The Corporate Fascism of Wisconsin Part II The Creeping “Friendly” Fascism of the Democrats

October 15, 2019 by Barbara With

Corporate Fascism: When corporations collude with politicians to write and pass laws to benefit the corporations at the expense of the people, land, water, natural resources, communities, civil and human rights, and democratic process.

During WWII, millions of Germans took up arms to directly carry out Hitler’s atrocious orders of genocide. Others, however, supported the tyranny in more “friendly”ways, never pulling a trigger: the men who built the concentration camps and wired and plumbed the chambers for gas; railway companies who provided trains to ship the Jews to the camps and their employees who drove them; major businesses like IBM, General Motors, Volkswagen, Bayer and Coca-Cola all pandering to and profiting off the regime. Hitler could not have done it alone. He needed both the tyrannical and the friendly fascists to accomplish his mission.

Did the Germans who helped build the concentration camps know that the showers would have deadly gas coming from them, not water? Did workers in the IBM plants in Holland know they were making a card sorting system that allowed the Nazis to search these census databases so that they could identify individuals for extermination? Did the factory workers at Bayer understand that their drugs were being tested on concentration camp prisoners in horrific medical experimentation?

Some knew. Others perhaps feared for their own lives, so they pretended not to know. Others had to lie to themselves because they could not face the horror of what they were supporting. Still others might not have actually known.

Either way, they all stood up to support the mono-party tyranny that was Hitler and the Nazi party. The IBM workers making the punch cards helped move along the tyrannical agenda as much as the concentration camp guards who did the executions, whether they were aware or not.

Wisconsin “Friendly” Fascists

The corporate fascism we are facing in Wisconsin in 2019 has a difference face than that of the tyranny of Mussolini or Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The friendly corporate fascists of today resemble more the American fascists described by Vice President Henry Wallace in his 1944 New York Times editorial “The Danger of Fascism”:

The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist, the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

Wisconsin is currently still under corporate control via the Republican majority that conducted a hostile takeover of our goveernment in 2011. Democrats in the legislature continue to have absolutely no power to stop the flow of corporate-written legislation. Perpetually outnumbered, they have been in their own lame duck purgatory for eight years, with no power to remove the corruption, pass pertinent legislation or even have debate.

Despite being privy to the takeover, some Wisconsin Dems have begun more and more to speak as if it’s business as usual and have begun siding with the corporate fascists:

  • Democratic legislators Rep. Peter Barca, Cory Mason and Tod Ohnstad supported the appalling Foxconn deal which allows the Taiwanese corporation to be exempt from paying taxes, benefit from an exemption to smog control regulations, waive water quality protections for wetlands and Lake Michigan, and use eminent domain to force home owners to sell their homes.
  • Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chairwoman Martha Laning lied about the money laundering she participated in with the Hillary Victory Fund and defended the use of dark corporate money in the 2016 Democratic primary.
  • Now Democrats Bewley, Sinicki, Fields, Vrumink, Schachtner and others are signing on to support the current “Anti-protesting” bills SB 386 and AB 426, designed to amend Act 158. That legislation was originally drafted in 2015 by the ALEC Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force and introduced into the Wisconsin legislature by the ALEC task force chair Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-84). Act 158 was written by corporations and made it a felony to trespass on land owned or leased by energy providers. All Wisconsin Democratic Senators voted against it at the time. It passed easily, as all Republican bills do, because they can.

Bewley, Schachtner, Sinicki, Vruwink and Fields

The new bills contain language from the 2017 ALEC “Infrastructure Safety” bill that was written after major protests took place in Standing Rock to protect the water from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Crafted by energy corporations, including Koch Industries, Marathon Petroleum, Energy Transfer Partners (the corporation behind the Dakota Access Pipeline) and Enbridge (currently operating without permits in northern Wisconsin), the bill is specifically designed to intimidate water protectors from protesting oil companies’ fascist and illegal control of our water and our rights, and relieve the corporations of the cost of law enforcement to conduct their unconstitutional arrests of those protectors. Among other things, it recognizes foreign pipeline corporations as being “Wisconsin Public Utilities,” giving them free access to local law enforcement to carry out their unconstitutional arrests, at no cost to them.

According to the Center of Media and Democracy, the Anti-Protesting Bills were first introduced to the Wisconsin Dems by the American Petroleum Institute (API). Marcus Bentley, a lobbyist and the president of Bentley Government Affairs, has been heavily involved in writing SB 386 and is authorized to represent API:

In a May 8, 2019 email to Bentley, Garrett Huffman, Research Assistant for Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) writes,

“Hi Marc,
Mike and I were recently talking and we have not heard much recently regarding the critical infrastructure bill. Have your [sic] heard anything further? Is there someone in the Senate moving the bill?
Thanks and hope all is well.
garrett [sic]”

Bentley responds within the hour, “Hi Garrett: Still in drafting.”

Then, on August 12, Huffman emails Bentley again asking, “How are you [sic] efforts going to recruit Dem co-sponsors? Had any luck recently?” Bentley responds, “Yes…picking up Dems for the bill..[sic] should know more after the 19th conference call..[sic] with labor.”

Bewley met with Bentley on June 13 and made the commitment to co-sponsor the bill after API colluded with various labor groups to get language added to the bill that is being touted as “protecting” protestors. Those unions included LiUNA—the same union responsible for producing propaganda about water protectors at Standing Rock being violent and supporting their illegal and unconstitutional arrests.

Behaving in the same fashion that their Republican counterparts do when introducing corporate legislation that benefits their donors at the people’s expense, Bewley, Sinicki, et al, have been reduced to repeating the rhetoric provided to them by the API and the pipeline labor unions, refusing to hold meetings with concerned citizens in the areas of the their districts that are most impacted, and criticizing constituents who have tried to warn them off of supporting Trump-administration corporate fascist policies.

Bewley’s repeated, canned, side-stepping responses do not answer the critical questions being put to her by her concerned constituents. In an interview with Eric Schubring on WOJB Radio, Bewley dances around the facts: that ALEC wrote the original legislation and that the two new bills were written by API’s lobbyist and mirror ALEC’s “Infrastructure Safety” bill:

Bewley: “Well, if you want to change a portion of law, and you need language in order to do that, it will end up looking like the same language that would be used in another state. Um, if you need to clarify something, you’re going to use language. If you look at the bill, the bill is very, very short. I mean, the whole thing is on two pages. And, it is not a boilerplate … um… I have seen ALEC boilerplates and this is not one. Could some of the language in it look like language that is in ALEC boilerplate? Of course, because, you know, laws are laws, and languages … and language, there are similarities. But, this is not … it was never presented to me. I never spoke to anyone from ALEC.”

By claiming, “I never spoke to anyone from ALEC,” Bewley is claiming not be aware that the Republican co-sponsor of the bill, Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, is a long-standing ALEC member and Chair of the ALEC Task Force that drafted the “Infrastructure Safety” model legislation. She is claiming that she is unaware that Bentley wrote the legislation, or else implying that it is acceptable to allow a foreign corporation to write Wisconsin legislation, as long as it’s not coming directly from ALEC. By claiming this is “not an ALEC bill,” she is pretending not to know that the bill was written by and forwards the agenda of the API corporatists who proved at Standing Rock that they will break the law to get their corporate agenda in place.

SB 386 and AB 426 contain the same language and offer the same intent as the model legislation. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if it is specifically ALEC boilerplate or not. The bill was written by corporate interests to protect corporate interests.

Bewley is well aware of what happened at Standing Rock:

Bewley: [What happened at Standing Rock was] horrible, and that should not happen … should not. Now, I know people who are saying “You can’t stop it.” [Laughs] I couldn’t stop it no matter what the law was. If somebody … if law enforcement is going to go beyond their bounds, today what I put on paper isn’t going to change that. I … I … we all have to believe, assume, and have faith in the fact that people are going to do the right thing. That they didn’t do the right thing in Standing Rock is … it cannot be changed by what I put in this legislation.

When Shubring asks about the brutal arrests at Standing Rock, Bewley refuses to denounce the bill’s sponsors’ illegal behaviors and once again provides a deceptive and meaningless answer, dismissing them as actions that the law can’t control:

Bewley: “… if someone was demonstrating peacefully and … um … ah … it would be abhorrent if they were arrested, because that would not be within the law.

This is what the sponsors of her bill did at Standing Rock. It was abhorrent and against the law, but she refuses to tie those two facts together.

Um, I’m going to hope that … ah … laws are followed on both sides, by everyone.

Hope did not work at Standing Rock. Her bill’s sponsors broke the law and she refuses to call them out on it.

The law itself is static. It is a discreet, static statement. Um, the behaviors around it are the things that … are the choices, both by people who are exercising their First Amendment rights and by the people who may be observing or wanting to get involved in stopping it.

The authors of her bill indeed broke the law at Standing Rock. The water protectors did not.

But it is simply the law according to this bill, that you are allowed to peacefully demonstrate. You are not allowed to damage property.

Foreign oil corporations should not be allowed to suspend the constitution and make hundreds of illegal arrests, but she does nothing to address that real threat.

Did bad things happen at Standing Rock? Of course, but I’m not sure it was because of a law. It was because bad things happened.

“Bad things happened” at Standing Rock because the people sponsoring her legislation broke the law.

… and behaviors are never going to be completely controlled by language in a law.

And yet, that is what the law is for, to enforce when it is broken. Yes, again, she refuses to stand up and hold her bill’s sponsors accountable for their illegal actions.

We don’t need another law that allegedly protects first amendment rights. We need people holding those who break the law accountable and not supporting fascism.

While it is true she could not have stopped the unconstitutional behavior of the corporations that controlled the law enforcement at Standing Rock, she could call them out for their illegal acts. She fails to note that she is now standing up to support them. Knowing that the authors of her bill did not “do the right thing,” she tries to divert away from those facts.

Her added language to the bill that allegedly protects peaceful protesters means nothing to API. They proved that at Standing Rock by continually breaking the law and conducting illegal and unconstitutional arrests, bolstered by the lies that LiUNA was publishing about water protectors being violent. She is proving that she is not only willing to let them get away with it, but she will further legislation that they wrote to protect themselves.

She also knows that by making them “Wisconsin Public Utilities,” she is making it easier for them use of law enforcement to make the kind of mass, illegal arrests they did at Standing Rock and that those costs will now be paid by the tax payers.

This is the creeping, “friendly” fascism of the Wisconsin Dems.

Water Protectors being unconstitutionally assaulted by Energy Transfer Partners’ armed forces, which include private security firm Tiger Swan and public law enforcement from around the country. November 21, 2016.

In response to her many constituents who are challenging her to withdraw from this blatantly corporate legislation, and her old friends passionately pleading with her not to support this “friendly” fascism, she merely echoes the propaganda provided by API, over and over again, as if she says it enough times, it will become truth.

Bewley has a small window of opportunity to withdraw the co-sponsorship. She knows the bill will pass, with or without her, because the Republicans can. If she actually possessed integrity, she would denounce API and their support of the illegal arrests at Standing Rock and withdraw from co-sponsoring the bill.

By continuing on as co-sponsor, she creeps “friendly” fascism further into the heart of Wisconsin. She herself now supports the fascists over the people who elected her to serve in their best interests. No matter how many times she claims she is protecting us, her propaganda falls on deaf ears.

And in the end, she knows. She knows that the bill’s sponsors are building the metaphoric gas chambers and yet she continues to help build them. She wants to play as if she does not understand all this, perhaps to help her sleep at night. It is the same struggle the pipeline workers must go through, denying the illegalities of their employers, towing the corporate line, in order to put food on their tables.

Bewley knows. And she knows now that We the People know she knows. Her refusal to denounce fascism makes her complicit in the fascist takeover of the government and has destroyed her core support in the state. But with the corporate fascists supporting her now, like the Republicans, she, too, no longer needs to answer to her electorate.

Her only hope to salvage herself is to withdraw … or else history will attach “corporate fascist” to her legacy, the one she is leaving to her grandkids and beyond.

 

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