Open Thread: WTF Wisconsin

Here's the round-up:

Eugene Robinson in the Washington PostStarving Wisconsin's Unions: "At this point, it's clear for all to see that Gov. Scott Walker's true aim is to bust the public employee unions, thus permanently reshaping the political landscape in the Republican Party's favor. Democratic state senators who fled the state to forestall Walker's coup have no choice but to remain on the lam. Protesters who support union rights have no choice but to keep their vigil at the capitol in Madison. This is a big deal."

Paul Krugman in the New York TimesWisconsin Power Play: "[W]hat's happening in Wisconsin isn't about the state budget, despite Mr. Walker's pretense that he's just trying to be fiscally responsible. It is, instead, about power. What Mr. Walker and his backers are trying to do is to make Wisconsin—and eventually, America—less of a functioning democracy and more of a third-world-style oligarchy. And that's why anyone who believes that we need some counterweight to the political power of big money should be on the demonstrators' side."

David Dayen—The Senator from Bay View: Chris Larson Fights for Worker Rights in Wisconsin:
Wisconsin State Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) is one of 14 Democrats hiding out in Illinois, participating in a "filibuster with our feet" to slow down the budget repair bill, which would strip collective bargaining rights from public employees, among other things. By walking out of the state, Senate Democrats have denied Republicans the 3/5 quorum needed for passing legislation with a fiscal intent. Larson and his 13 colleagues and their whereabouts have become a major part of this unfolding story, but he'd rather the focus go to the legislation on offer and the constituents out in the streets in Madison and elsewhere.

"Ever since we stepped away, there's been a lot of attention on us," said Larson in an interview last night from his undisclosed location in Illinois. "We're trying to focus it back on this ridiculous legislation."
New York TimesWisconsin G.O.P. Plans to Work Without Democrats: "With the Capitol braced for another week of protests and deadlock over a budget bill that would severely restrict public employees' unions here, the top Republican in the State Senate announced that the body would resume consideration of other matters. ... The issues scheduled for consideration in the Senate on Tuesday were routine: an appointment by the governor, tax breaks for dairy farmers and a resolution commending the Green Bay Packers for their Super Bowl victory. But [Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald] said more significant legislation could also be in play, including a bill requiring voter identification that Democrats strongly oppose."

Raw Story—Troopers would 'absolutely' use force on Wisc. protesters if ordered, police union president tells Raw: But: 'That would not be something I recognize as the United States of America,' state patrol inspector adds.
"I have worked with the University of Wisconsin police officers that are there, along with the capitol police officers, and certainly I've worked with the state patrol officers because I'm a state patrol inspector. I'm not able to even fathom that any of those police officers would not carry out whatever orders were given to do their job.

"I guess that's the one ironic thing about this," he continued. "Last night my wife asked me to make a sign for her to take down there to protest. On that day, I thought to myself I could be making a protest sign for my wife to take down there ... Then I could be down there confronting my wife with the protest sign that I made. God, you see ... That's ... That's my job.

He said that the conversation of resisting an order to attack the protesters "hasn't even come up" between he and fellow officers.

However, Fuller insisted, "I can't even imagine that the governor or anybody else would think that's a viable option. The protesters are not being violent. It's their right to come and protest; it's public property. The politicians are being allowed to come and go... I don't know why there would be the need for clearing anything.

"It would not look like the United States, if we did that."
New York TimesBillionaire Brothers' Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute: "Among the thousands of demonstrators who jammed the Wisconsin State Capitol grounds this weekend was a well-financed advocate from Washington who was there to voice praise for cutting state spending by slashing union benefits and bargaining rights. ... What [Tim Phillips, the president of Americans for Prosperity] did not mention was that his Virginia-based nonprofit group, whose budget surged to $40 million in 2010 from $7 million three years ago, was created and financed in part by the secretive billionaire brothers Charles G. and David H. Koch. State records also show that Koch Industries, their energy and consumer products conglomerate based in Wichita, Kan., was one of the biggest contributors to the election campaign of Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a Republican who has championed the proposed cuts."


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