MASKED, heavily-armed paramilitary rent-a-cops are freaking out Wisconsin

It cannot be said that the citizens of Wisconsin didn’t truly get what they asked for when they had a chance to shitcan Republican Governor Scott Walker, but for some inexplicable reason, opted not to oust the lickspittle Koch whore. Nope, Wisconsin voted this toady to the rich and powerful in twice and well, that clearly wasn’t an accident, now was it? By any metric, Gov. Walker’s tenure in the statehouse has been a disastrous and divisive few years for Wisconsin, near the bottom in job creation and with a host of other problems the Charlie Brown-ish Walker has done little to solve and much to exacerbate.

But now Wisconsinites are getting a bite from a brand new flavor of shit sandwich that results from having a Republican-controlled legislature: Masked mercenaries with semi-automatic weapons are guarding the site of a controversial mining project that is being established near Lake Superior and understandably, people are freaking out about it.

Although there were serious environmental concerns about the mine, in March the GOP legislature pushed it through anyway. Since then there have been steady events protesting the mine, which will be owned and operated by a company called Gogebic Taconite. Over the July 4th weekend, however, masked security guards wearing camouflaged uniforms and carrying multiple semi-automatic weapons started patrolling the future mine’s site. Forget about the firepower for a moment, why do these dudes require masks to do their jobs???

Talking Points Memo editor Josh Marshall did a little digging into the background of Bulletproof Securities the rent-a-cop on steroids firm—or as they put it, the “No Compromise Security Force”—that is minding the mine:

Here’s the Bulletproof website which lists all sorts of security/paramilitary type services. They even have their own ‘border security force’, which is something I thought the federal government took care of. But apparently not without occasional help from Bulletproof.

Indeed, as the site notes, “BPS has at its disposal the latest cache of specialized equipment for border security operations, not typically found in the private sector. As example, BPS owns heavily armored Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV’s), Tactical All Terrain Vehicles (T-ATV’s), FLIR (mobile thermal systems), mast equipment (eye in the sky), and many other state-of-the-art assets … The presence of BPS will prevent criminal organizations from posing a threat to your personnel or your mission.”

If your needs are different, Bulletproof can also provide “a QRF (quick reaction force) tactical unit to secure a manufacturing plant during a heated worker strike.”

And they’ll do it all while wearing fucking masks!

Welcome to late period capitalism, baby! Which side of the fork do you reckon you’ll be on?

Worth mentioning that the Republicans who voted to push through the mine over community objections promised that Gogebic Taconite would be creating local jobs. So of course, the first thing, the very first thing that G-Tac did was import their paramilitary mercenaries from Scottsdale, AZ…

Something else worth mentioning? The land is actually open to the public and Bulletproof’s militarized rental cops do not even have the legal right in Wisconsin to actually use the weaponry that they are openly carrying around for the purpose of protecting property. And again, this is property that they do not own!.

Here’s a news report on this highly disturbing development from WISC-TV:


Posted by Richard Metzger
11:46 am
Gov. Scott Walker heckled by Occupy Chicago

The face of an idiot.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker was heckled for six solid minutes this morning by fifty Occupy Chicago supporters in front of an audience of 300 people at a breakfast appearance.

When they were finished harassing the hapless, soon-to-be-former WI Republican governor, the protesters left the event at Chicago’s Union League Club.

Around fifty people chanted things like “Union busting. It’s disgusting” and “We are the 99 percent.”

After the protesters left, politically tone-deaf, about-to-be-recalled-from-office Walker said, “The bottom line is, no matter how loud you shout, the facts are the facts. The facts are that our reforms have worked and continue to work in the state of Wisconsin.”

Look into his beady little eyes. Even Walker’s eyes look like they’re sweating. This is a man terrified on one hand, and yet in deep, deep denial on the other. As the Firesign Theatre once said: “A stiff idiot is the worst kind.”

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker heckled at Chicago’s Union League Club from WBEZ on Vimeo.

Posted by Richard Metzger
10:20 pm
Slave labor in America: Union workers replaced by prisoners in Wisconsin

The highly controversial new law in Wisconsin gutting collective bargaining rights for state union workers is now in effect and already changes are afoot in the dairy state. Not good ones.

Via Think Progress:

As the Madison Capital Times reports, “Besides losing their right to negotiate over the percentage of their paycheck that will go toward health care and retirement, unions also lost the ability to claim work as a ‘union-only’ job, opening the door for private workers and evidently even inmates to step in and take their place.” Inmates are not paid for their work, but may receive time off of their sentences.

The law went into effect last week, and Racine County is already using inmates to do landscaping, painting, and another basic maintenance around the county that was previously done by county workers. The union had successfully sued to stop the country from using prison labor for these jobs last year, but with [Governor Scott] Walker’s new law, they have no recourse.

The use of free inmate labor to replace public sector workers is truly a disturbing trend. That’s right folks. Forget about the off-shore outsourcing of jobs. Forget about China’s cheap labor. India’s, too. And don’t blame the Mexicans and illegal immigrants for taking your job, either, bub.

Nope. We’ve got a bigger problem now: How are Americans going to compete in the jobs marketplace against slave labor?

Deeply unpopular Gov. Scott Walker promised to create 250,000 new jobs in Wisconsin during his term in office, but he didn’t say these jobs would be created in the county jails!

This is what you get when you vote Republican.

Posted by Richard Metzger
12:14 pm
Total Recall: WI Dem easily beats GOP opponent for seat held by Republicans for 16 years

Note to Gov. Scott Walker: You should really,really make an effort not to do this face so often in public, because it’s just too easy for bloggers to find images of you looking stupid, forlorn and like you’ve had your ass whipped.

Wisconsin’s District 94 Assembly seat has been held by Republicans for some sixteen years, but last night it was won by a Democrat running a campaign openly disdainful of Gov. Scott Walker and his clownish, heavy-handed attempts to end collective bargaining rights for public employees in the state. Democrat Steve Doyle, a labor-supporter, smashed his opponent, Republican John Lautz in a 54% to 46% bludgeoning. This was a special election, called to replace Mike Huebsch, a GOP incumbent who was appointed Walker’s secretary of administration, and has was seen by many as a symbolic referendum on the unpopular Gov. Walker himself.

If this is anything to go by—and obviously it is with such a lop-sided margin—the statewide effort by progressive activists to remove eight Republican senators just got a major shot in the arm. Every elected Republican in Wisconsin’s government—not the least Scott Walker himself—has to be pissing themselves in terror of what is to come.

So far, the recall effort has been going great, already easily making the quota of signatures for six GOP senators to face recall by Monday’s deadline. You piss in the wind, it comes back to hit you in the face. That’s the way it works. That’s life. That’s karma. The Wisconsin GOP, I think, is going to get what it deserves, a right thrashing! It’s going to be a hot July in Wisconsin, something tells me…

What’s that line about “Don’t quit your day job?” I give Huebsch, like Walker himself, sometime until mid-2012 before he gets thrown on the scrap heap of history with the rest of the Wisconsin Republican party.

If you live in Wisconsin, you can volunteer for the Walker Recall. He has to be in office for one year before a recall against him can come into play, but that gives activists several months to organize a Bronx cheer for this nitwit. If you are from outside of the state, you can donate some money to the Walker Recall efforts at the same site.

Posted by Richard Metzger
07:32 pm
What the hell happened in Wisconsin today???

Whoops, wrong stolen election!

If you are looking for a way to get your head around what happened today in the hotly-contested Wisconsin election shocker, this clip from Daily Kos explains it in a rather succinct nutshell.

In WI, an automatic recount at state-expense is triggered if an election is within .5%, and we have a fully verifiable paper trail to audit election results. That means in this election with approximately 740k for Kloppenburg and 739k for Prosser, the vote gets recounted at state-expense if the election is within ~7400 votes.

So the last 2 days the WI-GOP has been scrambling trying to figure out how they can still get Prosser into office. What was the result of their brain-storming? Add a few extra votes in a friendly area (Waukesha), and call it a clerical error. But in order to steal the election, they NEED to be able to keep a recount from occurring, because a recount would expose their attempted fraud to the light of day.

So they couldn’t just give Prosser a couple hundred to put him barely in the lead by 40. They had to give him more than 7500 in order to get above the threshold for automatic recount, so that the only way for a recount to happen would be if Kloppenburg ponies up the money for a state-wide recount, which could be expensive. Granted, all of us in WI would be happy to donate to a potential recount effort if it gets to that point, but the resolve of the Kloppenburg camp remains to be seen.

When the Republicans have declared victory starting tomorrow, they will use the full power of their media empire to pressure KloJo to concede instead of paying for a recount. They’ll say she’s a sore loser if she pushes for a recount outside of the .5% margin. They’ll say the gap is so wide that a recount couldn’t possibly swing enough votes her way, so she shouldn’t waste the time of election workers. They’ll say she’s just further trying to divide the people of WI. They will do EVERYTHING they can to make sure NO ONE checks the paper trail. Because the paper trail will be the nail in their coffin.

We must not let them succeed in this attempted fraud.

It is NOT a coincidence that Prosser didn’t get +300 votes or +1000, it had to be +7500 or more in order for the fraud to work. +7400 just wouldn’t have been enough.


Now read this, from OneWisconsinNow. Does Kathy Nickolaus in any way seem kinda shady, do you think? Do ya?

Election Returns: What Went On in Waukesha?
After Hours of Silence, Embattled Clerk Reports Wildly-High Turnout in Prosser’s Top County

Madison—As counties statewide move to certify Tuesday’s shocking upset victory by JoAnne Kloppenburg over heavily-favored David Prosser, unanswered questions remain about returns from Tuesday night in Waukesha County—the top-performing county in the state for Scott Walker’s self-proclaimed “complement” on the Supreme Court.

“Wisconsin deserves elections that are fair, clean and transparent,” said Scot Ross, One Wisconsin Now Executive Director. “There is a history of secrecy and partisanship surrounding the Waukesha County Clerk and there remain unanswered questions.”

Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, a former staffer for the Assembly Republican Caucus, has been sharply criticized in recent months for her handling of recent elections. Even the archly-conservative Waukesha County Board has sharply condemned Nickolaus after past elections, demanding an immediate audit of her practices following ominous red-flags that emerged regarding her lack of oversight, failure to create backup files and her stubborn insistence to “keep everything secret.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/18/10; 1/17/11]

The County auditors said it was eminently possible—including historical precedent—for Nickolaus or a rogue employee to tamper with data. Why? Nickolaus insists on controlling password access and has unilaterally decided to move sensitive files, like election results, onto her personal computer.

Nickolaus has actually scoffed at complying with impartial audits, thumbing her nose at critics. A move that drew a sharp reaction at the time from the County Board Chair:

“There really is nothing funny about this, Kathy,” said Waukesha County Board Chairman Jim Dwyer when Nickolaus willfully ignored complying with the earlier impartial audit. “Don’t sit there and grin when I’m explaining what this is about.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 8/18/10; 1/17/11]

On Tuesday, shockingly-large turnout suddenly emerged from Waukesha County, which did not comport with either the results of previous spring elections, or even internal estimates from city officials mid-day. In fact, a Waukesha City Deputy Clerk said at 1:18pm that turnout was very typical, predicting somewhere between 20 to 25 percent. As Tuesday night wore on, reporting in Waukesha County stopped altogether for hours, leaving observers to wonder what was going on. Then suddenly, results suggesting massive turnout started to pour in rapidly with Prosser adding dramatically to his total by a 73-27 percent margin.

One Wisconsin Now estimates put overall turnout near 38 percent, a wild outlier to historical data and the earlier mid-day estimation of Waukesha’s own officials. In April 2009, turnout was 20 percent; April 2008, turnout was 22 percent and in April 2007, turnout was 24

Fishy or not? You decide!

Posted by Richard Metzger
11:51 pm
GOP Family Values: New scandal brewing for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker just can’t get a break. Only in office a few months, already he seems to posses a bottomless pit of sleazy, stupid things that he’s done that are making it, you might say, a little hot for him.

On the eve of his buddy Judge David Prosser getting his ass kicked all over the electoral map, word has leaked out of a new scandal that’s taking shape in Madison: It seems that the ne’r do well. loser drunkard progeny of one of Walker’s biggest donors, Jerry Deshane, was given a plum state job.

From the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel:

Just in his mid-20s, Brian Deschane has no college degree, very little management experience and two drunken-driving convictions.

Yet he has landed an $81,500-per-year job in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration overseeing environmental and regulatory matters and dozens of employees at the Department of Commerce. Even though Walker says the state is broke and public employees are overpaid, Deschane already has earned a promotion and a 26% pay raise in just two months with the state.

How did Deschane score his plum assignment with the Walker team?

It’s all in the family.

This is what happens when you vote for Republicans…

Can you imagine being a high school teacher worried about having your benefits cut or losing your job and hearing about some idiot rich kid with TWO DUIs getting a job at the taxpayer tit for over $80k a year and getting a fucking 16% raise in just eight weeks? Rep. Brett Hulsey, a Democrat from Madison said of party boy Deschane: “It doesn’t look like he’s ever had a real job.”

No, but he’s got a real rich daddy... Did he even have to write a resume or fill out a job application? I kinda doubt it, don’t you?

And in related news, a second WI Republican, Sen. Randy Hopper is likely going to face a recall election. You may recall Hopper as the fellow who left his wife for someone half his age who also got a government job well above the standard pay scale. Wisconsin Democrats and labor supporters have previously collected 145% of the necessary signatures needed to recall another Republican senator, Dan Kapanke. I don’t think either of these gentlemen will see out the end of the summer in their current offices. Nor will their buddy Scott Walker be in any position to give them sweetheart jobs when the voters sack them, because those days are over. Walker’s being watched for ANY slip up at this point and although for sure he’s DUMB, he’s not so dumb that he can’t read the writing on the wall. (Can you imagine what it must feel like to be Scott Walker? What a god-damned buffoon!)

This is getting sooooo gooood. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s vote in Wisconsin. Republican schadenfreude? Count me in, I feel like a little kid on Christmas Eve…

Posted by Richard Metzger
10:40 pm
Zombies vs. Teabaggers

Look who wants in on the class war: It’s the undead vs. the Teabaggers as hordes of pro-labor zombies roamed around Madison, Wisconsin over the weekend in search of some brains. Looking for high IQ dining anywhere near the Tea party-dominated statehouse was perhaps a poor idea for a zombie banquet…

Via Joe My God

Posted by Richard Metzger
04:14 pm
Wisconsin is going to kick some Republican ass on Tuesday

Above, WI Judge David Prosser AKA “Prosser the Tosser” and his dimwitted pal Scotty…

Although I doubt there are many Wisconsinites who need reminding, tomorrow’s WI Supreme Court election between incumbent Judge David Prosser—who has said he’d rubber stamp Gov. Walker’s ticket to destroy the unions—and challenger Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, will be of the most important statewide elections in decades. Important not just for Wisconsin, but to all of America’s working people. What happens tomorrow—and fuck it, our team is gonna win this one—should scare the shit out of the Republican Party, because when the dust settles, they are going to know—definitively—for whom the bell tolls. Guys, make no mistake about it, it’s tolling for your dumb asses.

Judge Prosser’s top aide said that Prosser would be a “complement” to Walker. How can a Supreme Court justice be anything BUT impartial? And Sarah Palin’s brain-dead Twitter-endorsement? I thought Republicans were against activist judges? Oh right, only when they’re on the other side? Seems to me that the Republicans don’t want to live by their own rules, and they damned sure don’t want others to live by their rules either. These people are clowns, just fucking clowns… and tomorrow they are going to have their heads handed to them on a Vanity Fair paper plate. They have to know it.

Last week former Gov. Patrick Lucey withdrew his support for Prosser and endorsed JoAnne Kloppenburg. Lucey released a statement that Prosser’s sleazy behavior has revealed what he described as “a disturbing distemper and lack of civility” in the Republican’s conduct. Earlier it had come out that Prosser is prone to hissy fits, including one where he called Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson a “total bitch” and threatened to “destroy” her.

David Prosser is a slug that needs some salt thrown on him.

Working people are starting to wise up and the events in Wisconsin have educated even some Tea party-types as that movement burns itself out and loses steam. In the past week alone, it’s been reported that GOP-affiliated special interest groups (many of them from outside of Wisconsin, of course) have bombarded the state with $2 million dollars worth of anti-Kloppenberg advertising. For a state supreme court election? Incredible. Clearly, the Republicans are scared shitless and they should be…

According to Kloppenburg, “The events of the last few weeks have put into sharp relief how important the Supreme Court is as a check on overreach in other branches of government.” The American Federation of Teachers issued a statement that “a Kloppenburg victory will swing the balance to our side.  A vote for Prosser is a vote for Walker.  It’s time to ‘get even.’”

Get even? Sure, but as much as I love me some Republican schadenfreude—their misfortune, my comedy—I just want to see some justice for the working people of Wisconsin. Tomorrow I expect both.

Posted by Richard Metzger
12:52 pm
Wisconsin’s broke? So why did GOP Rep’s mistress get such a sweet gig?

I just got this via email from Daily Kos. This is totally worth kicking in a few bucks to.

Wisconsin Republicans say the state is too broke to pay for teachers, but they just gave the 26-year-old mistress of a union-busting Republican Senator a state job with a fat raise. It’s a classic Republican scandal filled with hypocrisy, cronyism, and their special version of “family values.”

Here’s the story. Last year, Wisconsin Republican state Senator Randy Hopper left his wife to live with a young Republican political operative. Last month, as Governor Scott Walker unveiled legislation calling for deep cuts in state workers’ salaries and collective bargaining rights, Hopper’s mistress was hired by the state on the advice of Scott Walker’s cabinet as a “communications liaison.” Further, her salary is 35% higher than her predecessor’s.

Randy Hopper is now facing recall. At Daily Kos, by using something called Google Surge, we can make sure that when anyone in Hopper’s district goes online for almost an entire week they will see an ad about the scandal.

It will cost us $12,128 for us to do this. Can you contribute $12 to Daily Kos help make it happen?

Randy Hopper is one of the most vulnerable Republicans facing recall. He is a freshman, and only won his seat by 163 votes. A poll conducted by Daily Kos and PPP shows Hopper losing to a generic Democrat 49%-44%.

You can see the ad we’re going to run on the right-hand side of this email. When it runs, it will link to a local Wisconsin news story verifying all the details. Since we are using Google Surge, any voter in Hopper’s district who goes online will see the ad multiple times.

With Randy Hopper already teetering on the brink of defeat, it’s hard to imagine how he could win a recall election after an ad campaign like this. Please, contribute $12 to Daily Kos and make sure every voter in Randy Hopper’s district knows about this scandal.

Keep fighting,

Chris Bowers
Campaign Director, Daily Kos

Hold these filthy lying bastards’ feet to the fire. Do your part to see a Republican humiliated!

Posted by Richard Metzger
04:10 pm
Union member interviewed as Walker was signing the union-busting bill


So tell me your name?

Ken Larson.

And where do you work?

I work for the University. I work for the elevator crew, and in the electric shop.

And this year, you’re retiring?

Yes, I’m retiring in June, prompted by all of the goings on. I had planned to retire in December, but I can’t take the chance.

And how many years do you have in?

I have, with the University, seventeen years.

And what does this mean to you?

Aw this, it started out, to me, as an issue between collective bargaining, and the fact that, uh…[breaks down]

I’m a Vietnam vet. That’s alright.

But when he talked about the National Guard, it became personal. He talked about bringing out the Guard, you know, hinting that the Guard would be called, it became personal. But I’m over all that now, that’s why what’s really personal to us all, is [pauses to collect himself]

...are my grandchildren. I don’t want them to be deprived, because this guy has to give it to millionaires. He doesn’t deserve that. My kids, my grandkids deserve everything. So this became personal to me, very personal now, because of all the families, the poor, and moderate-income families that he’s depriving of a better life.

That’s the best I can say.

Via Tina Dupuy/Crooks & Liars

Posted by Richard Metzger
01:36 pm
Dems have nearly half of signatures needed for recall of Wisconsin GOP state senators

Democrats in Wisconsin got out of the gate with a very strong start for the race to gain the necessary signatures needed for a recall election in the “Forward” state. This can’t come as good news to the Republicans and Gov. Walker (nicknamed “Dead Man Walker” by no less of a representative of mainstream American opinion than TIME magazine).

Greg Sargent writes in the Washington Post:

Dems have now collected over 56,000 signatures supporting the recall drives, according to party spokesman Graeme Zielinski, after another surge in organizing activity over the weekend. That’s up from rougly 14,000 after last weekend. This means Dems are well ahead of schedule: In each targeted district, Dems need to amass the required signatures — 25 percent of the number who voted in the last gubernatorial election — by a deadline of 60 days after first filing for recalls, which happened nearly two weeks ago.

In other words, Dems are reporting they are nearly halfway to the finish line, with roughly three-fourths of the alloted time remaining.

Though the national media has largely treated the Wisconsin story as resolved, now that Republicans used a procedural maneuver to pass Scott Walker’s measure, the new signature numbers suggest the GOP’s maneuver may only be giving more momentum to the recall drives. The recall fight has drawn the attention of national Dems, who are keeping attention on the battle in hopes that it will have ramifications in the 2012 Congressional and presidential elections, by galvanizing the Dem base, persuading independents that the GOP has overreached, and reawakening the affection of blue collar whites for unions.

Some will insist that these numbers are unreliable, because they are coming from Dems. But if they did cook the numbers, such exaggerations would quickly become apparent if they fell well short of their goals by the deadline. (Republicans are refusing to reveal the amount of signatures they’ve collected to recall Dems.) What’s more, these signatures numbers claimed by Dems mirror other indicators of enthusiasm: Dems and labor continue to raise money for the recall drives at a dizzying clip, and a huge rally amassed in Madison over the weekend.

According to Wisconsin Dem spokesman Zielinski, Dems are ahead of pace in signature gathering in every single one of the eight districts being targteted, and in three of the districts, Dems have well over 50 percent of the number required.

And in a related note, popular Wisconsin resident, Jeff Skiles, who was co-pilot of the “Miracle on the Hudson” plane, told WISC-TV that he will be closing his accounts (totaling over $400,000) at M&I Bank today. M&I’s executives were amongst the largest donors to embattled Gov. Scott Walker’s election campaign. Below, Skiles speaks to pro-labor protesters in Madison on Feb. 26, 2011.

Posted by Richard Metzger
02:35 pm
Wisconsin GOP: Winning hearts and minds, continued

Mafia -style politics in Madison? This is the text of the email that went out yesterday to Wisconsin Republicans from their Majority Leader, Scott Fitzgerald. Stunning, isn’t it? It’s as if these people have no clue what is about to hit them.

From: Sen.Fitzgerald
Sent: Monday, March 14, 2011 3:52 PM
To: *Legislative Senate Republicans
Subject: Senate Democrat voting privileges in standing committees

Dear Members,

With the return of the Senate Democrats this weekend, questions have arisen regarding Democrat members’ participation in Senate standing committee public hearings and executive sessions.

Please note that all 14 Democrat senators are still in contempt of the Senate. Therefore, when taking roll call votes on amendments and bills during executive sessions, Senate Democrats’ votes will not be reflected in the Records of Committee Proceedings or the Senate Journal. They are free to attend hearings, listen to testimony, debate legislation, introduce amendments, and cast votes to signal their support/opposition, but those votes will not count, and will not be recorded.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact my office.

Thank you,

Scott Fitzgerald
Senate Majority Leader
13th Senate District

Below, Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald discusses his version of democracy(!!), but look what happened when the Wisconsin 14 actually did return. Fitzgerald thinks he can have it both ways. He’s wrong. What an appalling hypocritical scumbag this man is. I will look forward to his recall and hope it’s chock full of juicy Republican schadenfreude, because Republican schadenfreude is the best kind of schadenfreude there is. (And how fucking dumb—and politically tone-deaf—would you have to be to make a statement like this with THAT racket in the background? Fitzgerald only appears slightly less stupid than Sarah Palin did when she pardoned the turkey... and that’s nothin’ to be proud of, pal.)

Posted by Richard Metzger
01:38 pm
Wisconsin class war in perspective: Walker’s false choice
03:42 pm

I was happy to see that the following guest column by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka that appears in today’s Wall Street Journal (of all places!) had been liberated elsewhere so no one had to pay Rupert Murdoch to read it… Love this, Trumka says some important things here. If the state workers in Wisconsin—teachers, for god’s sake—were not to blame for the economic debacle, then why should they be expected to fix it?

Please forward this, FB share it and Twitter it. This needs to get out from behind the WSJ’s pay-wall:

Close to 200,000 working Wisconsinites have been given the following option by Gov. Scott Walker: If you want to keep your job, give up your rights. If you want to keep your rights, you’re going to be laid off.

This is downright un-American. The governor’s choice is a false one, manufactured for political reasons.

The real question, the one at the heart of our economic debate, is this: Do we continue down a path that delivers virtually all income growth to the richest 1% of Americans, or do we commit to rebuilding a thriving middle class?

We believe to address this question, it’s crucial that we sit down at the table together and find a way to grow without taking more away from the middle class.

The business climate couldn’t be stronger. Corporate profits reached an annualized level of $1.7 trillion in the third quarter of 2010, the highest figure since the government began keeping statistics 60 years ago.

But, as we’ve seen, high corporate profits aren’t enough to drive robust and equitable economic growth. Three years after the onset of this epic recession, unemployment is still near double digits, millions of Americans are facing home foreclosure, and wages have been stagnant. In our consumer-driven economy, that pulls down businesses as well as tax revenues. Our entire economy is weaker when we have the kind of income inequality that we have today.

The freedom of workers to come together to bargain for decent living standards, safe workplaces, and dignity on the job has been a cornerstone of building our middle class. It’s also recognized in Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This right ensures that there is sufficient spending power to drive the consumer demand, which makes up two-thirds of our GDP. And it benefits all Americans—not just those who are in unions.

It’s no secret that boosting corporate profits no longer translates into shared prosperity. Many private-sector companies have gone to extraordinary lengths in recent years to effectively eliminate the freedom of workers to come together to bargain to lift living standards. That’s one reason middle-class wages have stagnated since the 1970s, and why the U.S. is at risk of becoming an hourglass economy—one with all the income at the top and people at the bottom.

Sadly, a group of radical Republican governors is working overtime to export the most short-sighted private-sector labor practices into the public sector. Not only are they demanding steep cuts in wages and pensions for public workers, they also want to take away workplace rights, so that workers can no longer bargain for better compensation and benefits.

Their claim is that public workers have become parasites, busting state budgets with bloated wages and benefits at a terrible cost to taxpayers.

But average citizens have little interest in taking away workers’ rights. According to a CBS/New York Times survey, Americans support bargaining rights for public workers by a nearly two-to-one margin. Despite their best efforts, governors like Scott Walker haven’t convinced Americans that public workers are at fault for state budget woes.

Nor does economic research support their arguments. When adjusted for education, experience and training, the data show that public-sector workers are paid less than their private-sector counterparts. Right now, state and municipal budgets are in trouble primarily because of high unemployment, falling incomes, and losses in the stock market. Together, these lead to lower tax revenues and depleted pension funds.

It wasn’t teachers or firefighters or nurses who crashed the stock market and caused the recession that led to millions of layoffs and foreclosures. It was the so-called engine of our economy—Wall Street—which has suffered no consequence after nearly destroying the global financial system in 2008. Wall Street bonuses averaged over $128,000 per person in 2010, more than six times the average pension for a retired public-service worker in Wisconsin.

So here’s working America’s message to governors like Scott Walker and New Jersey’s Chris Christie: We believe in shared sacrifice. But we don’t believe in your version of shared sacrifice, where the wealthy and Wall Street reap all the benefits of economic growth, and working people do all the sacrificing.

We need to improve the climate for America’s middle class. We need tough rules to protect the health of workers and consumers, fair taxes on the super-rich to support decent public services, fair trade policies, and a 21st century approach to workplace rights, which recognizes that high-performance enterprises depend on making employees a part of the team.

That’s a recipe that can repair not only our budgets, but also our body politic.


But I do have just one question for the esteemed Mr.Trumka: “Where’s your buddy Obama?”

Posted by Richard Metzger
03:42 pm
Stand in solidarity with Wisconsin workers

ActBlue has posted this letter on their website. Click here to add your name.

Gov. Walker has threatened to call out the National Guard against workers who protest his radical plan to cut benefits of middle class workers and strip them of their rights. 

Stand in solidarity with tens of thousands of workers who have been protesting:

Members of the Wisconsin Legislature,

The Associated Press reports, “Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights.”

The Governor’s decision to ask the Wisconsin National Guard to be prepared for a fight against nurses, teachers, and other public employees puts Wisconsin firmly on the wrong side of history. The idea that a governor can use the military to impose his personal, political will on the people he governs is a primitive relic of the past – one that resulted in almost a century of bloodshed in this country. It must not be repeated again.

Trying to ram through cuts to the health care and pensions of Wisconsin nurses and teachers – and take away their right to negotiate for fair benefits – is already unacceptable. But the Governor’s threat of military force against Wisconsin citizens who serve their state proudly is even more shameful.

We say “no” to the Governor’s budget—and “no” to the use of the National Guard against the people of Wisconsin. And we ask you to join us.



I wonder if it’s occurred to Gov. Walker, yet, just how bad of an idea it was to piss on this wasp’s nest and in Wisconsin of all places??? Like their brave union forefathers, these 21st century Badger heroes seem to love a good fight. Something tells me this is just the beginning.

One way or another Walker is political toast and I think he must know it. He was Ronald Reagan firing the air traffic controllers in his own mind, but he sure looks like Gray Davis to me.

We win in Wisconsin, and we’ll win in every other Republican controlled statehouse. What’s going on there is THAT IMPORTANT. One way or another history will be made in Wisconsin. Which side are you on?


Posted by Richard Metzger
01:00 pm
WAKE UP and see exactly what happened in Wisconsin while you were sleeping

At least we’re still waking up on the west coast…


The Wisconsin state Assembly on Friday passed a Republican plan to curb public sector union power over the fierce objections of protesters, setting the stage for a showdown with Senate Democrats who fled the state last week to prevent a vote in that chamber.
After two all-night debating sessions and an eleventh hour Democratic bid for a compromise, the Republican-dominated Assembly abruptly ended all debate early Friday morning and approved the bill by a vote of 51 to 17.

The outcome of the vote, which was taken so fast many Democratic lawmakers who were outside the chamber when it was called were unable to participate, was greeted by chants of “it’s not over yet” and “we are here to stay” from more than a thousand protesters who stayed to watch in the capitol rotunda overnight.

Here’s the reaction from pro labor demonstrators in the gallery:

This is video from the gallery of the WI Assembly past 1 AM in the morning on 2/25/2011. The Democrats have just been told by the speaker pro tempore there will be no more debate before the vote, even though there were more than a dozen Democrats in the queue to speak. They shout “Shame! Shame! Shame!”

The public citizens in the gallery were shortly told to leave by police. None of the public were allowed in the gallery at the time of the vote.


Today’s gonna be interesting!

Via Joe. My.God

Posted by Richard Metzger
11:29 am
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