Friday, May 25, 2012

Elect Barrett and then work on reversing Citizens United

The second best part of exploring Costa Rica last week was the silence of political ads that have been pounding non-stop against my brain. The best part of Costa Rica was enjoying an enlightened country that traded its military for education and today has a 97% literacy rate along with natural beauty that doesn’t quit. But that's another story. 

When I returned from Costa Rica and turned on the TV, I saw again the impact of Citizens United v. FEC. The Citizens United decision completes a near 40-year march started by Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell declaring corporations are persons with constitutional rights, including free speech with spending money as a form of free speech.

All that super pac money pouring into the Wisconsin Governor's race and the presidential campaign points out dramatically what the two parties stand for.

Republicans - Walker, Romney - represent governance for corporate America and in support of growing wealth for the already wealthy.  They serve at the feet of the oligarchs.  They believe government is another business working to increase the wealth of the Fortune 500.  That’s their constituency.  Congress, in a way, becomes a subsidiary to giant, parent corporations.  

Democrats - Barrett, Obama - represent governance for the people and in support of the rights, livelihood, and well being of American citizens.  While still beholden in many ways to corporate money, they retain some dignity and righteousness by identifying with the poor and working classes, and striving to improve their lots in life.

Democrats also pay attention to our Earth-home and recognize the need for us to take care of it for our children's sake and survival.  Republicans see the environment as the enemy of the wealth-builders.  They think environmental regulations cost too much for corporations and believe the American people should pick up the tab for their pollution and waste, as well as pay the bills for the illnesses and diseases they inflict on the human community.

While we in Wisconsin are very focused now on the governor’s election, we might want to keep our eye peeled on the rising movement across the country and across partisan boundaries that are working to reverse the Citizens United ruling.  Organizations like Move to Amend, Free Speech for People, Public Citizen, People for the American Way, and Common Cause are the engines driving the reversal effort.  (See their websites for information and inspiration.)

The legislatures of Hawaii, New Mexico, and Vermont have already passed resolutions calling for a constitutional amendment to reverse Citizens United.  City councils around the country, including New York and Los Angeles, have called for the same.  Eleven states attorney generals pressed for a new amendment overturning Citizens United.  And 13 U.S. congress members have introduced amendments dealing with Citizens United.

Businesses, as well, have jumped on this bandwagon.  The American Sustainable Business Council, representing over 100,000 businesses, endorses a constitutional amendment. (Fran Korten, Yes Magazine, Summer, 2012). 

In Wisconsin, the city of West Allis recently voted overwhelmingly to reject the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United v. FEC ruling (April, 2012).  “Republican Party primary voters approved a resolution calling for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to establish that corporations are not people and money is not speech by 70%.” (From the website of Move to Amend)

To get involved in this important political and environmental issue of our time, go to Move to Amend’s website and explore from there.  It will distract you from those annoying ads.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wisconsin stands for clean water, not with polluting businesses

Gov. Scott Walker’s DNR has shown its colors in its treatment of Herr Environmental, Inc. of Oconomowoc, a waste hauler, who dumped excessive amounts of human waste from septic tanks into fields, potentially poisoning 40 water wells nearby.

By the political appointments of Secretary Cathy Stepp and deputy secretary Matt Moroney, Scott Walker has transformed the DNR from protector of Wisconsin’s water, land, and air into partner with polluting businesses. 

The DNR, however, doesn’t want to punish Herr Environmental too harshly for its repeated irresponsible violations.  The company contributes regularly to Republican causes.  A light tap on the wrist should be sufficient—a fine around $4,000 compared to a DOJ fine of $20,000 to $40,000.  According to Stepp, DNR’s wimpy response to serious environmental violations should be more than enough to encourage Herr to stop its childish behavior and “self-regulate” in the future.  Yeah, right.

This bizarre approach reminds me of new parents who think they can quiet their three-year old’s temper tantrum by reasoning with him and happily assuming the child “got it” and will never have another tantrum.

I need a yard sign that says, “Wisconsin should stand for clean water, not with polluting businesses.”

See this excellent blog from my neighbor, Paul Adair, that was published in MJS’ Germantown NOW a couple days ago --

Friday, May 4, 2012

Tell Scott Walker Wisconsin is Water, Not a Corporation

Is government in Wisconsin “by and for the people” or is it “by and for corporations”?  You only need look at Wisconsin’s vital resource, water, to find the answer.  Governor Scott Walker has flipped the job of State governance from serving the people and protecting our land and water to bowing before the gods of corporate power.

Contrary to popular thought about beer and dairy being Wisconsin’s claim to fame, water gives Wisconsin its real identity.  Our inland lakes cover about one million acres of the state’s 35 million acres.  The parts of Lakes Michigan and Superior within Wisconsin’s boundaries add nearly 6.5 million acres of water to Wisconsin.  Over 12,600 rivers and streams make their way through 44,000 miles of Wisconsin terrain. 2,700 trout streams keep anglers happy.  Wetlands cover much of the state and are generally privately owned.  And underground, Wisconsin holds 1.2 quadrillion gallons of water.  That’s enough groundwater to cover the state to a depth of 95 feet.*

Wisconsin is Water.  It’s our identity, our way of life, and our State’s treasure.  Now, Scott Walker and his pro-corporate DNR Secretary, Cathy Stepp, are weakening the State’s duty to protect, regulate, and enforce standards of high quality water in Wisconsin.  Their approach caters instead to letting businesses get water permits with ease and not be held responsible for what they do with the water or what they dump into the water. 

Instead of following the standards of the Clean Water Act by toughening and enforcing
water permits for coal, mining, and manufacturing companies, the DNR is fighting to keep Wisconsin citizens from bringing enforcement actions against water permit offenders.  Working as the handmaiden to corporations rather than protecting our water for the common good, the DNR and Scott Walker have declared their allegiance.  They work for the corporate state, not for the people, the land, and the water of Badgerland.

Let’s vote Walker out of the Governor’s office in June and make Wisconsin again, a state governed by and for the people, the land, and the water.

            Walker = Government by and for corporations
            Barrett or Falk = Government by and for the people

*(Source: for facts on Wisconsin waters. Department of Natural Resources official website,