Saturday, April 20, 2024

Today -100: April 20, 1924: Get into the game and stay in it

Eleanor Roosevelt is vice chair of the NY Democratic State Committee’s women’s division, but the Sunday New York Times Magazine assures us, “Politics has not made a masculine woman of her. Her first interest is her family.” Phew. She says American women are backward in political participation unlike, for example, British women. “Compared with the business of interesting women in politics, the getting of the vote was child’s play.” “My message to women would be: ‘Get into the game and stay in it.’ Throwing mud from the outside won’t help. Building up from the inside will.” The article fails to mention her husband, at all.

In a story about Coolidge making a speech next Tuesday on radio, I notice it is to be “broadcast” on 11 stations, but the headline uses the word “radiated.”

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Friday, April 19, 2024

Today -100: April 19, 1924: Of borders, square deals from klansmen, and honorary Fascists

But what about Mexican immigrants? An amendment to the racist immigration bill is proposed, authorizing a permanent Border Patrol agency to patrol the Mexican and Canadian borders.

Judge A.S. Wells dismisses the 5 charges against former Oklahoma governor J.C. Walton, who was impeached and removed from office last year in part for his war against the Ku Klux Klan. Says Judge Wells: “I hope that J.C. Walton will be fair enough to say that he got a square deal from at least one Klansman.”

Composer Giacomo Puccini is named an honorary Fascist.

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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Today -100: April 18, 1924: Afterward their heads were filled with vicious ideas

Headline of the Day -100:  

Tourists would now only be able to watch Cal working at his desk as they troop through the Oval Office.

Composers, including John Philip Sousa and Irving Berlin, protest a bill that would allow radio stations to play their copyrighted music without paying royalties. That’s the Dill Bill, by the way, which seems like the starting point of a song, but no one sang one to the Sen. Patents Committee. The composers tell the committee that income from song-writing has dropped 50% in the last year, as free radio play means they can’t sell sheet music. Sousa says, “The Radio Corporation of America gets money, doesn’t it? If they get money out of my tunes, I want some of it, that’s all.”

In the immigration bill, the Senate decides to admit immigrants on the basis of 2% of the 1890 census. It is pointed out that only 1 immigrant would be permitted from Italy, an ally during the Great War, for every 5 Germans. Royal Copeland (D) says as a New Yorker he must speak out for the Jews, although he never met one until he was in college (he’s originally from Michigan).

Metro Pictures, Goldwyn Pictures, and the Louis B. Mayer Company merge, becoming the Metro-Goldwyn Corporation (MGM), including not only production but the Lowe chain of theaters.

The Trenton YWCA condemns Atlantic City bathing beauty parades. The local’s president, Miss Pauline Smith, warns, “It was noticed by competent observers that the outlook on life of girls who participated was completely changed. Before the competition they were splendid examples of innocent and pure womanhood. Afterward their heads were filled with vicious ideas.”

The father of murder victim Ted Grosh, student at Arizona State University, wants to be hangman at the execution of his son’s killer (who is black). The state prison superintendent has no objection.

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Today -100: April 17, 1924: Of oil, graft, and wooden legs

A commission appointed by Pres. Coolidge says the US may run out of oil soon, and the Navy should be given priority.

Charles R. Forbes, the former director of the Veterans’ Bureau, as well as former assistant director Charles O’Leary and Nathan Thomson, president of the Thomson Kelly Company of Boston, are indicted for conspiracy to defraud the United States. $3 million (or $5m; unclear) of Bureau property (blankets, bandages, etc) was sold to Thomson for $600,000 under the pretense that it was unusable.

Speaking of veterans, S. Harry Smith wills the false leg he got to replace the leg he lost in the Great War to Treasury Sec Andrew Mellon. Some sort of protest against his compensation being reduced. To be clear, Smith is alive.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Today -100: April 16, 1924: The man who would not have an ambition for that office would have a dead heart

The NY state Democratic convention nominates Gov. Al Smith for president. The resolution is offered by Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the party’s vice-presidential nominee in 1920. Smith admits, “The man who would not have an ambition for that office would have a dead heart.” But he plans to just keep on governoring until the national convention, without campaigning. But if the convention should happen to nominate him...

The Senate follows the House in voting for a ban on Japanese immigration, with no debate and by voice vote.

Major General Leonard Wood, Governor-General of the Philippines, a man so general they generaled him twice, warns against granting independence to the Philippines: “We must not be swept off our feet by the purely local and artificial agitation produced by a small group”. It will take many years for the “development of national defense and the building up of individual civic courage,” he says.

Can you beat it?

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Monday, April 15, 2024

Today -100: April 15, 1924: Of troubled periods, veiled threats, independences, and hiding cops

Pres. Coolidge, addressing the Continental Congress of the Daughters of the American Revolution, calls on women to vote in this “current troubled period,” presumably referring to the ongoing Senate investigations of his Cabinet members.

The Senate rejects continuing the Gentlemen’s Agreement with Japan on immigration, 76-2, and will ban immigration by any Japanese. There’s a lot of bitching about Japan’s “veiled threat” (the ambassador warned of “grave consequences” if this passed) and how it’s improper for one country to interfere in the affairs of another, even if those affairs involve racist discrimination against that country’s citizens. Otherwise, the Senate changes the basis on which the 2% per country limit is based from the 1890 census to the 1910 and sets a total limit of 161,000 per year, less than half of the number coming now.

Hilton Philipson, husband of British MP Mabel Philipson, says she may quit Parliament soon because she’d probably prefer looking after their three children. Considering that she will (Spoiler Alert) not quit and will stand for, and win, re-election, one has to wonder why Hilton is airing this in public.

The chair of the House Insular Affairs Committee, Louis Fairfield of, where else, Indiana, says he’ll introduce a bill for a plebiscite in the Philippines on independence – in 25 years.

The Irish Free State wants to send an ambassador to the US, but the US says that’s up to the British. Canada is also considering separate representation in Washington.

Greece celebrates the end of monarchy by declaring martial law and censoring royalist newspapers. Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis will serve as provisional governor until a real president is chosen.

British Home Sec. Arthur Henderson defends the actions of 2 cops discovered spying on a Communist Party meeting in London from underneath the platform.

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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Today -100: April 14, 1924: Of veeps, doll houses, ex-kings, borgs, and anglers

Coolidge already has almost all the delegates he needs to secure the Republican nomination, so everyone’s thinking about running mates. Frank Lowden, to win over farmers? Gen. Charles Dawes? Navy Sec. Curtis Wilbur?

British prohibitionists complain that Queen Mary’s doll house,
designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, has a wine cellar. With real wine in teeny bottles.

The Greek referendum abolishes the monarchy.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Aloha means “hello,” “goodbye” and “resistance is futile.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Today -100: April 13, 1924: Of immigration and investigations

The House passes the Johnson Immigration Act, including the provision banning Japanese people. Not even a roll call on that part.

Treasury Sec. Andrew Mellon complains that Senate investigations of the Bureau of Internal Revenue have destroyed its morale and work has ground to a halt. He says that like it’s a bad thing.

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Friday, April 12, 2024

Today -100: April 12, 1924: Unwarranted intrusion is the worst kind of intrusion

Pres. Coolidge complains to the Senate that its investigation of Treasury Sec. Andrew Mellon is “government by lawlessness” and “unwarranted intrusion.” Cal says the Committee’s demands go beyond “legitimate requirements” – it wants a list of companies Mellon is involved with. Mellon is especially worried about the Finance Committee hiring Francis Heney as investigator. Heney is famous for rooting out corruption in San Francisco and elsewhere, but the controversy is that his expenses will be paid personally by Sen. James Couzens (R-Michigan), who will also pay for lawyers and accountants, because no one had allocated funds for them and Couzens is quite rich. Mellon, who is also quite rich, calls it a “private inquisition.” Dems are suggesting that Coolidge is trying to scupper the investigations altogether and are resentful of his scolding tone.

There’s a hung jury in Indiana Gov. Warren McCray’s embezzlement trial.

Japan protests the US immigration bill, which passed the House and is pending in the Senate The note marks the first time the terms of the 1907 “Gentlemen’s Agreement” are made public (Japan agreed to restrict emigration to the US, the US to allow families of existing immigrants to come and not to segregate Japanese children in schools).

Japan will extend military conscription to South Sakhalin and then to other colonies, but not to Korea or Formosa, because Koreans and Formosans aren’t ethnic Japanese.

John Sloan, believed to be the last survivor of the Mexican-American War, dies at 95. According to Wikipedia, he’s not.

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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Today -100: April 11, 1924: Five million free Italian citizens rallied as one man around the symbol of Fascismo

Bureau of Investigation chief William Burns admits sending 3 agents to Montana to investigate Sen. Burton Wheeler, contradicting former attorney general Harry Daugherty’s denial last week.

People like the Dawes Report so much that it’s being suggested that if Coolidge’s candidacy implodes because of all the Harding scandals, Charles Dawes might be a better candidate.

Mussolini’s electoral victory is celebrated in Rome by a crowd of 100,000, probably some of whom are not assholes, probably. He addresses them from the balcony – where else? – of the Foreign Office. “Five million free Italian citizens rallied as one man around the symbol of Fascismo, and I do not allow and we will not allow the Italian people to be insulted by attempts to make the world believe that they were herded to the polls like a flock of conscienceless beasts.” No, the flock of conscienceless beasts didn’t need any herding.

Hiram Johnson denies that he will drop out of the Republican presidential race. He says the party’s reaction to Teapot Dome shows it is “dominated by the unholy alliance between crooked big business and crooked politics.”

Aliens aren’t allowed to own dogs in Pennsylvania, I guess?

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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Today -100: April 10, 1924: Just the facts, ma’am

Just one day after that Federal Grand Judy (sic) (the NYT is really surpassing itself with the typos lately) indicted Sen. Burton Wheeler (D-Montana), the Senate votes unanimously to form a committee to investigate “the facts.” Wheeler says the foreman of the grand jury is one of his most bitter enemies and the federal DA is a guy Wheeler refused to endorse for a judgeship. It’s certainly the case that the DOJ presented “evidence” to the grand jury, presumably under then-Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty’s orders.

Coolidge victories in primaries in Michigan, Illinois and Nebraska seem to doom Hiram Johnson’s campaign.

The Dawes Committee reports its plan for German reparations, which will be paid on a sliding scale depending on the German economy (so it doesn’t set an actual amount). France and Belgium should end their economic control over the Ruhr but can maintain the military occupation.

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Tuesday, April 09, 2024

Today -100: April 9, 1924: Selfish political partisanship it is then

Sen. Burton Wheeler (D-Montana) is indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly taking money, after he was elected but before his term started, to influence the granting by the Interior Dept of oil and gas prospecting permits. This looks very much like an attempt by the RNC and the DOJ to ratfuck Wheeler’s investigations into Harry Daugherty’s Justice Department. Wheeler says it’s “a pure and unadulterated frame-up,” which is the worst (or possibly best?) kind of frame-up. Daugherty denies the “evidence” wasn’t dug up by those Bureau of Investigation agents he sent to Montana to look into Wheeler, but by the Post Office.

NY Gov. Al Smith (D) asked the R-dominated State Assembly to put aside “selfish political partisanship” and pass his proposals for four-year gubernatorial terms, an 8-hour day for women, an executive budget, etc. All of which they vote down.

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Monday, April 08, 2024

Today -100: April 8, 1924: We don’t know much about the ether

Prohibition agent Brice Armstrong – which is a very prohibition-agent name – testifies before the Senate DOJ investigating committee that Chicago and federal officials’ interference has kept Chicago wet by preventing prosecutions of saloon keepers and licensing brewing companies known to violate the law.

The minority Labour government is defeated in Parliament on a bill to prevent evictions of unemployed people and their families. It’s not being treated as a confidence vote, so Labour stays in power.

The Fascist-dominated coalition wins the Italian parliamentary elections with 65% of the vote on a high turnout. So The Duck didn’t even have to rig the electoral law and he didn’t see a need to unleash his thugs on opposition voters this time. Well, two dead in election clashes, but by Italian standards... This, the first election since 1921, puts a democratic imprimatur on Mussolini’s March on Rome.

The Senate passes a bill limiting radio licenses to 2 years. The bill says that the “ether” is the “inalienable possession of the people of the United States and their Government.” What does ether mean? The bill’s author, Robert Howell (R-Neb.), has no idea: “We don’t know much about the ether. We haven’t been able to investigate it.”

Sen. Samuel Shortridge (R-Cal.) says immigration is the most important issue facing the nation. By which he means excluding Asians, who are “neither racially, industrially nor socially desirable.”

Columbia U. rejects the request of obnoxious law students to eject negro law student Frederick W. Wells from the dorms. There’s been something of a backlash among students against the racists. The burning cross didn’t help.

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Sunday, April 07, 2024

Today -100: April 7, 1924: Of captives and plebiscites of devotion

Pope Pius is thinking about attending a Knights of Columbus event in Rome. This would be the first time a pope has left the Vatican since 1870; they’ve been proclaiming themselves “captives” of the Italian state. (Update: it won’t happen. The pope will make his way to the K of C building via a circuitous route through various buildings, some of which they’ll cut entrances into so he doesn’t have to cross into Rome proper).

Italy’s parliamentary elections, or as the Fascists term them, “the nation’s plebiscite of devotion to Mussolini,” are carried out with almost no violence.

Germany is also holding federal and state elections. In Bavaria, the Völkisch-Sozialer Block, which the NYT thinks is run by Hitler (or “August Hitler,” as they call him) but which is more like Nazi-adjacent although the followers of ol’ August are voting for it in the absence of the National Socialist Party from the ballot, comes in just a few votes behind the Social Democrats but well behind the Bavarian People’s Party which nevertheless shed a lot of votes to the far-right.

Romania puts the universities under martial law to stop anti-semitic attacks. Student and prof pogromists will now be tried by military courts – civilian courts have tended to acquit.

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Saturday, April 06, 2024

Today -100: April 6, 1924: Kluxers vs. townies

The Ku Klux Klan holds a little spook-a-thon outside Lilly, Pennsylvania. Afterwards 500 kluxers go to the train station to take a special train to Johnstown. Locals turn a fire hose on them, and they shoot into the crowd, killing 4. Then they get on their train; 60 are arrested in Johnstown for carrying concealed weapons. I’m not sure why the Klan picked Lilly, a mining town, for their shindig. It doesn’t sound like any of the  kluxers are from there.

Bulgaria’s supreme court orders the Communist Party & the Labor Party dissolved. Well, they did try an uprising last year. The state will get their property.

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Friday, April 05, 2024

Today -100: April 5, 1924: Of jams and comparative clams

William Burns, head of the Bureau of Investigation, testifies to the Senate DOJ Committee that Heber Votaw, Pres. Harding’s brother-in-law, who was appointed superintendent of prisons by Harry Daugherty, stifled an investigation into the smuggling of drugs into Atlanta Federal Penitentiary. The former warden, J.E. Dyche, also testifies to this and says the smuggling is still going on. He was fired by the inspector of prisons, who told him it was because Daugherty was in a “jam.”

Burns also accuses the former attorney general of ordering him to cease investigations into whisky deals that would have led to prominent men.

The NYT finds Italians apathetic about next week’s elections. Thanks to Mussolini having altered the electoral law, the Fascists are a shoo-in, so the campaign “take[s] place in comparative clam” [sic]. With comparative linguine, presumably. The violence this time is sporadic, unlike the wide-scale organized violence of previous elections.

In Bucharest, a group of student anti-semites assault Aristide Blank, a big Romanian banker.

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Thursday, April 04, 2024

Today -100: April 4, 1924: Of beer halls, cover-ups, bobbed hair, lynchings, and ormsbees

Erich Ludendorff, who just this week escaped legal consequences for his part in the Beer Hall Putsch, is running for a seat in the Reichstag. Just to rub it in, he launches his campaign in the Bürgerbräukeller, the very beer hall which was the site of the aforementioned putsch. He’s running under the German National Liberal Party, the National Socialists being currently banned.

Secretary of War John Weeks orders documents seized from Thomas Lane, legal adviser to the War Department, who he also fires. Lane was investigating aircraft companies’ fraudulent over-billing of the military during the Great War. Weeks now has the documents relating to that investigation under his personal control. The papers were seized from Lane the day after the Senate DOJ Committee announced that he would be called as a witness.

Headline of the Day -100: 

More than 40 Indiana bankers (the plural of bankers is an overdraft of bankers) testify that Gov. Warren McCray was nearly a million dollars in debt when he allegedly embezzled $155,000 from the Ag Board.

A mob in Woodbury, Georgia lynches a 15-year-old black lad named Beach Thrash who shot the police chief who was trying to arrest him for stealing from the bank he worked at.

Former Vermont governor Ebenezer Jolls Ormsbee, who has the most nineteenth-century-Vermont-governor name of all, dies at 89 of apoplexy, which is the most nineteenth-century-Vermont-governor way to die.

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Wednesday, April 03, 2024

Today -100: April 3, 1924: There are three generations from shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves

Coolidge nominates Columbia Law School dean Harlan Fiske Stone to be attorney general. He & Coolidge were college buds.

Speaking of Columbia Law School, white students there are protesting black law student Frederick W. Wells being allowed to live in a dorm (it took them a while to realize he wasn’t an elevator “boy”). Wells says he won’t be bullied into moving out, but will do so if requested by university authorities. A cross is burned outside the dorm after midnight, which seems to be Klan rather than law students.

The Ku Klux Klan was a big issue in Missouri’s municipal elections Tuesday. Klan-supported candidates won more often than not.

Treasury Sec Andrew Mellon tells the Senate Finance Committee that increasing the tax on estates worth more than $10 million would be “economic suicide.” Anyway, he says, inherited fortunes fail to continue: “There are three generations from shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves.”

H.L. Scaife, a lawyer and former Bureau of Investigation agent, testifies to the Sen. committee investigating the DOJ that Secretary of War John Weeks, former Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty and others conspired to quash a $5 million claim against the Wright-Martin Aircraft Corp.

German right-wingers – monarchists, Nazis & the like – riot in Berlin at the funeral of Willy Dreyer, who died in a French prison. He was there for dynamiting a train in the occupied Ruhr (a detail missing from the NYT story), but the nationalists are spinning him as a martyr.

Assistant Treasury Secretary McKinzie Moss asks for a cost estimate for a fence along the entire California-Mexican border.

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Tuesday, April 02, 2024

Today -100: April 2, 1924: Of unserious crimes in Bavaria, symptoms of intelligence, and scarfaces

Erich Ludendorff is acquitted of all the treason he totally treasoned during the Beer Hall Putsch. Hitler and 3 other defendants get 5 years – which could mean  as little as 6 months with good behaviour, and the pre-trial time in custody counts. In theory Hitler could be released in 6 weeks; he will be released December 20th from his pretty cushy cell in Lansberg Prison. The remaining 5 defendants are sentenced to 15 months and are immediately paroled or released outright. As the sentences are read, spectators shouted “Heil Hitler” and the less alliterative “Heil Ludendorff.” Ludendorff tells the court it’s a scandal that he’s acquitted and his comrades condemned. Yes it is, general, yes it is, but not in the way you mean.

And yes, those ridiculous sentences were passed on April Fools’ Day.

Ludendorff is cheered in the streets: “To plot against the Constitution of the Reich is not considered a serious crime in Bavaria,” the NYT observes.

The NYT editorial page has been pushing for an end to all those investigations of Cabinet officials now that Daugherty is out. The Democrats, the paper  says in today’s smugly headlined “Symptoms of Intelligence,” “have begun to understand that the mania of investigation has carried them too far.” And the Republicans, who have “run like hares before the Democratic hounds”, “are recovering from a state of dazed and abject panic.”

Tulsa municipal elections are won by the Democrats, with highly visible Klan backing.

The Cicero, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago) municipal elections are a tad rambunctious, with interference in the voting by gangsters with sub-machine guns and sawed-off rifles closing polling places, kidnapping election workers and threatening voters. Chicago cops arrive late in the day to restore order. A shootout with the police results in the death of “Frank Camponi,” whose brother “Tony Camponi” “escaped after emptying two guns at half a dozen detectives.” These are actually Frank and Al Capone (who did not shoot at cops that day, that was someone else) in what I believe is the latter’s first mention in the NYT, which does at least get his nickname, Scarface, right. The gangsters who control Cicero succeed in returning a Republican administration.

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Monday, April 01, 2024

Today -100: April 1, 1924: Of education, pleasant & profitable work, people’s kaiserdoms, and protectorates

The Federal District Court in Oregon strikes down the state’s law for compulsory education in public schools, which is a Klan-backed referendum passed in 1922 aimed at destroying Catholic parochial schools. Gov. Walter Pierce says the state will appeal to the Supreme Court, where (Spoiler Alert) it will lose.

John W. Davis, the former US ambassador to Britain, says it wouldn’t be worth it to run for president if he had to give up his legal work for financial interests like Morgan Bank, work he finds pleasant and profitable. He will (Spoiler Alert) wind up running for president, and he will find it neither pleasant nor profitable.

A DC grand jury indicts Harry Sinclair for refusing to answer the Senate Teapot Dome Committee’s questions.

Heading into elections, German right-wing parties are moving in the direction of monarchism, or, as Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann’s German People’s Party (DVP) is now calling it, for “People’s Kaiserdom.” Whatever that means. Stresemann says he has nothing in common with the Weimar constitution.

Oswald Mosley, independent MP for Harrow (and a Tory when he first entered Parliament), switches to the Labour Party.

Control of Northern Rhodesia (present-day Zambia) is taken from the British South Africa Company, founded by Cecil Rhodes, and the colony becomes a British “protectorate.” The BSAC’s authority over Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) was removed last year. The company will continue to receive royalties from mining operations until independence.

Sometime this month Ford Madox Ford’s Some Do Not …, the first book of the Parade’s End tetralogy, is published.

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Sunday, March 31, 2024

Today -100: March 31, 1924: Of leaguers, women’s platforms, and highly colored handkerchiefs

French Prime Minister Raymond Poincaré is ready to allow Germany into the League of Nations. He has conditions, of course, including accepting the Dawes Commission’s plan on reparations and inspections of its military.

Awkwardly, Harry Daugherty is still running to be a Coolidge delegate to the Republican National Convention. He says he has no personal feelings against Coolidge for firing him.

At the Democratic National Convention, Eleanor Roosevelt will head the committee writing the planks on welfare legislation, a “woman’s platform.”

Bavaria threatens the death penalty for anyone who reacts to the imminent verdict of the Hitler-Ludendorff trial with rioting, unlawful assembly etc. Oddly, displaying the verdicts in cafés, shop windows etc is also verboten. Do they expect to keep it a secret?

Fad of the Day -100:  

I wonder if “young bloods” are also copying Prince Edward by falling off horses?

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Saturday, March 30, 2024

Today -100: March 30, 1924: Of hangmen, bombing cannibals, and well-behaved women

John Ellis retires as Britain’s Chief Executioner after 23 years. He’s officiated at 203 hangings. His fee was 50 shillings, plus another 50s for good conduct, meaning he wasn’t allowed to stay at a public house when traveling to an execution as previous executioners did, charging a commission for attracting commission to pubs. Ellis, 49, gives no reason for quitting, but will attempt suicide later in the year. Suicide being illegal, he will be criminally charged. He’ll succeed in 1932. For now, he breeds chickens, but has to get someone else to wring their necks.

New laws passed in 1923: South Dakota bans peyote & mescal. Pennsylvania bans archeological fakes. Oregon bans schoolbooks which undervalue the contributions of the Founding Fathers while North Carolina requires school courses in “Americanism.” Oregon requires aliens who own butcher shops, run hotels, resorts, etc etc to display a card showing their nationality and those of their employees. North Carolina has a Peeping Tom act. Several states ban KKK-like masks and hoods, and there are a shitload of new prohibition laws.

Headline of the Day -100:  

Dr. Alexander H. Rice will lead an expedition, including his wife Eleanor, into parts of South America never seen by the white man (if a tree falls in a rain forest and no white man hears it, does it make a sound?). He won’t actually bomb any cannibals, no doubt to his disappointment.

The NYT Sunday Book Review has a review of Della Thompson Lutes’s The Gracious Hostess. Is the review by a man? Of course it is. Is the headline for the review “Compendium of Information for Well-Behaved Women”? Of course it is. Did I stop reading the review after I realized that headline wasn’t the title of the book? Yes I did.

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Friday, March 29, 2024

Today -100: March 29, 1924: I’d rather be right here in Atlantic City than anywhere else

Pres. Coolidge finally fires Attorney General Harry Daugherty, who writes an open letter defending himself. He warns of “government by slander, by terrorism and by fear” and calls the campaign against him a conspiracy of “powerful individuals and organizations” (which he does not name) responsible for violent strikes and of other “powerful individuals and organizations” he was investigating for graft during the Great War.

Coolidge had been planning to let the investigation play out and letting Dirty Harry having his say, but the final straw was his refusal to turn over documents to that Senate DOJ committee investigation, documents relating to his siccing the Bureau of Investigation on Sen. Thomas Walsh after he started investigating Teapot Dome (I’m not sure, but I don’t think it’s been revealed to the public which documents Daugherty withheld). Bureau of Investigation head William Burns is also expected to be ousted (he will be; incidentally, Burns has continued running his own private detective agency all the time he has headed the proto-FBI).

Where does a disgraced former attorney general go? Atlantic City baby! He tells reporters there that everything said about him was a lie, and anyway the Senate committee didn’t have legal authority to investigate them. He doesn’t use the words “rigged” or “witch hunt,” but you get the idea.

Sen. Kenneth McKellar (D-Tenn.) introduces a resolution for the Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Treasury Sec Andrew Mellon is holding that office in violation of the law forbidding treasury secs to engage in trade or commerce. The law applies to several Treasury positions. They also can’t own a sea vessel. Republicans complain that the D’s are going after the Cabinet one by one by one.

Headline of the Day -100:  

J. Van Vechten Olcott, former NY congresscritter (1905-11) and current lawyer, tells the Senate DOJ Committee that he was offered a federal judgeship – for $35,000, to be distributed “among the boys.” It’s not clear that the lawyer he spoke with actually had the ability to make him a judge, or who “the boys” might be. Anyway, he turned him down. Olcott is in the witness seat when the news of Dirty Harry’s resignation is heard.

The US Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Possessions is considering holding a plebiscite in the Philippines on independence – in 1935.

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Thursday, March 28, 2024

Today -100: March 28, 1924: Not to prison but to Valhalla

Rep. John Langley (R-Kentucky) is indicted for his part in a large bootleg operation, getting the prohibition commissioner to authorize the release of whisky.

French PM Raymond Poincaré unresigns a day after resigning.

Gen. Erich Ludendorff, giving his closing statement at the Beer Hall Putsch trial: “The world’s history sends me, who has fought for the Fatherland, not to prison but to Valhalla.” He says if the nationalistic movement fails, Germany will face “the menace of enslavement to France.” He is followed by Hitler, who compares himself to Bismarck and Wilhelm I.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Today -100: March 27, 1924: Rules rules rules

NYPD Commissioner Richard Enright puts out a booklet of do’s and don’ts for cops: don’t discuss police business with your family; don’t talk to females except on official business; don’t lean against walls; don’t shoot too many people, etc.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Today -100: March 26, 1924: Of war criminals, impeachments, and tiges

A French court-martial in Nancy sentences a bunch of German military people to death for ordering arson, pillaging and/or assassinations at the start of the Great War.

The Senate votes unanimously for a resolution to impeach Clarence Chase, collector of customs at the Port of El Paso, a day after he took the Fifth before the Teapot Dome Committee. Chase is former Interior Sec. Albert Fall’s son-in-law. Chase tried to get Price McKinney to say falsely that he’d lent Fall $100,000 to cover up Fall’s bribe-taking. While the Senate is debating impeaching him, Chase resigns, but Treasury Sec Andrew Mellon refuses to accept the resignation. (He’ll accept it tomorrow).

The Coolidges’ lost cat Tiger (aka Tige) is found at the Navy Building.

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Monday, March 25, 2024

Today -100: March 25, 1924: Of contumacy, tigers, pretty good-sized navies, and swirrflügers

The Senate votes 72-1 to pursue contempt (contumacy) charges against Harry Sinclair for refusing to answer questions.

The Coolidges’ cat Tiger (aka Tige) has disappeared and the Secret Service has gone on the DC and, for some reason, NYC radio stations to ask for the public’s help. More as it develops.

Curtis Wilbur, the new secretary of the Navy, is asked if he’s a Big Navy man; “Well, I am for a pretty good sized navy.”

Raimund Nimführ, an Austrian inventor, says he’s invented a plane with pulsating wings which can take off and land vertically. Now he just needs someone to finance his giant flying vibrator. It will be started in the 1930s but never completed. It will be pleasingly called Swirrflüger (say it out loud: Swirrflüger, Swirrflüger, Swirrflüger), meaning whirlwings.

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Sunday, March 24, 2024

Today -100: March 24, 1924: Of attorneys generalses, indigestion of immigration, ein volk..., and duels

Coolidge just can’t make up his mind on whether to fire Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty now or wait for Senate hearings to come to some sort of conclusion. At the White House, he consults, yet again, with Republican senators. I think it looks bad to be talking only to Republicans, but no one seems to be commenting on that. The senators want Dirty Harry out because of his nefarious associates and because he’s spending all his time defending himself rather than attorney generaling. Sounds like they don’t also mention that he’s a corrupt weasel.

John Quinn, head of the American Legion, and Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, will publish a statement calling for a halt to all immigration. Gompers says the opposition of alien-born citizens to immigration restrictions just shows why immigration restriction is needed, because their opposition is based on loyalty to the country of their birth and not to the US. Commander Quinn says the melting pot has become impotent, which is an interesting mixed metaphor, and the US is “suffering from indigestion of immigration.”

The German National People’s Party (DNVP or Deutschnationale Volkspartei) adopts the slogan “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Kaiser” for the forthcoming Reichstag elections. The party is calling for restoration of the monarchy, the centrality of Prussia in the German state, repudiation of the Treaty of Versailles. It promises to “fight everywhere against the destructive spirit of the Jews.” Spoiler Alert: it will get 19% of the vote.

The minister of war of Argentina fights a duel with another general, the head of the military in Buenos Aires. The latter was standing in for a major who had criticized the army, but was of too low a rank for the war minister to duel.

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Saturday, March 23, 2024

Today -100: March 23, 1924: Of 75,000 somethings, melting brown eyes, and reckless riding

Harry Sinclair refuses to answer questions before the Senate Teapot Dome committee, saying that since the matter is now before the courts, the committee has lost its jurisdiction. They threaten to have him arrested for contempt.

Will Hays, the current film czar, who was chair of the RNC in 1920, denies that Harry Sinclair gave 75,000 shares to the Republican deficit-elimination fund. 75,000 dollars, maybe.

French PM Raymond Poincaré wants a mutual-protection treaty with Britain, although PM Ramsay MacDonald favors using the League of Nations to control a neutral zone along the Rhine.

The NYT Book Review reviews Ronald Firbank’s “Prancing Nigger,” which is evidently the title suggested by the British author’s publisher for the American edition of “Sorrow in Sunlight.”

Charlie Chaplin has found his leading lady for The Gold Rush, Lita Grey. “She is dark, and, according to enthusiastic information that has reached this department, is the possessor of ‘melting brown eyes, ivory skin and red lips.’ All these features are said to be characteristic of the Spanish race.” Yeah, and she’s also 15 years old, so knock off the perving. Oh, and here’s a quote from Chaplin (who used her as an extra in The Kid) himself: “I was surprised one day to observe how this little girl had bloomed into a beautiful young lady.” She will actually be replaced as leading lady in The Gold Rush after becoming pregnant with Charles Jr.

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Friday, March 22, 2024

Today -100: March 22, 1924: Back to 1920

The Senate Teapot Dome committee will soon hear whether the Republican National Committee’s large deficit after the 1920 elections was made good with 75,000 shares of Sinclair oil stock.

More news from the 1920 election oozing out: Oklahoma oil man Jake Hamon’s attempt to buy the nomination for Harding so he could become secretary of the interior and authorize his own Teapot Dome lease, a scheme thwarted by his mistress shooting him dead. The beans about this are about to be spilled by Al Jennings, the actor, preacher, 1914 Democratic candidate for governor of Oklahoma, and train robber, not necessarily in that order.

At the Senate hearings about Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty, John Gorini of the Alps Drug Company of New York testifies that he paid $200,000 in graft to associates of Daugherty to get permits to withdraw whisky (for medicinal purposes, of course) from bonded warehouses at a rate of $15 a case. The NY Prohibition Director also got a cut.

At the Beer Hall Putsch trial in Munich, Prosecutor Ludwig Stenglein asks for an 8-year term for Hitler, 2 years for Ludendorff, and 1 to 6 for the other 8 defendants. He claims Ludendorff was only let into the full plan at the last moment (bullshit), so he’s just an accessory rather than a full treasonist.

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Thursday, March 21, 2024

Today -100: March 21, 1924: You won’t have Winston Churchill to kick around any more

Winston Churchill loses the by-election in the Abbey division of Westminster, coming in 43 votes behind Conservative Otho Nicholson, who will now succeed his late father. At one point Churchill is announced as the winner; when the returning officer checks his figures and announces that Nicholson had actually won, Winnie drops his cigar. Churchill says he could have won if he’d had two or three more days.

Oscar Underwood blames the Ku Klux Klan for William Gibbs McAdoo’s victory in the Georgia Democratic presidential primary.

Honduran rebels, er I guess they’re the government now, fire on the US bluejackets. The de facto government says it was a mistake but asks that the US remove its troops from the country. The ambassador says no, fuck you very much. He claims the troops are there to protect American lives and property.

Germany doesn’t believe denials that the new French-Czechoslovak Treaty has secret clauses.

A House of Representatives election committee recommends not allowing E.W. Cole to take his seat. Texas should have gotten an extra seat in reapportionment after the 1920 census, but that reapportionment, required by the Constitution, never happened, so Texas just went ahead and held an at-large election in 1922 for the extra seat.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Today -100: March 20, 1924: Of rebels, oil, retreads, and undiplomatic relations

Honduran rebels capture the capital, Tegucigalpa. The US sends in some troops, as is the custom.

Bids totaling $15m are made for oil leases on Osage Indian land in Oklahoma. I’m sure that will go well for everyone concerned.

William Jennings Bryan hints that if the Democratic Party can’t find another candidate for president, who he insists would have to be Dry and Progressive, because the country is Dry and Progressive, he’d be willing to be drafted. He doesn’t sound like he really expects it.

China orders the Russian envoy out of the country after he arrogantly gives China 3 days to recognize Russia. China wants Russia to withdraw from Mongolia.

Virginia Gov. E. Lee Trinkle signs into law the “Eugenical Sterilization Act” for the sterilization of people in insane asylums.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Today -100: March 19, 1924: We deserved to be shot if we had any other intention

The Soldiers’ Bonus Bill passes the House 355-54. It would provide $50 for short-termers and $1 a day for longer-serving soldiers for each day of home service and $1.25 overseas, to a maximum of $625, in the form of a 20-year endowment policy. It would cost $2 billion with a b over 20 years. Coolidge is expected to veto it.

In the Senate, Pres. Coolidge is accused of, among other things, watching a screening of the Carpentier-Dempsey fight at the home of WaPo publisher Edward McLean, which is a crime.

Questions are asked in the House of Commons about the Prince of Wales’s habit of falling off horses. The subject has also been much discussed in the papers.

At the Beer Hall Putsch trial, Hitler proudly proclaims that his intention was to march on Berlin and overthrow the Republic. Co-defendant Ludendorff denies having had any such plans. The prosecutor upbraids Hitler for the serious consequences of the putsch, to which he responds, “Naturally it had serious consequences. That was the idea. We deserved to be shot if we had any other intention.”

Eugene O’Neill complains about the “irresponsible gabble of the sensation-mongers and notoriety hounds” complaining about his play “All God’s Chillun Got Wings,” which hasn’t opened yet but will star Paul Robeson and Mary Blair as an interracial couple. He asks for a fair hearing by people who’ve actually seen it performed and says it will offend no one. He is wrong about that, of course.

The Senate votes 63-7 for a constitutional amendment to move the presidential inauguration to January from March.

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Monday, March 18, 2024

Today -100: March 18, 1924: Of finks, goats, and scab dinners

Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty accuses Roxie Stinson, the witness against him at the Senate committee, and her representative A.L. (ahem) Fink, of trying to blackmail him He says they wanted $150,000, later dropped to $50,000, to hand over incriminating documents & leave the country so she couldn’t be forced to testify.

Former Justice Dept special agent Gerald Holdridge accuses William Burns, head of the Bureau of Investigation, of undermining the investigation of the bribery involved in the illegal distribution of Carpentier-Dempsey fight films in 1921, which he says involves Daugherty. Asked if he believes Burns & Daugherty are both crooks, he says, “I do.” Holdridge says he and other agents were reassigned and transferred (one to Haiti!) to stop their work. The scheme involved “goats,” men who would be arrested in each state for the showing of the film and pay a small fine, with the collaboration of the local prosecutor and judge.

Sen. Frank Willis (R-Ohio) proposes limiting presidents to a single term. The vote is 70-4 against.

Walter Cohen, a black man twice rejected by the Senate for the post of controller of customs at the Port of New Orleans and twice recess appointed, is confirmed in a closed-door session. He’ll get back pay for all the months he worked without pay.

Headline of the Day -100:  


Premiere of the film The Thief of Bagdad, starring Douglas Fairbanks, so shirtless it’s almost sarcastic, with a surprise appearance by Anna May Wong

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Sunday, March 17, 2024

Today -100: March 17, 1924: Of raw materials

Commerce Sec Herbert Hoover calls for legislation to prevent foreign monopolies on imported raw materials. He thinks such monopolies exist in sisal, potash, raw rubber, tin, mercury, quinine, etc.  He wants to create joint buying organizations, which will certainly pass along their savings to the consumers, why would you doubt it?

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Saturday, March 16, 2024

Today -100: March 16, 1924: If you are elected, it will be quite unintentional

Aviator-poet Gabriele D’Annunzio is named Prince of Montenevoso, coinciding with Fiume being formally annexed to Italy.

The Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII) falls off a horse, twice, or possibly two different horses, as was the custom. The second time his horse kicks him in the head. He “was winded and dazed.” And then the horse kicked him in the head.

And the German former crown prince attends a screening of Fritz Lang’s film Die Nieberlung, which is being considered some sort of nationalist signal.

F.C. Quimby, head of a film company, testifies to the Senate committee investigating the DOJ that half the profits for the illegal showing of films of the Carpentier-Dempsey boxing match in 1921 went to 3 men representing themselves as friends of Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty: “Jap” Muma, who works for Edward McLean, publisher of the Washington Post; William Orr, former secretary to Gov. Charles Whitman; and Ike Martin, owner of a Cincinnati amusement park.

George Bernard Shaw writes to Fenner Brockway, the Labour candidate standing in the Westminster by-election against, among others, Winston Churchill: “Westminster once elected John Stuart Mill, but it has never recovered from the shock of finding that it had elected a really good man. If you are elected, it will be quite unintentional.”

Gen. Otto von Lossow is fined for storming out of the Hitler-Ludendorff trial and refusing to return to the witness stand.

The Federal Council of Churches says there were only 28 lynchings in the US last year, taking place in only 9 states. So, um, yay? 26 of the victims were black.

China and Sweden establish diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia. (Update: er, possibly not for China).

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Friday, March 15, 2024

Today -100: March 15, 1924: Of vicious piffle and truly royal sports

Gaston Means, a former Bureau of Investigation agent, con man, forger, blackmailer, probable murderer, and so much more (he will die in prison after conning a millionaire out of a huge sum of money because he said he could get the Lindbergh baby back), who is currently under indictment for fraudulently selling glass coffins through the mail, as one does, testifies to the Senate committee investigating Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty. He says Dirty Harry received $100,000 from a Japanese bank. He says that his agents broke into and searched Sen. Robert La Follette’s office after the latter began investigating Teapot Dome. He says he conducted an undercover investigation of Treasury Sec Andrew Mellon at Pres. Harding’s request, something about permits for whisky. Oh, and so on. Some of it may even be true.

Treasury Sec Andrew Mellon calls Gaston Means’s testimony “vicious piffle,” which is the worst kind of piffle.

Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty denies all the charges against him made by Roxy Stinson. He says she blames him for her dead ex-husband Jess Smith having failed to make her his sole beneficiary.

Richard Halsey, the immigration director for Hawaii, commits suicide after being accused of complicity in the smuggling of Chinese into the territory.

A teacher in Grant, Colorado writes Pres. Coolidge inviting him to a lion hunt, which she calls a “truly royal sport.” But Coolidge, filthy commoner that he is, declines.

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Thursday, March 14, 2024

Today -100: March 14, 1924: Of dissolutions, injunctions, and bumpers-and-friends

German Chancellor Wilhelm Marx dissolves the Reichstag after a fight over the government’s special powers. And since no Reichstag means no parliamentary immunity, the police arrest 17 Communist deputies.

Coolidge appoints Curtis Wilbur, the chief justice of the California Supreme Court, as secretary of the Navy. This is his first appointment, the rest of the Cabinet still consisting entirely of holdover Harding appointments.

The federal court for Wyoming issues a temporary injunction against drilling at Teapot Dome by Harry Sinclair’s Mammoth Oil Company, in response to a government petition asserting that the lease was made after bribes to Interior Sec. Albert Fall and false claims by Fall to Harding.

The Teapot Dome Committee questions Teddy Roosevelt Jr. about sending in marines in 1922 to eject trespassers of the oil-extracting variety  from the Teapot Dome region when he was assistant Navy secretary. He says it was done at the insistence of Interior Sec Albert Fall, allegedly with Harding’s approval. Sen. Thomas Walsh suggests they sent troops rather than go through the courts because that would have brought legal scrutiny to the lease. Col. Roosevelt admits having asked Harry Sinclair to give his brother Archie a job.

Roxy Stinson, ex-wife of Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty’s “bumper and friend” (whatever that means), Jess Smith – the bagman who had no government job but had a desk outside Daugherty’s office and who committed “suicide” in mysterious circumstances last May – spills the beans to the Senate committee investigating Dirty Harry: secret meetings, oil speculation, payoffs to facilitate the illegal circulation of films of the Carpentier-Dempsey boxing match, bribes for pardons, illegal withdrawal of liquor from government-bonded warehouses, etc. Some of it may even be true.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Today -100: March 13, 1924: More tempest in a Teapot Dome

The House of Representatives authorizes an investigation of the Chicago federal grand jury charge that two congresscritters took bribes to facilitate pardons from Daugherty’s super-corrupt Justice Dept.

At the Senate Teapot Dome Committee, Washington Post publisher Edward McLean admits that last December his friend Interior Secretary Albert Fall asked him to say that he’d lent Fall $100,000 as a cover for the bribes Fall had taken from oil companies, though Fall told him it had nothing to do with Teapot Dome. McLean did tell the lie he was asked to do, evidently without asking what was going on if it wasn’t Teapot Dome.

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Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Today -100: March 12, 1924: Utterly impossible

Coolidge asks Congress to cut federal taxes 25% by March 15th so people filing on or by that day can take advantage of it. Congressional leaders say it’s impossible to do it by then.

The Dictator of Bavaria at the time of the Beer Hall Putsch, Gustav von Kahr, insists at the Hitler-Ludendorff trial that neither he nor Gen. Otto von Lossow could possibly have worked with Hitler because “We considered Hitler, Hitler’s followers and Hitler’s plans as utterly impossible.” Says he took Hitler showing up at the Bürgerbräukeller with a revolver and a mob as a comedy over which he was laughing secretly.

The German sense of humor is a mysterious thing.

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Monday, March 11, 2024

Today -100: March 11, 1924: Of peculiar and natural functions and swashbuckling little ward politicians

Government lawyers will, finally, file suit for an injunction against Harry Sinclair operating the Teapot Dome oil leases and Doheny for his leases. The lawyers will have to travel first to Cheyenne, then to LA to do so.

The US Supreme Court upholds the NY law banning night work by women in restaurants (except as singers, actors or cloakroom attendants). Justice George Sutherland says the law is not unreasonable or discriminatory because it’s hard to sleep in the day in large cities, which is more dangerous for women because of their “more delicate organism,” and night work “threatens to impair their peculiar and natural functions, and... exposes them to the dangers and menaces incident to night life in large cities”.

Gen. Otto von Lossow, the former illegally appointed chief of the Reichswehr in Bavaria, testifies at the Beer Hall Putsch trial, calling Hitler a “swashbuckling little ward politician”.

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Sunday, March 10, 2024

Today -100: March 10, 1924: The miasmic air of scandal is the worst kind of air of scandal

The congressional hearings on Harry Daugherty and the Justice Dept begin this week, starting with rumors that DOJ agents and oil men have been stirring up revolution in Mexico.

The NYT quotes unnamed people in touch with the thoughts of Americans who say there’s a “reaction” against “the prevailing tendency to tear down honorable reputations through the circulation of rumors and open accusation.” Albert Fall, Dirty Harry Daugherty, those sorts of honorable reputations? The article, which reads more like a “NYT Pitchbot” editorial than a front-page news article, exults that Coolidge’s reputation has not been damaged. The Senate, it says, not entirely unfairly, has accomplished nothing this term since “Its atmosphere has been so permeated with the miasmic air of scandal”.

Oil tycoon Edward Doheny says the naval reserve oil leases were signed with the authorization of Congress and navy secs Daniels & Denby also knew exactly what was going on. Doheny mocks Sen. Thomas Walsh, chair of the Teapot Dome Committee, and “his fellow-howlers, who are too busy wind-jamming to stop to learn the truth”. He also deploys the always delightful phrase “flim-flam.”

Eleutherios Venizelos leaves Greece, saying he was mistaken to believe he could help the country.

Germany, which will have elections soon, asks France to restore freedom of speech and the press in the areas it occupies.

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Saturday, March 09, 2024

Today -100: March 9, 1924: Of naming names

Attorney Gen. Harry Daugherty refuses to name the 2 congresscritters identified by the Chicago federal grand jury as involved in the corruption at the Veterans’ Bureau until such time as he personally sees evidence that convinces him of their guilt, because justice.

That said, the names are pretty widely known. Rep. Frederick Zihlman of Maryland says he wants his name cleared and will testify whenever & wherever. The other is Rep. John Langley of Kentucky, who will be arrested for something else entirely later this month.

The House Census Committee gives up attempting to reapportion the House’s seats, you know, the thing they were supposed to have done 3 years ago according to the Constitution. John Rankin (D-Miss.) and E. Hart Fenn (R-CT) support doing nothing because the 1920 census showed a shift of population to the cities, which is scary.

Eleutherios Venizelos, who rode in to rescue Greece from itself but then had a bunch of heart attacks, is riding back out again. And Prime Minister Georgios Kafantaris and his cabinet are forced to resign by the Army for refusing to abolish the monarchy in advance of the referendum on whether to abolish the monarchy.

The latest New York newspaper/police obsession:

She’s been robbing chain stores and pharmacists for weeks.

Philippines newspapers suggest that Coolidge is backing the much-despised Governor Leonard Woods to keep him from coming back to the US and running for president against him.

The Soviet Union bans the buying or kidnapping of women to be brides in Turkestan, Khirghizstan, etc. Also bigamy and child brides. Also, murderers won’t be able to get out of legal consequences by paying bribes to their victim’s family.

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