By Tamara on June 04, 2012

It was bad enough that Obama or Joe Biden never showed up during the historic protests in February and March of last year. But it is unforgivable that they've failed to show up during the last weeks of this crucial recall campaign.

It's not that they were too busy.

On Friday, Obama was just a half-hour away, giving a speech and then attending a fundraiser in Minneapolis. But he acts like he doesn't know where Wisconsin even is, or why it matters.

It matters because this is about a basic human right: the right to collectively bargain.

It matters because Walker has systematically attacked the progressive agenda down the line: from public education and the environment to the social safety net and women's rights.

It matters because Walker used "ruthless" means to attain his goals, as Russ Feingold pointed out.

It matters because Walker is bought and paid for by the most reactionary wing of the oligarchy.

Back in 2007 on the campaign trail, Obama said: "If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I'm in the White House, I'll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I'll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner."

That somebody is not Barack Obama today.

He betrayed his promise. He abandoned his principles. All because he and his political team don't want to be too closely associated with organized labor.

"The White House has showed tepid support for the recall," an article by Jeff Zeleny of The New York Times notes today. "Democratic advisers thought the effort would take time and money away from the presidential campaign and poison the pool of independent voters who were a key part of Mr. Obama's success here four years ago."

Former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a highly unpopular Democrat whose dismal approval ratings helped sink both Russ Feingold and Tom Barrett in 2010, pathetically agrees with the White House strategy.

"As important as the recall is, in the big picture, it's much more important to get Barack Obama reelected," Doyle said.

There are a lot of progressives in Wisconsin who would disagree with Doyle on that one.

Obama and his team don't want to risk anything for Tom Barrett. Well, they risked a lot by not risking anything.

They've alienated their base in Wisconsin. People here are furious at the White House, and that won't help Obama come November.

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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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