Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Today -100: January 23, 1918: Of peace strikes and anthracite pools


Maxim Litvinov, the former revolutionary exile from Russia who is now serving as unofficial ambassador to Britain (because Britain doesn’t recognize the Bolshevik government), attends the annual Labour Party congress in Nottingham. He calls for revolution in Britain to end the war.

There’s a big peace strike in Austria. Some of this is standard dissatisfaction with the endless war, some of it is resentment that expansionist Germans are running the Brest-Litovsk negotiations with complete disregard for Austria.

Headline of the Day -100: 

He’ll stick to plain ol’ water.


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Monday, January 22, 2018

Today -100: January 22, 1918: No longer necessary in a socialist state


The Romanovs are to be tried for treason. With lawyers and everything.

Idle Monday yesterday not only shut down factories but offices in skyscrapers whose elevators were not operating.

Woodrow Wilson denies that there is any inefficiency in the military establishment and says he will fight the moves in Congress to correct that inefficiency, such as creating a Director of Munitions and a streamlined War Cabinet.

Wilson “desires and enjoins” members of the military to follow the sabbath.

The decree dissolving the Russian Constituent Assembly issued by the Executive of the Congress of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Delegates says that after the February Revolution, the Congress “perceived the illusion of an understanding with the bourgeoisie and its deceptive parliamentary organization”. Lenin says, “The Constituent Assembly is the highest expression of the political ideals of bourgeois society, which are no longer necessary in a socialist state.”

The Supreme Court rules that Puerto Rico is not a territory of the United States and the Constitution does not apply there.

The NY Philharmonic will no longer play music by living German composers. Beethoven is still okay, but sucks to be you, Strauss.


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Sunday, January 21, 2018

Today -100: January 21, 1918: At 4:00 this morning the Constituent Assembly was dissolved by sailors


The conscription authorities in the UK accidentally discover a female factory worker “masquerading in male attire,” one Ellen Harriet Capon (!), or Charles Brian Capon as she’s been calling herself. She says she did it in order to earn more money, although she was also dating a woman, so make of that what you will. That phrase, “masquerading in male attire,” is actually what Capon is charged with, because that’s actually a crime (I think the police court just called her a naughty girl and let her off, and she went back to work).

Lenin dissolves the Constituent Assembly, invoking authority that he pulls out of his ass, as was the custom. His decree reads in part: “At 4:00 this morning the Constituent Assembly was dissolved by sailors. Today a decree dissolving the Assembly will be published.”

The US War Dept will run psych evaluations on all soldiers.

Italy is pissed off at a speech by British Prime Minister Lloyd George in which he mentioned Alsace-Lorraine, Belgium, Palestine, and Mesopotamia, but did he mention Italian territorial aspirations? No he did not.


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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Today -100: January 20, 1918: Of constituent assemblies, idle Mondays, and peace talks


The Russian Constituent Assembly meets and elects Viktor Chernov of the Social Revolutionary (SR) Party chair rather than the Bolshevik candidate. Chernov tells a reporter he doesn’t think the Bolsheviks will dissolve the Assembly. The Bolsheviks and Left SRs pull out after the Assembly refuses to give the Lenin government veto power. Armed sailors posted by the Bolsheviks loom threateningly and occasionally tell the delegates to go home.

Fuel Administrator Garfield agrees to allow theatres, cinemas, pool halls, bowling alleys and other places of amusement where booze is not sold to remain open on Idle Mondays – but they have to close on Tuesdays.

The Best-Litovsk peace talks are suspended, again. Germany is willing to commit to referenda in Poland, Lithuania and Courland about whether they want to be absorbed into Germany, within a year after the end of the war, but won’t commit to not occupying those areas militarily while the referenda are conducted.

Would you like to read an article in the Sunday NYT Magazine section entitled “Vivisection’s Many War Achievements”? Yeah, me neither.


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Friday, January 19, 2018

Today -100: January 19, 1918: Of free passage, gas masks, and income taxes


Russia (actually the Revolutionary Committee of the 9th Army) gives an ultimatum to Romania demanding free passage through Jassy.

The US army is (according to the Providence Journal, so who knows if it’s true) sending back 200,000 gas masks because they’re “useless.” Soldiers are borrowing British and French gas masks, which smell respectively of... nah I’m not doing that joke. (Update: tomorrow the government will deny this story, but admits 20,000 gas masks were replaced by better ones.)

Headline of the Day -100: 
Rude.

Headline of the Day -100:  



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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Today -100: January 18, 1918: Of the disappointing American spirit, and kings


The Senate passes a resolution asking for the delay of Fuel Administrator Harry Garfield’s order to shut industries east of the Mississippi for the next 5 days and the following 10 Mondays to save on coal. So he signs the order while they’re still voting (Dems block a vote in the House).  Garfield says he doesn’t think employers will stop their workers’ wages during the idle days or “I shall be disappointed in the American spirit.” US Steel says it will disappoint Garfield in the American spirit.

Lenin orders the arrest of King Ferdinand of Romania. This follows the arrest a couple of days ago of the Romanian ambassador, from which Russia had to back down after the concerted opposition of all the other ambassadors in Petrograd. The story about the inciting incident keeps changing: the arrest by Romania of Austrian officers who wanted to fraternize with Russians during the current cease-fire, or the capture by Romania of Bolshevik irregulars doing god knows what.


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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Today -100: January 17, 1918: Of idle Mondays, Armenias, and assassination attempts


Fuel Administrator Harry Augustus Garfield responds to the coal shortage (really more a distribution problem than a supply problem) by ordering non-essential industries east of the Mississippi to close for 5 days and then for every one of the following 10 Mondays. No one is happy about this. Some congresscritters are wondering from where Garfield thinks the legal authority for this order derives. Garfield, who is the son of Pres. James Garfield and president of Williams College but is basically unknown, issued this far-reaching order with no advance notice.

It’s not just factories either, and Broadway theatres are pissed off, as, presumably, are the people whose jobs will be shut down on Monday but won’t be able to take advantage of the day off.

The Hungarian Cabinet resigns after Emperor Charles refuses their request for a separate Hungarian army.

Russia supports a free Armenia, including territory now held by both Russia and the Ottoman Empire.

A break (or even a coup) between German military and political leaders is averted, reports say, by a compromise in which there will be no annexations in the east that might screw up a peace with Russia but Hindenburg retains full authority to grab whatever land he wants in the West. Provided he wins the war, of course.

Someone shoots at Lenin’s car in Petrograd, breaking the windshield.


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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Today -100: January 16, 1918: Of religious maniacs, Polish Jews, and the tango


Russia arrests the Romanian ambassador and his staff, for reasons they will not disclose. The other ambassadors are worried/pissed off.

According to “news” that has reached Geneva, the former Czar Nicholas now “seeks only oblivion and silence” while Mrs. Czar “has become a religious maniac.” Become?

Officials from the Polish puppet regime meet with Jewish leaders, who are demanding that special laws and taxes applying only to Jews be abolished as they have been in Russia. The officials reply that instead, they might want to get all the Jews the hell out of Poland.

Supposedly, former French Prime Minister Joseph Caillaux was arrested because US Secretary of State Lansing informed France that Caillaux was in contact with the German Foreign Office when he visited Argentina in 1915. Also supposedly, the documents found in his bank deposit box in Italy show that in 1916 he was planning, if he became prime minister again, to order the arrests of several politicians and soldiers, including current Prime Minister Clemenceau. Also, everybody’s making a big deal about a supposed order by German censors for the press not to mention Caillaux at all.

The Vatican bans the tango.


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Monday, January 15, 2018

Today -100: January 15, 1918: Of treason, annexations, and juries of one’s socialist peers


France’s former Prime Minister Joseph Caillaux is arrested (the police held off for a day when they found he was having a dinner party, because France). Evidently... something... was found in a bank vault in Italy under his wife’s maiden name.

The NYT thinks the German military establishment is about to force out Foreign Secretary Richard von Kühlmann and Chancellor Georg von Hertling. The military is grumbling at the possibility that peace talks won’t result in Germany annexing major territory and placing other areas (the Baltics, the Ukraine) under German “influence.”

Russo-German peace talks break down as Germany refuses to remove its troops from Lithuania, Courland, Riga, etc.

The US Supreme Court affirms that aliens in the US are subject to the draft. In another case, it rules that socialists were not tried unconstitutionally because jury members from other political parties were prejudiced against them. The Court says, hey we’re okay with black people being tried by all-white juries, so...


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