Still Waters Run Deep: Phase 2 Of The Madison Uprising

The ScreamThe differences between Madison, Wisconsin and Tripoli, Libya should be obvious. The fact that Madison hasn’t floated away on a crimson tide of gore should be encouraging—horrors on that atavistic scale happen only where there exists not even the nominal right to redress majoritarian excesses through protest.

The contrast to America’s experience of 1968 is positive as well; I remind you that movement flamed out prematurely due to inexperience and lack of discipline. The image created in my mind by this phase of the Madison Uprising is more like that evoked by Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”—the silent edge of a rising shout.

The crowds in Madison seem to have leveled out at a steady 30,000-40,000 per day, according to most reports.  That is still a pretty freakin’ huge # when put into context of the relatively sparse population of this section of Wisconsin and personal commitments being made by protesters in order to attend, in terms of time and money.  All the more so when you consider the scanty number of counter-demonstrators that the dilettante Koch brothers have been able to scare up from out of state, even with literally billions of dollars at their disposal.

And the theatre isn’t over by a long shot.  There are ongoing recall efforts on both sides.  And beyond recent Hollywood fly-bys, there is a plan for thousands of Wisconsin farmers to show their solidarity with a tractor convoy to the capitol on Saturday, March 12th.

Nonetheless, it has to be admitted that the two camps have pretty well defined their positions, and the recent encounters between them seem limited to procedural skirmishes rather than the sort of rooftop todeskampf that our infamously short-attention span media crave.  Here are a few of the highlights:

  • Courts ruled that Walker’s attempt to close off the Capitol building to protesters is unconstitutional—but also places restrictions on the hours that protesters may access the building, including a prohibition on overnight stays.
  • Authorities discovery live ammunition left at the entrance to the Capitol building.  Given his breezy contemplation of hiring undercover goons to start a ruckus within the protesters’ ranks, some speculate that Walker is using this as a black op of some sort to ratchet up the tension.
  • If so, the balance of the evidence suggest that this is a MAJOR miscalculation on Walker’s part.  The peaceful conduct of the protesters was formally commended by a local judge, and the single confirmed incident of which I have become aware seems to have been resolved quickly and quietly with no disruption to the peaceful conduct of the protests.[1]  Although police are dutifully maintaining their mandate to oversee public order, they don’t seem inclined to violate citizens’ rights in the name of Walker’s power grab.  In fact, the police have gone on national record as declaring solidarity with the protesters.
  • Senate Majority Leader Republican Scott Fitzgerald calls for vigilante action to apprehend the Wisconsin 14.  Jim Palmer, the president of a major police union, decries the action as an abuse of power, being neither in accordance with the state’s constitution nor statutory law.
  • Walker didn’t really unleash any surprises in his official budget unveiling last Tuesday, either.  There are suspicions that Walker may have coordinated with Koch in order to bus in ringers to applaud his highness’s speech.   But no surprises.  The substantive detail drawing the most public attention are the devastating cuts contemplated to the state’s education programs—not generally considered a wise workforce development strategy.

These actions all seem par for the course, and few, in the short term, are likely to be swayed out of their current positions.  But that would be to ignore the tremors rumbling beneath the surface, the silent scream rising within.  The opposition is beginning to get organized.  Walker’s stupid, scattershot intransigence has done the single thing that Clinton- or Obama-esque triangulations could never do, which is to meet together and formulate coordinated structures, strategies and tactics to actively promote a truly moral agenda.

Continued at Dystopia Diaries

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  • Rrauben

    The the protests here in Madison have been AMAZINGLY peaceful. Most folk seem very on guard for the arrival of hired provocateurs. They know that roughing up the police or damaging property will short circuit the movement, so everyone is self-policing and being extra courteous. And fortunately most of the police are doing the same. There are no helmets, shields or batons at the ready. May it remain so.

    Walker is a certifiable MF, but to watch how the protesters are behaving has really warmed my heart…

    …the extreme contrast between lying, thieving, money-grubbing right wing politicians on one side…

    …and savvy well-informed, civic-minded protesters and officials on the other…

    I was beginning to thinks the US was doomed. DOOMED. But this has given me cause for hope.

    Not Obama’s Wall Street funded PR kind of “hope,” the actual kind– the kind that is proven in actual practice by people’s willingness to lay so much on the line and make it happen themselves.

    If the rest of the country could be similarly activate then we would actually have a chance to change this deeply hypocritical and corrupted system. There is a lot of rot to clean out. Who exactly do you expect will do that for you people?

    Your politicians? Yeah, some are willing. But they need your savvy and physically active support.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      Yup. Politics have to actively engage the public.

      The Tea Party managed to do that–up to a point. They engaged alright, but only the basest part of the human being, the fear, the racism, the anger. It was like roasting a pig and serving only the chitlin’s and throwing out the rest..

      Just like the community’s spiritual life won’t be nearly as fulfilled as it could be without a conscious cultivation and appreciation of ritual, neither will its political life be adequate unless it too recognizes the value of well-crafted policy and debate.

      The two go together, really. Politics needs ethics and spirituality to guide its normative judgments, and spirituality needs a political environment where the arts, culture and philosophy are respected and materially supported. The Tea Party’s hyper-minimalist approach just debases everything.

      • Rrauben

        I may be wrong about this, so bear with me…

        I think I heard it on WORT (community sponsored indy radio out of Madison, WI) some months ago now. It was an early Tea Party organizer– one of the first. The gist of it was about an early schism in the Tea Party. That the Republican moneymen (IE. Kochs, etc.) noticed this growing movement w/in their ranks– basically a working class movement that was at odds w/ the party line the Republicans have been so effective at maintaining– they all act as one, on task, on message, no debate allowed w/in their ranks. But this fledgling Tea Party movement was rocking that boat, and the Neocon brain trust recognized that as a threat to their dogmatic party line. So, what did they do… they dumped a lot of money at the Tea Party and basically bought off certain elements w/in it. Now it has been these elements that have been well financed and promoted and have at this point received 98% of the media’s attention. The element that refused to be bought off has disappeared into obscurity.

        I wish I had the names…

        But anyway… it sounded like this “original” Tea Party faction had interests not all that different from Wisconsin Progressives, so rather than demonizing all Tea Partiers, I have to wonder if some commonality and mutual support could not be achieved– to displaced the hired thugs who have commandeered that movement.

        Just a thought…

        maybe I’m only blowing wind out of my ass…

        but the thought keeps on reoccurring to me: We mustn’t allow ourselves to be divided from each other by dirty tricks and $$$$$$$$$$$. If we could forget the labels and just get together to face the enemy that will surely ream us both, given the chance. Or maybe that is just a pipe dream.

        So much disinfo at large now. It’s hard to know what actually happened. But maybe a piece of the puzzle?

        Does Ron Paul sit down w/ the Koch Bros., or no? Is he an ally of the likes of Walker, or no? Are they on the same page, or no? You see what I’m getting at. These are not rhetorical questions. I’d really like to have this clarified.

        Get rid of NAFTA, audit the Federal Reserve, bring home the troops… I’m all for that myself. Sounds very progressive right? Or must we assume those are just Trojan horses?

        So… ???

        I dunno… but I’d like to.

        Please, folks, weigh in, i’d love to hear more regarding this– more solid info.

        • Liam_McGonagle

          Thanks for reminding me of this.

          Yes, I’d heard the rumours of the Tea Party movement’s co-option in the bud, too. I guess I never paid much attention at the time because I myself wasn’t too political at that point, and my family didn’t join the Tea Party bandwagon until well after they’d publically assumed the mantle of xenophobic thuggery of the Birchers. Apart from myself and an older sister, my family all subscribe to the lowest form of Tea Party buffoonery.

          I sincerely doubt that that extreme form of co-option could take place within this movement, though. This time the issues are just too clear. The destruction of our communities isn’t just an abstract possibility, it’s an immanent threat.

          And there is an existing infrastructure within the existentially committed labor movement, however shaky, that mitigates against the damage of individual leaders selling out.

          That said, as I point out in the piece, the real threat here appears to be a lacklustre response by top labor leaders, who could conceivably be too tired and feeble from years of being undermined within the 2-party framework to mount an effective opposition. If they’re too egocentered, they may even actively seek to neutralize the younger firebrands who actually could make a difference. I have no way of guaging the likelihood of that, but I severely doubt that they could be perverted into some crazed right wing fucknuttery.

          I’ll have to do some research on just how the early Tea Partiers were co-opted, see if there’s any dying embers there that are worth stoking up again. Maybe illuminate the possibilities of a for-real populist movement.

          Thanks again, Rrauben!

          • Rrauben

            The R stands for Rudy, Liam. Glad to make your acquaintance.

            Keep up the good work.

            Solidarity.

          • Rrauben

            I wish this site had an edit function. Cripes.

            Sorry for all the typos.

            My editorial mentors are rolling in their graves!

            < 8 }

          • Liam_McGonagle

            Likewise, Rudy! Thanks!

  • Rrauben

    The the protests here in Madison have been AMAZINGLY peaceful. Most folk seem very on guard for the arrival of hired provocateurs. They know that roughing up the police or damaging property will short circuit the movement, so everyone is self-policing and being extra courteous. And fortunately most of the police are doing the same. There are no helmets, shields or batons at the ready. May it remain so.

    Walker is a certifiable MF, but to watch how the protesters are behaving has really warmed my heart…

    …the extreme contrast between lying, thieving, money-grubbing right wing politicians on one side…

    …and savvy well-informed, civic-minded protesters and officials on the other…

    I was beginning to thinks the US was doomed. DOOMED. But this has given me cause for hope.

    Not Obama’s Wall Street funded PR kind of “hope,” the actual kind– the kind that is proven in actual practice by people’s willingness to lay so much on the line and make it happen themselves.

    If the rest of the country could be similarly activate then we would actually have a chance to change this deeply hypocritical and corrupted system. There is a lot of rot to clean out. Who exactly do you expect will do that for you people?

    Your politicians? Yeah, some are willing. But they need your savvy and physically active support.

  • Anonymous

    Yup. Politics have to actively engage the public.

    The Tea Party managed to do that–up to a point. They engaged alright, but only the basest part of the human being, the fear, the racism, the anger. It was like roasting a pig and serving only the chitlin’s and throwing out the rest..

    Just like the community’s spiritual life won’t be nearly as fulfilled as it could be without a conscious cultivation and appreciation of ritual, neither will its political life be adequate unless it too recognizes the value of well-crafted policy and debate.

    The two go together, really. Politics needs ethics and spirituality to guide its normative judgments, and spirituality needs a political environment where the arts, culture and philosophy are respected and materially supported. The Tea Party’s hyper-minimalist approach just debases everything.

  • Rrauben

    I may be wrong about this, so bear with me…

    I think I heard it on WORT (community sponsored indy radio out of Madison, WI) some months ago now. It was an early Tea Party organizer– one of the first. The gist of it was about an early schism in the Tea Party. That the Republican moneymen (IE. Kochs, etc.) noticed this growing movement w/in their ranks– basically a working class movement that was at odds w/ the party line the Republicans have been so effective at maintaining– they all act as one, on task, on message, no debate allowed w/in their ranks. But this fledgling Tea Party movement was rocking that boat, and the Neocon brain trust recognized that as a threat to their dogmatic party line. So, what did they do… they dumped a lot of money at the Tea Party and basically bought off certain elements w/in it. Now it has been these elements that have been well financed and promoted and have at this point received 98% of the media’s attention. The element that refused to be bought off has disappeared into obscurity.

    I wish I had the names…

    But anyway… it sounded like this “original” Tea Party faction had interests not all that different from Wisconsin Progressives, so rather than demonizing all Tea Partiers, I have to wonder if some commonality and mutual support could not be achieved– to displaced the hired thugs who have commandeered that movement.

    Just a thought…

    maybe I’m only blowing wind out of my ass…

    but the thought keeps on reoccurring to me: We mustn’t allow ourselves to be divided from each other by dirty tricks and $$$$$$$$$$$. If we could forget the labels and just get together to face the enemy that will surely ream us both, given the chance. Or maybe that is just a pipe dream.

    So much disinfo at large now. It’s hard to know what actually happened. But maybe a piece of the puzzle?

    Does Ron Paul sit down w/ the Koch Bros., or no? Is he an ally of the likes of Walker, or no? Are they on the same page, or no? You see what I’m getting at. These are not rhetorical questions. I’d really like to have this clarified.

    Get rid of NAFTA, audit the Federal Reserve, bring home the troops… I’m all for that myself. Sounds very progressive right? Or must we assume those are just Trojan horses?

    So… ???

    I dunno… but I’d like to.

    Please, folks, weigh in, i’d love to hear more regarding this– more solid info.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for reminding me of this.

    Yes, I’d heard the rumours of the Tea Party movement’s co-option in the bud, too. I guess I never paid much attention at the time because I myself wasn’t too political at that point, and my family didn’t join the Tea Party bandwagon until well after they’d publically assumed the mantle of xenophobic thuggery of the Birchers. Apart from myself and an older sister, my family all subscribe to the lowest form of Tea Party buffoonery.

    I sincerely doubt that that extreme form of co-option could take place within this movement, though. This time the issues are just too clear. The destruction of our communities isn’t just an abstract possibility, it’s an immanent threat.

    And there is an existing infrastructure within the existentially committed labor movement, however shaky, that mitigates against the damage of individual leaders selling out.

    That said, as I point out in the piece, the real threat here appears to be a lacklustre response by top labor leaders, who could conceivably be too tired and feeble from years of being undermined within the 2-party framework to mount an effective opposition. If they’re too egocentered, they may even actively seek to neutralize the younger firebrands who actually could make a difference. I have no way of guaging the likelihood of that, but I severely doubt that they could be perverted into some crazed right wing fucknuttery.

    I’ll have to do some research on just how the early Tea Partiers were co-opted, see if there’s any dying embers there that are worth stoking up again. Maybe illuminate the possibilities of a for-real populist movement.

    Thanks again, Rrauben!

  • Rrauben

    The R stands for Rudy, Liam. Glad to make your acquaintance.

    Keep up the good work.

    Solidarity.

  • Rrauben

    I wish this site had an edit function. Cripes.

    Sorry for all the typos.

    My editorial mentors are rolling in their graves!

    < 8 }

  • Rrauben

    A true story:

    I was traveling through Wisconsin years ago now. I stopped at a diner in Richland Center for a sandwich. As I recall, the election antics that got Dubya into office were playing on the TV behind the counter. Both I and this 70-something fellow next to me watched in barely contained disgust.

    He was a retired farmer, if I remember correctly; but an intelligent and elegant fellow (not really what you immediately envision when you think “rural farmer”). We got to talking as I downed my turkey club sandwich and coffee. I was really taken by his calm, and his acuity, and intelligence.

    So… w/ the election activity playing on the tube there, I eventually asked him: When did it happen, when did things start becoming this obscene?

    His answer, delivered w/ a great deal of world-weariness, was this:

    “It was when they shot those Kennedy boys. Ike warned us, but we didn’t get what he was saying. It’s all been downhill since.”

    Understand, I’m a Wisconsin Progressive. But now most rank-n-file Democrats don’t even have the ballz to be as “progressive” as Eisenhower was– a Republican (of that age at least).

    So screw the team affiliations. When taking on modern Republicans, call them on it by evoking the likes of Eisenhower. He knew damn well what fascism smelled like. I won’t even bother to recount his famous warning before leaving office. If you don’t already know, then there is research to be done.

    How strange for me… to have to ponder… if it was really a choice… Eisenhower… or Obama… who would be the better man? As a “progressive”?

    Just a mental experiment, understand.

    Again, perhaps I’m just being nostalgically naive. I’m not at all sure what Eisenhower’s downsides might have been, but that final message from him echoes and echoes and echoes in my mind.

  • Rrauben

    A true story:

    I was traveling through Wisconsin years ago now. I stopped at a diner in Richland Center for a sandwich. As I recall, the election antics that got Dubya into office were playing on the TV behind the counter. Both I and this 70-something fellow next to me watched in barely contained disgust.

    He was a retired farmer, if I remember correctly; but an intelligent and elegant fellow (not really what you immediately envision when you think “rural farmer”). We got to talking as I downed my turkey club sandwich and coffee. I was really taken by his calm, and his acuity, and intelligence.

    So… w/ the election activity playing on the tube there, I eventually asked him: When did it happen, when did things start becoming this obscene?

    His answer, delivered w/ a great deal of world-weariness, was this:

    “It was when they shot those Kennedy boys. Ike warned us, but we didn’t get what he was saying. It’s all been downhill since.”

    Understand, I’m a Wisconsin Progressive. But now most rank-n-file Democrats don’t even have the ballz to be as “progressive” as Eisenhower was– a Republican (of that age at least).

    So screw the team affiliations. When taking on modern Republicans, call them on it by evoking the likes of Eisenhower. He knew damn well what fascism smelled like. I won’t even bother to recount his famous warning before leaving office. If you don’t already know, then there is research to be done.

    How strange for me… to have to ponder… if it was really a choice… Eisenhower… or Obama… who would be the better man? As a “progressive”?

    Just a mental experiment, understand.

    Again, perhaps I’m just being nostalgically naive. I’m not at all sure what Eisenhower’s downsides might have been, but that final message from him echoes and echoes and echoes in my mind.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      Well, I still say that Walker’s coup attempt shows the very real need for team affiliations. His ideas are so pathetically, maybe even suicidally, weak and stupid that they could never succeed without a strong disciplined legislative cooperation that can only be acheived through teamwork.

      Same way that they will never be defeated locally, let alone nationally, unless we get a real team together. People should not believe that “team affiliation” is always equivalent to “inflexible top-down oligarchy” on Walker’s model. In fact, the buffoonish failures of both Walker and Obama show that while the top-down model can gain enough momentum to crush opposition in the short term, they clearly are not able to produce successes in the long term. Too much inbred “group think”.

      Still need team affiliations. Just ones bound on good, moral principle.

  • Anonymous

    Likewise, Rudy! Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Well, I still say that Walker’s coup attempt shows the very real need for team affiliations. His ideas are so pathetically, maybe even suicidally, weak and stupid that they could never succeed without a strong disciplined legislative cooperation that can only be acheived through teamwork.

    Same way that they will never be defeated locally, let alone nationally, unless we get a real team together. People should not believe that “team affiliation” is always equivalent to “inflexible top-down oligarchy” on Walker’s model. In fact, the buffoonish failures of both Walker and Obama show that while the top-down model can gain enough momentum to crush opposition in the short term, they clearly are not able to produce successes in the long term. Too much inbred “group think”.

    Still need team affiliations. Just ones bound on good, moral principle.

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