After an amazingly encouraging week or two, we head into the July 4th weekend with a whole bunch of stuff we've been trying to clear off our desk. Plus: Lots of breaking news and an encouraging ending for the weekend...
The scene last night, as the Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly suddenly, and without warning --- quite literally in the middle of the night --- announced and took a vote on Gov. Scott Walker's union-busting "Budget Repair Bill," followed by chants of "Shame! Shame! Shame!" from Democrats inside the chamber after it passed was remarkable.
As it was happening, I was reminded of all of those "Tea Partiers" last year who, despite a full year of committee hearings in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, mark-ups, negotiations, changes and concessions in hopes of bringing Republicans on board with the health care insurance reform bill that had otherwise been discussed and debated for at least a full year prior as well during the Presidential campaign, complained that the bill had been "crammed down the throats" of the American people in defiance of popular protests.
Well, in case you're wondering, Tea Partiers, this is what cramming a bill down throats in defiance of popular protests actually looks like.
This is also what it looks like when Big Government actually votes to take away freedoms from American citizens --- the other matter you folks pretended to once care about during the Health Care bill debate. So why aren't you joining with the protesters in Wisconsin now?
Slate's Dave Weigel, who was in WI's capital as the vote went down last night around 2am, explains what happened and offers this remarkable video...
MADISON, Wisc. --- The debate in the Assembly appeared to be a few hours away from ending when Speaker Pro Tem Bill Kramer interrupted their speeches and called the vote. It was gaveled in with lightning speed, less than the standard 15 seconds --- it was so fast that 28 members did not even vote on it, some out of protest but some failing to reach their buzzers. There were 51 ayes and 17 nays, and the nays included Republicans Dean Kaufert, Lee Nerison, Richard Spanbauer, and Travis Tranel.
Democrats exploded as soon as the vote was called, yelling "Cowards!" and "Shame!" at the Republicans filing out of the room.
The bill moves to the Senate, which cannot take it up until and unless 14 missing Democrats return. In a short speech to protesters, Democratic Rep. Cory Mason joked that he was "never so happy that we have two chambers."
We previously covered the WI protests by highlighting Rachel Maddow's analysis of the Walker/GOP bill in which she framed the debate as "Billionaires vs. Bake Sales: an existential fight for the survival of the Democratic Party" due to the legislation's blatant goal of busting the state's public unions in hopes of being the first domino to destroy the unions in full, in advance of the 2012 election.
The prank call from the Buffalo Beast's Ian Murphy --- claiming to be "David Koch," one of Walker's billionaire funders --- further underscores the GOP hope that Wisconsin will be "the first domino" in this latest attempt to destroy the politically powerful unions all together. Murphy's phone call to Walker as "David Koch" --- in which the Governor admits to having considered planting "troublemakers" among the peaceful protesters converging over the past week on the capital in Madison, follows in full below...
READER COMMENTS ON "'Shame! Shame! Shame!': WI Assembly Dems Chant in Protest as GOP Calls Sudden Vote for Union-Busting 'Budget Repair Bill' in Middle of Night" (14 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink] ...
said on 2/25/2011 @ 11:56 am PT...
Bill of Right
1- Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
The last phrase is not as well known . Does it not make the Wisconsin protests legal? And all the measures that Walker is doing to stop them illegal?
As in this post, people are being punished. Where is Obama on this?
COMMENT #2 [Permalink] ...
said on 2/25/2011 @ 12:02 pm PT...
Eric Altman did a book salon recently on FireDogLake. I forgot the name of the book and didn't even spell his name correctly. I am sorry. But he was saying that he thinks the problem in the US is the system. The president's hands are tied. He got slammed for thinking such a thing. I agree with him
I am very fond of throwing the word fascism around. You would be surprised how many people, even progressives have a problem with it.
Reminds me of pre war Germany. Not just pre war. The German people were encouraged not to talk about it years later. It isn't a sacred word. It is a form of government that is strangling this country.How many discussions do you see about it?
Wisconsin is a living breathing example. Our president could not step up and agree with the protesters.
COMMENT #3 [Permalink] ...
said on 2/25/2011 @ 12:07 pm PT...
You should also point out that this whole "they're not paying their fair share" is a bunch of nonsense.
Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to "contribute more" to their pension and health insurance plans.
From economist Bill Black:
"Accepting Gov. Walker' s assertions as fact, and failing to check, created the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not.
Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin' s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.
How can that be? Because...
Couple of quick responses to Molly's comments above...
Does it not make the Wisconsin protests legal?
Huh? Not sure how what you quoted from the Constitution would make the protests illegal, even as it might well raise Constitutional issues for Walker's attempt to make collective bargaining illegal.
Where is Obama on this?
AWOL. So I'd disagree with your unsupported claims that he "could not step up and agree with the protesters." Of course he could! And should! Why couldn't he?
For the record, he himself said not only that he could, but would --- when he was running for President!
OBAMA: [I]f American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself — I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody's standing in their corner.
You can watch the video here:
So, where are ya, Mr. Obama? That quote couldn't be any more exactly descriptive of what's going on at this moment in Wisconsin!
COMMENT #7 [Permalink] ...
said on 2/25/2011 @ 1:26 pm PT...
up is down , down is up
we have a guy(walker) that thinks he was elected god or something...and he prob wasnt legitamitely elected anyways
here is a "tag" that shows me there is a program on the machine..we are still in waukesha county...look at the city of berlins reporting on pages 30 and 31 of the link i provided above
in the senate race starting at city of berlin ward 15 thru 28 (except 18) every ward reports 9 votes each for the write in candidates...you really need to see it ,its very out of place(in the whole state the write ins only recieve 134 and 129 votes total)
and then he gets caught on tape agreeing to take bribes (the california trip) and nothing happens,for petes sake we lost a twice elected dem gov ovr less
Lautenschlager noted, in particular, the governor’s reference to displaying a photo of former President Ronald Reagan at the dinner where he explained plans for his budget repair bill — which seeks to strip state, county and municipal employees of their collective bargaining rights, restructure state government in a manner that dramatically extends the power of the governor, undermine the BadgerCare and SeniorCare programs, and sell off publicly owned power plants to private firms like Koch Industries.
“He essentially parallels what he’s going to do to organized labor with what Ronald Reagan did to the air traffic controllers,” said Lautenschlager, referencing the former president’s firing of striking controllers in 1981. “By doing that at this time, when the contracts for state employees are still in effect, it looks as if he’s signaling a willingness to commit an unfair labor practice violation by refusing to negotiate.”
Lautenschlager noted a body of labor law that prevents employers from using threats of layoffs as a negotiating tactic with unionized workers.
Regarding another part of the conversation, where the caller posing as David Koch promises to bring the governor to California as a reward when and if the budget repair bill passes, the former attorney general noted the tenor of the conversation.
“Scott: Once you crush these bastards I’ll fly you out to Cali and really show you a good time,” says the caller identified as David Koch.
Walker replies: “All right, that would be outstanding.”
“When an elected official in Wisconsin is offered a trip somewhere to have a good time, and he responds by saying ‘that would be outstanding,' ” said Lautenchlager, “it certainly sounds like something ethics investigators should look into
COMMENT #8 [Permalink] ...
said on 2/25/2011 @ 8:36 pm PT...
Looks like the repubs are given "the people" a taste of the obamacare-jammed-down-our-throats-legislation process. Its good that unions and demoncrats are getting a taste of their own ugly medicine that the majority of the population has suffered under for the past couple years.
COMMENT #9 [Permalink] ...
said on 2/26/2011 @ 12:31 am PT...
Shena - Are you really comparing Health Care Reform to this debacle? Health Care Reform was put up for public debate and deliberation for a year. ONE YEAR. This was gaveled in in UNDER FIFTEEN SECONDS.
This is shoving something down taxpayers' throats while overriding public sentiment and protest. This is nothing like Health Care Reform. It's patently absurd and, frankly, insulting to compare the two.
COMMENT #10 [Permalink] ...
said on 2/26/2011 @ 1:02 am PT...
Hey, we all voted for "change'. Of course, I don't think most of us were expecting this particular sort. God bless (and help) America. Man, are we all effed.
COMMENT #11 [Permalink] ...
said on 2/26/2011 @ 7:19 am PT...
Everyone of them, old fat and white. They have no shame they dont care. It isnt just about Scott Walker it that all the Representatives are willing to follow him in lock step no matter how horrible the bill. Its disgraceful.
I would not only second what Wynn said @9, Shena, but would ad that health care "reform" was directed at a system that results in the deaths of 45,000 Americans annually simply because they can't afford insurance, not to mention the countless others who die when insurance companies refuse to authorize vital procedures of those who are fortunate enough to have insurance.
45,000! That's 45 times the number of Libyans killed by Kadafi in the recent uprising. The thousand killed by Kadafi makes front page news. Yet the number of Americans who will die over the next ten years because of the for-profit insurance system defended by corporate America's wholly owned subsidiary, GOP, Inc., a number that over ten years will reach genocidal proportions, goes unmentioned.
And, yet, here you are, Shena, complaining about a full year debate as an "obamacare-jammed-down-our-throats-legislation process" which still has not produced the only true reform--one which the GOP, Inc. vehemently opposes--single-payer (Medicare for all) that eliminates the parasitic middle men --- for profit health insurers, their CEOs and Wall Street owners.
No one with a modicum of intelligence would compare the blatant, billionaire-funded, union-busting WI power grab to the dire need for radical change of America's corrupt, dysfunctional and deadly "health care" system.
COMMENT #13 [Permalink] ...
said on 2/27/2011 @ 10:46 am PT...
There are two things that are remarkable to me in the phone call. One, that nowhere in the call does anyone emphasize the importance of getting Wisconsin's fiscal house in order (the supposed reason for the drastic actions in the bill). Usually in a 20 minute phone call you would talk about what was most important in a current struggle. They talk about union busting but not fiscal issues.
Secondly, that during the 20 minute conversation Walker and "Koch" talk about putting "troublemakers" in the crowd. This was not only met with no argument about the ethics of it, but also that it was discussed matter-of-factly as if this was standard practice for dealing with liberal protests. I have long felt that conservatives have undermined protests by casting doubts on their legitimate concerns by making the protesters out to be hoodlums and anarchists. Walker's punked conversation demonstrates that using "trouble makers" would have been a common option in dealing with protestors. This is not just a fight over collective bargaining but a fight to maintain our constitutional freedoms like "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Walker does not seem to believe in these freedoms when they get in the way of his political goals.