Saturday, August 28, 2010

David Clarke Plays the Race Card

The crowd at the fundraiser for the only real Democrat in the race for Milwaukee County sheriff, Chris Moews, overflowed down the stairs at Brocach this past Thursday.  It was a diverse crowd, where law enforcement rubbed elbows with defense attorneys and others in the community united in a vibrant attempt to liberate the sheriffs office from the arrogant right-wing blowhard who currently holds the office.  For various reasons related to party affiliations (real and pretend) and his own grandstanding politicization and mismanagement of the agency, David Clarke, at long last, is in trouble.

Moews -- a talented straight-arrow currently managing homicide detectives in the Milwaukee Police Department -- was introduced at the fundraiser by U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, who cheerfully threw her support to Moews in her typically funny, full-throated style.  State Sen. and Lt. Gov. candidate Spencer Coggs also appeared, showing -- along with the quarter of the crowd at the fundraiser -- the strong support Moews is developing in the African-American community.  This is especially important because, just as he hopes he can fool enough people by falsifying his party affiliation as "Democratic" on the primary ballot (more about that in the next post),  Clarke hopes to rescue his flailing campaign by making sure everyone in the inner city knows he's African-American.

When is the last time any local politician thought they were pretty enough to feature their own mug on the billboards around town?  But there he is, there in the spots all over the inner city usually reserved for the beer and liquor ads, smiling like no one in the Courthouse or the Sheriffs department have ever seen him lit up.  Gone for the brief moment of the photo shoot is the constant sour scowl. 

No mention of his nut-right tea party ravings.  No admission of his regular appearances on wing-nut radio and his tacit (or express) endorsement of all their often racist arguments and campaigns. No mention of the fact that Clarke's expensive billboard advertising is underwritten by the usual Republican and right-wing moneybags who have poisoned the political dialog in Milwaukee and nationally for decades.

If African-American Democratic voters knew Clarke's record, affiliations and the substance of his political grandstanding better, they would never return him to office.  But Clarke is going to make sure they know he's African-American, as he has every right to do.  But, alongside every one of those billboards should be a disclaimer: *NOTE: David Clarke is NOT a Democrat. More about that in a future post.

As it is, it will be up to Gwen Moore, Spencer Coggs and the other true leaders of the African-American political community to get the message out about the horrors of Clarke and the positive opportunity to make a badly-needed change in the office of Milwaukee County Sheriff by voting for Chris Moews in the Democratic Primary on September 14th.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crickets on the Right


Dan Bice's story in the Journal Sentinel on August 8th about the outrageous behavior in office of Tea Party Talk Radio (TPTR) sheriff David Clarke generated an interesting response from Clarke's usual friendly mouthpieces on local wing-nut radio.


Apparently, the word went out on the GOP talking points regularly distributed to Belling, Sykes, et al, that there was no defense to Clarke's disturbing meeting with one of his employees who happened to be an officer in the deputies union and that they should just ignore the article.  Even bottom-feeders of the free Republican advertising outlet known as "talk-radio", such as Jay Weber and Vicki McKenna, who usually have a direct hot-line to the sheriff any time he wants to promote himself or his phony campaign as a Democrat, kept away from discussing Clarke's profane, boorish and -- in terms of labor relations -- probably illegal behavior.  The Silence Edict from whoever feeds these people their unoriginal lines was certainly in effect the first couple days after the story was published and, as far as I know (I can only listen to so much of this crap), they still haven't said anything about it.

And, as is the case with too many of their campaigns and strategies, it worked.  Bice's story about the worst personal behavior ever alleged against an elected  in Milwaukee County should have been a bombshell, but quickly drifted into the background noise of the gratefully forgotten.  Even the outrageous assertion by Clarke stooge Edward Baily, who was present during the tirade, that "the sheriff makes the policies [prohibiting discourteousness]; he's not subject to them" couldn't get the increasingly wimpy Journal Sentinel editorial board off its ass to express the slightest dismay.

Chalk up another victory in the relentless talk-radio campaign to promote and protect Tea Party Republicans in an election year; even if, like Clarke, they falsify their nomination papers by claiming to be a Democrat.  The use of Republican talk-radio to frame and ignore the issues on a 24/7 basis is the biggest obstacle Wisconsin faces to clean elections and good government.

UPDATE:  It is interesting to hear the response of the Clarke campaign operative -- he knows who he is and so do I -- pitifully hiding behind the Anonymous label to try to change the issue in the comments below. For all the phony tough-guy posturing of his boss, you'd think he'd have more balls and be a little more forthcoming.
And the issue he tries to change to is whether Clarke's primary challenger, Chris Moews -- who is just as qualified as Clarke was before he hitched his political career to the right-wing star -- is really a Democrat because a board he was on endorsed McCain. Even if Moews did cast his vote for such an endorsement, it doesn't make him less of a Democrat - lots of Democrats voted for McCain; a lot more Republicans voted for Obama without losing their overall affiliation.

This phony "issue" is a cheap dodge to avoid dealing with Clarke's cynical political ploy to be listed as a Democrat on the ballot because that's the only kind of candidates that get elected in partisan county-wide races in Milwaukee. The fact is that Clarke's very filing of nomination papers as a fraud and a lie designed to get him elected to a position to which he couldn't possibly get elected if his nut-right tea party Republican affiliations were more well-known.
Also laughable is the campaign stooge's claim in the comments that "Clarke DID respond to the Bice story."  Clarke's press release -- put out on Office of the Sheriff, not campaign, letterhead -- was a classic non-denial denial.  Most of the tripe in the release is an attack on the deputy that was subjected to Clarke's two-hour temper tantrum as a "political operative".  He vaguely states that the meeting was "misrepresented" and that the meeting was "very different", but tellingly does not deny the essentials.  In fact, he pretty much confirms his contempt for anyone not named David Clarke by claiming the sole mantle of people-protection;  saying he "will aggressively put that responsibility above all others", including, we can assume, the labor contract he is bound to, commmon decency and the law.  
What is entirely clear in this entire episode is that David Clarke is an arrogant menace with a badge, which is a bad combination.  Who the hell does David Clarke think he is?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

The Journal Sentinel has an interesting take on the news generated out of an editorial board meeting it had with Tea-Party-Talk-Radio (TPTR) senate candidate Ron Johnson. During the meeting, Johnson sat on Patrick McIlheran’s lap and mouthed some demonstrable nonsense about sun spots causing global warming. While McIlheran applauded and other members of the board stifled laughter, Johnson went on to babble more WMC talking points, before drifting off into irrelevant facts, such as – he gets his water from a well. I mean, he gets his water from a well, for cryin’ out loud! Of course he cares. Jeez. What about CO2, though, asks a board member not named McIlheran. “It gets sucked into trees and makes the trees grow,” says Johnson. Oh...sure. The next logical follow-up – “What the hell are you talking about?” – remains annoyingly unasked.

Just another day in the life of the gaffe-prone Johnson; the Wisconsin version of the hilarious TPTR Nevada senate “candidate” Sharron Angle. The only reason we don’t get more comedic material from Johnson is because, like other TPTR amateurs across the country, the supposed “non-politician” has been taken under the oppressive wing of career GOP political operatives, who control his every movement and feed him his rehearsed party lines. Like Angle – who the Nevada media has taken to chasing down the street just to get any comment from her at all – Johnson remains sheltered from regular contact with the real-world media by his omnipresent handlers, preferring to submit to the gentle stroking and heavy petting of the right-wing talk radio hosts who pushed him into the race in the first place. So it’s not a surprise that Johnson would put his foot in his mouth, spending five minutes in over his head, fumbling the climate change ball around the room.

McIlheran weighed in on Johnson’s obvious cluelessness on important issues this week, taking pride in the fact that his preferred TPTR senate candidate “lacks some customary tools”. It is “refreshing” to Paddy Mac to see a relative nincompoop carrying his TPTR banner into the fall election. Johnson has “the look of a guy who didn't plan his life around winning office”. Well, he also has the look of a deer in the headlights any time he is asked to discuss the details of a serious issue in serious times. He can’t just expect to show up on the Senate floor spouting meaningless TPTR bromides about “tyranny” or threats to “liberty” and “freedom” from some piece of legislation enacted by democratically-elected congressmen and presidents. Or can he?

Besides – against all logic – continuing to employ McIlheran, the J-S also serves the Republican cause by trying to make excuses for Johnson’s wacky comments on its front page this morning. The paper headlines the “news” that Johnson is “not alone” in being totally out to lunch on climate change. Misery and ignorance apparently love company in the GOP ranks, and that’s good enough for the Journal Sentinel.

Johnson’s “views are in line with those of many Republican conservatives,” writes reporter Lee Burgquist, as if that’s any validation of anything at all. Burgquist does go through the no-doubt tedious and inconvenient process of confirming with a real scientist that Johnson’s position has about as much validity at saying the earth is flat. “Still,” writes Burgquist (“still”??), “‘Johnson is reflecting conservative Republican skepticism about man-made global warming,’” quoting a UW-Madison political scientist, stating the obvious.

This creates a new standard for fact-based political discourse. Apparently, as long as there are enough Republicans with their heads up their ass about a given subject, it doesn’t matter if you have your head up your ass, too. Johnson gets a pass for his idiotic comments because all Republicans make the same idiotic comments.

This opens the door for entire campaigns to be fought out in the alternative universe formerly recognized only on Fox News. For instance, it is a fact that the tax cuts enacted during the still-disastrous regime of Junior Bush are a primary cause of the present and future budget deficits (chart). However, Republicans always say “the tax cuts paid for themselves” and other such nonsense. Ron Johnson, being the good script reader that he is on a good day before a friendly audience, would say the same thing – probably already has. But that doesn’t mean he’s right or that he knows what he’s talking about. Yet, because he’s “not alone” in being wrong, who cares if he’s wrong?  Why does the Journal Sentinel even bother fact checking if an entire party is allowed to make up its own facts?

But the Journal Sentinel, as it does every election cycle, accepts Republican spin and repeatedly takes GOP candidates off the hook for gaffes and stupidity, big and small. If a Democrat came out and said something demonstrably false about climate change, the budget deficit or anything else, the J-S would need no help from the TPTR media to pounce and make a big issue out of a politician who does not know what he’s talking about having the temerity to ask for our vote. Because we expect so little from them, Republicans are held to a different standard. Which, if the Journal Sentinel keeps moving the goalposts, will eventually be no standard at all.

P.S.: The brilliant Illy-T has had Ron Johnson and Patrick McIlheran’s number for some time.