Tag Archives: COVID-19

Worst Quotes of the Week – July 30, 2022

“Those who play with fire will perish by it.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping, to President Joe Biden, regarding Taiwan’s independence

The comment comes after news that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi plans to visit Taiwan soon.

“This is why we have always fought: We are willing to mix with one another, but we do not want to become peoples of mixed race.”

Hungarian President Viktor Orbán, who is scheduled to speak in Dallas next week at the Conservative Political Action Conference, urging his fellow Europeans not to marry non-White immigrants

Orbán also appeared to make light of the Nazi Holocaust while discussing plans to reduce natural-gas demand in Europe: “I do not see how it will be enforced – although, as I understand it, the past shows us German know-how on that.”

“You degenerate pagans and atheists and non-believers went way too far with the COVID nonsense, with shutting down our churches and forcing our kids to be masked, and forcing us to get vaccinated with some mystery goop in order to keep our jobs and provide for our families.  You pushed us too far, and now we’re going to take dominion of this country, of our culture, of news, of entertainment, of technology, of education, of everything for the glory of Jesus Christ, our king. It’s just that simple.”

Andrew Torba, a far-right Christian nationalist preacher, in a speech supporting fellow right-wing nationalist Doug Mastriano

“Nobody has gotten to the bottom of 09/11 unfortunately, and they should have.”

Former President Donald Trump, as his country club prepare to host several officials from Saudi Arabia for a golf tournament

Trump’s Bedminster Club is just across the Hudson River from Manhattan.  Several families of 9/11 victims have expressed outrage over the event.  Of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers, 15 were from Saudi Arabia.

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Funniest Quote of the Week – July 23, 2022

“On the bright side, this is the first positive news Biden has gotten in months.”

Jimmy Fallon, about President Biden’s recent positive COVID test, “The Tonight Show”, July 20

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Relief Art

Feeling anxious or upset?  A number of things exist to help you out – reading, walking, meditation, exercise.  But have you ever thought of visiting a museum to ease that apprehension?  Turns out that patronizing a museum might be one avenue of relief for anguished souls.  A University of Pennsylvania study entitled “Art Museums as Institutions for Human Flourishing” published in the Journal of Positive Psychology indicates as much.

The relatively new field of “positive psychology” studies “the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive.”  It draws on research from a variety of academic disciplines while examining how the arts and humanities affect the human condition.

“We believe our collaborative and interdisciplinary work is all the more vital at a time when so many individuals and communities lack the levels of well-being they need to thrive,” said James O. Pawelski of UPenn.

Pawelski and colleague Katherine Cotter had already planned to study the effects of museums on people’s mental health when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.  Since so many museums were forced to shut down, the duo compiled and reviewed over 100 research articles and government and foundation reports.

They discovered that visiting a museum reduced stress levels, frequent visits decreased anxiety, and viewing figurative art lowered blood pressure. They also found that museum visits lowered the intensity of chronic pain, increased a person’s life span, and lessened the likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia.  And those living with dementia saw mental and physical benefits as well: Spending time in a museum induced more dynamic stress responses, higher cognitive function, and improvements in the symptoms of depression.

Going to a museum also left elementary schoolers feeling “restored” and even made medical residents feel less emotionally exhausted.

To most artists, this shouldn’t be surprising.  Writers, painters, musicians and the like have always had the ability to unite people when politicians couldn’t.  And now, our desires to make people’s lives better has been vindicated once again.

Image: Dallas Museum of Art

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Roe Back

“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Abortion-rights and anti-abortion demonstrators gather outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court’s landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe)

It has been one dream of conservatives for decades: overturning Roe vs. Wade.  The landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision guaranteed women the right to abortion, in accordance with the 9th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.  Now that goal has been achieved: earlier today, June 24, the Court has overturned Roe; thus gutting nearly a half century of reproductive freedom for women in the U.S.

It’s a stunning move and it’s left abortion supporters shell-shocked.  It doesn’t seem to matter that the majority of Americans support abortion to some extent.  Six justices on the Supreme Court have decided they don’t like the concept of abortion, so no woman should have access to it and no one should help a woman burdened with a crisis pregnancy.  It is the first time in U.S. history that a constitutional right has been granted and then rescinded.

Social and religious conservatives are ecstatic about this decision.  Although the Roe decision startled many people in 1973, the ruling didn’t really become an issue until the 1980s; when the evangelical Christian movement started to make its intrusive presence known.  They saw the election of Ronald Reagan as assurance that abortion would be outlawed in the U.S.

At least 26 states were ready to outlaw abortion under most circumstances, should Roe be overturned.  Now that it has, they are moving towards the annihilation.  Last year the legislature in my home state of Texas passed the so-called “Heartbeat Act”, which bans abortion after 6 weeks (before many women know they’re pregnant) and only allows it in cases where the mother’s life is endangered.  That means rape and incest victims will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term.  Any woman (or girl) who obtains an abortion and/or anyone who assists in that procedure could face up to $10,000 in statutory damages and face prison time.  Noticeably it doesn’t say anything about prosecuting men who rape women or girls.

The overturning of Roe perhaps will be one of Donald Trump’s greatest legacies, aside from his dismal handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.  But it won’t so much be his legacy as it will be that of right-wing extremists – the people who loudly proclaim to cherish personal liberty and freedom, but in practice, mean it only for themselves.  Everyone else’s personal liberty – that is, people who aren’t exactly like them – is somehow subjective.

Abortion opponents are now presenting – as they always have – what they consider viable solutions to the dilemma of unplanned and unwanted pregnancies; quick fixes that are ridiculously quaint and utopian.  They recommend creating a society where every child comes into the world loved and respected; that women always have a safe and effective way to carry out their undesired pregnancies.  It’s tantamount to beauty pageant contestants expressing their wish for the blind to see and the lame to walk.  It’s wonderfully idealistic, yet extraordinarily delusional.  Such answers to some of life’s most complex issues are typical of the conservative mindset: simple and unencumbered.  That’s why I always say my brain is too big to be conservative.

In the 49 years since Roe was passed, it’s estimated that some 60 million abortions have taken place in the United States.  Abortion adversaries groan that it means some 60 million children never got a chance to grow up and have fulfilling lives.  But millions of children have come into the world under the best of circumstances and have never lived fulfilling lives.  The future is always uncertain, and occasionally things go awry in families.

It’s also possible that those estimated 60 million children could have been subjected to abuse and neglect.  Children who come into the world unwanted often end up being unloved.  I have to wonder if abortion opponents are going to dish out any additional cash to help support all those children.  It’s easy for them to lounge in their ivory towers – the way religious leaders often do – and bestow well wishes upon troubled souls.  Good intentions don’t pay diaper and formula bills; they don’t provide housing and education; they don’t deal with the daily angst of raising children.  They’re glossy words that lack substance, unless solid and concrete action is taken to make those lives better.

Liberals and moderates are already concerned that other Supreme Court decisions are at risk, such as Griswold and Lawrence.  Even Brown and Loving may come under similar attack.  As part of his decision to overturn Roe, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote, “In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” referring to decisions on contraception, sodomy and same-sex marriage respectively.

Remember, the original Roe decision developed under the auspices of the right to privacy and equal protection under the law.  Those are essential and undeniable features of a truly democratic society.  Stripping any particular group of basic human rights isn’t a sign of a moral culture, as many social conservatives would have us believe.  It’s more emblematic of a totalitarian world; a universe where a handful of people have blessed themselves with the power to decide what is and what is not appropriate for everyone else.

If abortion opponents think this Dobbs decision will end abortion in the United States once and forever, they are mistaken.  After the initial shock has worn off (which is already happening), people will begin to fight back and find ways around it.  Whether right-wing extremists like it or not, abortion will happen.  There will always be women who find themselves in very difficult situations and feel they must end a pregnancy.  It’s been happening for centuries and it will continue happening, even though a band of self-righteous elitists demand otherwise.

Just wait for it.  They’ve awoken a giant.

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Video of the Week – June 18, 2022

Sen. Rand Paul kept interrupting Dr. Anthony Fauci over the veracity of COVID booster shots for children and teenagers and royalty payments to National Institutes of Health associates.

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Right to Control

Many of the cases that arrive before the U.S. Supreme Court begin with individuals either trying right a wrong or make their own lives better.  They rarely expect to launch a national movement.  That was pretty much the case when Norma McCorvey found herself pregnant with her third child in 1969.  An unemployed carnival worker living outside Dallas at the time, McCorvey apparently had led a rough life and had given up her first two children for adoption.  She didn’t need – and couldn’t afford – to bring another child into the world.  However, the state of Texas didn’t allow for abortions except to save the life of the mother.  Even rape and incest victims couldn’t end their unwanted pregnancies.  Like so many women in her situation, McCorvey was too poor to travel to another state where abortions were safe and legal.  She even tried to obtain an illegal abortion, but again the cost was prohibitive.  She sought legal help and ended up under the guidance of attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington.

In 1970, after McCorvey had given birth and given up the baby, Coffee and Weddington filed paper work challenging the Texas law and bestowed the name “Jane Roe” upon their client.  They targeted then-Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade.  Wade had entered the national spotlight nearly a decade earlier when he prosecuted Jack Ruby for killing Lee Harvey Oswald who had been accused of assassinating President John F. Kennedy.  (Wade would later come to light as a ruthless prosecutor who engaged in unscrupulous legal maneuvers to ensure criminal prosecutions, no matter the cost and despite evidence to the contrary.)

After McCorvey’s suit was filed, a Texas district court ruled the state’s abortion ban violated the constitutional right to privacy under the 14th Amendment.  Wade persisted, however, and vowed to prosecute any doctor who performed what he deemed unnecessary abortions in the state.  The case eventually reached the U.S. Supreme Court and, in a 7-2 ruling on January 22, 1973, abortion was fully legalized in the United States.

That was pretty much the end of the issue until the 1980s, when right-wing religious leaders began stoking the fires of anti-abortion rhetoric.  It accompanied the presidency of Ronald Reagan who openly stated he wished for a return to an America before the 1960s.  That should say enough about his bigoted state of mind, but it aligned with a growing hostility towards progressive ideology and civil rights legislation.

Earlier this week the unexpected news arrived that the Supreme Court may overturn Roe vs. Wade by the end of its current term in June.  We wouldn’t know anything about this if it wasn’t for the leak of a draft opinion by Associate Justice Samuel Alito who declares the Roe decision “egregiously wrong” in terms of constitutional practicality.  Chief Justice John Roberts has confirmed the veracity of the statement, but has joined many others in condemning the leak.

For many of us the leak isn’t the main concern.  It’s what it says.  There is now a very real possibility that nearly a half century of protection for that part of women’s overall health care could end because a handful of conservative extremists on the High Court want to inject their personal views into it.

For their like-minded ilk in the American public, the overturning of Roe marks the end of a long-fought battle in their alleged “pro-life” agenda; a perverted early Mother’s Day gift.  It doesn’t matter that a majority of Americans don’t want to see a complete ban on abortion.  They’ve been working for this moment over the past four decades.

For liberals, though, this is a much more dire situation.  While the current case that brought Roe back into the forefront is limited to just abortion, progressives see other seminal SCOTUS decisions in the judicial crosshairs.  It really isn’t extraordinary to see such cases as Obergefell vs. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage, reversed.  Along with abortion, queer rights have been a target of far-right conservatives.  But, if the Court sees fit to outlaw abortion at the national level (and leave it up to individual states), it could also reasonably overturn Griswold vs. Connecticut, which ruled that states could not deny birth control to married couples.  Before that decision, married residents of Connecticut (and a few other states) couldn’t legally purchase birth control.

To some conservatives, abortion has become another form of birth control, which is not what contemporary feminists who jump-started the modern women’s movement desired.  The latter group had always declared that abortion should be a woman’s last choice.  But, with the overall concept of birth control in mind, is it possible a woman who has a tubal ligation could be criminally prosecuted?  For that matter, could men who have vasectomies be subject to criminal jurisprudence?  How about condoms or IUDs?  Could those be outlawed?

Why stop with Roe?  Aside from Obergefell and Griswold, could the Court target Loving vs. Virginia, the case that struck laws against interracial marriage?  How about Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education, which outlaws racial desegregation in schools?

Remember that, when Antonin Scalia died in 2016, Republicans in the Senate displayed their usual contempt and disdain for President Obama by refusing to hold hearings on his nominee to the Court, until after Donald Trump got into office.  They stated that, since Scalia’s death occurred during an election year, the incoming president should select his replacement.  Yet, upon the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in 2020, they rammed through the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett – a character straight out of “The Handmaid’s Tale”.

That social and religious conservatives want to dictate what women can and cannot do with their own bodies conflicts with the long-held American vision of individual freedom.  Many of these people screamed at the thought mandatory mask-wearing or forced vaccinations at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic; crying they should have autonomy over their own bodies.  Really?  What an original concept.

Conservatives herald the beauty of life, but a life costs hard dollars in the very real world of child-rearing.  Since 2019, for example, the state of Texas has experienced a 1,100% rise in children placed into foster care.  Love and compassion alone won’t pay those bills, no matter how much prayer one puts forth.  Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie once emphasized that pro-life means the entire life cycle – not just up to the moment the fetus is born.

The reasons why an individual woman wants to end a pregnancy are myriad, but it is no one else’s business.  As painful a decision as it may be, I’d rather see a woman end a pregnancy she doesn’t want than give birth to a child she doesn’t want.  Children who come into the world unwanted are often unloved.  That’s an awful fate for someone.

Regardless, pregnancy and birth are individual choices.  No one – not the Supreme Court and not a politician – has the right to interfere with that.

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Video of the Week – Match 5, 2022

Florida Gov. Rick DeSantis demanding high school students remove their face masks:

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When Macron Met Putin

Fences supposedly make good neighbors, but how about tables?

When French President Emmanuel Macron traveled to Moscow last week to meet with Russian leader Vladimir Putin about the burgeoning Ukraine crisis, neither man probably realized some observers just wouldn’t take them seriously.  Putin seems intent on invading Ukraine, during the Winter Olympics in Beijing and despite strong global opposition and threats of sanctions from the developed world.

But amidst the tension, one thing about the meeting stuck out: the table.  Macron and Putin sat at opposite ends of a gargantuan white table, as COVID protocols still deem such ambits necessary.  It almost goes without saying the physical distance between the duo was analogous to their ideological differences.

This photo is only one of the many derisive images about the conference.  Personally, I found the small floral arrangement more intriguing than either leader.

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Best Quotes of the Week – January 22, 2022

“The best thing to do when faced with voter suppression – and my friends, this is what voter suppression looks like – the best thing to defeat it is to go vote. The best thing to do is fight back.”

Dana DeBeauvoir, Travis County, Texas District Clerk, offering advice to voters

“Donald Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Ivanka Trump have all been closely involved in the transactions in question, so we won’t tolerate their attempts to evade testifying in this investigation.”

Letitia James, New York State Attorney General, in a statement released January 18 in which she alleges former President Donald Trump and his family inflated the value of his properties and misstated his personal worth in representations to lenders, insurance brokers and other players in his real estate empire

“History will not remember them kindly.”

Martin Luther King III, the son of the late civil rights leader, comparing Sens. Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin to the White moderates his father wrote about during the civil rights battles of the 1950s and 1960s – who declared support for the goals of Black voting rights but not the direct actions or demonstrations that ultimately led to passage of landmark legislation

“COVID is real; COVID is a threat. But even more serious than COVID, as real and scary as it is, is to see thousands and thousands of thousands of voters not being able to vote, and it was on our watch. We refuse to stop. We refuse to turn around.”

Rev. Adolphus Lacey, a pastor in New York’s Brooklyn borough, announcing ongoing voter registration efforts despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

“This case is a disaster for the rule of law and a grave disservice to women in Texas, who have a right to control their own bodies.  I will not stand by silently as a State continues to nullify this constitutional guarantee.  I dissent.”

Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Supreme Court Justice, condemning severe abortion restrictions established by the state of Texas

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From the ‘Only in Texas’ Files – January 15, 2022

Hey, did you hear the story about the teacher who dumped her sick kid into the trunk of her car so she wouldn’t get infected?

This is true!  And it could only happen in Texas!  Sandra Beam is facing child endangerment charges for placing her 13-year-old son in the trunk of her car, after he tested positive for COVID-19.  Her reasoning?  She didn’t want to get infected herself!

Her decision prompted her suspension from the Cypress-Fairbanks school district and a felony charge of child endangerment.  She was jailed, but managed to post a USD 1,500 bond.  As of now, it’s not known whether or not she has an attorney.

The 41-year-old teacher is highly-regarded among her peers and has received a slew of support from the community where she has been described as kind and genuine.  Think about it though: the witch placed her own son into the trunk of her car so she wouldn’t get sick.

Here’s a bright idea: WHERE A MASK!

Here’s another bright idea: as punishment, dump home-girl into the trunk of that same car with a bottle of water and a cell phone and park it by a sewage plant for 12 hours.

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