By Elizabeth DiNovella on August 23, 2011

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has just appointed former Democratic state senator Jeff Plale as the state's new railroads commissioner.

Don't get too excited about this new bipartisanship. Plale, along with former Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, voted against renewing contracts with state employee unions during a December lame-duck legislative session.

After his vote, which shocked his fellow Democrats and union leadership, Plale said he did not want to hamstring with next legislature.

Critics charge that Walker rewarded Plale by appointing him to a $90,000 a year gig as administrator of state facilities in January. Plale will make one dollar more in his new position.

Plale, a conservative Democrat from South Milwaukee, lost the 2010 primary to Chris Larson. Larson won the seat and was one of "Fab 14" who left Wisconsin earlier this year in an attempt to stop Governor Walker's budget bill from passing.

Plale hails from an area that could use more public transportation. But, as Dave Zweifel of the Cap Times reports, a commuter rail line that would have connected Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha was dropped "primarily because of legislative GOP naysayers."

Too bad Walker didn't pick former Governor Tommy Thompson as Commissioner of Railroads. Thompson supported a Madison-Milwaukee line. Given that Walker killed high-speed rail, it seems fitting he picked Plale, who helped to kill state workers contracts.

If you liked this story by Elizabeth DiNovella, the Culture Editor of The Progressive magazine, check out her story "Wisconsin Workers Feel the Pinch."

Follow Elizabeth DiNovella @lizdinovella on Twitter.


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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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