Ruth Conniff

Ruth Conniff is the Editor of the Progressive Magazine. A native of Madison, WIsconsin, she first joined the magazine when she was hired as a summer intern by the late Erwin Knoll after her sophomore year at Yale. Shortly after graduating from college in 1990, she came to work as Associate Editor for the Progressive, becoming Washington Editor and opening the Progressive's Washington, DC, office in 1997. During the 1990s, Conniff covered welfare reform in Wisconsin and around the country, as well as the drug war in Colombia, and other topics, including women's sports (an avid runner, Conniff coached her old high school track and cross-country teams at Madison East High School for many years).
In Washington, Conniff became a regular on TV pundit shows on CNN, Fox News, and PBS. She still appears frequently on PBS's To The Contrary and on the Ed Schultz Show on MSNBC.
Conniff was the recipient of an "Editor's Choice" award from Madison Magazine for her coverage of the Wisconsin Uprising in 2011. Her Progressive Magazine feature story on school privatization is a chapter in the book "It Happened in Wisconsin" recently published by Verso.
Today Conniff lives in Madison with her husband and three daughters, who marched on the Capitol with their teachers from the Madison Public Schools.
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By Ruth Conniff on February 24, 2015

Certainly, Walker has tapped into a powerful current of resentment among strapped, non-union workers. He was re-elected on a promise to make teachers pay more for health care and pension benefits, and on an appeal to private sector workers that they if they lack the security unions provide, why should their neighbors be so lucky? Image credit: AP

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By Ruth Conniff on February 06, 2015
Scott Walker delivers State of the State 2015 address. Image credit: Rebecca Kemble

Sticking it to Wisconsin in order to build a winning national campaign turns out to be a very successful strategy, judging from the rave reviews Walker has been getting from his fellow Republicans. Image credit: John Glowaki

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By Ruth Conniff on December 23, 2014

Scott Walker “dropped the bomb” back in 2011 with Act 10, which did away with most public employees’ collective bargaining rights. Now the Republican leadership in the Wisconsin state legislature is gearing up to throw a Molotov cocktail at all workers. Making Wisconsin a “right to work” state is at the top of the Republicans’ agenda, according to state senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (Republican of Juneau).

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The problem is that Walker's simplistic childhood memories of Reagan don't come close to getting it right. Scott...

Activists hold sign supporting Net Neutrality

That’s right. We won. Image credit: dontblockmyinternet (Flickr)

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo recently vowed “to break” the “monopoly” of public education

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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