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.

“We didn’t start the recall process but we sure as hell can finish it”: Dave Obey, Fighting Bob Fest North

This is Part 2, following after “Note to Scott Walker: LIBRULS are everywhere. Fighting Bob Fest North, Part 1”

I made haste to hear most of Dave Obey’s speech to a crowd of at least 350. We were in a whitewashed cement floor exhibition hall on folding chairs facing a stage covered in red, white, and blue bunting. A light and steady drip of rain came down outside. The audience wasn’t wearing farm seed caps but their appearance seemed conservative to me – likely because Bob Fest attracts a 40-year-old and up crowd and because we were in rural Wisconsin. Or maybe I think they look conservative because I live on the near east side of Madison where a good number of people have dreadlocks, nose piercings, and blue hair.

Audience at Fighting Bob Fest North 2011

An activist I know from Obey’s district once said Obey is a well-loved crochety son of a bitch who knows how to say what his 7th congressional district constituents need to hear back home while he gets things done in Washington. Obey is now 72-years-old, retired, and walks with a cane, but he’s still got it. He broadcast a tight, well-paced speech. His audience leaned forward at his words a little. Their first standing ovation came when Obey said he wore black that day to signify he is in mourning over Scott Walker’s regressive Wisconsin Act 10.

It’s a statement even more weighty if you’ve heard this Johnny Cash song – which an audience of this vintage and rural location couldn’t avoid, having lived under a constant flow of AM and FM country music:

“Well, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on.

I wear the black for the poor and the beaten down,
Livin’ in the hopeless, hungry side of town,
I wear it for the prisoner who has long paid for his crime,
But is there because he’s a victim of the times….”

He called Scott Walker’s behavior mean and thuggish. He called today’s brand of Ayn Rand politicians only the most current form of a wealthy elite that has been striving to rid the United States of rights for the working class since FDR. He jabbed at the hypocricy inherent in “so-called Christians” working to strip away the social contract.

Obey rounded out his speech with the call to action: “We can fight. We can start by standing up for the Dem14” In response, the crowd stood up for Obey, with some hoots and one woman calling out loudly, “Recall!”

And then Dave Obey did talk recalls, calling on the crowd to show they stood by Wisconsin’s Democratic senators by working on recall efforts adding,

“We didn’t start the recall process but we sure as hell can finish it.”

If this were Madison, the lone woman’s outburst would’ve broken into a chant of the word “recall” and the conclusion of Obey’s speech would’ve led to the crowd chanting “thank you”. Here nobody took up the recall chant. But at the speech’s conclusion, one man did begin to chant “Obey!” . Half the crowd picked up the chant and the entire crowd stood for the time it took Obey to leave the stage.

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Dave Obey’s seat is now in the hands of former reality TV star and professional lumberjack, Republican Sean Duffy.

Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne wrote at Obey’s retirement: “Obey was a committed progressive in Wisconsin’s great tradition. He never tried to be fashionable. Practical forms of old-fashioned social justice were just fine by him. He’d argue with Republicans, but also with people on his own side when that was necessary. He always knew his stuff. And he wasn’t afraid.”

And Obey told Dionne: “There’s no way in hell a progressive district like mine is going to a conservative Republican.”

But it did. I remember making fun of Duffy’s lumberjack background during last fall’s election, but people in Wausau corrected me, saying that Duffy was playing up lumberjacking to success in the woodsy north  – as we see by his win. Here’s one of Duffy’s lumberjack ads:

Pat Kreitlow is now working to win the seat back for the Dems. He was busy meet ‘n’ greeting at the fest before he dashed off to Merrill for a labor picnic that day.

I milled around to different booths promoting the 10am Monday – Saturday online radio show Steve and I do (I think I just did it again) and inviting people to be on the show. A few themes kept on popping up in conversation: people are overwhelmed with the Republican agenda but heartened to see such a big crowd at the very first official Fighting Bob North; no local television or newspapers had come to the event; the Chippewa and Eau Claire media are glaringly conservative. One woman called the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram “fish wrap”.

I met a team of people working to offer an alternative to the local “fish wrap” with the Chippewa Valley Media Project. They gave out stacks of an honest-to-goodness printed on paper newspaper with a photo of Wisconsin’s legendary “Fighting” Bob LaFollette shaking his fist in the air on the front page.

Next in Part 3, the Chippewa Valley Media Project and in Part 4, hundreds of sand mines threaten water and air in Northwest Wisconsin

Here’s that Johnny Cash tune: