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John Auchter / Michigan Radio

One of the challenges of editorial cartooning is finding common reference points. This week, I'm banking on most of you being familiar with the musical Hamilton, and that a production just opened in Michigan for the first time — at the Fischer Theatre in Detroit. That's a stretch, and I apologize to those who may feel left out. (Next week, back to the pothole jokes!)

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

It is so, so, so deliciously easy to hate somebody without even knowing them. In fact, not knowing somebody as a person but as part of a group is a great help.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Business leaders wondering whether they have a new ally in the governor’s office got an answer this week: not so much.

The net effect of Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s business tax proposals — aside from her plan to raise the gas tax by 45 cents a gallon – amounts to a tap on the economic brakes just as the hometown auto industry’s sales and profit pace is beginning to slow.

John Auchter / Auchtoons.com

One of my pet peeves is when somebody with a good paying, white collar job chooses a ginormous pickup truck for their commuter vehicle and then complains bitterly when the price of gas goes up. The world is not conspiring against you! You made your choice — deal with the consequences!

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

The last time Detroit got a new auto plant, Papa Bush was in the White House and Detroit’s real reckoning was years away. In the nearly 30 years since, Ford Motor mortgaged the Blue Oval to survive Detroit’s two other automakers collapsed into federally induced bankruptcy, and all three found profitability.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

It's true. Michigan is building a new bridge with Canada — the Gordie Howe Bridge between Detroit and Windsor. And Canada is indeed paying for it. In fact, credit where credit is due, that's how Governor Snyder made the deal happen — with his own kind of end run around a legislature reluctant to fund it. (The legislative branch constitutionally must appropriate funds, but Canada is taking care of the up-front costs.)

John Dingell, 29, is sworn in as a member of Congress in 1955 by House Speaker Sam Rayburn of Texas
John Dingell website

John Dingell died the same day the “Green New Deal” appeared in Washington. Michigan’s legendary congressman would not have approved.

This driving force behind the Clean Air, Medicare and Affordable Care acts was notoriously suspicious of what he called the, quote, “damn enviros” and their idealized prescriptions for the economy. They, in return, pretty much hated Dingell, considering him too cozy with Detroit’s automakers and their union members.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I can tell you that the cartoon this week is not partisan, but that's really for you to decide. On the surface, it's me quoting the current Democratic leader directly and without comment, then dinging the two previous Republican leaders. But I had a deeper aim. It all started with Governor Whitmer's State of the State address this week.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Generous Motors is officially gone.

The automaker’s plan to idle and try to close five North American plants is hurtling toward a Titanic battle over the direction of Detroit’s auto industry.

Two sides with totally opposed views of the market today where technology is heading and how it will affect jobs and investment will play out this year  the most consequential since the auto bankruptcies a decade ago.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

There was a story on Michigan Radio this week about the hearing in Detroit's federal court challenging the validity of Michigan's 2011 redistricting maps.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Remember Foxconn Technology Group?

It was eyeing an investment in Michigan to the tune of $10 billion, but it ended up in Wisconsin. And it turns out that may be a good thing.

The Taiwan-based contract manufacturer now is reversing its promise to employ thousands of blue-collar workers making liquid-crystal displays outside Milwaukee.

President Donald Trump touted the deal nearly two years ago at the White House, on Twitter and in remarks calling it “the eighth wonder of the world.”

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

It appears the snow has finally stopped falling here in West Michigan. In a day or two it is supposed to turn reasonably warm enough for me to attend to the non-priority snow removal issues — the roof, patios, walkways. Before the rains come. And then the next freeze cycle. Oy!

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Washington’s dysfunction is weighing on the auto industry. The Trump administration was supposed to be Detroit’s best friend in a couple of generations. The president was supposed to understand the industrial Midwest, if only because its voters delivered him to the White House and his team would enact policies the industry purportedly would like.

It’s not working out that way.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

I was listening to a podcast with comedian W. Kamau Bell. It was recorded previous to the incidents on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last weekend, but there were some very timely insights.

Michigan State University sign
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

It didn’t take long.

Just a few weeks after Democrats gained a 6-2 majority on Michigan State’s board of trustees, interim President John Engler is out. Exactly what you’d expect for the former Republican governor … especially after he handed his overseers yet one more rhetorical club to wield against him.

Namely, his own words.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

The TV program The Good Place is about... Well, actually, it's one of those shows where the less you know at the start, the more enjoyable it is. So for those of you who haven't started or are not quite caught up, I will say only that the term "good place" is more or less a synonym for "heaven."

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Thirty years after the Detroit’s auto dealers rebranded its hometown auto show as “international,” the era is over.

No more tramping through the snow braving biting winds listening to complaints about coming to the Motor City in January. After this year, the North American International Auto Show will take place June and it’ll be reimagined around hands-on experience and advanced technology.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Not too long ago when I would draw a cartoon related to the city of Detroit, a good portion of the feedback I'd get included suggestions to build some sort of wall around to the city to seal it off from the rest of Michigan. At the time, I recognized these not as legitimate proposals, but folks either venting their frustrations or mongering their fears. Now, I'm not so sure they weren't perfectly serious.

Time to kick off this New Year with our first Local Spins of 2019 as we check out the West Michigan music scene with John Sinkevics, editor and publisher of localspins.com.

Here are this month's picks:

"Lysander" by Heaters 

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

Happy New Year, folks. Detroit’s three automakers are heading for their most tumultuous year since two of them emerged from bankruptcy a decade ago.

Expect confrontation and radical change. The auto bosses charged with navigating their industry’s greatest transformation since Henry Ford’s moving assembly line are set for a clash with the industry’s paternalistic tradition, and its implied obligation to, quote, “the people.”

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

As always, I leave the cartoon open to your interpretation. (My intention is not to tell you what to think — it's more of a nudge to get you to think.)

John U. Bacon

The latest college football bowl season might have gone worse for in-state teams, but it’s hard to imagine how.

First, the good news: four state schools were invited to bowl games this year, while Ferris State got to the final game of the Division II playoffs.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio
Gov. Rick Snyder
gophouse.com

Less than two weeks from now, Rick Snyder will be just another former Michigan governor.

He says he’ll return to a vague future that could include advising start-ups and doing a little teaching at his alma mater in Ann Arbor. From there, he’ll have a front-row seat to watch his successor, Democrat Gretchen Whitmer, and her allies try to overturn the worst aspects of his tenure as they see them, anyway.

I first met Pat Rode in the summer of 1980. I was a 15-year-old kid who’d just broken 100 pounds.

He was 51-year-old former Army captain. He was built like it, and acted like it: a tough, no-nonsense guy you didn’t want to disappoint.

I was a rookie at Camp Hayo-Went-Ha, while Pat was on his way to becoming the director.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

Because the lame-duck session of the Michigan Legislature will conclude at some point past my deadline, I didn't feel confident in commenting on what legislation will actually pass. Further, I have no idea what Governor Snyder may sign into law and what he may not.

Daniel Howes / Detroit News

It must be good to be Dr. Eden Wells. She’s Michigan’s chief medical executive.

Just days before a judge ordered her to stand trial for involuntary manslaughter in the Flint water crisis, she got a new government gig. The job is newly created and posted for all of six days, and get this, she was the only applicant.

John Auchter / Michigan Radio

On Wednesday this week, Governor Snyder signed a bill into law that will allow a tunnel for a new section of pipeline under the Straits of Mackinac to move forward. The intention is to resolve the status of the Enbridge Line 5 oil pipeline, which currently is laid across the bottom of the Straits and poses a potential for catastrophic disaster.

John U. Bacon

The people who run all 39 college football bowl games recently picked the 78 teams they want to showcase this holiday season – even though there are only 130 teams to choose from. In other words, they have to dip into the bottom half of teams to fill the bowls.

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