Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Today -100: May 31, 1916: No, I expect you to smell zesty and citrusy, Mr. Bond

Woodrow Wilson gives a Memorial Day speech. He defends the “league of nations” idea, saying it wouldn’t be an entangling alliance, but a disentangling one, “an alliance which would disentangle the peoples of the world from those combinations in which they seek their own separate and private interests, and unite the people of the world upon a basis of common right and justice. There is liberty there, not limitation. There is freedom, not entanglement.”

In his own Memorial Day speech, Theodore Roosevelt calls for increased military spending and universal (male) military training. He calls pacifists “the old women of both sexes.”

Headline of the Day -100:

To bring out any notes or maps drawn on the skin.

Chinese President Then Emperor Then President Again Yuan Shikai is sick. Or, as his opposition puts it, has been poisoned. One way of the other, he’ll be dead soon.

The Louisiana Republican state convention was held at a segregated hotel in New Orleans, which kept out 12 negro delegates, who just so happen to be Roosevelt supporters.

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Today -100: May 30, 1916: Losses both in men and in prestige

Kaiser Wilhelm rides a Berlin street car. For the first time. Paid his fare and everything (and a tip – most people don’t tip, Mr. Kaiser).

Gen. Douglas Haig reports on the last 5 months of war, the period since he took over command on the Western front. He thinks he’s doing pretty well, because of course he does. The only offensive by the Germans in that period has been Verdun, where “The efforts made by the enemy have caused him heavy losses, both in men and in prestige”.

Headline of the Day -100:

I thought we were past the “Oh what a jolly game” phase of this war.

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Today -100: May 29, 1916: Nobody but an avowed advocate of blood and carnage could oppose it

The NYT supports Wilson’s “league of nations” idea as a common-sense approach to preventing future wars. “Nobody but an avowed advocate of blood and carnage could oppose it, save on the grounds of impracticability.” Fortunately, the Times thinks the US will never fall afoul of the rules such a league would enforce: “War without warning is not our habit, aggression is contrary to our interests and practice. There is not the slightest probability that in any New World dispute to which we were a party we should bear ourselves so arrogantly as to invite the interference of the league of nations.” That sound you hear is the people of Mexico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic trying not to snicker.

Seymour & Seymour, the law firm wiretapped by the NYPD and the Burns Detective Agency, denies NYC Mayor John Purroy Mitchel’s claim that they had anything to do with a plot to ship munitions to Mexico. They say the wiretapping was done at the behest of J.P. Morgan & Co., worried that there might be some munitions contract with the British War Office not passing through their greedy, monopolistic hands. They want an apology from Mayor Mitchel, the head of the phone company, and J.P. Morgan himself.

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Today -100: May 28, 1916: We can’t stop the horses

Headline of the Day -100:

The Long Island Railroad is putting up posters to educate the public to stop ignoring signals at crossings. I can’t find better copies:

Three J.P. Morgan messenger boys (literally: one is 15) steal $10,515 (they hadn’t intended to take so much, but that’s what was in the bag they stole) to buy horses so they could join the Texas Rangers to go after Pancho Villa. As you do. They made it as far as Philadelphia.

Woodrow Wilson tells a banquet of the League to Enforce Peace (ex-President Taft’s group) that the US would be willing to join a “league of nation” after the European war is over, to protect the freedom of the seas, stop wars beginning in violation of treaties, and protect small states from aggression. Funny how those are all areas where Germany has been the bad actor. He claims that the US has a right to participate in formulating a peace because this war has affected American rights, privileges and property. (Complete transcript here.)

Kaiser Wilhelm appoints August Müller, an actual Socialist type person, to the Food Commission. Oh how he must have hated having to do that.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Today -100: May 27, 1916: A rather violent hypothesis

The Thompson Committee of the NY Legislature hears from two of the cops who listened in on phone conversations, revealing that they routinely wiretap lawyers and doctors (as well as hotels and pool rooms). They claim they don’t violate their doctor-patient or lawyer-client confidentiality, listening only long enough to determine where some wanted criminal is located. So reassuring.

The new German Food Dictator, Adolf Tortilowitz von Batocki-Friebe, says that the army will have priority for food over civilians. One problem he has to face: southern German states are not happy about having to send food to satisfy “Prussian food egotism.”

The US protests to France and Britain over the “lawless practice” of interfering with neutral, i.e. American, international mail.

Former President Taft is asked whether he would support Roosevelt if the Republican party nominated him for president. “That is a rather violent hypothesis,” he replies.

British munitions workers want the traditional Whitsuntide holidays. Lloyd George says no.

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Today -100: May 26, 1916: It was an attempt to take God out of the hearts of our little ones

“Three Catholic priests denied under oath before the Thompson Legislative Committee yesterday that a conspiracy exists among certain Catholic clergy and laymen of the city to injure the city administration and defeat the ends of justice, as Mayor Mitchel has charged in the committee’s investigation of the tapping of telephone wires by the police.” Monsignor John Dunn, chancellor of the archdiocese of NY, admits that he had spoken on a wiretapped phone about giving an inspector of charities “100,” but says this did not mean a bribe of $100 to leave the state to avoid being subpoenaed, but was a clever ruse to draw out the police he suspected were listening in on his phone conversations and anyway, he never said “100 dollars,” he said “100,” which could mean one hundred anything. Dunn says that the conspiracy behind the attack on Catholic institutions includes Standard Oil, the Sage Foundation, and the Charity Trust; “It had only one aim and that was the secularization of the charitable institutions. It was an attempt to take God out of the hearts of our little ones, and that is something we will not stand.” By little ones, he presumably means the lice-covered, under-fed orphans under the Church’s tender care. The monsignor also questions whether Mitchel is a real Catholic.

Prime Minister Asquith has been pondering how to restructure Ireland’s antiquated system of governance since the Rising (I guess just implementing Home Rule, like he promised before the war, isn’t an option, huh?). He still hasn’t worked it all out, but he will have wily negotiator David Lloyd George mediate between the Unionists and the (increasingly irrelevant) Irish Nationalists.

The NY National Guard opens an investigation into whether volunteers were turned away because they were Jewish. And it creates an all-negro regiment, Gov. Whitman announces at a memorial meeting for Booker T. Washington.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Today -100: May 25, 1916: Of national guards, wiretaps, and nationalized meat

The Senate Judiciary Committee approves Louis Brandeis’s appointment to the Supreme Court on a 10-8 party-line vote.

The military bill just passed by Congress requires National Guards in each state to expand to fixed quotas (800 per US Senator and congresscritter). New York law allows the state to draft men into the Guard if the quota isn’t met by volunteers. In practice, the governor would order mayors to do the picking.

NYC Mayor John Purroy Mitchel returns to testify before the Thompson Committee, whether they want it or not, and reads out transcripts of the possibly illegal wiretaps of Father Farrell and others.

The German Imperial Meat Bureau seizes control of all meat in the Reich. Possibly to make one gigantic sausage.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Today -100: May 24, 1916: Well-organized and purposeful conspiracies are the best kind of conspiracy

NY Mayor John Purroy Mitchel testifies before the state Legislature’s Thompson Committee, which has been investigating NYPD phone-tapping. He says the Catholic clergy has been conducting a “well-organized and purposeful conspiracy” against his administration as well as to thwart justice by paying to get a witness, an examiner of charities in the Finance Department (and defrocked Baptist minister), out of the state. The Committee tries to stop the mayor revealing details derived from possibly illegal phone taps, demanding to go into secret session, but the mayor refuses and keeps talking, not that anyone can hear him over all the shouting. This all has to do with the terrible conditions at several Catholic orphanages. In turn, Monsignor John Dunn, chancellor of the diocese, accuses Mayor Mitchel of being part of a conspiracy against private orphanages.

Headline of the Day That Makes the War Sound Like Gay Porn -100:

Germany names its food dictator: former governor (Oberpräsident) of East Prussia Adolf Tortilowitz von Batocki-Friebe. Forget about rationing food, there’s probably a kid somewhere in Berlin with no name at all because Adolf Tortilowitz von Batocki-Friebe has so many. Think of the children, Adolf Tortilowitz von Batocki-Friebe, think of the children.

The General Council of the Methodist Episcopal Church endorses women’s suffrage (but not dancing, card-playing, or theater-going, which are still banned).

The Prohibition Party wants William Jennings Bryan to run for president on their ticket. He’s been threatening to leave the Democratic Party if they don’t adopt a prohibition plank.

A bill on Puerto Rico passes the House. It gives the island greater control of its own revenue and adds property and education qualifications for citizenship. A provision for women’s suffrage is voted down.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Today -100: May 23, 1916: Of aggressive movements for thorough-going Americanism and thorough-going preparedness

Complaints are made that Jews trying to join the National Guard – in New York, yet – are being turned away.

A committee of mainstream Republicans (those who supported Taft rather than Roosevelt in 1912) go to Oyster Bay to tell TR that this time, he’s their man. He says of their action, “I accept it absolutely in the spirit in which you have taken it. You are for me because you regard me as representing and embodying the aggressive movement for thorough-going Americanism and thorough-going preparedness.” One of the delegation is Hiram Bingham III (they just don’t make names like that anymore), who complains that when he was in Peru, “I found the claim to American citizenship won no respect.” The Peruvian government even accused him of stealing gold (as opposed to the thousands of priceless relics he actually did loot from Machu Picchu). Roosevelt says this is because foreigners think the US under Wilson is afraid to fight for its citizens’ rights.

Meanwhile, Justice Charles Evans Hughes refuses, again, to say whether he is a candidate. Although anyone-but-Roosevelters are working hard for his nomination, he doesn’t seem to have communicated with any of them. He is rumored to have said recently that he expects Roosevelt to be the nominee, but this may be a ruse by TR supporters to force him to make a declaration of candidacy or non-candidacy.  The Republican convention is just over two weeks away.

Obit of the Day -100: Artúr Görgei, commander of the Hungarian forces which attempted to win freedom from the Austrian Empire in the year of revolutions, 1848. Since he surrendered in 1849 and wasn’t, you know, executed, although he did spend 18 years in prison, his reputation among Hungarians was not especially good, and he’s kept out of the public eye for the last few decades.

Professors Frédéricq and Pirenne of the University of Ghent have been arrested by the German occupation forces in Belgium and interned in Germany for refusing to teach in Flemish (Germany is trying to widen the divide between the Flemish and the Walloons).

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Today -100: May 22, 1916: Of blue laws, contraband, and bally bunk

Headline of the Day -100:

The New York National Guard was supposed to have war games in Sheepshead Bay, with 10,000 guardsmen, bands, airplanes, cannon & other firearms. But it was a Sunday, and somebody complained that all that noise would violate the blue laws, so they had to do it all with blanks, without bugles and airplanes, and with the bands only allowed to play religious music (Onward Christian Soldiers etc).

The Prize Court in Hamburg rules that it’s okay for German subs to sink any neutral ship whose cargo is more than half contraband.

Former US ambassador to Turkey Henry Morgenthau says that he and Turkish officials discussed buying Palestine. It’s not clear who would actually do the buying. Jews? Surely not the United States.

Why are the Republicans even holding presidential primaries? The vast majority of convention delegates already chosen are committed to no candidate, and no one knows who’s actually running.

At a Chicago meeting called to protest the British executions of Irish rebels, Irish labor leader Jim Larkin leaps on and strangles a British man in the audience who complained about the “bally bunk” and “ridiculous drivel” being spoken.

From the Wipers Times:
We are glad to see that the City Fathers of Wulverghein [near Ypres] are going to introduce the Day-light Saving Bill, as this will mean that some soldiers, who are in the district, will be able to go to bed earlier. It really is a great blessing, and will enable all of us who are lovers of nature to take our early morning ramble an hour earlier, thus catching the lark at its best.
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Saturday, May 21, 2016

Today -100: May 21, 1916: The faking is the best part

The German occupation authorities in Belgium still haven’t found the source of an underground newspaper, La Libre Belgique, produced “régulièrement irrégulier” for over a year, despite offering a large reward. The name is a play on the pro-German La Belgique.

Coney Island opens for the summer and it promises, this time, to be “sanitary, safe, and sane” and to ban all faking.

Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Hughes wins the Oregon Republican primary for president, despite already having a job, despite not having announced that he wants the job, and despite having tried to get his name taken off the ballot.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Today -100: May 20, 1916: You cannot do detective work in a high hat and kid gloves

At the NY Legislature’s Thompson Committee hearings about NYPD phone taps, the city of NY’s corporation counselor tries to shut the whole thing down, claiming there are “national issues” involved. Sen. George Thompson (R) expresses skepticism. From his office, NY Mayor John Purroy Mitchel accuses Thompson of a “cumulative act of treachery” towards the United States Government for making the wiretapping public. Finally, Police Commissioner Arthur Woods testifies. Asked if he wasn’t tapping many innocent people, Woods says, “You know, you cannot do detective work in a high hat and kid gloves” and complains about all this talk about the rights of criminals. He reassures the public that no one’s phone conversations are being listened to “unless he is a crook.” Curiously, no one points out to him that it is the job of a court of law and not the commissioner of police to determine who is a crook.

The White House asks Britain not to execute Jeremiah Lynch, a naturalized US citizen, for his part in the Easter Rising, and they agree. Lynch was a staff captain during the occupation of the General Post Office. He will be released with other prisoners in 1917 and deported to the US in 1918. From exile, he will be elected to the British Parliament in 1918.

A Royal Commission is investigating the Easter Rising, which the NYT is pleased to call “the Sinn Fein revolt,” though SF had little enough to do with it. Former Chief Secretary of Ireland Augustine Birrell defends his failure to foresee the events, although he admits he knew little about what was going on in “the cellars of Dublin” and was uneasy about it. He defends spending most of his time in London instead of Ireland, saying he had to attend Cabinet meetings, although “a jackdaw or a magpie might have done just as well to cry out ‘Ireland!’ ‘Ireland!’ when bills were being discussed by the Cabinet.”

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Today -100: May 19, 1916: Of controversies of the past, wire-taps, and peace conferences

British Prime Minister Asquith tells Millicent Garrett Fawcett, president of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, that if there is new franchise legislation before the next election (and there has to be, as residency requirements in the current laws would deprive most soldiers of the vote), then women’s suffrage will be “fully and impartially weighed without any prejudgment from the controversies of the past.”

More information about the NYPD’s phone-tapping emerges from the Legislature’s committee. The law firm of Seymour & Seymour was tapped to determine how stolen information about J.P. Morgan’s financing of munition sales to France leaked to munitions companies, including how much Morgan was willing to pay, and to get intel about German agents’ purchases of munitions for Mexican rebels. The NYPD seem to have subcontracted the dictaphone-placing and black-bag break-in work to the William Burns Detective Agency. Mayor John Purroy Mitchel denies that any influential person (like Morgan) can just tell the cops to wiretap someone for him. No, phones are only tapped if the police commissioner thinks a crime has been committed or might be committed. Which would be more reassuring if the police commissioner, Arthur Woods, were not engaged to J.P. Morgan’s granddaughter (not sure if anyone knew that).

The House Committee on Naval Affairs includes in the annual Navy budget a provision authorizing the president to call a conference at the end of the European war to discuss disarmament and create a court of arbitration to prevent future wars.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Today -100: May 18, 1916: No one should shake hands with Italian officers

The US Cavalry kill 5 Mexican bandits who participated in the raid on Glenn Springs, Texas, and rescue two kidnapped Americans.

The Dominican Republic’s Chamber of Deputies elects Federico Henríquez y Carvajal provisional president.

Italy makes public what it claims is an order issued by Austrian Gen. Szekozar Borovich: “Troops on the southwest front should make as few prisoners as possible. No one should shake hands with Italian officers.” Okay, killing prisoners is bad, but snubbing an extended hand is just plain rude.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Today -100: May 17, 1916: The only thing that saves the world is the little handful of disinterested men that are in it

A committee of the New York Legislature hears that the NYPD have tapped 350 phones over the last two years, more than anyone realized. And that’s just the official taps; unofficial ones are suspected to have occurred as well. No warrants. The committee stumbled on the extensive wiretapping as a by-product of an investigation into the wiretapping of 3 priests. More details to come.

Woodrow Wilson, speaking at the National Press Club, says that only if the US stays out of the European war will it be able to help formulate a “solution” after it is ended. “If you are in a conference in which you know nobody is disinterested, how are you going to make a plan? I tell you, gentlemen, the only thing that saves the world is the little handful of disinterested men that are in it.”

The French War Ministry rejects all the bids entered to supply the military with 100,000 pounds of meat per day after discovering that the wholesalers colluded to rig the bid.

Headline of the Day -100:

Sadly, it’s a James Douglas Glass, not a boy made out of glass.  Jersey City cops are rounding up Gypsies, because that’s what you do when a child goes missing, obvs.

Headline of the Day -100:

Sam Perlstein, headwaiter at Joel’s on West 41st St. in New York, inherits from his uncle, a captain in the Austrian army, a property which is currently commandeered by the military. Perlstein does not intend to go to Europe.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Today -100: May 16, 1916: Of Sykes-Picot, Waco lynchings, Irish brigades, and sending in the Marines

The Sykes-Picot Agreement is signed. It won’t be in the newspaper because it’s, shhh, a secret deal between Britain and France. It’s named after its negotiators, Colonel Sir Tatton Benvenuto Mark Sykes and François Marie Denis Georges-Picot, who each had way too many names, dividing up the Ottoman Empire. When the Bolsheviks release the text in late 1917, it will come as quite a surprise to the Arabs who T.E. Lawrence is now trying to get to revolt against Turkish rule. Zionists will also not be best pleased. Fortunately, imperialists drawing arbitrary lines on maps of the Middle East always works out well...

In Waco, Texas, a 17-year-old negro named Jesse Washington is lynched. He had just been convicted of raping and murdering the wife of his employer, a farmer, in a one-hour trial (followed by a 4-minute jury deliberation) in which his lawyer offered no defense. He is castrated, his fingers cut off, and he is burned to death, slowly, repeatedly lowered into the flames and raised out again, in front of a crowd variously estimated at 10,000 to 15,000. The remains of his body, at least those that had not been taken as souvenirs, are put in a bag and dragged behind a horse through the streets of Waco, then hung from a telephone pole. There are photographs (indeed, postcards), which you can see online (not recommended). Tomorrow the NYT will editorialize “wherever the news of it goes – and the news will go far – it will be asserted that in no other land even pretending to be civilized could a man be burned to death in the streets of a considerable city amid the savage exultation of its inhabitants. The assertion is probably not true, but to disprove it will be difficult.” The news will indeed go far, in part thanks to W.E.B. DuBois and The Crisis, but the NYT won’t mention it again.

Oh yeah: no one was ever prosecuted, although there were those postcards, in which members of the lynch mob are clearly visible.

Sir Roger Casement’s trial begins at Bow Street Police Court in London. It’s not one of those secret-court-martial-without-a-lawyer deals used for most of the Irish rebels, because Casement was nabbed before martial law was declared. He has a surprise co-defendant, Daniel Bailey, one of the Irish soldiers who Casement recruited from German POW camps for Germany’s “Irish Brigade” and who accompanied Casement on the u-boat that put them ashore in Ireland. Bailey will do a deal, testify against Casement, and be released, amazingly enough, back into the army.

US marines land in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. They’ll leave in 1924.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Today -100: May 15, 1916: No soup for you!

The curfew in Dublin is loosened. It now covers only midnight to 4 a.m. Asquith is currently touring the wrecked city.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Denmark, facing a shortage of merchant ships, is putting two ships built in 1776 and 1786 back into service.

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Today -100: May 14, 1916: This war is helping the cause of women wonderfully

A huge Citizens’ Preparedness Parade is held in New York to support enlarging the military. 135,683 marchers according to the New York Times. That’s eleven hours of parade – 11 hours! – without even an Underdog balloon to liven it up, although Col. Sherrill of the NY National Guard did have a prancing horse.

The food shortage in Germany (and, it is rumored, food riots) has forced Interior Minister Clemens von Delbrück to resign.

Belgians are supposedly resorting to eating dogs.

British actors in the US (aged 18 to 41) have been ordered to return home to fight. The NYT worries about its effect on Broadway, which is lousy with English actors.

Charlie Chaplin (27) doesn’t go.

Headline of the Day -100:

British suffragette Christabel Pankhurst, in Rome, says “It will not be necessary for women to smash windows and go to jail to get their rights when this war is over. This war is helping the cause of women wonderfully.” Wonderful. When the war is over, she says, “Europe then will be mentally and spiritually fifty years ahead of where it was before the war started.”

Dr. Alexander Just, the Hungarian inventor of the tungsten-filament light bulb, admits that his announcement that he’d invented a dry cell battery that could recharge from the oxygen in the air alone was wrong, that he was in fact duped by a pissed-off lab assistant.

Obit of the Day -100:

Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem (pseudonym of Solomon Rabinovich), author of the short stories that were the basis for Fiddler on the Roof, as well as numerous plays, novels, etc, is dead at 57. He’s been living in New York and Switzerland for much of the last decade, having found it expedient to leave Russia to escape pogroms.

Japan only imported 26 automobiles in 1915, having started making its own.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Today -100: May 13, 1916: Of endorsements, executions, and expeditions

Thomas Edison endorses Theodore Roosevelt for president.

The British execute James Connolly and John McDermott, which completes the set of all 7 signers of the proclamation of an Irish Republic.

The British Foreign Office defends banning medical supplies from being imported (including from the US) into Germany. It points out that during the Civil War the North prevented medical supplies, including quinine and anaesthetics, from reaching the Confederacy.

The US doesn’t seem to know what to do with the troops it sent into Mexico, who are now just kind of sitting there. They can’t go deeper into the country without many more men to maintain supply and communication lines, and they don’t have the men and can’t get Mexicans to work for them. Also, they don’t know where Villa is.

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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Today -100: May 12, 1916: You are doing everything conceivable to madden the Irish people

Prime Minister Henry Asquith announces in Parliament that he is going to Ireland.

Irish Nationalist MP John Dillon offers a resolution that the government should declare its intentions as to continuing to execute rebels following secret military trials, the length of martial law, etc. It is rejected without a vote. Dillon demands that the executions in Ireland be ended, speaking, he says, as someone who opposed the Rising. “At this moment, I say, you are doing everything conceivable to madden the Irish people and to spread insurrection – perhaps not insurrection, because if you disarm the country there cannot be insurrection – but to spread disaffection and bitterness from one end of the country to the other. ... You are letting loose a river of blood, and, make no mistake about it, between two races who, after three hundred years of hatred and of strife, we had nearly succeeded in bringing together. ... It is the first rebellion that ever took place in Ireland where you had a majority on your side. ... I admit they were wrong; I know they were wrong; but they fought a clean fight, and they fought with superb bravery and skill, and no act of savagery or act against the usual customs of war that I know of has been brought home to any leader or any organised body of insurgents.”

Prime Minister Asquith, no doubt thinking that one more river of blood among so many hardly makes a difference at this point, does not promise to stop the executions, the details of which he seems rather fuzzy about, either because he is genuinely ill-informed or because he’s trying to put any blame on Sir John Maxwell (to whose “own discretion” he has left these matters of life and death), the obscure general now in absolute command of Dublin. But the executions will stop after the next two, although not before turning the leaders of an unpopular uprising (Dillon was right about that) into national martyrs, and making anything less than a republic impossible.

The decision to stop executing rebels comes before they get to Éamon de Valera, the future president of Ireland. Luck of the draw, really.

US-Mexican negotiations fail. So the US Army will continue to do whatever the hell it wants to do in Mexico, for as long as it wants.

As Gen. Obregon is leaving the failed talks in El Paso, a deputy sheriff serves him papers in a damage suit brought by the mother of a child whose leg was broken when he was run down by a car driven by the general’s son yesterday.

There are reports (false reports, but reports nonetheless) that Rasputin has been assassinated.

Theodore Roosevelt finally indicates that he is in fact running for president, in a letter to the secretary of the Roosevelt Non-Partisan League expressing approval of their activities.

Two members of Congress get in a fist-fight in a D.C. hotel lobby over a movie (unnamed in the story) about Reconstruction and race in general. Frederick Lehlbach (R-NJ) says that his grandfather and his father were abolitionists and Samuel Nicholls (D-SC) replies that they were clearly most undesirable citizens, and fighting ensued.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Today -100: May 11, 1916: I haven’t any interest in ultimatums that fail to ultimate

Theodore Roosevelt comments on Wilson’s last note to Germany on submarine warfare: “I haven’t any interest in ultimatums that fail to ultimate.”

George Bernard Shaw protests the executions of leaders of the Easter Rising, who he says were prisoners of war and who had as much right to resist British rule as the English would if invaded by Germany. The executions, he says, are canonizing the prisoners. “It is absolutely impossible to slaughter a man in this position without making him a martyr and a hero, even though the day before the rising he may have been only a minor poet.” Ouch with the literary criticism, dude.

The British government finally admits that Francis Sheehy-Skeffington and two other journalists were executed at the Portobello Barracks before martial law was declared (i.e., illegally) and that they were ordered by a captain without the authorization of his superiors. He will be court-martialed...

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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Today -100: May 10, 1916: Of punitive expeditions, finishing the job, and Irish harmony

US-Mexican negotiations continue, despite the US refusing Gen. Obregon’s demand for a set date for the withdrawal of US troops. Obregon proposes a joint patrol of the border.

In response to the raid on those Texas towns, the National Guards of Texas, Arizona and New Mexico are being sent to the border, which releases the more trained soldiers currently on the border to go into Mexico. More US Army and other military units will also be sent, stripping ports and the Canadian border almost entirely of soldiers.

In the last few days, I’ve noticed the soldiers chasing Villa increasingly being referred to as a “punitive expedition.”

Texas Gov. James Ferguson says the US must “finish the job” in Mexico by taking it over to give it stable government, “whether it takes ten or fifty years to do it.”

Sweden claims to have stopped a plot by socialists and anarchists to assassinate King Gustave.

Headline of the Day -100:

Oh fer...

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Monday, May 09, 2016

Today -100: May 9, 1916: It is America’s duty to keep her head and yet have a very hard head

Secretary of State Robert Lansing replies to Germany’s statement on submarine warfare, which it pleases him to call a “declaration of its abandonment of the policy which has so seriously menaced the good relations between the two countries.” He says that the British naval blockade of Germany is irrelevant, although Germany pretty clearly said that the two are linked.

The u-boat U-20, the one that sank the Lusitania, celebrates the one-year anniversary of that event (oh okay, technically a year and a day) by sinking the SS Cymric, a White Star liner carrying munitions from the US to Britain. Without warning, as was the custom. 5 crew die (there were no passengers), but since none of them were American, the shaky US-German understanding is unaffected (although the US will take a few days working out whether the Cymric had been commandeered by the British Navy or hired by it, because that makes a huge difference to zzzzz).

4 more Irish rebels are sentenced to death by court-martial and immediately executed. That makes 11 executions so far, not counting extra-judicial murders like Francis Sheehy-Skeffington’s, and a bunch of commutations.

Woodrow Wilson defends his position on preparedness to a deputation from the American Union Against Militarism. Should the European countries beg the US to help restore peace, “you must go in on a basis intelligible to the people you are conferring with,” i.e., armed to the teeth. And there might be an international peace-keeping force which the US would join. But right now, well, “This is a year of madness. ... All the world is seeing red. ... In the circumstances, it is America’s duty to keep her head and yet have a very hard head.” And few heads are harder than Woodrow Wilson’s.

Rather late in the confirmation process for Louis Brandeis, the Senate Judiciary Committee asks Woodrow Wilson why he responded to their earlier request for papers related to the nomination (endorsements, that sort of thing) by saying there were none. Wilson says he relied on “public knowledge and personal acquaintance with the man.” He alludes to the charges made against Brandeis’s character, saying the committee’s report has shown those to be unfounded. Which is a little odd because the committee didn’t issue any report.

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Sunday, May 08, 2016

Today -100: May 8, 1916: I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me

Countess Constance Markievicz is sentenced to death by a court-martial trial for her part in the Easter Rising, but the sentence is commuted to life because she’s a, you know, girl. As a feminist, this offends her. She tells the court “I do wish your lot had the decency to shoot me.” She’ll be out of prison in a year and elected to Parliament the year after.

A band of Mexicans, who are assumed without much evidence to be Pancho Villa’s men (they seem to have yelled both “Viva Villa!” and “Viva Carranza”), attack Boquillas, Texas, but are driven off by mine company employees. They move on to Glen Springs, Texas, where they attack a small US Army outpost, shouting “Death to the gringoes,” as was the custom. They kill 3 soldiers & a 9-year-old deaf-mute boy. They go on to destroy a wax factory, because why not destroy a wax factory?

Dominican President Gen. Juan Jimenes, who had asked for American military intervention to protect him against impeachment by the Congress, changes his mind and resigns. Way to waste a perfectly good invasion, Juan!

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Saturday, May 07, 2016

Today -100: May 7, 1916: Of poets, prosecutors, popes, postponements, and police dogs

The NYT Sunday Magazine section has an article about the Irish poets who led the Easter Rising.

Hugh Dorsey, the Fulton County, Georgia solicitor-general who prosecuted Leo Franks so enthusiastically, announces his candidacy to be governor of Georgia.

Pope Benedict sends a message to Woodrow Wilson asking that the US and Germany not come to blows over submarine warfare.

In Haiti, US troops forcibly disperse a meeting of Haitian senators.

New York Mayor John Purroy Mitchel asks the organizers of a commemoration at Carnegie Hall of the sinking of the Lusitania (one year ago today) to postpone it, given the current state of German-US relations and for fear that Germans will cause disruptions and fights as they have at previous pro-Allies meetings. They agree to postpone.

What should have been postponed was a demonstration of police dogs at a NYC police parade in which a robber, actually Officer Christopher Reilly, steals a handbag and is chased. Unfortunately, as he runs in the direction of the mayor and police commissioner, a detective, not in on the whole “it’s not real” thing, shoots him in the mouth.

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Friday, May 06, 2016

Today -100: May 6, 1916: The one thing I have never heard discussed is peace

Germany’s reply to Wilson’s last note on submarine warfare accepts US demands not to sink ships without warning and to rescue evacuees, and is considered by an (unnamed) member of the Wilson Administration to be “irritating but acceptable.” Germany denies Wilson’s charge of indiscriminate sinking of ships, but sees no reason to debate it since the US “omitted to substantiate the assertion by reference to concrete facts.” In other irritating but acceptable language, Germany says that sub warfare was merely a response to the British, who first extended the war to non-combatants through its naval blockade, and hey we can’t help noticing that “the sentiments of humanity, which the Government of the United States extends with such fervor to the unhappy victims of submarine warfare, are not extended with the same warmth of feeling to many millions of women and children who, according to the avowed intention of the British Government, shall be starved”. It also mentions the voluminous sales of munitions from US companies to Germany’s enemies. The irritating but probably unacceptable sting in the note’s tale is that limits on sub warfare will only remain in place if the US tells Britain to knock off the blockade.

The British execute 4 more Irish rebels, including poet Joseph Plunkett, sculptor and tutor William Pearse, and Michael O’Hanrahan, a Gaelic teacher. They sound very scary.

Lord Curzon, the Lord Privy Seal, says “I have heard many things discussed in the Cabinet, but the one thing I have never heard discussed is peace.”

US marines land in Santo Domingo.

Adela Pankhurst, whose mother Emmeline banished her to Australia before the war, is stoned by soldiers and others while leading a No Conscription rally in Melbourne.

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Thursday, May 05, 2016

Today -100: May 5, 1916: Of imperialism, dangling suspenders, Irish justice, and Baptist hypocrites

Lots of US imperialism news today.

Mexico has backed off its demands that US troops withdraw, instead agreeing to cooperate with them and let them stay just as long as they like.

The Haitian Cabinet has resigned in a conflict with its Congress over acceding to US demands.

US Navy Commander W.S. Crosley threatens to land troops in the Dominican Republic, ostensibly to protect the US legation.

Speaking of the Dominican Republic, James Sullivan, the former US ambassador there until he resigned last year under investigation for getting Dominican railroad and electrical contracts for a relative (he was also accused of receiving diplomats in his undershirt with dangling suspenders – DANGLING SUSPENDERS!), is arrested in Dublin for complicity in the Rising (he was born in Kilkenny). He’ll be released without charges although, yeah, he was definitely part of it.

Courts-martial in Ireland are rapidly convicting supposed rebels in large numbers, while houses all over Dublin are being raided and no one can leave the city without a military pass. The authorities are taking a bit longer to prepare for Sir Roger Casement’s trial, and by prepare I mean leaking salacious excerpts from his diaries to anyone who might have publicly defended him (I said that Sir Roger being a homosexual was going to become significant), including politicians, newspaper editors, the US ambassador, and so on.

Theodore Roosevelt denies calling Charles Evans Hughes “that Baptist hypocrite.”

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Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Today -100: May 4, 1916: Prepare for preparedness

Four of the Easter Rising leaders – Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, Thomas Clark, and Thomas Macdonagh – are executed by firing squad. Shit goes fast if you don’t bother with real trials and don’t mind creating martyrs.

Augustine Birrell resigns as Irish Secretary, admitting that he slightly underestimated the possibility of a revolt. He says that (as a private member of Parliament) he hopes “the rebellion will be put down with such success, yet at the same time with such humanity displayed toward the dupes and the rank and file led astray by their leaders, that this insurrection in Ireland will never in the minds of memories of the people be associated with past rebellions or become an historic landmark in their country.” Good luck with that. Birrell will never set foot in Ireland again.

Frank Benson, Shakespearean actor-manager, is knighted by King George, who uses a stage sword.

William Lorimer, who was expelled from the US Senate in 1912 for election-tampering, is acquitted for conspiracy in the failure of the La Salle Street Trust & Savings Bank, of which he was president.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Today -100: May 3, 1916: We have to put up with these things

British Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith announces new plans for conscription, following that parliamentary revolt over the last version: every male gets to go, regardless of marital status.

Asquith tells Parliament that the surrender of Kut is not of military importance. The 13,000 new prisoners of war might disagree. He added, “We have to put up with these things.” “We?” the 13,000 prisoners wonder, “We don’t see your ass being death-marched through Mesopotamia.”

The troops entering Dublin receive enthusiastic cheers from crowds, according to a reporter who seems to be in Belfast (regardless, that did happen; the rising wasn’t popular among the people who had to live where it was going on). Hundreds of Sinn Féin & Irish Volunteer prisoners are being transferred to England.

US Rear Admiral William Caperton takes the USS Prairie to Santo Domingo to tell the Dominican Congress to stop its impeachment of President Juan Jimenes, and also to inform them that he supports Jimenes’s dissolution of Congress. Caperton actually has this power, according to the treaty the US forced the Dominican Republic to sign.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Monday, May 02, 2016

Today -100: May 2, 1916: All the world would stand once more thrilled to hear the voice of the New World asserting the standards of justice and liberty

Woodrow Wilson speaks at the opening of the National Service School Military Encampment for Young Women. He says that the European war has spurred nationalism (like that’s a good thing): “how much more intensely every Frenchman and every German feels the national compulsion than he ever felt it before”. Further, “in America we are getting already the indirect benefit of that suggestion. We are beginning to realize how a nation is a unit and that any individual of it who does not feel the impulse of the whole does not belong to it and does not belong in it.” He says that if the US were somehow “drawn into” war, “in the great voice of national enthusiasm which would be raised, all the world would stand once more thrilled to hear the voice of the New World asserting the standards of justice and liberty.” You can hear him talking himself into thinking of going to war as a great humanitarian gesture.

Speaking of the standards of justice and liberty, the House of Representatives rejects independence for the Philippines, 213 to 165. Rep. Simeon Fess (R-Ohio) says the work of educating and Christianizing the Philippines should take another 25 years.

In other news, there was a member of Congress named Simeon Fess!

Irish rebels are surrendering in their hundreds.

A NYT editorial, “The Irish Folly,” says the whole thing was stupid. For a start, Ireland can never be independent of Great Britain, that’s just crazy talk.

Dominican President Gen. Juan Jimenes is impeached. Something about the budget.

The American Woman’s League for Self-Defense finally settles the trousers vs skirt question: breeches for those in the cavalry, skirts for the infantry.

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Sunday, May 01, 2016

California Proposition Recommendations, June 2016 and candidate statements

Only one proposition this time. November: condoms in porn. Try not to think of it as a metaphor.

Prop 50

Raises suspension from majority to 2/3.

As is so often the case with California ballot propositions, a populist provision – depriving suspended legislators of their pay – is included as cover for something else - raising the threshold for suspension from a majority vote of the Legislature to 2/3. As it happens, I’m actually less happy with the pay bit than the 2/3: it should be hard to override an election. But those who have only been accused of something should not be deprived of the pay they may need to support themselves while preparing their defense during what may be a prolonged process. You can imagine a legislator accused falsely or accused with political motives having to resign so they can get a job to pay the mortgage. Suspension can be before a conviction in a court of law because it’s about protecting the political process from corruption and from legislators who associate with people called “Shrimp Boy.”
But “innocent until proven guilty” means no financial punishment until proven guilty.

So NO on 50.

Let’s turn to the candidate statements, which people running for Barbara Boxer’s Senate seat paid $25 a word to have printed.

Akinyemi Olabode Agbede (motto: Say My Name Three Times Fast). Okay, that’s not his motto. His real motto, complete with escalating exclamation points, seems to be “Rescue America! Rescue America!! Rescue America!!! Californian!”

One Republican’s statement consists only of a website address and the words “Constitutionalist. Americanism.” His name, naturally enough, is Jerry J. Laws.

Ling Ling Shi’s statement, verbatim: “Run for God's Heart and America's Freedom, challenge 10 giant chaos in economy and
economy-related sectors.”

Paul Merritt, who did not check his statement for spelling or grammar, says “Elect the person, not the Party-in-power's” and supports a “boarder security fence.”

The alliterative Massie Munroe says “Through my national and international research and political activism, I identified ‘mind control slavery’ by satellite energy technology weapons and social engineering programs that have been in continual development for the past 50 years and facilitated their ‘declassification’. As a result, I came under heavy
sanctions that are ongoing.” She’s a Bernie supporter.

President Cristina Grappo is a candidate shrouded in mystery – is President her first name, is she president of something? We may never know. “My education & expertise merits this prolific occupation in order to represent California, as United Senator.” “I am mainstream Facebook in social media!”

Herbert G. Peters proclaims himself an Andrew Jackson Democrat. No one seems to be a Harriet Tubman Democrat. He also supports Manifest Destiny. And ending welfare.

Von Hougo wants to put every single bill online for Californians to vote on, which will determine how he votes in the Senate.

Jason Hanania’s statement is simply “01100101.” Which is the letter e in binary.

In summary, rescue America, challenge 10 giant chaos, fight mind control slavery, be mainstream Facebook in social media and vote on June 7th. Or is that what they want you to do?

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Today -100: May 1, 1916: The Irish Republic is dead, long live the Republic of Ireland, or something

Patrick Pearse, self-styled Provisional President of the Irish Republic, orders an unconditional surrender. The Republic of Ireland has lasted six days. The dead include 70 rebels, 140 soldiers, and upwards of 300 civilians, including many children.

Pope Benedict instructs priests in Ireland to convince the Irish to be loyal to Britain.

The Irish Nationalist party’s leader John Redmond cables the editor of the American newspaper Ireland, calling the Rising an “attempt to torpedo Home Rule and the Irish Party” by “Sinn Fein cranks and German agents.” He celebrates its suppression by the force of English arms, and suggests that Irish and Irish-Americans in the US not be “unduly disturbed” by it.

A meeting sponsored by the United Irish Societies of America in New York is, however, quite unduly disturbed by it. No one thinks much of John Redmond here. There are also Germans at the meeting; “Deutschland über alles” is sung.

The Hackensack, New Jersey police will send a German-speaking cop to monitor a lecture by Prof. Eugen Kuehneman about East Prussia to see that nothing is said “unfriendly to President Wilson, Congress, the United States, or the flag.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

Another issue of The Wipers Times is out, featuring “Minor Worries,” a poem but clearly meant to be sung to a pre-war Music Hall tune, as in this clip from Oh What a Lovely War, which has no overlapping lyrics with the poem, suggesting that there were many versions.

Never mind:

    If the Hun lets off some gas – Never mind.
    If the Hun attacks in mass – Never mind.
    If your dug-out’s blown to bits,
    Or the C.O.’s throwing fits,
    Or a crump your rum jar hits – Never mind.
    If your trench is mud knee-high – Never mind.
    You can't find a spot that's dry – Never mind.
    If a sniper has you set,
    Through dents in your parapet,
    And your troubles fiercer get – Never mind.
    If machine guns join the muddle – Never mind.
    Though you're lying in a puddle – Never mind.
    If the duckboard* barks your shin,
    And the barbed wire rips your skin,
    'Tis reward for all your sin – So never mind.

* duckboard = wooden boards forming a walkway over the mud of the trenches.

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