The conflict in Ferguson, Mo., has captured the nation’s attention and once again put race front and center in American politics. This piece, for instance, notes that while Ferguson is 67 percent black, five of the six council members and the mayor are all white. Why this disparity? There are two culprits: the timing of municipal elections and the nature of the ballot in these elections.WaPo:
Ferguson holds municipal elections in April of odd-numbered years. In doing so, the town is hardly unique. Approximately three-fourths of American municipalities hold their elections in odd years, a Progressive-era reform intended to shield municipal elections from the partisan politics of national contests, but one that has been shown to have a dramatic effect on reducing turnout.
Ferguson also holds nonpartisan elections (where party labels do not appear on the ballot), another Progressive reform, and one that has been shown to reduce both what citizens know about candidates as well as their likelihood of voting. These consequences are worse for people with less education and less income.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) gave control of security operations in riot-riven Ferguson to Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ronald S. Johnson on Thursday.More politics and policy below the fold.
The result? Hugs, kisses and a night of peace replaced tear gas and unrest.
“We are going to have a different approach and have the approach that we’re in this together,” Johnson, a Ferguson native, told reporters Thursday afternoon. “I understand the anger and fear that the citizens of Ferguson are feeling, and our officers will respect both of those.”
One immediate change under Johnson’s command: The heavy riot armor, the SWAT trucks with sniper posts, the hostile glares were gone.
Thursday night, protesters in Ferguson had a new leader: Johnson, who walked with demonstrators.
About a 15-minute drive from the Ferguson protest that, by now, feels more like a block party, in the more upscale St. Louis suburb of Olivette, there's a new strip mall with a barbecue joint and a Starbucks and an e-cigarette store. On a mild Thursday evening in August, people sat around tables, sipping coffee, sipping beer, dabbing barbecue sauce off their fingers.Max Fisher with satire on how Ferguson would be covered if it were overseas:
All of these people were white.
It was a stark contrast to Ferguson, which is two-thirds black. Olivette is almost the exact opposite, at over 60 percent white. St. Louis, and the little hamlets that ring it, is one of the most segregated cities in America, and it shows.
Here in Olivette, the people I spoke to showed little sympathy for Michael Brown, or the protesters.
"It's bullshit," said one woman, who declined to give her name. When I asked her to clarify what, specifically, was bullshit, she said, "All of it. I don't even know what they're fighting for."
"It's just a lot of misplaced anger," said one teenage boy, echoing his parents. He wasn't sure where the anger should be, just that there should be no anger at all, and definitely no stealing.
Chinese and Russian officials are warning of a potential humanitarian crisis in the restive American province of Missouri, where ancient communal tensions have boiled over into full-blown violence.Jonathan Chait:
"We must use all means at our disposal to end the violence and restore calm to the region," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in comments to an emergency United Nations Security Council session on the America crisis.
The crisis began a week ago in Ferguson, a remote Missouri village that has been a hotbed of sectarian tension. State security forces shot and killed an unarmed man, which regional analysts say has angered the local population by surfacing deep-seated sectarian grievances. Regime security forces cracked down brutally on largely peaceful protests, worsening the crisis.
America has been roiled by political instability and protests in recent years, which analysts warn can create fertile ground for extremists.
Missouri, far-removed from the glistening capital city of Washington, is ostensibly ruled by a charismatic but troubled official named Jay Nixon, who has appeared unable to successfully intervene and has resisted efforts at mediation from central government officials. Complicating matters, President Obama is himself a member of the minority sect protesting in Ferguson, which is ruled overwhelmingly by members of America's majority "white people" sect.
Analysts who study the opaque American political system, in which all provinces are granted semi-autonomous self-rule, warned that Nixon may seize the opportunity to move against weakened municipal rulers in Ferguson. Missouri's provincial legislature, a traditional "shura council," is dominated by the opposition faction. Though fears of a military coup remain low, it is still unknown how Nixon's allies within the capital will respond should the crisis continue.
Now, international leaders say they fear the crisis could spread.
One of the more fascinating sidelights of the crisis in Ferguson is the way it has revealed the complacent, obedient, and fundamentally non-journalistic instincts of certain leading centrist establishmentarian journalists. The precipitating event was the arrest of Wesley Lowery, a young Washington Post reporter who was illegally ordered to leave a McDonalds near the demonstrations and, correctly, refused, leading to his arrest.Michael Daly:
This angered Joe Scarborough. And by “angered,” we should be clear, we mean angered at the presumption of Lowery for refusing. The avuncular host of Morning Joe instructed him, “Next time a police officer tells you that you've got to move along because you've got riots outside, well, you probably should move along.” (Because nothing says “journalism” like following orders from authorities, however questionable, self-interested, or illegal they may be.) Scarborough attributed Lowery’s refusal not to any commitment to continue doing his job but to his desire to “get on TV and have people talk about me the next day,” because the desire to get on television in any way possible is the only motivation that makes sense to Joe Scarborough.
Lowery replied sharply.
The Day Ferguson Cops Were Caught in a Bloody LieBrendan Nyhan:
The officers got the wrong man, but charged him anyway—with getting his blood on their uniforms. How the Ferguson PD ran the town where Michael Brown was gunned down.
Police in Ferguson, Missouri, once charged a man with destruction of property for bleeding on their uniforms while four of them allegedly beat him.
“On and/or about the 20th day of Sept. 20, 2009 at or near 222 S. Florissant within the corporate limits of Ferguson, Missouri, the above named defendant did then and there unlawfully commit the offense of ‘property damage’ to wit did transfer blood to the uniform,” reads the charge sheet.
The address is the headquarters of the Ferguson Police Department, where a 52-year-old welder named Henry Davis was taken in the predawn hours on that date. He had been arrested for an outstanding warrant that proved to actually be for another man of the same surname, but a different middle name and Social Security number.
“I said, ‘I told you guys it wasn’t me,’” Davis later testified.
He recalled the booking officer saying, “We have a problem.”
In the modern era, we expect presidents to weigh in on almost every major news story – an impulse that reflects our desire for them to appear to be in control of events. Mr. Obama accordingly noted today that he had directed the Justice Department to investigate the shooting in Ferguson, but the agency’s response was already underway before the statement. His comments thus seemed intended instead to alleviate concerns that he was not taking what had happened seriously enough.Ed Kilgore on Zell Miller endorsing Michelle Nunn in GA Sen race:
But will the president’s involvement actually have a positive effect? Many who have called on Mr. Obama to speak up may not realize that it could be counterproductive for him to be visibly involved in the debate. Research by a Brown University political scientist, Michael Tesler, shows that the mere mention of Mr. Obama, the first African-American president, polarizes the public along racial lines on issues ranging from health care to how people feel about his dog, Bo.
The Ferguson controversy may end up being as divisive as the Trayvon Martin case and the arrest of the Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates – two racially charged controversies that became more prominent and arguably more polarized after Mr. Obama addressed them.
In any event, the question of the day is whether Miller’s endorsement of Nunn will matter. Now certainly candidate endorsements are perpetually overrated in electoral politics, particularly now when there are relatively few “persuadable” voters. Miller’s support is very unlikely to help Nunn mobilize the Democratic “base.”Robert Schlesinger on the immigration box the GOP finds itself in:
On the other hand, Miller was in statewide office for all but one of thirty straight years, longer even than Sam Nunn. And Georgians over the age of 40 all remember him. He likely retains a personal following in the North Georgia mountains, a place where Democratic support has entirely collapsed. And most importantly, Republicans are about to hit Nunn with a massive ad campaign accusing her of being a godless liberal in thrall to Barack Obama. That’s less credible now that she’s been endorsed by the man who founded “Democrats for Santorum” in 2006.
Two things struck me this morning as I was perusing Mike Allen’s daily Politico tipsheet, “Playbook.” The first had to do with the GOP’s full-on desertion of its attempts to woo Hispanic voters; the second was a small striking reminder of the latter's growing power.Greg Sargent on Chuck Todd's MTP problem:
In reality, what’s really going on is that conversations are taking place that are organized around shared passions about politics. All indications are that people like getting their political news this way. For these and other reasons, the High Oracles of Political Media just don’t carry the sway they once did. Meet the Press is just no longer Mount Olympus.