Below the videos is a guest post from a man known as @micwazoo on twitter. We all make fun of how addictive twitter can be or time-wasting. True enough. But twitter has also helped me meet strong, opinionated and caring people from all over Wisconsin, like @micwazoo.
He refers to Tony Schultz. Tony is a farmer who delivered a speech in Madison in March 12 that went viral:
And Tony Schultz gave a speech in Chippewa Falls at Fighting Bob Fest North:
“My Fighting Bobfest Experience, @micwazoo
A week ago I attended the Fighting Bobfest North in Chippewa Falls, and I’m sure glad I made the trip. It was great to see so many people who, like myself, are sick and tired of big corporations dictating how my life should be. The speakers were all great, and very inciteful.
I was really moved by Tony Schultz. Not only did this young man give a very heartfelt speech, but he showed a passion for his livelihood very few people his age have. It was very refreshing to see someone so young, so involved. I noticed quite a few younger people there, and it gave me hope that together, we can get things turned around. It’s going to take all age groups, and we had that mix at Saturday’s event.
It sure was nice to see so many people who feel like I do. Fed up with the way things are going for the middle class. Sick and tired of watching Corporate America and the religious right forcing their agenda’s down our throats through buying politicians. At times it seem’s so overwhelming when trying to figure out which battle to address, but I feel like I’m not alone, and that makes it all seem worthwhile.
I grew up during the 60’s and 70’s and have always been one to not settle for the way things are, knowing that they can always be better. I remember the anger I felt watching the racial issues of the 60’s. And how important Earth Day was for me. I remember working odd jobs in the neighborhood to be able to afford a POW bracelet. And how I detested how the soldiers who faught in Vietnam were treated when they came home.
Between the protests I’ve attended, and Saturday’s event, I’m more energized now than I’ve ever been to help make this country what it once was. A country where neighbor helped neighbor. Where hard work meant you would be rewarded well. Where corporations looked at their employees as their biggest asset. Where dreams were attainable.
I look forward to working with some of the fine people I met on Saturday, and look forward to being a part of the change to a better Wisconsin, and moving towards a better America.”
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.
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.
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
One of my chief accomplishments Saturday was waking at 4AM and arriving early for a 5:30AM meet-up with my driver for the day, Russell. I left Madison for the first Fighting Bob Fest North in Chippewa Falls with a rain slicker, two peanut butter sandwiches, a small computer, and any number of things I imagine a good girl or boy scout would bring on a long journey.
If you’re unfamiliar, previous to 2011, Wisconsin had 1 such fest and it occurred in Baraboo. This year there are two, the 2nd being a huge Fighting Bob Fest South to occur in Madison on September 17th at the Alliant Energy Center.
I grew up in Clark County, due East of Chippewa Falls. My yearly trip to the Northwest Wisconsin State Fair guaranteed greasy food, nauseating rides, a look at freshly groomed livestock, a family-friendly pop rock concert, and a truck pull. That was Christmas in July. So, I still carried a bit of squirmy excitement for those fairgrounds when I headed off to this lefty political fest.
We weren’t on time for the kick-off at 9AM – coming maybe at 9:35AM – by which time the parking lot was almost full. A couple of hours later I overheard volunteers panicking as they discussed how to handle overflow parking.
Steve and I did our daily online 10AM radio show from his phone as we sought cover from a light rain. We had to seek some outdoors and quiet since the exhibition hall was full of the din of Wisconsinites raging against Scott Walker, Incorporated.
Kristen Dexter joined us to discuss the Wisconsin Liberty Project (facebook page), which briefly summed up, intends to gather funds to get progressive messaging out to Wisconsin. That includes radio spots during peak drive times. We let Kristen do most of the talking. Here is a 7 minute segment from the show:
I’ll be at this Saturday’s Fighting Bob Fest North having a great time shooting the breeze and hanging out with Steve Hanson of Uppity Wisconsin at a booth. I’ll also be recording some taped chats with speakers. I’ve heard rain is coming but I have a raincoat and there are things called “roofs” and “tents”, so I think it will work out. Here’s the web site and the facebook page.
I went to my first Fighting Bob last summer and it was a hoot. There were oodles of speakers, booths, food, local beer, and music that tended to the folksy side. So no hip-hop or jazz, but otherwise it was great.
From the Fighting Bob Fest North site: “As former Senator Russ Feingold has made clear since last November’s election, the Progressive movement must regenerate itself and address today’s critical problems. The FightingBobFest theme of “Money and Democracy” will be the subject of speakers who will share information, ideas, opinions and motivation to continue fighting the threats to our freedom and justice when elections and campaigns are bought and sold.”
FREE: Admission to Fighting Bob Fest is FREE, however a $20 donation is requested to cover the costs associated with putting on the Fest. And you don’t have to register, but they’d like you to for planning’s sake HERE.
Carpooling: We should have a 5:30AM and 8:30AM contingent leaving from Madison to Chippewa Falls on Saturday for those who need this. Look at the facebook page for more info on that by tonight or tomorrow morning at the latest.
Location: the fairgrounds in Chippewa Falls, a place I fondly recall for hosting the first “rock” concert I saw [ Juice Newton. It was free.] This fairgrounds has all the marks of civilization such as paved walkways, large plumbed bathrooms, and exhibition halls. I’m mentioning this in case “fairgrounds” makes a few of you think “gravel parking lot”.