By Rebecca Kemble on March 02, 2012

On Thursday, the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce and Government Operations approved five of Scott Walker’s nominees to the Wisconsin Judicial Commission. The Commission has nine members: two lawyers and two judges appointed by the Supreme Court, and five non-lawyers appointed by the Governor.

According to its official website, the Commission’s job is “to enforce high standards of judicial behavior, both on and off the bench, without compromising judicial independence. They strive to maintain public confidence in the judiciary by providing a forum for the expeditious and fair disposition of complaints of judicial misconduct and disability.”

Well, this certainly has been a year full of judicial complaints. From the incident in June when Supreme Court Justice David Prosser allegedly choked fellow Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, to charges of ethics violations and attempts to recall Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, the Judicial Commission must have its hands full.

On Tuesday the five nominees appeared before the Senate committee and made statements about their qualifications and willingness to serve. And by committee I mean the sole member who was present, Chairman Rich Zipperer (R-Pewaukee). The four other members were busy with other committee responsibilities and could not be present.

Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce and Government Operations Chair Rich Zipperer is joined by his clerk and Legislative Council staff at a public hearing on 2/28/12. No other committee members were present.
Senate Committee on Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce and Government Operations Chair Rich Zipperer is joined by his clerk and Legislative Council staff at a public hearing on 2/28/12.  No other committee members were present.) width=

When they introduced themselves, three of the nominees referred to their long-term marriages as qualifications to serve on the Commission. One of these, Eileen Burnett of De Pere, spoke at some length of her experience as a homemaker and expert in abstinence education. What she didn’t mention was her record of donating $5,350 directly to Republican campaigns over the past eight years.

It turns out that two of the other nominees are also big time Republican Party donors. Mark Barrette of Beaver Dam has donated $4,100 in the same period of time, and Assef Saied, an anesthesiologist from Green Bay, has donated a total of $25,705. They all donated generously to the two failed congressional campaigns of former Assembly Speaker John Gard of Green Bay. Gard now works with one of the most powerful and wealthy lobbying groups in the state, School Choice Wisconsin.

On the face of it, these appointments appear to be Scott Walker’s gestures of thanks to Republican loyalists. With all of the court cases, redistricting challenges and ethics complaints piling up against other GOP faithful within the court system, Walker and his sycophants will need all the help they can get.

Rebecca Kemble is an Anthropologist who studied decolonization in Kenya. She serves on the Board of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and as the President of the Dane County TimeBank.

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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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