Politics

John Hidinger of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry

 John Hidinger 1864
John Hidinger (Sep 11, 1839 — May 7, 1883). Photo 1864.

Sometimes mom talked about her grandfather's being in the Civil War and how he was captured and spent time in Confederate prisons. It was fascinating, especially considering that she was born and raised in Saskatchewan and was a naturalized American citizen. Her American roots are deep, going back to the founding of New Haven, Connecticut in the 1630s, but all that turned up later. Her grandfather John Hidinger was from Iowa, though born in Saxony and coming to the United States as a boy (the name was probably Heidinger in the old country). Imagine my surprise when rooting through the archives of the Wisconsin Historical Society to find that he served with the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, the Eagle Regiment, so denoted because of their mascot, the eagle Old Abe, a sensation who occupied the Wisconsin state capitol for many years after the war, and whose replica overlooks the Wisconsin Assembly to this day. It tickled me as an anti-war protester on the University of Wisconsin campus circa 1970, because the right-wingers in the legislature would always call us out-of-town agitators. More like coming home I often thought when passing the Civil War canon at Camp Randall where great-grandfather Hidinger trained, now a little park on the UW campus.

Robert E. Lee Moore -- Topologist and Racist

 Robert E. Lee Moore
Robert E. Lee Moore (1882-1974)

It's a statement when someone names their child after Robert E. Lee, a man who did his best to destroy the United States in order to preserve slavery. Robert E. Lee was lionized more in death than in life, a paragon of the Lost Cause, the glorious if doomed rebellion of a brave people who wanted nothing but to be left alone, crushed by the soulless and brutal industrial juggernaut (Sherman's march to the Sea!). It's the big lie, forwarded for 150 years to defend the indefensible. What a wretched history of oppression, assiduously rebuilt over the generations by people like Moore, Sr. and his illustrious and vicious son Robert E. Lee Moore. The Compromise of 1877, peonage, disenfranchisement, lynching, Plessy v. Ferguson, Jim Crow, the Dunning school false flag on reconstruction. Read the old classics by W. E. B. Du Bois, Eric Foner, and C. Vann Woodward (himself a son of the south), among others, if you still doubt the long-standing construction and reconstruction of anti-black racism in this country down through the generations since 1865.

The Wisconsin State Journal and Joe McCarthy

 Wisconsin State Journal front page — Sep 4, 1952
State Journal front page — Sep 4, 1952.

Scott Milfred is out the other day with Newspaper has stood for public good — for 175 years, meaning the paper he is the editorial page editor of, the Wisconsin State Journal. These folks seem to realize they are almost down for the count and are scurrying around trying to justify themselves and their often baleful enterprise before the final round. Milfred has a taste for authoritarianism (centrist authoritarianism though, no worries), so perhaps it's no surprise to see him taking liberties on the subject of Joe McCarthy and the State Journal — not a 100% supporter!

It is almost beyond belief reading of the antics of the late Senator from Wisconsin, how he cowed the press and political elite, becoming virtual co-president of the republic. Criticize Ted Cruz all you want, he is a statesman compared to McCarthy, a drunken buffoon and known as such by anyone who had ever been in the same room with him. I recommend Richard Rovere's timeless account[1], written shortly after the fact. Rovere calls McCarthy a gifted demagogue in the first sentence and follows with "no bolder seditionist ever moved among us — nor any politician with a surer, swifter access to the dark places of the American mind."

Wisconsin State Journal Death Spiral

 State Journal Gay Marriage Aug 27 2014

The predecessor of the Wisconsin State Journal was founded in Madison in 1839 when Wisconsin was a rude territory, and as Whigs they endorsed William Henry Harrison in 1840 - Wikipedia has a great write-up on this paper over the years. The State Journal played a heroic role as anti-slavery crusaders in the Glover case in Milwaukee in 1854, helping to defy the Fugitive Slave Act and spring recaptured slave Joshua Glover from jail (I remember reading about it circa 1970 in Eric Foner's Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men and feeling oddly proud of my hometown paper). Like many Whigs, including Abraham Lincoln, they became Republicans and duly endorsed the Great Emancipator. They became a progressive and even muckraking organ in the period 1890-1916. Since then they've been a reliable right ring mouthpiece, recent timid attempts to transcend that heritage notwithstanding. They were virulent jingoists in the First World War, scurrilously attacking Fighting Bob La Follette. They were shameful McCarthyites from the get-go, endorsing him in every one of his state-wide campaigns, including the first run for Senate in 1944, when they were one of four papers to do so and the only one outside the Appleton area. They broke their workers' strike in 1977 (I was on the board of the strikers' paper, the Press Connection).

Stephanie Miller in Madison

 Stephanie Miller

Stephanie Miller is a radio talk show host with a devoted national following, nowhere more than in Madison, Wisconsin. She's on the local progressive radio station, 92.1 the Mic, from 8:00 AM to 11:00 AM CST and has been for close to ten years (the poor thing starts at 6:00 AM in LA, aka insane o'clock). She's done shows in Madison at the Barrymore Theater four or five times and always sells out far ahead of time. Some friends and I went the first time - she was broadcasting the show from Madison, so out of bed at 6:00 and on the street at 6:30 to join the stream of people passing my door, two blocks down from the theater.

Bill O'Reilly had just said Madison people communed with Satan and a good number of the patrons had little Satan hats on that lit up the dark theater - blink, blink, blink all around. Stephanie has this running gag that she's a sot, box wine her favorite, so she starts in on that and a good 25% of the audience raised their beer cups in salute. That set her back for a moment, which was funny right there - you're in Wisconsin now, baby!

Scott Walker - The Turning Point

[Joe McCarthy] was not known to have any unusual mandate from the voters of Wisconsin, and in any case Wisconsin, though an ornament of the republic, is not quite a first-rate power in politics.
- Senator Joe McCarthy, by Richard Rovere (1959, p 23)

 Eau Claire Paper 02/24/2014
Eau Claire paper 02/24/2014, story here

Scott Walker is quite talented in his own way and has been successful in Wisconsin. He's a good match for the state or, better put, part of the state, a master of right wing backlash politics, and this is the key to his success here and elsewhere. Busting the public unions in 2011 and then withstanding the demonstrations and recall have made him, just about literally, a right wing rock star. To get a sense of his appeal, you have to understand the seething, visceral hatred of unions felt by these right wingers, all too obvious to us on the recall trail a couple years ago.

Scalia - The End Game

 Antonin Scalia

Marx opens the 18th Brumaire with the memorable statement, "Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce." He gives some examples, the main one of course being the subject of the work - the dolt Louis Napoleon recapitulating his momentous uncle. We are now in a position to point out that a single personage, once the dreaded scourge of his enemies, can, by overstaying his time on the stage, become his own farcical doppelganger.

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