Sunday, July 14, 2024

Today -100: July 14, 1924: How many statues were ever erected in the US for black World War I soldiers?

France opens a monument in Rheims to its black colonial (mostly Senegalese) troops.

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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Today -100: July 13, 1924: Honorable & reasonable

Egyptian Premier Saad Zaghloul is wounded in an assassination attempt. The would-be-assassin, a student, says Zaghloul had called the British Parliament honorable and reasonable.

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Friday, July 12, 2024

Today -100: July 12, 1924: Mr. Gracious

William Gibbs McAdoo is backed into a corner and finally endorses John W. Davis, at Will Rogers’ Follies of all places. He’s in the audience and Rogers points him out, so he’s forced to stand up and say “now that the convention is over we must all get together and make sure that we elect a Democrat.” Still can’t bring himself to utter Davis’s name. The next day he does meet Davis, but he won’t say what they talked about or whether he’ll support the Davis-Bryan ticket; he says he’ll answer that before he sails for Europe tomorrow – if he has time.

Fritz Haarmann, the Hanover serial killer, says he deserves to be executed. He can’t remember the names of all his victims: “You see, they came so fast that I really did not have a good chance to get well acquainted with them” before chopping them to bits and dumping the bits into the river.

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Thursday, July 11, 2024

Today -100: July 11, 1924: Maybe it’s just the friends you meet along the way

John W. Davis says he first met his running mate, Gov. Charles Bryan, at this convention, and hasn’t spoken to him since the nomination.

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Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Today -100: July 10, 1924: Future trivia quiz answer nominated for president!

On the 103rd ballot, the Democrat National Convention selects former ambassador to Britain John W. Davis as its presidential candidate after William Gibbs McAdoo and Gov. Alfred E. Smith withdraw.

Davis, from West Virginia, is the first presidential candidate from the South since the Civil War. He is Presbyterian. His campaign supposedly cost just $5,000.

Davis is informed of his nomination by his wife, who heard it on the radio while he was out having a smoke.

The withdrawal of Smith & McAdoo should have been an emotional high point, the NYT says, but “McAdoo withdrew so reluctantly and ambiguously and hedged his renunciation with so many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ and ‘ands’ that the emotional value of that turning point was dissipated.”

Smith volunteers to campaign for Davis, and McAdoo... is going to Europe on vacation for two months. He sends a one-sentence telegram to Davis and... that’s it. He refuses to talk to reporters. Smith is just happy that he was able to block McAdoo.

Incidentally, everyone in the Convention seems to love Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Smith’s campaign manager.

The Democratic National Convention chooses as Davis’s running mate Gov. Charles W. Bryan of Nebraska (the brother of William Jennings Bryan, who’s been fighting the Davis candidacy tooth and nail) with little fuss and only one ballot at 2:30 in the morning, after a brief boom for Sen. Thomas Walsh (Montana), who led the Teapot Dome investigation. Walsh declined to accept what he basically called a demotion.

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Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Today -100: July 9, 1924: 88 to 100

Al Smith & William Gibbs McAdoo meet secretly at the Ritz-Carlton. Smith hectors his rival to withdraw, at least we assume that since neither man will reveal what they said to each other.

During the Convention’s evening session, Al Smith’s campaign manager Franklin Delano Roosevelt announces that Smith will drop out if McAdoo does. Hours later, McAdoo releases his delegates, but that is not quite the same as withdrawing. In the meantime, the McAdooites make an intensive effort to regain the lead, which they do in the 94th ballot, helped by Sen. Samuel Ralston withdrawing from the race, er, again. Many of the remaining 15 candidates are jockeying to become the compromise candidate should Smith & McAdoo both withdraw. Ralston had been a favorite comp-can.

In the 100th ballot, the last of the day, McAdoo, whose support has been bouncing up and down all day, drops to 190 (he started the day at 315 and went as high as 421), putting him at 3rd place behind John W. Davis at 203, with Smith at 351½.

After that ballot, William Jennings Bryan attempts to speak, but is jeered down.

Incidentally, FDR “was escorted to the rostrum”. That story doesn’t mention why he might need assistance. I was pondering how the NYT keeps alluding unnecessarily to his disability like that, in a way which will pass right over the heads of readers who don’t know about it, before I saw another story that does mention his crutches.

The Socialist Party condemns –  by name – the Ku Klux Klan and “every other effort to divide the workers on racial or religious lines, and to effect political purposes by secret or terroristic methods.”

Calvin Coolidge’s father heard of the death of his grandson on the radio (he has a radio but not a phone).

Germans are super-pissed that Friedrich “Fritz” Haarmann, the serial killer known as the Butcher of Hanover, among other sobriquets, wasn’t caught long ago. And he certainly should have been. So far he’s confessed to butchering 14 boys. There were more.

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Monday, July 08, 2024

Today -100: July 8, 1924: 78 to 87

Calvin Coolidge Jr. dies. From a blister. Seven doctors were working on him, one of whom was knocked unconscious for a bit after an oxygen tank exploded.

At the Democratic National Convention, there’s finally some movement. Over the day’s 10 ballots, McAdoo’s support drops from 511 to 333½, losing Nevada, Missouri, Iowa and Kansas, while Al Smith, whose support remains steadily in the 360s, surpasses McAdoo for the first time on the 86th ballot and ends the day at 361½. John W. Davis starts the day at 73½ and ends at 66½. I think some of the drop in McAdoo votes can be attributed to resentment of his resistance to any proposal to break the stalemate. Delegates just want to go home.

By the way, James Cox and  Sen. Samuel Ralston, who withdrew 3 days ago, are back in the race.

The Socialist Party throws its weight behind Robert La Follette and won’t run its own candidate.

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Sunday, July 07, 2024

Today -100: July 7, 1924: With every drop of blood in my body, I am with you to the end in this thing

Calvin Coolidge Jr., world’s most middle-aged 16-year-old,

is not doing well at all.

An attempted coup by junior army officers in Brazil captures São Paulo.

A proposal to release DNC delegates from their instructions & pledges is supported by all the presidential candidates except McAdoo, who vetoes it and instead suggests abolishing the unit rule (states vote as a bloc), nominating by a simple majority, and dropping the bottom candidate after each ballot. His opponents all reject those ideas.

McAdoo tells supporters at the Hotel Commodore, “With every drop of blood in my body, I am with you to the end in this thing.”

Headline of the Day -100 (and so many other days, really):  

Not meaning a presidential candidate, but someone who could knock heads together, like Boss Murphy of Tammany Hall, except he died a couple of months ago.

Thomas Hardwick, former governor & US senator from Georgia, says the reason he is running for Senate again is that a delegation from the Klan (which orchestrated his defeat for reelection as governor in 1922) intimidated state Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Russell into not running himself. Harkwick calls incumbent Sen. William Harris a messenger-boy for the Klan.

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Saturday, July 06, 2024

Today -100: July 6, 1924: 71 to 77

Over the course of the 7 ballots held at the Democratic National Convention yesterday (Saturday), William Gibbs McAdoo drops from 528 to 513 and Al Smith’s support increases from 333 to 367. A proposal by Sen. Tom Taggart of Indiana that a conference of reps from the 16 candidates meet and try to work something out is accepted. Seeing that holding ballot after ballot after ballot isn’t doing anything, many delegates, “hollow-eyed and weary,” are yearning for “strong men” to take control of the selection process.

The Conference for Progressive Political Action endorses Robert La Follette for president but leaves it up to its National Committee to select a running mate.

Calvin Coolidge Jr. is operated on to drain... you know, let’s just skip the details, they’re icky.

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Friday, July 05, 2024

Today -100: July 5, 1924: 62 to 70

The Democratic National Convention holds ballots 62 to 70. William Gibbs McAdoo’s support grows from 469 to 528½, Al Smith barely moves from 338½ to 334½. The delegates are “unhappy, confused and disposed to be morose”.

Al Smith’s people propose that all the presidential candidates be allowed to address the Convention. McAdoo’s people, fearing the spectators’ home-town bias for their governor, oppose this idea, and while the proposal is changed to exclude the audience and have the speeches in executive session, it gets a majority but not the necessary 2/3. A second motion to allow just Smith to speak – as the governor of the state hosting the Convention, certainly not as a candidate, perish the thought – is likewise defeated, even though William Jennings Bryan was allowed to speak earlier for some reason. This so pisses off the Smithafarians that later McAdoo in a letter asks the Convention to let Smith speak, but it is ruled out of order. The Smithistas are thinking about hiring Carnegie Hall so he can make a speech to which delegates could come.

McAdoo sends Bernard Baruch & Thomas Chadbourne to Al Smith to politely request that he quit. He does not.

However, two of the dark horses do withdraw: James Cox, the Dem. nominee in 1920, and  Sen. Samuel Ralston, who seems to have never wanted his name entered in the first place. He cites the attribution by many of a connection between himself and the Klan, which he says doesn’t exist, as a reason to withdraw in order to facilitate a “harmonious solution”.

On the 68th ballot, Will Rogers gets a vote from Arizona.

The Fourth is also Pres. Coolidge’s 52nd birthday, but the Coolidges don’t do birthdays, so no cake. Also, Calvin Coolidge Jr. is unwell. The 16-year-old got a blister on his foot playing tennis without socks and now has blood poisoning.

The Ku Klux Klan holds a Fourth of July “Tri-State Klorero” with 20,000 attendees in Long Branch, New Jersey, mostly to demonstrate against Al Smith – a speaker says there will only ever be Protestant presidents & vice presidents. For a nickel, you can throw 3 baseballs at an effigy of Smith, if that’s your kink.

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Thursday, July 04, 2024

Today -100: July 4, 1924: 43 to 61

No significant movement in Democratic Convention presidential ballots 43 through 61: McAdoo drops 20 votes, to 469. Smith gains 16, ending at 335. Various states changed their preferred candidate over the course of the day. No end in sight, delegates losing will to live and have run through their expense money and are getting eyestrain from the Garden’s arc lights. Sen. Samuel Ralston (Ind.) cracks 100 for the first time, displacing John W. Davis as #3, before sinking again in the night-time ballots to 37, like riding the world’s most boring rollercoaster.

The McAdoo camp insists the deadlock is the fault of the favorite sons, i.e. everyone who isn’t Smith or McAdoo, and they should all just pull out pronto. Others are suggesting it should be McAdoo who withdraws.

Mussolini’s Blackshirts will swear a new oath to the king, replacing their old oath to The Duck personally. And if... an oath... doesn’t remove the threat of dictatorial rule backed by a personal militia, I don’t know what would.

Giacomo Puccini is finishing up his opera Turandot, which he says will premiere not in Milan, where audiences hissed Madame Butterfly, but at the Met in New York next year. Actually, he’ll die before completing it.

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Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Today -100: July 3, 1924: 31 to 42

The British Cabinet decides against building a Channel tunnel.

The Conference for Progressive Political Action will open on the 4th in Cleveland and will create a 3rd party called the Progressive Party (which was the official name of Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose Party), which will nominate Fightin’ Bob La Follette for president. Now we hear officially that he will (gasp) accept. The Progressives don’t have a consensus on Fightin’ Bob’s running mate, but Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis seems favored.

The Georgia Lege rejects the proposed constitutional amendment to regulate child labor by 170-3. “State’s rights,” you know. Viola Napier, one of the two women in the House, votes for it. The state senate will reject it unanimously tomorrow.

The Democratic Convention holds presidential ballots 31 through 42. Al Smith’s support remains quite steady, holding between 310 and 323 votes all day, ending at 318. McAdoo recovers, reaching 503. John W. Davis sinks back into double figures.

William Jennings Bryan, a member of the Florida delegation, gives a speech in which he names eight people he thinks would be acceptable presidents – including his brother. In other words, he thinks McAdoo no longer has a chance.

A recount is ordered in the close Maine Republican primary. State Sen. Ralph Brewster claims he really won. Brewster is the Klan candidate and ran on a platform of defunding sectarian schools. Spoiler Alert: he will be the next governor (and congresscritter and US senator after that).

Portugese Prime Minister Álvaro de Castro fights a duel (with swords) with Flight Captain Teófilo José Ribeiro. He wins.

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Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Today -100: July 2, 1924: 16 to 30

In presidential ballots 16 to 30 at the DNC, former ambassador to Britain John W. Davis picks up some votes as the difficulties faced by McAdoo & Al Smith in reaching 2/3 become increasingly clear. McAdoo loses support, including Missouri, starting the day at 478 votes and ending at 415½. Smith gains achingly slowly, from 305½ to 323½. Davis has 126½ at the 30th ballot. William Jennings Bryan is telling anyone who’ll listen that the party can’t nominate a Wall Street lawyer like Davis, who has worked for J.P. Morgan (could be worse lawyering; in his last case in 1954 Davis defended segregation in the South Carolina part of Brown v. Board of Education).

28 people are sentenced to 2 years for participating in the Lilly, Pennsylvania fight between Klansmen and townies last April.

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Monday, July 01, 2024

Today -100: July 1, 1924: Sitting pretty on top of the world

Coolidge wants to cut the budget by another $83 billion. “I am for economy. After that I am for more economy.”

The DC Federal Grand Jury indicts former interior secretary Albert Fall and oil tycoons Harry Sinclair, Edward Doheny & Edward Doheny Jr. for bribery (or receiving a bribe, in Fall’s case) and conspiracy to defraud the US in the Teapot Dome/Elk Hills oil leases.

The Democratic National Convention holds its first 15 ballots for president. McAdoo is ahead with 479 votes, but well shy of a majority, much less the 2/3 (732 votes) he needs. Al Smith, far behind with 305½, says he’s “sitting pretty on top of the world.” Kansas switches to McAdoo, New Jersey to Al Smith.

The NYT points out that William Jennings Bryan, while objecting to the introduction of a religious question into politics in his speech favoring not mentioning the Klan by name, has himself been trying to get state legislatures to ban the teaching of evolution.

The New York law requiring motorists and motorcyclists to have a driving license, following an examination, by October 1st, goes into effect. There will also be a minimum speed limit of 12 mph in cities other than NY, Rochester and Buffalo. Standards are set for headlamps, trucks have to have rear-view mirrors. It is illegal not to stop on a signal from someone driving a horse.

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Sunday, June 30, 2024

Today -100: June 30, 1924: Of crooks and bootlegging scoundrels

William Gibbs McAdoo, speaking to supporters (not in the Convention), pledges to go after “the crooks and bootlegging scoundrels who are debauching the morals of American youth by encouraging them to defy the laws.”

Edward, Prince of Wales, turned 30 last week and the newspapers are again bitching that he isn’t married yet. There are rumors that he’s promised the royal family that he will think about it.

Calvin Coolidge Jr., 16, plays tennis without wearing socks, but it doesn’t make the newspaper. Yet.

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Saturday, June 29, 2024

Today -100: June 29, 1924: Three words

The Democratic Convention spends the entire day talking about the Klan, finally deciding not to name it in the anti-Klan plank by a vote of 542-541. Now it just calls for “religious liberty” without specifying any particular threat to religious liberty. William Jennings Bryan, on behalf of the McAdooites, calls for the generic plank, saying it would avoid dissension among Christians, and anyway “The Klan will soon die.” “We can exterminate Ku Kluxism better by respecting their honesty and teaching them that they are wrong.” “[T]he Ku Klux Klan does not deserve the advertisement that you give them.” Of course the “advertisement” will consist more of this stupid debate over whether to include what WJB keeps referring to as “three words” or, even, “these three magic and mystic words” than the platform itself. He suggests a separate resolution condemning the Klan by name, which wouldn’t be included in the platform.

Sen. Robert Owen (Oklahoma), speaking for the non-specific version, says he isn’t afraid of any klansman living or dead (especially the dead ones), but won’t convict a million kluxers without trial. He says many joined the Klan to defend the Constitution & the law.

A plank for immediate entry into the League of Nations fails 742½ to 353½, in favor of one calling for a referendum which the government could ignore.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt “slowly wended his way, leaning heavily on crutches, down the main aisle”.

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Friday, June 28, 2024

Today -100: June 28, 1924: Of nominees, plnks, exiles, and secessions

16 men have been put into nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention, which doesn’t mean that more favorite sons, dark horses, dark sons, and favorite horses won’t be put forward later.

Member of the DNC from South Carolina Lena Springs, or Mrs Leroy Springs as the NYT calls her, will be placed in nomination for vice president. Springs, who was not told this would happen, says “There isn’t a chance in the world of my being nominated,” but she appreciates it.

The Resolutions Committee adopts McAdoo’s position on the League of Nations, expressing broad approval of the body but saying the US would only join after a referendum. There are 3 competing anti-Klan resolutions and the issue is overshadowing and indeed postponing lesser matters like choosing a presidential candidate.

McAdoo’s nomination is seconded by J.F.T. O’Connor, a lawyer who used to be in the North Dakota Legislature. More importantly, he is a Catholic who uses his speech to denounce the Ku Klux Klan by name, which McAdoo won’t do, and does so before he gets around to mentioning McAdoo. It would be interesting to know exactly when O’Connor was chosen.

In other Convention news:

France will allow 210,000 Germans it exiled from the Ruhr to return. It will also release from prison people convicted of passive resistance.

Italy’s opposition parties, except the Communists, meet on Aventine Hill to demand the abolition of militias and the repression of political violence, and... they fail to call for Mussolini’s resignation. They say they will not return to Parliament “as long as the present conditions prevail.” This will be called the Aventine Secession.

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Thursday, June 27, 2024

Today -100: June 27, 1924: Of happy warriors, mechanical screechers, and wet planks

There’s a race at the D. convention between finalizing the platform and starting the balloting for president. The McAdoonians want to push forward with the latter before a decision on whether the anti-Klan plank will actually mention the Klan. The adjournment at 5:30 pm was therefore a victory for the anti-McAdoo forces. In some desperation, McAdoo releases his supporters to vote their conscience on the Klan.

The demonstration following Al Smith’s nomination lasts 73 minutes, which is longer than McAdoo’s was. Tammany workers might have had something to do with that. It was quite loud, human sounds being augmented by ambulance / fire engine-type sirens and “mechanical screechers,” whatever those might be.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt gives the nominating speech for Gov. Alfred E. Smith, calling him the “happy warrior of the political battlefield.”

Pornhub title or Headline of the Day -100?


A mass murderer is executed by electric chair in the Philippines, another example of the United States bringing modernity to its imperial possessions.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Today -100: June 26, 1924: And if you can’t fake sincerity and spontaneity...

The Coolidge Admin files suit against 50 oil companies, including the Standard spin-offs, for conspiracy to violate anti-trust laws and raise gasoline prices. Something about patents.

Headlines of the Day -100:  

Forney Johnston’s nomination speech for Alabama Sen. Oscar Underwood, which precedes McAdoo’s nomination, includes a denunciation of the Klan that sets off a 15-minute anti-Klan demonstration that surprises people by the geographic spread of anti-kluxer sentiment. However, one-third of the delegates remained conspicuously seated, including McAdoo-supporting delegations such as Georgia and California.

That reference to “sincerity and spontaneity”: McAdoo’s demonstration aimed instead for length (one hour) and wound up looking artificial, so Smith’s people are going for quality over quantity.

The NYT calls for “a clean sweep of prejudices.” Sure, the Democrats attack racial & religious intolerance, it says, but what about corporate lawyers (meaning McAdoo), huh? huh? huh?

In other convention news, Pres. Coolidge is listening to it on the radio, as are crowds outside New York radio stores, and William Jennings Bryan has lost his watch.

The alliterative Heinrich Held of the German National People's Party is the new chancellor of Bavaria. The NYT is surprised that monarchy- and aristocrat-loving Bavaria chose an “ex-fiddler,” who as a child played fairs with his musician father.

Headline of the Day -100:  


Following the kidnapping and presumed murder of Matteotti by Fascists no doubt acting entirely on their own initiative, Mussolini says he’ll “lead Fascismo back to strict legality... purify our party of all its undesirables... follow a policy of national conciliation.” But the opposition must not, um, oppose the regime or “seek to force us to give up our principles”. Opposition deputies are not there to hear the Duck’s speech, having, perhaps temporarily, perhaps not, withdrawn from Parliament. He repeats that he will not dissolve the Fascist militias.

A couple of professors in the Lehigh University chemistry department have invented an unbreakable cigar.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Today -100: June 25, 1924: What America now needs is not a Sphinx

It is hot in Madison Square Garden as the Democratic National Convention opens. Sen. Pat Harrison of Mississippi’s keynote speech makes note of Republican corruption: “Show this Administration an oil well, and it will show you a foreign policy.” He says they’re more interested in oil fields in Mosul than protecting Christians in Turkey. “What America now needs is not a Sphinx, but a Paul Revere to awaken it.”

After Harrison finishes his speech, predicting Democratic victory, the band strikes up “It’s a Long, Long Trail.” They don’t know the half of it.

In other convention news,

President Bartolomé Martínez of Nicaragua asks the US what its reaction would be if he violates the constitution by being re-elected. The US says in that case it wouldn’t recognize him. Here’s the thing: Martínez wouldn’t be “re-elected,” since he succeeded a president who died last October to serve the remainder of his term ending in Jan. ‘25.

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Monday, June 24, 2024

Today -100: June 24, 1924: Of underwoods, shock & unrest, and runaway Republicans

Sen. Oscar Underwood (Alabama) says if the Democratic Convention doesn’t reject the Ku Klux Klan by name, he will drop out as a candidate for president.

In other news, Oscar Underwood has been running for president. Who knew?

The betting odds on Wall Street are now 3 to 1 against McAdoo and 2 to 1 against Smith.

Mussolini announces that he will remain as prime minister despite the crisis over the murder of Matteotti, thus saving Italy from the “shock and unrest” of a change of government.

All the Rhode Island State Senate Republicans but one have indeed fled the state to avoid voting on D. proposals (the one stayed beyond so he could object if there is isn’t a quorum). They have been discovered at the Hotel Bartlett in Rutland, Massachusetts. They say they won’t return until their safety is guaranteed, citing “gunmen and thugs” they claim were spotted recently in the audience at Senate meetings. They’ve hired guards to prevent their being seized and returned to RI.

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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Today -100: June 23, 1924: Of invisible governments and junkmen & cockchafers

William Gibbs McAdoo gives a speech calling for the “restoration of the administration of national affairs to the people from the control of a sinister, unscrupulous, invisible government, which has its seat in the citadel of privilege and finance in New York City.” Not sure if that’s the euphemism for Jews it sounds like. He’s also not too thrilled with New York newspapers.

Oh, and there’s a new slogan: McAdoo’ll do. Which sounds to me like a rooster crowing. Maybe that’s the idea?

The Illinois Democratic State Committee picks lawyer Earl Dickerson as its candidate for Congress in the First District. He is the first black person so chosen by the Democratic Party. Dunno what happened, but Dickerson will not wind up being the D. candidate.

An American, Edwin Hawley, was killed by Chinese junkmen who objected to him shipping goods by steamer rather than junks. So the commander of the British gunboat Cockchafer threatens to bombard the city of Wanshien unless Chinese military leaders march to Hawley’s funeral in full uniform, arrest the two junkmen, and execute them. Which is done.

Yes, “Cockchafer.”

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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Today -100: June 22, 1924: The real people of the country want to see me nominated

William Gibbs McAdoo still refuses to express an opinion on the KKK or prohibition, saying he wouldn’t presume to dictate to the Convention on platform planks. Honestly, I’m not sure how much the move for an anti-Klan plank is genuine and how much is an attempt to force McAdoo to take a position that would alienate his many klannish supporters. His people are also refusing to take any position on who his running mate should be.

By the way, McAdoo’s people are referring to a “wet reactionary clique” supporting Smith. I tend to forget that prohibition supporters thought of their position as progressive.

Al Smith says his real strength is that “the real people of the country want to see me nominated.”

Filippo Filippelli has supposedly confessed to ordering the kidnapping of Giacomo Matteotti, but says he wasn’t supposed to be killed, just kidnapped.

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Friday, June 21, 2024

Today -100: June 21, 1924: Fascismo will come out of this storm stronger and more respected than ever

The third British Everest expedition ends when George Mallory and Andrew Irvine disappear somewhere on the mountain.

William Gibbs McAdoo’s campaign manager refuses to pass on to McAdoo a reporter’s question about the proposal for a plank condemning the Ku Klux Klan by name. 

Italy’s ambassador to the US Gelasio Caetani says “merciless justice will be meted out to the dastardly murderers” of Giacomo Matteotti. Dastardly murderers are the worst kind of murderers. Merciless justice is the... best?... worst? kind of justice. “Fascismo will come out of this storm stronger and more respected than ever,” he says, after the purging of “extremist elements” from the Fascist Party. “It will come out purer and stronger.”

High Sheriff Andrews, who was ordered to arrest the Republican Rhode Island state senators boycotting the Senate, let them all go after they produced doctor’s notes that they were too ill from the gas attack in the chamber yesterday. If they all then fled the state that’s certainly not his fault, says Andrews. Democratic senators seem to be mysteriously immune to gas. R’s claim they are in fear of their lives from thugs roaming the corridors of the Senate.

The Turkish Ministry of Agriculture will send 30,000 guns to Smyrna to fight off hailstorms.

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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Today -100: June 20, 1924: I will not even acknowledge the existence of a second choice

Commendatore Giovanni Marinelli, treasurer of the Italian Fascist Party, is arrested for ordering the kidnapping murder of Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti. Fascist editor Filippo Filippelli is also under arrest (he supplied the car Matteotti was forced into) and is singing like a canary. Also, his name is Filippo Filippelli, which is the most Italian name possible.

Democrats in the Rhode Island State Senate have been filibustering since January, demanding, among other things, a referendum on a constitutional convention, a 48-hour week, and the abolition of the property qualification to vote in city council elections (RI tended to be massively behind the times constitutionally – look up the Dorr Rebellion when you’ve got some free time). Person or persons unknown decide to end the filibuster with bromine gas, placed behind the rostrum. 4 senators go to hospital (the 3 R’s may be faking it). Some Republican senators say they will boycott tomorrow’s session, so Democratic Lt. Gov. Felix Toupin, who has been leading the filibuster, reading Shakespeare and the Encyclopedia out loud for 42 hours but who escapes ill effects from the bomb because he was being shaved at the rostrum and had a towel over his face, orders the high sheriff (that’s the best kind of sheriff) to arrest them and drag them back to the Senate.

Former ambassador to Britain John Davis says he’s not a candidate for president, but if the Dem. convention drafted him...

Al Smith says he would refuse the vice presidency. “I will not be a second choice,” he says, “I will not even acknowledge the existence of a second choice.” Dude, NO ONE acknowledges the existence of a vice president.

The feds claim that the Wobblies are deliberately spreading foot and mouth disease in California.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Today -100: June 19, 1924: Of assassins, truces, smuts, and ma’s

Mussolini claims that almost everyone involved in the kidnapping and presumed murder of Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti has been arrested. One was caught by a submarine chaser, one was apprehended in the Alps trying to reach Switzerland, and 3 were caught on a steamer about to leave for Albania.

The Royal Ascot horsie race bans women smoking in the royal enclosure in response to the scandal of one woman breaking that unwritten rule of etiquette.

Democrats have reportedly negotiated a “truce” whereby William Randolph Hearst and his newspapers won’t attack Al Smith anymore.

South African PM Gen. Jan Smuts’s South African Party badly loses parliamentary elections. Smuts loses his own Pretoria seat. But at least the country will still have a Boer War general as PM. J.B.M. Hertzog of the National Party will become the new PM on a platform of disfranchising the black voters in the Cape Province.

Miriam Ferguson, wife of former Texas Gov. James Ferguson (1915-7), is herself running for governor. He can’t do it because he was impeached and barred forever from holding state office for acts of embezzlement, corrupt banking practices, trying to bribe the speaker of the house to prevent the impeachment, and threatening the University of Texas. “Ma” Ferguson is running on “Pa”’s old platform and says she’s running to clear the family name so that her grandson might one day be able to run for office with the stigma of grandpappy’s impeachment wiped out by the “rebuke” to it of her being elected. She is the first woman to run for governor in the US.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Today -100: June 18, 1924: We can beat ‘em anyway

William Gibbs McAdoo says he doesn’t care about the 2/3 presidential nomination rule: “We can beat ‘em anyway.”

Al Smith records a 6-minute “talking movie,” the first use of that technology in a presidential campaign.

Sen. Pat Harrison of Mississippi will give the keynote speech to the Dem. convention. Former Miss. senator LeRoy Percy accuses him of leading “a Ku Klux Klan delegation.” Percy was on one of the anti-Klan delegations that wasn’t seated at the state convention. He doesn’t accuse Harrison of being a kluxer, but says most of the state’s delegates are.

Lawyers boycott courts in Naples & Palermo to protest the probable murder of Giacomo Matteotti. Police disperse various anti-Fascist protests. Supposedly Pope Pius met Matteotti’s widow, for half an hour no less.

The NYT suggests that the Matteotti kidnapping threatens Mussolini’s grip on power and has damaged “the prestige of Fascismo”: “The Government of Mussolini may go down in history with the Government of the Tarquins and of Appius Claudius to testify that a people which will endure loss of liberty may rise on an issue of personal outrage.” The murder “is of a kind that may kill a movement by depriving it at a stroke of its moral content.” You know, that celebrated Fascist moral content.

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Monday, June 17, 2024

Today -100: June 17, 1924: Out of the mouths of babes

Babe Ruth comes out in favor of Al Smith for president, after campaign manager Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote him asking for his endorsement.

Some delegates to the Democratic Convention want to do away with the rule requiring a 2/3 vote to nominate a presidential candidate. Reducing that to a simple majority would most likely benefit William Gibbs McAdoo, but his followers are worried that they’d alienate delegates by pushing it. Ah, should be okay.

Oh, this can’t be true: the ancestors of Coolidge & Dawes ran a grocery store called Dawes & Coolidge in Worcester, Massachusetts in the 18th century. William Dawes was part of the Ride of Paul Revere.

The analysts working for Leopold & Loeb’s lawyers determined that they are abnormal and should not be held responsible for their actions. Now the State’s analyst says no, they are in fact “smart alecks.”

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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Today -100: June 16, 1924: Of finzis, acting governors, and abnormals

Ah, now I understand why Italian Under-Secretary of the Interior Aldo Finzi had to resign over the Matteotti disappearance: Matteotti had been about to give a speech attacking Finzi for various forms of corruption, including taking bribes from Harry Sinclair’s oil and bribery biz.

New Mexico Gov. James Hinkle will be a delegate at the Democratic National Convention. While he is out of the state, Secretary of State Soledad Chacón, a woman-type person and a Hispanic-type person, will be acting governor (the lt. governor died). The NYT gets her name and age wrong, because of course it does. She’s not the first US woman temporary governor (we’ll get some real ones soon, for better or worse), that would be Carolyn Shelton in Oregon in 1909. While Chacón is acting governor, the acting secretary of state will be the assistant director, who is her husband.

Headline of the Day -100:  

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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Today -100: June 15, 1924: Of radicals, boycotts, assassintions, and lillies

France has another prime minister. Seems like only a week ago... This is Édouard Herriot (Radical) (that is, from the not-actually-radical Radical Party).

The US Embassy in Japan complains about the boycott of American movies in protest at the racist Immigration Act.

Aldo Finzi, under-secretary at the Italian Interior Ministry (and vice commissioner for aeronautics), resigns over the disappearance of Giacomo Matteotti so that he can fight these “libelous attacks” full time.

The first of 31 trials for the Lilly, Pennsylvania battle between Klansmen and townies (18 of the former and 13 of the latter are facing charges) ends with an acquittal for a kluxer tried for murder.

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Friday, June 14, 2024

Today -100: June 14, 1924: Of Tammany hospitality, horrified & exasperated, and court exhibits

Orville Poland of the Anti-Saloon League claims, in a letter to every delegate to the  Democratic Convention in New York, that there are plans to open a convention barroom to dispense “Tammany hospitality” in support of Alfred Smith. Franklin Delano Roosevelt says the letter is “an insult to the whole city.”

Mussolini is making a very good show of being shocked at the disappearance of Socialist deputy Giacomo Matteotti, which there is now ample evidence was a kidnapping. It’s assumed he’s dead, but it’ll take a couple of months for the body to be discovered. The name of the man who led the kidnappers, Amerigo Dumini, is now known, because he rented the kidnap car (the classic Leopold & Loeb mistake). Dumini is an Italian-American who renounced his US citizenship in 1913. The Duck says, “If there is anyone in this hall who has the right to be horrified and exasperated it is I myself.” In fact, only Fascists are in the hall as opposition MPs are boycotting.

The Bloc des gauches in the French National Assembly ousted President Alexandre Millerand a few days ago, but fail to profit from it, proving unable to put their candidate Paul Painlevé in his place. I believe the French word for such an occurrence is a whoopsé. Instead, the right-wing parties in the Assembly manage to elect Gaston Doumergue, former prime minister, education minister, foreign minister, colonies minister, and magistrate in Algeria and Vietnam. Not necessarily in that order. He is a Protestant.

A Tijuana judge demonstrating to a jury in a shooting case how a gun could have been used shoots himself in the head. He thought his staff had unloaded the exhibit.

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Thursday, June 13, 2024

Today -100: June 13, 1924: Of final & irrevocable refusals, battleships, and (spoiler alert) assassinations

Headline of the Day -100:  


Calvin Coolidge is nominated for president on the first ballot. He’s been listening to every word of the convention on the White House radio, presumably silently.

Former Illinois governor Frank Lowden is selected as his running mate, by acclamation no less. At this point a friend reads a letter from Lowden, written just in case the Convention ignored his repeated statements that he didn’t want the job, saying his refusal is “final and irrevocable.” So a late-night session names Charles G. Dawes, who was a general during the Great War but is mostly known for the Dawes Plan for German reparations, which seems like an odd qualification for vice president, but then Coolidge was known only for breaking a police strike. Dawes was also comptroller of the currency under McKinley, a post currently held by his brother Henry. Dawes evidently had no idea this was coming – a lot of other candidates, some of them even willing, were considered before they worked their way down the list to him. It’s also a surprise to Coolidge, who presumably found out from the radio.

A lot of the drama behind the veepship struggle is caused by resentment of RNC chair William Butler’s heavy-handed attempts to force first Borah and then Judge William Kenyon and then Herbert Hoover on the Convention.

The USS Mississippi blows up in San Pedro Harbor, killing 48.

Italian Socialist leader Giacomo Matteotti is missing. “Mussolini is taking the greatest personal interest in the case”. I’ll bet he is.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Today -100: June 12, 1924: Of platforms & pleas

The Republican Convention adopts a platform by a vote of 13,000 to 28. It includes joining the World Court, Treasury Sec Andrew Mellon’s tax plan, and a federal anti-lynching law. It fails to mention the Ku Klux Klan by name or the Bonus, omits the Equal Rights Amendment, and opposes Philippines independence.

Republican leaders – congresscritters, Cabinet members, etc – choose Sen. William Borah of Idaho as Coolidge’s running mate (this looks very much like Coolidge doing what he said he wouldn’t do – intervening in the choice of veep). Informed of the decision, Borah again says fuck no.

Leopold n’ Loeb plead not guilty to kidnapping and murdering Bobby Franks (that’s two charges, both subject to the death penalty). It’s Richard Loeb’s 19th birthday.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Today -100: June 11, 1924: Of premature climaxes

The Republican National Convention opens. Rep. Theodore Burton (Ohio) gives the keynote speech, saying most people “look to President Coolidge rather than to Congress for leadership.” That would be the Republican Congress, whose lack of complete subservience to Coolidge is pissing him off. And evidently also the delegates in the hall, who receive the speech enthusiastically.

Sen. William Borah of Idaho rules out being Coolidge’s running mate, this time without caveats.

Will Rogers is calling this the “Republican Vice President conscription convention.” Rogers is in the press gallery, palling around with William Jennings Bryan. Bryan asks him if he’s the one who writes a humorous column and says he himself is writing a serious article, but if he thinks of something comical, he’ll pass it on to Rogers. Rogers says he’ll do the same if he happens to think of something of a serious nature. Another version  of the story of the meeting of this surprise comedy double act has WJB telling Rogers “I believe you write laughable things, while I write serious things,” to which Rogers replies, “It may be that each of us has a wrong opinion of his own work.” Listening to Burton’s keynote speech, they both think he peaked in the middle, when he called on La Follette’s followers not to bolt the party; Bryan says “The speaker suffered from a premature climax.”

Coolidge’s father declines to attend the Convention – he has potatoes to plant.

Headline of the Day -100:  


French Prez Alexandre Millerand resigns after both houses of the National Assembly vote against him (what they voted on specifically is unclear to me). Millerand is a little over halfway through his 7-year term and argues that it’s unconstitutional to vote him out, while his Left-wing (Bloc des gauches) opponents argue that it was unconstitutional for him to violate the neutrality of his office by siding with Poncaré. The left refuses even to debate the matter or to “enter into relations with a Cabinet which by its composition is the negation of the rights of Parliament”.

Detroit quarantines and cordons off a 15-block section of the city after a smallpox outbreak. The quarantine is lifted after 15,000 people are vaccinated.

The LA Dry Squad raids Charlie Chaplin’s Beverly Hills home and find a boiler in the basement that turns out to be a water softener rather than a still. Who called the fuzz on the Little Tramp?

I don’t know what says “air of careless smartness” more, the knickers or the socks.

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Monday, June 10, 2024

Today -100: June 10, 1924: Of veeps, elrods, and the Chicago Way

Fightin’ Bob La Follette begins his campaign to pick a fight in the Republican Convention justifying a walkout. The Wisconsin delegation demands that Harry Daugherty & Albert Fall be condemned, expelled from the party, and banned from holding any position under a Republican administration. Daugherty, by the way, will be one of the Ohio delegates.

Sen. William Borah of Idaho says he’s not a candidate for VP, but neglects to say whether he’d accept the nomination if he was drafted. It’s widely believed he is Coolidge’s preferred choice, were Cal not remaining Silent on the subject.

60 members of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan open a headquarters in Cleveland to fight a possible anti-Klan plank in the Republican platform. There is some dispute over whether the national Klan is endorsing Indiana Sen. James Watson for veep, as is claimed by former Klan publicity agent Milton Elrod, which is a very Ku-Klux-Klan-publicity-agent kind of name. Imperial Wizard Hiram Evans denies the existence of any endorsement.

Before the cops alighted on Leopold n’ Loeb, they arrested two teachers at Bobby Franks’s school they suspected of having killed him. One of the teachers says he was beaten with rubber hoses and put in a cell with a black man who then claimed he confessed, as was the Chicago custom.

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Sunday, June 09, 2024

Today -100: June 9, 1924: Hats!

Al Smith, in a letter to the chair of the Self-Determination League of Liberty – I don’t know what that is but I find the name kind of hilarious – says states should be allowed to set their own rules on light wines & beer up to a maximum alcohol content which Congress would set.

Former Illinois governor Frank Lowden says he absolutely will not accept the nomination to be Coolidge’s running mate. He says he can do more for farmers in the ag organizations he leads.

Women in Ecuador get the vote, the first country in Latin America.

The Republican convention hasn’t started yet, but we’re already invited to get excited by photographs sent over the telephone wires from Cleveland, such as this dynamic shot displaying the many varieties of hat in the NY delegation.

 That’s Teddy Roosevelt Jr on the left.

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Saturday, June 08, 2024

Today -100: June 8, 1924: If government extravagance, hartebeests, ronin gangs, and dry and radiated conventions

Pres. Coolidge vetoes a bill to increase the salary of postal workers, saying “Government extravagance must stop” and that taxpayers are “paying all that it is possible for them to pay.” I hope he isn’t expecting anything important in the mail anytime soon.

The Earl of Athlone, the governor-general of South Africa and, of course, a member of the extended royal family, is wounded by a hartebeest while hunting. Princess Alice kills it. The hartebeest, not the earl, although that would be a great Agatha Christie novel. Death on the Veldt.

Japanese protesting the US’s racist immigration law break up a dance held by foreigners at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, and others – “gangs of ronin” – stop cinemas showing American films.

The NYT expects its readers to know the word ronin without an explanation. I wonder where they would have come across it.

Republican leaders are unable to quell efforts to force the National Convention to take a position on the Klan next week. There may also be a fight over watering down, er, light wine & beering down Prohibition.

Federal and Ohio prohibition agents are working to keep the Republican National Convention in Cleveland dry. The NYPD plan to do the same for the Dems and have already started arresting suspicious characters, who judges will hold without bail until the Dem convention is over.

Former Republican Louisiana Gov. H.C. Warmoth (elected 1868 at 26 years old, impeached 1872) tries to have the R. Convention unseat the Louisiana delegation, saying there is no real R. party in the state: fewer than 1% of registered voters are R’s and there are no R elected officials. He loses, but threatens to bring it up on the floor.

The convention will be the first to feature microphones and to be broadcast on radio (18 stations as far west as Kansas City, with commentary on WEAF by Graham McNamee, the guy who invented play-by-play sportscasting) and to have photos sent over the wire.

French President Alexandre Millerand has been trying to pick a new prime minister, only to be turned down by several people. Finally, he’s found someone willing to take the job: former finance minister Frédéric François-Marsal. Congratulations, Freddy!

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Friday, June 07, 2024

Today -100: June 7, 1924: Of honest brokers, unsightly legal battles,, running mates, and strange and long inscrutable purposes

The Reichstag votes to accept the Dawes report 247-183 after a speech by Foreign Minister Gustav Stresemann in which he says Germany has to get on the United States’s good side: “in the long run, the post of honest broker in European matters is certain to fall to the United States. America is too wealthy to feel any interest in weakening Germany. It is far enough away from Europe to see things correctly.”

The parents of Leopold n’ Loeb deny that they have set up a million-dollar defense fund or want “to stage an unsightly legal battle with an elaborate array of counsel and an army of high-priced alienists in an attempt to defeat justice.” Of course Clarence Darrow is an elaborate array of counsel all by himself. They do intend to go for an insanity plea.

The White House denies that Coolidge wants former Illinois governor Frank Lowden as his running mate. In fact, he has no preference at all.

The Prohibition Party’s convention nominates H.P. Faris (or H.P. Farts as the NYT index calls him, and I am WAY too old to laugh at that) for president and Dr. A.P. Gouthey of Seattle as his running mate. Gouthey immediately withdraws, so they nominate Marie Brehm, who will be the first woman to run for VP in the US. The convention declines to adopt a plank against tobacco use.

At Howard University, Coolidge praises the negro race and credits, um...: “The accomplishments of the colored people in the United States in the brief historic period since they were brought here from the restrictions of their native continent cannot but make us realize that there is something essential in our civilization which gives it a special power.” That something essential is of course Christianity. “But for the strange and long inscrutable purpose which in the ordering of human affairs subjected a part of the black race to the ordeal of slavery, that race might have been assigned to the tragic fate which has befallen many aboriginal peoples when brought into conflict with more advanced communities.” So that’s okay, then. If some negroes “have suffered, if some have been denied, if some have been sacrificed, we are able at last to realize that their sacrifices were borne in a great cause.”

The NYT finally mentions the Indian Citizenship Act, which passed into law days ago, granting US citizenship to Native Americans. An editorial reassures us that citizenship is “not considered inconsistent with wardship”.

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Thursday, June 06, 2024

Today -100: June 6, 1924: Utter disregard of the law is the worst kind of disregard of the law

The Indiana Democratic Convention nominates Carleton McCulloch for governor, bucking the strident Klan opposition to him (the Klan in Indiana, unlike most states, is mostly Republican). McCulloch lost to Warren McCray last time. McCray is now in prison, a testament to what happens when you don’t do exactly what the Klan tells you to do (also, he was pretty corrupt). Edward Jackson, the Klan choice, will be the Republican nominee.

The Senate Teapot Dome Committee releases its report. It says former interior sec. Albert Fall made the contracts with the Sinclair and Doheny oil companies with “utter disregard of the law.” The committee seems to think there was something wrong with Doheny loaning $100,000 to Fall while the negotiations were going on.

The Senate votes 70-2 to ask the Supreme Court to rule on whether the Brookhart Committee has the authority to subpoena former attorney general Harry Daugherty, who has refused to testify.

There is a “movement” to name Nebraska Gov. William Bryan, brother of 3-time presidential loser William Jennings Bryan, as the running mate of Al Smith if he gets the Democratic nomination.

The Chicago grand jury indicts Leopold n’ Loeb and the former’s confession is released; you can read it at the link. The families have supposedly raised a million-dollar defense fund, run by Clarence Darrow.

The under secretary of the British Air Ministry tells Parliament that the Ministry tested a death ray, presumably Grindell Matthews’s “diabolical ray,” on one of its experts (death ray expert, I guess) at ten yards, and he wasn’t even slightly vaporized.

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Wednesday, June 05, 2024

Today -100: June 5, 1924: Of super-intellects, enlistment mania, racial insults, and bitter personal feeling

The grand jury hears evidence against the “19-year-old graduates of super-intellect,” Leopold n’ Loeb, including the testimony of an employee of the company that rented them the murder car; the optician who traced the rare model of spectacles Leopold left by the body; the stationer who sold him the paper and envelope he used for the ransom note...

The American Psychiatric Association convention in Atlantic City has a ball discussing the Leopold n’ Loeb case. They blame the parents.

There’s a guy who has enlisted in the army 12 times in 6 states in the last 6 months under different names. He is said to have “enlistment mania.”

Four more Japanese commit ritual suicide to protest the US immigration law, according to provincial newspapers, although only one of the suicides is for-suresies a protest, the man leaving a letter protesting the “racial insult.”

Disgraced former attorney general Harry Daugherty’s lawyer tells the Senate Committee that Dirty Harry will refuse to testify and his lawyers will stop showing up too. DH complains that they didn’t call any of the witnesses he suggested and conducted their inquiry “with such bitter personal feeling toward me”.

The RNC will probably recommend that women be allowed to vote at next week’s national convention.

Austrian Chancellor Ignaz Seipel offers his resignation on account of the long recovery time expected after that assassination attempt, but it is rejected.

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Tuesday, June 04, 2024

Today -100: June 4, 1924: Or running mates, dudes, politburos, and passages

Coolidge will leave the choice of his running mate to the R. Convention. The top choices seem to be Sen. William Borah and Commerce Sec. Herbert Hoover, both of whom say they don’t want the job.

Fightin’ Bob La Follette is preparing his 3rd-party run, which would commence after the Republican Convention fails to pick him (the same sort of walk-out Theodore Roosevelt followers staged in 1912). There is some talk that at 68 he’s just too old. He’ll be picking his own running mate. He may pick Sen. Burton Wheeler, a Democrat, but Wheeler doesn’t want the job either.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt says Al Smith’s New York delegates to the Dem. Convention won’t push for modification of the Volstead Act.

Leopold n’ Loeb are not speaking to each other in the county jail, even during exercise period, which Loeb spent teaching a negro prisoner how to read. One prisoner complains that Leopold thinks he’s too good for us. Loeb, though, is considered a “good fellow.” They’re both ignoring their cellmates, who in turn look down on them as “dudes.”

Germany: Helmut Marx’s old cabinet will be his new cabinet, negotiations to bring in the Nationalists having failed after the over-reached with their demands. This despite the head of the army, Gen. Hans von Seeckt, saying that he couldn’t be held responsible for the safety of the government without the inclusion of the Nats. Marx won’t seek a new vote of confidence, but will be relying on the tacit support of the Socialists in the Reichstag.

The Lenin-era Politburo is re-elected, including Trotsky.

E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India is published.

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Monday, June 03, 2024

Today -100: June 3, 1924: Tuberculosis. Not exactly Kafkaesque.

The Chicago PD are trying to pin another murder and another kidnapping on Leopold n’ Loeb.

Japan says the US’s new immigration act abrogates the 1911 Gentlemen’s Agreement, so Japan is now free allow Japanese to emigrate to Mexico and Canada and if they happen to sneak across the border, hey, whaddaya gonna do.

Pres. Coolidge signs the tax bill, reducing income taxes 25%, while complaining about many of its provisions and its lack of “real” tax reforms.

The Senate votes 61-23 for a Constitutional amendment to allow the federal government to regulate child labor. The ratification process now begins in state legislatures without, I have to say, a lot of hoopla. It’ll get 28 states by 1937 and then... crickets.

Franz Kafka dies, at age 40. He is unknown in the English-speaking world (so no obit) and everywhere else, really. Some of his best stuff, including The Trial and The Castle, will be published posthumously.

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