Ruth Conniff

After losing the Presidential election in 2012 thanks to the biggest gender gap in history, Republicans are redoubling their "war on women" program in 2013.

Republican governors Rick Perry, Scott Walker, and John Kasich -- all of whom have Presidential ambitions -- are competing to outdo each other with mandatory ultrasound requirements, onerous new regulations that will force abortion clinics to close, and special sessions and hidden bill signings to ram these provisions through despite majority opposition in their states.

What is going on here?

It has been a momentous week for gay and lesbian rights in America, with the Supreme Court's decisions striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and sending the proponents of California's anti-gay Prop 8 packing.

Today, on the 44th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, is a great day to celebrate.

Here, for the occasion, is a beautiful essay by EJ Graff on gay pride after Stonewall, from the first volume of our Hidden History ebook series, Seneca Falls, Selma, and Stonewall:

This week's Supreme Court decisions overturning a key section of the Voting Rights Act, and then, a day later, advancing gay rights by overturning California's Prop 8 and declaring the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, show an American conception of civil rights at war with itself.

Gay and lesbian couples and their allies are celebrating, and so are Southern conservatives, who are rushing to erect barriers to voting for African Americans, Latinos, and the poor.

Last week the Joint Finance Committee of the Wisconsin legislature voted on a controversial school voucher expansion in the middle of the night, to the dismay of teachers, parents, and local school boards throughout the state.

Several moderate Republicans had pledged to resist an expansion of school vouchers beyond Milwaukee and Racine, especially in light of the recent, massive budget cuts to the state's public schools.

In dramatic hearings that went on all day and into the night, Wisconsin legislators on the state's joint finance committee took up the most controversial aspects of Governor Scott Walker's new budget.

Rejecting Federal funds to expand Medicaid, creating a statewide school voucher program, and instituting a flat tax were among the proposals on the table.

Eleven-year-old Lydia Oakleaf, a fifth-grader at Madison's Crestwood Elementary School, helped deliver anti-school-voucher petitions with 16,809 signatures on them to Governor Scott Walker today.

State legislators are busy hashing out the details of Governor Scott Walker's budget plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1. But the governor's broad line-item veto powers mean that, even after all the hearings and revisions are over, Walker can rewrite sections of the budget with the stroke of a pen.

This is particularly worrisome for opponents of a controversial effort to expand private-school vouchers to nine new school districts around the state.

On Wednesday, hundreds of workers at Milwaukee fast-food restaurants and retail stores walked off the job to demand fair wages and the right to organize.

"We are incredibly excited about the turnout today," said Jennifer Epps-Addison, economic justice director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, who estimated that there were about 500 people at a Burger King on 51st and Capitol in Milwaukee, where five workers walked off the job,

A fundamental struggle for democracy is going on behind the scenes in statehouses around the country, as a handful of wealthy individuals and foundations pour money into efforts to privatize the public schools.

The implications are huge. But the school privatizers, and their lobbyists in the states, have so muddied the waters that the public does not get a clear picture of what is at stake.

It's "the most powerful organization in America that no one seems to know about."

That's how Scot Ross, executive director of the progressive think tank One Wisconsin Institute, describes the Bradley Foundation.



Subscribe to Ruth Conniff


Subscribe to The Progressive

This time we’ve got some advantages.

We need to improve the condition of workers this Thanksgiving weekend. Here's what you can do.

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).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project