Rural voices are needed in Green New Deal

From: Wisconsin Farmer’s Union News

Editor’s Note: For this issue, WFU Executive Director enlisted the help of Dunn County Farmers Union member Dale Wiehoff to tackle a big topic — the recently announced Green New Deal.

If the recent spate of winter storms isn’t enough, the mess in Washington would make anybody want to pack up and run away to someplace sunny. One possible bright spot on our horizon, though, is the introduction of a congressional resolution calling for a Green New Deal. This is not a new idea, but one whose time is long overdue. It’s a combination of Roosevelt-style programs with a focus on renewable energy and economic justice. Unfortunately, an examination of the current resolution reveals that, once again, rural America, small towns and agriculture have been left out in the cold. Let’s change that.

Whatever one thinks of the particulars of the Green New Deal — the absence of rural concerns or its chances of legislative success — it is a bold, aspirational infrastructure plan, and the progressive farm movement should be part of that conversation. National Farmers Union recently applauded this congressional effort to curb climate change. As a leading agricultural organization in the country, it recognizes what is at stake for farm families and rural communities in terms of climate change and unsustainable agriculture practices and policies. One only has to think of climate-related disasters, such as extreme weather, to understand how close farmers are to the problem.

We in Wisconsin have a long tradition of progressive farm and labor policy initiatives. Our absence from the Green New Deal coalitions merely confirms the terrible toll globalization and corporate concentration have taken on rural communities and agriculture. Through financial disinvestment, the elimination of family farms and the corresponding concentration of industrial agriculture, rural concerns have simply fallen off the agenda. We have an opportunity here. With serious discussion of a green infrastructure plan, Farmers Union can help provide the leadership that will point towards public policy that serves the real needs of rural America. The Green New Deal must align with rural communities to be successful. Its supporters aim to secure clean air and water; climate and community resiliency; healthy food; access to nature; and a sustainable environment. In our minds, none of those things can be achieved without powerful rural alliances. Let’s examine areas of common ground as the first step.

Infrastructure is widely recognized as a place where America can come together. Anybody in a rural Wisconsin township who has had their blacktop roads replaced with gravel can tell you our infrastructure is in trouble. Our family farms are disappearing. Our schools are being consolidated and our children move away as soon as possible. According to a report by the Economic Innovation Group, only 9 percent of new jobs being created in the country are happening in rural counties. Our local economies have been hollowed out. The time to invest in our rural economy and infrastructure is now.

This is not to say that bringing about a comprehensive Green New Deal is going to be easy or even likely in the short term, given the current makeup of Congress. It is to say that if we don’t step up with a bold, aspirational vision for rural infrastructure, no one else is going to do it for us. And, worse, it will be done for us and the country will be stuck with “infrastructure” that does nothing but grease the skids for corporate conglomerates. As supporters of the Green New Deal point out, not all jobs and infrastructure plans are created equal. Giving a giant foreign company like Foxconn $4 billion will not help rural America. President Trump and former Governor Walker’s failed infrastructure proposal would only have put billions of public funds into the pockets of giant corporations while paying for it by selling off our infrastructure and raising tolls, with a total disregard for the effect on working Americans. We need to turn this model on its head and put principles of democratic decision making, community investment and control, respect for people and safeguarding of natural resources as the drivers of a real new deal for rural America.

If you are interested in the Green New Deal and you want to rally rural voices, host an event in your local chapter and get a conversation started, write to your congressional leaders, make a video or pen an op-ed. Farmers Union wants to hear from you to help direct action on this very important resolution.

Dale Wiehoff, Dunn County Farmers Union & Julie Bomar, WFU Executive Director

Democrats: Milwaukee convention choice shows party values

The Democratic National Committee has selected Milwaukee to host the 2020 national convention. It's the first time in over a century that Democrats will be in a Midwest city other than Chicago to nominate their presidential candidate. (March 11)

AP Bill Barrow, ScottBauer, Ivan Moreno

Once dubbed as “The Machine Shop of the World,” the city is the birthplace of Harley-Davidson motorcycles and is known for its enduring love affair with beer — a trait displayed Monday as Perez and surrounding dignitaries closed their celebratory news conference with a toast.

Republicans are set to gather in Charlotte, the largest city in battleground North Carolina, on Aug. 24-27, 2020.

Perez noted that the convention site doesn’t determine the November outcome, but Democrats see plenty of symbolism in Milwaukee after a bitter 2016 election defined by Clinton being nearly swept in what her campaign aides had confidently called a Midwestern “Blue Wall.” That band of states twice sided with President Barack Obama, but Clinton held only Minnesota, ceding Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania — a combined 64 of the necessary 270 electoral votes — as white working-class voters flocked to Trump.

It was the first time since 1984 that Republicans claimed Wisconsin in a presidential election. Afterward, Clinton took withering criticism for not once visiting Wisconsin as a general election candidate.

Since then, Wisconsinites re-elected Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin and ousted Republican Gov. Scott Walker in favor of Democrat Tony Evers and the state’s first black lieutenant governor, Mandela Barnes.

Evers and Barnes beamed Monday as they welcomed Perez.

Wisconsin Democrats pointed to those midterm election results as they lobbied Perez and DNC officials. “We plan to carry that momentum into 2020 and beyond,” Barnes said Monday.

“The path to the presidency goes right through Wisconsin as we learned in 2016,” Baldwin, who won re-election in 2018, told The Associated Press. “In 2016, the industrial heartland was really the key and having this convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I think is a powerful statement that nobody should be taken for granted.”

Tap to unmute

In a political twist, Milwaukee officials have credited Walker for supporting the convention bid. Democratic Party proceedings will play out in the new 17,500-seat arena that Walker helped build for the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks by securing public financing from state lawmakers. Walker later lobbied GOP-leaning business leaders and donors to support Milwaukee’s effort to land the event.

Perez was not among those praising Walker, repeatedly referring to the “former governor” without naming him and blasting his policies, particularly his fights with public unions and his spending priorities on education, for setting up Democrats’ midterm success.

For his part, Walker avoided the rancor.

“When it comes to a big convention like this, it’s not red, it’s not blue, it’s green,” Walker told the AP after the announcement, referring to the economic impact.

Walker did warn Democrats that for all their enthusiasm, the convention could energize complacent Wisconsin Republicans to Trump’s benefit. “I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who leans Democrat who wasn’t already motivated in the city or the state against the president,” Walker said.

Democratic officials in Washington said picking a host city is as much about logistics as anything else, even as they acknowledge political optics.

On logistics, Milwaukee may have pulled somewhat of an upset, given its small footprint compared to Houston and Miami, cities long accustomed to hosting major events. Houston hosted the Super Bowl as recently as February 2017.

Milwaukee organizers pitched their city — the Democratic stronghold of Wisconsin — as resurgent. Known for some of the country’s biggest brewers, including Pabst, Schlitz, Miller and Blatz, the metro area has a redeveloped downtown, a hotel capacity exceeding 17,000 rooms and a new downtown streetcar line that opened in November.

Still, the city had to prove it has the overall capacity for tens of thousands of delegates, party activists, donors and media.

DNC officials have said that the question wasn’t about hotel rooms but about whether Milwaukee has requisite venues for other convention staples, from daily sit-down breakfast meetings for 57 state and territorial delegations to evening events put on by state parties, corporations, lobbyists and donors. Even as Milwaukee officials insisted they have the venues, some deep-pocketed Democrats in nearby Chicago — a 90-minute drive — stepped in to note their proximity.

Houston and Miami, meanwhile, faced their own challenges.

Miami has an impressive concentration of luxury hotels, but many are in Miami Beach across bridges from downtown. That raised the prospect of delegates spending hours in traffic. The city’s arena also is not as new as Milwaukee’s.

Houston had few if any logistical barriers. But according to party officials with knowledge of the process, the city’s organizing committee struggled to come up with the necessary financing without resorting to oil and gas money. That industry is the city’s bread and butter, but it’s become anathema in Democratic politics because of its part in climate change. The city’s Democratic mayor also is embroiled in a labor dispute with Houston firefighters.

Also, though Houston and Miami are Democratic anchors in their states, Texas and Florida have no Democratic governor or senator between them.

___

Barrow reported from Atlanta. Bauer reported from Madison, Wis.

The People’s Budget

This week, Gov. Evers released his 2019-2021 budget proposal. This is a budget that was made by the people and for the people. It’s not a Democratic budget or a Republican budget — it’s the People’s budget.

Republicans have been talking about writing their own budget to undermine the Governor. It’s high time Republicans stopped putting politics over people and worked with Gov. Evers to pass the budget Wisconsinites
voted for.  
Here’s just a sample of the many ways Gov. Evers is investing in
Wisconsinites’ futures:
Medicaid Expansion:
Gov. Evers promised during his campaign to accept federal money to cover more Wisconsinites, and that’s just what he’s proposing in this
budget. Expanding BadgerCare to cover 82,000 additional Wisconsinites will increase health care coverage and lower costs across the state.

Higher Education:
Investing in our higher education systems is crucial for fostering a strong Wisconsin economy. Gov. Evers, with his background in
education, is putting funding Republicans have previously taken out back into our UW and technical college systems. Gov. Evers has proposed an additional $150 million into the UW systems and $18 million into our
technical college system. 

Middle-Class Tax Cut:
Governor Evers and Democrats in the Legislature are committed to putting people first by cutting taxes for Wisconsin’s hardworking
families. Governor Evers’ plan gives a break to hardworking families by rolling back a Republican tax giveaway to millionaires. Wisconsin’s
working families, small business owners, and family farmers deserve
Gov. Evers’ sustainable solution for tax relief.
The Year of Clean Drinking Water and Beyond:
No family should have to worry whether or not their drinking water is
safe. Gov. Evers wants to invest $70 million to combat the water pollution and lead pipes contaminating Wisconsin’s drinking water. By replacing
lead pipes, funding research into water contamination, and increasing
dental care access for low-income Wisconsinites, Gov. Evers is investing
in our health now and in the future.

Legalizing Medical Marijuana and Decriminalization:
Gov. Evers is a cancer survivor, so he knows first-hand the hardships
patients with chronic pain and other medical conditions go through to
attain affordable, accessible, and needed care. By legalizing medical
marijuana, we will be able to actually help patients with AIDS,
Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other debilitating medical conditions by
granting access to a form of medication used across the country.

Additionally, Gov. Evers plans to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, an important step in remedying the racial and economic disparities our state faces.
Non-partisan Redistricting:
Within his new proposal, Gov. Evers will take redistricting out of
politician’s hands, and into the hands of a nonpartisan commission. And
this is what Wisconsinites want! A large majority, 72% of voters say they prefer redistricting to be done this way. Our state has been
gerrymandered to favor Republicans for far too long, it is time for
transparency and redrawing of our maps.

Break out of the cabin! Join us for the (rescheduled) Road to 2020 Open House

Yet another snow storm forced us to reschedule the Road to 2020 Open House for Monday, February 25. Even as winter continues to throw us curve snow balls, it won’t keep us from political organizing! Please help us spread the word about this schedule change.

What: “The Road to 2020: An Open House Meeting”

When: Monday February 25th, 6:30-8pm (formerly scheduled for Weds Feb 20)

Where: Leisure Center at 1412 6th St. East, Menomonie.

This meeting is too important to miss!  Come and share your perspective about building a strong progressive community in Dunn County that can win elections and build leadership through grassroots political action.  

At the meeting, you will be part of a conversation exploring opportunities and challenges lying ahead of the 2020 elections. We will discuss what gives us hope for the possibility of change in today’s world and what practical steps can be taken here in Dunn County.

This meeting is a part of a strategic planning process and an important step in coming together to find our collective path forward. Everyone is welcome.  Please share this invitation with other Dunn County residents who share progressive values. We hope to see you!

Road to 2020 Open House (Rescheduled)

You’re invited to attend an “open house meeting”, hosted by the Dunn County Democrats, to share your perspective about building a strong progressive community in Dunn County that can win elections and build leadership through grassroots political action.

What: “The Road to 2020: An open house meeting”

When: Tuesday February 20, 6:30-8:00pm.

Where: Leisure Center (aka Senior Center), 1412 6th St. E, Menomonie 

RSVP: Follow this link.


At the meeting, you will be part of a conversation exploring opportunities and challenges lying ahead of the 2020 elections. We will discuss what gives us hope for the possibility of change in today’s world and what practical steps can be taken here in Dunn County.

This meeting is a part of a strategic planning process and an important step in coming together to find our collective path forward. 

Everyone is welcome.  Please share this invitation with other Dunn County residents who share progressive values. We hope to see you! Don’t forget to RSVP!


**An optional social hour will follow the meeting, to be held off-site (location TBD). bl

Medicare for ALL

Attend a Barnstorm in Your Community

To build the mass collective action we know we’ll need to win Medicare for All, activists and everyday people across the country are gathering to host “barnstorms”—as part of a national Medicare for All Week of Action from February 9th – 13th. At the barnstorms, you’ll gather with volunteers near you, talk about the plan to win, and begin organizing to knock doors, make phone calls, and more in your community.

Find a barnstorm near you, using this map below—and get ready to make the people’s voice heard!

National Medicare for All Week of Action: February 9th – 13th

Supreme Court candidate Hagedorn on gays and abortion

Supreme Court candidate once wrote that gay rights ruling could lead to legalized bestiality

Appeals court Judge Brian Hagedorn, who is running for the state Supreme Court, wrote a blog with provocative posts on abortion and homosexuality.

Like many judicial candidates, state appeals court Judge Brian Hagedorn isn’t eager to discuss his positions on some of the most controversial issues of the day.   

But that wasn’t always the case. 

Hagedorn, who is running for the state Supreme Court, wrote a blog beginning in 2005 in which he addressed readers as “fellow soldiers in the culture wars” while posting sometimes provocative comments on homosexuality and abortion.

For example, Hagedorn twice wrote that a landmark gay rights ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a Texas anti-sodomy law could lead to the legalization of bestiality, sex with animals, in America. 

“The idea that homosexual behavior is different than bestiality as a constitutional matter is unjustifiable,” he wrote in October 2005.L

Lawmakers could draw a distinction between same-sex relationships and bestiality as a matter of public policy, Hagedorn wrote. But he called the Supreme Court’s decision overturning anti-sodomy laws a travesty that “should render laws prohibiting bestiality unconstitutional.”

“There is no right in our Constitution to have sex with whoever or whatever you want in the privacy of your own home (or barn),” he wrote.

Some other conservatives argued at the time that the Supreme Court case would also lead to the legalization of bigamy and incest. This has not happened in the 14 years since the ruling.

Planned Parenthood a ‘wicked organization’

The Journal Sentinel’s review of all of Hagedorn’s blog posts from April 2005 to August 2006 turned up equally passionate posts about abortion rights. 

In one titled “Another reason why I hate Planned Parenthood,” Hagedorn called it a “wicked organization” that was more devoted “to killing babies than to helping women.” He said his litmus test for voting in an election was a candidate’s position on abortion. 

Hagedorn said he had committed himself to praying and lobbying to stop abortion. He went on to say his convictions on this issue and others were given to him by God. �

READ the complete story at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel