The Tariffs that Broke the Camel’s Back

Gary Cohn

On March 7, 2018, President Donald Trump signed a sweeping steel tariff act into law via executive order. As of the writing of this blog there have been several material changes made to this tariff in terms of the countries subject to it and the products covered. In addition to steel, the tariff initially included aluminum, washing machines, and solar panels.  It is unclear what the long-term legacy of these tariffs will be. However, in the short term they have conclusively led to Gary Cohn’s departure as the Director of the National Economic Council under President Trump. The exact circumstances of Cohn’s resignation are murky, but Jack Ohman, the artist of the cartoon above, thinks that Cohn was kicked out. Bret Stephens, author of the editorial “Gary Cohn’s Breaking Point,” believes that Cohn hit a breaking point either personally or professionally. Whatever was happening behind the scenes between Trump and Cohn, clearly the steel tariff was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

John Knott’s Right in the Middle of his Speech and this untitled cartoon by Jack Ohman work well together as bookends. Both cartoons address the same subject: the professional fallout of unpopular tariffs. Their differences highlight how divisive tariffs are as a tool for boosting the national economy. In Right in the Middle of his Speech, President Hoover is paying the price for the Smoot-Hawley Tariffs at the hands of the voters who have had two years to observe the effects of the tariff. In Ohman’s untitled cartoon, it is Gary Cohn who’s career is plummeting even before the steel tariffs were officially signed into law.

Gary Cohn and President Trump had a fraught working relationship. Before joining the Trump Administration, Cohn was a high-ranking employee with Goldman Sachs. The two had very different points of view regarding what would be best for the economy of the nation. Donald Trump was the first presidential candidate since Herbert Hoover to run on a platform of economic protectionism. By contrast, Cohn was a globalist and proponent of free trade.

The difficulties between the two men took a personal turn in the aftermath of the August 2017 Charlottesville protest, Rally for the Right. The Rally for the Right was comprised primarily of alt-right political groups that included white supremacists and neo-Nazis who chanted anti-Semitic slogans and waved Nazi flags. Counter-protestors showed up to oppose the Unite the Right rally. While violence did erupt between the two groups, it was the neo-Nazis who were there for Unite the Right that had showed up with weapons and shields. It was also a neo-Nazi supporter that drove a car through a group of counter-protestors, injuring 19 and killing one.

The public outcry was immediate; however the Trump administration was slow to issue an official response. When President did respond to the incident in Charlottesville, it was via a tweet which read in part “…There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets [sic] come together as one!” (Trump). People were shocked by the weak response. The day after this tweet President Trump had a press conference where the American public expected him to denounce the hateful ideology of the neo-Nazis and the violence committed by their supporters. What Trump said instead of that was, “There were many fine people on both sides” (Wang, “Read the Transcript…”).

There was a great deal of anger from many quarters due to Trump not only failing to condemn the vicious bigotry of the neo-Nazis, but saying they were “fine people”. Gary Cohn, a Jewish man who gave generously to Jewish charities, was standing in the lobby of Trump Tower when the President made these equivocating remarks. Then Cohn was left to field economic questions immediately after Trump completed his statement. In the aftermath of this, Cohn would publicly criticize the Trump administration’s response to Charlottesville but without naming the president explicitly. “…that the Trump administration “can and must do better” to condemn hate groups and “do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities”,” (Kelly, “Gary Cohn, Trump’s Adviser, ….”). In that same article Cohn said the only reason he did not resign was that he wanted to shepherd through tax cuts that he had helped author, a once in a lifetime opportunity.

However, after the tax cuts were passed into law in December of 2017, Cohn and Trump began butting heads over the prospect of the heavy steel tariffs President Trump wanted to impose. Cohn was among many voices that protested the tariffs. Once it became clear that the tariffs were going to happen, Cohn tendered his resignation within days. Cohn resigned on March 6, 2018 and Trump signed an executive order to enact tariffs on March 8. The reason he gave was that if Trump was not going to listen to his advice, there was little point in holding the position of Director of the Economic Council.

In addition to the professional, economic disagreements between the two men, there was doubtless a large amount of personal conflict. President Trump has always valued personal loyalty above any other characteristic of the people who work with and for him (Olen, “Trump’s Creepy, Autocratic Obsession with Loyalty). Cohn’s criticism of the Trump Administration’s handling of the Charlottesville incident stung. While Cohn and Trump were on a similar wavelength regarding the tax cuts, the steel tariff was Trump’s personal pet project; thus, when Cohn spoke out against the tariff, there is little doubt that President Trump saw the action as further evidence of Cohn’s disloyalty.

Ohman’s cartoon depicts the moment that Cohn officially resigned on March 6, 2018 (Ohman). Visually it is incredibly similar to John Knott’s cartoon Right in the Middle of his Speech.  As Cohn leaps from the crumbling steel infrastructure, he insists, “I jumped, I swear…”; meanwhile, Trump is standing on the construction platform and appears to have kicked Cohn from the building. There’s good reason for Cohn to insist that the departure was of his own volition. Before he left Goldman Sachs to join the administration as the Director of the National Economic Council, Cohn was on the shortlist of candidates to replace the CEO of Goldman Sachs; thus, resigning as the result of a stubborn president would look much better for his career than being fired.

The steel tariffs are referenced in this cartoon by the crane labeled “Art of the Steel Tariff,” which is also a play on the 1987 autobiography about Trump– The Art of the Deal– that actually was authored by ghostwriter Tony Schwartz. In Ohman’s cartoon, the “Art of the Steel” crane seems to be out of control. The cable is whipping back and forth, and the hook is snagged on a beam of the steel infrastructure that Cohn has just been kicked from. This is likely more than simple artistic license. One of Cohn’s pet projects was the rebuilding of American infrastructure; bridges, railways, power grids, and so forth (“Gary Cohn Joins the Exodus”). Such infrastructure projects would require lots of steel and aluminum, which would be made more expensive by the tariffs.

The last notable feature of the comic is the sign behind President Trump, which reads “Trump Chaostruction Inc.” In addition to many other industries, the Trump Organization included construction companies. Ohman makes reference to this as he makes a portmanteau with “construction” and “chaos.” One of the things that the Trump administration has been criticized for is the high churn rate among appointees and employees. In the first year of his administration the turnover rate was more than 40% (Keith, “White House Turnover was Already Record Setting….”). At the time of his departure, Gary Cohn was the highest-ranking member of Trump Administration to leave, a move that prompted speculation about instability. Trump responded to that criticism with the following tweet:

The new Fake News narrative is that there is CHAOS in the White House. Wrong! People will always come & go, and I want strong dialogue before making a final decision. I still have some people that I want to change (always seeking perfection). There is no Chaos, only great Energy!

The circumstances of the two cartoons are very different. The Knott cartoon Right in the Middle of his Speech was created with the benefit of hindsight. It was published more than two years after the implementation of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. In contrast, this untitled cartoon by Ohman was published the day after Trump’s steel tariffs. Hoover supported the Smooth-Hawley tariff; Cohn opposed Trump’s steel tariffs.

Nonetheless, both cartoons use the same visual language and have the same moral: tariffs can be deadly to a politician’s career. This is illustrated in both cases with the politician falling from a structure. Like Knott, Ohman chooses to focus his cartoon on the personal consequences of a tariff. Trade wars, recessions, high prices, and other pitfalls of tariffs are incidental to the point the artists are making.

 

 

Works Cited

Diamond, Jeremy. “Top Economic Adviser Gary Cohn Leaves White House in Wake of Tariff Rift.” CNN, 7 Mar. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/03/06/politics/gary-cohn-white-house-tariffs/index.html. Accessed 9 Apr. 2018.

The Editorial Board. “Gary Cohn Joins Exodus.” The New York Times, 6 Mar. 2018. The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/opinion/gary-cohn-resignation.html. Accessed 8 May 2018.

J.E.F. “Gary Cohn Resigns as Donald Trump’s Economic Advisor.” The Economist, 7 Mar. 2018, www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2018/03/tariff-rifts-0. Published the day after he resigned

Keith, Tamra. “White House Staff Turnover was Already Record Setting. Then More Adivsers Left.” National Public Radio, 7 Mar. 2018, www.npr.org/2018/03/07/591372397/white-house-staff-turnover-was-already-record-setting-then-more-advisers-left. Accessed 16 Apr. 2018.

Kelley, Kate, and Maggie Haberman. “Gary Cohn, Trump’s Adviser, Said to Have Drafted Resignation Letter after Charlottesville.” New York Times, 25 Aug. 2017, www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/us/politics/gary-cohn-trump-charlottesville.html. Accessed 17 Apr. 2018.

Knott, John Francis. Right in the Middle of his Speech. 15 Oct. 1932. America’s Historical Newspapers, infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=L63Q49PFMTUyMjMzMzk1Mi42MTE4MzI6MToxMjoxMjguODMuNjMuMjA&p_action=doc&s_lastnonissuequeryname=4&d_viewref=search&p_queryname=4&p_docnum=1&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-10483D9233E8A080@2426996-10483D92A9E93CD3@17-10483D94E2A30003@.

Ohman, Jack. “Jack Ohman.” GoComics, Universal Press Syndicate, 8 Mar. 2018, www.gocomics.com/     jackohman/2018/03/08. Accessed 14 May 2018. Cartoon.

Olen, Helen. “Trump’s Creepy, Autocratic Obsession with Loyalty.” The Washington Post, 30 Apr. 2018, Opinion sec. The Washington Post, www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2018/04/30/trumps-creepy-autocratic-obsession-with-loyalty/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.3d0a68b808d2. Accessed 11 May 2018.

Stephens, Bret. “Gary Cohn’s Breaking Point.” The New York Times, 7 Mar. 2018. The New York Times, www.nytimes.com/2018/03/07/opinion/gary-cohn-breaking-point.html. Accessed 8 May 2018.

Trump, Donald J. “The new Fake News narrative is that there is CHAOS in the White House. Wrong! People will always come & go, and I want strong dialogue before making a final decision. I still have some people that I want to change (always seeking perfection). There is no Chaos, only great Energy!” Twitter, 6 Mar. 2018, twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/971006379375972354.

—. “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!” Twitter, 12 Aug. 2018, 10:19 AM, twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/896420822780444672?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vox.com%2F2017%2F8%2F12%2F16138610%2Fcharlottesville-nazi-rally-trump-tweet&tfw_site=voxdotcom.

Wang, Christine, and Kevin Breuninger. “Read the transcript of Donald Trump’s jaw-dropping Press Conference.” Dwd. www.CNBC.com, CNBC, 15 Aug. 2017, www.cnbc.com/2017/08/15/read-the-transcript-of-donald-trumps-jaw-dropping-press-conference.html. Accessed 16 Apr. 2018.

Advance, Work, Fight, If Necessary

Benito Mussolini addresses the world from the city of Turin, Italy on October 23, 1932
Benito Mussolini addresses the world from the city of Turin, Italy on October 23, 1932.

 

Telling the World by John Knott depicts the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini during his 1932 address in the city of Turin, Italy. The speech occurred in the midst of the tenth anniversary of the Fascist Party’s March on Rome in October 1922, when Mussolini was appointed as Italy’s fascist head of government by King Victor Emmanuel III (De Grand 513). The Italian dictator’s balcony, illustrated in Knott’s cartoon, evokes the baroque architectural style of Turin’s buildings. As Mussolini stated in his speech, “Turin is a Roman city,” and according to his regime, 1932 was Year X of “The New Era” in the “Third Rome” (“Benito Mussolini” 273). However, by the time of Mussolini’s visit to Turin, Europe was still reeling from the consequences of World War I. Despite fervent calls by European allies for the cancellation of German war reparations, emphasized at the Lausanne Conference in the summer of 1932, the United States refused to accept the mandatory condition that all European debts to the U.S. be cancelled as well (Bemis 55). This decision, combined with the League of Nations’ insistence that Germany was to be denied juridical parity, only served to aggravate tensions in the region. Furthermore, looming over the world and compounding the western dilemma was The Great Depression, a burdening force which would not cease for a decade.

In Knott’s cartoon, Mussolini is holding a globe before him as he asserts his position on the world’s affairs. His discontented expression and clenched fist indicate that he his making demands to resolve conflicts threatening his regime. Depicted on the globe, Africa and Europe face the audience, as North America is subjected to the Italian dictator’s scrutinous glare. This scowling expression carries a direct challenge to the United States, “. . . the ship of reparations and war debts entered the port of Lausanne. Are the great people of the star-spangled republic going to send this vessel, which was filled with sorrow and blood of so many peoples, back to the open waters?” (Mussolini 1932). In this statement he addresses the imperious nature of the U.S. pursuit of war reparations from Europe, and its significance in impacting western politics. Mussolini’s Turin speech took place only a month prior to the US Presidential Election of 1932. According to “Mussolini and the Crisis,” the Dallas Morning News editorial accompanying Knott’s cartoon, then-candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt was thought to have been more sympathetic toward the idea of debt cancellation than his opponent, Herbert Hoover. Mussolini appeared to time his appeal to the US in order to influence the vote of Italian Americans toward Roosevelt (Dallas Morning News 2). The Lausanne Conference was a pivotal point in the decision to end or continue war debts, and the United States was the eminent faction in determining the outcome. Unfortunately, The Great Depression was well entrenched in America during this time, leading the struggling nation to assert its demands for reparations to a continent likewise hindered by economic downturn.

The historically industrial city of Turin was home to many unemployed and disgruntled labor workers at the time of Mussolini’s 1932 address. As the Dallas Morning News editorial begins, “Premier Mussolini took his life in his hands when he addressed the semihostile citizens of Turin” (2). Workers throughout Italy directed their blame and animosity toward the current political institutions whose policies they believed were failing to remedy the country’s postwar ailments (Atkins 271). Adding more pressure to the desperate nation and to Mussolini’s government was The Great Depression, which had begun with the Wall Street collapse only three years prior.

Italy’s involvement in World War I came at an immense cost. Though neutral at its commencement, the Treaty of London eventually situated Italy in the conflict alongside France and Britain, with promises from the Entente powers that Italy would be compensated with sought-after territories in Austria-Hungary and Africa (Karabell 96). By the war’s conclusion, however, Italy’s military was nearly decimated; and the country was economically, politically, and socially ravaged (Atkins 270).  Further deteriorating postwar conditions in Italy, its efforts as one of the Allies against the Central Powers were minimized at the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, and Italy received meager recompense for its losses (Atkins 271). Postwar debt, high inflation and unemployment, as well as low morale resulting from enormous war casualties, left the population embittered and desperate for change (Atkins 271). Hostility and violence in the country, along with radical war-induced nationalism, instigated the formation of an aggressive political party grounded in Mussolini’s fascist ideology (“World War I” 2765).

Although he did not explicitly mention France, Mussolini certainly held a vendetta against the country, as evident in his Turin speech. As “Mussolini and the Crisis” editorial points out, Turin is located near the Italian border with France, and Mussolini appeared to choose this city for his address in order to send a provocative message (Dallas Morning News 2). Much of Italy, including its head of government, still resented France for the outcome of the Treaty of Versailles. France gained a great deal of territory while Italy received little of what it was promised in comparison. This issue was also of great concern for Mussolini when considering the state of Germany in the European scene.

The League of Nations, founded by the Treaty of Versailles, was hesitant to grant Germany juridical parity within the organization, despite that it was a member. Its most prominent and influential member, of course, was France. Mussolini feared that France sought hegemony in Europe through its recent territorial acquisitions and its refusal to treat Germany as an equal country. In his Turin speech, he emphasized the importance of German parity in the League of Nations as necessary to prevent hegemonies in Europe, and indicated that Italy was prepared to resist any attempts by France to establish hegemony over another European country. This decision to side with Germany was a prelude to the fascist alliance that would form between the two countries in the second World War.

The complexities of western political affairs in the 1930s cannot be understated. By October 1932, Europe had already begun to brew a second world war. The Allies refused to acknowledge the impact of their decisions in formulating the rise of the fascist dictators Mussolini and Hitler. Poor and desperate populations suffering from economic depression rallied behind the aggressive, nationalistic political parties that sought to take advantage of power vacuums left by World War I. At that time, Fascism was a promise to put the unemployed to work, but also an engine of resentment fueled by losses in the Great War. In time these factors would culminate in a conflict far more catastrophic than the one that caused it.

 

Works Cited

Atkins, William Arthur. “Strike Wave: Italy.” St. James Encyclopedia of Labor History Worldwide, edited by Neil Schlager, vol. 2, St. James Press, 2004, pp. 270-273. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3408900274/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=6601c1eb. Accessed 29 Apr. 2018.

Bemis, Samuel Flagg. “Lausanne Agreement.” Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 5, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003, p. 55. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3401802329/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=8407df53. Accessed 27 Mar. 2018.

“Benito Mussolini.” Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 11, Gale, 2004, pp. 272-274. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3404704665/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=98c7abb0. Accessed 25 Mar. 2018.

“Comparison with the League of Nations.” Worldmark Encyclopedia of the Nations, edited by Melissa Sue Hill, 14th ed., vol. 1: United Nations, Gale, 2017, pp. 7-9. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3652100020/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=7a09ea1b. Accessed 25 Mar. 2018.

De Grand, Alexander. “Fascism and Nazism.” Encyclopedia of European Social History, edited by Peter N. Stearns, vol. 2: Processes of Change/Population/Cities/Rural Life/State & Society, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2001, pp. 509-517. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3460500112/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=5c8cbac6. Accessed 25 Mar. 2018.

“Fascism.” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, edited by William A. Darity, Jr., 2nd ed., vol. 3, Macmillan Reference USA, 2008, pp. 102-105. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3045300802/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=f4ab522f. Accessed 29 Mar. 2018.

Karabell, Zachary. “London, Treaty of (1913).” Encyclopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa, edited by Philip Mattar, 2nd ed., vol. 3, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, p. 1446. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3424601697/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=d1d0e452. Accessed 29 Apr. 2018.

Knott, John. Telling the World, 25 Oct. 1932.

“Mussolini and the Crisis.” Dallas Morning News, 25 Oct. 1932. Page 2.

infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=D6EV58HUMTUyMjAyNzk5NC4zMTM5OTM6MToxMjoxMjguODMuNjMuMjA&p_action=doc&s_lastnonissuequeryname=5&d_viewref=search&p_queryname=5&p_docnum=1&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-10483DC3263E3494@2427006-10483DC38F61D2DC@15-10483DC58BE0310B@Mussolini%20and%20the%20Crisisp.

“Mussolini’s Speech, Turin 1932.” Readable, www.allreadable.com/1267LckD.

Mussolini’s Turin Speech, 1932. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgmcoUjHNBU.

STRANG, G. (2001). IMPERIAL DREAMS: THE MUSSOLINI–LAVAL ACCORDS OF JANUARY 1935. The Historical Journal, 44(3), 799-809.

“World War I.” Europe Since 1914: Encyclopedia of the Age of War and Reconstruction, edited by John Merriman and Jay Winter, vol. 5, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006, pp. 2751-2766. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3447000917/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=d2f9a9b5. Accessed 29 Apr. 2018.

 

Obamabear Penalty

A bear, symbolizing Russia, bites into Crimea, a region of Ukraine, while U.S. President Barack Obama trims the bear’s nails with clippers labeled “sanctions.”
A bear, symbolizing Russia, bites into Crimea, a region of Ukraine, while U.S. President Barack Obama trims the bear’s nails with clippers labeled “sanctions.”

In 2014, Ukraine was a country that many Americans had not heard of- let alone could point to on a map. Buffeted through the wars and conflict of the 20th century, Ukraine had to fight for its independence while being treated as a voiceless territory by Russia and other European neighbors. Into the 21st century, Ukraine had a short-lived independence from the early 1990’s to 2014, until Russia invaded the Crimean Peninsula and triggered an armed conflict over the territory that has continued into 2018. Ukraine’s internal divide between pro-Russian and nationalist regions allowed Russia to easily infiltrate the government and invade the peninsula under President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s persistent and unforgiving leader. Global powers have and continue to criticize Russia to no avail; ultimately, Ukraine has been left to fend for itself against a country with a centuries-long record of militaristic and political prowess. A 2014 article in the Christian Science Monitor, titled “Russia Advances into Ukraine, West Wonders What to Do Now,” discusses reactions to the Ukrainian crisis, yet the root of the conflict starts a century before, not 2014. In A.F. Branco’s cartoon, “Obamabear Penalty,” Russia’s aggressive actions are showcased in the form of a bear unflinching to the meager efforts of the U.S President, Barack Obama, as he clips the bear’s nails. Russia is shown tearing into Crimea, representing its self-serving purpose and apathetic regard for Ukraine’s struggles.

Ukraine had been a land made up of many ethnicities, influenced greatly by Poland and Russia before the 20th century. It’s own sense of nationalism emerged in the mid 19th century. Ukraine began to establish political parties and a stronger government, but ethnic and cultural conflicts persisted in some of its regions (Yekelchyk). Through WWI, Russia had become so involved in Ukraine that in 1917 Ukraine was absorbed into Russia as a province- Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea was of key interest to Russia (Yekelchyk). This was during Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, and as politics shifted, Ukraine tried to distance itself from Russia. Soon, both countries were claiming opposite ideas about Ukrainian independence. After a short conflict, Russia ceded Ukraine a year later, and Ukraine claimed the Crimean Peninsula as its own. Crimea had previously belonged to Russia since the 18th century (Kuzio). However, the country endured political unrest until Ukraine, along with Crimea, fell back into Russia’s hands in the 1920’s (Yekelchyk).

The Union of Soviet Social Republics(U.S.S.R.) was formed in 1922, with Ukraine as one of the four founding states, yet Russia ruled over the other members of the union with unequal power. Ukrainian resentment towards Russian mistreatment began to grow.

WWII threw Europe into extreme turmoil and Ukraine was occupied by Germany. Many of Ukraine’s Jews were exterminated. After the war Russia liberated the country, once again absorbing it and bringing back into the Soviet Union for the next five decades.

A movement for independence began to develop, and in 1991 the U.S.S.R. was disbanded because of Russian political unrest (Brown). Ukraine was now autonomous, yet not without difficulties. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Crimea began to develop a movement for pro- Russian secession, yet nothing came to fruition because of Ukrainian pressure and lack of Russian support (Kuzio). Crimea, along with other eastern regions, identified more with Russia because of an intimate history, geographic proximity and a shared language(Russian). Ukraine had a rocky independence through the 1990’s and 2000’s with many economic issues. Nevertheless, Russian relations remained friendly, especially since they were still allowed access to the Black Sea through the Crimean Peninsula (Kuzio).

In 2013, the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, was facing criticism for deciding not to sign a European Union trade deal. Russia pressured Ukraine to not get too close to the EU and to keep Russia as its main ally. This sparked some protests in the capital city of Kiev, as citizens were angry that the President was throwing away a beneficial deal. The violence began in February 2014 when protesters were attacked and killed by government snipers and police(Thompson). President Yanukovych fled to Russia, and within days Russian troops entered Crimea effortlessly; east Ukraine was sympathetic to the cause as the troops slowly began to establish checkpoints (Simpson). The government in Kiev started a campaign against pro-Russian fighters in eastern Ukraine, with fruitless ceasefires being established only to be broken repeatedly.

Russian President Putin denied Russia’s involvement in Ukraine for many months, attempting to remain as unassuming as possible despite clear evidence of its military in Crimea. Russia was able to skirt behind the line so that its actions could not be considered a direct invasion. This left the United Nations unable to punish Russia harshly, resulting in only sanctions as a threat. Yet these sanctions did not hinder Russia, as portrayed in Branco’s cartoon.

96.7% of Crimeans voted to join Russia in a referendum, yet the ballot didn’t even have the option of remaining in Ukraine (Tamkin). Through 2015, over 1,000 people had been killed in Ukraine, and casualties continued to rise as the stalemate proceeded through the years, trapping Eastern Ukrainian citizens in a bleak war zone to this day(Tamkin).

The Christian Science Monitor article, “Russia Advances in Ukraine, West Wonders What to do Now”, explains the dilemma of the U.N. as it decided how to act when Russia first entered Crimea. The United States had denied providing armed assistance to the Ukrainians, fearing an escalation of conflict with Russia. Russia responded to criticism by blaming Ukraine for the conflict and warning Western countries not to interfere. Although President Obama had spoken of providing arms, training and equipment to Ukraine, no action was taken to realize such a plan.

This inaction on the U.N.’s part is reminiscent of the conflict over Manchuria in the early 1930’s, when Japan invaded the region and broke a global agreement of peace. A political cartoon by the Dallas Morning News’ John Knott in 1932 depicts Russia as watchful of Japan’s hold over Manchuria. At the time, the League of Nations only imposed sanctions in response to the invasion. Russia was a key player in that dispute since it had interests in Manchuria’s sea ports, much like the access to the Black Sea in Crimea. In both situations, Russia was able to avoid resistance from other powers because of its patient tactics. In Manchuria, Russia waited for Japan to be weak enough to (re)claim power in that territory. Similarly, Russia avoided military conflict by influencing rebellion within the Ukrainian population, secretly sending in troops without a grand expression of violence that would warrant heavy punishment from the United Nations.

Russia has always been an imperial, assertive force, whereas Ukraine never has been able to find peace. The back-and-forth relationship between Ukraine and Russia has stretched over the past century with peace never lasting long. Russia had always believed it had a right to Ukraine, and its divided population has made it unclear what would be best for regions such as Crimea. Perhaps the stalemate dragging on today might convince the two countries to finally come to an agreement.

Works Cited:

Branco, A F. “Branco Cartoon – ObamaBear Penalty.” Le·Gal In·Sur·Rec·Tion, Le·Gal In·Sur·Rec·Tion, 24 Mar. 2014, legalinsurrection.com/2014/03/branco-cartoon-obamabear-penalty/.

BROWN, ARCHIE. “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.” Encyclopedia of Russian History, edited by James R. Millar, vol. 4, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 1608-1610. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3404101426/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=aec45a99. Accessed 1 May 2018

KUZIO, TARAS. “Crimea.” Encyclopedia of Russian History, edited by James R. Millar, vol. 1, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 339-340. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3404100316/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=0a98946e. Accessed 18 Apr. 2018.

LaFranchi, Howard. “Russia Advances into Ukraine, West Wonders What to Do Now.” The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor, 28 Aug. 2014, m.csmonitor.com/USA/Foreign-Policy/2014/0828/Russia-advances-into-Ukraine-West-wonders-what-to-do-now.

Simpson, John. “Russia’s Crimea Plan Detailed, Secret and Successful.” BBC News, BBC, 19 Mar. 2014, www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26644082.

Tamkin, Emily. “A Timeline of Vladimir Putin’s Excuses and Evasions Regarding Russia’s Actions in Ukraine.” Slate Magazine, The Slate Group, 5 Sept. 2014, www.slate.com/blogs/the_world_/2014/09/05/the_art_of_doublespeak_a_timeline_of_vladimir_putin_s_excuses_and_evasions.html

Thompson, Nick. “Ukraine: Everything You Need to Know about How We Got Here.” CNN, Cable News Network, 3 Feb. 2017, www.cnn.com/2015/02/10/europe/ukraine-war-how-we-got-here/index.html.

YEKELCHYK, SERHY. “Ukraine and Ukrainians.” Encyclopedia of Russian History, edited by James R. Millar, vol. 4, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004, pp. 1600-1605. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3404101422/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=77b16099. Accessed 16 Apr. 2018.

The Bear Craves Seawater

 

Sitting on the Eurasian continent, and armed soldier (Japan) guards territory labeled "Manchukuo" as a bear (Russia) looks on hungrily from Siberia.
Sitting on the Eurasian continent, and armed soldier (Japan) guards territory labeled “Manchukuo” as a bear (Russia) looks on hungrily from Siberia.

Japan’s invasion of Manchuria was a highly significant occurrence in the erratic, sensitive time between the first and second world wars, garnering many reactions from across the globe. Manchuria was a historically disputed region in East Asia predominantly belonging to China. However, China’s weak economic condition in the late 1800’s allowed external powers to exert spheres of influence in many regions of China. Beginning in the mid 19th century, Britain had boldly colonized Hong Kong and other Chinese islands (Kong). This prompted the U.S. to introduce the Open Door Policy as an attempt to halt further colonialist intentions in the early 1900’s. However, peace did not last as geopolitical turmoil and war plagued the following decades.

The growth of fascism in this post-WWI period pitted countries against each other, as superpowers clashed for control over weaker regions of the globe. Ultimately, it was the greed and aggression of Japanese imperialism in overtaking Manchuria in 1931 that broke the Open Door agreement among the superpowers . Relations among Russia, Japan and China fluctuated between amnesty and conflict, creating the tension that culminated into the Manchurian conflict.

Two looming figures fill the political cartoon “The Bear Craves Seawater” by John Knott, a former cartoonist for the Dallas Morning News. One is a thirsty bear labeled “Russia” eyeing a soldier, “Japan,” who guards territory labeled as “Manchukuo,” which can be can be identified as Manchuria from its geographic placement on the map. In an editorial accompanying Knott’s cartoon, “Russia Thinks of the Future,” the focus is specifically on Russia, an expanding militaristic force as Japan, and its reactions to the invasion. At the time this cartoon was published, October 1932, the world was suffering from the Great Depression, and the tension leading to World War II was beginning to thicken. However, the cartoon was specific to the relationship between Japan and Russia in this conflict over land.

Russia had a presence in Manchuria through the 1800s, and as China’s Qing dynasty declined, Russia was able to convince China, through bribery and intimidation, to allow the Chinese Eastern Railway to be built through Manchuria. This allowed Russia to exert more dominance and control in the region by ensuring access to the Pacific Ocean through their port of Vladivostok (Perrins). At that time, Russia was run by tsars, or emperors, who all prioritized expansionism for economic and nationalistic reasons. The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 was a pivotal turning point for Russian history; ending the age of the tsars and bringing in socialism (Millar), which eventually influenced Chinese ideologies. Over the next few years, there were close relations between the communist parties in both nations. However, in 1927 the new Chinese ruler Chiang Kai-shek, a nationalist, turned against communism and the Russians. This left their relations tattered by 1932, causing Russia to lose an ally in China.

Chinese relations with Japan were just as negative. In the late 19th century, Japan had been expanding into Korea, China’s vassal state, which led to the first Sino-Japanese war in 1894 (Perrins). Korea was colonized through Japan’s victory, an experience that caused tremendous anti-Japanese sentiment among the Koreans- a factor that the Dallas Morning News editorial points out as a disadvantage to Japan. During World War I, Japan imposed its “21 Demands” on China, which was an attempt to assert more Japanese military involvement in China with an emphasis on Manchuria (Davis). The U.S. helped ward off Japan through diplomatic pressure along with the aid of a Chinese boycott of many Japanese goods. However, after WWI was over, China was left to itself and couldn’t resist military intrusion in its weak post-war state, despite anti-Japanese sentiment. Although Japan signed the Nine-Power agreement in 1922, acknowledging China’s principal hold on Manchuria, peace did not last (Davis). The Japanese military invaded Manchuria in 1931 over a fabricated conflict and violently took hold of the region, implementing a puppet government as an “independent” state renamed “Manchukuo.” The League of Nations condemned Japan yet did not take action, and in response, Japan simply left the League. China and Japan’s relations would remain volatile, leading to the second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. It wasn’t until the end of World War II that Japan relinquished control over Manchuria (Perrins).

Both Russia and Japan were proud, imperial nations with interests in Manchuria’s resources and tactical position since the 19th century. Russia had been wary of Japan throughout the late 19th century, involving itself in the outcome of the first Sino-Japanese war of 1894. Japan had to give up the Liaodong peninsula, one of its war prizes, because of pressure from Russia, Germany and France (Davis). The clashes between the two in Manchuria culminated into the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, which ended with President Theodore Roosevelt’s Treaty of Portsmouth (Dobbs). The treaty granted more privileges to Japan, as the U.S. was closer to Japan at the time before the growth of authoritarianism. The Open Door Policy allowed Japan to have such smooth access to Russia’s former property, including its precious railway. Russia did not have the means to engage Japan through the following years and first world war. By 1932, A New York Times article explained that Russia chose to focus on it’s 5 year plan on infrastructure and would not fight Japan because it knew China would not cooperate (Solkolsky). Russia also knew of China’s profound hatred and boycotting of Japan in recent years, and thus relied on that to be a hurdle for Japan.

The Dallas Morning News editorial suggests that Russia was watching Japan’s actions intently, but backed off from any violence, in order to know when it might have the chance to reassert dominance over the region; hence, the watchful bear in Knott’s cartoon. Russia decided to wait for Japan’s inevitable downfall, seeing the flaws in its arrogance and opposition from former allies. The humor from Knott’s art stems from the characterization of the countries. Both are hyperbolized as absurd huge figures the size of giants sitting on the globe. One can tell that Russia seems to have the desire to take Manchuria from Japan through the characterization of the curious bear and the alert soldier.

The editorial’s predictions of Russia’s future actions weren’t untrue. Towards the last days of World War II, Russia invaded Manchuria and pushed back Japan’s weak forces. For years, Russia continued to plunder the region until China reacquired it (Perrins). The deep-running histories between China, Russia and Japan need to be understood to comprehend how such a dangerous, territorial brawl over Manchuria could have taken place. This conflict influenced WWII greatly, with Japan’s aggression and resignation from the League of Nations contributing to the growth of fascism plaguing the globe in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The power-hunger and imperialism of Russia has also persisted to the modern day, the Bear’s teeth biting into many world affairs and upholding Russia’s reputation as a relentless force.

Works Cited:

“Russia Thinks of the Future”, The Dallas Morning News, 23 October 1932, Section 3:8

“Manchuria, Japanese Invasion of (1931).” Encyclopedia of Invasions and Conquests: From
Ancient Times to the Present, edited by Paul Davis, 2nd ed., Grey House Publishing, 2006,
pp. 372-373. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3487400201/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=40f6f0f6. Accessed 13 Mar. 2018.

Dobbs, Charles M. “Manchuria.” America in the World, 1776 to the Present: A Supplement to the
Dictionary of American History, edited by Edward J. Blum, vol. 2, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2016, pp. 641-642. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3630800322/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=0fd11509. Accessed 13 Mar. 2018.

Kong, Belinda. “Hong Kong (Britain/China).” Cultural Sociology of the Middle East, Asia, & Africa: An
Encyclopedia, vol. 3: East and Southeast Asia, SAGE Reference, 2012, pp. 288-290. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX4182600620/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=d4c4bfd1. Accessed 27 Apr. 2018.

Knott, John, “The Bear Craves Sea Water”, The Dallas Morning News, 23 October 1932, Section 3:8

Millar, James R., editor. Encyclopedia of Russian History. Vol. 1, Macmillan Reference USA, 2004. Gale
Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/pub/5BUJ/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL. Accessed 10 Apr. 2018

Perrins, Robert John. “Manchuria.” Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, edited by Karen Christensen and
David Levinson, vol. 4, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2002, pp. 27-29. Gale Virtual Reference Library,http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3403701854/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=36824cf2. Accessed 13 Mar. 2018.

Solkolsky, George E. “THE CONFLICT IN THE FAR EAST: RUSSIA’S OBJECTIVES AND
JAPAN’S: While Accepting the Situation Created in North Manchuria, the Soviets Elsewhere Press Their Plans for Wide Domination.” The New York Times, 19 June 1932, p. XX3.

The Race Gap in 21st Century American Healthcare

A man reading a newspaper headline about healthcare, explains to his wife that, he believes, racial health inequities is what led to Michael Jackson’s skin color change.
A man reading a newspaper headline about healthcare, explains to his wife that, he believes, racial health inequities is what led to Michael Jackson’s skin color change.

Racial health inequities have been an issue in the United States since at least the nineteenth century when the Jim Crow laws, which enforced racial segregation in the South, were put in place. The end of Segregation occurred in 1964. While Civil Rights did much to improve discrimination caused by segregation, there are still issues of inequality that remain, like in healthcare.

On March 20, 2002, the Institute of Medicine, now known as the National Academy of Medicine, released a report, titled “Unequal Treatment: What Healthcare Providers Need to Know About Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Healthcare” (Institute of Medicine). It provided the first comprehensive look at racial disparities in healthcare among people who have health insurance (Stolberg). Racial health disparities were a topic that had been looked at well before this study, but the report claimed that a majority of the problem was due to lack of access offered to minorities. For instance, the Institute of Medicine’s report found that blacks have higher death rates when it comes to cancer, heart disease, and H.I.V. infection (Stolberg). Additionally, blacks are twice as likely to develop diabetes than whites, which also contributes to higher death rates. These outcomes were due to the fact that the appropriate medications, surgeries, transplants, or treatments were less likely to be given to African Americans.

The persistent gap in health care due to race is the subject of Mike Luckovich’s political cartoon, published on March 25, 2002, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the cartoon, we see a black couple reading a newspaper with the headline, “Report: Whites Get Better Healthcare.” In response to the paper’s headline, the husband comments to his wife, “I finally understand why Michael Jackson bleached himself.”

Michael Jackson was, a very successful African-American singer, songwriter, and dancer, but he was also the subject of much controversy in the late twentieth century. One controversy involved his lightening skin tone. People began speculating about Jackson’s appearance once his skin color began to noticeably lighten. They assumed that the change was done with intentional bleaching treatments. Additionally, he had plastic surgery to change some of his facial features, such as his chin and nose. Due to the many cosmetic changes, many people speculated that Jackson was intentionally changing his appearance in order to try to look white (Harris). In a 1993 interview with Oprah Winfrey, however, Jackson said “I’m a black American. I am proud to be a black American. I am proud of my race, and I am proud of who I am. I have a lot of pride and dignity of who I am.” (Park). He explained that the reason his skin began to lighten was due to vitiligo, a disease that causes the loss of skin pigmentation.

The meaning behind Luckovich’s cartoon resonates with that of John Knott’s 1931 cartoon, “The Shadow” (Dallas Morning News 18), and its accompanying editorial, “The Black White Plague” (Dallas Morning News 18). Knott’s cartoon and the editorial were published during the middle of a big tuberculosis epidemic. Due to racial segregation of the time, whites were given priority over blacks when it came to healthcare. This neglect of equal health care, at the time, led to many black deaths. Both Luckovich’s and Knott’s cartoons illustrate how race affects people’s access to healthcare; and both cartoons depict the negative effects resulting from discrimination in healthcare.

Inequities in healthcare today still remain a problematic issue. People of color place their trust in the healthcare system, hoping to get the best care possible, are often let down. Mike Luckovich’s cartoon, highlights the sad fact that the color of one’s skin can change the way one is treated within the healthcare system, an issue that has persisted for the past three centuries.

Works Cited

Harris, John E. “Did Michael Jackson Have Vitiligo?” University of Massachusetts Medical School, 18 Jan. 2016, www.umassmed.edu/vitiligo/blog/blog-posts1/2016/01/did-michael-jackson-have-vitiligo/.

Institute of Medicine. “Unequal Treatment: Confronting Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care.” Nationalacademies, 20 Mar. 2002, www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Report%20Files/2003/Unequal-Treatment-Confronting-Racial-and-Ethnic-Disparities-in-Health-Care/PatientversionFINAL.pdf.

Knott, John. “The shadow” Illustration. Dallas Morning News 25 Feb 1931: 18. News Bank. Web. 2 May 2018. < http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=V50N4DWHMTUyNTc2MTEzOS4yNjA3MDU6MToxMjoxMjguODMuNjMuMjA&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D1FAAE39AFF33@2426398-104D1FAB9E250B09@17

Luckovich, Mike. Illustration. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution 25 March 2002. AJC. Web. 2 May 2018. < https://www.ajc.com/news/opinion/michael-jackson-cartoons-mike-luckovich/L7LO4mAObSWzVoaI5iSytK/#6>.

“Michael Jackson.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 18 Jan. 2018, www.biography.com/people/michael-jackson-38211.

Park, Madison. “In Life of Mysteries, Jackson’s Changed Color Baffled Public.” CNN, Cable News Network, 8 July 2009, www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/07/06/skin.color.vitiligo/.

Smith, Troy D. “Medicine and Medical Care.” Gale Library of Daily Life: Slavery in America, edited by Orville Vernon Burton, vol. 2, Gale, 2008, pp. 48-49. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3057200169/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=b844d00c. Accessed 2 May 2018.

Stolberg, Sheryl Gay. “Race Gap Seen in Health Care Of Equally Insured Patients.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 21 Mar. 2002, www.nytimes.com/2002/03/21/us/race-gap-seen-in-health-care-of-equally-insured-patients.html.

Urofsky, Melvin I. “Jim Crow Law.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 July 2017, www.britannica.com/event/Jim-Crow-law.

The Shadow

A White Plague figure and its shadow loom over the door of impoverished blacks.
A White Plague figure and its shadow loom over the door of impoverished blacks.

Tuberculosis, also known as the White Plague, was a major health problem within the United States during the nineteenth century. The disease continued into the twentieth century and was the cause of many deaths. In 1936, it was estimated that one out of every twenty-one deaths was due to tuberculosis (Baughman). Among those deaths, a disproportionate number of them occurred among blacks (Ward). African-Americans had a higher death rate during the tuberculosis epidemic because they could not get the treatment they needed.

Racial segregation has a long and unfortunate history in the United States. One of the downstream consequences of racial segregation was that white people who were diagnosed with tuberculosis were likely to be treated in a residential sanatorium, a medical facility that was used during the time to treat tuberculosis; but black people, even if diagnosed early, were given few or no treatment options, which resulted in higher death rates.

In February of 1924 African-Americans led a state-wide campaign to obtain funds to build a tuberculosis hospital in Kerrville, Texas, for blacks living in the south-western states of Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Arkansas (The Austin Statesman). It wasn’t until 13 years later, however, on June 1, 1937, that such a facility was opened. Named the Kerrville State Sanatorium, it offered free and better care and amenities for blacks up until 1949. After its closing, the remaining patients were sent to another hospital in Tyler, Texas (Winkle).

In a cartoon titled, “The Shadow,” published in the Dallas Moring News on February 25,1931, cartoonist John Knott depicts the White Plague as a white robed figure entering a room labeled “Destitute Negro.” (One thing to take into account when viewing this cartoon is that while we now consider the term “Negro” to be offensive, at that time it was considered to be the appropriate term to use.) The shadow cast by the White Plague is a gloomy figure, like the Shadow of Death, looming and foreshadowing what will happen to the impoverished people behind the door.

The cartoon’s accompanying editorial titled, “The Black White Plague,” also could be misunderstood upon first reading (e.g., tuberculosis being carried by blacks constitutes a plague). However, the editorial actually promotes a progressive message. It comments on how cruel it was to refuse medical aid to people because of their skin color and explains that by doing so, race-based health inequities harm all people.

Race and segregation played a big role in who got what during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. If people like John Knott saw that Segregation was unjust, one would think that the matter of health inequities would have been controlled by now; but that’s far from the case. Unfortunately, 54 years after the end of segregation, health disparities continue to be a problem and people’s health and well-being are still too often determined by the color of their skin.

Works Cited

Burns, CHESTER R. “University of Texas Medical Branch At Galveston.” Texas State Historical Association, 15 June 2010, tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kcu29.

Joseph, D. George. “Tuberculosis.” Dictionary of American History, edited by Stanley I. Kutler, 3rd ed., vol. 8, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003, pp. 235-238. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3401804292/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=51e75362. Accessed 2 May 2018.

Knott, John. “The shadow” Illustration. Dallas Morning News 25 Feb 1931: 18. News Bank. Web. 2 May 2018. < http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=V50N4DWHMTUyNTc2MTEzOS4yNjA3MDU6MToxMjoxMjguODMuNjMuMjA&p_docref=v2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D1FAAE39AFF33@2426398-104D1FAB9E250B09@17>.

“Negro.” International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, edited by William A. Darity, Jr., 2nd ed., vol. 5, Macmillan Reference USA, 2008, pp. 458-459. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX3045301725/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=0d4d2874. Accessed 2 May 2018.

“Negros Propose to Build Tuberculosis Hospital At Kerrville.” The Austin Statesman (1921-1973), Feb 24, 1924, pp. 5. ProQuest, http://ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/docview/1643861748?accountid=7118.

“The Great White Plague.” Dallas Morning News. 25 Feb., 1931, http://infoweb.newsbank.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/iw-search/we/HistArchive/?p_product=EANX&p_theme=ahnp&p_nbid=S4CE4EAIMTUyNTM5NDI1Ny42MTY5MTc6MToxMjoxMjguODMuNjMuMjA&p_docref=image%2Fv2:0F99DDB671832188@EANX-104D1FAAE39AFF33@2426398-104D1FAB9E250B09@17-104D1FAF50A85223

“‘The Great White Plague’—Tuberculosis Before the Age of Antibiotics.” American Decades, edited by Judith S. Baughman, et al., vol. 4: 1930-1939, Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3468301286/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=eadf7701. Accessed 2 May 2018.

Ward, Thomas J., Jr. “Health Care.” The Jim Crow Encyclopedia, edited by Nikki L.M. Brown and Barry M. Stentiford, vol. 1, Greenwood Press, 2008, pp. 363-371. Greenwood Milestones in African American History. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX3256100137/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=c6eb623d. Accessed 2 May 2018.

Winkle, Irene Van. “TB Hospital for Blacks Gave Hope to Many Who Recovered.” Wkcurrent.com, 21 Feb. 2008, wkcurrent.com/tb-hospital-for-blacks-gave-hope-to-many-who-recovered-p1416-71.htm.

This May Hurt a Little

Depicted as a doctor, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson gives a “bailout” shot, or capital injection, during the “Great Recession.”
Depicted as a doctor, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson gives a “bailout” shot, or capital injection, during the “Great Recession.”

In the wake of dramatic financial deregulation (e.g. the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, see McDonald) that occurred in the late 20th century, questionable financial practices (e.g. over-the-counter derivatives, see Beers) and outright corruption (e.g. the Credit Rating Controversy, see CFR Staff), were abundant in many companies on Wall Street. Due to loose lending/borrowing practices, many credit rating companies that were in charge of analyzing bank’s credit and checking eligibility for loans, failed to oversee many banks on Wall Street. By the Fall of 2007, prices of homes in the US were at their highest, which enabled homeowners to use their property as equity to borrow more and more money. Due to prices of homes being so high, many homeowners applied for loans for homes that actually were out of their price range—a major step on the path towards the subprime loan crisis. A subprime loan is “a type of loan offered at a rate above prime to individuals who do not qualify for prime rate loans” (Investopedia). They were given to “borrowers with impaired credit records” because such borrowers were turned away from traditional lenders (CFPB). These loans had higher interest rates compared to the normal rate for conventional loans. Giving subprime loans was “intended to compensate the lender for accepting the greater risk in lending to such borrowers” (CFPB).  As the use of subprime loans continued, an economic downturn began when bad accounting and poor management of investment banks and other institutions were revealed among many companies on Wall Street.

Known as the “Great Recession,” it was the most “severe, prolonged economic downturn” the US had experienced since the 1930’s (Rouse). Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson (2006-2009), was called in to aid the failing financial system. Paulson, with the help of the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke (2006-2014), oversaw several forms of bailout, including the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Contrary to his conservative economic philosophy, circumstances forced Paulson to implement capital injections into big banks, to bring America out of its financial crisis.

By early Spring of 2008, many homeowners had accrued so much debt that they were not able to pay their mortgages anymore. As mortgages became too high, many people were forced to foreclose their homes, which led big financial institutions to stop buying mortgages. Big institutions such as the banks, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers, and the insurance company, American International Group, or AIG, were “too big to fail;” if they failed the rest of country was at major risk of an economic downfall.

Paulson dealt with many dilemmas, including “moral hazard,” “the idea that a party protected in some way from risk will act differently than if they didn’t have that protection” (Beattie). Institutions were held to the standard, that if they are bailed out, they were not going to be bailed out again. The bailed-out companies were expected to learn from their mistakes, rather than make that mistake again. Paulson was also in charge of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, which purchased “troubled companies’ assets and equity” for $700 billion” (Investopedia). However, along with many other conservatives, the Secretary of Treasury could not have been any more against TARP. He was a firm believer in the government refraining from intervention, and TARP did just that. Along with the use of TARP, the highly debated capital injections were implemented. Again, although very against it, Henry Paulson infused capital injections into banks, which was “an investment of capital into a company,” in return, the government would own stock in their company (Investopedia).

Warnings about a possible recession were given many times before by Brooksley Born, Chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (1996-1999). Born knew that Wall Street’s lack of regulation and over-the-counter derivatives were causing a threat to the American public (Beers). Over-the-counter derivatives were “private contracts that [were] traded between two parties without going through an exchange,” therefore posing a credit risk for many companies due to the absence of a clearing corporation (Beers). Alan Greenspan, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve (1987-2006), refused to believe what Born had brought to the table. Greenspan’s unwillingness to believe Born would be our country’s biggest mistake.

Before the stock market crashed in 2008, unemployment was at its highest, peaking at “10 percent,” which was just “15 percent less than that of the Great Depression” (Horton). In the housing sector, supply and demand was uneven, meaning more houses were on the market than there were buyers. This caused commercial and investment banks to suffer large from the loss of payments from their borrowers.

Goldman Sachs’ former CEO, Henry Paulson, was Secretary of Treasury, while Ben Bernanke, expert on the Great Depression, was Chairman of the Federal Reserve during the recession. Bernanke and Paulson were called in to combat the panic on Wall Street. They both knew that something needed to be done immediately, but how were they going to do it? Bear Stearns was their first item of business. On March 10, 2008, Bear Stearns, one of the smallest investment banks on Wall Street, could not open for business due to lack of financial capital (Inside the Meltdown). Bernanke and Paulson agreed that the Federal Reserve was not going to interfere with banks by aiding them with money, but money was what Bear Stearns needed desperately. Bernanke was able to find a way to provide the funds to assist Bear Stearns. He persuaded JP Morgan and the Federal Reserve Bank to give secure funding to Bear Stearns, which almost immediately backfired. Other banks did not like that Bear Stearns was given money and they weren’t. Despite the bailout, Bear Stearns was back to normal for just seven days before shutting down permanently.

After Bear Stearns shut down, came the ethical concerns associated with moral hazard and the rapid decline of the economic system. Moral hazard entailed, if the government bailed out a corporation, what incentive would they have to not make that mistake again? The administration of Bernanke and Paulson was “accused of allowing the creation of moral hazard risk from its bailout of Bear Stearns” thus “raising expectations that other firms facing failure would also be bailed out” (Markham). Therefore, Bernanke issued a warning to Wall Street that they were not to loan money to any other banks.

Almost a week later, on March 17, 2008, Lehman Brothers, the “fourth largest investment bank in the United States,” went into bankruptcy, this signaled the coming of the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression (Horton). Paulson, exhausted and under immense political pressure, was searching for a buyer for Lehman Brothers. The problem was that no banks wanted to lend to another bank for fear they would not get paid back. Bankruptcy was a certainty and the government wasn’t going to intervene any further. After Lehman Brothers went into bankruptcy, Wall Street froze, and the pressure to solve the economic decline returned (Kessler).

In September 2008, AIG, the largest insurance company on Wall Street, was next to call for Paulson and Bernanke’s help. AIG did not have enough money in the bank to honor the commitments they had made with their clients (Manning). Their crisis was so severe that members of Congress were brought in to help Bernanke and Paulson. They came to the decision to save AIG by bailing them out from the US government with over $183 billion (Manning). After the efforts given to save Wall Street’s largest corporations, many believed the government was reacting but not acting (Manning). With the criticism of the government’s lack of intervention, Bernanke then called in Paulson to explain that it was time for them to do something more direct; something that would hit all investment banks.

Bernanke and Paulson went to a congressional leadership meeting held at Capitol Hill to deliver the news. Paulson told Congress that, “Unless you act, the financial system of this country and the world will melt down in a matter of days” (Inside the Meltdown). Paulson brought the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, to Congress that stated he needed $700 billion from taxpayer dollars “to be used to buy the kinds of toxic mortgage securities that were creating so many problems for the banks” (Inside the Meltdown). Moreover, those funds were needed in a matter of days. Capitol Hill was furious, “It was an unprecedented, unaffordable and unacceptable expansion of federal power” (Inside the Meltdown). Thus, when the House voted on the bill, it failed, leading to an immediate and dramatic drop in stock prices.

After the act failed, the idea of capital injections came into play. Capital injections entailed inserting “billions of dollars into ailing banks in order to boost confidence and unfreeze credit” (Inside the Meltdown). There were insiders in Congress who liked the idea and believed it was what they needed to save the banks. Authorization of capital injections was added into the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, but Paulson could not have been any more against it. The bill passed, and Paulson reluctantly had to “step in directly with government capital” (Inside the Meltdown).

Due to the act passing, Bernanke and Paulson had to sit down with executives from the top banks on Wall Street at the time, such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs. Paulson told them he would be giving each bank tens of billions of dollars in return for the government being a major stockholder in their companies; “Paulson would spend $125 billion that day” (Inside the Meltdown). For Paulson and Bernanke, government intervention was not morally right, but it was their only option. Along with enforcing capital injections, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was created to make up for lost capital in banks.

Against Paulson’s beliefs, he was assigned as head of TARP, which “stabilize[d] the country’s financial system, restore[d] economic growth, and mitigate[d] foreclosures” (Investopedia). It allowed the government to buy stake in banks, in return, companies would lose certain tax benefits, and have limits placed on executive compensation, in order to protect funds being spent. By 2010, Paulson would spend $350 billion to save the financial system.

During the time of the Great Recession, many cartoons were printed in newspapers regarding the 21st century’s worst economic crisis. For example, in Gary Varvel’s cartoon above, Paulson is depicted as a doctor giving a shot with the term “bailout” written on it. Varvel incorporated a humorous play on the word injection, by creating a parallel image between government intervention and a shot.  Paulson is shown saying “this may hurt a little,” meaning not only the pain of a needle but portraying a poke at the government’s administrations ego and outlook. There is a play on words with capital injection, by the word “injection” being represented as a needle to symbolize companies getting a shot of capital “bailout,” as an immediate cure to the failing financial system.

The cartoon by Gary Varvel resonates with the 1930s’ era cartoon titled, “What This Congress Needs,” published in the Dallas Morning News (Knott). These cartoons depicted the main influencers during the time of the major financial crises: President Herbert Hoover and Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson. Knott’s cartoon and the accompanying editorial, “Mr. Hoover Reproves,” discussed saving America’s economy and the efforts needed in order to end the financial crisis (Dallas Morning News). Varvel’s cartoon about capital injections related to Knott’s cartoon, “What This Congress Needs,” by showing how each era was in desperate need of funds and the efforts gone to preserve these funds. Both men depicted in the cartoons were harshly criticized by their peers and the people of America for their efforts in aiding their country.

The “Great Recession” was unlike anything America had seen since the Great Depression of the 1930’s. When banks started to have lack of regulation and poor accounting, it caused the beginning of the financial crisis on Wall Street. Sadly, had the advice of Brooksley Born been applied earlier on, the disaster could have been avoided. Rather than being prevented, however, the Great Recession had begun when an influx of homeowners received such large loans that they were unable to pay the banks back. Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke did everything in their power to bring America’s finances back to normal, by loaning funds, establishing bills, and injecting capital into companies. As shown in Knott and Varvel’s cartoon’s, the efforts given in order to fix the failing financial system were actions Hoover and Paulson thought were necessary for the United States. Hoover and Paulson had many different successes and failures during their terms in the US government. Their efforts have given modern-day government an outlook on how to avoid and handle another disastrous stock market crash.

 

Works Cited:

Beattie, Andrew. “What Is Moral Hazard?” Investopedia, Investopedia, 3 Jan. 2018, www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/09/moral-hazard.asp.

Beers, Brian. “What Is an Over-the-Counter Derivative?” Investopedia, Investopedia, 2 Apr. 2018, www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/052815/what-overthecounter-derivative.asp.

CFR Staff. “The Credit Rating Controversy.” Council on Foreign Relations, Council on Foreign Relations, www.cfr.org/backgrounder/credit-rating-controversy.

Horton, Ron. “The Great Recession.” St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, edited by Thomas Riggs, 2nd ed., vol. 2, St. James Press, 2013, pp. 541-543. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX2735801140/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=87cd5064. Accessed 12 Apr. 2018.

“Inside the Meltdown.” Frontline, produced by Michael Kirk, Jim Gilmore, and Mike Wiser, PBS, 2009.

Investopedia. “Subprime Loan.” Investopedia, Investopedia, 22 Feb. 2018, www.investopedia.com/terms/s/subprimeloan.asp.

Kessler, Andy. “What Paulson is Trying to Do.” The Wall Street Journal. 2008. Factiva. https://global-factiva-com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/ha/default.aspx#./!?&_suid=152528787598900347533194525429.

Manning, Robert D., and Anita C. Butera. “Consumer Credit and Household Debt.” Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Social Issues, edited by Michael Shally-Jensen, vol. 1: Business and Economy, ABC-CLIO, 2011, pp. 33-45. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX1762600011/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=635eef03. Accessed 16 Apr. 2018.

Markham, Jerry W. “The Crisis Begins.” A Financial History of the United States, vol. 6: From the Subprime Crisis to the Great Recession (2006-2009), M.E. Sharpe, 2002, pp. 473-523. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX1723800208/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=5e26353e. Accessed 15 Apr. 2018.

McDonald, Oonagh. “The Repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act: Myth and Reality.” Cato Institute, 16 Nov. 2016, www.cato.org/publications/policy-analysis/repeal-glass-steagall-act-myth-reality.

“Moral Hazard.” International Encyclopedia of Organizational Studies, edited by Stewart R. Clegg and James R. Bailey, vol. 3, SAGE Publications, 2008, pp. 917-919. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com.ezproxy.lib.utexas.edu/apps/doc/CX2661400320/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=7d7982a8. Accessed 15 Apr. 2018.

Rouse, Margaret. “What Is Great Recession (Great Recession)? – Definition from WhatIs.com.” SearchCIO, Mar. 2012, searchcio.techtarget.com/definition/The-Great-Recession.

“The Warning.” Frontline, produced by Michael Kirk, Jim Gilmore, and Mike Wiser, PBS, 2009.

“What Is a Subprime Mortgage?” Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), 24 Feb. 2017, www.consumerfinance.gov/ask-cfpb/what-is-a-subprime-mortgage-en-110/.

Varvel, Gary. “This May Hurt a Little.” 28 September 2008. Found, Cartoonist Group, 20 April 2017,  http://www.cartoonistgroup.com/store/add.php?iid=26948

Can He Sell the Old Man?

Standing outside a barbed wire fence, US Speaker of the House John Garner shows Old Man Texas his plan to divide Texas into five separate states.
Standing outside a barbed wire fence, US Speaker of the House John Garner shows Old Man Texas his plan to divide Texas into five separate states.

Through the history of politics, borders have always been a question up for debate. Man-made political boundaries have been a cause of strife for millennia, and the battles for who gets to draw those lines on maps may likely never end. More recently, borders, representative democracies, and their intrinsic ties to the political process have turned these permeable lines into constitutional weapons. In the 1930s, a debate arose over manipulation of borders—not to change trade or migration or money—but to shift the balance of power in the United States by splitting up the Lone Star State. Then US Speaker of the House, John Nance Garner, attempted to use a nearly 100-year-old law to legally divide Texas into five different states.

House-Speaker John Garner was a Texas-born lawyer who lived from 1868–1967. A Democrat, he served fifteen terms in the United States House of Representatives until 1933, when he was elected Vice-President to Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Patenaude). Due to his warm relations with Congress, acquired in his tenure as a legislator, Garner was vital in passing Roosevelt’s New Deal reforms (Patenaude). Before his ascension to the Vice-Presidency, however, Garner proposed some controversial ideas. “Can He Sell the Old Man,” the comic by John Knott, and “Texas One and Indivisible,” the accompanying editorial, both published in The Dallas Morning News in 1932, reference a proposed option by national House Democrats to divide Texas into five separate states. Garner is depicted in the comic holding a map of the Lone Star State and “selling” the plan to “Old Man Texas,” Knott’s “most famous character” embodying the rural Texan’s ideals of honesty in government. (Perez).

Over the years, there have been many attempts to split Texas into multiple states. Of course, none of these plans ever came to fruition. To create a legal justification, all proposed divisions have used the original Texas annexation as signed by the United States in 1845. A compromise between slave-states and free-states, “The Joint-Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States,” declares plainly that Texas may be divided into five individual states (United States Congress) to balance the number of slave and free states as needed. Even when slavery was banned in the United States and the number of free and slave states no longer had implication for the makeup of the Senate, the law remained on the books as a legal justification for dividing Texas.

John Garner’s first attempt to quintisect the state in 1921 was boisterous but unsuccessful as he had no clout. As Speaker of the House, however, Garner’s 1931 attempt to divide Texas had far more momentum. Contemporary sources identify a passionate and frustrated attitude taken on Garner’s part. His stated reason for his proposal was to “transfer the balance of political power from New England to the south” and “restore the prestige” of the southern states (Jacobs). Garner approached the rebalancing of Senate representation as a response to perceived attacks by powerful, regional political hegemons—particularly the North-Eastern United States and their unified interests.

This vengeance for Texas and the South tainted how the public viewed Garner’s ideas. John Knott’s comic exemplifies how Garner’s plan was received. From the outside of a barbed-wire fence, the artist pits the stocky Garner as a solicitor trying to convince “Old-Man Texas” of the Speaker’s grand plan. Garner comes across as smarmy—as if this is a back-alley deal to be cast with Texas joining the Democrats in a big score of federal voting power. “More senators on fewer acres,” he says, pointing to his map of Texas. “Old-Man Texas” appears to be humoring the Speaker, with a nonchalance that reflects an attitude of dismissal. That attitude is further elaborated in the accompanying editorial.

Garner’s goal was to increase Democratic representation in the US Senate (Jacobs). A divided Texas would have five times the amount of control in the Senate, with the majority of the new seats likely going to Garner’s party. Thus, his plan would have created a new regional bloc to compete with the North-Eastern states.  

The editorial, “Texas One and Indivisible,” warned of competing regional interests in the United States—singling out the contemporary example of the East Coast’s homogeneity and how it was used as a voting bloc in the Senate. While Garner would have certainly agreed with a Southern bloc, The Dallas Morning News was not at all supportive of the idea of separating of Texas at all. Adding more regional blocks, it was argued, would only create more “petty states” with “overrepresentation in the Senate” (Dallas Morning News). In addition, the newspaper condemned the expensive construction of four additional legislative buildings and the costly redundancies of tax dollars going to prop-up four more governorships (Dallas Morning News).

The power of borders is unmistakable. Texan history has always had difficulties with the manipulation of how governments draw lines on the map. Legal gerrymandering lives on today in the Texas legislatures and has been a tactic for amassing power for political parties, much like John Garner’s schemes in the twenties and thirties. For example, the recent 2003 State redistricting was rife with protest and court cases. To date, dividing Texas into five states has never been realized, but other measures to remap the political landscape and consolidate political power in the Lone Star State have been successful.

Works Cited

Elliot, Claude. “Division of Texas.” Texas State Historical Association. 12 June 2010. Web.
https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mqd01

Jacobs, Frank. “What’s the Plural of Texas?” Big Think Inc. Web.
http://bigthink.com/strange-maps/537-whats-the-plural-of-texas

“John Knott’s Cartoons Were Front Page Fixture of News” Editorial. The Dallas Morning News. 17 Feb 1963. Print.

Knott, John. “Can He Sell the Old Man?” The Dallas Morning News. 3 Jan 1932, sec. 3: 10. Print.

Patenaude, Lionel V. “Garner, John Nance.” Texas State Historical Association. 15 June, 2010. Web.
https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fga24

Perez, Joan Jenkins. “Knott, John Francis.” Texas State Historical Association. 15 June 2010. Web. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fkn05

“The Joint-Resolution for Annexing Texas to the United States” United States Congress. 12 Dec 1844. Print.
https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ref/abouttx/annexation/march1845.html

Trickey, Erick. “For More Than 150 Years, Texas has had the Power to Secede…From Itself.” Smithsonian Institute. March 7, 2017. Print.

“Texas, One and Indivisible.” Editorial. The Dallas Morning News. 3 Jan 1932, sec. 3: 10. Print.

Booty is in the Eye of the Beholder!

An elephant, representing the Texas Legislature, points to a redistricting map of the state which shows a large portrait of an elephant, the symbol of the Republican party, superimposed on the map.
An elephant, representing the Texas Legislature, points to a redistricting map of the state which shows a large portrait of an elephant, the symbol of the Republican party, superimposed on the map.

Borders, especially Texas borders, have always been divisively political. Texan history has been full of border disputes: the 19th century issue of slavery in the Missouri compromise (Connor); attempts in the 20th century to redistribute land to political parties (“Division of Texas”); and 21st century gerrymandering within the state (Tarr and Benenson). The long, repetitive cycle of redrawing arbitrary lines to meet political goals continued through the early 2000s with the Texas Legislature’s decision to redistrict its boundaries for the US House of Representatives. In 2003, Texas Lawmakers opted for a voluntary redistricting to increase Republican seats in congress (Toobin).

While redistricting is required by the US Constitution every ten years at the advent of a new census, the 2003 redrawing was not a legal necessity. The Republican-controlled Texas Legislature called for a vote on a new redistricting plan soon after taking a majority of seats in both houses. This plan was rife with controversy. ­­The process of redistricting was drawn out well past the intended Republican time-frame due to several court hearings (e.g.: League of United Latin American Citizens v Perry) regarding the legality of gerrymandering along racial and political lines (Eggin). Those legal cases challenged the legality of the new map. One district was found to be in violation of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and was re-drawn (Eggin). By 2007, however, the new district map was finalized and in effect.

Leaders of the GOP, like Texan Tom DeLay, repeatedly stated that the purpose of this elective redistricting was to increase Republican control of the US House of Representatives (Toobin).

DeLay was the House Majority Leader and Republican whip in the United States Congress. After the state elections in 2002, DeLay took time off from Washington in 2003 to lobby the Texas government in Austin for a new district map. DeLay had an instrumental role redistricting the Lone Star State. He ran a Political Action Committee (PAC) called “Texans for a Republican Majority” that focused its large monetary assets on influencing the Texas house to re-draw the state’s map boundaries (Eggin).

DeLay’s national political career was tainted with assorted ethics and procedural violations, especially his ruthless work with the Texas legislature. In 2004, DeLay was reprimanded by the House Committee on Official Standards for exceeding acceptable behavior in pursuit of his political goals. In 2006, he was forced to resign from the US Congress when he was indicted for alleged conspiracy and election violations vis-à-vis his PAC (“DeLay, Tom”). The tactics used by DeLay that so effectively built a stronger Republican majority would ultimately be his downfall. Because of the overtly political goals, partisan redistricting has left many in the electorate frustrated and cynical towards the politicized electoral boundaries.

These sentiments are aptly captured in Christopher Weyant’s cartoon, “Booty is in the Eye of the Beholder.” His cartoon depicts the geographic area of the state of Texas with several small shapes carved into it, representing congressional districts. By far the most immense shape is the large figure of an elephant’s head superimposed in the middle, covering a majority of the map. The elephant symbol is used a second time for the anthropomorphized presenter of the map, who is labeled as the Republican Texas Legislature. Dressed in traditional Texan garb—a cowboy hat, yoked shirt, large belt buckle, rancher boots, and bolo tie—the elephant announces: “Booty is in the eye of the beholder!” This is a play on the idiom, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” This pun replaces “beauty’s” sentiment of love and appreciation with the nearly-homophonous “booty,” a noun that normally describes seizures in war (Oxford English Dictionary). “Booty” has the connotation of being something a pirate steals from its rightful owners. In this case, Weyant’s word choice shows the sordid behavior of the GOP in the pursuit of more seats in the US house—perhaps “pirating” the right of representational democracy from the electorate in the state.

This cynical view of the 21st century Texas redistricting was not uncommon in the years following the new map’s creation by the Texas legislature. During the Supreme Court cases on racial gerrymandering, many commentators found that the nature of the redistricting was an unnecessary political aggression. That the Republican party was sacrificing the will of the people for a shameless grasp at power (Toobin).

Jeffery Toobin, in his New Yorker editorial “Drawing the Line,” (pp.) described the Republican Party’s efforts at nation-wide redistricting as heavy-handed and corrupt. Especially in light of Tom DeLay’s inditement for political corruption, critics like Weyant found pirate-like behavior in his party’s conduct. Toobin argued that these aggressive methods would not be conducive to political discussion and would ultimately cost the Republican Party politically. John Cornyn, the senior Republican Senator of Texas, however, saw it differently. He said that many in his party felt their aggressive new map was justified—political revenge for the Democratic-drawn maps that had been used for the past decades (Toobin).

Such spiteful GOP responses to perceived injustices by the opposing party recall memories of 1930s-era efforts by Texas Democrat John Nance Garner to overcome the North-Eastern hegemony in the US Senate by redrawing the borders of the Lone Star State. Just as 21st century Republicans have redistricted Texas to guarantee greater representation in the United States House of Representatives, Garner led a campaign to divide Texas into five smaller states in order to increase the number of Democratic members in the US Senate. Garner’s political machinations were the subject of much critique in the Dallas Morning News in 1932. The editorial board, in their piece “Texas One and Indivisible,” found that Garner’s politically charged plan would adversely affect the citizens of Texas. Read together with John Knott’s cartoon, “Can He Sell the Old Man,” that depicted Garner as a salesman selling something the State didn’t want, there’s an immediate connection with today’s political commentators’ and illustrators’ concerns surrounding redistricting.

The controversies around remaking political borders are constant in Texas history. In 1932, when John Garner was criticized in The Dallas Morning News for his attempt to split up Texas for the benefit of his political party, it was only one many attempts to draw lines to wield power. Today’s use of governmental processes to gerrymander borders remains both controversial and pervasive. Even with the potential costs of the political game, bureaucratic means of partitioning are effective and will likely continue as long as they are technically allowed.

Works Cited

“Booty: Definition.” Oxford University Press. 2018. Web. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/booty

Connor, Seymour. “Missouri Compromise.” Texas State Historical Association. 15 June 2010. Web. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/nbm01

“DeLay, Tom.” Congress A to Z, 5th ed., CQ Press, 2008, pp. 152-153. CQ Press American Government A to Z Series. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX2142200100/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=b56f15d8. Accessed 20 Apr. 2018.

Eggin, Dan. “Judge Staff saw Texas Redistricting as Illegal.” The Washington Post. 2 Dec 2005. Print.

Knott, John. “Can He Sell the Old Man?” The Dallas Morning News. 3 Jan 1932, sec. 3: 10. Print.

“League of United Latin American Citizens v. Perry.” Oyez, 11 May. 2018, www.oyez.org/cases/2005/05-204.

Tarr, Dave, and Bob Benenson. “Mid-Decade Redistricti­­ng.” Elections A to Z, 4th ed., CQ Press, 2012, pp. 330-333. CQ Press American Government A to Z Series. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/CX4159000121/GVRL?u=txshracd2598&sid=GVRL&xid=58e78366. Accessed 20 Apr. 2018.

“Texas, One and Indivisible.” Editorial. The Dallas Morning News. 3 Jan 1932, sec. 3: 10. Print.

Toobin, Jeffery. “Drawing the Line.” Editorial. The New Yorker. 6 Mar 2006. Print.

Weyant, Christopher. “Booty is in the Eye of the Beholder.” The Hill. 2007.

Russia’s Invasion of Crimea 2014

Carrying a large Russian rifle, a nearly naked Vladimir Putin aggressively advances into Crimea.
Carrying a large Russian rifle, a nearly naked Vladimir Putin aggressively advances into Crimea.

On February 28, 2014, Russian troops arrived in the dark of night, orchestrating a military invasion and occupation of the Crimean peninsula. Unidentified, uniformed Pro-Russian gunmen seized control of the main airports at Simferopol and Sevastopol, also taking over the Crimean parliament located in Simferopol. Despite Ukraine’s independence from the U.S.S.R in 1991, Russia had been maintaining its fleets at Sevastpol since that same year. Because of this, the Russian Foreign Ministry reasoned that troops were “required to protect deployment places of the Black Sea fleet in Ukraine” (MacAskill 46). However, the Ukrainian interior minister claimed that the Russian attack was a “military invasion and occupation in violation of all international treaties and norms,” which were outlined in the United Nation Charter (Article 2(4)), a document that prohibits ‘the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations” (MacAskill 21). Therefore, it was apparent that Russia’s military actions were aggressive and illegal and that they were occupying the Crimean peninsula only to increase Russia’s geopolitical power.

In Tom Toles’ political cartoon, “Naked Aggression,” (Tole cartoon) published in the Washington Post on March 4, 2014, he satirizes the military aggression and unjust actions taken by Russia in order to claim Crimea. The cartoon depicts Vladamir Putin as a villainous individual who is seen with only his red underwear on, which is humorously embellished with an array of skulls and crossbones. Additionally, Putin is illustrated without a shirt, referencing his well-known and proud penchant for being photographed bare-chested, while engaging in “macho” adventures such as hunting, boating, and spearfishing (Brown 3). Putin is characterized as aggressively advancing across the land while carrying a large Russian rifle. Particularly, he steps on the word, “Crimea,” as he marches into that territory. Two men in the background state, “Now he’s dropped his trousers too,” as they observe Putin “nakedly” marching into Crimea.

The context of this comic revolves around the climactic and geographic factors that limited pre-Soviet imperial Russia’s economy. Due to the vast amount of bitter cold regions in Russia, this limited Russia’s agricultural activity to about ten percent of the country’s land area. Of this amount of land, approximately sixty-percent of it was used for cultivating crop (“Russia- Agriculture”). During the beginning of the twentieth- century, “agriculture constituted the single largest sector of the Russian economy, producing approximately one-half of the national income” (Jackson). However, due to the lack of technological advancement, the Russian agricultural industry began to decline. Crops and livestock failed to withstand Russia’s harsh winter, ultimately leading to famines. Gradually, this led to Russia’s imperialistic nature of searching outwardly in other countries for land, resources, and even for warm water ports for year-round trading and building their navy. The agricultural difficulties that limited Russia’s economy not only influenced social reforms, but it also contributed to the rise of the Bolshevik revolution.

The Bolsheviks, headed by Vladimir Lenin, were a revolutionary party devoted to the philosophies of Karl Marx (“Bolsheviks”). They believed that the working class should liberate themselves from the economic and political bindings of the ruling classes. Since Russia was a backward agriculture country, a mass amount of peasants demanded more land, and factory workers began to protest the wretched working conditions and economic turmoil. Therefore, the Bolsheviks, became increasingly popular among the working class, eventually overthrowing the Provisional Government in 1917 (“Bolsheviks”). Soon after the Bolshevik Revolution, they changed their name to the Russian Communist Party in 1918, beginning the reign of a socialist government (“Bolsheviks”).

During the reign of the Soviet Union from 1922-1991, it consisted of fifteen Soviet Socialist Republics: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belorussia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kirgiziya, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldavia, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan (Dewdey 8). During its existence, the total area possessed by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R) constituted the world’s largest country – essentially covering one-sixth of the Earth’s land surface (Dewdey 31). Not only did the Soviet Union obtain vast areas of land during its reign, but it also possessed control over a multitude of waterways and valuable resources, thereby aggrandizing its geopolitical power.

However, by 1985 when Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union’s last leader, rose to power the Soviet Union experienced severe stagnation both politically and economically.  In order to remedy this, Gorbachev introduced the two-tiered policy: “perestroika” (“restructuring”) and “glasnost” (“openness”). The policy of perestroika was an economic reform program that would attempt to replace the centralized command economy with a progressive version of market economy, while the policy of glasnost enabled the freedom of speech among citizens (Dewdey 116). However, this change to the economy was unsuccessful, resulting in a further decline in production. Because of this economic regression, the citizens of the U.S.S.R and its republics utilized their new freedom of speech to criticize Gorbachev’s failure to improve the economy. Consequently, non-Russian areas such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania began to demand their own autonomy. With the combination of countries demanding their independence and democratic momentum within the U.S.S.R, this eventually led to the downfall and disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991(Dewdey 134).

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, only twelve republics emerged from the U.S.S.R. These remaining republics formed the Russian Federation. Boris Yeltsin became President of the Russian Republic in 1990 (“Boris Yeltsin”). He attempted to repair the country by supporting a market-oriented economy and the right of Soviet republics to greater autonomy within the Soviet Union. However, his popularity declined quickly as he failed to reform the free-market economy in order to spur economic growth. Yeltsin was eventually forced to resign in 1999, when Vladimir Putin, who was a former KGB (the primary security agency of the Soviet Union which is now known as the FSB) official, threatened to expose Tatyana Dyachenko, Yeltsin’s daughter, who had been taking part in “high-level corruption and financial malfeasance” within the government (Bolhen 26).

Vladimir Putin was soon elected President in 1999 (“Vladimir Putin”). Since his election, Putin had been attempting to rebuild “Soviet Russia,” stating that the “demise of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” (“Putin: Soviet Collapse a ‘Genuine Tragedy’ ”). Ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia continued to experience severe economic turmoil. However, in order to increase geopolitical and economic security, Vladimir Putin deployed Russian troops on an overnight mission on February 27, 2014 to seize the Supreme Council and the Crimean peninsula. The surprising and sly invasion of Crimea underscored Putin’s “flagrant violation of international law and the postwar order” land “was an aggressive move to return to a world in which Russia was still an international superpower” (Pinkham 58).

While Russia characterized the invasion as simply deploying soldiers to protect Russian fleets in Crimea, it was evident that the access to oil and gas reservoirs located in the Black Sea were the real objectives. The vast amount of valuable resources within the Black Sea not only would provide a much more stable and powerful economy, but the possession of the port would also extend Russia’s maritime boundaries (Goncharov 9). This strategic waterway served as an important naval port, increasing Russia’s geopolitical power.

These aggressive military actions mirror the hostile actions made by Japan in demanding the cessation on the boycott of Japanese goods in Shanghai during the 1930’s. In the midst of its imperial conquest, Japan invaded and conquered Manchuria through the Mukden incident that took place in 1931 (Byas 2). Manchuria was a territory rich with valuable resources that was legally governed by China. After the establishment of the pseudo-government, “Manchukuo,” in Manchuria, Japan began to use excessive military force in Shanghai to suppress Chinese boycotts of Japanese goods that arose out anti-Japanese resentment. In doing this, Japan hoped to occupy Shanghai in the process, gaining a foothold in another valuable area in order to spread its sphere of influence. Ultimately, these aggressive acts carried out by Japan not only violated its legal obligation to denunciate war, as outlined by the League of Nations, but also further heightened tensions that already existed between the two nations.

Similarly, Russia invaded Crimea, violating the United Nations charter by committing an aggressive and unjust act of imperialism. By possessing control of the Black Sea, it was evident that this was Russia’s key to geopolitical and economic stability. In Tole’s cartoon, Putin embodies a similar body language and image to the Japanese militant in John Knott’s cartoon, “Having Crushed the Chinese ‘Bandits’ ” (Knott cartoon). Putin and the Japanese soldier both possess a large military gun as they invade into a territory that is not their own. Furthermore, the bully-like characterization of the soldier compares to Putin’s “nakedness.” While the immense size and strength of the militant corresponded to Japan’s militaristic demeanor, Putin’s nearly naked state parallels to his “naked” or bold aggression that was portrayed by the Russian invasion on Crimea. Therefore, both cartoons resonate with the sheer aggression exhibited by Japan and Russia.

Due to the economic and geopolitical pressures that Japan and Russia experienced during their respective time periods, these factors pushed them to aggressively seize territories, even if it was illegal, in order to achieve economic and geopolitical stability. While the 1928 Kellogg- Briand Pact and the 2014 United Nations Charter (Article 2(4)) were both designed to urge nations to reject war, the geopolitical and economic circumstances presently occurring in the world may cause countries to act in their self interest in order to gain stability. Therefore, it is important to keep the past in mind to better evaluate the future outcomes of Russia’s war on Crimea.

 

Works Cited

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Bolshevik.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 26 Apr. 2018, www.britannica.com/topic/Bolshevik.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Boris Yeltsin.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 16 Apr. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Boris-Yeltsin.

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Vladimir Putin.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 19 Mar. 2018, www.britannica.com/biography/Vladimir-Putin.

Bohlen, Celestine. “YELTSIN RESIGNS: THE OVERVIEW; Yeltsin Resigns, Naming Putin as Acting President To Run in March Election.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Jan. 2000, www.nytimes.com/2000/01/01/world/yeltsin-resigns-overview-yeltsin-resigns-naming-putin-acting-president-run-march.html.

Brown, Chris. “Vacationing like a ‘Real’ Man: Photos from Putin’s Macho Holiday Seen as Part of Re-Election Bid | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 7 Aug. 2017, www.cbc.ca/news/world/vladimir-putin-images-siberian-holiday-1.4237878.

Dewdney, John C., et al. “Soviet Union.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 20 Apr. 2018, www.britannica.com/place/Soviet-Union.

Goncharov, Vladimir Petrovich, et al. “Black Sea.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 13 Mar. 2018, www.britannica.com/place/Black-Sea.

Jackson, George D., and Robert James Devlin. Dictionary of the Russian Revolution. New York: Greenwood, 1989. Print

Kara-Murza, Vladimir V. “Ukraine Is Putin’s, Not Russia’s, War.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 4 Mar. 2014, www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ukraine-is-putins-not-russias-war/2014/03/04/f587b698-a337-11e3-84d4-e59b1709222c_story.html?utm_term=.5c1b9a1d2417.

Knott, John. “Having Crushed the Chinese ‘Bandits’.” Cartoon. Dallas Morning News 28 January 1932. Newspaper. 18 April 2018.

MacAskill, Ewen, et al. “Russian Invasion of Crimea Fuels Fear of Ukraine Conflict.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 1 Mar. 2014, www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/28/russia-crimea-white-house.

Pinkham, Sophie. “How Annexing Crimea Allowed Putin to Claim He Had Made Russia Great Again | Sophie Pinkham.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 22 Mar. 2017, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/22/annexing-crimea-putin-make-russia-great-again.

“Putin: Soviet Collapse a ‘Genuine Tragedy’.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 25 Apr. 2005, www.nbcnews.com/id/7632057/ns/world_news/t/putin-soviet-collapse-genuine-tragedy/#.WvSSy4gvxPY.

“Russia – Agriculture.” Portugal – FAMILY AND KINSHIP RELATIONS, countrystudies.us/russia/60.htm.

Toles, Tom. “Naked Aggression.” Cartoon. Washington Post 4 March 2014. Newspaper. 20 April 2018.