February 19, 2011

The protest continues — in the Wisconsin Capitol rotunda this evening.

"The people, united, will never be defeated."

Look for the yellow "Sarah Palin shot my dog" sign.

(Video by Meade.)

"So you're really providing real doctor's notes for people that miss work?"

"I thought this was a little street theater..."

(That's the video I was promising to deliver, back in this post.)


The tall sign says: "I'm a doctor. Need a note?"

What's your sign? "I feel that people really like my sign."

The sign says "Please don't teabag our children."


And I confront her about that:




"'I need more rights'? You've been leeching for 45 years, from the looks of it!"

A quote that begins 3 minutes at the rally today. [Note: The young man in the frozen frame below has other things to say. It's another person who begins the clip.]

Born again, at the pro/anti-Scott Walker demonstration.

"Too Many Barnacles Sink the Ship/Is this the New Civility?"


Pro-Walker I think. It's surprising how much interpretation the signs demand!

And here's another visually distinctive female sign-holder-up.


You many say she's a dreamer, but she'll have you know that she is not the only one. The other side of the sign said "This is The Hour/We are the ones we've been waiting for/Hopi Elders." Hopey changey elders... I have heard of you. And I know you're not the only ones. But seriously, enough dreaming. There's a time for dreaming, and a time for waking up. And I'm saying that. Me, the Althouse-y elder.

Wandering through the Tea Party crowd at the Wisconsin Capitol rally today.

The audio is Andrew Breitbart's speech. The video is lots of faces and signs... for 5 minutes.

All the guys with cameras want to talk to the blowhard with the bullhorn and the jacket.




Walking alongside the anti-Walker marchers, he was having a fine time, shouting things like "How many of you are Marxists?" The sign says "Weren't you the anti-war protestors too?" Here's a video snippet.

"This IS Democracy."


I'm tired of having the phrase "This is what democracy looks like" yelled in my ears, but I thought this guy's "This IS Democracy" get-up had some comic elan.

In the Tea Party segment of the Wisconsin protests today.



At the Wisconsin protest, doctors offer to write excuse notes for teachers who called in sick.

Details and video here.

I saw these people myself today. At first I thought it was some sort of comic street theater, but it was, apparently, real doctors, defending what they were doing. I'll have my video interview up soon. I asked if it was dishonest or unethical, and the answer was that everyone has symptoms, perhaps a migraine, diarrhea, or insomnia. I suggested "activitis."

UPDATE: My video:


UPDATE 2: I spoke to another doctor — I assume he's a doctor — and I asked him whether he was worried, with all the cameras here, about his reputation. He said no. But he didn't use a political defense. He didn't say he supported the protesters and wanted to help them. He said people really do have symptoms, and it's a normal thing for doctors to believe patients who report symptoms and to write excuse notes for them. People call doctors all the time to get the required notes, and doctors trust the patients to report their symptoms properly. He ticked off the symptoms I've listed above.

Stay tuned to Althouse for the latest from Madison, Wisconsin.

I went down to the demonstration, to get today's share of abuse, and I've got lots of new photos and video from today's demonstration/counter-demonstration, including video of the Tea Party group, audio of Andrew Breitbart speaking, my encounter with the Dane County police who strictly narrowed the entrance to the Tea Party section, and a group of doctors who offering to write doctor's notes for people who'd missed work.

"Why are national liberal groups treating Wisconsin as if it were their last stand?"

John Fund answers:
Partly for reasons of symbolism. Historically, Wisconsin "embraced the organized labor movement more heartily than any other [state]," notes liberal activist Abe Sauer.

The Badger State became the first to pass a worker-compensation program in 1911, as well as the first to create unemployment compensation in 1932. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees—the chief national union representing non-federal public employees—was founded in Madison in 1936. And in 1959, Wisconsin became the first state to grant public employees collective-bargaining rights, which influenced President John F. Kennedy's decision to grant federal employees the right to join unions three years later.

Labor historian Fred Siegel offers further reasons why unions are manning the barricades. [Governor Scott] Walker would require that public-employee unions be recertified annually by a majority vote of all their members, not merely by a majority of those that choose to cast ballots. In addition, he would end the government's practice of automatically deducting union dues from employee paychecks. For Wisconsin teachers, union dues total between $700 and $1,000 a year.

"Ending dues deductions breaks the political cycle in which government collects dues, gives them to the unions, who then use the dues to back their favorite candidates and also lobby for bigger government and more pay and benefits," Mr. Siegel told me. 
Read the whole thing.

"The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service."

FDR wrote in 1937, quoted by Real Clear Politics:
Yes, public workers may demand fair treatment, wrote Roosevelt. But, he wrote, "I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place" in the public sector. "A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government."

"Keep our protest CIVIL/Don't become Incited/THE NATION IS WATCHING/And so are our children!"

2 young men with good signs at the Wisconsin State Capitol last night:


Someone put a blindfold on the "Forward" statue:


And, in the rotunda, the old "Obey" image has been Walker-ized:


(All photos by Meade.)

Those legislators in exile...

... where are they staying?


Are they shacking up with Chicago friends? At what point do they stop looking Wisconsin enough? I see Nancy Pelosi is "very proud of what they're doing." I'm sure that will resonate with the people of Wisconsin who are watching and wondering what side to take.

Here's a blog — The "Badger 14": Escape From Wisconsin — exploring (with some legal sophistication) the idea of impeaching the absent legislators.

There's a Tea Party rally in Wisconsin today — pro-Scott Walker — and I'm a bit wary.

Red State says:
Calling all tea party and grassroots conservatives in Wisconsin! This is your moment. Your state is ground zero in the fight against the unions. We win there, we win everywhere.
The fight against the unions... Well, there's an open declaration that it's not about solving the budget crisis, fairness, and shared sacrifice. I'm sure the people who've been protesting for the last 4 days will appreciate your frankness. That's what they accuse the Wisconsin GOP of doing. Is that the Tea Party way? You're coming in to serve us some iced tea, here in the Wisconsin winter — ice tea with a wedge of divisiveness, for that refreshing gulp of pure partisan flavor.
Why else do you think President Obama, Organizing for America and just about every element of the Left is focused on the fight in Wisconsin? Heck, even the godfather of the union movement, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, is flying into Madison today [to] address the union protestors.
Yes, the anti-Scott Walker side has its outside agitators. I don't think that necessarily helps the protesters win over the people of Wisconsin. (As I've said.) By contrast, Scott Walker and the GOP legislators have looked like they are focused on the public good, doing what needs to be done for the people of Wisconsin, which I think is a persuasive political message in Wisconsin. You want to switch that to Republicans versus Democrats in a hardcore political standoff? By bringing in your own outside agitators? Is that good Tea Party style? I don't think so!
As the union thugs and clueless students run around the capitol shouting, “Tax the rich, fix the deficit!” and holding up signs with crosshairs on Scott Walker’s head, the taxpayers of Wisconsin have been organizing.

Tomorrow, (Saturday, February 19) from noon to 3pm, the local tea party leaders from across Wisconsin and American Majority are joining in a counter protest to the unions (I Stand with Scott Walker!) on the state capitol grounds in Madison.
Okay, fine. Fine to have a protest supporting our governor. But it should be about Wisconsin and the public good — not party politics.
Confirmed speakers are Andrew Breitbart, Herman Cain, Jim Hoff of Gateway Pundit and my brother Ned with more to come.
Something tells me these people are not Wisconsinites.
Fox News, CNN and ABC News will be covering the event.

Time to flex some conservative muscle.
Flex some muscle... I know it's a metaphor, but you're sending out propaganda calling the protesters "thugs" — and that's just too belligerent. The point is for people to show up, be there, physically. That means something. And it works a whole lot better when there is nothing explicitly or implicitly violent about your speeches, signs, and caricatures. Keep it idealistic and kind-spirited, pro-Walker protesters.

And if you come in from out of state, I don't particularly want you here, but you need to know — whatever you've read about "thugs" and signs with cross-hairs and Hitler — Wisconsin people are really polite. If you don't understand that and behave extra-well, you will look like a lout — and that's even before the Democratic-friendly media do their usual work of trying to make you look bad.

I hope Wisconsinites do show up today — on all sides of the debate. Be there. I will. Let's be good citizens, interact with each other, try to understand what's going on and who thinks what, who cares about Wisconsin and who's there to take advantage of the spotlight for nonWisconsin purposes. May the greater good prevail.

February 18, 2011

Jesse Jackson comes to Wisconsin...

... and keeps the crowd waiting for a long, cold time, then delivers a generic speech including all sorts of inappropriate stuff about not giving in to violence — hello! Wisconsin teachers are utterly nonviolent — and how the government needs to create good jobs — which of course, the people protesting are privileged to have already.

Really, why is this celebrity from another state grandstanding here? This is truly not about him. Yet he made today, in a state that is not his state, revolve around him. It was quite selfish, especially when you contemplate the Wisconsin citizens the protesters are trying to influence. Why would Jesse Jackson's generically left-wing speech sway the people of Wisconsin to throw their support to the employees who have well-paid jobs with excellent benefits that they don't want to lose? If I had to pull a coherent thought out of Jackson's appearance, it would be self-interest. Jackson is a political speaker who plugged in to an event that he thought would boost his influence as a famous politico, and the state employees were demonstrating to preserve their power as especially fortunate participants in a struggling economy.

At the Protest Café...


... settle in. This could go on for a long time. Feel free to talk about anything you want. I know I've been a bit single-subject these last few days, but you don't have to be.

In the NYT, Tobin Harshaw — who's from Madison — surveys the views of the Wisconsin protests...

... beginning with some pictures from Althouse and — after a bunch of quotes from others — ending with Althouse.

How rowdy are the protests at the Wisconsin Capitol?

Here's a little video I took this morning, which fairly represents the scene in the rotunda (the center of the demonstration):

For all the size and noise and sincere fervor, I've seen absolutely no anger, nastiness, or rudeness. Not even any pushing to get into a better position. Everyone is quite nice, really. You need to understand that. Even when my dear bodyguard is not close to me, I don't feel at all endangered. And though I've photographed some signs and other junk piled on the ground, there isn't stuff strewn all over, and there is zero vandalism or destructiveness toward the capitol building itself. Despite all the opposition to the legislature, the entrance to the Senate chamber was barricaded with nothing more than a velvet rope overseen by 2 elegantly dressed guards...


... and no one made the slightest attempt to impinge on the roped-off area.

Jesse Jackson appears at the Wisconsin protests and compares it to the recent uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia...

... and leads the crowd in a singing of "We Shall Overcome" — which is probably more inspiring than the trio of recorded songs I heard the people sing/sway along with yesterday: "We're Not Gonna Take It," "Revolution," and "We Didn't Start the Fire."

I'm working at my desktop computer, writing this, and a text message comes in from Meade, who's gone back to the demonstration, to get his extra share of abuse, and the text is: "Rev j about to give speech." The news report I linked to above is from 10 a.m. So Jackson's been there for a long time. Anyway, I should have the video soon.

Meanwhile, oddly enough, before we left for the rally this morning, without knowing Jackson would arrive, I picked up my old "Jesse Jackson '88" button and told Meade he should wear on his lapel as part of a blending-in strategy. Am I psychic?! (He declined the button. Blending-in is more about being inconspicuous.)

As for the Wisconsin-is-like-Egypt theme... man, am I sick of that. I'm seeing it everywhere. For, example, today...


"Hey Scottie I hear Egypt is looking for a leader. So is Wisconsin!" says that guy, who was very proud of his sign. And see the woman next to him? In the red hat? Her sign says "Walker like an Egyptian" or something like that. And remember these charming folks from yesterday?


UPDATE: Jackson is still not out there, as the folks wait in the cold. It's dinnertime, maybe they have to pee, and they're only just now getting to sing "We Shall Overcome." Hey, how bad are your tribulations, compared to segregation? You're cold, you're hungry, you have to pee, and you have to pay 5.8% of your salary into your own pension fund. The oppression!

UPDATE 2: Jackson finally speaks.

"Lazy Protesters Straight Ahead"...


... says the sign stuck in the snow.

Straight ahead, at the protest, protesters chide the lazy voters...


"This is what happens when nobody votes." Who's she calling nobody? Well, the good people didn't vote, and look what the hell happened:


"Adolf Walker/Union Buster."

One of the main chants in the Capitol is: "This is what democracy looks like." And I've been asking protesters: Don't you think what happened last October was democracy? [ADDED: I mean November!]

Wisconsin people and their various signs... at the protest today.

A man hunches grimly over his drawing of a fist — with the slogan "Solidarity"...


There's this...


I asked the woman if by "Dread Scott" — evoking the Dred Scott case — she meant to suggest a connection between Scott Walker and the era of slavery. She said "Of course."

And this...


The message is "Dumb Puppet" and "F— F—" which means — I don't know — fuck face? I liked the graphic though. I told the woman it was my favorite of all the Walker caricatures I'd seen, and she said it was made by her son (who's in back with the x's on green glasses). [ADDED: Commenters are saying it's "F minus," written twice.]

And these kids...


I asked him if the point was that they liked that "Hide Your Kids" YouTube guy, and they said yes. (It seems charming, but if you understand the reference, it is portraying Walker as a rapist.)

Flag disrespect at the Wisconsin State Capitol protests:

I saw this today, at the State Street entrance:


Does the fish on the flag make it more disrespectful to have it on the ground or does it somehow cause this not to be a U.S. flag anymore and therefore okay to put the whole thing on the ground?

Scott Walker likened to Stalin... and to the Wicked Witch of the West.

Some analogies are more heavy-handed than others:


I talked to the man who combined "SS" and Stalin in his denouncement of Walker:

And to the young woman with the "Release the Flying Monkeys" sign:

(The photo and videos were done at about 11:40 this morning, at the Wisconsin State Capitol.)

"By Roberts rules couldn’t the President of the Senate... just gavel the session to order, take a voice vote, declare the measure passed and slam the gavel?"

An emailer asks (with respect to the impasse in the Wisconsin legislature, with all the Democratic senators fleeing the state)...

Obama injects himself into the Wisconsin conflict.

WaPo reports:
"Some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where they're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions," Obama told a Milwaukee television reporter on Thursday, taking the unusual step of inviting a local TV station into the White House for a sit-down interview. "I think everybody's got to make some adjustments, but I think it's also important to recognize that public employees make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens."
Actually, that's pretty equivocal. "Seems more like"... "recognize ... enormous contributions"... blah blah blah. But that's the figurehead speaking, maintaining deniability. The important thing is that his organization is working hard on this, and Democratic Party interests are massively at stake:
The White House political operation, Organizing for America, got involved Monday, after Democratic National Committee Chairman Timothy M. Kaine, a former Virginia governor, spoke to union leaders in Madison, a party official said.

The group made phone calls, distributed messages via Twitter and Facebook, and sent e-mails to state and national lists to try to build crowds for rallies Wednesday and Thursday, a party official said.
"This is not the way you begin an 'adult conversation' in America about solutions to the fiscal challenges that are destroying jobs in our country," [House Speaker John A.] Boehner said in a statement, alluding to the president's call for civility in budget talks. "Rather than shouting down those in office who speak honestly about the challenges we face, the president and his advisers should lead."

The battle in the states underscores the deep philosophical and political divisions between Obama and Republicans over how to control spending and who should bear the costs.

By aligning himself closely with unions, Obama is siding with a core segment of the Democratic Party base - but one that has chafed in recent weeks as the president has sought to rebuild his image among centrist voters by reaching out to business leaders.
It's a tough political problem for Obama, but the truth is... it's not all about Obama. It's about the long-term power of the 2 political parties and, more important, the economic health of the states.

I went down to the demonstration this morning... just now...

... to get my fair share of photos and videos.

It's a very bright sunny day here in Madison, Wisconsin. A bit windy and cold. The crowds were much thinner than yesterday, but it's still early here. I'm wondering if the Democrats' escape from Wisconsin — which is preventing a vote on the budget plan — is draining energy from the crowd, cooling down the fervor.

Nothing can happen until they come back, and we don't know when they're coming back. I spoke some people who work for a Democratic senator, and they didn't know how long the legislative exile would persist. The idea is to slow things down, at least to express outrage about the way the Republicans "rammed things down our throat."


Pics and video soon. Hang on and check back. I got some good stuff.

Did Scott Walker create Wisconsin's budget crisis as a means to the end of cutting the public unions' collective bargaining rights?

That's what the NYT thinks:
Just last month, [Gov. Walker] and the [Wisconsin] Legislature gave away $117 million in tax breaks, mostly for businesses that expand and for private health savings accounts. That was a choice lawmakers made, and had it not been for those decisions and a few others, according to the state’s Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state would have had a surplus.

Wisconsin is certainly not as bad off as California, Illinois, and several northeastern states that are making tough budgetary decisions without trying to eliminate union rights. Nonetheless, the union-busting movement is picking up steam, with lawmakers in Ohio, Indiana, and several other states. 
It really is odd that Wisconsin became ground zero, because we didn't have the budget disaster that was going on conspicuously in some of the other states. I'm really trying to understand this. Why Wisconsin? A distinctive thing about us is how good our public employees' benefits are. The cut we — I'm one of them — are being asked to take is severe. (I'm looking at a loss of more than $10,000 a year, myself.) But it's hard to complain and appear sympathetic, because we're only being asked to go from paying 0.2% of the payments our salary into our pension fund to 5.8%, which probably looks astoundingly low to outsiders. We're being asked to pay more for our health insurance, but the coverage is extremely good, and the annual hit will be about $2,500.

So maybe we public employees in Wisconsin are a great target — a great starting place for what is a national movement by the Republicans. I'm trying to understand the party politics. Tell me if this is correct: There are vast numbers of public employees, who vote overwhelmingly for Democrats. Once elected, the Democrats create more and more public jobs with greater and greater benefits, and, consequently, more voters who are even more locked into voting for Democrats. This is a cycle that approaches political graft, and the Republicans, to win, must overcome all those passionate, self-interested Democratic voters. Why wouldn't the Republicans embrace a strategy hostile to the public employees? Why wouldn't they drive a wedge between the public employees and all the other citizens in the state?

So I see 3 questions: 1. Is this what the Republicans are really doing? 2. How good a political strategy is it? and 3. Is it a good idea to reduce the political and economic power of public employees?

The 3 questions are interrelated, but they should contemplated separately... but who is capable of doing that? I'm trying to be fair, and it's possible that I'm in as good a position as anybody. I voted for Walker and support many of the things the Republicans are trying to do, but this budget plan — as I said — will cost me more than $10,000 a year.

The State Bar of California urges U.S. News to factor racial diversity into its law school rankings — counting for 15% of the score.

Oh, lord, can you imagine the new dimension this would add to gaming the rankings? But
"The deans care dearly about where they rank," said Craig Holden, a partner at Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith and the chairman of the council, which is spearheading the proposal. "The rankings are a real driver for change — everybody recognizes that — and when you make diversity a sidebar rather a component of the rankings, you're sidelining the issue."
A real driver for change... as if law schools don't already strive for racial diversity!
Making diversity a factor in the rankings would create a solid incentive for law school administrators to bolster their diversity efforts, Holden said...
Diversity for the sake of U.S. News Rankings? I don't remember Grutter v. Bollinger accepting racial decision-making for the purpose of climbing in the U.S. News rankings.

February 17, 2011

"What the Democrats don't like isn't dictatorship, it is democracy."

"That is why the Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate fled the state en masse — they prevented a quorum, so that a vote they were going to lose couldn't take place. Once again, it is democracy they are trying to frustrate, not dictatorship."

Madison schools will close once again.

The teachers take another day off to demonstrate at the capitol. What impression is this making around the state?

Demonstrating in the Capitol, with the American flag hung upside down.


I don't know who put the flag like that, and I don't think most of those people posing around it realized they were part of a tableau of disrespect.

"It appears that tomorrow may well be the biggest day yet at the Capitol in the current wave of activity..."

"... with the consequence that there is likely to be yet less activity on campus than there was today."

Email from PROFS ("Representing UW-Madison Faculty, Strengthening Wisconsin).
As we said yesterday: "We recognize that there are many ways that students learn. We support your right, as faculty of our university, to determine the appropriate educational experience for your students."
Could things get any bigger? How much less activity is possible? And as far as "appropriate educational experience for [our] students"... the implication is that it would be really appropriate to urge them on to the demonstration.

"In a last-ditch effort to stop the passage of Gov. Scott Walker's controversial budget repair bill, all 14 Senate Democrats staged a walk-out Thursday..."

All 14. Wow.
The missing legislators traveled across state lines, spending at least part of the day at the Clock Tower Resort in Rockford, Ill. — just far enough away that state troopers could not force them to return. They then spent the rest of the day in a cat-and-mouse game with members of the media, sometimes speaking by cell phone but not revealing their location....

"Their actions by leaving the state and hiding from voting are disrespectful to the hundreds of thousands of public employees who showed up to work today and the millions of taxpayers they represent," [Gov. Scott Walker] said.
ADDED: Legislator on the run...

School's out for the demonstration...

... and students, here in Madison, Wisconsin, are marching from West High School down to the state capitol to protest Scott Walker's union-busting budget plan:

Politically active dogs.

Here are 2 union activist dogs, from the demonstrations at the Wisconsin state capitol today and yesterday:



And... from last April's Tea Party rally at the state capitol, here's a Tea Party dog:


More signs at the protest today.

A simple plea:


Stoical support:


"Jesus loves you but not this bill" — a little breaching of the wall between church and state:


"Pretend it's college and drop out":


"Open For Business = Closed For Negotiatins" [sic]:


(Is anybody going to apologize for laughing at "Teabonics" — the misspellings on Tea Party signs? I mean, this is a demonstration for unionized teachers. They should spellcheck the hell out of their signs.)

(The first 2 pics were taken by Meade, the rest are by me. All taken today.)

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





At today's demonstration against Scott Walker's budget plan — a sign reading "Sic Semper Tyrannis."

"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."

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."

"Day of Rage' Hits Wisconsin."

It's the top headline at Drudge.

New Gov. takes on State Employees Unions...
Madison schools, others closed amid call for demonstrations...
1,100 teachers call in 'sick'...
Obama: 'Assault'...
Rep.: 'Like Cairo Moved To Madison'...
PAPER: 'Unions want to overturn election result'...

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.

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:


"If I'm a GREAT worker WHY are you treating me THIS WAY?" — an abandoned sign pleads.



"Hands Off," says a sign that no one touches.


"Educators... care..." enough to leave signs to be trampled into the texture of the wet concrete.


"Proud" pile of dirty snow promises to "fight."


(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.)

UPDATE: Four days into the protests, we observed that the protesters have done a great job of keeping litter off the Capitol grounds. More here.

"With just one impressive speech, Chris Christie put three full days of CPAC speakers to shame."

Says Politico, summarizing what its "a bipartisan panel of experts" thought:
And all agreed he certainly appeared ready for the Oval Office, despite his protests to the contrary.

“He looked presidential in the kind of Hollywood sense,” [Democratic strategist Jamal] Simmons said. “The 'Bulworth,' straight-talking politician. John Goodman on 'The West Wing.' Republican guy from the heartland. He looked that part but it’s a long way to go from there to the White House.”
Eh. Okay. You're a Democratic strategist. What's your game?
[GOP strategist Chris] Henick said he was impressed by Christie’s “willingness step out on the ice without worrying about falling through or not” – by taking on the powerful teachers’ unions and seeking to reform costly public employee pension programs.

“Today was about complete command, focus on the immediacy of our problems,” Henick said.

"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?

The computer beats the nerds.

On "Jeopardy!"

February 16, 2011

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.

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."

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.

"Bust corps. not unions":


"Dick move, Scotty!"


"Hosni + Hitler = Dictator Scott Walker":


"We have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers":


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