Rebecca Kemble

Two years ago on March 11, 2011, Scott Walker signed into law one of the most explosive pieces of legislation in Wisconsin history: Act 10, the massive budget repair bill that did away with all meaningful collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.

That same day a small group of social justice activists decided to maintain their opposition to Walker's regressive policies by singing protest songs in the Capitol rotunda over the noon hour. Armed with photocopied songbooks containing ten songs, they took to the rotunda and sang for an hour, singing each song twice.

The passage of Wisconsin's massive mining deregulation bill is a stunning example of the massive influence that private corporations have come to enjoy in Wisconsin state government under the reign of Scott Walker and the Republican-dominated legislature since 2010. Despite overwhelming opposition from scientists, conservationists, hunters, fishers, local government officials, Native Sovereign Nations, and the general public, the measure passed the senate last week on a 17-16 vote and is likely to pass by a larger margin in the Assembly this Thursday.

Last Wednesday Scott Walker gave his biennial budget address to a joint session of the Wisconsin State Legislature. Walker's office strategically released portions of the 2013-2015 plan over the previous two weeks, so the general scope and content of the budget did not come as a surprise on Wednesday night. However, the extreme ideological tone of the event breached the boundaries of credulity for any listener not completely indoctrinated by the free market spin.


Yesterday a group of families of kids with disabilities called Stop Special Needs Vouchers held a press event at the Wisconsin State Capitol to express their concerns about Governor Walker's proposal to add $21 million to the next budget for special needs vouchers. Following the event they walked over to Walker's office and delivered a letter to him requesting him to remove special needs vouchers from the budget.


The struggle to maintain Wisconsin's capitol rotunda as a public forum for free political speech is being taken to the next level by a University of Wisconsin professor and the Wisconsin ACLU. Yesterday attorneys Larry Dupuis of the ACLU and Steven Porter filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Michael Kissick against Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch and Capitol Police Chief David Erwin.

Yesterday Wisconsin lawmakers passed a controversial mining deregulation bill out of two committees. Assembly and Senate mining committees were scheduled to meet at the same time on opposite sides of the state Capitol building. Both Republican-dominated committees passed the bill on party-line votes over strenuous objections of Democrats.

The battle to protect clean water in the Great Lakes is heating up in Wisconsin as last year's failed mining bill is back on the table. The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is on the frontlines, with thousands of Ashland County residents, environmental advocates, fishing and wildlife enthusiasts, and other tribal nations backing them up.

At the 33rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Wisconsin's state capitol yesterday, Dr. Margaret Rozga received the MLK Heritage Award on behalf of her late husband, Father James Groppi, who was among the leaders of the struggle for fair housing in Milwaukee in the 1960s.

A poet and professor at UW-Waukesha, Rozga delivered a fiery speech calling people who don't ordinarily concern themselves with social justice issues but pay lip service to Dr. King's legacy one day a year "photo-op do-gooders."

On Friday, a 3-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Scott Walker's public sector union-busting Act 10 in its entirety. In a 2-1 decision, the majority decided that the evidence presented by the unions claiming violation of their first amendment rights of free speech and association didn't meet the standards required by constitutional law.

Wis. Gov. Scott Walker gave his State of the State address Tuesday night, and he laid it on thick.

Walker acknowledged the slow pace of job creation, blaming it on "protests and recalls combined with the slow recovery at the national level, the fiscal cliff, and ongoing worries about health care mandates coming out of Washington." Stunningly, he followed that up with this statement: "In Wisconsin, we don't make excuses. We get results."


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Helen Caldicott, a co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, calls this “one of the most frightening books...

This time we’ve got some advantages.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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