Tuesday, June 30, 2015

¿Quien es mas punchable?

With Chris Christie entering the race, it’s time once again to rank the Republican candidates’ faces from least punchable to most punchable. Here’s what I got:
Your mileage may vary.

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Today -100: June 30, 1915: Of mediators, mind-readers, and cheering diggers

Woodrow Wilson cancels his trip to the Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco because he’s certain the warring European countries are about to ask him to mediate a peace agreement. Any day now.

The conviction of mind-reader W. Bert Reese for fortune-telling is overturned on appeal after he proves that he can, in fact, read minds, correctly recounting things the judge wrote down. Reese says it’s not his fault if he has abnormal powers. Reese once convinced Thomas Edison that he was a genuine psychic.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Today -100: June 29, 1915: I have not willed this!

Georgia’s new governor, Nathaniel Harris, says the Frank case is over and everyone should go home. Former Gov. Slaton flees the state.

Speaking of fleers, Huerta says that far from planning to lead another uprising in Mexico, he would only return to Mexico if it needs him to defend its flag. Very reassuring.

Supposedly, Kaiser Wilhelm visited the Western front and wept over a pile of dead German soldiers, “I have  not willed this!”

Germany and the US disagree over whether the 1799 US-Prussian Treaty allows Germany to sink American ships such as the William P. Frye. Germany seems to think it can sink as many ships as it likes, providing it then pays compensation in an amount it determines by itself.

Headline of the Day -100:

And the tuberculosis-industrial complex grinds to a halt. The strike is at the Montefiore Home Country Sanitarium for Consumptives in Bedford Hills, NY, where a new superintendent put in place rules strictly segregating the sexes and barring inmates from leaving without permission.

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Today -100: June 28, 1915: Of lamps, mazes of machinations, and boomeranging psyops

It’s the anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

Inspired by his factory burning down six months ago, Thomas Edison invents a “fireman’s lamp,” a portable lamp with a two-pound battery that can see through smoke.

Former Mexican dictator Victoriano Huerta and Gen. Pascual Orozco are arrested in New Mexico for violating US neutrality laws by planning military intervention in Mexico. Both are released on bond. Huerta claims he wasn’t about to cross into Mexico but is actually on a perfectly innocent visit to his daughter and then a vacation at the Panama-Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco, although curiously his ticket was only to El Paso.

Carranza applauds the US’s “act of justice” in disrupting Huerta’s “maze of machinations conducted in secrecy against the peace of Mexico by well-known reactionaries”.

Yes, he actually said “the peace of Mexico.”

The London Daily Mail claims that Austria, in talking up the idea of a separate peace with Serbia as a propaganda ploy to create difficulties between Serbia and Italy, nominal allies who both lust after the same territory, has unintentionally made the Italian public euphoric at a prospect of peace which is entirely unrealistic.

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Today -100: June 27, 1915: I am not saying that woman suffrage will make women crazy

Russia forces out Minister of War Vladimir Sukhomlinov, a 66-year-old, old-fashioned cavalry guy perhaps not best suited to running a 20th-century war. In 1916 he’ll be arrested for treason, because some of his associates were accused of spying for Germany. The post-Revolution Menshevik government will put him on trial for leaving Russia unprepared for the war and send him to Siberia before exiling him.

The German socialist newspaper Vorwärts is suspended yet again, for publishing a Social Democratic Party appeal for peace with no conquest or annexation.

Georgia Gov. John Slaton leaves office, to the sounds of a mob, unhappy with his commutation of Leo Frank’s death sentence, baying “Lynch him!”, as was the custom, held back only by a force of police and soldiers (the mob, not the governor). Slaton is planning to leave the state until it’s safe to come back, which may be a while. 20 men are caught near Slaton’s house carrying guns and dynamite. Mobs are searching outgoing railroad trains for him. Slaton says he acted according to his conscience and unlike another former governor, one Pontius Pilate, he didn’t turn a Jew over to a mob. There are reports of secret meetings forming branches of something called the Knights of Mary Phagan and taking blood oaths to avenge her death on Slaton and Frank.

The NYT publishes a letter to Alice Chittenden of the NY State Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage from Dr. Charles Dana, professor of nervous diseases at Cornell Medical College, announcing his opposition to the “distant and selfish cry” for women’s suffrage, which he calls “a holy cult of self and sex”. He asserts that the nervous systems of men and women are entirely different physiologically and that women are way more prone to insanity, which would increase 25% if they lived as men do. “I am not saying that woman suffrage will make women crazy. I do say that woman suffrage would throw into the electorate a mass of voters of delicate nervous stability.” He adds that the average suffrage zealot has the mental age of 11. And he should know because he’s a doctor. And a professor. At Cornell.

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Today -100: June 26, 1915: No flame, no gain

Headline of the Day -100:

Germany again claims that Britain and France used gas first. In fact, they’re now claiming that the Lusitania was secretly carrying tetrachloride of tin to be used in Allied poison gas shells.

The British government asks the public to eat less meat.

Momentarily Puzzling Headline of the Day -100: 

And why would the French government be attempting to place an order with the Essex Novelty Company of New Jersey, you ask? Is Gen. Joffre secretly Wile E. Coyote? Reading further, it turns out that the Essex Novelty Company makes fireworks and France asked them to make detonator caps, but they refused.

Headline of the Day -100:

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Today -100: June 25, 1915: Of blockades, fainting empresses, popes, and colorful nicknames

Britain replies to US complaints about its blockade of Germany, saying the US has nothing to complain about.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The Novoe Vremya claims that when the German empress was visiting wounded soldiers at Posen, one officer, near death from shrapnel wounds and with all of his limbs amputated, told her he wished Kaiser Wilhelm and all his children suffered as he has. The kaiserin was removed “in a fainting condition.” Also, Red Cross nurses have heard such stories about how one of them was supposedly treated by a German officer that they all carry poison around with them to prevent capture. More fog: Austrian troops are supposedly shooting all clergy in Galicia, on general principles.

French Catholic newspapers are not best pleased at the idea of dead soldiers being incinerated. Some people think they’re kicking up such a fuss because non-Catholic French people are pissed at the pope for an interview he gave complaining about the Italian government in general and its censoring of his mail in particular and failing to declare himself on the Allied side of the war. There have also been rumors that the Vatican is considering moving to Spain for the duration.

Gangster Names of the Day -100: In the Tombs, Benny “Hey, Why Don’t I Have a Nickname?” Snyder is beaten nearly to death by three other prisoners wielding breakfast bowls for being a “squealer.” Snyder murdered “Pinchy” Paul on behalf of Joe the Greaser, a rival of “Dopey Benny” Fein.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Today -100: June 24, 1915: Can’t you buy clothing from an American? Can’t you buy shoes from an American?

Germany and Austria capture Lemberg (now Lviv), which Russian troops had occupied last September.

British Minister of Munitions David Lloyd George gives trade union leaders seven days to produce an army of munitions workers pledged to go anywhere in the country they are told to go, in exchange for “a certificate attesting that they are working for King and country” – or else some measure of legal compulsion will be introduced. So he’s threatening conscription for factory workers when there isn’t even conscription for soldiers yet.

Lloyd George is sending David Thomas, the coal magnate, back to the US and Canada to represent the Munitions Ministry. Jeez, Thomas is still wringing out his clothes from the last mission he undertook for the government (he came back on the Lusitania).

Sir Richard Ashmole Cooper, MP says that last week he offered the government 24 million shells from the UK, Canada and the US, as well as 1 billion rifle cartridges and 2 million rifles. “If this offer is not accepted I want to know the reason why.” The reason why, Lloyd George explains, is that when the War Office asked Sir Richard the names of the companies that would produce all these things, he gave them the name of one company, which was actually a lithographic printing company, but was willing to give it a go.

Someone tries to dynamite Andrew Carnegie’s house on 5th Avenue, but a cop spots the burning fuse.

Carranza replies to Pres. Wilson’s ultimatum, saying no he won’t negotiate with Villa or anyone else, he’d much rather crush his enemies militarily.

More blowback from Leo Frank’s commutation: anonymous letters have been sent to Jews in Marietta, Georgia, telling them to leave the city. And cards are being distributed in Atlanta asking people to boycott Jewish businesses and patronize “Americans” instead.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Today -100: June 23, 1915: The evil that theorists may do lives after them

A NYT editorial on yesterday’s Supreme Court decision striking down grandfather clauses says the 15th Amendment was a mistake: “It attempted to thwart by legislation a determination which has never been thwarted in the history of the human race by legislation or any other thing whatever – the determination of the white man to rule the land wherein he lives. ... The evil that theorists may do lives after them; their best intentions may become a curse to the country.”

H.G. Wells thinks the Allies can win the war through air power. Part of his thinking seems to be an assumption that Germans are better suited to the methodical, orderly work of trench and artillery warfare than to the romantic work of aviators.

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Today -100: June 22, 1915: No peculiar necromancy in 1866

Georgia Gov. John Slaton, in his last week in office, commutes Leo Frank’s death sentence to one of life imprisonment. His lengthy statement explaining his decision blames the trial judge, who is now conveniently dead, for not understanding his own power to commute the sentence when the case was entirely circumstantial, despite his own doubt about Frank’s guilt.

The governor declares martial law in the area ½ mile around his house, and troops with bayonets disperse crowds who want to... discuss the matter with him. This is believed to be the first time a United States governor has ever had to declare martial law to protect himself. A mass meeting at the Atlanta court house adopts resolutions denouncing Slaton for destroying the courts, because nothing says respect for the courts so much as a baying mob. In Marietta, home town of Mary Phagan, Slaton is hung in effigy, the effigy bearing a sign reading “John M. Slaton, King of the Jews and Georgia’s Traitor Forever.” State Solicitor Hugh Dorsey, who prosecuted the case, criticizes Slaton’s decision, saying that Slaton was “disqualified, at least to an extent, by his environment and affiliations” from viewing the case impartially(meaning that one of his law partners was Frank’s lawyer). Dorsey will be elected governor in 1916, largely on the back of this case.

In Guinn v. US, the Supreme Court strikes down the grandfather clause in the Oklahoma and Maryland constitutions in a ruling also affecting similar provisions in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia (Wikipedia says also North Carolina, but the NYT says NC’s grandfather clause expired in 1908; in 1915 the state was instead using educational qualifications to stop negroes voting). In the law just struck down, Oklahoma’s literacy test for voters didn’t apply to people whose grandfathers were either eligible to vote in 1866 (before the passage of the 15th Amendment) or were soldiers or lived abroad. The state told the Court this didn’t violate the 15th Amendment because it didn’t explicitly mention race, which is the exact same argument made in 2015 in the Supreme Court in support of de facto housing segregation (Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. The Inclusive Communities Project). But the Court, in a decision written by Chief Justice Edward Douglass White, a former Confederate soldier, rejects OK’s claim as an evasion: “it cannot be said that there was any peculiar necromancy in the time named [1866], which engendered attributes affecting the qualification to vote”. The Court didn’t have a problem with a literacy test per se.

The NAACP filed a brief in the case, its first before the Court.

Oklahoma will keep the literacy provision, but require that those who had been excluded from voting by the overturned law register to vote within a 12-day period or “be perpetually disenfranchised.” That too was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1939.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Today -100: June 21, 1915: Of fat frogs, trusties, and tunnels

Headline of the Day -100: 

100 kg (220 lb) men may be conscripted for non-combat duties.

The wife of the warden of Joliet Prison is murdered, probably by a negro trusty convicted of manslaughter, her skull crushed and the warden’s apartment (in the prison) set on fire.

The creation of the Federal Reserve has led, inevitably, to the first attempt at a Federal Reserve Bank robbery.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

Today -100: June 20, 1915: Take me out to the ball game

The USS Arizona is launched, 15 months after construction began. That’s the USS Arizona that was sunk at Pearl Harbor.

Former Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan holds a peace meeting in Carnegie Hall before a mostly labor-union audience. The meeting agrees that the US government should take over all munitions patents and manufacturing.

German troops are fighting a losing battle against the “tenth enemy”: lice. Specifically, Polish lice.

Clarice Baright has applied to NY Mayor John Mitchell to be appointed to the Court of Special Sessions, Juvenile Court division. The mayor first has to figure out whether a woman is even eligible to be a magistrate. She is an expert on juvenile crime and could not be more qualified. He won’t appoint her, although she will temp at the job for 30 days in 1925 while one of the judges is out sick.

Carranza’s attempt to unite all of Mexico behind him in response to Woodrow Wilson’s ultimatum has instead succeeded in breaking up even his own faction, as four cabinet members resign and several generals including “Lefty” Obregón are backing them. Carranza has retreated to a fortress. Wilson’s plan is still, reportedly, to have Carranza step aside in favor of some mythical person acceptable to all sides.

A New Jersey jail allowed 18 prisoners to see a baseball game in which the NY Yankees were beaten by a local team which the NYT crankily refuses to even name. At the end of the game, the prisoners couldn’t find the deputy sheriff who was supposed to take them back, because he’d gone off to celebrate. After looking around for a bit, they walked back to the jail, but no one answered their knocking, and the burglars amongst the company proved unequal to the job of breaking in. Eventually a cook heard them and let them in, along with 5 hoboes they’d picked up along the way. “It is understood that a pleasant evening was had by all.”
Buy me some peanuts and craaaaackerjack
I don’t care if I never go back.

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Today -100: June 19, 1915: Of peace prayers, well-educated white men under negro control, u-boats, and tractors

The German authorities are considering whether to prosecute the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne for publishing a prayer for peace, saying “Nothing on earth is so cruel as war and such a war as the present war with its oceans of blood and tears.” In the past, though, he’s said that God is on Germany’s side, so who knows what’s up with him.

Germany complains that France is maltreating German POWs in Africa, especially in Dahomey (Benin), “where well-educated white men are under negro control”. In retaliation, French POWs will be forced to labor in swamps.

German feeling in favor of ruthless submarine warfare is reinforced by the story, whether true or not I don’t know, that two weeks ago a u-boat did what it was supposed to do under the rules of “humanitarian” warfare and gave a warning to a fishing ship it intended to sink so that the crew could escape, but the ship fired on her and sank her. (Update: Within a couple of days the story had changed from U-14 being fired on to U-29 being treacherously destroyed by a British tank steamer flying a Swedish flag. In fact, U-29 was rammed by one British dreadnought in March as it attempted to sink another dreadnought, no treachery involved).

A Cleveland company is advertising poison-gas shells in foreign publications. The government is not best pleased.

Henry Ford has invented an “automobile tractor.” I’m not sure what he’s actually invented that’s so new; tractors have been around since the beginning of the century, which is why there’s, you know, a word for them. At any rate, Ford will soon begin mass-producing tractors and come to dominate the market. The tractors will keep young men on the farm, Ford says. He doesn’t seem to have asked young men if they want to be kept on the farm.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Today -100: June 18, 1915: Of gunboat diplomacy, slackers, and swell shells

Woodrow Wilson sends 3 warships to Mexico carrying 3 companies of Marines who the admiral in charge of the expedition is authorized to land to deal with the Yaqi Indians.

British Minister of Munitions David Lloyd George will introduce a bill to establish labor courts to fine munitions workers for “slacking.” Strikes and lockouts will be illegal. Profits will be restricted to pre-war profits + 25%.

As I mentioned, the German ambassador to the US sent an emissary on the arduous journey to Germany to convey his views about American reactions to the Lusitania sinking, because he rightly didn’t trust the security of cable traffic. Well, several US newspapers have been running rumors that that emissary, Dr. Anton Meyer-Gerhard of the German Red Cross, is actually Alfred Meyer of the German Privy Council, who was in the US on a secret arms-buying mission. Another version has Meyer or some other mysterious German traveling as Meyer-Gerhard’s assistant and the whole trip being a smokescreen to sneak him out of the country. The German ambassador will go to Acting Secretary of State Lansing tomorrow to formally deny any knowledge of this Alfred Meyer person. Lansing will formally accept that, because Count von Bernstorff... gave him his word.

William Jennings Bryan says the US’s military unpreparedness actually makes for peace; Europe demonstrates that deterrence doesn’t prevent war.

At the start of the zeppelin attacks on London, total blackouts of street lights were considered but rejected as creating more hazards (for example, making it difficult for fire trucks, police and ambulances to get around) than the actual bombing.

Rhyming Headline of the Day -100:

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Today -100: June 17, 1915: Of palaces, incinerations, rockefellers, and zeppelins

French planes bomb the Karlsruhe Palace, the home of the grand duke of Baden. Presumably they didn’t know that the queen of Sweden was visiting, but the wing she’s in is untouched. Kaiser Wilhelm’s aunt is also in residence.

France is experimenting with incinerating its dead soldiers. On its first try, after 5 hours “no unpleasant odor was noticeable.”

At the Lusitania inquiry, Cunard chairman Alfred Booth says that it was perfectly fine that the ship wasn’t using all its boilers – saving coal but reducing speed – because no ship had ever been torpedoed when it was going more than 14 knots, and the Lusi was making a full 18.

31 socialist writers send a letter to John D. Rockefeller Jr., accusing him of murder in the Colorado coal mines, not just for the Ludlow Massacre, but for the high mortality rate in his mines, high even by coal mine standards, and for manipulating the courts to sentence union leaders to death. Since union leaders are evidently being held responsible for acts committed by union members, it actually seems only fair that Rockefeller should be tried for murders committed by his thugs. Among the signers of the letter are Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis.

Headline of the Day -100:
It’s probably just a little gas. Hah!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Today -100: June 16, 1915: Of rafts, helmets, futuristic bicyclists, and rubber

The British Court of Inquiry into the Lusitania sinking opens, and the fix is in. It’s a propaganda exercise, pure and simple. Any survivors who might criticize the Admiralty, the Cunard Line, or Capt. Turner (American passengers are most critical) are excluded as witnesses, and the inquiry is headed by Lord Mersey, who also ran the Titanic inquiry and decided that no one had done anything wrong. Lawyers representing victims and survivors are present, but Attorney General Sir Edward Carson is censoring their questions.

The main item of business on the first day (the inquiry will last only 3 – Carson says he doesn’t intend to bring “a raft of evidence” – really, Edward, really?) is to disprove that the ship was armed.

Headline of the Day -100:

A negro who murdered a farmer is lynched outside of Hope, Arkansas.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Nothing says The Future like a bicycle.

Which is the kinkiest war headline of the day -100? Is it this?

or this?

or perhaps this?

Frank Sheehy-Skeffington, Irish nationalist and feminist, was arrested under the Defence of the Realm Act for making statements “causing disaffection and affecting recruitment” (a speech against the prospect of conscription). Sentenced to 6 months, he hunger struck, like his suffragette wife Hanna back in the day, and has been released after 7 days under the Cat and Mouse Act, the first time the Act has been used for a non-suffrage-related offense.

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Monday, June 15, 2015

Today -100: June 15, 1915: Of wandering Jews, Greek elections, poisoned water, and lynchings

Romania seems to have done a deal with the Allies to enter the war. They want Transylvania. And Bessarabia. And other territory.

Headline of the Day -100:

Spain says it will take Jewish refugees from the Balkan war zone. This is the result of a campaign promoted by a Louis Friedman of New York since before the war. How welcome Jews will be remains a question, but Spain has admitted that the decree of expulsion (the 1492 one?) is no longer in force.

Greek elections: the party of former prime minister Eleftherios Venizelos, who was fired by the (now very ill) king for his pro-war views, wins a majority of parliamentary seats.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: the Berliner Tageblatt on May 9 (the NYT has evidently just received a load of old German newspapers) claims two British navy divisions got into a battle with each other at night.

Britain will stop treating German U-boat prisoners differently from other POWs, and Germany will stop its reprisals against British prisoners.

A lynch mob in Winnsboro, South Carolina, shoot a negro being taken to court on assault (presumably rape) charges, killing the county sheriff in the process.

Anti-German riots in Moscow after some factory workers get sick, which naturally led to rumors that Germans had poisoned the factory’s drinking water.

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Sunday, June 14, 2015

Today -100: June 14, 1915: A farewell to arm

In Lahore, India, 81 Indians are indicted for conspiracy against the lawful government of India. The revolution is said to have started in Sacramento, of all places.

Mexico: Gen. Obregón is falsely reported to have died a few days after his arm was shot off.

Last week, the German occupation authorities in Belgium shut down transportation in and out of the town of Malines to punish it for not providing munitions workers. Now, Cardinal Mercier, who has clashed with the Germans more than once, attempts to walk out of Malines – with a large retinue. There may have been a clash of some sort.

Ernest Cowper, a Canadian journalist for Jack Canuck who survived the Lusitania sinking and rescued 6-year-old Helen Smith of Pennsylvania, who lost both her parents, her baby brother, and two cousins, says he handed her over to a woman in Queenstown who said she was Helen’s aunt, but who he now thinks was just some wealthy woman who read the story, because after he wrote a story about Helen he got 22 offers to adopt her.

OK, I’ve looked it up now, and that woman was in fact her aunt (another Lusitania survivor). Phew. Helen lived what sounds like a normal enough life in Wales (with other relatives, not the aunt, who was the mother of those dead cousins), where she died in 1993. She was still in contact with Cowper 10 years after the Lusitania. This is them.

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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Today -100: June 13, 1915: When in Rome, or something

Germans are surprised and pleased, in their German way, at the mildness of Woodrow Wilson’s note.

William Jennings Bryan is now saying that the most recent note to Germany was watered down over the version that caused him to resign, but not watered down enough to justify him withdrawing his resignation. People have been wondering why he resigned over a letter almost identical and if anything weaker than the first one, which he did sign.

The NYT gets all Maureen Dowd on Bryan, calling his address to German-Americans “an unconscious picture of the state of a befuddled mind.”

An article in the Sunday NYT Magazine says that Italy today is using the same military strategy as Ancient Rome.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Today -100: June 12, 1915: Why, the very thought of the Germany army resorting to cruelty and force!

Headline of the Day -100: 
21 treaties, to be precise. The recently passed Seaman’s Act gives foreign sailors in US ports the right to half-pay, exempts foreign sailors from arrest for desertion, requires that a certain percentage of sailors be skilled and a certain percentage understand the language of the captain. All these provisions violate treaties, as well as the contracts those sailors entered into abroad. One little problem: the treaties Congress plans to screw with cover much broader commercial ties, and may now be abrogated entirely by this law.

Headline of the Day -100: 
Whatever floats your boats, guys.

Actually, Social Democratic deputies present reports that German officers are ill-treating soldiers. The minister of war denies some of them, makes excuses for the rest, and asks deputies to stop talking about these things in open session because it might create the impression that “Germany army leaders had to resort to cruelty and force to drive their troops to battle”. He gets his way about the open session.

William Jennings Bryan issues a statement addressed to German-Americans, saying that it was perfectly ok if they wanted Germany to win, but criticizing their criticism of US arms sales to warring countries. Bryan says such sales are perfectly neutral even though they help only the side which is actually capable of taking advantage of it. Oh sure, the US could stop selling arms altogether as some suggest, “but it is strange that they could have overlooked” that that could hasten peace only because it would help one side. That may be the least persuasive logic I’ve ever heard, and he’s condescending about it as well, which pretty much sums up William Jennings Bryan right there. He also asks them to try to pressure Germany in favor of the US position; German-Americans will be about as happy about this as Muslims today are happy being asked to disavow every single terrorist act.

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Today -100: June 11, 1915: Contending for nothing less high and sacred than the rights of humanity

Pres. Wilson’s note to Germany (full text) is made public. It asks Germany for assurances that it will stop killing Americans and sinking American ships and accept as a principle that non-combatants can’t be endangered when Germany attacks unresisting merchant ships. “The Government of the United States is contending for something much greater than mere rights of property or privileges of commerce. It is contending for nothing less high and sacred than the rights of humanity”. Specifically, the rights of people from neutral countries to travel by sea without being blowed up. Germany’s claims about contraband munitions being aboard the Lusitania are dismissed as “irrelevant” to the issue of the legality of the methods used in sinking it. All in all, a pretty mild document; the promise Wilson made in the first Lusitania note to hold Germany to “strict accountability” is not repeated.

German newspapers attack Wilson’s note as “one-eyed neutrality”: accepting Britain’s naval blockade of Germany but not German attacks on British supply ships. The London Times has an article by an American living in Germany who says “The average German today holds the American to be a money-grubbing coward.” And your point is?

Former Secretary of State Bryan issues a new statement to the American people, saying that Wilson’s note to Germany is part of the “old system” of force, while Bryan espouses the new system of persuasion and arbitration. The old system led to this war. “Some nation must lead the world out of the black night of war into the light of day when ‘swords shall be beaten into plowshares.’ Why not make that honor ours? ... Some day the nations will place their trust in love, the weapon, for which there is no shield” etc.

The US Secret Service arrests Gustav Stahl, one of the people whose affidavits the German government trotted out to “prove” the Lusitania was equipped with cannons. He’s arrested for perjury in his testimony before a grand jury. If I’m getting this right, Stahl testified for officials of the Hamburg-American Line being investigated for using false papers to ferry supplies from the US to German naval ships, contrary to US law, and those officials then got him to lie about the Lusitania as well.

A forthcoming article in Scientific American suggests how German poison gas might be dealt with. Poison gas as currently delivered, simply releasing the gas when a mild wind is blowing in the right direction (too strong a wind and it disperses), is pretty vulnerable to... giant fans (airplane engines and propellers without the actual airplane, hidden so they aren’t immediately targeted and blown up).

The French army will reduce solders’ meat ration and send them more preserved fruit instead.

In Johnston City, Illinois, a mob lynches a Sicilian miner who helped assassinate a rich guy whose son-in-law is a mine superintendent who recently fired some other Sicilians.

For the first time since reformist Thomas Osborne became warden of Sing Sing, someone escapes: Frederick Spence, who paid a guy $2 and a drink to shoot a man who had beaten him up for making unwanted advances to the man’s sister-in-law. The other prisoners are so upset by this breach of trust (and breach of bars, but evidently Sing Sing was really easy to escape from) that they immediately subscribe $100 for a reward for his capture.

The 1916 Hudson! Now with graceful yacht lines!

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Today -100: June 10, 1915: Of God and his mighty gases

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The Financial News (UK) claims that Kaiser Wilhelm ordered German aviators to try to bomb the children of Belgium’s King Albert. It also says he doubled the rewards to U-boat crews for sinking ships if they carried women and children, and that he specified the tortures to be used on 3-year-old children.

William Jennings Bryan is going to campaign actively for a softer approach to Germany than Wilson’s. He wants some sort of “investigation” by an international commission of the dispute with Germany over the Lusitania, lasting at least one blood-cooling year (as per all those arbitration treaties he’s been negotiating with various countries, but not Germany, I think), and for the government to warn Americans against traveling on ships, like the Lusi, registered in belligerent nations or carrying ammunition – “Passengers and ammunition should not travel together,” he says, in a statement issued simultaneously with Pres. Wilson’s note being sent to Germany. “Why should an American citizen be permitted to involve his country in war by traveling upon a belligerent ship, when he knows that the ship will pass through a danger zone... It is a very one-sided citizenship that compels a government to go to war over a citizen’s rights and yet relieves the citizen of all obligations to consider his nation’s welfare.” Bryan’s campaigning will probably consist mostly of statements and articles, he says. Amusingly, given his practice of going on paid lecture tours while still secretary of state, he is obligated to say that any speeches he gives on this subject will not be for pay.

The NYT complains that Bryan is talking publicly about private matters, if you think things like a note sent to Germany that might lead to war are private matters, which the NYT does. Bryan “takes no account of the embarrassment he may cause the Administration,” like some sort of former-day Edward Snowden.

The German military issues a staff order to troops in Poland: “God himself is on our side and fights for us in the conflict against the whole world. We, by the will of the Almighty, have had put into our hands a new and mighty weapon – those gases wherewith we have defeated our enemies.” Also, the war will obviously be won in a couple of months, max.

The Georgia Prison Commission rejects Leo Frank’s plea for commutation of his death sentence.

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Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Today -100: June 9, 1915: Less than three minutes to make a man a citizen, and he a foreigner

The real reason for Woodrow Wilson’s delay in responding to the German note on the Lusitania now becomes apparent: Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigns rather than sign the note, telling the president in his resignation letter, “you have prepared for transmission to the German Government a note in which I cannot join without violating what I deem to be an obligation to my country, and the issue involved is of such moment that to remain a member of the Cabinet would be as unfair to you as it would be to the cause which is nearest my heart, namely, the prevention of war.” In other words, he thinks the note (whose contents are not yet known) might lead to war with Germany. Which it won’t.

Pretty much everyone is happy to see Bryan go. The NYT says his resignation is “perhaps the wisest act of his political career.”

Bryan will not, as some are speculating, return to the Senate, or run for president in 1916, or even lead a significant opposition to Wilson. As a political force, the three-time Democratic candidate for president is (finally) done. The rest of his life, until his death in ten years’ time, will be devoted to prohibition and fighting Darwinism, which kind of go together since alcohol is behind so many Darwin Award winners.

Assistant Secretary of State Robert Lansing will replace Bryan temporarily (and then permanently). Semi-interestingly, Lansing is married to the daughter of Benjamin Harrison’s secretary of state and is the uncle of Eisenhower’s SecState John Foster Dulles.

The new British Cabinet will pool their salaries, except for the prime minister and the attorney general, who is paid partly through fees. The problem was that more Conservatives were getting the £5,000 a year posts and more Liberals the £2,000 a year posts.

Some newspapers claim that Germany is trying to buy up US arms companies (Winchester, Remington, Bethlehem Steel) to prevent them supplying the Allies.

The National American Woman’s Suffrage Association conference votes to condemn the two Congressional Union suffragists who attempted to speak to Woodrow Wilson “at a most inopportune time,” that is, when he’s preoccupied with the whole Lusitania thing.

New suffragist tactic: women college graduates wearing their black college robes silently attend naturalization ceremonies at US District Court to demonstrate visually the distinction between educated women unable to vote and ignorant foreign men just off the boat allowed to vote, or something. “Less than three minutes to make a man a citizen, and he a foreigner,” says one of the suffragists, and now women “must plead to this foreigner to grant us a voice in our own country [meaning the November NY referendum]. Could anything be more desperately unfair and humiliating?”

Liechtenstein declares itself neutral, but Austria says the country lies within its “theater of war.”

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Monday, June 08, 2015

Today -100: June 8, 1915: Of red-handed monks

German anti-Semitic newspapers want to restore the ban on Jewish army officers – after the war.

Gen. Pancho Villa may have been decisively defeated.

It mysteriously comes out that there is/was a secret treaty between Germany, Austria and Romania under which Romania can’t go to war with them until 1920.

A National American Woman’s Suffrage Association conference votes against militant tactics such as the recent “heckling” of Pres. Wilson and opposing Democrats in general for opposing a federal suffrage constitutional amendment.

The German occupation authority demands that 500 Belgians volunteer to work at their arsenal in Malines. None do. As punishment, the city’s entire business traffic by rail and canal is shut down.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Italian authorities arrest five monks for signaling military intel by way of reflectors from the windows of their monastery across the Adriatic to Austria.

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Sunday, June 07, 2015

Today -100: June 7, 1915: Of passports, gas, and poison zeppelins

Two Americans who live in Dresden told a newspaper there that Wilson’s reaction to the Lusitania sinking makes them ashamed of their citizenship. So the State Dept revokes their passports.

Russia says German poison gas killed civilians, indeed wiped out whole villages down to the last chicken.

Headline of the Day -100: 

What’s the 1915 equivalent of “that would be a great name for a rock band?” I really don’t see a barbershop quartet calling itself the Poison Zeppelins.

Oh, and there are no, repeat no poison zeppelins.

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Saturday, June 06, 2015

Today -100: June 6, 1915: Of astors, headaches, traitor monks, mob rule, and gas

2-year-old John Jacob Astor VI, born four months after his father, John Jacob Astor IV, died on the Titanic, on which he and his much younger wife Madeleine Talmage Force Astor were returning from their honeymoon, requires more to live on than the measly $20,000 a year the Surrogates’ Court is giving his mother out of the income of his $3 million trust, she tells the court. Why, she’s spent much more than that (mostly on their 5th Avenue mansion) out of the goodness of her heart and her own $7+ million inheritance. To be fair, she’ll lose that inheritance in a year when she remarries, because JJ 4’s will was kind of dickish that way.

Headline of the Day -100: 

So he was unable to finish writing his response to Germany’s response to his Lusitania Note.

The Danish Parliament votes for a new constitution, in which women not only have the franchise but also the right of election to the Parliament.

Headline of the Day -100: 

While the rest of the country is holding pro-Leo Frank meetings, one held in Atlanta cheers for his impending execution – close enough that Frank can hear them from his cell. The speaker says that giving in to the clamor of the rest of the country would be giving in to “mob rule.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

We’ve all been there.

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Friday, June 05, 2015

Today -100: June 5, 1915: Of zeppelin giants, spies, and poles

Headline of the Day -100: 

Oh, I don’t think so.

In a secret trial in London, two Germans named Muller and Hahn are convicted before two justices named Lush and Avory, which sounds like a bad pulp thriller, but then so much of the British justice system does. Muller is sentenced to death by firing squad, Hahn to life.

The Frankfurter Zeitung claims that arch-nationalist Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio is in fact... a Pole.

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Thursday, June 04, 2015

Today -100: June 4, 1915: If we had a jingo in the White House, this country would now be at war with Germany

San Marino declares war on Austria! The Sammarinese army numbers nearly one thousand. Nearly. The NYT will print another story on the 8th saying that San Marino, “in an ardently picturesque manifesto... declares it draws the sword on the side of Italy.” And then doesn’t mention the republic’s no doubt ardently picturesque war effort at least through 1916.

Germany captures Przemysl.

Wilson’s warning to the Mexican factions to unite or face American action has the predictable (except to Wilson, I guess) effect: every side is now fighting harder than ever for dominance, hoping for American recognition.

The British Parliament meets for the first time under the new cabinet.  The NYT tells us “H.W. Foster was cheered when he answered questions about stockings” but fails to inform us as to what that was about, so I had to check Hansard:
Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD  asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether there has been any rejection of hosiery supplied to the War Office since the War on account of its containing excessive moisture; and, if so, can he state the quantities so rejected?
The FINANCIAL SECRETARY to the WAR OFFICE (Mr. H. W. Forster)  There have been a few rejections on account of excessive moisture, but the quantity rejected forms a very small percentage of the total supplied. In most cases the excessive moisture was due to the socks having been scoured after finishing and sent out before they were dry.
Why there might have been cheering remains a complete mystery.

Parliament passes a bill to end the requirement that MPs appointed to cabinet positions have to resign and fight a by-election. This was supposed to be temporary, but like so many war measures...

The Tories want all workers in munitions, mines, railroads and anything else that can be considered vaguely war-related to be put under government control, essentially conscripted, and all union regulations abrogated.

Emmeline Pankhurst goes further, holding a meeting to call for mandatory war service for everyone of both sexes. What war service is she performing, you might ask? Well, she’s campaigning for mandatory war service (with a secret subsidy from the government, although that probably starts later), and she plans to adopt some war babies and then pass them off to her subordinates when she gets bored. At another meeting announcing plans for a home for war babies, a Father Vaughan protests the idea that “because a soldier had had a bad time in the trenches he should be encouraged to have a good time here at the expense of morality.”

William Howard Taft, speaking at the Bryn Mawr commencement, says it’s good Wilson is president because “If we had a jingo in the White House, this country would now be at war with Germany.” I wonder who he might have in mind?

District Court refuses the federal government’s petition to dissolve US Steel as a monopoly. The government will appeal.

The commander of a German U-boat apologizes to the captain of a trawler he’d just sunk, saying he hadn’t realized it was Belgian. So that’s okay then.

29 French airplanes bombard the hq of the German crown prince.

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Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Today -100: June 3, 1915: The people and Government of the United States cannot stand indifferently by and do nothing to serve their neighbor

Headline of the Day -100: 

Woodrow Wilson orders Mexico to knock off all the civil warring, or the US “will be constrained to decide what means should be employed by the United States in order to help Mexico save herself and serve her people.”  For example, we might lend “active moral support” (i.e., an arms embargo on its enemies) to some strongman or strong-group, “if such may be found,” which can establish a functioning government. They’re thinking Gen. Eduardo Iturbide, mostly because he’s in Washington DC lobbying for the job. “Mexico is starving and without a Government,” Wilson says, so “the people and Government of the United States cannot stand indifferently by and do nothing to serve their neighbor. They want nothing for themselves in Mexico. Least of all do they desire to settle her affairs for her, or claim any right to do so. But neither do they wish to see utter ruin come upon her”. He telegraphs this statement to Carranza, Villa, Zapata, and Garza.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The Daily News (London) says that Turkish troops have revolted at Gallipoli, killing German officers. The alleged revolt was put down, allegedly, and its ringleaders allegedly executed.

Cesare Battisti, a member of the Austrian Chamber of Deputies from Trentino for the Social Democratic Workers’ Party, is tried in absentia and sentenced to death. In absentia because he left the country at the start of the war and has joined the Italian Army. He will be captured by the Austrians a year from now and hanged (twice) and garrotted.

German Ambassador to the US Count von Bernstorff meets Pres. Wilson and tells him that he has affidavits that the Lusitania was armed: from some guy with a German name (who will turn out to be a German secret service agent) who claims he saw cannons when helping a friend bring his trunks on board; a boarding-house keeper and a lodger who say another lodger, a steward on the Lusi, said he’d be safe because the ship had “four big brightly polished copper guns” (the steward will swear he’s never met the guy and never said any such thing); and some guy who totally spotted a cannon while standing on the docks). Wilson tells him that the US won’t discuss the details of the Lusitania case with Germany until it accepts the principle that innocent lives shouldn’t be taken on the high seas.

Amb. Bernstorff has a problem: with trans-Atlantic cables passing through British territory, he has no way of communicating privately with his government, which he believes underestimates feeling in the US about the Lusitania. He will soon make arrangements to send a Dr Meyer-Gerhard all the way to Berlin.

A German newspaper claims that the former prime minister of Italy Giovanni Giolitti has had to flee the country because of his opposition to the war. Pretty sure this is false.

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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Today -100: June 2, 1915: This impudent excuse is typical of the Germans

Austria is refusing to offer Romania anything to stop it entering the war. It is thought that Romania and Bulgaria will soon enter the war and maybe even – and this would obviously be a game-changer – San Marino. (Granted the game that would be changed is Trivial Pursuit, but a game-changer is a game-changer).

The NYT notes that in the 9th century San Marino declared war against Charlemagne. And where is he now? Dead, that’s where he is.

There are so many countries at war (okay, 11, but that doesn’t count all their colonies and protectorates and commonwealths), that evidently no one noticed that one was on vacation:

In a massive zeppelin raid on London (which has previously been untouched), 120 bombs are dropped, starting fires, and killing 7 people. The Blitz this ain’t. More riots against and looting of German-owned shops ensue. Germany says the raid was in retaliation for the (French) aerial bombardment of Ludwigshafen am Rhein. Which the French said was in retaliation for German bombing raids on Paris. The Daily News says “This impudent excuse is typical of the Germans”.

Grover Cleveland’s widow Frances Preston is president of the Princeton branch of the New Jersey Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage and vp of the state branch. She says many women don’t want the vote and women don’t know enough about politics to cast intelligent votes.

The Georgia Prison Commission is considering Leo Frank’s plea for commutation. A delegation from the Atlanta region is present, including members of Mary Phagan’s family, former Governor Joseph Brown, and Solicitor General of the Blue Ridge Circuit Herbert Clay, who complains that non-Georgians have been reading “biased, I might say subsidized accounts.” I wonder jew he thinks is subsidizing those accounts? Who – I meant who he thinks is subsidizing those accounts.


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Monday, June 01, 2015

Today -100: June 1, 1915: But all the same we're wanting more

The British government is suing the London Times for printing a letter by a retired Maj. Richardson (they’re also suing Richardson) under the Defense of the Realm Act (DORA). The letter called for conscription in Britain, saying that France is running out of military recruits. The prosecutor says this would give Germany a sense of confidence and depress the French and British. The case will be dismissed because the Germans already know about the French thing.

Germany admits having sunk the American oil tanker Gulflight 4 weeks ago. The commander of the U-boat that sank it says he thought it was British and didn’t notice the American flag until after he’d given the order to fire.

Germany calls out the last of its reserves – except in Bavaria, for some reason.

Headline of the Day -100:

A mountain range, not a follicly challenged person.

British recruiting posters issued some time this month:

Recruiting poster issued this month in Ireland:

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