Little Note on a Wonderful Drawing

Thomas Nast, Tammany Tiger (circa 1870)

Nast was the creator of many iconic images and the first political cartoonist to hit hard.

This is from the Addison Gallery collection of drawings, and though we did not see it yesterday, I’m thrilled to have even a reproduction of it in the collection On Paper. (I can’t find any reproduction of it on the Interwebs.)

Nash’s brilliance is that he takes an otherwise un-humanized tiger and puts it in a human position: rolling on its back, arms folded across chest, legs kicking in the air and either roaring or laughing, doesn’t matter. The instant you see it’s called Tammany Tiger you understand it’s a caricature of a cruel, greedy, bestial human (Boss Tweed) given none of the dignity of being a person.

(Well, I should add, not a portrait of Tweed per se — he was a fat lump as uncatlike as could be imagined — but his corrupt organization.)

An Inside-Out King Donald Positive

The atmosphere of general sadism that King Donald has officially established has gotten rid of the remnants of a quirk belief that I could not divest until now. I always thought there was something to the argument that if you were going to have a death penalty at all, there should be the possibility that the perps would be killed in the same manner as their victims. Yeah, it increased mindless violence, but there was a rude proper equality to it. Monsters deserved monstrous deaths. (Horror movies I refuse to see kinda wallow in this line of thought.)

Except now the air of brutality and mindless bashing finishes my darkside sympathies. Without a whisper of regret, monsters must be treated with total harshness, but not their own instruments.

R.I.P.: Kate Millett

Cornerstone spirit and thinker. I had puttered around in The Second Sex during my exploration of French lit in high school, but ultimately found it too arty and indirect (the translation seemed terrible, too). Millett’s Sexual Politics came right out and said it. Unless you were a sex-stereotyper yourself, her arguments were undeniable. That my mother had always been a working professional probably helped my understanding. Also had a growing conviction that “the Revolution” was freeing men while leaving women in chains.

The Decline and Fall of Heroic Journalism

Charlie Pierce is saying what absolutely has to be said here.

I spent 1978 at BU’s Graduate School of Journalism. A lot of the program was what we would now call “networking” — making sure you had the basics down and getting set up for a job. The stupidest remarks I heard all year were from these two guys “joking” about becoming the next Woodward and Bernstein — because on some level they were dead serious. “Well, sure won’t be you two clowns,” I thought. They were poor researchers and writers. What disturbed me then, and even more in retrospect, is how widespread was the shallowest TV-movie version of the Watergate exposure. It was an adventure. There were few serious barriers or setbacks.

Of course this was false. Ridiculous, even. But far more toxic was the evil flip side of this myth. That instead of a triumph for truth, Watergate was a disaster that must never be allowed to happen again. And all that rested on the foundation that of course nobody as twisted and unfit as Nixon would ever be elected President. That’s why kids should have been taught more about Warren Harding.

Charlie is certainly right about the freakish increase in POTUS power. I hold on to the slim hope that he’s also correct enough sinking ships will desert the rat that he will be out of office. Journalists who insist on telling the cold truth rather than offering soft whimpers would help.