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Freedom of WHAT?!! :-)

Speech! You  know, the First Amendment! :-)

I lived in Madison, Wisconsin when I attended graduate school there.

I can almost feel the long-distance rage from here in Northern California! :-)

Sometimes, I get a kick out of headlines that appear together on the CNN main page. Tonight, they include:

The first article, about protests in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana (I have lived in two-out-of-three states and visited the third many times) reminded me of Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s poem, “Concord Hymn.”

Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.

(Note added February 26, 2011: The good folks in Madison, WI MAY have fired the shot heard round the world, or at least, in all 50 states of the U.S.!)

In these Midwestern states, Republican governors are using budgetary shortfalls (that happened as the result of the Great Recession – which was caused by financial mismanagement) to advance the long-held Republican agenda item of “union busting.” “Common Sense” may have been WRITTEN by Thomas Paine, but many of its greatest practitioners are found in the Midwest – good, solid, balanced people with common sense. In contrast, common sense is comparatively rare in California (sorry, but it is). :-)

And in Madison, Wisconsin, a Republican governor, Scott Walker, is accused of taking a page out of Egypt‘s (and Libya’s? :-) ) handbook, by blocking a “left-leaning” :-) Web site, The Web site, which had been accessible in the state capitol building last week, COULD NOT BE ACCESSED in the capitol building on Monday and into this morning! The Wisconsin Democratic Party press secretary, Graeme Zielinski, blamed the Republican governor and Republican lawmakers, who returned to work today, for causing the outage.

“In a direct assault on the First Amendment, Scott Walker’s administration is blocking access in the Wisconsin Capitol to opposition websites,” Zielinski said.

The governor’s spokesman, Cullen Werwie, called the accusation “a lie.”

(Frankly, I expect more creative prose from a person who earns his living as a spokesperson. :-) )

The “budget-repair bill” proposed by Walker to address a $137 million shortfall (Wisconsin’s economy is smaller that that of California – in California, we don’t care about any ” _illions” that don’t begin with a “b!” Heck, we don’t even care about THEM! :-) ) would increase contributions of state workers to their pensions and health insurance benefits. The bill would require collective-bargaining units to have annual votes to maintain certification and eliminate the right of unions to have dues deducted from worker paychecks.

(Just about now, we need to remember that the Great Recession was largely caused by irresponsible financial policies in the PRIVATE sector – perhaps predominantly by groups of Republicans.)

Walker raised the “FUD” (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) levels by warning that, if the proposed bill were not passed, at least 1,500 government employees would be laid off in the short term, with 6,000 more in the following budget cycle.

(In the United States, with some notable exceptions, :-) we don’t usually SHOOT people – we lay them off instead. People struggling to survive have much less time to “make trouble” for governing bodies. :-) )

As I wrote before, some politicians are being “mean-spirited” at the wrong time in history – a time in which the gap between the the rich and the rest of us is widening, a time in which home values may plummet even further, and a time in which some 13.9 million American (an underestimate) are out of work.

This is a time for pragmatism, not platitudes and old-time politics.

-Bill at

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