First grafs: “As a group of boycotters staged a protest outside of the theater where “The Late Show” with David Letterman is filmed, the funnyman continued to mock demands to take him off the air after he made series of crude jokes about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and her teen daughters.”
First grafs: “If the proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero gets off the ground, it will need hard hats to build it.
But there is a call to construction workers not to lift a hammer.
Construction worker Andy Sullivan is trying to get members of his trade to boycott building the project.”
First grafs: “A number of business across Wisconsin said they have been targeted by pro-union forces who are upset over their support of Republican Governor Scott Walker.
The pro-union protesters are urging people to boycott companies like Sargento Cheese and Johnsonville Sausage — the bratwurst people.”
- VLH: did you know Wisconsin has a state microbe?
- VLH: I just learned that this week
- MPS: The other day someone tried to be clever by asking me what Maine's state herb is
- MPS: I was like "did you really think I wouldn't know it's wintergreen?"
- VLH: hahahah
- VLH: nice
- MPS: triflin bitches be triflin
The “Wisconsin-Cairo” meme caught fire last week when Republican state representative Paul Ryan went on Morning Joe and said “it’s like Cairo has moved to Madison these days,” and right away I assumed this was strategic hyperbole: surely Ryan knew his remark would ricochet around the echo chamber, at least planting the seed in some people’s minds that the protesters were inflating their own importance, even though he was the one who raised the comparison. It reminded me of the way McCain people would go on talk shows in 2008, all gosh-golly, and say Gee, those Obama rallies are really something, they sure hang on his every word, don’t they, they sure think he’s the second coming, don’t they?
I realize Gov. Walker has threatened to call in the National Guard:
As Salon points out, the National Guard was mobilized to break up unions’ strikes by force in the States in the late 1800s and early 1900s. But “the use of the National Guard against workers is supposed to be a relic of the past, nearly unimaginable to us.”
Today, the Daily Beast reports “Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said two state troopers were sent to Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller’s home in an attempt to bring him back. Senate rules say absent members can be compelled to appear, but doesn’t say how.”
“Not saying how” they can be “compelled” is code language for using whatever means necessary—no holds barred—including use of police or National Guard. It basically says “we have ways” of making them appear. Which is why the Democratic lawmakers who oppose Governor Walker’s proposal have literally fled the state.
Lawmakers fleeing their jurisdictions also sounds more like something that would happen in Egypt than America.
Hmmm. NPR’s Shawn Johnson:
Senate Republicans today asked the governor to send a state trooper to Democratic minority leader Mark Miller’s home. Miller, reached by cell phone, said he wasn’t worried.
Senator MARK MILLER (Democrat, Wisconsin): Well, I’m not there.
JOHNSON: Democratic senators were spotted by numerous reporters across the border in Illinois yesterday. Miller, though, wouldn’t say where they are today.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Sen. MILLER: We are at an undisclosed location.
I do not think that is how a similar interview would go in Egypt.
Bolstering the meme by saying that Wisconsin Democrats have “fled” or “are on the run” is dramatic, but is it accurate? And if it isn’t accurate, does the exaggeration help or hurt the pro-labor cause? Legislative walkouts are rare but not unheard of. Texas Democrats camped out in New Mexico for a month in 2003. California Republicans dodged floor sessions in 1994 to block Willie Brown’s election as speaker. Oregon Democrats did the same in 2001 to stonewall a redistricting bill. People flee when they’re frightened. People walk out when they’re disgusted, angry or in search of a better idea. The Wisconsin Dems walked out, maybe they carpooled, I don’t know. It seems to me that saying they’ve “fled” doesn’t encourage or praise them, it just raises our pulses when we type. It may also provide ammunition for the GOP strategists who can’t wait to cut together attack ads featuring the words “run” and “flee” under a voiceover that talks about shirking duty and hiding from a fight.
The people of Wisconsin can vote. Even though they disagree with their elected officials right now, they are represented by lawfully elected officials in a democratic government. Gov. Walker and his Republican allies could pay for this mess with their jobs come re-election time and (spoiler alert!) I hope they will. Protesters and legislators in Wisconsin can talk freely and often to members of the media, who can walk around asking questions without ducking bullets. Everyone can blog and tweet until their fingers go numb. The internet isn’t shut off. The phone lines are not going down.
The protests in Wisconsin are not like the protests in Cairo. The protests in Wisconsin are not like the protests in Bahrain. The people in Cairo and Bahrain are protesting for the right to have protests like those in Wisconsin.
And if we really need an analogy or frame of reference for Wisconsin, why not look closer to home? Why not contextualize what’s happening in Madison by talking about Grover Cleveland versus Debs and the ARU during the Pullman strike, or the Snohomish County industry-law enforcement collaboration that led to deadly attacks on the IWW in Washington state? There’s plenty of soul-stirring drama in those stories, but then we’d have to start explaining American labor history, which would be time consuming and also less useful for SEO purposes.