Hoping for Gaffes

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
October 19, 2014

Back in May, Republican nominee Terri Lynn Land basically face-planted on the first hurdle of the Senate race. She has not gotten a whole lot better since then. It made me wonder what other face-plants might look like:

  • Gary Peters is the Democratic nominee for Senate. He has run a pretty smooth campaign, including a jovial spot where he cites a pair of his shoes with holes in the soles as an example of his fiscal frugalness. But what if he let slip a secret every tea-party conservative suspects to live in his coal-black heart?
  • Rick Snyder is the current governor and prides himself on relentless positivity. He has shown a few cracks of irritability here and there, but I’d like to know what a complete breakdown would look like.
  • Mark Schauer is the Democratic challenger for governor. As a challenger, his job is to spin the record of the current governor as negatively as possible. And he has, including equating a pension tax as evidence that Rick Snyder has it in for senior citizens. Schauer has been very consistent about that. But one goof up and people might stop believing.

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Did I Say Asian Carp?…

Did I Say Asian Carp?...

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
October 12, 2014

The merging of two stories here. First, the ongoing efforts from Michiganders, such as our state Department of Natural Resources, to sound the alarm about Asian carp. As the comic says, they are an invasive species that could massively alter the fisheries of the Great Lakes. For years now many in Michigan (and especially the Department of Natural Resources) has been sounding the alarm about the potentially devastating effects these fish could have on recreational and commercial fishing, not to mention the vast environmental impact. And it’s a real threat because the Mississippi River system, which is linked to the Great Lakes via canals, has already been totally compromised. Despite this not much has been done.

The second is the hysterical cable news stories about ISIS and ebola and the willingness to devote massive amounts of money and attention to prevent these invasions. Of course these are real issues, but perspective… we seemed to have lost all perspective. The Daily Show actually did a pretty good send up of this that’s worth a watch: A Million Ways to Die in the U.S.

By the way, that’s Ed Golder behind the podium there. He was my editor at the Grand Rapids Press for many years, and he transitioned to PR Director at the DNR. He’s a really good guy. He would never scare people to try to get them to do the right thing, so I am glad to do this for him.

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Only Thing I Can Tell from Negative Ads

Only Thing I Can Tell from Negative Ads

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
October 5, 2014

It’s best not to watch campaign ads at all. But if you have to, the mute button helps. It helps to bring out the comedy, especially in the negative ads. I imagine a room full of political operatives pouring over thousands of sepia-toned, slightly out-of-focus, sour-faced pictures of their opponents trying to find the one with just the right amount of unappealing. Apparently they do a good job because that’s the one they end up with.

In Michigan, Gary Peters is running against Terri Lynn Land for a US Senate seat that Carl Levin is retiring from. That makes it an “open” seat, and some significant money has been spent on both sides. Pretty typical stuff. The twist here is that Peters is polling ahead of Land, but it is Peters who has been begging for a formal debate. Typically the underdog wants the debate — nothing to lose. But in this case, Land has avoided it. She may change her mind at the last minute (again, nothing to lose). Or maybe she’s still hoping to find that magical photo of Peters that makes him look like he pooped his pants. God help us if that actually works.

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Liberal or Conservative? Keeping My Options Open

Liberal or Conservative? Keeping My Options Open

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
September 28, 2014

When people ask me whether I’m liberal or conservative, I say neither because I like to keep my options open. It’s not that I can’t make commitments — I did the rough sketch for this cartoon with a pencil I bought at the Michigan Tech bookstore 30+ years ago. How’s that for commitment! No, it’s more that I don’t want to wear a label that others define (then violate).

What I’m saying in the cartoon I believe to be absolutely true: in general, those who identify themselves as liberals tend to want to be so fair about everything that it can create a mess. At a certain point, legislators need to consider whether the laws they propose are actually functional. Conservatives, in general, have great disdain for this. Until, of course, they see a very specific fairness they want to legislate. Case in point, Michigan Speaker of the House Jase Bolger floating the idea of paring a gay right amendment with a “religious freedom” act. Uh-huh. That wouldn’t open a Pandora’s Box of differing interpretations, counter laws, and lawsuits.

So, yeah. Keeping my options open…

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At Campaign Headquarters All Over Michigan

At Campaign Headquarters All Over Michigan

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
September 21, 2014

Of course this was much more topical when it ran on Sunday. Now the fact that the Tigers have been shutout two games in a row is more of the stress point.

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Understanding Our Current Tax Code

Understanding Our Current Tax Code

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
September 14, 2014

Two recent inspirations for this:

My solution for cartooning about such dry, unappealing topics? Steal great artwork.

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Double Up Food Bucks

Double Up Food Bucks

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
September 7, 2014

Well I haven’t had anything particularly nice to say for a good, long stretch. And while that is just fine in the world of editorial cartooning — in fact, expected, condoned, encouraged — I still feel the need to occasionally look for the positive, if for no other reason than a change of pace. So I was flipping through a newsletter from Feeding America, an awesome organization that Jane and I support, and I came upon this Double Up Food Bucks program. I was struck by what a great idea it is. Grand Rapids and many other Michigan cities have been adding and expanding Farmers Markets, which make fresh and inexpensive produce and other healthy foods available to city residence on food assistance. The Double Up Food Bucks program helps develop this relationship, and Michigan is leading the way. I thought more people should know about it.

Next week, likely a return to bitter cynicism…

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Do We Have a Racism Problem?

Do We Have a Racism Problem?

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
August 31, 2014

Yes, yes of course we have a racism problem. And we also have a problem when our first reactions to somebody being killed is hoping it was done randomly, not with a weapon we like, and not too close-by.  We (myself most definitely included) have lots of stuff to work on.

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The Algae Bloom That Threatens Great Lakes Drinking Water…

The Algae Bloom That Threatens Great Lakes Drinking Water...

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
August 24, 2014

Back when we bought our current house 15 years ago, I was feeling a bit guilty. In addition to  the house, we acquired from the previous owners a John Deere tractor with a motorized trailer attachment for collecting leaves. And my folks got us a leaf blower and a chainsaw. All items very necessary for a wooded acre lot, and I don’t regret having them. It’s just that for someone who tries to be a good environmentalist, that’s an awful lot of internal combustion engines. (My friend and motorcycle enthusiast, Monty, tried to assuage my guilt by telling me the one with the most internal combustion engines wins. Or maybe he was making fun of me…. Yeah, that was more likely it.)

So now, the same week that I draw a cartoon pointing out that Global Warming and the resulting Climate Change is having a ill effect on our drinking water supply, Jane and I became the owner of our fourth automobile. Is there anything less green than four actively used automobiles? I suppose by Monty’s standards, I am winning but not without feeling somewhat a hypocrite.

But, feelings notwithstanding, the problem of Climate Change and algae blooms threatening water supplies is real. Earlier this month, an algae bloom in Lake Erie contaminated water supplies for Toledo, Ohio and some southeastern Michigan communities. Satellite photos showed vast areas of bright green against the darker blue normal water of the lake. A wind shift caused some of the toxic algae to be drawn into the water system. Generally warmer temperatures create better conditions for this thick soup of slimy green algae to grow. More intense storms cause fertilizers to wash off to the lake and feed the blooms. It’s a real issue, and my point is that there is no sense in denying it. But also I am among the many who should consider what we might want to do about it.

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The Key to Education

The Key to Education

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
August 17, 2014

Yeah, I know — jumping the gun a bit on the “back to school” theme. But I figured this would give us parents a reminder to allow ourselves to focus on the kids before summer is over.

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