Saturday, February 01, 2020
As Jasper and I walked along the sidewalk, two women state workers chatting beside a parked car began applauding. Baffled, I bowed and asked why they were applauding. “You have a pooper scooper. You do your doody duty,” one replied. Still a bit confused, I replied “I would like to thank the Academy.”
My young dog needs longer walks, so today we went past the childhood home of California author Joan Didion, in Sacramento’s Poverty Ridge neighborhood. The area is quite affluent; the neighborhood gets its name from the many waterlogged refugees who clung to the area’s high ground during the floods of the 19th Century, in the days before levees were built.
Interesting article. I didn't realize that it decades for New Mexico to recover from the 1980 riot at the New Mexico State Penitentiary. A heavy price to pay:
The carnage didn’t end when state and local police reclaimed the prison after 36 hours of unspeakable violence that left 33 inmates dead and much of the prison a smoldering ruin.
The cleanup effort and costs were staggering as legislators scrambled to approve a $38 million emergency appropriation. Hundreds of prisoners were shipped out of state.
Retired District Judge Mike Vigil of Santa Fe, who previously represented inmates, said in a recent Journal interview that the riot didn’t actually end Feb. 3. Instead, it continued “in slow motion” over the next 18 months – claiming the lives of two corrections officers and six inmates.
[F]ormer Corrections secretaries Rob Perry and Gregg Marcantel said they were initially surprised when they took over the prison system – Perry in 1998 and Marcantel in 2011 – that the prison riot continued to have such a large impact on the daily operations of the prison system.
“The impact was profound,” Perry said.
Marcantel said, “What we had was a culture of containment – no escapes, no riots. For over 30 years before I took the job, our view of success was – we didn’t have another riot.”
The Legislature, led by conservative Democrats and Republicans known as the “Cowboy Coalition,” was in session during the riot. A year earlier, the Legislature appropriated less than $20 million for the Corrections Department. Just 20 days after the riot, legislators approved nearly twice that amount in emergency funding for rebuilding the prison, hiring more corrections officers, prosecuting and defending inmates charged with riot murders, paying the National Guard for riot-related expenses and paying other prison systems to hold New Mexico’s inmates.
Later in the same session, lawmakers approved $50 million for a new maximum security prison.
One of the report’s themes was that the prison was quiet, even when overcrowded between 1970 and 1975, when there was an incentive-based program rewarding good behavior by inmates with access to education, prison jobs, and inmate organizations that had contact with community civic organizations.
But in the five years before the riot, prison officials did away with programs and the system relied more heavily on coercion – including solitary confinement and other punishments.
...The report also strongly suggested the state move to a greater reliance on community-based corrections programs, including state halfway houses and drug programs.
That didn’t happen. Instead, the Legislature embarked on a $100 million prison building program that opened new prisons in Santa Fe, Grants and Las Cruces, and greatly expanded the prison in Los Lunas.
Sunday, January 26, 2020
(h/t John) But at least they talk:
Q: To what extent has President Donald Trump and his influence on the Republican Party contributed to your decision to retire?
STIPANOVICH: ... Let me be as subtle as I can. I think he’s a disgusting man and a disgraceful president. And I believe that he and what he stands for poses an existential threat to American democracy. But other than that, I have no strong views.
As for the party, Trump hasn’t transformed the party, in my judgment, as much as he has unmasked it. There was always a minority in the Republican party ― 25, 30 percent — that, how shall we say this, that hailed extreme views, aberrant views. They’ve always been there, from the John Birchers in the ’50s, who thought Dwight Eisenhower was a communist, to the Trump folks today who think John McCain’s a traitor. They had different names — the religious right, tea partiers — but they’ve always been there. They were a fairly consistent, fairly manageable minority who we, the establishment, enabled and exploited.
But ... because of profound changes in the economy worldwide as we transition from an industrial economy to a service economy and as the browning of America continues over time ... and all of the roiling in society on various cultural issues, whether it’s gay rights or whatever, all of those pressures caused that minority to metastasize.
It became a majority and a growing majority. It was Trump’s genius that he sensed the rot in the party and rather than making a quixotic third-party run, like Ross Perot or George Wallace, and losing, he had the vision to hijack the party of Ronald Reagan. I think he’s doing very, very significant damage that I hope is not irreparable.
He daily attacks and batters the guardrails of democracy, whether it’s a free press, an independent judiciary, congressional oversight. ... He’s an authoritarian, which explains his affinity for authoritarians, and to the extent that he has brought a significant portion of America to doubt even the existence of objective truth, it’s dangerous.
There was a giant turd in the toilet bowl in the men's restroom. Too big to flush, and it stank. It was larger in girth than a full soda can. How does that happen? Beats me. I had to use the toilet plunger to bust the stone-like thing into little pieces.
Interesting mystery, with no solution as yet:
Over the next four years, fifteen more of Buck’s calves would die. Investigators with the sheriff’s office, a Texas game warden, and even a special ranger with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association have worked the case, but so far, none have been able to identify any leads. The cause of death, however, is clear: the same toxic grain has been found inside each dead calf. Someone, it seems, is intentionally killing Buck Birdsong’s calves.