The Union War on Wisconsin Governor Walker

Unleashing forces of hate, making it personal, unions roll out heavy artillery in their all-out war against their declared enemy, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  Union devotees will need about 540,200 signatures on petitions in 60 days to trigger a special recall election targeting the besieged rookie governor.

Meanwhile, protesters' signs hang in the Capitol rotunda, left from February protests, depicting Gov. Walker as a mustachioed Hitler, the devil himself, object of daily exercises of almost ritual union members' hatred, like an Emmanuel Goldstein in George Orwell's dystopian novel 1984.  Only the ritual hate sessions are not two minutes daily; rather, eight grueling months for unions' most faithful haters.

Their unilateral battle against budget restraints is one that goes beyond the well-orchestrated boos and catcalls into loathing.  Fanned by public employee unions dead-set on rolling back Wisconsin Act 10, which limits members' collective bargaining, they take aim at Gov. Walker for pushing for its passage.

Act 10 does not, as media allege, "strip" collective bargaining -- it only reduces its grip on future negotiations by setting limits.  In effect, the law requires certain public union members (not police and firefighters) to share in the solution to the state's budgetary crisis by curbing, but not eliminating, collective bargaining "rights," as media like to portray them -- always, indisputably, "rights."

Union stalwarts take that well-hewn "we're right everyone else is wrong" position in opposition to Act 10.  They see it not as a responsible restraint and ultimate job-creator, but a fateful blow to public-employee unions.  Fourteen Democrat senators even fled to nearby Illinois in an attempt to block it in February, to no avail.  (No question at all where their loyalties lie.)

Protesters in the dead of February occupied the Capitol.  Teachers left their classrooms to protest, forcing closing of schools while they took bogus "sick" excuses to get paid, in effect, for their protesting.  (Role model lessons for students in the Entitlement Society in how to cheat.)  Thousands massed at the Capitol, chanting, despoiling public property, posting clever signs, blocking Republican lawmakers from going about their legislative business.  Oh, it was a protest circus, all right -- chanting and singing and feeling sooo good about oneself.

Some threatened boycotts of local businesses whose owners did not see things unions' way, declining to put up posters in their places of business.  Some were asked outright for donations to the unions' cause -- sort of extortion on the fly.  Ironically, some protesters' placards read simply "SHAME! SHAME!"  One gets the impression that they were quite oblivious of the irony of their high-held signs.

A couple crazies made e-mail death threats.  One lesser threat -- a dark joke, maybe -- was found on a note tucked under a Republican legislator's door.  It read: "The only good Republican is a dead Republican."  Such threats, idle or not, along with physical damage to public property and threats of boycotts and attempted extortion, stayed largely invisible to sympathetic, see-no-evil news media, who insisted that the protest was about "rights."  Always, please, "rights."

Speaking of rights: protests blocked Gov. Walker's speaking at events, even out of state, shouting him down Blackshirt-style, and taunting him, such as at the Wisconsin State Fair.  Dialogue is not in the mix for the union folks.  Free speech for protesters, but for no one else?  And security is tightened for the governor in light of threats to his personal safety.  Such is union-stirred hate brought to a new level.

A mob 1,000 strong marched lately into a quiet residential neighborhood to protest on the curb in front of Gov. Walker's home in a once-tranquil Milwaukee suburb.  Such manifestation of hate simply crosses the line.  Their protest scared the bejeesus out of neighbors, fearing property damage, and their kids.  (Who are they, Mommy?  What are they doing here?)  Uncouth is "in," and relieving oneself in the street is okay?

Whether unions attain their dream of recall next spring or not is unknown, depending on signatures on those petitions against the Hated One.  By intimidation, another tactic of the left, or by compulsion ("Sign here or else!"), recall elections might well happen.  Guaranteed, the artful left among us will use every means, fair or foul, to get those signatures.  Neo-Marxist Chicagoan Saul Alinsky in his Rules for Radicals taught his acolytes that very lesson -- the fair or foul part -- to achieve ends by any means in political wars.

If the unions pull off the costly recall elections, it's not likely (my bold prediction) that they will oust Gov. Walker.  Not when informed, not inflamed voters -- ordinary taxpayers -- have their say.  Union thugs will not disturb a fair, private ballot election among an informed, fair-minded public.  A vote to replace this governor with a lackey to do the unions' bidding at the drop of campaign contributions is a long shot at boxcar odds.  Count us taxpayers lucky for that.

(Note to self for the future: unless, that is, Wisconsin voters have a total breakdown in common sense and a lack of respect for truth and fairness.  It could happen.  After all, remember Al Franken's narrow win in next-door Minnesota.  No joke: he won; voters slept.)

For a recall election to be "successful," the public will have to be convinced of something that didn't happen and wasn't intended -- "union-busting."  Gov. Walker's critics insist that it was his "agenda" all along, not bringing fiscal sanity to the state, and jobs, to save the state from enormous debt.  To convince the public of a false charge of "union busting" will take a clever trick of hoodwinking the non-union, inattentive public.  News media will be a pushover, as usual, for spreading the unions' view, as sure as night follows daylight.

To kick off the recall effort, a mob (no other word for it) said to be nearly 30,000 strong showed up at the Capitol to vent their passions and do their throaty chanting.  It was an orderly bunch, we are told, many toting the usual hate-filled signs.  Instead of Orwell's "Two Minutes Hate," it was three to four hours of a hate that, like an electric current, seemed to run through the like-minded, passionate crowd, a "hideous ecstasy ... of vindictiveness."

Protesting itself can be invigorating, bringing purpose to dull lives.  Nothing like a singalong of sixties protest songs ("If I Had a Hammer") to pep up a political rally.  And so they sung on with altered lyrics, slamming the governor, probably feeling quite good about themselves.

Devout unionists like to claim that Gov. Walker deprived them of their "rights" with the enactment of Act 10.  The mantra of "rights" is echo-chambered almost religiously by the unions' allies, news media, fellow members of a union, the Guild.  Count on seeing "rights" substituting for "labor laws" in nearly every story.  One wonders: are such "rights" God-given, immutable, written in the sky?  Or are they privileges?  Some would say that they are simply garden-variety labor laws negotiated, if that is the word, and then agreed to by paid-off politicians.  Nothing more.

Gov. Walker's budget reform law -- aka budget repair bill -- is aimed squarely at reducing a bulging state deficit of $3.6 billion to create a better climate for jobs in his state.  Instead of telling it as it is, or was, media continues to insist on calling it "stripping employee rights" legislation.  Seldom will it be called by media by its name, a budget reform law or repair bill.  That's seemingly verboten for the scribbler class.

Out-of-state Big Money will pour into Wisconsin to dump Gov. Walker and his lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, plus four GOP state senators the unions don't like much, either.  (No pushovers, those four legislators.)  Massive funds will come from dues collected in other states (in the spirit of solidarity) to be dispensed in far-off Wisconsin.  Why?  The unions' worst nightmare is that precedent will be set in the Badger State if Act 10 stands.  Nothing illegal about out-of-state money flooding a state's elections, but something about it smells to locals.

Wisconsin may be canary in the coal mine for budget reform.  There is a lot at stake in the recall campaign.

Larson is a retired former newspaper and business magazine editor in Minnesota.

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