Friday, February 28, 2014

A clear violence

Obama made a statement on Ukraine. The transcipt’s been corrected in the version at the link, but the earlier one on the RSS feed had this Freudian typo: “It would be a clear (violence) of Russia’s commitment to respect the independence and sovereignty and borders of Ukraine, and of international laws.”

Obama is threatening that there will be “costs” for Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine (well, he says for any military intervention, which suggests he’s not willing to say that what’s going on in Crimea is a military intervention – come to think of it, when is he going to come to a decision on whether there was a coup in Egypt last year?). Oo, “costs.” I love it when Obama talks vaguely tough.

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Today -100: February 28, 1914: Of CSI Chihuahua, Texas Rangers, women’s parliaments, rivers, and talking horses

Pancho Villa gives in, partly, on William Benton. He will allow a party consisting of two Americans, two Brits, two doctors and Benton’s widow to examine his body (which for some reason was buried 300 miles away from where he was murdered/executed)(or he’s lying about that too, because Chihuahua is much harder to get to than Juarez). Villa will not, however, return the body to his widow.

Constitutionalist leader Carranza, increasingly worried by Pancho Villa’s independence, cracks the whip and gets Villa to say that he will stop all his negotiating with foreign powers.

The US demands that the Mexican government (which it doesn’t recognize) punish the Federal soldiers who hanged Clemente Vergara.

Texas Gov. Oscar Branch Colquitt writes to Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan to clarify his intentions: “I do not want to invade Mexico with a military force”, i.e., the state militia. He just wants to send Texas Rangers into Mexico “in pursuit of those who are constantly transgressing our laws.” The reason he asked the State Dept who it recognizes as the legitimate government of Mexico was that he wants to know where to send requests for the return of fugitives who have escaped, as was the custom, across the border (US border states like Texas were allowed to request extraditions from Mexican border states without going through the federal government).

Gen. Chao Ping-chun, former Chinese premier and current Governor of Chi-li, dies, but was he poisoned?

British novelist and anti-suffragist Mrs. Humphry Ward will form an unofficial “women’s parliament” to advise the government on matters affecting women, because that’s totally better than women having the vote.

There’s a revolution, or something, going on in Portugal. Arising from a railroad strike.

Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt Finds a River.” A tributary of the Amazon. Now called Roosevelt River.

Animal Headline of the Day -100: “LIBELED BY A HORSE.; Spinster Sues Because Talking Animal Said She Was in Love” In Germany. And it all leads to a shooting (but not of the horse), because of course it does.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Y not?

During the 2004 Ukrainian election fight between Viktor Yushchenko and Viktor Yanukovich, I helpfully dubbed them Pock-Marked Mr Y and Square-Headed Mr Y.

Well, the new prime minister is named Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

So what do we think? Prematurely Bald Mr Y?

Egg-Shape-Headed Mr Y? The future of Ukrainian democracy might well depend on our getting this right, people.

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Today -100: February 27, 1914: I must protect property and, if possible, life

Texas Gov. Oscar Branch Colquitt asks the federal government who it recognizes as the constituted authority in Mexico, following the seizure and execution by Mexican federal forces of a Texan rancher, Clemente Vergara, on an island in the Rio Grande claimed by both the US and Mexico. Just as William Benton was killed by Villa when he complained about rebels stealing his cattle, Vergara was killed by the government when he complained about its troops stealing his horses. Gov. Colquitt wants permission to send Texas Rangers across the border to pursue lawless elements of either Mexican faction if they commit crimes inside Texas. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan telephones him to tell him no and also hell no.

Ethel Moorhead, a Scottish suffragette and prospective arsonist, is forcibly fed in a Scottish prison, the first time forcible feeding has been performed north of the border. She would claim that it was done by young students from the local asylum. The Edinburgh WSPU questions the medical prison commissioner, who says “I must protect property and, if possible, life” by keeping Moorhead inside prison or (at least this is what she says he told her) until she was reduced to a physical wreck, unable to do anything militanty.

Suffragettes burn a church in Whitekirk, Scotland, which was built in 1297.

In Metz, Germany, two lieutenants of the 98th Infantry fight a duel after one flirted with the other’s wife. The interesting thing is that a military court of honor, which I assume is not an official thing, ordered them to fight the duel, and that it be to the death. Which it was. The husband died.

Orville Wright bitches about his difficulties in enforcing his patent. He says in future he will demand 20% of the selling price of all airplanes.

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Today -100: February 26, 1914: Of bentons and roving bandits, deadly drifting, and perjury

Pancho Villa is now saying that William Benton’s widow and one (1) American official can view his body but not take possession of it, and must do so under conditions that would preclude a proper examination, which would presumably show that he died of a revolver bullet wound at close range rather than from a firing squad. Some American officials are discussing whether sending a small military force into Juarez to seize the body would constitute an act of war requiring congressional approval; advocates say it wouldn’t, because there is no government in Mexico, hence noone to go to war with. The US has been quietly moving marines closer to Mexico (New Orleans etc), just in case. The NYT says Villa’s continued defiance is getting irritating to the US government: “It is all the more embarrassed and chagrined by the fact that it is acting in behalf of the British Government. To have a man who has been regarded as little more than a roving bandit defy two great powers is getting on the nerves of the Administration, which realizes the undignified position that it may come to occupy before the civilized world.” But there is a hitch: if the US doesn’t recognize Villa as having an official position in an acknowledged government, then the US can’t act to hold him responsible or make demands of him. Tricky.

Rep. Henry Ainey (D-Ill.) calls Wilson’s Mexico policy one of “deadly drifting,” which is just as alliterative, and therefore just as true, as Wilson’s term for his policy, “watchful waiting.”

One of the witnesses against Leo Frank says she lied after detectives got her likkered up.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Today -100: February 25, 1914: Of adulterated food, bentons, and women voters

The Supreme Court rules that adulteration of food is okay unless it disguises defects in the food or consumers are actually, you know, poisoned. The ruling will obviously make the post-The-Jungle Pure Food Act harder to enforce, forcing the government to determine just how much poison people can eat without being harmed.

Constitutionalist leader Carranza privately warned the US a couple of weeks ago against sending American troops into Mexico to protect Americans and other foreigners.

Pancho Villa now claims that William Benton was a cattle thief and that he had killed at least four men without provocation. And he was totally trying to assassinate Villa. Villa also says he won’t give up Benton’s body “out of respect to the dead. It was interred with all religious observances and a cross erected over it, and I will not allow the sacrilege of its removal.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Burn Negro in a Box.; Mississippi Mob Takes Vengeance on Slayer of a Deputy Sheriff.” As gruesome as it sounds.

The ship carrying those illegally deported South African union leaders arrives at Gravesend, UK, where the British labor movement had laid on lavish reception plans, but the South Africans had their own protest in mind, which involved refusing to leave the ship. There was a stalemate of sorts for several hours before they agreed to come out and be honored.

The New Jersey State Senate joins the Assembly in voting for women’s suffrage, although another vote and a referendum are still required. All the Republican senators voted for it and all but three Democrats.

Women vote for the first time in Illinois’s primaries, including 89-year-old Eveline Guthrie Dunn, who attended the convention that first nominated Abraham Lincoln for president. At some polling places special arrangements are made for women voters, such as mirrors to help women whose hats got entangled with the curtains. Several women won aldermanic primaries (Democrats, Progressives and a “socialistic” candidate).

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Monday, February 24, 2014

Today -100: February 24, 1914: I did not wish to appear bloodthirsty, and therefore did not shoot him myself

Pancho Villa is now claiming that William Benton was a naturalized Mexican citizen, so the UK can back the fuck off. This is also their excuse for not returning the body to his widow – it’s definitely not to hide that he was murdered rather than executed by firing squad after a trial.

The LA Times claims that an investigation conducted by the British embassy in the US concluded that Pancho Villa and his men “were crazed with mairhuana [sic] and tequila at the time Villa gave the order to shoot William S. Benton”.

Headline of the Day -100: “Say Villa Is An American.” Two retired soldiers from the U.S. 10th Cavalry, a negro unit, claim to remember that Pancho Villa was a member of the Tenth in 1882 (so... he’s a negro). This is a bit unlikely, since Villa would have been 4.

British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey tells Parliament that he is powerless to protect British citizens in the disturbed regions of Mexico.

Pancho Villa’s latest statement on the Benton affair: “He had not talked long when he reached for his hip pocket. It flashed over me that he intended to kill me. I grabbed his hand and at the same time thrust my revolver into the pit of his stomach to stop him. I did not wish to appear bloodthirsty, and therefore did not shoot him myself.”

Winston Churchill flies a hydro-plane, because he’s First Lord of the Admiralty, and can play with all its toys if he wants to.

Maxim Gorky signs a contract with an American studio to write ten film scripts. From imdb, it doesn’t look like anything came of this.

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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Today -100: February 23, 1914: Of common liars, and funks

An important witness in the Leo Frank murder trial recants, saying he was pressured to perjure himself by R.L. Craven, an employee of the solicitor-general, who was after the reward money. Craven says of the witness, “The negro is just a common liar.” Well, yes, but which was the lie?

Name of the Day -100: Antoinette Funk, acting chair of the Congressional Committee of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, who announces that NAWSA intends to work to defeat congressional candidates who oppose women’s suffrage, regardless of party.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Today -100: February 22, 1914: Of bentons, arbitration, and pardons

The NYT says that the five people in the room with Pancho Villa when William Benton confronted him are now all missing, possibly, the Times darkly suggests, murdered to prevent them saying what really happened. The records of Benton’s court-martial have just been released, and by released I mean fabricated. Benton supposedly made an armed attack on Villa and also gave aid & comfort to Federal forces.

In the absence of a British consul in Juarez, where Benton was shot, the US is supposed to be looking after the interests of British subjects there. Whether that means actually protecting them from this sort of thing is not entirely clear. To anyone, I mean, not just to me. So the US’s actual responsibility in this matter is open to debate.

The Senate renews arbitration conventions with Britain, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain and Italy.

South Carolina Gov. Coleman Blease, who has issued more pardons than any governor in US history, sends a 333-page message to the State Senate giving his reasons for those pardons. He explains that one of them, a manslaughterer named William White, has the same name as a childhood friend of his. He pardoned some rich folks from Jasper County for assault and battery on two negroes who had subjected them to “some very dirty and slanderous talk”; a crowd took the negroes into the woods and “gave them what they deserved - a genuine first-class whipping”. Another pardon went to a negro who had served 13 years of a life sentence for killing another negro, and had been punished in the penitentiary, i.e. beaten and shocked with a battery, for speaking to Gov. Blease when he was touring the facility. Blease also pardoned a rich man who paid the widow of the man he killed $2,750; the governor says the man should have been released as soon as she accepted (he served something less than 2 years). Another was a negro who killed another negro in “a fuss about a woman”; Blease approvingly quotes a petition supporting pardon which said “the morals and the mode of living between colored people are not up to the standard adopted and lived up to by the white people... it was more on the order of the lower animals, as the negro race has absolutely no standard of morality.”

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Today -100: February 21, 1914: Of bentons, bliss, and coves

William Benton, a British citizen ranch-owner long resident in Mexico, complains to Pancho Villa about the destruction of his cattle by rebels. He is promptly tried by a court-martial and executed. Or, more likely, shot dead on the spot by Villa, or by Villa’s men acting on his orders, we don’t really know. The Huerta side hopes this incident will turn the US against the rebels.

Two more Mexican generals escape from Fort Bliss.

Oregon Gov. Oswald West is targeting another town and the saloons it loves: he will send his secretary, as he did to Copperfield earlier this year, to Cove, a town which was voted dry in a referendum but whose officials have refused to comply or indeed to declare the result of the election. (Update: Ah, I see: they didn’t declare the result of the town’s election because the county voted wet at the same time, which over-rode the town’s vote).

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Today -100: February 20, 1914: Of fires, neutral zones, lite generals, and how to dress decently

In Britain, suffragettes set a fire at the Northfield Free Library. A copy of Christabel Pankhurst’s tract on venereal disease, The Great Scourge and How to End It, is left “to start your new library.”

The Mexican Federales and Constitutionalists are negotiating conditions for the forthcoming battle for Torreon: a neutral zone for neutrals to cower in during the fighting (an idea evidently presented to the parties by the US). I predict the Romulans will violate the neutral zone. Fucking Romulans.

The US complains to Huerta’s regime about the anti-American editorials in El Imparcial. So Huerta exiles the editor.

Last week, the White House got Congress to create the new rank of “vice admiral” in the Navy. Now, inevitably, the Army wants its own, lieutenant-general, so that the Navy doesn’t outrank the Army in joint matters, or something. Actually, there used to be lt.-generals, but the title expired with Arthur MacArthur, Douglas MacArthur’s father.

A bill is introduced in the Maryland Legislature banning girls from wearing slit shirts and high heels and also banning the dancing of the tango, the turkey trot, the bunny hug, and the loop the loop. It would use the money from the fines collected for these infractions to “educate girls how to dress decently.”

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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Today -100: February 19, 1914: Of a calamity so unspeakable that the nation even yet is but beginning to think it possible

Pancho Villa takes out life insurance.

Some Mexican prisoners quietly escape from Fort Bliss: a Mexican general, Felix Terrazas, and a major.

Blind Senator Thomas Gore (D-Oklahoma) wins in court after the jury deliberates for 2½ minutes. Evidently the conspiracy to frame him for sexual assault – and it was quite clear in the trial that there was a conspiracy – was cooked up by a lawyer whose attempts to charge ridiculous fees for the transfer of Indian lands were opposed by Sen. Gore.

At Euston Station, London, a suffragette, Mary Lindsay, attacks Lord Weardale with a dog-whip. She later claims she thought he was Prime Minister Asquith, but this seems unlikely, since Weardale is joint president (one Liberal, one Tory) of the National League Opposed to Woman Suffrage. The magistrate wants her examined for insanity.

Maryland’s House of Delegates rejects women’s suffrage 60-24.

Another Jew is arrested in Kiev for “ritual murder,” but he’s released when the Christian boy who was his supposed victim turns up alive.

Pittsburgh Mayor Joseph Armstrong orders that all movie theaters be divided into three sections: one for men, one for women, and one for women accompanied by men.

Whoever’s in charge of Peru these days exiles former president Guillermo Billinghurst, ousted in a coup two weeks ago. He is put on a navy ship headed for Panama.

Pres. Wilson, not known for appointing negroes to anything, re-nominates Robert Terrell as a municipal court judge in the District of Columbia (Terrell was appointed by Taft in 1910). Sen. Vardaman (D-Miss.), who opposes negroes holding any public office, will fight the nomination.

Pres. Wilson responds to a letter from the editor of Protestant Magazine, who accuses Wilson’s secretary Joseph Tumulty (a Catholic) of keeping “any communication relating to the activities of the Roman Catholic Church” (presumably anti-Catholic communications, but I’d love to know to what specifically he was referring) off the president’s desk. Wilson says that accusation is “absurdly and utterly false.”

The London Times editorializes that Britain is “drawing [near] to a calamity so unspeakable that the nation even yet is but beginning to think it possible.” It warns the public “to fix their thoughts upon this one issue without being diverted from it by minor questions which arise from day to day.” Ireland, they’re talking about Ireland.

159 days to the start of the Great War.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Today -100: February 18, 1914: Of totally fair trials and bandits

The Georgia Supreme Court denies Leo Frank a new trial in the murder of Mary Phagan. It says that all the crowds outside the courtroom calling for the Jew to be executed didn’t influence the jury.

Maximo Castillo, the Mexican bandit who killed those 55 people on the train, is captured, along with six of his men (a later story describes them as his brother, his trumpeter and his trumpeter’s wife, because of course he had a trumpeter, and two Indian women.) So I guess he wasn’t actually captured the last time his capture was announced. This time, he’s captured by American troops (a negro cavalry regiment) in New Mexico. Should be interesting, since he committed no crime in the US and surely can’t be extradited into the hands of the Mexican rebels. Oh, and he says it wasn’t him, it was Pancho Villa’s men who were responsible for the Cumbre Tunnel fire.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Today -100: February 17, 1914: Now the suffragettes have a freaking cannon!

Huerta will finance the Federal side of the Mexican civil war with a new tax on all real estate and capital and by issuing fiat money (i.e., paper money backed by nothing but which people are required to accept as if it were, you know, real money).

The Vatican is strongly opposed to the literacy requirement for immigrants currently being considered by the US Congress.

British suffragettes fire a cannon captured from the Russians during the Crimean War which is now resident in the city park in Blackburn.

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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Today -100: February 16, 1914: Of immigration, corruption, sullen refugees, unwelcome priests, and brains

Secretary of Labor William Wilson says immigration from poor countries should be limited in order to maintain American living standards.

I haven’t been paying much attention to the ongoing grand jury corruption investigation in New York, but it must be getting somewhere, because State Treasurer (and Tammany lackey) John J. Kennedy just committed suicide the day before he was scheduled to testify.

The US is still holding as prisoners hundreds of Mexican soldiers and civilians. Gen. Scott, in charge of Fort Bliss, tells Mexican Gen. José Salazar that if an attempt is made to rescue him, he will be the first one shot. Because of smallpox in the camp, few Americans have been allowed in, but those who do “say that the refugees are rather sullen.”

There is a riot at St Casimir’s Polish Roman Catholic Church in South Bend (or possibly Gary), Indiana, after the cops try to enforce a court order supporting the Church’s assignment of a new priest to run the church. Don’t know what they have against Father Gruza, but they’ve barred the doors against him, literally, for a year now. As the sheriff arrived, the Resistance rang the church bell to summon the mob, as is the custom. Police and mob fought with clubs and pickets torn from fences, respectively.

Headline of the Day -100: “Wilson’s Cold Improves.”

Alphonse Bertillon, who revolutionized the keeping of police records of prisoners before fingerprinting by developing a system of anthropometric measuring, has died. He donated his brain to science. It was 1,525 grammes, in case you were wondering.

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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Today -100: February 15, 1914: Of quiet revolutions, coal taxes, opium, phineases, and champers

Headline of the Day -100: “Quiet Revolution Occurs in Portugal.” Which is good, because Spain was trying to sleep.

A House sub-committee investigating labor troubles in the mines hears about a tax levied by the Colorado mine owners on themselves, 1¢ per ton of coal to pay for guards and whatnot. C.L. Baum, president of the alliterative Consolidated Coal and Coke Company of Colorado, talks about the whatnot: “If any of my money was used for the purchase of machine guns and ammunition I assume the responsibility.” J.F. Welborn, president of the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company (in whose mines 17 miners died in 1913, 20 in 1912 and 22 in 1911) claims that his employees weren’t particularly friendly to the vice president of the United Mine Workers when he visited. The UMW lawyer questioning Welborn asks if he would go to the Ludlow tent colony (striking miners were thrown out of their company houses) and ask the men who their friends are. “Not without the militia,” he replied.

Some Chinese provinces have announced the death penalty for opium smokers.

If a man died in 1914 leaving a will which bequeathed $75,000 to his adopted son on the condition that he divorce his present wife, remarry, and become a “sober and industrious man,” is it at all surprising that his name was Phineas C. Kingsland? No it is not.

Headline of the Day -100: “W.J. Bryan Almost Drinks Champagne.”

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Today -100: February 14, 1914: Of vice admirals (or is the plural vices admiral?)(no, no it isn’t), deportations, riots, racist land bills, and racist immigration commissioners

Sen. Thomas Gore (D-OK)’s lawyer introduces (pretty convincing) evidence that the sexual assault lawsuit against him is a trumped-up conspiracy on the part of several disappointed seekers of federal patronage jobs.

At the White House’s request, the Senate votes to create the new rank of “vice admiral” in the Navy, above rear admiral and below admiral admiral. Evidently the worry is that if a multi-national force is sent to occupy Mexico City, a British vice admiral would outrank the American rear admiral in command at Vera Cruz.

South African Prime Minister Botha says that if he hadn’t illegally deported union leaders without a trial, SA would have been plunged into a reign of arson and murder. He accuses the British Labour Party of leading the movement to urge natives to rise up. If only.

Tax riots in Tokyo are dispersed by police with sabers, opposition newspapers are suppressed and their editors arrested.

A anti-alien land bill modeled after California’s and, like it, aimed at Japanese immigrants, fails in South Carolina’s Legislature.

Anthony Caminetti, US Commissioner-General of Immigration, tells the House Immigration Committee that Japanese laborers (or “Japs” as he insists on referring to them) are “a menace to the entire country” and he wants all Asiatics including Hindus banned. He says most lower-class Hindus and Chinese have dangerous diseases.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Today -100: February 13, 1914: Of suffrage splits, smashing the British Empire, and English mustaches

Christabel Pankhurst sends a letter to the press about the split with her sister Sylvia. She says that the Women’s Social and Political Union is not a propaganda organization but a fighting organization (that is, they’ve stopped caring about what the public thinks and their activities are now exclusively directed at pressuring the government), so it must have one policy, one program, and one command. “Only by fighting them [the government], not by appealing to them, can women maintain their self-respect,” she rewrites in today -100’s The Suffragette.

British suffragettes burn down a library, and Mexican rebels blow up a train.

A British Labour Party amendment to the King’s Speech asking the king to veto the South African government’s attempt to indemnify itself for having illegally deported strike leaders is rejected by Parliament. Colonial Secretary Lewis Harcourt defends the “autonomy” of British colonies; efforts like this to interfere with it would “smash the British Empire.”

The House of Lords votes for an amendment demanding a referendum on Irish Home Rule.

Blind Senator Thomas Gore (D-OK, Gore Vidal’s grandfather) is being sued for $50,000 by a Mrs. Minnie Bond, for an alleged attempted sexual assault on her when she lobbied him for a job for her husband (who was once married to her bigamously).

The commander of the Kaiser’s Guard Corps bans the toothbrush (or “English”) mustache: “the modern fashion of wearing the mustaches as a trifling tuft of hair under the nose is unsuitable for Prussian soldiers and irreconcilable with the true German character.”

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

A promise to God is different from a promise to anyone else

Clarence Thomas says Americans are just too darned sensitive about race. Er, who was it who insisted that criticism of his sexual predation was a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks?”

That’s the bit that’ll get whatever attention this speech gets, but more important are his remarks about religion: “I quite frankly don’t know how you do these hard jobs without some faith. I don’t know. Other people can come to you and explain it to you. I have no idea. I don’t know how an oath becomes meaningful unless you have faith. Because at the end you say, ‘So help me God.’ And a promise to God is different from a promise to anyone else.”

So, 1) atheists are black boxes to him; he cannot even guess at their mysterious and unknowable motivations. 2) They cannot be trusted and probably shouldn’t be allowed to hold public office. Good to know. 3) Religion and government therefore are inextricably intertwined and cannot be separated.

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All of them are wonderful in their own ways

François Hollande visited the White House. A reporter asked Obama if France is our best European ally now. He says it’s like his daughters, he would never choose between them, “All of them are wonderful in their own ways.” Hollande said, “Hey, that’s just how I feel about my mistresses!”

RNC chair Reinhold Reince Priebus told MSNBC that if Hillary runs for president, they will absolutely be bringing up the Monica Lewinsky thing over and over: “I think everything’s on the table.”

Or in Monica’s case, under the table.

Obviously I would never have dared make such crude jokes while Shirley Temple was alive. I feel so free now.

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Today -100: February 12, 1914: Of unfused moose, primaries, hardies, and frozen tangoes

Headline of the Day -100: “Nebraska Moose Won’t Fuse.” Nebraska Progressives won’t merge with the Republican Party.

Pres. Wilson plans to introduce legislation to establish national presidential primaries for all the parties on the same day. States would still control election machinery and qualifications (to keep you-know-who from voting), and states and congressional seats would be the primary unit for counting votes. The latter provision is designed to screw up the Republicans’ attempt to reduce the power of the South in the party to something more proportionate to the actual number of Republican votes in the South (almost none).

The novelist Thomas Hardy (73) marries his secretary (and author of The Book of Baby Birds) Florence Dugdale (35).

Headline of the Day -100: “TANGOED IN HIS FREEZER.; Butcher, Locked In, Also Tried Jigs, His Yells Furnishing the Music.”

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Today -100: February 11, 1914: Of Chicago bribes, Belgian court dress, obliging weddings, Mexican bandits, Irish Home Rule, tricked London police, and impersonation and vilification

In the run-off to alderman elections in Chicago, the party machines are having to cope with the question of how to bribe the new female voters: candy instead of cigars, coffee wagons instead of booze.

A while back an (unnamed) Belgian woman “in Court circles” ordered a gown. Before it was finished, an episcopal letter was issued banning the wearing of dresses which are too, as they say in French, boobalicious. So the woman decided she couldn’t wear the dress and refused to pay her dressmaker, who sued. A judge ruled in the customer’s favor, but was reversed by the appeals court, which noted that the gown complied with the measurements of Belgian court dress regulations.

Headline of the Day -100: “To Wed to Oblige Kaiser.” German Foreign Minister Gottlieb von Jagow announces his engagement to the Countess Luitgarde Ernestine zu Salms-Laubach. For some reason it bothered the kaiser that his last two foreign ministers were bachelors.

Maximo Castillo, the Mexican bandit who suffocated the passengers on a train in the Cumbre Tunnel after holding it up a few days ago, is captured. Pancho Villa promises a public execution.

A new session of the British Parliament, which will focus on Irish Home Rule. The Tories say they will only agree if Ulster is excluded from the act, or there’s a referendum. If Ulster is not excluded, Austen Chamberlain says, civil war is certain. Prime Minister Asquith rejects the idea of holding another general election, saying that if the Liberals won, the Ulsterites would not lay down their arms, and if the Conservatives won, they’d have to deal with some very disappointed Irish people. But he’s still being wishy-washy over whether he might agree to Ulster exclusion or to Ulster being included in the Irish Parliament but with a referendum several years later to see how they were liking it.

The Swedish government resigns over King Gustaf’s refusal to stop mouthing off about political matters (especially military spending) without consulting his government ministers first.

Alfred Charles Sam (“Chief Sam”) has a scheme to bring negroes from the US to the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana). He’s off buying a steamship now. A white guy who transacts the company’s business says that the officers are all Gold Coasters whose names he could tell you, but you couldn’t pronounce them, much less remember them, so why bother? Passengers have to be stockholders in the company, and the company will sell them food on the ship and provisions in Africa and they’ll get 99-year leases. While not quite a Nigerian-prince-email scam, the 60 people who will get to Africa will not wind up at all pleased.

Headline of the Day -100: “Mrs. Pankhurst Tricks Police Again.” British police arrest Mrs. Pankhurst after a meeting and after a fight with her followers. Only it’s another woman in Mrs P’s clothes.

The Senate passes a law against “impersonation and vilification.” This is from the discovery that the Wall Street stock broker and lobbyist David “The Wolf” Lamar’s practice of impersonating members of Congress was not actually illegal. The bill would outlaw imitating any member of Congress or federal officer over the telephone.

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Today -100: February 10, 1914: The kindest possible spirit

Disappointing Headline of the Day -100: “Queen Louise Still Fast.” A beached ship, not a promiscuous royal.

Headline of the Day -100: “Bishop Absolves Jailers.” The bishop of London returns to Holloway Prison to check up on suffragette prisoners. While prison authorities don’t allow him to witness forcible feeding, he’s sure that “whether the orders are right or wrong, the officials are carrying them out in the kindest possible spirit.” So that’s okay then. Norah Dacre-Fox of the Women’s Social and Political Union suggests that the bishop come to Knightsbury Hall and be forcibly fed, “so that he could give voice to the faith that was in him in a practical manner.”

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Sunday, February 09, 2014

Today -100: February 9, 1914: Of Balkan wars, divorces, and damns

Turkey is rumored to be considering restarting the Balkan Wars (good times, good times) in order to recover territory lost to Greece, and maybe Albania as well.

Arthur Conan Doyle argues for easier divorce.

Headline of the Day -100: “PASTOR SAID 'DAMN' TO DANCE OBJECTOR; Now Greenpoint's Reformed Episcopal Church Is to Lose the Rev. Charles Quinn.”

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Saturday, February 08, 2014

Today -100: February 8, 1914: Of banditos, precious peas, cocaine fiends, and boobs

Mexican bandit – ah, fuck it, bandito – Maximo Castillo holds up a train, then allows it to enter a tunnel at the other end of which the bandits had set some stock cars on fire. 41 people on the train, including some Americans, suffocate to death. This may have been an act of revenge for the recent execution of 22 of Castillo’s banditos by the rebels.

Christabel Pankhurst confirms to the NYT that there has indeed been a break with her sister Sylvia over methods. She says Sylvia’s methods go too far and endanger human life (which is not true) while hers (well, not hers, she’s just sitting it out in Paris, but her followers’) only destroy property (arson being not at all dangerous to human life). Sylvia explains to the Daily Sketch that “It is not a split; it is an extension.” She notes that certain methods, like a no-rent strike, wouldn’t work except in the East End, while others, such as the burning of mail boxes, would be inappropriate where the people are poor. Nora Dacre Fox, who has day-to-day control of the WSPU in London, says that the cause of the split was Sylvia’s refusal to eschew men’s assistance and her use of mass methods that “tend to make it a class movement”.

The split makes the NYT has a sad: “We had come to look upon them as two precious peas in one pod.”

The Catholic Church tries to force the Abbé Jules Lemire, a deputy in the French National Assembly, to resign. He’s been a deputy for 20 years, but in recent years has moved away from the monarchist Right.

An article in the NYT Sunday Magazine suggests that one effect of the spread of prohibition in the South is to turn negroes into cocaine fiends, driving them to murder and insanity.

Marie Lloyd is allowed into the US.

NYT Sunday Book Review review of the Day -100: “BOOBS. As Seen by John Henry. By George V. Hobart. Illustrated by Edward Carey.”

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Friday, February 07, 2014

Today -100: February 7, 1914: Of splits, what Swedish peasants want, smuggling over the ice, Fords, poultry trusts, and kid auto races

The US Senate is discussing an amendment that some of the funds for “farm demonstration” should go to negro agricultural colleges. During the debate, James K. Vardaman (D-Miss.) regales the Senate with his views on race: negroes should be disenfranchised in every state, women in the South are living in state of siege with more dread than in the days when the wild man and wild beast roamed the frontier, etc.

Sylvia Pankhurst and her East London Federation of the Women’s Social and Political Union break away from the WSPU (actually, her mother Emmeline and sister Christabel expel her for her working-class and Labour Party sympathies and her preference for mass tactics over the WSPU’s individual acts of militancy, which mostly means arson at this point). There weren’t a lot of Pankhurst family get-togethers after this. The view that Sylvia was too much of a radical left-winger would later be shared (and expressed publicly) by Lenin.

Headline of the Day -100: “SWEDISH PEASANTS WANT BIGGER ARMY.”

Disappointing Headline of the Day -100: “SMUGGLING OVER THE ICE.; Canadian Merchants Ask Their Government to Stop It.” It seems goods are being smuggled using the ice bridge over the St. Lawrence River. I was wondering who would be smuggling ice over into Canada.

Reason Trigg (that’s a person’s name, Reason Trigg, really), stricken by conscience, confesses to having participated in a lynching 27 years ago in Monticello, Illinois. The grand jury releases him.

Turkey will allow women into universities.

The Progressive (Bull Moose) Party in Michigan asks Henry Ford to run for governor. He says no.

13 members of the Poultry Trust are sentenced to jail for 3 months for actions in restraint of trade, the first time anyone has actually gone to jail for this particular crime. The article reminds me that there was a Bathtub Trust, so the Poultry Trust was not quite the funniest trust, but thanks for playing the home game.

The release of the short “Kid Auto Races at Venice,” Charlie Chaplin’s first appearance as the Little Tramp.

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Thursday, February 06, 2014

Today -100: February 6, 1914: Of Orestes, tolls, moral turpitude, and planes

Huh, so the revolution/putsch in Haiti will replace Pres. Michael Oreste with Oreste Zamor, probably so they don’t have to throw out all the stationery. Sen. Davilmar Theodore has also declared himself president, although it will take (spoiler alert) another coup later in the year to make this come true.

Pres. Wilson says he favors repeal of the toll exemption for American ships going through the Panama Canal.

“Boss” Murphy says he will be boss of Tammany for life. And he’s right.

British music hall star Marie Lloyd crosses from the US into Canada for a gig and on return is AGAIN barred for moral turpitude. And she’s not even moral turpituding any more: since her arrival with boyfriend Bernard Dillon last year, her husband died and she married Dillon.

Mexican rebels seize Mazatlan, their first port. Also, the rebels plan to take advantage of the lifting of the US arms embargo and buy some airplanes. Aerial warfare, just what was missing from this revolution.

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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Today -100: February 5, 1914: Of coups, divorce, good relations, and trans-Atlantic flights

There’s a sudden coup in Peru, which rhymes. Pres. Guillermo Billinghurst (yes, really) is taken prisoner and the prime minister/minister of war is killed. Congress has been threatening to impeach Billinghurst and he’s been threatening to dissolve Congress, claiming it was elected illegally, which is about all I know about that.

Sen. Joseph Ransdell (D-Louisiana) proposes a constitutional amendment banning remarriage by divorced people.

German Foreign Minister Gottlieb von Jagow says that Anglo-German relations are “very good.” Phew. Or, as the Germans probably spell it, pfew.

A plane is being built which is supposedly capable of making the first trans-Atlantic flight. Its wing-span will be 80 feet and it will have a 200-horsepower engine. It will make the attempt in summer unless other events, you know, intervene.

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Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Today -100: February 4, 1914: Of immigration, parcels, women’s suffrage, and dreadnoughts in the air

The House, working on an immigration bill, rejects amendments excluding Asiatics (and Africans) by 203-54 after appeals by the Wilson administration that they not fuck up relations with Japan.

People are still getting the hang of the new parcel post system. A two-year-old was just posted by his grandmother in Oklahoma to his aunt in Kansas. To answer your next question: 18¢.

Pres. Wilson removes the ban on arms sales to Mexico (either side) imposed by Taft two years ago.

Pancho Villa says he will execute any Spaniards siding with Federal forces. Pancho Villa does not like Spaniards.

The lower house of the New Jersey Legislature passes a women’s suffrage bill 49-4.

At the national level, the Congressional Democratic caucus votes 123-57 that women’s suffrage is a matter for the states, not for a national constitutional amendment.

British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey admits that Britain was partly responsible for setting off the naval arms race by building the first dreadnought, but, he says, at the time the idea of dreadnoughts was in the air.

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Monday, February 03, 2014

Today -100: February 3, 1914: Him or it

The South African government is pushing through a bill to indemnify (i.e., retroactively make legal) its illegal act in deporting trade union leaders. The bill would also ban them from returning.

Carranza warns foreigners that they will be executed if they have aided Huerta. It is feared that “aid” will be interpreted to include merely paying the extraordinary taxes and forced loans levied by the Huerta Junta.

Self-exiled Gen. Felix Díaz sends an emissary, Francisco Guzman, to try to woo Pancho Villa’s support away from Carranza. Villa has Guzman shot. A simple no would have sufficed.

The Panama-Pacific Exposition planned for San Francisco in 1915 will feature an around-the-world airplane race. Unless other events, you know, intervene.

Woodrow Wilson meets a deputation of working-class women’s suffragists, and again refuses to come out for women’s suffrage.

Dr. Anna Howard Shaw, president of the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association, refuses to declare to tax authorities the value of her personal property. The form she was sent asked her to declare any property owned by “him or it.” Since she is neither a him or an it, she says she must be exempt.

Norfolk, Virginia’s residential race segregation law is ruled unconstitutional “on a technicality.”

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Sunday, February 02, 2014

Today -100: February 2, 1914: Of railroads and forcible feeding

Germany completes its East African Central Railroad. I’m sure that investment will really make Germany’s colonial presence in Tanganyika pay off for decades to come.

The Women’s Social and Political Union badgers the bishop of London into visiting Holloway Prison to determine whether suffragettes are being tortured (other prisoners can hear Rachel Peace screaming). He “investigates” and claims that she’s just being forcibly fed and is perfectly fine. The screams, he says, are protests rather than expressions of pain. The WSPU responds, as was the custom, by heckling him during services.

While Rachel Peace may have seemed perfectly “calm” to the archbishop (possibly because she was being drugged), she was driven insane by this forcible feeding and spent the rest of her life in and out of asylums.

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Saturday, February 01, 2014

Today -100: February 1, 1914: The Delilah of Syndicalism has endeavoured to cut the locks of trades unionism, so that it becomes a mere piece of putty in the hands of the political authorities

Queen Mary of Britain has lifted her ban on women in the royal household belonging to any women’s suffrage society, as long as they don’t set stuff on fire or something.

Collectors of parliamentary mixed metaphors (and there certainly are collectors of parliamentary mixed metaphors) are exulting over this one, from future British prime minister and turncoat Ramsay MacDonald: “No sooner do [Syndicalists] get themselves into a hole than they put down a string so that we may pull them out of it. The Delilah of Syndicalism has endeavoured to cut the locks of trades unionism, so that it becomes a mere piece of putty in the hands of the political authorities.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Arrests in Plot to Oust Huerta.” Isn’t pretty much all of Mexico in a plot to oust Huerta at this point?

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