* Jamelle Bouie reports from on the ground in Ferguson:
St. Louis County has been in command of officers on the street since Sunday, and one of the armored vehicles was labeled “St. Charles County SWAT.” In any case, they weren’t interested in actual crowd control. On at least two occasions, they refused to let uninvolved bystanders go to their cars or leave the area. No, from their stance to their numbers, this was about intimidation. Two snipers monitored the demonstrators from their armored vehicles, and other police began to close off side streets and other exits, to prevent anyone from coming in (or going out, for that matter).
With the arrival of SWAT teams, the demonstration escalated into a standoff. And an hour after the teams’ arrival, they began marching down the street and shouting orders. “You must return to your vehicles, or your homes, in a peaceful manner,” they said, advancing down the street, “Your right to assembly is not being denied.”
Well, that was certainly nice of them to mention.
* Dem Rep. Rep Hank Johnson is the first member of Congress to announce that in response to this situation he’ll introduce a bill to curtail the 1033 program, under which the Department of Defense transfers military equipment to local police forces. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of bipartisan support the bill garners.
* Radley Balko relates the advice of experienced police commanders on how to deal with protests in ways that make confrontation less likely, not more. Needless to say, the police in Ferguson seem to have done just about everything wrong.
* Rebecca Leber offers the Ferguson police four ways to make sure this never happens again, including ditching the riot gear and using dash cams to record their interactions with citizens.
* While you may have heard that in the majority-black city of Ferguson there are only a few black police officers, Zachary Roth notes that the disparity is reflected in the city’s political leadership as well:
Though whites make up just 29% of the city’s residents, five of Ferguson’s six city council members are white, as is Mayor James Knowles. And six of the local school board’s seven members are white.
* Meanwhile, residents there are frustrated by the fact that we still don’t know the identity of the officer who shot Michael Brown. The hacker collective Anonymous though they had identified him and posted his name online, but it looks like they may have gotten it wrong.
* National Journal reporters Alexia Campbell and Reena Flores describe how Ferguson police tried to intimidate them into staying away from the scene of the protests.
* Ed Kilgore has a good post on the whole debate over whether deferred action on deportations would really violate “political norms,” as well as the complicated nature of current immigration enforcement:
Thanks to the border refugee problem, it’s often assumed any new quasi-legalization initiative would serve to incentivize more illegal entries. Indeed, it’s somewhat dubiously assumed DACA itself had a lot to do with the current problem, even though the refugees don’t qualify (as the administration is making very clear in its public relations campaign in the countries-of-origin). But the basic issue is that illegal entries are probably incentivized more by the current lack of enforcement clarity than by any possible presidential efforts to set priorities. And indeed, it’s likely that when law-abiding folk who have already been here for years are taken off the table, the odds of being detected, arrested, prosecuted and deported will actually go up for others.
Call me crazy, but something tells me that even if Republicans understood that, they still wouldn’t support any move Obama will take on this issue.
* Robert Schlesinger on another reason the House GOP lurch to the right on immigration could prove so damaging in the long run: In some categories, Univision is often the most-watched television network in America among young demographics. Which means:
It’s anecdotal but striking: The most popular broadcast network among the voting age population that will increasingly dominate politics in coming decades is Spanish-language. Are Republicans listening? Umm, no. Not only are Republicans clinging to a position that specifically drives away Hispanics, but they’ve decided to make it the centerpiece of their campaign.
* Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell is demanding that the Senate vote on a House-passed bill to revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and deport all the “dreamers,” which should go over well with everyone watching Univision.
* Chuck Todd will be the new host of Meet the Press, now that David Gregory has officially announced that he’s leaving NBC: “I leave NBC as I came — humbled and grateful.” Kudos to Gregory for using “humbled” in the appropriate way, to mean “made humble,” as opposed to its usual use, “I just got a big honor but I want you to think I’m still humble.”
* And the factoid of the day, via Alex Seitz-Wald, nicely captures the White House press corps’ priorities and obsession with the hyped storyline about Hillary’s criticism of Obama followed by that “hug”:
At a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, White House spokesperson Eric Schultz got 14 questions about Clinton and Obama’s upcoming meeting, including several about journalists’ access to the party. He got just one on the situation in Ferguson.
Did they really hug? How long was the hug sustained? Was there a cheek-peck? An air-kiss, or actual contact? These are the things America needs to know.