Saturday, August 16, 2014

Walker, Clarke would follow the failed policies of Ferguson Police Chief

Like many others, I've been watching the events in Ferguson, Missouri with interest this week. And I've been disgusted with the response of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, who could have responded by listening to citizens outraged by last weekend's shooting of an unarmed black teenager that was to start college the following week. Instead, Jackson escalated the situation by arming his troops to the teeth, and shooting off tear gas and rubber bullets at protestors and bystanders. Rembert Browne of ESPN's Grantland has a great rundown of how the cops started firing on the mostly peaceful crowd to "gain control of the situation", which naturally led to chaos on Wednesday night.

With that in mind, let's flash back to February 2011, when another group of outraged citizens started to gather in Madison and in other places around Wisconsin. Remember this?
[Gov] Walker’s proposal, which he said would quickly pass in the state legislature, drastically limits collective bargaining, removing the right of unions to negotiate pensions, retirement and benefits. It further bars union dues check-offs for government workers, meaning that workers will have to pay dues individually

When asked by a reporter what will happen if workers resist, Walker replied that he would call out the National Guard. He said that the National Guard is “prepared ... for whatever the governor, their commander-in-chief, might call for ... I am fully prepared for whatever may happen.”

Walker’s proposal allows state authorities to arbitrarily fire workers who “participate in an organized action to stop or slow work,” or who “are absent for three days without approval of the employer,” according to the governor’s press release.
These were actions deliberately done by Scott Walker to try to provoke rioting and tension, and get the media to portray the protestors as "dangerous union thugs" who deserved to be put down. It also led to months and years of irresponsible demonization and outright lies about state workers by Walker, WisGOP leaders, and their spokespeople AM talk radio hosts.

But it didn't lead to the escalation Walker and the WisGOPs and their puppet-masters wanted, as the protestors remained remarkable peaceful despite their huge numbers (I know, I was there). So Scotty had another plan, which you may recall him discussing to a caller that he thought was David Koch.

Walker: The other thing is more long-term, and that is, after this, um, you know the coming days and weeks and months ahead, particulary in some of these, uh, more swing areas, a lot of these guys are gonna need, they don’t necessarily need ads for them, but they’re gonna need a message out reinforcing why this was a good thing to do for the economy and a good thing to do for the state. So to the extent that that message is out over and over again, that’s obviously a good thing. (Note that Walker is requesting "Koch" to coordinate strategy and "message", which is illegal under state law if it's not disclosed, and exactly what John Doe Deux is all about.)

Murphy: Right, right. Well, we’ll back you any way we can. But, uh, what we were thinking about the crowds was, uh, was planting some troublemakers.

Walker: You know, the, well, the only problem with that — because we thought about that. The problem — the, my only gut reaction to that is right now the lawmakers I’ve talked to have just completely had it with them, the public is not really fond of this.
The teachers union did some polling of focus groups, I think, and found out that the public turned on ’em the minute they closed school down for a couple days. The guys we’ve got left are largely from out of state, and I keep dismissing it in all my press conferences saying, ‘Eh, they’re mostly from out of state.’ My only fear would be is if there was a ruckus caused is that that would scare the public into thinking maybe the governor has gotta settle to avoid all these problems. You know, whereas, I’ve said, ‘Hey, you know, we can handle this, people can protest. This is Madison, you know, full of the ’60s liberals. Let ’em protest.’ It’s not gonna affect us. And as long as we go back to our homes and the majority of the people are telling us we’re doing the right thing, let ’em protest all they want. Um, so that’s my gut reaction, is that I think it’s actually good if they’re constant, they’re noisy, but they’re quiet, nothing happens, ’cause sooner or later the media stops finding ’em interesting.
There is no doubt that Walker would have planted "troublemakers" in crowds of tens of thousands of people in Winter, 2011 if he thought it would have given him a few more percentage points of support. And notice that there's no concept of discussing the problem with the unions or the Democrats- it's just top-down authoritarian imposing of something that we now know did little to balance the budget (since any surplus was promptly thrown away by tax cuts) but instead was done as a "divide and conquer" power play. It's no surprise we're dead last in job and income growth in the Midwest with guys like that in charge.

And then look at the words from another big-mouthed creation of Milwaukee talk radio - Sheriff David Clarke. Clarke is using his 4% win in Tuesday's Dem primary (a win due in no small part to crossover voting by tens of thousands of suburban Republicans) as a mandate for more taxpayer money going to his troops.
Fresh from an election night battle where big money was a focus, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. talked tough Wednesday, saying he's "back in the saddle" and ready to challenge other politicians whom he called "imperial leaders." (the projection, it BURNS!)

"People in this city decided they wanted me to lead the office on public safety and not the city fathers," he said, citing County Executive Chris Abele, Mayor Tom Barrett and others whom he called "soft on crime."

His first order of business, he said, will be to fight for a 2015 budget for more resources to provide for public safety because in recent years his budget has been cut.
And given that this is a guy who used taxpayer dollars to tell citizens to "get in the game" and arm themselves, I'm guessing those extra funds aren't going to go to the type of stabilizing, community policing that calmed the frayed nerves in Ferguson on Thursday night. I'm figuring the NRA's poster boy will now ask for even more of the militarized equipment that we've seen on the streets of Ferguson- as Clarke thinks poser shows of force that look cool to shrivel-dicked suburbanites are more effective than strategies which reduce tensions and are shown to reduce violence.

With that in mind, I think we have an answer as to how Scott Walker and David Clarke would respond to an outbreak of anger at an incident similar to the one in Ferguson, Missouri. They'd roll out the tanks and the big guns and raise the tension, in the hopes that it ignites racial hatred and gains them a political advantage with the suburbanites and rural folks who don't have a clue about the underlying issue of racial disparities in treatment and punishment by police and other law enforcement (disparities that are worse in Wisconsin than almost anywhere else in America). Dealing with that problem and trying to keep stability? Walker and Clarke could care less about that- they'd be more concerned with talking to Sykes or Belling or Icki in order to get their side of the story out over the people that pay their salary.

And that's a huge reason why these people must be removed from power as soon as possible. Milwaukee County may be stuck with David Clarke for the short term (at least until he quits to get his wingnut welfare check or some other promotion- and we all know that's coming), but we can remove Scott Walker's "divide and conquer" mentality and "toxic racial politics" in 2 1/2 months. And we better do it, before we get these guys get a chance to pour fire on a Ferguson-type situation of our own in Wisconsin.

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