Irony Inc.

James Wigderson has some fun at a former daily newspaper’s expense:

“Profit? Fiscal year? Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! Beware, my dear Zilkov. The virus of capitalism is highly infectious. Soon you’ll be lending money out at interest!” – Dr. Yen Lo, The Manchurian Candidate

The Capital Times was founded because the Wisconsin State Journal wasn’t left-leaning enough. Yes, wee know, that’s hard to picture, but that’s The Capital Times story and they’re sticking with it.

The newspaper was born in 1917 after the business manager of the Wisconsin State Journal, William T. Evjue, resigned over the paper’s increasingly strident attacks against U.S. Sen. Robert “Fighting Bob” La Follette to create The Capital Times. As governor, later a senator and the founder of Wisconsin’s progressive movement, La Follette established a reputation as a champion of the underprivileged and an opponent of powerful business interests, but he came under attack like never before for his opposition to U.S. involvement in World War I.

Of course, The Capital Times supported the war anyway, as they remind us, but they were the good progressive newspaper. Just ask, Editor Emeritus Dave Zweifel,  wrote in his “Plain Talk” column in June:

As the founder of this paper, William T. Evjue, would often lament in his column years ago, “The trend toward the concentration of financial, economic, political and military power continues. Are we headed for a dictatorship of wealth?”

If Mr. Evjue only knew what’s going on today.

As readers of The Capital Times, we often ask the same question, “If Mr. Evjue only knew…”

We had some fun recently perusing The Capital Times’ 2015 IRS 990 form for the Evjue Charitable Trust. We were shocked, shocked to find capitalism going on there.

And we mean capitalism, starting with the granddaddy of them all, JP Morgan Chase & Co., founded by the great robber baron himself, JP Morgan. Old Evjue and Fighting Bob must be spinning in their graves faster than a high-speed Dremel Rotary Tool.

That was hardly the only investment that made us chuckle. The Capital Times may have been against war profiteers during World War I, but they’re investors in Halliburton, General Electric, and Raytheon now. And they love Big Oil, investing in Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell. They’re even invested in Phillip Morris and McDonalds for some healthy cash.

And for a relaxing Cap Times, they make it Suntory time.

There are also investments in drug companies, Amazon, Facebook, AT&T, Microsoft, Johnson & Johnson, Wal-Mart Stores, and even Union Pacific Corp. You know, all those small mom & pop companies struggling to make their way in a brutal capitalist society.

Our favorite investment is in Tiffany & Co. Nothing says progressive values like being the Tiffany news company in Madison.

Associate Editor John Nichols recently wrote a column saying how socialists are free to be socialists again. The proof was the popularity of Senator Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign.

“His presidential candidacy confirmed the appeal of such a politics in a 21st century that has been characterized by rampant inequality and the corrupt excesses of crony capitalism,” Nichols wrote, in a publication fueled by wealth inequality and the corrupt excesses of crony capitalism.

The Madison Capital Times, one of the loudest voices of liberalism in the country, sounds a little different these days.

Struck by mechanical and editorial employees five weeks ago, the Capital Times stunned this liberal-oriented community by bodly advertising for reporters and editors to replace its striking employees and welcoming back into is newsroom strikers who broke from the picket lines to return to work.

This is the newspaper that in its 60 years of existence has been a colorful and aggressive foe of conservatism, governmental corruption and pettiness and individuals such as Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

This is the newspaper that led numerous fights for civil rights, including a wrenching battle for an open housing ordinance in Madison, that strongly advanced the progressivism of Sen. Robert M. LaFollette and that vigorously opposed U.S. involvement in Vietnam, well before that position became popular.

This, embarrassed liberals in Madison have noted, is the newspaper that has staunchly lined up with union leaders to lift workers into better living and working conditions.

“It is a great disappointment to see our own newspaper not offering protection, as it has done so often in the past, but actually collaborating in abuses against workers who built the Capital Times up to what it is,” said Ron McCrea, a striking copy reader and vice president of the Madison Newspaper Guild.

Ironically, the strike was not originally aimed at the Capital Times’ management. The strike began when, on Oct. 1, a union representing editorial employees struck the Wisconsin State Journal, the city’s morning paper, and the International Typographical Union struck Madison Newspaper, Inc., which owns the Capital Times and also owns the plant that prints both papers under a joint operating agreement.

Capital Times guild members, along with pressmen and mailers, walked out in sympathy.

However, about 60 per cent of the State Journal Association, the guild’s equivalent at that paper, have gone back to work, and the morning paper is now operating with most of its staff back on the job. And the printing plant is sufficiently automated to get along without the ITU.

But with the strike still nominally on, most of the Capital Times workers remain out.

The future of the Capital Times had been in question even before the strike.

The afternoon paper’s circulation has declined to about 39,000 from a peak of about 50,000 a generation ago. The State Journal, by contrast, circulates about 79,000 daily and 126,000 on Sunday, and management says the Sunday figure is up 4,000 from a year ago. In addition, the Capital Times has sold its radio station and entered the joint operating agreement under which its parents prints the State Journal.

Thus, to some, the Capital Times’ stance is no surprise.

“The problem is, basically simple: regardless of editorial orientation or ideology, if you get into a problem of [newspaper] economizing, the ideology is likely to make a marginal difference,” says one veteran labor economist in Madison.

In a lengthy, biting reflection on the strike printed last week, executive editor Elliott Maraniss said McCrea and his fellow strikers should stop invoking the heritage and traditions of the Times and build their own.

He speculated that the strikers had a death wish, either for the paper or the union, and used as an analogy a person who commits suicide because he or she fears murder.

At the same time the liberal Madison community does not appear overly concerned about the strike and its impact on the future of the paper. Miles Capital Times editor and publisher, expressed surprise that there has been so little mail decrying the possible fatal impact of the strike on the paper.

There is little solid evidence that circulation has dropped off substantially – spokesmen for the two papers say it is less than 1 per cent – and there is no noticeable drop in advertising.

One reason, according to some observers, is that the paper has lost some of its feistiness in recent years.

The liberal community was outraged last year, for example, at the papers tactics in helping to defeat a popular Democratic state representative who was speaker of the state assembly.

Following that, the paper switched positions on Archie Simonson, the judge who was recalled after his statements on the bench linking rape to sexual permissiveness and provocative women’s clothing. The paper first attacked him editorially, then expressed sympathetic concern for his right to make such statements.

Mayor Paul Soglin, a product of the campus radical movement, became a villain to the paper when he leaked his 1978 budget proposal to the Madison Press Connection, a weekly being produced by the strikers, and said he would not grant interviews to reporters who replaced them.The general softening of the liberal tone perhaps has been inevitable, said a University of Wisconsin professor who has watched Madison, politcal and social changes for years. he noted that the heroes and adversaries in past Capital Times news and editorial columns have gone and it is getting more difficult for the paper to identify their successors.To replace those past causes and personalities in order to hold its traditional readers, the professor said, the Capital Times apparently felt it had to appeal to the liberal and radical causes of a younger generation.Because of that, he suggested, the newspaper bean hiring from a generation of reporters arising from the campus unrest of the late 1960s. For the most part, he noted, they were hired from strongly left-leaning college newspapers and the underground press.

This also has brought, in the view of a Madison labor expert, a clash between reporters and management. He notes that union members perceive management as being ideologically akin to them and thus “soft” bargainers during labor negotiations.

Readers unfamiliar with the Madison media scene will note that The Capital Times is described as a daily newspaper in the Post story. That was then, this is, well, later then, as Isthmus reported:

“It’s been no fun dying on the vine,” says Ron McCrea, senior news editor of The Capital Times.

McCrea, 65, knows something about dying. He presided over the death of the strike paper known as the Madison Press Connection in 1980 and then went to work for the Washington Star, which abruptly shut down in 1981 after 128 years. …

Buoyant wouldn’t be the right word, but he was definitely upbeat about the paper’s announcement that it will cease publication as a daily on April 26 and shift to onilne publication and two weekly print editions (one news, one arts) to be distributed free in the Madison area.

“We took practically every step imaginable to sell the paper [to new readers] in the last few years, and it didn’t work,’ he says. The Capital Times, which approached 50,000 circulation in its heyday, has dropped to less than 17,000 and had become, in practical terms, a boutique journalistic product sustained by its very profitable half-ownership of the Capital Newspapers publishing conglomerate.

Things were getting so bad, McCrea says, that sources were becoming reluctant to give story tips to Cap Times reporters because the paper’s readership was so small and the larger papers might ignore its scoops.

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had the experience of talking to people about a great story we’ve had, and nobody has a clue that we published it,” he says.

Perhaps the low point was the paper’s failed attempt to woo new subscribers in Madison’s “blue” neighborhoods on the near-west and near-east sides.

The mass home delivery of free papers produced precious few subscriptions, despite these being strongholds of John Kerry and Ralph Nader voters who presumably share The Capital Times‘ liberal philosophy.

“We thought this would be a rich target for us to fill out our circulation, but people just weren’t buying,” he says. “Some people even complained that we were littering! They asked that we take the papers away.”

McCrea’s conclusion: “You can only do so much before you finally have to face reality.”

Reality is online publishing and those two weekly editions. The move will save Capital Newspapers a ton in newsprint costs and result in perhaps 15 of the paper’s 60 newsroom positions being eliminated, in addition to other job cuts in production and delivery.

“I do feel upbeat because I’ve been there when they’ve simply folded the paper and told people to go home,” he says. “This is war by other means. Online is clearly the future of journalism.”

McCrea says the paper is being “very, very humane” in handling the job cuts by offering a buyout package that includes from ten to 52 weeks of salary, depending on longevity, some health-insurance coverage and other benefits.

With a few exceptions, all employees will have to apply for newly posted jobs by Feb. 18, McCrea says. The new staff will be announced on March 10. Those who aren’t hired will receive the same severance package as the staffers who accepted the buyout.

McCrea’s endorsement of the impending changes carries weight, given his long history at The Capital Times. He was a strike leader in 1977, when five unions at what was then called Madison Newspapers Inc. walked out when management unilaterally introduced new printing technology in a particularly brutal fashion.

“Madison Newspapers laid off half off its printers in one blow, [regardless] of seniority, with women and the disabled first,” he recalls “Those who returned to work the next day were told that their pay was being cut by a third. They were just bleeding in total despair.”

The striking unions failed to shut down the two dailies, which doomed the strike from the beginning. McCrea became editor of the strike paper, the Madison Press Connection, whichnever rose higher than 12,000 in circulation and folded in 1980 after employees went payless for five months.

The strike formally ended in 1982 when the last two unions finally gave up. All five unions were decertified, though the strikers had the satisfaction of collecting $1.5 million from MNI as part of their settlements. The two papers remain union-free to this day.

McCrea went to work as press secretary for the newly elected Gov. Tony Earl in 1982, but when Earl lost his re-election bid in 1986, McCrea found himself unemployable in Madison. He left town to work at the New York edition of Newsday (since shuttered as well) before he made his peace with the Cap Times and returned to the paper in 1995.

There was no clearer sign than McCrea’s return that the extraordinary animosity of the strike had finally passed.

But the damage had been done. The strike had put the proudly progressive Capital Times on the same side with the then bluntly anti-union Lee Enterprises, which owns the other half of the publishing company. McCrea admits the strike cost the Cap Times readers it never regained.

The decision to cease daily publication was tightly compartmentalized within top management. The staff was kept in the dark until the announcement, and even senior news editor McCrea didn’t know it was coming. He says he had no role in drawing up the job descriptions for the new online paper and its weekly news and arts editions. …

A third-generation newsman, McCrea has the proverbial news ink in his veins. “I don’t have the warmth of feeling for Web readers that I do for newspaper readers,” he admits. “I tend to think that newspaper readers bring more worldliness and wider life experiences to their reading.”

The Cap Times has announced that the two weekly print editions, each with an expected circulation of 80,000, will be distributed free. Is the company’s goal to target Isthmus audience and advertisers?

McCrea says his bosses deny this. “We all love Isthmus,” he says. “We did focus groups a couple of years ago, when we were looking to refashion The Capital Times one more time. In the focus groups, everybody just loved Isthmus. Everything they wanted was already in Isthmus. We came away feeling a little dispirited.”

That doesn’t put such questions to rest. In the compartmentalized world of Capital Newspapers, advertising strategy wouldn’t be shared with editorial staffers like McCrea.

Yeah, well, every media outlet competes with every other media outlet for advertising and for eyeballs. That too is economic reality.

So is this: The aforementioned Madison Press Connection, according to the always-accurate (and never biased!) Wikipedia: …
… evolved from a strike paper to one of the few cooperatively organized and owned daily newspapers ever to exist in the United States. … The staff was initially made up entirely of striking employees of MNI, with the exception of cartoonist Pete Wagner, whose controversial work spurred his firing within two weeks of being hired, but who was rehired when the staff voted to keep him in spite of numerous cancellations by irate readers. Wagner left the paper after ten months and was later replaced by Mike Konopacki, who specialized in labor-related cartoons. The Press Connections cooperative structure was credited as the reason for numerous journalistic risks that corporate media avoided, including the publication in 1979 of an article purporting to provide the “secrets” of building an H-bomb.
… but, requoting from the Isthmus story …
… never rose higher than 12,000 in circulation and folded in 1980 after employees went payless for five months.
All of this, of course, is a demonstration that economic reality trumps (!) high-minded ideas about cooperative leadership, social justice, socially responsible investing, etc. The Press Connection died, and The Capital Times eliminated four of its editions, because as with any enterprise, for-profit or non-profit, if more money goes out than comes in, it’s not long for this world. As Margaret Thatcher was fond of saying, the facts of life are fundamentally conservative.

60 years ago tonight

On a Monday night at Milwaukee County Stadium 60 years ago, the Milwaukee Braves took on the St. Louis Cardinals in an effort to clinch the National League pennant.

Here, not in a MP3 file, is how Braves announcer Earl Gillespie called the bottom of the 11th inning.

Foreshadowing alert: Here’s the finish (not narrated by Gillespie):

Gillespie and Harry Caray, then the Cardinals’ announcer, both were known to exclaim “Holy Cow!” They probably both said that this night, though for different reasons.

The next afternoon’s Milwaukee Journal reported thusly:

The end is near! (again)

I have a busy weekend ahead, announcing a football game tonight and a football game Saturday afternoon, both here.

It is possible that those might be the last two football games I announce, because of this apocalyptic news the Washington Post reports, which of course requires music first:

A few years ago, NASA senior space scientist David Morrison debunked an apocalyptic claim as a hoax.

No, there’s no such thing as a planet called Nibiru, he said. No, it’s not a brown dwarf surrounded by planets, as iterations of the claim suggest. No, it’s not on a collision course toward Earth. And yes, people should “get over it.”

But the claim has been getting renewed attention recently. Added to it is the precise date of the astronomical event leading to Earth’s destruction. And that, according to David Meade, is in six days — Sept. 23, 2017. Unsealed, an evangelical Christian publication, foretells the Rapture in a viral, four-minute YouTube video, complete with special effects and ominous doomsday soundtrack. It’s called “September 23, 2017: You Need to See This.”

Why Sept. 23, 2017?

Meade’s prediction is based largely on verses and numerical codes in the Bible. He has homed in one number: 33.

“Jesus lived for 33 years. The name Elohim, which is the name of God to the Jews, was mentioned 33 times [in the Bible],” Meade told The Washington Post. “It’s a very biblically significant, numerologically significant number. I’m talking astronomy. I’m talking the Bible … and merging the two.”

And Sept. 23 is 33 days since the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse, which Meade believes is an omen.

He points to the Book of Revelation, which he said describes the image that will appear in the sky on that day, when Nibiru is supposed to rear its ugly head, eventually bringing fire, storms and other types of destruction.

The book describes a woman “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head” who gives birth to a boy who will “rule all the nations with an iron scepter” while she is threatened by a red seven-headed dragon. The woman then grows the wings of an eagle and is swallowed up by the earth.

The belief, as previously described by Gary Ray, a writer for Unsealed, is that the constellation Virgo — representing the woman — will be clothed in sunlight, in a position that is over the moon and under nine stars and three planets. The planet Jupiter, which will have been inside Virgo — in her womb, in Ray’s interpretation — will move out of Virgo, as though she is giving birth.

To make clear, Meade said he’s not saying the world will end Saturday. Instead, he claims, the prophesies in the Book of Revelation will manifest that day, leading to a series of catastrophic events that will happen over the course of weeks.

“The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending,” he said, adding later: “A major part of the world will not be the same the beginning of October.”

Meade’s prediction has been dismissed as a hoax not only by NASA scientists, but also by people of faith.

Ed Stetzer, a professor and executive director of Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center for Evangelism, first took issue with how Meade is described in some media articles.

“There’s no such thing as a Christian numerologist,” he told The Post. “You basically got a made-up expert in a made-up field talking about a made-up event.… It sort of justifies that there’s a special secret number codes in the Bible that nobody believes.”

Meade said he never referred to himself as a Christian numerologist. He’s a researcher, he said, and he studied astronomy at a university in Kentucky, though he declined to say which one, citing safety reasons. His website says he worked in forensic investigations and spent 10 years working for Fortune 1000 companies. He’s also written books. The most recent one is called “Planet X — The 2017 Arrival.”

Stetzer said that while numbers do have significance in the Bible, they shouldn’t be used to make sweeping predictions about planetary motions and the end of Earth.

“Whenever someone tells you they have found a secret number code in the Bible, end the conversation,” he wrote in an article published Friday in Christianity Today. “Everything else he or she says can be discounted.”

That is not to say that Christians don’t believe in the Bible’s prophesies, Stetzer said, but baseless theories that are repeated and trivialized embarrass people of faith.

“We do believe some odd things,” he said. “That Jesus is coming back, that he will set things right in the world, and no one knows the day or the hour.”

The doomsday date was initially predicted to be in May 2003, according to NASA. Then it was moved to Dec. 21, 2012, the date that the Mayan calendar, as some believed, marked the apocalypse.

Morrison, the NASA scientist, has given simple explanations debunking the claim that a massive planet is on course to destroy Earth. If Nibiru is, indeed, as close as conspiracy theorists believe to striking Earth, astronomers, and anyone really, would’ve already seen it.

“It would be bright. It would be easily visible to the naked eye. If it were up there, you could see it. All of us could see it. … If Nibiru were real and it were a planet with a substantial mass, then it would already be perturbing the orbits of Mars and Earth. We would see changes in those orbits due to this rogue object coming in to the inner solar system,” Morrison said in a video.

Doomsday believers also say that Nibiru is on a 3,600-year orbit. That means it had already come through the solar system in the past, which means we should be looking at an entirely different solar system today, Morrison said.

“Its gravity would’ve messed up the orbits of the inner planets, the Earth, Venus, Mars, probably would’ve stripped the moon away completely,” he said. “Instead, in the inner solar system, we see planets with stable orbits. We see the moon going around the Earth.”

And if Nibiru is not a planet and is, in fact, a brown dwarf, as some claims suggest — again, we would’ve already seen it.

“Everything I’ve said would be worse with a massive object like a brown dwarf,” Morrison said. “That would’ve been tracked by astronomers for a decade or more, and it would already have really affected planetary objects.”

Some call Nibiru “Planet X,” as Meade did in the title of his book. Morrison said that’s a name astronomers give to planets or possible objects that have not been found. For example, when space scientists were searching for a planet beyond Neptune, it was called Planet X. And once it was found, it became Pluto.

If Charlie Sykes can appear on Wisconsin Public Radio and the world hasn’t ended (and if you’re reading this you can assume the world indeed hasn’t ended), I doubt Meade (of whom I’ve written here previously) is correct, since Harold Camping (twice), the MayansJames Hansen, the blood moon prophets, and the eBible Fellowship, among others, couldn’t get it right. (That includes me, since I claimed that a Chicago Cubs World Series win and Donald Trump’s getting elected president were surely signs of the end times.) I keep repeating Matthew 24:36 (and apparently some people need to actually read it), in which Jesus Christ says, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

The first time I recall a prediction of The End was in the late 1970s, when Pope Paul VI died and his successor, Pope John Paul I, died after just a month in office. That brought up St. Malachy’s Prophecy of the Popes, listed on always-accurate Wikipedia as …

… a series of 112 short, cryptic phrases in Latin which purport to predict the Roman Catholic popes (along with a few antipopes), beginning with Pope Celestine II. The alleged prophecies were first published by Benedictine monk Arnold Wion in 1595. Wion attributes the prophecies to Saint Malachy, a 12th-century Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland.

Given the very accurate description of popes up to around 1590 and lack of accuracy for the popes that follow, historians generally conclude that the alleged prophecies are a fabrication written shortly before they were published. Certain theologians in the Roman Catholic Church have dismissed them as forgery. The Catholic Church has no official stance on the prophecies, however.

The prophecies conclude with a pope identified as “Peter the Roman”, whose pontificate will allegedly precede the destruction of the city of Rome.

And what pope are we on according to Malachy? The last one!

112. Peter the Roman, who will pasture his sheep in many tribulations, and when these things are finished, the city of seven hills [i.e. Rome] will be destroyed, and the dreadful judge will judge his people. The End. …

Popular speculation by proponents of the prophecy attach this prediction to Benedict XVI’s successor. Since Francis‘ election as Pope, proponents in internet forums have been striving to link him to the prophecy. Theories include a vague connection with Francis of Assisi, whose father was named Pietro (Peter).

Assuming Malachy was incorrect (or even if he isn’t), for those who want to plan for such things, A Brief History of the Apocalypse provides future dates of the end(s):

2017: The “Prophet Gabriel” supposedly told the Sword of God Brotherhood that the “dying time” will come in 2017, and only members of the cult will survive. Everyone else will “perish in hellfire.”

So maybe the end is after Saturday but before Dec. 31. Riiiiiiiight.

Sept. 28, 2020: George Madray predicts a Yom Kippur Parousia in 2020.

“Parousia” is a Greek word that apparently now means “second coming.” If correct, that means no one will ever get a chance to vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president again. And though Pope Francis is 80, he certainly could live three more years …

2022: James T. Harmon’s Rapture prediction #4.

… or five more years …

2023: Ian Gurney predicts in his book The Cassandra Prophecy — Armageddon Approaches that the “final date, Judgement Day, the end of mankind’s time on this planet, is less than twenty two years away” from 2001, which means that the world is set to end by 2023 at the very latest.

2025: In this post, Georgann Chenault, a frequent poster on Usenet, wrote “I think the rapture of the church will be before 2025.”

Nov. 13, 2026: According to an article published in Science magazine in 1960, this was the date that the world’s population would reach infinity, a result of the so-called “doomsday equation.”

2033: Believed by many to by the 2000th anniversary of the Crucifixion, this is a date just begging to be targeted by doomsayers whose prophecies for 2000 and 2001 will have failed.

2035: The Raëlians are working hard to establish an embassy in Jerusalem in anticipation of the 2035 arrival of aliens called “elohim”, who will usher in a New Age. However, their arrival is contingent on the completion of the embassy.

2037: In her book The Call to Glory, psychic Jeane Dixon wrote, “The years 2020-2037, approximately, hail the true Second Coming of Christ.” The Battle of Armageddon is to take place in 2020.

2040: Pyramidologist Max Toth predicts the physical reincarnation of Jesus Christ occurring in 2040. Like other pyramidologists, he used the dimensions of the Great Pyramid’s passageways to predict future events.

Futurist John Smart of Acceleration Watch (formerly Singularity Watch) estimates that a technological singularity will take place around the year 2040, when technological advancement reaches asymptotic levels. After this apocalyptic event, a new era of balance and compassion will begin.

ca. 4,500,000,000 AD: The sun will swell into a red giant star, swallowing Mercury, Venus, Earth, and perhaps Mars. This will be the true end of the world!

One of those predictions is bound to be right. Right?


9/11, 16 years and one day later

David Harsanyi begins a few days after 9/11:

On Sept. 14, 2001, Rocco Chierichella, a retired firefighter working at Ground Zero, couldn’t hear President George Bush, who had come to speak to the rescue crew. He shouted as much to the president.

“I can hear you!” was president’s spontaneous reply. “The rest of the world hears you! And the people, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

The crowd broke into a chant of “USA! USA!” At the time, it seemed that the rest of American society did, as well.

It’s still an exhilarating moment to watch. Yet I can’t help but wonder whether it would go down the same way today. Would the deep cynicism so many now have about American history allow such uninhibited displays of patriotism to go on without disparagement? How long before think pieces began pointing out that Islamists aren’t nearly as dangerous or destructive as George Bush or the NRA? How long before pundits started pointing out that killing terrorists is “exactly what they want us to do?” How long before the president would be accused of Islamophobia? Or jingoism? How long before thousands would head to twitter to lay political blame for why it all happened on the other party?

Mostly, though, I’m not sure a national “USA! USA!” chant would be much more than platitude today. What does it really mean? Pluralism is, of course, a far healthier state of affairs than “unity”—a word typically used by those interested in quashing dissent. Partisanship can be a healthy reflection of our differences. Yet, there has to be some pivot, some ideal, some collective purpose and understanding of history, that the debate revolves around. ‘They hate our freedom’ means nothing when we no longer share a common understanding of the concept.

Of course, a lot has happened since 9/11. For starters, the justice that Bush promised at Ground Zero would result in a protracted and highly disruptive foreign war, one that lasted nearly 10 years—approximately six years longer than World War I. Whatever you make of our nation-building projects overseas, Americans quickly grew tired of them, and they assisted the rise of a dynamic progressive president. Barack Obama promised American unification but, in the end, demanded conformity. His attempts—first at changing American ideals and then reimagining the ones we had to comport with his progressive positions—in turn fueled the rise of an idealistic Constitutional movement in the Tea Party.

The two movements were irreconcilable, and an age of gridlock ensued. By the time we finally eliminated Osama bin Laden, American politics hadn’t just reverted to fighting over the same old fissures in ideology and culture: they had been exacerbated in dramatic ways. Whereas Bush would place a terror state like Iran in an Axis of Evil, we were now sending them pallets of cash.

Republicans responded with their own norm-busting president. But one of the most consequentially corrosive aspects of modern politics is that it now envelopes nearly everything. Whereas a beautiful or tragic moment might have once give us a respite from partisanship, we are no longer afforded such breaks. When a hurricane destroys thousands of lives, Americans come together to help each other. People are still inherently decent. Too many, however, decide to act as if Republicans are the cause of hurricanes.

People tend to retrofit their memories to comport with the most helpful telling of a story. Perhaps I’m prone to the same revisionism. But as I remember it, everything having to do with politics pre-9/11 would instantaneously become frivolous once the Twin Towers came down. The day after 9/11, and many days after that, I was unable to commute into my office in Manhattan. The local train station was littered with the cars of those who I assumed would never come home. So I sat in front of my TV staring at cable news most hours of the coming days. For those few weeks, I don’t remember anyone ever using the event to bludgeon their political opponents.

So here’s a depressing thought on the anniversary of 9/11: What if those two or three weeks of harmony 16 years ago will be the last we experience for a very long time? Considering our trajectory, this seems more likely than not. After all, surveying the coverage of the anniversary of 9/11 this morning, it’s difficult not to notice that Americans don’t really share a coherent, unifying cultural or idealistic value system anymore.

The reason is in her mirror

This page purportedly from Hillary Clinton’s new book says everything you need to know about Hillary Clinton, why she lost last November, and why she deserved to lose.

To quote Gertrude Stein’s observation about Oakland, there’s no there there.

Later note: Since the book won’t be out until Tuesday, I can’t attest to the veracity of this excerpt. I’ve seen it in a few online places, but it may be satire.

A tour of the old neighborhood

Readers may recall “East Side, West Side,” featuring various aspects of growing up on the far East Side of Madison, much closer to the Interstate than the State Capitol.

A high school classmate found this about Madison and Monona neighborhoods, which were part of the Town of Blooming Grove before much of it was annexed into Madison and Monona. Their source was, I am told …

Blooming Grove was formed in 1850; in surveyors’ terms it is Town 7 North, Range 10 East. Many of the original settlers were from New York and Vermont as well as Germany, Norway, and Ireland. Almost all were farmers whose properties usually ranged from about 40 to 160 acres, although a few were more than 320 and several were almost 600.

By the late 1870’s, the population was about 1,000 and some recreational enterprises were appearing along the eastern shore of Lake Monona. A good-sized retail district was developing in the Schenk’s Corners/Atwood Avenue area primarily to serve farmers.

By 1900 manufacturing plants along the railroad tracks from downtown Madison were expanding beyond the Yahara River. Rapid growth led to the formation of the village of Fair Oaks in 1906. The village was incorporated into the City of Madison May 29, 1913. By 1920 the industrial workforce in Madison was about 5,000, which included 700 women. Industrial employment continued to grow especially after the Oscar Mayer family moved much of its meat packing and sausage business to Madison in 1919.

East High School opened in 1922. By the mid 1920’s, homes for “workingmen,” which meant wage earners, extended to the western bank of Starkweather Creek.

Lansing Place, Walterscheit Plat, Schenk School, Eastmorland

An ad in the Capital Times on June 23, 1928, announced an auction sale of lots in Lansing Place on Milwaukee Street, east of Fair Oaks Avenue, adjoining the city limits. The owner was George C. Rowley, an established Madison developer. He seems to have chosen the first and last names of local residents for all of the street names. The Lansing family, for example, had lived in Blooming Grove since the mid-1800’s and many of the other names appear on plat maps and tombstones over the years.

The 1930, 1940, and 1942 City of Madison maps show Starkweather Drive, Leon Street, Lansing Street, Farrell Street, Richard Street, Judd Street, Hargrove Street, and Harding Street in their present locations. They also show Wayne Street running from Leon Street to Starkweather Creek and Willow Street and Thorp Street in the area that later became O. B. Sherry Park.

In Dane County Place-Names (1947, expanded edition 1968, most recent printing Madison, 2009) Frederic G. Cassidy states that Starkweather Creek was named for John C. Starkweather who built a log bridge over the creek in 1846.

In the late 1940’s and throughout the 1950’s Madison and regional developers became interested in the Lansing Place area as a perfect site for veterans housing. This led to the construction of Walter Street parallel to Harding Street and the renaming of a portion of Harding Street that ran east to Dempsey Road as Tulane Avenue. These are shown on the 1950 City of Madison map, as is a “future school site” that became the location of Herbert C. Schenk school which opened in 1953. Schenk Street, also named for Herbert C. Schenk, runs north and south east of the school. Herbert C. Schenk (1880-1972) was owner of the Schenk Hardware Co. at Winnebago Street and Atwood Avenue, a school board member from 1922 to 1950, a state assemblyman, a Madison alderman, and president of the East Side Business Mens’ Association.

Schenk was a member of the Progressive Party, representing Dane County from 1935 to 1939.

Paus Street and Hynek Road, east of Schenk Street, are both named for neighborhood residents.

In the early 1950’s Aaron Elkind, Albert McGinnis, and Donald B. Sanford became business associates. Elkind, born about 1918, had already built a number of pre-cut houses on Harding Street. He was a Milwaukee native, 1940 graduate of the University of Wisconsin and a war hero. McGinnis (1919-2003) was from Superior, Wisconsin, had earned a law degree from the University of Wisconsin, and had started a practice in the Atwood Avenue area. He was also active in church and civic affairs.

Sanford never revealed much about his personal life to the newspapers; he and Elkind may have become acquainted about 1950 when both men worked for the Humphrey Tree Expert Co, a regional arborist firm with offices in the Security State Bank on Winnebago Street.

Said Security State Bank was my father’s first and only employer … sort of, since Security State Bank was purchased by Marine Bank, which was then purchased by Bank One, and which after his retirement was purchased by Chase. As for Sanford, he comes up later.

Beginning in 1954, these three developed the 75 acre, 314 house Eastmorland project on land surrounding the Schenk School site.

They sold houses the way automakers sold cars. A buyer had the choice of several models, could select a number of options, take possession on a set date, and arrange a fixed payment schedule at the time of purchase.

There were eight house styles to choose from in Eastmorland; about 80 per cent of the buyers decided on a simple ranch with a conventional roof line.

Elkind, McGinnis, and Sanford also feminized the product just as the car firms had feminized automobiles. Their houses featured large kitchens and often came with appliances. Buyers could choose from many interior and exterior color combinations.

The project name and the street names were chosen for market appeal. Eastmorland suggests more land to the east and a pleasant English countryside. It was an imitation of Westmorland, the name of a successful west side development begun by the McKenna’s in the 1920’s.

Because Elkind and the others had chosen to promote Eastmorland by emphasizing comfort and prestige the street names such as Sussex, Bradford, Buckingham, Wilshire, and Cumberland are all reminiscent of places in England or Virginia.

The Walterscheit plat runs south from present Tulane Avenue across the former Chicago and North Western Railway tracks to Atwood Avenue. It was begun in the late 1920’s on land that had been occupied for many years by the Walterscheit family.

The 1930 City of Madison map shows a portion of Harding Street in the area now occupied by Walter Street south of the railroad tracks. There is a Grand View Street which later became Sargent Street,and Johns Street, Margaret Street, Busse Street, and Bernard Street. These all appear to have been the first or last names of local residents. Olbrich Street was added before 1942 probably for Michael Olbrich who had donated the land for Olbrich Park.

Margaret Street extended north across the railroad tracks. Huron Street later became Ring Street, Erie Street became Gunderson Street, and Ontario Street is still Ontario Street. Anchor Drive and Coral Court first appear on the 1950 City of Madison map.

Royster Avenue was added about 1948 to honor the F. S. Royster Guano Co. factory at the intersection of Dempsey Road and Cottage Grove Road. Royster’s main office was in Norfolk, Virginia. The Madison plant formally opened on March 24, 1948 and closed in 2006. It blended many mixtures of plant food for farm use.

The neighborhood’s eastern border was fixed about 1950 when the East Beltline Highway was built east of Dempsey Road and U. S. Highway 51 was rerouted from Monona Drive. The new route was called South Stoughton Road, the East Beltline Highway and just 51.

Dempsey Road is for a local farm family, although, as with many other street names in the area, it is impossible to say when the name was chosen or if it honors the family in general or just one family member. In fact, if a street name in Blooming Grove has a German, Irish, or Norwegian name it was probably named for a local farm family or land owner.

Dempsey Road is near the house my parents owned when I was born and where St. Dennis Catholic Church and school is located; its history can be read here, with added details about the road’s namesake:

Following the Second World War, a swelling population and rapid housing development on Madison’s East Side necessitated the formation of a new Catholic parish. Miss Esther Dempsey donated eleven and one half acres of beautiful and expansive land, her family homestead, for this new parish.

Bishop William P. O’Connor established the founding of Saint Dennis Parish on June 1, 1956. The first pastor, Father Joseph Niglis, was joined by approximately five hundred families in a temporary, steel fabricated building that was dedicated on December 2nd of that year. That structure still exists at the heart of the present church complex as the chapel, sacristy, and social area just north of today’s spacious church lobby.

“Spacious” except on Sundays and holidays. About Niglis, an outstanding weekly newspaper once reported this, which amuses me no end:

In February 1956, after a deputy sheriff was fired, Sheriff Robert Seemeyer was accused of, among other things, ignoring gambling activities, including bingo games and dice played at the annual Labor Day celebration of Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Dickeyville (which is still held) and at a veterans rally.

Retired judge A.W. Kopp was selected to head an investigation of the accusations leveled against the sheriff. Kopp selected Leary Peterson of Prairie du Chien to pursue the allegations and question witnesses at an investigative hearing.

A sheriff’s deputy who directed traffic at the Dickeyville event denied seeing bingo games in progress. Peterson went so far as to call Rev. Joseph C. Niglis of Holy Ghost to testify. He freely admitted that bingo, which he called “homer,” was played, but denied being promised immunity from prosecution by the sheriff.

Failing to find specific wrongdoing, Gov. Walter Kohler dismissed the charges against Sheriff Seemeyer.

Fr. Niglis thought the most important thing about St. Dennis was Catholic education, and so …

Saint Dennis School opened September 7, 1960 under the leadership of the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa. …

Father Delbert Klink became the second pastor of Saint Dennis in 1981. On the feast of Saint Dennis one year later, October 9, 1982, Bishop Cletus O’Donnell broke ground for a permanent church building which had fulfilled the dreams of many parish members. The church was used for the first time on June 13, 1983 as Bishop George Wirz conferred the sacrament of Confirmation on an enthusiastic group of young adults. Then, once again, on the feast of Saint Dennis, October 9, 1983 Bishop Wirz returned to dedicate the new church.

“On November 7, 1960, an aerial photograph was taken of Saint Dennis. The view, looking to the north-east, shows the connection between the school gym and the church is yet to be built, Stoughton Road is still a 2-lane highway, and the original Farm & Fleet is across from Saint Dennis, on Stoughton Road. Additionally, the Dempsey homestead is clearly visible in the foreground (thanks to Bob Spoerl for sharing this).”
The original church building, which apparently replaced a Quonset hut.
The school, which opened in 1960; most Sunday Masses were held in the gym at least in my day, thus making me think all churches had wood floors, basketball hoops and scoreboards. The church was on the south end, and the “new” church is also on the south end.

Now, back to the old neighborhood(s):

Leon Park, also known as Lansing Park, was renamed O. B. Sherry Park in 1974 in honor of Orven B. Sherry, a Madison real estate dealer, who donated land for the park’s expansion that eliminated Willow Streetand the eastern portion of Thorp Street.Wayne Street was reduced to a remnant that is now so short there is only room for one house on one side of the street.

In 1993, the Madison School Board renamed the middle school portion of Schenk School for Annie Greencrow Whitehorse (1906-1990), a respected member of the Madison area American Indian community.

Lake Edge Park, Morningside Heights, Allis Heights, Quaker Heights

The area south of Cottage Grove Road, east of Monona Drive, west of U. S. 51, and north of Pflaum Road changed from farm to suburban use in stages from about 1910 to 1960. The first suburban development was Lake Edge Park near the intersection of Cottage Grove Roadand Monona Drive at the site of an earlier Lake Edge dairy.

In a series of newspaper ads from 1912 to 1915 the Lake Edge Park Co. promoted the subdivision as “The Model Suburb.” Lots were 75 x 150 feet complete with trees and shrubs, all owners were guaranteed lake access via a company-owned park, and commercial use was forbidden.

An ad in the Wisconsin State Journal on April 1, 1915 compared Lake Edge Park with three Madison subdivisions.

According to the ad:

A 75 x 150 lot in Lake Edge Park was $500

A 60 x 120 lot in Wingra Park was $1,600

A 50 x 120 lot in West Lawn was $1.400

A 40 x 120 lot in Fair Oaks was $600

The most unusual feature of the streets is that the more or less north-south streets are at a right angle to a southeastern oriented portion of Buckeye Road, which the developers called Main Avenue.

Buckeye Road (Co. Hwy AB) was for many years the main route to Madison from the southeast, especially the Stoughton-McFarland areas. The name may refer to a grove of buckeye trees (horse chestnuts) or may be connected to a person or business related to Ohio, the Buckeye State.

For some reason, the developers ignored the fact that there was already a Main Street in Madison. Their Wisconsin Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, and Park Boulevardwere also similar to Madison street names.

By 1942 the Lake Edge Main Avenue had reverted to Buckeye Road, Wisconsin Avenuebecame Davis Street, Lincoln Avenue became Drexel Avenue, Lawrence Avenue became Hegg Avenue, and Park Boulevard became Lake Edge Boulevard.

The Morningside Heights subdivision, first advertised in 1923, is just east of Lake Edge Park and was promoted as a site for workingman’s homes; most of the streets are extensions of those in Lake Edge Park and share their skewed alignment. Morningside Avenue is named for the subdivision. Maher Avenue and Major Avenue are for local residents.

Morningside Heights was a project of Laurence M. Rowley. In 1924 Rowley announced Allis Heights, a 108 acre subdivision that is essentially a continuation of Morningside Heights. Most of the streets such as Spaanem Avenue are also named for local residents.

Allis Heights, Allis Avenue, and the nearby Frank Allis School that opened in 1917 are named for Frank W. Allis (1865-1915) who was the son of Edward P. Allis (1824-1899), a Milwaukee industrialist whose foundries and machinery factories were among the largest in the United States. The City of West Allis is named for the Allis family. In 1901 the Allis company and several others merged to become Allis-Chalmers.

Frank chose agriculture over manufacturing and moved to the Madison area about 1893 where he concentrated on pure-bred Holstein-Friesian dairy cattle raised on his “Monona Farm.” The farm covered 600 acres in parts of Blooming Grove, sections 9, 16, and 17. His lake shore home still stands at 4123 Monona Drive and is called San Damiano Friary.

Sometime after 1917 parts of the Allis property including several houses and barns were purchased by the Quaker Oats Company for use as an experimental farm to test dairy cattle rations.

The 200 acre Quaker Oats farm closed about 1940 and the land was purchased by Jerome Jones. In 1944, John C. McKenna Jr. bought the Jones land for post-war development and named the area Quaker Heights. Jerome Street honors Jerome Jones. Quaker Circle and Quaker Park are for the experimental farm.

Some of the Allis land became the location of the Monona Golf Course begun in the 1920’s as a private venture. The City of Madison took over the course in the mid-1930’s. It was an 18-hole course until the early 1960’s when some land was lost to school construction. It is now nine holes.

The Village of Monona was created in 1938; the first elections for the City of Monona took place in April 1969.

Three streets in the golf course area share names with those in the City of Monona.

Winnequah, as in East Winnequah Drive, was coined from “Winnebago squaw” by Frank Barnes in 1870 in honor of his Indian wife.

Cold Spring Avenue is probably named for a spring in Monona.

East Dean Avenue is for Nathaniel Dean (1817-1880) whose 500 acre farm was located in the area. Dean House, at 4718 Monona Drive, which was the Dean family’s part-time residence, is now a house museum operated by the Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society.

The Monona Grove High School, 4400 Monona Drive, built on land donated by the Blooming Grove volunteer fire department, opened in 1955 to serve students from the Village of Monona, the Town of Blooming Grove, and the Town and Village of Cottage Grove.

The Robert M. La Follette High School on Pflaum Road was built in 1963. It is named for Robert M. La Follette (1855-1925) who was a member of Congress from Wisconsin from 1885-1891, governor of Wisconsin from 1901-1906, and U. S. Senator from Wisconsin 1906-1925. He ran for U. S. President in 1924 for the Progressive Party, which he founded, and received 17 per cent of the national popular vote.

That would be the same Progressive Party of which the aforementioned Rep. Schenk was a member. As I’ve written here before, I cannot explain why the La Follette teams are the Lancers and not the Fighting Bobs.

In 1970, the junior high school/middle school portion of the La Follette High School was renamed Ray F. Sennett Middle School in honor of Ray F. Sennett (1904-1970) who served on the Madison School Board from 1948 to 1969. He was a graduate of the Madison Central High School and the University of Wisconsin, an outstanding athlete, and vice-president of the Randall and Security State Banks. After his death the Wisconsin State Journal (April 10, 1970) wrote that he was “a quiet, stalwart, dignified man with a ready smile that revealed his innate gentleness.”

Glendale, Edna Taylor Conservation Park

The Glendale neighborhood has two parts. The first area is east of the Monona Golf Course to Camden Roadand south to Pflaum Road. The second area extends from Monona Drive to Camden Road and from Pflaum Road to the southern border of the Edna Taylor Conservation Park.

In 1954 several developers including Harry Vogts, Pete Beehner, the Herro brothers, and Oscar Seiferth began to build hundreds of single family homes in Glendale. These projects were mostly complete by 1956 or 1957; the apartments on Camden Road were built in 1961 and a number of houses were built near the northern edge of the Edna Taylor Park from 1971 to about 1979.

A booklet published by the Glendale Neighborhood Assocation, “Glendale, a Neighborhood, a School, and their Park” (Madison, 2005) gives the origins of many street names.

The name Glendale comes from the Glendale Development Corporation owned by Phil and Norm Herro and Oscar Seiferth. Glendale has been a popular place name in the United States since at least the 1850’s, as in Glendale, Ohio. The Glendale Elementary School opened in 1957.

Many of the street names are those of local residents such as Pflaum, Tompkins, Kvamme, and Bjelde. Jeanette Pugh Johnson chose the name Crestview for a subdivision and Crestview Drive. She named Bryn Trem Road for the Welsh phrase “view from a hill” and also named Maldwyn Lane; Maldwyn is the Welsh version of Baldwin.

The developer Pete Beehner named a subdivision and Linda Vista Avenuefor his daughter Linda.

Harry Vogts named the Aceview subdivision for his Ace Builders, Inc.: “Ace sets the pace.”

Norm and Phil Herro named Herro Lanefor the family; Dixie Lane is from their brother Burt’s nickname. Oscar Seiferth named Joylynne Drive for his wife Joyce and daughter Lynne.

Indian Trace, which runs south from Crestview Drive was originally an extension of Groveland Terrace. Mary Schatz, a neighborhood resident, suggested renaming this section Indian Trace because Jeanette Pugh Johnson said that an old Indian had lived in the area for many years. The Madison City Council approved the new name in 1972.

Kay Street and Ruth Street are first names. Spaanem Avenue and Maher Avenue are extensions of streets in Morningside Heights and Allis Heights. Acacia Lane and Alder Lane are named for trees. Hob Street is for a developer. Admiral Drive in Aceview may reflect Harry Vogts’ love of everything nautical.

Perhaps ironically, I went to high school with a Sponem who was not a Spaanem.

Crestview Drive, Woodland Drive, and Parkview Driveoverlook the northern border of the Edna Taylor Conservation Park.Camden Road, Douglas Trail, Louden Lane, and Lamont Lane may be named for local residents.

The Edna Taylor Conservation Park, established in 1972, consists of 56 acres of land behind the Glendale Elementary School south to Femrite Pond. Thirty-five acres of the park were purchased by the Madison Parks Division from the estate of Edna Giles Norden Taylor.

Edna Taylor (about 1903-1972) arrived in Madison about 1929 where her husband Harry Giles was on the University of Wisconsin faculty. She was born and raised in New York City where she played minor roles in Broadway productions. In Madison she was active in community theater as an actor and director. She was also affiliated with the U. W. English department as a graduate student and writing instructor. A second husband was named Thomas Norden.

At some point Mrs. Taylor acquired 111 acres of land in the present U. S. 51 and Femrite Road area and used some of it as a Guernsey farm that she named “Heartenland.” Part of this land went into the Edna Taylor Park.

Now to the neighborhood we moved to after my younger brother was born:

Elvehjem Neighborhood, Mira Loma Park Area

The first subdivision in the area south of Cottage Grove Road east of U. S. 51 was Harry Vogts’ Acewood from 1959. By 1962 many small, medium, and large builders and developers were active in the area; two of the larger were Towne Realty of Milwaukee that used Findorff, a Madison company, to build its houses, and the Lucey Realty Service owned by Patrick J. Lucey who was governor of Wisconsin from 1971 to 1977.

Lucey is probably the last Democratic governor of Wisconsin who cared very much about business, perhaps due to his business background. He was a native of Ferryville and attended the former Campion High School in Prairie du Chien. But I digress. Again.

Many streets are named for local residents: Steinhauer Trail, Starker Avenue, Vinje Court, and Droster Road. Several are for builders; Montgomery Drive is for William C. Montgomery. First names are common as in Bonnie Lane, Ellen Avenue, Wendy Lane,and Melinda Drive. Female names greatly outnumber male names. Painted Post Roadis from Lucey’s Painted Post Subdivision. Bird streets are Meadowlark Drive, Sandpiper Lane, Pelican Circle, and Tern Court.

In the Mira Loma area south of Buckeye Road are several mini-themes such as Ranch House Lane, Oxbow Road, Blacksmith Lane, Bellows Circle, Wagon Trail, Forge Drive, and Anvil Lane.

Spanish phrases appear in La Crescenta Circle, La Sierra Way, Paso Roble Way, and Mira Loma, which means “view of the hillside.”

Along with Eldorado Lane, where said house was.

Mira Loma Park was established in 1981 and renamed Orlando Bell Park in 1997. Orlando Bell (1950-1994) came from Tuscaloosa, Alabama to study at the University of Wisconsin. He was an artist and art instructor, director of the South Madison Neighborhood Center, a Boy Scout leader, and president of the Madison NAACP chapter from 1990 to 1993.

The Elvehjem neighborhood name comes from the Elvehjem Elementary School that was dedicated on December 12, 1962 in honor of Conrad Arnold Elvehjem (1901-1962). “Connie” Elvehjem was raised on a farm near McFarland within three miles of the school. He attended Stoughton High School before entering the University of Wisconsin where he soon became a biochemist best known for discovering the vitamin niacin and the cure for pellagra. He became president of the University of Wisconsin in 1958 and died of a heart attack on July 27, 1962.

Now to the neighborhood where my parents built their first house:

Kingston-Onyx, Rolling Meadows, Heritage Heights

By 1958 when large scale suburban development began in the area east of U. S. 51, south of Milwaukee Street, and north of Cottage Grove Road, developers such as Aaron Elkind, Donald Sanford, and Albert McGinnis knew a lot about selling houses to middle income clients.

They made certain that subdivisions named Kingston-Onyx, Rolling Meadows, and Heritage Heights promised pleasant surroundings. Streets with names such as Diamond, Turquoise, and Crystal sparkled with the promise of a high-quality product in a landscape filled with singing birds on streets named Chickadee Court, Bob-o-link Lane, and Meadowlark Drive.

Heritage Heights suggested merry England with Kingsbridge Road, Queensbridge Road, and Knightsbridge Road.

Not to mention Vicar Lane, which comes up momentarily. What of Spicebush Lane?

Aaron Elkind wrote ads that said the houses in Kingston were “fit for a queen and built for a king.” Residents could talk about a gem of a neighborhood.

The jewel box consists of Diamond Drive, Pearl Lane, Garnet Lane, Jade Lane, Turquoise Lane, Onyx Lane, Topaz Lane, Cameo Lane, Crystal Lane, Flint Lane, and Agate Lane.

The bird streets are Chickadee Court, Goldfinch Drive, Bob-o-link Lane, Shearwater Street, Hummingbird Lane, and Meadowlark Drive.

Heritage Heights offers Sudbury Way, Cavendish Court, Severn Way, Brookshire Lane, Westminster Court, Windsor Court, St. Albans Avenue, Portsmouth Way, and Merryturn Road.

As was common in the 1950’s and 1960’s several streets are named for builders and their wives and children, which was an expression of pride in workmanship and family; in some cases it was a statement of joy in having survived years of deprivation and war long enough to have a family. Charleen Lane, Lois Lane, Ralph Circle and Beehner Circle are examples. Pete J. Beehner (about 1919-2004) was a well-known Madison builder and developer whose “Beehner built” houses were said to be among the best.

There are several mini-themes such as Lamplighter Way, Stagecoach Trail, and Hackney Way.

In the peaceful sector there are Quiet Lane, Harmony Hill Drive, and a number of “wood” streets—Shady Wood Lane, Inwood Way, Open Wood Way and Twin Oaks Drive. Some of these contain two words which was still fairly uncommon in the 1960’s.

One major street, Acewood Boulevard, began about 1959 in Harry Vogts’ Acewood subdivision. Vogts (1908-1994) owned Ace Builders, Inc., and had already named one subdivision in Glendale Aceview.

Vogts had been an outstanding musician at the East Side High School and the University of Wisconsin. He was a frequent national champion motor boat racer and a well-known Madison area golfer and bowler. He was an officer in the Madison Brass Works, a non-ferrous metals foundry established by his father Henry Vogts in 1907. His wife Betty was also a champion motor boat racer.

Kennedy Elementary School and Kennedy Park are named for President John F. Kennedy. McGinnis Park is named for Albert McGinnis; it is surrounded by his developments.

Tom George Greenway is for Thomas T. George (1924-1999), a Madison lawyer, alderman from 1971 to 1975, and a Heritage Heights resident who lived at 905 Inwood Way.

Most of the Kingston-Onyx, Rolling Meadows, and Heritage Heights area was filled by 1970.

That depends on your definition of “most.” Our house, sold by Sanford Homes (a ranch, one of approximately five available house plans in the neighborhood), was built when Spicebush Lane wasn’t paved yet. (The basement was poured on my sixth birthday.) Vicar Lane, the street to the west, was the last street in the neighborhood until streets were built to the north up to Milwaukee Street. Until then, everything north of Vicar Lane was a cornfield.

So that’s where I grew up — started near St. Dennis, then in the Acewood neighborhood, then in Heritage Heights. The houses in the neighborhood are going on 50 years old, but, I’m told, still in very good shape. (And if you’re interested in one of them — including a house across the street — click here.)

I have never lived in a suburb of a major city, but that’s what living where we lived felt, as if there should have been a city limits sign at the intersection of Acewood Boulevard and Cottage Grove Road or something. As I wrote before, everything except Kennedy School and the Boy Scout troop meetings three blocks from our house was a car drive away. Things that happened in downtown Madison or on the UW–Madison campus seemed a world away.

History apparently not taught at school anymore

Whatever People’s Republic of Madison Commisar Paul Soglin did as a UW–Madison student besides protesting the Vietnam War, he apparently didn’t study U.S. history.

The American Presidency Project takes us back to Christmas Day 1868, when President Andrew Johnson issued this proclamation:

Whereas the President of the United States has heretofore set forth several proclamations offering amnesty and pardon to persons who had been or were concerned in the late rebellion against the lawful authority of the Government of the United States, which proclamations were severally issued on the 8th day of December, 1863, on the 26th day of March, 1864, on the 29th day of May, 1865, on the 7th day of September, 1867, and on the 4th day of July, in the present year; and

Whereas the authority of the Federal Government having been reestablished in all the States and Territories within the jurisdiction of the United States, it is believed that such prudential reservations and exceptions as at the dates of said several proclamations were deemed necessary and proper may now be wisely and justly relinquished, and that an universal amnesty and pardon for participation in said rebellion extended to all who have borne any part therein will tend to secure permanent peace, order, and prosperity throughout the land, and to renew and fully restore confidence and fraternal feeling among the whole people, and their respect for and attachment to the National Government, designed by its patriotic founders for the general good:

Now, therefore, be it known that I, Andrew Johnson President of the United States, by virtue of the power and authority in me vested by the Constitution and in the name of the sovereign people of the United States, do hereby proclaim and declare unconditionally and without reservation, to all and to every person who, directly or indirectly, participated in the late insurrection or rebellion a full pardon and amnesty for the offense of treason against the United States or of adhering to their enemies during the late civil war, with restoration of all rights, privileges, and immunities under the Constitution and the laws which have been made in pursuance thereof.

So when Comrade Soglin called the Civil War an “act of insurrection and treason,” he was factually incorrect. Andrew Johnson, a Democrat like Soglin, proclaimed so. Johnson was following the words of his predecessor, Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural address less than a month before Lincoln’s assassination:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

The fact remains that however you feel about the Civil War (and you don’t see such things as Stars and Bars flags in Wisconsin except by redneck buttheads because Wisconsinites know the Confederacy was the losing side), removing monuments to Confederate soldiers or monuments to the seven presidents who owned slaves changes nothing about slavery, the Civil War, Democrat-created Jim Crow laws, or race relations in this seemingly permanently divided country of ours. A political party was created in Wisconsin to end slavery, and more than 91,000 Wisconsinites fought, and 12,000 Wisconsinites died, to end slavery.

My opponent on Wisconsin Public Radio Friday suggested that this state needs a dialogue among our highest elected officials about race. What he meant, of course, was that whites need to shut up and do whatever people like U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D–Milwaukee) demand. In such a “forum” there will be no slaveholders, nor slave-traders, nor slaves, nor Civil War soldiers since they’re all dead.


1984, meet 2017

U.S. Rep. Markwayne Millin (R–Oklahoma):

The conversation happening in our nation in light of recent events is more about political correctness than the issue at hand. Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and terrorists are bad people.  The ideals of these groups are in opposition to everything our nation stands for and everything that holds true to our founding principles.  Their hatred of people dissimilar to them is un-American and it should not be tolerated under any circumstances.

Days ago, my colleague in the Senate, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey, announced that he plans to introduce legislation that would remove all of the statues in the U.S. Capitol that honored Confederate soldiers.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has also called for the elimination of such statues.  I respect their rights as elected officials to put forth legislation they believe is in the best interest of their constituents, however I simply do not agree.

As a Cherokee, I can attest to the fact that Native Americans have been on the losing side of history.  Our rights have been infringed upon, our treaties have been broken, our culture has been stolen, and our tribes have been decimated at the hands of our own United States government.  Native Americans have faced centuries of atrocities to their people, their land, and their culture – all under various presidents who took an oath of office to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Under President Andrew Jackson in 1830, our government passed the Indian Removal Act that drove thousands of Native Americans out of their homes on the treacherous journey better known as the Trail of Tears.  Under President Franklin Pierce in 1854, parts of Indian Territory were stolen from tribes to create the Kansas and Nebraska Territories.  Under President Abraham Lincoln, the Sand Creek massacre occurred in 1864 when the U.S. Army attacked the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes unprovoked, killing about 250 Native Americans.  The Dawes Act of 1887 gave President Grover Cleveland the power to take back tribal land and redistribute the land to native people as individuals, not as tribal members.  Under President Benjamin Harrison in 1890, the Wounded Knee massacre took the lives of 150 Native Americans.  Under President Theodore Roosevelt in 1907, Indian and Oklahoma territories were unified to create the state of Oklahoma after Congress refused to consider a petition to make Indian Territory a separate state.  President Roosevelt is even quoted as saying: “I don’t go so far as to think that the only good Indians are the dead Indians, but I believe nine out of every 10 are.”

Let me ask you this: Is history not an opportunity to learn from one’s mistakes?  When we fall short of the high standard we set for our nation and its citizens, we make mistakes.  What’s most important is that our nation remembers and learns from them.  As soon as we forget about our history, we are bound to repeat the same errors.

Still, we have professional athletes like Colin Kaepernick who refuse to stand during the national anthem and others who stand in solidarity with him in protest of the United States.  To what end?  To protest this country, a country that I love and my friends have died to defend?  As an American, you have the right to protest me, or another individual, or a group, but I believe that protesting the United States for the mistakes it has made – when it gave you the freedom to do so in the first place – is disrespectful.  Any attempt to coerce the United States into erasing our history is disingenuous.  Especially, when our country has learned from the mistakes it has made and is determined not to repeat them.

Should we erase our history in the name of being politically correct?  Can we not all agree that it is what shaped our country to be the great nation it is today?  One that we know to be full of freedoms, liberties, and rights that other nations only dream of?

The removal of Confederate statues in the U.S. Capitol doesn’t change our history.  The removal of these statues merely attempts to disguise our ugly scars by hiding these statues out of plain sight.  In an imperfect world, full of imperfect leaders, there are countless statues that may not live up to our American values.  The statues of President Jackson and President Lincoln, both fervent oppressors of Native Americans, stand tall in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.  Still, these statues tell the history of the good and the bad of our nation.

America is – and will always be – a success story.  We have African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and members of other ethnic groups elected to positions inside our governments.  The American free enterprise system is the greatest tool to lift people out of poverty ever created in human history and when applied properly, does not discriminate by race, religion, or skin color.  When we censor our history by disguising our scars, we belittle this process and the struggles our ancestors fought so hard to overcome.  America doesn’t cower behind political correctness.  It defiantly and courageously moves forward, with its history as a reminder of where we have been.  Let us look boldly into our history and learn the lessons that made us the “shining city on the hill” and the example for all other peoples.

Fighting (Bob) words

I bet this opinion from RightWisconsin will stir up the lefties:

Wisconsin may not have statues dedicated to leaders of the Confederacy (we were on the good side), but we have a suggestion of a statue in desperate need of being taken down.

It’s time for the statue of Robert La Follette at the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol to come down. While we’re at it, let’s remove the bust of La Follette from the Capitol in Madison as well. There will be protests. But let’s face it, the Progressive Era is over. Thank God.

Wisconsin is now a red state, won fairly by former Governor Tommy Thompson (three times), Governor Scott Walker (three times) and President Donald Trump. We re-elected a conservative senator in a presidential year, Ron Johnson, when every pundit said it couldn’t be done. The majority of our representation to Congress is conservative. Conservatives control the state Assembly and the state Senate with record numbers, and conservatives even control the state Supreme Court 5-2.

Ironically, the only remaining Democratic statewide office-holder is Doug La Follette, a poor relation and a pale shadow of the La Follettes past.

So why continue to honor Robert La Follette? Seriously, who would miss him?

Let’s start with the statue in Washington. Wisconsin has two statues at the U.S. Capitol, one of Fr. Jacques Marquette and the other of La Follette. La Follette is actually the only Wisconsin statue in National Statuary Hall while Marquette is somewhere else sulking about the lost Catholic mission of the university named after him.

To get rid of the La Follette statue, all it would take is for the Wisconsin legislature to pass a resolution, with the governor’s approval, suggesting an alternative. Then Congress’ Joint Committee on the Library would approve it and, voila, no more monument to Progressive politics. Given Republican control of Congress, how could they say no?

We can replace La Follette with a more deserving representative of Wisconsin: Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist, a native of Shorewood, WI. Rehnquist served for 33 years on the Supreme Court, 19 as Chief Justice. His role in shaping the conservative direction of the court is a legacy worth remembering for all time, and Wisconsin should be proud to have a statue of the Chief Justice representing the state in our nation’s Capitol.

As for the bust of La Follette in the state Capitol, the state should just box it up and send it to the Wisconsin Historical Society. Future tours of school children can play guess who is the grumpy old man. If we have to replace it, who better to honor than former Governor Tommy Thompson?

La Follette was Wisconsin’s governor and a U.S. senator, a presidential candidate, father of another governor and senator (and grandfather of former attorney general Bronson La Follette) and one of those atop the Progressive Era. The high school I went to has Fighting Bob’s bust in its library. (Why the La Follette teams were called the Lancers and not the Fighting Bobs is not something I can explain.)

About La Follette’s progressivism, a comment on RightWisconsin’s Facebook page says:

Yes. La Follette was one of the first communists to advocate stealing your money and mine to buy votes.

The Progressive Era is taught as a period in which government went back to the people instead of the moneyed interests, through, for instance, the 17th Amendment allowing direct election of U.S. senators instead of having them chosen by state legislatures, and primary elections instead of party candidates chosen in smoke-filled rooms. The latter process gave us Donald Trump. (Just saying.) The former is a favorite target of conservatives, but is unlikely to follow the 18th Amendment and be removed from the Constitution.

RightWisconsin doesn’t say why Fighting Bob should be condemned to the treatment of disfavored Soviet Union leaders, other than that, well, liberals aren’t in power in state government. (Despite one of Wisconsin’s U.S. senators and three of its U.S. representatives.) Political power comes and goes. Recall that the state Legislature swung from Republican control through most of the 2000s to Democratic control after the 2008 elections and then back to GOP control after the 2010 elections. It seems unlikely, to say the least, that Democrats will repeat their 2008 feat, but in these turbulent political times it’s not impossible.

The lefties will not tell you the numerous negatives of progressives, partly because self-analysis is not a strength of theirs, as shown in their post-2016 circular firing squad. The core belief of progressives from La Follette’s day is that man can be improved, and government and experts are the people to do it, and should have the authority to mandate improvement.

Whether or not you like primary elections, that accomplishment pales in comparison to the income tax, designed to separate people from their money to feed Govzilla on the concept that, yes, government and its experts know better than you what you need and what society needs.

If they only stopped there. Let’s go to Princeton University:

After the largest recession in history, a political movement comprising mostly white, small-town, Protestant voters grabbed the reins of power from elites under the banner of making America great.

Sound like 2016? Try 1900. And these weren’t conservatives. These were progressives. “They described it as a revolution, the likes of which the world had never seen,” says Thomas Leonard, a research scholar in the Humanities Council and a lecturer in economics at Princeton and author of Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics & American Economics in the Progressive Era(Princeton University Press). While corporations were checked and progressive presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson 1879 were voted in, the Progressive Era — 1900 to 1920 — was marred by a darker history of racism and xenophobia among its politicians. …

Leonard shows, however, that their policies were undergirded by social Darwinism and eugenics and excluded groups deemed inferior — including women, Southern- and Eastern-European immigrants, Catholics, Jews, and blacks.

“They wanted to help ‘the people,’ but excluded millions of Americans from that privileged category on the grounds that they were inferior,” he says.

Progressives pushed for voter registration, literacy tests, and poll taxes to mitigate fraud and corruption, bolstering the Jim Crow South. In 1913, they proposed a minimum wage to benefit skilled Anglo-Saxon workers by requiring immigrants to prove they had a job paying that wage to enter the country.

Thomas Sowell adds:

An influential 1916 best-seller, ‘‘The Passing of the Great Race” — celebrating Nordic Europeans — was written by Madison Grant, a staunch activist for Progressive causes such as endangered species, municipal reform, conservation and the creation of national parks.

He was a member of an exclusive social club founded by Republican Progressive Theodore Roosevelt, and Grant and Franklin D. Roosevelt became friends in the 1920s, addressing one another in letters as ‘‘My dear Frank” and ‘‘My dear Madison.’‘ Grant’s book was translated into German, and Adolf Hitler called it his Bible. …

Progressive intellectuals who crusaded against the admission of immigrants from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe, branding them as genetically inferior, included many prominent academic scholars — such as heads of such scholarly organizations as the American Economic Association and the American Sociological Association.

Southern segregationists who railed against blacks were often also Progressives who railed against Wall Street. …

Wilson introduced racial segregation into the government agencies where it didn’t exist at the time, while Republican President Calvin Coolidge’s wife invited the wives of black congressmen to the White House. As late as 1957, civil-rights legislation was sponsored in Congress by Republicans and opposed by Democrats.

Later, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was sponsored by Democrats, a higher percentage of congressional Republicans voted for it than did congressional Democrats. Revisionist histories tell a different story. But, as Casey Stengel used to say, ‘‘You could look it up” — in the Congressional Record, in this case.

Another progressive was Margaret Sanger, who said …

“The third group [of society] are those irresponsible and reckless ones having little regard for the consequences of their acts, or whose religious scruples prevent their exercising control over their numbers. Many of this group are diseased, feeble-minded, and are of the pauper element dependent upon the normal and fit members of society for their support. There is no doubt in the minds of all thinking people that the procreation of this group should be stopped.”

“Birth control is not contraception indiscriminately and thoughtlessly practiced. It means the release and cultivation of the better racial elements in our society, and the gradual suppression, elimination and eventual extirpation of defective stocks— those human weeds which threaten the blooming of the finest flowers of American civilization.”

“I think the greatest sin in the world is bringing children into the world that have disease from their parents, that have no chance to be a human being, practically. Delinquents, prisoners, all sorts of things just marked when they’re born. That to me is the greatest sin — that people can — can commit.”

“As an advocate of birth control I wish … to point out that the unbalance between the birth rate of the ‘unfit’ and the ‘fit,’ admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes. In this matter, the example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feeble-minded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken classes, should not be held up for emulation…. On the contrary, the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.”

Two progressives with Wisconsin ties were fans of eugenics as well.  John R. Comons, an advisor to La Follette, was described thusly here:

One result of our study is that, in his analysis of institutional dynamics in the United States, Commons’ rejection of laissez-faire is derived from a racist analytical framework: the “superior races” should be protected from the “inferior races”. Another result is that Commons adopts a neo-Lamarckian framework which takes education as the basis for the assimilation of “inferior races”. This article then shows that policies often defended as progressives, as education policies, may be derived from racist foundations.

A Wisconsin State Journal story about the strange history of Alma includes this:

And even a University of Wisconsin luminary such as Charles Van Hise, as president of the university, gave lectures in which he supported eugenics as a way to conserve human resources. He said that “as a first very moderate step toward the development of the stamina of the human race, defectives should be precluded from continuing the race by some proper method.”

La Follette’s position on eugenics is unknown. There is considerable evidence that La Follette didn’t have the same racist views as other progressives. However, his economic views are not an endorsement of the progressive era. Christian Schneider in 2012 chronicled progressivism:

“I believed then, as I believe now, that the only salvation for the Republican Party lies in purging itself wholly from the influence of financial interests,” wrote La Follette in his autobiography. But after 112 years of La Follette’s Progressive vision coming to fruition, it is worth considering: What now constitutes the state’s most powerful “financial interest”?

Government unions are a good place to start. While things like “public sector unions” and “women voting” were still dreams when La Follette was governor from 1901 to 1906, government unions now spend more than any other single group to affect campaigns in Wisconsin. And this spending is rarely intended to forge a new Progressive vision in Wisconsin. It is generally used to protect what the unions already have. …

One of La Follette’s many sworn enemies, Republican Gov. Edward Scofield, dismissed his rage against the party “machine” in 1900, predicting that government would one day become the same type of machine La Follette purportedly loathed. …

And in 2012, it was that machine of 284,963 Wisconsin state and local government employees and their spouses who sought to recall Scott Walker from the governorship, thereby attempting to overturn a popular election held little more than a year earlier. (The recall election is also a product of the Progressives, having been added to the state constitution in 1926 by La Follette loyalists.)

In his time as governor, La Follette could not have imagined the breadth and scope to which government would grow in Wisconsin. In 1899, the state spent $4.7 million on everything, from public education to universities, to the court system, to “insane county asylums.” (About 32 percent of all government was funded by railroad license fees.) That amounts to $121.5 million in 2012 dollars, or $58.73 per capita. This year, Wisconsin state government is scheduled to raise and spend around $32.4 billion, or $5,696.52 per capita.

The imposition of the nation’s first income tax in 1911 — and the commensurate revenue it produced — sparked an inexorable 100-year march toward government as the state’s largest employer:

Even in the past 35 years, government has become the primary employer for more and more Wisconsin citizens. Today, 71,552 more Wisconsinites are employed by state and local governments than in 1976, an increase of 33 percent.

All those new government jobs came with a cost; especially once Democratic Gov. Gaylord Nelson signed the nation’s first law allowing public sector collective bargaining in 1959. Within a decade, unionized teachers were participating in illegal strikes to force higher salaries and better benefits. As a result, Wisconsin passed a new landmark mediation-arbitration law that virtually guaranteed that teacher compensation couldn’t be cut.

Geographical-pattern bargaining strategies were perfected by the teachers union, forcing school districts to match the gaudy compensation packages passed in comparable districts around the state. By 2011, state government employee salary and benefit packages averaged $71,000. In the Milwaukee school district, average employee compensation soared to more than $100,000 per employee — for nine months of work.

In recent decades, the growth in the cost of government has exceeded the growth in the state’s economic output. In 1980, state spending accounted for 12.9 percent of the state’s gross domestic product. By 2010, that number had grown to 16.2 percent of Wisconsin’s GDP:

The financial cost to taxpayers is just the beginning. Bob La Follette stood on hundreds of stages, wagons and soapboxes upbraiding railroads for their monopolistic practices. The railroads, he argued, preyed on the public, soaked customers for excessive fees, then turned around and bought legislators with campaign contributions.

But now that party standard-bearers are picked through primary elections (thanks to “Fighting Bob”) and not backroom dealings, the most powerful monopoly that still exists can be found in the state’s public education system. …

It isn’t incumbent on you, as a Progressive, to learn that after two unsuccessful gubernatorial runs, Robert La Follette’s third campaign was funded almost entirely by wealthy U.S. Rep. Joseph Babcock, who thought bankrolling La Follette would catapult himself into the U.S. Senate. According to author Robert S. Maxwell, in  La Follette and the Rise of Progressives in Wisconsin:

“La Follette also received valuable assistance from the leader of the congressional delegation, Joseph W. Babcock. This politically ambitious ex-lumberman had already served four terms in Congress and was seeking a larger field for his talents. He was quite aware of the disintegration of the Republican organization and sought to organize the machine to advance his own interests. Babcock was sure that his support of a La Follette ticket would be both popular and successful. It is probable that he thought he would be able to control the new governor and use the state organization to elevate himself to the senatorship.

“Events were to prove that he misjudged his candidate completely and vastly overestimated his own abilities, but during the campaign of 1900, Babcock’s financial assistance and organizing skill contributed greatly to its success.”

You aren’t expected to know that La Follette, in his 1900 campaign, completely changed course and positioned himself as a pro-corporate candidate to earn the approval of the public. When one supporter urged La Follette to talk about regulating railroad fees, La Follette bristled because of the backlash it might cause. …

You are also supposed to forget the black marks of Progressivism: the virulently racist eugenics of La Follette’s handpicked president of the University of Wisconsin, Charles Van Hise, who once said, “He who thinks not of himself primarily, but of his race and of its future, is the new patriot.” You have to forget that Progressives played a part in foisting Prohibition on the nation, an unforeseen effect of which was people either blinding or killing themselves by drinking substitute alcohol made of chemicals such as paint thinner.

What about La Follette and prohibition? La Follette and His Legacy, written by the UW–Madison La Follette Institute of Public Affairs, wrote:

Elected and reelected as Dane County District Attorney, he enhanced his reputation by doggedly prosecuting all types of offenders, especially drunkards and vagrants. Espousing the Republican belief in hard work to achieve self-sufficiency, La Follette had no sympathy for the lawbreakers.
But he also didn’t advocate any stiffer laws regarding alcohol use. Throughout his political career he avoided the divisive prohibition issue and instead concentrated on what he felt to be more weighty problems-oppression of individuals by powerful corporations, undemocratic decisionmaking and corruption in government, and foreign military actions by the national government.

What Fighting Bob hath wrought is almost all negative. Bigger government has gotten us less freedom. Replacing the supposed monopoly power of wealth with the actual monopoly power of government is not an improvement. If you don’t believe in individual freedom, then it’s easy to take the next step and oppose freedom for those who don’t look like you. (Labor unions have opposed free trade and immigration for decades because they believed foreign-born workers would drag down their members’ wages.) The primary election, which seemed like a good idea at the time, gave us Donald Trump, and yet in the Democratic Party the smoke-filled rooms still gave Democrat Hillary Clinton, not the alleged people’s choice, Bernie Sanders. Prohibition gave us organized crime, and if La Follette didn’t go out of his way to support Prohibition, there is no evidence he publicly opposed it, in a state full of breweries.

I don’t support the whitewashing of history. Maybe La Follette’s bust should remain public view, but there needs to be a better explanation of how the Progressive Era was a step backward for this state and this nation.


Two losses

There were two more reminders of the passage of time this past week.

One was reported by Rolling Stone:

Glen Campbell, the indelible voice behind 21 Top 40 hits including “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Wichita Lineman” and “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” died Tuesday. He was 81. A rep for Universal Music Group, Campbell’s record label, confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone. During a career that spanned six decades, Campbell sold over 45 million records. In 1968, one of his biggest years, he outsold the Beatles. …

Campbell was a rare breed in the music business, with various careers as a top-level studio guitarist, chart-topping singer and hit television host. His late-career battle with Alzheimer’s—he allowed a documentary crew to film on his final tour for the 2014 award-winning I’ll Be Me—made him a public face for the disease, a role President Bill Clinton suggested would one day be remembered even more than his music.

“He had that beautiful tenor with a crystal-clear guitar sound, playing lines that were so inventive,” Tom Petty told Rolling Stone during a 2011 profile of Campbell. “It moved me.”

Campbell was a hugely popular singer, which may have obscured his guitar talent.

The other is reported by

Phyllis Leckrone, 81, the wife of UW Marching Band director Mike Leckrone, and the woman known to band members as “band mom” has died.

UW Marching Band spokesperson Jay Rath said, “She was a mother to generations of band students and her impact will live on in those countless lives.”

“She loved the whole Badger Band Family. She was known to many alumni members as the band mom,” a post on the UW Band Alumni Association Facebook page said.

A native of North Manchester, Ind., Phyllis and Mike met in junior high school and became childhood sweethearts. They were married 62 years. Phyllis taught with the Middleton-Cross Plains school district for more than 25 years, according to a news release.

Leckrone died early Tuesday morning surrounded by family after a long illness, Rath said. She is survived by her husband, five children, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren. …

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that memorials be made to Phyliss’s favorite charity, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital,

The first thing to know about the Leckrones is that they were married for 61 years.

I saw Phyllis a couple of times every year — on the two epic road trips we took, to the Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., and Las Vegas, and at the annual UW Marching Band banquet in the Memorial Union. (Three words: “Fudge Bottom Pie.”) Compared to performance Mike, she was quiet. For that matter, non-performance Mike is quiet compared to performance Mike. I went to their house a couple of times as a rank leader; the Leckrones invited band leaders to their house before rehearsals began.

I also have become Facebook Friends with some of their kids. The only consolation I can offer is that it is the natural order of life that parents die before their children; no one who is a parent wants the reverse to happen. (There are, sadly, several people I marched with who have since passed away.)

Mike Leckrone became the UW Band director in 1969. So Phyllis had to share Mike with 200 to 250 college students every year for nearly 50 years. We remember Phyllis fondly.

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