Friday, 4 March 2011

Wisconsin Update (March 4/11)

A lot has happened in Wisconsin. I'll try to catch interested readers up but first, an emblematic moment of what has to be the most civil civil uprising in history.

Back here I reported on Fux News's hilarious lie about 'union thuggery' -- with the oopsie! of palm trees in the background. (Watch video here.)

Almost instantly, palm trees did sprout in Madison, captured by matt_is_a_nerdj.

To recap a little: the Capitol building was occupied -- perfectly peacefully -- for about two weeks. Before Scott Wanker Walker's budget speech on March 1, the building was mostly cleared -- again perfectly peacefully -- and cops were letting people in on a one-for-one basis. One out, one in. People had to show ID, get searched, be accompanied at all times, etc. Much confusion about which entrances were open to whom, what the new rules were.

The state Constitution has a bit in it about the Capitol and its grounds being open to the people. So, one of the big unions filed an injunction to get it open again. A judge who heard the initial pleadings ordered the building opened.

Which was promptly ignored.

Another judge took up the matter more fully. There were a lot of witnesses so the hearing continued the next day.

The proceedings were live-tweeted by two observers: Analiese Eicher and ACLU Madison.

On the open-'er-up side, witnesses said stuff like: no damage, no mischief, no problems.

On the keep-'er-shut side, witnesses had horrifying tales of intimidation (too many Dem reps wearing orange t-shirts!), debauchery (women and men using the same bathroom!!), imminent danger (buncha live bullets found on the grounds somewhere!!!), and wanton destruction (blue painter's tape holding signs on marble walls!!!!).

That witness claimed that clean-up was going to cost $7.5 million!!!!!!

Hilarity ensued on Twitter. Several people quipped that it would cost that much only if the evil Koch Industries did it on a no-bid basis. Others said that demonstrators had consulted with officials about what kind of tape to use and were told that blue painter's tape was fine.

In other words, totally typical lying bullshit.

Meanwhile, in another lovely piece of political theatre, some Dem representatives moved their office furniture out windows so they could meet constituents who couldn't get in to see them. Remember, this is March in Wisconsin.

Back at the hearings, the lawyers were getting all constitutional in their final arguments. First amendment rights vs. safety and health, blahblahblah.

The lawyer for the union, Peg Lautenschlager, herself a former Attorney General, was quite splendid.

The judge made a sensible decision that the union and demonstrators were able to accept. Building to be open during the same hours as before the ruckus, with some security measures to be negotiated. No more camping out. But reasonable access.

This was yesterday. The remaining occupying demonstrators left last night.

The big drama this morning was whether or not the building would be open and under what circumstances at 8 a.m.

It was!

Watch live-feed from a volunteer here.

No more drums or vuvuzelas though.

The 'Wisconsin 14' (the Dem senators who are denying the ReThugs a quorum on the supposedly minor bill that set this all off) remain on the lam. They've been found in contempt by the remaining senators.
The Senate resolution calls for the Senate sergeant at arms to, with or without force, and with or without the help of any law enforcement officers, take missing members into custody and bring them to the Capitol - any time of the day or night.

Beside the point of how the hell this can be done, there are questions of the very legality of the order.

Gov. Wanker has threatened 1,500 state workers with layoff notices as early as today if the delinquent senators don't return. One tweep pointed out that this is classic spousal abuse strategy: 'Look what you've made me do'.

Today there's going to be a rally with Jesse Jackson in attendance. That'll get up the Tea Baggers' noses.

More demonstrations are planned for tomorrow. No doubt with out-of-state union goons.

Speeches! Drums! Lawyers! Palm trees!

Meanwhile, the corporate feudalist agenda continues to be advanced elsewhere, including Ohio, where the Tea Baggers also have an unstoppable majority.

Excellent piece from Mother Jones on how the Wisconsin Pizza Revolution was organized.

And previous DJ! reports: here, here, here, here, and here.


utterlyuseless said...

As goes Wisconsin, so goes fortress North America...or NOT.

JJ said...

This has been interesting, if disturbing, to watch from afar.

What I find especially troubling is the MSM's complete lack of interest in what is an aggressive assault on organized labour (with nascent plans to roll it out nationally), and the pushback -- even from Democratic politicians, who usually find a way to fold. Whatever side of the political divide one dwells in, this should be a story of interest.

Polls show that the more people know about this story, the more support the protesters have. The fact that the media seems to have made a conscious decision not to cover it says a lot about how narratives are created and sustained, or not.

It's a little frightening, really. If it wasn't for cable and the internet, this whole thing might fly under the general public's radar.

fern hill said...

Exactamundo, JJ. Completely explodes the myth of 'liberal media bias'. They are all corporatist.

I'm astonished at how little interest there is in this in Canada.

It is exactly what Stevie has been doing to us -- albeit in slo-mo -- and our fucking media is letting him get away with it.

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