R.I.P. to a great, hardboiled novelist

6:04 PM, Aug. 23, 2013  |  Comments
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The world said goodbye this week to Elmore Leonard, the great crime novelist whose terse, crisp prose style should be studied by every newspaper journalist - and, really, everyone who wants to write in a way that keeps readers turning pages. Leonard died in his home city of Detroit this week after a recent stroke. He was 87 and had written more than 40 novels.

Leonard's characters were often lowlifes and malcontents, and not always the smartest people you could meet. But he imbued each of them with something memorable and relatable - or at least with the ability to keep up rapid-fire, crackling dialogue.

Probably a lot of people have encountered Leonard's work through its film adaptations, some of which are quite good. But the novels are special, and we will miss an American master.

Health care options abound

Every part of the state will be covered by at least two health insurance companies in the new private marketplaces being established by Obamacare, according to an analysis released Thursday by liberal group Citizen Action of Wisconsin. Almost 99 percent of the state will have at least three options; more than 68 percent will have four.

This is significant because one of the ways the exchanges could have gone off the rails would have been if few private companies had chosen to offer plans to the people who are currently without insurance, severely underinsured or who will lose access to BadgerCare as a result of Gov. Scott Walker's plan, which relies on the federally subsidized exchanges to pick them up.

It bears repeating that the overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites will have no need to change insurers. But for those who don't have insurance or have bad insurance today, the exchanges could be a godsend. At the least, the fact that these groups will have multiple options means there will be competition in the marketplace - which ought to serve to keep prices down and efficiency up.

It is just one step on the still uncertain path to Obamacare implementation, but it is a positive indication.

Thanks to Suder for service

State Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, will step down from his job in the Assembly to take a post at the state Public Service Commission. A fierce partisan, as Assembly majority leader in a deeply politically polarized time he inspired strong loyalty from conservatives and strong opposition from liberals. But there could be no doubt that he fought for policies he believed in.

And it is worth mentioning that Suder put action behind his patriotism in a way that few elected officials do today when he volunteered to serve in the Wisconsin Air National Guard almost immediately after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Suder served two tours of duty in the Middle East, sometimes holding long-distance Skype sessions or conference calls to discuss legislative strategy or constituent services.

"The deployment changed my outlook," he told Gannett Central Wisconsin Media in 2009. "It makes you realize what is really important. I think that was a maturing process for me. ... You learn to appreciate the little things. The world is bigger than you, and you realize it when you get deployed."

Thanks to Suder for his service to the country and to the 69th Assembly District.

What's your take on the Packers Family Night change?

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Football fans

If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

Special Reports