Tag Archives: face mask

Strained

On September 1, several new laws went into effect here in Texas – 666 to be exact; a number that surely makes evangelicals tremble.  Some, like Senate Bill 968, which bans “vaccine passports”, became law immediately when Gov. Greg Abbott signed them in June.  Others, such as House Bill 2730, which deals with eminent domain, go into effect January 1, 2022.

Overall, it appears that some of them are designed to oppress the basic human and constitutional rights of certain groups.  The Texas State Legislature meets every two years and, in 2019, their principal goal was to loosen gun restrictions even more than they already were.  Those of us who aren’t obsessed with firearms (meaning we don’t suffer from Pencil-Penis Syndrome) wondered how much more lax these rules could become.  Stupidity never ceases to amaze me, and conservatives in the Texas State House always deliver.

This year’s session, though, has raised eyebrows and tempers across the nation – and mainly because of two of those 666 laws in particular.  One deals with voting and the other with abortion.  Abortion has always been an open wound for social and religious conservatives.  To them it’s worse than the growing economic inequalities in the country, the prescription drug epidemic, or the fact that so many children in the U.S. live in poverty.  Pro-life conservatives are “pro-life” – up to the time that baby is born.  Once it pops out of the placental oven, it’s pretty much on its own.

Known as the “fetal heartbeat” bill, it is the most ardent assault upon reproductive freedom since the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.  It bans abortions no matter the circumstance (including rape, incest and danger to the mother’s life) after the sixth week of pregnancy, which is usually before most women learn they’re pregnant.  It bears that moniker because an embryonic heartbeat allegedly can be detected at the sixth week.  In reality, the heart hasn’t developed by that point; only the muscles that eventually will become the heart have formed.  The term is misleading.  The sound of a heartbeat is generated by the opening and closing of the heart valves.  Those valves haven’t formed yet at 6 weeks.  When someone detects this so-called “fetal heartbeat”, it’s the sound generated by the ultrasound machine.  But self-righteous conservatives in the Texas State Legislature don’t see it that way.  It doesn’t conform to their narrow view of reality.  In other words, a group of (mostly male) politicians have decided they know more about human development and reproductive health care than actual medical professionals.

But the “fetal heartbeat” law goes even further – allowing anyone who assists in an abortion after that sixth week to be held liable as a criminal accessory and sued for up to $10,000.  This isn’t aimed strictly at those in the medical industry.  Giving a woman a ride to an abortion clinic, for example, opens them to criminal charges under this law; which means cab drivers are subject.  Perhaps comforting a woman after the abortion could be considered criminal.  Would a plumber who repairs water pipes in a women’s health clinic be deemed a criminal?  It’s not the state that would bring the charges; the $10,000 penalty is for any individual who files suit under the law.  Thus, if someone is upset (gets their feelings hurt) because of an abortion, they’re entitled for up to $10,000 compensation.

I’m upset there’s so much stupidity in the world.  Where’s my financial compensation?

Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a blow to abortion rights when it refused to take up the new Texas law for consideration.  Previously, it’s overturned similar laws passed by other states.  But for the past few years, conservatives have been pushing these draconian measures for the mere sake of having the High Court review the Roe v. Wade decision and ultimately overturn it.  The Court’s refusal to examine this Texas law is a blatant nod to right-wing extremists who feel divinely appointed to control other people’s lives.

The other new law gaining notoriety is Senate Bill 1, which targets the voting process.  SB 1 limits the early voting period and bans 24-hour and drive-through voting.  The drive-through voting idea was proposed last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 elections.  Perhaps the most alarming feature of this law is that it allows poll watchers greater access.  Voter intimidation is not just rude; it’s felonious.  But don’t tell that to Abbott and the rest of the Republican mafia in Texas who symbolize ongoing efforts by conservatives nationwide to undermine the right to vote – the very genesis of democratic societies.  It’s something we’ve tried to instill in other countries, such as…well, Iraq and Afghanistan.  But, just like the World War II generation moved Heaven and Earth to stop fascism in Europe, yet did nothing to end it here in the U.S., conservatives want people in developing nations to be able to vote in clean and fair elections – without putting the same amount of effort at home.

Like most of the nation, Texas is still in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic with a resurgence of infections and increasing hospitalizations.  This past February the Texas power grid system almost completely collapsed with the onset of Winter Storm Uri.  Scores of people died.  Much of the rest of the state’s infrastructure – mostly roads and bridges – are in dire need of repair or replacement.  And, of course, all those children in Texas and across the nation who are uninsured…doesn’t pro-life also mean taking care of them?

The new gaggle of laws has a few other gems – good and bad.  HB 1535 allows people to utilize marijuana for medicinal purposes.  SB 224 simplifies access to the Supplemental Assistance Program for older and disabled citizens; individuals can forgo the normally required interviews and have a shortened application process.  Now this measure is what I would deem pro-life!

On the other hand, we have HB 2497, which establishes an “1836 Project” committee produce educational materials dedicated to Texas history.  In 1836, the Battle of the Alamo launched Texas’ separation from México.  It’s in contrast to the “1619 Project”, which examines U.S. history from the arrival of enslaved Africans.

Moreover, HB 3979 limits teachers from discussing current events and systemic racism in class.  The bill also prevents students from receiving class credit for participating in civic engagement and – wait for it – bans teaching of the aforementioned “1619 Project”.

I attribute these social studies bills as efforts by White conservatives to undermine the true history of the United States; that Native Americans were more civilized and intellectual than many realize; that the “founding fathers” weren’t devout Christians; and that the Civil War really was about keeping an entire race of people enslaved and not states’ rights.  Like the presidency of Donald Trump, it’s a strike back against decades of progressive thought and ambition.

I never know what to think of these right-wing fools in elected office.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to put up that sign on my front lawn offering free rides to abortion clinics.

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A Second of Thought and Prayer

The Governor of the State of Texas, Greg Abbott, has COVID-19.  Since he is anti-vaccine and anti-mask, let us give him what he deserves: a second of our thoughts and prayers.

Okay, now please continue with the more pressing matters of your life.  Thank you for your support.

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Notes on Normal

A sign of hope for America.

Things are beginning to return to the way they were.  At least for me.  I found Lysol® at the store last week!  It’s a small – yet strangely ridiculous – sign of hope.  Maybe not so much strange as pathetic.  I mean, are things really so out of whack that we get excited about Lysol and toilet paper?

Last year started off rough for me, when my mother suffered a debilitating stroke.  I reluctantly had to place her in a rehabilitation facility to help her heal.  Her dementia only intensified matters.  Then the pandemic hit.  And then the facility practically evicted her in May of 2020 because her Medicare benefits expired.  She finally passed at the end of June.

The stress of caring for both of my elderly parents for so long seemed to hit afterwards as my body and mind almost completely collapsed.  In the midst of a global plague, I naturally thought I had “The Virus”.  But it was just that relentless stress.  I already knew its effects from life in the working world.  Yet I’d never felt it so personally.

Alas, the U.S. economy is regaining strength, for which conservatives are crediting Donald Trump.  But those of us with more than a few brain cells know Trump’s actions and behavior throughout his thankfully single term in office traumatized the American psyche and steered our financial situation into greater distress.

We finally have a president, though, who know how to act…well, presidential!  Joe Biden may be an old codger, but as someone rapidly headed towards 60, I’d rather have an old man who knows how to govern than a failed businessman / tax cheat / cretin of a human being who brags about fondling women and holds up a bible like it’s a copy of Mein Kompf for a cheap photo op.

Earlier this week I started working on a temporary job – one that requires me to actually get into my truck and drive to an office building in a neighboring suburb.  Aside from having to wear a face mask whenever I leave my desk, it’s a rather normal and ordinary corporate environment.  Oddly, it feels good to go somewhere other than a store or a restaurant during the week.

Some other things, however, remain troublesome.  Like its owner, my 15-year-old vehicle is showing its age.  I really think it just wants to lead a life of its own – much like my body.  Unfortunately, I’ve gained too much weight over the past several months.  I believe that’s a recurring problem.  But rotund physiques have become a common sight here in the U.S.  If I’d known better, I would have invested in sweat pants years ago!

Regardless, I still see hope on the horizon of mediocre.  Now, I must do some sit-ups and enjoy spraying that Lysol.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – April 10, 2021

“When a group of sad, disenfranchised people who have been left out of the modern economy show up at your office, you don’t have to listen to their complaints.  Not for a second. Why would you?”

Tucker Carlson, in a mocking rant about the January 6 Capitol Hill riots

April 6 marked exactly three months since the event.  Carlson added: “For those of you are not good at dates or don’t have calendars, this is the day that we pause to remember the White supremacist QAnon insurrection, that came so very close to toppling our government and ending this democracy forever.”

“We have a major under-incarceration problem in America.  And it’s only getting worse.”

Sen. Tom Cotton, presenting his solution to rising crime in the U.S.

The U.S. has approximately 2.3 million people incarcerated, or roughly 698 people per every 100,000; the highest rate in the developed world.

“They simply let me use it as a security retreat because they knew the threat that I was under. And I was basically under presidential threat without presidential security in terms of the number of threats I was getting.”

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice-president of the National Rifle Association, describing how he often sought refuge on a friend’s yacht after notable mass shootings

LaPierre made the revelation in a deposition during the NRA’s bankruptcy hearing.

“When I see people walking outside, often alone with no one anywhere near them, wearing a mask, my primary reactions are disappointment and sadness.  I am disappointed because I expected better from my fellow Americans. I never thought most Americans would be governed by irrational fears and unquestioning obedience to authority. I have come to realize that I had a somewhat romanticized view of my countrymen.”

Dennis Prager, expressing frustration that so many people continue to wear masks

He also declared: “If you wear a mask, you do so in the belief that you are protecting yourself (and others) from COVID-19. So, then, why do you care if I don’t wear a mask?”

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Tweet of the Week – March 20, 2021

Rep. Lauren Boebert

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Best Quotes of the Week – March 13, 2021

“I believe this… historic legislation is about rebuilding the backbone of this country and giving people of this nation – working people, middle class folks, people that built the country – a fighting chance.  I’m going to have a lot more to say about that tonight and the next couple days.”

President Joe Biden, upon signing a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill

“ … Conspiracy theories should have no place in the Christian life. As people who claim to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ, we should not risk our public witness for political fantasies. We should denounce any movement that spreads false information.”

Seth Brown, in response to social media posts by Luke Coffee, former actor and conspiracy proponent, who took part in the January 6 Capitol Hill riots

Brown works with North Carolina-based Biblical Recorder and has written extensively for Southern Baptists about QAnon.

“In societies with bigger differences between rich and poor, women are less enfranchised and have less power, resources, and prestige than women in societies where those differences are smaller.”

Kate Pickett, British epidemiologist and Professor of Epidemiology in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of New York, in “Fissures That Tear Us Apart and Pressures That Weigh Us All Down”, Social Europe, 03/08/21

“In Austin, we’re committed to saving lives, period.  If state officials don’t want to do their jobs protecting people from the virus, then we will.”

Greg Casar, Austin, Texas City Councilman, responding to Gov. Abbott’s order rescinding mandatory mask-wearing in public

The Governor’s new order went into effect March 10, but the City of Austin plans to retain a mask mandate for the immediate future.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – November 21, 2020

“There are mail-in ballots.  Some people in some places receive four or five of those, and they used four and five of those.  Let’s say that they got four in the mail and they sent the four in, there’s three of them that are crying out, ‘Wrong! This is wrong. This is not right. This is deception.’  It’s crying out.  There are others through software that votes have changed, you better believe those ballots are crying out, ‘This is a lie. This is not right. This is not right.’  All the way down the line, even to people who have died and gone to Heaven. … Especially if those people were born again, they’re in Heaven right now and they’re crying out.  They’re crying out against the injustice of this. You cannot come against the Lord of the Sabbath, the Lord of angel armies.  Angels have been dispatched; they are out there.  That is why that voice is crying out. It is not just the people. It is the ballot itself.”

George Pearsons, senior pastor at Eagle Mountain International Church in Newark, Texas, on the 2020 presidential election

“He is not president-elect until the votes are certified.  So the answer to that is no.  And I don’t know what basis you or anybody else would claim that he’s president-elect before the votes are certified and these contests are resolved.”

– Texas Sen. John Cornyn, on a call with various news organizations

Cornyn also admitted Donald Trump may not have been reelected.

“There are legal claims that are being challenged in court, and everybody on the ballot has certain access rights and remedies, and if they want to push that, they are able. Once those are adjudicated and the process plays out, I will accept the results of the election.”

– Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, refusing to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the state

“It’s Orwellian in a place like Oregon to say if you gather in numbers more than six we might come to your house and arrest you and you get 30 days of jail time.  That’s not the American way.”

Kayleigh McEnany, White House Press Secretary, in response to health care officials’ advice not to have large family gatherings for Thanksgiving

McEnany tested positive for the COVID-19 virus in October.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – November 14, 2020

“Whistleblowers and tipsters should turn over their evidence to local law enforcement. Anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and final conviction of voter fraud will be paid a minimum of $25,000.”

– Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, offering $1 million from his own campaign to anyone anywhere in the U.S. who can prove voter fraud

Jim Clancy, former chairman of the Texas Ethics Commission, said handing out large sums of reward money may be improper if it’s being used to help prove Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman had this response:

“Let me tell you something.  Every Christian, every pastor out there that voted for Joe Biden last night, you have brought a curse upon yourself and your family, your children, and your children’s children down to the third and fourth generation, and you need to repent.  You cannot call yourself a Christian and call yourself a [Democrat] and vote for Biden.  You are implementing the dark agenda.  Satan’s agenda. The kingdom of darkness. You are not supporting the kingdom of God. And if you cannot see that, if you do not repent, judgment will fall upon you, I believe, and your family and your children’s children down the third and fourth generation.”

Mark Taylor, QAnon conspiracy theorist and self-described “firefighter prophet”, on Christians who voted for Joe Biden

“We have 11 million people in our country who have already had COVID.  We should tell them to celebrate.  We should tell them to throw away their masks, go to restaurants, live again because these people are now immune.  But Dr. Fauci doesn’t want to admit to any of that.  Dr. Fauci’s like, ‘Oh, woe is me.’ Until the election occurs, and now, maybe he’ll be changing his attitude.”

Sen. Rand Paul, encouraging Americans to get rid of their face masks

“You can’t say that marriage is a union between one man and one woman.  Until very recently, that’s what the vast majority of Americans thought. Now it’s considered bigotry.  That this would happen after our decision in Obergefell should not have come as a surprise.  Yes, the opinion of the court included words meant to calm the fears of those who cling to traditional views of marriage. But I could see, and so did the other justices in dissent, where the decision would lead.”

– Associate U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, about the landmark same-sex marriage case, in a speech to the Federalist Society

Alito noted that such cases are tantamount to the oppression of religious liberties.

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Instagram Moment of the Week – July 25, 2020

In a video uploaded by Jordan Gipson, a delivery driver with Black Postmates in Los Angeles, a combative and maskless woman refuses to allow Gipson into the building.  Eventually the resident who ordered the food arrives (wearing a mask) to get their food.

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Worst Quote of the Week – May 29, 2020

“Well I did wear – I had one on before. I wore one in this back area. But I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”

President Donald Trump, in response to a reporter on why he didn’t wear a mask while touring a Ford plant.

Writer, artist and fellow blogger Art Browne (my kindred brother in weirdness) proposed this alternative:

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