Archive for June, 2021

What Color Is the Sky in Your World?

What Color Is the Sky in Your World?

In the classic TV sitcom Cheers, know-it-all barfly, Cliff Clavin often filled gaps in conversation with unsolicited information — absurd, totally unbelievable, easily disproven information — but delivered with complete confidence. A particular favorite example of mine had Cliff offering his long-suffering buddies, Norm and Frasier, this little nugget:

“Yeah, it’s a genetic quirk in the Clavin family that we all have two extra teeth. Ya see, that’s the only way that we can prove that we are the rightful heirs to the Russian throne.”

There’s a perfect comedic pause and then Frasier says, “Hello in there, Cliff.” Another pause. “Tell me — what color is the sky in your world?” 

Fellow Americans, we have always had Cliff Clavins in our country. Lots of them. I imagine that most countries do. But we seem to have made the unfortunate mistake these past few years of actually listening to them.

Seriously. We gotta stop doing that.


A Dead Rat That Had Been Living in the Shadows

A Dead Rat That Had Been Living in the Shadows

This week saw further developments in the sex abuse tragedy in which a former doctor, Richard Anderson, sexually assaulted athletes and students over the 36 years he worked for the University of Michigan. Survivors have now stepped forward to urge the University of Michigan and its Board of Regents to take accountability for its failure to protect students.

It’s really quite sickening. Frankly, I found looking at the reference images of dead rats taped to my drawing board much less stomach-churning than reading about what happened and how it was allowed to go on for so long.

All I can add is that now is the exact worst time to bring up talk of “let’s get past this” and “we need to move on” because “what’s done is done” and “that was a long time ago.” 

The lessons are all there. Larry Nassar, Jerry Sandusky. The Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America. What good came from covering up their abuses or trying to move quickly past them? Not a single thing. We know too well the terrible consequences of allowing the weak and venerable to be preyed upon and then attempting to cover up the wreckage.

If this scandal is not properly investigated, if healing light is not allowed to expose the guilty and lift up the survivors, more and more rats will die off in the shadows, and the stench might never go away.


Another Audit?! Are You Serious?!

I’m sometimes asked what my motivations are for drawing editorial cartoons. Am I trying to convince readers to agree with my point of view? Evangelize? Score points? And the answer is, no … mostly. I mean, there is always a small slice of ego that longs to be validated, right? The idea that people read my cartoons and say, “You know, before seeing this I held the exact opposite view, but now that my eyes have been opened by this man’s scathingly brilliant observations, and I have come to complete agreement! Also, my sides have split with laughter.”

No, in reality it is something much less ambitious. More often than not, I’m simply expressing a thought and hoping to spark further thought. No winning or losing an argument. No promoting a particular ideology. And certainly no converting.

I’m sharing this with you this particular week because I really don’t have anything to add to the cartoon itself. I’m incredulous that anybody would think that an additional audit of the 2020 election here in Michigan would be a good idea (especially by a private firm). And I’m equally incredulous that anybody would think that a 9/11-style commission on the events of January 6th would be a bad idea. I hope that makes you think about that, too.


Finally Something We Can All … Agree On

Finally Something We Can All ... Agree On

It was a pretty straight path to the cartoon this week. I was reading an article in the Detroit Free Press about newly proposed bills in the state legislature to use $25 million of federal COVID-19 relief funds to staff up at the Secretary of State offices. Lengthy closings because of the pandemic created a backlog of Michiganders needing to update licenses, register vehicles, and so on.

So the idea is to use one-time money that doesn’t come out of our budget to solve a problem that affects nearly all of us. If ever there was something we can all agree on, thought I, this was it. But then I read on. 

It seems it was a couple of Democrats (Rep. Stephanie Young, D-Detroit, Rep. Julie Brixie, D-Meridian Township) behind the bills. I would not have been surprised if it had been two Republicans, but apparently it matters.

The bills are written with the forward-looking objective of improving service. The SOS offices would expand on the current appointment system, aiming to build flexibility and efficiency into the system as a hedge against future disruptions. Republicans would prefer to simply open offices back up with the pre-pandemic take-a-number system. You know, the one that pretty much everyone (including the workers) loathe. Why? I don’t know. It could be that they are still not totally onboard with preventing sickness and death. It could be that it simply wasn’t their idea.

See? This is why we can’t have nice (or even simple) things.