Rebecca Kemble

You know something is seriously wrong with state government when headlines read, "No Arrests at Capitol."

Such a non-event is newsworthy because since July 24, 2013, the Capitol Police have made more than 200 arrests for gathering and singing without a permit in the rotunda. Despite the exact same activities and well over 100 people singing there today, no arrests were made.

Every noon hour in the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda feels a little bit different.

Today it felt like a prison.

Along with the now commonplace arrests of people for singing out their grievances against state government came individual warnings to tourists and people who work in the building that they were subject to arrest if they stayed in the area. Capitol Police officers were unable to describe what "the area" meant, specifically, but referred the question to the Capitol Police Information Officer.

More than a dozen people were arrested Monday, August 5, at the Wisconsin State Capitol for singing out their grievances against the Scott Walker Administration in the rotunda without a permit. This is the second week that Capitol Police have declared the Solidarity Sing Along an unlawful event and taken people out of the rotunda in handcuffs to issue them a $200.50 citation.

During the arrests, Officer Michael J. Syphard grabbed videographer Arthur Kohl-Riggs and threw him to the ground, afterwards calling him "a drama queen" and saying that Kohl-Riggs fell on purpose.

A local NBC affiliate made its own news today as it applied for and received a permit for a singing event at noon in the Wisconsin State Capitol rotunda. According to their report, the station did it to see how easy or difficult it was to obtain one. Station employees applied in the morning and were granted the permit in less than three hours.

Scott Jensen began his career shilling for corporations at the Wisconsin state capitol as a lobbyist for Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce in the 1980s. He was then hired by the Republican Assembly Caucus as staff director and within a few years moved into the position of chief of staff for then-Governor Tommy Thompson.

My parents were arrested yesterday. They are 85 and 80 years old. Their crime was singing in the rotunda of the Wisconsin State Capitol without a permit.

Tom and Joan Kemble moved to Madison two years ago when they realized that the steady march of time meant it would not be long before their physical ability to tend to their 20-acre organic farm they had so lovingly cultivated for three decades would decline.

On Tuesday morning the Iron County Forest Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the Iron County Board pursue criminal and civil charges against the Lac Courte Oreilles Treaty Harvest and Education camp for violating county ordinances and provisions of state County Forest Law. The vote took place with no discussion after the committee emerged from closed session with their corporate counsel.

The Walker administration's attempt to silence the voices of peaceful singers in the capitol rotunda failed yesterday, as the Wisconsin Capitol Police's apparent attempt to declare an unlawful assembly went unheard and unheeded by the sixty or so people participating in the daily Solidarity Sing Along.

At 2:30 p.m. on a sunny summer Friday afternoon, the Wisconsin Department of Administration held a pro forma public hearing on emergency rules regarding access to the state capitol. About thirty people showed up for the hearing. Exactly two reporters were there to cover the proceedings: me and a citizen videographer and journalist, Arthur Kohl-Riggs, who runs a blog "Shit Scott Walker Is Doing to My State."

Federal Judge William Conley dealt two blows to the Walker regime yesterday with the release of two orders.


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Helen Caldicott, a co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, calls this “one of the most frightening books...

This time we’ve got some advantages.

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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