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Op-Ed

‘Has he no sense of decency?’

October 15, 2021

The average height of an American today is 5 feet 9 inches. If we laid the 68,075 corpses of Texas Covid victims from head to toe, starting at Governor Greg Abbott’s foot at the Austin city limits, the corpses would stretch nearly to the Alamo.

Robert Kahn

By Robert Kahn

Deputy editor emeritus, Courthouse News

It’s become clear that the only way to stop the Republican Party’s assault upon our country is to use the RICO statute, and indict the party and its leaders as a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization.

An organized assault upon the Congress, led and encouraged by the president? Come on, man. While we’re prosecuting poor widows for food stamp fraud?

Texas Governor Greg Abbott this week prohibited even private, family-run businesses from requiring their employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19. With Covid disproportionately killing poor and nonwhite people — who tend to vote for Democrats — an argument could be made that Abbott is using his executive powers to kill his political opponents.

Is that a stretch? Sure. But so is Abbott’s executive order. For starters, it’s unconstitutional. It interferes with interstate commerce.

Can Abbott prohibit companies that are not based in Texas, but do business in Texas, from issuing common-sense guidelines to protect the lives of their employees?

The New York Times reported: “Shortly after that order was signed, Facebook, which employs more than 2,000 people in the state, said in a statement it was reviewing the order ‘and our company vaccine policy currently remains unchanged.’”

Pardon me for making Facebook look good, but why should the tinpot dictator of Texas be allowed to order Facebook how to treat its 60,000+ employees across the world, and threaten the company with — what, exactly? Prohibition to operate in Texas?

That’d make a lot of Texas businesses and private citizens unhappy, not to mention sick or dead.

And how does Abbott propose to enforce his idiotic order? Criminal prosecution? Fines? “Cancel culture”? I’ve read that a violation is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, but that’s not in the order. And if that fine is stipulated elsewhere, does that mean $1,000 per employee affected per day? Or what?

Abbott’s executive order — his entire political being — is not only endangering public health, it’s not even Republican. He is interfering with Texans’ rights to run their own businesses as they see fit. And keep their families safe, as they see fit.

Since when do Republicans tell Americans how to run their own business? That’s what Republicans accuse the “liberal-socialist-Democrat Party” of doing.

Abbott’s diktat is doomed to death in court, but not until tens of millions of my money and yours — state and federal taxes — are spent in pursuit, not of the public good, but of Abbott’s dream of becoming president.

Abbott’s executive order got the smarmy excrescence quasi-human nationwide news coverage, and name recognition, but all it will do in the end is kill people and waste public money that could and should be better spent elsewhere: on pre-school, child care, public health, and most of the other things the unindicted co-conspirator Republican Party is blocking.

Abbott is not wasting only Texas tax dollars — he’s wasting all of our money. Even if the federal government does not sue Abbott, as a plaintiff, federal attorneys and legal workers across the country — realistically, in all 50 states, and some U.S. territories — will spend countless hours — and dollars — fending off Abbott’s preening little touchdown dance, as he tap-dances on the heads of 68,000 Texas corpses, and counting.

Abbott is a lawyer. Surely he knows that the U.S. Supreme Court upheld states’ authority to enforce compulsory vaccination against smallpox, in Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11, (1905). True, the situation here is a bit different: Abbott is claiming the power to prohibit vaccination mandates, rather than enforce them. But it’s a loser, not just in court, but for the people Abbott is paid to protect.

The last outbreak of smallpox in the United States came in 1949. Eight people were infected and one person died. Incidentally, they were all in Texas. Smallpox was eliminated worldwide in 1980, thanks to vaccination.

Including the 68,075 Texans, and counting, who have died under Abbott’s imperious reign, more than 717,000 Americans have died of Covid, at last count.

The per capita rate of Covid infections and deaths in Texas is above the national average.

What exactly does Abbott think he is doing? Aside from what people in the executive recruitment game call “building his resumé”? For what?

Here’s an interesting statistic: The average height of an American today is 5 feet 9 inches. If we laid the 68,075 corpses of Texas Covid victims from head to toe, starting at Abbott’s foot at the Austin city limits, the corpses would stretch nearly to the Alamo.

How’s that for a campaign slogan?

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