The Moron's Daily Briefing

Jan. 23 - In 1908, a group of young officers in the Ottoman army formed a political group called the "Committee for Unity and Progress." Like so many young men before them, they were angry at the way things were and felt confident they could do a better job of things.

The guy responsible for the status quo was Sultan Abdul Hamid, head of the Ottoman Empire. As Sultan he controlled Ottoman worldly affairs, and as Caliph he directed their spiritual affairs. Both of these were in a shambles, and the angry young men brought all the political pressure they could to bear upon the Sultan (the phrase "political pressure" is used euphemestically), until at last they compelled him to accept a constitution.

The constitution, it was hoped, would modernize the empire and return the Ottomans to their rightful place (presumably in front of the Recliners). It guaranteed religious liberty, among other things, which brought on the immediate disapproval of Islamites. Unlike their modern counterparts, these Islamites could be quite vicious when they felt snubbed, and they attempted a coup against the Sultan.

It failed. But the Sultan took note of the simmering discontent, and attempted to slow down the secularization being urged by the CUP, which was by now half full.

Unfortunately, the new constiution specified that interference with the constitution was unconstitutional, and so the Sultan was deposed. He was replaced.

The CUP had begun as a pan-national movement designed to broaden support for the crumbling Ottoman Empire by appealing to the various nationalities of its constituents. But now they began to have second thoughts. It was very complicated being pan-national. It would be easier just to be Turks.

By 1913 other political groups were contending for power with the CUP, so they did the logical thing. Ninety years ago this very day, they seized power. The Ottoman Empire was thenceforward ruled by the so-called Young Turks, three young men in their mid-thirties: Enver Pasha, Mehmed Talaat, and Ahmed Djemal.

Pasha became the Minister of War, Talaat was put in charge of Internal Affairs, and Djemal was given the Navy.

Having studied extensively in Europe, the three men judged it prudent to side with the Central European powers in the first world war. With an eye toward the second, they took the added step of ratecheting up their Turkish Pride and decimating half the Armenian population--an act of genocide with no equal in the history of the world (for about thirty years).

This resulted in military defeat and bad karma, and the Young Turks fell from power at the war's end in 1918. Middle-Aged Turks took over from there, and the rest was smooth sailing.

* * *

On this date in 1985, O.J. Simpson was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame. The great Buffalo running back, Leslie Nielsen sidekick, and alleged decapitator was the first Heisman Trophy winner to be inducted. He remains the only inductee to the Hall of Fame to have been acquitted of double homicide.

Tiffani-Amber Thiessen turns 29 today and will presumably remain so into the foreseeable future. She shares her birthday with Princess Caroline of Monaco (1957), Dr. Laura Schlessinger (1947), Rutger Hauer (1944), Chita Rivera (1933), Jeanne Moreau (1928), Ernie Kovacs (1919), Humphreay Bogart (1899), Edouard Manet (1832), and John Hancock (1737).

It's Flag Day in Belgium and Burning of the Bounty Day on Pitcairn Island.

2002, The Moron's Almanac™

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