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Pierce writes: "We have been concentrating a little heavily for a number of reasons on the truly atrocious mining bill that finally passed the Wisconsin Assembly last night."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis, 04/13/12. (photo: AP)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks at the National Rifle Association convention in St. Louis, 04/13/12. (photo: AP)


Wisconsin, Inc.

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

09 March 13

 

e have been concentrating a little heavily for a number of reasons on the truly atrocious mining bill that finally passed the Wisconsin Assembly last night. The first is that it is yet another indication that Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage their midwest subsidiary formerly known as the state of Wisconsin, plans to run for president, so it's a good idea to judge him by his works. The second is that the bill is an almost perfect example of the conception held by modern conservatives — which is to say, Republicans — of the way things are supposed to work, and an almost perfect example of the conservative idea of self-government as public oligarchy. And the last one is that it truly is an atrocious bill, being, at the same time, an environmental catastrophe, a staggering economic giveaway, and a deliberate and obvious offense against the idea of a political commonwealth.

It is the latter that is the most disturbing. They not only passed the bill, but eliminated any chance the people of Wisconsin had to protect themselves. For example, nobody denies that the massive open-pit mine that Gogebic Taconite plans to gouge out of northern Wisconsin is bound to do environmental damage. The Republicans who pushed for the bill admitted that openly.

And, with numerous groups already vowing to challenge the bill in court, Sen. Tom Tiffany also acknowledged that changes were made to the legislation to put the state on stronger legal ground to withstand such a challenge. "The bill reflects the reality of mining. There are going to be some impacts to the environment above the iron ore body," said Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst. "If the law is challenged and ends up in court, the judge needs to know it was the Legislature's intent to allow adverse (environmental) impacts. That way, a judge can't find fault if the environment is impact.

The legislation was written in such a way as to defang the state's Department Of Natural Resources, provide what is essentially a liability shield for the company, overturn over a century of environmental protection laws for the benefit of a single company. The mine also would benefit from a proposed budget provision that would repeal a state law dating back to the 1880's that prevented Wisconsin land from being controlled by foreign corporations or governments, leading more than a few people to wonder exactly who's going to get the 75 kajillion jobs that Walker and his pet legislature insist the mine will provide. In short, despite the fact that polls show substantial opposition to both the bill and the mine itself, and despite the fact that its sponsors concede the destruction it inevitably will cause, the Wisconsin legislature passed a law not only to permit the project to go forward, but to immunize the corporation against responsibility for any destruction the project might wreak on the state and the people therein. They gave away public lands to this company while arranging that the political entity known as the state of Wisconsin, and therefore the people they ostensibly represent, would be unable to protect themselves from the damage the company will do. Self-government, and the political commonwealth that arises from it, is just something else gouged out of Wisconsin for a buck. This is astonishing. This is something that happens in China.

This is raw state capitalism at its most egregious, and it demonstrates clearly that the conservative movement has plans that go back in history beyond rolling back the Great Society or the New Deal. They are after every progressive advance made since the end of the 19th Century. This isn't something that the conservative movement is trying to hide. In the middle of his filibuster the other day, Rand Paul threw a bouquet at the Lochner decision, the horrid 1906 ruling by the Supreme Court that hamstrung for decades the ability of workers to organize. The Citizens United ruling codified the corporate-personhood heresy that arose out of clerical chicanery in Santa Clara vs. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886, and then CU itself was used to strike down state laws of that same era corporate campaign contributions in places like Montana. On the fringes, Glenn Beck made a fortune tracing the Great Progressive Conspiracy through the cobwebbed canyons of his mind, and the likes of Jonah Goldberg got rich explaining how Adolf Hitler really was nothing more than a proto-Green Party activist with an air force and submarines. Teddy Roosevelt didn't have three votes in the Wisconsin Assembly this week, let alone Bob LaFollette or FDR. They are playing for a newer, and far more permanent Gilded Age, and it is not coming about by accident.

(UPDATE - This one was cleaned up a little because my grammar went to the zoo this morning, and because top commenter Saunders got me to sharpen the Gilded Age point, and because a Wisconsin friend cleared up the details on that 1881 law.)



Charlie has been a working journalist since 1976. He is the author of four books, most recently "Idiot America." He lives near Boston with his wife but no longer his three children.


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+61 # lisamoskow 2013-03-09 12:13
Abraham Lincoln argued that he could judge a person by his face.

Look at Walker's face. Does he look like a Nazi zombie puppet?

"Goggle-eyed homunculus" is a very good description from Charles Pierce.
 
 
+41 # in deo veritas 2013-03-09 14:00
£Ever notice how much this jerk and Rysn look alike? Maybe it's a generative gene common to neofascists and meglomaniacs.
 
 
+22 # ruttaro 2013-03-09 22:00
Genetic mutation due to rolling around in the toxic waste dump of the Tea Party. Now they want everyone in the Badger State to be just like them.

Frankly, I'm sick of this. Turds like Walker and Ryan won't be around when the effects of this really set in. Like all the pillagers and plunderers of the Earth, they get the immediate gain and pass the costs on to first the people living next to the place and then the rest of us. And to top it off they sold public land to a foreign company and cordoning off the people so they can't sue. I wonder if they gave the company a tax moratorium, too?
I'm disgusted with the fear they spread telling frightened people that the choice is either the environment or jobs when the real outcome is impoverishment and sickness of all.
This excrement masquerading as representatives of the people follow a belief that God gave humans dominion over the world. And humans conclude that God did not mean stewardship but destruction. Whether God exists or not it does not matter since he stands aside while his creation is destroyed by the excrement of his own image. Sorry, folks, but in 100 years our Earth will not be the hospitable planet we know. There will only be humans left and they will be savaging each other for what little is left. Let's thank all the Tea Party dung and the lies they attract now for that future wretched generation and all the species lost before then. What a legacy; what a tragedy.
 
 
+13 # rockieball 2013-03-10 09:36
They used to say "Better dead than red." They hardly ever wore the color red. Now they wear red tie's. Paint their elephant red. Call the states they control RED states. They have become the form of government they once said they would rather be dead then be. They bully, they muscle they gerrymander to be the one and only power. Their goal and only goal is control and power.
 
 
+7 # ruttaro 2013-03-10 10:48
Excellent, Rockieball! There is no difference - control from the top is the same. Authoritarianis m by the plutocrats is the same as that by strong parties. Aparatchik of the Communist Party benefites the same as the aparatchik of the Koch Bros. The Tea Party is no less fundamentalist than Al Qaeda and the Taliban. For the person on the ground, it does ot matter who is stepping on your neck; it all feels the same.
 
 
+85 # Klanders 2013-03-09 12:53
I was born in Wisconsin and began my life there with my family. I have always been happy and proud of this and would say so if asked. Wisconsin was the home of real progressives like Robert M. La Follette, Sr. His wife Belle Case La Follette and sons Robert M. La Follette, Jr. and Philip La Follette led his political faction in Wisconsin into the 1940s. La Follette has been called "arguably the most important and recognized leader of the opposition to the growing dominance of corporations over the Government"[2] and is one of the key figures pointed to in Wisconsin's long history of political liberalism, that is until the rise of the Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, and their party of turn back the clock and bust the progress of almost a century. Now, shocked into a sense of WTF? happened to the people of Wisconsin? What has happened to educated, critical thinking, and curious people who struggled so hard and for so long to make Wisconsin strong and a shining example of governance the works?
 
 
+54 # susienoodle 2013-03-09 13:14
I totally agree. I too grew up in Wisc, graduated from Univ of Wisc in Madison, established my liberal roots there, and am so disappointed too many of their current population is so easily misled and manipulated. Very sad indeed. Luckily I live in California now.
 
 
+5 # Cassandra2012 2013-03-10 10:50
Unfortunately, as much as I love Wisconsin and have long and real connections there, it is rather a schizophrenic state. One must not forget the ultimate bully from Appleton, Joe McCarthy also represents a segment of the population ... .
 
 
+45 # angry 2013-03-09 13:27
Hey, our governor sells out cheaply. Only $10,000 from Gogebic Taconite. Not bad, huh?
 
 
+72 # gslover60 2013-03-09 13:54
When will we stop using the word "conservative" to describe people who have no respect for anything that exists? Does it not occur to us yet that "conservative" means "one who conserves"?? That doesn't describe any contemporary of these stalking horses for corporate America.
 
 
+27 # Phlippinout 2013-03-09 16:06
I prefer the word PIRATE
 
 
+21 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-03-09 18:41
Fascists will do for a title, too.
 
 
+10 # Cassandra2012 2013-03-10 10:51
yes, or what they really are — right wing RADICAL (as in tearing things up by their ROOTS) extremists!
 
 
+21 # GravityWave 2013-03-09 16:37
I totally agree. What do you call people who are too dumb to know how dumb they are? My current favorite is republithugs;

r=reason challenged
e=encephalic
p=psychotic
u=uninhabited-braincases
b=boorish
l=lowlife
i=insipid
t=thuggish
h=history challenged
u=unenlightened
g=gropers
s=sophomoric
 
 
+2 # HowardMH 2013-03-10 13:56
GravityWave excellent. Are you referring to the politicians or the idiots that elected them? I think the latter, because the politicians have done a great job of taking lots of money from big business and writing the laws so no one can do much about it. That is brilliant.
 
 
+17 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-03-09 17:49
Sooooo true, gslover60. I'm a Milwaukee born justice and peace lefty, but, as long as I can recall, I have had real McCoy 'conservative' family members and friends, folks with ethics, and good hearts.

These current 'cheesehead' politician clowns (who the hell knows if they were honestly elected) are anything but ethical. Owned outright (but undercover) by the evil villainaire crowd, they, particularly heartless and souless governor Scott Walker, of course do not give a damn if the state of Wis. and all people and mother earth in it (particularly precious water) are trashed. Gots to keep unending/unlimi ted profits rolling into the coffers of the evil greed and power addicted villainaires, now don't these pol. puppet whores?

Get back into brave and determined mode, brother and sister cheeseheads, and keep our state and all in it safe and healthy.
 
 
+7 # jJLLA 2013-03-09 21:21
Please, may I use your ingeious term, "villainaire"?
 
 
+9 # Regina 2013-03-09 20:46
Their ilk used to be known as reactionary. The use of the word "conservative" to define these wrecking machines is a conceit and a sham.
 
 
+35 # in deo veritas 2013-03-09 13:57
Just like Germany-a country that produced the likes of Goethe and Schiller but then produced the ilk of Hitler (I know-Austrian-b ut no difference other than an imaginary border) Goebbels and the like.What a descent from the greatest progressive-Bob LaFollette- to kochpuppets like Walker. Wake up and regain your self-respect people of Wisconsin!
 
 
+49 # Barbara K 2013-03-09 14:03
Too bad Wisconsinites didn't recall this crook when they had the chance. Hope the voters learn a lesson and don't vote these morons-for-hire back into their congress again. Good luck, fellow state. Maybe we will all learn to do a better job with our voting and learn what a precious and important right it is.

..
 
 
+26 # angry 2013-03-09 14:19
Thank Rove and Koch for that. Perhaps some day we'll see the costs of corruption.
 
 
+18 # Gogojoe 2013-03-09 14:32
Nope, they are incapable of learning this lesson.

Remember they heard him, with their own ears, when he was caught "slurping" the guy impersonating David Koch?
"Oh yes sir. No sir. Three bags full sir".

They retained him in office after that.
No hope...too much dough.
 
 
+8 # Nominae 2013-03-11 00:37
Quoting Barbara K:
Too bad Wisconsinites didn't recall this crook when they had the chance. Hope the voters learn a lesson and don't vote these morons-for-hire back into their congress again. Good luck, fellow state. Maybe we will all learn to do a better job with our voting and learn what a precious and important right it is...


Certainly a valid point, and I must confess that it was my first thought as well. They elected Walker TWICE ??

But then, I began to recall the fact that, created and backed by the Koch Brothers as it was, this Wisconsin cabal nominally headed up by Scott Walker has some *definite* whiff of eau d' bushie on it.

You know, kind of in the way that W Bush turned out to be a TWO TERM President in *SPITE of* anything that the American Voters thought/did ?

This Koch assault into both Wisconsin (and to a lesser extent [for now],into Michigan ) has been marked by BARE-FACED violation of State and Federal Law from the start !

I USED to think that they could NEVER get away with such BLATANT and public flaunting of all Laws, ...... but I was BLATANTLY WRONG ! ..... oooops !

So I certainly understand your reasoning on the matter, but, on second thought, it came to me that this *may* have taken place in *SPITE OF* the voters in Wisconsin, rather than BECAUSE of them.

Certainly, I cannot KNOW that it did, but reflecting on the Bush "Machine", I decided that I would have to give the Cheese Heads the benefit of the doubt !
 
 
+52 # ghostperson 2013-03-09 14:16
I am almost reduced to incoherent babbling when I try to process the fact that there are those who unabashedly promote degradation of the only planet we have and make it unfit for human habitation and see nothing wrong with it.

As a product of the heartland, agricultural Bible belt, I cannot imagine a farmer, rancher or human who would knowingly contaminate his or her own home in the name of almighty profit.

This is not conservatism it is corporatist insanity.

It is now time for "I'm mad as hell and not going to take it anymore," the 2013 version.
 
 
+12 # Eliza D 2013-03-09 16:07
Perfectly said. I hope you mean by "I'm mad as hell" that you and we should vote third party. It seems that every day there is a new environmental horror and I think now we cannot avoid a cataclysm that will cost hundreds of millions of lives. It's more than a bit ironic that supposedly less intelligent animals will not foul their own nest. Humans will, for a dollar. But if the earth is to survive for any sentient beings, we must stop this madness now. Protest, demonstrate, and vote them all out as soon as we can.
 
 
+12 # jwb110 2013-03-09 14:56
Wisconsin made their bed when they elected him and now they must lay in it. Scott Brown is no more electable than Romney and the swing voters will make that decision just as they made it in the last election.
 
 
+15 # angelfish 2013-03-09 15:46
What can we do when the State assumes so much Power for itself that the Will and Rights of the people are over-ruled? Does the word, "revolution" ring a bell with anyone?
 
 
+11 # rradiof 2013-03-09 16:07
Sharpen the guillotine!
 
 
-23 # MidwestTom 2013-03-09 16:54
I don't have a dog in this hunt, but I have a friend with a cabin not far from the proposed mine. He has on several occasions defined the area as very depressed with no good job opportunities for the locale. What do the people in the immediate area think of this mine? Many times people with an agenda, assuming that they know better than the people directly effected, campaign against the wishes of those directly involved. I do not know about Wisconsin law, but in most states the effected county council can kill any development that they do not want.
 
 
+10 # DrEvel1 2013-03-09 19:58
I see your point, and it's worth making. The problem is that there's a long history of these local giveaways aimed at stimulating local hiring all across the country, and in many if not most cases, the locals wind up short when it comes to both hiring and local spending. The company often spurns local hiring in favor of bringing in new employees from other places, generally on the grounds of not being able to find enough local people with "needed skills", but probably because they will have more control over them than they would have with workers with an established community base. And often they even spurn spending with local merchants on grounds that they can get better prices elsewhere. So the locals wind up having given up the store to the company, often in terms of local tax breaks, and get few if any of the benefits initially promised. Over and over again, this little drama has been played out with small towns everywhere and companies in mining, manufacturing, chemicals, retail big-box, and a host of other industries. The locals sell out on the promises of jobs and other benefits, but wind up reaping few of the benefits. So while it's always a good idea to pay attention to local needs and opinions, it's also important to be sure you have a way of tracking and securing the promised benefits; odds are strongly against having them delivered voluntarily by the companies.
 
 
+7 # jJLLA 2013-03-09 21:28
Whilst we must consider the employment aspects of any business deal, are the "jobs" these people have been promised worth poisoning the land that they live upon? Sometimes, it isn't worth prostituting yourself if your "home sweet home" is on the chopping block. Is your friend a full-time resident of the area? (I only ask this because you say he has a cabin and that usually designates part-time residence). Has he been able to actually speak with full-time residents about the prospects of this mine and its environmental remifications on the area? That would also be worth looking into.
 
 
+8 # fredboy 2013-03-09 17:11
Wisconsin, once admired, has lost all its Midwest glory.

Now it is but a vicious, hateful state.
 
 
+16 # moby doug 2013-03-09 17:49
Short term profit for corporate cronies, and to hell with democracy, everyone else, and the environment. It's the Repiglican Way. Koch-backed Fourth Reichs have also infested the legislatures and/or governors' mansions of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and counting.....
 
 
+6 # Nominae 2013-03-11 00:51
Quoting moby doug:
Short term profit for corporate cronies, and to hell with democracy, everyone else, and the environment. It's the Repiglican Way. Koch-backed Fourth Reichs have also infested the legislatures and/or governors' mansions of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and counting.....


And counting indeed ! The entire Tea Party is a straight-up Koch concoction, and from the Koch perspective, it has been HUGELY successful so far !

Having local people BEGGING to vote AGAINST their own self interest. BEGGING the Corporations to come in and rape the local environment. How does a billionaire beat that ?

And please don't forget, All, that this pollution and environmental degradation (just as in the case of fracking) is NOT, in all cases, confined TO the locals who were sufficiently broke to go along with it. Stuff runs downstream, stuff floats on airstreams.

This is a problem for ALL life forms. We ALL share the same planetary environment, and we can never "UN-POP" a balloon !
 
 
-44 # egbegb 2013-03-09 17:49
Wisconsin is small potatoes compared to CA. CA has been run by Dem's for decades without regard for the minority party or most of the citizens.
Obama, Reid and Pelosi did much worse damage to America with the ACA.

Do y'all like democracy only when things go your way?
 
 
+14 # Vermont Grandma 2013-03-09 21:03
egbegb your claims don't hold water. Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was California's governor from 2008 to 2011.

And the Affordable Care Act passed Congress with Republican votes. So far we don't live in a nation where the President, and the house majority leader and the Senate majority leader get to enact legislation on their own.

Apparently you don't like democracy enough to understand that there are three branches of government and that only the legislative branch gets to enact laws. Or that a governor of one party can veto laws passed by legislators of another party (or his or her own party if s/he likes).

Not to say that the system is functioning in a manner anywhere near perfect or even satisfactory lately. But please don't misinform folks about the bipartisan nature of legislation, even legislation you don't like.
 
 
+13 # jJLLA 2013-03-09 21:31
I live in California, and whilst it has its challenges, luckily none of our governors (Republican or Democrat) have railroaded an environmental catastrophe upon the citizenry lately. Persobnally, I wouldn't want to live next door to this monstrosity - and neither would you.
 
 
+2 # Nominae 2013-03-11 00:56
Quoting jJLLA:
I live in California, and whilst it has its challenges, luckily none of our governors (Republican or Democrat) have railroaded an environmental catastrophe upon the citizenry lately. Persobnally, I wouldn't want to live next door to this monstrosity - and neither would you.


I hope it doesn't happen, but the Oil Boyz are gearing up to do some OUTRAGEOUSLY dangerous things to your Monterey Shale. And that is one HUGE area of the State. I was thinking about relocating from NM to San Luis Obispo until I did a little research.

Ouch !
 
 
+10 # JenDolan54494 2013-03-10 04:33
I live in the center of the state and ran an office out of my house to recall Scott Walker from Nov. 15, 2011 to Jan. 15, 2012. Walker may have been legitimately elected the first time around, but I have serious doubts about the recall election. I worked as an election officer during that election. We had many new registers, which was suspicious in this town that has been in an economic slump since 2003. These new registrations were people who supposedly just moved here from out of state, and all lived on one of two streets in this small town. Two streets where we had very few registered voters to begin with. Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a watchdog group devoted to campaign finance issues, has pointed out that not all of Scott Walker's campaign contributions have been accounted for. A little over half of the money he raised was spent on advertising. What about the other 44% of it? I think that some of these people may have been paid to temporarily relocate here. The voter fraud bill that was passed before the recall election stated that someone only had to be at their current address for 28 days, but that the person didn't have to prove that they lived at that address for 28 days; the election officers are just supposed to believe what the person tells them. Proof of address does not need to reflect 28 days of residency, and we must accept nearly anything as proof of residency, including online billing for cellular service. Take from that what you will.
 
 
+3 # Nominae 2013-03-11 01:01
Quoting JenDolan54494:
I live in the center of the state and ran an office out of my house to recall Scott Walker from Nov. 15, 2011 to Jan. 15, 2012. Walker may have been legitimately elected the first time around, but I have serious doubts about the recall election.


Thank you for your post. I and others who do not live in Wisconsin were already harboring some *serious* doubts about at least that second, or recall, election as well.

All the best to all of you, and to your neighbors in Michigan, Indiana, et al ...... looks as if you may need it.
 
 
+2 # sandyclaws 2013-03-11 06:59
The only thing left to do now is outlaw the Democratic party and then, do away with elections and bring back slavery and their work would be complete!
 
 
+3 # giraffee2012 2013-03-11 12:22
Has WI gone MAD - electing these creeps? Does WI have only 1 news outlet=FAUX?

I still cannot believe Walker wasn't recalled - maybe WI voting machines were hi-jacked.
 

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