Sunday / April 20, 2014

“Every moment is a golden one for him who has the vision to recognize it as such.”

– Henry Miller

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Republican Governors And Legislatures Are Killing People By Not Expanding Medicaid

They have decided who shall have a chance to live, and who will be left to die if they are in medical need.


(Dennis Brault: Wisconsin Taxpayers have already paid for Medicaid Expansion. Because Walker-Nerison decided not to expand Medicaid many fellow WISCONSINITES WILL DIE.  Dead. Dead as they can be. Dead-dead. Murdered by a political decision. A deadly decision made by Gov. Scott walker and Rep. Lee Nerison to let our fellow cheeseheads die. Remember, remember to vote this November for Democrats Pete Flesch and Burke. I know of no reason the Walker-Nerison treason should ever be allowed to work. ‪#‎scottfree2014‬)

By Mark Karlin
BuzzFlash (4/11/14)

Republican governors generally love to bandy about being so-called “pro-life” due to their opposition to abortions.  It is a tragically ironic and hypocritical stance considering that many of them (particularly in the South) are allowing people to die because of a political refusal to expand Medicaid.

Apparently, to the GOP – which has been obsessed with destroying the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – life is only “sacred” for the unborn.  Once you are a delivered baby, you’re on your own.

She did everything right. They did everything wrong.

Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) and the Republican legislature in Florida are likely responsible for the death of 32-year-old Charlene Dill, a mother of three separated from her husband. Dill did everything the anti-poor warriors in DC demands of those with limited money: She worked three jobs, budgeted her expenses and cared for her children. But she couldn’t afford adequate medical care.

She died of heart failure while selling vacuum cleaners on commission.  What could be a more Republican Tea Party story of working tirelessly to provide for one’s kids – and then dying because of not being able to afford health care?

The Orlando Weekly, which posted an extensive story on Dill’s premature passing, provided some detail:

On March 21, Dill was supposed to bring her three children over to the South Orlando home of her best friend, Kathleen Voss Woolrich. The two had cultivated a close friendship since 2008; they shared all the resources that they had, from debit-card PINs to transportation to baby-sitting and house keys. They helped one another out, forming a safety net where there wasn’t one already. They “hustled,” as Woolrich describes it, picking up short-term work, going out to any event they could get free tickets to, living the high life on the low-down, cleaning houses for friends to afford tampons and shampoo. They were the working poor, and they existed in the shadows of the economic recovery that has yet to reach many average people.

Only Dill never arrived: she lost her life on the floor of a couple she was trying to sell a vacuum cleaner to. They didn’t even know her.

Dill’s children are ages 3, 7 and 9.

The Orlando Weekly notes:

Dill’s death was not unpredictable, nor was it unpreventable. She had a documented heart condition for which she took medication. But she also happened to be one of the people who fall within the gap created by the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowed states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, which was a key part of the Affordable Care Act’s intention to make health care available to everyone.

Wisconsin is one of the death states

As of March 28, 2014, according to a health care tracking site, only 26 states have officially accepted the Medicaid expansion offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The entire South has rejected Medicaid gap coverage (along with other solid Republican states – including Tea Party governors in Wisconsin and Maine) which is inititally fully funded by the federal government, eventually settling at 90% of the Medicaid expansion under the ACA being covered by DC.

The Kaiser Foundation estimates:

Nationally, nearly five million poor uninsured adults will fall into the “coverage gap” that results from state decisions not to expand Medicaid… meaning their income is above current Medicaid eligibility but below the lower limit for Marketplace premium tax credits. These individuals would have been newly-eligible for Medicaid had their state chosen to expand coverage. More than a fifth of people in the coverage gap reside in Texas, which has both a large uninsured population and very limited Medicaid eligibility. Sixteen percent live in Florida, nine percent in Georgia, seven percent live in North Carolina, and six percent live in Pennsylvania.

Republican health plan

The Orlando Weekly documents that when it comes to Medicaid expansion, life and death becomes a largely partisan issue, quoting Cong. Alan Grayson (D-FL):

“Charlene’s sad and unnecessary death illustrates what I have said all along: For the 1 million of Floridians who cannot afford health care coverage, the Republican health care plan is simply this: ‘Don’t get sick,’” Grayson says. “If you do get sick, and if you cannot afford coverage, the GOP has nothing for you but prayer. The Republicans have no answers, no alternatives, no ideas, no safety nets, no sympathy, no empathy and no compassion. Just these three words: ‘Don’t get sick.’ The GOP’s refusal to expand Medicaid, at no cost to Florida, has put the GOP’s appalling disregard for human life on full display. As far as they’re concerned, if you’re not a fetus, you’re on your own. The Republicans would literally rather watch people like Charlene die than give them the care that they need to stay healthy and alive. It’s disgusting and sadistic.”

The Kaiser Foundation analysis of states that have not expanded Medicaid concludes:

The ACA was passed with the goal of filling in gaps in the availability of affordable health coverage in the United States. Given particularly high uninsured rates for adults living below poverty, the expansion of Medicaid to all adults with incomes at or below 138% of poverty is a key component of this effort. In states that expand their Medicaid programs, millions of adults will gain Medicaid eligibility under the law. However, with many states opting not to implement the Medicaid expansion, millions of adults will remain outside the reach of the ACA and continue to have limited, if any, option for health coverage: most do not have access to employer-based coverage through a job, few can afford coverage on their own, and most are currently ineligible for public coverage in their state. While a small share may be eligible to purchase subsidized coverage through the new Health Insurance Marketplaces, most have incomes below the poverty level and thus will be ineligible for these premium tax credits.

Republican death panels

Charlene Dill worked tirelessly, but did not find an escape hatch waiting for her. Instead, she needlessly died.

Florida Governor Scott, his legislature and 23 other states across the land comprise the new GOP death panels – as Thom Hartmann states in reflecting upon Dill.

They have decided who shall have a chance to live, and who will be left to die if they are in medical need.

Republican Governors and Legislatures Are Killing People by Not Expanding Medicaid.

Posted in 2014-04-20, Newsletter | Comments Off

Today Is 100th Anniversary Of The Ludlow Massacre: Never Forget — Whatever Rights You Have Are Because Of Brave Labor Activists

“If more people knew the story of Ludlow and related events, perhaps they could see how a struggle for individual legitimacy and life has been with us from the start.”

By Ron Charles
Washington Post (4/19/14)

This Sunday [4/20] marks a grim 100th anniversary: On April 20, 1914, thugs working for Colorado Fuel & Iron and the Colorado National Guard attacked striking coal miners at Ludlow. Two dozen people were killed.

I learned about this historic outrage a few years ago in an unusual way: by reading a verse novel called “Ludlow,” by David Mason. It’s made up of more than 600 eight-line stanzas of nonrhyming iambic pentameter — hardly the way most of us discover the past nowadays.

But as the 100th anniversary of this massacre approaches, Mason’s unusual book is still finding readers. He says, “People keep telling me, ‘I didn’t know. They didn’t teach us about Ludlow in school.’ My novel, along with several nonfiction books by others, has encouraged some Coloradans to rethink our place in the national story. The governor has appointed a commission to commemorate Ludlow.”

Some readers have reacted to his verse novel in even more personal ways, recalling their relatives’ involvement as perpetrators or victims of the attack. And Mason says, “Many people — especially recent immigrants — have approached me after readings, saying, ‘This book is me.’ ‘Ludlow’ memorializes the individual soul caught up in violent history. It remembers the vulnerable. It counters the amnesiac culture of America.”

While some of the characters in the book are fictional creations, Mason includes historical figures such as Mother Jones and John Rockefeller, epic personalities for a modern-day “Beowulf.”

As union membership continues to decline in this country and long-term unemployment remains high, “Ludlow” is a harrowing reminder of a time when ordinary workers had no rights at all. “It was written partly in anger at corporate ownership of our politics,” Mason says, “the way America devours individual lives and spits them out, and the pathology of violence in our society. If more people knew the story of Ludlow and related events, perhaps they could see how a struggle for individual legitimacy and life has been with us from the start.”

But Mason doesn’t think of his book as “propaganda for unions or a diatribe against corporations. It’s a book about storytelling, the union of memory and imagination, the manufacture of meaning.”

In one of the book’s stanzas, he describes what happened at Ludlow as a “footnote nearly lost/ from the pages of the history books.” Sunday’s 100th anniversary is another good opportunity to keep that memory alive.

Link to Story


  • 100th Anniversary of Ludlow Massacre – The complex set of events leading up to the Ludlow massacre began when miners tried to improve their working conditions. They initiated an unsuccessful strike in 1903-1904, followed by another attempted strike in 1913. Because of the prolonged exposure to coal dust, the life expectancy of a coal miner was only around 40 years. What miners wanted was better compensation for this hazardous work and a reduction in the workday from 10 to eight hours… Read the Rest
Posted in 2014-04-20, Newsletter | Comments Off

CIA Psychologist Breaks Silence to Defend His Torture Program

By Jason Leopold
Guardian UK (4/19/14)

The psychologist regarded as the architect of the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” program has broken a seven-year silence to defend the use of torture techniques against al-Qaida terror suspects in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

In an uncompromising and wide-ranging interview with the Guardian, his first public remarks since he was linked to the program in 2007, James Mitchell was dismissive of a Senate intelligence committee report on CIA torture in which he features, and which is currently at the heart of an intense row between legislators and the agency.

The committee’s report found that the interrogation techniques devised by Mitchell, a retired air force psychologist, were far more brutal than disclosed at the time, and did not yield useful intelligence. These included waterboarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation for days at a time, confinement in a box and being slammed into walls.

But Mitchell, who was reported to have personally waterboarded accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remains unrepentant. “The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time,” he said. “You can’t ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later.”

The 6,600-page, $40m Senate report is still secret, but a summary of its 20 conclusions and findings,obtained by McClatchy News, alluded to the role Mitchell and another psychologist under contract to the CIA, Bruce Jessen, played in the torture program.

The committee’s chair, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has said the report “exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation”. She added: “It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.”

Dismisses Senate Torture report

Mitchell said: “I’m skeptical about the Senate report, because I do not believe that every analyst whose jobs and promotions depended upon it, who were professional intelligence experts, all them lied to protect a program? All of them were wrong? All of these [CIA] directors were wrong? All of the people who were using the intel to go get people were wrong? And 10 years later a Senate staffer was able to put it together and finally there’s clarity? I am just highly skeptical that that’s the truth.”

While he refused to discuss specific details of the program because he is bound by a non-disclosure agreement, he defended it in general terms as a success.

“I don’t get annoyed about the program,” he said. “I get annoyed the way the good parts, and the bad parts, have been glossed over and how some good parts have been vilified.”

He insisted that the torture techniques he developed had produced results, and was derisive of critics of the program, such as former FBI special agent Ali Soufan, who says standard rapport-building techniques he used in interrogations were far more effective for obtaining information from detainees.

Mitchell said: “You’re asked to believe he [Soufan] was getting all of this great information and the CIA said: ‘Well, never mind. We’re not interested in that information. We’re not interested in the truth. We’re going to do this other thing. Why? Because we’re mean?’ I worked for a lot of different organizations and they really care about results.”

He said the context in which the program was developed, in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 attacks, was being ignored in the current debate: “The big fear was some sort of a radiological device … It’s really easy, 13 years later, when there’s been no device, when all those people who were trying to build them were either killed or captured … to come along later and say ‘I could have done it better, this stuff was illegal.’ It was not illegal based on the law at the time.”

Starting in 2002, the Department of Justice issued a series of top-secret legal opinions stating the interrogation techniques did not violate US laws against torture. But according to the summary obtained by McClatchy, the Senate report concludes that these opinions were based on misleading information provided by the CIA.

The CIA is currently facing battles on two fronts over its use of torture on terror suspects. The agency is embroiled in an unprecedented public row with Feinstein, who has accused it of violating the law by monitoring computers her committee’s staff use to compile the report.

Then there’s Guantanamo

Meanwhile, allegations of abuse have taken center stage in the prosecutions of detainees at Guantánamo. The military judge overseeing the tribunals has ordered the CIA to provide a detailed account of the detention and interrogation in one of its secret prisons overseas of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is charged with orchestrating the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000, which killed 17 US sailors. Lawyers for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others charged over the 9/11 attacks say they are seeking similar orders.

Mitchell, who said he was a supporter of Amnesty International, denied any involvement in the abuse of detainees at Guantánamo. In 2009, a scathing report from the Senate armed services committee report found that the coercive interrogations originated from techniques developed by the psychologists.

“We didn’t have a damn thing to do with that,” Mitchell said. Instead, he said, the blame lay with Pentagon contractors and civilian staff “who wanted to help out and made some dumb mistakes”.

But Kathleen Long, a spokeswoman for the committee, said the information in its report was accurate.

Steven Kleinman, an air force colonel who participated in interrogations in Iraq and who is credited with blowing the whistle on abuses taking place there, told the Guardian he did not understand how Mitchell could still believe torture methods that generated false confessions could also produce “reliable, accurate and timely intelligence”.

“Why would anybody think that a model that would produce those outcomes would also be effective in producing the opposite?” Kleinman said.

 Link to Story


  • ‘I’m just a guy who got asked to do something for his country’ – Dr James Elmer Mitchell has been called a war criminal and a torturer. He has been the subject of an ethics complaint, and his methods have been criticized in reports by two congressional committees and by the CIA‘s internal watchdog. But the retired air force psychologist insists he is not the monster many have portrayed him to be … Story and Audio
Posted in 2014-04-20, Newsletter | Comments Off

One Week From Tonight In Viroqua — Vernon Democrats Campaign Fundraiser

Vernon County Democratic Party Fundraiser

Sunday, April 27, 5 p.m., Viroqua VFW Hall

Guest Speakers include:

  • Daren Von Ruden, State President of Farmers Union
  • State Sen. Jennifer Shilling
  • Pete Flesch, Candidate for 96th Assembly

Pot Luck Dinner, Cash Bar. Suggested Donation $10.

Live music by local musicians.

This is a critical election year. We need to raise funds for a campaign headquarters and other critical campaign efforts. Governor Walker has the money of the Koch brothers, bankers, hedge funders and snake oil salesman. If we want to win we will do so as citizens helping citizens.

Please plan to attend and get involved in rescuing our state.

Posted in 2014-04-20, Newsletter | Comments Off

Help Protect The Driftless: Become A Citizen Volunteer Water Monitor!

Interested in water quality monitoring? 

This training will equip you to become a part of Valley Stewardship Network’s Water Quality team. We encourage landowners and community members to learn more about water quality in our springs, streams and rivers. You’ll choose the place where you want to sample water each month and send results for our database of water quality information. You’ll receive training and equipment for your use. Water testing only takes about an hour each month – on your own schedule – and your data becomes a key tool in the work to protect our watersheds.

Dates for upcoming spring Water Action Volunteer (WAV) Trainings:

·         Co-sponsored by Valley Stewardship Network, Wisconsin WAV Program, UW-Extension.
·         Nature Nooks Retreat, S4878 County Rd. S, Viroqua, WI 54665
·         Thursday, May 15, 2014; 4-8 pm–WAV Training Session 1
·         Tuesday, May 20, 2014; 4-8 pm–In-depth WAV Macro Training
·         Saturday, June 7, 2014; 9 am to 2 pm—WAV Training Session 2
·         Instructors: Kris Stepenuck, UW-Extension; Vicki Ramsay, Rice Span, Paul Hayes and Shelly Brenneman, Valley Stewardship Network (VSN)
·         For more information or to register contact Valley Stewardship Network, ; 608-637-3615.

Posted in 2014-04-20, Newsletter | Comments Off

State Green Party Endorses Three Candidates

Wisconsin Green Party (4/17/14)

On April 12th the Wisconsin Green Party voted unanimously to endorse 3 candidates for Fall 2014 elections: Ron Hardy for State Treasurer, Lawrence Dale for US House of Representatives District 7, and Michael LaForest for State Assembly District 47.

This November, everyone in our state could have the chance to vote for candidates belonging to a party that stands for peace, justice, ecology, and real grassroots democracy – which means getting big money’s corrupting influence out of our Capitol.

But before we can vote for them, we need enough signatures to put them on the ballot. To do that, we need your help.

Click here to read more about your Green candidates and how you can help put them on the ballot.

Meet the Wisconsin Green Party’s Fall 2014 candidates:

Ron Hardy for State Treasurer: Ron Hardy of Oshkosh is a Winnebago County Supervisor. As state treasurer, he will audit state government finances to protect taxpayers from waste, fraud, and corruption. He is also running to advocate for public banking, a living wage, and other economic policies from the WI Green Party platform.

“I am running for Wisconsin State Treasurer to ensure that State Finances are an open book. I will audit all aspects of our financial accounts to ensure that the public’s money is being used as it was intended, and that there is no waste, fraud or corruption. As State Treasurer, I will advocate for the adoption of a $15/hour state minimum wage, as well as for the creation of a Public State Bank of Wisconsin. A State Bank of Wisconsin would put control over the taxpayers’ money in the hands of the public, and put the creation of credit into the hands of the public, with the interest generated going back to the public.”

Lawrence Dale for US House of Representatives, District 7: Based in Eagle River, Lawrence is running for Congress in the 7th District, which covers Northwest Wisconsin. He is campaigning for sustainable economic alternatives to the ecologically devastating mining projects proposed for the district, including support for small organic farmers and legalization of hemp/marijuana. He also advocates amending the US Constitution to end the Citizens United era of unlimited corporate spending on elections.

“What is our legacy going be – what is my legacy going to be – to the children of the future? Will they be convinced we did all we could do to ensure they inherit a livable world, one with a still-functioning democracy, or will it be a corporate-sponsored tyranny like China? Will those children believe we did our best to stop mining projects, as in the Penokee Hills? And will they wonder why we did (or didn’t) care enough to seriously engage in the fight to amend the Constitution to prevent corporate oligarchs from hijacking our democracy?”

Michael LaForest for WI State Assembly, District 47: Based on Madison’s East Side, Michael is running for State Assembly to bring a voice of compromise, free of special interest influence, to our state government. He is campaigning to get PAC and special interest money out of our electoral system.

“Until a level field is created, upon which any eligible American citizen can run a viable campaign for any seat in any State legislature or the Federal legislature, we will continue to have a government that is saturated with excessive money that is donated from questionable sources and driven by special interests.   There can be no honesty in politics if money is misconstrued as free speech.”

Click here for more information on how you can help us put Ron, Lawrence and Michael on the ballot.

There’s another way you can help us to get Greens on the ballot and get our message out, too – by making a contribution to support our work. The Wisconsin Green Party is a truly grassroots operation run on a shoestring budget, so every dollar is appreciated and put to good use.

Contribute to the Wisconsin Green Party today and help keep us green and growing!

Thank you for all that you do.



Dave Schwab

Co-chair, Wisconsin Green Party

Posted in 2014-04-20, Newsletter | Comments Off

From Ivory to Lead to Health Care to Voting Rights: NRA Targetig Far More Than Just Right to Bear Arms

The NRA doesn’t pick its battles: It fights every single one

By Bobby Calvan
Al Jazeera America (4/13/14)

When the Obama administration announced plans to halt the domestic sale of most elephant ivory, the National Rifle Association urged its members to mobilize against the ban.

While the NRA said it agreed with the goal of ending endangered elephant poaching, it warned that something far more important was at stake: “This is another attempt by this anti-gun administration to ban firearms,” the organization asserted in an alert.

When it comes to defending gun rights, no issue is seemingly too obscure for the NRA — not even the ivory trade. Amid the high-profile epic battles, including the recent clashes following the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut, there have been smaller, under-the-radar ones, too — often appearing to touch only tangentially on actual guns.

Indeed, the NRA doesn’t pick its battles: It fights every single one, according to Professor Robert Spitzer, a political scientist at the State University of New York in Cortland and author of “The Politics of Gun Control.”

“Part of their political strategy is to look for any issue, any time, any place, any moment where they can exert some political pressure,” Spitzer said, “because the larger strategy is to be aggressive and always be on the offensive.”

Looking for fights

Last fall, the gun rights group joined the American Civil Liberties Union in expressing alarm over the government’s domestic surveillance program, saying that the National Security Agency’s massive data collection was an affront to the First Amendment and a de facto — and possibly illegal — gun registry kept by the government.

In the case of the ivory ban, Spitzer said, the NRA sees it as “another instance of government extending its long, intrusive hand into law-abiding citizens.”

The NRA argues that banning the sale of ivory could prevent gun owners from selling firearms ornamented with ivory. The ban, the group says, would render many collections of firearms valueless. Antiques dealers, as well as musicians with instruments decorated with the material, also oppose the ban, which could go into effect in June.

The way the NRA sees it, any issue could serve as a slippery slope that leads to further government curbs on guns.

NRA and health care

In recent weeks, the NRA asserted itself in opposing President Barack Obama’s nominee for surgeon general, a mostly ceremonial post that rarely garners much attention. Yet Dr. Vivek Murthy, the president’s nominee, ended up getting a huge level of scrutiny, much of it generated by NRA opposition. The group pointed out that Murthy once used his personal Twitter account to declare: “Guns are a health care issue.” Murthy’s prior public pronouncements supporting tougher gun laws, including a petition he signed urging action after Sandy Hook, also raised suspicion among gun rights advocates that Murthy would use the post as a bully pulpit for stricter gun laws.

Nor has the NRA sat idly by as doctors and others in the medical profession have condemned gun violence as a matter of public health. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has for years collected data on the matter. Though it might seem unusual for the NRA to inject itself into confirmation proceedings for surgeon general, health care policy is actually very familiar terrain for the gun group.

Four years ago, the NRA drafted language that was quietly inserted into the federal health care law. The little-noticed provision in the Affordable Care Act, under the heading “Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights,” bars physicians and health insurers from collecting and disclosing information about a patient’s possession of legal firearms. Insurers were also banned from charging higher premiums for gun-owning subscribers.

The NRA’s influence in Washington is substantial. Even amid intense public outrage over the shootings at Sandy Hook — which left 28 people dead, including the shooter and 20 children — the powerful gun lobby fended off new legislation that would have reinstated a now defunct federal ban on assault weapons.

The NRA declined comment for this story.

Riding shotgun with ALEC

Lisa Graves, who heads the Center for Media and Democracy’s PRWatch, pointed to the NRA’s backing of the American Legislative Executive Council (ALEC), which not only supports stronger Second Amendment rights but has also pushed pro-business and conservative social policy, including restrictive voting laws in some states. “It’s clear that the NRA has been involved in other matters” besides guns, she said.

Graves noted that the NRA led the ALEC task force overseeing the voting law program. “It’s not guilt by association, it’s direct action. They were the leader of that task force … to make it harder to vote,” she said.

Conservation groups have also faced off with the NRA. When environmental groups sued the government to force the Environmental Protection Agency to limit the use of lead ammunition, the NRA rushed to the government’s defense. Concerned that the EPA wouldn’t fight hard enough, the NRA intervened as an interested party and all but commandeered the case from government lawyers.

“The NRA inserted themselves as a party of interest and pretty much ran the show,” said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate at the Center for Biological Diversity, an Arizona-based group that twice sued the EPA to ban lead ammunition. “They took the lead on the legal motions, and the EPA pretty much let them run the show.”

The Toxic Substances Control Act gives the EPA authority to regulate chemicals that could poison land, water and air. But the agency said it had no authority to ban lead-containing bullets, including buckshot, from the country’s wild lands.

Conservation groups say their fight wasn’t just about restricting the right to hunt — it had more to do with removing a potential poison from the country’s hunting grounds. According to environmental groups, shotgun shells loaded with lead pellets could leach into the soil and poison wildlife. “You’ve already got a lot of hunters using rifles, shotguns and pistols that use bullets that aren’t toxic,” Miller said.

But that was not enough for the NRA. “There was all this outrage about taking guns away and taking away Second Amendment rights,” Miller said. “They turned it into an emotional issue about guns when it’s not really an issue about guns.”

Link to Story

Posted in 2014-04-20, Newsletter | Comments Off

Republican Hero: Cowboy Dead Beat On The Range

“If you changed that picture to Black Panthers surrounding a lawful eviction in the inner city, do you think right-wing media would be there cheering the outlaws?”

By Timothy Egan
New York Times (4/17/14)

Imagine a vendor on the National Mall, selling burgers and dogs, who hasn’t paid his rent in 20 years. He refuses to recognize his landlord, the National Park Service, as a legitimate authority. Every court has ruled against him, and fines have piled up. What’s more, the effluents from his food cart are having a detrimental effect on the spring grass in the capital.

Would an armed posse come to his defense, aiming their guns at the park police? Would the lawbreaker get prime airtime on Fox News, breathless updates in the Drudge Report, a sympathetic ear from Tea Party Republicans? No, of course not.

So what’s the difference between the fictional loser and Cliven Bundy, the rancher in Nevada who owes the government about $1 million and has been grazing his cattle on public land for more than 20 years? Near as I can tell, one wears a cowboy hat. Easterners, especially clueless ones in politics and the press, have always had a soft spot for a defiant white dude in a Stetson.

Posted in 2014-04-20, Newsletter | Comments Off

Belle Case La Follette: The Woman Mastermind of The Wisconsin Progressive Movement

By The State Historical Society of Wisconsin

In Wisconsin politics, there is perhaps no more famous family than the La Follettes. At the center sat one woman, often overshadowed by her husband and sons, yet an influential reformer in her own right. Belle Case La Follette was a lawyer, journalist, editor, suffragist and counselor who provided much of the intellectual sophistication behind the Progressive Movement for which her husband was known. The first woman graduate of the University of Wisconsin law school, La Follette devoted much of her life to the cause of women’s rights.

Born in Summit, Wisconsin (Juneau County), on April 21, 1859, Belle La Follette (nee Case), idolized her farmer parents who sacrificed everything to send their only daughter to college in 1875. She excelled at her studies, finding a particular passion for literature. She also befriended her future husband, Bob La Follette. Although she was nearly four years younger than he, the two were in the same class, and she, unlike Bob, finished near the top of their class. Following graduation in 1879, La Follette taught high school while Bob studied law. The two married on December 30, 1881.

Law school grad

When Bob became District Attorney, La Follette “clerked” for him, researching legal precedents and helping to write briefs. In 1882 she gave birth to their first child, Flora Dodge. Her interest in law sparked, La Follette enrolled in the University of Wisconsin Law School and became the first female graduate in 1885. Although she never practiced law independently, La Follette continued to do legal work throughout her life, even earning the praise of a Wisconsin Chief Justice for a brief she wrote for one of her husband’s cases.

During Bob’s three terms in Congress (1885-1891), La Follette acted as his secretary and administrative assistant. When they returned to Wisconsin after his defeat, she taught physical education classes and lectured on a variety of issues including woman suffrage, coeducation and dress reform. She also served as president of the Emily Bishop League, a group devoted to exercise, pure foods and the more “natural” way of life. Between 1895 and 1899, La Follette had three more children — Bob Jr., Phil and Mary — while still working on her husband’s campaigns, continuing her advocacy work and running the household.

After serving as governor’s wife for five years, La Follette returned to Washington in 1906 when Bob became a U.S. Senator. She never shied away from direct participation in governmental affairs, exerting a tremendous influence over Bob’s efforts at reform legislation both in Wisconsin as well as nationally.

Founding of The Progressive magazine

In 1909, the La Follettes founded La Follette’s Weekly Magazine, which later became The Progressive under her role as editor in 1929. From 1909 until her death in 1931, La Follette wrote weekly columns that often took up political or legal positions, advocated for legislation, or critiqued political policies and administrations. She also used every opportunity to make the case for woman suffrage, railing against state and federal laws that limited the position of women. From 1911 to 1912 La Follette also wrote a column for the North American Press Syndicate.

A staunch pacifist, La Follette helped found the Women’s Peace Party in 1918, which later became the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. After World War I, she was active in the Women’s Committee for World Disarmament, the National Council for the Prevention of War, and helped convene the Naval Arms Limitations Conference in 1922.

After Bob’s death in 1925, La Follette was urged to fill his seat in the Senate but she declined in no uncertain terms, saying, “at no time in my life would I ever have chosen a public career for myself.” Instead, her son Robert Jr. was elected. La Follette began work on a biography of Bob but died before it was finished. Her daughter Fola completed it. La Follette died on August 18, 1931.

Read the Rest: Belle Case La Follette at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Posted in 2014-04-20, Newsletter | Comments Off

‘Call’ Readers Write — Daily Call Did A Dis-Service To Readers On Bundy Battle Story

How is it that the Bundy Ranch story gets couched in terms of the
Supremacy of Federal Law and that resistance to that is seen as defiant
lawlessness but those who challenge the XL Pipeline and Federal Authority
over sensitive lands and resources are seen as righteous environmentalists
whose obligations to resist the same supposed Federal Authority are above
any legislation that may come out of DC?  How is it that Howard Zinn can
be quoted at the beginning of this daily presentation and then be ignored
as to the entire history that he is known to present which legitimately
challenges the Authority of the Central Government with similar
justification that colonists used to challenge the Authority Of The King
when is suits the beliefs that one form of resistance in more legitimate
than another or that one exercise of Authority is justified but another is

Using simplistic and non-historical and devoid of contextual presentation
of the issue except circular citing of lawless defiance of the Rule Of Law
does not make for a very compelling presentation of the Bundy story and
does the story, the reader, and the historical use of Howard Zinn a

– Mark Heffernan

Richland Center, WI

Posted in 2014-04-20, Newsletter | Comments Off

Saturday / April 19, 2014

“There has always been, and there is now, a profound conflict of interest between the people and the government of the United States.” 

– Howard Zinn


Posted in 2014-04-19 | Tagged | Comments Off

Walker Ka-CHING! ‘Welcome To Wisconsin’ Now Made In Georgia

By Root River Siren (4/16/14)

The annals of “WTF?” in the Walker Administration are extensive for such a brief administration, but a new chapter has been written this week that deserves special notice.

The blue highway signs, so pervasive across the state, have been maintained for 28 years by the Derse-Wisconsin Highway Business Sign Company out of Milwaukee. Derse used to make signs in Racine for a awhile, but moved to Chicago in the late nineties. Since then, they have expanded to several states and built a facility in Milwaukee.

Earlier in the year, chatter began indicating Derse might lose its contract to out of state competitors.

Odd. With job loss draining away in Wisconsin, who would be stupid enough to end a contract with a Wisconsin company that maintains Wisconsin highway signs and award the contract to a company in Georgia?

You know the answer kids. Scott Walker, that’s who!

Now get this: The company, Lamar Advertising, which is based in Louisiana, offered to keep the price for sign maintenance literally the same as Derse by farming it out to one of their subsidiaries in Georgia. Except Derse offered to do the job for less than they ever had – which would have meant a sizable price decrease for the businesses that advertise on them.

The contract is good for 10 years.

According to the Journal Sentinel, on the contract scoring tally, Derse came in just a mere 22 points behind Lamar out of a possible thousand points. (For the record, we’d like to see that tally list which doesn’t award a contract to a Wisconsin based company, who has done the job for more than two decades and is willing to do it for less money.)

Is Derse not on the right side of the political tracks? Well, no. Employees of Derse have forked over more than $45,000 to state Republicans over the years – but Jim Derse is dead and he made the lion share of contributions.

Guess who started making political contributions to Scott Walker around recall season? The folks at Lamar Advertising. Lamar has busted out over $1 million dollars in political contributions over the last decade – and that’s the kind of cash Walker has developed a taste for.

Derse doesn’t even score a single hit at Open Secrets.

The Siren is going to make a suggestion to Mary Burke: Start talking about it. Loud and repeatedly.

People are busy, people are dumb. They don’t understand BLS reports and they don’t care if people get kicked off Badgercare (as long as it isn’t them). THIS they understand. All you have to say is:


It even fits a Tweet. This is NOT how you run a business or a state.

Root River Siren : Welcome To Wisconsin: Now Made In Georgia.

Posted in 2014-04-19, Newsletter | Comments Off

Former GOP State Senator: Partisanship Is Poisonous. We Need Redistricting Reform.

Reform redistricting to address partisanship

EDITOR: Wisconsin politics will be even more partisan and contentious with the departure of four moderate state senators, who will likely be replaced by more ideological lawmakers. The retirements of Democratic Sens. Bob Jauch and Tim Cullen and Republican Sens. Dale Schultz and Mike Ellis do not bode well for harmony at our State Capitol.

I served in the state Senate with Cullen and Ellis; Jauch replaced me when I decided not to run for a fifth term in 1986; and Schultz was my former legislative aide. All four gentlemen were honorable public servants who often put partisan politics aside for the good of Wisconsin.

The partisan caucuses in both houses of the Wisconsin Legislature are drifting, election by election, to extreme ideological corners, which leaves little room for bi-partisan cooperation. The Republican caucuses are getting more extremely conservative and the Democratic caucuses are getting more extremely liberal.

There is a reason for this: It’s called redistricting. After the 2010 Census, Republicans in control of the Legislature redrew legislative lines to maximize districts that would elect Republicans and minimize those that would elect Democrats. When Democrats were in control of the state Legislature, they did the same thing in reverse. In truth, voters are no longer choosing who they can elect because the politicians have already chosen who can vote for them.

It’s time for the people of Wisconsin to rise up against this affront to representative democracy. It’s time that redistricting be placed in the hands of a nonpartisan body that puts the people above politics.

Dan Theno,

Former Republican state senator, 25th District,

Green Bay

Posted in 2014-04-19, Newsletter | Comments Off

George W. Bush Finds Apt Subject For Paintings — But Only At ‘The Onion’

By Greg Mitchell
The Nation (4/17/14)

Earlier this month, on several occasions here or at my own blog or on Twitter, I complained about the fawning media coverage of George W. Bush, world-famous painter. From the self-portraits in the shower, to his portrait of Putin, the paintings are amateurish—street-fair quality at best—but that hardly halted the media orgy.

More than once I mused that his true subjects should be dead Iraqi kids or wounded US veterans, not puppies or selfies. You didn’t see this expressed in our media, however.

Imagine how gratified I felt when I saw yesterday that my wish had come true, albeit from an unexpected, “not serious” (except deadly so in this case) source.

Thank god, The Onion goes there—where the mainstream would not—suggesting George W. Bush should be painting the ghosts of dead Iraqi children, or in their version, already is.

 Link to Story and 1+-Minute Video

Posted in 2014-04-19, Newsletter | Comments Off