Tag Archives: Gov. Greg Abbott

Worst Quotes of the Week – March 20, 2021

“It was Barack Obama himself who knew about the dangers of ballot harvesting in the state of Texas because under his administration, he sent his U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, as well as the FBI, to south Texas to arrest and to prosecute people who were involved in ballot harvesting that were using cocaine to buy votes through the ballot harvesting process in the state of Texas.”

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX), claiming efforts by the Democratic National Party to secure elections would result in people using cocaine to buy votes

Abbott went on to say, “And when you look at some of the things that they are talking about with regard to H.R. 1, they are trying to institutionalize voter fraud in the United States of America. They want to make mail-in ballots permanent. Everyone knows – including Democrats in Texas – have said that one of the easiest ways to cheat in elections is through these mail-in ballots.”

“Even though those thousands of people that were marching to the Capitol were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned… Now, had the tables been turned – Joe, this could get me in trouble – had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned.”

Sen. Ron Johnson, on the January 6 Capital Hill riots

“There’s old sayings in Texas about, you know, find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree.  You know, we take justice very seriously and we ought to do that.  Round up the bad guys.  That’s what we believe.”

Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), mentioning lynching as a form of justice during congressional hearings about anti-Asian-American violence

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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 – March 6, 2021

“The Biden administration must stop importing COVID into our country.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, regarding President Biden’s new immigration policy

“It was unfortunate, very unfortunate, that somehow the government was not able to manage those children in a way that they could be reunited properly.  It turned out to be more of a problem than I think any of us imagined it would be.”

Former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, about family separation in immigration policy during the Trump administration

“The idea that for fur boy with the red, white, and blue and some of the other nuts in there were some sort of coordinated – it’s just a bunch of idiots, and some of them criminals … to the naked eye, it didn’t look coordinated.”

Laura Ingraham, dismissing claims by FBI Director Christopher Wray that the January 6 attacks on Capitol Hill were planned

Wray testified before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this week about the riots.

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Best Quotes of the Week – March 6, 2021

“Abbott has purposefully injected a new infection into the state in the form of irresponsible policies that will promote unnecessary infection, hospitalization and death.”

Dr. Kavita Patel, on the announcement by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to reopen the state 100% to retailers, restaurants and other businesses, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic

“The Republican Party’s biggest problem is that too many people of color are exercising their right to vote.  The party’s solution is a massive push for voter suppression that would make old-time Jim Crow segregationists proud.”

Eugene Robinson, in a Washington Post editorial

“I think a lot of us assumed that we were the dominant gene – if only because the country was changing so much – that out of its own self-interest the party would have to change.  We saw the dark side.  We thought it was a recessive gene.  And I don’t know any conclusion to come to except that we were wrong.”

Stuart Stevens, on MSNBC’s “The 11th Hour with Brian Williams” 03/03/21

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Tweet of the Week – February 27, 2021

Beto O’Rourke

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No S**t Quotes of the Week – February 27, 2021

All courtesy of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott opining about the recent ice storm chaos:

“When essential services were needed the most, the system broke.  You deserve answers.  You will get those answers.”

“You shouldn’t be saddled with skyrocketing power bills.”

“Each of these power sources failed to fully produce because of inadequate safeguards.”

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Best Quotes of the Week – February 27, 2021

“Members of the board of ERCOT resigned for their failures and Greg Abbott should follow.  He is the head of the state. He is responsible for this crisis.”

Gilberto Hinojosa, Texas Democratic Party Chairman, in response to the recent ice storm and the ensuing failure of the state’s leadership to handle it

“It really would have been nice to have a state representative helping on the ground, working at a warming center, packing food, etc. rather than immediately (flying) off on a private plane when the going got tough.  My neighbors didn’t get to do that when her pipe burst.”

Brian Walz, resident of the Fort Bend, Texas area, criticizing State Rep. Gary Gates (pictured) for flying to Orlando, Florida as effects of the ice storm in his district worsened

A first-term lawmaker, Gates is facing backlash for taking a private jet to Orlando, but says he and his family had to leave their home, as pipes had burst.

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The Texas state capital building in Austin

The memo was clear.  Everyone should make a concerted effort to get into the office, no matter what the weather is like.  That included winter storms.  It was the mid-1990s, and the manager of the department where I worked in a bank in downtown Dallas insisted that business was paramount.  This was seemingly light years before the Internet and telecommuting became dependable and functional.  And every time ice and snow paralyzed the Dallas / Fort Worth metropolitan area I managed to make it into work.  One week day I awoke to sleet falling outside of my apartment bedroom window; it was about 4 in the morning.  I knew the weather would only worsen, so I shut off my alarm clock and readied for work.  Travel time from my far North Dallas abode into downtown took almost 2 hours by navigating ice-laden streets.  When I arrived just before 8 a.m., I literally had to turn on the lights in the department.

When I went to work for an engineering company shortly after the turn of the century, I ended up back in downtown Dallas, laboring on a contract for a government agency.  I learned quickly the federal outfit had a phobia of snow and ice.  They’d literally shut down when snow began descending upon the city.  As contractors, my colleagues and I had to vacate the premises as well.  One afternoon a monstrous rainstorm attacked, and – in a faux frenzy – I asked loudly if we had to leave the building.  Rain, I declared, was just liquid snow.  No such luck.  We had to continue laboring over our strained keyboards.  Everyone laughed.

Last weekend Winter Storm Uri catapulted into North America from the Pacific, generating ice storms that blanketed the state of Texas this week and inducing an even more paralyzing effect: our power grid shut down.  Literally millions of people have lived without power (and in some cases, without water) since this past weekend.  As of this moment, most homes have their power back.  But a lack of water is now the problem.  Meanwhile, the number of deaths in Texas related to the event has risenDallas-Fort Worth International Airport led the world in the number of flight cancellations this week.

This has been a cataclysm of unimaginable proportions.  I have experienced a slew of serious weather events and witnessed plenty of incidents of government incompetence, but I have NEVER seen anything like this!

What has occurred here in Texas this week is a prime example of the ineptness of conservative ideology and intense deregulation.  Texas is an energy island; producing its own energy and relying upon no one else.  The exception is far West Texas, where El Paso and its immediate surrounding communities experienced the same weather event, yet had no power outages.  That strong sense of independence and individual reliability looks great in political campaigns, but doesn’t always turn out well in real life.  Since the mid-1990s, Texas has had the habit of electing the biggest morons to public office.  And they’ve come to dominate state government.  Texas conservatives have done more to protect gun rights than basic human rights.

Now many of those same conservatives who always espouse the concept of personal responsibility are pointing their gnarly fingers at everyone and everything except themselves and their own disjointed attitudes.  Even though President Joe Biden approved emergency relief for Texas, some Republicans are accusing him of indifference.  They somehow missed Ted Cruz running off to Cancun, México this week because his kids wanted to go.  Governor Greg Abbott has blamed green energy and the Green New Deal for the crisis.  Green energy, however, only makes up about 10% of energy sources in Texas, and the Green New Deal hasn’t even gone into effect yet.  But they’re liberal programs, so of course, Republicans consider them demonic and will trash their mere presence whenever they get the chance.  Abbott also blames the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) for mishandling the event, but still hasn’t looked in the mirror.

A ceiling fan in a Dallas apartment building sprouted icicles.

This debacle points to the vulnerability of modern societies that have come to rely upon optic fibers and wires; a weakness that would both appall and humor our hardy ancestors.  In March of 1888, a massive winter storm assaulted the Northeastern U.S., downing power lines and disabling even modest commutes in the region’s largest cities.  People in rural areas, however, lived through the storm and its effects without much trouble.  They were accustomed to such weather anyway and prepared for it.

Preparedness – the word of 2021.

Consider this irony.  Earlier on Thursday, the 18th, NASA was able to land a vehicle on Mars.  The endeavor cost millions of dollars and is an epic triumph in the name of science and technology.  But we can’t get power and water to millions of human beings here in Texas – on planet Earth – for several days.

That’s not just sad; it’s unbelievably outrageous.

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Barrett Block

“It has been 80 years since a Supreme Court vacancy was nominated and confirmed in an election year. There is a long tradition that you don’t do this in an election year.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), February 14, 2016, “Meet the Press”

“The court — we are one vote away from losing our fundamental constitutional liberties, and I believe that the president should next week nominate a successor to the court, and I think it is critical that the Senate takes up and confirms that successor before Election Day,” Cruz said. “This nomination is why Donald Trump was elected. This confirmation is why the voters voted for a Republican majority in the Senate.”

Cruz, September 18, 2020, hours after the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

If hypocrisy was a virtue, many politicians would be among the most honorable of citizens.  Sadly, political environments seem to have no room for such people.  Hypocrisy reigns, as U.S. Senate Republicans rammed through the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett this week, in order to fill the seat left by the death Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month.  Ginsburg’s failing health and ultimate death had been the subject for years among Supreme Court watchers.  Liberals and even moderates feared her death would come at such a pivotal moment in U.S. history as we’re in now.

Allegations of a double standard aside, my biggest concern with Barrett is her unwillingness to answer questions regarding one particular issue, the most sacred element of democracy: voting.  I’ve always found it odd that conservatives will move mountains to protect gun rights, but unleash similar amounts of energy to thwart voting rights.  It’s obvious this matter is critical because we are on the cusp of a presidential election.  Yet, the right to cast a ballot has come under threat since Barack Obama fairly and legitimately won his first election in 2008.  (Understand there’s never been any question of the validity of Obama’s elections.)  States with predominantly Republican legislatures suddenly became concerned with voter fraud and began implementing measures to combat it.  Similar reactions erupted after passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act and ratification of the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1971.

My home state of Texas, for example, was among the first to tighten voter identification.  College ids and utility bills were nearly eliminated as proof of one’s existence or residency, but they retain their positions as supplemental forms of identification.  Other measures, such as fingerprints and retina scans were proposed – all in a futile attempt to combat the mystical voter fraud; much the same way Ted Cruz managed to fight off myriad communist sympathizers on the manicured grounds of Princeton University.

In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of standing in crowded places to cast a ballot made many people shudder.  Generally, senior citizens and the disabled were among the few granted the privilege of mail-in voting.  But, as the novel coronavirus remains highly contagious, mail-in voting became more palatable.  Then, as if on cue, President Donald Trump and other right-wing sycophants raised the ugly specter of voter fraud.  And, of course, mail-in voting – just like the overall right granted by the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution – was in jeopardy.

When voting rights advocates tried to compromise by pushing for drop-off ballot boxes, conservatives again balked.  On October 1, Texas Governor Greg Abbott mandated that only one drop-off box would be acceptable per county.  That works great for tiny Loving County (pop. 169), but not for massive Harris County (pop. 4.7 million).  U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman overruled Abbott; denouncing the governor’s proclamation as “myopically” focused.  But the governor persisted, and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with him.

Earlier this week, however, Judge Barrett couldn’t seem to bring herself to declare the importance and value of voting rights.  Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar asked Barrett about the freedom of the formerly incarcerated to regain their voting rights.  She highlighted one of Barrett’s 2019 dissent in Kanter v. Barr that voting should be granted only to “virtuous citizens.”  In the Kanter case, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit ruled it reasonable that the litigant, Rickey Kanter, lose his right to own firearms after a felony conviction for mail fraud.  Barrett was the only member of the 3-judge panel to resist and brought up the “virtuous citizens” remark, which subsequently invoked discussions of what constitutes virtuous.  As with any moral declaration, the concept of virtue can be purely subjective.  Yet Barrett didn’t stop there.  In her dissent, she went on to write that the application of virtue should limit the right of citizens to vote and serve on juries.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard conservative political figures announce their support for ex-convicts to regain their right to bear arms, if they’ve served their full sentences.  None, however, have expressed similarly ardent advocacy for the same ex-convicts to earn back their right to vote.  I suspect this is because they all realize the significance of the power of voting and the power it gives even to the poor and disenfranchised.  Hence, measures in the past with poll taxes and “grandfather clauses”.

Barrett still wouldn’t clarify what she meant by “virtuous”.  In response to Klobuchar, she said, “Okay. Well, senator, I want to be clear that that is not in the opinion designed to denigrate the right to vote, which is fundamental … The virtuous citizenry idea is a historical and jurisprudential one.  It certainly does not mean that I think that anybody gets a measure of virtue and whether they’re good or not, and whether they’re allowed to vote. That’s not what I said.”

Klobuchar persisted.  In citing Justice Ginsburg’s writing in the landmark voting rights case Shelby County v. Holder, she asked, “Do you agree with Justice Ginsburg’s conclusion that the Constitution clearly empowers Congress to protect the right to vote?”

Shelby County v. Holder was crucial in the contemporary assault on voting rights.  It addressed Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states and local governments to obtain federal preclearance before implementing any changes to their voting laws or practices and Section 4(b), which contains the coverage formula that determines which jurisdictions are subjected to preclearance based on their histories of discrimination in voting.  The seminal 1965 act was not-so-subtly aimed at southern states.  When the case arrived at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013, where a 5-4 ruling declared Section 4(b) unconstitutional because it was based on data over 40 years old.  The high court didn’t strike down Section 5.  Previous research had showed that both sections had led to increases in minority voting since the 1960s.  Contemporary voting advocates, however, claimed that recent efforts – especially after Obama’s 2008 victory and mainly in the South – made it easier for election officials to impose greater restrictions on voting.

Again, Barrett just couldn’t (more likely wouldn’t) bring herself to state her position clearly.  “Well, Senator, that would be eliciting an opinion from me on whether the dissent or the majority was right in Shelby County,” she told Klobuchar, “and I can’t express a view on that, as I’ve said, because it would be inconsistent with the judicial role.”

Klobuchar then brought up alarming news that Atlas Aegis, a Tennessee-based company, was trying to recruit former members of the U.S. military to show up at various polling places while armed; all in a supposed effort to ensure the security of voting.  The image of such activity has become plausible as even President Trump advocates for armed poll-watchers to prevent voter fraud.  Whether these people should be armed with bazookas or cell phones hasn’t been made clear, but the threat is obvious.

“Judge Barrett,” asked Klobuchar, “under federal law, is it illegal to intimidate voters at the polls?”

“Sen. Klobuchar, I can’t characterize the facts in a hypothetical situation and I can’t apply the law to a hypothetical set of facts,” Barrett said.

Well, that’s a nice, safe response.  And I have to concede it’s only proper in such a setting.  A fair jurist can’t logically state a position without knowing the facts.  As the late Justice Antonin Scalia, Barrett’s self-admitted idol, once declared, “I want to hear your argument.”  But that should apply only to specific cases.  There should be no doubt about the concept of voting.

Barrett was also evasive in answers to other questions, such as abortion – the perennially key issue among conservatives – and the Affordable Care Act.  Trump had made it clear from the start of his presidential campaign that he wanted to overturn both the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and the ACA.  While he and social and religious conservatives offer no concessions for Roe, the president often mentioned a replacement for ACA, which has yet to materialize and – as far as I’m concerned – doesn’t exist.  Roe will always remain a thorn in the fragile ribs of conservatives, but the idea of eliminating health care coverage for all citizens – particularly while we remain mired in this pandemic and flu season already underway – is infuriating.  Not-so-ironically the high court is set to review the validity of the ACA next month.  As with the upcoming election, Trump wants to ensure a conservative majority on the court before both events.

Trump has already stated – as he did in 2016 – that he will only accept the results of the election if he wins.  Whatever fool is surprised, please raise your hand now, so we full-brain folks can laugh at you!  Loudly.  Yet it’s clear: Trump realizes this election could end up like 2000, when the Supreme Court ordered the state of Florida to stop its ballot recount and thereby hand the presidency to George W. Bush.  That Bush’s younger brother, Jeb, was governor of Florida in 2000 wasn’t lost on most.  The “good-old-boy” network was alive and well at the turn of the century!

And it thrives in the anti-First Amendment actions of Republican governors across the nation.  I feel that Barrett is basically their puppet; their tool in resolutions to ensure a conservative majority in the Supreme Court.  As with any justice, Barrett’s place on the court could impact generations of people.  As a writer, I’m a strong free speech advocate, which equals the right to vote.  They’re intertwined.  And I feel that many conservatives view the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as available to only a handful – people like them.  People who share their narrow view of the world and what is appropriate in order to function within it.

Thus, the U.S. Senate’s kangaroo confirmation hearings for Barrett are ominous.

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Best Quote of the Week – March 13, 2020

“No one should have to choose between staying home and really now being at higher risk with the situation with the coronavirus or having to decide to go to work sick.”

Ana Gonzalez, policy director for the Workers Defense Project, regarding the fact thousands of workers may be forced to take time off from work to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Texas alone has more than 10 million people age 18 and above involved in the workforce.  About 40% of them lack paid sick leave; the majority of them female and/or non-White.  Texas is notably more pro-business than pro-worker, and state officials have fought various municipalities that want to implement mandatory paid sick leave by filing lawsuits and proposing legislation to undermine those efforts.

Now, with the COVID-19 scourge in full crisis mode, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has declared a state of emergency.

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