Ferguson law enforcement’s misbehavior

From one of the Today Show’s Legal Analyst Lisa Bloom’s tweets while reading Ferguson Grand Jury transcripts:

What the hell kind of investigation is it that says “Oops, camera batteries dead. Well, no matter. Carry on.”?

This link is to a storified chain of all the tweets she posted while reading the transcripts, citing discrepancies and noting prosecutorial misconduct. Here’s her conclusion:

If the saying goes “”a grand jury would ‘indict a ham sandwich,’if that’s what you wanted,” then the converse must also be true: a grand jury won’t indict a killer if you don’t want it to.” It seems pretty clear that Prosecutor Bob McCulloch didn’t want to indict Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown.


I was under the impression that if you have conflicting witness statements and other discrepancies which make accountability for a death difficult, you take the case to a jury trial and present all the evidence to that jury. I’m astonished that this prosecutor decided he’d just dump all the material which would normally be taken up in a courtroom trial into the hands of a grand jury. Has the “prosecutor can get a grand jury to ‘indict a ham sandwich'” rule been overturned?

If prosecutor McCulloch was serious in trying to find justice for the victim as well as the killer, I think he blew it.

I hope nobody else dies as a result of this decision.


I got an invitation in the mail the other day offering me an annual subscription to National Geographic for $12. It’s a special “Welcome Back” deal.

Well, if the Society really found me on its “former member” list, they were looking back about 40 years. I don’t think I’ve gotten the magazine regularly in at least that long. I stopped re-upping for the usual reason: the magazines are too beautiful to throw away so they pile up on shelves or coffee tables, and no library in the state needs them as everyone who does try to get rid of them thinks of the library as the first alternative when deciding who to give them to.

Anyway, I’m tempted. But if I do sign up, it means I won’t need to read them at the dentist’s office because I’ll have already gotten the issues that turn up there. So I’ll have to read People magazine or Golf Digest. I’m too much of a snob to want to be seen reading celebrity gossip and I don’t care about golf. Why can’t one of the dentists (it’s a multi-practitioner office) be an avid sailor? I’d love to look at Sail magazine without paying for it (although it’s got a current one-year subscription rate that’s the same as NatGeo — $12. Hmmm.).

What to do, what to do?

We’ll get right on that

Speaker of the House John Boehner said this today:

“President Obama has turned a deaf ear to the people that he was elected, and we were elected, to serve. But we will not do that. In the days ahead, the People’s House will rise to this challenge. We will not stand idle as the president undermines the rule of law in our country and places lives at risk. We’ll listen to the American people, we’ll work with our members, and we will work to protect the Constitution of the United States.”

Then all members of the House went on their Thanksgiving break.

It’s been an hour already

Obama gave his speech at 3:00PM my time, about an hour ago. I have yet to see any mobs of brown people coming to ethnically cleanse me, Mom, or Abby.

The Republican party has offered and a whole lot of people have elected a bunch of raving lunatics. Kris Kobach happens to be the guy who wrote the “Papers Please” law in Arizona a few years ago, and he’s influenced other states to write some of the restrictive Voter-ID laws around the country. I didn’t know he was bonkers, but how else can you explain this from a radio talk show he hosts:

Koback [sic] also responded to a caller who was concerned about ethnic cleansing, which the caller claimed was a threat from immigrant and Hispanic rights groups.

“What happens, if you know your history, when one culture or one race or one religion overwhelms another culture or race?” the caller asked. “When one race or culture overwhelms another culture, they run them out or they kill them.”

Kobach then responded with his take.

“What protects us in America from any kind of ethnic cleansing is the rule of law, of course,” Kobach said. “And the rule of law used to be unassailable, used to be taken for granted in America. And now, of course, we have a President who disregards the law when it suits his interests. And, so, you know, while I normally would answer that by saying, ‘Steve, of course we have the rule of law, that could never happen in America,’ I wonder what could happen. I still don’t think it’s going to happen in America, but I have to admit, that things are, things are strange and they’re happening.”

I wouldn’t exactly call that incitement, but it’s not very responsible of a public official to say things like that. And how is that the Secretary of State of Kansas has time to host a radio talk show anyway?

Poetry from my past

I remember reading Alfred Noyes’s The Highwayman when I was in junior high or high school. I didn’t know what a murder ballad was back then, and it doesn’t quite qualify as one. It’s certainly a romance, albeit one with an unhappy ending.

Bess’s solution was a shock to me. I remember that from my first reading.

Loreena McKennitt put it to music on her 1997 album The Book of Secrets, and it’s glorious.

Keystone XL Pipeline halted (for now)


The Republicans got the support of a dozen or so Democrats from red states (except Virginia’s Warner), but they fell one vote short of the number needed to pass legislation authorizing the construction of the Keystone Pipeline from Alberta, Canada south through Nebraska and other Plains states to Houston, Tx.

Good. It’s a short-term victory because the Republicans will undoubtedly bring it back up for passage once they take over the Senate in January, but now the Democrats know who the backers of this thing are in their own party and can start working on them. Some are hopeless, like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who’s never met a fossil fuel company owner he doesn’t want to glad-hand, and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who’s essentially an oil sheik by virtue of her state’s sudden boom in oil drilling, but there are a half-a-dozen more from the West.

When the vote comes again the question will be whether the pipeline’s backers can get 67 votes to override President Obama’s veto, if that’s what he decides to do. Nobody knows what that will be yet.

This is not clever

Governor Jay Nixon, seemingly a timorous man who’s willing to let law enforcement tell him how to govern his state, today activated his state’s National Guard and declared a state of emergency prior to a grand jury’s announcement of its decision in the case of a white cop shooting an unarmed black kid to death in Ferguson, Mo.

I think we can assume that he’s been persuaded the grand jury is going to refuse to indict the cop, Darren Wilson, despite the overwhelming evidence that he shot Michael Brown, wouldn’t you say?

I get that you don’t want to sway the decision one way or another, but this is a pretty provocative thing to do. As Charlie Pierce says, this will not end well.

This is a threat, pure and simple, and it is not aimed at people on both sides of this issue. In fact, it is a rather clear indication that Nixon feels that the grand jury is going to no-bill Wilson, and that Nixon is telling anyone who may be angered by that development that he is willing to do almost anything to keep their responses in check. In an academic sense, this seems a wise precaution. In the context of what already has happened in Ferguson, an unwarranted police shooting followed by loud protests, followed by a militarized police response aimed at citizens and at journalists, followed by rioting, Nixon is pretty clearly picking sides here.

Yessiree Bob, I think so. I also think that at the first sign of trouble after the decision is announced the cops are going to take this executive order as carte blanche to thump any [black] head they want to, fire as many flash-bang or tear-gas grenades as they feel like firing, and haul their BearCat vehicle with its .50 caliber machine gun out of the garage to threaten the citizens.


Mark Evanier is a comic book and TV writer. He writes a blog called News From ME. Ordinarily his blog is weighted toward the entertainment industry, since he’s been around it since the 1970s, but occasionally he expresses a political opinion such as the one below:

I wish I’d thought of that.