Capitol Offensive

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Description: The grassroots character of the protests exploded in creative homemade signs: "[Scott Walker] is a Kochlear implant" (a reference to the ultra-right billionaire Koch brothers, who have poured large sums into Wisconsin for the governor, other Republicans, and the Tea Party); "High-speed railroading after all" (referring to Walker's rejection of federal money for high-speed rail); "Thank unions for the middle class;" "We guard criminals - please guard us from this criminal;" "How can we Kochs you into talking?"; and "Walker is a weasel, not a Badger."Inside the capitol, the rotunda was a perpetual free speech zone, with protesters leaning over balconies to listen. A giant banner- "Tax the Rich"- hung above them. A band - tuba, guitar, two accordions, violin, tambourine and pennywhistle - played a spirited rendition of "Union Maid" ("You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union"). They were not far from a statue of the state's progressive hero, Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette, decorated like a shrine, with photos of the 14 Democratic senators whose self-exile to Illinois stalled Walker (giving the protests time to change public opinion) and a question: "What would Bob do?"In Wisconsin, unions will find it harder to operate if Walker's legislation passes. But they aren't going away, not in the state that was the first to authorize state employee unions. "We've had relatively strong labor laws and history," [Rick Badger] says. "That gives me hope. We're just one election away from changing things. Our view is we still have to have some form, some structure. We have to plan for a world where unions are decimated. But either way, we'll still be standing."
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