MARCH 26, 2011 9:50PM

Down, but not out, in Wisconsin

Rate: 23 Flag

In Wisconsin right now, it is a tamer version of the beginning scenes of the movie Braveheart.  But the feelings are parallel.  This would be the scene where the vulnerable are being raped and killed and the warriors among them are slowing stepping up.  The Scottish begin winning battles against heavy-handed English who’ve never lost a moment of sleep worrying about them as a significant threat.  But the Scottish begin to make progress and begin to arouse the interest of the commoners who’ve just plodded along through the years, slowly losing more and more rights, but never enough at one time to ever fight back…but then, the masses begin to care.  They begin to view their lives differently for the first time.  They stop believing the lies that they don’t deserve better.  They begin to view the suffering of the people as evil…as evil inflicted by the elite few of society.  This angers them….angers them to their core.  So they begin to feel and they begin to fight… and they shock everyone, mostly themselves, when they begin to win.  


I feel it in my gut.  God help us, but we may win. 


But we aren’t winning right now.  In fact we’ve lost many battles.  And we’ll lose more.  Here’s a summary of the past, an update to the present, and a glimpse of where we are going from here.


Round One: goes to Governor Walker and his cronies (big corporations and Tea Party supporters).  Yeah, they “passed” (perhaps illegally, tied up in courts presently) the bill to strip unions of their collective bargaining rights.  They have the votes needed to take healthcare away from our poorest Wisconsinites including seniors, veterans, farmers, and children.  They are removing the mandate on recycling.  They are replacing the head of our Department of Natural Resources with a “developer.” Walker gave away over $100 million of tax payer money to corporations and simultaneously turned down additional millions in federal aid for a high speed rail system (along with thousands of decent paying jobs and income that would’ve created).


Round Two: goes to the Wisconsin court system (on behalf of everyone else). The Walker administration hasn’t won anything in the courts yet:

  • Walker was court ordered to re-open the Capitol building when he tried to have it closed to the public after hundreds of thousands of protestors inundated it in protests. 
  • Then The Walker Administration was embarrassed when it had to back-peddle in court and admit that protesters had not demolished the Capitol building to the tune of $7.5 million.  He adjusted the figure to several hundred thousand dollars (also a total overestimate - I’ve been there.  There wasn’t a trace of damage except for the lawn looking like a mud bath!).  It has been suggested that the regular custodial staff could add the tape cleaning to their regular duties.  They could also let the protesters clean it!  We’d line up for that task – seriously.  
  • The third embarrassment for Walker came when he was court ordered to release his emails after he claimed in a press conference that the vast majority of his 9000/day emails supported him.  An organization analyzed his emails on the day he made that claim – they were 5:1 anti-Walker.  Upon further review, almost all of his support came from OUTSIDE Wisconsin whereas nearly all of the opposition came from INSIDE Wisconsin.  So much for his claims that all of the protests are special interest groups from out of state.


  • Finally on March 18, Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi issued a restraining order to prevent The Secretary of State from publishing the specialized bill (removed from “The Budget Repair Bill” and pushed through separately without a quorum) that would strip collective bargaining from most public employees.  She said that the state legislature had violated an “open meetings” law because it didn’t give 24 hour notice prior to vote; therefore, preventing it from becoming a law for the time being.  Yesterday, majority leader (and Walker friend) Senator Fitzgerald contacted the Legislative Reference Bureau and asked them to publish the law instead.  The LRB agreed, and posted the bill on their website. "It became clear that this was an option and they were on equal footing with the secretary of state," Fitzgerald said, “It’s law tomorrow.” Bitter fighting has now erupted concerning legality of negating the role of the Secretary of State.

 An appeals court has declined to reconsider Judge Sumi’s ruling.  So that leaves the Wisconsin Supreme Court to sort out this mess.  Setting the stage for our next round…

 Round 3:  Upcoming April 5: State Supreme Court Justice race.  Incumbent, Judge Prosser, has a voting record in line with Gov. Walker 95% of the time.  Prosser’s own media team called him a “complement to the GOP legislature.”  Perhaps the most indicative of all, is a direct quote that has circulated that Prosser called a fellow member of the Supreme Court a “total bitch” and said “I will destroy you.”  Rather than apologize or refute these statements Prosser said, “I probably overreacted, but I think it was entirely warranted.” JoAnne Kloppenburg, on the other hand, is being touted as “the people’s choice.” Prosser claims that she is an “ideologue” with “extreme political and social views.”  So, this race is of the utmost importance for two reasons: 

1)     This is the first chance for the people to voice, through our vote, our opinion of the Walker administration.  The country will see once and for all where we stand.  If this turns out poorly I might have to remove my blog.   

2)      This race will determine the “recipe” of the state supreme court.  The court is composed of 7 members and the outcome of this race will break the tie between 3 left leaning and 3 right leaning justices.  Currently with Justice Prosser, the court leans right.  If Kloppenburg wins, the court would lean left and hopefully provide a more favorable outcome for the common person, rather than corporate interests. 

 Now, probably none of you will watch this hour long debate, which has the old time feel of the original debates between politicians in this country.  But please watch each of the candidate's 1 minute concluding statements.  Start watching at 52:34.  It is quite compelling.

Watch the full episode. See more Here and Now.

Round 4: May 2: senate recalls are completed.  At that point, we’ll need to wait for 30 days for the signatures to be verified.  If a recall is successful, an election occurs 6 weeks later between the recalled incumbent and someone from the other party. 

Round 5: November: Gov. Walker Recall begins….  

I had time to write today because my family took the day off.  Yesterday I was busy making contacts, gathering information, networking, organizing, making signs, and helping support two new recall booths in a nearby community.  I am more motivated than ever, but am feeling so fatigued at the same time.  I won’t let myself think about how long this fight will be…only looking ahead as far as the next deadline.  It has become strikingly clear to me how very few people will become involved in a fight beyond signing their name – even when it will affect the rest of their lives and their children’s lives…and even when the poorest and most vulnerable among us are being bullied into submission.  I try not to judge apathetic folks, but at the same time – I just don’t understand them.    And they are all around us. 

And the most troubling of all, are some of the working class folks who have decided that because they have so little, the rest of us should have less too.  Instead of joining together for the benefit of all, someone yells “F-you!” or flips me off while I am collecting signatures.  I try to meet that anger with understanding (I’m not always successful). They are hurting too.  And we need to be on the same side if we are ever going to be successful in taking back our beloved state.  But just like in Braveheart, our citizens are “so concerned with squabbling for the scraps from (Walker’s) table that you’ve missed your God-given right to something better.”  

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Thank you for standing tall and keeping those of us far away but who could be next know what is happening. I am so amazed at the gall the crudeness of those in office who think they now rule the world.
From the escape haven of the midwest just south of the Wisconsin border, I bow to you and yours. Thank you for all of this information. We are following the trials with enormous interest. Some of my students have been up for rallies on weekends. I wear a wisconsin pin on my blazer to school everyday...your fight is ours...all of ours...Thinking of you and wishing you justice...recall, and a sane voting majority next time. Party at my house in Illinois when you win. xo R
Lunchlady - many school lunch ladies have signed our recall petition...I know what you mean about the "gall" - just when I think that the antics of the Walker admin have doomed them for good, they do something even worse...

Muse - I teared up. You actually wear a "WI" pin? I can't wait to tell people here that. Teachers are scared to sign petitions, especially go to rallies or anything to hear that you are fearlessly wearing a "WI" pin? astound. Tell you what - let's meet in Mad Town for a drink when Walker gets the boot.

going to watch a movie w/ the hubs and will be tuning out for a while...thanks in advance, will get back to this tomorrow eve...
You are a real inspiration. That last paragraph, just awesome. Thank you for all that you are doing.
Please never take down your blog. This was fantastic. I might just come out there and work with you!! prayers are with you!!!
I "liked" this for FB, so my friends can read as well
Y Heron, thanks so much for this update! I have been worrying about you all since the japanese earthquake and all the media attention left you hanging. It's all organizing activity now anyway, and it's hard for us out-of-staters to help - can't order pizzas from Ian's anymore. But we are so behind you! Basically Walker and his gang have accomplished a bloodless coup and you all have to take the power back. Just good luck and hang in there and never doubt that you have huge support out here.
An excellent post, Y Heron...xox
Hang in there for all of us, please, and nolo carborundum bastardum -- don't let the bastards wear you down!!
I will always blame the mainstream culture; it is illogical, upside-down, and backwards. Nice post. R
Awesome post. I'll be watching for your updates. Nevada is/will be facing similar challenges and as a teacher, I will be active in the fight.
I can't wait until the part where you all bend over and moon Walker and his cronies! Just remember, slow and steady wins the race. Something better is within reach.
Am hoping for a good and encouraging outcome for the April 5, vote, Y Heron. One that will indicate the Bravehearts of Wisconsin are gathering momentum and that the fight will break in your favor, not Scott Walker's. I want to see his buddies in the WI legislature walk around feeling some pain and anxiety about THEIR jobs! May Prosser bite the dust big time.

I'm sure it's hard right now. But know there are a lot of people in this country who are impressed and inspired by the courage and determination of Wisconsin workers. You have already reminded us of how important it truly IS to fight and not continue to be apathetic. For that alone, this nation owes you thanks.

Y Heron:

Thank you so much for the update. Why would you take down your blog in the face of the reactionaries? : ) We would need voices such as yours even more!

The really inspiring and encouraging thing is the mass mobilization that Wisconsinites have carried out. This is what the people of Egypt did, what Syrians and Jordanians are doing, and what the people here need to forge ahead and spread. This is a war, the other side has been winning, and they are out of blood, as you note, but the war isn't over, not by a long shot. They must not win these battles that are now raging. This needs to become much more of a two-sided fight, as the Right has been having their way. Wisconsin is a sign of this becoming just that, a more two-sided battle.
Y Heron,
Thanks for your update.

Here is a very smooth musical thank you to Madison protesters from Oakland musicians telling us not to give up the fight:

I'm off to volunteer for Kloppenburg.
Also, the facebook recall sites have information about getting organized to have recall drives at the polling places. The voters would be coming to us.
A viable, multi-stage plan. Bravo! Just add money and citizen involvement and the people of Wisconsin are on their way.
Jeanette – I loved your collective bargaining post

Satori – I was just kidding ‘about taking down my blog…we’d love to have your help!

Ardee – They were giving out pizza the day we were there too! Awesome! If folks still have some urge to donate to the cause is the way to go!

Robin – thanks so much – it really helps

Tom – you are hilarious…taking hiking days here like yesterday was the best refresher

Torrito – your constant support is great

Thoth – I know – and the media supports in whole heartedly…

Sierrasong – I haven’t heard about Nevada – so glad that we can be a foreshadowing for you

Margaret – lol!!! Awesome…I needed that…and slow and steady is precisely right too

Shiral – I can’t tell you how excited I am for April 5, as either a victory or a kick in the butt for people to work harder…either way I vow to see the bright side

Dennis – I am so glad that you brought up human rights struggles around the world b/c we FEEL this is truly that important here too…even w/o bloodshed, make no mistake – this is war, ideological, but this takes food, money, and medicine out of the hands of our most vulnerable citizens

Hatfullofsky – I immediately called “Wisconsin Progress” to report your idea about setting up at polling places – they are on it apparently! So we plan to do the same here – I love this about OS, the ideas yah’ll have shot my way WORK and inspire…thanks so much for all you are doing!!! Keep us updated too…

Steve – precisely. Great two word summary – people and $. You’ve given me the chance to list the website again for donations if folks out of state want to help
First of all, let me say that by far, you're the most important poster on Open Salon, bar none. Your reporting on what's going on in your state would win you a Pulitzer Prize if you were a newspaper person. You're clearly supplying news that you can't get anywhere else.

Second, don't feel bad about your situation now. I'm really pleased to hear that all of the recall petitions so far have been filed, which means to me that there's a 100% chance that some R scumbags will be facing unemployment real soon.

Third, as to some people giving you the finger or whatever. It's not because more of them have suddenly appeared. It's because you've beaten the bushes so well, that you're down to encountering the minority of idiots who support Scooter and F*x News. What you're encountering is just a statistical manifestation.

I'm off to read your PM.
Lefty – I’m not sure if you are aware of this – but you have become one of my most important advisors. Clearly, you’ve been here and done that b/c you have a real pulse on the situation.

great idea about the art project - I did pass it along to my sister (art student) in Mad Town, but I would like to formally ask you to push your idea too. It is an incredible concept. An art teacher in a middle school in Madison has done an American flag project that just got a lot of media attention. Thousands of tiny flags were planted around the entire capital with positive messages. Pretty cool looking but child's play compared with your idea. Please push that.

And the rest of you here at OS that keep checking on this movement, and those of you that keep speaking up in your own states, and those of you that keep encouraging me and my family – you need to know this: You are as much a part of this as if you were here right now. This is an ideological war won with wits and perseverance. You are in it.

If we allow ourselves to think “This isn’t that bad…,” then the other side wins. It’s a done deal. But, if we stay vigilant and keep following the truth – then we have a chance. You keep tuning in and compelling me to keep writing of it – remarkable.

I thank God for this chance to write about it. We won’t let you down.

Good night my friends.
I've thought a lot about you and your family, and I've symbolized you in the very core. I can't imagine the extremes of emotions and the extremes of the energy this engagement has taken from each of you. I'm thankful for you, and perhaps that conveys best what I can imagine.
I love recaps like this. No one does this one takes the long view forward or backwards. And it's essential, critical to see the process and take a moment to see what's happened and what's on the horizon. NOwadays it's just moment to moment--nothing great will ever be realized if we do not see the connection, plot the course, and take it step-by-step. Everything is written and posted with little acknowledgment of this--I'm so glad you did. Thank you, as always.