Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance prefers the old-fashioned “talk nonstop” filibuster to what we have now as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff advises you to be more mad at the Public Utility Commission.

Dos Centavos tells us about his successful vaccination experience.

SocraticGadfly offers his suggestions for people to fill those vacant “unaffiliated” board positions on ERCOT.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

G. Elliott Morris notes the corrosive effect of a misinformed public on democracy and governance.

Texans for Public Justice documents Greg Abbott’s reliance on funding from the energy industry.

The Texas Living Waters Project urges the Legislature to use the current legislative session to address the long-running water infrastructure challenges laid bare by Winter Storm Uri.

Jeff Balke lists eight emergency preparedness items you might want to have on hand.

Robert Rivard is firm about the need to continue taking the pandemic seriously.

Matt Mohn shows how Joe Biden would have done under the 2004 Tom DeLay re-redistricting.

Abbott’s Trumpian Response to “Neanderthal Thinking”

Greg Abbott doesn’t enjoy being challenged by President Joe Biden nor the media as was evidenced in his freak-out on a KPRC interview yesterday. The freak-out continued on Twitter (see image).

With Texans, the Feds, Texas city leaders, the Texas business community, and the medical community incensed at Abbott’s idiotic decisions to rescind a mask mandate and open up Texas business 100%, Abbott took the usual route Republicans take when challenged: Racism.

It did not take long for Greg Abbott to go full-Trump by blaming immigrants for COVID-19, even after his failed attempts at keeping open and reopening Texas have caused more death and infection. But Abbott’s reaction only shows his sinister and evil intentions to enrich big business while the rest of the state suffers, not only with COVID-19, but with misinformation and bigotry.

Let’s face it, we don’t need to be reminded that Brown (and Black) folks have always been blamed and scapegoated since Texas was founded. The playbook is pretty old and it’s gotten old. Really old.

In a twist, CNN is reporting that while Abbott makes up stories about immigrants spreading COVID-19 thanks to Biden, the reality is that Abbott is stalling efforts to have the Biden administration provide COVID-19 testing for immigrants and mitigation prior to release.

DHS has already set plans in motion to use Federal Emergency Management Agency funds to support community efforts to test, isolate and quarantine migrants released from Border Patrol custody, the official told CNN. But the grant money needs to be approved by the state before it can be distributed to border communities. CNN previously reported plans were underway to use FEMA funds to help localities acquire tests. As of Wednesday, Texas had not yet provided a response to the administration since engaging with the Department of Homeland Security.

CNN 3/4/21

Anyway, this post is just a reminder that Greg Abbott is a bigot who will continually scapegoat “the other” for his own political gain. Actually, this bit of news shouldn’t be a surprise. The surprise is that there are still idiots out there (even Dems) who will keep this guy in office, even when given a clear choice.

Abbott Signs Death Warrant on Texas

We’ve already talked about Greg Abbott’s intentional failures, but he has decided that Texas’ failures are a political opportunity for himself.

On March 2, the day some celebrate “Texas independence day,” Greg Abbott chose to show off Texas’ fake rugged independence and individualism by rescinding an order to comply with CDC mask guidelines and opening up the state to 100% capacity. Abbott always talks tough, but the numbers show he is more than willing to sacrifice Texans for his political career.

Abbott shot off opposite numbers during his campaign rally-slash-presser to make his case. In other words, instead of deaths and infections, he stated how many people had gotten better after contracting COVID-19 as an exhibit to prove why he needed to rescind the mandates. Plus, Abbott seems to think that with a miniscule amount of Texans having been vaccinated, that we are in the clear. The reality is that over 2 million Texans have been infected, with over half being people of color. Over 42,000 Texans have died with 60% being Brown and Black.

Because of a botched fight to control COVID-19, a too late effort by Trump and Abbott to enact mask and protocol mandates, and a botched vaccine roll-out while Trump was in office, the economy of the nation and Texas has tanked. Perhaps controlling the virus through earlier efforts could have lessened the economic toll, but what has actually happened is the opposite. Now, Abbott uses the background of a Mexican restaurant in Lubbock to show off a business willing to go along with 100% capacity to save itself, but not its customers. Thankfully, many small businesses are still requiring masks to enter. Unfortunately, Texas corporate hero HEB is only “urging” customers to mask up.

All that said, those who follow Abbott (and Trump, still) are plainly stupid or heartless or both. They live off of that feeling of faux independence and rugged individualism that has been written in the history books, yet are the first to whine when disaster strikes and blood is left in their hands. As some celebrate Texas, we must all realize how far this state has not come and how many people have been willfully killed through bad public policy since its inception.

And then we must ask,’ Who’s in charge?” And rid ourselves of stupidity and willful ineptitude.

My Vax Experience – Part 1

I got lucky on Thursday evening when the Houston Health Department opened up some slots for shots–the COVID-19 vaccine. I was quite surprised when I clicked the link and lo and behold, a page actually opened up that allowed me to sign up. Why was I surprised? Because, most times, the slots filled up within a few minutes. I felt quite lucky. So, I signed up and moments later received confirmation of my appointment for Friday morning.

With paperwork in hand, I drove over to the HHDs vax facility at Bayou City Events Center on Knight Road. Thankfully, I got in line early and made it into the parking lot within 15 minutes. (HPD and COH Mobility did a great job!) Another 15 minutes later, the staff in the lot had scanned the QR code on my printed-out email, checked me in, and I parked in a great space.

The first stop just inside the door was with the temp-taking guy who also wrapped your wrist with a green band. Then I was led into a room and told to go to a station. The nice woman at the station looked over my paperwork and a minute later, I was sent to another room–the main ballroom–where there were numerous nurses stations. I went to where I was pointed, sat with the nurse, answered a few questions, and a minute later, I was already sitting in the ballroom waiting for 15 minutes to make sure I didn’t grow fangs or have some reaction. One nurse walked by and even checked on me–I’m that special. Then, I was on my way.

I must say that the HHD staff and volunteers are running a tight ship. Along with great intake and nursing staff members, maintenance staff was on top of keeping things clean and sanitized. A lot of sanitizer was available and the bathrooms were clean. Also, I’d never been to this facility, but if anyone ever has an event and needs a DJ (when all this is over), give me a call. I offer great rates and great music!

Did it hurt? It was an injection through the muscle. You’ll feel something. Hours later, my upper arm felt sore, yet, no fangs grew out of me and the Russians have not tried to communicate with me. It’ll be different for everyone, I’m sure. I hear the 2nd dose is doozier, but I’m alright with that if it gets us closer to some sort of herd immunity.

My hope is that we get to a point very soon where we don’t need a race to the needle by way of a computer. Accessibility is as important as the community education that helps convince people to get inoculated, but more important is actual availability at-large. Also very important is the need to take the shots to the community members who are not able to drive to a location. As CM Letitia Plummer stated on Friday, while the FEMA vax site is a great thing, we must address accessibility for those who do not have access to an automobile.

Obviously, there is still a lot to be done. Out local leaders are doing their part and President Biden’s visit today provided some assurance that things are happening, including more vaccine production. But Congress must still pass the COVID-19 bill to ensure the supplies needed to provide the vaccines are purchased.

Well, that’s my experience. I will say that my stress levels are much lower now. Missing out on some of the vaccine sign-ups was indeed stressful. Now, I wait a month for dose #2. Hope you get your doses, as well.

On a more serious note, I cannot help but think about all of those whom we’ve lost. It didn’t have to happen. Of the 500K+, we’ve all known a few. My family has lost relatives and long-time family friends. The least we can do is get vaccinated ASAP so we can continue living and serving in the name of all of those humans.

Mask up, keep distancing, wash hands, and get your shot when you can!

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance hopes that everyone has food, water, and power again as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff worries that Republicans in the Lege are determined to learn all the wrong lessons from the freeze and the blackouts it caused.

SocraticGadfly offers his take on some of the issues in The Great Texas Freezeout of 2021 with a sports metaphor: “Nature Bats Last 1, Texas Exceptionalism 0.”

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Andrew Exum reveals the difference between performative governance and actually governing.

Jef Rouner offers a crash course in ERCOT.

Noah Horwitz gives a proper sendoff to Rush Limbaugh.

Paradise in Hell channels Sen. John Cornyn.

Therese Odell goes deep into the latest controversy surrounding The Bachelor and its longstanding problems with race.

Charlie Sykes isn’t a Texan, but anyone who calls Dan Crenshaw “one of the Trumpiest grifters extant” gets honorary status.

Biden Kiddie Jail Opens in South Texas

Out in my former neck of the mesquite, in Carrizo Springs, TX actually, an oil field worker tent and portable building camp that Trump opened for a month as a jail for unaccompanied minors has been reopened up again by the Biden Administration.

Blaming COVID-19, Biden mouthpiece Jen Psaki pointed to a lack of room at the usual Health and Human Services facilities because of COVID-19 protocols that called for increased distancing as the reason to reopen the Carrizo Springs, TX facility located in the middle of nowhere.

700 teenagers will now reside at this reopened facility while they await placement with families or sponsors. Current rules call for the Border Patrol to hold these children for up to 72 hours before transferring them to an HHS facility. The 700 kids were currently being held in a border patrol tent prison because the original facility which became infamous for using cages for the kids is being renovated. Into what? I have no idea.

Also, current HHS facilities have more of a group home atmosphere.

No doubt, immigrant rights activists and attorneys are worried about how the children will be treated at this facility. Psaki and Biden can use whatever cleaner description of these facilities they can create, the bottom line is that children should not be kept in prison-like facilities in the middle of nowhere, whether in cages or not.

Of course, the optics are terrible. Biden made promises to not be like Trump at all when it comes to immigration. While we know immigration policy and process takes time to be put in place (although Trump did wonders with executive orders), detention and practices can be changed immediately. When in need of a solution, Biden basically ran back to a Trump-era idea. Some call that a lack of creativity on Biden’s part.

One other thing, the Carrizo Springs kiddie jail can be expanded to house thousands. Given the lack of creativity, the potential for this place to grow should scare us.

Yet, I’m not surprised. And I’m definitely not surprised at the haunting silence of Democrats in Congress or on the ground Dem activists who don’t seem to see a problem with this. We must demand more from Biden when it comes to migrant warehousing and detention–especially ending the private contracting of it. And while Biden has attempted some short strides in trying to curb deportations (which has been denied by a federal judge) and putting forth some sort of immigration package for Congress to consider, more must be done.

Ultimately, beyond a human rights issue, this is also a political fight. How hard a President and a Congress fights for an issue also makes for great optics. We have a Democratic majority put together by dollar store scotch tape (i.e., Manchin and Sinema), but a majority nonetheless. Use it!

UPDATE 3PM: Biden will reopen Homestead child prison, too.

Latino Rebels reports that the Biden administration will also reopen the Homestead child prison facility in Florida. During the Trump administration, the corporation running this prison was given a $300 billion no-bid contract with the help of former Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly before it was finally shut down. During the 2020 Democratic primary, various candidates toured the facility and lobbied for its closing after charges of child abuse and horrible conditions. Today, it will be run under a different name–as if that changes anything.

Los Blogs de Tejas – TPA Round-Up

The Texas Progressive Alliance never short squeezes its weekly blog roundup.

Off the Kuff examines a couple of polls about current political attitudes in Texas.

SocraticGadfly explains why he is totally on board with the pending trade of Nolan Arenado to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Dos Centavos tells us about his successful Harris County vax portal registration.

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And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

The Dallas Observer discusses double masking.

Loren Steffy observes that the oil industry didn’t do so well under Donald Trump.

Grits for Breakfast expresses cautious optimism about new Travis County DA Jose Garza.

Equality Texas warns of the forthcoming legislative attack on trans kids.

Reform Austin reports from the first Senate Special Committee on Redistricting meeting.

Jef Rouner calls for a MAGA ban at fan conventions.

Mark Pitcavage explains the history of the word “sheeple”.

Abbott’s Intentional Failures

Greg Abbott was not put on this earth to serve the vast majority of Texans and his State of the Failed State speech was just another example of his black heartedness and disdain for those most in need.

As the Texas Lege tries to get back to work amid COVID-19, missing from Abbott’s priorities are efforts to fight COVID-19. It’s not surprising, actually. Abbott has been missing in action in that regard, and President Biden is finding out that Trump and his ilk were MIA, too.

Abbott’s time-wasting moves have been to protect businesses who continually push to violate COVID-19 protocols. His only intention has been to flout CDC guidelines and suggestions by keeping Texas businesses, churches, and schools open in the midst of a pandemic that caused more and more death and illness. By adding that folks aren’t required to get vaccinated in all of his statements on vaccine rollout, he’s pretty much in line with all the yahoos whose behavior has put Texans in peril. Kuff has more on this particular issue.

Abbott completely ignores the need for reform of law enforcement, which would include prioritizing funding toward programs that take on the root causes of crime–homelessness, poverty, mental illness. Instead, he promotes his own version of Trumpism in a vow to overthrow local control of local law enforcement. He commits to ending the actual bail reform that is finally coming to light, while supporting punishment before trial for those who cannot afford to bond out. He is not interested in meeting the demands of the people who continually go abused by a bigoted law enforcement system.

At a time when people are most in need of preventive health care, Abbott cares not about the health of Texans by not supporting an expansion of Medicaid. 2 million Texans could benefit from this expansion at little cost to the state. Instead, Abbott simply does not care. He never has. And sick people be damned.

Finally, Abbott is content with restrictive voting laws that keep Black and Brown people home on election day. He keeps talking about “trust” in elections when his own Donald Trump, et. al. continues a crusade against a legitimate election. Abbott makes up accusations of voter fraud with no evidence, while supporting efforts to stop people from voting. It’s a great deception to rile up bigoted supporters. In fact, while people seem to want to save the republican party, they seem to forget that even “moderate” republicans have found the crazies in the party useful to win elections. They’re just finding out the hard way that these idiots also want to be their elected leaders (look up Greene and Boebert).

Why people have trusted Abbott and republicans to run this state is beyond me. Why people think he would do anything other than serve the masters that keep him and his buddies well-funded also keeps me dumbfounded. Bottom line: Abbott does all of this with a purpose in mind–Keep the rich happy and kick everyone else in the teeth, even the people he continues to fool. It has been the republican way for decades, but Trump allowed the already hateful behavior to show its teeth with amped up racism, lies and deception. And Abbott seems to be OK with that behavior in the role of a Trump lapdog, as long as he gets to lead them.

Democrats need to fight and with fighting words; and with none of the usual rhetorical crap that is never believable, like moving to the right on something, or attempting to fight like gentleman (and gentlewomen) with sugarcoated bullshit, when all republicans do is bludgeon those they hate–verbally and through racist policies.

Texas will not change until the people recognize who is actually on their side when it comes to economic opportunity, health care, education, and the issues that actually matter. But we’ve been saying this for…ever, and no one seems to get it. And the republicans gain ground because they are so good at finding those weaknesses in people that allow them to blame “the other” for every problem.

Anyway, just wanted to put something down on virtual paper which states the obvious: Greg Abbott is failing Texans quite intentionally and he’s been allowed to do it since his beginnings . If we’re going to fight him, well, fight him. But let’s not be squeamish.

NIH Revises Use of Ivermectin for Fight Against COVID-19

There have been various reports regarding the use of Ivermectin in the fight to treat COVID-19. I had posted about local COVID-19 fighter, Dr. Joseph Varon, and his associates’ effort to have the federal government recognize the use of the anti-parasitic drug in treating COVID-19. A slight change in attitude has occured at the federal level.

While the feds were upscaling their efforts in creating vaccines for COVID-19, there was still a worry that lack of availability of the vaccine would not help efforts to fight the actual infections that were still occurring in real-time. Dr. Varon and his associates were among various scientists studying the use of Ivermectin, which was known to be used in fighting worms in dogs, but approved for human use for over 40 years. Considering the botched roll-out by Trump and Texas Governor Abbott, this is quite timely as infections and hospitalizations continue to overtax local resources.

Medical authorities at the federal level had taken the attitude that, while Ivermectin was FDA-approved, it was not approved for use against COVID-19. Recent reports state that the National Institutes of Health has changed course.

One week after Dr. Paul Marik and Dr. Pierre Kory—founding members of the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC)— along with Dr. Andrew Hill, researcher and consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO), presented their data before the NIH Treatment Guidelines Panel, the NIH has upgraded their recommendation on ivermectin, making it an option for use in COVID-19. 

This new designation upgraded the status of ivermectin from “against” to “neither for nor against”, which is the same recommendation given to monoclonal antibodies and convalescent plasma, both widely used across the nation. 

By no longer recommending against ivermectin use, doctors should feel more open in prescribing ivermectin as another therapeutic option for the treatment of COVID-19. This may clear its path towards FDA emergency use approval. 

“Ivermectin is one of the world’s safest, cheapest and most widely available drugs,” noted Dr. Kory, President of the FLCCC Alliance. “The studies we presented to the NIH revealed high levels of statistical significance showing large magnitude benefit in transmission rates, need for hospitalization, and death. What’s more, the totality of trials data supporting ivermectin is without precedent.”

Newswise.com 1/15/2021

Dr. Marek and Dr. Kory were among those scientists working with Dr. Varon.

This is great news as studies have found that Ivermectin can be used post-exposure, early-stage, and even during late stage. The drug has anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties which have helped numerous patients locally.

Here’s a link to DosCentavos’ post regarding Dr. Varon’s press conference on Ivermectin.

The vax roll-out is now in the hands of the Biden administration, which has had to get to the bottom of Trump’s failures. While the roll-out continues, we must continue to mask-up, wash hands, social distance, and if possible stay away from humans outside of one’s immediate family. And, in case you haven’t heard…double mask!

The Harris County Vax Portal Worked For Me!

Was the Harris County COVID-19 vaccine registration portal a bit glitchy and overloaded? Yeah.

Did Judge Lina Hidalgo tell us during her Monday press conference that it may have some glitches that will be taken care of as they come? Yeah.

Did the media report that? Of course not! DosCentavos did.

And did over 50,000 register by end of business on Tuesday? Well, yes, and count me among those that registered.

As posted on the Judge’s FB page: “I know people are anxious to register for a vaccine and website glitches are frustrating. But we’ve designed the system to give everyone equal access. If you sign up in future days you’ll still be selected from a randomized pool. 53K+ people registered today online, with more via phone.”

Let’s face it, local and state governments were left to fend for themselves by the Trump administration. While Trump ordered vaccines, he didn’t do much to help states and local governments with timely funding for supplies and resources needed to educate and inoculate a few hundred million people nationwide (remember, he was threatening to veto all sorts of things because of some internet rule?). Each state and locality has had to come up with their own systems of distribution and storage. And the funding for supplies and resources is still slow-going, on top of the slow production and distribution of vaccine from the companies that produced them. And if it’s a state like Texas, equity isn’t even on the radar of their right-wing leaders (Greg Abbott, et, al).

So, that a local government is actually trying to get something done to give people peace of mind should be commendable, and not something about which to whine, as has been exhibited on the news and by folks who didn’t support Judge Hidalgo.

That people expect perfection locally while the national government is still very much in a transition of leadership and getting to the bottom of what Trump and republicans did to our nation in regards to COVID-19, well, I just need to tell those people to watch their privilege. Because if you’re lovin’ on Biden after only 6 days of signing papers, while whining about local leaders trying to do something that takes more than an executive order, well, you’re doing whatever you’re trying to do wrong.

That said, there are millions of people in Harris County who need the vaccine. At least 2 million fall under the 1A and 1B priority list. A quarter of Harris County residents are uninsured and are not patients under the care of the local big hospitals which were given priority by the state of Texas. I’m just saying there are systemic things that must be addressed that have contributed to where we are now for which we must be demanding systemic change.

Anyway, the registration site is up. If you get a “maintenance” message, just refresh. If there are thousands of people trying to get registered and it overloads the system every now and then, well, that’s a good thing that people want to get registered and actually want the shot. President Biden just ordered an extra 200 million shots that will not arrive until the summer, meaning, the original Trump administration order of shots hasn’t even begun to arrive in bulk fashion. Get registered at as many portals as you can find and wait.

As always: Stay at/work from home if you can. If not, wear a mask, wash hands, and distance from others!