary to practice in the skies over South Korea for bombing North Korea and stationing new weapons in SK: “When you have a country that is making the kind of bellicose statements and taking the kind of steps that they have, you have to take it seriously and you have to take steps to defend the US and its allies.” We are deploying the latest in anti-bellicose-statement technology.

The Guardian says that the US gov asked China to order North Korea to tone down its rhetoric. That’s an awful lot of work to deal with the clear and present danger posed by rhetoric.

Speaking of rhetoric, NK denounced the joint US-SK “madcap war exercises.” They’re clearly looking forward to the MASH reboot as much as I am.

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Today -100: April 4, 1913: Of artificial excitement and hysterical enthusiasm, dirigibles, and peanuts

Emmeline Pankhurst’s trial concludes. She refuses to call witnesses but does make a speech. She notes that she is pleading not guilty, despite having pointedly taken responsibility for the attempt to destroy Lloyd George’s country home, because the indictment said that she had “wickedly and maliciously” incited the act. Before the judge can stop her, she slips in a mention of an unnamed judge who was found dead in a brothel. She adds that she looks upon herself as a prisoner of war, under no moral obligation to accept her sentence, and that she plans to hunger strike and get out in time to speak at a meeting at the Albert Hall next week. The jury finds her guilty, with a recommendation for mercy, which the Dickensianly named Justice Lush ignores, sentencing her to 3 years.

The Standard (UK) says that the “artificial excitement and hysterical enthusiasm of militant meetings” causes “decent girls and married women” to “make criminals of themselves, [be] sent to jail, and go through hunger strikes and consequent degradation. It is useless to pretend that contact with the criminal law and experiences of prison can be otherwise than prejudicial to female modesty. Womanliness is a decent flower that cannot long survive the atmosphere of rowdyism which Mrs. Pankhurst has done so much to create.”

On April Fool’s, there was a French newspaper hoax about a German dirigible overflying France. Now, it’s actually happened. The Zeppelin IV lands, on the military parade grounds at Lunéville. It got lost and blown off course. Or so its crew says. After a search of the airship for spy stuff (and a nice chance for the French to do some industrial espionage of their own) and an investigation, the airship and its crew are released. 600 locals wrote their names on it as well as Vive la France and other, less printable, comments.

Headline of the Day -100: “Peanuts Start Vice Hunt.” The Illinois Senate Vice Commission investigates an incident in which some immigrant girls (nationality unstated) traveling to Chicago stopped to buy a packet of peanuts and missed their train, leading others in their group to claim they must have been forcibly removed from the train by white slavers. By the time the train reached Chicago, the story was that two men had enticed 20 girls into their grips. Hilarity ensued.

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Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Today -100: April 3, 1913: Of suffrage, cats & mice, colon fires, and chairs

The lower house of the Connecticut Legislature rejects women’s suffrage, 150-74.

Emmeline Pankhurst is on trial for inciting persons unknown to place an explosive in Lloyd George’s future country house. The sole evidence presented against her is her speeches at public meetings. Mrs. Pankhurst, acting as her own attorney, complains that the police reports of her speeches are inaccurate – and ungrammatical.

The British government’s Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-Health) Bill (aka The Cat and Mouse Bill), giving the home secretary the power to release hunger-striking prisoners without having to commute their sentence, giving them time to recover under whatever restrictions he feels like putting on them, and then putting them back in prison to resume their sentence, is debated in Parliament. Home Secretary Reginald McKenna warns MPs against “attaching too much credence to the accounts which are being given as to the terrible tortures which are endured in prison under the system of forcible feeding.” He notes that “publicity is the keynote of this [suffrage] propaganda, and as part of publicity the prisoners who have been sent to prison for committing various offences, such as window breaking, attempted arson, and other offences, have adopted the hunger strike in the hopes of enlisting the sympathy of the outside public.” So while he claims the Cat & Mouse Bill is necessary to enforce the law, he makes clear that his real goal is to prevent suffragettes gaining publicity and making the government look bad. The bill passes its first stages.

The London Times applauds the Cat and Mouse Bill: “a hunger strike on the proposed terms will lose most of its charms, since it will neither offer a chance of martyrdom, nor make a picturesque appeal to sentiment, nor evade the decreed punishment.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Panic in Colon Fire.” A movie theatre in Colon in the Panama Canal Zone.

Former President Taft now holds a chair at Yale Law School. Actually, the chair he was given at his first faculty meeting was too small to accommodate his ample bottom. Finally, they found an appropriate chair from the Midnight Club, a chair built for two people to sit in.

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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Today -100: April 2, 1913: Of sieges, elevator operators, zeppelins, and aerial suicide

The Bulgarian Army claims that the capture of Adrianople was achieved at the cost of ten or eleven thousand Bulgarian casualties and 1,200 Serbians, and that the Serbians are wusses.

The Ottoman Empire agrees to the Powers’ proposed terms for a peace. Montenegro does not.

Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, after finding an elevator operator in the State Dept building well after his 8-hour day was over, changes the rule that operators must remain as long as the secretary of state is there.

A newspaper in Rheims, France, publishes a story about a German zeppelin cruising over several French forts before losing its propellers and landing near Rheims fortress. A crowd went to check it out and possibly, you know, lynch the German crew, but... April Fools! No German invasion... this time.

This may be another aeronautic first [update after reading to the end of the article: no, it’s not]: a Russian army pilot commits suicide by crashing his plane. His suicide note claims that he was the victim of many intrigues. Mysterious.

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Monday, April 01, 2013

Today -100: April 1, 1913: Of Morgans

J.P. Morgan dies, so that’s it for getting any other news out of the NYT today. He may have been worth less than $100,000,000. Loser.

Big Bill Haywood of the IWW (the Wobblies) is sentenced to six months’ hard labor for causing an unlawful assemblage, i.e., a strike meeting in Paterson, NJ. The sentence will be overturned later in the week.

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