"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

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“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Governor Butterball

NPR reports this morning that the mayors of the largest cities in Texas expect their hospitals to be "overwhelmed" within 2 weeks.  Texas reported an increase of over 10,000 cases yesterday.  And Greg Abbott whinges that the mayors of those cities are not serving him well.

Abbott: So I have received what seemed to be kind of like a form letter, from a couple of mayors — one was the Austin mayor — and it seemed very similar to a letter I received from the Houston mayor and some other officials, primarily from the large cities across the state of Texas, that ask for additional shutdown measures and asking in the alternative to give them the authority to completely shut down and lock down their jurisdiction for a period of time.

And I find that frustrating in this sense, and that is, for most of these officials, no action whatsoever to enforce the executive orders that are in place. The reason why I emphasize that is these executive orders were established by doctors with the understanding that if they were complied with, it would reduce the spread of COVID0-19.

A quick example is, for many mayors, maybe all of them, I’m unfamiliar with any effort they ever undertook to shut down any bar where it was clear from just an eyeball view that there was a violation of the orders that are in place. But also, they are saying we need to reduce the capacity of restaurants, of retail centers and things like that. No mayor has sent me any information saying that there’s any type of spread of COVID-19 in any of those types of establishments or that they’ve taken any effort to close down those types of establishments.

Bottom line is, we need better, stronger enforcement. If the current rules are followed and applied, we will not have to shut Texas back down.

This is the same guy who said Houston (and other cities) couldn't enforce mask mandates, until he decided they could (see below; it's the difference between June and July).  Of course, they did enforce these rules; but they don't have the manpower to go to every bar in their town and shut them down, either.  That's technically the jurisdiction of Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission (TABC).  Police could only shut down a bar if a health inspector investigated and found violations of public health rules, and even then it's a civil action which would require investigation and civil, not criminal, action.  Civil action is not the police showing up, clearing the place, and arresting the owner.  Besides, Abbott set the standard when he imposed a closure order which was violated by a salon owner in the Dallas area, who was charged criminally and put in jail.  Dan Patrick went and paid her bail (from his campaign funds; Patrick's not generous with his money, just with other people's money) and Ted Cruz went there to get a haircut.  Abbott rapidly backed down from wanting to see people in jail, even as her case was dismissed because Abbott lifted the closure order and made it retroactive to get her released.

In fact, let's just put some of the historical record into this discussion:

Yes, that was less than a month ago. So he's not only been a tower of Jell-O on this issue, he's taken power away from localities when it pleased him politically to do so.  Blaming local officials for inaction now is just too rich.  Because nine days later:

Two days after that:

Pay attention to that rise in patient numbers.  It becomes important quickly.

By July 2, he had reversed course entirely:

Yesterday Texas reported 10,000 new cases.  And Abbott keeps blaming anybody but himself.

He also provides another example of Abbott imitating a profile in butter, not courage:

Question: We are hearing of mounting pressure on the Texas GOP to cancel next week’s in-person convention in downtown Houston. Do you support the party’s plan to move forward?

Abbott: I know that they continue to look at it and, you know, the facts that we see today contribute to that. As we may see in the coming days, as we get even closer to the convention, the reality is that there will be more people testing positive both in Texas as well as in Houston. There will be more hospitalizations in Houston and there will be more deaths.

So, I think that the party leaders that make the determination based on issues like this, they will continue to weigh all these facts and we’ll see how things progress. But, I know that they want to put public safety first. I know that they don’t want to compromise the health or safety of anybody. But, I also know at the same time, that they need to find ways in which to conduct the official business that must be conducted by the party.
Again, don't look to him for leadership or any responsibility in the matter.  He's just the Republican Governor of Texas, after all.  He's not responsible for anything.

Question: But if they ask you, Governor, will you tell them to move it to a virtual convention?

Abbott: I would ask that they take into consideration the health and safety of everybody who would be attending and make sure they conduct it — whether it be in-person or online — in a way that secures and protects the safety and health of everybody.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has said he'll have the Health Department shut down the convention in a heartbeat if they aren't following the requirements for public gatherings (masks, 6 feet distance, etc.)  The Greater Houston Partnership, a very powerful and influential Houston business group, is now asking the GOP to cancel the convention.  And the GOP has announced that none of the top GOP officials, party or state, will be at the convention.

The cherry on the sundae is this answer, in response to this question:

Question: The TEA says that based on your recent executive order, masks will be mandatory in school buildings. Would you like to end that order before school starts and if so, what will it take?

We will not have to shut it down if everyone will follow this very simple rule and that is, just get a mask like this, wear it, make sure that you don’t get COVID-19 and you don’t give it to anybody else.

One of those things, obviously, we can all do.  But the latter two?  Completely impossible.  Might as well count on Santa Claus bringing you a pony.  At least Gov. Abbott has denied any responsibility if you do get Covid-19 and give it to someone else.  He told you not to!

That man is utterly useless.


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