Tag Archives: vaccine

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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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 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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Tweet of the Week – April 17, 2021

Ivanka Trump getting a COVID-19 vaccine.  The irony of this can’t be emphasized enough; considering her father demonstrated complete ineptness in dealing with the pandemic.  If I never again hear about the Trump family, it won’t be too soon.

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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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Most Alarming Quote of the Week – April 3, 2021

“When I first started at CDC about 2 months ago, I made a promise to you: I would tell you the truth even if it was not the news we wanted to hear. Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth, and I have to hope and trust you will listen,” she said. “I’m going to pause here, I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom.”

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, on the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

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