Friday, June 22, 2012

Joy Rides a Bike

Summer is underway, and so is Joy:

Joy on a two-wheel bike with training wheels

She can go all the way up and down the long flat block you see here, with minimal assistance.  She was SO ready for a training-wheels bike -- and I'm glad, because it turns out that the 20-inch bike that fits her size is as large as the standard-size training wheels go.

Joy fought the helmet at first, and I was afraid we were going to have to spend half the summer doing a long, slow process of getting accustomed to the helmet (first we'll wear it for a count of five, then move on to a count of ten, etc.)  But the very first time we did helmet-practice on the couch with a little reward attached -- "first helmet, then candy" -- she blew past the count and wore it for several minutes with little protest.  So we took our little rewards to the street, and off she went.

Yes, I think summer is off to a pretty good start for Joy.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Vote Barrett for Wisconsin Governor, June 5

I haven't written much about Wisconsin politics here lately.  For one thing, the legislative session is over for the year, so there haven't been any new laws in the pipeline to promote or resist.

But next week is a big one here in Wisconsin.  On Tuesday June 5, voters will head to the polling places to determine whether Scott Walker gets to finish his term as governor, or whether Tom Barrett will step in to finish the term and try to begin to repair some of the damage that the Walker administration has wreaked on this state since January 2011.

Faithful readers may remember my spree of outraged, astonished posts in February 2011, as Governor Walker "dropped the bomb" (his own words) on Wisconsin -- blindsiding the state with an unnecessary "budget repair bill" carrying immense, devastating policy consequences for Wisconsin Medicaid, collective bargaining, and more.  If the protests hadn't happened, and 14 state senators hadn't chosen to work from Illinois for a couple of weeks, that bill would have become law within a single week's time, with most of the public not even knowing what was in it, let alone having the chance to weigh in.  Inaccessibility, autocracy, secrecy and flat-out lies have continued to be hallmarks of the Walker administration.

Here, by contrast, is Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett as he started his campaign a month ago -- reaching out to the "Stand With Walker" counter-protesters who showed up at one of his events:

Communication and listening and reaching out to ALL the people is so basic, and it's been so badly missing this past year and a half in Wisconsin.  But what's at stake goes well beyond that.

Walker's Wisconsin represents a future that the wealthiest of the far-right have been coordinating and working toward in America for decades now.  I didn't understand it until the events of last February opened my eyes.  But it is real, it is dire, and it has been in process of happening for years now in this country.  The end-game is plutocracy -- government by the wealthy, for the wealthy.

That's what the ginned-up anger about taxes is about -- so the wealthiest and their corporations can continue to pay less and less toward the common good.

That's what the privatization movement is about -- private prisons, private schools, private all-sorts-of-things that have traditionally been public enterprises but are in the process of claiming more and more tax dollars to the profiteering benefit of the few.

That's what demonizing unions is about -- the last coordinated voices on behalf of workers, who have already seen wages stagnate over the past few decades, falling further and further behind the rising cost of living, while CEO pay rises into the stratosphere and the wealthiest of the wealthy hoover up the lion's share of the past decades' economic gains.

That's why money has been defined as free-speech -- for the purposes of buying electoral majorities in both the courts and the legislatures, so that the plutocratic policies can pass with unstoppable margins.  (Witness the astonishing flow of big-donor dollars, 70% from out of state, to the Walker coffers.)

By the money-is-speech definition, disability issues tend to be pretty darn silent as well.  I've written before about the ALEC threats to insurance mandates, the devastating and irresponsible cap on Wisconsin's Family Care program (which the federal government subsequently forced the state to lift), the (so-far unsuccessful) attempts to privatize special education in Wisconsin.  The disability lobby is not a wealthy one.  We've got people-power -- but not money-power.

Wisconsin's issues are a microcosm of a nationwide takeover.  I've come to believe that plutocracy is THE central issue of the upcoming national elections this November.

We need to push back whenever and wherever we can.

And in Wisconsin, on Tuesday, we can speak via the ballot box against Wisconsin's Walker big-money juggernaut by voting Tom Barrett for governor on June 5.