Opinion

I’ve been avidly interested in presidential politics since I was about eight years old, and have followed or personally covered every election since Kennedy barely beat Nixon.

I remember Michigan Governor George Romney refusing to endorse Barry Goldwater because of that year’s Republican nominee’s stand on civil rights. I remember various Michigan Democratic politicians trying not to appear on the same platform as George McGovern.

But I’ve never seen a candidate like Donald Trump.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

It’s all about the money for some Ford and General Motors shareholders. 

Their money, to be exact.

Doesn’t matter that the Blue Oval booked all-time high North American profits last year, and probably will again this year. Or that GM is making roughly a billion dollars a month selling cars and trucks. Or that both are betting shareholder cash on an emerging mobility space said to be worth more than $5 trillion.

Earlier this week, I received a couple indignant emails from friends who had learned that Rick DeVos, the founder of the magnificent international competition ArtPrize, was willing to pay three people $500 each to redesign Michigan’s flag.

Well, I was indignant too, but not for the same reason. They were upset because DeVos, one of the heirs to the Amway fortune, was offering so little.

“He can afford a lot more than that,” Becca said.

“Like his family hasn’t tried to buy the state already,” Tom chimed in.

Well, I don’t think that’s fair.

Auchter's Art: Water Diversion Worries

Jun 24, 2016
JOHN AUCHTER / AUCHTOON.COM

Artist's POV:

Remember the comedian Sam Kinison?

It's fine if you don't.

In fact, I would advise against YouTubing him. (And I disclaim all responsibility if you do.)

But back in the 1980s he had a particularly edgy standup bit about world hunger and Western popular reaction to it (Feed the World, USA for Africa, etc.). As was his style, Kinison suckered you in with a low-key, seemingly reasoned assessment of the situation, then, BANG!, smacked you upside the head with a loud, audacious screaming rant.

For years, one of the nation’s most sinister figures was Roy Cohn, best known as the young chief counsel to Senator Joe McCarthy’s crusade to expose Communists in government.

McCarthy and Cohn never uncovered a single Communist agent, though they ruined lives and careers and greatly worsened the climate of suspicion and fear called the Red Scare.

I wasn’t at my university job in Detroit Tuesday, which may have been lucky for me. I normally travel the Lodge Freeway.

About the time I usually come home, somebody ran into another car, and then apparently assaulted the other driver.

When someone stopped to possibly try to help, the first driver started shooting at the good Samaritan, who prudently took off.

Most religions have some basic creed all members are supposed to profess. Many political parties do as well.

I’m not sure what that would be for Democrats these days.

But for today’s Republicans, one basic article of faith is bitter opposition to the Affordable Care Act, perhaps better known as Obamacare.

Virtually every Republican running for federal office has vowed to work to repeal Obamacare.

Actually, they usually say “repeal and replace,” though they are usually pretty vague about what, if anything, they’d replace it with.

Wish you were more creative? Try taking a walk

Jun 20, 2016
With exercises and effort, anyone can train their brain to be more creative, says Dr. David Fessell.
Flickr/vaXzine

The Next Idea

What is the mental fuel for innovation? What internal power plant do we tap into?

Creativity. It drives innovation, collaboration, and in many cases, success. It involves everything from the everyday creativity of the hard­working woman who figures out how to make a pound of hamburger feed her family for a week, to the genius-­level creativity of Steve Jobs.

On Friday, I was sharply critical of Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley for a statement he made last week in an interview.

The lieutenant governor, who is supporting Donald Trump, indicated he was doing so mostly because he was concerned about the next several appointments to the United States Supreme Court.

Could bankruptcy change the flow of Flint water?

Jun 18, 2016

 

Flint’s water war is intensifying, if that’s possible.

Genesee County officials backing the new Karegnondi Water Authority are warning that Flint could “lose everything”  -- if Mayor Karen Weaver turns her public second guessing into action and bolts from the city’s long-term contract with KWA.

Like most people, I haven’t paid a lot of attention to Brian Calley, Michigan’s lieutenant governor. Generally speaking, there’s a quiet understanding that lieutenant governors are standby equipment whose job is to stay out of the limelight.

They break ties on important legislation before the Senate, represent the governor at all sorts of second-tier functions, and preside over the state when the governor is off on trade missions. Calley, who is 39 but looks younger, is even more invisible than most.

Auchter's Art

Jun 17, 2016
John Auchter / AUCHTOON.COM

ARTIST'S POV:

There is a scene in the movie Raising Arizona where a couple of delinquent brothers go to rob a bank. They feel pretty confident about their plan because they fancy themselves sophisticated criminals. As they bust in the front door of the dusty, country bank, one of the brothers shouts out, "All right, ya hayseeds, it's a stick-up. Everybody freeze. Everybody down on the ground."

They said goodbye to Gordie Howe yesterday, after funeral ceremonies that seemed more appropriate for a former head of state than a hockey player. Howe was more than a mere athlete, of course; he was a touchstone; a link to our history.

He was a memory of consistency and class, of a time when players stayed with one team most or all of their careers, before steroid scandals and when Detroit was one of the largest and richest cities in the world. Part of all this was baby boomers and those older mourning a bygone era and their own pasts.

If you don’t like being on the road, don’t run for Congress in Michigan’s First Congressional District. It is geographically huge, because so few people live up there. The district spans the entire Upper Peninsula, and about the top quarter of the Northern Lower Peninsula.

That amounts to 44 percent of Michigan’s total land area. That’s two and a half times the entire state of Massachusetts – and it includes only about 700,000 people.

For many years I’ve predicted, so far incorrectly, that one of these years the Libertarian Party would achieve a breakthrough on the national political scene.

Not that they would elect a president, but that they would become a serious force to be reckoned with. After all, the Libertarians have a message that ought to resonate with both the millennials and many of us aging, self-obsessed baby boomers.

The International Symbol of Access
wikimedia user Ltljltlj / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0 / Public Domain

The Next Idea

Each month, the State of Michigan releases unemployment numbers, which are seen as a major indicator of the state’s economic health. One subset of these numbers is often overlooked — the employment levels for people with disabilities.

Michigan and other states struggle with the challenge of employing people in this group. The discrepancy is significant. As of March 2016, the national unemployment rate for people without disabilities was 4.9%. For people with disabilities, it was more than double that figure. Perhaps even more indicative of the challenge is the gap in the labor force participation rate of nearly 69% for people without disabilities, and almost 20% for people with disabilities.

State Senator David Knezek, a 29-year-old Democrat from Dearborn, has the kind of background most young politicians would envy. His dad was a cop; his mother, a school lunch lady. He got out of high school, walked into a U.S. Marine recruiting station, and ended up doing two tours of duty in Iraq, with a sniper platoon.

 He was promoted to sergeant.

When a British Prime Minister sold out Czechoslovakia to the Nazis, Winston Churchill acidly said words to the effect that he had been forced to choose between war and shame.

“He’s chosen shame now; he’ll get war later,” he said.

In Lansing this week, the Michigan Legislature had the choice between a plan that would actually give the Detroit schools a chance to revive, or selling out to the charter school lobby, which wants no restraints on terrible charter schools.

After a day of thinking about it, they unhesitatingly chose shame.

Auchter's Art: Where to find moderate Republicans

Jun 10, 2016
John Auchter / AUCHTOON.COM

CARTOONIST'S POV:

People ask me all the time, "What are you?" This can be disconcerting. But what they mean is, "As an editorial cartoonist, are you Republican or Democrat? Conservative or Liberal? Socialist or Capitalist? Left Wing or Right Wing?" And so on. My standard reply is that I am not strictly defined by any of those things — I am, if anything, a Contrarian.

Eight years ago, I was writing an article, and called Senator Bernie Sanders’ office for some information. The senator himself called back a couple hours later, and talked to me for 15 minutes or so.

He wasn’t nationally famous then; he was a political independent from a state with half the population of Michigan’s Oakland County.

You could have made a lot of money in Las Vegas a year ago had you bet on him to win this year’s Democratic primary in Michigan.

But win it he did.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan was as angry as I’ve ever seen him late last week.

For months, members of both parties in the state Senate had worked with the governor to forge a rare bipartisan compromise to save Detroit Public Schools.

They came up with a figure needed to wipe out the debt and manage transition costs, and agreed to establish a Detroit Education Commission that would decide where any new schools, conventional or charter, could open.

The idea was to maintain balance and not have destructive competition in some areas while leaving other areas underserved.

Metropolitan Detroit is the nation’s only major urban area with absolutely no mass transit from the airport either to the downtown or to major suburban areas.

What may be even worse is that there is also no reliable and timely way for most people to get from their homes to their jobs in less than an hour, other than a private automobile.

Since more than a quarter of adult Detroiters have no cars, there is no practical way for most of them to get out of poverty.

Jeff DeGraff of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business
Twitter @JeffDeGraff

The Next Idea

Six presidential campaigns later I’ve still got Bill Clinton’s iconic 1992 slogan running through my head: It’s the economy, stupid.

But it’s not the economy that I’m thinking about -- it’s the corporate relocation that’s on my mind.

What was so effective about Clinton’s irresistible one-liner is the way it redirected American attention.

Forty-eight years ago today, Robert Francis Kennedy died in Los Angeles, shot by a lunatic after Kennedy claimed victory in that year’s California Democratic primary.

Kennedy, in his final campaign in that truly horrible year, often stunned reporters by his willingness to speak truth to power.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who you might call the woman who saved the children of Flint, was only given 15 minutes to talk at the Mackinac Policy Conference, a brief space sandwiched between other events Wednesday, called a “Mackinac Moment.”

But it was by far the most compelling session of the conference. She showed a picture of one of her young patients she recently examined, a child who had been drinking lead-contaminated water until quite recently.

“Her mom asked me, ‘Is she going to be okay?’

John Auchter

CARTOONIST'S POV:

When my son was three years-old, he had an astonishingly straightforward way of expressing himself. If he was busy doing something and we told him it was time to do something else (go to bed, get in the car, take a bath, whatever), he would just look at us, incredulous, and say, "But I want to do what I want to do."

Sometimes he would repeat it. Slowly. Because we didn't seem to understand the perfect logic, as if to say: "How are you people not getting this? Are you that dense?!"

I ran into John Rakolta late Tuesday afternoon, as he was arriving on Mackinac Island for the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce’s annual policy conference.


I have voted in virtually every election since I was old enough. In all that time, I have never cast a straight ticket, where you fill in a single oval to choose every candidate of one political party.

However, I think everyone should have the right to do so.

After all, political parties are supposed to stand for something, and if you feel that Democratic or Republican or Green Party principles are more important than individual candidates, you might  vote that way. In every presidential election, hundreds of thousands of people have chosen to do exactly that.

Something happened yesterday that left me flabbergasted.

Federal, local and state officials ganged up on Governor Rick Snyder and told him his efforts to investigate the mess in Flint were hampering their attempts to do so, and told him to knock it off.

For most people, May is one of the best months. The flowers are blooming; it’s pretty clear that it isn’t going to snow any more, and summer is coming. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Michigan Democrats start regarding May with a shudder. For two years in a row, the party has been embarrassed in May by one of their own. Last year it was State Senator Virgil Smith Jr., one of the legislature’s dimmer bulbs.

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