Rebecca Kemble

Rebecca Kemble is a frequent contributor to The Progressive. 

At the 33rd annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in Wisconsin's state capitol yesterday, Dr. Margaret Rozga received the MLK Heritage Award on behalf of her late husband, Father James Groppi, who was among the leaders of the struggle for fair housing in Milwaukee in the 1960s.

A poet and professor at UW-Waukesha, Rozga delivered a fiery speech calling people who don't ordinarily concern themselves with social justice issues but pay lip service to Dr. King's legacy one day a year "photo-op do-gooders."

On Friday, a 3-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Scott Walker's public sector union-busting Act 10 in its entirety. In a 2-1 decision, the majority decided that the evidence presented by the unions claiming violation of their first amendment rights of free speech and association didn't meet the standards required by constitutional law.

Wis. Gov. Scott Walker gave his State of the State address Tuesday night, and he laid it on thick.

Walker acknowledged the slow pace of job creation, blaming it on "protests and recalls combined with the slow recovery at the national level, the fiscal cliff, and ongoing worries about health care mandates coming out of Washington." Stunningly, he followed that up with this statement: "In Wisconsin, we don't make excuses. We get results."

After a series of closed-door meetings earlier in the week, on Thursday, the first day of business of the 2013-2014 legislative session, Wisconsin State Assembly representatives voted to change some of the rules that govern that body. Two separate resolutions were put forward: One that passed unanimously and another that passed on a mostly party-line vote with one Democrat siding with the Republicans.

Reform of Wisconsin's mining laws was at the top of the GOP agenda yesterday as the 2013-2014 session of the Wisconsin State Legislature opened.

Over the past month Governor Scott Walker has been priming the pump for the reintroduction of a highly controversial bill that would exempt iron mining companies from certain air and water quality standards, and remove effective input from the public on the mining permitting process.

Two weeks before its charge runs out, the Special Committee on Improving Educational Options in High School completed its work. The fruits of its labor include four pieces of proposed legislation, and nineteen letters of recommended courses of action addressed to Governor Walker, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Reggie Newson, and various other leaders in education.

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.

On Wednesday, Scott Walker's "Talk With Walker" tour stopped in Madison at Virent, a biofuels and chemical company. The tour that kicked off just after Thanksgiving is a slick marketing campaign to push Walker's budget ideas and to shift his image as an anti-labor, rightwing ideologue to one of a more moderate politician willing to work on bipartisan, common sense solutions to public problems.

On Thursday the Senate Select Committee on Mining wrapped up its deliberations on a proposal to update Wisconsin's mining law. The committee discussed 19 provisions in five categories: Streamlining the permit process, protecting the public voice, technical changes, protecting the taxpayer, and fees.

After winning majorities in both houses last month, Republicans in the Wisconsin State Legislature are making major changes in how -- and where -- they do business.

Late last week Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) released a list of senate committees and the Republican appointees to each. Not a single committee from last session was left intact. All are newly named and newly configured.

In addition, Fitzgerald has appointed foxes to guard the henhouses of each area of legislative oversight.

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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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