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


Yogi Berra and ObamaCare

April 2, 2014

Cartoon from Tom Toles at the Washington Post, April 2, 2014:

“ObamaCare: Nobody goes there. It’s too crowded.” Tom Toles in the Washington Post, April 2, 2014.

Why you need to know a little history to get good jokes:

Yogi Berra is famous for his sayings, some of which sound foolish at first, but which generally pack a lot of wisdom or sharp observation.

Berra grew up in St. Louis, which has many famous restaurants.  On some occasion, someone suggested the group should go eat at Ruggeri’s, and Yogi’s reply became famous:

On why he no longer went to Ruggeri’s, a St. Louis restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”


Pat Bagley: Corporate slavery, or “Misreporting the ACA”

February 7, 2014

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) figures show as many as 2 million Americans might quit jobs they don’t like, and go chase their dreams, because now they can get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare).

Conservatives, and more than a few news organizations, misreported the study to say, as they claim, that the ACA will require the firings of 2 million people.

You can read the CBO report here, and draw your own inferences (make them reasonable, please); but Pat Bagley, the master cartoonist at the Salt Lake Tribune, put it in picture form.  Several panels in this cartoon, each telling no fewer than a thousand words.

Pat Bagley's cartoon from the Salt Lake Tribune, on reports that the ACA would enable workers to quit jobs they keep solely to keep health care benefits.

Pat Bagley’s cartoon from the Salt Lake Tribune, on reports that the ACA would enable workers to quit jobs they keep solely to keep health care benefits.

This is why the GOP doesn’t like ACA, you know. It really does give average citizens some choice.  Freedom to choose NOT to feed the profit-gouging machines of the friends of the GOP threatens the GOP much more than did Americans drinking coffee instead of tea, in 1773.

Bagley’s cartoon is more than picture-perfect. It’s truthful.


Fred Klonsky’s 10-minute drawing: What Megyn Kelly really meant

December 15, 2013

Ten minute drawing. Megyn Kelly’s Santa Claus. Drawing by Fred Klonsky

Ten minute drawing. Megyn Kelly’s Santa Claus. Drawing by Fred Klonsky

If you’re not following Fred Klonsky for his education issue updates, follow him for his drawings.


Encore: “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving” by Thomas Nast, 1869

November 27, 2013

November 1869, in the first year of the Grant administration — and Nast put aside his own prejudices enough to invite the Irish guy to dinner, along with many others.

(Click for a larger image — it’s well worth it.)

Thomas Nast's "Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving," 1869 - Ohio State University's cartoon collection

Thomas Nast’s “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving,” 1869 – Ohio State University’s cartoon collection, and HarpWeek

As described at the Ohio State site:

“Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner” marks the highpoint of Nast’s Reconstruction-era idealism. By November 1869 the Fourteenth Amendment, which secures equal rights and citizenship to all Americans, was ratified. Congress had sent the Fifteenth Amendment, which forbade racial discrimination in voting rights, to the states and its ratification appeared certain. Although the Republican Party had absorbed a strong nativist element in the 1850s, its commitment to equality seemed to overshadow lingering nativism, a policy of protecting the interests of indigenous residents against immigrants. Two national symbols, Uncle Sam and Columbia, host all the peoples of the world who have been attracted to the United States by its promise of self-government and democracy. Germans, African Americans, Chinese, Native Americans, Germans, French, Spaniards: “Come one, come all,” Nast cheers at the lower left corner.

One of my Chinese students identified the Oriental woman as Japanese, saying it was “obvious.” The figure at the farthest right is a slightly cleaned-up version of the near-ape portrayal Nast typically gave Irishmen.  Other friends say both are Chinese.  Regional differences.

If Nast could put aside his biases to celebrate the potential of unbiased immigration to the U.S. and the society that emerges, maybe we can, too.

Hope your day is good; hope you have good company and good cheer, turkey or not. Happy Thanksgiving.

More: Earlier posts from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub

And in 2013:

Yes, if you’re a faithful reader here, you’ve seen it before.


Clay Bennett: The Flat

November 2, 2013

Brilliant cartoon by Clay Bennett at the Chattanooga Times-Free Press.  It’s a perfect summary of GOP policies on everything, and why those policies won’t work.

“The Flat.”

Clay Bennett cartoon in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, September 12, 2013

Clay Bennett cartoon in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, September 12, 2013

I love Bennett’s clean lines, and acid commentary.

 


Suicide bombers in the Capitol?

October 7, 2013

Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press:

“Ayn Rand akbar!” Clay Bennett cartoon in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press

I was thinking this cartoon shades a great deal toward the too brutal side; but then I pondered just what Cruz proposes, which is to finish the work Osama bin Laden couldn’t finish himself.

English: Chattanooga Times Free Press editoria...

Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial cartoonist Clay Bennett, self-caricature – Wikipedia image

Then someone referred this article to me today; one might wonder if Sen. Cruz’s idea is, indeed, to bring down our nation, or at least, to plunder the government and those Cruz considers “beneath” him.

What do you think?  Too brutal, or too close to the truth?

More:


Jeff Danziger knows Texans, and DeLay, and Cruz . . .

September 27, 2013

Cartoon by Jeff Danziger, in the National, and other New York Times Syndicate clients.

Cartoon by Jeff Danziger, in the NationalMemo, and other New York Times Syndicate clients.

Jeff Danziger drew cartoons for the Christian Science Monitor when I discovered him.  He’s moved from there (as has a lot of the good stuff that used to show up in the print editions, especially since it’s gone to electronic daily publication).  But his style is cool, to me, and he’s spot on here.

I don’t think he’s a Texan.  Here he captures small-town Texas well, with an especially nice flourish in the Shiner ad on the pool table light.

Is this right?  He’s been nominated for a Pulitzer, but never got the award?

More: 


Typewriters of the moment: Mitford and Carson, two environmental journalists

September 24, 2013

The great editorial cartoonist Bill Mauldin of the Chicago Sun-Times illustrates the gender dimension of the controversy over Carson and Silent Spring. In this 27 October 1963 cartoon he pairs her with Jessica Mitford, author of The American Way of Death, a scathing indictment of the funeral home industry. Men from both industries have been flattened under the platens of the women’s typewriters.  All rights reserved © 1963 by Bill Mauldin. Courtesy of Bill Mauldin Estate LLC

The great editorial cartoonist Bill Mauldin of the Chicago Sun-Times illustrates the gender dimension of the controversy over Carson and Silent Spring. In this 27 October 1963 cartoon he pairs her with Jessica Mitford, author of The American Way of Death, a scathing indictment of the funeral home industry. Men from both industries have been flattened under the platens of the women’s typewriters. All rights reserved © 1963 by Bill Mauldin. Courtesy of Bill Mauldin Estate LLC

Captured from Mark Stoll’s “Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, a book that changed the world,” at the Environment and Society Portal.

A well-fitting image in the few days before the Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) opens its 2013 convention in Chattanooga, Tennessee (October 2-4).  It was the power of the typewriter in 1963; the power of the word processor in 2013, more likely.  In either case, it’s the hard work of environmental journalists, who are out to make the world a better place by showing us what it is, what shape it’s in, and how we might conserve it.

More:


The climate warmed, and I didn’t speak up, because I was not a cloud . . .

August 12, 2013

Another cartoon on climate change denialism, and the bizarre logic some denialists use — no apologies made to Niemoller at XKCD’s site:

http://xkcd.com/164/

XKCD cartoon, by Randall Munroe

[It appears that the word "denialism" triggers WordPress software to suggest "Fox News" as a topic.]

More:


Herblock was a prophet

July 19, 2013

I have no idea whether he was Catholic, but some organization should consider canonizing the great political cartoonist Herblock.  He was a prophet.

See this cartoon of his from 1999, 14 years ago.

Herblock cartoon from 1999.

Herblock cartoon from 1999.  “Kids these days.  Craziness in schools, movies, video games — terrible!  Here [showing a handgun to a customer], try this little dandy.”

From a collection posted by the Boston Globe.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Dan Wasserman.  Another tip of the old scrub brush to Brian Cronin at Comic Book Resources.


Epic political cartoons: Steve Benson on GOP and women’s rights

July 14, 2013

Hard to believe this cartoon was published back in May.

Steve Benson cartoon for the Arizona Republic, May 10, 2013:

Steve Benson cartoon for the Arizona Republic, May 10, 2013: “Speaking of holding women in captivity . . .”

 

Apparently the Texas Lege thought it was a model for action, and not a ridiculing of their ideas.

More:


An unfriendly view of parent trigger laws

June 10, 2013

Parent trigger laws portrayed, At the Chalkface

Parent trigger laws portrayed, At the Chalkface; it’s a warning sign, of course.


GOP “no-budget” hoax

January 28, 2013

If you repeat some hoary old falsehood often enough, people will begin to assume it’s got some accuracy to it, right?

Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor are at it again, complaining that the Senate hasn’t passed a budget.

But that’s false.  In fact, no only did the Senate pass a budget, but so did the House — and then (perhaps stupidly), they made it a law instead of the budget resolution the Congressional Budgeting process calls for.

Then-Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota, explained last April how this worked:

We’ve got a budget, by law — and it’s a disaster.

We don’t need a budget resolution nearly so badly as we need some Congressional leadership who understand supply and demand, and who are committed to good government and not the destruction of America (even if unintentional).

Oliphant cartoon on GOP leading nation over fiscal cliff

Cartoon by Pulitzer Prize winner Pat Oliphant, syndicated by Go Comics

More:

Text of Sen. Conrad’s remarks, below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »


Banksy’s modern Nativity, revisited in 2012

December 25, 2012

An encore post, from 2008.

Thomas Nast helped bring down the crooks at Tammany Hall with cartoons. Boss Tweed, the chief antagonist of Nast, crook and leader of the Tammany Gang, understood that Nast’s drawings could do him in better than just hard hitting reporting — the pictures were clear to people who couldn’t read.

But a cartoon has to get to an audience to have an effect.

Here’s a cartoon below, a comment on the security wall being built in Israel, that got very little circulation in the west at Christmas time. Can you imagine the impact had this drawing run in newspapers in Europe, the U.S., and Canada?

It’s a mashup of a famous oil painting* related to the Christian Nativity, from a London-based artist who goes by the name Banksy. (Warning: Banksy pulls no punches; views shown are quite strong, often very funny, always provocative, generally safe for work unless you work for an authoritarian like Dick Cheney who wants no counter opinions.)

banksy-israels-wall-77721975_fda236f91a.jpg

Banksy’s modern nativity — does he ever bother to copyright his stuff, or would he rather you broadcast it?

*  At least I thought so in 2008.  I can’t find the painting now.  Anybody recognize a work underneath Banksy’s re-imagining?  Let us know in comments, eh?  Perhaps this one, by David Roberts?  Perhaps this engraving after Joseph M. W. TurnerTurner’s original?

Tip of the old scrub brush to Peoples Geography.

More, in 2011: 

More in 2012:


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