Tag Archives: COVID

Officials defy Abbott exec order? Yes!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is the latest Texas public official to take matters into his own hands regarding how his city should deal with the COVID-19 outbreak stemming from the Delta variant.

He says the city’s 22,000 employees must wear masks while on the job in public buildings and where social distancing is not possible. As the Texas Tribune reported: “The mayor has a right and responsibility to ask city employees to wear face coverings indoors to help stop the virus from spreading,” Mary Benton, a Turner spokesperson, said to the Houston Chronicle. “With the rise in the delta variant cases and high numbers of unvaccinated individuals, Mayor Turner is doing what is necessary to keep [city] employees healthy.”

Local mask mandates pop up in Texas despite Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban | The Texas Tribune

This mayoral mandate comes in defiance of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order that prohibits local officials — such as Turner — from issuing mandates that go beyond the state’s non-action.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins this week removed County Commissioner J.J. Koch because Koch refused to wear a mask during a Commissioners Court meeting. Koch responded by threatening to sue Jenkins for issuing the mask order. OK, I shall mention that Jenkins is a Democrat and Koch is a Republican and their differing points of view on mask wearing falls right in line with the national partisan divide over how to deal with the COVID pandemic.

Partisan petulance is alive in Dallas County | High Plains Blogger

What will the local officials in our part of the state — in Collin County and neighboring counties — do in response to what I believe is Abbott’s heavy-handed response? Probably not much at all. I do not see much political courage in city halls and at the Collin County Courthouse on this matter.

Mayors, county judges, school board trustees and superintendents all know their communities. They all listen — or they should listen — to what their constituents are telling them. Mayor Turner took his community’s pulse and decided that he had the authority to act as the city’s chief executive, regardless of some dictatorial prohibition handed down from Austin by the governor.

I will stand with Mayor Turner. I also would stand with any public official who seeks to invoke their own health protection rules as well. I don’t want them necessarily to do any of this to spite the governor. I remain deeply concerned about the spread of this variant and the undeniable evidence that it is putting a terrible strain — yet again — on our stressed-out health care system.

For the governor to issue a no-new-mandate order even as the killer virus regains its dangerous strength is insulting on its face. Stay the course, Mayor Turner.

Partisan petulance is alive in Dallas County

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If you want a crystal-clear example of just how petulant partisan politicians can get, you need look no further than than the Dallas County Courthouse.

That was where County Judge Clay Jenkins ordered a fellow county commissioner on Tuesday to leave a meeting because the commissioner wouldn’t follow the rules laid down by the county board’s presiding officer. That would be Jenkins.

The county judge, who happens to be a Democrat (that’s important in this context; I’ll explain in a second) said all persons attending the commissioners court meeting needed to wear a mask to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which is spiking in Dallas County. Commissioner J.J. Koch — a Republican — refused to wear a mask. He said Jenkins doesn’t have the authority to overrule a mandate by Gov. Greg Abbott (another Republican), who says local jurisdictions cannot enforce mandates that are not spelled out by the state.

Koch resisted requests from Jenkins repeatedly. Jenkins finally had Koch removed from the meeting under escort by a sheriff’s deputy. Koch, meanwhile, says he is going to sue Jenkins.

Good grief! I cannot believe this is happening!

The courthouse snit illustrates quite clearly the partisan divide that is driving this discussion. Republicans by and large are refusing to heed government orders to take care against the virus; Democrats are heeding those orders. Thus, the divide widens.

The county judge is seeking to protect his fellow public officials, not to mention the public, from getting infected by a virus that is still making people sick. I just have to wonder whether Koch is resisting the order because it is coming from a colleague who happens to be a member of the opposing political party.

Koch is picking a fight he need not pick, for God’s sake!

From my vantage point in the next county over from Dallas County, J.J. Koch is making an unnecessary spectacle of himself and highlighting — or lowlighting, if you prefer — the partisan divide that has infected (no pun intended) a matter involving public well-being.

Why the ham-handedness?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Greg Abbott didn’t strike me as a politician who would rule with an iron hand, a clenched fist when he ran for Texas governor and then got elected in 2014.

I knew him as a Texas Supreme Court justice and then as Texas attorney general. He always seemed like a reasonable, thoughtful conservative Republican.

Now he’s governor and now he is acting like — oh, I don’t know — The Great Dictator. The latest example comes in the form of his refusal to let cities, counties and “independent” school districts decide on whether to require masks for their constituents.

Abbott insists that his statewide ban on mask-mandating stands. He won’t allow a county judge, a mayor, a school superintendent or school board president to decide whether the Delta variant of the COVID virus in their communities requires them to re-impose mask mandates.

Abbott seems to be saying, “There’s nothing to see here.”

Except that there is plenty to see. Texas and Florida account for the largest share of the Delta variant COVID infections. Memo to Greg: We ain’t doing too well, governor, in vaccinating Texans. Our dismal vaccination rates account for the spike in new infections in Texas. What that tells me is that the Texas governor should reel in his dictatorial tendencies, given that they aren’t working well enough to stem the infection that has gripped the state a second time.

What’s more, I always have understood one key element of Republican political orthodoxy to mean that “local control is best,” that local governments need not be dictated to by those in state capitols, let alone those in Washington, D.C. I guess I was mistaken.

Gov. Abbott is pushing back on President Biden’s insistence that the surge in infections is a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.” Greg Abbott is seriously mistaken if he believes he knows better than communities spread across this vast state how to cope with a potentially unfolding tragedy.

It’s over, Gov. Cuomo

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

I feel fairly confident in asserting that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a political heir and son of a prominent East Coast dynasty, is likely finished as a politician.

The state attorney general has issued a blistering report that said Cuomo violated federal and state law by sexually harassing state employees. The behavior included, according to AG Letitia James — a fellow Democrat — unwelcome touching and kissing. Several women filed complaints against the governor.

The attorney general vowed to get to the bottom of it and today she asserted that Gov. Cuomo did what the women have alleged.

Why does this matter to me, your friendly blogger way down yonder in Texas — a good distance from Albany, NY.? Because the New York governor has been a national figure since before he was elected to his current office. He was born the son of Mario Cuomo, the fabulous orator and former New York governor. He served in President Clinton’s Cabinet as housing secretary.

During the current pandemic, Cuomo emerged as an eloquent spokesman for the way his state was handling the crisis.

Now we have this. The rest of it, all the good stuff? We might as flush it away. See ya later, governor.

Smart guys get ignored?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, how I enjoy these messages that pop up on my various social media platforms. This one showed up today and I just had to share a thought or two about what it tells us.

It tells me that contemporary society has chosen to dumb itself down and believe the know-nothings who say what we want to hear and ignore the experts who tell us what we need to hear.

The coronavirus pandemic has killed more than 4 million human beings worldwide, more than 600,000 of us in the United States. It’s dangerous, dammit! And we don’t need brainiacs to tell us that. The brainy corps of medical experts, physicians and infectious disease researchers are on board with what we need to know about the killer virus. It is that it could kill us if we don’t take proper precautions.

Oh, and we also need to get vaccinated to ward it off!

However, the public discourse is being drowned out by the dipsh**s who continue to insist that the experts are wrong. The know-nothings to whom I refer generally populate the right-wing airwaves and fill up space on right-wing publications.

Some of the more notable blowhards — Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Tucker Carlson — can barely find their backsides with both hands. Yet their pontification is being taken as gospel by those who share their world view.

All the while, we hear from learned medical scholars — such as CDC director Rachelle Walensky and Dr. Anthony Fauci — that the virus and its attendant variants pose an imminent danger to us. The reaction among too many of us? Nothing, man!

The 45th president of the United States brought a lot of experts on board when the pandemic first took hold. They provided him with sound advice. He chose to ignore most of the advice given to him by the likes of Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, CDC director Robert Redfield and Surgeon General Jerome Adams. He called some of them “idiots.” He spoke the language of the fellow know-nothings.

They continue to outshout the actual experts at this moment. That is to their shame and their disgrace. It’s also to the disgrace of those who choose to heed the morons who don’t know what the hell they’re talking about.

You may count me among the know-nothings. Which is why I choose to listen to the advice of the experts.

Too much to expect victory?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

It likely was too much to expect a new president, operating with a new medical team would be able to declare victory against the COVID-19 pandemic virus.

President Biden took a lot of credit — perhaps a tad too much of it — for the distribution of vaccines developed by Big Pharma companies. He made bold promises, such as vaccinating 70 % of Americans by the Fourth of July.

It didn’t happen. Then came the emergence of the Delta pandemic variant. More Americans have been getting sick. More of them are dying from the variant.

However, I cannot yet expect a return to the dark days of a year ago. We have come too far from the abyss that opened up when Biden’s predecessor gave short shrift to the consequences of the virus. He said it would vanish magically. It was all “under control,” he said even as thousands of Americans were being stricken daily.

That president lost his re-election bid in 2020. The new guy promised a new day, a new approach, a greater effort to fight the pandemic and rid the nation of its scourge.

We made progress. Then … boom! The Delta variant arrived. Now we’re being advised to mask up again; to maintain “social distancing”; we’re also being advised in the strongest terms possible to get vaccinated.

As disappointing as this setback appears I am not going to despair. I am not going to consign myself and my family to another round of anxiety or misery.

I’ll just have to remind myself that we cannot spike any proverbial footballs until we get eradicate the virus — and all the variants it produces. I remain cautiously optimistic that we’ll get to that finish line … eventually.

What’s more, I will take some measure of comfort knowing that we are being led by a government chief executive who will tell us the truth as we continue this fight.

Biden goes to war against liars

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

President Biden today all but declared war on fellow Americans.

These are the idiots among us who continue to peddle misinformation about the vaccines developed to help fight the COVID-19 virus.

I am rooting for the president to win this war.

He is seeking to stem the infection caused by the Delta variant, an offshoot of the pandemic virus that so far has killed more than 600,000 Americans. The vaccines are safe. They are effective.

And, no, as Biden said, they weren’t “rushed” into production. They were developed rapidly, yes, but under strict federal medical rules and regulations. The “rushed” argument has become a talking point among the anti-vaxxers who concoct reasons to avoid getting inoculated against the virus. President Biden today sought to bat that bogus argument away.

Biden is not sounding like a desperate politician. He is sounding like a pol who is concerned about lies diverting our attention from the truth at hand. It is that virtually all the new Delta variant infections are among those who haven’t been vaccinated against the virus.

To be sure, there are the scattered reports of fully vaccinated Americans being stricken by the variant. However, the refusal among Americans far outpaces those reports and the president today called out those — namely on the right — who continue to foment lies about the vaccines.

President Biden faces a monstrous reality, which happens to be the gullibility of Americans who are too willing to accept the lies and turn their back on the truth. Biden spoke the truth today. He invoked his executive authority to ordering all occupants of federal buildings to be vaccinated; I understand that number of could run into the millions.

That’s all fine with me. Joe Biden inherited a nation in dire medical peril. He had hoped to declare victory against the pandemic. It’s too early for that moment. First, he has to quell the lying and dissembling that is putting Americans at risk.

COVID has hit damn near everyone

By John Kanelis / johnkanelils_92@hotmail.com

One of the persistent sources of madness in this contemporary political climate has been the insistence by some on the right that the COVID vaccines, which are demonstrably successful in preventing the disease, should become the “enemy.”

We are witnessing a surge in illness among the unvaccinated Americans stricken by the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus.

Indeed, what is shocking to me is how many Americans have been affected in a real way by the virus. Those of us who haven’t been stricken by it still know people who have. Many thousands of Americans have bid farewell to loved ones. Millions of others — such as my family and I — have had loved ones stricken by the disease.

We have lost friends to the disease. It’s a real threat to the nation’s health, you know?

The pandemic has hit all of us in some fashion.

And yet …

There remains this core of Americans who insist that the virus somehow, in some manner just isn’t as dangerous as those in the media and those damn medical experts have made it out to be.

They are absurdly wrong, of course. Too many of us know better. There are those of us who have watched our friends and family members get sickened by this killer virus.

The death count is 614,000 Americans and counting. The worldwide total is more than 4 million. These are not phony numbers. They are as real as the disease that has felled so many of us.

The vaccines are saving lives as I type these words. They are among the most devastating weapons we can deploy against the virus. Still, the deniers continue to drive me out of my mind.

Sigh … 

‘Choice’ has its limits

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The idiocy being bandied about among conservative “thinkers” and assorted right-wing talking heads about those who “make a choice to forgo the COVID vaccine” miss a fundamental truth about society.

Yes, they are able to make that choice. I do not deny that obvious fact. However, making such a choice — if that is their call — carries with it some serious consequences that go far beyond their own well being.

We are able to choose to drink adult beverages. We do not have the right to do so and then drive a motor vehicle while impaired. Doing so endangers others who share the same public roadways.

We also have the choice to play music loudly. We can play rock ‘n roll music until our eardrums bleed. However, we have laws that prohibit us from doing so in the wee hours of the morning; we cannot disturb other people’s sleep.

Indeed, we have laws all over the place that regulate our behavior. Why? Because at times some of us commits acts that others either find offensive, or bothersome, or put them in potential grave danger.

Do you get my drift here?

Yes, we can choose to do without the vaccine. What happens, though, when that choice endangers others? What happens when, after choosing to go without the medicine that would prevent us from getting the COVID virus, we get sick? Or when we infect others? Or when our children get sick? Or when they infect their friends?

Our choices can have serious consequences that affect far more than just you and me.

As we battle these COVID variants — some of which have become highly contagious and highly transmissible — we should be mindful about the “choices” we make.

As for me and what I want for my family, we all have chosen to get vaccinated and, no, I have no problem at all with government telling us to get vaccinated if it keeps us safe from a potentially deadly infection.

If only he would do this

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If the 45th president of the U.S. of A. had an ounce, a smidgen, a sliver, the tiniest grain of decency buried somewhere within his overfed body, he would call a press conference.

Then he would say the following before taking a few questions from the media:

My fellow Americans, I am here today to urge every resident of this great land to get vaccinated against the COVID pandemic virus.

As you know, my family and I all have received our vaccines. Yes, my wife and I did so secretly in our final months in the White House. My point, though, is that we did it. I urge you all to follow our lead.

Do not listen to those who question the effectiveness of the vaccine. Do not heed the warnings of crazy things happening to your body. I am going to be a human testament to the vaccines’ effectiveness and their safety.

The surge in the Delta variant is rooted solely in the unvaccinated among us. We must stop this spread. Vaccines are the only way to do it.

***

The 45th POTUS won’t ever say such a thing in public. Why not? Because doing so would require him to reveal that he actually cares about you and me, about the country he once swore an oath to defend and protect and about those who have been stricken by the virus that has killed more than 600,000 Americans.

He won’t do it because he cares only about himself.

Lightning might strike. Were it to do so, we could save many thousands of lives.