Report from Louisiana: The Vaccine

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Happy New Year! We are spending the holiday in south Louisiana in our cabin on Bayou Teche. Because I will be driving back on Sunday and back at work on Monday, I’m writing this post on the actual first day of the year. We just finished our traditional “good luck” New Year’s meal which of course includes cabbage and black eyed peas. I also cooked a bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin stuffed with andouille sausage and shrimp. We are sitting pretty fat and happy right now.

I took a moment to check some emails today and I see where the school system will soon be offering the Covid-19 vaccine for teachers and school staff. The vaccine should be available to us in the next couple of weeks. Am I going to take it? You bet I am. Sign me up. We will be getting the Moderna vaccine, I am told.

I’m so sick of this virus and the limitations it has put on everyone. I guess it varies somewhat from state to state, but honestly the restrictions that so many business owners must face seem so absurd. For example, we drove over the levee this morning to stop by Turtle’s Bar which is on the Atchafalaya Basin. The swamp is beautiful at any time of year, but there is something about it in the winter that just draws me.

Steve asked Tanya, the bartender, “Well! Did y’all have fun last night?” because, of course, New Year’s Eve, right?

“Yeah,” she said, “until 11:00.” Bars in Louisiana are required to close at 11:00. Because apparently the virus does not spread until after 11?  Who knows? We were the only people in there at that hour, along with one other guy and with the exception of the people who live on houseboats there that walk up to her window to place an order.

We stood at the bar and swapped stories for a while, and I tried to pull up one of the bar stools to sit down. “Oh, you can’t do that!” Tanya said. “It’s against regulations because of Covid. You can’t sit at the bar.” But…you can stand at the bar and that is okay. 

Even stranger – the bartender can serve you at the bar but she can’t walk over to your table and serve you. You have to walk to the bar to get your drink, and you have to wear a mask when you walk to the bar, but once you sit back down, you can take it off again.

It all borders on the absurd.

I have several musician friends who were at home last night, without a gig, for the first time in their careers. No live music is allowed.

But hey, the casinos are apparently non-viral zones because all of our local riverboat casinos are in full swing.

The numbers for new cases and hospitalizations are higher now than they have ever been. I have more friends now who are sick than I ever have. One of my best friends has had fever for two solid weeks now and it runs about 102 even taking Tylenol and Advil every three hours. She has no taste or smell and says it’s the worst she’s ever felt in her life. Her husband is a heart patient and he has recently tested positive as well. I’m quite concerned for both of them.

I’m ready for people to be able to get back to work, for businesses to reopen and recover, and for the music to begin again. I’m ready to see full sports stadiums and concerts. I’m ready to teach school mask-free and to see my students’ faces and smiles again.

So, yes, I’ll take the vaccine. I’m not concerned. Bring it on.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: Wuhan Diary

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – As an avid and constant reader, I decided to do the Reading Challenge on Goodreads again this year; last year I set the lofty goal of 100 books and missed the mark with 63 out of 100 books.

This year, because of the pandemic, probably, I did better. I set a lower goal of 75 books and so far I’ve read 82. I’ll probably be at 83 by the end of the year.

Currently I am reading Wuhan Diary by Fang Fang, which is the collected dispatches, or posts, from the renown Chinese author during the 76 days of the Wuhan lockdown. While most of us are tired of Covid, tired of reading about Covid, and tired of all things Covid, I am enjoying the book.

To me, it is interesting to see what it was like in Wuhan in the days after the pandemic broke. Fang Fang’s frustration with the situation is evident and she is well aware that the government censors are reading and taking down her posts. Her readers would screenshot the posts and share them via text message to each other, and in many ways she became the voice of the pandemic in Wuhan as people in lockdown were starved for information that was not filtered for them.

Her frustration with the initial position that the virus is not contagious from person to person is clear. She does not mince words, despite the censors. As the lockdown in Wuhan drags on, it has been interesting to read how neighbors worked together to supply each other with fresh food, medicines, and supplies.

The book also shows that we are not all that different; Fang Fang loses many friends and colleagues to the virus; she deals with the same problems we all have: shortages, misinformation, isolation.  She worries a great deal about the mental health issues that result from the lockdown and she worries about the marginalized who cannot get medical treatment, especially in the earlier days before the temporary hospitals were constructed.

She also has very relatable problems, like running out of dog food. (She cooked rice for her dog when this happened.)

Sometimes she even challenges the censors. She wants to be seen as a witness, not necessarily a critic. As a result, her voice is honest, and heartbreakingly real.

I’m not finished with the book yet, but I do recommend it. Somehow it seems fitting to end this year of the pandemic with Wuhan Diary.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

The latest Coronavirus stimulus is an enormous lump of coal in the stockings of every American

After nearly six month of petty partisan bickering the Republicans and Democrats finally agreed on a stimulus package to help the American people who are suffering due to the Coronavirus lockdowns.  The package they came up with is a major slap in the face to every single American, a slap that is all the more brutal because it comes just days before Christmas. 

Shame on the Democrats for being the party that blocked the second round of stimulus for months while Americans suffered just so they could score political points.  Shame on the Democrats for stuffing the stimulus package with so much garbage that help foreign countries and Democrat special interests far more than the American people.  Shame on the Republicans for going along with this travesty.

It would be far better for the American people if these small minded, cowardly politicians did not lockdown large segments of the American economy.  These lockdowns do, at best, hardly anything to stop the spread of Coronavirus.  These lockdowns do far more harm to the American people than any possible good they could do. If it wasn’t for these lockdowns the American economy would be roaring and no stimulus would be needed.

This Breibart Article describes the monstrous pork filled betrayel of the American poeple passed by both parties.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a massive $900 billion coronavirus relief and stimulus bill on Monday evening, mere hours after the nearly 6,000-page legislation was released.  It was unlikely any members read the entire legislation.

The bill, which included $1.4 trillion in stopgap spending to prevent a government shutdown, was ostensibly the result of bipartisan negotiations that reached an agreement less than 24 hours before. It includes $600 stimulus checks for American households and a temporary expansion of federal unemployment benefits by $300, half the amounts paid earlier this year.

But the legislation also includes many hidden provisions completely unrelated to coronavirus, many of which appear to be the work of individual legislators, acting at the behest of specific lobbyists and interest groups who seized the opportunity.

Here is only a small sample of goodies foreign governments will receive from the stimulus bill. The list is from this Breitbart article.

  • For some countries, Christmas came early:
  • $169,739,000 to Vietnam, including $19 million to remediate dioxins (page 1476).
  • Unspecified funds to “continue support for not-for-profit institutions of higher education in Kabul, Afghanistan that are accessible to both women and men in a coeducational environment” (page 1477).
  • $198,323,000 to Bangladesh, including $23.5 million to support Burmese refugees and $23.3 million for “democracy programs” (page 1485).
  • $130,265,000 to Nepal for “development and democracy programs” (page 1485).
  • Pakistan: $15 million for “democracy programs” and $10 million for “gender programs” (page 1486).
  • Sri Lanka: Up to $15 million “for the refurbishing of a high endurance cutter,” which is a type of patrol boat (page 1489).
  • $505,925,000 to Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama to “address key factors that contribute to the migration of unaccompanied, undocumented minors to the United States” (pages 1490-1491).
  • $461,375,000 to Colombia for programs related to counternarcotics and human rights (pages 1494-1496).

This Breitbart article documents a rather egregious betrayal of the American people.

A year-end spending package meant to provide Americans with economic relief during the Chinese coronavirus crisis includes using United States taxpayer money to fund border security in foreign countries.

As part of the more than 5,590-page spending bill, the deal provides the country of Jordan with “up to $500,000,000” in taxpayer money “to provide assistance to the Government of Jordan to support the armed forces of Jordan and to enhance security along its borders.”

The title of the American Thinker article Republicans and Democrats come together to rob American taxpayers says it all.

Late Monday night, in a huge, secretive rush, Congress passed a combined virus relief and omnibus spending bill that’s almost 6,000 pages long and, in less than a year, will spend $2.3 trillion that does not exist.

The bill’s length alone is enough to justify a second American Revolution. It should have been a simple bill: Checks for Americans in need (with provisions to prevent the French Laundry and its ilk from ever receiving another penny of taxpayer money) and basic funding for basic government. I’m thinking maybe 100 pages, max.

Here is more from the American Thinlker article

What’s in this super-secret bill that Monoparty doesn’t want us to see? People are frantically trying to acquaint themselves with its contents but a few hours is not enough time to familiarize oneself with the details of a document more than 5,600 pages long. The broad outline is that $900 billion, or 39% of the $2.3 trillion, will go to Covid relief, with the remaining $1.4 trillion slated for funding the government through September 2021.

For Americans hurt by the Democrats’ (and some Republicans’) sustained attacks on the American economy, there will be a $600 stimulus check for people earning less than $75,000 per year or married couples earning less than $150,000. I may be speaking out of turn here, but I don’t think $600 will make a big difference to people in the upper brackets, while a larger check would make a huge difference to people in the lower brackets.

Thank you for the Christmas slap in the face Democrats and Republicans.

Chicago mayor Lightfoot’s status as a fraud solidified in her response to police raid on wrong home

By John Ruberry

The competition for worst big city mayor is fierce, New York’s Bill de Blasio and Eric Garcetti typically lead the pack but don’t overlook Lori Lightfoot of Chicago.

How did America’s third-largest city get there?

Lightfoot’s victory in last year’s election was a fluke. She and Toni “Taxwinkle” Preckwinkle, the president of the Cook County Board emerged as the top two candidates after a 14-candidate first round of balloting–she collected only 17-percent of the vote. Lightfoot, used her endorsement by the Chicago Sun-Times and her time as chair of the Chicago Police Department Office of Professional Standards to fashion herself as the reform candidate. Her predecessor, Rahm Emanuel, decided not to run for a third term; it’s widely believed his blocking the release of a video until after his 2015 reelection of the shameful deadly police shooting of Laquan McDonald led to his bowing out.

Now there is a another video. Late in Emanuel’s second term Chicago police officers raided the apartment of social worker Anjanette Young. But they busted into the wrong home. Guns were drawn and Young was handuffed naked while she screamed. “You’ve got the wrong place.”  She said that 43 times. Lightfoot’s campaign slogan was “Let There Be Light” and this was her opportunity to be transparent in a time of crisis. 

She wasn’t.

City lawyers sued to block CBS Chicago from airing the video of the botched raid. Lightfoot later called that a mistake. 

Let There Be Light.

Then the woman often derisively called “Mayor Beetlejuice” claimed that she wasn’t aware of the raid on Young’s home. But emails show that Lightfoot learned about the raid in November of 2019, around the time CBS Chicago began reporting on it. She says she “focused on budget issues” at that time and the could explain why she has no recall of the emails.

Lightfoot also admitted that she was wrong when she said that Young hadn’t filed a Freedom of Information Request for the video of the raid. The victim had in fact done so. 

At best, Lightfoot’s Chicago is circling the drain. Yes, she inherited a mess. Even before the COVID-19 epidemic Chicago was losing residents. Chicago’s public-worker pension worker plans are the worst-funded of any big city. But Lightfoot’s lockdown orders are best draconian, she hasn’t been taken to task as much as she deserves for that only because her fellow Democrat, blowhard governor JB Pritzker, has been all over local media almost daily trying to frighten Illinoisans into compliance with his own lockdown orders. 

Shootings, murders, and especially carjackings in Chicago are up dramatically over last year.

What are Lightfoot’s priorities? 

The day before the second round of widespread looting and rioting, deemed “unrest” of course by the mainstream media, Lightfoot followed through on her threat to close the vast Montrose Beach to visitors because she thought too many people gathered there on a gorgeous late summer afternoon. 

In the spring Lighfoot scolded Chicagoan by declaring “getting your roots done is not essential.” During that first lockdown, which closed all hair salons, the mayor got her stylist, maskless, to do her hair. 

When confronted with a predictable uproar for her hypocrisy, Beetlejuice doubled down, “I’m the public face of this city, I’m on national media and I’m out in the public eye.”

Last month a few days before imposing a second COVID-19 lockdown, Lightfoot appeared, maskless, outdoors at a spontaneous rally at an unsafe distance with many others as she celebrated the media calling the presidential election for Joe Biden.

Chicago, a failed city, has the perfect person to represent it in the public eye.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

Report from Louisiana: Treading Water

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I know you are with me when I reiterate I will be so glad when this pandemic is over.

Everyone is dealing with this in their own way: the anti-maskers, the maskers, the “no-way-will-I-take-that-vaccine” people, to the ones who say bring it on. Has any disease ever so divided a people or become so politicized as this one?

And I know people are working from home, working on the front lines, and everything in between. I can only tell you about what I see in the schools.

I teach in a Title 1 high school with an enrollment of around 600, give or take. As with most places nationwide, our Covid numbers are surging once again. The only number I really pay attention to is the hospitalizations number.

In August, on the day school started, our hospitalization number was 536. I wrote it down. As of today, December 7, our hospitalization number is 1392.

Our district is 100% face to face every single day, although there is a virtual option offered for those who want to be 100% virtual. There are some who do that. I have about twenty kids in each of my English II classes. Friday, I have five kids present in fourth block. Five. Everyone else was absent or in quarantine. We had twelve teachers in quarantine Friday, and our faculty has about 60 teachers.

Because of the Family Medical Leave Act, teachers have ten excused Covid days but these expire in December, unlike the virus itself, and nobody seems to be talking about renewing that.

One of the things that worries me is that Pete hired me to make a contribution to this blog, and I often feel like I’m giving him (and you) short shrift, but damn, I’m trying to keep my head above water here, and I know you understand. I am simultaneously teaching kids online through Google classroom who are absent from class, teaching my in-person kids, covering classes for teachers that are out, pulling together makeup assignments, cleaning and sanitizing my classroom, Chromebooks, and high touch surfaces.

Our state is continuing on with high stakes End of Course testing in January (we are on block schedule so one semester ends in January and another will begin), and I have to get whatever kids are here ready for that and help the absent ones get caught up.

It’s madness.

So, bear with me if my posts right now are too Covid, too teacher focused. Today is Pearl Harbor Day and I really wanted to write something beautiful about that and call attention to this date. My mind isn’t working in the direction I want it to, so that post is just not coming together.

We’re all just doing the best we can right now, aren’t we?

Thanks for your patience with me!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Governor Baker’s Coronavirus edicts violate the Massachusetts Constitution

The draconian restrictions issued by Governor Charlie Baker in the name of fighting Coronavirus violate many provisions of the Massachusetts Constitution, along with provisions of the United States Constitution.  The proper level to undo these unconstitutional edicts is on the State level not the federal level. Thanks to our abysmal educational system far too many of us have been brainwashed into believing that the Supreme Court is the one and only venue for addressing all wrongs committed by any level of government.  The founding fathers of this nation along with the framers of the US Constitution and the State Constitutions would be completely dismayed by that level of constitutional ignorance.

The system of government enshrined in the United States Constitution is a distributed constitutional system where legal and constitutional disputes involving state governments are supposed to be solved on the state level and only those involving the federal government are supposed to be solved on the federal level.

Stay at home orders and the orders to close businesses clearly violate the following clause of the Massachusetts Constitution because  liberty, or the freedom to live our lives as we please, is one of our most important natural rights.

Article I.  All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.

The government of the State of Massachusetts can only take away the freedom of individuals to come and go from their homes as they please if they are found guilty in a court of law.  That is spelled out in this clause:

Article XII.  And no subject shall be arrested, imprisoned, despoiled, or deprived of his property, immunities, or privileges, put out of the protection of the law, exiled, or deprived of his life, liberty, or estate, but by the judgment of his peers, or the law of the land.

Police officers have absolutely no authority under the Massachusetts Constitution to knock on your door and check to see if you have more than ten people attending a Thanksgiving gathering, Christmas party. or any social event.  If they do the we have every right to demand they produce a warrant.  You are guaranteed that right by the following clause:

Article XIV.  Every subject has a right to be secure from all unreasonable searches, and seizures, of his person, his houses, his papers, and all his possessions. All warrants, therefore, are contrary to this right, if the cause or foundation of them be not previously supported by oath or affirmation; and if the order in the warrant to a civil officer, to make search in suspected places, or to arrest one or more suspected persons, or to seize their property, be not accompanied with a special designation of the persons or objects of search, arrest, or seizure: and no warrant ought to be issued but in cases, and with the formalities prescribed by the

Only laws passed through the formal legislative process are valid laws in the State of Massachusetts.  These edicts issued by Governor Baker were not passed through the formal legislative process therefore they are not valid.

Article II.  No bill or resolve of the senate or house of representatives shall become a law, and have force as such, until it shall have been laid before the governor for his revisal; and if he, upon such revision, approve thereof, he shall signify his approbation by signing the same. But if he have any objection to the passing of such bill or resolve, he shall return the same, together with his objections thereto, in writing, to the senate or house of representatives

This article specifically prevents any governor of this state from issuing any edicts of any kind.

Article XXX.  In the government of this commonwealth, the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers, or either of them: the executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them: the judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them: to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men.

This article clearly states that we the people are in charge of the State of Massachusetts, not the politicians we elect.

Article V.  All power residing originally in the people, and being derived from them, the several magistrates and officers of government, vested with authority, whether legislative, executive, or judicial, are their substitutes and agents, and are at all times accountable to them.

If we do not like what our elected servants are doing we the people of this state have the absolute authority to reform the government and make sure they listen.

Article VII.  Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity and happiness of the people; and not for the profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men: Therefore the people alone have an incontestable, unalienable, and indefeasible right to institute government; and to reform, alter, or totally change the same, when their protection, safety, prosperity and happiness require it.

Sorry Governor Baker but your latest edicts are tyrannical and not based on science

On Monday, November 2 Governor Charlie Baker announced extremely draconian restrictions on all residents of the State of Massachusetts  These totalitarian restrictions were announced because Governor stated that the Coronavirus pandemic is becoming dire. A careful examination of the WCVB daily Massachusetts Covid19 tracker will show that is not accurate. 

The number of positive tests per day, which has now risen to 2000 per day, looks alarming compared to June when it was only around 200 a day. In reality that ten fold increase is not alarming because it is the result of a drastically increased number of daily tests, the vast majority who test positive are asymptomatic.   The number of deaths per day has not shown the same 10 fold increase as the number of positive tests, increasing from a low of 13 to 26 or so.   Hospitalizations have only modestly increased from an average low of 400 to a current rate of 600 per day with intensive care numbers increasing from a low of 70 to a current average of 110.

This WCVB Channel 5 article discusses the draconian new mandates in great detail.  This one mandate is as anti liberty as you can get and not based on science in any way.  As far as I know a virus cannot tell time.

Baker announced an overnight stay at home advisory, resembling a curfew, from 10 p.m. through 5 a.m. It will allow activities such as commuting to or from work, running essential errands and talking a walk.

This next mandate boggles the mind and makes no sense.  Now you will have to wear a mask if  you walk down an empty street with no one around you for miles.

Baker’s orders include a change to the statewide mask order. Under the altered order, masks will be required for anyone in any public space, indoor or outdoor, regardless of the ability to maintain social distancing.

Governor Baker will win the Grinch of the year award with this next mandate.  We usually have a few dozen relatives over forThanksgiving and Christmas Eve.  Governor Baker has no right to dictate what people do in their own homes.  That is tyrannical in the extreme.

Gathering limits at private residences across Massachusetts will be reduced, Baker said. Indoor gatherings at private residences will be reduced from 25 to 10, and outdoor events will be reduced from 50 to 25.

Here is Governor Baker’s rational for this tyrannical mandate.

“Young people need to stop having big house parties, and we’re planning to talk to local officials about how we can work with them to prevent these events going forward. Folks need to postpone or rethink any indoor get-togethers, like big birthday parties, baby showers or watching football or some other big sports event with your neighbors. These are places where COVID spreads, unregulated gatherings, even if they’re small, where people let down their guard, ” Baker said.\

This next mandate makes no sense scientifically because for it to have any effect on the transmission  of Coronavirus the virus would need to be able to tell time.

Restaurants will be required to cease in-person dining by 9:30 p.m., although takeout or delivery of food can continue. Liquor stores and other establishments will be required to cease alcohol sales at 9:30 p.m. Several other categories of recreation and entertainment businesses will also be required to close at 9:30 p.m.

This Federalist article proves that mask mandates are not backed up by science in any way at all yet we are all forced to wear them, even alone in a large public park.

Scientists have long tested the value of masks for the general public. The results are not, on the whole, in favor of masks for general use because there are just too many trade-offs and exceptions. Besides, not all masks are created equal. A clean, properly-fitted N-95 respirator and face shield worn, and never touched while worn, by a trained health professional is one thing. A dirty cloth neck gaiter worn begrudgingly at the gym is quite another.

Even Dr. Anthony Fauci used to admit this. “In the United States, people should not be walking around with masks,” Fauci told “60 Minutes Overtime” back in the spring. “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better, and it might even block a droplet. But it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is.”

The people of Massachusetts have become such a pathetic bunch of sheeple. Only a small minority are voicing any opposition to these tyrannical restrictions.  They won’t end until enough individuals demand they stop.

Report from Louisiana: Governor Wins another Challenge

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – As Covid cases across the nation soar, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is batting a perfect score so far on legal challenges to his statewide restrictions such as the mask mandate and tough limits on bars and restaurants.

Last week, a Baton Rouge judge sided with the governor in a challenge by House Republicans; Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry filed the petition by 65 of the 68 House Republicans which demanded the restrictions imposed by the governor be lifted:

Sixty-five of 68 House Republicans last month used an obscure 2003 law passed during the SARS pandemic to send a petition to Gov. John Bel Edwards directing him to cancel his virus restrictions. Morvant ruled the law in question violates the state Constitution because it doesn’t involve both chambers of the Legislature, instead allowing the House or Senate to act on their own.…Morvant said the governor’s emergency powers, granted to him by the Legislature, allow him to make decisions that have the force of law. To repeal, enact, or alter a state law, the entire Legislature — including the House and the Senate — must agree.

And so, we remain masked. That being said, Louisiana is not spiking in Covid numbers at the moment as quickly as the rest of the nation, although many feel that is coming. Numbers are rising; both case numbers and hospitalizations.

In a sign of the times, the hearing was held via Zoom; Republican lawmakers had been sharing the Zoom link on social media for days. Apparently the entire state was in the meeting and a couple of people managed to slip through the mute button and join in. The result was hysterical:

Such are the frustrations of high-stakes court hearings set in the year 2020. Morvant and the cadre of attorneys were arguing via the videoconferencing software Zoom, and only lawyers were supposed to have the ability to speak. Apparently, a member of the public had slipped through the cracks and unmuted himself. “Snide comments coming from the peanut gallery,” Morvant clarified, “are not going to be appreciated by this court.”

“Our state needs to be open,” the unidentified man said.

“If we were in open court, I would hold you in contempt and have you removed,” Morvant said, becoming agitated. “If you say anything else in this Zoom hearing, I will have you removed.”

The man kept speaking. Morvant made good on his promise. “Have that person removed,” he said. A staffer obliged.

As Morvant was taking up a series of procedural moves in the middle of the hearing, a strange noise emanated from the Zoom meeting, stopping everyone in their tracks.

“I don’t know what that was,” said Liz Murrill, Landry’s top deputy.

“I don’t either,” Morvant replied. “I wasn’t the one that invited the entire state to participate.”

Sign of the times.

As the holidays approach and numbers continue to climb, we are expecting more restrictions from our esteemed Governor and rumors about school closings are epic. I don’t want to speculate on that right now…I’ll wait and see. I feel like that’ll be coming down soon enough.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

Report from Louisiana: Sticking our heads in the sand

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Louisiana is a land of many quirky laws, and leave it to our state legislators to pull out one of those to force an end to Governor John Bel Edwards public health emergency executive orders.

House Republicans have been chafing over the mask mandate for months, along with many of the other restrictions put in place by Governor Edwards on crowd sizes and which businesses can open and under what capacity.

At the end of the special legislative session last week, House GOP lawmakers used a petition against these orders to have them nullified.

From KATC news:

A statement from the house reads, “At no time since the start of the pandemic has the governor taken meaningful steps to address legislative concerns in any substantive way,” the release states. “The Legislature will make no apologies for simply standing up for the people we collectively represent. The House has exhausted every available legislative remedy and has been left with no other option but to exercise its legislative right to terminate the Governor’s emergency order.”

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landy issued the following statement:

“The emergency powers act and the emergency health powers act are written to outline what extraordinary powers are granted to the Governor during a declared emergency. A termination clause is included outlining a simple process for pressing the stop button. Immediately upon termination, the emergency powers cease and the Governor’s powers revert to the ordinary powers afforded the Governor as outlined by our Constitution and laws. The termination process is effective immediately, unless provided otherwise in the petition, when a petition is signed by a majority of the surviving members within either body of the Legislature, the Senate or the House. The termination of emergency powers does not require any additional action other than the signed petition. Upon completion of the signed petition, the Governor is directed to issue a proclamation informing the public of the termination.”

And so, controversy continues.

State Representative Alan Seabaugh spoke with KEEL Radio News, saying:

“A petition signed by a majority of members can end the public health emergency at any time,” Seabaugh says, referring to the process invoked, “Essentially, we’ve ended the public health emergency. John Bel (Edwards) doesn’t want to acknowledge that we have that power. He said at his news conference Friday, ‘I’m not going to give up my power.’ Well, it’s not his power, it’s our power (and) we gave it to him and we took it back.”

Governor Edwards calls the petition and lifting of restrictions reckless, and said “You know burying heads in the sand and just pretending that COVID isn’t a problem, isn’t going to help.”

With cases expected to rise in the coming cooler months, many are worried about the lifting of restrictions, but at the same time, people are weary of the mask mandate, the limited access to businesses, and business owners themselves are paying the price with decreased revenue. Many have had to shut down.

Governor Edwards is not expected to sign an acknowledgment of this petition and so the restrictions are still actually in place until he does, but it’s clear that we are now in some murky, gray legal area. If you are a bar owner, and you stay open after 11:00 p.m. and operate at full capacity, will you be shut down or not?  Stay tuned.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

COVID-19 lockdowns must end for the sake of our overall health

Outside a store in Wisconsin earlier this month

By John Ruberry

Who else besides me is fed up wearing a mask when shopping at a supermarket?

Or at work?

Or a restaurant? 

I haven’t eaten inside an Illinois restaurant–or in a tent–since Governor JB Pritzker instituted his first lockdown in March. I’ve picked up take-out meals only.

Who has had enough of lockdowns?

As a person with a strong libertarian bent I don’t like being bossed around, pestered, or nagged. 

But I’ve been coping with all of that for months. 

I know ten people who’ve contracted COVID-19. Only two of them told me they were very ill. Two were asymptomatic. All of them are still with us–in fact, they’ve all returned to their jobs as if nothing happened. 

Last month the Centers for Disease Control released the survival rates for those who have contracted COVID-19.

  • Age 0-19 — 99.997%
  • Age 20-49 — 99.98%
  • Age 50-69 — 99.5%
  • Age 70+ — 94.6%

So if you are over 70, and most people already know that seniors are more prone to death from COVID-19 than everyone else, you have a 94.6 percent of surviving. President Trump is one of those septuagenarians who has recovered. Yes, COVID-19 is serious, because those stats also say those 70 and over have a slightly higher than 5 percent chance of dying from it. 

Here’s another situation where that percentage, 94 percent, comes in to play. Nearly two months ago the CDC said of those deaths from the novel coronavirus, 94 percent had “multiple chronic conditions.” In other words, they were already unhealthy. Every death is tragic. But part of life is getting sick, getting injured, getting old, and yes, passing away. You can fool, perhaps, your neighbors or co-workers about your true age with hair dye and plastic surgery, but never can you hoodwink Father Time. 

Humans are intensely social animals, as are all primates. It’s in our genetic makeup. The most watched television shows and movies are centered on personal interactions. One of the most popular TV programs ever aired is “Friends.” There is not a show entitled “Hermits,” there is no interest in producing such a program because few people would want to watch it. 

The death rate from COVID-19 is very low for the very young. Yet many of our schools are closed except for cold and impersonal Zoom sessions.

Usually our first and most lasting impressions with others of our species is by way of their faces. But the mask requirements in many states, especially blue ones like mine, take those connections away from us.

The lockdowns have led to an increase in drug overdoses and possibly suicides. Among young people, the CDC says, the death rate for young people is higher for overdoses and suicides than for COVID 19.

That wave just might be beginning. For instance, Chicago, which is just south of where I live, just instated another curfew because of an uptick in COVID cases. All businesses deemed non-essential for the next two weeks must close between 10pm and 6am. Bars and restaurants, already reeling from being closed down this spring, will be hit especially hard. Some of these businesses, especially those struck by looting this summer, will never re-open. Which means of course more people will be prone to suicide and drug and alcohol abuse. The workforce in the food and beverage industry is disproportionately young.

Mrs. Marathon Pundit was an early victim of the COVID-19 lockout layoffs. She’s fine–she has a new job in a different field. But her former boss was forced to downsize his business, which I believe his home mortgage was tied into. He sold his home this summer and moved into a much smaller residence.

There are millions of former business owners facing similar situations across America. And not all workers, such as Mrs. Marathon Pundit, will be able to land on their feet. 

One “fix” to the drop in revenue for brick-and-mortar restaurants is to set up plastic tents next to them. Diners instead of eating indoors will be eating, sort of, outdoors in these tents, but still breathing each other’s air. Alongside them in cold weather climates, in the winter, will be space heaters, which are a well-known fire hazard. 

Follow the science. 

Take a deep breath before reading this next paragraph.

Based on my current age, overall health, and family history, I’ll probably live another 25-years. I do not want to spend those years wearing a mask. I don’t want to go running outdoors–and this really happened–as I run 50 yards past a couple who, in horror, hurriedly put their masks over their faces as I move, maskless, down the street that I live on as if I am Typhoid Mary. According to federal government data, there have been 624 positive cases of COVID-19 in the town I live in, Morton Grove, which has a population of 23,000.

Who frightened that Morton Grove couple? Not me, well not initially that is.

Will the mask mandates return–if they ever go away–when a more virulent than usual strain of the flu strikes?

Follow the science. 

This is not a distress from me call but instead a call for action. For the sake of our overall health–while maintaining strict safety controls in places such as senior homes and hospitals–these lockdowns must end. But I suspect many politicians–such as Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago–don’t want the lockdowns to end. They are too in love with power. Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker told us we needed the lockdowns to “flatten the curve” in the spring so hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Now they want to prevent all of us getting sick, which as we know is not possible.

The goalposts keep moving.

Years ago I read in a book about marathon training that stated that distance running, all things being equal, does indeed lead to a longer life expectancy. But more importantly, those extra years on this planet for runners usually mean they are enjoyable years. Who is going to sign up for an additional ten years of life if those years will consist of living in a nursing home in need of 24-hour care?

The quality of life for myself and millions of others is diminished because we are ordered to wear masks and to avoid each other.

End the lockdowns.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.