Tag Archives: protest

DUMP TREASONOUS TRUMP!

My wife and I were privileged to join the march in San Diego a few weeks ago in protest of Donald Trump’s heinous policy of separating immigrant families at the border.

We were proud to be among the thousands of marchers of all ages, races and economic classes who turned out in defiance of the Trump regime’s institutional inhumanity.

But now, less than a month after we hit the streets to protest the sad, un-American fact that asylum seekers and those hoping for a better life in the U.S. were having their children torn from their grasp and sent to parts unknown, that awful policy is practically old news.

90Because during the past week, Trump managed to make our horrible national nightmare even worse than it’s been. And now the rest of the western world hates the Mango Mussolini as much as we do.

Trump’s shambling, shameful trip to Europe – from his awful, insulting performance at the NATO meeting, to his bone-headed, bumbling meet and greet with the Queen, his obtuse abuse of the British Prime Minister, and his treasonous prostration before his man-crush, Vladimir Putin – have pushed all the other Trump scandals to the back pages.

IMG_7056But we must not let Trump scandal fatigue wear us down.

We must get back in the streets — again and again.

And we must keep our eyes on the prize: the mid-term elections.

Trump’s solid wall of GOP support cracked a bit after the shock of Helsinki.

But the Republicans won’t truly abandon Trump until we prove he’s a loser at the ballot box.

Write. Talk. Protest. Blog. March. Demonstrate.

IMG_7059But – above all – vote.

Register people to vote.

Remind them to vote.

Drive them to vote.

Drive the GOP out of their Congressional majorities – and put the brakes on the treasonous Trump train.

Bruised and battered as it is — America is worth saving.

And there are a LOT of good, progressive patriots standing with us!

 

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The Anti-Trump Movement Doesn’t Need Black Bloc Violence.

I originally wrote this article during the heyday of the Occupy Wall Street movement. With the recent violence in Charlottesville and Berkeley, it bears repeating now. (Just replace the words “Occupy Wall Street” with “Anti-Trump” or “Anti-White Supremacist”.) 

It’s obvious to readers of this blog that I am in wholehearted solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and the struggle for economic and social justice for the 99% of our citizens who have been increasingly denied their fair share of the American Dream.

As the OWS movement has spread from lower Manhattan to big cities and small towns across the country, few of these protests have attracted more national headlines than Occupy Oakland, especially after last week’s spasm of police violence energized the Bay Area movement, leading to today’s General Strike and the effective closing of the Port of Oakland by thousands of patriots rallying to the cause of the 99%.

However, among the media reports on today’s General Strike in Oakland, I was disturbed to read this article by Ben Margot of the Associated Press.

OAKLAND – Protesters supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement smashed the windows of a Wells Fargo bank branch in downtown Oakland on Wednesday during a day of demonstrations in protest of wealth inequalities.

 A group of about 300 men, many wearing black, some carrying wooden sticks, was part of a group of hundreds who set out to cause a general strike in the area around City Hall. The smaller group smashed several windows of the Wells Fargo branch while chanting, “Banks got bailed out; we got sold out.” They also spray-painted an expletive on the outer wall of the bank. Employees were inside while this took place, but it did not appear that anyone got hurt.

 Who were these 300 vandals “many wearing black, some carrying wooden sticks”? Were they right wing provocateurs infiltrating the OWS movement to discredit it?

The Raw Story blog shed more light on black bloc tactics in Oakland:

“The vast majority of the protesters remained peaceful, but a small group of black bloc protesters defaced ATMs and broke windows at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase Bank branches as the protesters marched through downtown, according to the Oakland Tribune.

 A group of protesters also vandalized a Whole Foods store and someone spray-painted “fuck” on the side of the Christ the Light Cathedral.”

And who are “black block protestors”?

You can click on this link to get the full story – but basically, a black bloc is a tactic in which protestors wear black clothing, scarves, ski masks, and other concealing garb to avoid identification and promote solidarity. Black bloc tactics include vandalism, rioting and street fighting.

Black bloc? Let’s just say no to the black bloc.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is doing just fine, thank you, without black bloc tactics. OWS is attracting the old as well as the young, middle class teachers and union workers as well as students and unemployed youths. Dressing in black and hiding your face while engaging in violent acts will not win the hearts and minds of the 99% in America.

If the police attack non-violent protestors, OWS keeps the moral high ground. If the police crack down on provocateurs that smash windows and paint obscenities on bank buildings, grocery stores and churches – then that’s just the cops doing their job.

Scott Olsen, the Iraq War veteran who was shot in the head with a tear gas canister by the Oakland police during a courageous act of non-violent resistance did more to win average Americans to the cause of the 99% than any of these window-smashing anarchists ever will.

Remember the words of John Lennon, who knew a thing or two about street demonstrations and the struggle for social justice.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out

 You say you got a real solution

Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait

We win a lot more hearts and minds when our movement looks like this…

Rather than this…

Or this….

Rather than this…

OWS must stay non-violent. The movement has already changed the national conversation in a positive way. The politicians, pundits and media are talking more about OWS and the legitimate concerns of the 99% than yesterday’s national debt hysteria.

Martin Luther King won. Ghandi won. Dressing up is a black disguise and busting windows is only a way to lose. So, take off those black masks. Put down those clubs. Pick up a witty, pithy sign – and join the peaceful movement that’s on the verge of changing the status quo.

Let’s not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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Capturing Occupy Wall Street: The Crawford Chronicles

Our great friend, the outrageously talented artist, Ron Crawford, has been spending a lot of time at Occupy Wall Street in lower Manhattan. Here’s another gallery of images that Ron has captured with his keen eye and splendid pen.

Solidarity forever!

The commentary that follows is Ron’s own.

“Down this morning to OWS. Keeping the place neat and clean. We donated some thin metallic blankets for warmth.”

“Here is the brass statue made famous in the 9-11 photo.”

“The fire department took their bio-diesel generator away so they’re recharging cell phones and computers with bicycle generators. The rigs were brought in by Times Up. Note their logo on the computer guy’s cap.”

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The Occupy Wall Street Movement Doesn’t Need Black Bloc Buffoonery.

It’s obvious to readers of this blog that I am in wholehearted solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and the struggle for economic and social justice for the 99% of our citizens who have been increasingly denied their fair share of the American Dream.

As the OWS movement has spread from lower Manhattan to big cities and small towns across the country, few of these protests have attracted more national headlines than Occupy Oakland, especially after last week’s spasm of police violence energized the Bay Area movement, leading to today’s General Strike and the effective closing of the Port of Oakland by thousands of patriots rallying to the cause of the 99%.

However, among the media reports on today’s General Strike in Oakland, I was disturbed to read this article by Ben Margot of the Associated Press.

OAKLAND – Protesters supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement smashed the windows of a Wells Fargo bank branch in downtown Oakland on Wednesday during a day of demonstrations in protest of wealth inequalities.

 A group of about 300 men, many wearing black, some carrying wooden sticks, was part of a group of hundreds who set out to cause a general strike in the area around City Hall. The smaller group smashed several windows of the Wells Fargo branch while chanting, “Banks got bailed out; we got sold out.” They also spray-painted an expletive on the outer wall of the bank. Employees were inside while this took place, but it did not appear that anyone got hurt.

 Who were these 300 vandals “many wearing black, some carrying wooden sticks”? Were they right wing provocateurs infiltrating the OWS movement to discredit it?

The Raw Story blog shed more light on black bloc tactics in Oakland:

“The vast majority of the protesters remained peaceful, but a small group of black bloc protesters defaced ATMs and broke windows at Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Chase Bank branches as the protesters marched through downtown, according to the Oakland Tribune.

 A group of protesters also vandalized a Whole Foods store and someone spray-painted “fuck” on the side of the Christ the Light Cathedral.”

And who are “black block protestors”?

You can click on this link to get the full story – but basically, a black bloc is a tactic in which protestors wear black clothing, scarves, ski masks, and other concealing garb to avoid identification and promote solidarity. Black bloc tactics include vandalism, rioting and street fighting.

Black bloc? Let’s just say no to the black bloc.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is doing just fine, thank you, without black bloc tactics. OWS is attracting the old as well as the young, middle class teachers and union workers as well as students and unemployed youths. Dressing in black and hiding your face while engaging in violent acts will not win the hearts and minds of the 99% in America.

If the police attack non-violent protestors, OWS keeps the moral high ground. If the police crack down on provocateurs that smash windows and paint obscenities on bank buildings, grocery stores and churches – then that’s just the cops doing their job.

Scott Olsen, the Iraq War veteran who was shot in the head with a tear gas canister by the Oakland police during a courageous act of non-violent resistance did more to win average Americans to the cause of the 99% than any of these window-smashing anarchists ever will.

Remember the words of John Lennon, who knew a thing or two about street demonstrations and the struggle for social justice.

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it’s evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don’t you know that you can count me out

 You say you got a real solution

Well, you know
We’d all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We’re doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait

We win a lot more hearts and minds when our movement looks like this…

Rather than this…

Or this….

Rather than this…

OWS must stay non-violent. The movement has already changed the national conversation in a positive way. The politicians, pundits and media are talking more about OWS and the legitimate concerns of the 99% than yesterday’s national debt hysteria.

Martin Luther King won. Ghandi won. Dressing up is a black disguise and busting windows is only a way to lose. So, take off those black masks. Put down those clubs. Pick up a witty, pithy sign – and join the peaceful movement that’s on the verge of changing the status quo.

Let’s not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

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An Artist Occupies Wall Street.

My good friend, the great artist Ron Crawford, went to Zuccotti Park on Friday October 21st and did what he does best: capture a scene in a few dynamic sweeps of his gifted pen.

Click on the drawing and blow it up.

I always love to see which details Ron chooses to focus on in his inspired sketches — like the word “Empathy” and the concerned fellow with a briefcase in the foreground.

Thanks, Ron – for giving those of us who can’t be there an eyewitness view of Occupy Wall Street that is, in many ways, more personal and revealing than a photo. (More drawings after the video.)

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Wall Street Calling!

With apologies (and thanks) to Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, a marching song for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

To listen, click on Wall Street Calling.

WALL STREET CALLING

Wall Street calling to American towns
Resistance declared, and protest come down
Wall Street calling to the rest of the world
Come out of the cupboard, you boys and girls
Wall Street calling, the gamble’s gone bust,
Phony Reaganomics has bitten the dust
Wall Street calling, see the cops got no swing
‘Cept for the ring of that truncheon thing
 
Justice is coming,
karma’s coming ‘round
Payback expected,
the moguls goin’ down,
Too big to fail,
but I have no fear
‘Cause Wall Street is calling, and I…
I occupy Wall Street!!
 
Wall Street calling to the Tea Party clones
Forget it, brothers, they’ve stolen your bones
Wall Street calling to the Democratic left
Better start marching, and draw another breath
Wall Street calling, and I don’t wanna preach
But this is our moment, the goal’s within reach
Wall Street calling, there’s light after dark
When we stand together in Zuccotti Park
 
Justice is coming,
karma’s coming ‘round
Payback expected,
the moguls goin’ down,
Too big to fail,
but I have no fear
‘Cause Wall Street is calling, and I…
I occupy Wall Street!
 
Wall Street calling, yes, now is the time
To start standing up for the 99
Wall Street calling – We’re not goin’ away
City by city – we’re seizing the day
 
Wall Street calling
Occupy D.C.
Wall Street calling
Occupy Detroit
Wall Street calling
Occupy Cleveland
Wall Street calling
Occupy L.A.
Wall Street calling
Occupy Portland
Wall Street calling
Occupy Austin
Wall Street calling
Occupy ‘Frisco
Wall Street calling
Occupy Boston
Wall Street calling
Occupy Salt Lake

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Occupy Wall Street: 10 Suggestions for the 99% Manifesto

At long last, after three decades of Reaganomics and Wall Street sociopathology have hollowed out the US economy and shifted an ever-increasing percentage of our nation’s treasure to the coffers of the ruling class (in a redistribution of wealth that would make Robin Hood blush) – the youth who have been handed an empty burlap sack labeled “The American Dream” have taken to the streets to Occupy Wall Street.

And while the GOP and the corporate media pretend to be confused about what these demonstrations are all about, it’s clear to most of us: 99% of Americans are getting screwed by a economic/political system that is rigged in favor of the wealthy, the powerful, and their multinational corporations.

In recent days, the Occupy Wall Street movement has begun to articulate a message, if not a list of demands. Trying to remain inclusive, movement leaders (who spend a lot of time trying to reach small “d” democratic consensus) have largely been content to raise questions and provoke thought and discussion, rather than declare themselves for a specific agenda of legislative and legal solutions to the class warfare being waged against the 99%. The fact that the Occupy Wall Street movement is growing is a sign that their Socratic method is working – even if it confuses Fox & Friends.

Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, I’ve given thought to the questions raised by those young patriots in lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park – and have arrived at 10 suggestions for an as-yet-to-be-written Manifesto of the 99%.

1. Greed is not good

Sorry, Gordon Gekko, but you and your ilk have had 30 years to make your case – and you’ve failed. Your supply side rising tide did not lift all boats — only your mega-yachts. The Ayn Rand devotees in the GOP can push that everyone for his own interests, dog-eat-dog mantra all they want – but that dog won’t hunt. It’s time to relegate Greed to its ignominious place among the 7 Deadly Sins.

2. Corporations are not people

Sorry, Justice Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Kennedy, but corporations are organizations licensed by the government (We, the People) to transact certain business under the law (again, We the People). In exchange for this license – which carries with it certain benefits and protections — We, the People can set legal limits to what corporations can and can’t do, and that includes making sure that big business can’t corrupt our electoral system by pouring anonymous billions into political advertising campaigns.

3. Fair trade not free trade

NAFTA, CAFTA, I don’t care which Free Trade treaty our government has signed, American workers have gotten the raw end of the deal. As long as Mexican, Chinese and other foreign workers can be paid a pittance compared to the American labor force, and the companies that hire them don’t have to operate under the same standards for worker safety and environmental protection that Americans have fought for a century to establish in this country – then THAT may, indeed, be free trade. But it is trade free of fairness to struggling American labor and the precious, endangered environment we all share. I’d rather see protective tariffs return than continue to see “free trade” agreements send us racing to the bottom.

4. Privatization is not a panacea

 I have one question for those who say the U.S. Post Office should be run like a business – or that the Post Office should be privatized. Is it profitable for the Post Office to pick up a few letters from farmers on remote farms in Iowa – or down in some isolated Appalachian valley? No, it’s not. A for-profit operation would soon decide that delivering a postcard to Granny down in the holler wasn’t worth their time and effort. That’s why the U.S. Post Office can’t be run like business: it’s an egalitarian service to all Americans.

Consider this: Haliburton had a contract to feed our troops in Iraq (something the Army used to do for itself.) There’s an age-old military practice of staggering meal times for smaller groups of soldiers in a combat zone to avoid predictable concentrations of troops that the enemy can exploit. If the bad guys know all our soldiers eat regularly at a certain time – boom! That’s the time to hit us.  But Haliburton decided these staggered times and smaller groups were not cost-effective. It was more profitable to have fewer meal times for larger groups of troops. Thus, on December 21, 2004 — as hundreds of U.S. troops and other personnel crowded into a large mess tent in Mosul for their midday meal – a suicide bomber struck, killing 22 troops and contractors and injuring 69.  How many lives would have been saved if the Pentagon had not privatized the feeding of our troops?

5. The unions make us strong

The 8-hour workday. The 5-day work week. Overtime. The end of child labor. Occupational safety standards. Vacation pay. All of these things we take for granted are part of our nation’s fabric because of blood, sweat and tears shed by organized labor. That’s why the conservatives hate unions. That’s why the corporate elite supports GOP governors who run as moderates – then quickly pivot hard to the right to enact their anti-union agendas. We’ve seen it in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Maine, etc. The right wing may have been successful since the Reagan administration in portraying organized labor as corrupt (sometimes with good reason) and detrimental to free enterprise – but, all in all, the unions make us stronger.

6. Taxes pay for the commons

Rachel Maddow says it all in one of her television commercials. Standing in front of Hoover Dam, she makes the point that no person could have paid to build such a massive public works project, no town could have done it, and no state could have done it: it took a nation to build Hoover Dam. The same is true of the Interstate Highway System we all drive on, the water systems we all drink from, the public schools, the military, and that damned Post Office. Locally, our taxes pay for cops, firefighters and other first responders. Taxes make these institutions and services (collectively “the commons”) possible. Taxes are the cost of a civilized society. Ss Elizabeth Warren has so succinctly pointed out, the wealthy benefit more from the commons than the rest of us – and therefore, should pay a fair share of the taxes.

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you.

 “But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You don’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory and hire someone to protect against this because of the work the rest of us did.

 “Now look. You built a factory and turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless! Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

7. Health care is a human right

Health care is not a commodity and does not work within the capitalist, for-profit, supply and demand economic model. Why not? It’s simple. If I want to buy a car, I have lots of options. I can buy an expensive new car, a low-cost used car, or a “previously owned” car (which is somewhere in the middle). I have lots of different makes and models and dealerships to choose from. And, if I don’t like the price – I can just walk away. Take the bus, carpool, or ride my bike if I need to.

But if your dad drops to the floor suffering a heart attack and the paramedics take him to the nearest emergency room – and he needs emergency bypass surgery – you don’t have a choice. You can’t check out the prices at other hospitals. You must do what’s possible at that moment to save your dad’s life. Likewise, if you have breast cancer, you’re not going to shop for the cheapest treatment — no matter what you’re financial situation is. You must have the most effective course of treatment your doctors recommend, whatever the cost. Capitalist rules don’t apply in health care – which is why all the other industrialized, civilized countries have national non-profit health care systems. Duh.

8. Fossil fuels are so 20th Century

Do I really need to point out that we can’t keep drinking oil? China is getting out front in the solar energy industry while the GOP grandstands on the Solyndra “scandal”. The real scandal for the GOP is that the Obama administration appears willing to act on a policy that generations of politicians on both sides of the aisle have only given lip service: end American dependence on foreign oil. Obama also talks a good game about making the U.S. a leader in Green technology and the solar, wind and geothermal energy sources of the future. Let’s hope it’s not just talk. So far, there are encouraging signs that the President means what he says. (We’ll see what happens with that Keystone XL shale oil pipeline.)

9. Voter ID laws = voter suppression

Voter fraud is not a problem in this country. The statistics make it clear that our democracy is not threatened by voter fraud. However, our democracy is threatened by the new Jim Crow: GOP-sponsored voter ID laws in an increasing number of Republican-controlled states. In order to defend against a non-existent threat, GOP lawmakers are making it harder for older and poorer folk to vote. Why? Because older and poorer folk (especially minorities) tend to vote for Democrats. When you hear the words “voter ID” – it’s all about voter suppression.

10. Jesus was a liberal

Sorry, all you conservative evangelicals at the Value Voters summit, but Jesus was a lefty. He was all for helping the poor and the sick. I don’t remember a single miracle in which Jesus restored a merchant’s business to profitability. In fact, He had some tough words for the rich.

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” No ambiguity there. Now, Jesus wasn’t into class warfare. In fact, He wasn’t into war at all. “Blessed are the peacemakers.” I could go on and on. Jesus never uttered a word against homosexuals, He urged us to visit people in prison, and He wanted us to, above all, “Love each other as I have loved you.” Sounds like one of those freaking, bongo-playing hippies in Zuccotti Park. Bless them all.

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Governor Pyrrhus of Wisconsin…

So the dastardly Republican Governor of Wisconsin signed his anti-union bill into law today – but it may well be that, in doing so, Scott Walker has won a classic Pyrrhic victory.

Back in 279 BC, King Pyrrhus of Epirus in Northern Greece invaded Italy and beat the Romans in a bloody battle. But while he won the day against the Roman Legions, his army suffered huge losses – and Pyrrhus himself was wounded.

Writing about the battle 354 years later, Plutarch (the Greek historian who became a Roman citizen) reported that…

“…they had fought till sunset, both armies were unwillingly separated by the night, Pyrrhus being wounded by a javelin in the arm, and his baggage plundered by the Samnites, that in all there died of Pyrrhus’s men and the Romans above fifteen thousand. The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one other such would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders…”

One look at Scott Walkers poll numbers before and after the Madison Uprising should send him fumbling through the pages of Plutarch’s, Pyrrhus.

Now, nobody would confuse our dear friend Casey Fox with Plutarch. But Casey has lived and worked in Madison for many years – where’s the honey-voiced host of “Guilty Pleasures” on WORT. Yesterday (Thursday 3/10/11) Casey gave us this report from the front lines in Wisconsin’s state capitol.

“Hey, all!

Just thought I’d fill you in on the latest.

The legality of yesterday’s vote may be in question, and the teacher’s union lawyers are pursuing that. I’m told that the attorney general can challenge the meeting’s legality, but he’s a Repugnican. Next to challenge would be a judge in Dane county, but they’re hesitant. The final source would be private citizens, which sounds plausible to me. The challenge, though, would go to the state supreme court, which has a 4-3 Republican majority. So if the vote is challenged, the Republicans want to rush it to the (State) Supreme Court before the early April election for a new Supreme Court justice. A democrat has a great shot at winning that race, and that would change the political balance of the court.

Casey Fox (left) and Terry Barron standing tall in the Capitol!

 

If the vote is ruled legal, the next recourse is to try to recall the 8 Republican state senators, while Republicans are trying to recall 8 Democratic senators. The Republicans are confident that they can buy any recall vote, seeing as how they have an endless supply of cash.  If a state senator is recalled, he can run in the recall election, win and keep his seat. (You have to be in office for a year to be recalled.)

Last night I came to WORT to fundraise for my show, and I ended up doing a fair amount of talking (on a music show) about the decision. Even did a remote interview with our news director on the scene.   People flooded the capitol in such numbers that the cops stopped their airport screening, and anybody could get in. Cars were circling the capitol honking their horns (to the cadence of ‘This is what democracy looks like!’). Today’s another story, though, and the capitol is on complete lockdown. Not even Jesse Jackson and some state legislators can get in. That’s because the assembly is voting to destroy collective bargaining today.

I think the situation may have helped my fundraising, and I finished with the highest 2 week total for my time slot (M-F, 8-11 p.m.) once again…It was really gratifying…Played Maura’s new EP. Played Steve’s ‘Fight On, Wisconsin’ song twice!! Got some calls about Steve’s song. They wanted to know where to buy it!  We’ve got Jim Hightower, Dennis Kucinich, and Tammy Baldwin (our U.S. Rep.) Saturday night at a local theater, and the pre-show music will include Steve’s song. It’s rising up the charts!

If you thought people were pissed before, just wait. Saturday could be the biggest rally yet.  There are rumors of Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp showing up. There is also talk of a statewide strike. Stay tuned, and have a democratic day!

Casey”

And on a final union note…

Sutton Crawford, the daughter of Suzy Crawford and granddaughter of Ron and Syd Crawford sent me an article she wrote about her experience joining the ranks of organized labor. (See below)

Solidarity forever!

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On, Wisconsin!

Hosni Mubarak, meet Scott Walker. Walker’s got a popular uprising on his hands, too.

A funny thing happened on the way to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s goal of rolling back the hard-earned rights and benefits of his state’s public employee unions. Tens of thousands of citizens began marching in the streets of Madison.

A newly elected Republican, Governor Walker wants his GOP-controlled state legislature to pass a law that forces state workers to pay more for their pensions and health insurance coverage and takes away most of their collective bargaining rights. Ironically, Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to grant public employees collective bargaining rights.

An imperious Governor Walker says there will be no negotiations on his union-busting budget plan. If the legislature doesn’t pass his plan, Walker has threatened massive layoffs and cuts in state services that will cost thousands of jobs.

And in a move that would make Hosni proud, Walker put the National Guard on alert in case state workers strike or rise in protest. The Wisconsin Guard hasn’t been called out in a labor dispute since 1934. (And that situation was deadly.)

On Tuesday, February 15, approximately 15,000 people jammed inside the Capitol building and on the grounds to express their opposition to Walker. The next day, schools in Madison were closed as 40% of the teachers union’s 2,600 members called in sick and joined the growing throng of protestors at the Capitol.

Also on Tuesday, more than a thousand demonstrators gathered outside Governor Walker’s home. The line of protestors was ten blocks long.

Surely, this is all big national news, right?

In recent weeks, our national news media was awash with breathless coverage of the mass demonstrations in Egypt that brought down a dictatorship. That was as it should be. The defiant pro-democracy rallies in Cairo’s Tahrir Square were clearly and importantly newsworthy. So why isn’t it newsworthy when 10,000 Wisconsin citizens gather in the frigid streets of Madison chanting, “This is what Democracy looks like!”

In fact, many of the protesters in Madison recognize similarities between their struggle to maintain their rights and the Egyptians’ battle against an autocratic, oppressive regime. Some protest signs in Wisconsin say things like, “Hosni Walker,” “Don’t Dictate, Negotiate,” and “Dictators Will Fall.”

Our news media should be showing all Americans the sights and sounds of this popular uprising within our own borders. There should be up-close-and-personal feature stories about the local Madison businesses giving free food and coffee to the demonstrators — or police officers buying lunch for protesting state workers. Or the cheers that rose up when a column of hundreds of firefighters from across the state joined the protest, marching to the sound of their bagpipers.

Governor Walker had tried to keep the cops and firefighters out of this fight by exempting them from his regressive new anti-labor law – but Walker’s gambit to divide key groups of Wisconsin’s public employees against each other didn’t work. The President of Madison Fire Fighters Local 311 declared that even if supporting the protest leads to the cops and firemen getting their rights and benefits cut, too – organized labor sticks together.

“Oh you can’t scare me, I’m stickin’ to the union…”

According to all reports, the uniformed cops monitoring the protests are friendly and supportive — and off-duty officers are carrying “Cops for Labor” signs.

Of course, the struggle in Madison isn’t just about public workers’ rights in Wisconsin. It could be a pivotal event for the labor movement in America: a galvanizing moment when working people begin to push back against the 30-year conservative war on organized labor that began when Ronald Reagan broke the PATCO union during the air traffic controller’s strike.

President Obama appears to understand the larger implications of (what I’m calling) the Great Badger Labor Revolt…

“Some of what I’ve heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you’re just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally seems like more of an assault on unions. And I think it’s very important for us to understand that public employees, they’re our neighbors, they’re our friends. These are folks who are teachers and they’re firefighters and they’re social workers and they’re police officers.

“They make a lot of sacrifices and make a big contribution. And I think it’s important not to vilify them or to suggest that somehow all these budget problems are due to public employees.”

But where Obama sees “neighbors” and “friends” who “make a lot of sacrifices and make a big contribution” – right wing gasbag Rush Limbaugh sees only enemies, calling teachers “parasites” and union workers part of an “anti-democracy” movement.”

It’s sad to think that Limbaugh’s ranting may carry farther on the media airwaves than President Obama’s pro-union message.

And why has Governor Walker launched his assault on middle-class jobs and collective bargaining? Walker claims his state is broke — but an independent analysis by the Wisconsin Fiscal Bureau projects a net positive balance of $56 million for the state budget at the end of 2011. And a report by the Institute for Wisconsin’s Future estimates the cuts in public employees’ pay will cost the state $1.1 billion in reduced economic activity annually – which will lead to the loss of some 9,000 private sector jobs.

Walker’s plan is not about what’s good for Wisconsin.

This trumped-up “budget crisis” is really an extension of the Republican war against workers’ rights that Walker’s fellow GOP governors, like Ohio’s John Kasich and Arizona’s Jan Brewer, are also waging.

But in Wisconsin, Walker is facing a revolt. And that revolt has spread to the legislature itself.

Today, on Thursday February 17, in the midst of heated debate as Walker pressed his GOP majority to hastily ram his budget plan through the legislature — all 14 members of the Senate Democratic caucus walked out — depriving the state Senate the three-fifths majority it needs for a quorum on budgetary issues. Soon afterward, the NBC affiliate in Madison reported that the Democrats left the state entirely.

“I know the whereabouts of not a single Democratic senator,” said Democratic Party communications director Graeme Zielinski Zielinski. “I do not know what latitude they’re on, or know what longitude they’re on. I assume they’re in this hemisphere, I’ll say that.”

GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said that at some point, if necessary, Republicans will call upon the State Patrol to round up the Democratic diaspora and return them to the Senate floor. (And how’s this for nepotism, cronyism, and conflict of interest? The state Senate leader and the Assembly Speaker are brothers — and the new head of the State Patrol is their dad. You just can’t make this stuff up.)

Working people in America are fighting for their survival. This uprising by unions members and citizens of Wisconsin should be a major news story.

We’ll see what kind of play it gets in the corporate-controlled (and thus, anti-union) national media — other than MSNBC.

Will we see Anderson Cooper live from the Capitol Grounds in Madison?

I hope so.

I doubt he’ll have to worry about any Cheese-heads hitting him in the head.

On, Wisconsin!

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