Scott Walker is dialing down his reputation as a rightwing ideologue.

This newfound moderation and recent displays of bipartisanship seem to be further steps along the path toward a presidential run in 2016.

After shoring up his financial support last month by flying out to Simi Valley, CA to give a high profile speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library (sponsored by Clean Energy Fuels, a T. Boone Pickens natural gas company), and consolidating his power within the party by being elected Co-chair of the Republican Governors Association, Walker traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Obama to discuss the federal budget.

The November 2012 state and national election results made two points clear to Walker.

First, that white men espousing extreme policies that hurt the majority of the population can no longer win national elections, no matter how much money they have.

And second, that returning Republican majorities to both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature means that he can take a back seat on conservative social issues like further restricting access to abortion, suppressing the vote by eliminating same-day voter registration, and more union-busting right to work proposals.

In recent weeks, Walker has publicly distanced himself from these policies, saying they are a distraction from his work on the 2013-2015 biennial budget. At a press conference on homeland security a couple weeks ago, Walker dodged a question about whether or not he supported four Wisconsin Right to Life initiatives by talking about his budget priorities.

"I think people want us to focus on creating more freedom and prosperity for people in the state," he said.

At a "Talk with Walker" event earlier this week, Walker also said flatly that repealing same day voter registration was both too costly as well as a distraction from his agenda.

And in response to questions about a potential Right to Work law coming to Wisconsin, Walker said, "The potential for thousands of protesters coming to the Capitol is a huge distraction and creates uncertainty for businesses."

Stopping short of promising to veto any of these proposals, Walker added, "Anything that takes away or distracts me from the five priorities I've been elected to promote, I will not support."

But as a matter of fact, his support is not required. In Wisconsin, a governor has three choices about what to do with a law that comes across their desk: Sign it, veto it (or in the case of an appropriations bill partially veto it), or completely ignore it. Absent a veto, a bill automatically becomes law after six days whether or not the Governor has signed it.

Wis. Constitution Article V. Section 10 (3) states: "Any bill not returned by the governor within 6 days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to the governor shall be law unless the legislature, by final adjournment, prevents the bill's return, in which case it shall not be law."

This frees Walker to distance himself from the more outrageous and divisive laws favored by the Wisconsin GOP, and affords him plausible deniability in any potential presidential campaign that he ever supported such initiatives. At the same time, the Tea Party extremists get their laws passed with a wink and a nod from Walker as he performs a Pontius Pilate routine over in the executive washroom.

However, labor organizers and activists will not fooled by this sleight of hand. After the last week in Michigan, they are preparing to create a very large distraction at the capitol if and when any similar right to work legislation is introduced.

Rebecca Kemble reports for The Progressive magazine and website. She also participates when she can in the Solidarity Sing Along.

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Forty years ago the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against "hostile environmental modification techniques...

The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

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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