Wisconsin protests: updates and discussion

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Samotnaf
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Jun 10 2011 04:52

Strange to post this without any critical comment - or do you feel the critiques are too obvious?

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Juan Conatz
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Jun 10 2011 13:13

What do you think?

Anyway, I edited the post with comments.

Also...

Quote:
State emergency team monitoring protest-related communication and action

Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Dane101 has learned through a direct, anonymous source that a state emergency response team has been operating out of the GEF-2 (101 S. Webster St.) building downtown specifically to monitor protest related activity on social media sites and elsewhere.

The team is allegedly coordinating with law enforcement to identify and shut down any major direct actions planned by protesters at the capitol, by watching things like the #wiunion hashtag on Twitter and related Facebook groups, etc.

The team is apparently preparing for more major actions next week, which they believe will be big as the state budget goes to the floors of the Senate and Assembly for final votes.

An important question that arises from this revelation is whether or not the information being looked for by the team is then being collected (i.e. spying) in a more central database.

Early last year documents uncovered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation through aa open records request from the Federal Government revealed that the Department of Homeland Security had "conducted a threat assessment of local pro- and anti-abortion activists" including Planned Parenthood in Wisconsin. According to the ACLU Madison:

“Without probable cause that a crime is being committed or is about to be committed, police or the federal government don't have the right to snoop on activists,” says Stacy Harbaugh, the community advocate of the Madison-area office of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “Having the feds investigate organizations on both sides of the abortion debate doesn't make us all safer: it simply victimizes more individuals' freedom and privacy rights.”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s lawsuit against the Defense Department has uncovered “hundreds of reports of possibly illegal intelligence activities,” the group says.

Further examples of this activity are listed in the link above. There is currently no evidence to connect the emergency response team's social media suveillance with these programs, but little information yet exists on what all they are doing.

More information on this as it becomes available.

http://www.dane101.com/current/2011/06/09/state_emergency_team_monitoring_protestrelated_communication_and_action

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Jun 12 2011 21:50
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Helping the cause?Assessing the impact of Walkerville

On a grassy hill spilling from the state Capitol down toward Carroll Street, two dozen protesters — a mother and her eighth-grade daughter among them — sat around a lantern for a nightly "town council" meeting led by a large, bearded man in a "Vets for Peace" T-shirt.

A younger man with a spiked mohawk walked by on the sidewalk holding a "Free Solidarity Hugs" sign. Across the street, a UW-Madison graduate student sat beside a four-person tent brushing his teeth while reading Hunter S. Thompson by headlamp.

Welcome to bedtime in Walkerville.

"It's been quite the circus around here," said Ken Weaver, a state engineering technician and treasurer of AFSCME Council 24.

The dozens of tents and hundreds of campers assembled to protest Gov. Scott Walker's budget proposal and plan to curtail public sector collective bargaining so far are a shadow of the thousands of protesters who converged on the Capitol earlier this year.

And while Walkerville has attracted union leaders, nurses and teachers — many of the same people who loudly but peacefully called the Capitol's marble hallways home four months ago — it also has attracted protesters whose more aggressive tactics stand out.

In the past week, students dressed as zombies interrupted a Special Olympics ceremony featuring Walker before occupying the office of Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, a move that prompted their arrests. Police say others tried to bypass police checkpoints in the Capitol and were arrested. Still others disrupted a speech by Walker on the UW-Madison campus. Previously, protesters interrupted the work of the Legislature's budget committee.

Of the 59 Capitol arrests since protests started in February, 17 came in the last week, according to the state Department of Administration. Many were against repeat offenders: four protesters have racked up almost a third of the total Capitol arrests since February.

Also called 'Entitledtown'

Walkerville, now in its second week, and the events surrounding it inspired sneers from conservatives — some call it "Entitledtown" — and shrugs from Republican leaders.

"Gov. Walker and legislative leaders are going to continue to enact pro-jobs and budget-balancing legislation no matter who decides to sleep on the Capitol lawn or dress up as zombies," said Cullen Werwie, spokesman for Walker.

Even some Democrats have been dismayed.

"Sadly, there have been recent instances in the Capitol where enthusiasm to express a difference of opinion has crossed the line and endangered the safety of those working in the Capitol," said Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee. His colleague, Sen. Robert Jauch, D-Poplar, expressed similar misgivings when protesters shouted down lawmakers during a Joint Finance Committee hearing.

Jauch said many people in Walkerville came up and apologized for the behavior when he took a walk through the tents this week.

"People do feel pride in what they're doing and want it to be seen in a positive light," he said.

Walkerville has inspired those living there, who call the late-night talks and daily entertainment rejuvenating after a winter and spring when, some admitted, they were feeling "outrage fatigue."

It has drawn willing acceptance from some Downtown businesses and anger from others, including John Taylor, owner of a North Carroll Street antiques gallery.

A stuffed, full-size lion in the storefront window next door — already a conversation starter — competes with another unusual sight: tents pitched just feet away, in the shadow of the Capitol. The tents come down by dawn most days, as required by city permit.

Organizers say they expect the tent city to be up through June 20, while lawmakers debate the state budget bill. State officials expect big protests this week, but it's unclear if they'll materialize.

Mary Bell, president of the Wisconsin Education Association Council, said she would not rule out large teacher protests at the Capitol in the coming days, as teachers and students start summer break.

"People are very concerned," she said.

'Disappointed by turnout'

While protests and arrests occurred outside the tent city, Walkerville has remained peaceful, save for reports of a Downtown condo owner raining poorly aimed eggs down on the village and drunks shaking tents.

In many ways, it is an outdoor version of what was happening inside the Capitol in February and March: solidarity singalongs, communal meals, teach-ins, drum circles, impromptu chants and privacy-light group sleepovers. It also serves as a base camp for organizing and planning protests.

Tents have numbered in the range of 40 to 60 nightly, with perhaps 100 to 200 campers.

"I was disappointed by the turnout, honestly," said Brent Nelson, a concrete contractor from Onalaska who along with his girlfriend camped on a patch of grass on Mifflin Street. "Gov. Walker is probably up there laughing, thinking, 'If a hundred thousand people didn't stop me, you think a couple hundred will?'"

Organizers say that's not the point, that they never expected the hordes that converged on the Capitol in February and March and put Madison in the national spotlight.

Capitol protests nothing new

Others have used overnight stays Downtown as a staging ground for Capitol protests: to protest the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, high Milwaukee unemployment in 1976, state labor negotiations in 1977, nuclear power in 1979 and state investment in apartheid South Africa in 1985 and 1986, according to State Journal archives.

But this campout and a much smaller Walkerville that preceded it in March are believed to be the first to occur on the sidewalks across from the Capitol. Tents and campers in are direct contact with the usual Downtown denizens: by day, people in suits, vendors, runners and rollerbladers; by night, bachelorettes and their entourages, State Street drunks, homeless people and random visitors.

Some tents are packed up in the morning and set up again in the evening, although permanent clusters remain throughout the day on Mifflin Street, their bright rounded shells resembling sails.

A delegation of civic and business leaders from 17 African nations happened to be staying at a Downtown hotel for the first couple of days, and they were amazed by what they saw.

"They don't throw stones or burn tires," said Saar Mamadou, who works in environmental development in Senegal. "It looks like artistic expression in the way of fighting for their rights. That is very interesting."

As with the overnight occupation of the Capitol in February, the Teaching Assistants Association has a strong presence at the campout, as have other large public employee unions including AFSCME, WEAC and Service Employees International Union. Other campers have no union ties.

Jeremiah Donohue, a graduate student at UW-Madison originally from Fond du Lac, shared a Carroll Street tent with friends Luke Bassuener, a Madison elementary school teacher, and Audre Krull, a self-employed photographer.

Donohue doesn't belong to a union, nor does anyone in his family.

"It's just a matter of right and wrong to me," he said.
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_d0dc8e22-94f3-11e0-bb2a-001cc4c002e0.html

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Juan Conatz
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Jun 13 2011 06:26

From Madison lawyer on Facebook

Quote:
The Assembly Organization Committee has placed the state budget into an "Extraordinary Session" scheduled to begin 11 a.m. Tuesday June 14th.

Extraordinary Sessions are very rare and seldom used for the Budget. In an Extraordinary Session action can not be postponed, points of order are decided within one hour, the daily calendar is ef...fective immediately upon posting and does not have to be distributed, motion to advance legislation and message it to the other house only required a majority vote of those present, the session can be expanded to include any other legislation, including new legislation (financial martial law?) and "No notice of hearing before a committee shall be required other than posting on the legislative bulletin board, and no bulletin of committee hearing shall be published.

In other words the Republicans can do anything they want to and do it very quickly with the only notice being a piece of paper on the bulletin board outside the chamber. Next they will decide that for the good of the public they will close the sessions.

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Juan Conatz
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Jun 14 2011 21:29

Looks like they're adding the collective bargaining amendment in right now. Forgone conclusion that it will pass. There's a rally at 530pm.

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Juan Conatz
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Jun 14 2011 22:55

Supreme court clear way for collective bargaining law to take effect
http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_a97180be-96d2-11e0-a26f-001cc4c03286.html

i'm down at the capitol right now, there's some thousands here with all the regular speechmakers

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Juan Conatz
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Jun 15 2011 00:49

I was down at the capitol earlier. Maybe 7,000-10,000 people. We got rid of a bunch of general strike posters and stickers. Probably the most I've seen the posters out in a while.

It was the regular union bureaucrats, politicians and PAC staff giving their bullshit speeches. People come up, stand around, then leave. Same old, same old.

A circle was formed around the capitol with "Hey hey, ho ho, Scott Walker has got to go" chants and "We Shall Overcome" was sung.

I left a little while after that. Assembly comes back tonight to discuss the budget more. Not sure what will happen now. I imagine a slow death of demobilization and some court challenges. I've heard talk of challenging the law on first amendment grounds. That seems pretty desperate and weak, though.

what ever
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Jun 15 2011 15:51

It seems like it could only get weaker.

If there was a way to connect those who have been frustrated by this and want to act differently, but are constrained and humiliated to have the official way of doing things loom over them, how would that happen? How do people who are not satisfied by this meet each other and change/redefine the narrative?

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Juan Conatz
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Jun 15 2011 16:16

Something I emailed to folks

Quote:
So the GOP is trying to throw in a bunch of stuff in the budget bill, which is in the assembly right now and will hit the senate later this week. They're in a 'Extraordinary Session' or something with similar terminology, which means the Democrats can't draw it out with amendments and speeches. Not that it would matter, everything would eventually pass because GOP has got the majority in both houses.

Supreme Court in a 4-3 vote struck down a lower judges blocking of the collective bargaining law yesterday. It was probably going to be added by the GOP regardless of what the Supreme Court did, but this is probably the worst way it could have happened. People are going to think 'Well, we did what we could and it went through the legal stuff..."

There's probably going to be a bunch of lawsuits once the law goes into effect. One of the angles I believe the public sector unions are going to challenge it on is first amendment grounds and that this is a de facto banning of public sector unions. I think that's a pretty weak argument and more a sign of desperation than anything.

Yesterday there was a rally. Cops said 2-3K, but I think it was more like 7-10K. That's another thing. Before, the police estimate usually matched or exceeded the protest groups estimate and always exceeded the media's. Now it's below them.

Anyway, at the march, there was the usual bureaucrat and politician pieces of shit giving their talks for the upcoming recall elections. There will probably be more rallies in the coming weeks, but in my opinion, this is the nail in the coffin for anything outside the electoral system. There might be other groups doing "direct action", but it will be in the role of activism, outside the spheres of workplace or community life. And it will be a small minority that gets castigated by the recall faction until they stop.

Our best bet is to keep an eye on the public sector workers and help where we can. This law may require the type of unionism that the IWW always talks about and unions used to do before the major labor laws. For instance, at least 1 of the major public sector unions has no plans to go along with the law's yearly recertification thing, so they're going to decertify and try and get people to voluntarily pay dues, which will either be a flat $40 a month or 1 hour of wages from each paycheck (I've heard both). If it's the latter, that would mean some people's dues would rise drastically. Ironically, the biggest "organizing" drive this union has done in decades (maybe ever?) is trying to prepare people to pay dues voluntarily. Also, once this law goes into effect, everything outside of basic wages is off the table for bargaining. Which means, people are going to have to figure out other ways to address benefits and working conditions.

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Juan Conatz
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Jun 15 2011 18:07
what ever wrote:
It seems like it could only get weaker.

If there was a way to connect those who have been frustrated by this and want to act differently, but are constrained and humiliated to have the official way of doing things loom over them, how would that happen? How do people who are not satisfied by this meet each other and change/redefine the narrative?

That's the million dollar question, isn't it? confused

Well elements of the labor left, which I'll define as the following (taken from the pamphlet me and OliverTwister are writing, hope you don't mind, bruh!)

Quote:
By ‘labor-left’ we mean that group which tends to coalesce around established union structures and is composed of an assortment of rank-and-file workers, low-level officers, and the occasional staff member, with members of leftist, generally Trotskyist, groups sprinkled in at all levels. This group can be seen as a spectrum, with one end that represents a real opposition to the class-collaborationist policies of the union leadership while the other represents a mere pseudo-opposition, acting as what one IWW member who was expelled from the Carpenters for leading a wildcat strike calls “the left cover for the union bureaucracy”. What unites this group is that they seek to improve or capture the existing unions as they are and very rarely focus on workers’ self-activity, nor the structural issues that have built a chasm between the business unions and workers’ self-activity.

Anyway, elements of the labor left, specifically the independent ones probably need to coalesce around something. Some of them did around the general strike when that was being pushed within the unions, but the strategy was fragmented and I don't think they knew how to go about it. Some of them when they realized what it was going to take, become frightened, as well. The prospect of going to jail is not something everyone can easily digest.1

Possibly starting industrial networks or public sector networks grouped around something like commitments to:

1)Organize within our workplaces and communities, instead of primarily outside them in activist activity that merely lobbies bosses or politicians through protests.
2)Direct action instead of electoral solutions, which includes the recall
3)Opposition to all austerity measures.

It's not something I've really developed or thought about heavily, but it could be a start. While, it's necessary that the movement expands, and that this whole situation isn't just about collective bargaining...if the public sector workers don't move, no one is.

For anarchists or the libertarian left or whatever you want to call it, material against the recall and for the things listed should be done more as well. In Madison, maybe it's just how this town is, but there has been really no anarchist presence at anything most of the time I've been here. It seems anarchists that are here are in the IWW, just participate in the other groups uncritically, not involved in any group or are abstaining. Really the only exceptions where the lackluster 'mobile infoshop' at the capitol occupation and the general strike posters from burnt bookmobile. It's weird, actually.

I don't know, what do you think?

  • 1. Which is ironic, when you think about it. American society is a violent one. Violence is glorified here, but protesting and organizing is one of the only realms where pacifism and nonviolence is a near principle.

    Best friend fuck your girlfriend? Kick his ass.
    Bullied at school? Kill everyone.
    Someone disrespects you at the club? Fucking shoot them.
    No money? Rob a gas station.
    Government tries to slash funds for programs you need to live on and restricts your rights on the job? Calmly ask them not to.

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Juan Conatz
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Jun 15 2011 21:18

Looks like what I heard was right

Quote:
Worker groups file suit to block collective bargaining law

A coalition of Wisconsin worker rights groups is going to court to block Gov. Scott Walker's budget repair bill.

The groups are filing a federal lawsuit against the governor's plan to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights.

The groups are challenging the bill's constitutionality. The lawsuit contends the bill violates the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution by stripping away workers' rights to organize and bargain.

Organizations filing the challenge include councils of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers, the Wisconsin Education Association Council, the Wisconsin State Employees Union and the Service Employees International Union-Health Care Wisconsin.

Walker contends the law is needed to help address the state's $3.6 billion budget shortfall.

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_e0810a92-9782-11e0-a27f-001cc4c002e0.html

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Chilli Sauce
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Jun 15 2011 22:48

Thanks for the updates Juan.

Looking forward to that piece by you and Twister. If you want editing or feedback prior to publication, you know my email cool

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Jun 22 2011 06:47

Before the budget bill passed, 2 people bikelocked their heads to an area in the senate. And 6 people got arrested blocking the doors to the senate. Today, some Teabaggers took a swing at protestor singers inside the capitol.

I'm moving from Madison in a couple days, so probably won't be many more updates. eek

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Steven.
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Jun 22 2011 09:08

Well they have been invaluable so far, so thank you! Before you leave you should try to bully another local into replacing you!

Where are you moving to?

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Jun 22 2011 14:13

There's at least 4 people who have posted in this thread that are from Madison, so if they see this and have the time, I'd recommend they take over if they want.

I'm moving to the Twin Cities as I've run out of places to stay in Madison and having trouble finding a job in this college town.

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Chilli Sauce
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Jun 22 2011 16:28

Juan in the TC?!! The city will be under workers control in month, no doubt.

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Jun 23 2011 05:56

Looks like I'm gonna be interviewed on California radio station KPFK tomorrow at 7pm Pacific time about Wisconsin and anarchism and such. I believe it's for the LA Anarchist Bookfair or ties into it.

Also, lol @ Chilli

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Jul 25 2011 22:23

Haven't been keeping track of what's happening as much because I'm not there but on the recall front, there were 6 Democratic primaries recently. The GOP fielded 'fake' Democratic candidates in each one, but they were all defeated by the 'real' Democrats. The first actual recall election, on a Democratic state senator, failed and he kept his seat.

Also, a Voter ID bill was passed a couple months back requiring state issued ID to vote, and now supposedly Walker is closing 10 DMV offices in Democratic districts while extending the hours for DMV's in Republican districts.

Samotnaf
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Jul 26 2011 04:04

How did they 'fake' the Democrat candidates? And what's "DMV"? ( I suppose it's some voting registration office...). Is this form of crude manipulation of bourgeois democracy common in the States?

petey
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Jul 26 2011 05:00
Juan Conatz wrote:
Also, a Voter ID bill was passed a couple months back requiring state issued ID to vote, and now supposedly Walker is closing 10 DMV offices in Democratic districts while extending the hours for DMV's in Republican districts.

he's trying, but it doesn't take effect until january? the recall elections are this november, i'm assuming.

http://www.htrnews.com/article/20110725/MAN0101/307260018/DMV-Office-closure-decisions-around-state-aren-t-final

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ludd
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Jul 26 2011 05:23

DMV is Department of Motor Vehicles. If you want to get a drivers license or a photo ID card, you need to go to DMV. Depending on how crowded the place gets there is some waiting involved (worst case I know of is my friend in California once had to wait for 4 hours) and usually there is a fee.

As far as I know, this kind of manipulation has not been widely employed after the civil rights movements, but it's becoming far more common and Wisconsin is definitely the vanguard here. Other US posters might know more about recent election manipulation. There are other ways they do it too. For example, sometimes a politician's campaign office will call Latino voters to scare them about immigration status on the voting day. There is some evidence about use and manipulation of electronic voting machines that happen to be easy to cheat (one manufacturer of them claimed his goals was to "deliver votes to George Bush" although he of course meant this would be the effect of his campaign donations - not the machines). All of this is mostly done by the Republican Party. This gives a lot of fuel for the democratic party supporters to feel righteous and so it is just another thing that seems to drive almost all common political discussion towards the topic of two parties and their differences.

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Jul 26 2011 06:14
petey wrote:
Juan Conatz wrote:
he's trying, but it doesn't take effect until january? the recall elections are this november, i'm assuming.

http://www.htrnews.com/article/20110725/MAN0101/307260018/DMV-Office-closure-decisions-around-state-aren-t-final

The recall elections are all within the next month I believe, but January is when the recall process against Walker can begin. Plus there's the 2012 elections, as well.

redsdisease
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Jul 26 2011 06:23
Samotnaf wrote:
How did they 'fake' the Democrat candidates? And what's "DMV"? ( I suppose it's some voting registration office...). Is this form of crude manipulation of bourgeois democracy common in the States?

US political parties are way less formal than in a lot of other countries. Politicians don't have to be nominated or okayed by the parties in order to run for office in their name. So, theoretically (and I guess now, practically) Republicans can run as Democrats simply by declaring so. Usually there'd be no point to doing this, since everybody would probably know anyways. However, apparently by running a second democrat, they can force a primary election to choose which democrat can run in the real recall election (at least that's what I can gather, it's possible that I misunderstood). I guess it's mainly a move to buy a little more time.

petey
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Jul 26 2011 13:54
Juan Conatz wrote:
January is when the recall process against Walker can begin.

ahhh, didn't know that.

Surtrsflame
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Jul 26 2011 18:42

Even though parties have limited control over who can run, it was illegal to run fraudulently for a different party in Wisconsin. This law was quietly changed in April. Anybody who wants to run for a party runs in a party election to decide he candidate, which in many states is limited to party members, but is a state controlled election. Wisconsin however has open primaries, so people can vote for the other party candidates. This was the goal of the fake dems. However, such forms of voting is done in many major elections with the hope of getting the weaker candidate on the main ballot.

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Aug 10 2011 02:59

6 recall elections today. 2 of them of have been called and the GOP has won both of them.
http://www.channel3000.com/politics/28818377/detail.html
http://www.channel3000.com/politics/28818270/detail.html

Surtrsflame
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Aug 10 2011 04:48

2 seats flipped, with a 3rd being contested. Looks like it was won by the GOP under questionable circumstances. The same woman that pulled shenanigans in the Supreme Court election was involved and is being accused of possibly pulling shenanigans in this election too.

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Aug 10 2011 05:15

Recall failed. GOP maintains control of WI state senate. 2 recall elections on Democrats next week. So there's a possibility that the composition of the senate could end up completely unchanged after all this.

Surtrsflame
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Aug 10 2011 05:41

For what it's worth, these were seats that went GOP in the democrat wave of 2008. This still shows that there has been a distinct shift to the left for the voter. Whether this means anything tangible for a possibility of an anarchist movement at some point in the States or not only time can tell.

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Aug 10 2011 06:11

Just got this email.

Quote:
Dear [my name],

Once again, the fate of our state, at a center of the global storm, has been dictated not by the voters of Wisconsin, but by election tampering in Waukesha County and elsewhere.

We don't know what tomorrow will bring. But we are getting ready for it. Please be ready to mobilize on Wednesday, August 10th. We will let you know what we know, and what action is being taken, when we know it.
.
The Wisconsin Wave

and

Quote:
Dem spokesman accuses GOP of dirty tricks in Waukesha vote count
e-mail print By Larry Sandler of the Journal Sentinel
Updated: Aug. 9, 2011 11:25 p.m. |(144) COMMENTS

A state Democratic Party spokesman accused a Republican official Tuesday night of tampering with votes in the tight 8th Senate District recall race.

With 10 of 11 Waukesha County wards still out -- including all of those in Menomonee Falls -- party spokesman Graeme Zielinski said, "We believe the election in this contest has been tampered with by Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus.

"She’s sitting on votes. We believe that right now, there are severe irregularities in Waukesha County once again. We believe the very fate of the Wisconsin Senate hangs in the balance and is in the hands of a woman who has already shown extreme incompetence.”

“We believe there’s dirty tricks afoot.”

Democrats are demanding an investigation or at least an explanation, Zielinski said, and he added the party’s legal team is looking into it.

Shortly after Zielinski made that statement, results came in from nine Menomonee Falls wards, swinging the lead to incumbent Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills).

Nickolaus came under scrutiny in the state Supreme Court race, when she reported a vote total that omitted the entire city of Brookfield.

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/127434893.html