Two Monsters In Governor’s Clothing

The state of Florida currently has more hospitalizations due to COVID than any other state in the nation.  Cases in Texas are also surging, sending hospitals scrambling to find ICU beds for all the patients.  Both of these states have Republican governors who are doing everything in their power to reduce the population in their states.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (left) and Texas Governor Greg Abbott

Both Governor DeSantis of Florida and Governor Abbott of Texas have banned mask mandates in their state, meaning that localities cannot legally put a mask mandate into effect in order to protect the people.  Bad enough under any circumstances, but now, with parents preparing to send their children back to school in a week or two, it is critical.

Columnist Greg Sargent has the latest on the battle between the governors, localities, and school boards …

The rebellion against pro-Trump, anti-mask GOP governors is gaining steam

Opinion by

Greg Sargent


Yesterday at 11:04 a.m. EDT

Let’s state this up front: GOP governors are not required by some higher Trumpian law to use official powers to actively thwart efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus. Some are choosing not to do that: In South Dakota, the governor left decisions about mask mandates to local officials, and in Arkansas the governor admitted that an earlier ban on them was an “error.”

But the Republican governors of Texas and Florida — Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis — are in a class by themselves. Their states are seeing some of the worst surges of covid in the nation, yet they are continuing to hamstring local officials from acting to protect their constituents.

Which is why these governors are facing a rebellion of sorts. In both states, ABC News reports, officials are defying limits on mask mandates, setting up direct conflicts with those governors.

This will flush out into the open the truly twisted nature of what DeSantis and Abbott are doing. They piously claim to be defending their constituents’ freedom from government mandates. But they are using their power to prevent local officials from implementing basic public health measures in a highly selective way that is plainly molded around the obsessions of former president Donald Trump and his movement, not anchored in any genuine public interest rationale.

Local officials are rebelling

The derangement of this position is particularly clear in Texas. On Monday, Abbott announced that he is seeking the help of outside medical professionals to deal with the state’s covid surge. He is also asking hospitals to postpone all elective medical procedures as hospitals fill up.

Amid all this, the Dallas schools superintendent has reasonably announced that students, visitors and staff will have to wear masks in schools. He noted that the decision is an “urgent” matter of “protecting” children, teachers and workers.

Yet this directive required him to defy Abbott’s executive order barring mask mandates by government entities. To be clear, Abbott’s own actions amount to a stark admission that the state is in serious trouble — yet he continues to ban localities from taking measures to protect public health.

The absurd result, as the New York Times reports, is that local officials are scouring legal codes to find ways to get around Abbott’s blockade on implementing public health measures. This isn’t how officials should have to spend time and resources during a public health emergency.

In Austin, where cases are surging, local officials have recommended masking, but cannot require it, which has led the mayor of Austin to declare the situation “dire.” The Austin school district just announced a mask requirement, defying Abbott.

Meanwhile, in Florida, the superintendent of Alachua County Public Schools is moving ahead with mandatory masking. This is in defiance of DeSantis’s recent executive order empowering the state to withhold funds to punish school boards who implement mask mandates.

Incredibly, it appears DeSantis may make good on this threat. The superintendent, Carlee Simon, told “Morning Joe” on Tuesday that she’s received a letter from the state demanding justification for her move and essentially indicating that funding is at risk if she continues.

A handful of Florida parents are now suing DeSantis. One mom told CNN that she “never envisioned” that the governor “would actively be trying to harm my child,” and lamented correctly that limits on mask mandates are interfering with her son’s ability to get educated safely.

Anyone who has taken a young child to a camp or gathering this summer has witnessed how children playing together continue to drift inevitably into very close contact. It’s particularly ludicrous and venal to bar local officials from acting to defend these children from spread.

Abbott and DeSantis love to proclaim that they are defending the liberty of their states’ residents to proceed free of public health mandates, and that they should merely exercise “personal responsibility” in dealing with covid. But it’s hard to discern any genuine ideological vision here, since they have no apparent objection to all manner of other public health mandates.

“We have plenty of mandates,” Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin, told me. “We require elementary school students to get various vaccinations. We require drivers to wear seat belts. We require adults to wear clothes.”

“There are any number of ways in which the laws of every state, including Florida and Texas, impose mandates that are designed to protect individuals,” Vladeck continued.

‘Covid exceptionalism’

All of which suggests that the real working ideology here is something you might call “covid exceptionalism.”

Obviously it would theoretically be possible for DeSantis and Abbott to believe, in good faith, that mandates against covid represent unacceptable incursions on liberty while other mandates do not.

But everyone knows the real reason DeSantis and Abbott are suddenly concerned with protecting people from public health mandates on covid in particular is that government officials eager to battle covid this way have become associated with assorted enemies of Trump and his following.

Because Trump and his movement have required this adherence to covid exceptionalism, local officials are being hamstrung from carrying out their own official responsibilities to act in defense of public health. It’s hard to find the right language to describe the seething contempt for public service and the public good that’s truly on display here.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 8/7

As she does every Saturday, our friend TokyoSand has scoured the ‘Net for the best political cartoons of the week.  There are a couple of really great ones this week.  As you might guess, the big topics of the week are the COVID surge and Andrew Cuomo.  Here are a few, but be sure to head over to TokyoSand’s place, Political Charge, to see the rest!  The very last one on TokyoSand’s page is especially touching.  Thank you for all your hard work in finding these, TS!

Be sure to check out the rest of the ‘toons over at Political Charge!

So Much Snark, So Little Time

Having had a very rare decent night’s sleep last night, I awoke full of vim and vigor (or piss and vinegar as my grandpa used to say) and ready to snark away …

The long arm of da Fox …

Most people reading this blog don’t watch Fox ‘News’, for it isn’t a news network, doesn’t report news truthfully, and the opinions of their ‘hosts’ are typically far right and stepping into the realm of conspiracy theories.  However, if you think Fox doesn’t have an influence on the people of this country, think again.

Fox hosts have historically denigrated the vaccine, pushed wild conspiracy theories such as that the vaccine contains some sort of microchips that will track your every movement, etc.  Recently, though, the Fox hosts have changed their tune … along with numerous Republicans … and the likes of Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy and others have encouraged their viewers to be vaccinated.  Fox even went as far to show a graphic that “vaccines work” alongside data in order to encourage viewers to get the jab.

The only explanation I have for the about-face is that they noted Republicans, largely comprising the anti-vax crowd, were dying of COVID, while vaccinated people were not so much.  Since Fox changed their tune, there has been a shift in the mindset of its viewers.  According to a Morning Consult poll …

Vaccine “reluctance fell to an all-time low this week among adults who watch Fox News,” wrote the polling company. The reported findings are as follows, “27 percent of viewers now say they probably or definitely won’t get vaccinated, down from 30 percent the week before and a high of 37 percent in mid-March.”

Whatever works, right?  Of course, ol’ Tucker Carlson, America’s #1 Idiot, is still promoting lies about the vaccine and still denigrating it, but perhaps someday Fox viewers will wake up and realize that Carlson is naught but a political plant … one sans intelligence or conscience.

School Boards are telling DeSantis where to put his ‘order’

Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis recently issued an order barring schools from implementing mask requirements for kids.  In my book, this is the height of stupidity … and cruelty.  He is finding out, however, just how little weight his ‘order’ carries.  According to Politico …

“Late Tuesday night, school board members in Alachua County in north Florida voted to require all students to wear masks during the first two weeks of school. And Wednesday morning, Leon County, which includes Tallahassee, announced it’s seeking a mandatory mask rule for students in pre-kindergarten through eighth grade.

Even the Broward County School District, which just days ago said it would comply with DeSantis’ order, announced Wednesday that it would keep its mask mandate in place for the foreseeable future.

The governor, who has consistently downplayed the threat of the virus, has banned cities and schools from putting in place Covid requirements like masks or vaccine passports.

District leaders are left to choose: Eliminate mask mandates or face the loss of state funding.

“As controversial as it may be, I absolutely believe this is the right thing to do temporarily until we have a better understanding of the Delta variant and the impact it has on school-aged children,” said Leon County Superintendent Rocky Hanna on Wednesday.”

It has long been rumoured that DeSantis is considering a bid for the presidency in 2024 … let’s hope this latest idiocy of his kills any notion he might have of throwing his hat in the ring.

Elaine Chao finally found a job!

In case you wondered what ol’ Elaine Chao, former Director of Transportation under the former guy, and wife of Senator Mitch McConnell, is doing now that she is out of government, wonder no longer!  This week, grocery giant Kroger named Ms. Chao to its Board of Directors.  Hmmm … looks like I might have to find someplace else to do my grocery shopping!  And I am not alone …

A slap on the wrist

The latest trend for those who participated in the attempted coup, the attack on Congress and the Capitol on January 6th, is to claim that they are ‘political prisoners’.  I say that is complete and total BULLSHIT, and it turns out that one of my favourite judges, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, agrees with me.

The case in which she so ruled was that of Karl Dresch of Michigan.  Dresch, or rather his lawyers, worked out one heck of a plea deal whereby Dresch pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of “parading, picketing or demonstrating in the Capitol”.  But what is more important are the other four charges against him that were dropped in exchange for this single ‘guilty’ plea, including a felony count of obstructing an official proceeding of Congress.  Dresch attempted to claim that he was a ‘political prisoner’, that he was being singled out because of his political beliefs.  Judge Jackson was having none of it …

“He was not a political prisoner. We are not here today because he supported former president Trump . . . He was arrested because he was an enthusiastic participant in an effort to subvert and undo the electoral process.”

Judge Jackson sentenced Dresch to six months, his time in jail since his arrest on January 19th will count as ‘time served’ and he will now be released.  It is beginning to appear that few, if any, of the thousands who attempted to overturn our election, our very foundation of government, will pay much of a price.  I may be considered a hard-liner, but I don’t think a single person who entered the Capitol without legitimate purpose that day should serve anything less than 5 years, and those who caused any damage to property should serve 10 years.  If they assaulted a police officer … 20 years.  Good thing I’m not a judge, eh?

The Week’s Best Cartoons 7/17

I haven’t re-blogged TokyoSand’s weekly cartoon posts for the past couple of weeks because the ‘toons seemed just too dark.  Not TS’ fault at all, but just a statement of the way things are these days … it’s hard to find humour in things some days.  However, I found this week’s to be grin-worthy and wanted to share them with you. This is just a sampling, so be sure to head over to TokyoSand’s place to see the rest!  Many thanks, TS, for all you do in always finding us the best and most relevant ‘toons!

See All The ‘Toons Here!

Only Two Very Snarky Snippets

There are days when I feel there is a large contingent of people in this nation that truly do not have functional brains.  No, none of you, dear readers, but others seem not to understand this concept of rights being accompanied by responsibilities.  I’ve long said that my rights end where they begin to infringe on somebody else’s, but in the United States today, that concept has flown out the window!  I often feel these last few years that this country, has gone, as my grandpa used to say, “to hell in a handbasket!”

2nd Amendment freaks!

When I first heard a day or two ago that Texas has passed legislation that would end the requirement for Texas residents to obtain a license to carry handguns, I thought surely this must be wrong … how can Texas do such a lunatic thing?  It would mean no background checks would be done, no license to even know who owns what guns.  But, a bit of research shows me that … Texas would not be the first state to enact such a lunatic law!  The bill has passed both chambers of the Texas legislature and Governor Abbott has already said he would sign it, so it’s pretty much a done deal … all over except the shootings, the tears, the useless ‘thoughts and prayers’.

The following states, for example, to not require a permit to carry a concealed handgun:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Iowa (as of July 1, 2021)
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maine
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota (residents only and concealed carry only)
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee (as of July 1, 2021)
  • Utah (as of May 5, 2021 for concealed carry only)
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia
  • Wyoming (for open carry and concealed carry for residents only. Concealed carry will be legal for all legal U.S. residents as of July 1, 2021.)Source

This means that in those states, people who have never passed a background check, who may be child molestors or domestic abusers, may have serious mental health issues, are walking around with guns in their pockets.  Is this not the craziest thing???  Is it any wonder people are opening fire in grocery stores, on the streets, and at birthday parties?  If I lived in any of those states, I would never leave my home, and nobody would ever be allowed in!  In fact, I’d move!

This nation has gone way too far off the rails when it comes to guns.  The 2nd Amendment that the gun nuts love so much was never intended to be abused in this way.  The Founding Fathers would be horrified to see what a mockery we have made of the 2nd Amendment, how it has been so badly and intentionally mis-interpreted over the years.  I blame the gun manufacturers who put their own greed above our lives; I blame the NRA who have riled the masses, told them blatant lies about what the 2nd Amendment intended, and then bought and paid for members of Congress, largely Republicans, in order to ensure that no sensible gun legislation can ever pass;  I blame those same members of Congress; and lastly I blame the fools and idiots in this country who think their right to own a lethal toy supersedes our right to safety.

Is it any wonder that people in every other nation on earth look at the United States and laugh at what bloody fools we are?  No, it is not.  Were it in my power, I would take every gun in the hands of private citizens and throw them into the ocean!  Enough said … my blood pressure just hit a new record high and I must calm down now.

For more information on state-by-state gun laws, or more appropriately lack of gun laws, check out Wikipedia.

And speaking of really, really stupid laws …

You have no further to look than Florida, where it is now against the law to ask employees or customers if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19.  This is ridiculous and is a tremendous disservice to both employees and customers!

Last week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed executive orders canceling all Covid-related restrictions for the entire state, including mandates for facemasks and rules limiting capacity in public places. At the same time, he also signed into law legislation prohibiting vaccine passport requirements in the state.  Said the guv …

“This legislation ensures that legal safeguards are in place so that local governments cannot arbitrarily close our schools or businesses. In Florida, your personal choice regarding vaccinations will be protected and no business or government entity will be able to deny you services based on your decision.”

It should come as no surprise that, per an ABC News report just two days ago …

“Variant COVID-19 infections skyrocketed following spring break in Florida and there have been more than 10,000 variant cases reported throughout the state, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported based on data from the Florida Department of Health.”

In addition to all the lives DeSantis has put at risk with his greed and foolishness, Florida may well have another reason to regret this foolishness, as some cruise lines are already considering moving their business out of Florida.  Most cruise lines require proof of vaccinating from both employees and customers.  This isn’t discriminatory, it is for public safety, for Pete’s Sake!  Do you want to be in close quarters for days on end with somebody who may not show symptoms but may have the coronavirus?  I don’t!  At least one company, Norwegian Cruise Line, has made its position clear when CEO Frank Del Rio said …

“That’s an issue, but at the end of the day, cruise ships have motors, propellers and rudders, and god forbid we can’t operate in the state of Florida for whatever reason, then there are other states that we do operate from. And we can operate from the Caribbean for ships that otherwise would’ve gone to Florida.”

I would bet money that other cruise ship companies will feel the same, for I seriously doubt they want all the lawsuits that could evolve as a result of just one infected passenger or employee.

And now, Filosofa is done ranting and I shall return you to your regularly scheduled programming …

Can’t Win Honestly? Then Cheat!

It’s a sad statement when one of the two political parties is so certain they cannot win in a fair and honest election that rather than change their ways, they do everything in their power (and some things that really are not in their legitimate power) to ensure half the people in the nation will not be able to cast a ballot in upcoming elections.  It is the equivalent of a child sneaking a cookie before supper, for he knows if he asks, he will be told “No, not until after supper.”  Only with much more serious and far-reaching consequences.

Today, Florida Governor and 2024 presidential hopeful, Ron DeSantis signed into law an extremely restrictive voter suppression law that he claims will place guardrails against fraud, even as he acknowledged there were no serious signs of voting irregularities last November.  But, DeSantis and the entirety of the Republican Party feel threatened by the fact that times are changing, people are becoming less tolerant of the bigotry that is the cornerstone of the Republican Party and … well, if you can’t win honestly, then you cheat, right?

The media, for the most part, was not allowed in to view the signing ceremony.  One exception:  Fox ‘News’.  Go figure.  DeSantis staged the signing on a live broadcast of Fox & Friends this morning, flanked by a small group of GOP legislators in Palm Beach County.  Other media organizations were shut out.  Freedom of press???  Or is that, like voting rights, being killed?

Look closely at the picture … see any Black faces there?  But it isn’t only Blacks and Hispanics the Republican governor and legislators are trying to disenfranchise.  According to Patricia Brigham, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida …

“The legislation has a deliberate and disproportionate impact on elderly voters, voters with disabilities, students and communities of color. It’s a despicable attempt by a one party ruled legislature to choose who can vote in our state and who cannot. It’s undemocratic, unconstitutional, and un-American.”

Do you remember when you were in school and each morning you had to stand and recite that ‘pledge of allegiance’ to the flag?  Being the rebel I am and have always been, I stopped doing that by about 2nd grade, and no matter what they threatened me with, I refused to stand or say the words that even back then rang false. I followed the example of Colin Kaepernick, before he was even born!  One line in that pledge calls the United States “one nation, indivisible …”.  Apparently, they were wrong.  I think they better be re-thinking that one and calling it “one nation, deeply divided”.

Within minutes of DeSantis signing the bill into law, lawsuits were filed.  The League of Women Voters of Florida joined the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, and others in assailing the new law in a federal lawsuit filed minutes after the signing.  A separate lawsuit by the NAACP and Common Cause alleges that the new law makes it more difficult for people who are Black, Latino or disabled to vote.

My hope is that the courts will strike down all these restrictive measures too many states are taking to try to disenfranchise us, to shove their will down our throats, but sadly I’m not as confident of that as I once was.

Snarky Snippets Still Going Strong

Just a few bits ‘n pieces of snarky to brighten your afternoon …

A chopper on Mars … whoopee

The media seems quite excited over NASA’s latest feat, flying a remote-controlled helicopter on Mars.  In fact, most people seem quite excited about it and Barack Obama even tweeted …

“With all the enormous challenges facing the world, it’s worth taking the time to appreciate extraordinary human achievement and our relentless impulse toward discovery.”

I beg to differ, for one simple reason … how much did it cost and how much good could have been done for people with that money.

The Republicans in Congress are bitching about the cost of President Biden’s infrastructure bill, and yet they are perfectly happy seeing $85 million spent sending a damn helicopter to Mars?  To what end?  Despite what Elon Musk and writers of science fiction might imagine, humans are not ever going to live in large numbers on Mars or any other planet other than Earth.  The atmosphere of Mars will not support human life – so why the Sam Hell are we spending money on this???

Yes, the space program is exciting, and I was thrilled in 1969 when Neil Armstrong, upon setting foot on the moon, made his iconic speech about “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  But that was then, and this is now.  Today, I see the space program as among the least relevant things our government is doing.  We need to be taking care of people, and frankly space exploration does nothing to help in the fight for survival that so many people are fighting.  Perhaps we should be more concerned about things that need fixing here on planet Earth?

NASA’s budget for 2021 is $23.3 billion … our tax dollars hard at waste.

Lack of sleep … uh-oh

On average, I sleep 4-5 hours a night, though often it is less.  Every now and then, my body plays “catch-up” and I sleep 8-10 hours in one night.  In less than two months, I will be 70 years old.  So, naturally it caught my eye when I read about a new study that concludes people who sleep 6 hours or less in their 50s and 60s are 30% more likely to develop dementia in their late 70s!  A dear friend of mine sleeps even less than I, some nights not at all.  We’re doomed!!!

A follow up

Yesterday, I wrote a post, From the Mind of Filosofa, where I pondered on a number of issues facing the U.S. today, one such being the issue of white police officers killing unarmed Black people, indicating racism in our police departments across the country.  Needless to say, this isn’t a new topic and has been discussed at some length for several years now, but there have been several such cases in a short span of time, and with the Derek Chauvin trial about to conclude, it’s on everyone’s minds.

In response, our friend David noted a blog he had visited where the writer of the blog suggested that perhaps Blacks are treated no differently than white people, but the media sensationalizes it more.  It seemed a fair question to ask, though in my gut I believe that there is racism in policing because we’ve seen the evidence time and time and time again.  However, I decided to do a quick bit of research.  What I found is that in any given year, more white people are killed by police than Blacks, BUT … white people also comprise the vast majority of people in the country, so you have to consider the question by percentage, not by pure numbers.

I put together this chart, showing that as a percentage, Blacks are much more likely to be killed by police than whites …

The other question I would ask, but haven’t yet had the time to research, is what portion of each group killed by police was armed, for in most of the cases we know of where Blacks were killed by police, rarely were the Black people armed.  In many cases they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, like Breonna Taylor, who was asleep in her bed!

In Florida, it’s now legal to kill protesters?

Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that makes peaceful protest a crime, and driving a car through a crowd of protesters not a crime.  Say WHAT???  According to the Orlando Sentinel

The law, which goes into effect immediately, grants civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road, which Democrats argued might have protected the white nationalist who ran over and killed counter-protester Heather Heyer during the Charlottesville tumult in 2017. It also makes blocking a highway a felony offense.

The law also creates a broad category for misdemeanor arrest during protests, and anyone charged under that provision will be denied bail until their first court appearance. De Santis said he wanted that to prevent people from rejoining ongoing protests.

It creates a new felony crime of ‘aggravated rioting’ that carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a new crime of ‘mob intimidation.’

My best guess is that this law will be challenged in the Courts as being unconstitutional and will very quickly be reversed.  But then … of late my ‘best guesses’ haven’t been very good, have they?  What’s really scary is the idea that DeSantis is reportedly considering a run for president in 2024.