Sunday 3.13.11

The rally on Saturday, Madison Wisconsin.

Once again we attended the protests in Madison. Saturday’s crowd of people was the largest since beginning 28 days earlier. Walker’s budget repair bill was passed on the 10th. Despite passage, the Saturday crowd was huge. Estimates are between 80 – 100 thousand people.

Despite passage, Republican Senate leader Scott Fitzgerald could not leave it alone. In a letter written responding to the Senate Democrats returning to the capitol to speak on Saturday, he stated:

“Today, the most shameful 14 people in the state of Wisconsin are going to pat themselves on the back and smile for the cameras. They’re going to pretend they’re heroes for taking a three week vacation.

“It is an absolute insult to the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who are struggling to find a job, much less one they can run away from and go down to Illinois — with pay.

“Their appearance at the Capitol today is in direct violation of the contempt order issued by the state Senate earlier this month, and it proves their absolute disregard for the institution of the Senate and the constitution they took an oath of office to serve.

“But the people of Wisconsin won’t forget what they were really doing these past few weeks.
“Sen. Tim Cullen refused to come back to save 1,500 jobs.

“Sen. Mark Miller refused to come back even to make sure his own staff were safe in the Capitol he abandoned.

“Sen. Fred Risser refused to come back out of respect for the institution and dignity of the state Senate.

“Sen. Bob Jauch refused to come back even though our side was negotiating in good faith to try to find a reasonable compromise.

“Sens. Jon Erpenbach, Chris Larson and Lena Taylor were all too happy to pat themselves on the back and smile for the cameras in Illinois, never mind their constituents here in Wisconsin.

“And Sens. Dave Hansen, Kathleen Vinehout, Tim Carpenter, Spencer Coggs, Jim Holperin, and Julie Lassa refused to come back to actually do the job they were elected to do.

“To the Senate Democrats: When you smile for the cameras today and pretend you’re heroes, I hope you look at that beautiful Capitol building you insulted. And I hope you’re embarrassed to call yourselves senators.”

Now, why does this guy feel the need to go the extra mile to slam the shit out of these people? He touched on every single one of them. Earlier on Fox News he had made a statement suggesting that busting the unions will now make it much harder for Obama to be re-elected. So… it was union busting all along. I fear it does not stop with union busting. I fear that a little taste of victory and power with these guys will only satisfy them for a while and before you know it, some other right will be taken away.

I have to question these people I see quoted in the news, the ones that suggest that all of these union people were on the gravy train. Sure, there have always been jokes about public workers slacking off… just as there are jokes about any segment or group of anything: lawyers, politicians, clergy, ethnic, male, female – you name it there’s a joke for or about that group. In my own reality though, I can say that in any group of people I have ever worked with I have found people who consistently work their asses off. There are people who have “off” days. And yes, there are some who work just as hard in their job to find ways to not actually do any work. Eventually with luck, they are weeded out.

Scoot Fitzgerald comes off to me as the kind of guy who can make these statements because he feels empowered to do so. Brothers Fitzgerald are under the Governor’s wing, as well as Dad Fitzgerald. Knowing people in the right places can be a pretty cool thing from time to time but when it starts to take away the rights and hard work Wisconsinites have known for over 50 years, well that’s just not a good thing.

During the days I spent at the rallies I was also reading feedback in the news. The Walker administration constantly downplayed the rallies saying that people were slobs, punks, nothing better to do college kids, nothing better to do unemployed people, homeless, out of state people shipped in and all kinds of other ideas. I did have some issues with the rallies. When people are singing Vietnam anti-war songs and trying to make it fit here, I have a hard time. When I hear some woman on a progressive radio station recite the “cool” chants that “we” have here in Madison rather than discuss any details, what the bill means, how it might effect her own life, I am not impressed.

But Saturday I felt different. The bill had passed 2 days earlier. Walker had signed it on Friday. The deal was done. Still, close to 100,000 people lined and filled the streets around the capitol square. There were more signs than ever. It was AS PEACEFUL as it had been every day I was there. I looked at the faces of the marchers when I was taking pictures and have looked more closely at them since they were shot.

These people are from all walks of Wisconsin life. I witnessed middle aged and older people making their way down the street. Not punks or slobs. People with a history somewhere. People who have raised kids, been through hell, suffered, had good times, have worked hard for what they have – only to be insulted by the idea that this current Government can do any fucking thing it wants to do.

So, when I read that Scott Fitzgerald feels that the Wisconsin 14 should feel ashamed of themselves, I just have to puke. Scott Fitzgerald should feel some shame here.

Some of the punks, thugs, slobs and rabble rousers from Saturday:

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