Archive for January, 2021

Calm, Rational Adults

Calm, Rational Adults

For 27 years, you could reliably find me every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 6:00AM playing pickup basketball at my local middle school gym. In fact, for the past 15 I’ve been the one in charge. Well, “in charge” makes it sound more impressive than it really is. Mostly I just bring basketballs, open the doors, and have a general awareness of where the defibrillator is.

Of course there has been no morning basketball since March 11 of last year. And I’ve missed it. Really, really missed it. I love playing basketball. I’ve made a lot of friends, and it has always made me feel part of my community. I even miss the ritual of getting out of bed at o-dark-thirty and lacing up the smelly ankle braces.

It’s been physically tough on me not being able to play. (Just can’t burn the same amount of calories on a stationary bike.) And it has been tough mentally. I’m of a certain age where I wonder if I can (or even should) rev up the ol’ joints and hamstrings when we’re allowed to play again. Have I missed out on my last year of semi-competitive basketball?

So I don’t think I’m talking out of turn when I say that I can relate to those high school athletes, coaches, and parents who are upset about having to delay the start of their games and competitions again. I’ve read and heard many of their efforts to convince Governor Whitmer and health officials to change their minds. They make some great points. Some are slightly over the line of civil discourse, but I get it — this is having a huge impact on their lives.

But for the rest of us, I think the challenge is to avoid blowing right past that line and personalizing this. If you don’t like Governor Whitmer, then go ahead and don’t like her. But she isn’t singling you out in the hopes of ruining your life. She just isn’t. Don’t let yourself fall into that hate trap. Let’s see if we can learn at least one lesson from the debacle of January 6th.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go down in my basement and work off some of this angst on my boring stationary bike.


Stellantis… Stellantis?

Stellantis... Stellantis?

I realize that a lot of readers may be confused and not recognize much about a cartoon about the merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the PSA Group that finalized this week. But that’s kinda the point. I just thought it was remarkable that such a big, big story in the automotive world would seem to have so little resonance with Michiganders. Certainly wasn’t the case when Chrysler acquired American Motors, or when Daimler-Benz merged with Chrysler, or when they divorced later. Those were top headlines. Especially in Michigan.

Of course it’s understandable — turns out going from insurrection to impeachment to inauguration sucks all the oxygen out of the news cycles. Plus, it’s difficult to get your head around a French company merging with an Italian company dominated by American nameplates and becoming a Dutch company with a name (Stellantis) that sounds like a prescription drug for an obscure skin condition.

Still, I do think congratulations are in order. For decades, our leaders have decried our state’s dependencies on the automotive industry and the need to diversify. Is it not a sign of progress that one of the fabled Big Three experiences such a dramatic change, and we cannot be bothered because we have bigger fish to fry? We’ve grown! We’ll always miss all those stable, high-paying jobs, but we’ve grown.


When to Forgive Sedition

When to Forgive Sedition

One of the great things about being Catholic is that you can do whatever you want to do, go to confession, say a few Our Fathers and Hail Marys, and all is forgiven — you are healed and free to start over! Except…that’s not really how it works. At least, not the way it’s supposed to work.

Despite the trope of confession being something of a “get out of hell free card,” it’s not really intended to be a transaction — it’s more about providing an opportunity to reflect and truly consider your actions and behaviors. It’s an act of contrition. To get to the point of forgiveness, you need to figure out what you did so you can reconcile with it and commit to being a better person.

I don’t believe it’s an exaggeration to say that Donald Trump has never been contrite. And of all the issues I have with him (and there are plenty), this may be the most foundational. His complete unwillingness (perhaps inability) to apologize for anything precludes healing. Further, he actively salts the earth by doubling-down and selling that behavior as a virtue.

It is not possible to forgive, it is not possible to “get over it,” it is not possible “bring us all together” until Trump and his enablers come to terms with their sedition and reconcile with it. Obviously that won’t happen on its own. So that’s why we must follow the rules set in the constitution and prosecute.

Then the healing can begin.


Thank God the GOP Had the Fortitude

Thank God the GOP Had the Fortitude

Wednesday morning I had sketched out kind of a light-hearted, “I know, right?” sort of cartoon to ease us all into the new year. Nothing too edgy. Of course that idea went out the window (along with a great deal of our nation’s pride and dignity) with the insurrection later that afternoon. My Thursday deadline loomed.

I knew by the time you would be reading this that much would already have been said about the attempted coup. So I needed to find a unique angle (preferably a Michigan one) if I had any hope of providing perspective.

For me, that angle is the obvious parallels between the mob that marched into the state capital in Lansing last year and the one that attacked our nation’s capital this week — both whipped to a frenzy by the callous lies and endless tantrums of the President of the United States. In April, it was ugly but also a warning: It could get worse. And yet Republicans who could have checked the President either stayed quiet or encouraged him all the more. They were the cowards, but we all now have suffered the consequences.

I apologize for not actually drawing anything, but so many of these images are now seared into our collective memory that I felt them best used directly. Plus, I couldn’t have made them any more gobsmackingly ridiculous than they already are.

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