Update on Wisconsin

by Harry on March 6, 2011

We’re close to the three week mark here, so I thought I’d provide an update and ask for some help. Over the past week the authorities have restricted access to the Capitol, and there is no question that this has combined with the cold weather to diminish the size of the protests, though not by much (our 4 year old is sufficiently recalcitrant that not being able to take some warmth in the Capitol means that my wife and I tend to go separately, rather than together). Earlier this week live ammunition was found in the Capitol, providing a pretext for the use of metal detectors. It is a sign of the esteem in which the police are held that I have heard no-one here suggest that the police planted the ammunition – everyone thinks it was a right-winger and that the police will make a good-faith effort to expose who did it. Assembly Democrats with ground floor offices responded by holding office hours outside in the cold — desks were being hauled back and forth through mercifully large windows. The Republicans put out a hilarious estimate of $6.5 million for cleaning up the Capitol (getting the adhesive off the walls) which the press pretty quickly ridiculed and was then reduced to $450,000 — after which skilled members of the relevant trade union offered to volunteer their services to do the cleanup (I imagine we’ll be setting up a fund soon for reseeding the mudbaths which which were once the lawns surrounding the building).

One Republican senator, Dale Schultz, after extensive consultation in his district, has announced that he will vote against the collective bargaining provisions of the budget repair bill, and the polls are consistently looking worse for Walker and the Republicans — and recall efforts are gradually being coordinated reasonably effectively. It takes two more Republicans to flip, and there are rumours that one might be flipping soon (but there are lots of rumours, put about by each side to demoralize the other).

The Wisconsin 14 are still solid. It is clear that there is considerable variation in their commitment – some would be perfectly happy to spend the rest of their lives their if that’s what it would take, whereas others (eg some with young children) are, understandably, really feeling the strain. They have lost their parking spots, are being fined $100 per day for every day they are not in the Capitol while the Senate is in session, have had their paychecks withheld till they pick them up in person, and the Republicans have passed a statute requiring that they all be arrested “with or without force” (a statute that is almost certainly illegal). So here’s the request for help. I’m told this is the most effective page through which to contribute to their campaign coffers, which money they can use to support living expenses etc. [1] (In discussing whether to post this my wife said “you’re not going to help fund-raise for the Democratic Party are you?” so I checked to ensure this would go direct to specific campaign funds — good grief, even I’m breaking my rule of only contributing to the best Democrat in the State now).

Michael Moore below the fold:

[click to continue…]

Noli me tangere!

by Chris Bertram on March 6, 2011

One of the weirder aspects of Arthur Ripstein’s recent book on Kant’s Political Philosophy, “Force and Freedom”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674035062/junius-20, was the emphasis given to unwanted touching as a rights-violation. Now when a Canadian gives an exposition of a Prussian it isn’t altogether clear whose culturally-bounded norms might be infecting their normative intuitions. But I was immediately reminded of the discussion when I read “Simon Kuper’s column”:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/db51a45e-4472-11e0-931d-00144feab49a.html#axzz1Fp4ghsT3 in this weekend’s Financial Times. Kuper’s piece is based around Raymonde Carroll’s account of American and French cultural differences in her “Cultural Misunderstandings”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0226094987/junius-20 . Well, “read the whole thing”:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/db51a45e-4472-11e0-931d-00144feab49a.html#axzz1Fp4ghsT3 , as they say.