A cartoon I drew for the very day the World Health Organization declared the infection spread of COVID-19 global pandemic on March 11, 2020, has gone through a series of modifications and additions. Two tsunamis perilously heading towards a city symbolizing Canada with waves representing COVID-19 and recession, were soon joined by bigger scares including Climate Change and Biodiversity Collapse. The evolution has been fuelled by the thoughtfulness of people from around the world who have either suggested modifications on social media or sketched in new waves with my attention included. It illustrates important discussions on serious issues confronting humanity and the chronological changes has made this illustration my most shared image ever.
But, like so many images cartoonists offered up to the Internet, dark forces are at the ready armed with design software to butcher artists work and memes-ify them to serve their appetites for likes and retweets. Just as egregious to discover signed cartoons reworded to suit partisan stances effectively turning satire into propaganda, is the removal of monikers and the extraction of intellectual property. We learn as children not to do this when we hand in assignments for school and that we should always source words borrowed from others. Why is it when theft of imagery that’s turned into memes is taken so passively?
Along comes a post on Instagram where an account run under the banner of a big international bubble tea chain called Tiger Sugar used this image to promote franchise expansion. A glance through the account shows an endless scroll of not so witty memes mixed with photos of their swirly brown syrup concoctions aimed at a younger smart phone addicted set. A message was left under the post requesting removal of the altered image. As of the time of this writing the post remains and thereby grants Tiger Sugar bestowal of recognition into the pantheon of intellectual property thieves, better known as the Social Media Jackasses.
In researching this company one came across this unfortunate meme portraying it as one which serves effluent to its customers. How rude! To suggest this is where Tiger Sugar extracts its syrup is outrageous! Shame on whomever used imagery from this company without authorization to sully its messaging with such obvious contempt to use and discredit a popular brand. Ridiculous!
A review of the past 4 years with a look through 200 Trump cartoons and commentary by Graeme MacKay.
It’s the eve of another U.S. Presidential election and again the usual refrain of this being the most important vote in a generation is being loudly trumpeted. The Republican party is fighting for a second term for the White House whose champion opponents are decrying as a dangerous, lying, narcissistic clown, a man who sullies the prestige of the office he holds, whose re-election will further doom the USA. The Democrats are battling to regain the White House with a leader Republicans warn is senile, with an unremarkable 47-year-old political record that’ll hand the reins of power over to younger forces of socialism. Read this as my sequel to what I wrote on Inauguration day 2017.
Back then I asked a few questions of the coming Trump presidency. Reading what I wrote is like entering a time capsule of forgotten problems. ISIS? That’s all but vanished. Syria? It simmers but it’s no where the top concern it was in 2017. Cuba? Most of the Obama pursuits to warm relations have been erased, but nobody really cares in the USA of 2020 because there are so many other gargantuan domestic U.S. problems. Does Trump have a plan to replace Obamacare? Answer, no, and no also to reversing affordable health care, but more about that later. Has he lived up to his promise of a rejuvenated American rust belt that he campaigned on in 2016? We’ll have a good idea once we find out how Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania votes in the next few hours. Is he as chummy with Vladimir Putin as we’ve been led to believe? That was the easiest question I don’t need to answer in 2020, since we all know. Has he bridged the racial divide as he said he’d do at the start of his Presidency? Well, is he, the greatest President since Abraham Lincoln for racial relations in the USA, as he boastfully declares himself?
Ronald Reagan’s recycled “Make America Great Again”, meets Ronald Reagan’s “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” in the Trump era. The first one we see and hear all the time rather exhaustingly, the latter phase, never.
The overriding argument of truth against extending the Donald Trump golf cart presidency is his colossal failure to effectively respond with common sense by acting on health guidance to curtail the infection spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. On the eve of the 2020 U.S. election, the deaths attributed to Coronavirus infection stands at just under 240,000. It is the highest tally for any nation since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic in mid March of this year. Trump himself contracted the virus, but instead of using the opportunity to advise Americans the basic preventative measure to wear face masks, he chose to side with those declaring them useless and signs of weakness. He has used his platform to spread misinformation, denigrate health scientists, calling them idiots, and accusing doctors of manipulating COVID-19 data for personal financial gain. Trump, who behind the scenes acknowledged with his own recorded voice the severity of the virus back in February when interviewed by veteran journalist Bob Woodward, has essentially surrendered controlling the spread of COVID-19, according to his chief of staff, Mark Meadows. Livelihoods are more important than lives in Trump’s America. The campaign rallies he’s held from September to election day showing maskless crowds not social distancing is loud pronouncement for the history books that huge swaths of reckless loyal supporters trusted the carnival barker more than the warnings of experts in science.
It’s the same denial of science from the planet’s biggest throwaway society that leads in disavowing protecting the biodiversity of both the USA and the planet. Mishandling of responsibility for public health with no centralized strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is only the most recent example of denying science. The USA now leads the world in denial of climate change and environmental protections ie: the slashing of EPA budgets and a rollback on efforts to combat climate change with U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement. As concerning as the President’s anti-science agenda is his embracing of conspiracy theories cooked up by QAnon and against public health measures and renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines.
Another argument against extending the Trump presidency is his abandonment of compassion and the American virtue of offering amnesty to refugees and migrants fleeing tyranny for a life of liberty in the U.S.A. Reducing entry to refugees to 18,000 per year from 95,000. Trump’s attempt to overturn DACA which protects hundreds of thousands of undocumented youths (dreamers) from deportation. A brutal policy to empower ICE to deport all undocumented migrants with a practice of family separation incarcerating parents and sending children to shelters, shelters that some of which have been identified as cages. Just two weeks before election day court documents reported parents of 545 of the migrant children still have not been reunited with detained children. Further to this, the US knowingly deported migrants infected with COVID-19.
Then there is the President’s misogyny, dog whistles, racism and support of white supremacy. “Very fine people on both sides”, he was quoted as saying following the white supremacy clashes in Charlottesville. He condemned football players for taking a knee in their protest against white supremacy. Trump discriminated against Mexicans in declaring them racists, and bad hombres, as he ran for President and continued an assault against Mexicans and Latin Americans in general for promising and pursuing to build a wall along the U.S-Mexican border. A travel ban on Muslims. Prejudice against Chinese by attempting to rename COVID-19 “Kung Flu” and “Chinese virus”. Trump has defended Confederate symbols and has casted protesters marching in the name of Black Lives Matters as traitors. In the first Presidential debate he even went so far as to issue coded messages to the Proud Boys sowing fear over notions that Democrats are rigging election polling stations.
In summarizing the past 4 years of the Trump era one cannot count out the President’s trademark denigration of traditional U.S. allies, democratic institutions and cozying up to dictators and authoritarian regimes. Just a few months before the 2020 election and a month after signing the USMCA (formerly NAFTA) trade deal Trump slapped tariffs on Cdn aluminum imports, declaring with slander, “Canada tried to take advantage of us, as usual.” US/Canada relations have never been this bad, as in the case of ties with the UK, France, Germany, the G7, the EU, NATO, the UN, WHO etc. Meanwhile, Trump’s biggest diplomatic feat is cozying up with Kim Jong Un, leader of the most repressive nation on the planet. There’s cozying up with the ever increasingly repressive Saudis. Then there’s Russia, who Trump continues to deny intervened to assist him in the 2016 U.S. elections. The bizarre behaviour of Donald Trump’s fawning for the autocratic Russian President, Vladimir Putin, has divided observers between those scratching their heads, and the rest, his supporters shrugging their shoulders.
Donald Trump has polarized an already badly polarized United States. While political divisions have intensified over the last three decades, Trump has fuelled it by using his office to ingratiate his base and to denigrate his opponents and counterparts. He has not used the presidency to unite American citizens but has instead used it as a blow horn to belittle democratic states, mayors, and even federal officials like the respected long serving director of Infectious Diseases Institue, Dr. Anthony (FIRE) Fauci, have been misquoted and attacked for not cow towing to Trump’s livelihoods over lives policies. He has publicly insulted those from his own side of the bench, including Republican Senators, and a revolving door of cabinet secretaries who dared to challenge the boss’s wisdom. Then there’s a personal obsession of undoing the accomplishments of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, earnestly embarked upon for the past 4 years. This comes as little surprise given Trump’s years in his own pursuit of office pushing conspiracy theories asserting Obama’s foreign birth. Despite his efforts to drag down and bury the record of America’s first black President, Trump has been unable to strike down Obama’s landmark act expanding affordable care. Yet, even amidst a pandemic that has forced millions out of work and off private health insurance Trump, has led the Republican charge to repeal Obamacare and replace it with something unknown yet promised since 2016. Though his ardent supporters will privately loathe and then turn deaf ears on his bad behaviour, he has lived up to delivering on a key promise, like some useful idiot, to transform the highest court to conservative favour. Trump’s luck of appointing three Supreme Court justices, most recently Amy Coney Barrett, may be his most enduring legacy dialing back progressive laws for years to come, the soonest being health care for all.
“Drain the Swamp”, was and still is election mantra that only applies to corruption among those appointees and office holders predating the Trump era. With the blatant cronyism, enriching wealthy Trump donors with agency directorships, ambassadorships, and cabinet positions; with rampant nepotism, handing power over to a younger generation of dislikable Trumps; With the bending of rules, clogging up the courts with cases against him, keeping Trump’s Tax Returns secret, his private holdings and properties entangled as venues for government services the dirty dealings in D.C. are just as bad if not worse than ever.
On the eve of the 2020 election, the stakes have been planted sealing a Trump legacy for years to come whether he loses or not. The national polls give Biden a 10-point lead over Trump and have for weeks. Half the lead gap went to Hillary Clinton in 2016, which gave her a larger popular vote than Trump. Democrats who didn’t vote then are likely to show up for Biden, especially among African Americans, suburban women, and older and younger voters. Add to that the so-called ‘Never Trumper” Republicans, and those displaced in the economy due to the pandemic, as well as those friends and family whose loved ones died from an infectious disease the President failed to take seriously. With this, one could, one should, easily predict these are the final days for Trump, Tweeter-in-Chief. The calculus matters the most in the electoral college, and observers are challenged knowing how numbers will turn out in the battleground states with huge advance poll voting and an unknown election day turnout for the most infectious country in the pandemic. Will we see Biden landslide? Will America side with Trump? Will right wing militias take to the streets in a Biden win? Will progressive protesters take to the streets in a Trump win? These are uneasy and worrisome hours, but a definitive Biden victory would be the best outcome, and permanently close down the Trump News Buffet.
Sketch summary from the First debate of the 2020 Presidential Election.
These were the moments that defined President Trump’s first presidential debate against Joe Biden.
Joe Biden faced a barrage of attacks from President Trump, but he fired back several times in ways that drifted outside expectations.
A full display of sketches drawn during the 2020 campaign can be viewed in Special Features.
The first time I gained an audience after delivering my earliest offering of political satire I was 12-years-old. It was 1980, and I was part of a generation of youth growing upon a constant diet of television news and Saturday morning mass marketing. The gag was a pop bottle being held up by the infamous leader of Iran alongside the caption “Drink Ayatollah Cola.” With the daily fear reminder of an angry, eyebrowed dude in strange garb from halfway around the world holding hostages and leading mobs in chants about death to America, the cartoon was instantly hailed by my classmates and was allowed to hang on the wall.
From a Canadian kid’s vantage point in 1980, the world was clearly divided by good and bad. The Soviets, led by a wheezing, uni-browed autocrat named Brezhnev had his billing for the evilest bad guy challenged by the Ayatollah Khomeini, a real-life Darth Vader. The good guys were the Americans led by President Jimmy Carter.
Being the leader of the free world brought with it the customary ordeal of ridicule and derision by comedians, satirists and editorial cartoonists. It was thanks to them that a brief moment of history was culturally defined by a big, toothy presidential grin on giant peanuts, caricatures by Dan Akroyd on SNL and across newspaper editorial pages. It was a golden time for an aspiring cartoonist to begin honing his skills.
I was too young to delve deeply or understand much about the details of domestic turmoil the USA faced during the Carter years. I do recall picking up bits of gloom about an energy crisis, of stagflation, of malaise and the fact that the youngest Kennedy brother had an ax to grind about an unpopular President.
The lasting memories of the Carter years for this 12-year-old-foreigner’s mind are the global events of a never-ending hostage crisis, a Summer Olympic Games boycott and a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.
Fast forward 40 years later and that same President was photographed amidst a pandemic wearing a toothy grinning Jimmy Carter face mask, designed by yours truly.
The news of this came through a series of tweets beginning with a question to followers by the American Association of Editorial Cartoonists Twitter account asking if anyone among us designed face masks. Since I do run an online shop of history caricatures I replied. That led a cryptic reply with a photo of a senior wearing a mask under the handle @peanut_brigade. Then, to a Google search of a July 31 article in the Las Vegas Review Journal.
David Osborne, an accomplished musician who plays piano at Las Vegas’ Bellagio hotel, is also known as “Pianist to the Presidents”, for the number of White House performances he’s made over the past several decades. He and Carter have built a friendship over the years. On the eve of Osborne receiving a music award in his home state of Oklahoma, the pianist received a texted photo of the masked ex-President by Jimmy Carter himself. He then shared the photo with the Las Vegas newspaper.
If only I could go back in time and tell my 12-year-old self that I would one day draw a cartoon of Jimmy Carter’s smile and Jimmy Carter would wear it on his face!
Jimmy Carter has built a very respectable standing in his post-presidency years. Unlike others, he hasn’t used public life to enrich himself financially. Instead, he’s lived a long life advancing human rights and helping to improve the quality of life for people around the world.
Even in their mid-90s Jimmy Carter and the former First Lady Rosalyn, continue to devote themselves to public service by doing what a sitting President is loathe to do, promote the use of face masks in the time of a deadly pandemic.
That’s a noble cause to put pen to paper to, or in this case, Presidential pearly whites.
MacKay’s Carter Editorial Cartoons