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Opinion

I was a little surprised when Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette appealed the decision striking down the ban on straight-ticket voting to the U.S. Supreme Court. I knew, of course, that the attorney general wanted straight-ticket voting outlawed. He is a fiercely partisan Republican, and the GOP thinks with some reason that allowing straight-ticket voting hurts their candidates.

Flint paying price for red tape, politicking

Sep 10, 2016
Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The water crisis in Flint is giving the troubled city renewed attention and a jolt of economic opportunity. But two things are standing in the way: bureaucracy and politics . Just ask Michael McDaniel. He’s the retired brigadier general in the Michigan National Guard who Mayor Karen Weaver hired last February to head the city’s Flint Action and Stability Team. He’s still waiting to be paid for the work he’s doing. He says a “straight lack of capacity” caused the snafu, and he’s confident the...

I am a little overweight. Not grossly fat, but I could certainly lose a few pounds. I could say this is because I was bullied as a child, because I heroically work too hard and don’t have time to eat properly, or because of my existential angst. Actually, existential angst sounds like a good, all-purpose excuse for everything, especially given the current climate, political and otherwise. But the fact is that I am overweight because I eat too much and don’t exercise enough.

Auchter's Art: Crushing student debt

Sep 9, 2016
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

My first instinct was to draw the weighty Student Loan Debt object as an anvil. You guys know what an anvil is, right? An anvil is a block with a hard surface on which another object is struck. The block is as massive as it is practical, because the higher the inertia of the anvil, the more efficiently it causes the energy of the striking tool to be transferred to the work piece. Yeah, that's not very helpful for me, either. How about this: An anvil is the very heavy hunk of...

So is this now summer, or fall? I know that by the calendar, we officially have two more weeks of summer. But the kids are back in school, the days are starting to get noticeably shorter, and Labor Day marks the traditional dividing line between the seasons. Psychologically, anyway. Many of today’s news items still seem like summer stories, with headlines like “naked man charged in homicide,” and “legal deal in the works for killers of pet guinea pig.” Our national obsession with all Trump, all the time has blocked out most other political news, but there is one item that to me illustrates everything wrong with term limits.

This may strike you as silly, but a little, relatively insignificant thing happened today that put a lump in my throat. It has to do with The Newspaper Association of America, the group that has represented major newspaper publishers since Grover Cleveland was in the White House. I was never part of that group, which is mainly for newspaper owners, not ink-stained writers and editors, my tribe back in the day. We moaned and complained about publishers, often because we saw them as skinflints who wouldn’t pay us what we thought we were worth.

I am sorry I didn’t go to downtown Detroit yesterday morning for the annual Labor Day parade. Bill Clinton showed up in a casual shirt, and walked for a mile mingling with regular folks as well as politicians. I didn’t need to see the former president, however; been there; done that. Now, I wish I had gone to pay tribute to the men and women who struggled, suffered and sometimes died to give us the weekend, not to mention, paid vacations.

Trump’s dark take on Detroit, Michigan is wrong

Sep 3, 2016

Donald Trump says Michigan manufacturing is “a disaster.” He predicts Mexico soon will replace the United States as the heart of the North American auto industry. He’s wrong. You’d think a guy described as a quick study would do a little of it before opening his mouth. But no. That’s why Governor Rick Snyder is correcting Trump’s dark take on Detroit and manufacturing.

Update 1:55 p.m.: Attorney General BIll Schuette has filed an emergency application for a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court to stop straight-ticket voting from being allowed in Michigan. Original post: Well, it now seems almost certain that on November 8th , Michigan voters will be able to fill in one little oval and cast what’s called a straight-ticket vote for a political party’s entire list of candidates for all offices.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Telling the wife of your boss at a dinner party that she is a racist is not a career enhancing move. Turns out, people don't like to be called racist — even if they are. Let me explain.

Perhaps the most horrific story of the summer was the Detroit News’s revelations of unsanitary condition s at the now for-profit group of hospitals known as the Detroit Medical Center. These included dirty instruments, old blood and bone fragments in tubes that were being used for a baby’s operation and other similar horrors. That was more than bad enough. But a group of mental health advocates are now concerned that the Snyder Administration wants to partly or totally privatize mental health services.

The greatest scandal in American political history was, of course, Watergate. Reporters began investigating corruption in the Nixon Administration. Congressional committees and the courts got involved, and the existence of a secret White House taping system was eventually discovered. Finally, the tapes provided absolute proof of Richard Nixon’s criminality.

There are those who think that Governor Rick Snyder has been made to bear too much of the blame for the mess in Flint. There may be some truth in that. The governor certainly didn’t set out to poison the water, though, as Harry Truman said the buck stops on the desk of the top man. But there is an area where the governor may not have gotten enough criticism – and that is some of his policy choices in public education. The worst of these may be the Education Achievement Authority, or the EAA ....

Michigan Democrats and Republicans held their state conventions last weekend, mainly to nominate candidates for the education boards. That includes the state board of education, plus two seats each for the three major universities – Wayne State, Michigan State, and the University of Michigan.

When I was three years old, a little girl in my neighborhood was snatched off the street, raped and murdered. Her body was found a week later in a garbage dump, and the crime never solved. This traumatized my mother, who instilled in me a lifelong fear of child molesters. It took about half a century before I stopped being frightened whenever a car pulled up next to me.

AUCHTOONS.COM

CARTOONIST'S POV: If you spend more than a few moments with my wife's family, there is a pretty good chance you're going to hear a Caddyshack reference. A quote from the 1980 film will work its way into the conversation — sometimes in context, always funny. So coming off a week's vacation with them, it's not hard to find the inspiration for the punch line in panel three of the cartoon. "You'll get nothing and like it!" is of course how Judge Smails shuts...

Donald Trump is coming to Michigan again early next month, this time specifically to court black voters in Detroit. My guess is that the Clinton campaign is thrilled by this. In fact, they probably wish Trump would spend every day until November 8 in Detroit. If he did so, and managed to make some connections with black Detroiters , he might manage to lift his level of support in that community to maybe four percent.

I met a former student of mine for an early lunch Tuesday, in a little café in the bustling, cosmopolitan suburb of West Bloomfield. Anasie Tayyen has three children, who are seven, nine and 12, and has her hands full running after them and managing her pediatrician husband’s office. But she now realizes she was also meant to be a writer. Last week, she had a beautiful piece in the Huffington Post , called “ The Olympics Chased the Bogeyman Away .” It begins with these lines: "Being Muslim in America has been anything but easy this past year. The presidential election has been particularly hard on many Muslim-American children’s psychological well-being."

I heard over the weekend from a retired night city editor from an Ohio newspaper who sent me an article from the New York Post about media bias and the presidential election. He, and the authors of the article, believe the mainstream media is outrageously in favor of Hillary Clinton. Not that the old editor was especially a Donald Trump supporter. “There’s never been an election with two less-qualified candidates,” he said, but added, “but that still doesn’t give journalists the right to choose sides so blatantly.”

Perhaps the ultimate political nightmare scenario has been the specter of a stolen election, especially a presidential election. This is not something candidates have tended to talk about, mainly for good and responsible reasons. Democracy, to a large extent, depends on trust. If citizens were to believe that their votes won’t be honestly counted, that could be an enormous destabilizing influence. That’s not something members of any party in a stable democracy normally want.

Purple car at the Dream Cruise.
Kelly Kline / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Could the Woodward Dream Cruise become more than a week-long gaze into the rearview mirror? Let’s hope so. There was an era — say, pre-2008 — when the cruise’s glorification of Detroit’s muscle cars represented the best and worst of this town’s defining industry. A decade ago, I wrote that it projected a “chronic inability to relegate the past to the past and to move on.” Back then, it was easier to celebrate roaring steel-and-rubber made at the pinnacle of American industrial might than it...

Donald Trump is bringing his chaotic presidential campaign to Michigan today, for the second time in two weeks. He is going to speak to a rally at a sports arena in Dimondale, a little outside Lansing, about five this afternoon. And this morning, I realized something, which was that I don’t much care. I have had more than enough of this endless campaign.

Auchter's Art for August 19, 2016.
John Auchter / www.auchtoon.com

There is nothing quite as annoying as the overenthusiastic zeal that comes with the recently discovered — especially when it has been commonly known and readily accessible for years and years. So I apologize in advance, but, OHMYGOSH , YOU GUYS! HAVE YOU SEEN THE SOO LOCKS?! THEY ARE AWESOMINGLY AMAZING!!! Last month, I finally made my first visit to Sault Ste. Marie to see the Soo Locks. You just can't fit the scale of a freighter being transferred from one Great Lake to another in your head...

Democratic chances of finally winning a majority in the Michigan House of Representatives got a lot stronger Wednesday. Republican chances of winning new seats on the state board of education got considerably weaker. And that’s because a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals unanimously denied a Republican request to reinstate the law that prevents voters from casting a straight ticket ballot.

Mike Flanagan retired voluntarily a year ago, after ten years as state superintendent of public instruction, a job often referred to as state superintendent of schools. That he lasted so long and retired of his own accord is more remarkable than it may seem. Most of his immediate predecessors were fired by the state board of education.

Twenty years ago, before he was finally sent to prison, I asked Dr. Jack Kevorkian whether he thought physician-assisted suicide would ever be legal throughout America. He told me yes, but not for the right reasons. “What do you mean?” I asked. “You are a baby boomer,” he said. “There’s 75 million of you. There are only about 17 million in the next generation. Do you think they are going to spend all their money to keep you hooked up to machines? They’ll make (assisted suicide) a sacrament!”

There was a fair amount of presidential excitement in the Detroit area this week, because both major party nominees came to campaign here just a few days and a few miles apart. Once, this wouldn’t have seemed unusual. Back at the turn of the century, 16 long years ago, Michigan was seen as one of the three most important states in the nation.

John Auchter
Auchtoons.com

ARTISTS POV: In the cartoon series South Park, there is a classic episode titled "Gnomes." In that episode, a high-strung, over-caffeinated boy named Tweek is freaked out when gnomes repeatedly sneak into his bedroom at night to steal his underpants from his dresser. Tweek tells his fellow grade-school friends about the gnomes, but they don't believe him. Then one night when some classmates are all over at Tweek's house very late working on a school report, they witness the...

A year or so ago, one of my students saw me talking with Kathleen Straus, a longtime member of the state board of education. Later, he asked me who she was. When I told him, he said he hadn’t known there was such a board and asked me what they did.

I certainly haven’t been thrilled with the moral leadership shown by the leaders of the Michigan Democratic Party. None called for former State Senator Virgil Smith’s resignation after he shot up his ex-wife’s car on a residential street. That was last year, and Smith is finally in jail now. Nor did any leading Democrats call on voters to reject another embarrassing creature, State Representative Brian Banks, who won a primary last week despite having been convicted of eight felonies.

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