Archive for September, 2019

Ruining a Perfectly Good Late Summer Weekend

Ruining a Perfectly Good Late Summer Weekend

Oftentimes, yes, the cartoon idea that wins and gets drawn is the one that is the most fun to draw. And that partially explains why I decided on the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference as a topic over a looming state government shutdown and the GM/UAW strike. (C’mon now. Sanders, Pence, DeVos. These are faces made for caricature!)

But the other part is why the mere sight of these three would ruin my perfect Michigan fall day. As Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders took the job from “White House messaging advocate” to “propaganda minister” by steadfastly standing behind demonstrable lies and attacking those who questioned them. As Vice President, Mike Pence continues to be the very definition of sycophant and a self-styled moral leader for a decidedly immoral administration. And Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is not only actively hostile toward public education, but seems incurious about her job and education as a whole.

That all said, I do think it’s important to acknowledge that these three are certainly not the only disdainful people in politics, and maybe you’re happy with them because they are getting you what you want. Still, make all the “what-about” comparisons and “the-end-justifies-the-means” arguments you want — what remains are three terrible public servants.

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The Long Term Plan for Michigan Roads

The Long Term Plan for Michigan Roads

If you’ve been following along with the ongoing battle between Governor Whitmer and the state legislature over road funding, you may forgive me for taking the easy way out for this week’s cartoon. The whole process has just been so volatile! It’s gone from “critical to resolve now” to “it’s fine to talk about it later.” From “we’re very close to a workable resolution” to “we are not even in the same time zone on this.” From “they are all a bunch of stupid stupid-heads!” to “I know you are, but what am I?”

I really had no idea what the status will be when this is published, so I defaulted to a generic politician who accidentally tells the truth (he doesn’t really care) — it may be an unfair exaggeration, but at least it’s stable.

But to be honest, my biggest issue isn’t with the politicians themselves but with their handlers. The advisors, the managers, the consultants, the pollsters, the party apparatchiks. I have this sense that maybe, maybe if the governor and the legislative leaders could meet without their handlers, they could actually come up with a compromise solution. And that solution could be communicated directly without being filtered, packaged, sanitized, and spun.

I know. I know. If I believe that could happen, I might as well believe that our roads will magically fix themselves.

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Mixed Feelings About Banning E-Cigarette Candy Flavors

Mixed Feelings About Banning E-Cigarette Candy Flavors

One of my favorite bits from the musical Hamilton has Alexander Hamilton entering George Washington’s office:

Hamilton: Mr. President, you asked to see me?

Washington: I know you’re busy.

Hamilton: What do you need, sir? Sir?

Washington: I wanna give you a word of warning.

Hamilton: Sir, I don’t know what you heard. But whatever it is, Jefferson started it.

Perfect. His first instinct is to be petty and partisan. Just like us modern day Americans! But while we tend to over-idealize the Founding Fathers, I do think there are instances where they would be rightfully disappointed in us.

The sorry state of our legislative branches, for example. Both at the state and federal levels, the legislative branch was designed to be the deliberative body where elected representatives hashed out the tough issues of the day — the place where decision were made. Now legislative branches have become the place where ideas go to die and discussions are avoided. So they are increasingly bypassed.

This week Governor Whitmer made a sideways maneuver to ban certain e-cigarette flavors in an effort to prevent children from becoming hooked on nicotine through vaping. It’s an honorable goal, but ideally it would have been handled through the standard legislative process. The excuse: That would be too difficult. That is not a good excuse. But it is, unfortunately, plausible.

It gets worse because the dysfunction of the modern day congress leads not only to what gets done by these end-arounds, but to what does not get done — such as laws, programs, and public health initiatives to deal with our gun violence epidemic.

The quiet, contemplative time provided by active shooter drills should not be where decisions are made.

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