Ah, who doesn’t like a good debate over dollars?  Two weeks ago the internet outrage machine kicked into gear over the forced migration of Andrew Jackson from one location to another.  Sounds historically familiar, doesn’t it.  Harriet Tubman is set to take up residence soon on the front of the $20 while Jackson will me force-marched to the back of the bill,  keeping those Jacksonian fans at bay lest he be exiled entirely.

But it got me thinking, should Jackson have even adorned a bill to begin with?  While Jackson is one of the very few presidents that resonants with the common man, his time as president was suspect to categorize him as a “great” president.  I certainly do like me his “Big Block of Cheese Day” — emulated to great effect in the West Wing TV show and virtually from the Obama administration — where folks who might not be heard by government had their chance to speak up.  But much else of Jackson, to me, shouldn’t land him in my wallet. Continue reading



History is full of fateful coincidences and other relative oddities.  But mid April is strikingly chilling for a time when we think of the renewal that Spring brings.

April 12: Franklin Delano Roosevelt dies in office (1945)
FDR was long stricken with Polio, so his death was not particularly a surpise, the nation nonetheless reeled in shock. His death ushers in eight more tragic days of death, destruction and devestation in American History throughout time.

April 13: Fort Sumter surrendered, Civil War begins (1861)
I suppose another one of those not-really-surprising moments, but Historians need a starting date and secession could have been one on December 20th, 1860… but there was no trigger for war yet. Continue reading


Dear Mr. Jefferson,

Today on many calendars in America your birthday is noted. Sorry you weren’t born in February to enjoy President’s Day between George and Abe’s day, but hey, you made the calender right?  Millard Fillmore, you aren’t. Side note: does Fillmore have to flash ID to enter the Dead Presidents VIP lounge in the afterlife?

I digress… I write you to share why your place in the annals of America is a challenge for my fellow History teachers to address.

On the one hand is all the glory: The Declaration of Independence, our first Secretary of State, second Vice-President, third President and the deal of the millienium: he Louisiana Purchase (a better author of the Art of the Deal?).   Continue reading


A great thing about Democracy is that sometimes you agree with the majority… and sometimes you don’t.  When you don’t and you wish to oppose, you have that right and ability.  There are lots of avenues.  In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a controversial measure to curtail unions.  It was met by widespread protest but passed anyway.  It led to recall elections of state lawmakers and the governor, of which most lawmakers and the governor prevailed.  This is how democracy works.  Win some, lose some, find other ways to win your argument.  This week the process took a new turn, as the Wisconsin lower court ruled that measure unconstitutional.  But before the pro-union folks begin dancing in the streets, the decision will be appealed and will surely end up in the state’s Supreme Court.  And it could one day end up on the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court. Democracy… it grinds on. Continue reading

Voter ID… scam or sham?

Since the 2012 election, a wave of Voter ID laws have been passed in the states.  While there has not been any widespread cases of voter fraud identified, let alone prosecuted, these states consider it pre-emptive protection.  Or is it Poll Taxes and Literacy Tests all over again?  Pre 1965, states used the concept of a “Literacy Test” as a way to ensure that citizens who voted had a basic civic education prior to voting.  Except the difficulty of said tests were such that poorer educated blacks routinely failed the tests until the NAACP started classes.

Wisconsin is cool with your Driver’s License… which doesn’t help you if you are a citizen who just happens to be poorer and car-less.  That’s ok, there are plenty of other ID options, starting with a real estate tax bill.  That is, if you happen to own your property.  Since you don’t have a car, that’s not real likely.  You can also produce a bank statement. But… a lot of poor don’t utilize banks and deal primarily in cash.   But hey, Wisconsin is here to help!  Just click right here for other “approved documents“! Continue reading

Is there a tug of war in the GOP over its direction?

The GOP Primary Season has shown that its own voters appear split over which issues area driving them.  Donald Trump has emphasized economic issues, while Ted Cruz has primarily split between cultural and foreign policy ones.  None are ignoring the other issues, but is interesting to see what general discussion happens around each candidate.

Continue reading