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#WiUnion / #Recall

I broke down and added a #WiUnion CATEGORY to my blog. It's all about solidarity, man.

Vote!

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You do not need a photo ID to vote. If you are voting for the first time, you will have to bring something to your polling place that proves you are a Wisconsin resident. Here's a list of acceptable proof of residency documents, including a current utility bill, paycheck stub or bank statement.

A much snappier little laptop and a turd for a Governor

How I spent the recall election

You guys know what? I spent election night here installing CrunchBang Linux on an old Thinkpad.

And while Wisconsin fell victim yet again to a sadly unbalanced political process broken by corporate personhood, out-of-state money, and about a million classist and rasicst one-off voters, I sat quietly watching the little progress bar float from the left to the right an make the percentage go up. It was just like watching the election returns come in, really.

And when it was all done I had a much snappier little laptop and a turd for a Governor-- which ultimately is what I would have had regardless of the outcome of the election.

Look on the bright side: I have a pretty snappy laptop here. And it runs Google Chrome and comes pre-installed with a markdown savvy text editor.

The more things change, the more things stay the same.

Fitzgerald, State Journal miss the point of democracy

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I have several reactions to the article entitled “Senate recall challenge by Compass is giving ‘Fitz’ fits” from the Sunday, May 13 Wisconsin State Journal.

While the authors try to present a balanced article, the fact is, this is an overt puff-piece for the status quo.

Why is a store owner or the operator of a local machine shop a “business owner” but an information worker and professional photographer like Lori Compass a “freelancer?” Running a photography business requires as much entrepreneurial effort as any other small business, and yet the local media and Fitzgerald consistently paints Compass’ business as a diminutive pastime cum amusement.

This is not the only example of the shameful the way the State Journal’s authors pander to Fitzgerald’s anti-woman agenda, taking every effort to point out “Big Ftiz’” continued misbelief that the Compass campaign could be headed by anything other than a female.

Compass herself put out a video response to the commentary, calling Fitzgerald’s comments “bizarre and a little-bit offensive.”

It is disappointing that the State Journal feels needs to dismiss the fact that Lori Compass is an intelligent, powerful and successful woman in order fit Fitzergalrd’s myopic and misogynistic world view.

Another disturbing tidbit revealed and left completely unquestioned by the State Journal is that fact that Fitzgerald seems to believe that the staccato honks of “This is what Democracy Looks Like” are somehow offering support to him.

Democracy looks like anything other than the government that the state of Wisconsin has seen under the terrible rule of Sen Fitzgerald. Would that I felt any compunction to spend my hard earned money on any Paleolithic publication made by staining the corpses of dead trees with toxic inks, you could consider my subscription canceled.

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You have the strength to turn struggle into wisdom: keep going!

Clearing the scarpe of trees

In this photo from the National Library of Scotland, Soldiers in dungarees and helmets struggle to remove a fallen tree trunk from a river. The soldiers have little choice in the matter, but to do what soldiers do, and soldier. But the trees are kind of in the same situation of not having really any choice about what happens here. Although they are badly damaged, many of the tress in this photo are still alive, doing what trees do: treeing.

In my dream last night, I was told by a being whose face I cannot remember, that things were as they are supposed to be and that the oppression that you’re feeling right now is a part of how charge is inspired amongst as many people as possible.

On a personal level, it may feel like it’s all about you, but the reality is we are all part of a larger movement that will take that pain and sadness and channel it toward the undoing of a great wrong.

The question is: do we have the strength to turn that struggle into wisdom?

The being was wrapped in a brilliant golden light and was wearing a red ring set in dark gold.

This morning I found myself thinking of “Keep Going.”; specifically about there being two of everything in life, and that the uncomfortable and sad things in life are not about knocking you down, but teaching you to be stronger.

I think we’ve all learned to be a little stronger in the past few months, and I am proud to learn alongside you all.

Prussia, The Religious Right, and You.

Screen Shot 2012-05-10 at 1.56.17 PM

Prussia was a historical region of central Europe that was fought over repeatedly. Some believe Prussia was home of some of very ancient tribes of Vikings.

There were, naturally, repeated attempts to conquer and convert the Prussians into Christianity, particularly following the alleged murder St. Adalbert at the hands of a Prussian spiritual leader. The exact records on this, like most records from the 8th century, are spotty.

Prussia was eventually conquered by the Teutonic Knights during the Prussian Crusade in the 13th century. Fast forward through centuries of religious and economic upheaval, and eventually, the Prussian region is divvied up between Poland and the Soviet Union.

Today: There is no Prussia.

So, what was all the fighting about? Well, in the case of the Prussians, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t for the adoption protestantism as an official state religion for the very first time, but that’s what we ended up with.

If you can’t see how this is connected to what’s going on in Wisconsin, (and the rest of the United States), you’re not trying hard enough.

Media, scapegoating hides facts of mine issue

Jobs, Environmental Talk hides the issue of just how close Wisconsin came to being ground zero in the next Civil War?

If one were to look at the coverage following the “outcome” of the so-called failure of the senate to pass a mine bill without engaging their brain, one might be lulled into believing two things that simply aren’t true.

  1. That there was ever any chance of a mine being built on the site proposed near the Bad River Reservation.

  2. That there is a will and a demand in our state to relax mining regulations.

See, that’s how manipulation works, people. You use your right hand to distract people from seeing what your left hand is doing. Lets break it down.

I have very little need or interest in arguing the later point (It’s not something that the majority of the state sees as necessary), so lets have at the former.

The fact is, the tribes never took on the mine in any sense other than one of a tribal rights issue. Yes, there are ecological, economic, and moral issues at stake here, but, much like the Civil War was about state’s rights and not so much about slavery, the debate over the mining bills is really about tribal rights, and not so much all those other things.

From the “I stand with the Bad River” facebook timeline:

The only screw up here was the New AB426 Bill and defying the Federally Protected 1837, 1842 and 1854 Tribal Treaty Laws. By limited the standards of environmental protection standards, they violated the treaties. (sic)

Even if the senate, (like, to the great shame of us all, the Assembly), had passed a bill that was written by and for the benefit of an out-of-state mining corporation, such a bill would have mattered not, because the tribes made it very clear: There will be no mine on their sacred lands. A-ho. End of story. So let it be. And also with you.

What the local media, political leaders, muckrakers and trolls (all the same thing, really) are doing here is keeping you, dear voter, distracted from the fact that Wisconsin’s jackass governor and his two-bit deputies in the senate and assembly took our state to about as close to civil war as I ever want to come. And I doubt it’s over.

Do yourself a favor, don’t play into the conversation about jobs or environmentalism. It’s not about jobs or environmentalism. It’s about a corrupt money-making agenda hidden under the guise of moral authority. It’s about taking away the rights of the people and keeping the rich rich and the poor poor.

Lady Liberty, I will be the poet journalist at your side. This is my promise.

Lady Liberty, hold aloft again your sword. I will pen the record of your work. I will watch over you, Lady Liberty. Lady Liberty, I will protect you from those who would mar your honor with lies and distortions. Lady Liberty, I will guard your honor.

Friends, this very morning I was giving my “Journalism is a bad girlfriend” speech, and feeling bad for having given up on Journalism. And then the JSOnline comes out with this news story entitled “Mining legislation appears all but dead”.

I have seen some blatantly biased news reporting in the past, but this really does take the proverbial cake. Look at this fear-mongering headline, evoking life-or-death imagery juxtaposed over the image of Scott Walker at a home-town manufactory of mining equipment. It might as well be a campaign flier for Walker’s recall election campaign. And don’t forget how much impact Walker’s political advertisments will have on the paper’s bottom line. Clearly the paper’s management hasn’t.

But let’s look at the lead sentence. It’s even more blatently biased than the presentation:

Madison - The marquee job-creation bill of the Republican-controlled Legislature appeared all but dead Wednesday when a key holdout refused to support mining legislation that held out the possibility of work for thousands but could roll back environmental protections.

I’m not going to break down all the ways that there are implicit judgements in the phraseology of this lead sentence because such an exervise quickly becomes mired in pedantry and dictionary lawyering.

But I will offer, to my former employer the Journal Communications Company, free of charge, a re-written lead that least trys to appear fair.

Madison - The state senate is unlikely to muster the necessary support for a controversial mining-bill that Republican leaders in control of the legislature say could create significant jobs for Wisconsin’s struggling economy.

I would be tempted to argue that my version isn’t even really a fair representation of the situation, but at least it leaves room for the potential existence of an opposing viewpoint.

Between the coverage of the Orwellian approach to “public access” being practiced by the Capitol Media Cabal outlined in this brilliant report and this blatantly Pro-Walker/Pro-mining/Pro-Destruction of sacred lands coverage in the JSOnline, journalism has, again, inspired me and then broken my heart. Again.

I believe, in my heart of hearts that Lady Liberty needs journalism. That Journalism is as significant a tenet of a free people as is truth, justice and the pursuit of happiness. But what gets lost, I think, is that journalists – the best ones anyway– don’t have any rights or special powers that you and I, as a regular free and thinking citizens, already have.

The only difference between the kind of journalism I do today and the kind of journalism I did back when I was employed full-time as a reporter is that I don’t have a benefactor paying me 8 hours a day to do it.

It is so important for all of us to take back the fourth estate, and refuse to be bullied into silence. The corporate news machine is no longer a tool of the people. Say no to mass media– it’s only ever wanted to sell you something. You can start blogging tomorrow. For free. And get your story out there. Show Lady Liberty that you still care about her.

I have worked with some amazing journalists, some of whom I remain very fond of, and some of whom I, to this day, cannot stand. And every one of them, regardless of their political persuasion, would say that this coverage is shameful.

Lady Liberty, I will continue to be the poet journalist at your side. This is my promise.

I stand with the Bad River Tribe

Dear Republican Jackals in the Wisconsin Senate,

It is embarrassing that those who would seek to steal land from the Bad River Tribe and destroy prime Wisconsin wetlands are so brazen about their disregard for the will of the Wisconsin people.

I ask you once again, please refrain from voting in favor of any open-pit mining bill that guts environmental and public health standards, cuts out the public, or undermines local communities.

All economics and ecological impacts aside, this land is not our land to take.

I do not support the open-pit mining bills and I think that those that vote in favor of doing so are declaring war on not just the Bad River Tribe, but on all of the Native American Nations. It is morally reprehensible to vote in favor of these bills.

I will actively campaign against any elected official who does, regardless of how cleverly they have cleaved off my voting district from their constituency. I would certainly like to hear from you how you justify voting in favor of these measures, but I do not expect to receive such.

Your Pal,

Gabe.

Keep up the fight, not the war

This story makes me sad.

During yesterday’s executive session of the Jobs, Economy and Small Business Committee, AB426, the horrific new ferrous mining bill was brought up for amendments. Most now believe the bill was written by and for the protection and profit of the mining company for the specific purpose of gaining control of the iron ore and fresh water resources in the northern part of the State. Despite huge outcry from residents of the area, environmental groups and Assembly Democrats, and the fact that AB426 has been overwhelming rejected nearly two-to-one at both public hearings

This is sad. Very sad. And yet another example of how the Wisconsin’s executive and legislative branches are colluding to turn our government over to corporate interests. These are troubling times, indeed.

But there is a change on the wind folks. Why do you think that those who would sell out this state’s precious resources to their corporate puppeteers have upped their game so desperately? Because the writing is on the wall. Their time in power is ending.

My gut reaction to this: Are you really ready to go to war with your own country? Isn’t that what they want? The answer is, forever, peace. We must win this out with peace.

See these crimes being committed by our state government for what they are: Aggressive bullying aimed at getting you to fight them at their level. Once you lash out they can crack down. Don’t lash out. Stand strong. Love thy enemy. Crush them with your love. Let them know that even though you don’t agree with them, you do respect their right to feel that way. The fact is, fascists exist because in life, there is two of everything. If we did not have fascists, we could not have democrats.

If my time under the sky above has taught me anything, it is that you cannot defeat the shadow by banishing it. The light can only cover it up. The only way to beat the shadow is to integrate it. To meet it, embrace it, and turn it’s powers of dark toward good works.

And it is for that reason, I will not go to war. I will fight, but I will not war.

I do not give up. In fact, I am more motivated than ever to face down these fascists and show them the error of their ways. No, I will not go on quietly, but I will not stoop to their level. We are all better than that.

Colbert: I get it, but your hateful rhetoric is hurting people!

Do you think Steven Colbert knows how much damage his program is causing America?

From: The Word: LetThem Buy Cake (S.9 : Ep. 34)

“Freedom isn’t free, so it’s logical that freedom of speech costs money. If you think about it, we wouldn’t have a budget problem if we’d been charging protestors all along. The government could have made a bundle off those hippies in Vietnam.”

I understand, and you, dear reader, understand, that Colbert is using the time-honored literary technique of satire.

But most people don’t. Really? Really. It’s called Confirmation Bias. Confirmation bias is a thing so real that it permeates this entire web site. It’s kind of what we do, as human beings.

Satire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

History doesn’t record satire well. Sarcasm doesn’t cross language barriers cleanly. And Jonathan Swift never suggested the Irish really eat their babies. Or did he?

The point is that by producing hateful rhetoric, even though it’s well intended hateful rhetoric aimed to illustrate the logical end of the hateful rhetoric offered by the American political machine, is still hateful rhetoric.

If, like me, you believe that words have power, you will appreciate that hateful rhetoric with another aim is still hateful rhetoric. And if you don’t care about hokum like powerful words, then perhaps the sociologist in you will recognize that prolonged exposure to Colbert’s ratcheted-up level of hateful rhetoric only makes the real hateful rhetoric seem less hateful and easier to tolerate.

I recognize the potential for rampant hypocrisy in my desire for Colbert to stop doing his Colbert thing; I understand that hateful rhetoric is a freedom that my beloved freedom of speech protects.

But I do believe, dear friend, that the world would be better if Colbert retired the Colbert act, and delivered his otherwise reasonable message to the hate-spewing masses via a strait-forward method. Every day he goes on spewing hateful rhetoric, even ironically, is another day too many.

There is enough hateful rhetoric in the world. Lets deal with that at face-value. Fighting fire with fire only surrounds the rest of us in a fire fight.