$$ Voting Made Easy: Empowering the 99%

I’m about to buy a lawn mower, but I don’t want my money used to attack Wisconsin workers and families.

There are several lists of companies to avoid when making purchasing decisions, such as companies led by people who gave big donations directly to the Walker campaign. Buying local is usually a wise decision, but even that is problematic when most Wisconsin businesses support the Chamber of Commerce (national or local), or other organizations hostile to Wisconsin’s workers and families.

For example, Wisconsin-based Ariens is out because they belong to WMC. Illinois-based John Deere is even worse, because they not only belong to WMC, they also belong to ALEC.

It can be difficult to find a non-evil company to reward with my consumer spending, but it’s worth the effort. At the moment, I’m considering buying a Husqvarna mower. Husqvarna is apparently a Swiss company, although I’m not sure the where the mowers are actually manufactured.

Boycott lists are a good start, but aren’t enough. We need better ways to help each other identify and support companies that believe strong and prosperous families are good for the economy.

For starters, I need your suggestions on what mower to buy, and where to buy it.

The blue cheddar daily 10/19/11

Or as it might be more accurately called “the blue cheddar occasional”!

It’s another day when I just have a lot of things to note but not enough time to write much.

Got sex ed? Perhaps not for long…. 

(Before I proceed, may I state the obvious? This is not about the 250,000 jobs promised to Wisconsin but is somehow part of a special “JOBS” session. W.T.F.  *ahem* Thank you) Today the Wisconsin Senate Education Committee heard people speak out on a proposal to repeal the Healthy Youth Act which according to WAWH

passed in 2010, ensures that schools who choose to teach sex ed are using curriculum proven to reduce risky behaviors that result in unintended teenage pregnancy and STDs.

You can go to the WAWH where a convenient link allows you to inform our elected leaders that you do not want something like abstinence education to replace actual sex education.

Russ endorses Tammy

The most powerful blessing a Dem can get in Wisconsin: “Former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) officially has endorsed Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) for her Senate race, the latest sign that Baldwin has united Wisconsin’s Democrats and will be a top recipient of liberals’ donations in coming months.” from the Hill 

For old time’s sake… 

I ran into this while perusing a rather academic conference held in Seattle on social media. They had a few words on the link between Wisconsin’s uprising and Egypt’s. And that is how I found this little treasure again. I remember feeling like crying when I heard somebody from Egypt sent the Madison protesters some Ian’s pizza. We felt very connected then.

Waukesha Just Got a Touch of BLUE

Is it possible to both be a left-of-center type and live in Waukesha? Yes indeedy. I already had proof because Waukesha Wonk blogs there, but now I see even more evidence. There’s a brand new “Living Liberally” group there. Check it out. Their 1st meeting is November 7th.

Day-long ALEC Conference in Fitchburg, WI Saturday 

Saturday there is an all-day conference on ALEC at Promega in Fitchburg, WI which features Dem Rep. Mark Pocan who attended the latest ALEC conference in New Orleans, Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy, Mike McCabe of the Democracy Campaign, Senator Mark Miller of Monona and more. Here’s the full roster of speakers

Go here to register: allaboutalec.org
And here’s a google map to the site.

Walker Wants No Training for Conceal Carry Law
Walker told Lakeland Times he “wants the justice department to jettison its proposal to mandate a four-hour training course to receive a concealed-carry permit” in this article
They say a picture says 1,000 words. So I’m just leaving Lester Dore’s work right here:

Fighting Bob Fest Number Two: A post by micwazoo

This is a guest post by @micwazoo a must-follow guy on twitter. He’s from Marshfield, Wisconsin. If you’d like to see the speeches he mentions, several of them are available at this post of mine and directly through ontheearthproduction on YouTube.

I always like to reflect on events after I attend them, and again after attending my second Fighting Bob Fest event yesterday in Madison, I was left with a feeling of hope.  Hope that together we can turn this country around.  Hope that my children might be able to have a better life than me.  Hope that I may yet still be able to retire at a pre 70 age.

The day started out with Mike McCab­e speaking to us, and reiterating the fact that we have a huge disparity in income in this country, and how imperative it is that we do what we can to reduce that.  Mike mentioned growing up in Clark county, and I can remember when I moved to Marshfield how many roads around here, and especially in Clark county were gravel.  In the 13 years I’ve lived here, I’ve seen some roads starting to be paved, but like Mike mentioned, again we are seeing those paved road turned into gravel roads because of a lack of dollars for roads.  What struck me most when Mike spoke was just how much the middle class has lost in the past 20 years.  A lot of great points were made and the crowd was energized.

Next was Tony Schultz, one of the most energizing young voices in the progressive movement I have ever heard speak.  His passion for farming and maintaining the family farm is very evident.  I was very impressed with Tony’s integrity, when he told us how he quit working for a construction company that was building mega farms, because ethically he knew it was wrong.  This was despite the fact that the money he made was being used to help pay for college, but at the age of 19, he knew that what he was doing was helping to cause the extinction of the family farm.  I realized after Tony shared his story, that I needed to also be willing to endure some fiscal discomfort in order to do my part in this fight against the corporate takeover of all areas of our lives.  I’m fortunate because in central Wisconsin, I have access to more small farm food than most others do.  I vow to do what I can to help keep my money flowing to the local farmer.

Ellen Bravo shed new light on the issues women face in the workplace, that I was partially unaware of.  It saddens me that in today’s world, employers are still allowed to fire someone because the feel that taking care of their children is more important than any job.  It’s ironic how many of these same people who pull this stunt are the same ones who spend Sunday’s in church and vote pro-life.  When a single mother is faced with those type of choices, we have, as a community, done a great disservice to our women and children in that society.

Reiterating a lot of what Mike McCabe had said, Dave Obey drove home the fact that the rich and our corporations are doing their damned best to widen the wealth disparity at any cost.  Dave Obey has experience that we progressives need to tap into.  He has seen this current movement from the right coming for some time, and he knows how vital it is for us to slow and eventually stop the beast that is the current Republican Party.  I totally agree.

The afternoon was so energetic, with Cornel West firing us up with albeit brief but powerful message that we must not stop the fight to maintain the rights of the poor and middle class.  We all need to stick together if we are to tame the beast.  

Thom Hartmann shared some things about ALEC that I had not heard before, and I was glad to hear that information shared with the audience.  It’s amazing how few people actually are aware of what is taking place in this country with ALEC, and I’m glad a voice like Thom’s is shouting out what ALEC is doing to all of us.  Some of the information shared by Greg Palast was not so much a surprise as it was a total disappointment to know just how corrupt our government is getting, and to what length’s they are willing to go to protect their corporate interests.

Bernie Sanders, what can I say.  Bernie is one hell of a senator, and I hope the people of Vermont realize what a true gem they have in Bernie.  He’s truly one of the last voices of the non-corporate world we have left representing us at a national level.  His passion and spirit are so infectious, it’s hard not to feel energized after listening to Bernie speak.  Although a lot of what I heard was disheartening, I was left again feeling hope that with Bernie watching over Social Security, I know that’s one area I don’t have to worry about too much.  I trust Bernie to do what’s right for us.  Bernie is a real hero in my eyes, and it was so great to hear him in person, so passionate about what he believes in.

Tammy Baldwin and John Nichols really did a great job of firing us all up, and really driving home again the fact that together, we can turn this right wing trend around.  It won’t be an overnight change, but with courage and tenacity, together we can restore this country to what our founding fathers had in mind.  Not a corporate welfare haven, but a country of, by, and for the people.

I look forward to attending the next Fighting Bob Fest, and to continue our fight to return our government to the people.

More of my photos from Bob Fest are HERE.

“That’s illegal, you know!” – Scott Fitzgerald: “Yes sir!”

This is a guest post by Bruce N. I’ve seen Bruce protesting in snow, sleet, rain, and sweltering sun at the Capitol building. If you want to learn about how to do a marathon protest, Bruce is your go-to man. He had an unusual conversation with the Wisconsin Senate’s Scott Fitzgerald today.

One hour and 45 minutes ago I was jauntily completing my daily citizen’s duty – 198 straight days sign-protesting at Capitol Square. I’m an unpaid, non-union, average guy who, like many Wisconsinites, has been slapped in the face by an internal coup d’tat of Wisconsin representative government in February. I like to call it “Walker’s St. Valentine’s Revolution.”
In response, I try to make a small contribution, a fresh and topical sign every day, that keeps the issues on the minds of those who haunt the capitol. A presence, a stand-in for all those who can’t make it every day.
Today’s sign-bite Reeled In A Big Fish. It read:
J. Fitzgerald’s lobbying org’s (ALEC) membership paid by WI taxpayers.

(ALEC, of course, refers to the ubiquitous but largely unknown American Legislative Exchange Council. Go to ALECEXPOSED.ORG)
So, back to the story. Who should I run into today but our jovial, red-faced WI Senate Leader, Scott Fitzgerald, Jeff’s brother, and two of his cohorts.

I held up my sign directly in front of them and they dutifully read it. Following which, I politely (not always my M.O.) said to them, “That’s illegal, you know!”

Senator Fitzgerald answered without pause, “Yes, Sir!” He smiled broadly, as did I before turning my back and leaving.

What the senator meant by his retort is anyone’s guess. Could it be that he agreed with the sign’s implication of illegal use of funds and was showing the extreme hubris so common these days among the GOP? Or, was it a clumsy, off-the-cuff bit of Irish humor. I’m not writing with the purpose of intuiting personal intent. I’m reporting what I saw and heard verbatim and you be the judge.

The story beneath this chance meeting is instructive. The putative Republican candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat, Jeff Fitzgerald, used Wisconsin taxpayer money to become a member of ALEC. That may be illegal. The Assembly leader also accepted a suspect donation of $1,329 from ALEC.

The main revelation about ALEC is that it secretly gathers together 2,000 state legislators, including our own, along with 300 corporate representatives to draft and vote on so-called “model legislation” that is then trotted back to state capitols, including Madison, for use in GOP legislative agendas. ATTENTION: our supposed representative government is being run from outside the state, especially by CORPORATIONS.

Among ALEC’s members are 33 WI Assembly representatives and 15 WI Senators – all Republican. If you check Wisconsin legislation you’ll find a remarkable similarity to ALEC models. How else, barring pre-knowledge of Scott Walker’s election, could the revolutionary putsch of our government have put together a voluminous set of prepackaged bills in such a short period of time. The only answer is that between the November, 2010 election and the January 3, 2011 inauguration they already had them in their back pocket.
ALEC claims they are not a lobbying organization. But, if writing bills for states and allowing corporations to vote on “model legislation” along with wining and dining WI legislators is not lobbying what is? ALEC has made old-fashioned lobbying in smoke-filled rooms look like stone tools.

It is important to know that Wisconsin makes it illegal for their legislators to use taxpayer money for membership in lobbying organizations.
I suppose a demand to make ALEC identify itself as a registered lobbying group would require a court case. I am not a lawyer and do not have the money to mount such an endeavor, but until somebody does what can we do? We can shout to the rooftops that the Republicans are set to run a man for the U.S. Senate who, if he has not blatantly broken the law, has committed ethical malfeasance and severely jeopardized representative democracy in Wisconsin.

Keep your spirit. Settle in for a long fight. Politics and citizen protection of Democracy is an endurance activity.

And now for a brief flashback, this is a video I did of Bruce at day number 94 of his protest. The video cuts to the part where he explains why he’s friendly with everybody, even the Republican legislators:

Press conference from ALEC convention features Wisconsin citizen journalist and Lisa Graves of Center for Media and Democracy

Update: Here’s archived video from a press conference to “unveil the real human toll of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s “model bills.”” Sorry, but you will have to see an ad at the beginning before getting to the video:

Watch live streaming video from pftaway at livestream.com

Presser description:”On Wednesday, August 3, a teacher, a small business owner, a reverend and a disenfranchised voter will speak out at a press conference to unveil the real human toll of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)’s “model bills.” ALEC is a vehicle by which corporations and politicians collaborate on blueprints for pro-corporate legislation to bring back to the states.” – from TeamsterNation and People for the American Way

Below is a listing of the folks who spoke. Nicole Schulte took the original footage you see below to expose what the DMV is doing in Wisconsin to effectively suppress access to the vote:

And here Nicole discusses the situation with Thom Hartmann:

Lisa Graves, Executive Director, Center for Media and Democracy (Moderator)
Jim Randels, a New Orleans area English teacher, discussed attacks on public education
Nicole Schulte discussed her experience with new Voter-ID laws in Wisconsin
Todd Landfried, Arizona Employers for Immigration Reform, discussed the damage caused by draconian anti-immigrant measures
Rev. Dr. Willie Gable Sr. discussed the injustice of Louisiana’s new bill against health-care reform

Center for Media and Democracy recently unveiled a comprehensive site on ALEC called “ALEC Exposed” Below Executive Director of CMD Lisa Graves speaks on Democracy Now.