Police join in!
(Reuters) – A crowd estimated at more than 70,000 people on Saturday waved American flags, sang the national anthem and called for the defeat of a Wisconsin plan to curb public sector unions that has galvanized opposition from the American labor movement.
In one of the biggest rallies at the state Capitol since the Vietnam War, union members and their supporters braved frigid temperatures and a light snowfall to show their displeasure.
The mood was upbeat despite the setback their cause suffered earlier this week when the state Assembly approved the Republican-backed restrictions on union collective bargaining rights over fierce Democratic objections.
“I’m deeply honored to be here with you,” said Peter Yarrow, a veteran of many social protests during his 50-year folk music career and a founding member of the group Peter, Paul and Mary. “If you persist, you will prevail.”
What began two weeks ago as a Republican effort in one small U.S. state to balance the budget has turned into a confrontation with unions that could be the biggest since then President Ronald Reagan fired striking air traffic controllers nearly 30 years ago.
Republicans still must push the measure through the state Senate, which has been unable to muster a quorum for a vote because of a Democratic boycott.
If the plan is approved in Wisconsin, a number of other states where Republicans swept to victory in the 2010 elections could follow. Already, other legislatures including Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Idaho, Tennessee, and Kansas are working on union curbs.
Unlike previous protests, the rally on Saturday brought out thousands of union workers not directly affected by the bill, including the state’s firefighters, exempted along with police from the Republican proposal. Dozens of private sector unions were represented as well at the event.
No “Tea Party” supporters of the proposal championed by Republican Gov. Scott Walker were spotted on Saturday. They staged a smaller rally of their own in Madison a week ago.
The rally felt more like a party than a protest.
“This is one of the largest sustained protests we have seen in Madison since the Vietnam War. And to my knowledge there were absolutely no problems,” Madison Police spokesman Joe DeSpain said.
Scott Sumer, a teacher from Rockford, Illinois, just south of the Wisconsin state line, said he hoped the sustained and broad-based opposition to the Wisconsin bill would discourage lawmakers in other states from considering similar measures.
“Other governors are going to see this and think, ‘I don’t want to go there.'” Sumer said. “The tenacity of this movement and civility here are impressive.”
Demonstrators chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, Scott Walker has got to go,” as they stood directly under the office window of the state’s new governor, who introduced the controversial measure as part of a budget deficit cutting bill that is moving in the Wisconsin legislature.
The stakes are high for labor because more than a third of U.S. public employees such as teachers, police and civil service workers belong to unions while only 6.9 percent of private sector workers are unionized. Unions are the biggest single source of funding for the Democratic party.
Some of the demonstrators carried signs, others pushed baby carriages, and others walked with their dogs by their sides.
The overwhelming anti-Walker sentiment of the demonstration was telegraphed in many ways, including a sign that read: “Scott Walker for President … of Libya.”
U.S. labor groups also staged rallies across the country to show solidarity with Wisconsin in fighting the proposal they see as trying to break the union movement.
Wearing thick outerwear and her 10-month-old son strapped to her belly, Tamarine Cornelius, 36, carried a sign that read “If Wisconsin is gonna become Mississippi than I am gonna want better weather.”
“I understand that there are tough times ahead, things are going to be difficult no matter what. I think most people understand that,” said Cornelius, who works for the non-profit Wisconsin Council on Children and Families.
People in the state capital of Madison, which is home to unionized state government agencies and the University of Wisconsin, are overwhelmingly opposed to the governor’s plan. But Republicans said they believe there is a silent majority who voted Walker into office, and support the efforts.
Republicans appeared defiant in the face of the union protests. In Phoenix, potential Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, a former governor of Minnesota, a neighbor of Wisconsin, drew applause from “Tea Party” activists when he blasted President Barack Obama for supporting the Wisconsin unions.
“It says in the Constitution: ‘In order to form a more perfect Union.’ … Mr. President, that does not mean coddling out of control public employee unions,” he told some 2,000 partisans gathered for a conference.
The Wisconsin changes sought by Walker would make state workers contribute more to health insurance and pensions, end government collection of union dues, let workers opt out of unions and require unions to hold recertification votes every year. Collective bargaining would be allowed only on wage increases up to the rate of inflation.
Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. Never heard of it. That is because the U.S. Senate hasn’t yet passed it but the Obama government is trying to get it passed before the Egyptian revolution, for Change, Liberty and Social Justice lands on U.S. soil. The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 is a bill sponsored by Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) in the 110th United States Congress. Its stated purpose is to deal with “homegrown terrorism and violent radicalization”.
The bill will:
Amended the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to add provisions concerning the prevention of homegrown terrorism (terrorism by individuals born, raised, or based and operating primarily in the United States).
In the bill the term `homegrown terrorism’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use, of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.
This bill was passed in the House on October 23, 2007 with a vote of 404 to 6. It was introduced to the Senate on August 2, 2007 as S-1959. and has been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. The Bill was introduced by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), and has been co-sponsored by Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN). The Senate bill was reported dead by the Bill of Rights Defense Committee and CQ Politics. A staffer to Sen. Joe Lieberman, indicated that the bill is not dead.
Critics charge that the vagueness of the bill’s definitions would permit the government to classify many types of venerated American political activity, such as civil disobedience (political dissent), as terrorism. Critics frequently cite Section 899A, which reads, in part: “The use, planned use, or threatened use, of force …to coerce the ..government, (or) civilian population ..in furtherance of political or social objectives”, as particularly problematic. They argue that major societal reforms, which are now accepted but were perceived at the time as threatening to the government, such as civil rights, suffrage, and others, would be classified as terrorism.
Then-presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich said he believed the bill to be “unconstitutional” and has referred to the bill as a “thought crime bill” TheBaltimore Sun published an opinion article by Professor Emeritus Ralph E. Shaffer and R. William Robinson, titled “Here come the thought police.”
Conservative commentator Devvy Kidd writes: “Since the bill doesn’t specifically define what an extremist belief system is, it is entirely up to the interpretation of the government…. Essentially they have defined violent radicalization as thought crime.”
In an interview aired on Democracy Now, Academic and author Ward Churchill said: “HR 1955, as I understand it, provides a basis for subjective interpretation of dissident speech….”
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) issued a statement saying: “Law enforcement should focus on action, not thought. We need to worry about the people who are committing crimes rather than those who harbor beliefs that the government may consider to be extreme.”
The National Lawyers Guild and the Society of American Law Teachers issued a joint statement opposing the Bill: “The National Lawyers Guild and the Society of American Law Teachers strongly urge the Senate to refuse to pass the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights opposes the bill.
The John Birch Society wrote in an Action Alert: “the legislation could attack First Amendment rights by mandating the government to clamp down on free speech online, among other things.”
In the wake of the successful Egyptian revolution against government oppression the Obama government is planning to reintroduce the bill and have it passed. The U.S. government now fears the same fate as dictatorial ruler Hosni Mubarak. The U.S. government fear that the U.S. people may soon echo the call of the Egyptian people and begin to petition for change.
The Declaration of Independence states that government derives its just – or lawful – powers from the “consent of the governed.” The underlying principle implied in the Declaration was that “We the People” are the true and rightful government of the United States, and as Abraham Lincoln declared in his Gettysburg Address, “government of the people by the people and for the people shall not perish from this earth.” Elected and appointed officials are managers selected to work on our behalf in order to accomplish our collective will. We do not, however, elect them to dictate what our will is, or should be.
However, in the event that government becomes one consisting of rulers rather than representatives, the U.S. government determined over 200 years ago what the course of action should be.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
In the event that Americans find themselves at odds with their government, the Declaration tells them: “… That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.”
According to the nation’s own foundational text, the American people have the right: “… when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.”
What measures do the U.S. government seek to implement against the American people they now deem as terrorists? The same power as Egyptian dictator Mubarak sought – to shut down all lines of communication. The U.S. government is now working to reintroduce an Internet kill switch bill. A bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a “national cyberemergency,” and prohibiting any review by the court system. The bill is being reworded to include government control of all wireless Internet (Wi-Fi). Why does the U.S. government want to control Wi-Fi? When the Egyptian government shut down the cable Internet Wi-Fi was used to keep the rest of the World apprised to what was happening in Egypt. HR 1955 titled the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 mentions the Internet as a main source for terrorist propaganda. The bill even mentions streams in obvious reference to many of the patriot and pro-constitution Internet radio networks that have been formed. It also mentions that homegrown terrorists span all ages and races indicating that the Congress is stating that everyone who conveys dissatisfaction with or opposition to the policies of government is a potential terrorist.