Saturday, February 26, 2011

Vote JoAnne Kloppenburg Wisconsin Supreme Court Tues. April 5, 2011

Corporate interests have financed the installation of a four-of-seven majority in the Wisconsin Supreme Court--among them Prosser, who is being challenged in the Tuesday April 5, 2011 election by JoAnne Kloppenburg.

The four WMC justices are reliably pro-corporation in all cases, whether it means being anti-worker or anti-injured party.

The question before voters on April 5, 2011, is, do we want to continue the 4-3 Wisconsin Supreme Court that assists the concentration of wealth (if so, vote Prosser), or, flip it to a 4-3 Wisconsin Supreme Court that upholds workers' rights, fairness for injured parties, the fairness of the political process (if so, vote Kloppenburg).

The business umbrella group calling itself "Wisconsin Civil Justice Council, Inc." rated the justices on friendliness to their interests:

Prosser, Gabelman, Ziegler, Roggensack 100%
Crooks 64%
Bradley 36%
Abrahamson 29%

Moneyed interests have rolled up control of the governor's office, state senate, state assembly, and--subject to change on April 5, 2011--the state supreme court.

The one that can be changed is the supreme court.

Vote Kloppenburg April 5.


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Skunk Punked

Tweet seen by a friend: "I hope no one sends Gov. Walker any emails today about a Nigerian lottery or we're in even more fiscal trouble."

Today we're seeing just some of the fallout from yesterday's revelation about Walker's 20-minute phone conversation with pseudo-Koch.

In his press conference yesterday, Walker tried to justify having considered planting thugs among the protesters by saying that he didn't do it. But the phone conversation clearly reveals why he didn't do it: It wasn't because it would be unethical or immoral. It wasn't because it would be dangerous. It was because it wasn't politically expedient.

Apparently that is the litmus test for everything Walker does and doesn't do. The phone call revealed that he thinks of what's happening in Madison along the lines of Reagan's firing of the illegally striking air traffic controllers. Talk about being delusional. The two situations are hardly parallel.

Walker told pseudo-Koch about his plan to lay off thousands of teachers, not because of the presumed budget shortfall, but solely for political ends. Think about that for a minute. Not only is this a horror for the people who would lose their jobs, but it is a horror for the school districts and children who can't afford to lose any more teachers than they already have due to budget constraints.

According to Senator Fred Risser, one of the Fighting 14, Walker's folly has "diminished the image" of the Wisconsin governor's office. Boy howdy. It's not just an embarrassment for Walker and his crony Republicans in the state legislature, it's an embarrassment for his corporate overlords. We can only speculate how all the negative publicity is affecting the secretive Koch brothers. It will certainly have ramifications for Walker's status as one of their favorite puppet governors.

David Dayen at Firedog Lake sums up the effects of yesterday's revelation about the pseudo-Koch phone call:
There’s a definite siege mentality around Governor Walker right now. He has turned the tide of public opinion all by himself. The endgame may not come for a while, but Walker is losing his hold over the situation. He may not crack, but his Republican allies, particularly in the Senate, may succumb to the pressure from state media and the public.
So if you haven't already, write to the senators most likely to succumb. The fateful phone call is undoubtedly a game changer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Kelda Stands Up to Walker's Bullying

Wisconsin's Democratic state legislators continue rise to occasion and stand up to Walker's increasingly blatant bullying.

For Immediate Release February 23, 2011 Contact:
(608) 266-5340

Rep. Roys Response to Gov. Walker’s Phone Call with Billionaire Koch Impersonator

MADISON – Rep. Kelda Helen Roys issued the following statement regarding Governor Walker’s conversation with a prank caller posing as David Koch, one of the billionaire GOP financier brothers who contributed heavily to Walker’s campaign:

“I am aghast at Governor Walker’s shocking statement that he plans to layoff five to six-thousand workers as a means to extort democratically elected representatives and consolidate his political power.

“While I have deep ideological differences with the Governor, my jaw fell open upon hearing him openly admit that his plan to destroy the lives and financial security of thousands of Wisconsin families was simply to blackmail the legislature to pass his radical attack on workers’ rights.

“We knew Walker’s scheme had nothing to do with the state’s budget situation. Yet to hear him brag to his billionaire backer about using these hardworking families as his political pawns – dehumanizing them – while publicly sermonizing about job creation and corporate tax loopholes, shows a lack of integrity beyond my comprehension.”

Media outlets today reported that Gov. Walker made the following statement to a journalist he believed was ultraconservative billionaire contributor David Koch:

“So we’re trying about four or five different angles. Each day we crank up a little bit more pressure. The other thing is I’ve got layoff notices ready, we put out the at-risk notices, we’ll announce Thursday, they’ll go out early next week and we’ll probably get five to six thousand state workers will get at-risk notices for layoffs. We might ratchet that up a little bit too.”

See full transcript at

Wavering Republican State Senators

Three Wisconsin state senators are apparently wavering in their commitment to Walker's Wisconsin-busting bill. Wisconsinites, please call or e-mail them to ask that they vote against the bill, especially those of you who live in their districts.

Randy Hopper, from the 18th district (Fond du Lac): 608-266-5300;

Luther Olsen, from the 14th district (Ripon): 608-266-0751;

Dale Schultz, from the 17th district (Richland Center): 608-266-0703 or 800-978-8008;

Here's the e-mail I sent to all three:
Dear Senator ----,

I'm writing to you as a citizen of Wisconsin to ask you to vote against Scott Walker's "Budget Repair" bill. Please be a voice and a force for reason in what is happening in Wisconsin and show respect for Wisconsin's proud heritage of championing the rights of working people.

Or if the bill must pass, please work to remove the most heinous parts of the bill wherein unions are stripped of their collective bargaining power, wherein BadgerCare and Medicaid are imperiled and hamstrung, wherein the state-owned power plants can be sold without even receiving bids. The hard-working people of Wisconsin deserve better than this. Please do all you can to advocate for their best interests rather than the interests of Walker's corporate backers.


Mary Ray Worley
Madison, Wisconsin
Update: Here's a response I got from Senator Olsen:
Thank you for contacting my office. First we would like to apologize if you were trying to contact us by phone. We have received a significant amount of calls over the past week. My small staff is doing their best to answer your calls but it is impossible for them to keep up.

More importantly, I would like to thank you for contacting me and please know that your voice IS being heard.


Senator Luther Olsen

Walker Fail

In the 2010 election, the people of Wisconsin were looking for fiscal responsibility in tough economic times. When they voted for Walker, they thought they were voting for a conservative, someone who would conserve the hard-earned money paid by Wisconsin's taxpayers. These aren't radical people. They're hard-working, fair-minded, supremely reasonable, unwaveringly responsible people. And many of them are waking up to the fact that they aren't getting what they thought they were voting for in 2010.

Many of us know that the public employees of Wisconsin and their unions are not to blame for any fiscal difficulties the state government may have. Many realize that public employees have already paid their share with "negative pay raises" (I kid you not!) and "austerity measures." And many are very proud of Wisconsin's proud heritage of championing the rights of working people.

One protester I encountered on the Capitol square last Saturday voted for Walker because he ran on a platform of balancing the budget, not one of busting the unions. She was dismayed and felt betrayed by what she felt to be Walker's bait-and-switch tactics.

Earlier this week, Dave McClurg, a police officer in Madison and the vice president of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association, told of his own disillusionment, not only with the state Republicans, but also with Fox News, Limbaugh, and O'Reilly:
My name is Dave McClurg. I'm a City of Madison police officer. I've been here, working it, working this rally. I've been to the Capitol on my off time, coming here and protesting.

For years I've been a conservative Republican. I voted for Bush during that time. I have seen ongoing the lies that Fox News and that others are saying about what's going on here. My entire time here as both a police officer and a protester, what I've seen is nothing but peaceful protests, and it sickens me, the fact that none of the Republicans as part of our government in Wisconsin can see what's going on and change their minds. I, for the first time in my life, the other day donated money to the Democratic Party.

I will never vote Republican again. From the lies that I've seen and from the talking heads out there that I used to follow--Limbaugh, O'Reilly--I'm disgusted by the rhetoric you're throwing out there and that you can't see what is going on today and the power that the people have. We are not lazy. We are not bloodsuckers. We are hard-working Americans, and we won't put up with this. (emphasis added)
(You can see the video of McClurg's statement here.)

People like McClurg are discovering to their horror that Walker is anything but conservative. He's a John Birch demagogue willing to throw the people of Wisconsin under the bus to benefit his corporate benefactors. And by his bullying and his refusal to compromise or even listen to the people of Wisconsin, he is making no secret of the fact that he holds these good people who elected him in utter contempt.

In a conversation with a blogger posing as David Koch, Walker says of the protesters, "Hey, this is Madison. It's full of '60s liberals. Let 'em protest all they want." Apparently he doesn't get it that people who voted for him are among the protesters. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, State Senator Jon Erpenbach, one of Wisconsin's Fighting 14, said that "the real story is the total lack of compassion (from Walker) over what's going on in Wisconsin. ... Walker's remarks characterizing the protesters as 'a bunch of '60s liberals' shows how out of touch he is on the breadth and depth of concern across Wisconsin to the governor's union rights rollback proposal."

A letter to the editor of Madison's CapTimes recalls FDR's fireside chat on Sept. 6, 1936:
There are those who fail to read both the signs of the times and American history. They would try to refuse the worker any effective power to bargain collectively, to earn a decent livelihood and to acquire security. It is those shortsighted ones, not labor, who threaten this country with that class dissension which in other countries has led to dictatorship and establishment of fear and hatred as the dominant emotions in human life.
Walker, his billionaire backers, and his Republican cronies in the state legislature are failing to read the signs of the times and clearly have failed their American history. Worse yet, they're failing the people who voted for them. Their arrogance and their contempt for the people of Wisconsin will be their undoing.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Cheddar Republic

Tonight in his so-called fireside chat (FDR he ain't!), Scott Walker threatened "dire consequences" if his pet Union-busting, BadgerCare-gutting, power-plant-give-away bill doesn't pass.
The missing Senate Democrats must know that their failure to come to work will lead to dire consequences very soon. Failure to act on this budget repair bill means (at least) 15 hundred state employees will be laid off before the end of June. If there is no agreement by July 1st, another 5-6 thousand state workers -- as well as 5-6 thousand local government employees would be also laid off.
Really, is there no end to this bully's blustering?

State Representative Kelda Helen Roys responds (in her Facebook status) to Walker's threats:
I WILL NOT BE BLACKMAILED. I will continue standing up for the rights of my constituents and all Wisconsinites - for workers' rights, the right of peaceable assembly, the right to participate in our democracy. If Gov. Walker wants to try to extort freely elected representatives of a co-equal branch of government, he should go to a banana republic. We in the cheddar republic will not stand for it.
I think it's safe to say that many Wisconsinites didn't realize just how draconian a governor Walker would be. I think it's also safe to say that many of us didn't realize just how awesome some of Wisconsin's state legislators are.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Friday's Assembly Floor Drama

The events unfolding this past week here in Wisconsin are even more amazing than most people realize. This is a bubbling cauldron of democracy versus plutocracy (or oligarchy, as Paul Krugman calls it, although I still think plutocracy is more apt). It is a roiling torrent of heavy-handed power grab versus groundswell of popular opposition. We are in the process here of holding back what we can of the flood that is decimating the middle class. It's as if the people of Wisconsin are all holding their finger in the dike. Let's hope they continue to stand firm.

Fortunately, the people of Wisconsin are not without their heroes: Wisconsin's Fighting 14—Mark Miller (my state senator), Tim Carpenter, Spencer Coggs, Tim Cullen, Jon Erpenbach, Dave Hansen, Jim Holperin, Robert Jauch, Chris Larson, Julie Lassa, Fred Risser, Lena Taylor, Kathleen Vinehout, and Robert Wirch—walked out of the senate on Thursday to prevent there being a quorum, thereby making it impossible for the senate to vote on Walker's so-called budget repair bill. If it weren't for the Fighting 14, the bill would already have been passed.

And we have yet more heroes, these in the State Assembly. It is something of a puzzle to me that I haven't seen or heard more about this in the media. I thought media outlets were looking for high drama, and if this isn't high drama, I don't know what is. Thanks to the Wisconsin Eye, I was fortunate enough to see this drama unfold live on Friday afternoon as it was broadcast from the State Assembly floor.

The Assembly was set to begin at 5:00pm. But unaccountably the roll call begins at 4:55pm. For some strange reason, the Republicans are present and accounted for, but the other side of the aisle is strikingly empty. Still, at 4:57 the Assembly actually votes on and passes two amendments. At 4:58 the Democrats, all wearing their orange tee-shirts proclaiming their support of the public employees protesting the bill, begin running into the chamber, Representative Gordon Hintz (Oshkosh) the first among them. As Hintz is requesting to be heard, and over the shouts of the Democrats running into the chamber, the Assembly votes on and passes the bill itself.

State Assembly minority leader, Peter Barca (Kenosha) (at the top of his lungs, without his microphone turned on): "Mr. Speaker, I have a point of principle on rule 61. I don't know if you are deaf or what the problem is, but I demand you recognize me." Finally, Barca's microphone is turned on. Mind you, it is still 4:59pm.

Barca: "What you have just witnessed here, once again, is unprecedented. ... It is unbelievable to me, absolutely un-be-liev-a-ble, that you would first of all be here before five o'clock, and take an illegal vote, before even the time the proceedings are supposed to start. Unbelievable! Unprecedented! Un-American! Not in keeping with the values of this state! You should be ashamed of yourselves, each and every one of you! ...

"Where's the rest of the people in the gallery? Unprecedented! Right, you're probably not letting them in! You don't want people knowing what's going on in this body. There's a stench in this body! It is a stain on the history of this state, what you have done! It is outrageous, absolutely outrageous!" Barca then makes a motion to strike the last vote.

Barca continues: "Mr. Speaker, it is even more outrageous. I didn't think it could possibly be any more outrageous. But in fact, Amendments 2 and 3 [not the two that were voted on before the Democrats arrived], which were before the body, were never addressed. I don't think there's a legislative body in the country, maybe not in the world, that actually ignores amendments that are before it. You do not have a right! You might think that because you've been elected to the legislature, you can do whatever you damn well please. But you can't! We have rules! And whether you like it or not, you gotta follow the rules. ...

"What is wrong with you? Honest to God! This is worse than a kangaroo court. This is absolutely beyond the pale, beyond the pale! You ignore amendments that are before you!?!? ... Are you really that eager to shut down this process, to strip people of their basic worker rights, that you're willing to do anything?"

Barca is then followed by Gordon Hintz (Oshkosh) and Cory Mason (Racine), who were equally adamant and articulate in voicing their outrage over what had occurred in the State Assembly.

Gordon Hintz: "I got an e-mail from the gentleman from the 69th, that said 'be here by five o'clock.' So it was three minutes to five. As I was walking here from caucus and saw that we were actually voting. ... Once I heard you guys already decided to vote on things, well then I realized that—why would that happen?—and then, I'm like, oh that's right. It's consistent with how everything else has been handled.

"Like last Friday morning, when I was driving to a school business administrators' meeting in De Pere, and I turned on the radio, and there was an ad saying, 'Support Governor Walker's budget repair bill. Paid for by the Club for Growth.' Well guess what?! I'd never been given a bill. I hadn't even been given talking points yet. And I know we're in the minority, but I'm elected the same way you were elected by the same public from the state of Wisconsin, and I deserve better than that. And it's bad enough, it is bad enough that I had to hear it from a radio ad from Washington, DC, and then show up at a meeting with no details."

At this point Hintz, whose voice is rising in righteous indignation, is interrupted midsentence by Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (Horicon) so he could ask the people in the gallery to be quiet. Hintz makes some funny faces while he's waiting to begin again. It's not easy to hold on to your fervor while someone else is shushing the hoi polloi, but Hintz succeeds in doing so admirably.

Hintz continues: "So, while we heard that we may or may not get an emergency bill, we may get a repair bill, I found out from the radio, from a Washington DC interest group. What does that have to do with Wisconsin? And then, it's a hundred and forty-four pages. And then, we get briefed on Monday, and I'm told that we're going to vote on it on Thursday or Friday. And then when we ask for public hearings, and the public wants to speak out, you cut them off. This isn't how we do things to each other. It's not how things get introduced. And it's just simply not what we do to the public. If you want to jam through a bill, you gotta sit through the messy process that is democracy.

"When we sit there in fourth grade, and we learn about Wisconsin government, and we learn about U.S. government, we learn how amazing it was that they came together. But we also learned that it was bloody, that people had to fight for it, and they wanted to make it hard to do big things. You're supposed to be a deliberative body, you're supposed to have discussions, and you're supposed to be transparent, because the public matters in all of this input. ...

"We show up here, and you guys are gonna vote without us three minutes before you told us to be here. Are you seeing a pattern here? ... But if you want to know why there are thirty-five thousand people here, look at yourselves in the mirror, and have a little respect at least for your colleagues."

Cory Mason (Racine): "I cannot believe what we are seeing here in Wisconsin this week. I cannot believe what we're witnessing. In these times, when I feel like we're seeing the most mean-spirited, anti-worker legislation that I've ever heard of. And you're bringing out the absolute worst in what you're trying to do to working people in this state. And then to see tens of thousands of people bringing out the very best of what democracy is, and what it means.

"And so what have we seen in a week's time? First, you want to take away people's democracy in the workplace. Then you take away people's democracy and their right to speak at a hearing on a bill. Then you take away the minority's ability to dissent and have a voice. You're in the majority, but being in the majority doesn't mean you get to take away people's freedom! We exist in this state to serve the same people. The same people sent us here, and we swore an oath to ourselves and to our constituents and to the Almighty that we would adhere to certain principles that have long been the foundation of this state and this country.

"I do not recognize what is happening in this great state. You're in the majority. You get to set the agenda. But we still have the right to dissent, and you cannot silence our right to dissent as long as we draw breath. We have rights! We have rights in this country and they will be abided by!"

Mason is then followed by Representative Kelda Helen Roys (Madison), who is moved to the point of tears in her plea that the assembly not pass the bill in this way. Finally, the Speaker of the House, Jeff Fitzgerald (Horicon), backs down and consents to strike the earlier, illegal vote and to adjourn until Tuesday morning at 10am.

I have watched the videos of this drama many times now, and I'm still amazed at the power and conviction of these representatives. I want everyone to know what a brave stand they took, not only for Wisconsin's public employees but also for democracy and for fair, democratic procedures in the State Assembly.

Here are the links to the two videos of this amazing drama:


Please watch them. Please share them. This story of political chicanery and the brave stand Barca, Hintz, Mason, and Roys made against it must be told. And of course it has hardly made a blip in the media. So if we don't tell people about it, no one will know. And everyone who cares about what's happening in Wisconsin should know.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Conservative? Really?

Can anybody tell me why Republicans like Scott Walker are still being called "conservative"? What exactly are they conserving? The rich, I guess. But really, the policy Walker is trying to push through in Wisconsin is decidedly not conservative. It is one of the most radical, heavy-handed pieces of legislature this country has ever seen.

Walker tried to push his 144-page bill through the legislature with no public comment and essentially no legislative debate in just five days. That draconian move would have unraveled more than fifty years of Wisconsin's finest accomplishments on behalf of working families. It would gut the middle class and ultimately do great harm to Wisconsin's economy.

But Walker's concern is not the state budget. Nor is it the well-being of the people of Wisconsin. His concern is to please his corporate sponsors. And that is all.

So can we please stop calling him a conservative? His policies, his goals, his attitudes are not conservative. They're destructive. They're arrogant. They're un-American.

I know. Let's call him what he is: a plutocrat.

According to, plutocracy is "1: government by the wealthy; 2: a controlling class of the wealthy."

Plutocrat is a perfectly apt description of Scott Walker. And plutocracy is clearly his goal. Let's call him what he is. Scott Walker, the consummate plutocrat.

Small Victories

First read this, and then this.

I turned on Wisconsin Eye this afternoon just in time to see Gordon Hintz and Cory Mason lambaste the Republican legislators for taking the vote early, without the Democrats present. They were incredibly eloquent. I was so impressed. I hope people get to see footage of their speeches, because they were really amazing.

The legislature then voted to adjourn until Tuesday, giving more time for the protesters to be heard. First it seemed like the Republicans had upended us, and then it was like the the Dems swooped in and turned things around in only a few minutes. Took my breath away. I still can hardly believe it!

Commit Yourselves to Nonviolence

"Nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity." -- Martin Luther King Jr.

Now that we have gained national attention, the counterprotesters are coming. The purpose of some will be to bait the Wisconsin workers, to incite them to violence. This will be their strategy because they know that violence will undermine the protesters' message.

People of Wisconsin, stand firm in your resolve. Do not allow yourselves to be baited. Do not give in to the incitement to violence. Your cause will only be advanced by deliberate and determined acts of nonviolent resistance.

This is not something to be decided in the spur of the moment, with the sudden realization that the counterprotesters have arrived. This is something you must decide now. Firmly and with great resolve. Because it is not easy. In fact, it is very, very difficult. Much more difficult than erupting in violence. It may be one of the hardest things you ever do in your life.

Stand firm, and do not allow yourselves to be moved. You are in the right. The opposition knows that, and they also know that inciting you to violence will be to their benefit, not yours. Your commitment to nonviolent resistance will convince the world that you are in the right. Stand firm, my sisters and brothers. Stand firm. And guard the peace of your hearts just as you guard your families, your coworkers, and your livelihoods.

Au Contraire, Rachel

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

I love you, Rachel, but I think you have this one wrong. Last night in your program, you asserted that what's happening in Madison is a result of Republican efforts to obliterate the opposition, i.e., the Democratic Party. "What's going on right now in the American Midwest is about Republicans versus Democrats. ... This is about the survival of the Democratic Party."

Honestly, I don't give a ripsnort about the survival of the Democratic Party, because it has already been subsumed by the same forces that are trying to bring down the last vestiges of union power in the United States. The assault on the Democratic Party commenced decades ago and has essentially already been successful. The Democratic Party that stood for something died when Russ Feingold lost his bid for reelection last fall. The Democrats who are left have no teeth, no guts, no convictions. They stand for nothing. They are as beholden to their corporate masters as the Republicans are.

Look at what happened with "health care reform." The Democrats held the executive branch and a supermajority in the legislature. But the bill they managed to pass, in spite of overwhelming support for Medicare for Everyone across the country, was a gift, tied up with a bow, for the big insurance and pharmaceutical companies. What the people got out of that was a constitutionally questionable mandate to buy health insurance with few to zero restrictions on cost, quality of service, and the extent of coverage. The people did not triumph; they were set up and railroaded. The Dems proved to be a bunch of namby-pamby wimps, unwilling to stand up for the interests of the people who voted them into their supermajority. This is not what democracy looks like.

The current assault may appear to be on the Democratic Party. But what's going on in Wisconsin is more sinister than that. Who is fighting this fight? It's not the Democrats. Obama is not standing up for the workers in Wisconsin. Obama is treading around this issue so very lightly because he cannot afford to enrage his corporate sponsors. He has even added credibility to the notion of Walker's supposed fiscal difficulties. He only voiced mild support for the protesters in Wisconsin on the fourth day of protests. Pretty slow out of the gate, there, Mr. President. The voices from Democrats in support of the Wisconsin protesters are slow in coming, soft-spoken, and without teeth. No, this is not an assault on the Democratic Party.

This is an assault on the people of the United States. It's an assault on the middle class. It's an assault on freedom and civil rights. The best the Democrats could do was to get out of the people's way, which, thankfully, Wisconsin's Democratic legislators have done. But it's the people who are fighting this fight. And their opponents are not the Republicans, much as we might like to believe that. Their opponents are the terrifically powerful monied interests who won't stop their juggernaut of greed until we have returned to a system of serfs, vassals, and lords.

No, what's going on right now in the American Midwest is about the power of the people versus the power of greed. This is about the survival of the middle class. There's nothing less at stake here than the survival of freedom and civil rights and democracy. And the ones who are on the front lines are most decidedly not the Democrats. They are the ordinary, hard-working, anything-but-radical people of Wisconsin, who have finally had enough bullying from the billionaires' thugs.

Note: If you're reading this on Facebook, click on View Original Post to see the video clip from Rachel's show last night.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"When Does the Greed Stop?"

It's not a matter of Democrats vs. Republicans. It's not a matter of conservatives vs. liberals. Those distinctions are becoming less meaningful all the time. What's really happening is a great battle between corporate interests and the interests of ordinary people. There's nothing conservative about today's Republicans. And there's absolutely nothing radical about today's Democrats. What is radical is the current all-out attack on the middle class and the blatant contempt for working families.

The mainstream media are owned by those corporate interests. We're not going to get a straight story from them any more than we are getting a straight story from Scott Walker about Wisconsin's supposed budget crisis. If the rich were to actually pay taxes instead of getting an abundance of tax breaks and loopholes, there would be no budget problem. But Walker's actions have nothing to do with economics or the state budget.

The purpose of this manufactured "crisis" is to create an opportunity to strip workers' of their collective bargaining rights. Those workers are teachers, librarians, and nurses--ordinary people who deserve not only reasonable compensation for the important work they do, but also the right to bargain collectively with their employer.

Do the math. The middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate. The extremely rich are getting much, much richer. The poor are getting poorer. In Wisconsin, the last remaining vestiges of workers' rights are under an all-out onslaught.

When choosing sides, it's crucial to accurately assess what sides are really in opposition. The very powerful are diverting attention away from themselves and creating false oppositions and false divisions in order to distract the unwary and take advantage of people's fears and loyalties.

When you find yourself in a battle, you can't fight effectively unless you know exactly who it is who has identified you as their enemy.

"What is the price? we ask the other side. What is the price that you want from these working men and women? What cost? How much more do we have to give to the private sector and to business? How many billion dollars more are you requiring? When does the greed stop?"

These questions were posed by the Lion of the Senate, Edward Kennedy, some years ago on the Senate floor. Here are the answers I'm hearing:

"What price?" There is no limit.

"When does the greed stop?" When ordinary women and men stand up and say, with one voice, "It stops now."