Editorial Cartooning, Journalism, and a Citizen’s Duty in the Era of Hope and Change
Report by Betty Sakai
Editorial cartoonist and acclaimed international speaker Michael Ramirez brought rounds of laughter to the Forum’s Christmas Holiday Meeting, sharing insights into what it means to be a political analyst, challenging listeners to get involved to preserve their liberty and freedom. Ramirez’s many accomplishments include: two-time winner of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize in 1994 and 2008, three-time Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalism Award winner, recipient of almost every journalism award and the prestigious UCI Medal from the University of California, Irvine, recipient of the 2005 National Journalism Award, and author of the book, Everyone Has the Right to My Opinion. His cartoons are featured world-wide in over four hundred (400) newspapers and magazines through the Creators Syndicate. He is the Senior Editor of Investor’s Business Daily, a regular contributor to The Weekly Standard, and a member of the A-Team on Fox News Business Network’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight” show.
Ramirez showed the Forum audience multiple examples of his work – editorial cartoons that are not just pictures, but powerfully sharp and refined instruments of journalism, sometimes subtle but often blunt and overpowering, seizing the reader’s attention with imagery. One cartoon was of a quirky American dollar with the inscription “Made in China”. Another was of Nancy Pelosi sitting on the throne as the Queen of Hearts uttering, “We have to pass it to find out what’s in it”…and “This is the most ethical Congress ever”. Another was the image of a man and a young child standing in front of a mountain of debt, the man telling the child, “Someday all of this will be yours.” Another was of an American flag flying in the breeze,unraveling with the inscription “Our Moral Fabric”. Another was a tiny figure of Barry Bonds standing in one of the really big shoes of Babe Ruth. Ramirez explained that cartoons are a lot like advertising. Advertising uses an image to sell a product. Cartoons use an image to sell an idea.
To illustrate the power of the punch line, Ramirez told the story of a man arrested for killing a condor. The judge asked the man why anyone would do such a thing since so few condors exist today. The young man said he was out in the desert climbing rocks and fell off a cliff onto a ledge where for days he had no water and no food. Then one day a bird flew onto the ledge. He grabbed the bird and killed it. He survived he said because the bird provided sustenance. The judge was about to dismiss the case when he asked the man, “By the way, what do condors taste like?” Without hesitation, the man answered, “…somewhat like the cross between a Bald Eagle and a Spotted Owl….”
On the subject of misinformation, Ramirez delivered a scathing indictment of media bias blurring the line between news (objective fact) and editorial (subjective) opinion. “The media is not telling you the truth!” he proclaimed. And then he asked, “Why would anyone want to buy misinformation when factual information is so readily available on the internet?”The media he said is pursuing a Progressive agenda. The groundwork for the take-over of our educational system has been pursued by Progressives since the 1950s. They have misinformed generations of Americans, jeopardized the future of America, and are heavily entrenched today in higher academia. Citizens have a right to demand the media do its job. Although journalists are human beings and have their own interpretations of facts, they need to write a thorough presentation of the story.
Considering that people view things differently, Ramirez told the story of Sherlock Holmes and his friend Watson who one night looked up into a canopy of stars. Holmes asks Watson to tell him what he sees. Watson goes into great detail about the millions of stars and galaxies and the possibility of life on other planets. Watson then turns to Holmes and asks him what he sees. Holmes pauses a moment and then says, “Someone has stolen our tent.”
Ronald Reagan, Ramirez said admiringly, was essentially a political cartoonist who used words instead of drawings. He was always telling a story with a punch line. At a gathering, he told the story of the difference between a Soviet journalist and an American journalist. The American journalist Reagan said is free to disparage the American President. The Soviet journalist must disparage the American President.
Ramirez described his profession as a profession of ideas, a battle against complacency, a job where one is paid to be obnoxious. The more hate mail he receives, the more he knows he has hit the mark. He is a pit bull of journalism, trained to attack at the slightest provocation. Describing his life as boring, he awakes early morning and reads four (4) newspapers every day, seeking to understand both sides of an issue,searching for the truth. He urged his audience to do this as occasionally some portion of the truth may exist on the other side and it may (though rarely) change one’s perspective on an issue. A lot of people, he said, say the truth lies somewhere between the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, but there is no truth in the New York Times, he confided. The truth lies on the editorial page of the Investor’s Business Daily. It’s not about being a Democrat or a Republican. It’s not about being politically correct. It’s about being accurate. It’s about looking at real problems, about finding real solutions.
Considering how people act in Washington, D.C., Ramirez told a story about a duck who waddled into a local grocery and asked the clerk, “Got any grapes?” The clerk answered, “No, we don’t have grapes in our produce department.” The duck leaves and ten minutes later returns and asks the clerk, “Got any grapes?” Annoyed, the clerk says, “No grapes!” The duck leaves and returns again in ten minutes. Before the duck can ask anything, the clerk tells the duck to ask for anything except grapes, and if he dares ask for grapes, he’ll nail his little webbed feet to the floor. The duck thinks a minute and then asks the clerk, “Got any nails?” “No nails,” answers the clerk. “Got any grapes?” asks the duck. Ramirez concluded that if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, it’s most likely a duck. He finds it his job to nail the duck’s feet to the floor, reminding listeners that those working in Washington D.C. are public servants and they work for the citizens who sent them there.
Ramirez then outlined the Orwellian Double talk Game being played today in Washington D.C., to wit: (1) A balanced budget amendment that stipulates Congress can only spend what it takes in is not called common sense. It’s called extremism. (2) Making illegal immigration illegal is not called following the law. It’s called insensitivity. (3) Slowing the expansion of Medicare is not called a rational effort to save Medicare. It’s called a draconian cut. (4) Aborting a human fetus in the third trimester is not called infanticide. It’s called choice. (5) Paying income taxes is not called paying taxes. It’s called an investment in America. (Vice President Joe Biden calls it patriotism).(6) Judging someone not by the content of their character but strictly by the color of their skin is not called racism. It’s called affirmative action. (7) The war on terror is not called a war on terror. It’s called an overseas contingency operation. (…and our Secretary of State believes American soldiers should be tried as war criminals). (8) When government takes in a surplus of tax money, it does not mean the people paid too much in taxes. It means the government has paid too little in services. (9) Islamic extremism is not called terrorism. It’s a man-made disaster. Concluding his comments about Orwellian Double talk, Ramirez added that the current administration is a man-made disaster. It has caused inter-generational theft to burden future generations with twenty-two (22) trillion dollars in debt that will take 670,000 years to repay @ $1/second.
On the state of citizen participation in the Republic, Ramirez reminded listeners that this is a nation founded on the principals of limited government and personal independence, on individual achievement and self-governance, and on a strong national defense. Citing that one out of six are now on direct government assistance, that only about 50% pay federal taxes, that in the last election there was less than a 58% voter turnout and only 29% voted for President, that Obama won by only 350,000 votes, Ramirez admonished citizens to get involved to guarantee the preservation of their liberty and freedom that has for so long been taken for granted, that so many have died for to preserve. He challenged his listeners, “Is this the country you want?”
Noting that his mother was a legal immigrant from Japan who came to America to build a future for herself, Ramirez said he believes in legal immigration when the immigrants contribute with their independence, their ideas, and their needed skills to become citizens.
Today, he said, we have taxation without representation. We face the same challenges as those who founded this country. It’s time to take America back. He pleaded with Forum participants to reach out and get others involved. One area most needing of reform he said is education. Test scores in public education system are impressive until the 6th grade and thereafter fall to the bottom compared to other nations.
President Kennedy believed that Americans should reach for the moon, not into the taxpayer’s wallet. Jimmy Carter in 1978 told Americans to stop whining and they took his advice and kicked him out. President Ronald Reagan believed in the free market and in the doctrine of American Exceptionalism. Reagan believed that if government gets out of the way,Americans will provide the answers. Obama’s Presidency has been one long campaign, a deluge of words with no ideas or commitment behind them. Obama’s signature legislation, the health care act, was built upon a foundation of lies and has undermined the world’s best health care system.
Ramirez reminded his listeners that this is not a nation of entitlements. This is a nation of achievers, of exceptional achievements. America is a nation where those who want to succeed can build their future and follow their dreams.
Michael Ramirez’s presentation concluded with much applause. There was a brief question and answer session followed by a book signing.
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