Jul 23, 2014

Central Wisconsin Assembly Dem Primary Race Centers Around CAFOs

Democratic Party primary for District 72 in central Wisconsin.
Primary election is on August 12
Several citizens' groups in central Wisconsin are working to stop a proposed massive concentrated agricultural feeding operation (CAFO) Factory Farm that would border four Wisconsin counties in the Golden Sands region that is a heavy tourism and recreational destination.

Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors: Rome, Grand Rapids, Port Edwards, Nekoosa, Saratoga, Wisconsin Rapids have drafted and received responses to its candidate questionnaire of the two candidates vying for the nomination of the Democratic Party in the 72nd assembly district—Dana Duncan, a seventh-generation Wisconsinite from Port Edwards, and Tom Rayome, a city council member from Wisconsin Rapids.

The winner of the primary will face State Rep Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids and ALEC), a Scott Walker ally and member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that determines how Krug votes on major bills of interest to ALEC.

Rome and Saratoga-Friendly
Krug has been a cheerleader for the transformation of the Department of Natural Resources in the Scott Walker administration.

"[U]der the direction of Secretary Cathy Stepp, a homebuilder and politician, the DNR’s role in protecting natural resources has been turned inside out ... [into an agency] ... streamlining regulations to make it easier for companies – a.k.a. polluters - to do business." (Kimble, The Progressive)

Both Democratic Party candidates blasted the proposed CAFO, and called for a new DNR that is independent from the Scott Walker administration.

From Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors:

Dear Friends,

As I reported in my last email update the dreaded WI political season is upon us. Round 1 of information gathering focuses directly on our Democratic candidates as they first are facing a primary run-off on Aug 12th.  Once the primary is over the same type of questioning will occur between our Republican and Democratic candidates vying for the 72nd Assembly seat.

Below you will find the questions posed to the candidates with responses copied exactly as written.

Question 1 - What is your stance on the increased number of high capacity wells to the Central Sands area? 

Dana Duncan -  I would oppose any future legislation that will limit, interfere with, or compromise the DNR's authority to regulate high capacity wells and make the best possible decisions on a total environmental impact basis. I would also oppose any law that places time limits on impact studies to be completed by the DNR. Furthermore, I would support the repeal of Motion 375 which prohibits citizens from challenging high capacity well permits based on cumulative impact. Moreover, I would support allowing the DNR to practice adaptive management, increasing stream protections, or expanding Groundwater Management Areas.

Tom Rayome - I am against the increased number of high capacity wells proposed in the Central Sands area.  I am concerned about the affect that will have on surrounding wells, ground, and air pollution from the proposed CAFO.

Question 2 - With tourism being a large part of the Wisconsin economy, how big a factor is it to your campaign?

Dana Duncan - Tourism is the largest industry in Wisconsin and is our potential future. Everything should be done to promote and protect that portion of our economy. A priority should be set that all other businesses should be considered as far as an impact on tourism.

Tom Rayome - It is a very big part of my campaign.  Tourism has already become and is getting bigger in Central Wisconsin.  We have to protect our water and air for this to continue.  Regulations have been relaxed too much for the sake of high water useage businesses while hurting the environment, surrounding properties, and people.  This goes for mining as well.

Question 3 - What are your thoughts regarding the appointed position of the Department of Natural Resources?

Dana Duncan -  I believe the DNR should be a wholly independent agency separated from the partisan politics of the legislature and the Governor's office. I believe we should amend the Wisconsin Constitution and have the DNR commissioner become and elected position like that of the State Superintendent of Schools.

Tom Rayome -  I believe the DNR Secretary should be appointed by the NRB.  They would be less likely to be influenced by politics in the management and protection of the states natural resources.  I also believe a DNR Secretary appointed by the governor would not be held as accountable.  The Secretary of the DNR should not be a cabinet position.  The DNR must be an independent agency.

Question 4 - What is your vision for economic growth of Wisconsin?

Dana Duncan - Wisconsin's economic growth will continue to be based around and involve tourism, manufacturing, and agriculture. However, the key to our future is water. It's the 21st Century's version of oil in that it is our most precious and treasured resource. As California, Arizona, and other such states continue to have trouble meeting their fresh water demands of their citizenry. This holds the key for all three areas of growth. Therefore, water must be actually managed and protected to ensure this future.

Tom Rayome - To bring together people and businesses from all walks to see how we can live in harmony with recreation, industry, etc. without harm to the environment.  This can be accomplished with the right regulations in place.

Question 5 - What environmental bills do you plan to present if elected?

Dana Duncan - I would like to present an adaptation of the Minnesota law which has set a CAFO-specific ambient air quality standard for hydrogen sulfide and establish a program for monitoring compliance. I would also include legislation ending "open-air lagoons", standards for holding facilities, and standards for the treatment of manure. Moreover, as I indicated before, I would present legislation to separate the DNR from the control of the Governor's office.

Tom Rayome -  For sure it is to make sure we have the right regulations in place when environmental issues come up.

If we destroy our land and resources what kind of tourist area will we have?

Question 6 - What are your thoughts regarding the proposed establishment of a CAFO to a highly recreational and residential area in your potential district?

Dana Duncan - It could cause detrimental harm to the area and destroy economic growth. As I stated in my open letter in the Daily Tribune in June. I do not believe CAFOs have any value to our communities or our state as they are the equivalent to agriculture as "sweatshops" and child labor are to manufacturing and have no business being in Wisconsin and I would act to remove them all if possible. I fully support the efforts of Protect Wood County and the Rome and Saratoga Friendly business initiative as well as the Saratoga Town Board in fighting this incoming threat.

Tom Rayome -  A recreational and residential area is much more preferred by me compared to a huge CAFO coming in and buying thousands of acres of land.  It's bad for the environment, the residents don't want it and it would hurt the tourism in the area.

Question 7 - You will most likely be facing a Republican run Senate and Assembly. What current contacts do you have in Madison or within the political environment that will assist you in being a successful representative? 

Dana Duncan -  I expect to receive the endorsement of Clean Wisconsin within the week. I will be using them as a resource for information, legislative language and to join with other endorsed Assemblyman to fight for our environment. Furthermore, I would be a member of the legislature, (even with not being in the majority or possibly having an opposing party Governor) both the rest of the legislature and Governor's office would be areas that I would have access to.

Tom Rayome -  Some of the contacts and people I have worked with over the years include: Sen. Julie Lassa, Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink, Rep. Katrina Shankland, Rep. Peter Barca, Rep. Chris Taylor,
Rep. Evan Goyke, Ed Garvey, Marlin Schneider, Dave Obey and Russ Feingold.
[Note: No endorsements of the candidates by the above people or Protect Wood County have been made.]

Don't forget to vote in the primary August 12th.  Once our Republican and Democratic candidates are determined we will again question each potential representative in a variety of important areas such as the environment, education, and much more.

Stay tuned for Round 2!
Below are two maps; one of the proposed Wysocki CAFO operation abutting four counties (Wood, Portage, Juneau and Adams counties) at left, and the map of the proposed Sand Valley golf resort in northern Adams county, at right. Note the proximity (some three miles) between the two planned developments where they abut on the Wood and Adams county border, a short distance from the Town of Rome (a vacation home region with several small lakes).

Wysocki Proposed CAFO

Jul 21, 2014

Wisconsin Conservation Group Fighting Proposed Factory Farm Are Not Screwing Around

Increasing opposition to proposed
massive CAFO in Wood County
in Wisconsin - Photo by
Mary Captain-Braund
Update: Reader points out the Facts about CAFOs site (Wisconsin John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club). Excellent summary of the health and environmental devastation wrought upon Wisconsin families by CAFOs, begging the question: Why isn't every candidate for elected office blasting CAFOs? Stay tuned for answers.
The citizen groups in central Wisconsin fighting a proposed massive concentrated agricultural feeding operation (CAFO) are now listing area businesses joining the fight at Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors: Rome, Grand Rapids, Port Edwards, Nekoosa, Saratoga, Wisconsin Rapids.

Anyone doubting the political and economic muscle of this citizens group is not paying attention.

Long on facts, short on polemics and non-partisan, 100s of people are alerting the Wisconsin DNR and the secretive Wysocki Family of Companies that buying up land to create a massive CAFO is unacceptable, no matter how jealously Scott Walker's DNR and local Wisconsin state Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids and ALEC) protects this enterprise.

So furtive is Wysocki that Bloomberg's Buinessweek profile does not even list CAFOs in its profile of Wysocki.

The Wysocki corporation does not know or does not care, but you do not threaten the health of families and children, and you never shite on your neighbors, to borrow from Saratoga, Wisconsin resident, Rhonda Cain-Carrell.

And Wysocki actively working against local community control is not going over well.

This writer has covered grassroots movements for some 25 years and I can tell you I have never seen a more organized, determined group of people in my life.

From Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors Rome, Grand Rapids, Port Edwards, Nekoosa, Saratoga, Wisconsin Rapids:

The business owners on this list appreciate the business from the people of Rome and Saratoga and support us in our efforts to preserve our recreational community and prevent the potential damage to our lakes, wells and streams from the proposed factory farm in the Saratoga/Rome area.

Please patronize these businesses that have come out in support of their Rome and Saratoga area customers and oppose the Golden Sands CAFO proposed for Saratoga. E-mail romesaratoga@gmail.com if the business you normally frequent is not listed here.

Visit our Facebook Page for more information.

All businesses on this list are a part of Rome and Saratoga Friendly.

Jul 20, 2014

Wisconsin Gov Race, World Class Golf Resort and the Politics of Cow Manure

Citizens groups in Wood County Wisconsin and
surrounding region oppose CAFOs and
aerial liquid manure spraying
Photo by Martha Karris of
Rome and Saratoga-Friendly
in Wisconsin (Facebook).
A dream golf resort is under threat by liquid cow manure and a proposed massive factory farm in central Wisconsin as Scott Walker's DNR rubberstamps dangerous Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operations (CAFOs) and high capacity water wells that could drain area waterways and ruin the golf site as another area CAFO has done to residential homes  

Updated — "If Sand Valley’s first course — which is expected to open in 2017 — is a success, then Keiser and his team will consider adding subsequent golf courses, with a total of five courses possible" (emphasis added), reports Melanie Lawder in an exclusive interview with golf developer, Mike Keiser, appearing this weekend in the Wisconsin Rapid Daily Tribune.

The report by Lawderfollowing a series of pieces appearing in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (D’Amato) and Wisconsin State Journal (Moe) touting Keiser's recruiting of famed golf course architects to design numerous courses at the planned golf resort in the Golden Sands region in central Wisconsin at the bottom of an ancient glacial lake—has in the writer's nut graf (or why-readers-care graf) cited above an important word: "If."

No one wants Keiser to fail to achieve his dream that may make Wisconsin one of the top summer golf destinations in the world, the Journal-Sentinel's D'Amato notes.

But there is one rapacious and pathological entity that doesn't care about Mike Keiser's dream, Wisconsin's environment, or the health of Wisconsin families: The Concentrated Agricultural Feeding Operation (CAFO) inflicted by the Wysocki Family of Companies [specifically the Golden Sands Dairy, LLC and Ellis Industries Saratoga, LLC created by Wysocki in 2012 to avoid zoning rules] onto innocent families. I'll come back to that.

Writes the State Journal's Moe, citing D'Amato's breaking the story in 2013: "A Chicago businessman (Keiser) who turned the tiny coastal town of Bandon, Ore., into one of the world’s premier golf destinations is planning to build a similar multi-course resort on sand dunes that formed the bottom of a prehistoric lake in what is now Adams County."

Onto the one skunk making an appearance in the Sand Valley resort dream.

Make that one disgusting waste product from 1,000s of cows, some 150 pathogens, and the corporate neighbor from hell: The Wysocki Factory CAFO Farms (which act like the Koch Brothers) of Central Wisconsin.

In 2012, Wysocki quietly formed two LLCs to avoid coming zoning changes, and subsequently sued the Town of Saratoga in Wood County when the Town refused to grant new building permits. The case is still open.

Wysocki's MO is to buy up land quietly, and then spring its CAFO operation on the local populace and elected officials, with the help of the new Scott Walker-altered Department of Natural Resources (DNR) rubber stamping high capacity well permits and other CAFO permits in a process that is supposed to protect area waters and the environment generally. The families in these small rural towns depend on getting their drinking water--all of their water--from the local groundwater aquifers, all of which are susceptible to seepage and drawdown from CAFOs in the central sands area.

"Between 2003 and the end of 2010, Wisconsin will have permitted 200 mega-dairies to open or expand but has never turned down a permit application or revoked a permit, even after repeated environmental violations," notes the Food and Water Watch organization. Clearly, this situation was not helped by Scott Walker's transformation of the Department of Natural Resources into a do-anything that helps potential Walker campaign contributors approach to protecting natural resources.

Siting a CAFO in the central Wisconsin sands area is in a word: Crazy.

The central sands are the worst place outside of downtown Milwaukee to site a CAFO because of the soil-sand susceptibility. "According to the Wisconsin Soil Survey provided by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, our soil properties are identified as Plainfield Sand, by soils scientists. "The Plainfield series consists of deep, excessively drained, sandy soils on outwash plains. Available water capacity is low to very low, and permeability is rapid."

For a region that hypes its recreational value for tourists, a massive CAFO is without question destructive.

"I can't imagine what this would be like for the new Trapshooting complex [Wisconsin Trapshooting Association] that happens to be working for national accreditation. These folks are right next to the proposed CAFO (site)," said Rhonda Cain-Carrell of the Town of Saratoga, Wisconsin. "And another of my concerns is that Mike Keiser is working to build a world-class golf resort, people would fly in to the Wisconsin Rapids airport and basically drive through the epicenter of this proposed CAFO where liquid manure-spreading irrigation and a 50-million gallon manure lagoon are right next to the highway. How would that look, and smell? Then, you consider the pathogens that are going into the environment. ... And make sure you write 'proposed' CAFO, because this Golden Sands operation isn't going to happen."

Protect Wood County did an analysis of campaign contributions to Scott Walker using data supplied by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The data show contributions of over $700,000 from Big Ag (Big Agriculture) since 2011 directly to Scott Walker campaign committees.

It is a political truism in Wisconsin that Scott Walker has Big Ag's back. It remains to be seen how fervently the Democratic Party opposes Big Ag in the face of Big Ag's damage inflicted onto the Wisconsin people—not necessary a disqualification of political support.

Already, other area CAFOs in central Wisconsin have experienced damaging incidents, all of which are feared to occur should the massive Golden Sands CAFO begin operations.

A recent fire occurred near the existing manure lagoon, silage storage (chopped hay and corn) and the methane digester through which manure is trapped in the Central Sands CAFO in the Town of Armenia in neighboring Juneau County. Could have been bad.

Groundwater contamination and manure irrigation (which are foreseeable consequences of these types of operation) are proven bad, occurring next to neighboring houses forcing the buying-out of residential homes.

Just another risk CAFOs ignore, says Cain-Carrell.

In the foreground, notice the manure coming out of the end gun and
drop sprayers. The background center pivot irrigation system is
pumping water. Photo by Rhonda Cain-Carrell.
Then there's liquid cow manure that sticks, and won't go away.

Cow manure irrigation is the normal operating component of CAFOs, and especially the Wysocki conglomerate.

A Wood County resolution passed last week in a committee vote banning the aerial applications to spread manure, a practice banned now in 10 counties in Minnesota.

"The issue is spraying manure through industrialized irrigation equipment, said Criste Greening, a Saratoga resident who spoke in favor of the ban. One type is similar to a residential sprinkler system and sprays the liquid manure through a traveling gun. A second kind uses a type of distribution pipe that pivots around a central point to spread the liquid manure." (Karen Madden, Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune).

The Scott Walker administration reportedly contacted local Wood County officials last week and said it wanted the manure ban resolution killed in committee in another Republican attack on local community control.

Walker looks very vulnerable in central Wisconsin because of his dismantlement of the DNR as an independent agency.

Notes Rebecca Kimble in The Progressive (March 2013):
The prize for Wisconsin’s most Orwellian agency goes to the once-great Department of Natural Resources. It might as well be the Ministry of Truth itself. Once known as among the best environmental protection and stewardship agencies in the nation, under the direction of Secretary Cathy Stepp, a homebuilder and politician, the DNR’s role in protecting natural resources has been turned inside out. Now the name of the game is streamlining regulations to make it easier for companies – a.k.a. polluters - to do business.

In Walker’s first year in office he turned the DNR into an 'enterprise agency' with 'increased operating flexibility to enable the agency to improve customer service and business support.' This shifted staff and resources away from monitoring, oversight and compliance with environmental regulations and created the Office of Business Support and Sustainability at a time when two major threats to clean air and water were ramping up: Frac sand mining and massive Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) with thousands of head of livestock.
The Protect Wood County citizens groups (and others in the area) say they have been in touch with the Mary Burke campaign, and that they remain non-partisan, but note Burke's people appear "very sympathetic."

Attorney Dana Duncan of Port Edwards, Wisconsin challenging a sitting legislator says opposing the Wysocki CAFO operation is a major campaign plank, along with local control targeted by the Walker administration.

"Dana wants to return much of the local control that has been taken away by the current state leadership and help empower local municipalities and small communities to have a say in what happens in their area. Dana believes that we should make strides to reverse the policies of the last four years that have tried to consolidate power at the state level and work to assist communities to be able to make the best and most equitable decisions for them," reads Duncan's webpage. "Dana believes that protecting our water quantity and quality in Wisconsin are essential for maintaining our quality of life, but also if we want the type of economic growth that Wisconsin deserves. Water is one of our most precious resources and is the oil of the 21st Century and must be protected as such. This means protection from threats like Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or from the over abundance of high capacity wells that are drawing down the aquifers. Dana stands for denying any further expansion of CAFOs in Wisconsin and to limit overabuse of the watershed through too many high capacity wells. Dana supports common sense approaches like a moratorium on all high capacity wells until we receive all of the environmental impacts studies, making the DNR an independent agency again so that the position would no longer be used as a partisan tool, and for establishing locally controlled water boards that would work with an independent DNR to maintain their water quantity and quality."

Duncan is running against incumbent Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids) — a Scott Walker loyalist and member of the rightwing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) that is a corporate bill mill.

Krug, says one Protect Wood County citizen, "has been jerking us around because he knows he's in big trouble running for (re)election."

Meanwhile, the groups with active citizens numbering well into 100s say they have hired an attorney looking into federal remedies from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers, should as is expected the DNR roll over for Wysocki, with the predictable consequence of devastating the Central Sands region as a recreational community.

Writes Julie Kreutzer of Wisconsin Rapids in an email going around the region, reminding folks that people live here now.

Everyone here talks about the recreational community.  Well for us it's not recreational, it's where we live!  My husband has cancer and is now on disability.  We won't be able to live here on our 40 acres anymore if the farm comes in. The property right next to us would become crop land.  The pesticides, herbicides, manure they spray would be very harmful to him.  The water quality, the air quality, stress are detrimental to his health.  No one is listening to the health issues we have here in Central Wisconsin with all the cancer.  It IS a matter of life and death for us.  Add to that the loss of property value.  Now the main bread winner in our home is no longer working, and when we try to sell our home we won't get the value we put into it!  Even if I sell my home right now!  The farm isn't even here yet!   Who's going to help us?  Will we get subsidized?   I've been a resident of this area all my life along with my dad, my grandparents, and my great grandparents who originally settled in Rome!  We will leave  if the CAFO comes in, we will be forced to.  We won't buy a home in Wisconsin again.  Can't trust that anyone is looking out for our well being.  I have brought this information to all the town meetings, DNR in our township etc.  Just saying it again hoping someone will hear.
Citizens are reaching out to career DNR staffers whom they believe are more amiable to listen, per Wisconsin statute and case law, speaking to the socioeconomic and health effects of the proposed CAFO, including:
Decline of property value - Many have already felt the impact of this. Homes in Saratoga recently sold between 75-100 thousand dollars below the asking price simply due to the threat of the dairy.  If you know what your home was worth prior to the dairy announcement and have an estimate of what it is worth now, it is great solid information to include.

    Property Taxes Increase - The proposed farm would be taxed at a significantly lower rate than personal property owners, less than a dollar an acre ... who do you think will be making up the difference?

    Significant Road Damage - The vast majority of roads in Saratoga and Rome do not have underlying road base that can support the weight of the constant heavy machinery and truck traffic it will be made to support. Again, who do you think will foot the bill to maintain and fix these roads?

    Increased Health Concerns and Medical Bills - the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that there is an average of a 25% increase in children with asthma that live next to an industrialized agriculture facility or its fields.  It is also highly dangerous for individuals suffering from allergies and/or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Any and all medical conditions that would require additional medical attention effects a families income and are valid socio-economic impacts.

    Increased Financial Burdens - Living next to fields sprayed with manure STINKS.  Residents in such positions are forced to keep their windows closed and air conditioning units running 24/7.  Hanging clothes on the line outside in the fresh air will be a thing of the past. Both of these factors directly effect a residences pocket book by higher electric bills and unnecessary wear and tear on personal appliances.

    Water wells running dry - If the High Capacity Well permits are granted and they start pumping the estimated 7.3 billion gallons of water annually, there is a very high likelihood that numerous wells will run dry.  YOU as a homeowner are solely responsible for this cost.  A drilled well is estimated to cost between 7-12 thousand dollars.

    Water Contamination - Nitrates in drinking water are not to exceed 10 mg/L. If higher than the standard of 10, detrimental health impacts can occur.  We all know that a main side-effect of industrialized agriculture is extreme spikes in Nitrate levels in our groundwater. One way to address excessive Nitrates in drinking water is the purchase of a Reverse Osmosis machine (which at times still cannot filter the water enough to make it drinkable again).  Reverse Osmosis equipment can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars depending on the filtration needed. Again ... who do you think pays for this device?

    Small Business Owners - If you are a small business owner there is no doubt you are concerned with maintaining your customer base when faced with potential air and water quality issues.  Please be sure to document how your business will be detrimentally effected by the proposed dairy.  Will you be able to stay in business if your campers all smell of manure?  Will customers be able to eat out on your patio if manure drift is landing on the tables?  Can you continue a restaurant or campground if Nitrates in your water exceed 10 mg/L? What will happen to the Saratoga and Rome economy if businesses start shutting down?
Below are two maps; one of the proposed Wysocki CAFO operation abutting four counties (Wood, Portage, Juneau and Adams counties) at left, and the map of the proposed Sand Valley golf resort in northern Adams county, at right. Note the proximity (some three miles) between the two planned developments where they abut on the Wood and Adams county border, a short distance from the Town of Rome (a vacation home region with several small lakes).

Wysocki Proposed CAFO

Scott Walker Running away as He Seeks Reelection

"He started down a trail which I did not understand. He was speaking in off-English, in words which seemed one half notch off true meaning. He spoke earnestly, affably, but with one foot out of bounds."

This sounds precisely like a description of Wisconsin governor Scott Walker quickly issuing a statement to a reporter not allowed follow-up questions.

This is a man who won't face a group of Wisconsin citizens to answer questions and address concerns, yet one who proclaims himself "unintimidated" with airs of presidential ambition as he runs for reelection amid the investigation of the largest political scandal in Wisconsin history of which Walker is at the center.

The quote is from Jimmy Breslin's How the Good guys Finally Won:  Notes from an Impeachment Summer (1975. Viking Press, Inc). (p.9), describing John Ehrlichman after Ehrlichman was found guilty of four counts of criminal offences.

Scott Walker is more of a lightweight than Ehrlichman, but possesses the same criminal mind, determined to escape accountability.

Stay tuned.

Early this weekend, the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board asked to intervene in the John Doe probe, on hold as Wisconsin law enforcement has appealed a ruling issued last spring by the rightwing Federalist Society federal judge, Rudolph Randa, halting the investigation.

In an under-reported development, Brendan Frishcer broke a story last week, that new "documents indicate that just weeks after the first subpoenas were issued in Wisconsin's 'John Doe' criminal campaign finance probe in October 2013, senate Republicans had begun working to change state law to legalize the activities under investigation."

Jul 16, 2014

Catholic Church, GOP Double Down on Misogyny, Protection of Predator Priests

Cardinal Timothy Dolan transferred church funds
into a separate trust in order to protect them
from clergy abuse lawsuits
Update: "Let's see if I got this straight about the Hobby Lobby decision. The owners are Christians who have certain religious beliefs. If I, as a Jew, were to apply for a job at Hobby Lobby, would they have the right to deny me a job because my religious beliefs are different from theirs? Would Hobby Lobby deny me the right to not work on Saturday or take off for the Jewish holidays? No, they would not be able to do that because it is discrimination. So why can they deny me access to birth control that I believe in? Whose religious rights are being denied?" (Lisa Cass, The Capital Times)
In the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision attacking contraception coverage, the Catholic Church hierarchy and Republican Party are moving to block pro-women legislation in the U.S. Senate and maintaining Church policy of protecting predator priests. (Rachel Zoll, AP)

Weeks back, Pope Francis met with six victims of abuse, comparing the abuse of children at the hands of Catholic priests to the performing of a satanic black mass.

"Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you," Francis said during his homily, according to a text released by the Vatican. "And I humbly ask forgiveness I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves." (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests]

Talk is cheap.

A leading advocate for survivors of Catholic priests, Patrick J. Wall of Jeff Anderson and Associates of St. Paul, Minnesota, expressed a show-me attitude towards the Pope's stated commitment to holding bishops accountable for covering up crimes against 1,000s of children.

"If the Holy Father does not fire the Bishops and Abbots who have been complicit in covering up child sexual abuse by the Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, Deacons and Religious, then he simply is a Jesuit using roman tactics of smoke and mirrors," said Wall in an email.

Wall is a former priest and monk from Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota.

Meanwhile, yesterday it was reported a, "canon lawyer alleging a widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has made her most detailed claims yet, accusing archbishops and their top staff of lying to the public and of ignoring the U.S. bishops' pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse"

Jennifer Haselberger, who spent five years as Archbishop John Nienstedt's archivist and top adviser on Roman Catholic church law, also charged that the church used a chaotic system of record-keeping that helped conceal the backgrounds of guilty priests who remained on assignment." (Zoll, AP)

Archbishop Timothy Dolan (2002-2009) is not shaking with fear about being held accountable for his cover-ups and attacks on survivors in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, aided by a corrupt federal judge, Rudolph Randa, and a sitting U.S. Senator, Ron Johnson who lobbied for Republicans in 2010 blocking a proposed Wisconsin bill that would have abolished time limits on civil lawsuits over child sex abuse by Catholic priests.

Senate Republicans are likely to filibuster the bill overturning Hobby Lobby, a decision by the five rightwing Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jul 12, 2014

Wisconsin, Indiana Marriage Equity Cases Fast-tracked by Appellate Court

Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney's marriage
sustained by appellate court
fast-tracking marriage equity cases in
Indiana and Wisconsin
Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney
Amy Sandler and Niki Quasney

ACLU of Wisconsin: "We are disappointed that (Scott) Walker, (J.B.) Van Hollen, and the other defendants are turning their backs on equality - but we will fight on."

Civil rights history is unfolding fast in the heartland as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ordered two right-to-marry cases be consolidated and fast-tracked.

The liberty and equality of American citizens are being acclaimed in federal courts across the country against the bigotries of religious and partisan interests still presenting arguments against marriage equity with no apparent rational basis.

Less than two weeks after an order by the federal appellate court that an Indiana couple be allowed to stay married in light of one of spouses facing terminal cancer [other marriages were stayed], and one day after Wisconsin's attorney general appealed a U.S. District judge's June declaration and injunction against Wisconsin's gay marriage bans, a three-judge appellate panel ordered Indiana and Wisconsin litigants to file briefs by August 4th and that the Indiana and Wisconsin cases be consolidated.

Meanwhile, ACLU of Indiana "(a)ttorneys on Friday asked U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to step in on behalf of hundreds of same-sex couples who were wed before a federal appeals court stayed an order striking down Indiana's gay marriage ban," reports Charles D. Wilson (AP). "The letter by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana asks Holder to issue a statement that the federal government will recognize the marriages as he did in Utah and Michigan, which would make Indiana's couples eligible for federal benefits for married couples."

Against near unanimous Republican Party opposition, marriage equality for same-sex couples is moving rapidly through the courts and the U.S. Supreme Court will likely take up several cases and rule definitively next term whether individuals have a right to marry under the equal protection, due process and liberty interests under the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.

"The panel that sped up the case consists of Judges Richard Posner, Ann Claire Williams and David Hamilton. Posner and Williams were appointed by President Ronald Reagan, and Hamilton was appointed by President Bill Clinton," note Patrick Marley and Dana Ferguson (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel).

The Seventh Circuit's jurisdiction consists of Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.

Posner, an outspoken public intellectual, is widely regarded as one of the leading legal minds in the country in the appellate court noted for its outspoken and brilliant jurists.

The two cases are Indiana's Baskin v. Zoeller (consolidated with Officer Pamela Lee v. Pence, filed by Indiana Equality Action on behalf of first responders seeking equality for their marriages and Midori Fujii v. State of Indiana) and Wisconsin's Walker v. Wolf. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel document)

The arguments of 'this is what I believe' and 'I don't like gays' increasingly are being struck down by federal courts across the county as having no rational basis or legitimate purpose buttressing state gay marriage bans after last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

"The federal [DOMA] statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity," Justice Kennedy wrote. "By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment [protecting the liberty of the individual]." (Liptak, NYT)

Injuring gay Americans is the official policy of a major American political party and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that would inflict hate onto the LGBTQ community using the vehicle of the state.

Jul 11, 2014

Wisconsin's Corrupt Attorney General's Quest to Block Marriage Equality

Wisconsin has a wide collection of Republican officeholders today making national headlines that would do Mississippi proud.

There's Wisconsin's "dumb Ron Johnson," a U.S. senator who likes to run political interference on behalf of child molesters.

Wisconsin's crooked and extremist governor, Scott Walker who is so afraid of the Wisconsin people, he has failed to hold one listening session, after campaigning his would be the most transparent and open administration in Wisconsin history. "I attended a (Mary) Burke question-and-answer meeting in Waunakee," writes Nila Frye in a letter to the editor in today's Wisconsin State Journal, making the score: Burke: Many; Walker: Zero.

Wisconsin's fake budget numbers guy, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville), who is scaring away Republicans as he explains why Social Security and Medicare are un-American.

Then there is Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, a corrupt jurist who went to court in 2008 claiming all of the state bureaucracies' databases' names of Wisconsin residents had to exactly match as a precondition to vote. Seriously.

Van Hollen's charge now, in his mind, is to defend all manner of unconstitutional laws such as the Wisconsin same sex marriage ban and the GOP photo voter obstruction law.

Van Hollen foolishly declared in June there would be "legal repercussions" for county clerks marrying couples after U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb held Wisconsin's ban on same sex marriage unconstitutional in Wolf v. Walker.

Now, instead of allowing marriage equity to proceed, Van Hollen along with Scott Walker announced yesterday they are appealing Judge Crabb's decision, despite widespread and growing sentiment for marriage equality. (Marley, Ferguson; Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

In typical Walker and Van Hollen fashion both Republicans do not have the courage of their bigoted convictions, and both officials refrain from explaining why denial of two people of the same sex getting married is constitutional.

Had Walker and Van Hollen not appealed, Judge Crabb's declaration and injunction against enforcement of gay marriage bans would have gone into effect.

Van Hollen can read case law, and the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has fast-tracked a similar case from Indiana where the appellate Court ordered Indiana on July 1 to allow one couple to marry because one of the spouses has terminal cancer.

"It is time for the State of Indiana to leave Niki (Sandler) and Amy (Quasney) in peace and not subject them and their marriage to any more stress and uncertainty as this case proceeds," Lambda Legal staff attorney Paul D. Castillo said in a statement.

Congratulations to Ms. Sandler and Ms. Quasney.

Shame on the bigots and their infantile rants.

Equal protection under the law is the Republican nightmare, and the outgoing J.B. Van Hollen leaves behind a legacy of partisanship, corruption and obstruction of the right to vote and even get married as his legacy.

Jul 8, 2014

Retired Wisconsin Resident Blasts Nightmare CAFO Factory Farm

The Golden Sands region of Wisconsin -
To be saved, or destroyed by CAFOs

Update II: "Numerous businesses in Rome are concerned. These include the golf courses, trap shooters, snowmobile and ATV groups, and restaurants and bars," said a citizen of Wisconsin Rapids.

Update: "On July 16, 2013, the Wisconsin Trapshooting Association celebrated the Grand Opening of the new Shooting Complex in the Town of Rome, Adams County." Wonder how these guys like drained lakes, befouled waters, and the smell  and health effects of tons of cow manure.

Central Wisconsin tourism under assault by massive factory farms (CAFOs)

'Thanks to James Wysocki's dishonest half-truths, I have been afforded the opportunity to learn about the horrors of CAFOs, and the damage they do to the environment.'

Patt Pisellini is a retired resident of the town of Rome in Wood County, Wisconsin.

Was retired.

Residents, tourists, and other visitors to the central Wisconsin "Golden Sands" region describe the natural beauty of the region, typified by the Wood County's parks, rivers, many lakes, and county forest land, and wildlife. And groundwater.

Ms. Pisellini's retirement has been cut short by the invasion of the massive Wysocki corporation factory farm or (CAFO) concentrated [formerly "confined"] agricultural feeding operation, that likely will dry up many area lakes, and befoul the streams, lakes, groundwater and several adjacent watersheds with some 150 pathogens, a predictable consequence, much worse than what the sociopathic Wysocki already inflicts onto Wisconsin.

Pisellini is speaking out, along with many area residents of Wood County and the surrounding region.

And Ms. Patt Pisellini has not even addressed the health catastrophes of CAFOs, but James Wysocki (registered agent of numerous CAFOs) doesn't care; he lives far away from his CAFOs and the massive CAFO he proposes for Wood, Portage, Adams and Juneau counties in central Wisconsin.
"The present system of producing food animals in the United States is not sustainable and [CAFOs present] an unprecedented level of risk to public health and damage to the environment ... ."
Robert Martin, Director of the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production

By Patt Pisellini, resident, Town of Rome, Wisconsin

Thank you Jim Wysocki, for giving my retirement a purpose. 

Thank you for relieving me of the monotony of relaxing on the beach and enjoying the ambience of the pristine waters of Lake Sherwood (Rome, Wisconsin). 

Thank you for eliminating the chore of taking our pontoon out for an afternoon of fishing ad quiet conversation. 

Thank you for taking me away from the mindless evenings spent watching television, and replacing them with hours spent at my computer doing research, days spent sitting through legislative meetings, and endless hours listening to testimony stemming from lawsuits attempting to prevent CAFO projects like yours from destroying our groundwater.

Thank you for replacing the boredom of just sitting in my porch swing and doing nothing, with tension filled days, and sleepless nights filled with worry of what could happen if your CAFO project is allowed to continue.

Thanks to your thoughtlessness, I don’t have to spend my days puttering in my garden, playing with my grandchildren, or sitting on my patio chatting with neighbors.  

Thanks to your lawsuits (Wysocki sues local governments and elected officials who try to stop his CAFOs), and legislative lobbying, I have been able to utilize a costly education in public policy analysis that I probably never would have had the chance to use. 

Thanks to your callous disregard for the environment, I will no longer need to appreciate the beauty of a simple walk in the woods; discover the intricate markings on a butterfly’s wing; or listen to lilting sound of songbirds in the trees.

I won’t have to work so hard to save endangered species living on the 8,000 acres of forest you plan to destroy - they’ll be gone forever - replaced with endless miles of manure-covered crops.

Thanks to your dishonest half-truths, I have been afforded the opportunity to learn about the horrors of CAFOs, and the damage they do to the environment.  Without your potentially poisoning proposed project, I might have languished in the thought that my home was safe, my health was secure, and my grandchildren were protected.  Thanks to your mean-spirited attempts to demean me and my friends as “environmental activists”, I have developed a new pride in the work we are doing to educate the public on the importance of preserving and protecting nature.

This has been quite an adventure.  

In all my 70 years of life, I have never seen such selfish, self-serving attempts to surreptitiously rewrite laws designed to protect our God given right to water.  

Because of your complete disregard for people, I have discovered the power of love can bind a community together.  Without the fear and intimidation,  I never would have made so many good friends in neighboring towns, and met so many wonderful environmentalists willing to work long hours to prevent the damage your dairy may do.

Thank you for all you’ve done, and I sincerely hope and pray you are compensated in kind, in your retirement.

Jul 2, 2014

Wysocki Factory CAFO Farms: Koch Brothers of Central Wisconsin

Update: "The Wysockies quietly buy up land, use it up, literally poison their neighbors, the hell with everyone else. These people do not live on the CAFOs; they live far-away. And, yes, there is something sociopathic about this."
—Saratoga, Wisconsin resident
The Wysocki Family of Companies are the Koch brothers of factory farms of a particularly destructive variety—creating concentrated agricultural feeding operations (CAFO), as noted by the citizens group, Protect Wood County.

CAFOs are cruel factories, locking cows in a box and spreading the tons of cow manure over surrounding waters, air and land by using massive quantities of water from water wells and then sending the water back into the environment laden with toxins.

"In a CAFO, animals are crammed by the thousands or tens of thousands, often unable to breathe fresh air, see the light of day, walk outside, peck at a plants or insects, scratch the earth, or eat a blade of grass," notes CAFO: The Tragedy of Industrial Animal Factories.

The Wysocki family doesn't live near or on the grounds of the operations (several members live far away in gated communities, other company officials are spread out over Wisconsin nowhere near these cesspools), safely removed from the "50 million gallons of liquid waste per year," that would be produced by the proposed CAFO. (Rearjet, Wisconsin Rapids-Tribune, May 6, 2014)

Following the Wysocki corporation announcing in 2013 it would build a massive CAFO, "Republican state lawmakers" moved to assist the cooperation in obtaining permits for 49 high-capacity water wells in the central sands of Wisconsin for Wysocki, of which University of Wisconsin-Madison hydrogeologist, George Kraft said, "seriously, we may dry up every lake and stream in the Central Sands." (Johnson, WPR)

This is terrible news for several countiesincluding Wood, Juneau, Portage and Adams—and the families and small businesses that include tourism (and all the supporting businesses), small tree farms, vacation homes, and various other enterprises that settled in the Golden Sands area of Wisconsin.

Following news that beginning next week, "Wisconsin residents can no longer challenge state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) permits for a high-capacity well if state officials failed to look at what the well might do to overall groundwater in the area," (Quirmbach, WPR) there is increasing realization Scot Walker and his new DNR (Destroying Natural Resources) may make the beautiful Golden Sands region a memory like a polluted lake where once children fished and swam.

The Wysocki corporation didn't ask residents or area businesses for approval or even offer to listen to well-grounded, scientifically backed health and environmental concerns.

What it did do sue the Town of Saratoga in Wood County for challenging the corporation's right to befoul the area waters. (Rearjet, Wisconsin Rapids-Tribune, May 6, 2014)

Residents and area businesses are gearing up for a fight against the Wysockis, Scott Walker, and Rep. Scott Krug (R-Wisconsin Rapids and ALEC).

May not seem like a fair fight, and it's already getting nasty, but not as nasty as the 150 pathogens found in cow manure, including antibiotic resistant bacteria.

As several long-time residents have pointed out, if you had a vacation home or a place to go for summer tourism, how close would you want to get to waters and land befouled by "liquid cow shit?"

I asked Nancy Koch of Protect Wood County if she has been in touch with elected politicians.

Koch said she is getting the brush-off from the Walker administration and the administration of the DNR. Local officials have been very supportive. And Mary Burke's campaign has been in touch and is described as sympathetic and supportive of Protect Wood County, Koch said.

It's looks like befouling the golden sands of Wisconsin is going to be a highly-charged political issue fairly soon after Independence Day.

The Wysocki Family and Big Ag have contributed over $700,000 to Scott Walker's gubernatorial campaigns since April 2011, according to an analysis of data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

Wysocki family members alone have give well into the $1,000s to Walker and remain heavy Walker political backers.

Winnebago County Sheriff's Dept Attack Man for Filming Hostile Questioning

It's a safe bet the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department—Winnebago County (Wisconsin) is infamous for its corrupt district attorney's office (see DA Joe Paulus bribery scandal and DA Vince Biskupic's misconduct scandal, for example)—does not take the idea of community policing and civil liberties too seriously.

So, it's open season on citizens filming sheriff deputies caught in the act of deceit, misconduct and hostile questioning.

Ask Bryan Payne (Facebook). Concerned about the way the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department were questioning his girlfriend, he decided to film the questioning with his phone.

This provoked retaliation, and a hostile and violent response by deputies who pretended Mr. Payne was attacking a deputy. [video is below] "Get your hands off me," yelled a deputy, fabricating a crime of the victim.

Another deputy then screamed, "do not fight," twice while attacking Payne, again fabricating a crime of the victim.

This is a crime by the deputies, is corruption and certainly grounds for a civil action.

Contacted by phone this morning, both the Winnebago County Sheriff's office and Winnebago County District Attorney's office refuse public comment on the policy of filming law enforcement and refer all public comment to voice-mails (the blow-off).

I asked the woman answering the phone at the Winnebago County District Attorney's office if I could get a comment on what the law is in Wisconsin filming law enforcement. She replied, "that's something we do not provide to citizens."

The law is an individual may video tape police as long as the taping does not obstruct the police.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press site states, in Wisconsin "An individual who is a party to either an in-person conversation or electronic communication, or who has the consent of one of the parties to the communication, can lawfully record it or disclose its contents, unless the person is doing so for the purpose of committing a criminal or tortious act. Wis. Stat. Ann. § 968.31 (West 2011)."

The ACLU site for photographers states, "Taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right – and that includes federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties. Unfortunately, there is a widespread, continuing pattern of law enforcement officers ordering people to stop taking photographs from public places, and harassing, detaining and arresting those who fail to comply." (emphasis added)

Watching the video below indicates more evidence that those entrusted with police power need to be monitored in a free society, no matter how hostile some police are to the idea.

Writes Payne: "Was not resisting, but was standing by while the Winnebago County Sheriff's Department was questioning my girlfriend. The situation was then turned onto me because I was intimidating [the police] with the filming of my phone. You be the judge... resisting or not resisting."

Watch the video of police misconduct and deceitful machinations caught on tape:

Jul 1, 2014

Misogyny, Dark Money, and Corporation as Uber People

Update III: Koch brothers revealed as John Birchers, racist and anti-Semitic

Update II: Opus Dei comes to Washington D.C.

Update: Why Harris and Hobby Lobby Spell Disaster for Working Women (Jafee, In These Times)
Throughout U.S. history, nothing has spooked the political body as much as alarms sounded about the presence of insidious forces embedded in our community, bursting with bad intentions, amoral character and rapacious appetites.

Examples from the 20th-21st centuries are clear: African-Americans, anarchists, uppity women who want to vote, peace activists, sewer socialists, communists, artists, civil rights workers, immigrants and terrorists have all at times fit the bill for the purposes of narrow ideological interests intent on consolidating their political-financial power at the expense of the liberty of the disfavored citizenry.

In the wake of the Citizens United, McCutcheon and the misogynistic Hobby Lobby decisions [among others] by the five Republican justices on the U.S. Supreme Court, the Roberts Court has created a class of citizens (non-human entities) with more rights than the typical American, and imbued with immunity from the criminal justice system:  The corporation, formerly chartered by the individual states to deliver a specific economic purpose for a specified benefit of the community, now aligned with closely held ideological interests such as the Koch brothers who endeavor to reengineer American society.

These cases are not decided out of naiveté or an academic misreading of the law by the justices.

This is a extra-judicial project constructed by raw and hostile socio-economic powers that resemble nothing so much as 20th century fascism with their concomitant political taunts against minorities and creation of a prison state.

Tortured, contrived jurisprudence by the allied, ultra-activist Roberts Court is simply a manner to engineer the transformation of power of narrow ideological and financial interests to the specific detriment of non-favored citizenry, an enterprise that could never be accomplished through the legislative process.

The judicial reasoning is fallacious and obvious: "In his dissent, Justice Stevens (in Citizens United) acknowledged that 'we have long since held that corporations are covered by the First Amendment.' That traces back to the time when the 1907 Tillman act banned corporate contributions, the precedent overturned by the Court. In the early 20th century, legal theorists and courts came to adopt and implement the Court's 1886 (Santa Clara) principle that these "collectivist legal entities" have the same rights as persons of flesh and blood, an attack on classical liberalism that was sharply condemned by the vanishing breed of conservatives as 'a menace to the liberty of the individual, and to the stability of the American States as popular governments' (Christopher Tiedeman)," notes Noam Chomsky in reaction to the Citizens United decision.

The maintenance of this Republican Party-economic royalists' long-term project's aims and objectives is ongoing.

Today, even as the servants of economic royalists such as Scott Walker and virtually the entire Republican Party attack the working class for organizing and selling their work product, the rightwing is calling for the Court to sanction the use of dark money into our formal electoral system in an attempt to eliminate any popular accountability, and insulate huge moneyed interests from the criminal justice system under the rubric of the new judicial doctrine of civil rights for invisible, non-human forces that were never recognized by the United States Constitution but have been created by a handful of Supreme Court justices for the benefit of a very few uber people.

Eric O’Keefe and Wisconsin Club for Growth, Inc. v Francis Schmitz, et al (Case No.  14-C-139) now before the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit may become the judicial vehicle through which the Court constructs a new doctrine in which any individual associated with a special class of interests becomes immune to campaign finance law and law enforcement.

We will soon see whether individual appellate justices in the Seventh Circuit define their legacy by acclaiming the lawless acquisition of political power by societal forces such as the Koch brothers, Christopher Cline and various other anti-social, criminal minds in American society.

One would think the trajectory of the drive to power for royalists would be addressed constantly by the Democratic Party, and it should be their number one appeal to the public.

J.B. Green argues this morning it's imperative:
Don't buy any of the crap about the narrowness or 'nuances' of the Hobby Lobby ruling. It established a precedent that begs to be broadened, and this is a High Court majority that is willing to go there. It's only a matter of time.

No one should be shocked either, that the court's right-wing (the term 'conservative' would be an insult to real conservative jurists in this context) majority is oblivious/hostile to worker rights. They have demonstrated that proclivity at every opportunity. ...

The Supreme Court of the United States has been dominated by politicized hacks since Bush v. Gore, although too many Dems have trod gingerly around the strong language needed to make it a front and center issue. The Hobby Lobby decision sends a clear warning that those days should be over. And if we needed an additional reminder that employer-linked insurance is a booby-trapped mess, and we really need to push harder for a single-payer system, here it is.
Hobby Lobby is a booby-trapped mess, but more broadly the case represents the ongoing project of a corrupt Supreme Court and its allies.

The presence of insidious forces embedded in our community, bursting with bad intentions, amoral character and rapacious appetites is a fact that cannot be ignored if our country is to continue to bear any resemblance to a classical liberal, constitutional democracy in the future.

Jun 30, 2014

Obama Picks Corporate Chief over Veterans' Advocate for VA Sec

One can access Robert A. McDonald, President Obama's nominee for secretary of Veterans Affairs (DVA) (VA), by understanding whom Mr. McDonald is not.

McDonald is not Jim Nicholson, secretary (2005-2007), active in Republican Party politics since the mid-1980s, Republican National Party chair from 1997-2000, and dedicated to the Republican mission to privatize the VA and discourage disability benefits being delivered to military veterans.

Nor is McDonald a career veterans' advocate, somebody like Paul Sullivan or Anthony Hardie, who know where the neocon bodies are buried in the bureaucracies and have the inclination to clean house.

MacDonald is a successful "global corporate officer (whom Obama bets) can turn around a government health system that has been rocked by allegations of mismanagement and cover-ups of long patient waiting times." (Shear, Oppel Jr., New York Times)

In so many words, better than the guy the Republicans put in charge and not up to the job that is needed—a perfect metaphor for the Obama administration.

Jun 29, 2014

The Man Behind the Proposed GTac Mine in Wisconsin

America's leading asshole - Christopher Cline
Christopher Cline is a billionaire living variously in Palm Beach, mega-yachts, hiding behind his extraction conglomerates with a long history of poisoning huge tracts of land and water, leaving area residents and governments to clean up his toxification.

Known as the new New King of Coal, Cline doesn't bother much with his public image, beyond avoiding as much as possible the public eye, as he looks at the Illinois Basin for more coal extraction and fracking and northern Wisconsin for the largest open pit mine on the planet in a pristine area that for now draws tourists from out-of-state.

The coverage of Cline in the American press has been relegated to celebrity pieces on whom Cline is dating with an occasional piece on Cline buying up stock in the extraction industry. Cline manages somehow to keep an extremely low profile.

Bios of Cline are typically written by environmental activists noting how destructive and oblivious cline is to the health of the people his extraction operations destroy:
Although Cline’s lifestyle appears to be all about champagne and caviar, the basis of his wealth presents a far darker story than the golden-hued online tour of his 33,413 square foot mansion in North Palm Beach, Florida.

According to an extensive 2010 profile of Cline in Bloomberg Markets Magazine, he became "a billionaire by betting on a dirty fuel the world can’t get enough of." (Pember, Indian Country Today)
I'll poison your land and water, buy the politicians and there's nothing you can do about it, is the position of this gaping asshole of a man, pictured above-right, next to his Mine Games Yacht (unless he's already sold the $ 28-million, 161-foot toy for a more expensive yacht). (Fabrikant, New York Times)

The new problem is that Cline is trying to begin operations in pristine northern Wisconsin in Iron and Ashland counties by ripping open the largest open pit mine in the planet looking to make some more $ millions from iron ore extraction (eventually), expressing no concerns that his proposed open pit mine would release into the pristine environment various toxic amounts of mercury, arsenic, and other heavy metals, sulfates, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxides, and simply ignoring what looks bad such as the release of sulfuric acid into area rivers, streams and lakes.

Penokee Hills range in northern Wisconsin - Perfect for a
massive open pit iron ore mine, claims Christopher Cline
For now, most legal experts see high hurdles before Cline could begin operations no matter how many Wisconsin Republicans are trying to help Cline destroy the Penokee Hills range in northern Wisconsin, pictured at right. (Kaufman, New York Times)

Political opposition has galvanized against the very idea of disturbing a pristine wilderness, as Cline is now allied now with the Koch brothers. (Verburg, Wisconsin State Journal)

Supported by Scott Walker (and opposed by Walker presumptive Democratic Party opponent, Mary Burke), the proposed Gogebic Taconite mine would toxify the pristine "headwaters of the Bad River, which flows into Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world and by far the cleanest of the Great Lakes. Six miles downstream from the site is the reservation of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, whose livelihood is threatened by the mine." (Kaufman, New York Times)

Iron County Wisconsin is a corrupt political jurisdiction, where the rule of law has long been supplanted by political and personal alliances.

Yet, even Iron County touts the grandeur of its natural resources and habitats as a "place of incredible natural beauty. With 300 pristine lakes encompassing 34,000 acres of pure water, the only thing that could make it better is Lake Superior coastline. Good thing Iron County has that, too. Come and enjoy an amazing waterfall, or take a long walk on the beautiful sandy beaches of Saxon Harbor."

Why despoil such an amazing environment: Corruption and convenience, and the sociopathic drive for extraction of natural resources for profit, whatever the consequences of poisoning the surrounding environment and residents.

The CIA has a term for the type of human being who would inflict mass casualties intentionally by injecting toxic agents into populations: Terrorist.

"Terrorists have considered a wide range of toxic chemicals for attacks. Typical plots focus on poisoning foods or spreading the agent on surfaces to poison via skin contact, but some also include broader dissemination techniques," reads a public CIA site dealing with the delivery devices of toxins and other "typical agents ... available to al-Qa'ida and other terrorist groups."

Unfortunately, for Americans the extraction industry is not listed as a terrorist organization.

Fortunately for Americans, we still do have the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers and a federal court system protecting the habitat and environment of protected species under federal law that Cline would need to navigate before he begins his plan of destruction.

Citizen groups insist their voices are heard before Cline executes his project of terror by extraction.

Wisconsin environmental activist, Frank Koehn, remains optimistic of stopping the would-be terrorist, Cline: "With the mercenaries he hired, Chris Cline shows that he’s just another rich guy who’ll try to take our resources and pollute our water. It’s not the first time this happened, and they’ve all failed. He will, too." (Pember, Indian Country Today)