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Boosterism

Consequences, Accountability, Repentance, Redemption

David Frum, writing of Trump & Trumpism in The Conservative Cult of Victimhood, observes that There is no redemption without repentance. There is no repentance without accountability. There is no accountability without consequences. He rightly concludes that for the Trumpists, the absence of a moral order of accountability and repentance has meant that Even as Trump commits…

Before Man & Movement, That Which Paved the Way

Trump did not spring from the ground; he did not fall from the stars. Neither horticulture nor astrophysics played any role in his rise. Before Trump and Trumpism, there were towns and cities into which he and his movement found receptive audiences. Patients already ill are often susceptible of worse maladies. So it has been…

Boosterism’s Cousin, Toxic Positivity

In political life, boosterism is the overzealous promotion of officials or programs while ignoring actual conditions (particularly conditions of the disadvantaged). It’s wrong and repulsive. (An acknowledgement worth making: I have never criticized boosterism because of a personal concern. My life is comfortable; objections to political boosterism are deep-seated in me as a matter of learning.) Civilizations…

Highlight’s from The Verge’s Foxconn Assessment

No failure better reveals the bankruptcy of corporate welfare in the Walker and Trump years than the Foxconn project in Wisconsin: exaggeration upon exaggeration, but nothing productive. This was a failure of judgment so obvious and significant that everyone involved should retire from policymaking. Walker Administration, Trump Administration, the WISGOP, the WEDC, down to Whitewater’s Community…

Accountability Comes Calling at Foxconn

After years of grandiose – ludicrous, truly – claims about Foxconn from Trump to Vos to boosters in Whitewater, Accountability has made her way to Foxconn. If not Accountability personified, then at least Missy Hughes (the new, Evers-appointed leader) of a slightly-reformed WEDC. Josh Dzieza of the national publication The Verge reports Wisconsin denies Foxconn tax…

Whitewater’s Local Government: Always Literally, Not as Often Seriously

It was the Trump apologist Salena Zito who, by way of defending Trump, suggested that his words should be taken ‘seriously, not literally.’ (She offered this defense in a deceitful effort to absolve Trump from the plain meaning of what he said, at any moment. Instead of considering his statements, one was supposed to take…

Social Capital and Hardship

What role does social capital play in a community’s health? Adam Gopnik, in The Paradoxical Role of Social Capital in the Coronavirus Pandemic, ponders whether there’s a relationship between communities with high social capital and a community’s public health. Gopnik uses a traditional definition of social capital as the “parts of society that, without being…

Built Against Substantive Change

Over time, no matter how small the city, national conditions and trends make their way to the edge of town. Some towns will address these conditions, but others will be resistant to substantive change. For those towns in the latter category, business as usual and rhetorical feints suffice in response to powerful forces to which…

Public Relations v. Journalism

Anyone familiar with a proper newspaper should be able to tell the difference between public relations and journalism: the former advances a corporate or government perspective, the latter reports and assesses that perspective. There are public relations outfits (often called media relations) in big and small communities, with this obvious difference: small communities have few…

The Lingering Problem of Local Exceptionalism

A common error in small rural communities is the persistent, false claim that local officials are examples of a local exceptionalism that makes them implicitly immune from the flaws and mistakes that beset the rest of humanity. Under this thinking, while there may be problems in the wider world, there are no local examples of…

Saving What’s Left of the Janesville Gazette

The nearby Janesville Gazette is ending its Saturday and Sunday print editions. See The Gazette to cease Saturday, Sunday print editions. The Saturday edition should have been canceled years ago; ending a Sunday edition, however, is a sign of a grave illness.  For any paper, even one treading water, the Sunday edition should be a mainstay.…

Boosterism, ’30s Style

Although the Roosevelt Administration was (whatever its other mistakes) candid about the economic conditions it faced, there was in the ’30s, as there has been over the 2010s in Wisconsin, a delusional impulse to happy talk – regardless of economic conditions – among some politicians and some business groups. Margaret Bourke-White‘s Kentucky Flood depicts the…

Local Voting & Voting Locally in Whitewater

The spring election, conducted during a pandemic, is now behind Wisconsin. There’s little question that statewide, it was a good night for Jill Karofsky and Lisa Neubauer. (I supported both candidates.) Whitewater – the city proper – also supported these candidates. A majority of the city’s voters did, in fact, prefer these voters even while…