Let’s Sway Responsibly

This past year, I have been a frequent participant in the Solidarity Sing Along protests held every weekday in or just outside the Wisconsin Capitol. One of the songs we sing is “Bring Back Wisconsin to Me”, sung to the tune of “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean”, with new lyrics by Lou and Peter Berryman. It’s a great little protest song that almost dares you to swing your arms back and forth while you sing “Ohhhh…bring back, bring back, oh bring back Wisconsin to me, to me…!”

So we do. We sway while we sing that song.

At some point in the nearly 300 Sing Alongs that have been held since March of 2011, it was suggested that we sway carefully to avoid hitting the person next to us while we swing our arms. It was also discovered that it helps if everyone starts swaying in the same direction.

The advice about proper Sing Along etiquette has become an inside joke that is repeated whenever we sing “Bring Back Wisconsin to Me”. The leader calls out “You may sway if you wish, but if you sway…”, and the crowd yells back “Sway Responsibly!” We usually have a few visitors who laugh. Many of the regulars still laugh, too. Often the joke is followed by a few people advising the newbies to always start to the left. Wink, wink.

It’s a good reminder in politics as well as in choreography. Perhaps if Scott Walker had known enough to sway responsibly, he wouldn’t be in the mess he’s in right now – another budget deficit, record job losses, at least half the voters in the state disgusted with him, and his recall election soon to be scheduled. I won’t even mention the John Doe investigation. Oops. Too late.

As we begin the process of selecting someone to run against Scott Walker from the left, we need to do the same thing the singers do every day in the Capitol. We need to move left, but we need to sway in that direction, not just shove each other out of the way to stake out claims. We need to sway responsibly. That means union leaders have to avoid the temptation to endorse the first person who promises them everything they want. It means center-left Democrats and moderate Republicans who have joined in the fight have to acknowledge that the movement began as a defensive action against the stripping of collective bargaining rights, and that the fight will not be over until those rights have been restored. It means that the leaders of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin must keep all the doors open and all the lights on as they guide the process of selecting a nominee.

We need to continue talking to each other so we know what everyone expects and what everyone is willing to contribute. As we did last year during the big rallies on the square, we need to turn and listen to each other individually, not just cheer someone speaking from a podium at the top of the Capitol steps.

Our fight began with Labor, but the demonstrations grew into a coalition, then a movement because it also became a fight to restore funds for public education and health care. It became a fight to restore environmental regulations, and a fight to take back the local control that Scott Walker and the Republican legislature said they favored, but stole from the citizens as soon as they had the chance.

Finally, it has now become a fight to simply restore decency and integrity to our state government. Every day, new revelations are highlighting the corruption, pay-for-play, and plain old theft of public resources being perpetrated by Governor Walker and his cronies. To truly bring back Wisconsin, we must include on the agenda a vigorous plan to bring back open government where everyone’s voice is heard. Taking unlimited, private money out of our politics has to be a priority.

It’s not either/or. It’s a fight for all those things, no matter how the fight began, and it won’t be over until every battle has been won, to quote a line from another protest song.

A primary election for governor is a great way for us to start working together. It’s clear that this will be an election like no other in Wisconsin’s history. Let’s treat it that way. Let’s be patient but assertive as we do it together, arm in arm, singing in unison as we sway to the left. Let us each promise that we will not go home until every item on the checklist has been marked “completed.” Some will be very difficult to accomplish, so we must take advantage of every opportunity to progress, regardless of where that opportunity resides on the agenda.

We will not succeed unless everyone commits to staying until we’ve sung the final chorus of “Bring Back Wisconsin to Me”. Then we’ll sing one more chorus just for fun, and one more after that to teach it to the next generation.

Intuition correct: anti-union bill rushed through because hold on Republican Senator votes is tenuous

Karoli at Crooks & Liars gets the golden stomach award for watching FOX news and not only not upchucking, but turning out a story. Scott Fitzgerald got some grilling from Greta Greta Van Susteren and finally toward the end of this 4 minute video he admits that he’s not trying to revote the collective bargaining bill rushed on March 9th because:

“Greta you know that the legislature is always very tentative. You may have the votes on one day and you don’t on the next. I mean there’s so many factors that are out there in trying to bring this together. Judge Sumi says that the Capitol was not open during this entire process. We know the protesters would come back immediately if we said or announced that we were going to run this bill through again. …”

I surmised as much myself. Republicans can’t risk going back in for a legal vote in committee and Senate because faith in Republican Senators voting for the Governor’s ridiculous legislation waivers.

I think they are also getting wise to how media coverage and spirits rise with a full occupation of the Capitol. They don’t want to risk that again, either.

Solidarity Shopper: The Coupon Series by Michael Martin

This is a very good day. That’s because I found 5 Solidarity Shopper Coupons by Michael Martin on facebook!   HERE’s where I found all 5 of these little deal-breakers. Continue reading

100,000 Welcome the Dem14 Home in Madison, Wisconsin

I’m going to say 100,000. I see reports of “over 85,000” but as I saw no helicopters flying overhead, meaning we had no professional estimates, the evaluation by someone who’s been to every single historic Saturday labor rally in Madison, Wisconsin is good as any. I spent the day at Madison, Wisconsin’s largest rally yesterday. I wanted to do this piece when I got home, but the combination of walking on concrete, the exhileration of it all, and standing in the wind for nearly 7 hours did me in. As happens on every day I go to a rally, I fell asleep on the couch in the middle of trying to write or post photos. Now I have to get ready to play music for church. This will be what it will be. Assume more to come in the afternoon.

The Tractorcade

That wind!

Fifty tractors embarked from the Alliant Energy Center to the Isthmus, driving down John Nolen Drive Continue reading

Wisconsin reacts: Protest, Recall, Strike, Boycott.

Video of last night’s GOP kill of workers’ rights

And here is an audio link – the video will likely be removed at some point

Representative Peter Barca is the man interrupting and saying the law for meetings has been violated. Wisconsin GOP Senate members later said they were in “Special Session” and therefore did not need to comply with the 24 hour meeting notice rule.

Below, Rachel Maddow’s show-footage of protesters followed by an interview with Michael Moore who says “this is a class war that has been leveled against the working people of America”

Michael Moore says that high schools across the U.S. will do a walk-out at 2PM on Friday, whenever 2PM is in their time zone.

A swell of social media messages to come to Madison to protest today and Saturday.

Protesters Rush In. Police Refuse to Stop Them.

And state troopers are no match. In the video below, the camera stops being shaky at about the 28 second mark. Thousands of people entered through doors and windows. I’m not sure how many stayed overnight, but I’d suspect hundreds to 1,000 given the past pattern.

Photo of Metal Detector in its New Role

Link HERE. This from Ben Masel.

Boycott of Businesses that Supported Walker Picks Up Steam

I’m seeing web sites, facebook notes, emails… so many it is too tedious to document. Madison.com Article

What’s in what passed last night

A LINK to a PDF copy of a summary from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. I haven’t read this yet. According to the statements from last night’s committee, it is everything in the Budget Repair Bill supposedly minus elements that have fiscal impact.

“General Strike”

Chants by protesters, tweets, comments on facebook display a huge uptake in mention of a “general strike” as a response to last night’s Republican Senate attack on worker rights. Socialists promote this as a viable and powerful solution, and dismiss recall efforts, seeing no hope in the Democrats.

From World Socialist Web Site:” A SEP team was present at the scene. Andre Damon, a reporter for the WSWS, was able to speak to thousands of demonstrators both inside and outside of the capitol building. He called for the formation of independent workplace committees to build for a general strike to force Walker out. These demands were met by enthusiasm among the workers present.”

WEAC President Mary Bell on Senate Vote

Posted: 3/9/2011 7:37:36 PM

Tonight, Senate and Assembly Republicans pushed forward an extreme power grab with an unconscionable maneuver that split collective bargaining off from the fiscal items in the budget repair bill – rigging an 18-to-1 vote in the Senate. The Assembly will vote tomorrow.

The following can be attributed to WEAC President Mary Bell:

“This is heart wrenching and unconscionable – and we won’t back down. For weeks our members have pushed forward with aggressive advocacy to have their voices heard about the need to protect their rights. We’ve won the battle in the court of opinion – and we’ve exposed the truth behind Governor Walker and Legislative Republican’s motives.

“I know this isn’t over. We are outraged, hurt and betrayed – but he will not break us.

“I ask Wisconsin’s educators to be at work tomorrow as we coordinate with the Labor Coalition to determine next steps to make the voices of Wisconsin workers heard.”

The WEAC web site.

At 1AM Friday February 25, Assembly Republicans Pass Budget Bill with Seconds-long Roll Call Vote.

Video of Assembly Democrats outraged following sneak vote:

and the same moment from David Douglas of News 3:

From the New York Times: “…Debate had gone on for 60 hours and 15 Democrats were still waiting to speak when the vote started around 1 a.m. Friday. Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, opened the roll and closed it within seconds.

Democrats looked around, bewildered. Only 13 of the 38 Democratic members managed to vote in time.

Republicans immediately marched out of the chamber in single file. The Democrats rushed at them, pumping their fists and shouting “Shame!” and “Cowards!”

The Republicans walked past them without responding.

Democrats left the chamber stunned. The protesters greeted them with a thundering chant of “Thank you!” Some Democrats teared up. Others hugged.

“What a terrible, terrible day for Wisconsin,” said Rep. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee. “I am incensed. I am shocked.”…”

Feb 24: Noon Vote, Firefighters, Koch Brothers, Amy Goodman

Forgive me for this is a post dashed off quickly. But I want to make sure people know about these events of note for today:

11:30-ish A much-rumored huge gathering of fire fighters will occur at Wisconsin’s capitol. I did call a local firehouse to be told only that it was fairly spontaneous and will be large. Firemen will met at Station Number 1 – 316 W. Dayton St. – 11:30am & following, march two short blocks to the Capitol.

12 Noon- The projected time of an Assembly vote on their version of the earlier Senate version of the Budget Repair [or “Disrepair”] Bill that was the cause of an earlier departure of our 14 Democrat Senators for Illinois.  You can watch events unfold live at Wisconsin Eye – a non-profit “CSPAN” for Wisconsin. Continue reading

Independent Egyptian Unions Express Solidarity with Wisconsin Workers

Please read this—

TRANSLATION: (The poster in the background shows photographs of some of the recent young victims of the Mubarak government. The writing says they are among the martyrs of the 25 January Revolution.)

KAMAL ABBAS: “I am speaking to you from a place very close to Tahrir Square in Cairo, “Liberation Square”, which was the heart of the Revolution in Egypt. This is the place were many of our youth paid with their lives and blood in the struggle for our just rights.

From this place, I want you to know that we stand with you as you stood with us.

I want you to know that no power can challenge the will of the people when they believe in their rights. When they raise their voices loud and clear and struggle against exploitation. Continue reading

Exciting Video – Workers Converge on Madison Wisconsin’s Square

An exciting, good short documentary by Johnny Clark. Yesterday approximately 13,000 protesters came to Madison Wisconsin to rally against our governor’s “Budget repair bill”. Watching the video you’ll hear why people came and get a feel for why they are determined to stick this out.

The Public Stands Their Ground. A “Filibuster” of Testimony Continues Until 3AM Wednesday in Wisconsin

Update: Just got word that the informal portion of this hearing continues now-11:22AM Wednesday. Which means Democratic legislators are still listening to constituents in a marathon that is over 24 hours long.

Right now, 1:00AM Central Standard Time, a hearing room in Wisconsin’s Capitol Building remains packed and testimony rolls on. [I’m watching online: http://www.wiseye.org/] This despite the fact that the Joint Finance Committee first ejected 100 of those people from the room at 10PM.

Those testifying are almost uniformly against a “budget reform bill” unveiled by Governor Scott Walker Friday the 11th.

The committee ejected 100 people from the room to join 100’s more waiting for their turn just outside of the marble room. At that point, the group of primarily college students began chanting and yelling and succeeding in making the committee feel quite uncomfortable. Footage of this intense moment is below and is from @news3David, David Douglas of Channel 3.

I’ve been following tweets on this topic like my cat with a laser from the comfort of my couch. It’s a lot cushier than the floor and sleeping bags that some students are sleeping on in the Capitol rotunda right now while they wait their turn to speak.

One of those testifying called this the “public’s filibuster”.

Co-Chair Representative Robin Vos of Rochester tried to cut off testimony, declaring that no additional speakers would be allowed over the 300 or so that had already signed up. However Representative Jennifer Shilling said she would stay until sun-up and demanded she hear more testimony.

I am quite sure that Senator Lena Taylor, Democrat, of Milwaukee pushed hard for the committee to continue.

Around 4PM she told an evening crowd of 2,000 (dwindled down from over 10,000) that it was imperative that they speak, not just comment. She compared it to that moment in a wedding when you are asked to speak now or forever hold your peace.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “If Republicans who run the committee cut off debate, minority Democrats plan to keep the hearing going, said Mike Browne, spokesman for Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller (D-Monona). That could mean the hearing will stretch well into Wednesday. ”

One of my friends complained that “only” about 1,500 University of Wisconsin students rallied at the Capitol on Monday to advocate for the teachers assistant union and a professional union. Clearly the UW students are earning major citizen street cred this evening.

I fear some stubborn students could still be dragged out in their own sleeping bags. But this is a simple job for on-duty police and Capitol security. Certainly the Governor won’t call out the National Guard.

However those students leave our Capitol, they are now heroes of this city. May their reusable beer mugs and/or herbal tea decanters remain full to brimming for the duration of the semester.

Events on deck in Madison:

3AM Post-Hearing Hearing in the Rotunda

Co-Chair Robin Vos went home at 3AM at which time the committee agreed to end their hearing. A reporter from WKOW tweeted that Vos mentioned he would reconvene the executive committee at 12PM noon Wednesday February 16.

Ryan Rainey stayed up tweeting and writing about a 2nd informal hearing conducted with UW students & others who did not have a chance to speak in the formal hearing:  Democrats Convene Informal Committee to Hear Testimony.

Thousands Gather at Today’s Worker Rally, Madison Wisconsin

An iron worker from Waupaca

I’ve put up just a few pictures for now – more to come very soon. I’ve heard that there are 10,000 people here. I’m not sure.  It’s difficult to know since the capitol building is full of people and they also flow out and down to State Street. Certainly we are in the thousands. I feel a sense of determination when I speak with people. They are angry but also worried.

About 200 people are registered to speak at the public hearing on Scott Walker’s budget” bill (which if you’re new to this, bans collective bargaining by workers and takes away other union rights in Wisconsin). I’d like to be in that room, but only 10 people are allowed in at a time, and even those people are only allowed 2 minutes. Last I knew, the entire East Wing of the Capitol was roped off. I asked staffers but they were not aware why, but mentioned maybe there is a security issue.

I did just get a tweet that Senator Dale Schultz’s office is closed due to a threat.

There was a rumor that Tea Party counter-protesters would be here, but I’ve seen none. We are a mix of men in work coats, people in dress coats, younger people with kids, older people. A few young people who look to be students. I heard that an entire high school class came. Most of the people are in work coats or jackets.

Somebody asked me on twitter if we see national guardsmen. The answer is “no”. A few police are casually walking around, and they seem unconcerned, just chatting with each other.

I’m going back outside to take a lot of pictures. There’s no internet in the capitol building. It’s not too cold outside in Madison, but the wind is very high, so those folks standing out there for hours are tough!

Students and Staff Filled Wisconsin’s Capitol Monday

Hundreds of UW Madison students fill Wisconsin's Capitol Building, Feb. 14, 2001

The voices of University of Wisconsin staff members, students and community members shouting “Kill this bill” reverberated through the Capitol rotunda Monday as nearly 1,100 protesters marched down State Street to the governor’s office door.

The event, organized by the Teaching Assistants’ Association, included handing off thousands of valentines reading “I heart UW, Governor Walker, don’t break my heart,” signed by UW students and faculty members in opposition to potential state budget cuts for the university….More at the Badger Herald

What A Friend Sent to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel editorial board

It’s time for a post from somebody else, who shall remain anonymous for the moment. My friend wrote an excellent letter responding to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial, “Walker picks a fight – and it’s the right fight”.

Your editorial on the state budget committed a cardinal sin of good journalism: you buried the lead. The real story of the budget was not the stance that Governor Walker took on government employee compensation; it’s the method he’s taking to enforce it.

Most state employees recognize that bargaining is a give and take process, and like private sector workers they have already made sacrifices in a recession that was not of their making. Continue reading

Wisconsin Responds to Governor Scott Walker’s attack on public employees and worker rights

Carl Aniel speaks to Channel 27 at Governor Walker's mansion as approx. 70 picketers walk by. Click image for more.

Wednesday February 16

SEIU lists buses leaving from 17 Wisconsin locations for the Capitol

  • 10 a.m. Legislative Briefings at Masonic Temple, 301 Wisconsin Ave, Madison
  • 11 a.m. Lobby Visits, State Capitol
  • Noon Rally on Capitol Square
  • Tuesday – State Street Capitol Steps
  • Wednesday – King St. Capitol Entrance
  • 1 p.m. Resume Lobby Visits, State Capitol
  • 3:00 to 7:00 Candlelight Vigil, with speakers at 6:30.
Again, for those who cannot get out of school, there will be vigils at the Capitol Square both evenings from about 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. with speakers at 6:30 p.m. 

Free bus rides are being organized from several locations throughout the state More at WEAC

Fond du Lac – Feb. 16, 5-5:45PM Family vigil for Education at the home of Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt. Details forthcoming. See WEAC

Menomonee Falls – Feb 16, 4-5:30PM  Senator Alberta Darling’s district office  N88 W16621 Appleton Ave.

Rob Koenig in front of Governor Scott Walker's mansion in Madison, Wisconsin. Click the image to link to others.

Click “read more” to jump to the long list of past events, Sunday – Tuesday. Continue reading