Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Week That Still Is

OK, so I've only lived in Wisconsin since 1979, but this past week's pro-union protests have been the most remarkable event of the past thirty years (I'm leaving aside all the sports-related celebrations, which are after all in the toy department.).

Isthmus has quite a good section of coverage including the Ken Lonnquist song that I just posted here from You Tube. Likewise,'s coverage. As has the Milwaukee JS. This afternoon, JS Online carries the not-exactly-news, but still disappointing report that Walker rejects any attempt at compromise despite concessions by Democrats and state unions.

The WAPO has some good coverage as well.

The always excellent Doug Henwood at the LBO News has really terrific and fresh stuff. The tastefully-named Henwood was in town this week and posted some observations and photos. By the way, Henwood talked to UW Professor Joel Rogers (professor of law, political science, public affairs, and sociology):

To outsiders, it’s mysterious that the same state could have spawned Joe McCarthy and Robert LaFollette, or Scott Walker and Russ Feingold. Rogers explained that politics in Wisconsin has historically been driven by an alliance of industrial workers and capital-intensive dairy farmers on the left, opposed on the right by a mainly Catholic rural population. They’re pretty evenly divided, thus the contrasting figures and tight elections.

LBO News by Doug Henwood is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

An interesting hypothesis, if perhaps incomplete (what about the Catholic voters in south Milwaukee and the rest of SE Wisconsin?). Anyway, if Rogers is correct, that suggests that Archbishop Listecki's support for the public sector unions may be politically significant.

By the way, it's refreshing to read commentary from a different professorial UW voice than Charles Franklin  and Mordecai Lee.


Small note to the conservative whiners: I would bet dollars-to-donuts that all of the public employees at the rallies took vacation time to be there (except the teachers, obviously, who put themselves in at least some jeopardy by doing a sick-out). I did when I attended the rally on Tuesday.


If I may be excused one moment of inarticulate frustration: this guy Chris Rickert who writes for the WSJ. I don't like him. Or rather I don't like the way he expresses his opinions; perhaps in real life he's not as callow as his writing. (I have now edited this paragraph twice to remove the nasty, but now it's to the point of why bother.) You can find his column on the website and form your own opinion.

(OK, here's one example. In today's column, he opines that "government workers may well be a coddled bunch" based on the fact that some protesters held up signs referencing Mubarak. No, that would be evidence that somebody held up a possibly dumb sign ('dumb' depending on whether you think the sign-maker meant to compare Egypt and Wisconsin or merely expressed the sign-maker's desire for Walker to resign like Mubarak.)


The likely end result of this battle seems pretty clear, the question is how will we get from here to there? Will the impending snowstorm impose a break in the protests that causes them to lose steam? Will a Democrat weaken and return home? (Any guesses who? And would said Dem be likely to switch parties?) The Governor could end the standoff by meeting Dem and union concessions with some of his own, but it's clear that's not going to happen.


For the Boomers and other aging folks, yes, the title of this post is a nod to the 60's TV show, That Was The Week That Was, a satirical news show featuring David Frost.

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