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What I do when I’m not composing impassioned, verbose blogs…

This year I’ve taken on a couple of sizeable reading commitments — Tolstoy’s War And Peace and Ovid’s Metamorphoses (one with a small group of friends, the other for a seminar) — in addition to my normal non-fiction (news/current events) book reading and occasional fiction-for-fun… both of which have been scaled back in recent months in order to accommodate Tolstoy’s everlasting gobstopper of a novel and Ovid’s epic poem of transformation (my classics, in addition to being rather challenging, now come with deadlines).

Anyone who’s been reading this blog over the last year might recall that my non-fiction reading in 2011 included Simon Johnson and James Kwak’s indispensable Thirteen Bankers. But today, just for a change of pace, I’ll also share that my just-for-fun fiction reading last year included the page-turning The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Raymond Carver’s exquisite Cathedral, Margaret Atwood’s excellent The Blind Assassin, and a smattering of science-fiction novels from Ray Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Gene Wolfe (Book of the New Sun series), and Ursula le Guin — GREAT stuff, all.  (Last year’s classics included Lord of the Flies, some Oscar Wilde, and finally getting around to Jane Eyre, which I confess I loved… and then there’s the occasional comic book reading I do — wait, am I still on classics?  Never mind.)

I also do a fair amount of drawing, including political cartoons, and spend a few hours a day “newsing” (a verb we’ve coined in this house, meaning “to relentlessly scour the internet for substantive news content”) — starting at DemocracyNow!, HuffingtonPost, CommonDreams.org, NYT, and Salon.com… and then I go wherever that leads.  Often when I’m reading articles (editorials, transcripts, etc.) at those sites, I decide to peruse the Comments sections (where applicable) and post a comment or two of my own… including pithy/polite/informative responses to the posts of others.

And that’s what I was just about to do (post a comment at HuffPo) when I decided to do this post my commentary about Wisconsin’s election result here, on MY site, instead (see italicized section below).  I figure I’ve given these other sites hundreds of hours of my time and thousands of my most carefully-considered words — and HuffPo already does just fine on other people’s efforts, no?  So, sorry HuffPo, but this blog’s for me…

But first, some quick context: Last night I was very disappointed to see that Wisconsin’s governor (some sort of imperial, all-terrain Walker) survived the ambitious recall effort in the Badger State (all it took was outspending his all-but-abandoned Democratic opponent by an 8:1 margin).  Then I saw an article on HuffingtonPost that cheered me up a bit, reporting that the Wisconsin State Senate shifted back to Democrats, yesterday — so it was a mixed result for the night.  I decided to wade into the comments section and see what folks were saying about this development, when I came across the post of an individual who — though pleased to see the Wisconsin Senate flip to the Dems — complained that the whole recall process had created a “disorderly uproar.”  I marked the comment as a “Favorite,” but immediately had second thoughts.  I wondered if I could articulate them in a comment reply…

Hi — I just “Favorited” your comment, as I strongly agree with the sentiment you expressed (re: the “silver lining” on yesterday’s “dark cloud” election result), but then I wondered if I should have. It’s not that I DEEPLY REGRET that click of the mouse, mind you, but I think I have a quibble with “disorderly uproar.”

While I know the phrase is technically apt — Wisconsin has been disorderly, indeed (with reports of phone-jamming and some thuggish behavior on the part of some supporters of the Governor) — I personally am VERY grateful that Wisconsin progressives in 2011 PUSHED BACK when a naked power grab (and sucker-punch to organized labor) was asserted by an anti-democratic ideologue bent on crushing the opposition for good (“divide and conquer,” he said) and giving away as many state resources as possible to his corporate buddies.

Thanks to the RESISTANCE to the Governor (including a very funny and revealing prank call from “David Koch”) Walker’s obsequious toadying to the Koch brothers was exposed nationally, as was their radical agenda: AUSTERITY, PRIVATIZATION, CO-OPTION OF ELECTED OFFICES… and plenty of CORPORATE WELFARE, of course.

The truth is I don’t mind that things got a bit messy in Wisconsin last year.  In fact, I think some good was accomplished, and I feel truly indebted to those brave state senators who denied Walker a quorum for a while and made Wisconsin (and the world) aware of the radical moves their government was making. I’m also grateful to the thousands of protesters who occupied Madison for weeks and the dedicated folks who made the recall happen.

YES, IT’S UNFORTUNATE THAT WALKER WASN’T REMOVED FROM OFFICE… but many good things have come out of the opposition that thousands of Wisconsinites mounted against this brazen power play. Wisconsin’s progressives have done a lot to improve their organization and resources over the last year. If they ever get some help from the national Democratic Party, who knows what they can accomplish?

James O’Donnell — Invitation2Artivism

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