Tag Archives: Wisconsin

Recall Wisconsin Governor Walker!

Last year, I posted this rousing (and funny) song about the battle for democracy in the Badger State. With folks going to the polls  in Wisconsin today — it’s a good time to hear my friend Steve Rashid’s song again.

Holy cry-eye! Come here, take a look once! We’re takin’ our message to the Capitol Dome…

Wisconsin native, Practical Theatre veteran, and musical genius Steve Rashid’s pro-union marching song for the Cheddar Revolution was recently played on Thom Hartmann’s national radio show. But more people need to hear it. And the folks on the front lines in Madison could use a good laugh.

So, we’re taking “Fight on, Wisconsin” to YouTube.

Here’s a video I put together at Steve’s dining room table, illustrated with photos of the Madison Uprising by Bill Cronon. Ya Hey!

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Will Today Mark the Rebirth of the Progressive Movement in America?

From the land of Fighting Bob La Follette

Tuesday, August 9th is a very special election day in Wisconsin. Today just might be the day that progressive populist grassroots action will stem the tide of the GOP’s pro-corporate, anti-union, neo-fascist agenda.

If Wisconsin voters can recall three Republican State Senators – despite a massive 40 million dollar flood of anonymous corporate cash spent on behalf of GOP incumbents – the balance of power in the Wisconsin Legislature will shift to the left, and frustrated working class voters in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and elsewhere will know that they, too, can retake control of their political destiny.

Triggered by popular resistance to GOP-Tea Party Governor Scott Walker’s anti-union overreach, today’s vote in Wisconsin marks the nation’s largest ever recall election. A string of Democratic victories in six state senate districts, many of which have historically voted Republican, would send shock waves throughout the Midwest – and reverberate in the nation’s capitol.

It’s a referendum on Scott Walker’s conservative Tea-Party policies. And the conservative establishment is not giving up without a fight. The right wingers have played dirty tricks like passing voter ID laws to disenfranchise minorities and the elderly and mailing out fraudulent ballot information to Democratic voters – and they’ve spent $40 million dollars to support GOP incumbents and bash their Democratic challengers.

How much money is that? It’s twice as much as the Wisconsin record of $20 million set in the 2008 elections, spent on campaigns for half the state Senate and all the Assembly members.

As I write this, the results are too close to call. Nothing can be taken for granted. Wisconsin Democrats and working class citizens must get out and vote.

The whole nation is watching.

On, Wisconsin!

Here’s a little song to vote by, written and performed by Ripon, Wisconsin native, Steve Rashid.

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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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Fight on, Wisconsin

Holy cry-eye! Come here, take a look once! We’re takin’ our message to the Capitol Dome…

Wisconsin native, Practical Theatre veteran, and musical genius Steve Rashid’s pro-union marching song for the Cheddar Revolution was recently played on Thom Hartmann’s national radio show. But more people need to hear it. And the folks on the front lines in Madison could use a good laugh.

So, we’re taking “Fight on, Wisconsin” to YouTube.

Here’s a video I put together at Steve’s dining room table, illustrated with photos of the Madison Uprising by Bill Cronon. Ya Hey!

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Sing Along with Steve: A Protest Song for The Cheddar Revolution!

Another day — and another fine progressive artist rushes to the Madison barricades!

In this case, our good friend, Steve Rashid, a multi-talented musician, composer, recording engineer – and native of Ripon, Wisconsin – combined his skills on behalf of the pro-union protestors in his home state.

The result is a timely and humorous protest song that you can hear by clicking the link below.

Fight On, Wisconsin

And for those who want to sing lustily along – and I assume that’s all of you – here are Steve’s lyrics…


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Ron, Wisconsin!

Our resident (and favorite) artist, Ron Crawford, sent us his rendering of today’s demonstration in New York by Screen Actors Guild members in solidarity with their fellow unionists in Madison, Wisconsin.  (That’s Ron himself depicted in the upper right corner of his drawing, holding the sign with a clenched fist.) How Ron manages to be in the moment and yet capture the overall moment is just one aspect of his singular talent.

Meanwhile, the momentum from the Madison uprising is being felt in Statehouses across the Midwest. And today, a national poll shows that, by a 2-1 margin, Americans oppose taking away the collective bargaining rights of public employees. According to a new USA Today/Gallup poll, 61% percent said they oppose legislation stripping public employees’ collective bargaining rights in their states, as compared to only 33% who favor such union-busting laws. The majority speaks!

On, Wisconsin!

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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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