I’m Totes Living in South Carolina Now!

Totes Living in South Carolina Now!

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
April 20, 2014

Last week on MLive there was a guest article, “Why this young, college educated couple is leaving Michigan after graduation,” which was trending big. The author, a young man who had moved to Michigan so his wife could attend grad school at MSU, ticks off a list of reasons why they did not stick around after she graduated, but generalized as “the state’s political system is out of control.” Go ahead and read the article yourself; he has some decent points. But for me, the guy comes off as presenting himself and his generation on some higher moral plane. I’ve certainly made fun of baby boomers enough for this, so I had no problem calling BS on millennials.

And the BS is this: yes, it would be nice to have a cleaner, more forward-thinking political culture. But 9 out of 10 young people are going to base their choice of where to live not on political culture but on a decent job and weather conditions. Which is why I drew Mr. High and Mighty selling out at his first opportunity to live in South Carolina. Why South Carolina? Well, I lived there once, so I felt I had the right. But also because it can be counted on for being politically stuck in the past. And then yesterday, as if on cue: “SC GOP Snubs Desegregation Judge.

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No Sordid Sleazery!

No Sordid Sleazery!

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
April 13, 2014

Every once in a while, even an editorial cartoonist needs to give credit where credit is due….

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All Right, Mr. President — Bottom Line:

All Right, Mr. President -- Bottom Line:

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
April 6, 2014

President Obama came to Michigan last week to push for an increase to the federal minimum wage. There are a lot of wonky economic reasons why this may or may not be a good idea. (I alluded to that in a cartoon I did a couple of months ago.) I know this could have a far-reaching impact on workers, business owners, consumers, investors, and so on. It will certainly influence summer and school jobs my kids have and are going to have.

But for me personally, the most direct, immediate, and compelling potential effect is this: When I go into Wendys and order a hamburger for my son, will I have to beg them not to put cheese on it and still have to watch every step of the process, or will a better-paid worker and more-engaged management guarantee a cheese-less hamburger? Because that is what would make me happy.

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Support Cartooning — Buy “Stripped” Today

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Seriously (not an April Fools joke), if you are a cartoon fan, go to iTunes today and download a copy of the new documentary “Stripped.” It’s fascinating, very professional, and has interviews with 77 cartoonists — from newspaper strips to webcomics (including the legendary Bill Watterson, who drew the cover art). Here’s a link to the film’s website: http://www.strippedfilm.com/

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That’s a Confusing Issue…

That's a Confusing Issue...

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
March 30, 2014

I understand and appreciate Governor Synder’s general approach to social issues. He wants to stay above the fray, not get bogged down in emotional issues, not get stuck in a debate where somebody will inevitably end up angry. But, at a certain point, that act gets tiresome. And also at a certain point, taking a clear position on a issue like gay marriage is necessary to set a course for the state you happen to be the leader of. It becomes an economic issue. If threats of government shutdowns have taught us anything, it’s that markets do not like uncertainty. Take a stand. It’s time to move on.

Note: This cartoon was already submitted by the time Miggy signed his $292 million  contract last Friday. Otherwise I might have gone with “Cabrera is rich” as one of the topics of undebatable truth.

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Modern Living Just Has Too Many Choices

Modern Living Just Has Too Many Choices

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
March 23, 2014

I was at a retreat a week ago Saturday, and we were on a break. There was one of those massive Costco boxes of snacks and I was sifting through looking for plain potato chips. There were nacho cheese this and barbecue that, sour cream with chive, double-stuff, spicy ranch, authentic Mexican, baked, reduced sodium, extra sodium, bonus-sized, Dorito, Frito, Cheeto. …but no plain potato chips. When you’re at a retreat, there’s a tendency to look for some deeper meaning or lesson. I don’t think there was one; I think it was pretty much “you ain’t gettin’ no potato chips.” Then last week I was in a worry swirl about colleges and degrees and careers for my kids, and how I should look again at our cell phone plan for a better deal, and how life would be much better if there was just two flavors of potato chips. And then I remembered my deadline for the editorial cartoon was in a couple hours, so I’d better draw something.

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Ryan Scott Fischer

Ryan Scott Fischer

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
March 16, 2014

When somebody important dies, an editorial cartoonist is often expected to draw a “tribute” cartoon. A typical example would be that person arriving at the gates of heaven with St Peter behind an ornate podium and scribing in a huge ledger. Or a tear falling from the eye of a symbol (say, Uncle Sam) with labels and arrows to add the context. Or perhaps a somber silhouette of grieving figures, heads bowed, hands clasped. None felt right as a tribute to Ryan. While drawings like these can be comforting to readers, they would not have brought comfort to me. And they may work fine for famous strangers, but having known this important person, it needed to be actually, you know, personal.

So I tried to come up with something unique and witty. I sketched dozens of ideas. I tried to construct a whole story. With Ryan, there is so much to tell. And his peers, his classmates, teammates, youth group members. I wanted to include them because they were so much a part of that positive force that Ryan was and continues to be. I really wanted to make something grand.

In the end I deferred to lessons learned from three people. First was Father Chris Rouech, the priest who delivered the homily at Ryan’s funeral. He was so very eloquent in expressing this simple truth: So many wonderful words and stories had been shared about Ryan that it was really overwhelming. Better to keep it simple, and allow Ryan’s goodness to shine. Second, was my son Atticus. Drawing portraits is not my strong suit. I draw the way I draw — I’m really a one-trick pony. There was no way I was going to be able to capture Ryan’s smile and that special glint in his eye. But over the past few days I had seen my son step up and out of his comfort zone time and again. If he could speak from the heart, then I could certainly try it, too.

Third was Scott Fischer, Ryan’s father. At the funeral, after listening to three astonishingly beautiful eulogies, Scott stepped up before his son, his family, his church, and his community and filled our souls with love and comfort. Truly, it was like he was channeling the Holy Spirit, and that’s what I believe because I’m not sure how he could have done it otherwise. But Scott also challenged us. He said we should honor Ryan by trying to be half the person Ryan was. And not stop there, but to strive to be the whole person. Breathtaking. …so I cribbed his notes. Yep, just out-and-out stole them. There was no way I could have come up with anything that was even within a voyage of it. What could I do? So, sorry Ryan. Not exactly a great start at achieving that higher standard — I’ll do better.

I really loved that kid. He was kind and genuine, faithful and strong, loud and goofy. God bless you and keep you.

Here’s an index of articles: http://topics.mlive.com/tag/ryan-fischer/posts.html

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I Thought Canadians Were Supposed to Be Nice

I Thought Canadians Were Supposed to Be Nice

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
March 9, 2014

It has got to be frustrating to be Canada sometimes. We (the United States) often take Canada for granted. At worst, we treat them like our northern territory. At best, we acknowledge them as a sovereign nation, but assume they have no national priorities of their own. Case in point, the Canadians have been leading an effort for some time to build an additional bridge between Detroit and Windsor to make trade easier, faster, less costly. And for some time, we have been less than enthusiastic about it. The latest example was the proposed budget by the Obama Administration for the coming year — no money is slated for building a customs plaza on our side, literally the only part we would be responsible for. Of course, it’s just a proposed budget (Congress decides whether to appropriate money), so it may just be Obama’s attempt at reverse psychology (“if I don’t ask for it, maybe Congress will give it me”). Or it could be that he has gotten so used to issuing executive orders that he figures that he will just create a federal bridge agency and do it himself. In any case, the United States is certainly not making it seem important.

Of course, then, how unhappy can Canada be? Didn’t they just win both Olympic hockey gold medals? What do they really have to complain aboot?

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Mr. Hublot — 2014 Academy Award Winner for Best Animated Short Film

All the nominees were very, very good this year. But Mr. Hublot was exceptional. Go ahead, it’s only 11 minutes — treat yourself!

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Your Actual History Is Ruining My Good Ol’ Days

Your Actual History Is Ruining My Good Ol' Days

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News March 2, 2014

I was listening to a story on the radio last week about the court case in Detroit regarding a lesbian couple who want marriage status so they can legally adopt each other’s kids. They can’t do that now because of the 2004 ballot proposal that put a ban on gay marriage in the Michigan constitution. This court case could be a major step toward overturning that law.

They interviewed a pastor who was part of a group protesting in support of the gay marriage ban. His reasoning is that there was a vote, the majority of voters decided to ban gay marriage, and it is wrong and disrespectful to revisit the issue. As far as he is concerned, it’s a done deal. End of story. For ever and ever. Let’s move on.

That seemed to me to be the worst possible arguement. Whatever your feelings are about gay marriage, the idea that a majority decision on any subject should forever makes it so, well, it’s un-American. The genius of our system is not that the founders got everything right at the get-go. (As any non-white, not-male, not-landowner can tell you, they didn’t.) What they did get right was setting the structure. The genius of our system is the flexibility baked in that allows growth and provides stability. There is nothing more American than evolving. We are perfectly free to keep our good ideas, and we are equally free to fix our bad ones.

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