Hello, Michergrainians!

Hello, Michergrainians!

Editorial Cartoon

Also posted online at MLive.com, May 23 2015

Disclaimer: This one is a little bit unfair. (Well… all editorial cartoons are at least a little bit unfair.) And yet, I would like to state for the record: I believe Democratic candidates for president to have equal capacity in their cluelessness of all things Michigan. But at this point there are just so many more GOP candidates, and they have already started visiting. Plus Mitt Romney pretty much tarnished their brand during the last cycle. Despite having Michigan roots, Mr. Romney was spectacularly clueless. (Hint for current candidates: Don’t lecture us on the academic virtues of private market bankruptcies; turns out we don’t like that much.)

Say what you will about Barack Obama (as if you need prompting), but as a candidate he was pretty good at talking on themes important to Michiganders (say, the benefits of a healthy manufacturing base) without trying to relate to us as our best buddy. I found his steadfast allegiance to his Chicago sports teams to be admirable, even as I despised the Bulls.

So who knows? Maybe somebody will break out of the pack and neither pander nor insult us. But I fully expect a summer of cringe-worthy quotes from the GOP candidates and from Ms. Clinton (assuming a challenger makes it worth her while to stop by). And that would be okay. As true Michiganders know — anything that makes summer last longer is a positive.

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Why Is Lansing Filled with Idiots? Oh, Yeah…

Why Is Lansing Filled with Idiots? Oh, Yeah...

Also posted online at MLive.com, May 16, 2015

In the 1960s, the British comedy duo of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore had this skit called “Frog and Peach” in which Moore played a reporter interviewing an eccentric restauranteur played by Cook. (It’s definitely worth looking up if you are not familiar with it.)

After introductions Moore asks Cook when he started his restaurant, “The Frog and Peach.”

Cook replies, “Shortly after the Second World War.” And then continues, “Do you remember that? Absolutely ghastly business. Absolutely ghastly.” Pauses and adds, “I was against it.”

Moore agrees, “I… I think we all were.”

A bit indignantly, Cook replies, “Yes, well, I wrote a letter.”

Indeed. So not only was I against that ghastly Proposal 1 business, I wrote a letter. Well… in my case, it was a cartoon. For others it was a comment or blog post or perhaps even an actual letter. As evidenced by the vote, we were all pretty much against it.

But being right and indignant doesn’t necessarily absolve us of blame. It is Michigan voters who keep electing representatives who actively proclaim to hate government, who proudly want no part of knowing how to create viable legislation, whose only perceptible lawmaking skills are saying “no” and kicking a can down the road. Why would we have any reason to expect competence?

We’re just as nutty as a fellow who opens a restaurant in the middle of a bog that serves only two dishes — Frog a la Peche and Peche a la Frog — both of which are as revolting as they sound. Of course, the business has been a catastrophe. Near the end of the skit Moore asks Cook, “Do you feel you have learned from your mistakes?”

Cook replies enthusiastically, “Oh, certainly. Certainly. I have learned from my mistakes, and I’m sure I could repeat them exactly.”

Seriously. You should give it a listen:

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Proposal 1 and My Taxes

Proposal 1 and My Taxes

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

May 3, 2015

Help me out here: Is there a word or term for the feeling when somebody offers you information that is factual, but not necessarily helpful? More specifically, what do you call it when truth is both unsolicited and worthless — and kinda makes you angry?

That’s what I’m getting at in this week’s cartoon. The fact is, taxes are not the problem. Tax rates on the whole for Americans and Michiganders are relatively low. Sure, maybe a few minor taxes have fluttered upward, but major ones like income and property have, at worst, been stable. So all the tea-party-induced puckering over Prop 1 and higher taxes is really misguided. Middle-class folks should be much more upset about our declining wages.

And how did hearing that make us feel? Because it may be true, but there is still less money in our pockets.

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Check out Auchtoon! on MLive.com

MLive_Panel2

Readers, Friends, Family,

A wide and deep thank you to those who contacted MLive on my behalf and advocated for my editorial cartoons. You made a difference! First, for me — I was honored by the thoughtful words you sent to Mr. Fettig. More importantly, your emails helped immensely with an initial step toward getting my cartoons on MLive.com and back in every Sunday newspaper:

This morning, MLive posted one of my cartoons:
http://www.mlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/05/auchtoons_editorial_cartoons_f.html

And now, I am again asking for your help: Please follow the link and check it out! Click around the MLive site and then come back to the cartoon (as many times as you’d like!). Share it on Facebook; tweet it; link to it; forward this email to friends. The more page views, the easier it will be for me to sell the value of local editorial cartoons to the decision-makers.

By the way, I think you will actually enjoy the cartoon. (That should really be what’s selling this, right?) Note that it’s four panels, so you’ll have to do some clicking to get to the punch line.)

Again, thank you so much for your support.!

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You Must Be on That Side

You Must Be on That Side

I guess it’s a survival technique. Back in the days when chances were pretty good that a wild animal could leap from the underbrush and eat you, it was helpful for humans to observe patterns. Being able to notice a certain kind of twig snap before the mountain lion attacked went a long way toward ensuring a future generation. These days, distracted drivers yammering on their cell phones may be the new mountain lions, but our behavior is the same: we are hard coded to look for patterns.

I think that’s where this “sides” business comes from. Based on the slimmest of information, we immediately want to put people into a certain category. Somebody who attends church is lumped in with all religious zealots. A person who encourages recycling becomes just the same as all those environmentalist nutjobs. Of course I do this kind of thing all the time. (And I hate it when people do it to me.)

So the idea for this cartoon came (as they often do) not so much from observing other people’s behavior as from reflecting on my own. Which is to say, from the stark realization that I can be just as annoying as the people I find annoying.

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State Rep Gary Glenn Travels Back in Time to Meet Thomas Jefferson

State Rep Gary Glenn Travels Back in Time to Meet Thomas Jeffers

Pretty soon (this week, I think), the United States Supreme Court will determine whether Michigan’s 2004 ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional. When a case gets on the Supreme Court schedule, citizens and groups are free to file a brief to advocate for one side or the other. Briefs generally have no real effect on the justices themselves, but they can reveal a lot about the thinking and motivations of the people who file them.

Michigan’s current leading defender of moral righteousness, Gary Glenn, filed such a brief on behalf of the American Family Association of Michigan. In it, he clings to various questionable arguments (the majority rules of 2004 trumps the majority rules of 2015, gay marriage is a slippery slope to polygamy, etc.), but the most audacious to me was that the Founders of this nation would be on his side — it’s pretty much a direct quote from Mr. Glenn in panel 2. There is so much wrong with that, I had to send him back in time for Mr. Jefferson to, um, straighten him out.

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I Can’t Not Draw

Proposal 1 — That's My Conspiracy Theory, Anyway....

As mentioned in yesterday’s post (and for many of you readers, in an email I sent), MLive has cut back on its budget for freelance content, so for now my cartoons will appear in the Sunday paper once per month instead of once per week. Again, I would very much appreciate it if you send a brief email to Todd Fettig, Director of Presentation at MLive, urging MLive to reconsider and make my cartoons available online: tfettig1@mlive.com

For nearly 20 years — first with the Grand Rapids Business Journal, then with the Grand Rapids Press and eventually MLive — I have drawn at least one editorial cartoon every week. Through child births and child raising and business travel and work conflicts and illnesses and holidays and occasional writer’s block, I never missed a deadline. I’m afraid if I stop now, I will pull a muscle. So for my own safety (and because I really, really like to draw), I plan to continue and see where it leads….

About the Cartoon: In Michigan we are coming up for a vote next month on Proposal 1. Proposal 1 is a train wreck of a piece of legislation with mostly good intentions. The basic idea is to fix our bad roads. And when I say “bad,” I mean “embarrassingly, historically, economically, horrendously awful” roads. We are well beyond “something needs to be done” and well into “this is figuratively and sometimes literally killing us.”

Unfortunately, our legislators shirked their duties and punted to the citizens a ballot proposal that’s (as the cartoon says) hopelessly complicated. And I’m conflicted. Because it is something I know I need …wrapped around a turd. Much the way I feel about dealing with cell phone contracts, cable company plans, and health insurance claims.

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Return Weekly Editorial Cartoons — and Make Them Available Online!

Readers, Friends, Family,

Because of recent budget decisions at MLive newspapers, my contract for editorial cartoons has been reduced — from once per week to once per month. As you might imagine, I don’t think it’s a good decision, either for me or for the readers. I hope you agree because I could use your help.

I am proposing to MLive that they return my editorial cartoons to each Sunday print edition. But then, to add value, to also make these same cartoons available as stories on the MLive.com site. They would appear as a headline and image along with a paragraph or two of my commentary (similar to the way they now appear on my blog, http://auchtoon.com).

Up to this point, my cartoons have been only in the physical newspapers as an exclusive benefit to print buyers or subscribers. But adding the cartoons to MLive’s online site would draw new readers and clicks — the online version is definitely where newspapers see their future. So, print subscribers would continue to enjoy a weekly editorial cartoon crafted specially for Michigan readers, and online readers would benefit from a great new feature perfectly suited for online delivery.

Please take a moment to send an email to Todd Fettig, Director of Presentation at MLive: tfettig1@mlive.com  

A few words in support of my proposal would be very much appreciated. If you would like to send a note to the editor of your local newspaper, that would be great, too. And please feel free to forward this email to anybody you know who might be interested.

If you have questions or want more information about any of this, please contact me. Thank you so much.

Sincerely and respectfully,
John

Comments (2)

We Are All in This Together! …Except for Me

We Are All in This Together! ...Except for Me.

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 5, 2015

We Americans have this bipolar thing going on. We are intensely proud of being Americans, yet fiercely independent. We wrap ourselves in the flag, embrace our neighbors, and chant “USA!” in enormous crowds. Yet we are deeply suspicious of those same neighbors when it appears they might be getting something we are not. We have an absolute belief in the importance of universal fairness. Until that fairness conflicts with our own personal preferences.

We should really take our meds. That is, if we could agree on whether we should (and who should pay for them).

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Welcome to Michigan! (But Maybe not You)

Welcome to Michigan! (But Maybe not You)

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 29, 2015

Well it really blew up in Indiana last week, but Michigan is fixin’ to do the same thing: pass a law that essentially legalizes discrimination under the guise of protecting religious liberty. And why should we be suspicious of this Republican-led effort when they assure us that they have the best of intentions? Well, it’s an ol’ GOP duplicity, I suppose.

On one hand, you have the Governor Snyder wing — the former CEO who is all about business and jobs and growing the economy. On the other, you have the Gary Glenn wing — the state rep from Midland who is all about a creepy fascination with a supposed gay agenda. His last week’s rallying of the troops to form a witch hunt committee for the new editor of the Midland newspaper (who happens to be gay) is just another example. You can’t be pro-business and anti-certain kinds of people. (Actually, Susan Demas has a pretty good article that expands on this point.)

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