Monday, August 15, 2011

Guest blog: People of Wisconsin: Rethink recall. Rethink. Recall

Now that we are past the Wisconsin state senate recall elections, we need to take a cold, hard look at what needs to be done in 2012.  The people of Wisconsin are “energized,” as the pundits say, but we need to be realistic about where we focus our energy and how we allocate limited time and financial resources.
Quite apart from any possible recall elections, here is what we have to look forward to in Wisconsin in 2012 (not in chronological order, but in my rough order of importance):
  • Presidential election
  • Municipal and school board elections
  • Election of a new US Senator
  • Elections for all eight Wis. congressional districts
  • Election of half the members of the state senate
  • Elections for all members of the state assembly
  • Probable Republican and Democratic primaries for US Senate
  • Republican presidential primary
  • Other possible primaries
Keep in mind that for these elections the district lines have been redrawn, and new voter ID requirements will be implemented, so there will be plenty of room for confusion.  We are a 50-50 state when it comes to statewide races.  But the new Republican-drawn districts mean that there will be fewer 50-50 districts.  With close races likely we need to pick our battles carefully. Voter turnout will be crucial.
So even though I have a “Recall Walker” sticker on my bumper, I am reluctantly advocating that we put aside that goal in favor of the following:
1)  Educate people about the new voter ID requirements and new district lines, and get out the vote.
2)  Give Scott Walker a Democratic legislature to work with.
3)  Focus on electing a worthy successor to Herb Kohl.
4)  Elect more progressive Representatives to Congress.
So I am rethinking my bumper sticker.  I will leave it on the car, but now it does not mean recall as ”remove,” but rather as  “remember.”  In every one of those four goals, people need to “recall” Walker.  Recall the damage done to middle-class, working class, and struggling citizens.  Recall the damage being done to public schools and the environment.  Recall the voter suppression policies put into effect.
And recall what Wisconsin was like before the Walker era.  Recall worker rights and responsibilities.  Recall treating people with respect.  Recall cooperation.  Recall consultation with those affected by legislation.
That is my rethinking of the recall of the Governor.  Recall Walker without recalling Walker.  We have a lot of work to do.  We need to use him and recall his record to rally and motivate voters.  2014 will be here soon enough.
Jim Oakley lives in Ashland, Wisconsin. Jim is a fellow Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served with me in the Eastern Caribbean in the early 1970s.  Since then Jim has been teaching Spanish in the Wisconsin public school system.  Jim is, naturally, heavily invested in what's been going on in Wisconsin, and he writes about it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Another August 6th

Once again, the anniversary that affects me more than almost any other has rolled around.  On August 6th, 1945, just shy of a month after I was born, the US dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan.  This was, at the time, the most deadly use of a weapon of mass destruction ever inflicted by humans on other humans.  A few days later, on August 9, we repeated the experiment with a newer and "improved" bomb dropped on Nagasaki.  At least 150,000 and more likely over 200,000 people were either killed immediately or died from injuries caused by the explosions.  In later years, many people suffered from the aftereffects of radiation exposure; this includes birth defects.

Apologists for the bombings claim that they were needed to bring Japan to an earlier surrender than might have happened otherwise.  Such an action taken today would without doubt be considered collective punishment under Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and thus a war crime.

To be reminded of the effects of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, have a look at these photos at  Some are disturbing enough to be accompanied by a warning, but anyone who thinks that the bombings were justified should have a look, and ponder.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"Isn't US foreign policy typically and historically made up of about the worst possible crap anyone could imagine?"

The title of this brief post comes from a friend and anthropology colleague, and the answer to his question is "Yes."

The latest evidence of this comes from a Wikileaks release of documents related to the US's dealings with Haiti in general and, more specifically, former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide.  As reported in The Nation:
The secret cables, made available to the Haitian weekly newspaper Haïti Liberté by WikiLeaks, show how the political defeat of Aristide and his Lavalas movement has been the central pillar of US policy toward the Caribbean nation over the last two US administrations, even though—or perhaps because—US officials understood that he was the most popular political figure in Haiti.
The friend and colleague, by the way, is someone who has researched and written about Haiti from an anthropological perspective for many years.  He adds that "US foreign policy is eventually deleterious both to US foreign relations and US domestic tranquility. In other words, it is completely stupid and self-defeating."