At the Sawyer County Democrats/LCO peace picnic yesterday, there was clear consensus that Paul DeMain is the man to replace Sean Duffy in the next election. As promised, here is the text of my speech at that event.
I too, had a dream. I immigrated from the flatlands to the North Country to make a life where the water ran clear, to live my life closer to the earth. After a few years around Hayward, I made my home on the shores of Gitchegami, at the headwaters of the Sioux. I raised three children on wild meat, fish, rice, fresh vegetables from the garden, hunted four generations of fine stetters in the Penokees, where my children developed strong legs to carry them into the future. In the springtime, the sound of drumming grouse filled the hills as if we were surrounded by elderly tractors. Brook trout rose in fine clear streams. For my family, the Penokees were the place dreams were born.
That was then, and this is now. My grandchildren, my fine setter, are difficult to keep up with. Democracy, and the need to keep Wisconsin clean, pristine, are in peril. The last time I took my wife for a walk in the Penokees, three men met us with machine guns, one of them silenced; why? As we took their pictures, one of the camo-clad guys caressed his trigger with a gloved finger. Why? This aggression will not stand, man!
Criminals, racketeers have taken over the reins of Wisconsin politics, selling legislation like a product, letting the highest bidder write new laws to legalize blowing up the hills, mining bills allowing donors to poison the Bad River watershed, to poison the water clear to Lake Superior. The DNR, once the stewards charged with protecting the environment, are reduced to being a rubber stamp for industrial genocide. This aggression will not stand, man!
Chris Cline spent millions buying corrupt politicians. AB/SB1 was the payoff. After his representative, Dollar Bill Williams promised that GTac would not seek to weaken environmental regulations, GTac did exactly that! The mining laws were dismantled, the DNR stripped of its ability and mission to protect the environment. Cline and his LLC were relieved of responsibility to pay taxes on the low grade ore that is claimed as the target, to abide by clean water standards, clean air standards, etc. This aggression will not stand, man!
Dollar Bill sweet-talked officials of Iron and Ashland Counties, lying about job numbers, lying about pollution that would occur, about the minerals, long buried deeply in the ground, that would, upon exposure to air and water, leach hydrochloric acid and mercury into the streams and wetlands, that is the ones they wouldn’t fill with toxic overburden. He talked, and still does, about science determining the safety of the operation. At the same time, he refuses to let scientists see the 200 old core samples they acquired, the new core samples, acquired at a great cost to the environment, sends his hired politicians to pass new laws to keep scientists out of the hills, hunters, hikers, the hunter-gatherers of first nations who comprise a sovereign nation, protected in their right to harvest there by treaties between their nations and ours, treaties that corrupted state governments cannot change or disrupt. And, of course, GTac wants to close that land without paying their back taxes like you or I would have to. Their pet politicians may manage to keep me out, but the rights of my friends from the first nations are out of the reach of those criminals in state government. The members of the Ashland County board educated themselves, and now oppose the mine. Iron County, in a different watershed, supports it. This aggression will not stand.
Walker made war on women, war on unions, war on the land, the water, the air, war on democracy. In today’s Wisconsin people are being arrested for singing, singing in our house, a structure designed to carry our voices to every corner, to reinforce our constitutional right to be heard. Walker has made war on democracy itself. Every step he and his legislative cronies have taken are best defined by the term fascism. Even the election process has been altered to fit their need for a majority, and they no longer even pretend to represent their constituents, but are only puppets, dancing on the strings held by wealthy corporate donors. Walker even gave himself permission to sell Wisconsin to China. This aggression will not stand.
I’ve been spending time in those hills, witnessing devastation with my friends from LCO and Bad River. The Bad River reservation, a sovereign nation, would bear the brunt of the poison. Kakagon and Bad River sloughs, and Honest John, represent the largest wetland in the Lake Superior basin, a wonderland of nature’s bounty, a treasure that must be protected at any cost, a treasure that will not be lost while I draw breath, a test of our generation’s resolve to look out for the next, and the next. The wild rice, the fish, fowl, other creatures that are born, grow, and live in these wetlands are the lifeblood of the Bad River tribe. Tribal Chairman Mike Wiggins, calls the plan to poison all of this genocide, and I find that an accurate term. This aggression will not stand.
I stand with Bad River, with LCO, but it is not only first nations that would be affected. The Penokees ooze water. Rushing through beautiful gorges, seeping out of rock, oozing out to form tiny wetlands everywhere you go. That water perks through the hills, surfacing all around Chequemegon Bay, water for towns like Mellen, Ashland, Washburn, through rivers and streams and into the big lake, the largest source of fresh water on the planet. We know about the sulfites, the pyrite, the mercury, the grunerite, asbestos that GTac’s bombs would disperse into the lungs of the next taconite cancer cluster, the next hotbed of mesothelioma. Yes, we know why they won’t share the samples. This aggression will not stand.
For those of you who doubt these projected effects, or those who have swallowed the GTac lies, you need look no further than Minnesota, to taconite country. The rice died in 100 plus miles of the St Louis River. The fish are fine to eat if you don’t eat many or you are pregnant, old, young, or you may want to think someday. Poverty and cancer surround the mines and wells go dry. We pay for lax laws in Minnesota too. Babies born in the Lake Superior basin are identifiable by elevated rates of mercury in their little bodies. In Minnesota, the mining companies pay a tonnage tax to offset the damage to infrastructure, etc. Here, there would be no tonnage tax, but only a small tax applied if the company admits to making a profit. The crumbling roads, all the extra needs for infrastructure created by a mine, would fall to our municipalities, as would the liability for the environmental disaster. GTac is a limited liability corporation, invented to go bankrupt when they have gotten what they want. This aggression will not stand.
What of the Wisconsin Democrats? While a few stand against the plans of GTac, we don’t hear them mourning the death of democracy. The words, fascism, criminal, corruption, just don’t leave their lips. While proof of republicans racketeering as defined by the RICO act is displayed on the evening news and across the pages of the morning paper, they seem unwilling to press for the department of justice to step in. I can’t for the life of me understand why, unless they too, have something to hide.
A new family has been born in and of the Penokees, a multicultural upswelling of forthright citizens who want to protect the hills, the forest, the streams, the wealth represented by Lake Superior, the vast source of water that will soon be as valuable as gold. We are red and white, grandfathers, scientists, hippies and rednecks alike, democrats and republicans that respect the land, and we stand against this mining plan. We fight lies with truth, face machine guns with nothing but a handful of hope and right on our side. We stand for the water. We stand for democracy. WE WILL STAND. WE WILL ABIDE. THIS AGGRESSION WILL NOT STAND!
My last word is for my friends from the tribes, who lead the fight for all of us, for seven generations of their families and mine, for the water that makes up 70% of our bodies… MIIGWECH!