Tag Archives: quarantine

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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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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Worst Quotes of the Week – April 17, 2021

“We had 15 days to slow the spread turn into one year of lost liberty.  What metrics, what measures, what has to happen before Americans get more freedoms?”

Rep. Jim Jordan, to Dr. Anthony Fauci before the Coronavirus Select Subcommittee

“If you hate cops just because they’re cops, and you don’t know anything about them, then next time you get in trouble, just call a crackhead.”

Sen. John Kennedy, commenting on recent police shootings

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Best Quotes of the Week – April 17, 2021

“You’re indicating liberty and freedom.  I look at it as a public health measure to prevent people from dying and going to the hospital.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, to Rep. Jim Jordan, during a Coronavirus Select Subcommittee hearing

“You need to respect the chair and shut your mouth!”

Rep. Maxine Waters to Rep. Jim Jordan after his hostile exchange with Dr. Fauci before the Coronavirus Select Subcommittee

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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 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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Worst Quotes of the Week – February 20, 2021

“So first off, we obviously look at all the data that comes in.  But this strain is in blue states and they don’t talk about doing anything with blue states.”

Florida Governor Rick DeSantis, dismissing the growing number of COVID-19 cases in his state due to a new mutation

“The hundreds of thousands of people that attend those Trump rallies, those are the people that love this country.  They never would have done what happened on January 6.  That is a group of people that love freedom.  That is a group of people … we need to unify and keep on our side.”

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, claiming the January 6 rioters were not armed insurrectionists

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Best Quotes of the Week – February 20, 2021

“This is what you get when people who don’t believe in government are running your government. . . . They’d like to spend more time on Hannity talking about the Green New Deal and wind turbines than they would in trying to help those who desperately need it right now.”

Beto O’Rourke, on this week’s ice storms in Texas

“Just put it in people’s arms.  We don’t want any doses to go to waste. Period.”

Dr. Hasan Gokal, a Houston doctor with the Harris County Public Health Department who was charged with stealing ten doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for rushing to administer them before expiration

“It’s essentially a question of how much insurance you want to buy.  What makes this problem even harder is that we’re now in a world where, especially with climate change, the past is no longer a good guide to the future.  We have to get much better at preparing for the unexpected.”

Jesse Jenkins, an energy systems engineer at Princeton University, on the Texas ice storm crisis

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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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