We Won’t Forget Wisconsin

A new film called Wisconsin Rising is screening around the country, the subject, of course, being the activism surrounding the mass occupation of the Wisconsin Capitol in 2011.  I recommend attending a planned screening or setting up a new one, and discussing the film collectively upon its conclusion.  For all the flaws in Wisconsin’s activism in 2011 and since, other states haven’t even come close — most have a great deal to learn.

The film tells a story of one state, where, long ago, many workers’ rights originated or found early support, and where, many years later, threats to workers’ rights, wages, and benefits, and to what those workers produce including education in public schools, were aggressively initiated by the state’s right-wing governor, Scott Walker.

The joy and inspiration created by the public resistance to that threat were intense.  The occupation, the singing, the marching, the creative props and protests, the donations for pizza from around the world, the parades, the rallies, the concerts, the firefighters and police officers spared in the legislation but choosing to join with the rest of the public anyway, the growing crowds, the growing awareness of the power of nonviolent action, the legislators bringing their desks out onto the grass to meet with constituents in the cold snow or fleeing the state to deny the governor a quorum, Fox News propaganda showing a violent rally supposedly in Wisconsin but with palm trees in the background, the Wisconsinites hauling plastic palm trees to the capitol, the high school students joining the occupation on behalf of their teachers, Governor Walker unable to step outdoors without protest — all of this energy and activity is accurately conveyed in Wisconsin Rising.  For over three weeks, Wisconsin’s capitol was occupied, and the reminders of it are still frequently visible there.

The Wisconsin legislature rammed through its horrendous legislation despite the public opposition. The film does not hide that awful defeat.  But the same would have happened had there been no opposition.  The question is whether the opposition did any good and whether it could conceivably have succeeded had wiser decisions been made — and whether power was tapped that could be enlarged still further.  I think the answer to all of these questions is yes.

In the film we see people withdrawing their money from a bank that funds candidates like Walker.  That can and should continue.

We see a choice made to withdraw energy from protests and demonstrations and nonviolent resistance and camps and marches and a general strike, in order to put all of that energy into recall elections. The lessons of all of those labor songs sung at all of those rallies are not followed. Instead, an effort is made to pretend that the system works and that slightly better personalities in positions of corrupt power will solve everything.  Massive popular energy went into a contest where it could not compete with massive money.

What might have happened instead? Energy could have stayed with the occupation, drawing inspiration from and giving inspiration to activism around the United States and the world.  I remember Michael Moore pointing out at the Wisconsin occupation that 400 people in the United States had as much money as half the country, and pundits compelled to note that that was true.  An education campaign about the division and concentration of wealth would have been time better spent.  Creative means of keeping working people’s wealth with working people, rather than handing it over to Wall Street, would have been wiser use of euphoric enthusiasm.

An effort might also have been made to build even wider state-level solidarity by recognizing the state of Wisconsin, like the other 49 U.S. states, as a victim of a federal budget gone off the deep end of plutocratic plunder and militarism.  The federal government does not support education or any other human need, at home or abroad, in remotely the way that it could if it curtailed spending on war preparations, giveaways to corporations and billionaires, or both.  What if Wisconsin were to convert from weapons to peaceful industries, tax major federal tax evaders at the state level instead, and call for a Constitutional Convention to recriminalize bribery?  What if the money Wisconsinites dump into elections went into setting up and supporting independent media outlets in Wisconsin instead?

What if three enjoyable, energizing, inspiring weeks of effort wasn’t seen as a record long action, but as the opening preview of much longer struggles?  What if the pressure were to build back up, and a different direction were chosen this time, the direction of nonviolent resistance rather than naive compliance?  Wisconsin, at least, has done its warm ups.  Most states are still in the locker room.


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  • The Dumbing Down of America (The Best of J.T. Gatto Interlude) this video contains actual video footage of the happenings in Wisconsin at that time.

    Jan 2, 2014 An interlude in a series of short videos based on John Taylor Gatto’s book, The Underground History of American Education.


  • ClubToTheHead

    I spent a few days there. It was doomed when the protesters declined to do a general strike and then tried to work within a system stacked against, and proven to work against, working people. And the Koch brothers bought some fine propaganda, supposedly representing the voice of the people.

    Madison ain’t Paris yet.

    The recall election had nothing to offer but tired Democratic Party candidates who promised to do the same as Walker, only more gradually and with a different style.

    The occupation was electrifying but the teachers, who obviously bought the civic lessons they taught their students, either didn’t know or were afraid to act on what they did know, then took a great opportunity to make a point and made the wrong one.

    There were even Madison police protesting, leaving Walker to call in outside departments; the outside police didn’t act like they wanted to crack heads of other police.

  • ClubToTheHead

    Americans live under a plutocracy, but believe they live under a democracy; not because they experience democracy but because they are told they live under democracy by the media and by a majority of Americans, by their own selves.

    If the majority of Americans believed the Moon was made of green cheese, would that make it so? The majority may agree on what to call the government, but that doesn’t make it so either.

    The US Constitution is designed to veto and check democracy. And it operates very effectively in that function.

    Real change demands a radical change in Americans understanding of the form of government they support.

    Madison has proved Americans do not, and cannot, understand the mechanics of plutocratic power, and that what the majority wants has no relevance to policy. It was not the beginning, but the end, of hope in such occupations because of its failure to overcome the veto of the plutocracy.

    • Dee

      You lost in a free and fair election.. get over it. making up new labels isn’t going to change things

      • Carl_Herman

        Free and fair elections, Dee? You’re lying. Electronic voting machines make such a thing impossible, along with money polluting the availability of free and fair information for voters.

        Hey, Dee: if there’s like a “heaven” or “hell” and people get what they deserve, what they earn, are you pleased with the destination you’re moving toward? Want to continue living in a place with oligarchs war-murdering and looting while saying it’s “free and fair”?

        But who knows, maybe you’ll get points for being a really good “Red Team” player.

        I know I appreciate your contribution in that regard 🙂

        • Dee

          Well , if you don’t accept the results of elections , there isn’t much to talk about. If anybody thought the elections were not free and fair, they certainly could have filed a complaint at the time,
          Calling me names doesn’t make you right or strengthen your position.
          If you do not accept the result of elections or the rulings , or lack of rulings from the courts as an arbiter of the truth .. what are we left with , the personal edicts and rulings of Carl?
          And folks, read my statements and positions for yourself.. I think Carl may have an agenda that colors how he sees the world a bit. He seems a bit high strung when any differing opinions are offered.

          • Carl_Herman

            Great choice, Dee! Either:
            1. Your ad hominem along with ignoring the evidence that electronic voting machines without a paper-trail no longer match the definition of “election,” and the idea that facts aren’t really objective but just a matter of “differing opinions.”

            2. The fundamental legitimacy of Wisconsin citizen action in light of “Big Lie” corruption, including data of “leaders” running “elections” when the vote-counting is done by machines without verifiable paper-trail, and therefore no longer able to provide data of who voted for who.

            Go ahead and say more, if you want, Dee. I believe I’m done pointing to the quality of your arguments.

          • Bev

            Dear Carl, As you may/should know a computer can have a different count on a screenshot and a printout from a count sent to county/state tabulating computers due to human intervention on internal code or hardware, and vulnerable BY DESIGN to “man in the middle” attacks off-site. A receipt or print out assures nothing. You need hand-marked paper-ballots publicly hand counted and posted in precinct on election night to return to a true democracy. I think you know this.


            Democracy’s Gold Standard
            Hand-Marked, Hand-Counted Paper Ballots, Publicly Tabulated at Every Polling Place in America…
            By Brad Friedman

            For more information and a step-by-step guide to transparently and publicly hand-counting paper ballots in your community, see Hands-On Elections: An Informational Handbook for Running Real Elections, Using Real Paper Ballots, Counted by Real People by Nancy Tobi ( see: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1452806128?ie=UTF8&tag=tbb-20&link_code=as3&camp=211189&creative=373489&creativeASIN=1452806128 ) of NH Fair Elections Committee and the Election Defense Alliance.

            See the following for a history of stolen democracy made possible by those who control those machines:

            Richard Charnin Statistician

            Election Models and Unadjusted State and National Exit Polls

            The True Vote Model: A Mathematical Formulation

            Footprints of Election Fraud: 1988-2008 State Exit Poll Discrepancies

            2012 Presidential True Vote and Election Fraud Simulation Model

            2012 Election Forecast and True Vote Model

            1988-2008 State and National True Vote Model

            1988-2008 Election Database: Unadjusted State & National Exit Polls vs. Recorded Vote

            1968-2012 Presidential Election Fraud: An Interactive True Vote Model

            1968-2012 National Presidential True Vote Model

            Election Fraud Analysis

            Election Fraud Analysis: A Historical Overview

            Election Fraud: An Introduction to Exit Poll Probability Analysis

            Perspectives on an Exit Poll Reference Text

            A Reply to Nate Silver’s “Ten Reasons Why You Should Ignore Exit Polls”

            Election Fraud: Uncertainty, Logic and Probability

            A Model for Estimating Presidential Election Day Fraud

            A Compendium of Election Fraud Links

            The Election Fraud Quiz

            The Election Fraud Quiz II

            True Vote Model: Probability Sensitivity Analysis

            Fixing the Exit Polls to Match the Policy

            Avoiding the Election Fraud Factor: Forecasters. Political Scientists, Academics and the Media

            Monte Carlo Simulation: 2004 Presidential Pre-election and Exit Polls

            An Electoral Vote Forecast Formula: Simulation or Meta-analysis not required

            The unadjusted 2004 National Exit Poll: closing the book on “False Recall”

            True Vote Graphics

            Unadjusted ExitPoll Probability Analysis Links

          • Carl_Herman

            Awesome, Bev; thank you! And yeah, when those ballots are sent to the local school gym for counting and a party, it’s fun, pretty fast, verifiable, and everyone’s happy with an honest outcome.

            So, Dee: want to attack Bev and her data now? Is the information she shares her “personal edicts and rulings”? Or perhaps her problem is being “high strung”? Or perhaps she “has an agenda that colors how she sees the world a bit”?

            Dear Dee: time is truly running out for your choice of allegiance to either the facts, or being a lying sack of spin for psychopaths who’ll do anything to keep people from seeing the facts and organizing as Bev points to, and is the topic of David’s article.

          • Bev

            The count must be conducted and published on-site in precinct immediately after the election, not the next day, before being sent to another location. I know. I have done that before. It works.

          • Bev

            Thanks Carl, I thought I had included Richard Charnin’s Wisconsin analysis. Pardon me. Here is some of it.

            Did the GOP Steal the Wisconsin Recall Elections? A True Vote Analysis
            Aug. 11, 2011 Richard Charnin

            In a pre-election post, I indicated that only election fraud could keep the Democrats from winning three of the six GOP recall elections. http://richardcharnin.com/WisconsinRecallElectionProjections.htm

            They won two. This post-election analysis indicates that they did much better than that. They may very well have won all six.
            The analysis is based on the Wisconsin Recall True Vote Model .

            Wisconsin Recall: Exit Polls and the True Vote Model
            Richard Charnin, Sept 7, 2011

            In each of the five Citizen Exit Polls conducted in two Wisconsin districts, the Democrats did much better than the official count (67.8% vs. 52.4% on average). Why the large discrepancies? Are the polls to be believed? This analysis provides a possible explanation, keeping in mind that it is based on a limited number of exit poll locations.

            It is important to understand the difference between the Wisconsin Citizen exit polls and corporate sponsored state and national exit polls in prior elections. The Citizen polls had a very simple aim: to compare how respondents said they voted to the official count. Corporate state and national exit polls are designed to determine how various demographic groups voted. The National Exit Pool (NEP) is a consortium of six media giants that funds state and national exit polls. The NEP uses stratified sampling to select precinct locations that are representative. Final state and national exit polls are always forced to match the recorded vote. It is standard operating prcedure. It is also standard policy for the NEP to keep “unadjusted” exit poll data hidden from the public.

            Exit Poll Discrepancies from the Recorded Vote

            In three strong Democratic recall locations, Democratic exit poll shares (78.8%) were significantly higher than the vote counts (66.9%). Shorewood was 10.9% higher, Pardeeville 8.5% and Baraboo 15.8%. The True Vote Model (TVM) closely matched the recorded votes. Overall voter participation was 52%. If the vote counts were correct, 61% of Democrats and 33% of Republicans responded. Republican voters may have been reluctant to respond in Democratic locations. In that case, the exit polls overstated the true Democratic vote.

            In the two strong Republican locations (Butler and Menomonee Falls), the Democrats had 43.1% in the exit polls compared to 31.5% in the count (16.5% higher in Butler, 11.0% in Menomonee). In the TVM, the Democrats did 11.0% and 8.3% better, respectively. Overall, just 33% of voters participated. If the vote counts were correct, the 45% of Democrats and 28% of Republicans responded. It is implausible that Democratic participation would be that much greater in strong GOP locations. Therefore, it is likely that the votes were miscounted and the exit polls were close to the True Vote.



          • Bev

            Adding from Richard Charnin above:
            “Based on the results of the True Vote Model and the exit polls, it is very likely that the District 8 and 14 recall elections were stolen. The Republicans control the state senate by a 17-16 majority, but the Democrats should be in control by 18-15.”


            Wisconsin Vote Recount and Historical Data Analysis


          • Jim Young

            I quit the Republican party our ancestors suggested and helped form (whichincluded the only three brothers to serve in the US Congress at the same time) after 5 generations of family loyalty to the party. I’d about had it when the 1996 Newt Gingrich/Frank Luntz GoPac Memo “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control” came out and the party members I knew started following what I believe was suggested by a Cato Institute suggestion to use Leninist propaganda tactics (leaving out mention of the sabotage beyond the hampering of anything and everything the opposition could derive any credit for, even if was exactly what the party would support as long as they got the credit for it). What finally tipped me over the edge (about he same time Elizabeth Warren left the Republican party) was a fund raiser confiding to our group that “We have to fight dirtier than Democrats.”

            It is no longer the party our ancestors founded, having changed from the party of Lincoln to something like the party of John Wilkes Booth, making wage slaves of as much of the country as they can. Anyone with access to the lower tier ALEC stooges can easily tell who is really running roughshod over the real people that made this country so much more productive when the Velocity of Money was used as an indicator of useful productivity and a country of workers that could afford to sustain all the necessities (and a lot more minor luxuries).

            You and yours have trashed the real productivity of this country, creating a worsening case of differential accumulation that is becoming so much closer to a Gilded Age hollow economy that can’t last, and has led to more violent revolutions in other parts of the world when it became too intolerable.

  • Dee

    Typical.. no mention of the public support FOR the Governor and his Bill, mostly parents unhappy with the school system and the fat cat union benefit packages at the expense of the students and the tax payers. No mention of the failed recall petitions /elections where the voters backed the Governor and his reforms and the key people supporting them.

    Glad you all had such a good time protesting. But like anything, there are two sides to the story.. and both have merit, both sides matter.

    One of the key features of Nonviolent Civil Disobedience or Satyagraha http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyagraha

    “Truth – this includes honesty, but goes beyond it to mean living fully in accord with and in devotion to that which is true” you lose that moral authority and weaken , perhaps destroy it by telling half truths or leaving out the other half of the story.
    You also have a principle of respecting the dignity and personhood of your opponents, you do not defame them or misrepresent their position or vilify them.
    This respect for all participants and all positions, even those you disagree with is the power of Satyagraha .. it is what allows the finding of common ground and build trust that is needed for peaceful settlement. This does not in anyway mean compromise.. you can hold as fast and as uncompromising to your principles and the outcome as you want , but if truth is on your side you can also respect and honor the other sides position, and still show it is wrong, that truth does not support it and you have the better way.
    The half truths and disparagement of the other side of this and many other stories/ issues here on Washington’s Blog , the demeaning of persons , motives, and intentions that is stock and trade of some of the writers here makes any claim of being nonviolent false, and any direct action based on a cafeteria style selection of principles , deliberate ignoring of the fact that non-violence is not just the absence of physical violence , but also the forgoing of hate in the heart and disrespect of the opponent’s personhood, bound to fail and continue to be an ineffective fringe floundering about the issues.
    It is sad and pathetic .. but when you are out for revenge and to pay back and to impose your version of justice by force, be it physical force, including force of law instead of using Satyagraha as it is intended , to change the heart and mind of your opponent so they can see the truth of your position and respond to it freely and voluntarily, out of their own goodness .. well .. sad and pathetic is the best you can get.
    I think much of what gets called Nonviolent Civil Disobedience, is anything but, if the traditional principles of what it meant back in the day of Gandhi and King and Biko are of any measure.

    • ClubToTheHead

      Gandhi said to the British occupiers, give back our guns. The Brits said, What are you going to do with them? Gandhi said, I’ll tell you after you give them back.

      Gandhi lovers should not miss:

      Gandhi: A Political and Spiritual Life by Kathryn Tidrick

      • Dee

        Gandhi also said “Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look
        upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.” firearms are a useful tool in many ways, including self defense. Life has little value if you cannot defend it.
        But you have to be exceptionally perverse to conflate Social Change thru Non-violent Civil Disobedience and using a firearm, or any weapon, including brute physical hand to hand force in self defense against a criminal act.
        NVCD is a planned and public series of acts of resistance designed to show the injustice of political oppression and discrimination, and having the press and the whole world ( if possible) watching .. typically applied when the laws ( or accepted traditions or cultural norms) themselves are unjust. Criminal assault is already criminal and forbidden by law, defending yourself against criminal attack is already just ( and you can expect to go on trial for killing in self defense so your actions and judgment can be reviewed and confirmed by the courts or a jury of your peers) , and should you lose your life in such an attack, the laws punish your assailant. Where do you see the injustice in that arrangement? What would you protest to change?
        If you can’t see the difference, or think that NVCD is some universal panacea for everything wrong with the world, and requires you to die in some dark back alley for the change in your pockets, you do not understand NVCD.
        And any attempt to imply the Gandhi would sanction armed revolt or resistance instead of NVCD , if only they had guns, is about as twisted and perverse a reading of History or what Gandhi taught as I have ever seen. There was no shortage of armed resistance against British Rule in India, it just wasn’t getting great results .. but more to the point Gandhi was afraid of the kind of rulers that the success of a violent uprising would bring, just extending and perpetuating rule by force instead of by social justice.
        Straight up, yes or no, are you trying to say or imply Gandhi would have used or supported armed resistance if guns were available? And if that is not your point, then what exactly are you trying to imply?

        • ClubToTheHead

          Funny how authoritarian Americans (only the authorities should have weapons,
          and the more and bigger the better) are critical of the NRA while giving the
          greatest purveyor of weapons and violence in the history of the world–that
          being the pentagon and its enabling American government–a pass.

          Must have something to do with American Exceptionalism: The belief that no
          matter how many foreign governments and their elections the US subverts; no
          matter how many baseless wars devastate no matter how many millions; no matter
          how many are tortured and imprisoned without cause for no matter how long; no
          matter how many non-white Americans populate the extreme lower classes and
          prisons: The Government of America would NEVER do anything so underhanded and deceptive to its own (White) people.

          • Dee

            any chance you could tie your response to what we are talking about? I don’t see the connection or where “authoritarian Americans”, come in or were even mentioned, or where anybody was critical of the NRA or where anybody was talking about wars? I’m guessing you didn’t read the article and made stereotypical assumptions about what the author had to say?
            yeah, I get that you hate America and think it is the only evil in the world or is responsible for all the evil in the world, and I get the world is a complicated place and you need to keep a simple as possible to have anything at all to say.. But here we are talking about the fact that the teachers union in Wisconsin has been ripping off the taxpayers of Wisconsin for decades and the public finally said enough.

          • Carl_Herman

            Really, Dee? Demonizing the teacher’s union as the fault of ripping-off taxpayers for decades! Awesome choice you provide; thank you.

            Hey, Dee, given data here that states hold soooo much excess tax money, like California having ~$600 billion while imposing austerity for (last I looked) a $16 billion claimed budget deficit, AND using that $600 billion to pay for retirements of public employees with management of that fund returning just 1/5th of 1% net income (negative returns average) while paying Wall Street “investors” more than twice the amount paid into retirement costs, gee, if the public only knew then they’d likely go to the capital and probably protest, right?

            If you’re getting paid to lie, Dee, better reclaim your heart and stop helping the Dark Side. Documentation of the above: http://www.examiner.com/article/cafr-summary-why-can-t-a-600b-fund-fund-27b-pension-16b-budget-deficit

          • Dee

            Maybe if you dialed back the hysteria a bit, and tried to make your case in a rational way, more people would listen.. I don’t know .. Maybe the voters just didn’t like the teachers union subverting the whole budget process and trying to force the legislature to vote for more money than the legislature thought they could afford. This is supposed to be about the school kids more than the teachers salaries and benefits, salaries and benefits that seemed excessive, compared to what most parents were making.

          • Carl_Herman

            Maybe if you addressed the facts that state CAFRs show surplus billions rather than name-call the documentation, Dee, you’d have an argument!

            Anyhow: thanks for doubling-down on demonizing teachers with a strawman argument. You help choice with every comment!

    • ClubToTheHead

      I barely glance at anything you write.

      I only make the smallest response to your lengthy tirades for the amusement of seeing more of your incomprehensible nonsense gushing forth.

      Write on.

    • Carl_Herman

      Typical of “half-truth” Dee, to obfuscate the argument; she who says war law can’t be used to stop war because “self-defense” doesn’t mean anything.

      Dee presents a choice:

      1. Pretend “both sides” have merit while failing to address the most powerful arguments that a 1% uses power and policy to loot the 99%.

      2. Get to the most powerful arguments. In this case, among many, we have both parties’ “leaders” self-imploding economies to impose slave-austerity on the public while we have solutions for economic prosperity ready right now: http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/08/reminder-economic-solutions-ready-full-employment-optimal-infrastructure-poverty-zero-public-debt.html

      And readers/Dee: Gandhi and King were all for public demonstrations. YOU DEMONIZE THOSE POINTING TO, ENCOURAGING, AND MAKING FACTS CLEAR as part of the problem!

      But again, Dee: awesome work to help people choose. Hey, just curious, but do you do anything to walk the path of Gandhi, or is criticism all you live?

      • Dee

        Carl, you are starting to sound a bit desperate, Almost like you can’t handle anybody mentioning the Voters and the Governor won.
        I think both sides made their facts clear and the voters made their choice.