There is a joke circulating that goes like this:
A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party and a Big Corp CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the tea partier and says, "Look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie."--Dave Johnson, economic/industrial writer and Fellow at Campaign For America’s Future, as well as a former CEO ("America Waking Up To The Value Of Unions")
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's "budget repair bill" appears to be unconstitutional, according to Milwaukee City Attorney Grant Langley. Langley is no liberal--Wisconsinites say he's "as conservative as they come", so the right-wing union busters might want to sit up and pay attention. Langley says the proposal runs afoul of both state and federal contract rights and due process clauses in addition to violating "home rule" provisions of Wisconsin's state constitution.
Lip service aside, conservatives have zero respect for Constitutions, state or federal. President Bush, you'll recall, referred to the U.S. Constitution as "just a god damn piece of paper" (and, yeah, I've read all of the accounts on both sides and I'm completely convinced he did say it). Reading the Constitution aloud at the start of your legislative session is not the same as actually respecting it and abiding by it.
Walker continues to demonstrate even more contempt for his state's constitution and the rule of law by locking Wisconsin residents out of the Capitol building. The Wisconsin Constitution specifies in Article 1 that "The right of the people peaceably to assemble for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged" and that the government "cannot prohibit an individual from entering the capitol or its grounds". But Walker locked the protesters out anyway.
A judge issued a restraining order to compel the Governor to reopen the Capitol building to the public and Walker refused in complete contempt of the order. Technically, his lawyers argue, not letting people in is the same thing, legally, as letting them in. I kid you not. The ACLU was Tweeting today's hearing on the matter and the argument from Walker's lawyers (taxpayer paid, mind you; where's the outrage?) sounded pretty much like an argument from "Welcome Back Kotter's" Vinny Barbarino--"Whah? Wheyar? When?" No ruling yet, apparently--more hearing Wednesday--so the building is to remain open as per the TRO. You mean like it was today? Where you could only gain access if you had special Koch Brothers authentic astro-turf credentials? Oh, yes, that was another nice little tidbit. It seems Walker, while preventing the people of Wisconsin from having access to the people's building (indeed, in a further sign of defiance to the court order, actually forcing people further back from their building and restricting access to downtown Madison), actually "smuggled" in a group of Tea Partiers through a tunnel system so as to manage some applause for his "kill the poor and decimate the middle class" speech. Look. Picture (of special tunnel guards), courtesy a concerned citizen via Twitter:
Please note that the "tools" referred to so often by the Imperial Walker are a machete to cut the flesh off of school teachers' bones and a ginsu knife for the subsequent bone cutting. And when Walker speaks of "flexibility", he really means "my will be done"--without process, question or oversight--amen. It's the Republican way.
None of this should be a surprise. As Rachel Maddow recently reported, Walker's MO was well established last year, when he was merely Milwaukee County Executive. Walker, then, unilaterally declared a budget emergency and fired all the union security guards at the county courthouse, replacing them with the notorious Wackenhut private security firm, even though the County Board had rejected the idea. But Walker thinks he's God--or the closest thing to it this side of his Koch dealers--and went ahead and fired them anyway. He had to, don't you see--it's an emergency! Well, turns out there are actually objective standards for what constitutes a fiscal emergency (there wasn't one) and it turns out unions have rights, too, and it turns out that Walker isn't God after all. An arbitrator ruled last month that Walker was out of line and not only do the union security guards get their jobs back, they're entitled to back pay. Meanwhile, Wackenhut is still under contract. Walker's little union-busting power-play could end up costing Milwaukee taxpayers an extra half million dollars. Way to go, Scotty.
The scariest thing about all this is the nearly total media blackout. If it weren't for Ed Schultz on MSNBC, you'd barely know anything was going on. Like when the TRO was issued, media outlets reported the Capitol was open and that was that. Where was the reporting that it wasn't open, after all, and that Walker was defying the court order? Not on TV and not on most of the major on-line print publications. HuffPo, WTF? Is this what AOL's done to you?
I've tried to make excuses for the media's behavior on this--not enough blood for them, I guess, or.....something. But I seem to recall that when a couple of dozen hard right morons were yelling about "that Kenyan Muslim in the White House", the media couldn't report it often enough, usually without bothering to correct the point.
The fact is that what's going on in Wisconsin right now will have a greater short and long term impact on the future of America than anything going on in Egypt or Libya or Charlie Sheen's house and, three weeks in, it's long past time for the collective media to get off their collective fat asses and REPORT THE NEWS.