After the latest outrage

Jim Geraghty wrote Tuesday morning:

As a longtime reader wrote in [Tuesday] morning, “Jesus walks beside us, but the devil’s not far behind.” The latest from the deadly terror attack in Manchester:

Police and the security services believe they know the identity of the suicide bomber who killed 22 people — including children — in an explosion that tore through fans leaving an Ariana Grande pop concert in Manchester.

As the first arrest was made in connection with the attack, Prime Minister Theresa May disclosed that the authorities think they know who carried out the atrocity and confirmed they are working to establish if he was acting as part of a terror group.

Mrs. May said “many” children were among the dead and 59 injured in the bombing at the Manchester Arena on Monday night as thousands of young people streamed from the venue.

Her statement came moments before police disclosed that a 23-year-old man was arrested in South Manchester on Tuesday morning in connection with the bombing.

Moments before this e-mail newsletter was sent to the editors, an ISIS posted a message online claiming responsibility for the attack. Then again, these guys take credit for anything bad that happens.

… There’s no crime in applying past experience to current conditions. This explosion didn’t happen in a vacuum. It comes after the Madrid train bombing in 2004, the Beslan school attack that same year, London’s 7/7 bombings in 2005, the attack on Charlie Hebdo and the attack on Bataclan and other targets in 2015, the bombing of the airport in Brussels in March 2016, the truck attack in Nice in July 2016, the Christmas-market attack in Berlin in December, the Westminster Bridge attack in March, the subway bombing in St. Petersburg in April…

Bruce Bawer adds:

Damn these jihadist murderers of children. And damn the politicians who have, in many cases, helped make these murders possible but who are quick, this time and every time, to serve up empty declarations of “solidarity”even as the bodies of innocents are still being counted.

London mayor Sadiq Khan (who recently dismissed terrorist attacks as “part and parcel of living in a big city”): “London stands with Manchester.” Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer (who, in the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre, proclaimed a CAIR-backed “Muslim Women’s Day”—you know, the kind of event that proclaims hijabs “empowering”): Orlando “stands in solidarity with the people of the UK.” L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti (who went berserk when Trump tried to impose that temporary travel ban from a half-dozen Muslim countries): “Los Angeles stands with the people of Manchester.”

Meaningless words, all of them. But Angela Merkel takes the cake: “People in the UK can rest assured that Germany stands shoulder to shoulder with them.” Well, isn’t that . . . reassuring. In what way do such words help anybody to “rest assured” of anything? In any case, how dare she? This, after all, is the woman who opened the floodgates—the woman who, out of some twisted sense of German historical guilt, put European children in danger by inviting into the continent masses of unvetted people from the very part of the world where this monstrous evil has its roots.

Then there was this from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker: “Once again, terrorism has sought to instill fear where there should be joy, to sow division where young people and families should be coming together in celebration.” Beneath the innocuous-seeming surface of this statement is a slick rhetorical ruse: Juncker to the contrary, these savages aren’t out to “sow division”—they’re out to kill infidels. By introducing the concept of “division,” Juncker, like so many others, is implying that the important message here is: Hey, whatever you do, don’t let this little episode put any bad thoughts about Islam into your head!

Manchester City Council leader Sir Richard Leese also spoke of “fear” and “division”: “Manchester is a proud, strong city and we will not allow terrorists who seek to sow fear and division to achieve their aims.” Guess what, pal? They did achieve their aims: they killed 22 people, including children, and injured several dozen. Dead infidels: that’s their objective, period. (Or, as you would say, full stop.)

Naturally, Manchester’s mayor, Andy Burnham, put out a statement. Burnham, as it happens, is a radical socialist who has wrung his hands for years about Islamophobia and has fought tooth and nail against a nationwide “anti-extremism” program called Prevent on the grounds that it “singles out one community for different treatment.” After yesterday’s atrocity, Burnham said: “We are grieving today, but we are strong.”

Strong? No, Mr. Burnham, you are anything but strong. You are cowards, all of you. You are more scared of being called bigots than of the prospect of children under your official protection being slaughtered by jihadists.

Three-quarters of a century ago, Britain stood shoulder to shoulder in true solidarity while under violent assault by the diabolical ideology of Nazism. Today, its leaders speak of the same kind of solidarity—but it’s nothing but talk. In Rotherham, gangs of Muslim men sexually abused 1,400 girls—and police and other officials who knew about it did nothing for years lest they be accused of racism or Islamophobia. Almost certainly, similar mass-scale rapes are still occurring right now in other British cities, with similar silence and inaction on the part of pusillanimous authorities. Today, British leaders refuse to deport imams who preach murder but ban from their shores respected writers and knowledgeable critics of Islam who dare to take on those imams and their theology.

Strength? Don’t you dare speak of strength. You have the blood of innocent children on your hands.

The Middle East reset

James Freeman:

President Donald Trump’s Sunday address in Saudi Arabia was bound to inspire comparisons to the speech Barack Obama delivered in Cairo, Egypt at a similar point in his young presidency. And just like his predecessor, Mr. Trump expressed gratitude and respect for his hosts. But the 45th U.S. President quickly made clear that he did not fly to the Middle East on his first overseas trip in order to explain what’s wrong with America.

It would be a crude overstatement to say that the message has gone from America worst to America first in one presidency. Mr. Obama did speak favorably of his country several times during his Cairo address. But the difference between Barack Obama’s speech in 2009 and the Trump remarks on Sunday in Riyadh is striking.

In 2009, Mr. Obama started out by making the case why Muslims should view his country with distrust:

We meet at a time of great tension between the United States and Muslims around the world — tension rooted in historical forces that go beyond any current policy debate. The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of coexistence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

Later, Mr. Obama faulted the United States for overreacting to 9/11 and noted that he had ordered the closing of the prison at Guantanamo Bay by early 2010—a promise he would not fulfill. Mr. Obama also sought to make sure that the U.S. received an ample share of the blame for its poor relations with one of the world’s primary sponsors of terrorism:

For many years, Iran has defined itself in part by its opposition to my country, and there is in fact a tumultuous history between us. In the middle of the Cold War, the United States played a role in the overthrow of a democratically elected Iranian government. Since the Islamic Revolution, Iran has played a role in acts of hostage-taking and violence against U.S. troops and civilians. This history is well known. Rather than remain trapped in the past, I’ve made it clear to Iran’s leaders and people that my country is prepared to move forward.

Even on issues of women’s rights, Mr. Obama didn’t want to give the U.S. much credit in comparison to the Muslim world. The latter is a world where women sometimes struggle just for the freedom to read books or drive automobiles. But Mr. Obama said that “the struggle for women’s equality continues in many aspects of American life, and in countries around the world.”

In Riyadh on Sunday, President Trump spent no time blaming America or making excuses for our adversaries. But he did note the possibilities available to a Middle East that rejects terror:

The potential of this region has never been greater. 65 percent of its population is under the age of 30. Like all young men and women, they seek great futures to build, great national projects to join, and a place for their families to call home.

But this untapped potential, this tremendous cause for optimism, is held at bay by bloodshed and terror. There can be no coexistence with this violence.

There can be no tolerating it, no accepting it, no excusing it, and no ignoring it.

Mr. Trump added that “no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete” without mentioning the government that gives terrorists “safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.” And he left no ambiguity about who was responsible:

The Iranian regime’s longest-suffering victims are its own people. Iran has a rich history and culture, but the people of Iran have endured hardship and despair under their leaders’ reckless pursuit of conflict and terror. Until the Iranian regime is willing to be a partner for peace, all nations of conscience must work together to isolate Iran, deny it funding for terrorism, and pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they deserve.

By the way, this column should note that perhaps the most striking comment when one looks back at Mr. Obama’s 2009 remarks has little to do with U.S. foreign policy, but underlines how far and how quickly the Democratic Party has moved on issues of sexual identity. Toward the end of his speech, Mr. Obama said, “The Holy Koran tells us: ‘O mankind! We have created you male and a female; and we have made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another.’” Referencing that line today in the era of transgender politics would have progressives back in the U.S. shrieking for a safe space.

As for the safety of the entire civilized world in its fight against Islamic terror, this column expects that many overseas listeners will find reassurance in a message from America without apologies.

Presty the DJ for May 24

Two Beatles anniversaries today:

1964: The Beatles make their third appearance on CBS-TV’s “Ed Sullivan Show.”

1969: “Get Back” (with Billy Preston on keyboards) hits number one:

Meanwhile, today in 1968, Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithful were arrested for drug possession. (Those last five words could apply to an uncountable number of musicians of the ’60s and ’70s.)

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 24”

Two views of Trump

It’s hardly surprising in our divided that there are differing views of Donald Trump.

One comes from Timothy Daughtry:

As we watch the daily barrage of accusations and innuendo directed against President Trump by the far left, the liberal media, and even some in his own party, those of us who voted to put him in the Oval Office need to remember one crucial point: President Trump is not the real target.  You are.

Even considering his outsized persona and the stunning phenomenon of an outsider who has never held political office winning the presidency against one of the most powerful political machines in American history, the new movement that elected Donald Trump has never been about Trump. In the 2016 election, the “forgotten men and women of America” were hell-bent to send a message to the powerful elites of both parties.

The message was that the Washington elites are serving themselves and their own agenda and ignoring the rest of the nation.  The message was that Washington has become a swamp of corruption and self-serving collusion among powerful interests and that Main Street America is ready to see that swamp drained.

Donald Trump was our messenger.

Because his candidacy was not about Trump the man but Trump the messenger, he was able to withstand the smears and assaults of the Clinton Machine that would have sunk any other candidate.  They siphoned all the way to the bottom of their slime barrel, and still the message prevailed.

That message was simple and grounded in common sense.  No country can survive unless it has control over its borders.  People coming into American should be vetted to make sure that they pose no danger to us.  After eight years of stifling taxes and regulations, we should once again make America a healthy place in which to do business, make products, and create jobs.  Political correctness may seem silly and laughable, but in reality it poses a serious threat to free expression and open exchange of ideas. If it’s terrorism, call it that.  Say what is obvious to our common sense even if it offends the delicate sensibilities of the elite.

Now the denizens of the Washington swamp are sending a message back to the forgotten men and women who voted for Trump and his reforms: “Forget you.”

The leftists who worked to radically transform the nation under Barack Obama are telling us that they hold the reins of power and that we the people don’t run anything.  They are telling us that their agenda will prevail regardless of how we vote or what we want.  They are telling us that they can subvert, attack, and destroy any messenger that we send into their territory.  And feckless leaders in the GOP seem, at best, more afraid of displeasing the Democrats than betraying their own voters, and, at worst, in cozy collusion with the opposition.

What is at stake in the barrage of innuendo, twisted news, and “investigations” is not just the future of the Trump presidency, but the future of the very idea that governmental power rests ultimately on the consent of the governed.

Of course there is much at stake in the actual policy questions facing the country.  But underneath the debates about border security, court appointees, tax and regulatory policy, and so on lies a deeper question that is at the very heart of our system of government: Can the American people still change the direction of the country if we believe that the country is headed in the wrong direction?  Or will the powerful and self-serving elites impose their agenda even when we don’t consent to it?

When the voters put leftists in power, as they did with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, the country moves left.  But when voters try to change course, as we did in the elections of 2010 and 2014, the country still careened towards open borders, government control of healthcare, rule by rogue judges, and lawless license for those in the power elite.

And so we went outside the traditional path and elected Donald Trump in 2016.  The liberal news anchors had barely dried their tears after Election Day when the left began to cloud the real meaning of Trump’s election by pushing the bizarre claim that the Russians had somehow hacked the election.

In their gaslighting version of reality, you didn’t really vote to drain the swamp.  You didn’t really vote to secure our borders.  You didn’t vote to repeal and replace Obamacare and put doctors and patients back in charge instead of Washington bureaucrats.  You didn’t vote to restore rule of law and common sense to Washington.  The Russians somehow threw the election to Trump.  You can go back home now and let the experts run things.

It’s swamp gas.  Don’t breathe it.

There is plenty in Washington that merits investigation, from foreign influence through the Clinton Foundation to Obama’s use of intelligence data for political purposes.  Congress has the power to do just that, but we need to give them the will.

Let’s remind our representatives that they might forget us, but we won’t forget them.

A different view comes from Charlie Sykes:

If there was one principle that used to unite conservatives, it was respect for the rule of law. Not long ago, conservatives would have been horrified at wholesale violations of the norms and traditions of our political system, and would have been appalled by a president who showed overt contempt for the separation of powers.

But this week, as if on cue, most of the conservative media fell into line, celebrating President Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, and dismissing the fact that Mr. Comey was leading an investigation into the Trump campaign and its ties to Russia. “Dems in Meltdown Over Comey Firing,” declared a headline on Fox News, as Tucker Carlson gleefully replayed clips of Democrats denouncing the move. “It’s just insane actually,” he said, referring to their reactions. On Fox and talk radio, the message was the same, with only a few conservatives willing to sound a discordant or even cautious note.

The talk-show host Rush Limbaugh was positively giddy, opening his monologue on Wednesday by praising Mr. Trump for what he called his “epic trolling” of liberals. “This is great,” Mr. Limbaugh declared. “Can we agree that Donald Trump is probably enjoying this more than anybody wants to admit or that anybody knows? So he fires Comey yesterday. Who’s he meet with today? He’s meeting with the Soviet, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov! I mean, what an epic troll this is.”

Given the enthusiasm of the president’s apologists, it is likely that much of Mr. Trump’s base will similarly rally to him as it has in the past.

But perhaps most important, we saw once again how conservatism, with its belief in ordered liberty, is being eclipsed by something different: Loathing those who loathe the president. Rabid anti-anti-Trumpism.

In a lamentably overlooked monologue this month, Mr. Limbaugh embraced the new reality in which conservative ideas and principles had been displaced by anti-liberalism. For years, Mr. Limbaugh ran what he called the “Institute for Advanced Conservative Studies.” But in the Trump era, he told his audience, he has changed that to the “Institute for Advanced Anti-Leftist Studies.”

With Mr. Trump in the White House, conservative principles were no longer the point. “How many times during the campaign did I warn everybody Trump is not a conservative? Multiple times a day,” Mr. Limbaugh said. “How many times have I told you: ‘Do not expect Trump to be a conservative? He isn’t one.’ ”

He went on to emphasize that the campaign was not about conservatism, because that’s not what Mr. Trump is about.

That was a remarkable admission, but it is also a key to understanding what is happening on the right. While there are those like Sean Hannity who are reliable cheerleaders for all things President Trump, much of the conservative news media is now less pro-Trump than it is anti-anti-Trump. The distinction is important, because anti-anti-Trumpism has become the new safe space for the right.

Here is how it works: Rather than defend President Trump’s specific actions, his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased “fake news” media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Mr. Trump or his supporters and (5) whataboutism, as in “What about Obama?” “What about Clinton?”

For the anti-anti-Trump pundit, whatever the allegation against Mr. Trump, whatever his blunders or foibles, the other side is always worse.

But the real heart of anti-anti-Trumpism is the delight in the frustration and anger of his opponents. Mr. Trump’s base is unlikely to hold him either to promises or tangible achievements, because conservative politics is now less about ideas or accomplishments than it is about making the right enemies cry out in anguish.

Presty the DJ for May 23

Today in 1969, the Who released their rock opera “Tommy” …

… two years before Iron Butterfly disbanded over arguments over what “In a Gadda Da Vita” (which is one-third the length of all of “Tommy”) actually meant:

The number one British album today in 1970 was “McCartney,” named for you know who:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 23”

Trump and Islam

Last week was such a bad week for Donald Trump that the I word started to be mentioned by some Republicans​.

Trump use a differently​ I word yesterday in Saudi Arabia, NBC News reports:

President Donald Trump offered a message of unity Sunday as he called on the Arab world to confront extremism during a highly anticipated speech in the birthplace of Islam.

“A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists,” Trump told the dozens of Muslim leaders who attended his remarks.

“Drive. Them. Out. Drive them out of your places of worship,” the president continued. “Drive them out of your communities. Drive them out of your holy land, and drive them out of his Earth!”

The speech during the initial stop of the president’s first foreign trip was a stark contrast to his previous comments on Islam. As a candidate, Trump frequently criticized the religion, saying, “I think Islam hates us” and “there’s a tremendous hatred there.”

In Riyadh, Trump said, “This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations. This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.”

Calling terrorists “the foot soldiers of evil,” the president added, “If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing, then we not only will be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.”

The U.S.’s Middle Eastern allies have often complained about America’s focus on human rights, a stance Trump also seemed keen to make a break from.

“America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens,” the president said. “We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership — based on shared interests and values — to pursue a better future for us all.”

Introducing Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman spoke of the need ntroducing Trump, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman spoke of the need “to stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism.”

“There is no honor in committing murder,” Salman said, adding that Islam is “the religion of peace and tolerance.”

n his address, Trump defined the struggle against extremism as “a battle between good and evil.”
“Barbarism will deliver you no glory — piety to evil will bring you no dignity,” the president said. “If you choose the path of terror, your life will be empty, your life will be brief, and your soul will be condemned.”

Trump also offered a firm rebuke of Iran — a notable departure from the Obama administration’s overtures to the country which had caused a chill in relations with the Saudi government.

Calling out Iranian leaders for training terrorists and “spreading destruction and chaos across the region,” Trump, who has called for ripping up the nuclear deal with Iran, implored all nations to “work together to isolate” Tehran until the regime is “willing to be a partner for peace.”

“Pray for the day when the Iranian people have the just and righteous government they so richly deserve,” he said.

Trump also included a brief reference to his hope for peace between Israel and the Palestinians — a deal he has repeatedly said he hopes to broker during his time in office. Trump noted “peace in this world is possible — including peace between Israelis and Palestinians. I will be meeting with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.” …

Trump called on countries in the region to do the hard work themselves and not to expect the U.S. to fight terror for them.

“We are not here to lecture — we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship.”

“The nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children,” Trump said. “Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combating radicalization.”

Trump said he hoped the gathering of the region’s leaders in Riyadh would mark the beginning of the end of terrorism and the start of peace in the Middle East.

“This region should not be a place that refugees flee, but to which newcomers flock,” the president said.

Trump, like seemingly every other president, is dreaming​ if he thinks there can ever be peace between Israel and its implacable Arab emenies. The rest of the speech, however, was long overdue for its condemnation of radical Islam and Iran and calling on the rest of Islam to reject their terrorists.

 No Democrat who ran for president last year could have done, or would have done, better.

spewch

Presty the DJ for May 21

One strange anniversary in rock music: Today in 1968, Paul McCartney and Jane Asher attended a concert of … Andy Williams:

Eleven years later, not McCartney, but Elton John became the first Western artist to perform in the Soviet Union.

Four years later, David Bowie’s suggestion reached number one:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for May 21”

East Side, West Side

Readers know I grew up on the far east side of Madison, a mile south of where Interstate 90 splits off for Chicago, Interstate 94 heads to Milwaukee, and I–90/94 goes north to the Wisconsin Dells, La Crosse and the Twin Cities.

This was (well, still is) the old neighborhood, Heritage Heights, which years earlier had been part of a large farm. (More on that presently.) My parents built their first house, a green and yellow ranch with a two-car garage on the left side behind a rather steep driveway, in 1971, the year our street and the street behind (to the north) our house was paved. (The basement for our house was poured on my sixth birthday, and the street wasn’t paved yet.) There were basically three house designs on the entire block, with a couple of exceptions — a one-story ranch (with garage to left or right), a two-story house (on either side of our house), and a split-level house.

We had moved there from another house my parents had purchased upon having two sons in the house, 1.5 miles to the south. My future second-grade teacher lived two houses down, and across the street was a childless couple, older than my parents, who would have us over on numerous occasions.

Neither of those neighborhoods was a suburb of Madison, since they were in the city, but they felt like they were, given the distance around either Lake Mendota or Lake Monona to downtown or the UW campus, seven miles (if you drive through downtown) and a world away. When late 1960s Vietnam War protests hit national TV, we had relatives who were concerned that marauding rioters would endanger us. They didn’t realize how far it was to campus and the reality that any UW student who got that far east was lost.

It took until I (permanently) left Madison for me to realize what an unusual neighborhood it was. The nearest gas station and grocery store were one mile away. Want to have a drink at the neighborhood bar? There wasn’t one; the closest bar was two miles away. (Farther away yet was a combination bar and barber shop building where the males of the house got haircuts.) Want to go out to dinner? The nearest nice restaurant (which I never went to) was The Pig’s Ear, 1.4 miles away. (There were both bars and bars with non-bar food a couple of miles away, but at the time those were in what could be called “rural Madison,” the towns of Blooming Grove and Burke.)  Unless you mowed grass or babysat, any part-time jobs required a commute.

There was one church in the neighborhood, for what then was called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. (Not the Mormons, and now called the Community of Christ, though I think the building itself, which became our Boy Scout home base, isn’t a church anymore.) The neighborhood had houses and one park, and that was it. Our neighborhood was impossible to live in if you didn’t have a car. (Madison Metro’s J route went through, but try bringing home groceries on a bus.)

Public-school kids in my neighborhood went to John F. Kennedy Elementary School (though I went to Elvehjem Elementary School for kindergarten until we moved), which was a one-mile walk through Heritage Heights Park and its culvert that filled with fast-rushing water from spring snowmelt (and the future home of legendary 1980s Heritage Bowl touch football games, but that’s another story). until the completion of a road behind our house reduced the distance considerably, just in time for me to leave Kennedy for (the hellhole that was) Schenk (now Whitehorse) Middle School. And then surviving Schenk, off we went to Robert M. La Follette High School (sports teams known as the Lancers, not the Fighting Bobs), 3.7 miles and 15 minutes away from our house down Cottage Grove Road and U.S. 51 (Stoughton Road). (No wonder my mother was so annoyed when her sons stayed late after school and asked separately for rides. Two round trips constituted a gallon of gas in our 1975 Chevrolet Caprice, EPA-rated at 13 city and 18 highway miles per gallon. At $1 a gallon, that adds up.)

For comparison purposes: The local high school is 15 minutes from our house. By foot. The only reason it takes 10 minutes to get there by car is if you’re stuck trying to get across two state highways at non-stoplight intersections. (There is a roundabout, but four years after it opened most locals don’t seem to be able to figure out how to drive in it.) I can get to a neighboring community’s high school in 10 minutes, and two others’ high schools in 15 minutes. Those of us who grew up in my neighborhood were as far away from our own high school as those who grow up in rural school districts if measured by time. (I figured out after I moved from Madison that a 15-mile drive at 60 mph seems shorter than a 15-minute drive at 25 mph, though the former obviously is farther in distance. The driver feels like he’s getting somewhere at highway speeds, as opposed to the Far East formula of drive to the end of the street, stop, drive a few blocks, stop, drive one block, stop, etc.)

This long preamble has now reached the point of this blog: It could have been different. Stu Levitan takes us back to 1967, four years after La Follette opened its doors:

The new high school—or not

In 1966, voters had approved by a margin of 2-1 to a $26.5 bond issue which included funds to open a new east side high school in 1969. Things didn’t quite work out as planned—especially for a powerful board member and the lame-duck superintendent.

Atty. Albert J. Mc Ginnis, former chair of the Madison Redevelopment Authority, who lost to mayor Henry Reynolds in 1963, chaired the board’s site selection committee for the new school. He picked a site on the Sprecher farm on Milwaukee St., adjacent to Kennedy elementary school—which just happened to be within the Heritage Heights plat that he had developed before his election to the board in 1965, and still owned. North side Alds. Kopp and Smith, who want the school in Warner Park, howl, accusing McGinnis of an obvious conflict of interest. Later that month, more than 350 people pack a school board public hearing, calling for a Warner Park site.

On April 28, his last day before resigning to assume his duties in Denver, [school] superintendent [Robert] Gilberts recommends to the board that it buy the parcel McGinnis has identified on Milwaukee St. But three days later, in a stunning and costly rebuke of its administration, the board votes 4-3 against building any new far East Side high school at all, endorsing instead a new junior high at La Follette High School, and a similar one at Kennedy “as needed.” Among the likely repercussions: when Central HS closes in 1969, all south side students now at Central will go to West—which cannot accommodate them.

Levitan adds the numbers for the four public high schools’ Classes of 1967:

West: 677
East: 512
La Follette: 339
Central: 271

There was a high school about half the distance to La Follette in a different direction. That was Queen of Apostles High School, just on the opposite side of I–90, across Cottage Grove Road from a branch of my father’s bank. (Where I met former Packer Ray Nitschke, but that’s a different story.) QAS, as it was locally known, apparently started as a seminary back in 1948, 20 years before the Interstate bypassed Madison. QAS was the first home of my Boy Scout troop, which moved to the RLDS church after QAS closed. (QAS’ last graduation was on my 14th birthday.) QAS was on the way to closing by the time I neared high school age, and I never considered going there or to Edgewood, the remaining Catholic high school in Madison.

(The area between the Interstate and Cottage Grove is unrecognizable now compared to when I lived there. When I was driving from Madison to Cottage Grove to cover government meetings in my first journalism job, there was only one place you had to slow down on those seven miles, at Vilas, about halfway there. Now, it is wall to wall houses and businesses, and the speed limit is 35 mph.)

Another high school is even closer to La Follette, but that’s in a different school district — Monona Grove, on the opposite side of the Monona Golf Course. Monona Grove, for non-Madisonians, is the school district that combines Monona (which is on Lake Monona and surrounded by Madison) and Cottage Grove, which is about eight miles east. (MGHS students who live in Cottage Grove have to go through Madison to get to school. When the school district built a new high school in 1999, it was built in Monona, which has shrunk a quarter in population over the past 40 or so years, and not Cottage Grove, which is now only slightly smaller than Monona in population.)

Levitan’s piece, part of a larger work chronicling a rather turbulent year in Madison to say the least (including, one assumes though I don’t remember, my own Terrible Twos), is the first time I knew there was a proposal to build an east-side high school farther east than the Far East Side high school, La Follette. Or a middle school. Really Far East Side High School (perhaps it would have had some sort of Asiatic nickname in those pre-politically correct days) would have been no more than a mile away from Kennedy. Kennedy and Don’t-Call-It-Schenk-Anymore (which had an attached elementary school) were just two miles apart by car, and Really Far East Side Middle School would have been even closer than that. (As it was despite being just two miles away, going from Kennedy to Schenk was like entering a different world; the Schenks were in an older neighborhood, and, well, it was a middle school, a toxic combination of burgeoning hormones and tween Social Darwinism.)

To say the least this would have changed things. I’m not sure where the high school attendance boundaries were in the pre-open enrollment says, but one oddity was that students who lived in Maple Bluff, the richest part of greater Madison, went to East, the most blue collar high school. That probably would have changed with RFESHS; indeed all the high schools’ attendance boundaries would have shifted eastward. (Students who lived downtown, who went to Central before it closed and, I believe, went to West thereafter, probably would have gone to East.)

In those days (and probably now) the four high schools were easy to stereotype. La Follette had white-collar families — bankers, insurance agents, small business owners, salespeople, etc. East had blue-collar families. West was where UW-employed families lived. Memorial families had money, though we didn’t know from where. Then as now, the biggest high school rivalry in Madison was East vs. West, followed by West vs. Memorial and East vs. La Follette. (The latter rivalry introduced police to hockey games after East fans threw rocks at our band bus.) James Madison Memorial (which could have been the name of RFESHS) was built instead of RFESHS (or the sought-after Warner Park-area high school) and given the anticipated growth of the Far West Side (three words: “West Towne Mall”) a high school was likely to be built there anyway. (La Follette Junior High became Sennett Middle School, connected to La Follette by a concrete supposed-to-be-no-man’s-land under the La Follette library known as The Pit, a favorite stop of those who related to the Brownsville Station song and Poison cover “Smokin’ in the Boys Room.”)

Then there’s this:

I went to grade school with two players on the varsity roster and another player who wasn’t on the varsity  roster for state. Two other players went, I think, to the local Catholic school instead of Kennedy or Schenk Middle. I do not intend to denigrate their athletic abilities by pointing out that none of them were named “Rick Olson,” who went on to play at Wisconsin, or “Steve Amundson,” who went on to play at Western Michigan. La Follette may have still won the 1982 state championship, but none of us at RFESHS would have been part of that.

There has always been a rivalry between Madison’s East and West sides, and those of us who lived on the East Side (however you define that) felt some sense that we were getting ripped off. Madison’s two newest high schools were an example — Memorial got a football field and track (which hosted the state track meet until 1990), but La Follette did not. (Of course, neither did Central, East or West; they shared Breese Stevens Field until East and West shared Warner Park, while West plays home games at Memorial’s stadium. La Follette did not play at Monona Grove’s stadium even though it would have been more convenient and nicer than Warner Park, which was worse than some smallest-division fields. La Follette now does have a football field and track, and East plays there too.) Memorial got a planetarium, as a reader reminded me.

East Towne was bigger than West Towne (an important point), but while there were several Catholic churches on the West Side, there was one near-side Catholic church (St. Bernard’s, on Atwood Avenue not far from my father’s bank), and one closer to us, St. Dennis, two miles away. St. Dennis held church services in its school gym from the beginning of my memory, and we parishioners helped out at Friday fish fries in the same gym to raise money for the new church, which was finally completed my senior year in high school. (The new church was immediately packed nearly every Sunday, which suggests the diocese should have located more churches closer to the Far East Side than Monona and Cottage Grove.) As far as I can remember, the annual Madison Parade of Homes were always on the West Side. (Including the house with the two-level garage.)

We also felt we were getting ripped off in such city services as police response time, though there was little reason for the police to show up in our neighborhood. (Other than a rock-throwing incident next door, we may literally have gone years without having a police car on our street.) The nearest fire station was across the street from my first employer, Bridgeman’s Ice Cream Restaurant and Parlour, about 2.5 miles away. The nearest fire station now is on the other side of the Interstate. Our streets were always the absolute last in Madison to get plowed after snowfalls (assuming they were, and often they weren’t), always timed for when we had just finished shoveling. The Far West Side (where four of my cousins grew up and, sad to say, attended Memorial) seemed to have nicer houses and therefore more money, though young minds don’t necessarily know much about how much it costs to buy 4,000-square-foot houses with two-level garages.

One thing that’s changed in Madison is high school enrollments. The Madison high schools when I was growing up had around 2,000 students each, I believe. East and La Follette are 75 to 80 percent of their former size, while Memorial and West are still around 2,000. However, Sun Prairie, one of the smallest schools in the Big Eight in the ’80s, is now bigger than any Madison high school (Sun Prairie just built a new high school but is considering another), as is Middleton, which was too small to be in the Big Eight. Verona, which was Monona Grove’s size, now is La Follette’s size. Part of that is that nearly every Madison-area school district has alternative high schools, but part of that is smaller families, though that has hit rural school districts harder than Madison-area schools.

I’ve written before that I had a pretty drama-free childhood. I don’t know what went on in other houses, but Heritage Heights felt so far away from downtown Madison that we might as well have been living out in the ‘burbs. (There were people who lived in the school district, with Madison addresses, but didn’t live in the city; they were east of the Interstate. I assume most of those houses were annexed into the city.) It certainly would have been different not having many of my classmates be classmates, although with 500 classmates no one could know where everyone lived.

 

Presty the DJ for May 20

Today in 1966, Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend of The Who decided to replace for the evening the tardy drummer Keith Moon and bass player John Entwistle with the bass player and drummer of the band that played before them at the Ricky Tick Club in Windsor, England.

When Moon and Entwistle arrived and found they had been substituted for, a fight broke out. Moon and Entwistle quit … for a week.

The number one single today in 1967:

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