By Matthew Rothschild on May 30, 2012

Former Sen. Russ Feingold revved up a crowd at a fundraiser for Tom Barrett on Wednesday night in the recall battle against Gov. Scott Walker.

The event, at the Majestic Theater in downtown Madison, drew a jammed audience of about 500 people.

Wisconsin state representative Chris Taylor kicked off the evening. “We’re not going to stand for what Scott Walker has done to our state,” she said, adding: “We want a governor who doesn’t have a criminal defense fund. We want our clean, transparent government back.”

She then introduced Feingold, who received a very warm reception from the crowd.

Feingold stressed Barrett’s honesty and kindness. “He’s an exceptionally decent person,” he said. “I’ve never met a more decent person in or out of politics.”

Barrett’s inclusive style of governing is what Wisconsin “desperately” needs right now, Feingold said.

He then made the case for the recall of Scott Walker, acknowledging that “recalls are unusual, and they should be.”

But Feingold said there are three sufficient reasons for recalling Walker.

“Number one: He committed a surprise attack on the people of Wisconsin,” Feingold said, by going after workers’ rights and voting rights. “These are fundamental rights,” he argued.

“Secondly, the tactics he used were outrageous. They were ruthless,” Feingold said. He mentioned the squelching of debate in the state legislature and the manipulation of the state supreme court. These tactics were “unforgivable,” he said.

“Number three, the governor’s people are under investigation for criminal conduct,” Feingold said.

Each of these reasons, taken alone, would be sufficient to remove Walker from office, Feingold argued.

“If we do not prevail,” he warned, “Scott Walker will have committed the perfect political crime. Don’t let him get away with it.”

Feingold then turned the microphone over to Barrett, who was met with resounding applause.

“We’re going to win this thing,” he promised. And then he said: “You got to love Russ Feingold. He should run for office some day.”

Barrett also joked that “not a penny of tonight’s proceeds will go to anyone’s legal defense fund.”

He accused Walker of being more interested in his own political ambitions than in the interests of the state of Wisconsin. “It’s never been about Wisconsin, but about moving his career forward,” Barrett said. “He wants to use this state as an experimental dish for the rightwing. We’re not going to let that happen.”

Playing off Walker’s now-infamous remark to one of his billionaire donors that he wanted to “divide and conquer,” Barrett said Walker “has succeeded in dividing this state as never before. But we will never, ever, let him conquer the middle class in Wisconsin.”

Barrett said no true leader would try to do that to people, and he stressed the importance of “trust and integrity.”

He also criticized Walker’s failure to create the 250,000 jobs he promised back in 2010. Barrett, who ran against him last time, said he heard that figure from Walker almost as many times as he heard Walker brag about being an “Eagle Scout and the son of a preacher.” Barrett then pointedly asked how Walker could square those two credentials with having a criminal defense fund.

Acknowledging Walker’s fundraising advantage, Barrett said: “He’s got the mountains of money. I’ve got you.”

Toward the end of his speech, Barrett raised another issue: Walker’s war on women.

“I will make sure women have access to all forms of health care,” he said. “I want the women of this state to be able to make their own health care decisions—and not in consultation with their governor.”

Barrett ended by saying that the election is about “the future of this state” and he vowed: “We will reclaim our state.”

After his speech, in a brief meeting with reporters, Barrett returned to Walker’s legal difficulties. “When he spends $260,000 in attorney’s fees, we’re not talking about a parking ticket,” Barrett said. “It’s time for him to tell the people of Wisconsin what’s going on. It’s time he comes clean.”

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race is historic."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter

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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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