WI Update: Protesters Allowed to Stay Overnight in Capitol Indefinitely, Walker's Gross 'Meet the Press' Appearance

Yesterday Wisconsin protesters spent another night in the state capitol, defying orders to leave by 4 PM and ignoring Gov. Scott Walker's threat of arrest or ejection. Their resolve paid off: in a late-afternoon decision, capitol authorities announced the overnight sit-ins can continue without incident, a small triumph for protesters who've been staying there for days. The Times:

“Cooler heads prevailed,” said Jim Palmer, the executive director of the 11,000-member Wisconsin Professional Police Association. “They had said they were going to clear the place out, and then they thought the better of it. Now it’s clear that law enforcement professionals are running the show.”

The feeling was generally positive on the heels of Saturday's 100,000-person rally -- despite MSM blackouts and misreportage -- particularly after a rumor (still unconfirmed) circulated that Dale Schultz, a top GOP Senator, had broken ranks from Republicans and was seeking a compromise on Walker's bill. Last night, when protesters inside the capitol were told of Schultz's possible reversal, they erupted with excitement. Here's video from Mother Jones' Andy Kroll:


Earlier yesterday, Governor Walker appeared on a heavily Republican-stacked 'Meet the Press,' and elaborated on his disdain for collective bargaining, while mischaracterizing the protests a 'public safety issue' and briefly attempting to relate to the people by talking about how he and his family are 'affected' by the protests (he's got two kids in public school). He also further revealed himself to be a Reagan idealogue, elevating his union-busting efforts as an 'important part of history' and revealing how his inflated sense of self-importance is affecting his desire not to 'budge.' But none of his interview was more illuminating than when host David Gregory asked him about the fake-Koch prank call -- the part where he considered bringing in plants:

MR. GREGORY:  It was suggested by someone who was a liberal blogger that you might think about planting troublemakers into the crowd.  And you said quote, "We thought about that." Is that right?  You really thought about trying to bust up physically these protests?

GOV. WALKER:  No, we thought, as the call continues and I've said repeatedly, we, we rejected that.  But we have people all the time who contact us for and against this bill, and you can imagine people with all sorts of ideas and suggestions, and we look at everything that's out there.  But the bottom line is, we rejected that because we have had a civil discourse.  We've had, you know, a week ago, 70,000 people, we had more than that yesterday, and yet we haven't had problems here.  We haven't had disturbances.  We've just had very passionate protesters for and against this bill, and that's OK.  That's a very Midwestern thing.  But we're not going to allow anybody to come in from outside of this state and try and disrupt this debate.  They can inform it, but we're not going to allow them to disrupt this debate and take the focus off the real issue here.  And the issue is, the people in Wisconsin, particularly those 14 state senators, need to come home and have the debate here in the state Capitol.

Slimy! Read the full transcript here.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at February 28, 2011, 3:13am

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