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Nothing’s stopping Donald Trump from bullying businesses. He bashes Ford Motor and Carrier, the air-conditioning maker, for shipping jobs to Mexico. He accuses Boeing of using contracts for a new Air Force One to rip off American taxpayers. He asks for a list of all U.S. companies planning to move jobs outside the country. All of which shows a president-elect using his new bully pulpit to bend business to his will — and strengthen his populist chops in the industrial Midwest.

I respect most people who go into politics, and have admired some. But with a very few exceptions, I’ve never been in awe of those I’ve met, including Presidents. They were highly accomplished people, occupying an institution I revered, but people still the same. But that’s not how I felt on a cold March morning almost thirty-four years ago, when I climbed into a small plane in Washington headed for New Hampshire.

JOHN AUCHTER / AUCHTOON.COM

In writing these little "support" articles for my cartoons over the years, more than a few readers have made a point of telling me how much they hate having the cartoon "explained" to them. They feel the cartoon should stand on its own, and it definitely should. I get that. My intention is not to explain the cartoon but to add context to the subject, present a counter-view, or provide bonus value. However, if you are one of those readers, you might want to move on, because I'm gonna straight...

Is this the end of marriage, capitalism, and God?

Dec 8, 2016
FLICKR USER JIM BAUER/FLICKR / HTTPS://FLIC.KR/P/91DHSU

The Next Idea The next big thing isn’t a clever gadget or miracle drug, it’s a way of life -- not a breakthrough invention but a social innovation. Rising numbers of young people are now deciding to do everything their parents didn’t. They’re eschewing cultural and economic conventions to challenge what we take to be civil society. They aren’t marrying. They’ve become the refuseniks of our competitive corporate culture. And many of them have opted out of organized religion altogether.

Well, the chaotic mess of Michigan’s off-again, on-again recount battle is apparently finally over. The reason I say “apparently” is that absolutely nothing has been certain this year, and it is still possible, though unlikely, that more courts could intervene. Essentially, everyone connected with this looks like the gang who couldn’t shoot straight, right down to Mark Goldsmith, who appeared to be a flip-flopping federal judge. The Republicans look worst of all, however. Based on what I know...

Ottawa County is a pretty lovely place on the western shore of Lake Michigan, a little south of Grand Rapids. I know it primarily for two things: the tulip festival in Holland, and for being the most Republican county in Michigan. Ottawa last voted Democratic for president in 1864, when the local farmers decided they’d had enough of the Civil War and wanted their boys home. Since then, it has been as Republican as they come. Franklin Roosevelt couldn’t carry it, nor could Lyndon Johnson.

One of the most frightening, haunting and horrible stories I heard this year had nothing to do with politics. In September, an eight-year-old autistic child in Lake Orion was supposedly misbehaving in class. So his teacher locked him in a padded room by himself for three and a half hours – a barbaric, medieval punishment called “seclusion and restraint.”

On Election Night it seemed clear the Republican candidate had won an upset narrow victory in Michigan. But some people wouldn’t accept it. They fought to get a recount. The Republicans opposed it. But when a recount was finally ordered, irregularities and mistakes began to turn up. Figures had been transposed. Soon, the lead changed. When two thirds of the state had been recounted, the Republican gave up. The Democrat at the top of the ticket had carried the state, and that changed history....

A rally in Indiana protesting Carrier's announcement to move its manufacturing plant to Mexico.
United Steelworkers

Donald Trump descended on Indiana this week to praise Carrier Corporation’s decision to partly reverse its plan to ship 2,000 jobs to Mexico. The president-elect and his running mate, Mike Pence, credit Trump’s deal-making prowess, of course. But the real prowess belongs to Indiana’s use of the almighty dollar. It’s the fungible asset that drives where business invests to create jobs and build communities. Or doesn’t. Michigan’s Legislature — and its critics — should keep that in mind as...

Pretty much anyone who ever amounted to anything has been inspired to success at some point by a teacher, usually in elementary or high school. Which makes the Michigan Legislature’s running war on teachers somewhat hard to understand. Yes, I understand the Republicans hate teacher unions, primarily the National Education Association, because they often contribute to Democratic campaigns.

Game of the century

Dec 2, 2016

The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry has long been considered the nation’s best. But for all the great Michigan-Ohio State games, the two teams never entered The Game ranked first and second, until 2006 -- The Game of the Century. And despite the fact that the century was only six years old, the game delivered, with Ohio State winning a 42-39 classic.

AUCHTOON.COM

When the president-elect nominated Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education last week, the most obvious metaphor seemed to be the fox put in charge of the hen-house. I rolled that around in my head for awhile, but couldn't make it work. I don't think DeVos is that carnivorous, or the education establishment that docile. (Plus drawing anthropomorphic characters is not really my strong suit. So, as is often the case, laziness wins.) This cartoon worked much better because it reveals my main issue...

Tim Greimel, the outgoing leader of the Democrats in the Michigan House of Representatives, put it this way: “I’ve talked to thousands of voters, and never had a single one say we’ve needed more money and less accountability and less transparency in politics.” I have no doubt that’s true. But one man believes that’s exactly what we need: State Senator Dave Robertson, a Genesee County Republican who chairs the committee on Elections and Government Reform. Over the last two years, Robertson has...

The state officially certified Michigan’s election returns two days ago, and though the focus was on the extremely close presidential race, there was something I found even more troubling in another result, one that’s drawn very little notice. That would be the vote for the state board of education. John Austin, who is now the board’s president, courageously rallied his colleagues to support the rights of transgender students.

As you may have heard, Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate, is asking for a recount of the vote in the three key states that decided the election – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and our own state of Michigan, which was the closest of all. The Clinton campaign, or whatever remains of it, doesn’t hold out any real hope that the outcome will change, but supports the recounts, on the ground the public ought to be assured of the integrity of the process.

There was a lot of horrified reaction from those who support public schools at the announcement that Michigan’s own Betsy DeVos was Donald Trump’s choice for secretary of education. John Austin, the president of the Michigan Board of Education, said “it’s like putting the fox in charge of the henhouse and feeding it school children.” Austin, however, was narrowly defeated this year, and won’t be around to try and resist.

Willow Run Factory and B-24 bombers.
U.S. Army Signal Corps

It’s been 74 years since Ford Motor finished building its Willow Run plant to build B-24 Liberator bombers. Now the site credited with helping to win World War II is preparing a new chapter in the transportation revolution that Henry Ford’s Model T sparked a century ago. The American Center for Mobility , a public-private partnership, would transform the barren industrial site into a global hub for testing connected and self-driving cars. It’s an audacious -- and refreshingly bipartisan --...

Auchter's Art: Slicing up the voters

Nov 25, 2016
John Auchter / Auchtoon.com

Just one more cartoon on national political affairs, and I'll try to return my attention to more Michigan-based shenanigans. But I couldn't let this one go — it's been festering for some time. There is not a whole lot to add because we've all just experienced it. For the entire election season Americans have been managed and categorized, sorted and labeled, diced and sliced by both major political parties. We are not individual voters with actual thoughts and real concerns. We are herds of...

Wayne State University is, I often tell the parents of prospective students, quite possibly the safest large campus in the state. I’ve taught there for nearly a quarter-century, and I get crime reports from Wayne’s superb police chief, Anthony Holt. They usually have entries like this: “Student was wandering around Cass Avenue at 2 a.m. and a man grabbed her cell phone and ran away.” Yes, if you put your i-Pad down and turn your back, it is quite likely to disappear. Somebody 10 years ago...

Fifteen years ago, a group called Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation sued Nestle Waters North America, a division of the huge international conglomerate, over its plans to withdraw vast amounts of groundwater in Osceola County in Northwest Michigan. Nestle wanted to siphon 400 gallons a minute from the aquifer, to bottle and sell at a profit. The environmentalists were concerned about what this would do to nearby rivers, streams, and ultimately, Lake Michigan. After years of legal...

Here’s the story I’m worried about hearing this weekend: An angry Clinton supporter carving a turkey plunges the knife not into the white meat, but his Trump-supporting uncle. That’s not as far- fetched as it sounds. Inability to cope with what happened November 8th has meant lots of extra work for grief counselors, therapists, and the like.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Business leaders are coming to terms with the brave new Trumpworld and the hometown automakers think they may have a new ally in the White House. Ford Motor CEO Mark Fields says the automaker’s brass is in “constant communication” with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team.

A forgotten hero

Nov 18, 2016

There were just a few lines on the obituary page of yesterday, with a tiny picture. Margaret Fishman, beloved wife of Alvin, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt. Graveside services this morning in Detroit. Nothing exceptional, except for one line: “Margaret was a lifetime fighter for world peace, civil rights, workers’ rights, and justice for all.” That she was. And for a moment sixty-three years ago, she was at the center of the world’s attention, at the dawn of the age of television journalism. Her younger brother, Milo Radulovich, was caught in the maw of Cold War hysteria.

Auchter's Art: No one wants to be a sucker

Nov 18, 2016
AUCHTOON.COM

Here's a theory that might help to unify us in these difficult times: What all Americans really, really hate is to be a sucker. Whatever else we disagree on — politics, ideology, economics, dessert toppings, the truth — a common bond is that nobody likes being a sucker. I think that had an enormous effect on getting Trump elected. Consider this: Many white folks, who felt disenfranchised (a fancy word for feeling like a sucker), voted. Many black folks, who felt disenfranchised, didn't vote....

Yesterday we learned that the Detroit News is inviting every editorial employee, from the most junior reporter to the executive editor, to quit their jobs. If you work there and you decide to voluntarily walk the plank, they’ll give you one week’s pay for every year you were there, up to half a year’s pay. That’s not a very good offer as buyouts go; a year ago, a friend of mine who had been a News columnist for many years was offered a year’s pay to quit.

Sixteen years ago, during the campaign that led to the famous Bush-Gore disputed presidential election, I did a joint appearance with pollster Steve Mitchell, who predicted victory for George W. Bush and then-Senator Spencer Abraham in Michigan. I said that I thought the pollster’s Republican bias was showing. He said that wasn’t true, and to prove it he regretfully predicted that Mike Rogers, a state senator then trying to be elected to Congress, was going to lose.

You may not have noticed, but Gov. Rick Snyder is in China this week, on what his administration is calling his sixth “investment” mission to the world’s newest economic superpower. This particular trip is designed, the governor’s office says, to help establish Michigan’s global leadership in “autonomous vehicle technology,” which is industry-speak for cars that will drive themselves, at least to some extent.

I have been a staunch defender of the Electoral College, that quaint mechanism left over from the early days of the republic. You may well know how it works, though many people don’t. When you voted for president last week, you in fact voted not for a candidate, but for a slate of sixteen people who pledge to vote for that candidate. The winning electors will drive to Lansing on December 19 and cast their votes in longhand as they would have done in 1792.

Republican presidential candidate at a campaign stop in Warren, Michigan.
Jake Neher / MPRN

Call it the revenge of the Rust Belt. The little people of the industrial Midwest paved Donald Trump’s electoral college path to the presidency in red, straight through the heartland. He promised to represent the “forgotten” men and women left behind by globalization and trade, and to rewrite the economic rules governing the past generation’s consensus on trade. That’s easier said than done. Still, Trump’s economic nationalism, and the kind of crossover appeal that won him a presidential...

When I woke up the morning after the election, what popped into my head were some lyrics from the Democracy, written by that greatest of all poets of song, Leonard Cohen “I’m sentimental, if you know what I mean/I love the country, but I just can’t stand the scene. And I’m neither left nor right/I’m just staying home tonight/getting lost in that hopeless little screen.” I suspected Wednesday morning that many people felt the same way.

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