Wednesday ended with shame in Wisconsin. When Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker got punked by a fake David Koch, he shared a plan whereby he would trick the Senate Democrats into showing up in the capitol just long enough to establish a quorum whether they stayed during the entire session that day or not. It was a technicality that Walker would use to push his union busting legislation through. Of course, after sharing the plan in the recorded conversation with fake Koch, he had to abandon it. The deviousness of this Governor should have made what transpired Wednesday night predictable. The Senate Republicans stripped all budget language from the controversial bill and then rammed through a vote on the bill, claiming that without any budgetary content, a quorum was no longer needed.
The great shame here is that everyone was willing to compromise on the budget portions of the bill. Concessions on salary and benefits were going to be made. It was only the elimination of collective bargaining that was the issue. And it was that very issue that the Republican Senate rammed through by voting on that in isolation. If the majority of Wisconsin citizens were behind this, the legislative shenanigans might not be so bad. However, Wisconsin voters don’t want this bill passed. Walker is playing dictator. Hopefully the vote will be reversed on legal grounds. Hopefully, Walker will be impeached before he can be recalled.
Sadly, this week there is much shame to go around. Today, Peter King, a House representative from New York will launch an investigation into the radicalization of American Muslims. What purpose could this possibly serve except as a witch hunt against a particular religion? There is no doubt that Muslim radicals abroad have influenced the behavior of some American citizens, most notably Nidal Hasan in the Fort Hood shooting. However this is a law enforcement issue. It is not an issue for which any legislation is necessary. So why waste time on the legislative calendar to “investigate” the phenomenon? It’s pure grandstanding on the part of King who wants to appeal to the paranoid base of the Republican party.
You need to know only two things about King to know he is the wrong man to be launching this witch hunt. Back in the 1980’s King supported the terrorist actions of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). So much for his disdain for violence in the name of a cause. More recently, before the dead body of singer Michael Jackson was barely cold, King saw fit to call the musician a “low-life” and “pervert” because of past allegations of child abuse. While King had every right to his opinion about Jackson, his timing for speaking publicly could not have been worse. It established King as a first class jerk.
So now King enjoys the distinction of launching hearings that mark a new low precedent for our country, namely hearings that single out a particular religion as susceptible to violence and terrorism. Did we launch hearings about Irish-Catholics after Timothy McVeigh bombed Oklahoma City? Did we start a Congressional investigation into American Jews when bankers brought our economy to its knees? Up until today, our government hasn’t sanctioned singling out a particular religion for the actions of some of its members. Thanks to Peter King, those days are gone.
The events in Wisconsin and Washington this week illustrate that we live in sad times. One can only hope there will be political retribution for Walker and King who have brought shame on our democracy.