Friday, March 18, 2011

Solidarity With Wisconsin - You Go, Dems!

3/27/11 Update here.


3/18/11 - Moved to Front Page - Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi issues a temporary restraining order blocking Wisconsin's collective bargaining law from taking effect. Read more here. One small victory for the time being.

The stakes are high nationwide. Wisconsin is the first in a long line of states considering big changes to pay, benefits, work rules and the bargaining power of government workers.

The Wisconsin measure would force public employees to pay more for pension and health benefits while limiting their union's power to negotiate.

The sergeant at arms was searching for Democratic state lawmakers who had not shown up for a vote on the sweeping legislation, and one Democratic lawmaker said he and his colleagues had left the state.

This reminds me of a few years back when Texas Republicans were trying to redistrict the state to their favor, and the Democrats (and others) flew out of the state so as not to be present to allow a vote!

Now we have this idiot in Wisconsin having the National Guard on standby ... yeah, like 1970 in Ohio, dude? Ya gonna shoot the protesters?

UPDATE: 2/19/11, courtesy of Crooks and Liars:

Here’s the other thing: the current crop of extreme-right Republicans have no interest in compromise, on anything. They don’t want to force the public employee unions to the table to bargain over wages and health care, they want to utterly destroy the unions for all time. They don’t want to negotiate over changing the formula on pension contributions, they want to make workers pay for half their pensions, or slash their benefits to shreds — and then never have to negotiate with workers again over them. At the federal level, they don’t just want to make substantial cutbacks in domestic programs, they want to defund many of them entirely — and if they don’t get their way, all of it, they’ll just shut down the government. It’s not just economics issues either: pro-lifers don’t just want to make it harder to get abortions, they want redefine rape and make shooting an abortion doctor a justifiable homicide. These Republican extremists are completely beyond the pale.

UPDATE 2/24/11, Courtesy of AMERICAblog:

How un-American can you get. Having the GOP legislators pass a law requiring the protesters to be removed. In the old days we'd call that a bill of attainder - it's something Henry VIII liked to use, a lot, when he wanted to behead a wife or a top aide.
The Republicans will not be happy until they've gutted democratic principles and looted the treasury on all levels of government. At the time we see the Middle East oligarchies being toppled, we see the United States turning into one.

We shall see what happens this Saturday.

Speaking of oligarchs, here's an interesting tidbit I found.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has dismissed a deputy, Jeff Cox, for posting inappropriate comments online critical of the labor union protesters in Wisconsin.

Cox sent out a message on his Twitter account saying that police should "use live ammunition" against the protesters.

Banging. Head. On. Keyboard.



MADISON—Following action by lawmakers to approve a rule change that clears the way for closing down the State Capitol and ejecting the people protesting Governor Walker’s bill to curtail union activity, the head of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association called on the governor today to keep the capitol building open and allow the peaceful protesters to remain.

“The law enforcement officers from across the state that have been working at the Capitol and have been very impressed with how peaceful everyone has been,” said WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer. “As has been reported in the media, the protesters are cleaning up after themselves and have not caused any problems. The fact of that matter is that Wisconsin’s law enforcement community opposes Governor Walker’s effort to eliminate most union activity in this state, and we implore him to not do anything to increase the risk to officers and the public. The costs of providing security can never outweigh those associated with a conflict.”

Palmer also announced that, beginning tonight, the WPPA is formally requesting its members from across the state to come to the Capitol to sleep amongst the throngs of other union supporters. “Law enforcement officers know the difference between right and wrong, and Governor Walker’s attempt to eliminate the collective voice of Wisconsin’s devoted public employees is wrong,” continued Palmer. “That is why we have stood with our fellow employees each day and why we will be sleeping among them tonight.”
And then there is this:
Amendments to block labor unions from engaging in collective bargaining with the government over salaries and benefits for public workers are sparking protests. In Wisconsin, which may wind up as the Egypt of the Midwest, more than a dozen Democrat senators are AWOL, while Republican Gov. Scott Walker is standing his ground and becoming a tea party hero. Click on the map to see which states have proposed collective-bargaining amendments and follow our updates on the protests.

First, I am pleased to see that the police decided to join the protesters.

From inside the Wisconsin State Capitol, RAN ally Ryan Harvey reports:

“Hundreds of cops have just marched into the Wisconsin state capitol building to protest the anti-Union bill, to massive applause. They now join up to 600 people who are inside.”

I gather the Saturday deadline to remove the protesters from the Capital did not actually result in any removal, considering close to 100,000 were there yesterday (of course, you wouldn't know it by watching any television as most news programs just couldn't stop "gushing" about the alleged two year anniversary of the tea party). From Politicus USA:

There is a deeper bias evident in the case of the Wisconsin rallies. The corporate ownership of these networks, like most businesses, is anti-union. They assume that all of America is also anti-union, and they have conveniently ignored all the polling that shows the American people are behind the protesters in order to rationalize ignoring the protests.
There was an interesting post up a while back when this all started in Wisconsin and the comparisons were made between Egypt and the protesters. And, that is, while American corporations have been shipping American jobs (especially in the manufacturing sector) overseas to underprivileged and dictatorship controlled countries under the guise of free trade agreements, some of the people in various countries that are starting to revolt against the leaders are just like the people in Wisconsin protesting. That is, they want better wages, better benefits and want to put a stop to the "bottom line" mentality of their employers or their government's stealing what is rightfully theirs. When across the globe, the people stand in solidarity against abusive working conditions and the taking advantage of dictatorships and oligarchies that force their people to live in substandard conditions and have a life that is barely livable, where will these corporations go to get cheap labor? When everyone joins together for the right to earn a decent wage against those that are stealing from the very people whose backs they made their millions off of, equality and justice looms around the corner. That's the deeper issue of these protests in the Middle East -- they want out from under the thumb of oppression, and it's a tough spot for the rich American politicians and the corporations they represent (because by now most Americans are well aware their representatives in government are not beholding to them, but to the fat cats that put the money in their pockets, and I mean this as to all parties, not just the Republicans) as it has always been their position to allow the despots to stay in power in exchange for cheap labor (or oil).

It's a new day approaching. The youth are revolting again, and I for one, am proud to see the lie exposed that there is apathy attributed to the youth, and its perpetration by mass media worldwide, and corporations with a vested interest in keeping young people poor and desperate, is slowly crumbling.

This is a must read piece about what else is really at stake in Wisconsin based on Walker's plans for the state. Courtesy of ThinkProgress:

As the standoff between the Main Street Movement and Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) continues for the twelfth day, much of the media coverage — and anger — from both sides has focused on Walker’s efforts to strip Wisconsin public workers of their right to collective bargaining. But Walker’s assault on public employees is only one part of a larger political program that aims to give corporations free reign in the state while dismantling the healthcare programs, environmental regulations, and good government laws that protect Wisconsin’s middle and working class. These lesser known proposals in the 144-page bill reveal how radical Walker’s plan actually is: (abbreviated by me) -- 1. ELIMINATING MEDICAID; 2. POWER PLANT PRIVATIZATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL NEGLECT; 3. DANGEROUS DRINKING WATER; 4. DESTROYING WETLANDS; 5. FISCAL IRRESPONSIBILITY; 6. DISENFRANCHISING VOTER; 7. CUTTING JOBS, LOSING THE FUTURE; 8. STIFLING INNOVATION; 9. “NAKED POWER GRAB”; 10. POLITICIZING STATE AGENCIES.
Latest update:
Wisconsin authorities backed away Sunday from a threat to evict hundreds of labor rights demonstrators who have occupied the state Capitol for nearly two weeks.

UPDATE 3/1/11 from FireDogLake:

The Capitol Police were supposed to open the building to the public at 8am. Two hours later they are still not letting anyone into the building. It’s particularly cold out in Madison today, with big crowds outside trying to enter.


As you can see, they are really cracking down on access, and particularly what can be brought into the building. They have tried to make it very uncomfortable for people to stay, forcing them to sleep on jackets or the bare floor. They have restricted medical supplies and slowed the supply of food. But according to the CCLC, they are going well beyond these rules and basically blocking access to the building. And this comes after the police told protesters that they would be allowed back in at 8am.


This is all tied to the joint legislative session on the budget on Tuesday. Governor Walker really doesn’t want to have to deliver the budget in a building under occupation. I think initially he planned to move locations, but that would not have been legal under Wisconsin state law. So instead of mass arrests and the negative publicity that would have went with it, Walker is going for the slow squeeze.

Local union leaders and the ACLU are working on the issue as we speak. More when I get it…

UPDATED 3/2/11 - Good news about recall efforts of key Republican Senators. H/T to ThinkProgress:

This morning citizens from around the state took the first steps by filing recall papers against key Republican Senators who have stood with Scott Walker and pushed his partisan power grab that will strip thousands of middle class teachers, nurses, librarians and other workers of their right to collective bargaining. And we learned just last night that their disastrous budget that will cut millions from our schools and universities. . . .

Make no mistake, these Republican Senators are vulnerable to recall for their radical partisan overreach. Senator Randy Hopper won his last election by just 184 votes. And Alberta Darling won her last race by only 1,007. By recalling just three of the eight Senators [Democrats] are targeting, [Democrats] can regain control of the Senate.

UPDATE 3/3/11

Now the Republican senate in Wisconsin has passed a resolution (not sure if anything they try to pass without the necessary lone Democrat is legal) that will fine the missing Democrats $100 a day, take away any per diem, and will punish their staff and more.

MADISON - The 14 Wisconsin state Senate Democrats who left the state two weeks ago will now face fines of $100 for each day they miss, if they miss two or more days.

Republicans remaining in the Senate approved the daily fine on Wednesday morning with none of the Democrats present.


Republicans have already withheld the checks of missing Democrats from direct deposit and denied access to copying machines for their staff.

According to TODAY'S TMJ4's Mick Trevey, there are punishments incorporated into the resolution which would allow for the removal of offices from senators, to downsize their offices, to take away spending capabilities for their offices for photocopies and office supplies, even to changing the way the staffs are run.

This is so school yard playing. The typical "it's my ball, so I make up the rules" kind of thing. I am really very surprised, in a way, that these Republicans, with not only a majority of the citizens in their own state against them on this (and other) issue, still believe in their own bubble tent that they are right, and all those people outside the Capital and across the state are ALL UNION THUGS. What idiots. The recalls of many Republican senators has already been put in motion. Are they just dolts? As this is playing out across America, do they even think no one is paying attention?

Oh, and I love this new tidbit. Seems those television and radio personalities (think O'Reilly, Hannity, et al.) all, OF COURSE, belong to AFTRA (like Reagan was, and who was PRESIDENT of that union for a number of terms) believe that AFTRA really isn't a union, and they give different reasons for why they feel they aren't union members, despite the fact that their pay and pensions are the result of THEIR UNION's negotiations with the television and radio bosses. Oh, the humanity! It's only public workers whose union is being targeted by these scumbag politicians. God forbid any union they belong in should be targeted. Union for regular people equals bad. Union for idiotic and over payed television and radio right wing nut jobs equals ... long pause ... crickets chirping ....

UPDATE 3/9/11 - A lot happened today. Apparently the Republicans in the Senate "passed" certain portions of the Governor's bill (see more here) without the requisite number of Democrats. Not sure if it is legal or not, but Democrats tried to hold some kind of hearing, which resulted in the Capitol building being open and the protesters being allowed back in (see here with some great video of the protesters).

"Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten," said Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller, D-Monona, in a statement released shortly after the vote. "Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people. We will join the people of Wisconsin in taking back their government."

What an amazing scene (watched the videos). As an old timer, it warms my innards to know that the young folk are finally finding their protest voice. Keep at it, and know that all of America actually supports you guys, and they are decidedly against what the Wisconsin governor is trying to do. It's not supported even by Wisconsin residents, for goodness sake. I mean, come on, it was bad before with Bush in the White House, but this surge in Republican power grabs that are clearly unconstitutional, not to mention outright wrong (especially when it comes to the supposed "deficit" in Wisconsin that really resulted because of the governor's giving of tax breaks to his buddies like the Koch brothers, et al) is definitely giving ammunition to recall efforts, among other things. Don't be surprised when there is a definite trending in the opposite direction in 2012. This just makes me sick to my stomach to watch one man think he is god and can run an entire state solely on his personal agenda.

I was raised in a show business family, of which most belonged to AFTRA, SAG or AFM. I grew up knowing about unions, and just what they did for actors and musicians. Sports unions abound in professional sports. Collective bargaining is just a part of labor life for many, many Americans. And now the rich oligarchs just want to turn back the clock 100 years so that the robber baron lifestyle can return, and child labor will be the norm.

(Hate The Marks This Keyboard Makes On Head When Banging Head On Keyboard).

Feel free to click on the link below at the end of every page where I have placed my two cherished organizations, PBS and ACLU, for donations - since the inception of this blog. The private sector has to step up for what the Republican fear mongers continue to take away from us ... our freedoms.

Unbelievable. This is how Republicans want to rule. Just take over. Not even the slightest pretense of actually following a just order or a proper procedure as an elected official. Ram it down your throat improperly. All Hail Caesar as they say, e tu?

Great post over at ThinkProgress about options Wisconsin residents have to repeal this gawd awful bill and a step-by-step process to ensure that this never happens again. It's a must read.

UPDATE 3/13/11:

It is estimated that over 100,000 protesters converged on Madison, WI yesterday.

For two years, tea party activists and their allies in the GOP have claimed that the hard-right movement represents the true beliefs of the American people. But the crowd in Madison and numerous polls tell a different story.
H/T to ThinkProgress.


Bob said...

It's great that we can, if want, be in true solidarity with the freedom movements in the middle east. But the "kids" are gonna have to carry it. & youth is what the Tea Party doesn't have & never will. Only young people can shame the president they supported into coming home.

Carrie said...

I received 157 hits yesterday, all searching Wisconsin Solidarity! That beats all my CSI Las Vegas hits for sure!

Arno said...

I love the nationwide response to the Wisconsin's even taken some hold here in redworld...
It's true about the youth! Barry-flippin'-#@*1#^%!@ Goldwater, once he (sorta-kinda) realized how screwed his lifelong worldview had been, said the same thing.
And here's to getting younger and more progressive as time goes on. Not fade away.