Tell Tammy Baldwin to protect Wisconsin’s only national forest

Wisconsin’s only national forest, the Chequamegon-Nicolet, is under attack. Aquila Resources, the same company behind the Back Forty mine on the Menominee River, has been granted a Metallic Mineral Exploration License by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

The company wants to mine the Medford-Bend Copper/Gold Deposit in the the Chequamegon-NicoletNational Forest in Taylor County. This area is a Wisconsin natural treasure, featuring the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Even worse, the U.S. Forest Service is conducting a hydrogeology survey of the North Fork Yellow River watershed near the Bend ore deposit in Taylor County. The hydrogeology survey will be completed by May 1, 2021, with mine exploration drilling as early as June — laying the foundation for open-pit metallic sulfide mining in Wisconsin’s only national forest.

We can’t let that happen — and there is a path to stopping it on the federal level.

H.R. 803, Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, is currently being considered in Congress, where it has passed the House and is in Senate committee. While in the House, the bill was amended several times to protect national treasures in other states. Members of Congress from Colorado, California, Washington, Oregon, Arizona, Virginia, and North Carolina all appended legislation to H.R. 803 that expressly protects their national forests, national heritage sites, scenic rivers, watersheds, and more from mining interests.

Wisconsin’s Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest should be on that list. Please ask Sen. Tammy Baldwin to introduce an amendment to H.R. 803, Protecting America’s Wilderness and Public Lands Act, that would protect the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest from mining.

The metallic sulfide mining being explored in Taylor County presents a clear and present danger to the ecosystems of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Toxic mine waste would be stored behind a “tailings dam” structure that has failed around the world – with disastrous results. A tailings dam collapse in Brazil was one of the most deadly environmental disasters in that country’s history, killing 270 people and poisoning the Paraopeba River for almost 200 miles.

We can’t let that happen here. Please tell Sen. Tammy Baldwin to protect Wisconsin’s only national forest from metallic sulfide mining. Our national treasures deserve just as much protection as those in other states.


Help us stop the latest attempt to mine near the Menominee River

In 2002, minerals tycoon Tom Quigley drilled test holes just across the Menominee River in Lake Township, Menominee County, Michigan. His discovery of traces of zinc and copper led to the formation of Aquila Resources, which ever since has been trying to construct the open pit Back Forty metallic sulfide mine.

So far, unrelenting public opposition has helped to prevent the Back Forty from getting the permits needed for construction. But that hasn’t stopped Quigley or Aquila.

Now Quigley, doing business as Great Lakes Exploration Inc., has applied for mineral leases on 1,640 acres of public land in Holmes Township, Menominee County, just north of where the Back Forty was slated to operate.

Wisconsinites need to tell the Michigan Department of Natural Resources we oppose these mineral leases. We live just across the Menominee Rover from where this new mining would take place. Our water is at stake.

Metallic sulfide mining poses a clear and present danger to the waters of the Menominee River. Toxic mine waste would be stored next to the river behind a “tailings dam” structure that has failed around the world – with disastrous results.

tailings dam collapse in Brazil was one of the most deadly environmental disasters in that country’s history, killing 270 people and poisoning the Paraopeba River for almost 200 miles. We can’t let that happen here.

Here’s how you can oppose the latest Quigley mining project:

> CALL the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Mineral Leasing Division at 517-284-5850

> WRITE to the Michigan DNR, Minerals Management Section, P.O. Box 30452, Lansing, Michigan 48909

> EMAIL Ken Babcock at

Here are talking points:

1 – You oppose the application by Great Lakes Exploration Inc. to lease 1,640 acres of public land in Holmes Township, Menominee County, Michigan, for mineral rights.

2 – Those 1,640 acres of state land belong to the taxpayers of Michigan for camping, hiking, snowmobiling, and simply enjoying the peace and tranquility of the outdoors.

2 – You request a public hearing on the matter.

If the Michigan DNR doesn’t hear public opposition to this lease, they are likely to grant Quigley’s application. So call, write and/or email them today!

The deadline for receiving comments is Sunday, April 25, 2021.

Featured image: Menominee River Heart Art by Dave Parrett


Why Do Self-Styled Fiscal Conservatives Sign So Many Blank Checks?

Wisconsin’s legislature is run by drunken sailors.

The Republicans who currently control both the state senate and assembly market themselves as stingy with a buck. They insist they are all about fiscal responsibility and budgetary discipline. Their party’s actions don’t match those claims.

At the federal level, Republicans have been far from the deficit hawks they profess to be. A fondness for cutting taxes for corporations and wealthy individuals coupled with a lack of spending restraint regularly makes deficits balloon during Republican administrations.

The federal deficit doubled on Ronald Reagan’s watch. It was less than $79 billion at the beginning of Reagan’s presidency and more than $152 billion at the end of it. The deficit nearly doubled again with Republican George H.W. Bush in the White House, mushrooming to more than $290 billion the year before he left office. Spending exceeded revenues by $255 billion in the final year of his term. Democrat Bill Clinton managed to eliminate the deficit and by the time his presidency ended there was a $128 billion budget surplus.

Republican George W. Bush started his presidency with that surplus, but there was an ocean of red ink by the time he left office in 2009—a budget deficit of $1.4 trillion. Democrat Barack Obama cut the deficit by more than half during his eight years as president, leaving office with the annual deficit whittled down to $585 billion. His successor, Republican Donald Trump, departed after four years with federal spending outpacing revenues by $3.3 trillion, a deficit more than five times larger than it was when he first took office.

Unlike the U.S. Constitution, which allows federal budget deficits or surpluses, Wisconsin’s constitution requires state budgets to be balanced. Fiscal recklessness takes a different form at the state level. It’s the number of blank checks that get written.

In budget-speak they are called “sum sufficient appropriations.” Unlike “sum certain appropriations,” which are fixed, sum sufficient ones are estimates of what will be spent but are not binding. Whatever the cost ends up being, the bills get paid. The check is effectively signed when the budget is passed, the amount gets filled in later.

There are 200 sum sufficient appropriations in the state budget. A few sprinkled throughout the budget are for repayment of state debt. Other blank checks written in the budget are for the cost of operating the legislature, the governor’s office and the courts. That’s right, the legislature doesn’t make itself stick to a budget like any household has to. Then there are the so-called “entitlement” programs. Their cost varies depending on how many people qualify for public assistance. Republicans disparage entitlements, but then authorize dozens of sum sufficient appropriations for them when they craft the state budget.

Among their favorite entitlements are private school vouchers. It’s a well-kept secret that there is a sum sufficient budget appropriation to use public funds to subsidize private schooling. Wisconsin’s voucher program has been around for 30 years and has never boosted student achievement the way supporters promised it would. Students using vouchers to attend private schools do no better than their peers in public schools, and by some measures actually do worse.

But those in charge of the state senate and assembly quietly keep signing blank checks for more vouchers. No matter how many of these subsidies are handed out, sufficient funding is guaranteed even if what Wisconsin taxpayers get for their money is neither sufficient nor guaranteed.

Mike McCabe

April 8, 2021


Indigenous-Led Resistance to Extraction Industries: Sustainable Saturday Night – Links and Resources

More than 100 people attended Indigenous-Led Resistance to Extraction Industries: Sustainable Saturday Night, focusing on resistance to Enbridge’s Line 3 and Line 5, carrying tar sands oil from Canada to and through Wisconsin, and Aquila Resources’ Back Forty metallic sulfide mine next to the Menominee River.

Organized by the Green Bay / Wolf River Chapter of Our Wisconsin Revolution and co-sponsored by Building Unity, the event took place Saturday, November 21, at 7 p.m. If you missed it, you can check out our Facebook page to find the full livestream event.

Speakers included:

  • Singer-songwriter Larry Long, who discussed his project to record an original song about Line 3
  • Kristin Welch (Menominee), executive director of Waking Women Healing Institute, on the connection between missing and murdered indigenous women to fossil fuel resource extraction
  • Paul DeMain (Oneida & Anishinaabe), board chair for Honor the Earth, on Line 3 and divestment
  • Al Gedicks, executive secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council, on the Back 40 Mine and social license to operate
  • Patricia Hammel, attorney and activist, on legal aspects of Line 3 and Line 5
  • Rev. Jonathan Barker, Jill Ferguson and Joe Cardinali from the Wisconsin 7, who just completed a 22-day fast for climate justice

The event was introduced by Tim Cordon, social justice coordinator at First Unitarian Society in Madison, and moderated by Justice Peche (Oneida), OWR board member and Green Bay chapter leader, who recently returned from a Line 3 resistance camp.

Here are the links, information, and action alerts that we shared for each speaker during the town hall:

Action alerts

Here are the action alerts that we shared throughout this event. We hope you will follow them and take as many of these actions as you can:

Take an action to #DefundLine3:

  • Donate, join, or follow the front lines
  • Call or email the banks funding Line 3
  • Send #DefundLine3 postcards to bank executives
  • Jam the calendars of bank executives

On-ramps for the movement to stop Line 3:

Join the National Day of Awareness to Commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls – May 5th

Tell President Biden to Stop Line 3

Oppose the Back Forty mine tailings dam on the Menominee River

Tell the Michigan Public Service Commission to take climate into account on Line 5

Sign the Call for a Just Wisconsin Budget

Justice Peche (Oneida), OWR Board member

Find out more about Line 3:

Why defunding Line 3 is a matter of climate justice

Learn more about indigenous-led resistance to Line 3:

Learn more about the indigenous-led fight to stop Line 3:

Sign the Pledge of Resistance to get updates and calls to action:

Larry Long, singer-songwriter

Video: “George Floyd (Say His Name)”

Video: “Living in a Rich Man’s World”

Here is more about “No More Pipeline Blues (On This Land Where We Belong)”

Learn more about Larry Long:

Like Larry Long on Facebook:

Kristin Welch, founder and executive director of Waking Women Healing Institute

Learn about the Waking Women Healing Institute

MMIW: Understanding the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Crisis

Sign up for the Waking Women Healing Institute’s newsletter

Like the Waking Women Healing Institute on Facebook:

Learn about Savanna’s Act and the Not Invisible Act

Paul DeMain (Oneida and Anishinaabe), board chair for Honor the Earth

Learn more about Honor the Earth:

Honor the Earth’s Stop Line 3 campaign:

Sign up for Honor the Earth’s mailing list:

Like Honor the Earth on Facebook:

Follow Honor the Earth on Twitter:

Learn more about Paul DeMain’s background as a journalist:

Save this to watch later: Ojibwe elder Joe Rose talks with Paul DeMain about battles past and provides a traditional context to today’s debates

Reflecting on News from Indian Country with Paul DeMain

Al Gedicks, executive secretary of the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council

Presentation Slides: Back Forty Mine (pdf)

Learn about the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council

Learn more about the Back Forty mine and the social license to operate

Learn more about Menominee resistance to the Back Forty mine:

Like the Wisconsin Resources Protection Council on Facebook:

Patricia (P.K.) Hammel, lawyer and organizer on mining and pipeline issues

Presentation Slides: Regulation of Mines and Pipelines (pdf)

Interactive Line 3 map:

Wisconsin DNR page on Line 5

Line 5 Relocation map

Mashkiiziibii Natural Resources Department’s Line 5 brochure

Wisconsin 7 – Rev. Jonathan Barker, Joe Cardinali, Jill Ferguson

Learn more about the Wisconsin 7 and why they went on a fast for climate justice

Here’s new coverage about the Wisconsin 7’s 22-day fast for climate justice

Read Rev. Jonathan Barker’s book, Jesus Would Demand a Green New Deal

Read the Call for a Just Wisconsin Budget

Support the Wisconsin 7’s T-shirt drive:


Janesville Gazette Guest Column – March 18, 2021


Taxing Stupidity

Congress acted, approving the president’s mammoth Covid relief package, floating a gigantic lifeboat for millions of pandemic-weary Americans. Room was made for folks from Wisconsin in the lifeboat if state lawmakers don’t give away our reserved seats.

A prime example is the money being made available to states to get health insurance coverage for more of their residents. If Wisconsin has the good sense to just say yes, we can get more than $1.6 billion in federal funds to expand our BadgerCare program and get health insurance for nearly 91,000 more people in our state. The money is there for the taking.

Problem is, up to now legislative leaders in Wisconsin have been insistent on refusing to accept federal money for BadgerCare expansion. Wisconsin is one of only 12 states that haven’t taken federal funds to expand eligibility for Medicaid—known here as BadgerCare—as allowed under the federal Affordable Care Act. The governor included the federal funds for health insurance in his proposed state budget. The Republican state assembly speaker called that proposal a “non-starter.” GOP leaders are calling the idea a “liberal’s dream” and a “liberal wish list.” It’s not just liberals who dream of more people getting insurance coverage with the federal government picking up the tab. More than two-thirds of state residents favor expansion of BadgerCare. This is something that’s on Wisconsin’s wish list.

Because Wisconsin has been refusing to take available federal money that would fund expansion of our BadgerCare program, Wisconsin taxpayers end up paying more in state taxes to insure fewer people. That’s just plain nuts.

If we take the money, more people get health care, taxpayers here in our state pay less of the cost of BadgerCare, and the overall state budget outlook improves. This is a no-brainer. Only thing standing in the way is brainless politics. Petty partisan politics.

If petty partisanship prevails, people here in Wisconsin will end up paying what amounts to a $1.6 billion tax on stupidity. We’ll all pay for the foolishness of the party that’s currently calling the shots in both houses of our state legislature. Available federal funds that could greatly benefit our state will instead be routed to other states to help their people. Wisconsin taxpayers will pay more in state taxes to get fewer people health insurance coverage. And it’s not like any of us here in Wisconsin are going to get a break on our federal taxes because our state turns down its share of federal funding. All that’s going to happen is that other states are going to get richer and Wisconsin is going to get poorer.

State budget hearings are being held next month. State lawmakers need to hear a simple message loud and clear: Take the money! Expand BadgerCare!

Mike McCabe

March 16, 2021


Election Integrity in Green Bay

What do you call it when a hearing is held to investigate possible wrongdoing, but only the people who allege wrongdoing are called as witnesses, and the only “evidence” they provide is opinion and innuendo?

That’s called a sham hearing. And that’s exactly what the Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly held to look into allegations of election fraud in Green Bay.

Republicans are accusing Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich of turning over the election to a private corporation because the city, along with 100 others in Wisconsin, received a grant to help cover the costs of administering a record-breaking presidential election during a pandemic.

This grant went to pay for things like protective equipment, sanitizer, and hazard pay for poll workers. Federal judges have ruled such grants are appropriate — especially when elections officials are not receiving that support from their own state.

Yet the Republicans have insinuated the Green Bay election was somehow fixed — even though federal and state courts have dismissed lawsuits by the former Trump administration that sought to invalidate thousands of Wisconsin votes.

None of those facts mattered to the Assembly Republicans who held this sham hearing — and heard only from other Republicans who wanted to perpetuate these sham allegations. Neither Mayor Genrich, nor any of his aides, nor any elections officials in Brown County were invited to testify or even informed of the hearing.

We think such politics needs to be called out for what they are: a sham. If you agree, you can do one or both of the following:

  1. Sign this open letter of support for Green Bay’s election process spearheaded by faculty at UW-Green Bay
  2. If you are a Green Bay voter, urge city council to stand up for free and fair elections

If you want to see more, the city of Green Bay has posted all documents pertaining to the 2020 election on its website.

If this sham hearing had produced a specific allegation regarding election integrity, we might see the need for an investigation. It didn’t. Its main purpose was to act as a smear campaign because some people didn’t like the outcome. That’s not how any of this is supposed to work.

— Cathy Cowan Becker, Northeast Regional Organizer

March 15, 2021


Thrown Overboard

So Congress has acted, approving the president’s massive Covid relief package. Help is on the way—in a dizzying array of different forms—for millions of Americans. But not for some who need help the most.

A long overdue pay raise for low-wage workers became a casualty of congressional deal making. It’s hard to imagine anyone more deserving of help than frontline workers paid at or near the minimum wage. The work they do can’t be done from the safety of their homes. They may be invisible to those in power, but they are not hard to spot. They are serving customers, stocking shelves, cleaning public restrooms, caring for the elderly and the disabled, putting their health at risk to keep businesses and public services going during the pandemic…they are the very definition of essential workers.

It’s been a dozen years since the federal minimum wage was last increased. The U.S. has never gone longer without raising the federal wage floor in the eight-decade-old law’s history. Those working for the minimum wage today are living below the poverty line.

When the Covid relief bill was passed by the House, it included a series of gradual increases in the minimum wage over five years to eventually bring it to $15 an hour by 2025. Congress was using a process called budget reconciliation to act on the bill, and when the House-passed bill went to the Senate, the Senate parliamentarian ruled that increasing the minimum wage was not budget related and not relevant to pandemic relief.

It is absurdly anti-democratic that the parliamentarian, a Senate staffer elected by no one, can singlehandedly prevent a wage increase for 32 million workers. And it’s pathetic that so many elected representatives of the people were willing to surrender their authority, abdicate responsibility and allow the staffer to do that.

Increasing the minimum wage would unquestionably increase payroll tax collections. And by boosting millions of workers out of poverty, they would no longer need public assistance, saving taxpayers billions of dollars. It’s preposterous to rule that raising the wage floor does not have budgetary implications and shouldn’t be included in a budget reconciliation measure dealing with Covid relief when low-wage workers have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic. But that’s what the parliamentarian ruled, despite the fact that opening the arctic to oil drilling was previously allowed under budget reconciliation. So was eliminating penalties under the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate.

When moments of truth arrive, priorities are revealed. When there’s only so much room in the lifeboat, it’s been low-wage workers who get thrown overboard. The federal minimum wage law is more than 80 years old. In the entire history of the law, only two presidents have failed to sign into law an increase in the wage floor during their time in office. Obama and Trump. And Obama was in office twice as long as Trump. What happened with the Covid relief bill is a continuation of what’s been going on for quite some time. Only so much room in the lifeboat. Something has to go. Increasing the minimum wage got sacrificed. Again.

Mike McCabe

March 11, 2021


La Crosse Endorsed Candidates – Spring 2021

The Our Wisconsin Revolution – La Crosse Chapter is pleased to announce our endorsements for the spring election on April 6, 2021.

The following candidates have earned our endorsement based on their alignment with our values and local platform and their willingness to engage with our members in an ongoing dialog about the issues impacting La Crosse. These candidates prioritize equity and inclusion and are committed to uplifting our most marginalized neighbors with progressive policy solutions.

La Crosse Mayor
Mitch Reynolds


La Crosse City Council – District 7
Mac Kiel


La Crosse City Council – District 8
Mackenzie Mindel


La Crosse City Council – District 9


La Crosse City Council – District 10
Rebecca Schwarz


La Crosse City Council – District 11
Jennifer Trost


La Crosse City Council – District 12
Keonte Turner


La Crosse School Board
Annie Baumann


Be sure to visit for election information, voting dates and locations, and important dates and deadlines for voter registration and absentee ballot requests.


If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit

Imagine if shoes came in only two sizes. Most people would have unhealthy relationships with their footwear. Many would go barefoot. There almost certainly would be a national shortage of podiatrists.

Thankfully, our shoes aren’t like that. But our politics are. America has at least four distinct and incompatible factions shoehorned into two political parties. Leaving a whole lot of people feeling unrepresented and trapped in an unhealthy relationship with their own society, and leaving the parties increasingly fractured and on the verge of disintegration.

Our country has its Old Money faction. These Americans are economically privileged, socially conservative and politically elitist. They’ve had it good and want to keep it that way. They are open to some social change, but not too much and not too fast. They see democracy as mob rule and want political power kept in the hands of ruling elites.

America also has a New Money faction that is economically comfortable, socially liberal and politically bureaucratic. Members of this faction value fairness and are troubled by inequality, but their affluence makes them prone to prioritizing social causes over economic justice. As for governing, they favor cautious incrementalism. They believe in democratic institutions and are sticklers for process.

Then there is an Old World faction that is economically vulnerable, socially nostalgic and politically authoritarian. Its members used to be comfortably middle class but aren’t anymore. They want to turn back the clock and return to what they consider the good old days. They are profoundly distrustful of governing elites but also drawn to powerful authority figures.

Finally, there is a New World faction made up of the economically exploited, socially countercultural and politically rebellious. They feel left out and held down, and want dramatic economic and social change. They challenge authority and want political power broadly shared.

All four factions are sizeable. The Old and New World factions are populist, the Old and New Money factions are establishment. While the two populist factions share many of the same economic grievances, one is authoritarian and the other anti-authoritarian, and they have irreconcilable differences on social issues. The two establishment factions are both economically advantaged but likewise have clashing socio-political values.

More or less aligned social views have the Old Money and Old World factions struggling to overcome vast economic differences and uncomfortably co-existing within the Republican Party while the New Money and New World factions are awkwardly sharing the Democratic Party. Looking at it through this lens, you can see why Donald Trump has such a grip on the Republican Party. Trump straddles two factions. He embodies Old Money while his nativist and autocratic populism appeals greatly to Old Worlders. But his embrace of white nationalism and the ongoing threat he poses to the GOP’s hierarchy alarms the Old Money faction and is splitting the party apart. You also can see why tensions are so high on the Democratic side and why establishment Democrats have gone to great lengths to marginalize insurgents like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Each of America’s four factions is different enough and large enough to be a party in its own right. Given current conditions, our country probably should have four major parties, not two. But we have a political set-up that rigorously enforces a two-party arrangement, which forces unnatural alliances that have an awful lot of people walking around in some mighty ill-fitting shoes.

Mike McCabe

February 25, 2021