March 12, 2011


Unintended Wisconsinquences.

Meade, a walker against the crowd.



ADDED: Re photo #1: Don't miss the man in shorts. Re photo #2: Here's Meade's video of the breaking up of the "solidarity" of the cows. I have this fantasy of the cow planning meeting... that there was one extra cow, making the argument that there should be an "i" after the "a" and before the "r," really going on and on, being quite annoying.

Signs of exaggeration.

"If Wisconsin surrenders/we'll all hang/Strike now while you still have food on your table."


"Scott Walker hates WI people."


"I never thought I'd miss Nixon."


"Walker Spread Yer SHIT!"


"My new tools"... "Union Power" is a hammer, pounding nails into a coffin labeled "The Republican Party."

DSC00461 - Version 2

At least this one sounds nice: "We are all one union."


But it's the utopians you most need to look out for.

(All photos taken by me, today, in Madison, Wisconsin.)

"Their arrogance and condescension... just amazing."

It is their own self-love that makes them so vulnerable.

W.C. Fields said "You can't cheat an honest man," and I say "You can't punk a self-deprecating man."

"Entire villages in parts of Japan’s northern Pacific coast have vanished under a wall of water..."

"... many communities are cut off, and a nuclear emergency was unfolding at two stricken reactors as Japanese tried to absorb the scale of the destruction after Friday’s powerful earthquake and devastating tsunami."

"Get Up, Stand Up," stand up to go to the bathroom.

Hey, that's sexist! Don't give up the fight, indeed!

Tea Party hating by the pro-union protesters.


"'Tea Party' sounds so much nicer than 'Mob of Racists and Homophobes.'" (The woman in the background has a sign that says "Walker — a boy from Brazil?" — a suggestion that Walker is a Hitler clone.)


Enlarge to see the homophobic depiction of Scott Walker.

"I’m one of the Fabulous 14 and I’m so proud... We are back to unite and fight with our supporters. We gave them hope. They gave us inspiration."

Says a Democratic Senator. Says a Republican: "Today, the most shameful 14 people in the state of Wisconsin are going to pat themselves on the back and smile for the cameras... They’re going to pretend they’re heroes for taking a three-week vacation. It is an absolute insult to the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who are struggling to find a job, much less one they can run away from and go down to Illinois — with pay."

Radio alert.

I'll be on WMAL talking to Andrew Breitbart about the Wisconsin protests in about 5 minutes. Stream here.

UPDATE: I'm pushed forward to 5:37 CT. Sorry to make you listen to the wrong part!

"What was it you were looking for that took your life that night?/They said they found my high school ring clutched in your fingers tight."

Jean Dinning, who wrote "Teen Angel," has died. Just sweet 86, and now you're gone. The lovely recording, a hit in 1960, was sung by her brother Mark Dinning. Jean recorded with her sisters Lou and Ginger — the Dinning Sisters — and they had a million seller, "Buttons and Bows."
To some, “Teen Angel” raises more questions than it answers. Why was the ring loose in the car? Had he just given it to her? Had it fallen off her finger?
Sigh. Doesn't everyone know that a girl wouldn't put the boy's high-school ring on her finger? It wouldn't fit! She wore it on a chain around her neck. Obviously, somehow in the rush to get out of the car that had stalled on the railroad track, the chain broke and the ring fell somewhere.

Meet the pro-Walker folk.

We were driving home from the Capitol protest march today, we noticed these kids, who yelled something pro-Scott Walker. Meade stopped the car and I did the video and interviewing.

Meade breaks up the solidarity of cows.

At the Wisconsin protest today.

Friends of Dorothy/Protest Pug/Dead Badger Hat.

Meade begins with a shot of that statue of Hans Christian Heg, as the march proceeds in the background. Then he finds me asking a guy with some "Wizard of Oz" signs if Scott Walker is a "friend of Dorothy." The guy laughs and says "no." Next comes an adorable pug in a tutu, and a protester — a union carpenter — wearing a fur hat complete with real (dead) badger head.

ADDED: The "Wizard of Oz" signs:


Teamsters truck horns blare... pro-union signs and protesters.

At the protests this morning, Meade walks, Flip cam in hand, into the throng of pro-union marchers. You get a good look at the faces and signs. It's a real slice-o-protest, showing exactly what it's like there today. On the soundtrack, blaring horns from the Teamsters trucks that have been parked on the square for weeks.

It's hard to strum protest guitar in March.

"If agitators from an opposing view show up, keep people separated and not let our people engage them."

Meade interviews the volunteer security guys in orange vests:

Althouse sighting at the Wisconsin Capitol protest today.

Did Meade bring me here for a reason?

"Let's go in."

We find the line and question a man who went through it: "Was it worth it?"

"I'll use the Port-a-Potty from now on."

ADDED: Somebody emailed to say they wanted to know what boots I was wearing. Also: "There is a guy in the background saying: you want to meet somebody? Another male voice: ya with your fists? Then a loud audible Shhhhsssssh! which sounds female." Hey, you're right! The things that get picked up on audio.

"I live in the real world, here in Madison, Wisconsin."

A statement of mine embedded in the previous post. Rereading that, I had to laugh.

"I don't think any of the Republican leadership has accused law enforcement of siding with protesters or abetting them in anyway..."

"... which, by the way, would be a terrible political move for them, accusing people of being traitors."

Says UW polisci prof Barry Burden, quoted in a Christian Science Monitor article inquiring into whether law enforcement at the Capitol here in Madison, Wisconsin permitted or facilitated a descent into mob rule. This is a very serious question whether it's in the political interests of the Republicans to ask it or not! Obviously, the Democrats don't want to ask the question. Indeed, some Democrats are implicated in the chaos.

We, the people, should demand to know what happened, how it was that thousands of protesters were able to occupy the state Capitol building day and night for weeks and, especially, to storm and retake the building after police had cleared them out pursuant to a court order. It's not that the police did nothing, but they had some kind of policy, and it was quite accommodating to the protesters.

The Christian Science Monitor says:
The protests were peaceful, on the whole – with only 18 arrests during more than three weeks of steady protests in Madison – but critics question whether Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney, too, was taking sides.
Anyone can look at the pictures and video and see crimes being committed. The low number of arrests is evidence that the police chose not to enforce the law. Meade, outnumbered in the center of an angry mob, was physically assaulted by a very large man, and all the while a police officer looked on and did nothing. Should Meade have said "Arrest this man!" — under those circumstances? Think about it! The police seemed to be on the other side, and he was surrounded by people who'd decided he was a "Walker plant." How, exactly, was he supposed to extricate himself from the situation if the police didn't respond to his accusation? What do you do when you can't count on the police? You're on your own.

The CSM article is also about whether the federal government can come to the rescue under the Guarantee Clause of the Constitution. Article IV, § 4. You mean, when the state can no longer fend off domestic unrest, the feds have a duty to help us? Pardon me if I laugh. The Obama administration might send in forces to do what the local police here won't do?

Sorry. I'm a constitutional law professor, and I'm especially interested in all the federalism stuff, but I live in the real world, here in Madison, Wisconsin. I want real police, enforcing the law, equally and with a high sense of duty — not self-interested union enthusiasm.

Now, what we really want to know is: Who handcuffed the Capitol doorknobs from the inside on the night the mob retook the building?
Meade has been trying to get an authoritative interview from the police. He was over at the Capitol on March 11th and got as far as a police escort into the office of Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs. Tubbs was there, but talking on the phone. He shunted Meade to a secretary, to take Meade's name and number. A phone call was promised. We're still waiting for the phone call.
I want to know more about Tubbs. The Wisconsin State Journal — which caters to the political tastes of Madisonians — just adores the man:

Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs has earned himself a new nickname.

From here on out, we're just going to start calling him the "Protester Whisperer."...

Most people would agree the crowds around the Capitol the past four weeks have been some of the nicest angry protesters ever to assemble.

There has been the occasional Hitler sign (knuckleheads), and some Republicans have received death threats. But for the most part, the crowds at the Capitol acquitted themselves nicely.
Don't hold your breath waiting for investigation from the "mainstream" press here in Madison! (Don't you just love how the linked article has, instead of a picture of Tubbs, a picture of the young reporters posing cutely back to back?) Hey, children, there were Hitler signs all over. Hitler, Stalin, swastikas — the nastiest stuff you can imagine. And if there were a Tea Party rally with 1% of the nasty signs we saw and photographed here, those reporters and the liberals they represent would get all righteous about the terrible violence infecting the Tea Party.

And what's a little death threat to "some Republicans"? It was a death threat to all the Republican Senators and their families, and it said:
So, this is how it's going to happen: I as well as many others know where you and your family live, it's a matter of public records. We have all planned to assult you by arriving at your house and putting a nice little bullet in your head. However, we decided that we wouldn't leave it there.... So we have also built several bombs that we have placed in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent. This includes, your house, your car, the state capitol, and well I won't tell you all of them because that's just no fun.
Full text here. The hopelessly biased State Journal reporters — Clay Barbour and Mary Spicuzza — committed to their "crowds... acquitted themselves nicely" theme go on to trash Fox News for making things look "a lot scarier." They then conclude with a cloying cutesiness you have to live in Madison to fathom:
Some of us in the Capitol press corps were shocked when the Wisconsin 14 fled to Illinois. But after listening to hours upon hours of bickering, accusations and all-out shouting matches at the Capitol, we are considering fleeing to Rockford, Ill., too. Beers at the Tilted Kilt and some CoCo Key Water Resort water slides sound pretty good right now. We get dibs on Sen. Chris Larson's air mattress if he's finally done with it.
Yeah, please go, why don't you? You are useless reporters.  But you won't lose your jobs for this  abject lack of interest in investigating anything. You're there at the Wisconsin State Journal to dish out ice cream news for liberals in Madison's protest playground, where no one can possibly get hurt, and the policeman is your friend.

UPDATE: Tubbs called Meade at 2:15 this afternoon (Saturday) to say they are looking into the handcuffs matter.

March 11, 2011

Chris Matthews on the tsunami: "Was this sort of a good opportunity for the president to remind everybody that he grew up in the United States and Hawaii?"


Rush Limbaugh predicted it.

On the battlefield of protest, so many (snow)men have melted.


"Please Keep off the Mud."


"It's become some sort of glamour protest. It's all see and be seen now."

Says Meade when he comes home from the Capitol this evening with these pics. Were these kids putting on a show?


And this young lady...


... what does she think she's doing?! It's a clown show....


ADDED: You think it would make more sense with video...

... but you are wrong. [AND: I love that you can see the instant when the still camera flash goes off (and that Meade wields both cameras simultaneously).]

A lone Walker-supporter with a Gadsden flag and a lady with a dog who mostly worries about the poor.

2 individuals — and 1 canine — who talked to Meade today at the Capitol:

This begins with some heckling in which the Gadsden guy — "Jim" — dishes it out and takes it, and it ends with a short walk up to the damaged door, with random music that seems intentionally synched.

"Quentin Tarantino sues his neighbour over 'blood curdling screams' from pet parrots."


Today's throng at the Capitol — with signs, costumes, and desecrated song lyrics.

Meade got there at around noon:


Enlarge to see lots of printed Union Pipetraders signs and a handmade "Take your ANGER into the street."

Closeup to see the 18th century costumes:


Enlarge to read the limerick:
Scott Walker's depressive & manic,
With brain damage likely organic.
The son-of-a-bitch
Helps only the rich.
Leaving everyone else in a panic!

Enlarge to read the lyrics in the orange booklet: "We Shall Overcome" with a "Walker won't be Governor" verse.

Scott Walker rescinds layoff notices for 1,500 state workers...

... now that the legislature has cut collective bargaining rights.
“From a policy perspective, this is terrible,” said Mike Tate, the leader of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

“But from a political perspective, he could not have handed us a bigger gift,” Mr. Tate said of the governor.

In the last 24 hours, he added, the state party had received $360,000 in contributions and volunteers have streamed into offices where signatures were being collected for recall bids.
Yeah, they are making phone calls. I got one yesterday. I played "ordinary voter" and said: "Why shouldn't I just wait until the next election? I mean, there was an election last fall. Shouldn't the people who won their terms finish their terms and just have a normal election?" Blah, blah, blah, from the caller.

Me: "But it seems like a weird thing to do to keep having more and more and more elections. I mean, people get all excited over the elections in the fall and then, you know, to just have new elections in the spring, I mean, that's really confusing for people. And it seems expensive too. Should we really be doing stuff like that?"

The caller starts telling me that it's legal. It was very hard for me to maintain my Ordinary Voter persona after she tried to go legal on me. I had to say: "Yeah, but people don't do everything they have a legal right to do." And then I couldn't resist saying: "What about the Democratic Senators who went to Illinois? Should they be recalled?" So then she sniffed me out as a nonsupporter and brought the conversation in for a landing, but not before I gave my parting shot: "I think it's a terrible idea and I hope you lose."

The Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg takes the nonpartisan election in a strongly partisan direction.

At a forum at the Waukesha County Courthouse last night:
“Justice Prosser has sent a clear message that he will favor the agenda of Gov. (Scott) Walker and the Republican Legislature,” Kloppenburg said. “I will apply the law to the facts of the cases before me and decide them without prejudice.”
What is her basis for attributing a "clear message" like that to Prosser? If she doesn't have a solid basis for that statement — and I can't see what it is — how is that supposed to jibe with her self-image as a dutiful applicant of law to fact?

ADDED: The Isthmus columnist Bill Lueders, who is quite openly liberal, can't see fit to disrespect the venerable Prosser:

Protesters kicked in a wooden panel of a door to the Wisconsin Capitol.

Yesterday a district criminal investigator told Meade that this damage took place on Wednesday night, and Meade got the photographs today:



And let's look at those pictures and think about the question who put handcuffs on the doorknobs that night. The doors have their own locks. Why would the police add more security to the doors than what is provided by those locks? Battering the doors causes the damage you see in those photographs.

And the police were on the scene to protect the Capitol, not abandoning the building. I think that from their perspective, they would not want more security than provided by the locks. Moreover, handcuffs on the doorknobs could be deadly in the case of a fire or some other imminent need for egress.

In addition, when Meade saw the handcuffs, the police had already retreated from the scene. There were protesters in the area. Meade and another observer thought they didn't look like police handcuffs (because they weren't sufficiently shiny and substantial). In the enlarged photograph, you can read the serial number on the handcuffs: 019989. (The second and third 9s could be 5s.)

Finally, the police have not made a statement saying that they handcuffed the doors shut. I think this is a big enough issue that the police should now say whether they did it or not.

ADDED: Meade showed the handcuffs picture to several police officers at the Capitol today (3/11). The first police officer Meade showed the picture to said the handcuffs didn't look like police handcuffs because they were "shitty." He also said that handcuffing the doors is not something the police would do. Eventually Meade made his way to the office of Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs, who said he would call him back. Meade left his name and number, and we await Tubbs's call.

NPR board member says "we unwittingly cultivated a core audience that is predominately white, liberal, highly educated, elite. "

"'Super-serve the core' — that was the mantra, for many, many years. This focus has, in large part, brought us to our success today..."
One choice, at this transformational moment, is to say, "We are satisfied with what we are doing. We — in radio — are providing 11 percent of America with an extraordinary service." If this is our choice, we need to carefully consider whether we warrant public funding and, if so, what the rationale would be.
Ah! The dilemma! On the one hand, there's our beautiful elitism. On the other, there's all that money. Money. Elitism. Elitism. Money. Uhhh.... Okay, we need to try to look less elite.

This is Meade's photograph of the doors handcuffed closed at the Wisconsin Capitol the night of the Senate's vote on collective bargaining.

Protesters handcuffed Capitol doors shut

If you want to use this photograph, click through to the Flickr page and get the code for it. Don't present it as yours. This post was prompted by Henry, who said:
@Althouse -- I would repost the picture. Get it to the top. Help Google do its job.

"At some point these acts of brazen viciousness are going to lead to a renewed philosophical interest in the question of when acts of political violence are morally justified."

How quickly the lefty mind turns toward violence! That's the lofty law-and-philosophy professor Brian Leiter. Here, I'll help you get your fancy-schmancy, high-tone philosophy seminar started: Acts of political violence are justified to get what you want.

Via Instapundit, who says: "This whole 'new civility' business just isn’t working out as promised. On the other hand, it is working out pretty much as expected...."

My tag for the "new civility" has always been "civility bullshit." It was always, obviously, a strategy to control conservatives (while liberals regrouped after the drubbing in the 2010 elections). Now that the Wisconsin protesters have gone so far beyond anything that could be attributed to Tea Partiers or to Sarah Palin maps-with-crosshairs, I suppose the MSM will act as if there never was a new civility movement at all. Suddenly, virulent dissent will be portrayed as noble.

And let me drag Ron Schiller — the punked NPR exec — into this. One of the things he said to the fake would-be donors was: "In my personal opinion, liberals today might be more educated, fair and balanced than conservatives." I loathe this kind of self-flattery. Everyone thinks his own ideas are good. That's why they're your ideas. But to layer in this self-love: I'm smarter. This is what Leiter is doing too. He's inclined to approve of the impulse toward violence on the left and willing to mobilize the discipline of philosophy to generate rhetoric to support its political goals. It's quite disgusting.

Meanwhile, Schiller sneered at the dummies who aren't liberal: "I mean basically they are, they believe in sort of white, middle-America gun-toting. I mean, it’s scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people." Is Schiller smart? He thinks he is. But that statement reeks of stupidity. It's not articulate. "Sort of white." Just say they're white if that's your point. Are they "racist" as a result of a lack of education? Here's a clue: It doesn't take education to see that racism is wrong. If anything, it takes education to get to the point where you make subtle distinctions approving of some racial things but not others.

For the ordinary people Schiller has contempt for, it's not a sophisticated intellectual matter to reject racism. And for the ordinary people outside of the circle of Leiter's respect, it's a simple matter to reject violence.

"Somebody ought to use that image of the handcuffs on the door in print and TV ads. I think that can have a powerful and visceral effect."

Says a commenter over on Kos, where they swiped Meade's photo and used it without attribution and without linking back to the Flickr page, pursuant to the Creative Commons license.

Protesters handcuffed Capitol doors shut

The blogger assumes the police put the handcuffs on the doorknobs, but that wasn't the perception Meade had Wednesday night:
Protesters are locking the Capitol doors shut from the inside using metal handcuffs, Meade reports from the scene.

He told me that just now, by phone. He got out, and is warning others not to go in. Obviously, it's a terrible fire hazard to make it so people cannot get out of the building easily. Presumably, protesters think it's a good idea to keep the police out, but it is dangerously stupid.
Of course, it's terrible if the police did it too. Indeed, there needs to be a serious investigation into the police behavior throughout the protest. Meade and I have seen quite a bit of evidence that the police were, if not colluding with the protesters and facilitating their activities, turning a blind eye to all sorts of things that they would not have permitted in the normal course of performing their duties. Why did they retreat on Wednesday and allow the building to be retaken? I assume there are some good reasons for letting a mob take over a public building, after hours, and to block the state legislature the following morning. But how dare the police make such an abject public demonstration of their ineffectuality?

ADDED: Is anyone using the Wisconsin Open Records law to get access to the communications between the police and the protesters?

UPDATE: Meade has been trying to get an authoritative interview from the police. He was over at the Capitol on March 11th and got as far as a police escort into the office of Wisconsin Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs. Tubbs was there, but talking on the phone. He shunted Meade to a secretary, to take Meade's name and number. A phone call was promised. We're still waiting for the phone call.

UPDATE 2: Tubbs called Meade back at 2:15 pm on Saturday to say that the matter is under investigation. He said he'd have more on Monday afternoon or Tuesday morning.

"I’m sad... They’re already talking online, so they don’t need a club."

So said "event organizer" Darwin Bebo, quoted in this article about the obsolescence of "social groups" for gay people.
The tug of war between the virtual and physical worlds is happening in every strata of society, but in the gay community the shift has been especially poignant and with significant implications. Social groups helped start the gay civil rights movement, and in recent decades they have raised millions of dollars for causes like same-sex marriage and the battle against H.I.V./AIDS....

The roots of many gay and lesbian social groups date to when homosexuality was a crime and gatherings were illegal.

“Social groups and networks founded the G.L.B.T. community as early as the 1950s,” said Paul Boneberg, executive director of the GLBT Historical Society. “It represented an ability to find each other.”
I wonder how the gay rights movement would have unfolded if the internet had been available all along. I imagine that gay people would have remained more physically dispersed if they could have found each other and formed relationships on a much more decentralized level. I'm guessing there would have been far less intertwining of gay rights issues and liberal/left politics. The core rights have to do with individual expression in the private sphere. These would have been won without forming large groups that meet in person.

The linked article ends with a second quote from Boneberg: "I don’t see the transition as a weakening of the community." Life on the internet is different. It's weaker in some ways and stronger in others. The "event organizer" is sad. People who used terms like "community" are equivocal. But I'm sure there are plenty of people who don't want to be organized and don't feel like they're in a community just because they have a particular sexual preference. The internet makes you stronger, if you're inclined toward individualism.

If the internet had been around all along, then, many private persons would have created satisfying lives for themselves, and some expressive, individualistic voices would have gained immense influence. And the amassers of groups would have had a lot less to do.

More sex. More speech. Less community organizing.

"In the Middle East crisis, as on other issues, there are two Barack Obamas: the transformative historical figure and the pragmatic American president."

Cranking out another Obama-favorable article at the NYT — with precious little raw material.


Dramatic photographs of the earthquake and tsunami.

March 10, 2011

Protest dog of the day.



Come on, kids! It's victimology time!

Let's all flop down on the sidewalk and draw each other's dead body outlines.


No, no, no... we're not drawing blue violins with musical notes drifting up out of them. This isn't about art, it's politics. Not violins. Violence! The government is killing us! Come on, it's great fun! Come roll around on the sidewalk with us. We're the victims!

(A photo by Meade, taken this afternoon, in the aftermath of the union-busting vote.)

Everybody wants to take a photo of a man wheeling the large pile of shit that has a "Hello My Name Is Scott Walker" sign stuck in it.


Posing for Democracy... Crying for Liberty....



"It's About Freedom!"


"Now Settle Down, Kitty!"


Inside the rotunda, this afternoon.


All this fisheye comes to you from the inimitable New Media Meade, AKA Meade the Press.

"Democrat staff engineered mob’s unlawful invasion of Wisconsin Capitol Building."

The evidence. (Via kent.)


The bill has passed, phones Meade.

ADDED: Meade declares the protest over: There's nothing to do anymore. It will have to wind down.

Why doesn't President Obama say anything about the Wisconsin protests?

Is it that his people are pulling strings behind the scenes?
State GOP Senate Leader Scott Fitzgerald told Fox News on Thursday that some of the people filing petitions against members of his caucus have "direct links" to President Obama's political team in Chicago. He suggested the president is keen on aiding labor groups in the state so they can deliver for Democrats in 2012.

Republican state Sen. Randy Hopper [said] "People from Organizing for America have been running the protests in Madison for quite some time now... I think that there's no question that the president has some involvement in this. I don't know what."
Hmmm. I'd like to know the details. Meanwhile, Obama is interested enough that his people are working to get and keep votes for 2012, but not interested enough to say anything. But who in the Democratic Party outside of the Wisconsin legislature is? I count Tammy Baldwin, Michael Moore, and Jesse Jackson. That makes the whole protest movement look left-wing. I wonder why national-level Democratic politicos are content to let things look that way.

100 protesters were removed from the antechamber to the Wisconsin Assembly chamber which will, imminently, vote on the bill passed last night by the Senate.

The members of the Assembly are filing in now, Meade tells me by phone.

UPDATE: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
The Assembly ripped into a bitter debate over Gov. Scott Walker's budget-repair and union-bargaining bill Thursday afternoon after police carried protesters out of the body to make way for GOP lawmakers to enter.
UPDATE 2: CNN reports from the "chaotic" scene. He describes police picking up protesters and carrying or dragging them out — "forcibly." It's not clear whether anyone is being arrested.

The "open meetings" nonsense.

If you care to read details, go here. It's nothing, and I won't be distracted by it.

CORRECTION: In the post title, "records" corrected to: "meetings."

NYT caption — "Protesters assembled outside a door that the police were blocking at the Wisconsin Capitol on Wednesday" — wilfully obscures that the mob overran the police last night and took over the building.

And look at that photograph — illustrating what is their main article on the Wisconsin protest right now! A noble state trooper stands calmly on the inside, while 3 gentle, wistful individuals peer in through the windows of the securely closed doors. A nice lesson in how to lie with photographs and captions. Scroll down to see our coverage of the anarchic doings at the Capitol. Protesters came through the windows and doors last night, hooting and stampeding and sending the police into retreat.

The NYT article begins...
CHICAGO — A bill sharply curtailing collective bargaining rights for government workers in Wisconsin is due for a vote in the State Assembly on Thursday morning, where it is all but sure to pass. The State Senate approved similar legislation Wednesday with only Republican members casting votes; the chamber’s Democratic minority, who fiercely oppose the measure, remain out of the state.
Chicago! What about the mob scene? Well, there's this in paragraph 6:
Democrats in the State Assembly complained bitterly, and protesters, who had spent many days at the Capitol, continued their chants and jeers.
Uh, yeah. Chants and jeers... And taking over the building, climbing in windows? Nothing. The article goes on, but there's nothing more about the protests, and NYT readers are left with the inane, deceptive image of that photograph and caption.

UPDATE, March 10, 12:36 CT: The photograph, caption, and headline at the above link have all changed now. The picture discussed above, with its caption, can be seen here. The new first paragraph of the story — which now has the dateline "MADISON, Wis." — is:
As thousands of demonstrators converged on the Capitol, the police cut off access to the building on Thursday, creating a taut atmosphere in which Republican State Assembly members were seeking to maintain order long enough to vote on a bill that sharply curtails bargaining rights for government workers.
Cut off access? But they stormed in last night, overwhelming the police, and they were blocking legislators access to offices and the Assembly chamber this morning. I just heard by phone from Meade that 100 protesters had to be removed (presumably by police) from the antechamber to the Assembly chamber. The NYT paragraph makes it sound as though the police maintained control, but they absolutely did not. And "taut atmosphere"? Ridiculous downplaying of the chaotic scenes that have been unfolding for the last 18 hours.

Wisconsin protesters this morning (with Jesse Jackson).


Where's Jackson? (Enlarge.)

A bearded man yells and a woman holds up a lefty Christianist sign:


The sign (in front of the flag) reads: "March 9, 18 Republicans gave up their ethics & morals for Lent").

The "mob scene" at the Wisconsin Capitol this morning aimed at preventing the Assembly from voting.

"Mob scene" is Meade's expression.  He was there, unable to get in and hearing rumors about legislators unable to get in.

MORE: From Meade: Legislators can get into the building, but Republicans are being blocked from getting to their offices and into the Assembly chamber. It's the Assembly that needs to vote on the bill that the Senate passed last night, leading to the renewed protests. Meade heard from a source that Democratic legislators unlocked at least one door that leads to the doors for a cluster of Republican legislative offices. That would appear to be part of a scheme to prevent the vote. [ADDED: The door was unlocked to let the area filled up with protesters and block the office doors.]

"This is what democracy looks like" — that's the chant we've heard for 3 weeks. How do you like this new democracy, that has a mob storming the Capitol and, with the aid of the minority party, blocking the access of the majority party into their offices and into the legislative chamber? It looks more like anarchy to me.

Ezra Klein admits: "Scott Walker’s procedural maneuvering last night was ... legitimate."

A nice effort at making a show of not being a hypocrite:
Certainly as legitimate as the Democrats fleeing the state to deny the Republicans quorum. They did something procedurally extraordinary to stop the bill from being passed, and he did something procedurally extraordinary to get the bill passed.

Meade texts "JJ at the door" — pic shows that's Jesse Jackson — "But they won't let him in."


(Photo via Meade's iPhone.)

Last night, protesters were able to enter the Capitol through the ground-floor window identified with the name Cory Mason — an Assembly Democrat of Racine.

Last night, as Meade arrived at the Wisconsin Capitol, he witnessed protesters entering the open window of the ground floor office just to the left of the stairway to the entrance of the building that aligns with Wisconsin Avenue (the center of the north side of the square). That happens in the first couple minutes of the video I posted last night.

Meade is back at the Capitol this morning and, at my request, sent me a photograph of that window to identify the legislator whose office gave after-hours access to the mob that took over the building last night.


The legislator is Cory Mason, Democrat, Racine. I called his office before posting this, but only got as far as an answering machine. I left a message and will update here if I hear from them.

The state Democratic Party sent out a news release on March 2, 2011 that included a complaint about bolting the windows shut:
"If we can recall at least three Senators and regain control of the senate, we can end the ugly games Republicans in the legislature have played in the last few days -- unplugging phone lines, bolting windows inside the Capitol shut, and withholding the paychecks of Democratic legislators," wrote Democratic party chairman Mike Tate on March 2, 2011.

Bolting windows? We called Tate to ask for an explanation, but he didn’t respond.

Earlier in the week we saw some pictures tweeted showing what appeared to be bolts in wooden windows. You can see them here, here and here. We e-mailed the account that sent out the pictures but did not receive a reply. We also saw an earlier blog posting from the AFL-CIO that claimed Capitol windows were being welded shut. More about that below.

So we asked the governor’s office. What’s going on with the Capitol windows?

The answer: The windows on the ground level and first floor are being secured, said Tim Donovan, a spokesman for the Department of Administration. 
So window security has been a big deal over there in the last couple weeks. The breach of that security last night, which was part of the re-occupation of the Capitol (in violation of the court order) is a big deal. I want to know the details of how Cory Mason's office became a point of entry last night.

ADDED: Dialogue from last night's video, taken just outside the Cory Mason's window:
"They don't want to get this representative in trouble."

"What's to lose anymore, man?"

"What's up with that shit?"

"They let a few in but they said..."

Abe Sauer — at The Awl — attempting disrespect toward Gov. Scott Walker, displays his ignorance of American military history and its great mascot Old Abe.

Abe Sauer thought he was insulting Scott Walker when he began his description of last week's budget address like this: "Wisconsin governor Scott Walker's budget address was delivered beneath a dead and stuffed eagle." Above that line is a photograph framing the Governor and the eagle. The simplest effort at Googling — e.g., eagle in wisconsin assembly chamber — would have gotten Abe to the story of Old Abe:
Old Abe (1861? – March 28, 1881), bald eagle, was the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment in the American Civil War and is the screaming eagle mascot depicted on the insignia of the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division....

Company C named the eagle after President Abraham Lincoln, and designed a special perch on which they carried the bird into battle. Old Abe participated in the Second Battle of Corinth (in which the 8th Wisconsin lost half of its men) and the Siege of Vicksburg, among other battles. In battle, Old Abe quickly became legendary, screaming and spreading his wings at the enemy. Confederate troops called him the "Yankee Buzzard" and made several attempts to capture him but never succeeded. Several times he lost feathers to bullets and saw his handlers get shot out from under him. When passing by, Generals Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and William Rosecrans were known to doff their hats to the eagle.

In 1864, Old Abe returned to Wisconsin with several veterans who did not reenlist. Nevertheless, he remained famous and was invited to, among other events, the 1880 Grand Army of the Republic National Convention, and the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When not at public events, his caretaker kept him in the Wisconsin State Capitol.
That storied creature is for Abe Sauer just some absurdity that Awl readers should laugh at. Laugh at the stupid people in Wisconsin who think there's some meaning embodied in the carcass of a bird.

Crushing ignorance from Abe Sauer.

IN THE COMMENTS: "But Old Abe's carcass indeed is gone."

Meade's video of the scene at the Capitol tonight.

We sees protesters entering through a Democratic legislator's office window. There are incendiary speeches through a bullhorn outdoors. Then, Meade finds an open door and videos the scene inside, including the confusion of the state troopers. Toward the end, you can overhear his side of a phone conversation with me.

0:15 — See the open window near the Wisconsin Ave. entrance to the Capitol. Then the window is closed, supposedly to protect the Democratic legislator whose office is on the other side. We hear someone say "What's to lose anymore, man?" And somebody else says "What's up with that shit?" [ADDED THE NEXT MORNING: As I've blogged here, that is the window of the office of Cory Mason, a Democrat of Racine. Before "What's to lose anymore, man?" and "What's up with that shit?," you can hear someone say, "They don't want to get this representative in trouble." He then responds: "They let a few in but they said..." It's garbled at that point. Maybe you can make it out.]

1:08 — You hear Meade saying that he saw people going through the window, before it was closed, chanting "Our house, our house..."

1:55 — Speeches, outdoors. "It's called the Industrial Workers of the World... At times like this, they tend to rise up, and help us accomplish our goals."

2:14 — "When I say Walker, you say douchebag. Walker." "Douchebag." "Walker." "Douchebag."

2:50 — "You can't recall Walker. You have to force him to resign... Strike... We're going to shut down state government... A series of mass strikes, otherwise it's over... Blockade government buildings... We have to make Madison a shining example to the world... General strike..."

5:33 — "Do whatever is necessary. Because we will win."

7:37 — Meade finds the open door. Chanting: "Our house. Our house. Our house."

8:23 —3 state troopers, seemingly overwhelmed. One says "I'm good."  Somebody says "I have an appointment with the Governor. My name is Cocksucker." You overhear Meade describing things over the phone with me. "The troopers are way outnumbered."

"Why I'm Fighting in Wisconsin."

Scott Walker has an op-ed in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal.

"Did Walker Win?"

Asks Mickey Kaus.

Video showing the police overwhelmed by the protesters storming the Capitol.

This is from philgarlic, via Phil Ejercito.

March 9, 2011

Meade at the Capitol: All the doors are open, some people are leaving, some settling in for the night.

Meade says he got the impression that there is no leadership, and that the people there tonight are newcomers to the protest — almost tourists — and they're low energy compared to earlier days. No one is pushing them out or even asking them to leave, and Meade imagines the protesters thinking "What's the point?" I asked if there were any broken windows or other damage, and he said "No, but there were a lot of farts. Everywhere I went, it was like: Who farted?"

UPDATE: Meade just walked in, and I told him I blogged what he said about farts. He was all: "The farts alone would make you think you think twice about camping out there." Driving home, he said, the other cars were all honking: "Honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk honk." That's the "This is what democracy looks like" chant in car honk.

Grim determination.


The strain of amplification:


Bullhorn with "Socialist Worker" sticker:


(Photos by Meade, at the Wisconsin Capitol protest tonight.)

Fists and uvulas waving...


Stunned and angry:


Gnome brings drum:


(Photos by Meade, at the Wisconsin Capitol tonight.)

"Shortly after 8 p.m., hundreds of protesters gathered outside the locked King Street entrance to the Capitol, chanting 'Break down the door!' and 'General strike!'"

"Moments later, police ceded control of the State Street doors and allowed the crowd to surge inside." writes the Wisconsin State Journal.
It's not clear why police abandoned efforts to limit access to the Capitol Wednesday night, but Department of Administration spokesman Tim Donovan said "windows have been broken" to get in. He said he could not immediately provide specifics.
3 alternate theories of mine: 1. The police are sympathetic with the protests and facilitating them, 2. The police were overwhelmed by the numbers and retreated, 3. The police have a strategy of accommodating the crowd and letting them express and expend its energy.
Protesters jammed three floors of the Capitol and packed the bridges that connect the four wings of the Capitol, prompting alarm by police and others that those parts of the building might collapse.
Meade overheard some talk among the police about the capacity of the wooden components of the building to bear the load.

"Arriving en masse: sleeping bags. Capitol Campout 2011 is back on."

"Louder than ever. No 10 pm sound ordinance tonight."

Chaos at the Wisconsin Capitol tonight.

Meade returns with photos of people entering, as the state troopers stand by:



The mass scene in the rotunda tonight:


AND: Protesters stream into the building, and some of the doors are handcuffed shut:


Here they come:


Protesters are locking the Capitol doors shut from the inside using metal handcuffs, Meade reports from the scene.

He told me that just now, by phone. He got out, and is warning others not to go in. Obviously, it's a terrible fire hazard to make it so people cannot get out of the building easily. Presumably, protesters think it's a good idea to keep the police out, but it is dangerously stupid.

ADDED: Meade called back to say, some of the doors are handcuffed shut and some are wide open. "ANYBODY CAN GET IN AND ANYBODY CAN BRING ANYTHING IN. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO SECURITY WHATEVER."

AND: Meade — who just got home at 9 CT — says the police have the "fairly calm jocose" attitude that they've had all along. They have no riot gear, he said. The place is "swarmed" with protesters. Photos and video soon.

Meade on the scene at the Capitol says hundreds of protesters have gotten into the building, and security is vastly outnumbered.

Meade, who is in the building now, tells me, by phone, that he saw a window on the Wisconsin Avenue side of the building opened and protesters entering through that window.

He thought it seemed as if someone in one of the Democratic legislators' offices had opened a window to let them in, and — once they were in — many doors have been opened all around, and people have streamed into the building. He says he counted 3 "troopers" — I'm not sure what the official job title is for these security people — and that they were absurdly overwhelmed by the crowd.

Meade said that he wasn't afraid that these people would become violent, and indeed many of them looked happy — or dazed — perhaps out of success in taking over the building. He didn't see any damage or dangerous behavior. Meade is taking video of what he is seeing, and I will have that for you later.

AND: Meade said that he didn't see how the security officers could possibly clear out the building and that there was nothing to stop any number of individuals from entering the building right now.


"Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday night to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers..."

"... Republicans on Wednesday split from the legislation the proposal to curtail union rights, which spends no money, and a special conference committee of state lawmakers approved the bill a short time later."

This is the proposal we were discussing in the previous post. I'm surprised this happened so suddenly.

I hear the protests have gone wild on the scene there tonight. We will have first-hand original reporting from New Media Meade before the evening is over.

IN THE COMMENTS: Revenant quoted the linked article — "Republicans in the Wisconsin Senate voted Wednesday night to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers after discovering a way to bypass the chamber's missing Democrats" and said:
Interesting word choices:

1. "Nearly all"
2. "Discovering"
3. "Bypass"
4. "Missing".
Yeah. I'd noticed that. Textbook journalistic bias. Thanks, AP.

"Gov. Scott Walker previously rejected calls to pass the collective bargaining provisions of the budget bill separately."

"Walker's position was not the most politically advantageous, because he left himself at the mercy of the Democratic state Senators who have deprived the state Senate of a quorum by fleeing the state.... At this point, if there is no breakthrough very soon, there is not much to be lost by splitting the bill...."

Says William A. Jacobson, noting Senator Lena C. Taylor's recent tweet saying she's just requested an absentee ballot for the April 4th election.

When a ridiculous law is proposed, I assume it was designed to address some specific problem...

... and the drafter simply (and stupidly) forgot to think about what other things would be covered by the text. But this law, making it a 1st degree felony to photograph a farm, has so many inappropriate applications that it's hard to imagine a drafter that oblivious.

And what was the original specific problem that fired him up in the first place? There's this:
Organizations such as PETA and the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida contend [Sen. Jim Norman, R-Tampa] drafted the legislation in response to a number of high-profile exposés that revealed horrific conditions on farms around the country, and worry that without whistleblowers the industry will operate with impunity....

Return of the Camouflage Poodle.

Here's the original appearance of said canine. Transformed by Chip Ahoy.

David Broder has died.

WaPo obit.

"A 19-year-old Brooklyn woman was arrested Tuesday for beating and killing her family's pet hamster."

"Monique Smith was in a fight with relatives and took out her rage on the helpless critter, which weighed less than four ounces, authorities said. The incident took place in June. It wasn't immediately clear why she was just arrested.... A necropsy showed the hamster had suffered blunt force trauma and liver damage."

"The prosecution has never asked, who started it?... They never asked the question, who started it? That is the core question that needs to be answered."

Said, during the trial, by Muzzammil Hassan, who was convicted of murdering his wife — stabbing her 40 times and beheading her.

"Polls are nice, if they are on your side... But in the end, you've got to govern based upon what you think is the right thing."

Scott Walker, who's not backing down.

"Sheen's Korner - Episode 4 - Building the Perfect Torpedo."

Charlie Sheen is expressing himself artistically these days in web video form. Let's take his work seriously — that is, let's not dismiss it as nothing but evidence of insanity or substance abuse. (Warning: Dirty words.)

I'd say, first, this is carefully written in poetic style. He's not raving off the top of his head. He'd be a genius if he could do that. I don't know if he wrote this stuff himself, but it's highly amusing and invites us in, the way good poetry does. We want to try to figure out what he's really saying, and we enjoy the sound of the stream of words even when we only partly understand it. Second, Sheen is an actor performing this script. He isn't garbling it in any way. He's adopting an intense and interesting persona, suitable for the YouTube milieu, and he's able to go on for 8 1/2 minutes, maintaining a crisp delivery and holding our attention. Of course, the fixed stare is the consequence of filming with a computer's built-in camera while reading a text displayed on the computer screen. It's not that hard to do. If it weren't Charlie Sheen but some unknown poet adopting this style, would we think anything of it?

NPR's Vivian Schiller resigns... and she's not even related to Ronald Schiller, the NPR guy who's reputation went to hell yesterday.

What's the matter with NPR?

Camouflaged poodle.


"A 63-year-old man... was arrested... after police were informed he was seen touching a female horse in what appeared to be a sexual fashion.... The animal looked to be in pain during the incident."

For touching a horse, a man is arrested, gets his picture in the paper, and will be mocked for the rest of his life. 

Some bystander reported that the horse "looked to be in pain during the incident"? I was going to ridicule the notion of expression on a horse's face, but I Googled "horse face expression pain" and didn't come up empty. I'm no horse expert, but I tend to think there's a lot of subjectivity involved when people look at an animal's face and think they perceive the animal's feelings. And do I even need to mention the difficulty of distinguishing expressions evincing sexual pleasure and those that express pain — even on human faces?

I care about cruelty to animals, but the man had his pants on. I would leave him alone, even if he had his hand somewhere that unsettled an onlooker. Don't the police have better things to do? Putting this poor guy's picture in the paper with this story is the real cruelty.

"Then there are the nutritional concerns about a diet that some say mimics anorexia."

Says the NYT in a prominently featured article that gives some credence to the science behind an inane weight loss scheme in which some doctors charge over $1000 to inject you with a hormone and — guess why it works — you also limit yourself to 500 calories a day.

As Paul Campos says:
"Limiting yourself to 500 calories a day 'mimics' anorexia in the same way that injecting heroin every day 'mimics' heroin addiction."

At the Morning Snow Café...


... come on in and sit down...


... everything is all fluffy right now. But the big clumps, accumulating, are starting to drop off, and this prettiness can't last too long, which makes it especially pretty in that evanescent way.