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.

Part 1: My notes and The Speeches of Fighting Bob Fest 2011

The night before:
Arthur of the facebook page Shit Scott Walker is Doing to My State had a brief conversation with Senator Sanders at a fundraiser Friday night. 1:35 minutes

Later Senator Bernie Sanders, the man many consider to be the most outstanding progressive in Washington D.C., appeared at the Friday night kickoff event and he said thank you to a standing room crowd at the Barrymore Theater. Really, if his “thank you” were the only thing that happened to me, I would have been thrilled with the evening:

“You may know this, or you may not know this, but you have been the inspiration to the people of Vermont and people all over this country so thank you very much. What you have told America is that in these tough times, we are not going to let the crooks on Wall Street or the corporate bandits destroy this great nation. That when we say together and demand the creation of millions of good paying jobs, when we demand the transformation of our energy system, when we say loud and clear to Republicans and to some Democrats you are not going to cut Social Security, you are not going to cut Medicare, and that together standing together we are going to bring about a Medicare for all single payer healthcare – I am here tonight from the bottom of my heart to thank you, to thank your great firefighters, to thank your public employees for your leadership in inspiring us all. We are going to beat the right wing. We are going to create an America that works for all of our people. Thank you very much for your leadership. Thank you.”

Here’s the video of Senator Sanders’ thanks.

We also heard the familiar bagpipes of our local firefighters who’ve serenaded each of our rallies: Local 311. And speeches so fiery I could almost smell the brimstone.

Oddly enough, I especially perked up to hear Thom Hartmann say we are either about to experience bliss or destruction: either a resurgence in progressive energy like we’ve never seen before OR we are on the road to the death of progressive politics at the hands of the Republicans.

When he said this, the crowd did a little awkward wiggle in its collective seat. A few dry coughs were expelled. I am not doing justice to his speech at the moment. He also talked about the notion of libertarian “freedom” and how close it is to the freedom to die in the street like a dog. He also talked about the travails America went through even as early as the presidency of John Adams – a leader who turned out to be a tyrant. But I dwell on that note he gave – that we are on a precipice of some sort – because it was the perfect pinch of reality tossed into an evening of hyperbole and it’s what I’ve been thinking, too.

All of the speakers were dynamic. But Dennis Kucinich was possessed. Senator Kucinish is a very short and slight man. But after seeing him bounce with this much of the progressive holy spirit, I’d say you’d best not ever cross him. He sent us out into the night with this:

Youtuber Paul Baker (at last look) also has videos from the same evening of Jim Hightower, Stan Gruszynksi, and Phil Neuenfeldt – President of Wisconsin’s AFL-CIO.

The day of: Fighting Bob Fest

Fighting Bob Fest just about filled the vast Alliant Energy Center Auditorium. I really love twitter, facebook, this blog and the whole internet ball of wax. Yet there is nothing like the energy of being a human surrounded by thousands of other humans all hearing a message. We remain communal and enjoy each other in the flesh despite all of the technology we put between ourselves. Then also consider that there is an added layer of resonance when echoing at rock star volume before you in a stadium are these heroic people that the mass media usually keeps quiet [remember Senator Sanders’ fillibuster that went just about nowhere on conventional media?]. Seeing a respect and dignity granted to these progressive voices revives your own progressive political and fighting spirit. Heady stuff. And this is all thanks to Ed Garvey, who has been making Bob Fest happen for a decade now and who John Nichols credits for rebuilding the Democratic Party in Wisconsin.

Still, if I were to ask “How can Bob Fest be improved?” I’d have a few answers: add high speed internet to your site and add social media training. Add more young people, and draw in more people of color. Add more tactical ideas to take away and add ways for us to break down in groups so we’re networking at the level of each county in Wisconisn and/or geographic areas. I aknowledge that some of this was provided in the breakout sessions, and in its way, at the booths and informally.

I also think of the wisdom of @4SHCrane of twitter who said to me (paraphrasing): There are plenty of progressives. You can do all of the things you do not see at Bob Fest on your own.

I expect that WORT FM and Fighting Bob will in time have full audio and/or video of the speeches. When it’s up, that’ll be in part 2. For the moment, here are what I can provide or have access to:

A brief selection from Bernie Sanders’ speech. 4:57 minutes.

Bernie Sanders’ speech in full. 43 minutes

Film by ontheearthproduction

Cornel West 6:05 minutes

Film by ontheearthproduction

Tony Schultz 17:37 minutes

Film by ontheearthproduction

A brief selection from Mahlon Mitchell’s speech. Chanting included! This gives you a sense of how many people were there. You’ll see a lot of folks age 50 years and up. That’s about normal for Fighting Bob Fest.
0:51 minutes

Other Bob Fest Reporting:
Fighting Bob Fest attendees say it’s up to the people to recall Scott Walker – Cap Times

Madison’s Channel 3

Fighting Bob Fest audience

Photos from Fighting Bob Fest, Madison Wisconsin, September 17, 2011

The top slideshow are 20 of my favorite photos from Fighting Bob Fest in Madison September 17, 2011.

Some people wanted to get copies of photos of themselves posing with Thom Hartmann etc. You should be able to right click on images in the image list at bottom and then save to your own computer. And if you’d like to share some on facebook, I have an album of the same images right here.

The photos in the image list also get much larger than the slideshow.

Republishing is OK, just please…: If you republish these to your personal page or blog, that’s fine, but please give a credit to “the blue cheddar blog” and a link back here. Thanks much.

[nggallery id=17]

A guest post from Ardee: Hoping for a Democratic primary challenge to Obama

Photo credit: The Guardian
Guest post by Ardee

Although I am a person with progressive ideals, I have always tried to adhere to principles of moderation in my political behavior. The past decade has changed that. I’ve seen the right wing employ every tactic at its disposal to forward its agenda. The groundwork began with
the election of Reagan and his successful (for them) elevation of voodoo economics and reached its apex with the theft of the 2000 presidential election.

While the 2008 election gave cause for some optimism, it soon became obvious that President Obama did not care enough about the opinions of those who backed his candidacy to adhere to the platform that got him

Which brings us to Sunday’s “compromise”. The past few weeks were simply a coup de grace on the illusion that the US is a democracy, and any doubt that we have become little more than a banana republic should now be put to rest.

In that context, I’m hoping for a Democratic primary challenge to Obama next year. A viable progressive candidate would at least remind the leaders of the party that their base–and a substantial portion of the
electorate at large– is fed up with being the first ones to be thrown under the bus every time the ruthless reactionaries in our midst assert themselves.

Senator Bernie Sanders may not be an actual member of the Democratic party, but he does caucus with the Senate’s Democrats and he currently represents the true aspirations of the party rank and file more than the President and more than most other elected members of the party. Even if he is not officially on the primary ballot, I intend to write his name in.

The November election may be a different matter, depending on whom the Republicans nominate. Even then, there are some Republican presidencies I’d be willing to risk living with in order to make a statement about where the country needs to go. I am not sure that four more years of Obama would make much of a positive difference compared with many of the Republicans, anyway.

It’s becoming apparent from recent years that brinkmanship is becoming the only way to achieve political goals. If this compromise teaches us anything as progressives, it’s the somber realization that we will have
to respond with brinkmanship of our own to have our voices heard.

As for Senator Sanders: I’d rather support a candidate who speaks for economic justice for everyone than continue to accept the deeds of what we currently have: socialism for the rich. And there is a very small Facebook page now, “Write in Bernie Sanders for President.”
So far there are only 74 “likes” on it. If more people got on board, we might be able to stir something up. If the Democratic Party can succumb to GOP extortion and brinkmanship time after time, we ought to be able to get them to listen to the party’s base for a change.


Bernie “Give ’em hell” Sanders

Bernie Sanders  gave D.C. holy hell on Friday. For 8.5 hours straight.

What I heard was 1 man trying to get the United States government to do much better than the tax plan Obama is floating which maintains tax cuts for the wealthy and only 13 months of unemployment with zero help for the “99ers”[people no longer eligible for unemployment after being out of work 99 weeks].

By the way, if you still don’t get twitter, Friday should help clear everything up for you. On Friday, tweeters, who I’ll call “commoners”,  gave him their full attention, making his speech the number 1 topic for longer than 8 1/2 hours. News outlets? Not so much.

The commoners are the 98% of the American public that is more likely to get their credit on a card at 25% interest instead of the 1% interest rate for corporatations.

That disparity in access to credit? And in rates? –  That’s something Bernie brought up on Friday. And by “brought up” I think I mean “yelled”.

To help his colleagues in D.C.  get “reacquainted” with life in recession-era America, he read letters from his constituents. He read about Vermonters working 3 jobs, breaking up all the furniture for fuel, hoping that their old cars hold up. He talked about a woman who wrote that she can’t afford both winter fuel and food so her baby got sick, and then he yelled “She did not ask me to give tax breaks to billionaires!”

He called for banks to be broken up:  “If an institution is too big to fail,it is too big to exist. Let us break them up..Four large  institutions have assets that are over half of the nation’s GDP…they issue 2/3 of the credit cards in America”

He called for a national cap on interest rates and called greedy lenders gangsters committing thievery, practicing extortion and loan sharking, and he pulled out stats and numbers as back-up: 79.9% interest is charged on the nation’s 10th largest credit card.

He quoted CEO’s who bragged about pouring money into China, and later had no shame asking the U.S. for a handout: “When GE needed 18 billion..I didn’t see them turning to china for that welfare check!”

Most of the tweets commoners sent about Bernie Sanders were snippets of his speech or  cheers for him to keep on going. But a few were wildly funny jokes.

This tweet was resent over 200 times:

@brandorogers: FACT: Southwest Airlines requires Bernie Sanders to pay for two seats because of his massive balls. #filibernie

Now to answer, “Will Bernie’s speech make a difference?” I think it has gotten attention, but I can’t say if it has gotten much of Obama’s respect.

President Obama brought in the reinforcements of Bill Clinton in a hastily organized press event at about 5pm Eastern Time Friday. His diversion gave the New York Times a chance to bury Bernie’s speech Saturday (I’m so livid, I don’t want to relive my critiques of their stubby little articles).

But big media and New York Times be damned: If spirited tweeters and commenters are any indication, there are demands on Senators to back up Bernie Sanders.

The commoners will need to do a lot of that. Obama publicly dissed the Left December 7th when he rebuked critics of his tax compromise for holding onto a “purist” position, for being “sanctimonious” and risking never “winning victories for the American people”.

And in his Dec 7 interview, Sanders contends that Obama never really tried to fight for a position that Americans support: not giving tax breaks to the rich.

It’s more than Lefties on Sanders’ side.  I think it’s actually a Centrist position right now to NOT extend tax cuts for the wealthy and fight for more unemployment help MAYBE because unemployment is nationally at an official 10% and an unofficial 17-20%. Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks pulls together stats showing 67% of the country don’t want tax cuts for the rich (including 52% of Republican voters).

I think it’s Obama that is risking not winning a victory for the American people, not us tweeting commoners sticking with Sanders.

Obama’s administration claims the tax plan will get passage in the Senate tomorrow, and from there it will be in the House.

What can I say…we will see.


Daily Kos has my favorite article on the topic.

Mother Jones collected some favorite speech snippets.

The Moderate Voice has a good piece.

Here’s 1 White House graph and a white board talk.

Forbes provided a word cloud of the speech, as seen below.

Wordle: Bernie Sanders, Filibuster