Days of unrest


The men and the women of the Madison Police Department train for crowd situations where an agitator or provocateur may try to create safety risks for citizens and officers. During recent demonstrations around the Capitol Square no such situation has arisen. Crowd behavior has been exemplary, and thousands of Wisconsin citizens are to be commended for the peaceful ways in which they have expressed First Amendment rights. — Madison Police Chief Noble Wray

I just watched Meet the Press for the first time since maybe 1961 when I was home alone with the flu with a limited number of Sunday morning broadcast channels available. I haven’t missed it. Today Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi, a Southern Democrat who will announce for the Presidency as a Republican on or about April Fools Day, evoked Sarah Palin and claimed that the workers of Wisconsin have circulated posters of Walker with cross hairs over his face.

And the lie went unchallenged while an evil meme was allowed to be sown.

The host, forgettable except for his clonal resemblance to Anderson Cooper (also forgettable, though perhaps a little less so), showed a clip of a demonstrator with a sign comparing Wisconsin Governor Walker to Egyptian dictator Mubarak and explicitly claimed that this was a dominant theme in the two weeks of rallies, protests and marches.

And the lie went unchallenged and another evil meme was reinforced.

People allow their opinions to be shaped by mainstream shows like Meet the Press (sponsored by Bank of America), but today’s coverage of collective bargaining and Wisconsin politics lacked objectivity–that’s as kind as I can be. As the story continues to unfold in Madison with possible lay-offs, strikes, and budgetary gridlock, it seems unlikely that anyone on the national news scene will get it right.

This afternoon at 4pm, the Capitol will be closed and protesters will be evicted. The decision comes down from the Governor through his Dept. of Administration Secretary Mike Huebsch to the Chief of the Capitol Police, Charles Tubbs. Chief Tubbs is a long time state employee, appointed to his position by a Democratic governor, and he must be feeling a little conflicted today. The police unions oppose his boss’s anti-union stance and his fifty employees are union members.

On March 1st, the Governor faces the third deadline for his budget address. The address is required by law to be delivered in January. The governor got an extension to February 23rd. When that day approached and his non-negotiable demands faced strong opposition, he was forced to ask the Republicans of the State Senate for another extension. He now intends to deliver his speech on March 1st in the Capitol, so it’s important to him that he clears the building well before then. He doesn’t want to hear any opposition.

The Governor’s one-way, non-negotiable intentions have forced local government across the state to address collective bargaining before the governor himself spoils the relationships between towns and their employees. So, in La Crosse County, Janesville, Racine, Sheboygan, Madison, and at the Milwaukee Area Technical College, new contracts have been made that include pay raises, pension contributions and health benefits for nurses, teachers and other public workers, benefits that the governor had planned to eliminate.

And the governor is a whiner. The unions told him they’d be willing to pay more for health and pensions and give up raises, but they needed him to agree that he wouldn’t eliminate public worker collective bargaining rights. He said, “No way, my way or the highway, I will not give an inch.” A week or so later he was moved to issue a whiny press release claiming “Union Bosses Say One Thing, Do Another.”

Well, duh-uh.

The month of March will be crucial. The Governor’s speech on March first will give him a chance to come to the table or end his political career. The absent 14 democratic Senators may get a chance to come home and help save $169 million of our money by re-financing existing bonds. The deadline for the re-fi is March 15th, so the absent 14 may have a few more weeks of pizza and motel cable-vision if the governor can’t learn to compromise. But meanwhile we’ll be organizing the recall elections for the governor’s Republican supporters in the Senate, canvassing for Kloppenburg in an effort to restore balance to the Supreme Court, and basically laughing at the noobie governor that Haley Barbour put in the cross hairs this morning on Meet the Press.

Posted in Class Warfare, Democracy, Journalism, Politics Tagged with: ,
One comment on “Days of unrest
  1. Don Harvey says:

    Right on Frank! This is the best insight I’ve read today, and I’ve read four newspapers. God I hope the Dems don’t cave on this.

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