Hugo Chavez in Wisconsin

by A. Jay Adler on March 9, 2011
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MADISON, WI - FEBRUARY 25:  Wisconsin State As...

State Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca

It is a core distinction between the American Left and Right that while liberals seek to expand rights in ways that conservatives often dislike and find offensive, conservatives simply seek to deprive citizens of rights and to take from them those they already have.

You can find video of this historic travesty of democracy – the rushed, jury-rigged Wisconsin state assembly meeting – at WisconsinEYE. Embedding is not available and you need to download directly to a media player. What we have seen in these events, and in their at least temporary outcome – since the legality of today’s action is in doubt – is the essence of tyranny by legislative majority. Against widely reported and known popular will and in contempt of the legislative minority, a governor has acted to deprive citizens of a longstanding legal right for purely ideological reasons. Even the always clearly bogus fiscal rationale for stripping Wisconsin public sector unions of their collective bargaining rights has been exposed, since tonight’s jury rigging involved stripping the bill of any “fiscal” elements in order to change the quorum requirements.

Today’s GOP is fully revealed as an ideologically monomaniacal and divisive force in American society that would wage cultural and economic war on whole segments of the nation. The Tea Party moment is now over. Every conservative claim of Democratic arrogance and overreach with the election of Barack Obama now pales in comparison. The American Left, the working middle class, and unions will now rise up in their own wave of insurgent discontent over the next two years. The depth and breadth of the social discord will not diminish until this current reactionary manifestation of American conservatism is driven back into the shameful corners that were once its hideouts.

Here is part of the the account of events from Madison’s Channel3000.

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.

The lone Democrat present on the conference committee, Rep. Tony Barca, shouted that the surprise meeting was a violation of the state’s open meetings law but Republicans voted over his objections. The Senate then convened within minutes and passed it without discussion or debate.

Spectators in the gallery screamed “You are cowards” and “Shame.”

About 200 protesters chanted “occupy” and “general strike” as they vowed to remain inside the Wisconsin Capitol after the vote by the state Senate Wednesday night.

The Senate hastily passed the bill 18-1 on Wednesday evening, setting off the latest protests. Protesters have gathered the past three weeks, often in the thousands, to protest the measure proposed by Walker.

Some protesters tried to gain access to the Senate gallery during the vote, but were denied access by Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs. Protest organizer Erika Wolfe told the crowd that legal options were being evaluated.

The Assembly will be in special session at 11 a.m. on Thursday to take up the conference committee bill, which includes taking away most collective bargaining rights from most state employees. That’s the last step before the bill can go to Walker for his signature.


Senate Democratic leader Mark Miller of Monona said Democrats will “join the people of Wisconsin in taking back their government,” but he refused to say when.”In thirty minutes, 18 state Senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten. Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people,” Miller said in a statement.Before the sudden votes, Democratic Sen. Bob Jauch said if Republicans “chose to ram this bill through in this fashion, it will be to their political peril. They’re changing the rules. They will inflame a very frustrated public.”


Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz also released a statement on the Senate’s action.”All along, Gov. Walker and his legislative allies have told us that his budget repair bill was really just about balancing the state’s budget. Now, we know that was just a convenient talking point. Gov. Walker’s attack on collective bargaining rights is an assault on working families and four decades of labor peace — and now we know that it has nothing to do with balancing the state’s budget. The governor has now reversed his entire argument for this bill in order to rush it through in a secretive vote,” Cieslewicz said in a statement.

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