Cartoons are posted below but the most recent one is at least one week late.
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Monday March 16, 2020
What historians heard when Trump warned of a ‘foreign virus’
For immigration historians and other scholars, the way US President Donald Trump is describing the coronavirus pandemic has a familiar ring.
“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” Trump said in an Oval Office address Wednesday night. “I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.”
As soon as Trump’s words describing a “foreign virus” hit the airwaves, Nükhet Varlik knew she’d heard them before.
“We’ve had plenty of examples of this in the past. It’s mindblowing that this still continues,” said Varlik, an associate professor of history at Rutgers University in Newark, New Jersey, and at the University of South Carolina.
“It opens up the ways of thinking about disease in dangerous ways,” she said. “Once you open that door…historically we have examples, we know where it goes. And we don’t want to go there. I find it extremely dangerous.”
It’s the latest chapter in a story that historians see as centuries in the making. From the plague to SARS, whenever an outbreak spread, racism and xenophobia weren’t far behind.
Here’s what scholars told CNN about some of history’s shameful episodes, and the lessons we can learn from them: The ‘Black Death’ in the 14th century; Cholera outbreaks in New York in the 19th century; 1900 Quarantines in San Francisco’s Chinatown; Health screenings and quarantines on Ellis Island; and SARS (Continued: CNN)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday March 13, 2020
Trump’s European Travel Ban Doesn’t Make Sense
Last night, a few thousand Atlético Madrid supporters crammed into a corner of Liverpool’s Anfield stadium to watch their soccer team knock the reigning European champions out of the continent’s premier competition, the UEFA Champions League. As they woke in their hotel rooms and Airbnbs this morning, they discovered, as Madrileños, or, more important, Europeans who live in the no-border Schengen Area that operates on the continent, that they are now barred from traveling to the United States. The 50,000 Liverpool fans who were also in the stadium last night, or at least those who happen to be British or Irish, awoke chastened by their team’s defeat—but not banned.
If there is an award for the most absurd spectacle capturing the arbitrariness of the global response to the coronavirus pandemic, this surely wins it.
President Donald Trump’s decision to ban most European citizens from traveling to the U.S., except those from the United Kingdom and Ireland, appears to make no sense, and to inject past grievances and prejudices into delicate scientific and political equations. In this spiraling thriller–cum–horror novel, Trump’s emergence, full of hostility and conspiracy, with warnings of foreign viruses, heralds a darkening turn—an early indication of the power of a pandemic to infect global decision making and international relations.
Politics, domestic and international, is already morphing under the strain of the coronavirus, and all signs indicate that it will continue to do so. Some governments will rise to higher ideals, to duty and justice, equity and science; others will simply be unable to meet the test or, worse, disgrace themselves. Some systems will allow combinations of various measures, and some political leaders will take decisions in good faith, based on good science, but still get it wrong. This, though, is the stage when politics comes to the fore, when the values of those with power are revealed. More than that, this crisis is becoming a test of the international order, formal and institutional or informal and cultural, to cope with the pressures placed on it by nationalism, quackery, corruption, ignorance, and malevolence.
Yesterday, the Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, slashed interest rates in a coordinated stimulus effort with the British government. He declared that 2008 had revealed the danger that the new globally integrated financial system posed, but that today this very system could help, not hinder. In his world, global institutions and a culture of coordination had developed. The giants of the financial crash had learned the lessons from the 1930s and moved quickly and globally in the knowledge that a beggar-my-neighbor policy in a global depression beggars everyone in the end. Today, it is sobering simply to wonder whether anyone is applying this lesson to the pandemic—an even more obvious case of the stupidity of petty nationalism.
And yet, as ever with the American president, the rationale for his decision carries its own peculiarly Trumpian worldview, exposing both how he sees the world and the weaknesses of who he sees as his adversaries. Trump is nothing if not alive to the flaws of his enemies. In this case, it is not without logic to treat the European Schengen Area as one country. While it clearly isn’t one and doesn’t overlap neatly with either the euro or the European Union (Norway, which is not an EU member, is part of Schengen; Ireland, which is both an EU member and part of the eurozone, is not), it is a core feature for almost all EU member states, a common travel area in which there are no internal checks. Schengen is one of Europe’s core strengths and accomplishments, but also a structural weakness that continues to challenge its legitimacy in the eyes of many of its citizens.
The EU is a proto-state. It has the institutions of a state, a central bank and parliament, currency and court. And yet it is weaker than a conventional state, mostly unable to take effective collective action in times of crisis, whether diplomatically, fiscally, or militarily. Its weakness is in handling migration and debts, refugees and Russian aggression. The worry today is that this weakness will be exposed, even though the coronavirus is exactly the type of cross-border challenge that highlights one of the EU’s fundamental strengths: its ability to coordinate continentally. (Continued: The Atlantic)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday March 12, 2020
As virus outbreak spreads, schools face a dilemma
When the new coronavirus surfaced at Saint Raphael Academy after a school group returned from a trip to Italy, officials decided to close the Rhode Island Catholic high school for two weeks.
Instead of cancelling classes, the school in Pawtucket instituted “virtual days” where students are expected to work from home, check for assignments through an online portal and occasionally chat with teachers.
A few miles away, a public charter school also closed after a teacher who attended the same Italy trip awaited test results. But at Achievement First, the two days off were treated like snow days — no special assignments and no expectation that kids keep up their schoolwork.
As more schools across the United States close their doors because of the coronavirus, they are confronted with a dilemma in weighing whether to shut down and move classes online, which could leave behind the many students who don’t have computers, home internet access or parents with flexible work schedules. As the closures accelerate, children at some schools, like Saint Raphael, will be able to continue some form of learning, while children at schools with fewer technological or other resources, may simply miss out.
The deep technological and wealth gap that exists nationwide between poor and affluent students has made the coronavirus outbreak even more challenging for school officials, who are wrestling with not only health and safety decisions but also questions about the ethics of school closures.
These deliberations have been playing out in schools all around the country during the outbreak, from urban districts in New York, Seattle and Los Angeles to rural ones in Nebraska and Pennsylvania.
“If we shut down for a week or two weeks, and some of the kids can do it but some can’t, what do you do?” said Edward Albert, executive director of the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools. “There are some places that don’t even have phone service.”
Although widespread closures are a new development in the United States, they are already a reality in nations that have been hit harder by the virus. The United Nations’ education agency, UNESCO, says nearly 300 million children in 22 countries on three continents were being affected by school closures last week. In response, it has begun supporting online learning programs. (PBS)
Meanwhile, Ontario’s elementary teachers are set to resume contract talks with the government on Wednesday, but they’re warning that if bargaining doesn’t produce an agreement, the union will resume job action after March break. (CBC)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 11, 2020
Economic Prescription for Coronavirus: ‘You’ve Got to Go Fast’
The government can’t prevent the coronavirus from damaging the U.S. Economy.
The usual tools that economic policymakers rely on, like tax cuts and stimulus spending, won’t restore canceled conferences, unclog supply chains or persuade wary consumers to go out to bars and restaurants. Even if such policies would help, they conflict with the advice of health officials who are urging “social distancing” to slow the spread of the virus.
But that doesn’t mean policymakers are powerless. Economists say well-designed programs could limit the damage and help ensure a quick rebound.
President Trump said Monday that he would meet with congressional leaders to discuss a “very substantial” payroll tax cut and other measures. Many economists are skeptical of that approach, arguing that a payroll tax cut would be too small and too poorly targeted to be of much help.
Instead, they recommended a variety of other steps, some narrowly aimed at addressing the outbreak and some intended to bolster the broader economy. One lesson from the last recession is that the government has to move quickly.
“You’ve got to go big, and you’ve got to go fast,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve staff member who is now director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a left-leaning research organization. “If you don’t go fast, you’re not going to short-circuit it.”
Here are some forms that such intervention could take: 1) Fight the disease. 2) Cushion the blow. 3) Stimulate the broader economy. 4) What about payroll taxes? (Continued: NYTimes)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday March 10, 2020
For Steven Del Duca, winning the Ontario Liberal leadership was the easy job.
Del Duca, a former cabinet minister, succeeds Kathleen Wynne as party leader after his landslide first-ballot victory at Saturday’s Liberal convention in Mississauga.
Now Del Duca faces the far more difficult tasks of rebuilding his third-place party, taking on incumbent Premier Doug Ford, and giving Ontarians who want Ford gone a compelling reason to vote Liberal in 2022 rather than NDP or Green.
Here’s what’s on Steven Del Duca’s to-do list:
1. Introduce himself to Ontarians
People who follow politics closely know Del Duca from his six years as the Liberal MPP for Vaughan, Ont., including four years in cabinet. But for the vast majority of Ontario voters, he’s unknown.
His back story has the potential for some appeal: he’s a first generation Canadian, son of a Scottish mother and Italian father. He went to law school, graduating from Osgoode Hall in Toronto in 2007.
While even his supporters admit he’s far from the most charismatic politician Ontario has ever seen, they argue he is smart, hard-working and plain-spoken.
2. Deal with his baggage
Del Duca’s tenure as transportation minister is not without controversy. He was criticized in the 2018 auditor general’s report for approving construction of two GO stations against the advice of Metrolinx staff, including one at Kirby, near his Vaughan riding.
Del Duca defends the move as the right call, saying the analysis by Metrolinx didn’t take into account expected population growth.
Just last month, CBC News revealed Del Duca built a backyard swimming pool without all the necessary permits and too close to neighbouring conservation land, according to municipal bylaws. Del Duca calls it an “embarrassing … honest mistake” and is seeking a land swap to bring the pool into compliance.
As a key member of Wynne’s government, Del Duca will also need to figure out whether to distance himself from her record, embrace her accomplishments, or toe some fine line between the two.
3. Rebuild the Liberal machine
Among Del Duca’s most important tasks now: “the unglamorous but very, very important work of party building,” says one of his senior campaign advisers. This means nurturing local riding associations, recruiting candidates, developing policies and raising money, all with an eye toward the June 2022 election.
The 2018 election disaster left the Ontario Liberals with not only their worst result in party history, but also with a financial mess. The party raised just $970,000 last year, according to donations recorded on the Elections Ontario website. It’s a far cry from the PCs’ haul last year in excess of $4.8 million. Doug Ford raked in more than $2 million on just one night this past week, at his annual leaders’ dinner.
4. Contrast with the NDP
Much could change by the time Ontarians go the polls in 2022, but right now the next election looks set to be a referendum on Doug Ford. People who want to vote “no” in that referendum will have options other than Del Duca’s Liberals, chiefly Horwath’s New Democrats.
Given that the Liberals and NDP (as well as the Greens) will be fishing in the same pool of anti-Ford voters, Del Duca needs to contrast himself as the clear alternative. He’ll likely do that by painting the New Democrats as ineffective in holding Ford to account, as he did in his speech to the convention Saturday, and by whipping up fears that an NDP government would harm the economy.
5. Face off against Doug Ford
There are plenty of voices out there insisting there’s no way Doug Ford can win a second term in 2022, but that’s a rather naive view. Ford loves campaigning, he has a formidable re-election team and his party is rolling in cash.
The Liberals cannot simply rely on Ford losing. Del Duca knows that, as does his team. “Anyone who suggests that this government is done for doesn’t know what they’re talking about,” said his senior adviser. (CBC)