H.L. Mencken on the Recession

Okay, he was talking about the depression, but it still holds beautifully: It is only the story of those Americans who yielded irrationally to professional seers and visionaries, as yokels yield to travelling [sic] corn-doctors and evangelists… Are the rest of us in the same boat? I doubt it.  The boat we are in is […]

Was Mark Twain a Teabagger?

Begin reading Mark Twain’s novel “The Gilded Age,” and you’ll discover a fascinating and humorous story about settlers in early Missouri.  Its pages contain love, intrigue, and adventure. But then, in Chapter 15, Twain (along with his co-writer Charles Dudley Warner) launches a broadside attack on Congress.  See if this sounds at all familiar: “If […]

Amazing How Far We’ve Come

A few weeks back, the Wisconsin Historical Society held their “Odd Wisconsin” exhibit, where they lay out various interesting Wisconsin historical artifacts for public inspection.  The coolest thing there was a hand-written speech by Abe Lincoln that he delivered in Milwaukee in 1859, although I’m not sure how that counted as “odd.”  It was mostly […]

Demolishing a Historical Site

Despite the state facing a $5.4 billion deficit, it appears Wisconsin taxpayers are about to become the proud owners of Supreme Video, an adult video store in Oshkosh.  In order to clear land to widen U.S. Highway 41, the state Department of Transportation is negotiating to purchase the video store, rather than using eminent domain.  […]

Rooted in Socialism

If you go to enough conservative events, eventually you\’re going to hear the \”S\” word bandied about. Inevitably, someone will warn of the impending doom if the \”socialist\” Democrats take over. While I\’m certainly sympathetic to the cause, I generally to bristle at these attempts to tie modern Democrats to the murderous regimes of Lenin […]

Your Elected Pitchmen

I was doing some research the other day, and ended up digging through a 1903 copy of the Wisconsin State Journal (don\’t ask why). While somewhat tedious, it provides a fascinating look into life around the turn of the century, while Wisconsin was still feeling its way around as a state. Of course, back then […]

Fun With Blue Books

Last week, the University of Wisconsin Digital Library posted the content of all the state\’s Blue Books, dating back to 1853.  As you may know, the Blue Book is the official Wisconsin Almanac of all things political, industrial, agricultural, and social.  Needless to say, they are a gold mine of information about our history. Most […]

In Search of a Mascot

A friend of mine in the Legislature dug up this little historical tidbit: In 1945, the Wisconsin Legislature actually had an official mascot – Trooper was a male German Shepherd seeing-eye dog who was made the official legislative mascot by 1945 Joint Resolution 80.  Trooper even got his own picture in the state\’s \”Blue Book,\” […]

Greatest Government Program. Ever.

Part of the fun of researching issues is the stuff you stumble across that you\’re not even looking for. For instance, today I uncovered an old report from a government program that actually paid cash to state employees for offering up ideas to save money.  It was called the \”State Employees Suggestion Program.\”  They actually […]