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Medical staff Fernando Olvera (L) and Dr. Joseph Varon use a bag valve mask to manually send oxygen while performing a tracheotomy on a patient in the COVID-19 ICU at the United Memorial Medical Center last year in Houston, Texas. Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images

Mask Wars: The Revolution Will Be Creative

Abby Zimet

Ahh, giddy start of another school year. A time for new books, friends, sneakers, teachers and clusters of deranged parents frenziedly screaming about the socialist perils of putting a friggin' piece of cloth on your face to minimally protect your fellow humans. With idiot, unconscionable GOP governors trying to effectively murder their constituents by banning mask mandates amidst a skyrocketing Delta variant, Biden has warned several - including Arizona, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah -  he'll take legal action against them. Out of the mob of inept clowns, the most egregious are Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott, who've both threatened to cut funds from school districts trying to save their kids' lives even as they lay ignoble claim to almost 40% of the country's COVID cases. Today, we're here for Abbott, who in May banned local governments from mandating masks and then extended his order to schools while forever blustering about "local control," evidently except when sensible but communist masks are involved. “Texans have mastered the safe practices" that prevent COVID spread, he argued in the name of COVID "clarity," citing the "individual right and responsibility" to decide matters of life and death - seatbelts or drunk driving, anyone? This, even though Texas has twice sought federal help - with five mortuary trailers from FEMA for soaring deaths and out-of-state medical workers to support overwhelmed Texas ones; over 12,200 Texans are hospitalized with COVID, the most since January; multiple hospitals are out of empty ICU beds as cities like Houston and Dallas struggle to provide enough ICU beds for children; a reported 72% of Texans oppose the ban; and, oh yeah, after boasting about attending "another standing-room only" (maskless) event attended by 600 other (maskless) GOP cretins, Abbott - shocker - has COVID.

He's also getting eviscerated on all sides for his lethal stupidity. When he tried whining "Biden goes after Republican governors tougher than he does the Taliban," he was savaged: "You are killing kids you treasonous twat waddle...`What's your kill rate today?...In fairness, it's getting increasingly difficult to tell the difference between Republican governors and the Taliban." In a scorching editorial, The Houston Chronicle called him "a mascot of incompetence," noting, "Personal responsibility, apparently, is for the little people" while "the powerful have Regeneron cocktails (and) good health insurance and doctors who make house calls..." Despite an all-GOP state Supreme Court keeping alive his mask ban, many local political forces - including the largest counties and cities and over 70 school districts - are rebelling against it, keeping mask mandates or enacting new ones, often supported by blistering lower court rulings. Given most kids are too young to get vaccines - and most of us don't want to kill our kids - the fiercest battles are over schools. This week, with at least four newly opened schools having to close due to virus outbreaks, many applauded an inventive move against idiocy by the rural Paris school district, which has almost 4,000 students, along with over 500 COVID cases; Tuesday, one hospital ran out of ventilators. Citing "health and safety" concerns and arguing Abbott doesn't have the authority to usurp their power, the school board voted 5 to 1 to tweak the district's dress code - a dubious cudgel long used to "instill discipline," "promote good citizenry," and ensure girls don't topple Western civilization by wearing spaghetti straps, tank tops, leggings or skirts "higher than 3 inches above the kneecap" - to include masks. At an emergency meeting, people argued masks get sweaty/snotty, or give their kids headaches or mental health issues, but sanity prevailed after a doctor testified, "We are on our knees at the hospital." Still, the crazy goes on. As schools opened, the usual suspects protested with "Free the Face, Unmask the Children" signs and one furious parent ripped the mask off a teacher's face. Appalled school officials called for giving school staff "space and grace" and asked "everyone to be kind." Tell it to the GOP.

Update: Late Thursday, the Texas Education Agency declared the mask ban will no longer be enforced "as the result of ongoing litigation," including the state Supreme Court's reversal for now on a technicality that reinstated a lower court ruling blocking the ban. If you're keeping track at home, that means the ban has been banned, Abbott will no longer be legally allowed to murder his own constituents, he and the other evil clowns are not very good at this, and the world is nonetheless still insane, especially in Texas.

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet

Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, she moved to the Maine woods in the early 70s, where she spent a dozen years building a house, hauling water and writing before moving to Portland. Having come of political age during the Vietnam War, she has long been involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email:

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