Thanksgiving 2020

Thanksgiving 2020

Twenty-one years ago, my wife, my two daughters, and I went on a trip to England during Thanksgiving. My brother was living in London at the time and had invited us to stay with him. It was magical. We toured all around. We rode the Underground, we took a motorboat up the Thames, we went to see The Lion King on stage. It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Prior to the trip, I had only two misgivings. The first was leaving our son at home, who was just too young to travel. (He had a pretty sweet week, though, basking in the full attention of Nana and Poppie.) The second was missing our traditional Thanksgiving. The families, the food, the fun — everything. I am very much wired to choose what I do know I like over all other options every time. It seems silly to think that I might have opted out of a trip to London just to spend Thanksgiving at home, but I remember it being a consideration.

All that to say, Thanksgiving this year has no doubt been different. And probably not in a good “trip to London” sort of way. (Literally. You couldn’t go even if you wanted.) But still, I hope you have been able to find some joy in the different experience. Or at least it occurred to you that it was Thanksgiving and that you can think of something to be thankful for. 

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Stop Rushing Us, Governor!

Stop Rushing Us, Governor!

Editor’s Note: Yesterday the news broke about Chatfield and Shirkey taking a meeting at the White House to perhaps overturn presidential election results in Michigan. I’ve been trying to compose some sort of note to alert readers that that happened after my deadline and so this cartoon isn’t about that. But you can see how awkward that last sentence is, plus I have no idea what those two guys are actually going to do. So I guess I’m resigned to having to live with the ludicrous speed of the news cycle (and the ludicrous behavior of these politicians).

The posturing around the COVID crisis by Speaker of the Michigan House, Lee Chatfield, and Senate Majority Leader, Mike Shirkey, reminds me of the animated film Kung Fu Panda. (Well of course it does — it’s only natural.) 

There’s a scene in which Shifu comes to his zen-like master, Oogway, to warn him of impending danger:

Shifu: I… I… have… it’s… it’s very bad news.

Oogway: Aah, Shifu. There’s just news. There’s no good or bad.

Shifu: Master, your vision… your vision was right. Tai Lung [the evil and very powerful bad guy] has broken out of prison! He’s on his way!

Oogway: That is bad news…

Although I would hardly describe them as zen-like, I see Chatfield and Shirkey as playing the role of the guru master, Oogway. Their tendency is to try stay above the panic and address the issues with their wisdom about limiting the role of government, about constitutional law, about personal freedoms, and so on. But now that an evil and powerful bad guy (COVID-19) is loose, they could at least acknowledge the reality. Unlike Oogway, these guys have not come close to that.

I want to give Chatfield and Shirkey both the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe that their clinging to dogmatic beliefs is authentic and not a political calculation. But it’s difficult in the face of what they did in the spring and what they are doing now.

And to be sure, despite following the advice of the scientific and medical professionals, not everything that Governor Whitmer has done has worked. Some didn’t seem to make sense. (Remember when we collectively lost our minds earlier this year when we couldn’t buy paint at Lowes for a few weeks?) But at least she’s listening and she is engaging. C’mon guys. This virus, it IS bad news.

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But I Thanked You for Your Service

But I Thanked You for Your Service

How utterly disheartening it must be to be a frontline worker right now. Especially for those in healthcare professions. I feel this requires no further explanation.

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The Secret to Democracy

The Secret to Democracy

Back in the day, I used to play in a lot of 3-on-3 basketball tournaments. (Pre-COVID, I used to play basketball period. *sigh*) A lot of Gus Mackers. A lot of local fundraiser events. The idea was to simulate pickup games, the kind you’d play in a driveway with neighbors and friends. So, no refs. Call your own fouls. Play hard, but have fun. And that worked really great. Until it didn’t.

There always seemed to be one team (more typically, one guy on one team) who was in it to win no matter what. He usually was a pretty good player, but would stop at nothing to make sure he won. For instance, if he missed a shot, he would call a foul. Didn’t matter if you were near him or not. He’d call the foul and then argue for 10 minutes if you challenged him. Then when you got ball, he’d smack the crap out of your elbow on a shot and argue for 10 minutes that he never touched you. Purposeful and without shame. His goal was to wear you down so he could call himself a winner.

See where I’m going with this? Yeah, it’s not too difficult figure out. Donald Trump is that guy.

The difference, of course, is that you’d often give in to the basketball guy. It wasn’t worth your time. The Presidency of the United States of America over the next four years — that has more consequence.

Everybody votes, then you count all the votes. It’s really pretty simple.

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Democracy Is Never a Thing Done

Democracy Is Never a Thing Done

What can be said about this election that hasn’t already been said? It seems like it has all been covered, right? And with that there comes a temptation to slow down when we see the finish line. But now is not the time let up — we all gotta run through the tape and complete the race at full speed.

So if I couldn’t come up with something new, I decided to bring back the most appropriate “old.” I didn’t have anything memorized and ready in my back pocket. But I did have a notion and some half-remembered platitudes about democracy. It took me awhile, but I was able to piece together enough of this quote to find it whole and identify the source. (Thank you, Internet! You aren’t completely awful.)

It probably would have been a better cartoon with just the first two lines: Democracy is never a thing done. Democracy is always something that a nation must be doing.

But what follows is so poetic, I couldn’t not include it. After all, Mr. MacLeish fought in two world wars, was the first Librarian of Congress, and won three Pulitzers, so, yeah, best to go with the whole quote.

I hope you find inspiration. I hope you vote and stay engaged. I hope we all run through the tape.

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I Can’t Wait for This to Be Over

I Can't Wait for This to Be Over

There is just so much going on. And to be keeping up on all the latest developments in the election and the pandemic feels very much like drinking from the proverbial fire hose. But then there’s the other news we should all be paying attention to as well. Just this week the story broke of a new report revealing that parents of 545 migrant children separated at the US border cannot be found. That is terrible. And tragic. And overwhelming.

In the face of such a deluge, it’s not unusual for my brain to go to someplace safe. Someplace that matters, but really doesn’t matter. Professional sports, for example. It was here I considered the current World Series where the Los Angeles Dodgers are taking on the Tampa Bay Rays. No matter who wins, a single city and its metropolitan area will get to celebrate its second championship within a month — the Los Angelas Lakers recently won the NBA title, and the Tampa Bay Lightening won the NHL title.

How is that remotely fair? Okay, so maybe LA has some real fans. I don’t like them, but they somewhat support their teams. But Tampa Freakin’ Bay? Those people aren’t fans! They don’t love their teams through thick and thin. I’d venture that the only locals who have any level of true appreciation are Michigan expats. And here we are suffering with our Tigers, Pistons, Red Wings, and (as always) Lions. Yep, not remotely fair.

But anyway, if I can let my head spin on that for just a little while, I might work up the courage to get back to what’s really important. 

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A Plot to Kidnap the Governor — Where Did That Come From?

A Plot to Kidnap the Governor — Where Did That Come From?

I’m at a loss for words this week. I mean, I can understand how a plot to kidnap a sitting governor could get started. People are passionate. We get ideas. We say crazy, stupid things.

What I don’t get is how the plan got far enough that the FBI had to step in. I’m guessing it has something to do with extreme ideology, easy access to weapons, and encouragement from Presidential tweets. But that doesn’t mean I understand it.

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Mike Shirkey: Other Jobs

Mike Shirkey: Other Jobs

Last week I was watching a panel discussion on the current state of editorial cartooning via Zoom. One of my good friends, Angelo Lopez, was one the featured guests. Angelo draws for Philippine News Today, and so much of his work reflects issues related to the President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, a murderous despot. As a consequence, Angelo tends to draw a lot of skulls. In the course of his presentation, Angelo casually remarked, “I’m tired of drawing skulls.” 

Is “I’m tired of drawing skulls” not the most quintessential 2020 thing you’ve ever heard?

I don’t have the skills (or patience) to render skulls the way Angelo does, but I am similarly tired — tired of drawing about preventable death, tired of dealing with leaders putting party and ideology over health, tired of opinion winning over sensible consideration of expert advice.

So after the Michigan Supreme Court issued a decision against Governor Whitmer’s executive orders aimed at limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey jumped immediately into the fray to (1) demand the Governor negotiate with the Legislature and then (2) assure everyone that he had no intention of negotiating with the Governor. Of course. And then he followed it up with his beliefs about the pandemic:

“Things, I don’t believe, are an emergency, nor do I believe they’re necessarily urgent, but they are important,” Shirkey told Crain’s Detroit Business. “So I think we’ve got the time to do that.” 

Ugh. I couldn’t not draw about that. Even if I’m tired of drawing these skulls.

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We Have Met the Enemy and…You Know the Rest

We Have Met the Enemy and...You Know the Rest

Comedian Jim Gaffigan has a bit where he says, “I’m a vegetarian now. Well, not a strict vegetarian. I do eat beef and pork. And chicken.” 

I think that sums us up nicely, don’t you? Us Americans. Us Michiganders. We sometimes say one thing, and then can completely contradict ourselves in the next breath. Well, not everybody. But enough of us.

I was thinking about this while I was watching (suffering) the presidential debate earlier this week. What has brought us to this lowly point? Well, yes, absolutely, politicians in general deserve their fair share of blame for the current state of affairs. And the moneyed interests that buy and sell them. And the shortcomings, if not flaws, of our particular system of government. 

But ultimately, enough voters in enough states elected Donald Trump in 2016. So there he was, and here we are. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy, and he is us.”

Sure, we all can be hypocrites at times. We all have those tendencies to abandon certain principles in order to feed our id. But the thing about being an adult (and a good citizen) is that you try to control those tendencies instead of letting those tendencies control you. We’ll get to see how that plays out in this election.

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Don’t Want No Radical Lawbreakers Around Here

Don't Want No Radical Lawbreakers Around Here

It’s election season, which brings out the yard signs, which brings out the people who steal and vandalize yard signs. I’m sure you’ve seen the stories in newspapers and the postings on social media. Maybe you’ve had first-hand experience.

I try not to be too judgmental. I can imagine how in a moment of passion (or, more likely, drunkenness) an otherwise reasonable individual could have a lapse of reason. Naturally, it would need to be followed up with an apology and full restoration. It’s forgivable, right? Yard signs are by their nature ephemeral.

What I can’t abide is defending the act. It falls squarely into “the end justifies the means” school of tortured justification and morally bereft politics. (The saying is typically attributed to Italian Renaissance writer, Machiavelli. But I believe the modern spelling is M-c-C-o-n-n-e-l-l.)

In the end, the simplest solution is the best solution: Don’t steal or vandalize yard signs.

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