Tea Party Stooges Join Wisconsin Protests - by Stephen Lendman
It was reminiscent of November 22, 2000 Florida, outside the Miami-Dade County Canvassing Board offices when dozens of imported Bush-Cheney ruffians rampaged through Miami's County Hall, disrupting the recount of about 10,000 undervotes, ballots with no presidential choice registered.
They assaulted Democrat party representatives, near rioted, and succeeded in halting the process. As a result, hundreds of Gore-Lieberman votes weren't counted in largely Democrat Dade County.
Fraud, intimidation and ties to big money infest US politics. Washington's criminal class is bipartisan, but Republicans are especially brazen. Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker matches the worst of his Capitol Hill counterparts. Likely he's been chosen for his role and was directed by party bosses to wage open warfare on labor rights, the same scheme playing out across America, including by Democrats, many as extremist as Republicans at a time working people are being hammered relentlessly.
Target one is America's middle class, headed for extinction by decades of wealth shifts to super-rich elites, millions of high-pay/good benefit jobs offshored to cheap labor markets, and unions earmarked for elimination - policies Washington's duopoly endorses.
Outside the beltway, Wisconsin is ground zero, but anger is spreading and may erupt anywhere at a time workers are struggling to save hard-won labor rights, targeted for elimination. As Wisconsin goes, so goes America perhaps.
The stakes are that high. Bipartisan complicity is involved. So are union bosses tied to corporate interests against their own rank and file, concerned only for their own welfare and self-enrichment. For decades, they betrayed their loyal members, functioning as wealth and power instruments, not legitimate labor leaders the way early organizers envisioned.
Reports from the Scene
On February 20, Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel headlined, "Biggest protests yet as pro-Walker side, larger union crowd meet peacefully." Well, mostly. One Tea Party announcement said: "bring cleaning supplies to clean up the pigsty the liberal union goons left behind at OUR house."
Overwhelmingly against them were teachers, students, police, firemen, other public service workers, and many private sector ones, knowing their own rights are at stake.
Against them were pro-Walker supporters brought in by influential extremist groups like Americans for Prosperity, the billionaire Koch brothers (David and Charles), Freedom Works (chaired by former Republican House majority leader Dick Armey), and other right-wing organizations, with America's major media providing anti-worker coverage.
According to Media Matters, right-wing media, especially TV, "characterized the protests as 'riots' and 'uprisings' and attacked the protesters as 'thugs' who could 'get violent.' " In fact, they're working class Americans, teachers, professors, students, police, firefighters, nurses, and supportive spouses, united in solidarity for decent jobs, a living wage, essential benefits, and a secure retirement. Throughout days of protests, they've been resolute and peaceful, showing remarkable restraint despite an all-out assault on their rights.
Walker wants to double their out-of-pocket contributions to healthcare and pensions, amounting to an eight to 20% haircut by most estimates. Most disturbing, however, would be loss of collective bargaining rights, indexing pay raises to the grossly understated CPI index, and giving Walker emergency powers to fire workers unilaterally.
On February 19, Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel reported "no political compromise in sight," writers Bill Glauber and Don Walker headlining, "Struggle could change the way government does business with its employees," saying:
At issue is "nothing less than a defining moment for organized labor in America." It's a national battle pitting rank and file workers against politicians, corrupt union bosses, and big money, "an epic struggle" to save hard-won worker rights on the chopping block for elimination.
Wisconsin's Historic Significance