‘Wisconsin this week’ or ‘Cheeseheads gone wild’

17 February 2011

We began following this yesterday, 16 February, with the help of Ann Althouse, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. We urge you to follow the links to read the posts in full.

Madison schools close for the day to allow teachers to protest Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting budget plan.

Kids have the day off because the district knew that the teachers would be calling in sick in order to participate in a political demonstration.

…Okay, now, everybody go to the demonstration! The kids won’t have school, but you can learn a lot of things outside of school. Some of these things are even taught by the teachers who are not there. For example, it’s okay to call in sick when you’re not actually sick, but you just have something that you think is really important…My sons were in the public schools here then. There was a lot of talk about whether it counted as significant dishonesty to claim to be sick when you were not and what kind of example that set for the youngsters. Many local people took the position that “sickouts” are a known and understood labor strategy and therefore not to be understood as actual lying lying. The obvious follow-up question on that argument is: What about the children — do they understand that? You will be considered very annoying around here if you advance to the confrontation level of asking that question…

As teachers beamed and offered thanks, student organizers in the hallways handed out signs identifying each as a “future worker, future voter,” proclaiming this was a “Walk out for Walker out,” and calling on the Legislature to “kill this bill.”

Kill the bill? Remember when the Tea Party gathered at the US Capitol and chanted “kill the bill” the day the health care bill was passed? That was considered terribly violent…

“Thousands of people descended on the Wisconsin state Capitol for a second day of powerful protests Wednesday…”

AP reports:

Republican lawmakers met in secret Wednesday morning to discuss Walker’s proposal, the boldest move in the nation to abolish labor rights. Wisconsin was the first state to pass a comprehensive collective bargaining law in 1959.

There were some signs that support for the plan among Republicans who control the Legislature may be waning after more than 13,000 teachers, prison guards, nurses and others converged on the Capitol to speak out during in a 17-hour public hearing.

Protesting Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting budget at the Wisconsin Capitol today.

I had to work, but Meade made it up to the Capitol and got some great stills and video…

…”Hosni + Hitler = Dictator Scott Walker”:

…Abandoned placards, stuck in the snow, including a depiction of Scott Walker, lynched:

Madison schools close for a second day tomorrow, as the state teachers’ union calls for more protests against the Gov. Walker’s budget.

Wisconsin State Journal reports:

“This is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen,” Betsy Barnard, a physics teacher at West High School, said of the Walker proposal. “This is going to change Wisconsin forever.”

Barnard and other teachers at the rally said they are willing to make wage and benefit concessions to help fix the state budget, but Walker’s plan to effectively dismantle the 50-year-old collective bargaining process for public employee unions goes too far.

“We risk our public image,” Barnard said…ADDED: “Lawmakers are making some changes to a bill that would make public workers pay more for their benefits, but the bill will still take away almost all union rights from them.”

Here is Michelle Malkin’s coverage, with video.

GayPatriot says: “What’s happening in Wisconsin should be happening in California, with public employee unions upset at anticipated cuts in their benefits and legislation limiting their power. Both the Badger State and the (once-)Golden State have similar rates of unionization in their workforces, 16 and 17% respectively. Both face huge budget gaps.”

Scenes from the demonstration at the Wisconsin State Capitol today.

Students, union members, and others protested the new governor’s budget plan. I was working, but Meade went down and took a lot of video, which I’ve edited…

…There’s singing of the national anthem at the beginning and end of this video. In between, there’s some chanting — “You know what’s disgusting? Union busting!” — and “Don’t Stop Believing” and drumming and so forth.

More Althouse, 17 February:

“The Joint Finance Committee passed Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill late Wednesday on a 12-4 vote along party lines.

Reports the Daily Cardinal:

The amended bill still contains controversial limitations to unions’ collective bargaining powers, as well as an increase in state employee contributions to pensions and health care….

As the discussion continued, so did the clamor of drums and chants coming from the Capitol rotunda.

“For five seconds, listen to what’s going on outside this room,” said Rep. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse. “It’s the drumbeat of democracy.”

I read that quote to Meade, who went down to the demonstration yesterday (to get his fair share of video). He laughed and said he’d tried to get video of the dancing to the drumming — and did the exaggerated flailing arms and stomping legs of drumbeat dancing, accompanied by the chant “THIS is WHAT deMOCracy LOOKS like.” Putting the mock in democracy.

I said imagine how Democrats would react if Tea Partiers had a demonstration like that — replete with misspelled signs and signs depicting a Democratic Party politician as Hitler or with his head in a noose.

The fact is that the Republicans decisively won the governorship and both houses of the state legislature — probably with next to no votes from the people who came to the demonstration. If you’re asking — like Shilling — for the Republican legislators to listen to democracy, they should look at the last election, the people all over the state who voted for them and, presumably, for fiscal responsibility and shared sacrifice.

The people around the state were probably at their jobs yesterday, not able to travel here, into the heart of the state’s liberal politics, to do a counter-demonstration and show their numbers (the numbers recorded last October at the polls). Did the demonstrators — many of whom were teachers — try to speak to those people or did they mostly look inward, at each other, pumping up their own resolve?

What are the people around the state supposed to think of them — teachers who have pretty nice jobs and who decided they could go somewhere else for the day instead? What did those teachers teach? I didn’t notice any of them trying to speak to the people of the state, trying to win anyone over. In fact, there were chants — simple, repeated words that don’t try to explain and persuade — and ugly signs full of name-calling and violence. There were plenty of nice people too and gentle signs, but the nice to ugly ratio was worse than at the Tea Party rallies I’ve seen, and Democrats aimed such contempt at the Tea Partiers. Why should the Tea Party-type people of the state be impressed by the other side’s crowds?

How much respect did the demonstrators show for the State Capitol grounds?

Here are some photographs taken yesterday by Meade (my husband) at the demonstration against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget plan:

[There are more photos like these at Althouse.]

I attended the Tea Party rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol last year on April 15th, and I did not see a scrap of litter left behind. Participants not only took care to leave no trash of their own, they looked around and made sure no one else did.

Scott Walker Compared to Hitler.

At yesterday’s demonstration against Scott Walker’s budget plan, Meade took this video of a woman with a sign portraying the Governor with a Hitler mustache. Meade conducts a short interview, then catches a young man with a bullhorn explaining that we need to tax the rich.

After all those efforts to paint Tea Partiers as using violent images and rhetoric, these pictures from Madison have got to hurt.

The Wisconsin GOP made a nice montage:

And here’s a picture I took today:

I asked the woman if she thought Scott Walker was like Hitler, and she said “Yes.” So I said, “Are you saying that you think fascism could come to America,” and she said, “It’s what’s happening.”

At today’s demonstration against Scott Walker’s budget plan–a sign reading “Sic Semper Tyrannis.”

[There’s video of the sign at the link.]

“Sic semper tyrannis is a Latin phrase meaning ‘thus always to tyrants.’ It is sometimes mistranslated as ‘death to tyrants’ or ‘down with the tyrant.’ The phrase is said to have originated with Marcus Junius Brutus during the assassination of Julius Caesar. It was later shouted by John Wilkes Booth during his assassination of Abraham Lincoln.”

More signs attacking Gov. Scott Walker–from today’s demonstration at the Wisconsin State Capitol.

There are more photos at Althouse

Elsewhere around the web:

GatewayPundit, Obama Defends Union Thugs From Republican Governor’s “Assault” (with video)

Barack Obama defended the public employee union thugs today. Under Republican Governor Scott Walker’s plan, public employees would have to increase their pension payments by 8%. This is not even close to what private employees pay. The unions would also strip government workers, including school teachers, of nearly all collective bargaining rights.

Scott Walker is a hero…


“Many of the letters from Wisconsin today have to do with violence: threats against Governor Walker and members of his administration, the increases in their security details, their worries about their spouses and children, and so on. I have heard from people closely connected to the threatened individuals. Their letters are hard to take. The last few days have made quite clear that, if you cross the public-employee unions, you run risks: and not merely political risks (which are nothing). . . . I have a feeling that, if conservatives had staged a lunatic and thuggish rally like the one the public employees just staged in Wisconsin, it would be huge news all across the country: cover of Time, cover of  Newsweek. (Do those magazines still exist?) Sarah Palin would be called on to explain herself. David Gregory and other Sunday hosts would be warning of a sickness in the American soul — would be warning of the brownshirting of America. There is a sickness, all right.”

GatewayPundit, Cops Sent Out to Drag Absent Wisconsin Dems Back to Vote on Budget Repair Bill

What a shock.

The Democrats skipped town today before the public employee vote today in the Wisconsin Senate. Cops were sent out to drag them back to vote on the budget repair bill. Republicans need at least one Democrat present for the vote…

Michelle Malkin has several posts at her site, but this is a favorite, Watch Wisconsin, Part III: A state government employee speaks; Madison schools, plus 7 other districts shut down a second day; Michael Moore says Wisconsin is the ‘new Cairo;’ Dems boycott legislative debate.

HotAir.com, This historical illiteracy of Wisconsin teachers

Godwin’s Law states that any political argument, carried on long enough, will eventually provoke a Nazi reference.  My own personal corollary to Godwin’s Law is that the first side to invoke it invariably loses, mainly because Nazis and Adolf Hitler are simply not analogous to normal politics in American democracy, unless one is discussing actual neo-Nazis.  It exposes a clear lack of historical literacy about the Nazis and the history between the two World Wars of the last century.  It’s the kind of argument favored by the relatively uneducated.

That’s what makes the protests in Wisconsin over Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to curtail the power of public-sector unions so deliciously ironic.  Hot Air reader Tim R in Madison took his camera with him when he attended the large protests staged by the teachers against the budget bill that would require contributions for pensions and health insurance, as well as put new curbs on collective bargaining.   Tim discovered signs like this at the protest yesterday at 6 pm just after the speakers concluded…

There are more photos and the entire HotAir article is worth reading.

Note to Union Tough Guys: Hitler was a Socialist at Founding Bloggers.

GatewayPundit, Shocker: Obama Administration is Behind Chaos in Wisconsin, Students Used as Props

Stunner. Barack Obama’s Organizing for America website is helping to organize the “day of rage” protests in Wisconsin…

Ben Smith at The Politico reported: The Democratic National Committee’s Organizing for America arm – the remnant of the 2008 Obama campaign — is playing an active role in organizing protests against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s attempt to strip most public employees of collective bargaining rights…

RedState, Bring It: The Debt Deniers Will Lose

The Debt Deniers wage a rebellion in Wisconsin. Bring it.

Wisconsin unions rebel at the notion, that they, like every other American must contribute to their own retirement. They cry because, like every other American, they may have to pay a percentage of their own health care.

Who is out of touch again?

It’s a rhetorical question, but let me answer it for you: President Barack Obama. He has voiced his solidarity with the unions and Organizing for America, his organization, called Wisconsinites to arms (metaphorically). Does it seem unseemly to you that the President is choosing the unions over the out-of work taxpayers? Another rhetorical question.

Clearly, these unions jerks don’t understand this:
Gallup: Unemployment at 10%

Read the whole thing…

Verum Serum, Pouting Wisconsin Dems Take Ball and Go Ho…er…Run Away. A brief must-read as Scott and John take readers through the saga of the 14 run-away Democratic senators.

Weasel Zippers, Wisconsin: Dems Walkout to Stop Union-Busting Bill, Flee Across State Lines After GOP Asks State Patrol to Bring Them Back for a Vote — UPDATE: Dems are Located. . . in an Illinois Hotel

MADISON — Democratic State Senators who protested the budget repair bill by leaving the state have been found.

The lawmakers are in the Best Western Clock Tower Resort in Rockford Illinois.

Law enforcement officials have been looking for at least one Democratic senator to bring in for a quorum required for a fiscal measure, but Democratic Senator Jon Erpenbach confirmed to Newsradio 620 WTMJ that he and all of his Democratic colleagues boarded a bus and left the state.

“We’re not in Wisconsin right now,” Erpenbach said. “The reason why we’re doing this is because there are some jurisdictional issues that we’d be dealing with.”

The Senate’s Sergeant at Arms cannot compel Senators’ attendance in an open session if they are outside of state lines.

Donchya wonder who’s gonna pay for all that? –CAJ

Update: Ace of Spades, Civility: Lawmakers in Wisconsin Now Being Threatened by Left-Aligned Thugs.

American Power Blog, Wisconsin Protests and Progressive Civility

Althouse has more photos of signs, some of which are misspelled…by teachers…

ChicagoBoyz, AWOL Wisconsin Democrat State Senators: Contact Them and Demand They Show Up to Vote, and if They Don’t, Recall Them.

DaTechGuy, Dem representatives flee responsibility, capital, and state

Emerging Corruption, Teacher Union Thugs Comparing People to Hitler, Shutting Down Schools, Losing Their Argument

From Gay Patriot, Democrats Flee and By helping organize Wisconsin protests, is DNC countenancing nasty name-calling of participants?

Video at therightscoop, Tea Partier confronts WI Dems on the run

And the funniest headline of the day at WeaselZippers, AWOL Wisconsin Democrats Call CNN with List of Demands

What is this, a hostage negotiation?

(Daily Caller) — State Senator Mark Miller, a member of the missing band of Wisconsin Democratic lawmakers who fled Madison Thursday to avoid a vote on a budget bill, called into CNN with the group’s list of demands for Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Miller, a state senator since 2004, would not disclose where he and his colleagues were hiding out, saying only “we are in what we consider a secure location outside the capital. We are not all in one place at this time.”

Miller’s demands focused on the collective bargaining portions of the bill.

“We demand that the provisions that completely eliminate the ability of workers… to negotiate on a fair basis with their employers be removed from the budget repair bill and any other future budget,” Miller said.

He also demanded legislative oversight on changes to the state’s medical programs, which are targeted for changes in the bill. The bill would also require union members to contribute to their health care and pensions.

Miller and 13 other Democrats went missing Thursday morning when a vote on a budget-repair measure was imminent in the Republican-controlled Senate. It would have passed the Senate after getting out of committee on a party-line vote late last night, so Democrats left the building to stall a vote on the measure.

Asked by a CNN reporter why he and the Democrats weren’t doing their jobs, he countered by saying Walker had moved the bill too fast…[Emphasis added by an incredulous CAJ, wondering where Sen. Miller and his fellows have been for the past two years as Washington Dems have rammed all kinds of unwanted legislation…]

Read the whole thing…

Update 2: Instapundita call for assassination? Hey, Lincoln was a Republican, too. Where are the “civility police” now? UPDATE: “Walker 2012: Maybe on the top of the ticket, maybe in the veep slot. You heard it here first.”

Also from Instapundit:

MORE ON THE TILTED KILT, where Wisconsin’s Democratic legislators hid out. “We now know what they call ‘Hooters’ in Scotland, apparently.”

UPDATE: Walker to Dems: ‘You Can’t Have Conversations If You’re Not at Work’.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Runaway Dems now subject of the new “Badger 14″ blog. Where the focus is mostly how to get them out of office.

Plus, Wisconsin teachers who can’t spell.

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