Each and every minute felt like an hour. The first bulletin on Monday that the Ferguson grand jury had reached its decision -- and that it would be announced that night -- came around lunch time. All through the day, news anchors jumped back on CNN after every commercial break to declare breathlessly that word on the fate of Officer Darren Wilson was "just moments away!" As gray November skies turned a metallic black, Gov. Jay Nixon held a news conference to do nothing but voice his desire that reaction to this grand jury decision -- not knowing what it would be, of course -- would be respectful and tolerant.
Every few seconds, an overhead camera panned the crowd outside the City Hall in Ferguson, the suburb of St. Louis where an unarmed black teen named Mike Brown had been gunned down after a scuffle with Wilson on Aug. 9. And each time it looked like 50 to 100 more people had showed up -- tense, milling, waiting outdoors for hours on a chilly night to hear whether or not there would be justice for Brown's killing. The announcement was pushed back from 7 p.m. local time to 8 p.m., and then that hour came and TV cameras showed an empty podium for a dozen more minutes. Finally, St. Louis County D.A. Robert McCulloch emerged in his red power tie, brusque and arrogant, determined to get his brief and all-too-perfunctory words of concern for Brown's family to spin his version of the case -- and deliver the gut-punch that there would be no charges.
There were maybe 1,000 people massed outside the police station by then. Many wept and hugged each other, but their disappointment soon turned to anger. Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, burst into tears and started shrieking, while Brown's stepfather yelled, "Burn the bitch down." Within minutes, a police car was in flames and gunshots were echoing in the distance.
An area journalist made a really good point today about the stark hypocrisy of two local officials who had harsh words about the miscarriage of justice in Ferguson:
"I am perplexed and astounded that in this case, the prosecutor certainly took as long as he wanted to explain everything (and) I did not hear any explanation, or more importantly a justification, for why that young man was shot," [Mayor Michael Nutter] said, according to the Associated Press.
It was a remarkable sentiment coming from a mayor who has shown little interest — arguably none — in substantive reforms to his own city's criminal-justice system.
Did newlywed Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson get indicted for firing multiple shots into unarmed teenager Mike Brown? Or does he walk off into the sunset, after the inevitable "60 Minutes" interview? I don't know, and I'm busy working, but you can speculate among yourselves.
It keeps getting harder and harder to defend Pennsylvania's first-ever elected Democratic attorney general, Kathleen Kane. Maybe that's for some defense attorneys, it's getting easier and easier to defend your clients against Kane's office.
Take the Pennsylvania Turnpike...please. It's a difficult road to avoid if you're trying to get from these parts, in and around Philadelphia, to anywhere in the western or northern part of the state. When it was built, beginning in the 1930s, in the depths of the Great Depression, it was a marvel of modern civil engineering, and tolls were needed to make that happen...fair enough.
But in recent years (at least if you're like me and refuse to get E-Z Pass) you need to make sure you hit a cash machine before you enter the Turnpike...or maybe bring one along with you. It seems like the toll is always 10, 15, 20 percent higher every time I drive it, and I drive it pretty often; if you take it all the way to the Ohio border, you may need one of those microfinance loans.
"They would not listen, they did not know how. Perhaps they'll listen now."
The last time I heard the word "anarchy" tossed around so much was when the Sex Pistols' LP was released back in '76. There's several Republican senators and commentators who might have a coronary by the time the night is through, which can only mean that President Obama has issued his long-awaited, shocking-yet-not-at-all surprising executive order on immigration.
This is the political civil war that I predicted two days after the mid-term election. Has anyone checked on the status of Fort Sumter lately?
In the end, Obama's move will be judged on the three Ps -- policy, politics, and procedure. The policy, of course, is a no-brainer -- keeping families together and seeking a realistic solution to the plight of at least some of the 12 million strivers who are now trapped in legal limbo; the failure of Congress to come together on this has been a political meltdown of epic proportions.
Part of me wanted to weigh in on yesterday's dueling announcements by Lynne Abraham and Anthony Williams that each is entering the 2015 Philadelphia mayor's race; after all, I've been pretty clear in the recent past what I think, politically speaking, of both Abraham and Williams (Spoiler alert: Not very much). On the other hand, I wasn't at either announcement, so in a rare burst of fairness I decided to hold back. But Dave Davies, a former Daily News colleague, now at WHYY, did go.
When state Sen. Anthony Williams kicked off of his mayoral campaign yesterday, the event was richly stocked with those in the city's political class who want to be around a winner.
On the day after the election, I wrote a lengthy post noting that while many factors went into the Democratic Party's shellacking in the mid-term elections, by far the greatest was the Democratic Party itself, and the whimpering cowardice of the people it foolishly ran for office in most places. Disconnected from the day-to-day concerns of the working people they purport to represent, not even brave enough to support programs that are actually working (let alone, heaven forbid, their president), the only surprise on Election Day was how close a few of the Democrats' inevitable defeats ended up. I noted the party wouldn't bounce back overnight, and that any comeback would require a great deal of soul searching.
How's that coming so far?
Not good....not good.