Undermining Credibility

23 Jan
Undermining Credibility

With only three weeks to go til Valentine’s Day, the Republicans in the State Legislature of Wisconsin are doing what no men ever do: shopping for their beloved before the last minute.  Indeed, in what can only be called a sweetheart deal to both Gogebic Taconite and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation – the former an out-of-state mining company, the latter a much-flawed private entity (that used to be a public one before Scott Walker took over) – the Republican juggernaut essentially promises what any sugarcoated candy on February 14th does: “be mine.”  Only in this sense it’s not just a command in the possessive sense; it’s also the Republican diktat that the Gogebic mine be.  Corporate profit and bought-off lawmakers, true love if there ever was.

Nearly a year ago I scribbled about the proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin.  I did not necessarily think the issue would be so quickly déjà vu’d.  Alas, there but for the gracelessness of a failed recall and gerrymandered legislative districts ensuring a Republican hegemony in the state Gogebic mine rears its disgusting head again.  Last year, thanks to the slimmest of majority margins and that rarest of present day things – an independent-minded lawmaker, Republican state Senator Dale Schultz – the bill was suspended until it could be improved upon, until its environmental safeguards could be ensured, with which compromise doctrinaire conservatives in both the state Senate and Assembly refused to have anything to do.  Should you be interested or bemused in that scribble, you may kindly refer to it here.

So what’s different this time around?  Nothing but stubbornness and a heap of hubris high as the piles of waste rock that will litter the open pit like so many cairns of dumb rubble.  Last year, after the bill stalled, the mining company, Gogebic Taconite (or GTAC), threw a hissy fit conniption and stormed off, saying they would take their business elsewhere.  They didn’t, of course; it was a vane display of whiny and wheezing paper tigers.  After Walker survived his recall in June, and then later in November when Republicans gained more control in the state Senate while resuming their stranglehold* in the Assembly, GTAC managed to get over its temper tantrum and announced it would apply for a permit to mine the Gogebic range in Ashland and Iron Counties.  This sounds matter-of-fact enough, but bear in mind that the current mining bill is nothing more than a rewording of last year’s, which had been essentially written by GTAC itself.  Of course it stuck around; its sole existence is tied to the Gogebic range of Wisconsin.

(* Correction: strangleholds are reserved in the state Supreme Court, care of Justice David Prosser’s office.  I beg your pardon.)

Unlike last year, there is only one public hearing being held on the proposed revision to the state’s mining laws – taking place as I write this, here in Madison, a 5-hour drive away from the parts of the state that would be affected by this mine.  No additional hearings will be held in those counties whose citizens would have the most to gain – or lose – notably the Bad River Tribe of Ojibwa Indians, whose very heritage is at stake.  Instead, if you want to say yeah or nay at the hearing, get in your car or get on a bus and look forward to a 10-hour roundtrip drive to the Capitol in Madison, where you may or may not even have a chance to speak for at best three minutes.  Literally in the middle of the work week, on a Wednesday.  In the cold dead of a Wisconsin winter, where statewide the temperatures have been below zero the last week.  And this itself only announced quietly last Friday afternoon – before a long holiday weekend – less than two working days earlier.  This couldn’t wait until spring?  Having learned absolutely nothing from the last legislative session itself or the public outcry against the earlier version of this bill, the Republican playback has been to double-down and ram this thing through at all cost.  Would that the revision be more a re-vision.

Said Democratic State Representative Janet Bewley, of Ashland, “It is absolutely clear they [Republicans] are not interested in how the people of the North feel unless they agree exactly with what they are doing.  If you have a different opinion you are shut out, or you have to get in your car and drive all the way to Madison and wait in line, and hope that they’ll hear you. I am stunned, myself: I thought I had seen it all.”  Guess again.  And welcome to the new Wisconsin, established November 2010.

The conservative elite like to flat-out dismiss Madison as a bubble or a liberal island out of touch with the rest of the state — “real” Wisconsin, as they would have it.  Leaving aside the prejudice of their agendas and the hollow procedure of public “hearings,” it is reasonable to associate a great deal of testimony as the consensus not of the state, but the citizenry of Dane and surrounding counties who live closer to the Capitol building and can more easily register their praise or plaints.  That and let’s face it: liberals love expressing their opinions and self-alleged expertise (present company excluded, of course).  But it does not follow that therefore all public input during hearings should be taken with a grain of salt or totally discredited as being disproportionately askew.  What it means is public hearings should be held throughout the state, particularly when the topic at hand is rewriting the state’s very mining laws in order to allow one particular company to build the largest mine in the state’s history — indeed, the largest open pit taconite mine in the entire world.  Wisconsin’s a big place, and the infrastructure for public transportation is deplorable.  The fact that Republicans could/ would not even manage to schedule a single public hearing up north where all of the mining would be happening gives them away.  They have the votes to pass this, and it’s what Walker wants.  Period.

And it will pass, to be sure, probably sometime in March.  After that the DNR will have a 420-day review period, which will simply be more perfunctory pantomime, as the agency’s secretary, Cathy Stepp, was appointed by Walker quite specifically.  Once this burlesque formality is over and all is approved — which it will be — that timetable would bring us roughly to May 2014 — just in time for the governor to look good during his re-election.  Tah dah!

It will pass in the State Legislature, be signed by the governor, sail through the do-little yes-men of the DNR, and hop along hale as hell past the kangaroo proceedings of the state Supreme Court.  But the only jobs that will be created are those for lawyers and paralegals, as state Senator Tim Cullen quipped, knowing full well that this law will be directly challenged in federal court and bandied about in limbo for years.  Now, it is a commonplace that Republicans generally don’t like the federal government (that is until or unless their subsidies come rolling down the pork barrel pike), but like GTAC, they’re going to have to learn to get over their shared harrumph that federal law supersedes state law.  Sorry fellas!  And at least the federal government cares about clean water — which the Gogebic Range has a superabundance of, and would, if at risk, be protected under a little old thing called the Clean Water Act — even if our tainted state government doesn’t.  Furthermore, the Army Corps of Engineers has effectively stated that the proposed bill does not pass muster.  Plus there’s this pesky business of the United States Constitution, which lays out rather unequivocally in Section 8 of Article 1 that “Congress shall have the power to regulate Commerce with foreign nations and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.”  Congress. Not the Republican-controlled State Legislature of Wisconsin.  Not Scott Walker.  Not GTAC.  And guess what?  The Bad River Tribe is such a recognized nation.

It never ceases to amaze me that lawmakers can be so thoroughly unaware of actual laws.  Their ignorance is rivaled only by their arrogance.

So maybe that’s why this time around I’m not as incensed as I was last year.  Call it faith.  Or maybe it’s fatigue.  Which isn’t to say that this issue will all play itself out nice and pat without the least protest.  The proposed mine is deadly serious — and seriously deadly (see below).  But I guess I have enough confidence in the utter incompetence of my lawmakers to be led so astray by sheer greed that like any married man in the web-lied bed of his mistress he will by and by be caught.  That reckoning can be one tough son of a bitch.  After all, as linguist Geoffrey Nunberg pointed out, “However people try to redeem it, there’s no sin that’s privately more shameful and unloveable than greed, the vice that the poet Matthew Green called ‘the sphincter of the heart.'”  Because if you can’t even give a shit, which perhaps requires the least effort of anything we can do, then you’re wholly incapable of love.  And what else is greed but another word for lust — which act pretty much presupposes an absence of a sphincter.  Which organ happens also to be missing in the legislative body currently run by Republicans.  There may be a few reputable members, but too few I fear who won’t swallow the sugar-coated poison pill of this bill.  May their tryst be swift and the heartburn hurt like hell.


*          *          *          *          *

For more information pertaining to the actual details of the “revised” bill, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters has issued two releases — this and this — both of which are quite revealing.  Should you be feeling really wonky, the Badger Democracy blog has some consummate nit and grit about the actual mining process itself about which you may educate yourself all you like here.

Also, the good folks at Wisconsin Citizens Media Cooperative have put together a thorough and weighty article (see here) that convincingly analogizes all the hullabaloo of the Gogebic mine to the state’s last mining debacle in the Flambeau River region of Rusk County.  They meticulously track the verbatim PR of job creation and environmental safeguards.  Long live amnesia!

Finally, if you are a fellow futilitarian like myself, here are the email addresses of the main lawmakers to contact in regard to the bill:

As always, thanks for reading and caring.


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27 responses to “Undermining Credibility

  1. Maggie

    January 24, 2013 at 7:17 am

    This bill is not about THIS mine, it’s about mining THIS state…to death. Rally at the capitol 1/26 12N-1:30pm. This fight needs every one of us!

    This woman testified to how much republican lawmakers have received from mining interests:

    • t corcoran bauer

      January 24, 2013 at 11:03 am

      Well, at least this will be fought to death as well, by the tribes in particular — and thank heavens for that! I still think that Whistling Straits should be pillaged and gouged like a mine, and then we’ll see how Republicans feel about mining if their beloved golf courses are subject to devastation. Thanks also for the interesting video. I looked up contributions on the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign website but could not find the same figures that the woman in the video alleges. I’m not outright disputing her claims, I just can’t find the info as readily as she explains one can during her testimony. I welcome any data on this subject. Thanks again Maggie.

    • Alberto

      January 28, 2013 at 10:58 am

      Maggie’s right, check this out:

      “Reason #3: It’s not this mine they really want. Pro-mining legislators let the industry write the legislation and showed no interest whatsoever in the input of tribal officials or the Army Corps of Engineers. That’s curious since mining in the Penokee-Gogebic Range has huge environmental implications for the Bad River watershed, so this project necessarily gets caught up in the messy business of treaty rights and tribal sovereignty. And blowing off the Army Corps only stands to lengthen a review and approval process that business interests and their legislative supporters say they want to shorten. Makes no sense if you actually want this particular iron ore mine to happen. Starts making sense if Penokee-Gogebic is a trojan horse concealing the true motives for shortcircuiting the state permitting process and rewriting Wisconsin’s environmental protection laws. All this legislative maneuvering for a project that has all the makings of a lost cause serves a purpose if what you are really trying to do is lay the groundwork for another form of mining that is even more environmentally sensitive than iron ore mining or some other kind of politically explosive land use that would best not be publicly acknowledged until after ground has been broken . . . nowhere near any reservation, of course, so as to avoid countless trips to federal court.”

  2. Jean

    January 24, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I’m curious, who exactly did David Prosser strangle?

    • t corcoran bauer

      January 24, 2013 at 11:31 am

      None other than his esteemed colleague, Justice Ann Walsh Bradley. Unless of course you accept Prosser’s version of the story, which was that she came lunging towards him and his only defense was to wrap his hands around her throat. Maybe there’s such a move in jujitsu, but I wouldn’t know.

    • ktz

      January 24, 2013 at 9:55 pm

      Weird, I thought this post was about mining.

  3. Tomas

    January 24, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Very thorough and informative.

  4. Jean

    January 24, 2013 at 11:57 am

    It’s not Prosser’s version I have to accept, it’s the truth I have to accept, and you sir, have told a lie.

    Undermining Credibility indeed.

    • t corcoran bauer

      January 24, 2013 at 2:07 pm

      Kind Jean,

      If I had a clone I would gladly delegate him the task of thoroughly perusing your two links, the first of which alone is almost 6,000 words long! I skimmed Ann Althouse’s in(s)anely long minutia and remain skeptical. As might you. As would anyone who also admires Rush Limbaugh (as is the case for Althouse). I don’t think the public will ever truly know what on earth happened between Prosser and Bradley. Both of them have been rather taciturn. Do I think Justice Bradley is some angel done wrong by the likes of some jerk named David Prosser? No. But I find it stupidly ludicrous to say that innocent of anger management issues is the man who referred to his own colleague, the esteemed Chief Justice of the state Supreme Court, Shirley Abrahamson, as “a total bitch” whom he wished to quote destroy unquote — his words, not mine — and didn’t even have the decency or decorum to apologize for that calumny, but go on the defensive of his offensive remark and justify it on the grounds that he had been bullied and abused by her. Seriously? By Shirley Abrahamson, an 80-year-old Jewish grandmother who is what, like 5′ tall? You simply have got to be kidding me. Whatever Justice Prosser’s personal issues with women may or may not be, the man has a history of being a hothead. You yourself would do well to watch undermining your own credibility.

      By the way, I appreciate all the time and attention we have not been paying to the real story, that being the Gogebic mine. I hope you and your truth are happy.

  5. Jean

    January 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    The real story is you told a lie to make a bad joke about a subject that has nothing to do with your in(s)anely long post. So if you would lie about that, (and especially go out of your way to do so) any reasonable person would conclude that the rest of your post would not be totally honest, and it isn’t.

    You accuse those in your post of being greedy liars to get their way. You have shown you are no different.

    • sara

      January 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      I thought the joke was pretty funny actually. The guy’s a total misogynist. Can’t stand women in authority. He’s also not married, yet he’s like in his 70s. Rumor is he and Gableman are closeted, self-loathing fags. Just look at the guy! He looks like a pissed off Kermit the Frog. Totally gay. Thats what happens to these Republicans who belong to a party that hates them. Davey boy, just go down the street to Plan B and chill with your peeps,

    • t corcoran bauer

      January 25, 2013 at 12:48 am

      Dearest Jean,

      At the risk of giving off the impression that I fancy having the last word, I find your tirade boring and tiring, and this will be my final response. Should you yourself so desire to wedge in your own last two cents, do so knowing that you may by all means, but the office will be closed. I’m sorry you found my joke bad. But I hardly think it fair or accurate to call my own essay “in(s)anely long,” as there was nothing redundant or silly about it. As for lying, I can only envy your pedestal of privilege which is absolute truth, as you seem to have privileged knowledge of what happened behind the chamber doors of the Supreme Court. Do write a tell-all exposé, won’t you? Best of luck to you on that and all your heckling endeavors.


      PS: A one-sentence parenthetical remark in no way constitutes going “out of my way” to do something. It’s what comedians call a joke, a one-liner. Not unlike the quote unquote truth, you and I apparently have different ideas about what is funny. Such is our divine comedy.

  6. snagblat

    January 25, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    The movement to demand responsible, clean mining is growing. It is something many can get behind despite differences in other political areas (maybe even those involving angry supreme court judges). Imagine it…jobs and we get to live, too!
    Check out the Idle No More movement of the indigenous peoples of canada who have received great support from people fighting the same battles inSouth America. The rally this Saturday is in solidarity with Idle No More. Kudos on a great piece.

  7. Maggie

    January 25, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    ..and yes Jean, sadly to people like you, that is the real story

  8. Jean

    January 26, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks for allowing me the last word. You said your blog was not redundant or silly, but you also wrote the same thing a year ago! You yourself said nothing has changed. What has changed the people of Wisconsin say this something they would like, and voted so. The environment of both Minnesota and Michigan has not been devastated with simaliar mines, and it won’t be here.

    I also take that since you let it rot on here for for 2 days without saying a word, that it is acceptable in your mind to call people you don’t agree with “self loathing fags” and accuse people of being gay, even if there is no proof or reason. Would it be a big deal even if there was? I guess there is something wrong with being gay around here.

    It’s not the first time it has happened on your blog either. Even though she is married with children, you accused Liz Cheny of being a “self loathing lesbian.” You’ll say your support of Tammy Baldwin and cite other examples that prove you are not a homophobe, but you agree with her politics, making one of you a useful idiot. I’m sure you know which one of you is.

    • Maggie

      January 26, 2013 at 7:50 pm

      Self loathing gay person would have been more appropriate. While this is speculative, it is a story, should one choose to pursue it and I think a better one than what you submitted was the real story. All of this is distraction, however, from the real issue. If you are interested in some facts about this and other mines, I suggest checking out the Sierra Club. They are a pretty mainstream group.

    • t corcoran bauer

      January 27, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      Endearing Jean,
      Here goes total futility, as whatever substantive comeback I offer will be dismissed in some twisted way, causing me (and probably others) to waste even more time responding to you. But maybe this is your raison d’etre…

      * I did not write the same thing a year ago. Last year’s piece was about the tribe. This time around the focus is more about the process and the callous disregard the state Republican party has for hearing what the public has to say about this. Perhaps if you weren’t so bizarrely preoccupied with the “he said, she said” Prosser shit, you might have noticed that.

      * In what state of mind did “the people of Wisconsin say this [is] something they would like”? Was there a referendum I missed about the mine? Your logic is weak, my friend. By the same token “the people of Wisconsin” would want gay marriage and the Affordable Care Act, they would want moderate gun control, since we overwhelmingly re-elected President Obama; and if there is one thin thing you and I are likely to agree on, it’s not that Wisconsin wants gay marriage or gun control — though we should. Nobody understands what’s in the mining bill, and that’s the problem.

      * Now let me thank you for being a hero on behalf on the gay community. Even if it means restricting someone’s free speech (in this case, Sara). It seems that you are literalizing by not taking into consideration the wonderful world of Context. I don’t know anything about you, right? You could be a woman (Jean pronounced “Geen”) or a man (like the French “Zhan”). You could be gay or straight or whatever; white, black, red, yellow, brown, etc. I find no reason to get worked up over the expression “self-loathing fags,” because the way I read it was in the context of someone who is gay or is a savvy ally. A lot of gay men call one another fags or faggots pretty regularly, in no way a whole lot different than Black men calling one another “niggers.” While we’re at it, I hear plenty of women drop the c-word. Have you never heard the term “fag hag”? To imply that this is somehow homophobic would be utterly ironic. Should I editorialize any of this because a hyperactive yet totally tone deaf alarm goes off in the PC police department? No. You’re welcome to call it rot; I disagree.

      * Lastly, while I am equally surprised and impressed that you would be familiar with my Liz Cheney mistake. Yes, I made a clumsy mistake by referring to the wrong daughter; it’s MARY Cheney who is gay and supports her father’s homophobia and the active discrimination of the Republican Party. Duly corrected.

      As for anything you wrote, it ain’t worth wasting whatever’s left. Au revoir whoever the hell you are!

    • Cygnet lover

      January 28, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      Get your facts straight Jean. See this:

      No spin, no partisan angles, just straight up questions and answers.

      Also, I really take issue when you so casually refer to Michigan and Minnesota as not being devastated by similar mines. Do you really know what you’re talking about? I wonder. Are you a mining expert? An engineer? I’m a volunteer at the Wisconsin Wetlands Association, and I can tell you specifically how detrimental mines can be to wetlands. You mention Minnesota. Care to guess how much of that state’s wetlands are gone? Half. What’s particularly notable about Minnesota is that only after Florida does it have the most wetland acreage in the lower 48 states. Here in Wisconsin we have seen our wetlands reduced from roughly 10 million acres to 5 million — so also the same loss of habitat as our neighbor to the northwest but in a smaller state with less total wetland acreage.
      Michigan has lost even more of its wetlands, about 75 percent.,4570,7-153-10370_22664-61132–,00.html

      What do wetlands do? They provide flood control, wildlife habitat, protection of subsurface water resources and recharging groundwater supplies, pollution treatment, erosion control, nursery grounds and sanctuaries for fish. I can go on. Can you?

      In addition, maybe because you got all hot and heavy over the Prosser stuff, you missed the part in the blog about the Gogebic mine being the largest open-pit mine in the entire world, bigger than what China or Chile have done. So don’t you dare tell me that this mine would have no devastating effects. You’re truly clueless if that’s what you think.

      • Jake Kraks

        January 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm

        This is awesome! So I wanna piggyback on something Cygnet lover said. This mining bill allows the GTAC what’s called “mitigation.” Jean you may want to listen up here. What this means is a company could ruin the surrounding environment of its mine as long as it creates a new wetland somewhere else in the state. This just doesn’t work. You can’t just create a new wetland habitat, just like you can’t create a new city out of scratch. Why would there be a mitigation clause unless the mine was going to do irreparable harm to the watershed? So what will happen to the Bad River tribe if there the groundwater is polluted? Will the Republicans relocate them down to Waukesha or Ozaukee Counties? You gonna tell me that wouldn’t be devastating?

  9. Jean

    January 26, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Outting them as gay is a real story? Are they not allowed a private life? Has there ever been any evidence they are gay other than they are unmarried? And if they are gay, is that a bad thing? Is it wrong? How would you know they are self loathing if they are? What about Herb Kohl? Is he self loathing? It’s been rumored for years he is gay. Would it be acceptable to out him against his wishes? Is that a real story? Or, since he may agree with you, you have allowed him his privacy, and do not harass him? Is it right to call them fags? You didn’t denounce it. But most of all, if they arn’t hurting anyone, who cares what they do in their private life?

    I pointed out a lie the blog master told about something that had nothing to do with the issue he was talking about, to show that if he would perpetuate that lie, why would he not perpetuate others? And he is, and has, in this post and others. Check the Ron Johnson post he just made if you need more proof.

    Here is your Sierra Club, dishonest and mainstream:

    • sara

      January 27, 2013 at 6:51 pm

      OMG! Jean youre a total cunt. Of course Kohl is gay. Duh.

  10. Maggie

    January 26, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    The IER’s President was formerly Director of Public Relations Policy at Enron

  11. Jean

    January 26, 2013 at 11:23 pm

    So? Was he ever on trial? Did he spend any time in jail? Did he even do anything wrong? Or is he guilty by association like you all claim David Prosser is? Weak

  12. Maggie

    January 26, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    The IER’s President was formerly Director of Public Relations Policy at Enron

  13. Jean

    January 27, 2013 at 10:11 am

    Ahhh…so it is guilt by association, I hope you don’t have any children.

  14. Maggie

    January 27, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Undermining Credibility


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