Proposed Enbridge pipeline expansion in Wisconsin would result in higher chance of major oil spill

If Canadian oil pipeline company Enbridge gets its way, a major oil pipeline that runs through northern, central, and south central Wisconsin would become bigger than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that runs from the Prairie Provinces of Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast, creating a greater risk of a major oil spill causing significant environmental damage in places like Ladysmith, Marshfield, and Fort Atkinson. If I’m reading this map correctly, the pipeline (dark gold line on the map) runs through 15 Wisconsin counties (Douglas, Washburn, Sawyer, Rusk, Chippewa, Taylor, Clark, Marathon, Wood, Adams, Marquette, Columbia, Dane, Jefferson, and Rock) and 4 Illinois counties (Boone, DeKalb, LaSalle, and Livingston).

However, Wisconsin progressives are fighting back against this threat to Wisconsin’s environment and quality of life.

An 80-year-old Wisconsinite by the name of Bruce Noble is riding his bicycle through numerous Wisconsin counties that the pipeline runs through to raise awareness about the increased environmental threat that the pipeline expansion poses:

(Duluth, Minnesota ABC affiliate) WDIO-TV reported Bruce Noble is biking through counties where the Canada-based company’s crude oil Pipeline 61 could be built. It’s expected to start in Superior and end in Illinois.

Noble is a former professor who has survived open heart surgery and cancer. He said he doesn’t have a long time left to live and wants to fight potential environmental threats the help future generations. He plans to educate the public about oil spills and other issues along his bike route.

Additionally, a public hearing regarding the proposed new pump station in the Town of Medina in Dane County that, if approved, would be built as part of the pipeline expansion will be held on October 28 at 7 P.M. I’m not sure exactly where the hearing will be held, although the Dane County Board’s Zoning and Land Regulation Committee will be holing the hearing. This could be the last opportunity for those who care about Wisconsin’s environment and quality of life to voice their opposition to the proposed pipeline expansion to elected officials.

Furthermore, a teach-in about the proposed pipeline will be held on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on November 6 from 3 P.M. to 5 P.M. The teach-in is being organized by 350 Madison, the Madison-area chapter of the international 350 organization that supports efforts to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the air to make the planet more livable.

As someone who lives in the other state that Enbridge Pipeline 61 runs through (although about 86 miles southeast of the southern end of the pipeline), I am very concerned that the proposed expansion of Enbridge Pipeline 61 would result in a considerably greater chance of a catastrophic oil spill, especially given that the proposed expansion would make the pipeline even bigger than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and that Enbridge has a long track record of oil spills from its pipelines, most notably a massive oil spill from an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan in 2010 that caused significant water pollution in the Kalamazoo River watershed.

Republican Party national co-chair Sharon Day thinks that Wisconsinites are stupid

Sharon Day, the co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, basically said that she thinks that Wisconsin voters are stupid at a Republican field office in Waukesha:

Sharon Day, the co-chair (of the Republican National Committee), told the audience, “It’s not going to be an easy election, it’s a close election. Like I said, much closer than I can even understand why.

“I don’t want to say anything about your Wisconsin voters but, some of them might not be as sharp as a knife.”

Day may have not used the word “stupid” in her remarks, but she effectively called Wisconsin voters stupid. The first rule of politics is don’t insult the electorate, and Day violated that rule. Republicans have never given a damn about the people of Wisconsin for the last four years, and now they’re admitting it!

Additionally, Republicans have a very big reason to be scared: Municipal clerks in Brown County, which includes the Green Bay urban area, are reporting early voting levels that are similar to that of presidential elections. If all of Wisconsin has turnout for this year’s November elections that are at the same level as the November 2012 elections, Scott Walker is going to be voted out of office.

Far-right crackpot Nancy VanderMeer wants Wisconsin to nullify federal laws she doesn’t like

Republican candidate in the 70th Assembly District of Wisconsin Nancy VanderMeer stated in a 2012 questionnaire from the pro-Ron Paul front group Campaign for Liberty that she wants to nullify federal laws in Wisconsin that she doesn’t like, such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that has provided millions of Americans with health insurance.

Support for nullifying federal laws among Wisconsin Republicans is nothing new. In the same questionnaire, Republican Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Krug of the 72nd Assembly District and eight other Wisconsin Republican legislators publicly supported nullifying federal laws they don’t like and arresting federal officials who try to implement the ACA in Wisconsin. Additionally, pro-nullification Republicans in Wisconsin brought a resolution supporting nullification to the state Republican convention earlier this year, where it was voted down by convention delegates.

If far-right crackpots like Nancy VanderMeer get their way, depending on what federal laws they want to nullify, Wisconsinites could lose health insurance, could lose Social Security benefits, could have an even more difficult time exercising their right to vote, and face more air and water pollution, among other things. Republican efforts to nullify federal laws could have a very negative impact on Wisconsinites.

The fact that the Republican candidate in one of the most competitive state legislative races in all of Wisconsin supports such an absurd idea as nullifying federal laws means that Wisconsin Republicans still have a far-right problem on their hands. If you live in the 70th Assembly District, vote for Democratic State Rep. Amy Sue Vruwink. Sure, she’s not perfect, but she wouldn’t embarrass the district like Nancy VanderMeer would.

Mary Burke thinks it’s “fair” that Scott Walker drove Wisconsin public employees into poverty

I’m going to write one final blog post criticizing both Republican Governor Scott Walker and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke before the November 4 elections, and it’s over…you guessed it, public employees being forced to use government assistance just to provide for themselves and their families.

I’m going to share a video featuring Leah Lipska, a Wisconsin Department of Corrections employee who, after Walker and his Republican allies stripped collective bargaining rights from her and her public employees and forced her and her fellow public employees to overpay into pension and healthcare plans, is forced to rely on government assistance in order to provide food for herself and her family and energy to keep her home warm during Wisconsin’s harsh winters:

Scott Walker’s agenda of busting unions and stripping public employees of a huge chunk of their pay has done absolutely nothing to help Wisconsin’s economy. Instead, it’s put public servants like Leah Lipska into poverty and forced public servants like Lipska to rely on government assistance just to get by. In fact, Walker’s agenda of driving public servants into poverty has significantly hurt Wisconsin’s economy because public employees, just like people who work in the private sector, are consumers who spend money on goods and services, and consumer spending makes up the vast majority of economic activity in Wisconsin and the rest of the country. The fact that thousands of Wisconsin public employees are not able to spend as much money on goods and services as they were before 2011 is a big reason why Wisconsin has a weaker economy than neighboring states do.

However, what is, in my opinion, just as bad as Republicans who drive public servants into poverty are Democrats who support the provisions in Act 10 that stripped public servants of a large chunk of their pay by requiring them to overpay into pension and healthcare plans. One of those Democrats is Mary Burke, who is running against Walker. While Burke supports restoring collective bargaining rights and increasing the Wisconsin minimum wage, both of which would stimulate Wisconsin’s economy, Burke has repeatedly stated that she thinks that it’s “fair” that public employees were required to overpay into pension and healthcare plans, which is a big reason why people like Lipska are in poverty. In other words, Burke thinks that it’s “fair” that people like Lipska are in poverty.

Unlike Scott Walker and Mary Burke, I believe that nobody who works full-time for the government, whether it be the federal government, a state government, or a local government, should have to live in poverty.

While I encourage Wisconsinites to vote for Mary Burke on November 4, the fact that Scott Walker has driven many of Wisconsin’s public servants into poverty and Mary Burke thinks that what Walker did was “fair” is a big reason why Burke is the lesser of two evils compared to Walker.

Mark Pocan thinks that Russ Feingold is going to run for his old U.S. Senate seat

I don’t want to get anybody’s hopes up, but a member of the election analysis website Daily Kos Elections (DKE) who was at a fundraiser for Nebraska Democratic U.S. House Candidate Brad Ashford which was attended by Democratic U.S. Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District said that Pocan thinks that Russ Feingold is going to run for his old U.S. Senate seat in Wisconsin, which is currently held by Republican Ron Johnson, two years from now.

As much as I like for a “progressive of the future” like Mark Pocan, Melissa Sargent, Chris Taylor, Lori Compas, Mike McCabe, or someone else of their mold and not a “progressive of the past” like Russ Feingold to run against Dumb Ron Johnson, if Feingold were to run for his old U.S. Senate seat, that would bring a lot of much-needed energy back to the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

During his three terms in the U.S. Senate, Feingold was the only U.S. Senator to vote against the PATRIOT Act that created the Bush-Obama surveillance state, voted against the costly Iraq War, played a key role in legislation, much of which was invalidated by the far-right U.S. Supreme Court, that reduced the influence of money in politics, and was a strong opponent of government spending on pork-barrel projects. Feingold was a true maverick who fought for what he believed in and never compromised his core principles. Because of this, Feingold is very well-liked in Wisconsin Democratic and progressive circles despite the fact that he hasn’t been an elected official in nearly four years, and it would be practically impossible for any Democrat to defeat Feingold in a competitive primary despite the fact that Feingold has a couple of issues that he could be attacked over in a Democratic primary (specifically, his vote against the Dodd-Frank bill that enacted new regulations on financial institutions that brought down the U.S. economy several years ago and his support for parts of the gun lobby’s agenda).

Regarding other possible Democratic U.S. Senate candidates in Wisconsin, two other possible U.S. Senate candidates in Wisconsin, Ron Kind and Chris Abele, would be nearly as bad as Ron Johnson. Ron Kind has fought to implement a “global trading regime” that has cost America thousands, if not millions, of jobs, has taken money from the NRA and Koch Brothers, and voted for Republican-backed legislation to effectively take away health insurance from millions of Americans. Even worse, Chris Abele has donated money to Republican candidates, has refused to release documents related to a criminal investigation into illegal activity that went on Scott Walker’s Milwaukee County Executive office, has proposed draconian austerity budgets, and is worse than Scott Walker when it comes to labor-related issues.

As much as I’d like someone else to be the Democratic nominee against Ron Johnson two years from now, Russ Feingold is considerably better than some of the alternatives like Ron Kind and Chris Abele, and it seems to me that nearly everybody in the activist base of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin would love to see Feingold run for public office again.

The minimum wage serves multiple purposes

Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recently stated in an interview with the right-wing editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he thought that the minimum wage served no purpose:

What Walker said about the minimum wage was absolutely, 100% false. The minimum wage serves two main purposes that I can think of off of the top of my head.

The first main purpose that the minimum wage serves is to prevent working people from living in poverty. Unfortunately, it is true that, even with minimum wage laws on the books in this country, there are people who work full-time jobs and still live in poverty. However, if there were no minimum wage laws on the books in this country, there are many employers in this country who would pay people considerably lower wages than they’re legally required to pay workers, which would mean that even more people would be in poverty than there are now. Additionally, any significant increase in the minimum wage would lift thousands, or even millions, or workers in this country out of poverty.

The second main purpose that the minimum wage serves is to stimulate the economy. Since the vast majority of economic activity in this country consists of consumer spending, the minimum wage puts more money in the pockets of working poor people in this country than they would have if there was no minimum wage. Additionally, any increase in the minimum wage would result in more money in the pockets of working poor people than they currently have. If you put more money in the pockets of working poor people, they’re going to spend it right away on food, clothing, and other things that are needed to provide for themselves and their families, thus stimulating the economy.

Pro-poverty Republican Scott Walker is absolutely wrong to claim that the minimum wage serves no purpose, because it serves multiple purposes.

Sean Duffy campaign staffer caught using false identity

I always thought that Republican Congressman Sean Duffy was as phony as a three-dollar bill.

Well, as it turns out, Jake Thomfohrda, Duffy’s campaign field director, is even phonier than Duffy is. That’s because Thomfohrda was caught by a Marshfield-area newspaper using a false identity at a campaign event hosted by Democratic congressional candidate Kelly Westlund, who is running against Duffy in Wisconsin’s 7th District:

The man had attended an event in Marshfield on Friday for Democratic party candidate Kelly Westlund, who is challenging Duffy for the Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District.

Following the event, a News-Herald Media reporter asked the man, who had questioned Westlund about mining issues, if he would be interviewed for an article. He agreed. When asked questions about his name and why he was at the event, the man said his name was Tom Jorgenson and he had attended the event to learn more about the candidate and the issues. He said he was not from the area but in town visiting family.

A story about Westlund’s campaign stop in Marshfield appeared online Friday afternoon. Shortly after it appeared, a man who had been at the event called the newspaper and spoke with the reporter. The man said the person identified as Tom Jorgenson was a Duffy campaign field director named Jake Thomfohrda.

In other words, Jake Thomfohrda, who is still employed by the Duffy campaign (although he’s been placed on leave by the Duffy campaign), lied about his identity in order to get into a Kelly Westlund campaign event. Given that Westlund seems like a very accessible person to me (although I’m not sure about what the Westlund campaign’s policies are about Duffy/GOP operatives attending Westlund campaign events), there was no valid reason for Thomforda to do anything like that.

Sean Duffy should fire Jake Thomfohrda immediately.


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