Tag Archives: voting

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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Most Delusional Quote of the Week – June 26, 2021

“I never admitted defeat.”

Donald Trump, during an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network

He added, “No, I never, the word is ‘concede,’ [and] I have not conceded.”

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Worst Quotes of the Week – June 26, 2021

“You know after they said penetration in the end zone they lost me.”

Joy Behar, regarding Carl Nassib becoming the first openly gay active player in the NFL, on “The View”

In all fairness, Behar has apologized for her comment.

“If he’s gonna tie them together, he can forget it!  I’m not doing that.  That’s extortion!  I’m not going to do that.  The Dems are being told you can’t get your bipartisan work product passed unless you sign on to what the left wants, and I’m not playing that game.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham, on President Biden’s multi-trillion-dollar infrastructure plan

“President Donald Trump is also one of a kind.  He too disrupted the status quo, he challenged the establishment… and now, as then, there is no going back.”

Former Vice-President Mike Pence, comparing Donald Trump Ronald Reagan

Pence went on to say, “Under President Trump’s leadership we were able to achieve things Republicans have been talking about since the days of Barry Goldwater.  It’s true.”

For the record, Goldwater lost the 1964 U.S. presidential election to Lyndon B. Johnson in the largest landslide in U.S. election history.

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Best Quotes of the Week – June 26, 2021

“They’re trying to rig the system to stay in office as long as they can, try to suppress the vote to make it harder – especially for Black and brown communities to vote in Texas – and we’re not going to let them.  We’re going to fight back. We’re going to say no, and we’re going to show up.”

Julian Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, during a rally for federal voting rights legislation in front of the Texas Capitol

“Tucker Carlson didn’t serve.  His biggest achievement is having nine lives in the world of cable news.  Making a bowtie famous, and getting away with promoting conspiracy theories, night after night after night.”

Brianna Keilar, responding to Tucker Carlson’s criticism of Gen. Mark Milley, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and noting the FOX News host didn’t serve in the U.S. military

Keilar added, “That isn’t just a dog whistle.  It’s a white whistle…He is white rage!”

“I want to understand White rage, and I’m White.  What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America?  What caused that?  I want to find out.”

Gen. Mark Milley, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about the January 6 Capitol Hill riots and the U.S. military’s efforts to push for more diverse and inclusive standards

Conservative critics have painted the new military policies as Marxist and generally anti-American.

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Worst Quotes of the Week – June 19, 2021

“Strangely, some of the key people who participated on Jan. 6 have not been charged.  Look at the document. The government calls those people unindicted co-conspirators.  What does that mean?  Well, it means that in potentially every single case, they were FBI operatives.”

Tucker Carlson, insinuating the FBI was part of the January 6 riots on Capitol Hill

“But these people are running around saying, ‘There is no vote fraud because, well, there’s no prosecutions.’  Well, have you gotten the gist of how hard it is to get a stinkin’ prosecution?  Have you gotten that yet?  So, it’s really hard to get one.”

Jay DeLancy, a former U.S. Air Force colonel and executive director of North Carolina’s Voter Integrity Project, lamenting his failed efforts to highlight voter fraud in the state

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Best Quotes of the Week – June 19, 2021

President Joe Biden points to Opal Lee after signing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 17, 2021, in Washington.  Lee, a 94-year-old Texan, had campaigned for holiday.  From left, Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., Opal Lee, Sen. Tina Smith, D-Minn., Vice President Kamala Harris, House Majority Whip James Clyburn of S.C., Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, obscured, Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

“This day doesn’t just celebrate the past. It calls for action today.”

President Joe Biden, upon signing the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act on June 17

“You are courageous leaders and American patriots.”

Vice-President Kamala Harris, praising a group of Texas Democrats for walking out on a state legislative session in protest of a strict new voting bill

“Without a national standard for voting rights and voting reform, states are going to just chip away at the rights of voters state by state. Hopefully, this might inform minds and shape opinions when folks are in that Senate cloakroom wrestling over how they’re going to proceed with HR1 and HR4.”

Texas State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, about the Texas Democratic walk-out

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Best Quotes of the Week – June 5, 2021

“This is an issue that galvanizes, particularly minority voters, and speaking as a Black American, someone who lived through the age of Jim Crow segregation, someone who has seen court challenges where African Americans have had to use the Supreme Court … people have fought and lost their lives to have access to the ballot, to vote.  There should be no retrogression in terms of making sure people have access to the franchise and unfettered access.”

Michael Adams, a professor of political science at Texas Southern University, about the Texas Legislature’s stringent voting regulations

“I think we’re doing a great job in terms of recruiting the right kinds of people, providing access to people from every corner, every walk of life in this country.”

Gen. Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense, criticizing Sen. Ted Cruz for his recent demeaning comments about the U.S. military

Austin also insisted that diversity “must be a part of who we are.”

“This sacred right is under assault … with an intensity and aggressiveness we have not seen in a long, long time.  It is simply un-American. It’s not, however, sadly, unprecedented.”

President Joe Biden, on efforts by Republican-dominated state legislatures’ to limit voting rights

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Guns, Votes and Demented Priorities

Last week the state of Texas loosened gun restrictions.  That’s almost incomprehensible in a state that already boasts some of the most relaxed (weakest) firearm regulations in the nation.  But, for the hamster-dick right-wing extremists that dominate the Texas state legislature, any kind of gun restriction is a prospect more terrifying than a bunch of angry Black and Brown women storming into a Proud Boys meeting armed with attitudes and hair brushes.

And that’s pretty much who comprises both the Texas state legislature and the Proud Boys: old and middle-aged White men pissed off the world is no longer theirs to play with.  Thus, they assert control the only way they know how – with guns.

Now, in Texas, people no longer need a license or even proper training to tote a firearm anywhere within the state’s 268,597 sm. (695,663 km).

Gosh, what could possibly go wrong?

Gun rights advocates have always proclaimed that responsible firearm owners have nothing to fear and the general public has nothing to fear from responsible firearm owners.  But they’ve also screamed that any measure of regulation is a step towards elimination.  They’ve warned about those proverbial “slippery slope” dilemmas, even though any nearby slope is slippery because of all the spittle flying out their chapped lips from screaming about gun rules.

Someone with more than half a brain stop the madness!

Contrast that shenanigans with the new voting regulations – restrictions – the same state legislature imposed shortly before then.  Those rules limit early voting hours, ban drive-through voting and require large counties to redistribute polling places that could move sites away from areas with more Hispanic and Black residents.

The voting measures don’t surprise me.  Ever since Barack Obama won his first election – fairly, legitimately and without question – legions of (mostly White) conservatives in state legislatures around the country have done everything they could to ensure that never happens again.

Conservatives have spouted the usual rhetoric about protecting the integrity of the voting process, just as they claim the need to protect their right (their right) to own firearms.  I’ve noticed many of those old men – allegedly tough and strong – always express some degree of paranoia; their fear of someone invading their property and hurting their loved ones.  Therefore, their guns are readily available.  Stupid, paranoid people in the U.S. always reach for their guns and Christian Bibles when things look scary.

Strangely, though, they’ve long since recognized the power of the vote.  Voting is actually more powerful and with longer lasting effects than firearms.  A bullet could kill someone.  A vote can put someone in office who will enact legislation that may alter society for decades.

And thus, they are scared.

It’s almost laughable if it wasn’t so serious.  Right-wing extremists always seem to forget – or perhaps, never truly understood – that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is the first amendment for a reason.  You vote first to enact and ensure change in society.  Then again, as I stated above, perhaps they do understand the significance of voting – and that’s why they do what they can to assure that only people with their similar and limited intellectual prowess can vote.  With their guns and Bibles by their sides.

My parents told me of seeing television footage of White police officials attacking Black citizens protesting against discrimination and segregation laws and trying to vote in the Deep South in the 1950s and 60s.  I recall my father, in particular, telling me that the former Soviet Union would display those images on their own TVs and point out this was an example of democracy.

The U.S. always promoted itself as a beacon of democracy; a government of and by the people.

I’ve seen those black-and-white images of 1950s and 1960s America in various retrospectives of a time how we used to be.  Considering what conservative-dominated states legislatures have done to voting and gun laws in recent years, I keep seeing those old images in contemporary colors.

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Podcast of the Week – May 15, 2021

Recently the State of Texas passed a bill that was disguised as a voting integrity measure, but in reality, puts more restrictions on the voting process.  In a podcast interview with Jon Favreau, former U.S. Congressman Beto O’Rourke (who challenged Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018) discussed the Texas bill and its adverse effects on voting.

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Press Release of the Week – April 3, 2021

American Airlines Statement on Texas Voting Legislation

Thursday, April 01, 2021, 4:23 PM

Earlier this morning, the Texas State Senate passed legislation with provisions that limit voting access. To make American’s stance clear: We are strongly opposed to this bill and others like it. As a Texas-based business, we must stand up for the rights of our team members and customers who call Texas home, and honor the sacrifices made by generations of Americans to protect and expand the right to vote.

Voting is the hallmark of our democracy, and is the foundation of our great country. We value the democratic process and believe every eligible American should be allowed to exercise their right to vote, no matter which political party or candidate they support.

We acknowledge how difficult this is for many who have fought to secure and exercise their constitutional right to vote. Any legislation dealing with how elections are conducted must ensure ballot integrity and security while making it easier to vote, not harder. At American, we believe we should break down barriers to diversity, equity and inclusion in our society – not create them.

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