Ya Ukrayinets’

President Joe Biden delivered his first State of the Union speech last night, and he delivered. Last night, we saw leadership from an American president. It was refreshing.

President Biden came out strong in his first SOTU address, standing with Ukraine and condemning Vladimir Putin’s tyranny. A heartwarming moment was when he pointed out one of his special guests, the Ukraine ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, who appeared moved by the sustained applause. Markarova even got a hug from First Lady Jill Biden.

President Biden stated, “In the battle between democracy and autocracies, democracies are rising to the moment and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security.”

President Biden pledged to stand with Ukraine and pointed out other nations doing the same. He said, “Members of the European Union, including France, Germany, Italy, as well as countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand and many others — even Switzerland — are inflicting pain on Russia and supporting the people of Ukraine. Putin is now isolated from the world more than he has ever been.”

He pointed out the Justice Department and our allies’ efforts to seize and freeze assets of Russian oligarchs. He said, “Tonight, I say to the Russian oligarchs and the corrupt leaders who bilk billions of dollars off this violent regime: No more. I mean it. We’re coming for you.” Russian oligarchs unable to access their fortunes or even sail on their superyachts will put pressure on Putin.

President Biden also announced a new ban on Russian aircraft from flying in the United States.

President Biden’s leadership is a welcome change from the former guy, who withheld American military support from Ukraine in an extortion attempt to receive a political favor. The irony here is, the former guy withheld the aid to hurt the current guy. Today, the current guy is delivering more military aid without demanding a quid-pro-quo.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said yesterday, “Biden is one of the leaders of the world and it is very important that the people of the United States understand despite the fact that the war is in Ukraine…it is a war for the values of democracy, freedom.”
President Biden made clear last night he fully understands that. Meanwhile, and despite rousing support from Republicans last night, the former guy doesn’t understand that and has yet to issue any criticism of Putin or Russia for their invasion of a sovereign nation. Trump has given blame to President Biden for the war rather than placing it where it belongs, on Vladimir Putin, who he called a “genius.”

Republicans were still nitpicking about our response to Russia’s invasion. In the GOP rebuttal, Iowa governor Kim Reynolds claimed the war only happened because of Biden’s “weak” leadership. But here’s a question for the goons: What should Biden be doing differently? Oh yeah, stop Russian gas imports into the United States. That’s fair criticism, but Reynolds also criticized high gas prices in her rebuttal.
You can criticize the administration for our nation still importing Russian fuel. You can criticize the administration for high gas prices. But, you can’t criticize it for both. Pick one. Republicans don’t have solutions. They only have dog whistles and methods to create new problems for Democrats to solve. Kim Reynolds opposed President Biden’s American Rescue Plan but took credit for that plan providing over $210 million in federal funding for rural broadband projects in Iowa.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy called out Soviet tyranny in his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech.

Standing in West Berlin, Kennedy said, “Two thousand years ago, the proudest boast was civis romanus sum (I am Roman). Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is Ich bin ein Berliner!”… All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!'”

Kennedy was championing democracy over Soviet fascism. Last night, President Biden did the same, except now it’s just Russian fascism.

Presidents usually say the line “the state of our union is strong” at the beginning of their SOTU speeches, but last night, Biden saved it for the end. I liked it.

President Biden said of Putin, “He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead, he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people.”

With President Biden’s leadership, rallying the world to place sanctions on Russia, Putin, and the oligarchs in ways the Russian dictator never imagined, he met Joe Biden.

Creative Note: I sent this cartoon to my proofers, Laura and Hilary after I had finished the drawing but before the shading and coloring. Always looking out for me, Laura asked where I got the translation. I got it from Google Translate, which is a really useful feature for a cartoonist like myself. The note I included with the cartoon said I had no idea why there’s an apostrophe after “Ukrayinets” and told my proofers to check behind me if they wanted to. Laura wanted to. And wouldn’t you know it? Laura has a friend from Ukraine she took a language class with…a friend who could also be a proofreader in English. A smart friend. So Laura asked her if I was correct.

Her friend, Marijka, replied: “The Ukrainian language has a soft sign/letter. The apostrophe is used to denote this. And the soft sign appears at the end of the word in this phrase.”

I got it correct. Thank you, Laura and Marijka. And thank you Google Translate. As I said, it’s a very useful feature. I’ve used it multiple times in the past as I like inserting languages other than English into my cartoons occasionally. What I do is type the phrase in English into Translate. Then, I take the translation and do a Google search of that to see where it comes up, just to double-check.

And since this cartoon didn’t take long to color and I was talking to Laura throughout that process, I didn’t have time to listen to any music.

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I said it in a blog post a few days ago, and I’m gonna say it again. I’m old enough to remember when protecting America from Russia was a part of the Republican Party’s platform. And, I don’t think I’m that old.

Like Trump, when John F. Kennedy took office, critics questioned if he was up to the task. People worried he was too young, inexperienced, and that a much more seasoned player on the international stage like Nikita Khrushchev would manipulate and get the best of him. In Trump’s case, people worry he’s not up to the job because he’s a narcissistic idiot.

JFK was tested like no president before him. Lincoln may have had the hardest challenge of keeping the nation together, but Kennedy had the task of preventing nuclear Armageddon.

The Bay of Pigs disaster gave Kennedy’s critics every right for concern, but he proved he was the right man at the right time when he stared down Khrushchev, and Khrushchev blinked. Nearly every presidential historian has JFK and Lincoln in their top five of the greatest American presidents. Trump will be in every historian’s bottom five, if not rated the very worst.

If you’re a geek like I am, you read books grading each of our presidents. Even the worst presidents have a few positive details included about them. Most historians give Nixon high marks for his foreign policy and economic performance, and even James Buchanan is given credit for receiving concessions from Paraguay, China, and England…before he allowed the nation to split in two. Trump will probably only be given credit for winning an election, and even that will have an asterisk.

If Trump was president during the Cuban Missile Crisis, today there would be a lot of Soviet missiles 90 miles from Miami pointed at the United States. Trump has shown only appeasement to Russia, the nation that helped him win the presidency.

You wonder what else Putin has on Trump, as our president has never said one critical word about Russia’s president. Trump still cannot acknowledge the fact Russia meddled in our election. The guy truly is Putin’s puppet.

Trump isn’t just Putin’s puppet. He’s everyone’s puppet. All you have to do is give him praise or insults, and you can manipulate him to do what you want. China gave him a state dinner and in return, Trump refused to criticize their atrocious human rights record. He even followed China’s lead and didn’t allow our press to ask questions when he was in China, which is customary.

During the presidential campaign, Trump said China was raping us. During his Asia trip, he said he didn’t blame China for raping us. Like most Republicans, Trump would rather blame the victim of rape instead of the rapist.

Saudi Arabia gave him a sword dance and in return, Trump supported their criticism of Qatar (where we have a military base) and their recent internal power grab. He said, “they know what they’re doing.”

After Turkish President Erdogan seized more power and even had his security detail attack American protesters outside the Turkish embassy, Trump praised the guy and said, “he’s getting very high marks.”

The White House says Trump spoke to President Duterte of the Philippines about his extrajudicial killings, and the Philippine government tells us it never came up. However, Duterte did serenade Trump with a love song called “You are the Light.” Seriously. In fact, Trump said Duterte is doing an “unbelievable job” in fighting the drug war. Trump also chuckled when Duterte chastised the American press for asking questions and when he called them “spies.” So much for the President of the United States being a defender of freedom.

As much as Trump has sucked up to other autocrats, Putin takes the cake. Hell, Trump has probably baked him one. After Trump came into office, Putin asked him to host the Russian ambassador and Foreign Minister in the Oval Office. Trump dutifully complied, kicked out our press and allowed the Russians to bring their own.

During an international summit in Germany, Trump met with Putin and didn’t bring an American translator to their chat. He also went light on Putin about their meddling in our election and those of other nations.

Congress passed sanctions on Russia, and Trump has yet to implement them even though it’s past the deadline the legislative branch mandated.

Trump has continued to deny Russia ever meddled in the election, despite daily revelations of his campaign colluding with Russians. During Trump’s Asia trip, he got to hang out with Putin again.

During this meeting, Trump says he talked to Putin again about the meddling and Putin said he didn’t do it, and he’s offended by people saying he did. Trump said he believes him. Later, Trump said he believes our security experts, but he also believes Putin doesn’t think he meddled. Say what now?

Is Donald Trump seriously trying to convince us that Russia meddled but Putin isn’t aware of it? Seriously? That makes about as much sense as Roy Moore telling us that he never dated someone without their mother’s permission…when he was in his 30s.

Donald Trump is no JFK, no Abraham Lincoln, and he’s no Barack Obama. He’s not even a James Buchanan.

Creative notes: I can’t recall the last time I drew JFK or RFK. Maybe I never have. I wasn’t sure if I should go with this idea as I was wondering if it was funny enough, but I really got into it when I started adding all the little details. While writing today’s blog, the idea of including a Life Magazine came to me. It bugged me enough that I went back and added it, and then resent it to my clients, who already had the first version.

It would have eaten me alive every time I looked at the cartoon if I didn’t have Life Magazine.

I want to thank everyone who has donated in the past. Your support helps me continue creating cartoons and columns with a little less stress in my life. Between competing syndicates with much larger resources, timid editors, and Trump supporters who attempt to intimidate the editors who do publish anything that criticizes their idol, it’s a challenge to make a career out of this. So your support (if you can) is appreciated. Want to help me continue to create cartoons and keep doing what I’m doing (pissing off conservatives)? Look to the right of this page and make a donation through PayPal. Every $40 donation will receive a signed print. All donations will receive my eternal gratitude.