World War Wisconsin

Wisconsin's political debate rages on

Behind me Madison is burning.

It has been only a few days since the fighting ceased. Walker still holds the Capitol, though barely. Meanwhile the rebel union forces have established a shadow government headquartered in the space formerly occupied by A Room of One’s Own.

Mark Miller has been named Titular Rebel Governor even though the last time anyone saw him he was wandering a mall in Tinley Park searching for comfortable shoes and clean briefs. Fred Risser has been named Ambassador to the Court of Saint James and will be leaving as soon as he locates his reading glasses and the pill box that has all his meds laid out for the week.

None of the Democratic senators have returned to the smoking ruins of Madison, understandable given the threats made by the Least Likable Irishmen in Wisconsin History—The Notorious Fitzgerald Brothers. Their bullying has included arrest, milk-boarding and public stoning. Their fist shaking has been uniformly ineffective due to their constant look of confusion, and because they named Dad head of the State Police, which isn’t done even in Haiti.

The teachers have hunkered down in their paper maché bunkers surrounding the Capitol grounds and promise not to leave until summer vacation, as they all have plans. Many of them will take a few days off from comparing themselves to black Mississippi sharecroppers because they have accumulated tons of sick days while being on strike. And their working-class brethren wipe tables at the bistro after their lunch and work twelve months a year with no health care, pensions or paid holidays.

The firemen continue to parade around the Square in support of their union brothers and sisters, their necks strained from holding up those ridiculously large helmets and borrowed equity from the NYFD. The police are confused because they guard the Capitol from the unions to which they belong. Many hope the National Guard is called out, but that is a problem because some belong to the Guard as well. Most cops would prefer to don the Army uniform. It is far sexier to look like a war hero with a big rifle than someone who has just pulled you over for going 58 in a 45.

The Republican senators parade ceaselessly before the Fox News cameras with a seemingly endless array of bad suits. It is difficult to determine if their constant look of frustration stems from the absence of their renegade counterparts, or jealousy of the shopping and better haircuts available along the Miracle Mile.

Down in Chicago, Jesse Jackson is on call to stand by the protesters who love him even though he threatened to castrate the first black man ever elected President of the United States, which is at least as bad as anything said in the moronic call Walker had with an impersonator.

In the Capitol, formerly occupied by a large crowd of college grad martyrs who would have us believe they were almost killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, custodians are spending big dollars that we reportedly don’t have to remove the mess left from the signs that didn’t do much except promote a slumber party.

Deep within the bowels of the Capitol, where it all started, Scooter Walker plots. He is determined to prove that he is tough and ignorant. He has been reading histories of Lincoln and Churchill to find out what countries they were from. Plus some of the books have cool pictures. He knows that times like these require leaders who can pull people apart and make them scream at each other, especially if they are neighbors, relatives or Facebook friends. He knows there will be a special place in history for him, and if he ever gets the chance he is going to take a class to learn more about it.

Meanwhile, we huddle in our basements, wondering what is to become of our formerly prosperous and friendly state that is, depending on who you ask, completely broke or doing just fine. We stack the boxes of soup and saltines we picked up at Sam’s, just in case, and we worry about the pensions we do not have. The job security we don’t possess. The tax bills we pay. And the politicians we elected who can’t do squat.

And in an exclusive club in Manhattan, a bond trader is getting a manicure before heading over to see his mistress. When he sees yet another Wisconsin headline in the NYT, he chuckles and mumbles, “Suckers.”

We can only hope that no one has a van loaded with weapons. That someone sends lawyers, guns and money. Because this ain’t no disco. This ain’t no foolin’ around.

Perhaps someone will emerge as a real leader. Until then, the shouting continues.

From Madison, Wisconsin, I’m wearing a trench coat and trying to look as if I understand what is happening, when in fact, I don’t.

Back to the studio.

Madison-based television producer John Roach writes this column monthly. Reach him at

Read more Out There columns here

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