Only In ‘America’

Yesterday afternoon, just as I was beginning to work on a good people post for this morning, the breaking news update jumped onto my screen …

Texas school shooting leaves at least 2 dead

I stopped what I was doing and went in search of information … turns out that, as you all know by now, 19 students and one teacher, Eva Mireles, were killed … or let’s call a spade a spade … they were brutally murdered while in school, the one place our children should be able to feel safe!  The death toll may yet rise if some of the students taken to the hospital don’t survive, or if students still missing are later reported to have died.  Plus, the 18-year-old shooter shot his grandmother, who is in critical condition in the hospital, before setting out for Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

This, my friends, is what Texas Governor Greg Abbott proudly said just one year ago …

No license or training is needed. 🙄 YOU, Greg Abbott, have the blood of these children on your hands and you will never be able to wash it off!  Senator Mitch McConnell, who has an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA), claims to be “horrified and heartbroken” and yet time and time and time again he has had the opportunity to pass meaningful gun legislation that might have prevented the 18-year-old shooter from getting his hands on a gun.  YOU, Mitch McConnell, and every other Republican legislator who has blocked gun regulations, also have blood on your hands!!!  And U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, sent thoughts and prayers and said he disdains any discussion on gun legislation.  YOU, Cancún Cruz, also have blood on your hands!!!

Days like today, I am so very thankful for a President who is compassionate and caring.  President Biden gave a speech yesterday evening where he said …

“Another massacre at a Texas elementary school. Beautiful, innocent second, third, fourth graders. As a nation, we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? Why? Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone, the courage to do more and then stand up to the lobbies? It’s time to turn this pain into action. I am sick and tired of it. We have to act. And don’t tell me we can’t have an impact on this carnage. For God’s sake, we have to have the courage to stand up to the industry.”

And former President Barack Obama issued a statement …

“Nearly 10 years after Sandy Hook — and 10 days after Buffalo — our country is paralyzed, not by fear, but by a gun lobby and a political party that have shown no willingness to act in any way that might help prevent these tragedies. It’s long past time for action, any kind of action. And it’s another tragedy — a quieter but no less tragic one — for families to wait another day.”

I cannot help but share the pain of the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, grandparents and friends of those 19 children tonight.  Picture being a parent at work, getting that phone call …

Eleven days ago, ten people were murdered in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York.  Yesterday, 20 people, 19 of them children, were murdered in school, just two days before the end of the school year.  Where are all those ‘pro-life’ people???  Probably out there carrying signs that read “You can’t take my guns!” or some such drivel.  My granddaughter, when I told her about the school shooting, asked what kind of country this has become.  Not a very nice one, I’m afraid.

Just as I was finishing this post, I saw one from John Pavlovitz that I hope you’ll take a moment to read, for he said it far better than I ever could.  I hope you can understand why this post replaced today’s ‘good people’ post.  I will try to get one out later this week, but if not, there’s always next Wednesday.

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

Columnist

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.

A Handful of Mini-Rants

If we thought that with President Biden’s inauguration our troubles would disappear and peace would reign, we were dead wrong.  It appears to me that every Republican in any position of power, be it local, state, or federal, has taken an oath to make our lives a living hell and to destroy as much as possible of the nation.  If I could afford it, I would file a lawsuit against the Republican Party for costing me sleep, health, appetite and more!  As you read today’s snippets, you might conclude that I’m just a wee bit angry, but you’d be wrong.  I’m not a wee bit angry, I am livid.


I wonder if we could sell Texas to Mexico?

Republican Governor Greg Abbott of Texas is planning to spend the hard-earned tax dollars of the people of Texas and solicit donations from racists in order to ‘build that wall’ that the former guy kept touting but only actually built a few miles of.  Abbott learned from the earlier fiasco that there is no way in hell Mexico is going to pay for the wall, so instead he is going to commandeer taxpayer dollars to attempt to keep refugees out of his sorry state.  He said he would take $250 million from the state’s general revenue fund for a ‘down payment’ on his wall.  He also plans to coerce landowners on the border to allow the state to begin ‘immediate construction’ on their property.  In addition, he is asking for donations of both land and cash.  There are probably a few fools who will write him a check, but they’ll be throwing their money away, because Abbott’s wall isn’t going to happen (I hope).

Most people in the know say that Abbott’s proposed wall will meet its destiny, likely in the courts.  According to David Donatti, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas …

“If the governor wants to blow hot air on TV, he can do that. I truly don’t think he has thought this through. The governor is not a king. We have checks and balances in the state of Texas.”

As it happens, the governor does not have jurisdiction to enforce immigration laws, which are the sole responsibility of the federal government.  Apparently, Mr. Abbott needs to study the U.S. Constitution and his job description a bit longer.  He is up for re-election next year and … I would like to see him toppled, for he is an ass, but his likely primary opponent, Don Huffines, is just as big of an ass who also supports the idea of a wall, saying …

“The Biden Administration won’t secure our border, so Texas will.”

Sheesh, Republicans … do you not have anybody in your party with at least half a brain and a conscience???


Meanwhile …

Unlike the former guy, President Biden understands the seriousness of climate change and part of his campaign promise was to cut carbon emissions, cut back on fossil fuels, and expand renewable energy sources.  In way of keeping that promise, one of Biden’s first actions, his first week in office, was to issue a series of executive orders, one of which was to put a temporary ban on new oil and gas leasing on federal land.  Thumbs up, I say, for I ascribe to the mantra “Leave it in the ground”, even if it makes life a bit inconvenient for some, or … GASP … reduces the profits of the big oil, gas and coal companies.

But, alas, if something makes sense and is good for the environment, good for the people, you can count on the damn republicans to nix it.  In this case, Jeff Landry, the Republican attorney general of Louisiana and attorneys general from 12 other states, all Republicans, filed suit in March to lift the White House executive order.

Judge Doughty

On Tuesday, Judge Terry Alvin Doughty of the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana – a Trump appointee –  granted a preliminary injunction claiming that that the power to pause offshore oil and gas leases “lies solely with Congress” because it was the legislative branch that originally made federal lands and waters available for leasing.

DAMMIT Republicans!!!  The future of the human and many other species depends on switching to renewable energy, on leaving the damn fossil fuels where they belong … in the ground!  I don’t want your damned oil and frankly I don’t care if the CEOs of every fossil fuel corporation, who have been robbing us blind for decades now, all fall off of Wall Street and end up without a penny!  We have, for the first time in over four years, a president who cares about the future of the planet, who cares about We the People, our children and grandchildren, more than you the Rich Bastards!

As for Judge Terry Alvin Doughty … I wonder if he called the former guy to ask his advice on this one, for it reeks of trumpism.


Manchin’s “Compromise”

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia … you know, that state that has no economy and thrives on ignorance … already said he would not support the For the People Act that would ensure our voting rights, among other things.  Our right to vote … our only voice in our lives, our future … and Manchin doesn’t care enough to support it.  But wait …

Just this week, Manchin drafted a memo stating that he would be willing to compromise.  He would support at least two weeks of federally mandated early voting and to eliminate partisan gerrymandering of congressional districts.  Well, that’s a good start, though not nearly enough.  But wait …

Manchin has conditions!  Manchin’s compromise would require an ID requirement for all voters and the ability of local election officials to purge voter rolls using other government records.  NO NO NO NO NO!!!

One thing that keeps many poor people, Blacks and Hispanics away from the polls is that ID requirement and it is grossly unfair!  My granddaughter does not have a photo ID, she does not drive, and I don’t have the means to take her to obtain a state issued ID.  She is 26 years old and has been voting by mail since she was 18.  Under Manchin’s version of this bill, she would not be able to vote.  I know numerous Black people here in my own neighborhood who do not have a photo ID, but they pay taxes, they are citizens, and they have the right to vote, dammit!

And Manchin’s notion of allowing election officials to purge voter rolls is far too vague.  I can understand purging voters who have died or moved out of the state, but to give state and local election officials carte blanche to purge voter rolls at will?  Surely you jest!  Said Manchin …

“I’ve been sharing everything that I support and things I can support and vote with and things that I think is in the bill that doesn’t need to be in the bill, that doesn’t really interact with what we’re doing in West Virginia. We’ll have to see what changes are made.”

West Virginia is only one of fifty states, Manchin!  The rest of us matter too!  The bottom line, though, is it doesn’t make one damn bit of difference if Manchin supports the bill or not, for it will be subjected to the senate filibuster and we all know there are not ten republicans in the United States Senate who have a conscience.  Hell, I’m not sure there are ten republicans in the United States who have a conscience!  As far as I’m concerned, Joe Manchin can stick his ‘compromise’ where the sun doesn’t shine.

The Week’s Best Cartoons 3/6

I thought perhaps some of the political cartoonists would be standing in the unemployment line once the former guy left and peace was once again restored to the nation.  But, I couldn’t have been more wrong!  The Republicans are keeping the cartoonists just as busy as ever with their horrible attempts to stifle voters’ voices, disregard the pandemic, and more.  Thanks to TokyoSand, we can see the best of the lot all in one place!

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See All The ‘Toons!