Archive for September, 2008

Nobody Expects the Alaskan Politician!…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, September 15, 2008

Remember earlier this month when John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate and the ensuing frenzy? Remember the fawning over the firecracker governor of Alaska, her tough speeches, he strong stances, her fresh appeal? You know, before the financial markets melted down. It seems so long ago. Good times.

But this is America, and we move on. It has become pretty clear pretty quickly that Governor Palin’s pick was almost entirely without merit. It’s not so much that she isn’t qualified to run the country, it’s that there are so many other Republicans, female Republicans who are way more qualified. It took me a while to identify my feelings on this but I think it’s very much the same how I felt when Bush 41 picked Dan Quayle to be his running mate in 1988 — that handsome, socially conservative young fella who the women folk will adore. Is he honestly ready to step in at any moment as President? Heck, no, but he sure is handsome. And for God’s sake, don’t let him talk to the press….

So my commentary above has to do with our governor, Jennifer Granholm, accepting an invitation to stand in as Sarah Palin to help Joe Biden prepare for the upcoming Vice Presidential candidate debate. (Assuming, of course, John McCain doesn’t unitarily suspend that, too.) I thought it’d be funny for her to use some newly practiced skills to defend her record, which isn’t great to say the least. But my favorite Palin-related bit was from an excellent comic strip called, “Get Fuzzy.” Satchel confuses Sarah Palin with Michael Palin of Monty Python fame and some of his legendary skits. In particular, the “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition” sketches because it is ludicrous and surreal and very, very silly. Like putting a two-year governor with absolutely no international diplomacy skills an unsteady heartbeat away from the presidency….

 Get Fuzzy

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The Federal Bailout Showers…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, September 8, 2008

It’s just a little tough to take sometimes. Here we are in Michigan where we build stuff like cars. And for the past 30 years we’ve been building fewer and fewer for a variety of reasons — stupid decisions, greed, globalization, missed opportunities, laziness, bad timing, stuff like that. It’s finally gotten to the point of requesting some help from the government — a little something to, you know, meet all the new federal mandates and keep people employed. This being an election year, the funds have been promised. We’ll see.

In the meantime, government money is pouring out to mortgage loaners, investment bankers, insurance companies. Why them? Why do they need the money? Well basically for the same reasons as the automobile industry: stupid decisions, greed, globalization, missed opportunities, laziness, bad timing. But they get the bailout because they had the forethought (or lack of forethought) to have an immediate crisis. Nothing turns the faucet like panic….

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Politcal Conventions — Change the #%@& Channel…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, September 1, 2008

I didn’t watch much of either political convention. Again, as an alleged editorial cartoonist I should probably show more interest for such things or at least lie and tell you that I immersed myself in the speeches to marinade in the subtle flavors so as to detect and then share the truth behind the scenes. But seriously, there ain’t no behind-the-scenes — they’re pep rallies! Pep rallies for the believers and the bought (and the believers who don’t realize they’ve been bought).

I did flip by one night, and I don’t remember which one it was but there was a guy delivering a stilted rah-rah with the repeat phrase, “Yes we can!” So, him: “Quasi-motivational reference to action affecting a positive outcome of a supposed party platform item.” Pause. Then Crowd: “Yes we can!” And repeat. And repeat. And repeat. I watched fascinated by the awkwardness of it all — the D-List speaker straining for legitimacy, the attempts of the camera to catch a delegate with sincere enthusiasm, the tension of a thousand of pundits desperately trying to churn up any sort of opinion before the guy finished. When my dear wife broke me from my spell with a, “change the channel — my head is going to explode.” So that was it for conventions.

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Justice: Kilpatrick Resigns! But What About Those Chinese Gymnasts?…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Business Journal, August 25, 2008

So yesterday, after an ugly, ugly reign of lies and race-baiting and unwarranted chutzpah and nepotism and sheer stupidity, the Mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, resigned. Off to jail he goes leaving a trail of destruction. You can check this excellent article in today’s Salon by Edward McClelland for persepective, but for those unfamiliar with the story I can summarize by saying this: After having Republican politicians go on an absolute tear these past few years with sex scandals and ham-fisted cover-ups, Kwame put the Democratic Party right back into contention with his superlative efforts. Kwame Kilpatrick is the clear leader for MVP — Most Vile Politician.

And now, a big shout out to traditional journalism: the Detroit Free Press — you da newspaper! It was the Freep that did the investigative groundwork that eventually brought Kilpatrick down. It was the old-school media doing the hard work and taking the chances. The TV reported and added nothing; the bloggers fumed and added nothing; the Internet aggregated and added nothing. Twas newsprint that saved the day. So go out and shake a reporter’s hand, thank an editor for showing some courage, and above all read a dang newspaper! Because the fact that there ain’t no Beijing Free Press has a lot to do with why those Chinese gymnasts will never have to give their gold medals back….


Hey, Dad! The Zoo Called…


Originally published in the Grand Rapids Family magazine, August 2008

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