Tag Archives: Greg Abbott

Masks still visible

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Gov. Greg Abbott is just so doggone proud that “Texas is 100 percent back” from COVID-19 precautions.

Good for you, governor. Keep crowing. I just want to report that not everyone is buying the happy talk, at least not just yet.

My wife and I returned from a month on the road in our pickup and RV. We put just shy of 5,500 miles on our vehicles, visiting many states of various political persuasions between North Texas and the Pacific Ocean.

We came home Monday to Princeton. Do you know what I discovered upon my return to the neighborhood supermarket down the street and around the corner? I found a lot more exposed faces inside, but also a lot of masks still covering other faces.

If I had to take a wild guess I would say roughly 60 percent of the customers in the store were masked up. Store employees remain virtually fully masked.

To which I say: Good for them and good for us!

Look, Texas has done well in vaccinating residents as the medicine has become available. Most of my family here is vaccinated. We’re still waiting for our 8-year-old granddaughter to get the green light. She is behaving herself, understanding the concept of social distancing and the importance of mask-wearing.

I am a good bit away from ditching the masks we have in our truck. I want to resume what we used to call “normal life” as much as the next guy. I am willing and able to exercise some additional patience, though, awaiting for the all clear sign.

GOP no longer ‘pro-business’ party?

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

If you thought that the Republican Party is the “pro-business” political organization, you might want to rethink that now-quaint notion.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican (of course), has signed a bill into law that punishes business for demanding that customers prove they have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus, the one that has killed nearly 600,000 Americans.

It seems that Abbott believes people have no need to prove to anyone they have been vaccinated against a highly communicable, infectious and still potentially fatal disease.

Sure thing, guv.

He can count me as one Texas resident has no problem providing proof to anyone that I have been vaccinated. Indeed, my wife and I got our shots relatively early and have been adhering to the mandates sought by federal medical authorities: masks, social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and so on.

The Texas Tribune reports: “Texas is open 100%, and we want to make sure you have the freedom to go where you want without limits,” Abbott said before signing the law, in a video he posted Monday on Twitter. “Vaccine passports are now prohibited in the Lone Star State.”

Sigh …

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs bill to restrict “vaccine passports” | The Texas Tribune

I am puzzled by the notion that a political party that used to tout its love for private business and sought to grant business owners relative autonomy from government interference is now endorsing this heavy-handed approach to preventing them from protecting their employees and those they serve.

Ex-GOP chair West to seek another office? Oh, boy!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

One of my least favorite Republicans — ever! — has declared he is thinking seriously of running for statewide office in Texas.

That means governor. Allen West resigned as chair of the Texas Republican Party to declare that he well might run for governor. He said he wants to avoid any potential conflict of interest by holding a partisan job while seeking a public office. Well, good for you on that score, Allen West.

But this guy really pi**es me off! Seriously, man.

He moved to Texas just a couple of years ago to run for party chair. He got elected and then started picking fights with other Republican pols. He got into snits with Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dade Phelan. West’s beef with Phelan was the funniest of them all, as he called Phelan a “traitor” because he works relatively well with legislative Democrats.

You can’t have any sort of bipartisanship, right Mr. GOP Chairman?

What ought to become an issue in any sort of political campaign that West launches is his military record. He resigned from the Army as a colonel, but got caught up in a scandalous incident in which he was party to the brutal mistreatment of an Iraqi prisoner during the Iraq War. He left the Army to run for Congress in Florida. He served a single term. West moved to Texas.

I chuckle how he compares himself to some of Texas’s heroes. According to the Texas Tribune: “Many men from Georgia, many men from Tennessee, came here to serve the great state of Texas, and so we’re gonna consider it,” said West, who grew up in Georgia. He added that he was announcing his resignation, effective next month, so that there is no conflict of interest as he weighs his next political move.

Texas Republican Party Chair Allen West resigns | The Texas Tribune

Allen West seems to embody the carpetbagging trend we happen to see these days. U.S. Rep. Ronny Jackson had never lived in the 13th Congressional District before moving to the Texas Panhandle to run for the office that Mac Thornberry vacated when he retired. Indeed, former Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis moved from Fort Worth to the Austin area to run for a congressional seat, but lost that bid. Others have followed suit.

Now we have Allen West, who knows next to nothing about the specific issues related to Texas. Will this guy study up on West Texas water needs, or on North Texas’s transportation issues, or on Gulf Coast shoreline erosion problems?

Hey, if he doesn’t want to run for governor, West — who resides in the Metroplex — said he might look at seeking the 32nd Congressional District now held by Rep. Collin Allred, a Democrat.

Good grief!

Stand tall, Texas Democrats!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Well now. Lo and behold there is some fight left in the Texas Democratic legislative caucus after all.

The House Democrats walked off the floor of their chamber Sunday night to deprive House Republicans of a quorum they needed to enact a restrictive voter law that many of us out here interpret as a form of voter suppression.

The law would limit voter access to millions of Texans, mainly those in minority communities, and would serve, as President Biden noted, to further the cause of “un-American” efforts to restrict voting access for Americans.

To be sure, the fight ain’t over. Gov. Greg Abbott is now likely to call a special legislative session to bring lawmakers back to seek to finish the job that Democrats prevented with their walkout.

“We’ve said for so many years that we want more people to participate in our democracy. And it just seems that’s not the case,” Democratic state Rep. Carl Sherman said.

The Wall Street Journal reported: “I am disappointed that some members decided to break quorum,” said Republican state Rep. Briscoe Cain, who carried the bill in the House. “We all know what that meant. I understand why they were doing it, but we all took an oath to Texans that we would be here to do our jobs.”

Well, Rep. Cain, doing your job should not include acting on the Big Lie fomented by the former Liar in Chief, Donald Trump, about phony vote fraud. Yet that is what Cain and the Texas GOP caucus is trying to do. They seek to subvert access to the voting process by eliminating drive-through voting, restricting mail-in balloting, reducing early voting times all because they contend this activity is fraught with the potential for the vote fraud that Trump said occurred during the 2020 presidential election.

Texas Democrats Prevent Republicans From Passing Restrictive Voting Bill (msn.com)

If and when Abbott calls the special session, my strong hope is that Texas Democrats continue to stand as one body to prevent this kind of legislative chicanery from becoming law.

Abbott acts prematurely with this order

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has decided he knows what is best for local governments, including local school districts in their efforts to ward off the COVID virus among the people they serve.

He has issued an executive order that prohibits cities, counties and school districts from requiring masks for the people who work there or attend classes.

Sigh …

How many ways can we describe “overreach”? Abbott’s order offers an important marker.

As the grandparent of a North Texas second-grader, I am quite appalled that the governor would make this call as it regards local school districts. We call them “independent school districts” in Texas because we imbue local school trustees — supposedly — with the power to make decisions independent of other government intrusion.

Not so, apparently.

The Texas Tribune notes: While 30% of Texans have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the vast majority of children are unvaccinated.

My granddaughter is one of them who hasn’t yet received a vaccine to protect her against the killer virus.

I believe the governor has acted prematurely to a degree that smacks of irresponsibility.

The Tribune also reports: Starting Friday, any government entity that tries to impose a mask mandate can face a fine of up to $1,000, according to the order. The order exempts state-supported living centers, government-owned or -operated hospitals, Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities, Texas Juvenile Justice Department facilities, and county and municipal jails.

No Texas mask mandate in public schools, Gov. Greg Abbott says | The Texas Tribune

The virus is far from being eradicated. Yes, infection rates, hospitalization rates and deaths are down across the board. This makes everyone feel a little safer. Are we in the clear? Can we now declare victory?

Not yet.

Gov. Abbott has gotten way ahead of himself on this one.

Gov. Abbott needs to settle down

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Did I read this right?

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is so angry with President Biden that he is banning state agencies from issuing vaccine passports to prove Texans have been vaccinated against the killer virus. Is that right?

What in the world has gotten into the governor? Oh, I forgot. The pandemic has become a political talking point, with Republicans (such as Abbott) staking our positions that differ from Democrats (such as Joe Biden).

Oh, but the governor’s executive order dovetails off a popular GOP mantra, that the vaccine passports infringe on Americans’ personal liberty. Hey, what about the consequences of Americans infecting their fellow Americans? The documents are intended to provide proof that we have received both vaccine shots.

Spoiler alert: My wife and I are fully vaccinated and if the government wants to issue us a document that forces us to prove it, I have no problem at all with it. You got that?

The Texas Tribune reports: A handful of GOP-backed bills have been introduced in states across the U.S. aiming to restrict entities from requiring vaccines for their employees, including in Texas. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also prohibited state agencies from using vaccine passports but went a step further and said no business can require their customers to display them.

… “Texans are returning to normal life as more people get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. But as I’ve said all along, these vaccines are always voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said in a video announcing the executive order. “Government should not require any Texan to show proof of vaccination and reveal health information just to go about their daily lives. That is why I have issued an executive order that prohibits government-mandated vaccine passports in Texas. We will continue to vaccinate more Texans and protect public health — and we will do so without treading on Texans’ personal freedoms.”

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott bans state agencies from requiring “vaccine passports” | The Texas Tribune

Vaccine passports aren’t intrusive. They help safeguard communities that have been ravaged by a disease that continues to kill too many of us.

Greg Abbott ought to get over his anger at Joe Biden. We’re all fighting the same enemy.

 

Hey, Beto … you gonna run?

Photo by Richard W. Rodriguez/AP/REX/Shutterstock 

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oh, Beto, Beto, Beto!

The young former West Texas Democratic congressman had to walk back something he said out loud, in public, to a TV reporter.

He said he didn’t plan to run for Texas governor in 2022. Then his office called the Texas Tribune to say … oops! “What I said today is what I’ve been saying for months: I’m not currently considering a run for office,” Beto O’Rourke said in a statement. “I’m focused on what I’m doing now (teaching and organizing.) Nothing’s changed and nothing I said would preclude me from considering a run in the future.”

Don’t you just hate it when politicians say something and then tell you what they meant to say?

According to the Texas Tribune: “I’ve got no plans to run, and I’m very focused on the things that I’m lucky enough to do right now — organizing, registering voters and teaching,” O’Rourke said on NBC DFW’s “Lone Star Politics,” which will air Sunday. “I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing now.”

Beto O’Rourke clarifies running for governor still on the table | The Texas Tribune

Sure. I get it. He is “focused” on whatever he is doing at this moment. None of that precludes him getting focused at the next moment on something else, such as running for governor.

I happen to believe Beto O’Rourke is going to run for governor. I believe he should run. I also believe a Beto win over Gov. Greg Abbott would slam-dunk any chance of Abbott seeking the presidency in 2024.

Those are my hopes. I just want Beto O’Rourke to stop telling us what he means to say.

You go, Mr. Former Speaker!

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Joe Straus describes himself as a “stay-and-fight Republican,” but it’s unclear to me how much fight he has left in his struggle with the party to which he has belonged for decades.

Straus is the former speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. He bowed out of office before the start of the 2019 Legislature, only to watch his successor as speaker, Dennis Bonnen, implode over a treacherous act against his former GOP lawmakers; Bonnen got caught promising to sacrifice 10 legislators who had drawn the ire of a far-right-wing political action committee.

Indeed, not long after Straus announced his intention to retire from the Legislature, I implored him to reconsider. He didn’t listen to me.

Speaker Straus, would you reconsider quitting the House? | High Plains Blogger

Now, though, he is telling the Texas Tribune that he might run for public office in 2022. Straus told the Tribune’s Evan Smith that the state GOP no longer is in the same place he occupies. It’s become a cult, he said.

Texas Tribune podcast: Former Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on the GOP | The Texas Tribune

Straus has me wanting to give him a high five, an atta boy, a shout out. I want him back in the arena.

Why do I admire this fellow? Well, during the 2017 Legislature, he had the guts to stand up to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s desire to enact a bathroom bill that sought to discriminate against transgender individuals. Patrick wanted the Legislature to enact a law that required people to use public restrooms in accordance to the gender with which they were born. Transgender individuals? Forget about it. Women had to use the men’s room, and vice versa.

Straus called a halt to it and it died in the House of Representatives.

Joe Straus is a reasonable man who deserves to hold a position of power in this state.

Let me think, what’s available to him. Oh, I know: The lieutenant governor’s office is up in 2022. My hunch is that Patrick will seek re-election, or he might decide to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott in the GOP primary.

I loathe Dan Patrick. I admire Joe Straus. He told Evan Smith: “I don’t have a plan right now. I do think that in the future, people in this state are going to be looking for a different type of leadership than we’ve had right now.”

Boy, howdy!

GOP = voter suppression

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Honest to goodness, this is the truth, which is that I do not want to believe Republicans favor limiting Americans’ access to voting.

However, it is clear to anyone with a working brain that the GOP is aligned with those who want to restrict many Americans’ rights as citizens of this great land.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has sharpened his political long knife in endorsing a Republican plan to limit access to voting while the state is fighting the pandemic. He targets one of the state’s largest Democratic leaning counties, Harris County.

The Texas Tribune reports: At a press conference in Houston, Abbott served up the opening salvo in the Texas GOP’s legislative response to the 2020 election and its push to further restrict voting by taking aim at local election officials in the state’s most populous and Democratically controlled county. The governor specifically criticized officials in Harris County for attempting to send applications to vote by mail to every registered voter and their bid to set up widespread drive-thru voting, teeing up his support for legislation that would prohibit both initiatives in future elections.

“Whether it’s the unauthorized expansion of mail-in ballots or the unauthorized expansion of drive-thru voting, we must pass laws to prevent election officials from jeopardizing the election process,” Abbott said on Monday. Harris County planned to send out applications to request a mail-in ballot, not the actual ballots.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott backs bills that restrict efforts to expand voting | The Texas Tribune

Texas is not alone. Other states where Republicans command power are taking similar actions.

“These kinds of attempts to confuse, to intimidate, to suppress are a continuation of policies we’ve seen in this state since Reconstruction,” Democratic Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said. “It is a continuation as well of the big lie that’s being peddled by some far-right elements that the election in 2020 was somehow not true and should be overturned.”

What troubles me is that the phony charge of vote fraud is being used as political cover for more nefarious motives designed to prevent racial and ethnic minorities from being able to vote. My goodness, I hate thinking that is the real reason, but the actions of Texas Republican legislators — as well as Gov. Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — leave me with no choice but to assume the worst.

It sickens and saddens me.

Abbott looks for immigration scapegoat

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was looking for someone to blame for the immigration crisis that is building along our southern border.

So he found one. You’re it, President Biden.

Abbott came to Dallas today to blame Biden for the influx of unaccompanied children who are entering the state. He said the president’s immigration policies are “enticing” Latin Americans to enter the United States illegally.

Oh, but wait. President Biden has said categorically — in plain English — that those people shouldn’t come here. “Don’t come,” Biden told ABC News this week, adding that critics are blasting him because he’s a “good guy” who will treat immigrants more humanely than Donald Trump ever did.

As the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports: “I can say quite clearly, don’t come over,” Biden said, noting that the administration is setting up a process for applying for asylum in place. “So don’t leave your town, or city or community.”

When it comes to children crossing he border, Biden said most are 16 and 17. He advocated for trying to connect the minors with an adult contact in the U.S.

Greg Abbott decries immigration under Biden while in Dallas | Fort Worth Star-Telegram (star-telegram.com)

None of that stops Gov. Abbott from levying heavy criticism on President Biden.

Yes, the child immigration problem has worsened. I get it. What is lost on me is what precisely the Biden administration is doing to lure these children into the country.

My request for Gov. Abbott would be to cool down the anti-Biden rhetoric and spend more of his waking energy on coming up with solutions he can implement along with whatever the feds intend to do.

And please, governor, spare me the “open borders” canard.