Time was Republicans frowned upon this kind of behavior.
Good morning to everyone except Texas GOP Governor Greg Abbott, who has just banned vaccine mandates for all entities in Texas, even private businesses that definitely should not be his personal fucking business.
Abbott was alive and healthy to do this presumably at least in part because he's fully vaccinated, so when he got COVID in August, it didn't kill him.
The order states that "no entity in Texas" can enforce vaccination against anyone in the state who objects "for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19," according to a news release from the governor's office.
Again, we marvel at all these white Republicans who have apparently become Christian Scientists during the pandemic, and thus must register their religious objections to the vaccine. Who knew that church had such a recruiting drive going?
"The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced," Abbott said in a statement.
Abbott also called on the Texas state Legislature to pass a law with the same effect. The executive order would be rescinded upon the passage of such legislation, the governor's office said.
Great. Texas Republicans gonna make sure every pregnancy is forced to continue until completion, but as usual don't seem to care about the continued life and health of anyone that's already been born.
The order specifically states that this applies to employees AND consumers, in case you thought private establishments had the right to choose to require vaccination from their customers. As the Texas Tribune explains, that was already banned by state law. However, as of August, Abbott was against telling businesses what they are and are not allowed to require from their own employees. Indeed, a spokesperson for Abbott said that month that "Private businesses don't need government running their business." So that is the part that they are calling a very big flip-flop from Abbott.
Many of the sources we're reading this morning are saying it appears Abbott is only doing this because this charmer right here is primary-ing Abbott from the right in advance of next year's election, therefore Abbott is desperately trying to prove he's the biggest wingnut in the race:
Greg Abbott is a political windsock and today proves it. He knows which the way the wind is blowing. He knows cons… https://t.co/AlgbGKKCn4— Don Huffines (@Don Huffines) 1633992876.0
More from the Texas Tribune on the current state of play in Texas:
COVID-19 vaccine requirements by government agencies, cities, counties and school districts were already banned by a previous executive order — which is currently being fought in court by the San Antonio Independent School District. The Legislature also already passed into law a ban on so-called vaccine passports — which would allow businesses to require proof of vaccination from customers.
The latest move appears to be at least partly motivated by President Joe Biden's actions in September that require all employers with more than 100 workers to mandate vaccines for workers or test weekly for the virus. Biden also required all federal government workers and contractors to get vaccinated, leading nearly all the major airlines — including American Airlines and Southwest Airlines headquartered in Texas — to announce they'd abide by the mandate.
"In yet another instance of federal government overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas's continued recovery from the COVID-19 disaster," Abbott said in his order.
Such tough, so very big man, making Texas unsafe and undesirable to own the libs, you betcha.
Texas is approximately 52 percent vaccinated, per the latest numbers, which means it's doing better than many southern and western red states, but not much. Texas's numbers of new cases and deaths are going down, but we doubt anyone will be surprised if they start going up again, especially with such stellar political leaders so clearly concerned about their constituents' welfare.
Anyway, now back to Texas's regularly scheduled programming of firin' guns in the air like "pew! pew!" and bounty-huntin' all the abortion-havers, right, boys?
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Baby cops who are scared of needles will definitely protect you from violent criminals.
Time is running out for Seattle police to provide proof of vaccination so they can keep their cushy jobs. Mayor Jenny Durkan announced in August that all city employees would be required to vaccinate themselves against COVID-19. The deadline is October 18, a week from today, so it's too late to meet the requirement with the two-dose Moderna or Pfizer vaccines. However, they could still get the less-effective but one-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, but they probably won't. This isn't about procrastination.
As of October 5, a reported 38 percent of police operations staff hadn't submitted proof of COVID-19 vaccination. That includes 33 percent of police officers. It's a stark but not necessarily shocking contrast to the 81 percent of eligible King County residents who are fully vaccinated.
The overwhelming majority of city employees have complied with Durkan's order, which ensures there's a functioning city left to employ them. But cops are, generally speaking, entitled babies who don't believe the rules apply to them.
So far, according to a Seattle Police Department spokesperson, 111 officers have requested religious or medical exemptions. They apparently all joined some kooky death cult after meeting the normal vaccination requirements to attend public schools. Seattle and Portland, Oregon, both tied a few years ago as the least religious city in America, so this seems more like political resistance than anything else. True, most Seattle police don't live in Seattle (and they could actually afford it!), but 70 percent of all eligible Washington state residents are fully vaccinated. They're out of step with the state as a whole.
However, even if these cops legitimately worship the god of respiratory diseases, Durkan is standing firm about protecting the public from a Typhoid Mary police squad, no matter how devout.
"If there is a valid religious or medical exemption, then we have an obligation to determine whether we can accommodate them with other jobs that will not put them in that position where they could expose others," she says. "And if we can't, then they will not be able to continue in their employment."
The police are sure to pout because Durkan is prioritizing the public good over whatever it is these anti-vax cops are doing. Durkan bent over backwards to appease them last year when they were crying “don't defund us, even during a pandemic!" She's now effectively paying them to stay alive: All city employees who show proof of vaccination are eligible for an additional 40 hours of paid leave for COVID-19-related needs. That's on top of the existing 40 hours of supplementary pandemic leave.
"I really wanted to provide, to all city employees, uniform benefits for the work that they have done — showing up every day during this pandemic — and also to incentivize people [to get vaccinated]," Durkan says.
Durkan has presumably met cops, so she should know they'd want the incentives and perks without any personal obligation. They're not into Spider-Man's whole “power and responsibility" kick. It's also a good bet that rightwing media will blame any corresponding rise in Seattle's violent crime rates on the vaccine mandate instead of anti-vax cops not fully comprehending the concept “protect and serve."
Fox 13 in Seattle writes that the police department is “bracing" for mass firings, as if the cops have no control over this situation. An especially whiny cop said:
The environment has been pretty toxic and negative. Not just from this whole mandate, but prior to that as well. I'm not sure this would be a good place for me to work long-term for my mental health. It has been very stressful.
Wow! Police work is stressful. Someone should've mentioned that to him before he applied. It's unclear why anyone this emotionally fragile was given a gun.
The New York Post article about the Seattle vaccine mandate contained this insulting bit of copaganda:
The Seattle Police Department has already lost more than 300 officers since Black Lives Matters riots and the "defund the police" movement roiled the city in 2020, putting officers in the crosshairs of political and public ire.
The article literally doesn't contain the name “George Floyd," whom a former Minneapolis cop murdered while other cops watched. This is what led to overwhelmingly peaceful protests. (There was a far smaller percentage of “riots" than there are vaccine holdouts in the Seattle police department.) And to the extent that there's even a “defund the police" movement, that was in reaction to years of hashtags for Black victims of police violence without any meaningful reforms.
Durkan is still optimistic that most cops will come around and get vaccinated, but if they don't, she says that's their choice, for which there's a stated consequence. However, that implies that cops are capable of an emotional maturity they've yet to collectively demonstrate. They'll just continue playing the victim.
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Time to debunk a persistent GOP myth.
Republicans had a theory during the pandemic: Overly generous unemployment benefits would prevent a robust economic recovery because the
serfs ... er American workers would refuse to toil and spin. They claimed that businesses couldn't hire anyone thanks to President Joe Biden's COVID-19 stimulus package, which provided expanded unemployment benefits of an extra $300 a week. That is apparently all the average service employee needs to retire.
Rep. Beth Van Duyne from Texas said in May that all this government largesse was proving lethal to business owners.
VAN DUYNE: They're wanting to expand and that, ultimately, should be the goal, as opposed to extending out these bloated programs that are doing nothing more than killing our businesses, killing our employers. Long term, I think it's doing a lot of damage to our economy and to our American psyche.
We doubt the stimulus bill literally killed employers, but those checks did help keep struggling Americans alive. However, the gravy train officially ended in September, and many Republican governors cut the benefits even sooner because they're horrible people. But they insisted this would force every deadbeat living the good life with that extra $300 back to work, because the key to any successful business is a staff of lazy, resentful employees.
However, the recent jobs report did not reveal a surge of hiring in September. Overall, the jobs report was meh, like the box office returns for a movie released simultaneously in theaters and on streaming platforms. Republicans are relishing the associated human suffering because it makes Biden look bad. That's their jam, of course, but they're ignoring how this disproves their Scrooge-like arguments about working people. Let's remind them.
The American labor force shrank for the first time since May. CNN described this as “more people ... opting to sit on the sidelines and not actively look for work," because they're apparently all lazy football players. A record 10.9 million job openings were reported in July, but folks aren't filling them. Employers added just 194,000 jobs in September.
Gordon Gray, director of fiscal policy at the American Action Forum, said, "If unemployment benefits were the driving force behind labor market dynamics, then you would not have seen that effect." The American Action Forum is a right-leaning think tank, so this admission was likely painful.
Experts warn against jumping to conclusions over just a few months of data but the bummer jobs report is further evidence that Biden's most recent pandemic relief, which only Democrats supported, isn't directly responsible for the current labor shortage. Economists point to other factors, such as child care issues (another matter Republicans and two annoying Democrats refuse to address) and fear of COVID-19 exposure (a legitimate concern in states where dullard governors prohibit businesses from implementing mask or vaccinate mandates). Americans are also reconsidering whether they should risk their lives for people who consider them disposable.
Oh, and a lot of people died recently. COVID-19 has killed at least 713,325 Americans. They weren't all Kardashians. They probably worked somewhere.
I don't think folks realize that 600,000+ people have died. Everything isn't about "folks don't wanna work". Over… https://t.co/dJRI0R5ShR— Na'Kole is Saving Lives, Honey 🤞🏾💜 (@Na'Kole is Saving Lives, Honey 🤞🏾💜) 1633810593.0
An Eater article from March attempted to put faces to these deaths before they become lost to statistics. As a native South Carolinian, I was drawn to the story of Hugh O'Neill, the general manager at Cantina 76 in Mount Pleasant.
O'Neill's wife, Shelby "Mendi" O'Neill, remembers seeing her husband upset in June because he was having a hard time getting customers — many of whom were out-of-towners drawn to the area's beaches — to wear face masks when they picked up their food. Within a couple weeks of that incident, O'Neill tested positive for COVID-19. After a raging fever, headache, and bad cough, he seemed to be getting better. On the night of July 1, he suddenly could barely stand and had trouble breathing. Mendi drove him to the hospital, where she dropped him off. That was the last time she saw him.
O'Neill died on July 19, after nearly three weeks on a ventilator. He was 53 years old. He is survived by Mendi, their daughter, Asiling, his parents, Linda and Hugh, and his sisters, Kelly and Christine.
We don't know for sure if asshole tourists who wouldn't wear a mask are directly responsible for O'Neill's death. However, I don't blame workers for staying home, where it's safe. What might actually help improve the economy is if Americans could start giving a damn about each other. It shouldn't be this hard.
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Weird pandemic economy remains weird.
The monthly jobs report for September was released Friday by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it was another of those months for new jobs that fell short of economists' forecasts, largely due to the continued effects of the pandemic, with a downturn in government jobs, particularly in education. Total non-farm payrolls increased by 194,000 jobs, well short of the Dow Jones forecast of 500,000.
There were also some positive numbers, particularly in the overall unemployment rate, which fell to 4.8 percent, its lowest point since the start of the pandemic in February 2020. CNBC notes,
The drop in the jobless rate came as the labor force participation rate edged lower, meaning more people who were sidelined during the coronavirus pandemic have returned to the workforce. A more encompassing number that also includes so-called discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons declined to 8.5%, also a pandemic-era low.
More good news: Wages increased by .6 percent, reflecting the continuing competition by re-opening businesses for a pool of workers who find themselves with more options for work.
And as the Washington Post points out, the report
was another blow to Republicans who claimed repeatedly that generous unemployment aid was keeping people from work. Millions of people lost all aid or had it significantly scaled back at the start of September. But there was not an immediate wave of workers returning to jobs.
The report also reflected the bind many women find themselves in as the pandemic hangs on:
[An] alarming number of women had to stop working again to deal with unstable school and child-care situations.
The numbers are striking: 309,000 women over age 20 dropped out of the labor force in September, meaning they quit work or halted their job searches. In contrast, 182,000 men joined the labor force, Labor Department data showed.
And as with other monthly employment reports in our weird pandemic economy, the timing of the Labor Department sample had an effect on the overall outcome that it wouldn't in normal economic times. Again, here's CNBC's explanation:
The survey week of Sept. 12 came just as Covid cases were peaking in the U.S. The delta variant spread since has cooled, with cases most recently dropping below an average of 100,000 a day.
President Biden referred to that in his remarks today on the employment news, pointing out that since the week of the survey, "we've seen the daily cases fall by more than one-third and they're continuing to trend down, and we're continuing to make progress." Assuming that trend continues, and that vaccination rates improve as both the federal government and private industries mandate vaccines, that ought to mean a better jobs report for October.
Oh look, it is video!
Biden's remarks focused primarily on the positive parts of the monthly report, like the improvement in the unemployment rate, increased wages, a big decline in long-term unemployment, and the overall trends in employment, "on average, 600,000 new jobs created every month since I took office."
Biden downplayed the significance of the jobs report falling short, particularly because of the distortions caused by the pandemic, and argued that overall trends remain strong:
Right now, things in Washington, as you all know, are awfully noisy. Turn on the news and every conversation is a confrontation. Every disagreement is a crisis. But when you take a step back and look at what's happening, we're actually making real progress. [...] Maybe it doesn't seem fast enough. I'd like to see it faster and we're going to make it faster. Maybe it doesn't appear dramatic enough. [...] We're making consistent and steady progress, though.
For its part, Fox News treated Biden's remarks as an absolute catastrophe, calling the jobs report "bleak" and "dismal," although those are usually words you'd expect in a report on jobs losses, not slower-than-hoped jobs gains. Fox also griped that Biden didn't take questions from reporters, because what is he hiding from, huh? The Fox story delicately hinted that maybe it's because Biden is actually a senile vegetable who may in fact already be dead, saying he has "repeatedly implied that his handlers set the rules and determine when and where he's allowed to take questions from the press." The link is to a story about Biden joking that he'd "get in trouble with my staff" for taking questions at an appearance when no Q&A had been scheduled. See? Total puppet! Who's really running things?
We'd like to suggest the most sinister explanation of all for Biden's not taking questions after the remarks on the jobs report: He had a pretty full schedule today, and shortly after the jobs report, held another event to announce his order restoring the full boundaries of national monuments that Donald Trump had shrunk.
Or maybe Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton told him to do it.
Also too, Yr Dok Zoom is taking a much needed vacay and will be back Tuesday, Oct. 19, so here is a photo of Thornton the cat. He is, as ever, photogenic AF.
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