Archive for Michigan Press Association

Who’s Gonna Clean up the Mess After the Lame Duck Party?

Who's Gonna Clean up the Mess After the Lame Duck Party?

Because the lame-duck session of the Michigan Legislature will conclude at some point past my deadline, I didn’t feel confident in commenting directly on what legislation will actually pass. Further, I have no idea what Governor Snyder may sign into law and what he may not.

So I decided to go with what I do know as generally true: Men make messes, women clean them up.

However this particular mess eventually gets sorted out, I wish you all a happy and peaceful holiday season. I look forward to marveling with you over a whole new set of Michigan shenanigans in the coming year.

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Line 5 Time Bomb in Michigan’s Living Room

Line 5 Time Bomb in Michigan's Living Room

On Wednesday this week, Governor Snyder signed a bill into law that will allow a tunnel for a new section of pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac to move forward. The intention is to resolve the status of the Embridge Line 5 oil pipeline, which currently is laid across the bottom the Straights and poses a potential for catastrophic disaster.

Snyder for some time has been negotiating with Embridge and other interests for a deal to keep the pipeline open. It’s a complicated set of environmental, economic, logistic, and (you guessed it) political issues. But it was mostly political that a bill was generated and fast-tracked to Snyder’s desk before the end of his term — an incoming governor Gretchen Whitmer almost certainly would not sign it.

For a number of reasons: Line 5 keeps operating as is for a decade or more while the tunnel is constructed. The questionable wisdom of making a huge infrastructure commitment to carbon-based energy. The trustworthiness of a health and safety issue involving Michigan water and Rick Snyder.

In any case, it’s not quite a done deal. There will be challenges to the tunnel and perhaps additional legislation. It may all work out fine. By the time it gets built (and fresh water becomes increasingly precious), Mackinaw City/St. Ignace might develop into a major metropolitan area that could use a tunnel for a subway link.

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A Christmas Carol — Starring Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof

A Christmas Carol — Starring Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof

It was hard not to notice the stark contrast this week between events celebrating the late President George H.W. Bush’s life and the shameless actions of the Michigan (and Wisconsin) lame duck legislatures.

Bush Themes: Civility, democracy, respect for the office, doing what’s right, sacrifice, generosity, graciousness, honor, duty, trust the system, serve the people, country first.

Michigan Legislature Themes: Grab and cling to power, the end justifies the means, the people have spoken (but I know better), duplicity, greed, game the system, serve the special interests, political party first.

It’s as if a Dickensian story was being played out live in front of all of us, and the likes of Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof completely missed the point. Maybe a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future would save them. Or maybe they’re the Jacob Marley’s who will wear the chains they are forging in life.

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It’s as If GM Might Not Care About Me

It's as If GM Might Not Care About Me

I wouldn’t say Michigan’s relationship with General Motors is dysfunctional. I think it’s more a case of unrealistic expectations. The auto industry is an integral part of our Michigan identity. So we, as people, tend to take it personally when GM does something that affects Michigan people negatively such as the plan announced this week to layoff workers and close plants in Hamtramck/Detroit and Warren.

It seems harsh, yes. Thankless. And one could even argue needlessly cold — why can’t they just say “we are closing the facility” instead of “we will no longer allocate product,” which makes it sound like they are going to to death? But in the end, GM is a corporation doing what corporations do, which is what is best for them. Always.

This again demonstrates the importance of electing legislators who actively prioritize people interests. In the meantime, I suggest we take advantage of the opportunities generated by a healthy GM, but give up the idea that it will in any way be the “Generous Motors” of yore. Corporations are not people (no matter what the US Supreme Court says), so we shouldn’t expect them to act like people.

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The Limits of Acceptance at Thanksgiving

The Limits of Acceptance at Thanksgiving

I imagine that some Thanksgiving dinners were a lot less tense when The Game took place the weekend before the holiday instead of after. Sure, a certain amount of tribalism is inevitable — it’s who we humans are. But usually we’re somewhat more civil after a battle.

Whatever your particular situation, I hope you had a safe and relaxing Thanksgiving Day. I hope you were able to share time with the ones you love. I hope you were able to both give and get kindness and acceptance from those around you. And I hope that Michigan beats the crap out of Ohio State.

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time Every Two Years!

It's the Most Wonderful Time Every Two Years!

I apologize to all of you who now have “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year” stuck in your head. It is, of course, inevitable that this would happen at some point during the holiday season. But especially cruel to have it happen before its official start. My bad.

It could be worse, though. I could have rewritten the lyrics for “The Little Drummer Boy” instead.

I would like also to apologize to all of you who now have “The Little Drummer Boy” stuck in your head.

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Let Me Tell You Why So Many Women Were Elected

Let Me Tell You Why So Many Women Were Elected

When my kids were in elementary school, they would take AR tests. AR was short for Accelerated Reading, and the idea was positive reinforcement. At any time a kid could take a quick comprehension test on a book that they had read. If they passed, they got points, and there were rewards for a certain number of points.
My daughter Natalina was an avid reader from an early age, and in first grade had accumulated quite a few AR points. One day she came home with a printout of an AR test in which she had gotten only one out of five questions right. My wife noticed it was for a book Natalina had read dozens of times.

She asked, “Sweetheart, what happened here? You know that book — how’d you miss so many questions?”

Natalina said, “My friend Justin was helping me take the test.” A brief pause. “Justin can’t read.”

My wife advised her that in the future it would be wise not to let Justin help her on AR tests.

So that’s my favorite example of mansplaining: when the desire to be knowledgeable supersedes actual knowledge.

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Vote!

Vote!

The truth is, I have lots more to say about the election next week. Lots and lots. Opinions, comments, bitter asides, personal observations. Oh, and advice. I have a tremendous amount of incredibly valuable advice!

If you’re looking for platitudes, I got your platitudes — from comforting and seemingly sympathetic to grossly unfair and downright patronizing. How about historical analysis? Or clever metaphors? Or a puzzle that’s actually a sardonic critique of the political establishment (but maybe is, wait for it, just a puzzle after all)!

I could go on. I want to go on! Those of you familiar with my often wordy editorial cartooning style can attest to the fact that I sometimes do go on. But the only truly important thing I have to say this week is: vote. Please vote.

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Playing the Healthcare Game

Playing the Healthcare Game

Healthcare has been a hot topic on the campaign trail this year, nationally and in Michigan. This should come as no surprise — healthcare is highly relatable. We all need it, we all use it, we all hope for a high quality and low cost.

The problem then with treating healthcare as an election year topic is we lose that connection to how it affects us all. Instead of “we are all in this together, so let’s figure the best way forward,” it’s more, “we need to come to some agreement on pre-existing conditions, so let’s trade that for building a border wall.” Healthcare improvements get disconnected from what will actually improve healthcare.

And so it has gone in America, especially the past ten years.

In Michigan’s 2nd Congressional District, the whole reason Dr. Rob Davidson decided to run against incumbent Bill Huizenga was to reconnect us to a healthcare solution. Davidson is proposing Medicare for All. Huizenga is proposing, well, not that, which as near as I can tell is the Republican default answer to anything healthcare.

Good heavens Republicans, don’t you think it’s time to give us something to work with here?! Can you please offer something more substantial than an occasional “HSAs are nice”? We know you can do it — you guys came up with the whole Obamacare concept (before you decided to call it Obamacare and work against it).

So is Medicare for All (or some variant of universal health care) the answer? I dunno. I was at the Michigan Radio “Issues and Ales” event earlier this week and asked the panel if we were perhaps at some tipping point to move forward on universal healthcare. The consensus was “no.” Unfortunately, that’s my take, too. And I’m afraid until we do reach that tipping point, healthcare won’t be anything but a campaign issue.

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That Michael Ducarcass

That Michael Ducarcass

In our early years as a couple, my wife and I used to make a yearly visit to Pennsylvania to visit relatives — grandparents, great aunts and uncles. On one such visit in the fall of 1988, a post-dinner conversation turned to politics. Among the Sanka and Jell-O 3-2-1 Jello, opinions were expressed about the presidential candidates.

One of my aunts said, “I don’t like that Michael Ducarcass.” (His name, of course, is “Dukakis” but in a combination of her Pennsylvania Dutch accent and unfamiliarity with Greek names, it came out “Do-carcass.”) Why, I asked. “Because I don’t trust him after he dumped all that garbage into Boston Harbor.” That may sound like a non-sequitur now, but back then there was a TV attack ad very heavily implying that Michael Dukakis had, as Governor of Massachusetts, personally poured massive amounts of trash into Boston Harbor. It seemed kind of laughable. But it worked. And since that day, “That Michael Ducarcass” has been shorthand in our family for, “This attack ad is riddled with lies, but it’s probably gonna be effective.”

‘Tis the season for negative ads. Well, in truth they are never quite out of season. But late October, they are ubiquitous (the pumpkin-spice of advertisement flavors). And I’m fine with one candidate calling out another candidate’s shortcomings. (Especially if the funding source of the ad is transparent.) But when the negative get weaponized with lies and turns into an attack, that’s we should focus more on what we need, not what we fear.

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