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Opinion

A long time ago, a graceful man named Adlai Stevenson ran for President against Dwight D. Eisenhower, the much-beloved national war hero. The campaign was hopeless.

When he conceded defeat, full of charm and wit as always, a reporter asked if Stevenson planned to run again in four years. The candidate looked startled, and then broke into a broad grin. “Examine that man’s head!” he said, laughing. Stevenson would eventually run again, but he knew that nobody in the country wanted to think about another political campaign for a while.

Except for a few brief years in the 1960’s, it has never been fashionable to care about the desperately poor in this country. John F. Kennedy did challenge us to do something about poverty in his inaugural address:

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

But today, we have a President-elect who said:

“Benefits should have strings attached to them."

Happy New Year!  Since Michigan Radio graciously allows me to express my opinions, I thought I’d start by asserting the holidays were a very nice break, but that they didn’t last long enough. Well, that may be the least controversial thing I’ve said in a while.

We are in a new year, about to have a new administration in Washington, and I thought I might start it out by talking about the nature of journalism and what I try to do.

John Auchter / www.auchtoon.com

ARTIST'S POV:

Here's hoping we get on the right side of history sooner rather than later in the new year. Cheers!

John Auchter is an editorial cartoonist. Views expressed in his cartoons are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.

It’s sometimes difficult to figure out what voters really want. But that’s clearly not true when it comes to one thing: Hunting wolves. Michigan citizens want that outlawed.

Every poll has shown that.

Two years ago the people overwhelmingly voted to outlaw wolf hunting by a nearly two-to-one margin. This would be off the table for now in any event, because the federal government has declared wolves an endangered species.

JOHN AUCHTER / WWW.AUCHTOON.COM

To all I wish peace, love, and good health this holiday season and throughout the new year!

For my fellow Christians, I also want to note that we have some big responsibilities in 2017. 

I mean, we always do, but because the election of Donald Trump was largely our doing, we owe it to ourselves and our country to be particularly attentive.

The election is finally and officially over, so no matter the reason we voted for Trump (a single issue, the lesser of two evils, wholehearted support), the reason no longer matters.

He will be the President.

I was recently tempted to bludgeon one of my students into recognizing that interesting things had happened, even before he was born, back in the ancient early 1990s, say.

We were discussing the origins of the World Wide Web, the invention that actually made wide-ranging use of cyberspace possible. Having considered this, he said prior to that, I must have actually had to find things in books.

When I learned yesterday morning that Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette had charged two Flint former emergency managers in connection with the water crisis, what popped first into my head was an image long ago of a young senator from Tennessee.

“What did the President know, and when did he know it?” Howard Baker had asked on national television more than 43 years ago, when Rick Snyder was in high school.

The country tore itself apart over the next 14 months over this, and we all know how Watergate turned out.

There is a leaked audio tape that has caused a sensation in political circles in the Detroit area. The language is raw, shocking and horribly vile, and, for once is not about sex.

A voice that sounds very much like that of Warren Mayor Jim Fouts complains that quote, “while on Fridays in the past I would be going to meet some women, tonight I am meeting with a group of retards. Tonight is retard night.” 

If you’ve been following politics, you’ve probably heard that the Electoral College is meeting today, and is expected to formally ratify the election of Donald Trump as President.

Well, that statement isn’t really true. The Electoral College never “meets” in the sense of everybody going to a central location. What happens is that electors from each state go to their state capitols, including Lansing, and fill out ballots casting two separate votes, one for President and the other for Vice-President.

Very cold Detroit is hot again.

Look at what the people whose business is to place bets on the next new thing are doing. They’re coming to Detroit, and doing it with a regularity and purpose that are changing the narrative of the city and Michigan.

Auchter / Auchtoons.com

You may think that I'm kidding about Flint hitting up Russia for a little help. I'm not sure that I am. It's been three years now. Three years of unsafe drinking water in Flint. Michigan. USA. And as recent stories on Michigan Radio will tell you, there is no clear indication as to when the situation will be totally fixed.

Well, regardless of your politics, you can’t say nothing good came out of the aborted Michigan recount.

Chris Thomas, the state’s longtime elections director, said last night that Detroit will get new voting machines before the city elections next year.

Mark Twain once said that “no man’s life, liberty and property are safe while the legislature is in session.” 

He’s been dead for more than a century, but I’m sure he wouldn’t be the least surprised to learn that things haven’t improved in the slightest.

Actually, they’ve gotten worse, in Michigan at any rate, thanks to term limits, which have served to vastly increase the power of the lobbyists.

Well, as you may have heard, the final days of the lame duck session are winding down, and not nearly as many bills have been rammed through as I first thought might be the case. Lawmakers,for example, gave up early on plans to slash teacher pensions, and “reform” retiree health care for municipal employees in the state.

I’ve been wrong about a number of things this year. I didn’t expect Donald Trump to win the presidential election, but then again, almost nobody did.

More recently, I didn’t think there would be anything startling if there was a statewide recount of Michigan’s votes. I was partly right about that. They did manage to recount a little more than 40% of the vote before the recount was stopped.


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-up explain this one.

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. 

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.

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.

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 with the DeVos nomination: She's a crank.

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.

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. 


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