A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Little Help

So, I mentioned a while back that part of the reason my blogging has been light recently is that I'm working on a book on the history of the town I currently live. Getting paid and everything. Anyway, much of it is done and so I would like you (all three of you) to read bits of it and offer thoughts, critiques and ask questions. Is it interesting? Too wordy? Not wordy enough? Confusing? Love it? Hate it?

The following is the prelude. Give it a once over, please, and then offer me any thoughts, advice or commentary. Thanks much! I appreciate any input greatly.


Over 160 years ago, in 1842, the Township of Caledonia was formed in the Northeastern corner of Racine County. The central and eastern portions of the Town were heavily forested, and sometimes swampy, while the western half featured prairie lands intermingled with woods. Winding in a generally southeastern direction from Milwaukee County, the Root River meandered through the middle of the Town before exiting into Mount Pleasant near the rapids below the Horlick Dam. Because of the inclusion of the spur of land, known then as North Point and today as Wind Point, extending to Lake Michigan, Caledonia comprises the entirety of Township 4, Range 22 and roughly a third of Range 23. Because of this, Caledonia was the largest township in the state, with just over 47 square miles of land.

But before we begin our look at the people, places and events that have shaped Caledonia’s history, it is important to remember what was here before Territorial Governor James Doty signed the act creating Caledonia on February 7, 1842. Wisconsin had become a territory only six years before, and Racine County had been carved out of Milwaukee County only four years earlier. Before 1833, the entire area belonged to the Potawatomi Indians, and the first permanent white settlers did not stake out their homesteads until 1835.

Prior to the arrival of those settlers, the only white man in the area was Jacques Jambeau, sometimes written as Vieax, who had established a trading post at Skunk’s Grove—the area just to the east of present day Franksville. Jambeau arrived in the area sometime in the 1790s and had a good relationship with the local tribes. Indeed, he had married a local Potawatomi woman and traded with them and with travelers heading between Chicago and Green Bay or Milwaukee. Jambeau remained in the area until 1837, when he sold his claim to Daniel Rork, who arrived in Caledonia in June of 1837. According to an 1871 speech by Judge Charles E. Dyer in Burlington, Jambeau originally asked $2000 for his stake, but eventually sold the parcel to Rork for only $525. After selling his property, Jambeau followed the Native American tribes West, across the Mississippi River. (2)

A number of hardy pioneers preceded Rork’s arrival in Caledonia, with some arriving prior to 1836 when the land was officially opened to settlement. Elam Beardsley and John Davis each have a claim to being the first settlers of the area. Both arrived early in 1835, and while Beardsley claimed to be the first settler, it is likely that Davis was the first to actually stake a claim to property in what was then known as the Root River settlement. Beardsley’s wife was the first white woman to become a resident of the area. (2)

Close behind Beardsley and Davis were Levi Blake and his three sons, C.H., E.S. and Lucius S. Blake. In 1857, Lucius wrote a short “sketch” of the group’s 1835 excursion to Caledonia, and the story is a vivid illustration of the hardships and perils the early settlers of Caledonia had to face on a daily basis.

According to Lucius (1), the four Blakes, two strong horses, and a wagon left in February of 1835 from Beedsley’s Prairie, an area in the Southwestern corner of Michigan near present day Niles and the Indiana state line. Arriving in Chicago, they re-supplied and, after staying for a day or two, headed north towards Gross Point, a trading post about eighteen miles away.

They spent the night at Gross Point, then headed out early the next morning, though the weather had turned much colder. The snow became deeper as they went, and it became nearly impossible to continue with the wagon. Blake’s simple prose captures the direness of their situation:

We stopped in a grove, about three miles west of what is now called Waukegan,
and the night being very cold, we were compelled to stand around the fire, which
we had much difficulty in kindling. Every match in our possession, except the last, had failed to light the fire.

How anxiously we watched father as he carefully struck that last one, as that was the only match within thirty miles of us, and if it failed we must surely perish.

Fearing to lie down my father suggested the idea that we make a sled, and leave the
wagon in the grove until our return, and as we were all mechanics, and fortunately had an ax and an auger, we sat about making a sled. (1)

Having survived the night, they once more headed north in the morning, resting around noon west of present day Kenosha. There they were caught up by a U.S. mail carrier on his pony. The carrier, a Frenchman named Pilkey, gave the Blakes some landmarks to follow as they headed for Skunk Grove.

Despite the help, the Blake party did not reach the grove until nearly eight that evening, well after darkness lay heavy on the land, with their horses exhausted and the cold gnawing at their bones. The sight of Jambeau’s trading post must have been an incredible relief to the Blakes, and as Lucius notes, “If ever a wigwam or shanty looked like living, that place did, as they had a great fire and plenty to eat and drink, in their own way, which at the time seemed better than anything I have enjoyed since.” (1)

Even after making it to Skunk Grove, the Blakes’ trials were not over, as one of their horses froze “…so badly that he was of no use.” (3) They staked out what they thought were four claims, but was later discovered to only be sufficient land for two claims near the junction of Skunk Creek, later known as Hood’s Creek, and the Root River. After viewing the region for a few days, Levi and his sons headed back to Michigan. Lucius and one of his brothers returned a little later in the year to hold the claims, plow the ground and erect some fencing. The rest of the family returned in 1837, and the Blakes’ large log house became something of a landmark in the area. It was always open to settlers, and the hospitality of Levi Blake and his family earned it the name of “Our House” with the area’s residents.

A number of other settlers arrived later in 1835, including: Edward Bradley and his brother; Simeon, Isaac and Thomas Butler; Joseph Adams; Trystam Davis; Mr. Fowler; Mr. Stillman; Hugh and Hiram Bennett; and the mysterious “border ruffian” Shintafer. Additionally, Sheridan Kimball, Ira Hurlbutt, Elisha Raymond and Ezra Beardsley, father of Elam, settled in the town during 1835 and early 1836. Elisha Raymond soon removed himself to the west, settling near a ford of the West Branch of the Root River in the township that would eventually bear his name.

Walter Cooley came to Caledonia in May, 1835, but when he returned in September, he had to relocate north of his original claim, southwest of the Rapids, after it was discovered to be partially on another man’s claim.

Eldad Smith also arrived in 1835, initially living in Racine before purchasing John Davis’ claim of 240 acres. Smith’s house was built by the simple expediency of rolling up logs and putting on logs made of split white oak shingles. What remained of the Potawatomi tribe frequently encamped near Smith’s house during the winter of 1835-36.

Despite the hardships of life in those early times, the settlers were open, friendly people who were very welcoming of new arrivals to the small community. In December of 1835, Sheridan Kimball settled in Caledonia, but the previous summer he had toured the area and had been welcomed by all whom he visited. Indeed, when word spread that Kimball and his traveling companions, Sandford Blake and Stephen Sanford had arrived at nearby Sunderland’s Tavern, some of the settlers called at the cabin at night and talked cheerfully of the richness and future of the land.

During his initial visit, Kimball also visited the Davis, Hood and Butler homes, and was welcomed warmly at all. Symmes Butler served as Kimball’s guide, and helped Kimball find his way through the dense forests of that time. With Butler’s help, Kimball made his claim, property that he could purchase for a meager $1.25 per acre. When he returned in December, he settled on the land, and in February of 1836 returned to Chicago and immediately began preparations to move his entire family to the Root River settlement. Leonard Kimball, Sheridan's brother, left ahead of Sheridan and his parents in order to prepare the claim for their arrival. With three yoke of oxen and a wagon, the Kimball’s headed out in the middle of March for their new home—a journey which took them nearly two weeks time.

With the oxen and the wagon, Mr. Kimball delivered stone from the Caledonia area to Chicago for work on the harbor. While in Chicago, he would collect a load of wheat from his brother, and then transport it to a mill on the Fox River, where it was ground into flour. He then took the flour back to Wisconsin, where he could sell it for as much as $12 a barrel.

The first child born to a settler arrived on September 2nd of 1835, when Maria was born to Joseph Adams and his wife. Whether Maria was the first white child born in the entire county is uncertain, as Helen Mars, daughter of Samuel Mars, was born in Mount Pleasant in the late summer of 1835 as well.

In February of 1836, James Kinzie brought in the first pigs to the region, a drove of hogs that were known as “prairie racers”. Rev. Cyrus Nichols was the first preacher to settle in Caledonia, arriving in the fall of 1836 and purchasing a claim upon which he built a log house. Nichols traversed the county to do his preaching, and on one occasion had to rebuke Lucius Blake and some of the other settlers for bringing guns to his service.

Others whom arrived in 1836, after the formal government land sale was complete, were William Sears, Luther Sears, James Bussey, Joel Horner, Emanuel Horner, Alexander Logan, Thomas Spencer, and Daniel Wooster and his sons. The Woosters had left the town of Derby in Connecticut on January 1st of 1836 and traveled by land through New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois before arriving in Wisconsin in March. Other members of the Wooster family joined them later in the year.

1836 was a year of hardship for the early settlers, as the weather was cold, and the settlers received a shipment of bad flour from Michigan. Known as “sick flour” in those days, the spoiled flour nearly cost several of the settlers their lives, and at a cost of upwards to $22 a barrel, it was a tremendous financial burden as well.

From 1836 until the area became a town in February, 1842, many more settlers arrived in the area, and soon nearly all of the available land was claimed. Among these early pioneers were John Wheeler, Joseph Cannon, Samuel Hood, George and Henry Roberts, John Trumbull, Timothy Morris, Isaac Place, and the aforementioned Daniel Rork.

The story of Westward settlement is well-worn in American history, and Racine County was no exception to the pattern. Spurred by the pressure of population growth in the Eastern states, combined with the siren call of cheap, fertile land, New Englanders, also called Yankees, and newly arrived immigrants headed west. As these groups pushed further west, the Native American tribes that had lived on the land for generations were moved out of the way to make room. In Caledonia, this process was virtually complete by 1836, when the U.S. Government formally opened the area to settlement, though a few bands of Potawatomi remained for the next few years.

By the time Caledonia became a township in 1842, much of the southern, western and west-central portions were already settled, and nearly all of the land was claimed. These early settlers were truly living a frontier life—carving out farms from the woods and prairies with lots of determination, sweat and ingenuity. Sickness and death were never far away, yet they persevered and Caledonia’s bright future owes a huge debt to their efforts and sacrifices. This book is, in large measure, a testament to them and to those who continued their work after the Root River Settlement became the Town of Caledonia.

So, whattcha tink?


Friday, November 24, 2006

PC Hypocrisy

Detailed in Australia's Daily Telegraph. Ye gods, how silly can you get?

My favorite line, buried midway down the column and talking about the College of William and Mary removing a gold cross from the campus chapel to make it more 'welcoming to all':
As one student asked: "Why does diversity and acceptance of others demand us to disregard the collective history of William and Mary?’’
That's a pretty good question, don't you think?


Still On About It

The moderation and compromise thing. Yada, yada, yada.

I found this bit from Barry Goldwater, via Andrew Sullivan, DOBA.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Wednesday's List

Haven't done one of these in a while, so why not on a Wednesday? I saw Tombstone a few days ago (yes, I know its over 10 years old, but I hadn't seen it before) and was fairly impressed with it-- quite a bit better than I expected. Part of the reason was Val Kilmer's portrayal of Doc Holliday. He was excellent-- stealing the show from Kurt Russell's more reserved, pragmatic Wyatt Earp.

It occured to me that Mr. Kilmer has been excellent in everything I've seen him in-- though checking this filmography, I haven't seen the majority of his work. Still, I think he is under-appreciated as an actor. Started me thinking about other actors that are under-appreciated, and voila:

Top 10 Underrated Actors/Actresses

10. Cate Blanchett. Doesn't seem to get the same recognition of the Gwyneth Paltrow's of the world, but she is sublime in everything she does. She has a chameleon like nature and an ability to go from cold to warm to sexy in just a heartbeat.
9. Lee Marvin. Old school, bay-bee. Never got the same recognition as some of his contemporaries, but his work in The Dirty Dozen, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and Paint Your Wagon is just fine, thank you. And he does comedy pretty well, too.
8. Clint Eastwood. Gets a lot of recognition for his directing, and deservedly so, but the man can act, too. Dirty Harry and the spaghetti westerns, sure, but his work in The Outlaw Jesse Wales, Honkytonk Man, Play Misty for Me and Two Mules for Sister Sarah is very very good. Far more wide ranging than most people know.
7. Harrison Ford. Certainly a known, A-List name, but doesn't really get enough credit for his actual acting. His work in Blade Runner is generally overlooked, as are his roles in Working Girl, Witness and Regarding Henry. And with Han Solo and Indiana Jones, Ford virtually defined the action hero for an entire generation.
6. Kevin Spacey. Gets quite a bit of press, but he's still underrated in my mind-- I would put him up there with the Deniros and Pacinos of his generation. His work in American Beauty, L.A. Confidential and The Usual Suspects was just superb. He's not quite as good in A Time To Kill and The Negotiator, but he does a great bad guy voice in A Bug's Life.
5. Vincent D'Onfrio. A bit annoying, at times, as the uber-genius cop in Law & Order: Criminal Intent, but he's got serious acting chops across a wide range of genres and much of his work on L&O: CI is riveting. Awesome performance as the "bug" in Men In Black.
4. Bill Murray. A comic genius, of course-- Ghostbusters, Caddy Shack, Stripes, Meatballs-- but also skilled with less over-the-top comic material and more serious fare. Scrooged, Groundhog Day, and Lost in Translation.
3. Sigourney Weaver. Comic gold in Ghostbusters and Galaxy Quest and not your typical damsel in distress in Alien and Aliens. Bad ass "warden" in Holes and bad ass boss in Working Girl.
2. Val Kilmer. Has done a bit of everything, and done it well. Comedy? Johnny Dangerously and Real Genius. Drama? The Doors and Tombstone. Action? Batman Forever and Tombstone.
1. Michael Keaton. Kinda got stereotyped with Mr. Mom, I think, but he ranged from Beetle Juice to Bruce Wayne with ease. Has a Tom Hanks like every man quality, but plays the bad guy as well as he does the good guy.

Now it is entirely possible that some, or all, of these actors have sucked out loud in the films I haven't seen, but in the ones I have seen they have been excellent, yet don't get A-List press. And I'm sure I've forgotten lots of folks, but it's late and I'm getting sleepy. Add nominees as you will in the comments.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Remember how lucky you are to be living, to be free, and to have all the blessings you have in your life tomorrow. And eat lots of Turkey.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Alexander Hamilton was an egotistical and abrasive person from all of the accounts I've read. He was also flippin' brilliant. Came across this quote from him over at Andrew Sullivan's blog. DOBA:
So numerous indeed and so powerful are the causes which serve to give a false bias to the judgment, that we, upon many occasions, see wise and good men on the wrong as well as on the right side of questions of the first magnitude to society. This circumstance, if duly attended to, would furnish a lesson of moderation to those who are ever so much persuaded of their being in the right in any controversy. And a further reason for caution, in this respect, might be drawn from the reflection that we are not always sure that those who advocate the truth are influenced by purer principles than their antagonists. Ambition, avarice, personal animosity, party opposition, and many other motives not more laudable than these, are apt to operate as well upon those who support as those who oppose the right side of a question. Were there not even these inducements to moderation, nothing could be more ill-judged than that intolerant spirit which has, at all times, characterized political parties. For in politics, as in religion, it is equally absurd to aim at making proselytes by fire and sword. Heresies in either can rarely be cured by persecution.
Yeah. What he said. Want more? I got you moderation right here:

That's Aristotle right there, boys and girls. Toga and all.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Real Mandate

The Dems victory last week was not a referendum on the War. It was not a mandate for liberal over-reach to counter recent "conservative" over-reach. It was a referendum on Bush, but only to a degree. I think the real mandate of the election results is that America is sick of the "bases". Democratic and Republican. The "bases" are the extreme edges of the political spectrum who are VERY unlikely to waver from their believes and perspectives because they are too dearly held, and too tightly interwoven into the very fabric of the "bases" pysche. There's nothing wrong with that, I would place both tc and Mojo into the respective Dem and Repub bases, and they are both good people who are willing to listen to others and admit mistakes. But that does not change their core certainty that the other side has got it precisely backwards. tc's posts over the last year or so, and Mojo's recent comments on a few of my posts illustrate that pretty clearly.

Most people aren't there. Most people don't want to be there. And that's good for the country because compromise is VITAL to the country's well-being. It allows for enough of both philosophies to prosper that nobody gets too disgruntled and neither side gets to comfortable with their power. If they do, the voters tell them to get the heck out of Dodge. Hence the 1994 Republican "revolution" and last week's Dememocratic "revolution".

If there is one viewpoint that really irks me from both party's bases, it is this: "If you aren't firmly Republican or Democratic, you are a wishy-washy dolt with no core beliefs." Um, no.

But don't take my word for it. There were two excellent pieces on precisely this rant in Sunday's Philadelphia Inquirer. Check them out. Moderation is a not a vice. Cooperation is not a sign of weakness.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

South Park: Season 10

I missed pretty much all of seasons 3-9 of South Park, being a Luddite hater of cable-- okay, not really, but it was hard to justify the cost when we didn't really NEED cable. Then the Time Warner Cable Nazis made it affordable by bundling long distance, digital cable and high-speed internet at a very reasonable price. Woot! All because of competition from ATT and others. The free-market system-- it's not perfect, but it's a whole lot better than the suckhead alternatives.

Anyway. Jumped into the middle of season 10 with episode 1007, the Dog Whisperer one. Fabulous! Sharp, satirical and hilarious. The skewering of the "super nanny" shows was particularly funny to me, and the scene where Cesar Milan takes Cartman for a walk had me in stitches. Matt and Trey at the top of their form skewering pop culture while still making a point.

The World of Warcraft epsidoe was only okay, imo. It had its moments-- like when Stan's dad doesn't know how to transfer the Sword of a Thousand Truths to Stan-- but overall it was too self-indulgent, relied on cheap sight gags too much, and had trouble balancing the adulation for WoW with the satirizing of it.

The 9/11 conspiracy epsidode was outstanding, however, one of my favorites so far. Any episode with Mr. Mackey featured prominently is off to a good start, and the observation that a 1/3rd of the world's population are retards is awfully funny-- if somewhat discouraging in being more accurate than you'd like it to be. But the part that just killed me was the running gag of having Kyle tip his head to the side and with this quizzical expression say, "Really?" in response to all the crackpot "theories" about 9/11. Outstanding.

Miss Teacher Bangs a Boy, episode 1010, was almost as good. Cartman's 'Dog, the Bounty Hunter' impersonation is DOBA, and having Ike (Kyle's kindergartener brother) as the object of the teacher's affection is South Park at its best, over-the-top satirization of our culture's stupidity. The reaction of the police and other male "authority figures" to the concept of a female teacher having sex with a male student is pretty good, too.

The Halloween episode, Hell on Earth, is okay, but not on a level with the two preceding episodes. Pretty much seemed like Matt and Trey having fun (similar to the WoW episode), though the three stooges parody with Ed Gein, Jeffrey Dahmer and John Gacy is pretty good-- the 3 Stooges taken to their "natural" extreme when the eye poke isn't blocked in time.

Go God Go and Go God Go XII is the uneven two part time traveling episode most recently aired. Parts of it are brilliant-- the replacement of God with Science in the 26th century is both ironic and poignant. Humans, and otters, will always find something to fight and kill over.

Bottom line-- Matt and Trey still got it. If they get a bit self-indulgent and willful in seeing how far they can push the boundaries, I'm willing to forgive them their excesses because the majority of what they put out there is some of the funniest, edgiest, and most satirical material on television. In a era dominated by crappy "reality" TV, South Park remains a breath of fresh air and a source of hearty laughs.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Election Day Reflections

I have been on vacation the last few days, which is why I haven't posted much-- it is not because I am in mourning over the election results. Though I was more disheartened than heartened, I will admit.

On a national level, the election leaves me fairly pleased. Government is once again divided, and I think that's a very good thing. Checks and balances that have been stretched and/or rode rough-shod over by President Bush will once again have meaning and substance. I have some concerns over the Pelosi's and Murtha's of Congress wanting to bail on Iraq as soon as possible, but I have confidence that there are enough reasonable voices amongst the Dems to make wholesale abandonment very unlikely. And Rumsfeld is gone, so thank the Lord for that. Rummy's ouster alone would make the national election results a plus for me.

On the state level, I am far less pleased. Really, it was the worst of all-worlds for me-- Jim Doyle was re-elected AND both the referendum advocating banning gay marriage in the state constitution and the referendum advocating a limited return of capital punishment passed. Which is totally mind-bending to me-- how anybody could vote FOR Jim Doyle and FOR the Death Penalty and banning Gay Marriage is something of a mystery to me. But maybe it shouldn't be-- I voted against Jim Doyle and against both referendums. My hope here is that Doyle will follow the same path W. did-- keep on keeping on with his power grabs, and his pay for plays and his shameless pandering to the teacher's union and the Native American tribes and the residents of the fine state of Wisconsin will recognize him for the bald-faced liar that he his and take him down next time around. It would help if the Republicans would put up a challenger who wasn't an empty suit like Mark Green was this time. We'll see.

Two things did come out of the state elections that brightened my outlook a bit, though. J.B. Van Holland won the Attorney General election over Doyle toadie Kathleen Falk, so at least the Dept. of Justice won't be at Jim Doyle's disposal to cover-up his many and varied scandals and quid pro quos.

And in the U.S. House of Representatives race in District 8 (the Green Bay area), Democrat Steve Kagen defeated Republican John Gard. Why does that make me happy? Because I was up in that area for the last four days prior to the election, and I never heard Steve Kagen run a negative ad against Gard. The closest he came was to say, "If you like how things are going, vote for my opponent-- if you don't, please consider voting for me." How refreshing! Gard, by way of contrast, ran nothing BUT negative ads-- "If you vote for 'Dr. Millionaire' you'll lose all your Medicare benefits, he'll kill your pets, and you might as well move to Canada." Okay, not that bad, but they were relentlessly negative. And I am sick to the TEETH of negative ads. All the pundits say they work, and maybe they have in the past, but it was refreshing-- almost exhilarating-- to see someone actually talk about what they wanted to DO instead of how terrible their opponent was. And the voters rewarded him. So maybe, just maybe, people will take note of that and realize that the negative ad can be overplayed and that positive ads have a place in politics, too. That would be nice.

For the record, my opposition to amending the state constitution to ban gay marriage is two-fold. One, the concept of amending our constitution for an issue as minor as this one-- of all the problems and issues of import in our state, whether or not two men or two women get married is the ONE issue worth amending the constitution?-- is perposterous in my mind. Two, the prospect of writing discrimination into our state constitution is appalling. Bear in mind, there is already a law in Wisconsin that prohibits marriage between anyone other than a man and a woman, and while I personally think it's a silly law, that's how it's supposed to work. Laws are passed to reflect the will of the majority of the people. Why do we need an amendment? Because the Supreme Court might, some day, decide that the law is unconstituional and force the legislature to rewrite the law. What a joke.

Finally, on a local level, nothing much changed, which is okay. Paul Ryan was re-elected to the U.S. House from my district, and I have mixed feelings about that. Overall, I think he's doing a pretty good job, but he's been in the job for 6 years now, and it may be time to start looking for some new blood. John Lehman (D) beat out Tom McReynolds (R) for the local state senate seat, but I don't really like either of them, so, eh. And Robin Vos won for my state House of Reps. seat, and he seems to be pretty good, so I'm okay with that as well, though he was an incumbent.

Finally, tc declined to take me up on my offer to vote for my brother for Governor, claiming my brother would make a lousy Governor because he has:

No middle ground-ness. Not willing to compromise, to sell out his ideals in
order to achieve short-term gains....

...ummm, wait. That's integrity.

Do you write these things just to get my goat, tc? Or do you honestly believe that slop? I will grant you that "selling out your ideals in order to achieve short-term gains" would show a decided lack of integrity, but finding middle-ground and being willing to compromise are a FAR FAR cry from selling out. God forbid people should have to actual WORK with each other and try to find common ground to achieve policies that, while not wholly pleasing to everyone are acceptable and viable to all! Because listening to only a small handful of voices that all agree with you and never attempting to find sufficient common ground for all to agree upon is what our country is built on, right?

If the Founding Fathers hadn't been able to find compromises between the agrarian South and the commercially driven North we wouldn't BE a country. Did George Washington SELL OUT when he brokered a deal with Jefferson and the Southern delegates and Hamilton and much of the Northern delegates to place the national capitol in Virginia in exchange for a national bank? Certain principles must never be abandoned, but blind partisanship is not the same thing as principle. The middle ground is where people meet, mingle, exchange ideas and figure out how to make things work while still satisfying as many people as possible. It's why I'm a big fan of split government-- without that tension, there is no incentive to compromise, to work with people who think differently than you do and to find solutions that are good for as many people as possible. A perpective that brooks no possibility of error is not idealism-- it is fanaticism. An approach that brooks no compromise or questioning is not idealism-- it is intolerance.

Anyway, I voted for my brother regardless. I think he'd make a great Governor-- because he does listen to all sides of an issue, and is willing to consider other viewpoints. And, as many conversations around the campfire or in the wee hours of the night have shown me, he is adroit at getting others to express themselves while keeping his own council mostly to himself.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Single Issue Voting

In case you've somehow managed to miss the 6.545 million negative campaign ads airing on every single radio, broadcast and cable tv channel, and haven't read a single newspaper or blog entry in the past 3 months, there's an election coming up in just a few days. It may well be the most publicized, nastiest, most expensive election in our history. And Orson Scott Card thinks you should vote Republican because to vote Democrat is to vote to abandon Iraq and surrender in the War on Terror.

He's certainly not alone in this-- Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, the National Review and many, many others have been saying, screaming often, the exact same thing-- but his case is somewhat more persuasive. Probably because he is reasonable about it and actually tries to make a solid case rather than just try to scare people into agreeing with him. And he does make a good case for the original invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the need to continue to have a U.S. military presence in both countries.

But the case he makes that it is vital to keep the Republicans in control of both the Executive and Legislative branches of government is far less persuasive. Even if I were to grant OSC his "Bush is a visionary who has done the right things" viewpoint-- and I no longer do-- the fact remains that this Congress has been dreadful, the country is worse for it, and there is much reason to believe that divided government is not only preferable, it is vital to our country's development, reputation and future.

Card's analysis also fails to account the Republicans, specifically Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld, but the Republicans as a whole, with the many failures that have occurred in the War on Terror, both on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan, but even more so in the PR theater of this war. Because perception is a very, very important part of this battle. And with our embrace of torture and our insufficient troop strength to maintain long-term order, we are playing right into the extremists/terrorists hands.

OSC actually refers to Bush as a "wise and moderate politician" and I nearly choked. He is neither. And he needs an antagonistic legislative branch to curb his many executive branch power grabs, and to hold him accountable for the many failures that needn't have occured in Iraq, the broader War on Terror, and a variety of other areas where Bush held loyalty to be more valuable than capability or integrity.

Democratic control of one or both branches of Congress won't be the Death of All We Hold Precious. Please. If control switches, it won't be a big enough swing to give the Democrats veto-override power. The President will still be the Commander-in-Chief, and all of Bush's appointments will still be in their respective positions.

What will happen is that Bush will actually have to explain himself, and his efforts to expand Executive power will actually have to be justified. He will no longer be able to spend like a drunken sailor, and there will have to be more oversight of the various national security programs begun or expanded during Bush's time in office. Bush will actually have to try and be the uniter, not divider, that he claimed to be back in 2000.

In theory, one party control of the Executive and Legislative Branches of our government is the best way to get something accomplished. Of course, in theory, Communism is the best form of government available to mankind, and the United Nations is the single best way to unify and harmonize all the divergent interests and people of the Earth. In practice, Communism is close to the worst form of government available to mankind, and the UN is at best ineffectual and at worst an impediment to global peace and prosperity.

And, in practice, divided government is the best way to actually get limited, centrist policy with informed debate and compromise from all of the divergent interests represented in D.C.

Having said all this, I will still write-in people I think will actually do a good job next Tuesday, but since I think it's unlikely that any of my write-ins will actually win office, I am hopeful that the Democrats regain control of at least one house in Congress. Locally, I will continue to hope for the incumbent to lose in all but a handful of elections.

The one issue I will vote on is Wisconsin's referendum on gay marriage. The Republican controlled congress of our state wants to write discrimination into the state's constitution by banning gay marriage in the constitution. I don't know that I could possibly be more against this measure than I am. It is simply reprehensible.

On everything else... vote the bums out if you don't write the bums in!

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FFL Update: Week 8

Yikes! What a week. I'll sum up the results of the tumult in the WBKL via email, but suffice to say it was a argumentative time. What's not in debate are the current standings. If the playoffs were today:
  1. nate, 6-2, 682
  2. Metal Mayhem, 5-3, 609
  3. I'm Rick James, Bitch, 6-2, 656
  4. The TONY REALI Experience, 6-2, 592
  5. Fearsome Canines, 5-3, 589
  6. Ill-Tempered Sea Bass, 5-3, 589
  7. Ackphblt!, 602
Close, but no banana:
Stench, 4-4, 569
Happy Scrappy Hero Pups, 4-4, 523
Mojo's Reapers, 4-4, 519
I Hate Favre, 3-5, 583
Muff Divers, 3-5, 553
Motor City Cheese, 3-5, 520
Cheddar Heads, 3-5, 514
The Fighting Uruk-Hai, 2-6, 491
Cloud's Thunder, 1-7, 507
With five weeks to go, it's still pretty wide open. The top 4 are getting close to locking up playoff berths, but who gets what seed is far from decided, and anybody down to the bottom two still have a shot at the playoffs if they can get on a serious roll down the stretch. This is the last week of byes, so after this, things should get very interesting.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

And They're Off!

My Milwaukee Bucks, that is-- off on the grueling, ridiculously long marathon that is the NBA regular season. 82 games. What a joke.

Anyway, they beat the Detroit Pistons, in Detroit, rather handily last year. Andrew Bogut looked good, and so did recently acquired Carlos Villanueva. What a thought-- an athletic, active frontline! When was the last time the Bucks had an above average center AND an above average power forward? Been a looooooonnnnnngggg time.

Fun to watch them punish the Ben Wallaceless Pistons for 70-- 70! -- points in the paint. I think the Bucks might actually be good this year. Not mediocre. Good. Challenge for the division title, make a run in the playoffs good.

We'll see. It's only one game, but I like what I see so far. Go Bucks!


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