Why won’t Greg Abbott just do the right thing? | Midweek Action Roundup

We’re trying something new.

For three-and-a-half years we have delivered the “Take Action” newsletter to inboxes every Monday morning. Today the 2020 elections, Covid-19, calls to defund the Austin Police Department, and Trump’s ongoing attacks on Democracy are—unfortunately—providing a wealth of material. It’s too much to fit into one weekly newsletter, and news is happening so fast that our Monday newsletter is frequently stale by Wednesday.

Starting today we’re introducing a midweek supplement to include and amplify previous actions that may have been overlooked. We’ll experiment with the format until we land on what works—and we welcome your feedback at ask@indivisibleaustin.com.

Why won’t Greg Abbott just do the right thing?

Abbott and Trump at White House
We’ve tried for years to dig into the psyche of Greg Abbott. We know he can be cruel. We know he is susceptible to rightwing conspiracy theories like Jade Helm. He maintains his popularity by avoiding scrutiny. (There was an unconscionable number of Beto-Abbott voters.)

The Covid-19 crisis reveals Abbott’s fecklessness. This passage from Texas monthly sums it up well:

“Here, we could talk about Abbott’s quadruple-backflip on mask mandates; the time he issued a statewide lockdown disguised under a bureaucratic name while insisting it wasn’t one, before clarifying that it was the next day; the Shelley Luther saga, which saw him ordain that violators of his shutdown order should be punished with fines and jail time only to blame local officials for enforcing it, before retroactively nullifying what he had expressly commanded; or the way he opened the state for business before fixing the problems the lockdown was designed to address.”

If there is any silver lining to Abbott’s incoherent style of governance, it’s that he is susceptible to pressure. He responds to the loudest voice in the room. So we need to get louder.

Still a big deal: Cornyn’s silence on the bounties Russia is paying on the lives of US troops

Comrade Cornyn

It’s been weeks since news broke of the Russian bounties on US troops. And still this was the best Cornyn could offer on the subject:

“I think the president can’t single-handedly remember everything, I’m sure, that he’s briefed on”
—US Senator John Cornyn, on the news that Russia is paying a bounty on the lives of US soldiers

This is unacceptable. Send Cornyn a letter


Events

Thursday, July 23

Austin City Council meeting

10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On Monday we included a series of actions to pressure City Council to reject Spencer Cronk’s Austin Police budget. This will be one to watch.

Watch Live

Friday, July 24

LIVE: Can Texas protect voters’ rights and safety in November?

12 p.m. Join Texas Civil Right Project in a discussion about the election problems they heard from voters across the state during the run-offs and what we must do in the next 100 days to ensure that every voter can cast a ballot fairly and safely.

Register for this event

Saturday, July 25

Celebrate Julie Oliver’s birthday with special guests Julián Castro and Lloyd Doggett!

Honor TX25 Democratic nominee Julie Oliver’s special day and raise money for the last few crucial months of the campaign!

Donate and join the party

Monday, July 27

Payback Project with Indivisible National’s Dani Negrete

7 p.m. Indivisible Grapevine hosts a Payback Project event to unseat John Cornyn, featuring Dani Negrete of the national Indivisible team.

RSVP for this event

Tuesday, July 28

Webinar: Indivisible Textbanking Training

6 p.m. Learn how to start texting with the IndivisiText program on our platform TextOut!

RSVP for this event

Friday, July 31

2020 Medicaid/Medicare Anniversary: Take Racism Out of Healthcare

6 p.m. Join the #SICKOFITTX coalition in a discussion about the racial bias that still exists within the medical community, and what we can do to help take racism out of healthcare.

Join the event (Facebook Live)

 

Write your reps! Tell Greg Abbott: Just because we have hospital beds doesn’t mean we need to fill them.

More than 2,000 Texans have died from COVID-19, and 2,000 more cases are being diagnosed in our state every single day. Hospitalizations are increasing. The seven-day average of newly confirmed cases is also rising.

Yet Governor Abbott continues to call for Texas to reopen, “because we have so many hospital beds available to anybody who gets ill.”

Abbott acknowledges the spread of the virus, but is doing nothing to contain it. He treats as mere suggestions the public health measures that have significantly blocked the virus’s spread in other countries:

“It is their choice about whether or not they are gonna go out and congregate with others or go to a store, whatever it is they may want to do. It is incumbent upon every individual in Texas to make sure that they are doing all they can not to get or transmit COVID-19 as we do open up the economy. You have your own control of whether or not you will be getting this disease.”

It’s time to tell Governor Abbott that a deadly pandemic is not the time for libertarian fantasy. If the state is going to continue to reopen, we need at least two things in place:

  1. Ongoing social distancing mandates, including universal masking—which an increasing body of evidence suggests is tremendously effective.
  2. Local control—so that cities can make their own rules to keep their citizenry safe. This should be easy. Local control is the bedrock of Republican ideology. As Austin Mayor Steve Adler says, “If the governor is not going to enforce it, then I sure would hope that he would allow local jurisdictions to decide to enforce it, if that’s something that they want to do locally.”

Write Governor Abbott today.

Write Your Reps! Tell John Cornyn that Trump, not China, is to blame for US Coronavirus deaths

Sen. John Cornyn is taking it upon himself to single-handedly shift blame for the US death toll from COVID-19 away from Donald Trump and onto…China. Cornyn’s shameless sycophancy will get people killed. It will also likely raise millions of dollars for John Cornyn.

Cornyn blame-shifting fundraising letter

Regardless of the source of the virus, or whatever missteps China made in slowing its spread, Cornyn’s “blame China” reelection strategy makes absolutely no sense, except as propaganda. Every other country, with access to the same set of facts about the virus, has handled it better than the US has. With 88,000 deaths in the US—and counting—compared to 4,000 in much-larger China, there is no way to spin such a catastrophic failure of government.

Taking China out of the equation—they may very well have underreported their statistics—the US has 272 deaths per million. Germany? 96. South Korea? Five.

These numbers are shameful and they are not getting better. The reason they are not getting better has nothing to do with China, and everything to do with the uncaring, incompetent response of Donald J. Trump and his coterie of enablers like John Cornyn. In his desperation to retain power, Cornyn is trying to agitate a diminishing base of low-information voters. Let’s push back on this cynical strategy. Let Cornyn know he has blood on his hands. And just as important, let’s vote him the hell out of office.

Three things Texans can do to fight COVID-19 disinformation and political hackery

A few weeks ago the White House had a plan to confront COVID-19. They abandoned it in favor of a political disinformation campaign. Similarly, Gov. Greg Abbott issued a plan to gradually reopen the Texas economy… and then swiftly ignored his own advice.

We are witnessing a propaganda campaign that follows the same playbook as climate denialism: Blame the problem on effete nerds who, with their pesky “data,” want to enact socialism and deny Trump’s reelection chances.

Our elected leaders—John Cornyn, Ted Cruz, Greg Abbott, and our House GOP reps—are trying to cowboy their way through a pandemic. They blame China. They cast doubt on the numbers. But the virus doesn’t care. The virus doesn’t care about party affiliation. It doesn’t care about state or party lines. The virus just wants a host. And because it’s an animal virus unaccustomed to human carriers, it is reckless in who it kills.

America’s massively disproportionate body count was completely preventable. But prevention would have required leadership. We don’t have leaders anymore. We have lapdogs and pundits. They all need to be replaced in November, but in the meantime we have to slow the bleeding. We can do this in three ways.

1. Pressure Gov. Abbott to ignore Trump and follow the science on COVID-19

Abbott and Trump at White House

After initially appearing to take the coronavirus seriously, Gov. Abbott met with Trump and then immediately decided to reopen Texas despite mountains of evidence demonstrating that this will put many more people at risk. Along with Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, Abbott has decided to wage a culture war instead of dealing with the pandemic. A Dallas salon owner—who was jailed for contempt of court, not for reopening her business—has become the latest symbol in the “but mah liberty!” disinformation campaign. The virus does not care about our culture wars.

Reopening the Texas economy is important. But people won’t stop dying preventable deaths just because politicians are impatient and in denial. Gov. Abbott should look for guidance from other countries and states that have successfully mitigated the coronavirus’s economic impact.

Germany, which is roughly the same square mileage as Texas and with three times the population succeeded through a combination of good health care and mass testing—including from the private sector.

Taiwan, which has almost the population of Texas, succeeded in flattening the curve by acting early and applying rigorous contact tracing. They did so without massive lockdowns.

Had Gov. Abbott confronted the coronavirus head-on, rather than stumbling and staggering in the political winds, Texas could be reopened and thriving by now. It’s not too late to start doing the right thing. The model varies country to country, but the basics are:

  • Lots of testing
  • Isolating those who test positive
  • Contact tracing

And, of course, quality health care. (Expanding Medicaid should be a no-brainer for the governor.)

Write Greg Abbott a letter telling that mass casualties is not a plan

2. Pressure Cruz and Cornyn to pass meaningful COVID-19 legislation

Ted Cruz and John Cornyn

Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn have gone all-in on the culture war, choosing to stir up partisan division at the expense of lives and livelihoods. Cruz went so far as to get his hair cut by the Dallas salon owner who opened her business in defiance of state law. Cornyn is seeking protections for business owners who might be sued by their employees for being forced back to work and getting sick or dying as a result. And of course, both senators deflect from their venality by blaming China for everything. (Sure, investigate China—after we contain the pandemic in the US.)

Once again, for the senators in the back: The virus does not care about our culture wars. The virus does not care if you are in a red state or a blue state. It is here to kill—and it’s disproportionately killing and sickening workers in “essential” roles—workers who more often than not are black or brown. Rather than defend one white business owner against the “tyranny” of public health, the senators should focus on the majority of their constituents, including workers, the elderly, and people with pre-existing conditions.

Write your reps in Congress to demand relief for working people 

3. Fight disinformation by sharing the facts on COVID-19 with friends and family

Disinformation is the next battleground. Trump, Abbott, Cornyn, and Cruz—along with Reps. Mike McCaul, Chip Roy, Roger Williams, and John Carter—have given up on solutions to the pandemic and are retreating to their comfort zone: lying.

The Trump/Abbott plan appears to be human sacrifice. It is  mass casualties to “own the libs.” The US has more than 1.3 million coronavirus cases. We’re approaching 80,000 deaths. Compare these numbers to their favorite bogeyman, China, which has a much larger population and fewer than 5,000 deaths.

Because our leaders believe only in preservation of their own power—not in representation or good governance—their “plan” is to lie to us until they are reelected. They have massive support in the form of the White House bully pulpit, propaganda outlets like Fox News and OAN, social media bot armies, and an immovable base of supporters who will believe absolutely anything that comes out of their mouths.

What can we do? Remember that the virus is nonpartisan. While some populations are more at risk than others, Trumpies do not have herd immunity. The virus is indiscriminate; we are in this together. We can share facts compassionately. We can counter false claims. We can shine a light on the truth. Despite what our electeds say, most Americans, including Texans, are more concerned with opening the economy too quickly than too slowly.

Below are links to credible sources of information. As always, do your own research and be skeptical of miracle cures and statistical outliers. Follow the facts, follow the science, and do your part counter disinformation by sharing the truth with your friends and family.

Resources

Austin and Travis County

COVID-19 Information (City of Austin)

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information (Travis County)

City of Austin Utility Bill Relief

Texas

Coronavirus in Texas: How many cases, deaths and tests (Texas Tribune)

COVID-19 Trends tracker by Christopher Tackett

https://www.texastribune.org/2020/04/29/black-texas-coronavirus-health-care-disparities/

United States

Early Herd Immunity against COVID-19: A Dangerous Misconception (Johns Hopkins)

COVID-19 Map – Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center (Johns Hopkins)

The US Still Has No Plan to Ramp Up COVID-19 Testing (Atlantic)

Thresholds States Must Meet To Control Coronavirus Spread and Safely Reopen (Center for American Progress)

I’m an Investigative Journalist. These Are the Questions I Asked About the Viral “Plandemic” Video. (ProPublica)

Why It’s Important To Push Back On ‘Plandemic’—And How To Do It (Forbes)

Recommendations for Election Polling Locations Interim guidance to prevent spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) (Centers for Disease Control)

Write Your Reps! Demand support for working people in the next coronavirus relief package

The Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 epidemic hasn’t done nearly enough to help working people. We’re calling on members of Congress to vote against the next coronavirus relief package (COVID 4) unless it is a true People’s Agenda for relief. That means the next relief package must:

  1. Keep people on payrolls: Stop mass layoffs, and preserve employment relationships for all businesses, including small businesses. Ensure federal dollars go to workers and small businesses, not enriching CEOs and Wall Street.
  2. Provide financial relief: Expand aid for the most vulnerable in the COVID-19 epidemic, including direct cash assistance, increased food aid, debt relief, and eviction protections.
  3. Protect public health: Full health coverage for all COVID-19 care and protections for all frontline workers.
  4. Defend elections: Enact a vote-by-mail requirement for 2020 federal elections while maintaining access to in-person voting for those who do not have access to mail voting.

This outbreak has already resulted in tens of thousands of people dying, and tens of millions losing their jobs. It has thrown our elections, health care system, and economy into chaos. We can’t afford to wait any longer for Congress to take these necessary steps; it’s time for members to use their vote to demand real relief through a People’s Agenda.

Fill out the form below to send a letter to your senators and House representatives

Want to call your reps instead? Visit the People’s Agenda >

Write Your Reps! Tell Gregg Abbott that mass casualties is not a plan

Abbott and Trump at White House

After initially appearing to take the coronavirus seriously, Gov. Abbott met with Trump and then immediately decided to reopen Texas despite mountains of evidence demonstrating that this will put many people at grave risk of death.

Reopening the Texas economy is important. But people won’t stop dying preventable deaths just because politicians are impatient and in denial. Gov. Abbott should look for guidance from other countries and states that have successfully mitigated the coronavirus’s economic impact.

Had Gov. Abbott confronted the coronavirus head-on, rather than stumbling and staggering in the political winds, Texas could be reopened and thriving by now. It’s not too late to start doing the right thing. The model varies country to country, but the basics are:

  • Lots of testing
  • Isolating those who test positive
  • Contact tracing

And, of course, quality health care. (Expanding Medicaid should be a no-brainer for the governor.)

Tell Gov. Abbott your concerns over reopening the state by filling out the form below.

(Need inspiration? See what other Texans had to say.)

Write Your Reps! Tell Greg Abbott: Keep Texas voting during the coronavirus pandemic

Statement by League of Women Voters of Texas President Grace Chimene on Election Changes Needed Needed to Deal with COVID-19:

We are all very concerned about the growing COVID-19 health threat to our local communities, all of Texas, the nation, and all the nations of the world. The Leagues of Women Voters across the country and in Texas are particularly concerned about protecting our citizens’ ability to participate in elections and maintaining our democratic way of life. Voters should not have to choose between voting or protecting their health.

Write your reps! Tell your senators: Protect our vote during the coronavirus pandemic

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, vulnerable Americans are going to have to choose between casting a ballot and protecting their health. Vote-by-mail is a time-tested, reliable way for Americans to exercise their constitutional rights, and the right answer to respond to this crisis.

Tell your senators to support the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act (NDEBA) of 2020.

Write your reps! Support the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Bold action is needed to protect Americans from pandemic. Support H.R. 6201, the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” to bolster the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and address the severe impacts of the coronavirus on Americans’ personal safety and financial security. This response includes paid leave, establishes free testing, and protects health workers.