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Excerpt: "The scene in Madison is nothing like what they are showing you on TV or in the newspaper. First, you notice that the whole town is behind this. Yard signs and signs in store windows are everywhere supporting public workers. There are thousands of people out just randomly lining the streets for the six blocks leading to the Capitol building carrying signs, shouting and cheering and cajoling."

Filmmaker Michael Moore, surrounded by admirers and well-wishers, on the 18th day of labor protests in Madison, Wisconsin. (photo: AP)
Filmmaker Michael Moore, surrounded by admirers and well-wishers, on the 18th day of labor protests in Madison, Wisconsin. (photo: AP)




How I Got to Madison, Wisconsin

By Michael Moore, Reader Supported News

07 March 11


RSN Special Coverage: GOP's War on American Labor

How I Got to Madison, Wisconsin ... A Letter From Michael Moore

Sunday, March 6th, 2011

riends,

Early yesterday morning, around 1:00 AM, I had finished work for the day on my current "project" (top secret for now - sorry, no spoiler alerts!). Someone had sent me a link to a discussion Bill O'Reilly had had with Sarah Palin a few hours earlier about my belief that the money the 21st Century rich have absconded with really isn't theirs - and that a vast chunk of it should be taken away from them.

They were referring to comments I had made earlier in the week on a small cable show called GRITtv (Part 1 and Part 2). I honestly didn't know this was going to air that night (I had been asked to stop by and say a few words of support for a nurses union video), but I spoke from my heart about the millions of our fellow Americans who have had their homes and jobs stolen from them by a criminal class of millionaires and billionaires. It was the morning after the Oscars, at which the winner of Best Documentary for "Inside Job" stood at the microphone and declared, "I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by financial fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail. And that's wrong." And he was applauded for saying this. (When did they stop booing Oscar speeches? Damn!)

So GRITtv ran my comments - and all week the right wingopoly has been upset over what I said: That the money that the rich have stolen (or not paid taxes on) belongs to the American people. Drudge/Limbaugh/Beck and even Donald Trump went nuts, calling me names and suggesting I move to Cuba.

So in the wee hours of yesterday morning I sat down to write an answer to them. By 3:00 AM, it had turned into more of a manifesto of class war - or, I should say, a manifesto against the class war the rich have been conducting on the American people for the past 30 years. I read it aloud to myself to see how it sounded (trying not to wake anyone else in the apartment) and then - and this is why no one should be up at 3:00 AM - the crazy kicked in: I needed to get in the car and drive to Madison and give this speech.

I went online to get directions and saw that there was no official big rally planned like the one they had last Saturday and will have again next Saturday. Just the normal ongoing demonstration and occupation of the State Capitol that's been in process since February 12th (the day after Mubarak was overthrown in Egypt) to protest the Republican governor's move to kill the state's public unions.

So, it's three in the morning and I'm a thousand miles from Madison and I see that the open microphone for speakers starts at noon. Hmm. No time to drive from New York. I was off to the airport. I left a note on the kitchen table saying I'd be back at 9:00 PM. Called a friend and asked him if he wanted to meet me at the Delta counter. Called the guy who manages my website, woke him up, and asked him to track down the coordinators in Madison and tell them I'm on my way and would like to say a few words if possible - "but tell them if they've got other plans or no room for me, I'll be happy just to stand there holding a sign and singing Solidarity Forever."

So I just showed up. The firefighters, hearing I'm there, ask me to lead their protest parade through downtown Madison. I march with them, along with John Nichols (who lives in Madison and writes for the Nation). Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin and the great singer Michelle Shocked have also decided to show up.

The scene in Madison is nothing like what they are showing you on TV or in the newspaper. First, you notice that the whole town is behind this. Yard signs and signs in store windows are everywhere supporting public workers. There are thousands of people out just randomly lining the streets for the six blocks leading to the Capitol building carrying signs, shouting and cheering and cajoling. Then there are stages and friendly competing demos on all sides of the building (yesterday's total estimate of people was 50,000-70,000, the smallest one yet)! A big semi truck has been sent by James Hoffa of the Teamsters and is parked like a don't-even-think-of-effing-with-us Sherman tank on the street in front of the Capitol. There is a long line - separate from these other demonstrations - of 4,000 people, waiting their turn to get through the only open door to the Capitol so they can join the occupation inside.

And inside the Rotunda is ... well, it will bring tears to your eyes if you go there. It's like a shrine to working people - to what America is and should be about - packed with families and kids and so many senior citizens that it made me happy for science and its impact on life expectancy over the past century. There were grandmas and great-grandpas who remember FDR and Wisconsin's La Follette and the long view of this struggle. Standing in that Rotunda was like a religious experience. There had been nothing like it, for me, in decades.

And so it was in this setting, out of doors now on the steps of the Capitol, with so many people in front of me that I couldn't see where they ended, that I just "showed up" and gave a speech that felt unlike any other I had ever given. As I had just written it and had no time to memorize it, I read from the pages I brought with me. I wanted to make sure that the words I had chosen were clear and exact. I knew they had the potential to drive the haters into a rabid state (not a pretty sight) but I also feared that the Right's wealthy patrons would see a need to retaliate should these words be met with citizen action across the land. I was, after all, putting them on notice: We are coming after you, we are stopping you and we are going to return the money/jobs/homes you stole from the people. You have gone too far. It's too bad you couldn't have been satisfied with making millions, you had to have billions - and now you want to strip us of our ability to talk and bargain and provide. This is your tipping point, Wall Street; your come-to-Jesus moment, Corporate America. And I'm glad I'm going to be able to be a witness to it.

You can find the written version of my speech on my website. Please read it and pass it around far and wide. You can also watch a video of me giving the spoken version from the Capitol steps by clicking here. I will be sending you a second email shortly with just the speech so you can forward a clean version of it without the above story of how I abandoned my family in the middle of the night to go to Wisconsin for the day.

I can't express enough the level of admiration I have for the people of Wisconsin who, for three weeks, have braved the brutal winter cold and taken over their state Capitol. All told, literally hundreds of thousands of people have made their way to Madison to make their voices heard. It all began with high school students cutting class and marching on the building (you can read their reports on my High School Newspaper site). Then their parents joined them. Then 14 brave Democratic state senators left the state so the governor wouldn't have his quorum.

And all this while the White House was trying to stop this movement (read this)!

But it didn't matter. The People's train had left the station. And now protests were springing up in all 50 states.

The media has done a poor job covering this (imagine a takeover of the government HQ in any other country, free or totalitarian - our media would be all over it). But this one scares them and their masters - as it should. The organizers told me this morning that my showing up got them more coverage yesterday than they would have had, "a shot in the arm that we needed to keep momentum going." Well, I'm glad I could help. But they need a lot more than just me - and they need you doing similar things in your own states and towns.

How 'bout it? I know you know this: This is our moment. Let's seize it. Everyone can do something.

Yours,
Michael Moore
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
MichaelMoore.com

P.S. This local Madison paper/blog captured best what happened yesterday, and got what I'm really up to. Someone please send this to O'Reilly and Palin so there's no mistaking my true intentions.

P.P.S. Full disclosure: I am a proud union member of four unions: the Directors Guild, the Writers Guild, the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA (the last two have passed resolutions supporting the workers in Wisconsin). My production company has signed union contracts with five unions (and soon to be a 6th). All my full-time employees have full medical and dental insurance with NO DEDUCTIBLE. So, yes, I'm biased.

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

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+68 # Jon Awbrey 2011-03-07 20:34
Re: “The scene in Madison is nothing like what they are showing you on TV or in the newspaper.”

The Mainscream Media much prefer to cover democratic revolutions in other countries.

It's much less dangerous for them ...
 
 
+39 # Alturn 2011-03-07 23:57
Not since the Vietnam war protests and the civil rights marches has there been such a showing of people power in the US than what is happening in Wisconsin. Moore's speech rose to the occasion of the significance of the event. It may not have got the coverage of the Tea Party protests by the media but it will resonate and be positively remembered far longer than any Tea Party speech.

"Politicians must realize that the only way they can stay in power is by representing and voicing the wishes of the people. “Politicians whose creed is ‘market forces’ will find that their time is over.”
- World Teacher Maitreya through an associate as reported by Share International
 
 
+16 # badri raina 2011-03-08 00:15
Dear dear Michael,

Two things the American State seems to fear most: Islam and Democracy.
How meet that it is Madison's town--my alma mater (visit www.zcommunications.org/zspace/badriraina)- which has risen yet again. A recall necessary to a more just future.
badri raina/delhi/ind ia
 
 
+2 # tomo 2011-03-09 12:26
What you say, badri, about Islam and Democracy is true. What we are seeing in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya--and have seen for years among the long-suffering Palestinians--i s the great thirst for "government by consent of the governed" that is not only permitted in the Koran but is inspired by it. In its assertion of the supremacy of Allah, the Koran equally asserts the equality of humans. We are all equally in the hands of Allah--as so many precious jewels. It is for the sake of manifesting this equality that Islam requires, as one of the Five Pillars, the annual tax and redistribution of income. Further, it is the failure of the West (read especially Britain and America here)to honor those of the Middle East as equal partners that has led in many quarters to feelings of great hostility toward the West. The failure too of so many of its own leaders in the Middle East to take seriously the demands of Islam and the hopes of its people is what has led to the current upheavals in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen....

Our leaders here in America are no longer content with trampling on the rights of people abroad. They are now focusing their attention on the rights of people here at home. We Americans are coming to see the bond we share with those our government has persecuted abroad. This can be--if we will but take it in--a great moment of coming awake.
 
 
+22 # bubbiesue 2011-03-08 00:38
Interestingly, OFA in conjunction with another group has bought a TV ad supporting the protest and protesting the cuts. Frankly, I think this IS part of winning the future, because since all the other Republican governors seem to have backed down given the ruckus here in WI, we now know that protest works. It remains to be seen whether Gov. W will get the message or will let his heart stay hard like Pharaoh. Gee--those crowds sound like locusts, don't they? And there’s a plague of farmers going to Madison this Saturday ...
 
 
+28 # angelfish 2011-03-08 00:40
Thank God for you, Michael! Mr. President? Are you there? Do you SEE what's going on in our Country? WHY do the Koch brothers have more power than YOU do, Sir? WHERE is all of that "AUDACITY" you bragged about prior to your election? Are you REALLY all talk and NO action? WHERE is your voice in this, the biggest event in the Political History of present day Democracy? Hello???
 
 
+4 # Homer Peters 2011-03-08 11:09
I thought the "All hat and no cattle" term applied only to G. Wanker Bush but it seems Obama is little different from him in that regard.
 
 
+10 # BishopAndrew 2011-03-08 12:27
Amen to that! Obama has neither audacity nor courage and change is what he carries in his pockets! We should not let the Democratic "leadership"? off of the hook for they have looked at the Emperor's New Clothes so much they have convinced themselves that they actually do see clothes instead of the stark nakedness of his appeasement polocies!
 
 
-3 # tomo 2011-03-09 12:37
"Do the Koch brothers have more power than you do, Sir?" Angelfish, I might have asked this question early in 2009. Now I no longer am inclined in that direction. I have concluded that Barack Obama has JUST THE POWER that the Koch brothers and company have given him. He serves at their pleasure and for their pleasure. The 2008 election was the most spectacularly successful bait-and-switch operation in American history.
 
 
+29 # frankdburton 2011-03-08 03:26
Michael, I'm grateful to you for stating the call to action so clearly:
"I'm putting them on notice: We are coming after you, we are stopping you and we are going to return the money/jobs/home s you stole from the people. You have gone too far. It's too bad you couldn't have been satisfied with making millions, you had to have billions - and now you want to strip us of our ability to talk and bargain and provide. This is your tipping point, Wall Street; your come-to-Jesus moment, Corporate America."
 
 
+33 # Rita Walpole Ague 2011-03-08 03:57
Go, St. Michael, Go! You are scaring the hell out of the villainiare greed and power addicts when you suggest their millions and billions (a.k.a. 'villains') be taken from them. Kinda like threatening alcoholics with total removal of all booze.

And Rachel Maddow is so correct. When the evil villainiares sense they're being outed and are in trouble, here come the screams of..... Communist! Socialist! Send Michael Moore to Cuba!

Well, let's all join the bright and brave Wisconsin (no con, no sin or spin) folks - I'm so proud to have been born in Milwaukee - and scream, over and over and over again, right back at the evil ones...

VILLAINIARES, GO TO HELL!!!
 
 
+18 # DIAMONDMARGE 2011-03-08 05:31
"Mainscream Media"~now that's brilliant!
 
 
+29 # Paula Jeppson 2011-03-08 05:37
Michael,
You are my hero along with the rest of those folks out in that cold. Thank goodness somebody is starting to shine a light on this situation. We are heading for a french style revolution if somebody doesnt figure this out soon. And those nutso tea partiers keep talking about taking america back, unfortunately they dont understand who they need to take it back from. (they guys who paid for their buses.) Thanks again for all you do. Keep the sunshining to disinfect this plague on America. pj
 
 
+32 # sark 2011-03-08 07:15
I have posted this before but it seems to be lost. Citizens must wake up about the very real problem of electronic voting machines and how the vote is counted. We must have fair, verifiable and greatly audited elections before there will be significant change because as long as the vote count can be manipulated, the powerful wealthy will control the vote outcome.
It is wonderful to hear the truth told! Way to go Michael Moore! Now, would you please address the other part of the very real problem, Electronic Voting Machines. The very wealthy also control the easily hacked and manipulated voting machines and as long as we the people continue to vote on these machines, the corporate wealthy will continue to see that their bought and paid for politicians are selected for office.
Mr. Moore, please educate the public about this very real and dangerous problem because we can rally, march, protest and vote but that will not matter as long as the vote counting is controlled by the very wealthy.
 
 
+22 # leslieamsterdam 2011-03-08 08:22
Another huge thank-you from the streets in Madison, Wisconsin for your very inspirational words at our rally last Saturday. We are so proud of our kids and legislators for taking a stand, which is not always done these days. We continue our efforts with Walkerville, a permanent protest encampment outside the People's house. This has united everyone in Madison, and the same energy can move across the country. People can continue to come down to the capitol every and any day to show support or take it to their own town square. Thanks again for taking the time to inspire and reenergize us! This is everyone's struggle, even if you have wealth and power, corporate greed will come after you next.
 
 
+24 # ross falzone 2011-03-08 08:24
 The Nixon/Republica n, “southern strategy” has worked. The poorest and most uneducated of our citizens have been duped into voting against their own interest. Empowered by the manipulating forces of corporate greed. Armed with misguided patriotism and embedded racism, they have given their power to the robber barons who seek to repress them. The tea party has turned their guns on themselves and now this Frankenstein ex periment is now out of control.
 
 
+11 # Rothie 2011-03-08 08:33
We need Michael Moore for president, let's write him in.If not him, then Rep. Dennis Kucinich, another one who isn't afraid to open his mouth.
 
 
+9 # Jon Awbrey 2011-03-08 08:42
Really, Folks, you should do a little more to help out our President. The poor man can't even find comfortable shoes.

The Bucks Stop Here
 
 
+4 # Jon Awbrey 2011-03-08 11:00
Here's the link that didn't come through before:

http://www.selectism.com/news/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/april77-buck-shoes-01-424x540.jpg
 
 
+25 # LTB 2011-03-08 08:53
good point Sark.

"It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything." --- Joseph Stalin
 
 
+7 # Homer Peters 2011-03-08 11:17
Thanks for that timeless quote!
 
 
+16 # rose sebouhian 2011-03-08 09:23
You have spoken truth to ignorance since your very first film. You are articulate, courageous, and meet corporate greed with intelligence and humor. I have one favor, not just for me, but for the world who needs your voice. Please lose weight. I, we don't want to lose you. Rose Sebouhian ( who has fought fat for years)
 
 
+24 # jon 2011-03-08 09:35
Our Founding Fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, etc.) smile at what Michael Moore is doing with his life - rest assured.
 
 
+10 # Gary Ray Pierson 2011-03-08 10:26
Quoting jon:
Our Founding Fathers (Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, etc.) smile at what Michael Moore is doing with his life - rest assured.

My ancestors were the first Triplets to survive being born in Ammerica, Shadrack, Meashack and Abindigo Pierson/Pearson . Shadrack, my many times grand father was literate and spelled the name right.. Lost his toes at Valley Forge and fought in every battle along side Washington, his brother Meshack went on to be one of Washington's Guards.. Abindigo died in battle... They would be rolling over in their graves too.. Pvt. Shadrack Ray Pierson, 1st Virgina, formally Cpl. Gary Ray Pierson 101st Airborne, Vietnam.. Pearson/Pierson Triplet Society.com Be an American! Of the people, by the people.. I don't see corporations in there any where, do you? and wetfly.. Time for my meds.. The VA keeps me from pain caused by wounds and others like me calm,, just to keep from killing people.. You are all sooooo lucky! But wait! Iraq and Afghanistan Vets aren't all back yet... PTSD sucks and is real bad for your mental health... So does getting shot... Jon, your right and God Bless ya man.. garyray
 
 
+6 # Homer Peters 2011-03-08 11:40
The politicians in DC and many statehouses (and their big $$ donors/owners) wouldn't know the founding fathers if they knocked on the front door of their mansions.
 
 
+24 # JoanWile2 2011-03-08 09:35
Michael Moore is our Tom Paine. He is my hero. He deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. His account of his visit to Madison is incredibly stirring and thrilling.
 
 
+14 # DPM 2011-03-08 09:49
"Weeee're baaaack!"
 
 
+4 # Homer Peters 2011-03-08 11:47
To Michael or any reader; a reich wing nut friend of mine sent me an email showing/proclai ming the wages of the Wisconsin teachers and public employees. The wages listed ($90K/yr) were exorbitant (to me) but I don't trust the sender or any of his ilk, so does anyone know what the typical wages of a WI public service employee is?
 
 
+7 # Mary Beth 2011-03-08 12:51
I was a public school teacher in Wi. for 35 years, retiring in 2009. At the end of 35 years, with a master's degree and 36 credits beyond that, I made $67,000 (this was the absolute top of the salary schedule in my district, a fairly large district in central Wi). No teacher makes anywhere near $90,000 a year. Some might make more than I did, though, because of coaching responsibilitie s--I was an elementary school teacher. Teachers in smaller districts generally made LESS money.
 
 
+4 # LegacyCost 2011-03-08 13:14
Its the same lies the media told about union auto workers. They used to say we made $75 and hour. I left as a tool and die maker one of the top paid skilled trades. Never made more than the mid sixties ....ones who made more practically lived in the plant.
 
 
+5 # Gary Ray Pierson 2011-03-08 14:18
Quoting Mary Beth:
I was a public school teacher in Wi. for 35 years, retiring in 2009. At the end of 35 years, with a master's degree and 36 credits beyond that, I made $67,000 (this was the absolute top of the salary schedule in my district, a fairly large district in central Wi). No teacher makes anywhere near $90,000 a year. Some might make more than I did, though, because of coaching responsibilities--I was an elementary school teacher. Teachers in smaller districts generally made LESS money.

My Mom's name was Mary.. This'll make you sick.. Here at UA, our football coach makes 2.5 million a year.. The basketball coach, 1.75 million.. The professors who are never teaching but instead have graduate student teach while their doing what ever, they make around 90,000 on up............. . Then you have real teachers like you... They get squat.. Now why is that? Sports are more important than knowledge??? Oh yeah, helps the war machine don't ya know! Pump em up at a game.. Games... Every politicians should play the game, Russian roulette, with a six shooter loaded with six shots! Mean huh? Mean is, Bush and his cronies, that's what were cleaning up now.. Pachyderm crap! formally,Cpl. Pierson 101st Vietnam
 
 
+9 # Andrea Drinard 2011-03-08 11:09
What an inspired speech! Please people,
lets get this movement going and steer this country back to its senses!!
No more sheep!!
 
 
+9 # susannamiller 2011-03-08 11:50
I don't always agree with Michael Moore 100%-- but in this case - this article and his speech are 100% true.

I can not understand why and how the Sarah Palin's of the world have so much power of the press and TV and the Michael Moores' are ridiculed-- He and all those who agree that the time has come for this'revolution '-- the greedy rich have hit the tipping point-- they have just been too greedy and too disrespectful of the common man-- but I'm guessing it has something to do with appearance-- and that is just wrong. Michael Moore has a soul-- as do all the brave demonstrators in Wisconsin-- Please convey to them our enormous respect for what they and the missing legislators are doing-- not all of us can just pop out to Wisconsin-- but I want all those folks to know that we are behind them-- AND I WANT THE PRESIDENT AND THE OTHER SUPPOSEDLY PROGRESSIVE POLITICIANS TO KNOW-- GET OUT IN FRONT-- YOU DO HAVE POWER OF THE PRESS AND TV-- SUPPORT THESE PEOPLE AND THEIR MOVEMENT-- STOP COMPROMISING! I'd just like to see one political figure be as brave and heartfelt as Michael Moore!
 
 
+5 # LegacyCost 2011-03-08 13:11
I appreciate the support Michael has given the Wisconsin people. I've attended every demonstration here in Ohio as Gov Kasich and the Republican Party try the same things here.
Looks like OHIO SB 5 will pass and we'll be left to mount a referendum challenge.
Would that we had recall opportunities here!
 
 
+4 # Jean Louise 2011-03-08 15:09
Here are some salary examples from my formerly wealthy suburban Atlanta school district:
Beginning teacher, bachelor's degree:$40,476.00
25+ years, bachelor's degree: $58,117.00
25+ years, doctorate level degree: $80,363.00
Full retirement is 30 years upon which time we receive 60% of the average of our three highest paid years.This is a retirement system that WE PAY INTO.
I think that's what Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck make in about 15 minutes.
Obviously, we public workers aren't exactly jetting off to Paris for lunch.
 
 
+1 # lionsdenmother 2011-03-08 20:19
the highest paid teachers get 50,000 a year is what i read, the nutjobs want to say they make 90 when you add their benefits but from what i read also they put all the money in their pensions not the state, they pay part of their healthcare premiums and all co pays like most people do, but what does that matter their jobs are far more important then our politicians jobs , they always talk of cut cut but never want to lead by example
 
 
+3 # Gale Johansen 2011-03-09 09:03
Michael Moore is an apt prophet for our times and we all, union as well as non-union, need to start listening to him. What is happening in Madison is as immediate and crucial as what is happening in the Middle East. The very future of the American Middle Class is in jeopardy and it is long past the time when we all should have taken action. America really isn't broke, there is more than enough to go around and everyone has the right to the basics; food, shelter, medical care, education and a dignified retirement without want or need. Additionally we all have the right to belong to a community and to have work that contributes to that community, whether paid or unpaid (as with stay-at-home parents and spouses who care for the family and community as well as children, the sick or disabled and the elderly). But we have allowed the very rich, a very small percentage of the population, and the corporations to put their profits above what all the rest of us need to which we have a right. This isn't fair and is the road that leads to America looking more like a third world nation than one of the first world. We must take our country back from those that feel that extreme capitalism/cons umerism is the best system. We can do it, we have the resources, they belong to us all, but to accomplish it we must find the will to do it. THE TIME IS NOW!
 

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