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Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: greg abbott

Nation Grows Impatient With Unvaccinated As Mandates Expand

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

One thing that's rising even more quickly than COVID-19 cases in Florida is the frustration with the unvaccinated across the nation. Back in the spring, vaccination rates reached over 4 million doses in a single day. With President Joe Biden ensuring adequate supplies for every person in the country, an army of healthcare workers (including the actual Army) engaged in giving vaccines, and a series of targets met (100 million doses! 200 million doses!) it seemed everyone was on their way to a relaxing beach vacation, or that long-delayed visit with distant relatives. And then came the vaccine resisters. Or to be more clear, Republican vaccine resisters. Fueled by a raft of social media rumors, the exhaust from Tucker Carlson's auxiliary anus, and pure cussedness, a solid 40% of Republicans sat down on the second base line and refused the play the game with the rest of America.

While they pouted about whatever Fox News last told them to pout about, the vaccine hostile were really counting on one simple thing, something they've counted on their whole lives: Reasonable people would save them. What the holdouts really expected was that things would be fine. Because they're always fine. They get to scream and make claims about pizza tunnels, while Reasonable People make the world keep spinning.

They could be as vaccine hostile as they wanted, because everyone else would get the vaccine. Then they could go around wagging their finger over how America was populated by sheep and robots, while leaning back on the knowledge that those sheep and robots were saving their unvaccinated necks. But the delta variant came along and screwed up that little plan. With an R0 value roughly the same as a googol (not Google), the "wave my gun and scream about freedom" faction soon found that, this time at least, the Reasonable People could not drag the unmasked ship of fools across the finish line.

And now, dammit, it's get vaccinated or else. Because the Reasonable People are tired of being reasonable.

On Friday, a number of companies threw up their hands and declared that they were going to require vaccination for employees. As The New York Timesreported, the list of companies slapping down a mandate included some big names. Names like Walmart and Disney. Those are two names that could be especially fun for certain red state governors who have made being the most unreasonable a point of honor.

Disney has already demonstrated that it's willing to thumb its giant Mickey nose at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Though when it comes to the state legislature, the House of Mouse doesn't really have to worry—the state carved out a giant Disney-shaped exception when pushing businesses to pretend the pandemic was over.

There is no such exemption for Walmart, though that Walmart news isn't as big as it might sound. Because the company is actually only moving to protect workers in its corporate offices, and managers who travel between stores. The actual workers at the Walmart nearest you will continue to be treated as disposable commodities, more easily restocked than the toilet paper aisle. As always. So the Walmart problem will actually just fall on the shoulders of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and there is nothing more reliable than that Republican officials in Arkansas will do as Bentonville tells them.

The ruling from the DOJ that vaccine mandates by local governments and business are legal opened the floodgates this week. As The Wall Street Journalreports, several Wall Street banking firms have instructed their employees to take the jab. Some of those companies, like Citigroup, are following revised CDC guidelines and requiring everyone to wear masks in the office, regardless of vaccination status. On the big tech side, Google and Facebook have also announced they will require all employees at their U.S. campuses to be vaccinated.

Businesses aren't alone; some universities and private schools are announcing that all staff will be vaccinated. As the Lansing State Journalreports, Michigan State University will require vaccinations for all staff and students when classes begin on Sept. 1, and will also require everyone to wear a mask when indoors. The California State University system has also announced vaccination will be required for all faculty, staff, and students who attend in-person classes.

What's not happening is a federal mandate that would force every American to be vaccinated, regardless of how it's being reported over at the National Review. CDC director Rochelle Walensky has already made it clear that she was talking about a mandate for federal workers and contractors, not a federal vaccine corps marching to every door in America. And that, of course, will mean that Republicans will drop this claim that was already exploding across right-wing media (spoiler alert: They won't).

Republicans are already working hard on the unreasonable response. As the Associate Press reports, Republican state legislators in Wisconsin are trying to pre-empt the university there by blocking them from instituting requirements for vaccination, masking, or even testing. Take that, student safety! As The Guardian notes, the Oklahoma Republican Party didn't hesitate to whip out their Nazi metaphors, comparing COVID-19 vaccine mandates "to the persecution of Jewish people in Nazi Germany." That included placing a yellow star of David on the Party's official Facebook page, and calling for a special session of the state legislature to pass bills prohibiting prohibit employers from requiring vaccination.

But Texas is, as usual, ahead of the unreasonable curve. As NBC reports, Gov. Greg Abbott moved quickly in response to new CDC guidelines suggesting that children wear masks in school, and that everyone wear masks in COVID-19 hot spots (which would include the entire Lone Star State). Abbott soon dashed off an executive order that blocks schools from requiring either vaccination or masks. That executive order ends with the claim that it was done to "provide clarity and uniformity in the Lone Star State's continued fight against COVID-19."

If what Abbott's order is trying to say is that Texans are not going to fight at all, and intend to passively hand their children over to the virus—sure, that's clear. And it does fit in with Texas' founding tradition of getting people pointlessly killed in boneheaded stands over causes favored by white supremacists.

Texas had over 13,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, exceeded only by the 17,000+ in Florida. Both states are now back to where they were in February, with cases still climbing. Maybe that's making both Abbott and DeSantis think that being on the side of the virus is the winning team.

They might want to think again.

Despite GOP Whining, Big Majority Supports Vaccine Mandates

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

Large majorities of Americans support requirements that people be vaccinated against the coronavirus in order to participate in various aspects of public life, according to a new poll conducted by the research organization COVID States Project.

Axios reports that, according to the survey, support for vaccine mandates has increased since May, the last time the COVID States Project conducted a poll on the issue.

As of July, 64 percent of Americans supported a requirement that everyone get be vaccinated against COVID-19, up from 62 percent in May.

An even greater 70 percent support requiring COVID-19 vaccines for air travel, while 66 percent support a requirement that college students be vaccinated in order to go back to school.

The poll results come as states, cities, businesses, and even the federal government have started to announce vaccine requirements for workers, saying employees need to get vaccinated or else face weekly COVID-19 testing or even be prohibited from coming back to work.

Meanwhile, Republican governors across the country have moved to ban vaccine mandates. They say that getting vaccinated is a matter of personal choice, despite the opinions of public health experts that widespread vaccination would not only end the pandemic but also keep people from needless hospitalization and even death.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a law in June that would punish businesses in the state for instituting vaccine requirements for their customers, stripping them of state licenses or banning them from receiving state contracts.

Florida GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis signed an executive order in April that bans government entities and businesses from requiring proof of vaccination from customers or patrons. The order led Norwegian Cruise Line to sue the state, calling such a ban unconstitutional.

Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, have also come out in opposition to vaccine mandates, while also railing against new mask rules in the House that the Capitol's acting physician put in place as the spread of the Delta variant of the virus has led to another spike in COVID-19 cases.

Ultimately, vaccination has become a subject as polarized as politics in America, with polls showing Republicans are far less likely to get vaccinated than Democrats.

Capitol Hill is a microcosm of that problem. Every Democratic lawmaker has been vaccinated, but roughly one-third of the House GOP conference remains unvaccinated.

Republicans are refusing to get vaccinated even though study after study has shown that vaccines are effective at preventing hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

Data shows that nearly every person who has died of COVID-19 recently was not inoculated against the coronavirus, leading Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to say, "There is a clear message that is coming through: This is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Texas Governor Doesn’t Want King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ Speech Taught In Public Schools

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Already trying to peel away voting rights in the state, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is also pushing a bill that would practically remove women and people of color from a portion of required social studies curriculum. Senate Bill 3 would no longer require teachers to teach civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream," the Emancipation Proclamation, and women's suffrage; What's worse the Senate in a 18-4 vote along party lines on Friday passed the governor's racist political vendetta branded as a ban on critical race theory.

The list of social studies elements stripped from required teachings includes "Native American history, work by civil rights activists Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, historical documents related to the Chicano movement and women's suffrage, and writings by Martin Luther King Jr., Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass," according to The Texas Tribune.

Texas Senate Committee advances Critical Race Theory Bill | KVUE www.youtube.com

Sen. Bryan Hughes, author of the bill, wrote in its text that a teacher or other school district employee may not "require or make part of a course inculcation" any concept that holds one race or sex superior to another, define a "hard work ethic" as racist or sexist, or assigns moral character with a particular race or sex. The bill would also prevent teachers and school employees from teaching that: "the advent of slavery in the territory that is now the United States constituted the true founding of the United States; or (...) with respect to their relationship to American values, slavery and racism are anything other than deviations from, betrayals of, or failures to live up to the authentic founding principles of the United States, which include liberty and equality..."

The Senate bill follows earlier House legislation that similarly banned instruction that holds one race or sex superior to another or defines a "hard work ethic" as racist or sexist, or assigns moral character with a particular race or sex, and Abbott signed the bill into law during the regular legislative session. That legislation, however, added the requirement that diverse literature on race be included in school instruction. Abbott wants to change the law back to a version that doesn't include the diverse literature requirement, KVUE reported.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick released the following statement obtained Friday by ABC-affiliated KVUE:

"Texans roundly reject 'woke' philosophies that espouse that one race or sex is better than another and that someone, by virtue of their race or sex, is innately racist, oppressive or sexist.
"Senate Bill 3 will make certain that critical race philosophies, including the debunked 1619 founding myth, are removed from our school curriculums statewide. Texas parents do not want their children to be taught these false ideas. Parents want their students to learn how to think critically, not be indoctrinated by the ridiculous leftist narrative that America and our Constitution are rooted in racism.
"Final passage of this bill into law will require the House Democrats who have fled the state to return to the House for a quorum. If they do not, this bill will die, but the Senate will pass Senate Bill 3 over and over again until the House finally has a quorum. I am grateful for Sen. Hughes' leadership on this important issue."

Hughes said in debate The Texas Tribune covered on the chamber floor that the Senate bill counteracts the "pernicious, wrong, harmful" effects of critical race theory. The race theory, however, is not taught in Texas schools and has been defined by scholars as a framework that suggests the U.S. legal system and laws that govern this nation are rooted in race and racism.

"When a fire starts in the kitchen, we don't wait for it to spread to the living room and bathroom, but we start to put it out," the Republican said. Democratic Sen. Juan Hinojosa countered with: "I don't see a fire in the kitchen."

Abbott Threatens Texas Lawmakers With Arrest When They Return

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Texas Democrats left the state on Monday as a last stand for voting rights, preventing the state House from having the quorum it needs for Republicans to pass a voter suppression bill, along with an attack on transgender students, during a special session of the legislature. The Democrats—at least 51 of them—said they'll stay out of Texas until the special session ends August 6. But they need Congress to act.

Gov. Greg Abbott has threatened that "As soon as they come back in the state of Texas, they will be arrested, they will be cabined inside the Texas Capitol until they get their job done." Abbott can call another special session to get the Republican legislation passed. Ultimately, Texas Republicans have the power to force just about any law through that they want, and right now, they want to make it hard for Black and brown people to vote.

"Our message to Congress," said state Rep. Chris Turner, is that "We need them to act now."

In every public statement he's made, Abbott has painted the Democrats as taking a "taxpayer-paid junket" using "cushy private planes." The Democrats, many of whom have left children behind, are pushing back on that to highlight their urgent message to Congress.

"This is not a vacation," said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer. "This is not a junket. I don't want a single U.S. senator to go home for the August recess thinking that everything is completely fine with voting rights in America. We're here to present the case that it is not." (Pssst … Sen. Manchin, Sen. Sinema, I think he's talking to you.)

Senate Democrats including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sens. Cory Booker, Alex Padilla, and Kirsten Gillibrand are meeting with the Texans. Vice President Kamala Harris praised their "extraordinary courage and commitment."

"I do believe that fighting for the right to vote is as American as apple pie. It is so fundamental to fighting for the principles of our democracy," said Harris.

Abbott is not the only Republican to slam the Democrats for blocking a quorum. "It's not very Texan," according to Sen. John Cornyn. "You stay and you fight."

Well, they're not done fighting. They just took the fight somewhere else, rather than staying in a 100 percent unwinnable fight. As for the other senator from Texas ...

Texas Democrats Leave State To Thwart Passage Of Voter Suppression Bills

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos

Democrats are going to have nothing to do with the special session Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has called. That's because he's not trying to deal with critical issues like COVID-19 or fixing the state's broken and fatal electrical grid, but to "to prioritize 11 issues that largely appeal to conservatives who wanted more out of the regular session." That includes the new voting restriction bills blocked previously by Democrats, as well as banning critical race theory in education, and transgender student athletes from playing sports.

At least 58 Texas House Democrats have left the state to deny a quorum and block these bills, particularly the voting restrictions. "The majority of the members plan to fly to Washington, D.C., on two private jets chartered for the occasion and use the time there to rally support for federal voting legislation," a source told NBC. Others plan to go to D.C. as well, by other means.

What are they going to do in D.C. to convince lawmakers there to deal with voter suppression? "Literally anything," NBC reports. [EDITOR'S UPDATE: On Monday evening the Texas lawmakers arrived at Dulles International Airport near the nation's capital.]

The two new voter restriction bills Texas Republicans are bringing would, among other things: Ban drive-thru early voting; ban 24-hour early voting locations by setting limits of 6 AM to either 9 or 10 PM; add new voter ID requirements for absentee voting; prohibit local officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters or using public funds to help third parties to do so; enable partisan "poll watchers" to potentially harass and intimidate voters while limiting their oversight by election officials by imposing criminal penalties for getting in their way. They debated the bills in hearings on Saturday, and on Sunday the Senate committee voted strictly on party lines 6-3 to pass the bill out to reach the floor Tuesday. The House followed suit with overnight hearings, passing their bill out on a party-line 9-5 vote.

The voter suppression they intend to impose on the state was reflected in these hearings, which were supposed to be open to public testimony.

"Early this morning, Republicans voted to advance a bill to ban 24-hour voting, following an overnight committee hearing that lasted nearly 24 hours," Democratic state Rep. Chris Turner said in a statement Sunday. "You just can't make this up: Republicans are passing anti-voter legislation overnight to prohibit Texans from casting a ballot overnight."

One of the people who was able to testify to the Senate was former Rep. Beto O'Rourke. "This is already the toughest state in which to vote, bar none," O'Rourke said to senators. "You are now proposing a set of restrictions in this elections bill that is going to make it that much harder for people to participate." That's certainly their plan. O'Rourke is egging Democrats on, saying he hopes that they'll "go to DC and sit on the steps of the Capitol, forcing their federal counterparts to walk by them, realizing they haven't done enough to help." Sit-ins in the offices of Sens. Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema wouldn't be amiss, either.

The Odd Virus Attacking Republican Governors

WARNING: A mutant coronavirus named Gubernatorious Imbecilious is spreading across the country, threatening to become pandemic.

Originating earlier this year in the Texas governor's office — infamously known as the "Laboratory of Bad Government" — the brain-eating virus escaped, is now drifting unchecked on the political winds and has already infected governors in Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Nebraska, and South Dakota.

An early indicator that your governor, too, might be coming down with Gubernatorious Imbecilious is if he or she begins ranting paranoiacally that the mighty U.S. of A is being "invaded." Yes, invaded by masses of migrants from Mexico, Central America, and hell itself — all intent on rape, murder, drug peddling, mayhem, and ultimately the usurpation of our nation.

Having such a delusional governor is embarrassing, but the disease turns downright scary when infected governors try acting on their paranoia. Gov. Greg Abbott, for example, the GOP governor of Texas, is the one who conjured up this current invasion fantasy and is causing it to go viral in Republican statehouses. Abbott is a frantic Chicken Little, squawking that "a tidal wave" of amnesty seekers crossing our southern border are "causing farmers to lose their crops ... homes are being invaded ... neighborhoods are dangerous ... people are being threatened."

So, by gollies, Greg is taking action! On our dime, of course. His big plan? Build a wall! Yes, obviously demented by an advanced case of Gubernatorious Imbecilious , the extent of Abbott's creativity is an insane repeat of Donnie Trump's failed boondoggle of a border wall. To fund his goofy political gambit, the governor has expropriated $250 million from the state's meager budget to "secure our border." Apparently, no one has told the governor that $250 million would build less than 10 miles of wall on our 1,200-mile border with Mexico ... and won't keep anyone from crossing.

But failure seems to be built into Abbott's DNA. He oversees a state power grid so feeble that it failed in February, killing more than 150 Texans; he has left five million of our people without health coverage, more than any other state; and he presides over a crumbling state infrastructure network that can't score better than a D grade.

Did I mention that Abbott wants to run for president? Not of the Insane Governors Club, but of America! Seriously.

It's one thing to strive for herd immunity to defeat a coronavirus, but in politics, the herd instinct can send a whole species over a cliff.

That seems to be happening among the frenzied herd of Republican governors now stampeding behind the scaremongering scheme of Abbott to use the personal suffering of Latin American migrants and asylum seekers as a political pawn. Rather than helping find a humane solution, the GOP hierarchy is exploiting the very real plight of desperate Latin American people to pose as strong defenders of U.S. communities that are in absolutely no danger from the migration.

Yes, various governors are following Abbott's knee-jerk vindictiveness, confronting the migrating families with "Keep Out" military-style force. First came Florida's ruthlessly ambitious governor, Ron DeSantis, strutting around in a mucho macho photo-op, pledging to send a small hodgepodge of deputies, highway patrol, and even wildlife officials (!) to Texas for a few days to help Abbott keep out immigrants. What will these armed officials do? Who will direct them? Who would pay? Uh ... DeSantis didn't know.

Then came Cornhusker State Gov. Pete Ricketts, proclaiming that "Nebraska is stepping up to help Texas respond to the ongoing crisis on their border." But local public officials who are actually on the Texas border say there is a problem, not a crisis — and helter-skelter squads of clueless gendarmes from afar won't help. Still, the hyper-partisan governor of Iowa, Kim Reynolds, said she was sending a few state troopers to the distant border to defend "the health and safety of Iowans." Interestingly, she had refused a request this spring by the Biden administration to help house migrant children crossing our border to seek asylum, coldly declaring, "This is not our problem."

South Dakota's Kristi Noem also piled on, dispatching some of her state's National Guard troops to Texas. Oddly, though, Noem's troops were not sent as true agents of the state, but as 25 political mercenaries, paid an undisclosed amount by an out-of-state right-wing billionaire to join in the GOP governors' border stunt.

Note that (1) all of these political posers committed so few border defenders for such a short time that their presence would have zero impact on our border crossings; and (2) none of the governors offered any insight, solution, or concern about the root causes of the migration.

To monitor the posturing of these shameful frauds, go to NoBorderWallCoalition.com.

To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

While Red Texas Blusters, Blue California Prospers

A funny thing happened on the way to California's collapse. It didn't happen.

We keep hearing that the Golden State is going down, down, down. Last year, it suffered the first drop in population since records have been kept. And there's that parade of natural plagues — the droughts, catastrophic wildfires and infernal heat.

A largely hostile right-leaning media go on and on about California's high taxes and various liberal excesses. Californians, their story goes, are leaving in droves for low-tax, lax-regulation places like Texas. And it's true that some big California names — Oracle, Charles Schwab, Hewlett Packard and Tesla CEO Elon Musk — have moved their headquarters there.

But is this the whole picture? It is not. As Bloomberg News reports, California's economy is hardly headed for disaster. On the contrary, it is No. 1 among the states by most economic measures. Furthermore, it is emerging from the pandemic in very good shape.

And so when Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said last February that California uses "heavy-handed government tactics that drive away businesses," California Gov. Gavin Newsom had to respond. "We remain the fifth largest economy in the world," Newsom's office said. "No. 1 in Bloomberg's Innovation Index and home to 20 of Fortune's top 100 fastest growing companies in the world."

California's small population loss last year largely reflected former President Donald Trump's curb on new visas. While some people do leave California, others arrive. Many of the newcomers are immigrants with grand ambitions and a desire to live in a welcoming place.

As the pandemic draws to a close, California is sitting pretty with an operating budget surplus of $75 billion. This is the product of a surging economy and the collection of capital gains taxes. It would seem that a few rich Californians did not move to Texas after all.

Thanks to this surplus, California has embarked on what Newsom calls the "largest state tax rebate in American history." Two-thirds of Californians are receiving Golden State stimulus checks totaling almost $12 billion.

What about economic growth? California's gross domestic product has jumped 21 percent over the past five years, leaving Texas' 12 percent gain in its shadow. Even New York state, another of Abbott's targets, outdid Texas with a 14 percent rise in state GDP.

If California were a country, its growth rate would have exceeded that of Japan, Germany and the entire U.S. Only China grew faster.

"For all its bluster as being 'best for business,' Texas can't match California's innovation," Bloomberg said. Some 18 percent of California's corporate locations are dedicated to research and development. The percentage of Texas facilities for research and development are just under half that of California's.

During a heat wave last August, parts of California suffered rolling blackouts, leading Texas Sen. Ted Cruz to predictably snark that the state was "unable to perform even basic functions of civilization, like having reliable electricity."

Six months later, of course, blackouts left millions of Texans in darkness without heat or electricity or, in some cases, running water. Abbott used the occasion to troll green energy advocates, blaming the crisis on freezing wind turbines. Wind supplies only 20 percent of the state's energy, and it was noted amid laughter that Greenland's turbines do just fine in subzero weather.

Some of the coolest people I know live in Texas —- and California is home to a variety of moronic woke campaigns, such as the attempt to take Abraham Lincoln's name off a San Francisco school. But right-wing efforts to portray California as an economic failure due to its liberal politics wither in the heat of facts. On economic prowess, Texas really should not mess with California.

Follow Froma Harrop on Twitter @FromaHarrop. She can be reached at fharrop@gmail.com. To find out more about Froma Harrop and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

What Are You Drinking?

A mechanical marvel of human ingenuity was plopped down on Mars by NASA last February. Its name, Perseverance, fits the Mars rover perfectly, for the robotic vehicle embodies a feat of scientific know-how, long-term dedication to public purpose, and a tight focus on teamwork. Think about the 20-year span of institutional tenacity required for myriad scientists and others to imagine, design, plan, construct, test and otherwise develop the project. And then they hurled this extraordinarily complex machine on a seven-month, 300-million-mile journey through space, navigating to a pinpoint landing in Jezero Crater, a 3.6-billion-year-old, dried-up Martian lakebed. Now Perseverance is probing the Red Planet's watery past for evidence of primordial life.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, during the same week of this WOW! achievement on Mars, millions of people in NASA's home city of Houston were also probing dried-up waterways: the faucets in their homes, businesses, and schools. On Valentine's Day, an Arctic cold front ripped through the state, and suddenly, basic infrastructure failed, and tap water in this sprawling metro became nonexistent or contaminated. Houstonians were left scrambling for essential, life-sustaining H2O.

They were not alone. Nearly 1,300 water systems across Texas were sputtering and failing at the same time. Worse, this calamitous crisis stemmed directly from the even bigger failure of another essential piece of modern infrastructure: the electric grid. During the weeklong deep freeze, almost all the Lone Star State's jury-rigged network of corporate-owned and -run power systems failed, leaving 4.5 million homes and businesses without electricity. In turn, this fiasco caused the pumps, pipes and pressure controls of hundreds of local water networks to freeze up and break down, cutting off potable water for days.

Gov. Greg Abbott, a GOP mediocrity who grossly mismanaged Texas' COVID-19 response (his slogan seems to be, "Failure is not an option; it's a promise") tried at first to blame Mother Nature. Well, it surely was a big winter storm ... but lots of states regularly maintain electricity and water through much deeper freezes.

What hit Texans was not nature, but an ongoing unnatural disaster. It was the state's reward for turning its government over to incompetents and right-wing ideologues who persistently disdain investment in public resources and community needs. For 25 years, a series of money-corrupted, corporate-coddling Texas governors and legislators have recoiled from even such minimal measures as requiring energy profiteers to weatherize people's crucial infrastructure. (This sort of corporate butt-kissing is what governors really mean when they puff themselves up and bluster that their state is "business-friendly.")

And their obsequious surrender of the public interest to moneyed powers pays off handsomely to them ... in bales of campaign cash they rake in from the profiteers. For example, the oil and gas giants that fuel the electric grid rewarded Abbott's six years of servility with a whopping $26 million in "thank-you" donations. The public's reward was hundreds of Texans killed in that one week of the grid crash and some $130 billion in economic losses from business shutdowns and homes flooded by burst pipes.

How embarrassing is it that the techno-advanced, engineering powerhouse of America has a growing crisis of water quality and delivery usually associated with impoverished nations? And the infrastructure collapse is not just in Texas. From our biggest cities like New York to isolated rural communities like those in the sprawling Navajo Nation, millions of us endure raw sewage, industrial chemicals, lead pipes, burst water mains, price gouging, cut-offs, boil emergencies, and other water disasters.

In March, Consumer Reports and The Guardian issued findings from a nine-month investigation of drinking water systems serving 19 million Americans. Of 120 systems analyzed, 118 had serious levels of toxic chemicals including lead, arsenic, and/or PFAS (a group of synthetic toxins) at dangerous levels. PFAS compounds are in our clothing, carpets, nonstick cookware, food containers, and thousands of other products. And now they're also in our water, seeping in from chemical factories and landfills. They are linked to a range of human health horrors including thyroid disease, cancers, and possibly learning delays in children. The Environmental Protection Agency sets no enforceable limit on PFAS in drinking water and suggests voluntary caps for a few chemicals — even as the compounds contaminate drinking water in more than 2,300 communities in 49 states. To learn more and see what's in your drinking water, go to EWG.org/tapwater/.

To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com