What Do You Think Is the Core Problem?

What Do You Think Is the Core Problem?

The upcoming lame duck session of the Michigan legislature presents a rare opportunity for real bipartisanship. The re-elected Governor Whitmer and the outgoing Republican legislative leadership have hinted around at some possibilities. Two items of note — the desperate need to shore up Michigan’s mental health treatment capabilities and various tax cuts.

It is, of course, possible to move on both. Not probable, though. It is easy to blame those gal-durn politicians for this. But let’s face it, we, the citizens of Michigan, have to own it, too. Because there is only so much money. And when it gets down to likely having to choose, we will almost certainly opt for the one that is easier to understand.

Tax cuts mean money coming back to us. (This is not always true, but in concept that’s what happens.)

Reimagining and shoring up our mental health care system is much more abstract. What do you mean by mental health care? What does it look like? Who are the trained professionals? How can we ensure access? Do you have to be already sick to qualify? What if they don’t look sick to me? How much will it cost? And so on. Worse, this isn’t just a Michigan problem to solve — it’s a national one.

In any case, there does seem to be a consensus that mental illness is a core problem to our country’s ongoing epidemic of mass shootings. The easy accessibility of military murder machines certainly augments the danger, but it is obviously an unstable mind that commits such atrocities. The question is: What are we willing to do about it? So far, not nearly enough.

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Congratulations, Elon Musk and Tesla!

Congratulations, Elon Musk and Tesla!

I am sure you’re all at least somewhat aware of the latest antics of the super-rich sideshow known as Elon Musk. As with all billionaire man-children (even the ones who are not in fact billionaires but overleveraged former presidents), I find it healthier to keep a distance — an awareness of the shenanigans without the details of the skulduggery.

Having grown up in Flint, I’m well aware of the consequences of very wealthy “captains of industry” making disastrous decisions. In the 1980s, the American automotive manufacturers were still in a very advantageous position. But they kind of pissed away a lot of it with, among other things, buying aerospace companies and slagging their workers instead of, you know, building better cars.

It struck me that Elon Musk is something of a modern-day version of that — all the stupidity and chuzpah but with exponentially more self-promotion. What a waste of resources. But I think you should know that I did show some restraint. I didn’t mention anything about his cars catching fire. (Of course that would have been more of a 1970s American automobile manufacturer thing.)

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But You Never Actually Said What You Were Going to Do About It

But You Never Actually Said What You Were Going to Do About It

There’s an old maxim (or perhaps I just made it up): Never let updated information get in the way of a good idea for a cartoon (especially if you’ve already drawn the cartoon). Heading into the election, polls and general consensus had inflation as the number one issue among Michigan voters. But afterward, apparently that wasn’t entirely the case. As reported by MLive:

“Bernie Porn of EPIC/MRA, another pollster, said he found that while Michiganders cited inflation as their top issue of concern, at 28%, it was abortion that drove them to the polls, with 43% citing that as their top issue in the election itself.”

Okay, so although this news may render today’s cartoon not 100% accurate, I stand by the point: Among the mistakes Michigan Republicans made in these midterms, invoking inflation without having an actionable plan was a big one. They seemed to have depended on voters just thinking that “Republican” was synonymous with “fiscal responsibility.” Maybe that was true 40, 50 years ago, but it’s certainly not today. And so not actually having a plan to fight inflation turned out to be problematic.

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You Know What’d Be Really Nice?

You Know What'd Be Really Nice?

I like the idea of electing leaders who see the value of good governance, but I’m more afraid of those willing (even enthused) about burning the whole house down.

I like the idea of passing laws that ensure all people (especially women) have access to affordable, high-quality health care, but I’m more afraid of the zealots and ideologues intent on doing or saying anything to prevent that.

I like the idea of making voting as accessible as possible, but I’m more afraid of how dedicated supporters of the Big Lie are continuously attempting to undermine that.

I like the idea of candidates capable of being open-minded and admitting mistakes, but I’m more afraid of those who will always put party and self-interest first.

I like the idea of supporting democracy, but I’m more afraid of how it can be whittled away and replaced by authoritarianism.

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The Election Denier Philosophy

The Election Denier Philosophy

As we head into the final stretch of this election season, it can feel overwhelming. We’ve been deluged with deviously crafted ads, catchy slogans, and endless appeals for our vote (and our money). We’ve been bludgeoned with reports, speeches, commentary, and analysis. Things can feel like they’re really messed up.

So now I think it is a good time to pause for a moment, take some deep breaths, and clear your mind… so you can realize that, yes, in fact, things are messed up.

Well, not all things. But some. For instance, the fact that there are so many candidates who are straight up election deniers, including the Republican candidates for state attorney general and secretary of state. You’d think that accepting the truth or at least not promulgating lies would be a qualifier for running for those offices. Apparently not. That is objectively messed up (under any circumstance).

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Running for School Board

Running for School Board

Almost six years ago, I drew a cartoon about Betsy DeVos being nominated as the Secretary of Education for the Trump administration. This cartoon is very different from that cartoon, but as far as my comments go, I pretty much have the same thing to say — like DeVos, many of the folks running for school boards this fall are cranks:

A crank (for lack of a better term, let me know if there is one) is a person caught up in her own thoughts, plans, and ideology — dogmatically indifferent to the consequences. It’s been my experience that nearly every organization has one — work group, school board, sports team, professional society, whatever.

And for the most part, it’s good to have a crank.

They provide a vital service: They keep everybody else honest.

Nobody wants to set the crank off, so we tend to plan more carefully.

For example, say you’re the chair of a church committee to raise funds for a mission trip. There is consensus for a pancake breakfast, but there is a crank on the finance team who believes with all her heart that using food for fundraising is a grave sin. If indeed you want to move forward, you will make sure to organize a solid and defensible plan.

But the last thing you want is for the crank to be in charge.

Cranks by their nature are “my way or the highway” types, and likely with a chip on the shoulder from having been handled and circumvented so much in the past.

So, please, do your homework and vote accordingly.

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The “Who’s the Attorney General?” Show!

The "Who's the Attorney General?" Show!

I have for some time been trying to figure out a way to illustrate the unique circumstances of this year’s race for attorney general in Michigan between the current office holder, Democrat Dana Nessel, and Republican candidate, Matt DePerno.

A quick summary from Bridge Michigan:

“DePerno is one of nine people who were investigated by Nessel’s office for an alleged Michigan vote tabulator tampering scheme. Nessel’s office began its investigation in February, before DePerno was her opponent. Because of the conflict of interest of investigating him, Nessel sought the appointment of a special prosecutor to decide if charges are warranted.”

You don’t see that kind of thing every election year. But who could have predicted that the Republican Party would nominate somebody actively breaking well-established laws to be the top enforcer of laws for our state? Oh, yeah, right… Unprecedented has sort of become the new precedented, huh?

Anyway, I believe this week’s cartoon stands on its own. But for those of you old enough to remember the annual advertising blitz by Network TV to promote new fall lineups, it may resonate a little more. Also, am I the only one who gets a Dr. Strangelove vibe from Matt DePerno?

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You Can Imagine Why I Might Not Trust You

You Can Imagine Why I Might Not Trust You

Abortion is, of course, a sensitive issue. And even though I may at times relish provoking thoughts and (let’s be honest) pushing buttons, I decidedly do not when it comes to this topic. People have developed deeply held views that are very personal.

But just because something is sensitive doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be discussed. As always, you readers can decide for yourselves, but this is my take: Opponents of Proposal 3 have labeled it as radical and extreme. That’s subjective (and somewhat disingenuous when significant elements of the pro-life movement have used those very words as rallying cries).

What I will say is that deciding the legal status of abortion in Michigan via ballot proposal is not great. In a similar way in which Roe v. Wade was not great, we should be deciding these things through the legislative process. But the reality is, we haven’t done that. And the chances of us ever doing that are slim to none.

I mean, if we as a country couldn’t get the Equal Rights Amendment passed into law, what are the chances that any legislature (state or federal) is going to be able to handle the abortion issue?

So wherever you stand on Proposal 3, don’t be surprised if the “other side” doesn’t seem to understand you. They probably don’t.

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Winning Over the Independent Voter

Winning Over the Independent Voter

It’s only a few weeks till election day, and voters who pledge allegiance to a political party are now well fortified in their trenches. No amount of TV ads, emails, or mailers are liable to move those folks out of their positions. So at this point, it’s all about winning over the fabled independent voter.

Winning independent votes with positive messaging is, of course, one possible strategy. But as campaigns hit the homestretch, we are more likely to experience the absurdity of how objectively bad news is enthusiastically celebrated as good news. Because it makes one party look worse than the other.

Okay, fine. But I do have a simple request to the candidates and strategists: If you feel that issues like cratered reproductive rights or galloping inflation will rally voters to your cause, go ahead and use them — but could you maybe not be so happy about it?

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THAT General Motors???

THAT General Motors???

Please don’t think that I am in any way condoning those who embrace conspiracy theories in order to explain to themselves how the world works. Especially in the past decade, this has become a chronic problem with increasingly dangerous results: human rights abuses, denied elections, insurrections. Enough said.

However, in certain instances, I can understand the impulse. For any Michigander of a certain age, a recent story in The Detroit Free Press must have been really tough to reconcile. An excerpt:

GM and the Environmental Defense Fund issued a joint statement Tuesday pushing for an accelerated timetable from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. GM and the nonprofit environmental advocacy group say they want the EPA to set standards requiring at least half of new vehicle sales to involve those without tailpipe emissions by 2030 and cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 60% for the 2030 model year compared with model year 2021 for light-duty vehicles.

What? GM working together with an environmental group to encourage tougher, more aggressive regulation of their industry? This is definitely not the GM I knew growing up in Flint! Quite the opposite. But then how do you explain it? Well, of course, conspiracy theories are an option. Perhaps a radical cabal of socialist industrialists plotting with deep state environmentalist wind farm unions in cahoots with immigrant drug and pizza cartels that … well, you get the idea.

Upon closer inspection, however, the likely reason aligns perfectly with good ol’ corporate profit goals and returns on investment: GM (like other carmakers) is hoping to ensure there will be a market for all the electric vehicles it is committing itself to build. Not as fun as the conspiracy theories, but much more plausible.

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