The Rage Of The Machine: Union Violence In Wisconsin

Looks like Wisconsin Republicans finally got tired of the impasse in the state Senate. They separated the much-protested collective bargaining bill from the budget bill, which meant they didn't need a supermajority for a quorum. The result: no more collective bargaining for Wisconsinite public sector unions. Wait a minute, did you hear that? Sounds like a bunch of rhesus monkeys howling:

The Wisconsin Senate succeeded in voting Wednesday to strip nearly all collective bargaining rights from public workers, after Republicans outmaneuvered the chamber's missing Democrats and approved an explosive proposal that has rocked the state and unions nationwide.

"You are cowards!" spectators in the Senate gallery screamed as lawmakers voted. Within hours, a crowd of a few hundred protesters inside the Capitol had grown to an estimated 7,000, more than had been in the building at any point during weeks of protests.

"The whole world is watching!" they shouted as they pressed up against the heavily guarded entrance to the Senate chamber.

All 14 Senate Democrats fled to Illinois nearly three weeks ago, preventing the chamber from having enough members present to consider Gov. Scott Walker's "budget-repair bill" — a proposal introduced to plug a $137 million budget shortfall.

The Senate requires a quorum to take up any measure that spends money. But Republicans on Wednesday took all the spending measures out of Walker's proposal and a special committee of lawmakers from both the Senate and Assembly approved the revised bill a short time later.

Meade on the scene reports that lefty protesters have actually stormed the State Capitol Building and are now barricading themselves inside. Honestly, if this were Tbilisi instead of Madison, the State Department would be wondering if the government was about to fall.
Meade, who is in the building now, tells me, by phone, that he saw a window on the Wisconsin Avenue side of the building opened and protesters entering through that window.

He thought it seemed as if someone in one of the Democratic legislators' offices had opened a window to let them in, and — once they were in — many doors have been opened all around, and people have streamed into the building. He says he counted 3 "troopers" — I'm not sure what the official job title is for these security people — and that they were absurdly overwhelmed by the crowd.
Meade also reports that while there is no violence - beyond the take over of the seat of Wisconsin's government, I guess - the situation is volatile, with protesters locking the doors from inside.
He told me that just now, by phone. He got out, and is warning others not to go in. Obviously, it's a terrible fire hazard to make it so people cannot get out of the building easily. Presumably, protesters think it's a good idea to keep the police out, but it is dangerously stupid.

ADDED: Meade called back to say, some of the doors are handcuffed shut and some are wide open. "ANYBODY CAN GET IN AND ANYBODY CAN BRING ANYTHING IN. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO SECURITY WHATEVER."
The idea seems to be that this might somehow prevent the Assembly from voting. Isn't there a tennis court nearby where they could gather?

I've been hearing a lot of talk about recalls and falling poll numbers and Republican "overreach." I don't know, didn't Gov. Walker and his colleagues in the Legislature just get elected to office a few months ago promising to rein in public sector unions? Are people in Wisconsin so dense that they could vote in solid majorities for a guy, and then turn on him not half a year later? I don't think so. The protesters, of course, probably think they can benefit from favorable media coverage, which inevitably looks fondly at the sight of "idealists" manning the barricades. They also seem to think, thanks to their prior three week protest, that storming the Capitol is their special right. If Wisconsinites are moved by this sort of thing, that's fine, but they're not using their brains.

The fact is Republicans have long talked about doing just what Walker - along with Govs. Christie, Daniels, and Kasich - has done: reform the way his state budgets itself by taking away some of the power of the public sector unions. If the passage of Obamacare taught us one thing, it's this: when you have legislative majorities, you should use them while you can. In this case, Wisconsin Republicans had a rare opportunity to weaken their ideological opponents. Public sector unions are a double danger because they can buy their own allies in government, and then use their union dues to fund progressive causes. That's an iron triangle that needs to be broken. A Republican office holder cannot hold elective office and then act like a go-along-to-get-along RINO, at least not in this age of straitened budgets. Good for Wisconsin Republicans for taking a brave stand.

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