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

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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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Sunshine Week: Transparency Is for Everybody

Sunshine Week: Transparency Is for Everybody

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 22, 2015

Sunshine Week is a national initiative spearheaded by the American Society of News Editors to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy. It was actually March 15–21 this year, but I had just found out the bit about our Governor and legislators being exempt for FOI requests, so I figured the week after was still topical. The cartoon itself is kind of a reaction to last week’s cartoon about open carry. The comments continued to pour in with the majority summarily dismissing any larger point I was attempting to make by lumping me into a political category — liberal dirtbag in this case. It’s unfortunate because it salts the earth to prevent any sort of real discussion from growing, which is exactly what excessive and unnecessary secrecy needs to thrive.

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Open Carry — Why Are You So Uncomfortable?

Open Carry — Why Are You So Uncomfortable?

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 15, 2015

As you might imagine, I have received quite a bit of feedback on this one. People are passionate about guns in these United States, so it’s not at all surprising. Really, the only thing I don’t quite understand is how questioning the wisdom of open carry at public events makes me a feminine hygiene product. But more than one person seems convinced of this.

Recently in Ann Arbor there was a young man who walked into a high school for a choir concert with a gun on open display on his hip. Because of the way Michigan concealed weapon laws work, this was perfectly legal, but it still caused quite a stir. Soon thereafter more than 25 others open carried into a school board meeting. There was a similar test of wills going in in Grand Rapids last year at public meetings with the city council.

America is a large and varied land with a large and varied people. It’s difficult to make one-size-fits-all laws. That’s why it’s so important for people to consider the consequences of their actions. It may be legal to attend a school event or crowded public meeting with a gun on open display, but it doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. It completely changes the focus. So it’s no longer, “looking forward to hearing my kid sing” or “I want a stop sign at the end of my street.” It’s “who’s the dude with the gun?” That’s more than a little selfish. And if you are doing it to prove a point, well then you can’t play the victim when people are upset with you.

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What Do Young People in Michigan Want?

What Do Young People in Michigan Want?

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 8, 2015

For years now in Michigan there has been this ongoing pattern of people in charge fretting over younger people leaving the state. There is all the standard lip service for “the youth are our future” and the need to grow and the next generation and blah blah blah. There is a vague sort of “we need to do something” and the natural follow up of “what would that be?” Then it’s “let’s ask young people,” lots of self-congratulations for being so smart to think of such a thing, the youth are asked, their requests sound expensive and politically inconvenient, it’s back to business as usual, and more young people leave the state. Must be they don’t like winters, huh?

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The Pitch for the May Ballot Proposal, Interpreted

The Pitch for the May Ballot Proposal, Interpreted

Originally published in the Ann Arbor News, Bay City Times, Flint Journal, Grand Rapids Press, Jackson Citizen Patriot, Kalamazoo Gazette, Muskegon Chronicle, Saginaw News
February 28, 2015

As the cartoon says, this May 5th Michiganders will vote on a ballot proposal for fixing our roads. Well, that’s the pitch. It’s actually much more (and needlessly) complicated than that. Which is why proponents have been having a difficult time finding people willing to shill for it. I mean, literally. A public relations firm lined up to sell the virtues quit earlier this year, and it seems nobody can find a replacement. Legislators who voted to make voters vote are now sitting on the fence en masse (weasels? lemmings? what’s a mammal that has no guts? that’s the metaphor to use here). And although Governor Snyder manages to say something positive on occasion, it is certainly not the relentless positive we’ve come to expect from him. It’s a mess. I just thought that needed to be clarified.

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Cruel, Pervasive, and Can Kill You

Cruel, Pervasive, and Can Kill 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
February 22, 2015

Early Thursday morning as I made my way across the breezeway roof to my office to draw this very cartoon, I slipped on some hidden ice — very nearly falling backward and dashing my brains upon the door jam. Which confirmed the idea for the cartoon was good.

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