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Opinion

Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his seventh State of the State address tonight. My guess is that not many people will watch or listen; with this speech, they hardly ever do.

Abraham Lincoln famously said at Gettysburg that “the world will little note nor long remember what we say here.”

Lincoln was as wrong as he could be about his own words.

For many Americans, the life of Martin Luther King Jr. means mostly that they get a day off from work or school, a day in which the banks are closed and the mail doesn’t come.

They may also know him as a one-dimensional icon of the civil rights movement, who repeatedly said “I have a dream,” during some famous speech a long time ago, and also said, “I may not get there with you, but we as a people will get to the promised land,” and then got shot.

  

The biggest stars at this week’s Detroit auto show aren’t the usual, splashy new car or truck. They’re the futuristic autonomous vehicle from Google and President-elect Donald Trump. Trump’s incessant tweeting this week has transfixed a global press corps and roiled the auto industry it covers.

Detroitsound.org

You could argue that the biggest Michigan story of the last decade was Detroit – the fall of its famously corrupt mayor, the city’s descent into bankruptcy, and its reemergence and renaissance. Nobody would have believed 10 years ago that downtown Detroit would be booming today, or that Midtown near Wayne State University would be a trendy place to live.

Today, Detroit’s streetlights are all on again, and a balding and plump white guy from the suburbs is the most popular mayor in years.

Auchtertoon.com

The Amazon TV-series The Man in the High Castle explores an America in which the Allies lost World War II and Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan rule over our country. A 2004 mockumentary, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, considers what might have happened if the South had won our Civil War. These sorts of alternate histories can be highly entertaining and also add perspective to real history through drama and satire.

For a while yesterday, it looked as if we might have some hope of better things from Lansing.

New Speaker of the House Tom Leonard, R-DeWitt, seems to be a genuinely well-liked man, who has talked about reaching across party lines.

You may have heard that we Baby Boomers are no longer the largest generation in America; millennials passed us a couple years ago. But we really haven’t started to die off. There are still more than 74 million of us left, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But we have started to reach retirement age. The oldest of us will be 71 this year; the youngest approaching their mid’ 50s. Notice I said that we are reaching retirement age. That’s not the same thing as being able to retire. Most of us can’t afford it.

Ten days from now we will have a new President, and in time he will name a new justice to the Supreme Court, and eventually a nominee is likely to be confirmed.

I teach college students, mostly seniors and graduates, journalism history and law. And sometime after the new justice takes office, one will ask me when they’ll have to run for reelection. They don’t, of course; they are selected for life.

One of my favorite New Yorker cartoons showed a judge looking down at a defendant and asking, “So – just how much justice can you afford?” Judges never say things like that, or at least I hope not. But the system sort of does, whether we admit it or not.

If you doubt that, consider this: Let’s say some state agency went after Dick and Betsy DeVos and accused them of defrauding the taxpayers out of money. They were not only ordered to pay it back; they were then assessed a fine four times the size of what they got…

Donald Trump’s showing no sign of easing up on his whacking of the auto industry.

His latest target is Toyota. Apparently Detroit’s automakers aren’t the only ones building cars in Mexico for sale in the United States. 

By now, millions of people have been horrified by the great Macomb County sinkhole, which has destroyed at least three modern houses in the suburb of Fraser.

Imagine waking up on Christmas Eve, as one couple did, to the sounds of the foundations of your house popping as it sank into the ground.

Auchter's Art: Respect for government workers?

Jan 6, 2017
John Auchter

Earlier this week Governor Snyder offered President-elect Trump some unsolicited advice, as one businessperson who was new to public office to another: Respect that most government workers know what they’re doing.

Milton Mack, who was chief probate judge in Wayne County for many years, is probably the state judiciary’s top expert in the problems of prisons and the mentally ill.

Mack, now state court administrator, has long maintained that we could significantly reduce both our state prison population and its costs if more of our mentally ill could be put on medication instead of being locked up. But efforts at reform have too often been stymied by politicians who were more concerned about looking “tough on crime.”

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.

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