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John Auchter

Editorial Cartoonist

Since 1995 John has created Michigan-based editorial cartoons for the Grand Rapids Business Journal, the Grand Rapids Press, and MLive Newspapers. His cartoons are currently featured at MichiganRadio.org and are syndicated to newspapers through the Michigan Press Association. John is an active member of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. You can view an archive of his editorial work and other cartoons at Auchtoon.com. 

In addition to cartoons and essays for Michigan Radio, John works as a technical communication specialist. He has worked for a variety companies, from startups to large corporations, and has operated his own business. The job basically is the same as cartooning — putting words and images together to communicate. But in this case, John knows enough not to draw funny pictures of his boss or client. (Well, now he does.) 

John grew up on the east side of the state near Flint, graduated from Michigan Tech in da UP, and has lived in West Michigan since. He vacations Up North every summer and shovels lots of snow every winter. After his wife, he is the biggest Tigers fan in the family. He drinks Vernors when his tummy hurts.

John Auchter

I'm on my annual summer family vacation, so I drew this cartoon a week ahead of time. It's always a challenge to guess at what will remain topical for 24 hours, let alone a full week. These days it's darn near impossible.

Auchter cartoon
John Auchter

It's heartening to see the reaction to the per-and-polyfluoroalkyl chemicals, known collectively as PFAS, found contaminating the water supply of Parchment, Michigan. 

John Auchter

I try never to repeat an idea for a cartoon, but every once in a while I'll do a variation on a theme. Sixteen years ago, I had a cartoon in the Grand Rapids Business Journal with the gubernatorial candidates for the 2002 primaries. The title was "A Flavor for Everybody!" and the candidates were listed below with their heads drawn as ice cream on top of cones.

John Auchter

This week Lt. Gov. Brian Calley made a somewhat unfair accusation against fellow Republican gubernatorial candidate, Bill Schuette. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

My household received a mailer this week that was jammed with praise for Lt. Governor Brian Calley and his boss, Governor Snyder. It exhorted me to "take the comeback to the next level," which included the specific goal of "making Michigan's pre K–12 system the best in America."

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio had a story this week about a union, the Michigan State Employees Association, petitioning to allow state park rangers to carry guns. Some rangers do not feel safe, citing a perceived uptick in illegal activity and are suggesting guns and bulletproof vests as a solution.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Whether you prepare for the looming trade war with a cold beverage by the pool or panicked online shopping (may I suggest the Michigan Radio Shop if you intend to spend money?), I will not take any more of your time this week. No matter what happens, the constant remains that summer in Michigan is too short.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Governor Snyder signed legislation this week that he has championed as a "Marshall Plan for Talent." It's not a precise metaphor — the original Marshall Plan was the post-World War II effort by the United States to fund the economic redevelopment of the war-torn Western Europe. For our version, Michigan will spend $100 million in education initiatives, training, and scholarships to help rebuild our pool of skilled trades talent. So, different scale and stakes, but similar concept.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I have something of a Wikipedia problem. In idle moments in between tasks, I tend to wander over to the website for a quick nip — the plotline of a half-watched movie here, the defining geographic features of an obscure African country there. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Michigan state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Patrick Colbeck was involved in recent efforts to update the social studies curriculum for K–12 public schools. Colbeck's stated goals were to “remove partisanship from the classroom” and move students towards a more "politically neutral" dialogue that offers a balanced view of historical issues. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

It happens more or less on a regular basis. Somebody with too much time on their hands will point to the large Middle Eastern and Muslim communities in Southeast Michigan and declare their suspicions of nefarious activity. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

We can get so caught up with ongoing problems here in Michigan (roads, water, schools, etc.) that it's easy to forget some of the reasons we have for taking pride in our state. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

It may seem a little odd, but this started out as a Memorial Day cartoon. Late last year, a former neighbor passed away. He was in his mid-90s and a well-decorated World War II vet. He never talked about the medals and rarely about the experience, except to explain the significant scar on his left bicep from a sniper's bullet.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

"You're an editorial cartoonist? Wow, you must really love the current political climate! So much to draw about!"

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this in the past two years. Yes, there is plenty of material, but it often comes out like a fire hose — too much, too quickly (and in many cases already beyond satire).

John Aucter / Michigan Radio

I may have gone a bit deep into the weeds on this one, but if you hang with me a minute, I do have an actual point.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

It was an interesting week in the worlds of political satire and journalism. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

There are two types of people in this world: Those who like black licorice and those who must be punished for not liking black licorice. This is because (1) black licorice is delicious and (2) it is the one true licorice.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

The second best advice I ever gave my kids was "Remember to do the things you're supposed to do and don't do the things you're not supposed to do." Pretty sound, right? Covers the bases, for them and for me. Of course, it helped they all had (and still have) really good moral compasses.

 

But the best advice I gave them was this: "Don't stake the success of any relationship on your intention to change the other person — you can't 'fix' people, so don't try to fix them."

 

a cartoon of Governor Rick Snyder endorsing Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley
John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I don't blame politicians for avoiding the "politician" label. Politician, after all, is a dirty word. They are all rotten, lying, cheating, crummy, crooked politicians, right? Well... maybe not all. In this representative form of government, we all profess to love so much, good politicians are critical to its success. Good politicians are advocates of the people. They listen, they understand, they form a consensus, and then they lead.

 

Coach John Beilein | Michigan Wolverines Men's Basketball. You can lose a game and still be a victor
John Auchter

I saw an interview with John Beilein after the Michigan loss to Villanova in the men's NCAA championship game on Monday. It was a fairly standard "what went wrong, what would you do differently, how do you feel about it?" sort of exercise, which Coach Beilein handled graciously. But when the interviewer asked Beilein about his team, he visibly brightened.

 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Among the many things to admire about the youth who led the March for Our Lives events this past week is their patriotism. That may sound a little off because their detractors have gone to some lengths to question that very thing.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

The songwriting credit for the majority of Beatles songs is listed as "Lennon-McCartney," but in truth most of the songs were composed individually by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. One of the more famous examples of actual collaboration in the later years of the band is the song "Getting Better." In the refrain, the more optimistic and positive McCartney wrote the lyric, "It's getting better all the time," and the more pessimistic and negative Lennon contributes the next line, "Can't get no worse."

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

When I was in college, I played broomball. Broomball is basically ice hockey but instead of skates, sticks, and a puck you use tennis shoes, brooms, and a semi-deflated volleyball. It was a way for Michigan Tech students without winter sports skills to play a winter sport. Because there is a lot of winter in Houghton.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Next week, March 11–17, is Sunshine Week. For us Michiganders, the timing may seem a little off. It is squarely in the hopeless stage of our long, gray winter — what's this talk of "sunshine"? That's just mean.

Nevertheless, the American Society of News Editors and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press use this week each year to promote the importance of access to public information. Sunshine is a symbol for our communities to have transparent access to what's going on in our government. The tagline is: "It's Your Right to Know."

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

There was a punk rock band called The Dead Milkmen that had a fun little run of popularity in the late 1980s. They were goofy and sardonic and unapologetically without polish.

One of their songs was called "Bleach Boys," in which the singer extols the supposed virtues of his buddies all drinking bleach (as opposed to indulging in alcohol or other drugs). It's hilarious.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Three inspirations for this week's cartoon:

  • A recent This American Life episode titled "Words You Can't Say." There are two stories, and both are really good. But if you only have a half-hour, definitely listen to Act 2. It is a textbook (and real) example of how strict adherence to ideology can absolutely obliterate common sense and common good. 

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Last year, the Trump administration budget proposed eliminating the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a federal program to clean the lakes and protect them against invasive species. It was fairly up front about it, spinning it as the fiscally responsible thing to do.

"We must make cuts, can't just keep growing the national deficit, think of our children and grandchildren, etc." That used to be standard dogma for Republicans and a President who sold himself as an expert on debt, assuring us he would eliminate the federal deficit in eight years.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

When I was a senior at Powers Central Catholic High School in Flint, I went on a weekend religious retreat with a few of my classmates. It was fairly standard — two days away from the world to reflect and pray and to share the experience with peers. It took place on the grounds of a monastery that was also a working farm, so there were some rules. Mostly we needed to stay in or around the building that was dedicated for retreats.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

A single word to summarize these Larry Nassar trials? How about, "ugh"? Well, it may not be a real word, but it's a real feeling. Still, as stomach-churning as this experience has been, there are some,  if not positive, then at least hopeful takeaways.

John Auchter / auchtoons.com

Governor Rick Snyder delivered his final State of the State address Tuesday. It was pretty much what we've come to expect from Snyder, a vaguely corporate PowerPoint presentation. That’s in keeping with "business nerd" shtick, so no big surprise or disappointment.

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