Thursday, January 2, 2020

The rain’s set in and it’s been pouring down all day. They’re getting it worse south of us with some wind and thunder, and as soon as I wrote that out a not-insignificant peel of thunder rolled through. Otis is not allowed to go outside, though, and he is in high dudgeon. So, let’s go.

There’s a good bit going on today and, frankly, 2020 could’ve started off on a better foot. Possible war in Iraq due to Trump’s bumbling with Iran and Australia’s burning to a cinder while their pig of a Prime Minister continues to deny the impact of climate change, and that’s on top of all the other goofiness that makes up Life in The New World. A heavy rainy day like this, not exactly a Mose Allison day, makes it difficult to remain optimistic and, as always, the people on Twitter still saying dopey shit like “taxation is theft” or “you’re not a real adult unless you have kids” doesn’t help.

Disappointing but not actually surprising, Julian Castro announced this morning he was calling it quits on his ambitions for the 2020 Democratic nomination for president. “It simply isn’t our time,” he’d said and, well, that’s sort of how it turned out. He never really made much of a splash on the polls and while always respectable and engaging, his debate performances were never the stuff of Beltway gossip. He never really was able to find his base despite the very good things he had to say,

Which is a shame, because I personally was fond of Castro and liked what he brought to the campaign. While the health insurance crisis grabs most people’s attention, naturally, Castro said a lot of things that needed to be said about poor people – not “working class”, flat-out poor – in this country, as well as prisoner issues. He was also the largest voice concerning immigration and was able to address what the Trump cult is drumming up fear via racism and xenophobia. A former Secretary of Housing under Obama, Castro remains one to watch in the future and it wouldn’t be surprising to find him on the short list for VP to whoever gets the nomination.

In other election news, Marianne Williamson laid off her entire 2020 campaign staff. Though she hasn’t yet (as of writing) said she’s dropping out, I really can’t see any other outcome to this news. Williamson attracted attention and scorn with her calls for reconciliation and peace, but never made much of a dent on the election in general, unlike Castro who at least advanced some ideas. She’s currently dead last as well, polling at 0.2%, and I have as much of a chance of winning at this point as she does.

It got fairly easy to poke fun at “Flower Child” Williamson as the election picked up speed, but I’m not particularly in the mood right now and wasn’t back when all the cool kids were doing it. I never considered her a serious candidate, but neither is Tom Steyer or the Starbucks guy, so why quibble about minute differences?

Closer to home, shit’s going crazy in Mississippi’s prisons. Multiple facilities have reported ongoing conflicts between prisoners and prison workers, as well as intra-prison gang violence, resulting in a number of injuries and four deaths. At the Mississippi Department of Corrections facility in Chickasaw County, violence resulted in two prisoners injured and one death. Gregory Emery, 26, was serving a 16-year sentence for burglary of an unoccupied dwelling in Tate County. His death was confirmed this morning and the prison canceled visitations for the weekend with staff reporting a riot going on.

Over at the State Penitentiary in Parchman, in Sunflower County, 40-year-old Terrandance Dobbins was killed during a fight on New Year’s Eve and 25-year-old Walter Gates was found stabbed to death the next morning. A fourth prisoner, as yet unidentified, was also stabbed sometime before noon today at Parchman. All of this comes after a statewide lockdown of prisons due to something fierce happening at the South Mississippi Correctional Facility in Leakesville, though we’re not being told just what. Like in Chickasaw County, prisoner movement has been restricted.

Mississippi prisons, a combination of state-run facilities and private prisons, have long fought off accusations of harmful living conditions for prisoners and shown the need for serious reform, most recently against the East Mississippi Correctional Facility near Meridian. Claims included refusal of health care for inmates which lead to the warden resigning in 2014. U.S. District Judge William Barbour ruled Tuesday that the facility has been brought up to speed and authorities are saying whatever’s causing this mess, it ain’t their fault. Gang disputes are being blamed for some of the altercations.

One of several government officials leaving in the wake of Tate “Snail” Reeves’ gubernatorial victory, Mississippi Corrections Commission Pelicia Hall announced this week she’d be resigning later in the month to take a job in the private sector. There’s libel to be a fairly massive shake-up in state politics, which isn’t so unusual given a new party coming into the head office. However, I don’t see much improvement coming down the line, given the Republican party’s fondness for private prisons and Reeves’ overall slimy nature.

So, let’s wrap this up. That NYPD cop who broke into a black family’s house in Nashville, screaming racial obscenities and threatening violence, has resigned, so fuck him. Because they can’t win without cheating, the GOP in Wisconsin is trying to force the purging of 200,000 voters before the state election commission can decided whether it’s necessary or if it’s just Republicans being deceitful swindlers again. Finally, Phil Plait explains why the star Betelgeuse is most likely not going to explode despite acting funny here lately, and I’m sure we can all sleep better knowing that.

That’s it for now, friends and neighbors. Stay frosty, it could get weirder than we’re willing to deal with.

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