Archive for April, 2022

Sen. Mallory McMarrow. That’s it. That’s the cartoon.

Sen. Mallory McMarrow. That's it. That's the cartoon.

I was a bit later than most in seeing State Senator Mallory McMorrow’s remarkable speech that went viral last week, which is a lifetime ago in the modern news-cycle. So forgive me if this somehow feels “over,” but I think it’s important.

Quick background: Fellow State Senator Lana Theis recently sent a campaign fundraising email that mentioned McMorrow by name, claiming that McMorrow had an agenda to “groom and sexualize kindergarteners,” among other unseemly and unsubstantiated allegations. McMorrow responded to Theis on the floor of the Michigan Senate — publicly and directly in person (you know, like something a person with integrity would do). If you haven’t already seen the video, definitely take a few minutes.

What Sen. McMorrow does is exactly what a good editorial cartoon aims to do — confronts wrongs, shines a light on the truth, punches up (never down). She is forceful but never needlessly aggressive. She both defends her positions and advances her cause. And her summarizing message is indelibly clear, “We will not let hate win.” Truly, what more needs to be said?

Well, maybe this: If you’re looking at McMorrow’s speech as one side attacking another, as a victory or defeat in a political battle, you’re missing the larger point. McMorrow is calling out lies, standing up to false accusations, and demanding that we all take note and hold to a higher standard. This is how Senate floors are supposed to work. 


We Have the Best Experts — We Just Don’t Listen to Them

We Have the Best Experts — We Just Don't Listen to Them

I was listening to the Smartless podcast episode with author Michael Lewis as the guest. Lewis wrote MoneyballThe Big Short, and many other books that have been made into movies. He is known for his thorough research and ability to uncover compelling, important stories that others just don’t see.

Lewis was talking about doing research on a more recent project about the COVID-19 pandemic and noted just how poor the response was by the United States, despite the fact that seven or eight years ago we were widely regarded as being the country best prepared for one (the best plan, the best resources). What happened? We didn’t follow our plan, and we didn’t use our resources effectively. Why? That’s what Americans do. As Lewis put it, “We have the best experts — we just don’t listen to them.”

If ever there was a statement that reveals who we’ve become, it’s that. We invest time and money into education, into programs, into research and development. And then… I don’t know what. We just drop the ball.

The rippling effects are equally as bad. Bridge Michigan had a story last week about a program in West Michigan to create 500 new nurses. A legitimate question is, what’s the point? Is anybody going to listen to them anyway? Because one of the reasons we need so many new ones is that many of the existing nurses have become disillusioned and quit.

One more recent input that may help explain all this: The Atlantic has an article titled, “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid.” It’s worth a read for yourself but their short answer is:

“Social scientists have identified at least three major forces that collectively bind together successful democracies: social capital (extensive social networks with high levels of trust), strong institutions, and shared stories. Social media has weakened all three.”


Explaining Away the Brutality

Explaining Away the Brutality

There are no pointed accusations or suggested solutions (and certainly no laughs) in this week’s cartoon. It’s a simple lament. We human beings have been doing terrible things to each other for 2,000 years. (Longer actually, but the last 2,000 have been particularly well documented.) The general consensus, of course, is that it’s wrong, but that doesn’t seem to stop it.

It’s difficult to reconcile. So we often try to explain it away as something sometimes necessary. But whether capital punishment is carried out by design or by unintended consequence, the result is the same — a brutal death.


Fred Upton Comes to a Decision

Fred Upton Comes to a Decision

Earlier this week, longtime U.S. representative Fred Upton announced that he would not be seeking re-election this fall. Upton is currently the representative for Michigan’s 6th District, which covers most of southwest, lower Michigan. In a newly redrawn district, Upton would have run in the Republican primary against fellow representative, Bill Huizenga.

Upton has plenty of reasons not to run — both the ones he stated in his speech on the House floor and the ones he didn’t. My guess is that it had mostly to do with having to deal with McConnellism — the putting of political party above all else (including country). Granted, Mitch McConnell is neither the first nor the only politician to do this. He simply has perfected it. (Former President Trump, it must be acknowledged, has militarized it. But he already has too many isms named after him.)

So it makes sense that Upton — a West Michigan Republican in the tradition of Gerald Ford and Vern Ehlers — would not be inclined to take on both his own party and the opposition party to get elected. But it sure doesn’t make me very optimistic about future representatives representing the people (all of the people) of their district.


Don’t Ruin My Talking Points with Reality

Don't Ruin My Talking Points with Reality

Is it just me or is the whole “government always bad” schtick feel played out? I mean, it seems very much like the vaudeville “take my wife…please” humor that made its way into the TV sitcoms — maybe it was funny the 50s and 60s, but it’s certainly not today.

Ronald Regan had a nice run with all this 40 years ago.

“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help.” <insert laugh track>

The thing is, it was hyperbole, a joke to get his point across, which was the desire for a more limited role of government. Now folks (including the entire Republican Party) seem to interpret “government always bad” literally, which has taken it from kinda corny to fundamentally dangerous.

Let’s get on with the reality that our government does have a role. We’ve been blessed with this constitutional republic, and however imperfect, it’s ours to use to our advantage (or ours to ruin).

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