Joseph Keppler’s cartoon on why we need the 17th Amendment

April 4, 2014

This is the cartoon:

“The Bosses of the Senate,” by J. Ottmann Lith. Co. after Joseph Keppler Puck Lithograph, colored, 1889-01-23 From the collection of the U.S. Senate

One of my old high school classmates, Shaun McCausland, ran for the U.S. Senate in Utah in 2012, on the Constitution Party ticket.  Nice kid, I felt an obligation to pay attention to what he was trying to do, even with his running against my old boss, Orrin Hatch.

I was surprised to find in his campaign materials he e-mailed me, a call for the repeal of the 17th Amendment.

What?  That’s the amendment that gives us direct election of U.S. senators, instead of letting the state legislatures select them.   Why repeal?

Shaun sent along an explanation, from Constitution Party materials, as I recall, claiming that the 17th Amendment was a “power grab” by industry and other oligarchist groups, to take power from the states.  It was a move towards corruption, the material explained.

Seriously?  People think that today?

History takes a different view.

Prior to the 17th Amendment, state legislatures selected the U.S. senators.  Big corporate interests — the monopolists — figured this out in spades, and proceeded to buy state legislatures, thereby getting the right to name their friends to the U.S. Senate, in the perfect picture of a corrupt bargain (the charge originally aimed at the supposed deal between John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster, in which it was alleged Webster got the House of Representatives to name Adams president, and Webster was in turn appointed Secretary of State, the president-in-waiting post of that day).

Look at the cartoon.  You’ll see the fat “bosses” sitting around the back of the senate chamber labeled, “Copper Trust,” “Steel Trust,” “Oil Trust,” and so on.

Consider Montana, Utah and Arizona.  In each of those states, huge copper mines were among the leading businesses.  The domes of the Arizona and Utah capitol buildings are capped with copper, in honor of the leading role the ore and mineral played in early state history.

Who got elected to the state legislatures in those states?  Copper company-approved and -supported candidates won.

So, who was elected to the U.S. Senate, by the state legislatures?  Copper company-approved senators.

In 1913, when Arizona joined the union, one could make a case that copper controlled at least 6 senators out of 96.

And so it was for other trusts, in other states — or a mixture of trusts in some states. Think of the trusts of the time — the copper trust, the steel trust, the steel beam trust, the nail trust, the coal trust, and many others.

The rich guys ruled.

While this system technically violated no laws in those campaign-contribution-limit-free days, it clearly affected legislation.  The Progressive Movement arose as a grassroots movement, from farmers and laborers, from downtrodden immigrants, from the prairies, mines and mills.  When enough people got involved, they could out vote the trusts in a few things — but it still took more than a quarter century to change the election process for the U.S. Senate, to keep the corruption out.

Politics of the 1900 to 1920 were complex, and can be oversimplified easily.  Running that risk, let us note that by the time Woodrow Wilson took over the White House, reformers were maneuvering to fix problems in lots of areas, sometimes with great overreaches like the 18th Amendment and Prohibition, but also with long-needed reforms, and reforms headed in the right direction but not strongly or fast enough, like the creation of the Federal Reserve.

The 17th Amendment was intended to get corruption out of the U.S. Senate, especially the senator selection process.  Instead of leaving the selection in the hands of corporation-captive state legislatures, the 17th Amendment expanded democracy, making the selection of U.S. senators a choice of the people of the state, at the ballot box.

Keppler’s cartoon, originally published in Punch Magazine, tells the story in one panel.  It shows the U.S. Senate — very astute historians may be able to pick out and identify particular senators — with the chief door labeled “Monopolists’ Entrance.”  Coming through the door, and lining the back of the Senate, are the “Bosses of the Senate,” moneybags with legs, or in one case an oil barrel with legs, and with the name of the trust written across the front of their nattily-dressed girths.

The senators turn to their bosses, awaiting instruction.

Inscribed on the wall at the back of the chamber is a twisted rendition of Lincoln’s stirring description of the government intended by the Constitution:  “This is the Senate of the Monopolists by the Monopolists and for the Monopolists!”

There is a door to the galleries of the Senate, labeled “The Peoples’ Entrance.”  It is barred, bolted and nailed shut, keeping out the American people.

Keppler’s cartoon was published January 23, 1889.  Earlier reform attempts failed, in 1828, 1829 and 1855. Progressives including William Jennings Bryan, George Frisbie Hoar and Elihu Root pushed for reform in the 1890s.  By 1910, some 31 states had passed resolutions asking for reform; some of them initiated direct primary elections, though that didn’t generally affect the selections by the legislatures.  Partly to avoid a states-led convention to amend the Constitution, which could easily run rogue, critics feared, Congress took up the issue.  Congress passed the amendment, submitting it to the states on May 13, 1912.  By April 18, 1913, three-fourths of the states had ratified the proposal, and it was declared the 17th Amendment.  Ironically, by that time Bryan had assumed the office of Secretary of State, and it fell to him to proclaim the amendment adopted on May 31, 2013.

The fat cats lost.

Please remember that.

More:

 

Another cartoon, by Spencer, for the Omaha (Nebraska) World, poking fun at the time required to get the 17th Amendment; from the U.S. National Archives, collected by Robert C. Byrd, Senate Majority Leader:

Cartoon portraying the time needed to pass the 17th Amendment allowing the direct election of U.S. senators  By Spencer, for the Omaha World Herald, 1912  Reproduced from Robert C. Byrd, The Senate, 1789­1989

Cartoon portraying the time needed to pass the 17th Amendment allowing the direct election of U.S. senators By Spencer, for the Omaha World Herald, 1912 Reproduced from Robert C. Byrd, The Senate, 1789­1989


Obama already negotiated; GOP taking hallucinogens? (Again?)

October 8, 2013

Oh, Speaker Boehner forgot to mention that.

 

http://bit.ly/GE9nzF 

pic.twitter.com/8N4bG4GFHY


‘My right NOT to know, and your right to duck my bullets’

April 16, 2013

I like Morgan Freeberg — he’s entertaining.

Politically, he’s rarely right, and he’s definitely afflicted with that virus that strikes conservatives and makes them feel that if they can cover a topic with enough words, and if there is enough snark in those words, they must be right, and everyone else is a fool for not seeing that and making them king.  Or at least a local lord.  You can see this on display at his blog, The House of Eratosthenes.

Morgan waded into the discussion on some of our less thoughtful U.S. Senators, who think a good reason to filibuster a bill is they can’t find their own ass with both hands a copy of the bill they just know they will oppose, before they know what’s in the bill (no bias here).

Specifically, Morgan’s defending Sen. Marc Rubio’s right not to know what’s in the compromise reached by Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, because Morgan just knows that those two libruls from those two gun-hating states have put in language on ammunition magazines that will deprive crazy shooters of their sport in shooting babies somehow might “infringe” on the actual ownership of the gun.

I answered in a previous thread — but this really should get more discussion, and perhaps if I make a post out of it, someone will discuss.

This is the post — I won’t put all of it in quotes, to make it a bit easier to read (and I may add a link here and there):

Morgan said:

Alright. First, if you’re trying to make this look like “reasonable” or “common sense” gun “safety” legislation as they call it, it’s a good idea to stay away from this capacity-limitation stuff. To swap out a magazine — not clip — I don’t need eleven seconds, I don’t need half that. I’m not anywhere close to James Bond, or Barney in The Expendables…I merely maintain familiarity and confidence/competence with my sidearm. If I can do it in two seconds, a lot of other people can as well. So you’re counting on a payoff there that you’re not getting. The whole magazine-capacity thing is not only a distraction, it actually highlights for the benefit of the knowledgeable public which loudmouth legislators ought not to have anything to do with gun legislation, or guns either.

Helluva distraction. There’s no such proposal, but you’re so bugged about it you can’t argue straight.

English: Pennsylvania Senate Candidate Pat Too...

Pennsylvania U.S. Senate Candidate Pat Toomey addresses protestors at the Philadelphia Tea Party on April 18, 2009. (He won) Wikipedia image

Maybe we’re being sneaky. Maybe we’re getting you all worked up over something not in the bill so you’ll have a heart attack and be unable to lobby your senators to go easy on baby killers.

Or maybe you guys can’t read. Can’t, won’t, doesn’t make much difference — you’re so sure of your position you not only damn the facts, you damn the existence of the facts and the non-existence of the hoodoos you fear.

Here, tell this guy he got it wrong; you’re barking up a tree on the wrong side of the ocean here: http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/powerful-argument-for-limiting-bullets-in-a-clip-colorado-sen-mike-johnston-pleads-to-give-victims-a-chance-to-escape/

[Here's the video at that post:]

Morgan wrote:

It comes down to this: A gun has a certain number of bullets with which it can be loaded, before it becomes an instrument of death — that number is one. Whoever isn’t familiar with that, should be escorted off the range.

Think of all the gun ranges put out of business if we did that!

Of course, that is a comment on the mechanics; as far as process goes, the number is zero, since one of the basic rules of guns safety is “the gun is always loaded.”

I don’t think a crazy guy should be allowed to pump out 150 soldier-killer bullets in 5 minutes, with most of them going into the heads and faces of more than a score of 6-year-old kids. You seem to think that is such a sacred right that we . . . well, I don’t know what you propose.

You seem to think that forcing crazy men to reload is unfair. I think you’re not being fair to those six-year-old kids.

The evidence in Newtown is that the one reload he did took 11 seconds, and a teacher got 11 kids out of the school, to safety, in that time.

It took him five shots to blast through the safety lock on the door — had he been limited to five-round clips, he’d have been out of ammo in one gun just getting through the door.

I cannot imagine why you think we can’t be fair to six year old kids, but we must give crazy men more than a sporting chance to murder 20 unarmed people. I think my rights would be safer if I didn’t go with your defense of the crazy man’s rights.

Now, is it technically impossible to limit the rounds and reduce the carnage? Not according to the record.

Facts are stubborn things. That old John Adams sure got that right.

If I were Sen. Rubio, considering for the moment supporting this gun “safety” bill, and decided to read it all the way through, I’d change my mind and oppose it the first time I saw something about magazine capacity limits, because that would tell me someone wrote it without knowing anything about how guns are supposed to be treated around a public that we don’t want to be hurt by them. Which is the subject of the bill.

We know you’re not going to read the bill, just like Rubio hasn’t. He has a sort of duty to read it — but you’re so cock sure that you’re smarter than every other guy in the country and that you can see the future before God, you can’t be bothered to read even the quick summary of the bill.

It pains me when you reinforce all the stereotypes of the right-wing, can’t-tell-me-nuthin’ nuts, Morgan. If you’re going to pretend to be thoughtful, at least read the stuff, will you?

English: Gustave Doré: Don Quijote de La Manch...

Gustave Doré drawing: Don Quijote de La Mancha and Sancho Panza, 1863 Wikipedia image

You’re so cock-sure that there would be a crazy proposal of the type you fear that you can’t be bothered to read the bill and see that there’s nothing at all like it. Worse than Don Quixote tilting at windmills, you’re shooting at windmills that are not dragons, but behind which children were playing a few minutes ago. See, Quixote was harmless with his lance. Facts again: Guns are not lances.

Sometimes it’s not the things we don’t know that gets us into trouble, but the things we know, that are wrong. It’s not the target practice of the safe and sane occasional hunter that gets gun ownership questioned, it’s the crazy shooting at dragons that don’t exist, in schools and theaters and workplaces, where real people do exist.

Second. The Constitution guarantees me certain God-given rights, which supposedly nobody can take away from me, and I wouldn’t be able to discard even if I wanted to. Conservatives and liberals would agree — with different examples in mind — that We The People have lately encountered considerable difficulty electing representatives who will truly protect these rights.

Quite to the contrary, we’ve succeeded in electing nuts who are so dedicated to protecting those rights, they’ll go overboard to be sure that anything even close to resembling a right of a white male with a gun cannot be regulated rationally. Rex Tillerson‘s right to pour oil in every backyard in Arkansas is defended, Rep. Joe Barton apologizes to the white guys who run BP for all those Cajuns’ having put their Gulf of Mexico where BP could pollute the hell out of it. A white guy wants sex, well, some women “rape easy,” “they’re just good-time-lovin’ football players and football is an American game,” and if he’s an Army or Air Force officer, his superior will dismiss the rape charges. Jeremy Dimon gets to keep his freedom, and all the money banks stole from black families put out of their homes in New Orleans, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles because his bank and his cronies’ banks screwed up the mortgages.

And if you want to shoot up a theater, or a school, and kill a bunch of unarmed people — well, you know, that’s a right, right?

I cannot imagine what rights you think are not defended, for white males.

Right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness? Right to quiet enjoyment? Right to be free from assault and battery? Right not get life-saving and cheap medical care for your kid? Right not to have to bury your kid as child? Not all rights are enumerated rights. You seem to miss some of the more important ones, when we get right down to it.

Now, if one worries about rights for anyone of color, or rights of children to health care or education, or rights of women to fair pay — well, none of those people are mentioned in the Constitution, are they? They all look like Dred Scott, to a Congress of white males.

In view of that, I like the idea of a Senator who made up his mind to oppose a gun bill before reading all of it (your headline would imply that he hasn’t read any of it, which is not substantiated by your story).

I see no evidence Rubio wasn’t telling the truth — and Cruz is probably too stupid to understand it, so I believe him when he says he can’t even find the bill that was placed in the middle of his desk on March 22. I swear that guy puts an icepick over his left eyeball every night he can.

This would be in keeping with his oath to uphold the Constitution: If the bill has something that cannot be reconciled with the Constitution, out it goes.

There is nothing in the Constitution which says anyone has to be an inadequate anal orifice. You’re reading it wrong.

Or have you even read it? You haven’t read the gun control bill. Why should you read the Constitution?

In reality, there is nothing in the Constitution that says any Member of Congress must be a roadblock, or should be a roadblock, nor that there should be any roadblocks at all. Filibustering is not a Constitutional right — not mentioned in any way.

After all, there is a period-end-of-sentence after the word “infringed.” It doesn’t say “shall not be infringed, unless something really spiffy is written that makes the infringing seem like a swell idea.”

Funny how you can completely miss the first 13 words of the Amendment, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State.” There are only 27 words in the amendment; you worry about punctuation while completely missing 48% of the text. That rounds to 50%.

But, you don’t read. I forgot. As with most conservatives, you think you know what is in a text without reading it, predudging it from . . . well, prejudging it, anyway.

“Prejudge” isn’t related to “prejudice” in the conservative dictionary, anyway.

This is the way I want ALL guarantees to me, or to anybody else, to be enforced. I want my renter’s insurance to be enforced this way. I want my employment contracts to be enforced this way. It’s only fair.

Can you do what no other gun rights advocate has done, Morgan?

Tell us what infringement there would be if you had to limit your automatics, semi-automatics, or single shots, to a five-bullet magazine. How would that, in any way, infringe on your right to keep arms, or bear them?

After you stumble over that one, tell us how it affects your right at all to fill out a form that lets a gun seller figure out whether you’re being straight about not being a felon, and not being a crazy shooter, and not fronting for a crazy shooter or felon.

How does filling out a form to make sure you’re legal, infringe on your right to keep and bear arms? There’s nothing in that amendment that says you can keep your gun ownership or bearing secret — in fact, in many states, keeping a gun concealed is a crime (without a permit).

Tell us how anyone’s rights are infringed by those common sense proposals, one of which isn’t even being proposed.

If I submit a form to the Social Security Administration, or to the IRS, or to some state agency like the DMV, and the form has 88 blocks in it and I botched something somewhere around the 8th or 9th block, it would be patently absurd for me to stand there and berate the DMV clerk who rejected it with “Why didn’t you read blocks ten through eighty-eight?? What am I paying you to do with your time??”

So you won’t do that anymore? That’s good news. I hope it’s a movement, and it catches on.

Aggravating as the situation would be, such a reaction would be very silly…because once the 8th or 9th block is screwed up, it’s an invalid form, and even though blocks 10 through 88 may be loaded with wonderfully accurate information, in context it’s still a bunch of nonsense until they’re copied on to another form that has been filled out PROPERLY. So reading them would actually be an inappropriate use of that time that I bought through my tax money by paying the clerk’s salary. Well, if that’s true of clerks, it’s certainly true of Senators, who swear an oath to uphold the Constitution.

I don’t think that’s a good analogy. Your paying your taxes is not similar in any way your elected representatives’ lying to you about whether they read bills or not, and using the pretense that they’ve not seen what they know is in the bill, to block the majority from even debating what is the best thing for the nation.

In their constitutional duty to represent you, they don’t have the right to boldly lie about what they’re doing for demagogue points.

It’s not illegal, but it’s dishonest, disgusting, and unpatriotic. It doesn’t represent you well — at least, I don’t think that you’re so corrupt that you can only get by by lying through your teeth and making phony excuses.

Sorta like enforcement of a lease — lying through your teeth about the rent isn’t a good idea, regardless you’re the tenant or the landlord.

Why am I having to explain the above?

Because you’re trying to defend ugly skullduggery on a bill you don’t know much about?

Because you sank all of your retirement funds into a gun manufacturer, and you just realized that rational gun laws might take that gold mine away? Because you’re a conservative, and these days that means “so congenitally unable to tell the truth that, when a conservative shoots a hole-in-one on the golf course, he writes ‘0’ on the score card?”

I don’t know.

You’re doing a great job of supporting one of my pet theories, that liberals are people who haven’t actually had to deal with the bureaucracies their ideas create.

And you’re providing ample support for a couple of hypotheses I’ve wished didn’t need to be tested: One, that conservatives really DON’T know what a theory is, especially contrasted to hypotheses; two, that conservatives can’t be bothered to read the book, or the law, or the proposal, or anything else that might inform their arguments, probably out of fear they’ll realize their prejudices are wrong; three, that conservatives really like rules, out of their defense of “traditional” life and “order” — but they think the rules never apply to themselves or their supporters; and four, that the fact that the conservative position is correct should be so self-evident, no matter how half-wit or knuckleheaded the idea, that conservatives will never stoop to actually arguing the issues — keep John Walsh and Candy Lightner far away from conservatives, because they have no real defense for why we treat automobiles as more valuable than children or why we never stick to our guns about criminalizing drunk drivers who kill, especially repeatedly — and so, keep the parents of the Newtown victims far away from Washington, and demonize them as soft-on-crime, anti-patriotic, anti-Constitution liberal fuzzy heads, so we don’t have to look them in the eye and explain why we’re voting to defend the right of the idiot to shoot their children without cause, justification, warning, remorse or chance for retribution.

What’s more important, overarming people (the better to reduce the population), or keeping kids alive? (“We secretly hate children, which is why everyone of our policies is designed to make childhood difficult, cripple children educationally, mentally or physically, or kill them.”)

I do have to say though, I can see an upside to having it work the way you want…it would give me great pleasure, when I fill out a form wrong, to throw a hissy fit about “why didn’t you read the rest of my form?” But realistically, of course there’s no way it can work like that.

I thought you just had a mental burp — but now I see you’re on some tear about filling in forms incorrectly.

What difference could that possibly make?

Apparently there’s another trait of conservatives: The tendency to dissolve into irrelevant rants, instead of facing up to real problems, and making hard decisions about real solutions.

They weren’t your kids anyway, right?

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Critics of school safety, anti-gun violence bills, haven’t read them

April 14, 2013

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Sen. Marc Rubio, R-Fla, admitted that he’s opposing a bill that he hasn’t read — not just that he hasn’t read it, but that he doesn’t really know what’s it in.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, confessing he hasn't read what he claims to oppose.

“On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio [R-Florida] denounced the Senate’s gun control bill while admitting that he hasn’t actually read it all. [Give him points for honesty; now, we watch to see if he does the remedial work.]

So he doesn’t know why he’s opposing it.

This is the bookend to the complaint that the anti gun violence bill shouldn’t be debated, because it’s unavailable to read.  Actually, it is available.

It’s not the contents of the bill that got their ire up.  It’s the surface politics, the public relations, the political correctness.

PoliticsUSA didn’t see the humor in it, but instead joined the unedified braying:

When asked by Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace if his filibuster threat on background checks meant that he would also vote against the final Manchin/Toomey bill, Rubio said, “Well to be fair, I haven’t read it in its totality, but I can tell you this, I am very skeptical of any plan that deals with the Second Amendment because invariably these gun laws end up impeding on the rights of people to bear arms who are law abiding and do nothing to keep criminals from buying them. Criminals don’t care what the law is.”

Rubio also added that we shouldn’t be focused on guns. We should be focused on violence.

How in the world does a sitting United States Senator prepare for appearing on all five Sunday shows and not read the legislation that is currently being debated in place where he works?

What are taxpayers paying Rubio to do?

Here’s a clue, senators:  We need work from you to help control gun violence, and mass violence in our schools.  You’ve narrowly voted to discuss such a bill, which is the purpose for which you were elected and collect more than $100,000 in salary.

Do your jobs, gentlemen and ladies.  Get off your duffs, go to the floor, discuss with other senators, and vote on the stuff the nation needs you to pass to keep up our drive to peace, prosperity, truth and the American Way.

High school debate was about winning the round.  Senate debate is about improving the nation.  You’re in the big leagues now.  Act like you know it, and like you know how to play the game.

(PoliticsUSA has video, but in a format I can’t embed here; if you know where embeddable video might be found, please let us know in coments.)

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Shutup and read: Text of S. 649, Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013

April 11, 2013

Sen. Ted Cruz claims no one has read the text of S. 649, the Safe Communities and Safe Schools Act of 2013.

English: Ted Cruz at the Republican Leadership...

Reading-impaired U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana. Wikipedia image

Contact: (202) 224-5922 / press@cruz.senate.gov
Thursday, April 11, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) released the following statement regarding the pending vote on the motion to proceed to new gun control legislation:

This morning the Senate will vote on the motion to proceed to the firearms bill (S.649). It is expected that the Toomey-Manchin provision announced yesterday will replace the current language regarding background checks. Yet, as of this morning, not a single senator has been provided the legislative language of this provision. Because the background-check measure is the centerpiece of this legislation it is critical that we know what is in the bill before we vote on it. The American people expect more and deserve better.

Unfortunately, the effort to push through legislation that no one had read highlights one of the primary reasons we announced our intention to force a 60 vote threshold. We believe the abuse of the process is how the rights of Americans are systematically eroded and we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent it.

He’s an idiot, I know.

Amendments to the original text are pending — but here is the text of the proposed law as introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 22; amendments will be available at several places as they are proposed or approved, including the Library of Congress’s Thomas legislative tracking site.

Sen. Toomey published a quick summary of the bill as amended – this is what Cruz really fears:  Legislation that might make public schools safer (never forget Cruz opposes public education):

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, D-Pennsylvania

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, D-Pennsylvania, in a committee hearing room; photo released by Toomey’s office

Bottom Line: The Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act would require states and the federal government to send all necessary records on criminals and the violently mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bill extends the existing background check system to gun shows and online sales.

The bill explicitly bans the federal government from creating a national firearms registry, and imposes serious criminal penalties (a felony with up to 15 years in prison) on any person who misuses or illegally retains firearms records.

TITLE ONE: GETTING ALL THE NAMES OF PROHIBITED PURCHASERS INTO THE BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM

Summary of Title I: This section improves background checks for firearms by strengthening the instant check system.

• Encourage states to provide all their available records to NICS by restricting federal funds to states who do not comply.

• Allow dealers to voluntarily use the NICS database to run background checks on their prospective employees

• Clarifies that submissions of mental health records into the NICS system are not prohibited by federal privacy laws (HIPAA).

• Provides a legal process for a veteran to contest his/her placement in NICS when there is no basis for barring the right to own a firearm.

TITLE TWO: REQUIRING BACKGROUND CHECKS FOR FIREARM SALES

Summary of Title II: This section of the bill requires background checks for sales at gun shows and online while securing certain aspects of 2nd Amendment rights for law abiding citizens.

• Closes the gun show and other loopholes while exempting temporary transfers and transfers between family members.

• Fixes interstate travel laws for sportsmen who transport their firearms across state lines in a responsible manner. The term “transport” includes staying in temporary lodging overnight, stopping for food, buying fuel, vehicle maintenance, and medical treatment.

• Protects sellers from lawsuits if the weapon cleared through the expanded background checks and is subsequently used in a crime. This is the same treatment gun dealers receive now.

• Allows dealers to complete transactions at gun shows that take place in a state for which they are not a resident.

• Ensures that sales at gun shows are not prevented by delayed approvals from NICS.

• Requires the FBI to give priority to finalizing background checks at gun shows over checks at store front dealerships.

• Authorizes use of a state concealed carry permit instead of a background check when purchasing a firearm from a dealer.

• Permits interstate handgun sales from dealers.

• Allows active military to buy firearms in their home states.

• Family transfers and some private sales (friends, neighbors, other individuals) are exempt from background checks

• Adds a 15 year penalty for improper use or storage of records.

TITLE THREE: NATIONAL COMMISSION ON MASS VIOLENCE

Summary of Title III: : This section of the bill creates a commission to study the causes of mass violence in the United States, looking at all aspects of the problem, including guns, school safety, mental health, and violent media or video games.

The Commission would consist of six experts appointed by the Senate Majority Leader and six experts appointed by the Speaker of the House. They would be required to submit an interim report in three months and a completed report in six months.

WHAT THE BILL WILL NOT DO:

The bill will not take away anyone’s guns.

The bill will not ban any type of firearm.

The bill will not ban or restrict the use of any kind of bullet or any size clip or magazine.

The bill will not create a national registry; in fact, it specifically makes it illegal to establish any such registry.

The bill will not, in any way at all, infringe upon the Constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens.

Sen. Cruz, you have money in your office budget for training for you and your staff in tracking legislation — I’ll be pleased to come show you how to track down such language.

Below the fold, the current text of the bill (as of 4:26 p.m., April 11, 2013).

Update:  Below the fold, the text of the bill as proposed to be amended, published by Sen. Toomey late yesterday; then, below that, the original bill as introduced by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada — compare them if you like.

Read the rest of this entry »


Quote of the moment: Mike Mansfield (b. March 16, 1903)

March 16, 2013

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana; oil on canvas by Aaron Shikler, 1978 – Wikimedia image

Mike Mansfield was born on March 16, 1903.  Best boss I ever had.

Robert A. Nowlan’s Born This Day attributed this quote to Mansfield:

After all, even a politician is human.

Laconic as he was, Mansfield didn’t say anything more meaty than that?

Read about Mansfield at the Bathtub, here.  Mansfield died on October 5, 2001.

At a sad time when the political agenda of activist republic destroyers includes bitterly working hard to wipe out the history of great men like Mansfield, it’s important we remember him on his birthday.

English: Senate desk X, used by Democratic lea...

This is a photo of one of the rarest views of history one can see, visible only to those few people who get onto the floor of the U.S. Senate, and only if someone opens a desk for them.  One of the more interesting, odd, and sentimental traditions developed in the U.S. Senate is the signing of the desks.  Sometime in the 19th century senators began signing the inside of the desks they were assigned to on the Senate floor.  Sometimes a desk gets associated with a particular state and a senator from that class; sometimes a desk get associated with family (Sens. John, Ted and Robert Kennedy, for example).  Here is Senate desk X, used by Democratic leaders (Joseph T. Robinson, Alben W. Barkley, Scott W. Lucas, Ernest McFarland, Lyndon B. Johnson, Mike Mansfield, Robert Byrd, George J. Mitchell, Tom Daschle and Harry Reid) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Odd juxtaposition of images — but it gives me some hope

January 29, 2013

A great photo from Pete Souza, the current White House photographer.  I’m hoping to track down I’ve tracked down even more details on this, because not all sources like to post all the credit information or other stuff a newspaper or blog should have . . .

Pete Souza photo, lunch in the White House, Obama, Boehner, Pelosi, Reid, McConnell

Photo of a lunch in an anteroom of the President’s office, with President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Consolidated News published the photo for its clients with this information:

United States President Barack Obama has lunch with members of the Congressional Leadership in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, May 16, 2012. The President served hoagies from Taylor Gourmet, which he purchased after a small business roundtable earlier in the day. Seated, clockwise from the President, are: U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat of Nevada), U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican of Kentucky), U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Democrat of California), and U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (Republican of Ohio)..Mandatory Credit: Pete Souza – White House via CNP

At least we know where to get sandwiches like that, now. (Here’s the photo in the White House Flickr set.)

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield

Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield; oil on canvas by Aaron Shikler, 1978;  photo of painting from Wikipedia

Way back in the Early Holocene, when I first interned with the U.S. Senate, Majority Leader Mike Mansfield, D-Montana, held a close friendship with Sen. George Aiken, R-Vermont.  Many mornings they breakfasted together in the staff carry-out in the basement of the Capitol; their wives were friends, too.  One morning we got a question on some hot political issue at the Democratic Policy Committee (where I shared the best office I ever had in the third floor of the Capitol); I was dispatched to find Mansfield at breakfast and get an answer.  I found him dining with Aiken.

I forget the issue, but it was highly politically charged, something about policy on Vietnam.  Republicans and Democrats were much at war on the issue.  Mansfield read the note, and showed it to Aiken.  They discussed the issue while Mansfield penned an answer and handed it to me.  No big deal — two senators dealing with an important issue, talking it over.

When I joined Senate staff in a permanent position, life was much different among the senators.  The easy camradery between Mansfield and Aiken couldn’t be found anywhere.  That was in the late 1970s.  Partisanship was much sharper and nastier than I had seen earlier.  Vietnam was over, and that was probably a good thing.  The divisiveness I found would not have lent itself to any resolution of Vietnam.

At the RARE II conference at the University of Montana, in 1978, I heard a presentation from a staffer to Montana’s Sen. Paul Hatfield, if I recall correctly, a guy who had staffed for Sen. Lee Metcalf before.  He described the difficulties in getting serious legislation done on public lands issues.  As he described it, especially before the installation of air conditioning in the Capitol, the Senate would recess for the insufferable summer heat.  Senators, who had developed working relationships, if not friendships, would visit each other in their home states, for hunting and sight-seeing, among other things.  A Montana senator might show his colleague from Vermont how different the Rocky Mountains are from the Appalachians.  A Louisana senator might show his colleagues from western states how different is flood control on the Mississippi than on the Colorado or Sacramento, or Columbia.  By the time the Senate got back to business in the fall, legislation had been worked out, key alliances formed to get things done for various states, and though opposition was expressed to many projects, it was genuine difference of opinion expressed to friends.

That’s gone.  In 2013, it’s rare a Member of Congress can develop those kinds of relationships with other Members, especially with the fund-raising requirements for re-election.  Members travel back to their states and districts as many weekends as they can; they get to know their staff on each end, but they don’t know the other senators, or members of Congress.

President Warren G. Harding doesn’t have a reputation as a great president; but his poker parties were famous.  Lyndon Johnson didn’t play poker a lot (though I understand he did on occasion), but his presidency’s record in photographs show that he invited Members of Congress individually for afternoon meetings, often punctuated with a drink, always slathered in business and the potential for favors or arm-twisting.  Those sessions are legendary for the legislation they greased into law.

When I saw that photo at the top, I was put in mind of another famous image.

Norman Rockwell's Freedom from Want

Norman Rockwell’s painting, “Freedom from Want,” part of a quartet based on the Four Freedoms State of the Union Speech of Franklin Roosevelt, in January 1941.

Did Souza have that Rockwell painting in mind when he framed that shot?

Rockwell’s work was more than just iconic, really.  In the simple history, from Wikipedia:

The Four Freedoms or Four Essential Human Freedoms is a series of oil paintings produced in 1943 by the American artist Norman Rockwell. The paintings are approximately equal in dimension with measurements of 45.75 inches (116.2 cm) × 35.5 inches (90 cm).[1] The series, now in the Norman Rockwell Museum, was made for reproduction in The Saturday Evening Post over the course of four consecutive weeks in 1943 alongside essays by prominent thinkers of the day. Later they were the highlight of a touring exhibition sponsored by the Saturday Evening Post and the United States Department of the Treasury. The touring exhibition and accompanying sales drives raised over US$132 million in the sale of war bonds.[2]

The Four Freedoms theme was derived from the 1941 State of the Union Address by United States President Franklin Roosevelt delivered to the 77th United States Congress on January 6, 1941.[3] During the speech he identified four essential human rights (Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom From Want and Freedom From Fear) that should be universally protected and should serve as a reminder of the American motivation for fighting in World War II.[4]

The theme was incorporated into the Atlantic Charter,[5] and it became part of the charter of the United Nations.[6] Roosevelt’s message was as follows: “In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.”[3][7]

Torpedo sandwiches from Taylor’s don’t exactly make a Thanksgiving dinner, but that’s not the point.  Rockwell portrayed an American family — at Thanksgiving, perhaps — sitting down to enjoy dinner together, breaking bread together as a Christian preacher might put it in a sermon.  President Johnson famously invited, “Come, let us reason together.”  Around Obama’s smaller-than-Rockwell’s table, the smiles are not so evident.  But I still see hope.

I see some hope for friendship, for the relationships that might move legislation, for the legislation that might move the nation.  God and Norman Rockwell know we could use it.

We can hope, can’t we?

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