1. It’s Tuesday, December 6, 2016.
2. Today is the feast of St. Nicholas aka Santa Claus. In many places around the world, this – and not Christmas Day – is when kids get the gifts.
3. Juries don’t videotape their deliberations. Efforts to get that to happen have fallen flat.
And that’s a shame, because it might help bring some understanding to the mistrial of the police officer who shot Walter Scott in cold blood.
Michael Slater, the now-former North Charleston, South Carolina, officer who was on trial, shot Scott in April of last year. Scott, who was unarmed, was fleeing a traffic stop.
Slater, who claimed Scott had threatened, wasn’t that far away from Scott when he shot him in the back and then tried to plant his weapon near Scott’s dead body.
We know all this because someone was secretly videotaping it. We see the whole thing unfold – Scott running, Slater shooting him, Slater planting the gun on the ground and calling his fellow officers.
But even with what seems like overwhelming evidence, one juror couldn’t bring him or herself to convict a police officer.
4. So far, no one’s giving up.
The state says it intends to prosecute Slater again. The governor, Nikki Haley, issued a statement advising that justice will come – an indication she still believes in the tightness of this case.
Even so, you have to wonder what in the world it’s going to take for a police officer in this country to be held accountable for killing an unarmed black man.
And, as a corollary, how are you going to get African-Americans and other minorities to buy into the idea that police officers are on their side?
Situations such as this can’t reasonably be expected to inspire confidence in the system. Why trust or respect a cop when any mistake you make could be your last?
This is not something, contrary to Trump and all the folks trashing Black Lives Matter, that’s going to be solved with giving police more power and demanding respect. And yet, that’s what we’re going to see for the next four years.
If the jury in the Slater trial had been videotaped, at least people would understand that it was one obstinate person blocking the way. The other 11 understand.
Yes, it would still be vexing, but at least those who believe justice was denied in the mistrial would understand that it’s not everyone – it’s not even the overwhelming majority.
It’s one person who couldn’t see his or her way to what seems to the rest of us to be the truth.
5. After their meeting two days after the election, Trump indicated a new-found respect for President Obama.
He has spent the 26 days since showing his disdain for his soon-to-be predecessor.
Every pick he has made for his Cabinet reeks with antipathy for the policies of the past eight years. In fact, not only do these picks diss Obama, they seem to diss what the departments these people are going to head stand for.
Yesterday, it was Ben Carson, a guy who early in the process was said to have refused a Cabinet position because he didn’t know enough to run a government department.
Now, a guy who’s not a fan of public housing gets to run it. He’ll be Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
That goes along with an Education Secretary pick who seems to hate public schools; a Defense Secretary pick who compromises the idea that civilians – and not generals or former generals – should run the military; and an Attorney General pick whose idea of justice doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the people the department is created to protect.
Because of the way this election turned out, there’s little Democrats can do to stop this 180-degree turn on the course of the Obama years. They can hope there are some reasonable Republicans in the Senate – you keep thinking about Susan Collins of Maine – but that’s about all they’ve got.
6. But here’s a thought: Democrats can’t just lie down and roll over. And they have the folks to do that.
When Jeff Sessions has his confirmation hearing to be attorney general, among the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who will question him will be Al Franken of Minnesota.
All I want is Al Franken to be Al Franken. And let the cameras roll.
Hold Sessions’ and Betsy DeVos’ and James Mattis’ and Ben Carson’s feet to the fire. Make them commit to what they’ll do. Show America what it’s really getting.
It’s not a lot. But it’s a start to a comeback.
Gee whiz, a lot went on the past few days. Two quick thoughts before this day gets away:
7. If Sunday’s incident at a Washington pizza place doesn’t scare you, you’re probably in numb-enough shape for the next few years.
A man entered the place with assault-style rifle looking to rescue kids from a child sex ring.
Except that the ring was non-existent, the plant of somebody trying to ratfuck Hillary Clinton’s campaign by planting a fake story online. The story said she and her campaign manager were involved in the ring.
The guy was arrested; he didn’t shoot anybody, but he sure as hell wrecked the peace of a lot of innocent people for who knows how long.
How many of these fake-story booby traps are out there, being read by less-than-developed minds and taken as gospel?
This isn’t just political chicanery. It’s an act of war. It’s potentially more devastating than anything the Russian Army could have tried to do during the Cold War. And somebody better figure it out. Quickly.
8. If you haven’t seen the absolutely chilling new video put out by Sandy Hook Promise, which is led by parents whose children were killed nearly four years ago in perhaps the most heinous shooting incident ever. (Here’s a link to the home page: http://www.sandyhookpromise.org/)
The video is so powerful that I won’t describe it. You need to see it to get the impact. It allows the message – that there are kids out there who pose a threat – to resonate loud and clear.
And it’s a reminder that despite what some of the deplorables who support Trump say, Sandy Hook is a real American tragedy.
I’ll have more to say a week from tomorrow – the fourth anniversary of this nightmare.