The Reclaim Wisconsin rally: The epitome of Solidarity

One year ago I didn’t know any of the people I was warmly embracing and high-fiving as I walked around the Capitol Square today. In the course of just one short year, strangers have become almost like family members. Whereas a year ago a dude carrying a plastic inflatable palm tree around would have been avoided at all costs, this afternoon that dude received knowing smiles, chuckles and friendly pats on the back.  There were a lot of inside jokes made and lingo used that only a Wisconsinite could truly get. Today’s was a different kind of rally than that of last March, but no less important or necessary.

The day began with meetings of various groups and organizations near the Capitol Square. I attended the open house of Madison’s United Wisconsin office, which opened its doors to a steady stream of well-wishers and those in search of coffee and snacks. The office was packed with people from across the state. I ran into at least ten people from Waukesha and Jefferson Counties while I was there eating cookies, including Scott Michalak, the Democrat running against Joel Kleefisch.

There was music outside the office, with a small band warming everyone up before John Nichols spoke, followed by Mahlon Mitchell, and Peter Barca (who was very well-received).

Eventually, everyone meandered away from their smaller groups and meetings toward the Capitol Square, where over 65,000 gathered around the stage built on the stairs of the Capitol. The Solidarity Singers, a group which didn’t exist this time last year, regaled us with songs like “We Shall Overcome” and “Solidarity Forever” before we listened to and cheered on speakers including Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt, Lori Compas, John Nichols, and others. (It seemed to me that the audience seemed most excited by Lori Compas…)

After the speakers, some people lingered, some went to area bars and restaurants, and some headed home. The whole day had felt really warm and fuzzy, and not just because of the balmy weather. Most everybody I encountered was smiling, and some were positively glowing, especially the elder members in the crowd.  Whereas last March there was almost a hunger in the air, this year the crowd seemed pleasantly sated. It was a leisurely atmosphere that lacked the urgency of the 2011 rallies. That’s not to say momentum or excitement has died down, because that’s not the case, by any means.

Today’s events seemed to tie up loose ends and tighten the bonds that we’ve formed over the past year. This battle isn’t over, and we’ve got a lot more work to do. But today was fun, energizing, and rejuvenating. It was like coming home. (Pictures)

Gas prices are high exactly why?

There have been all kinds of explanations about why our gas prices continue to rise. A number of bloggers here have reminded us that oil is a world commodity and the world market sets the prices…often times unfairly and at the whim of speculators. And of course the Keystone XL pipeline would solve all of our gas price woes if we’d only build it…well the fact is gasoline and aviation fuel have been the biggest export for the US for sometime. But even as gas prices have risen, the US exported more petroleum products than we imported in 2011. Maybe the suggestion that the US join OPEC isn’t so far fetched after all.

But don’t take my word for it, just ask the US Energy Information Administration!

The United States in 2011 exported more petroleum products, on an annual basis, than it imported for the first time since 1949, but American refiners still imported large, although declining, amounts of crude oil, according to full-year trade data from EIA’s Petroleum Supply Monthly February report. The increase in foreign purchases of distillate fuel contributed the most to the United States becoming a net exporter of petroleum products.

So please remember, when you fill up your tank next time that you are competing with the whole world for your gasoline! And wonder why the US House refused to include an amendment on the current Keystone XL Pipeline bill that would keep the resulting petroleum products IN the USA.

Yes and No

John Torinus has a fairly good take on the legislative collapse of the ferrous mining bill, rightly pointing out that Gogebic Taconite President Bill Williams and the GOP legislature’s ramrod approach was responsible for the failure of the bill. Most appreciated is Torinus’ closing quip ” President Williams gets paid to mine not whine” which is reminiscent of some of the pro-mining signage that appeared throughout the Hurley area in the early stages of the debate that read, ” Stop Whining, Start Mining.”

But then, after getting off to a good start in the first 2/3 of his piece, Torinus, ironically, just can’t help himself and plays the very politics he accuses the democrats of playing.

Another reality is that hyper-partisan politics played a major role in the negative outcome. Private sector unions went to bat for the mine, but clearly the Democratic honchos and the public union leaders didn’t want to give Gov. Walker and the Republicans a job creation victory prior to the June recall elections. They want Walker out and collective bargaining and union dues collection back so bad that they were willing to take the heat for coming off as anti-jobs.

That’s pretty cynical politics, and it had nothing to do with the environmental issues.”

That’s a stunningly ridiculous statement. Throughout the majority of the piece Torinus lays out exactly, and in convincing detail, why the bill failed and who was responsible: Gogebic Taconite and the GOP legislature. He points out that G-TAC failed to tell the public how the company would manage environmental concerns. Those concerns were the focus of the Schultz/Jauch compromise, which would have passed had it been given a vote. There was no playing politics from the Dems and Schultz at all, they just stood strong on behalf of Wisconsin’s natural resources and public opinion.

Torinus tosses in his condemnation of the democrats like it was something he copied and pasted out of a talking points email, which is………wait for it…… playing politics.

So, keep up the good analysis, John. On your own you have a talent for getting to the heart of things. Maybe next time you should ignore that email in your inbox?


After Zach’s posting about the comments on the site and how well that coincided with my own feelings about the decay of the comments and of political discourse in general, I’ve decided to hang up my keyboard (for now) and let the world pass me by. Continue reading “Retirement”

I Remember One Year Ago Today:

One year ago today, my 8 year old son and I went to the Capitol where we experienced one of the most inspirational events of my lifetime. 150,000+ Wisconsinites descended upon the capitol to say “Thank You” to a group of 14 elected officials in a rally that made President Obama jealous. Wisconsinites who were male/female, republican/democrat. all races and beliefs Thanked these elected officials for sacrificing this time away to let us know what EXACTLY Scott Walker had planned for us. While we lost this battle, people have become engaged like never before and we will win the right wing corporate backed war on the middle class.

There has never been a protest like this in the US and hopefully there never will be again! It was history in the making right before our eyes! It took us 40 minutes to walk 1/4 of a block. We were forced to leave a little early though because it was so crowded and my son said” this isn’t fun, all i can see is butts.”

I so look forward to the day we fire Scott Walker!

GREAT recap of those events here!