Tag Archives: influenza

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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Worst Quotes of the Week – June 5, 2021

“Are Peter Daszak and Tony Fauci under criminal investigation?  We can only hope they are. They certainly deserve it. At this point, we can’t say for sure. We do know that Fauci hasn’t simply lied about the origins of COVID, pretending to know things he could not know. He has also lied about vaccines in key ways.”

Tucker Carlson, in response to newly-released emails showing that Dr. Anthony Fauci had tried to work with Chinese health officials to learn the origins of the COVID-19 virus

Dr. Peter Daszak is a British zoologist who focuses on disease ecology.

“As I said that day, Jan. 6 was a dark day in the history of the United States Capitol.  You know, President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office, and I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye to eye about that day. But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years.”

Former Vice-President Mike Pence, speaking at the Hillsborough County Lincoln-Reagan Dinner in New Hampshire

Pence went on to say, “I will not allow Democrats or their allies in the media to use one tragic day to discredit the aspirations of millions of Americans. Or allow Democrats or their allies in the media to distract our attention from a new administration intent on further dividing our country to advance their radical agenda.”

It’s important to note that the Capital Hill rioters were chanting to kill Pence, as they invaded the Capital on January 6.

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Political Cartoon of the Week – May 29, 2021

Khalil Bendib

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Worst Quotes of the Week – May 29, 2021

“[It] shows that she was comparing the pre-Holocaust period in Nazi Germany to some aspects of America today, specifically, she was noting how history has shown us that certain countries and regimes have indeed separated people into second class citizens.  In essence, she was saying that Jews were branded as second class citizens back then with a gold star, and today we were also seeing a branding and division of people between the vaccinated, and the unvaccinated – two classes of people.  That was the point she made look she wasn’t coming from a place of hate.”

David Brody, a Christian Broadcasting Network commentator, expressing support for comments made by Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene about mask mandates

Sen. Rand Paul and wife Kelley

“I have been targeted multiple times now.  It is reprehensible that Twitter allows C-list celebrities to advocate for violence against me and my family!”

Sen. Rand Paul, declaring that singer Richard Marx is behind a mysterious package left on his doorstep

The package contained white powder and a threatening note.  Paul was referring to a recent Tweet by Marx stating: “I’ll say it again: If I ever meet Rand Paul’s neighbor I’m going to hug him and buy him as many drinks as he can consume.”  That, in turn, refers to a 2017 incident between Paul and one of his neighbors that turned violence.

The FBI is investigating the package, but there’s no proof Marx had anything to do with it.

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Best Quotes of the Week – May 22, 2021

“Holy crap.  Perhaps a U.S. Senator shouldn’t suggest that the Russian military is better than the American military that protected him from an insurrection he helped foment?”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, responding to a Tweet by Sen. Ted Cruz criticizing the U.S. military’s diversity endeavors

“We can’t even imagine the thinking behind Gov. Abbott’s callous decision to strip the remaining federal unemployment insurance benefits out of the pockets of Texas working families.  If he took the time or had any interest in understanding the challenges working people face, Gov. Abbott would see clearly that folks across Texas desperately need these funds as they try to navigate their way through the economic carnage of the pandemic.”

Rick Levy, president of the Texas AFL-CIO, reacting to Gov. Abbott’s decision to opt out of federal unemployment benefits extensions

“The Big Pharma fairy tale is one of groundbreaking R&D that justifies astronomical prices.  But the pharma reality is that you spend most of your company’s money making money for yourself and your shareholders.”

Rep. Katie Porter, to Richard Gonzalez, CEO of pharmaceutical giant AbbVie, about increasingly high costs for prescription drugs

During the U.S. House Oversight Committee hearing, Porter also declared, “You lie to patients when you charge them twice as much for an unimproved drug, and then you lie to policymakers when you tell us that R&D justifies those price increases.”

Gonzalez’s 2020 total compensation topped USD 24 million.

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Political Cartoon of the Week – May 15, 2021

Tom Tomorrow

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Best Response to a Stupid Question – May 1, 2021

“I’m sorry, I have to compose myself.  There’s not a vaccine with a tracking device embedded in it that I know of … exists in the world. Period.”

Dr. Clayton Chau, in response to Rep. Don Wagner asking if the COVID-19 vaccine has embedded tracking devices

Chau is director of the Orange County, California health care agency.

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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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Best Quotes of the Week – April 24, 2021

The Texas State Capitol Confederate Monument stands on the south lawn in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

“Confederate artifacts are undeniably a representation of hate, racism and of oppression. They are an insult to the many people who visit our Capitol today in the state of Texas. The argument that these monuments preserve history somehow or symbolize America’s past is merely to reshape and rewrite the intent of the Civil War.”

Rafael Anchía, Texas State Senator, promoting House Bill 1186, which would remove all Confederate monuments from the state capital

“We can’t stop here.”

President Joe Biden, on race relations in the United States, after the conviction of Derek Chauvin

“I can’t believe I’m going to say anything good about her. You all know I’m no fan of Nepotism Barbie. But here I go. Take a deep breath…Yesterday, I commend Ivanka Trump for having used her platform to show herself getting the vaccine and promote vaccination, when she says, I hope you get the shot too. And if you see the responses from Trump-supporting Republicans against what used to be their favorite daughter, you can see how political it has become.”

Ana Navarro, co-host of The View, on former First Daughter Ivanka Trump posting a photo of herself getting a COVID-19 vaccine

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