March 23, 2018

Modern Conservatism: fiscally, morally and socially bankrupt

By Glenn

One more time. If you consider yourself a conservative, fine. You need to know that Donald Trump is the embodiment of Modern Conservatism. He is vulgar. He is anti intellectual. He is a bully. He is fiscally, morally and socially bankrupt.

You can see the same conservatism in action if you look at the Red States: Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and Kansas etc. Modern conservatism has worshiped the selfishness of Ayn Rand and could care less about the common good. Everything is predicated toward the Will to Power.

If you want change, then you better hold your nose and vote for a Democrat. If you want more of this foolishness, then vote for these proud sociopaths.

Our public schools, our veterans, our Social Security, our Medicare and our safety all hang in the balance.

“So long as Republicans hold the congressional majority, they will not act to meaningfully constrain, or even oversee, the president. That choice represents an epic gamble for November—and beyond.”

March 23, 2018

The Preventive War Lie

By Glenn

Article One, Section Eight of the Constitution says “Congress shall have power to … declare War”. If Donald goes to war, he will be in violation of the US Constitution. His advisors are trying to spin their illegal activity as a “preventive war.” Starting a war has never prevented one.

We haven’t finished paying for George W. Bush’s failure in Iraq. Now, these war mongers want a new war. All they know is death and destruction.

February 8, 2018

My Brother’s Keeper

By Glenn

If you have to ask, you probably already know the answer.  When Cain asked God, “Am I my brother’s keeper?,” he knew the answer.  He knew his jealousy was wrong.  Cain simply wanted more at the expense of his brother.  This is a cautionary tale.  Hurting others to get more often leaves us with less.

Many Americans justifiably fear losing their healthcare coverage.  Insurance companies continue to rake in billions of dollars in profits as patients receive less care.  Conservative voters, however, lashed out and demanded Congress take away coverage from 32 million Americans who gained insurance under ObamaCare.  Unfortunately, rural voters are on the verge of finding out much they have to lose by lashing out.

Community Health Centers, non-profit clinics in underserved areas, are on the budget chopping block.  Paris, Copper, Bonham and several other North Texas communities have a center.  Across the state these clinics serve 1.3 million Texans.  The cost of care depends upon a patient’s ability to pay.  The clinics welcome those with insurance, Medicare, Medicaid and the uninsured.  Federal money makes up the difference between what a patient can afford and what the services cost.  Without federal grants these clinics would close.

Community Health Centers help individuals at all stages of life from pregnancy to senior care.  They have parenting classes that teach moms and dads how to care for their own child.  The centers offer nutrition classes to help people prevent and reduce the damage of diabetes.  Texans can also receive lifesaving screenings for killers like cancer.

Community Health Centers are attractive to employees.  Doctors can pay off student loans faster.  They have access to Federal lawsuit protect for all work done for the clinic.  The Federal Tort Claims Act provides them with a lawyer at no cost if they are sued.  The grants also pay for continuing education.  This benefit keeps doctors up to date and patients safe. It really is a win-win.

Failure to reach a budget deal in Washington threatens the health and lives of Texans.  Conservative politicians and voters do not want to fund public health care options.  This attitude has put Community Health Centers on the chopping block.  Unless more caring voices speak out, the least among us will watch in vain as their doctors and nurses pack up and leave town.

We are left then with that age old question: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  Do we care if the least among us go without?   Be careful before you answer.  Like Cain, you might find yourself with less also.  If conservatives are successful now, they plan on turning their attention to Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid.  Your neighbors might just decide that you can do more with less just like the patients in the Community Health Centers.

February 1, 2018

Free the Weed

By Glenn
Topics:
cannabis
marijuana

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Profits come from perceived scarcity. Products get their value when consumers think they are rare. For example, Tea was relatively abundant in ancient China. It was an inexpensive, everyday household drink.  Europeans, however, couldn’t grow it and paid top dollar to buy this luxury item.  The natural scarcity made European merchants a fortune until others learned how to grow it.

Cannabis, better known as marijuana, is just the opposite; it is a weed.  It will grow almost anywhere.  It is a profitable crop because government prohibition creates an artificial scarcity.  Criminals use the profits to fund their illegal activities and spark turf wars.  Take away the profits, and the criminal element dries up.  It’s high time we free the weed.

The paranoia surrounding cannabis can be traced back to propaganda films like “Reefer Madness.”   The movie falsely portrayed consumers of cannabis as violent madmen.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  In most people, cannabis works in much the same way as alcohol. It is a depressant and about as harmful to the body.  The scare tactics worked.  Instead of treating it like alcohol, the government treats it like heroin and cocaine.

This big government solution worked about as well as prohibition of alcohol did.  The government drove the manufacture and sale of cannabis into the hands of criminals.  On Tuesday President Donald Trump infamously used Mexican drug cartels as an excuse for American taxpayers to build an ineffective, expensive wall.   With planes, boats, tunnels and even submarines, the criminals will simply find another route to profitability.

A better solution is small government.  Free the weed.  Lifting the paranoid prohibition placed on cannabis would destroy the profitability used to fuel crime.  Legitimate businesses would step up to fill the demand.  Just as alcohol companies filled the demand after prohibition.  These companies create jobs and pay taxes.

This process is already under way in Colorado, Washington, and California.  Each has experimented with different approaches to the growing, sale and distribution of cannabis, but the results are the same.  New jobs in agriculture and retail make a positive contribution to their communities.  New tax revenues fund schools not turf wars.

Just like alcohol and tobacco there still could, and should, be responsible regulations.  This production should not be sold to minors nor should it be consumed in bars and restaurants.  Decriminalization would mean that individuals could use it in the privacy of their own homes without fear.  Our criminal justice system and law enforcement could then concentrate on criminals who deal deadly drugs like heroin and cocaine.

The prohibition of alcohol lasted a short thirteen years.   American voters recognized quickly that the restrictive law created the criminal profits.  They saw the changes right before their eyes and didn’t like it.  With freedom came relief.  Legitimate jobs returned, and governments collected a tax on the sale.  We have no reason to doubt that decriminalization of marijuana will have the same results.  It’s time to free the weed.

January 26, 2018

Donald’s Deals

By Glenn

Growing up I’d love to spend summers at my maw maw’s house. One of the daily rituals was watching game shows including “Let’s Make a Deal.” We got a chuckle when someone picked a Zonk, one of the meaningless prizes. We are now into season 2 of Donald’s deals in Washington. Behind every door and in every box, his deals offer the American public a Zonk.

How many times on the campaign trail did we hear Donald Trump say Mexico’s going to pay for the wall. Now the deal-making has started, and we know that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall. He is insisting that American taxpayers pay for the wall. Donald’s wall is a Zonk.

The overwhelming majority of people come to the United States in planes. Planes simply fly over walls.  This means that they enter the US legally.  Most have a green card, giving them access to gainful employment or educational opportunities.  Once their permit expires, they simply stay and continue working, shopping and paying taxes.  A Zonk wall does nothing about visa overstays.

You’ve probably heard about Donald’s latest Zonk.  He revoked DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals).  DACA instructed immigration agents to prioritize deporting undocumented immigrants with a criminal record.  On the campaign trail Trump told the public he would focus on “bad hombres.”  The children and young adults in the DACA program had to maintain a good school record and avoid any run-ins with the law.

Without any warning President Trump pulled the rug out from under them.  He told immigration officials to deport these young people on sight and blocked their access to education and work.  America has been their only real home.  They’ve been working hard, playing by the rules and even joining the military.  We’ve invested in their education, and they have chosen the American dream.  Trump broke his promise to concentrate on criminals. By going after children and young adults, Donald has turned DACA into a Zonk.

Donald’s Wall and DACA are now linked together in a budget battle.  There is bipartisan opposition to the Wall and bipartisan support for DACA.  This situation seemed like a welcome break from the back and forth between Republicans and Democrats.  All they had to do is vote their position to reinstate DACA and spend money on real immigration security, not Donald’s wall.

Donald’s deal making style is blocking the parties from coming together.   Senator Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said that no one knows what the President wants.  Trump says that he wants a deal on DACA but will not take a deal unless American tax payers waste money on his wall.  Here, two Zonks are rolled into one.  Dreamers risk losing the only country they have known and loved, while Americans, not Mexicans will have to pay for Donald’s wall.

Sometimes I long for the summer days of maw maw’s house.  Back then Zonks were harmless.  The game show contestants really didn’t lose anything. Now, as an adult, I can’t laugh as Donald’s Deals turn into Zonks.  Real people’s lives are ruined by his political games.

January 19, 2018

Remember Texas Education

By Glenn

Long ago, coal miners learned to take a canary with them into the dark.  Digging for coal released methane, a silent killer.  The small canaries suffered the negative effects of the gas much faster than the miners.  Seeing the dead canary prompted the miners to survive a near certain death.  If you value public education today, look around and see the canaries before it’s too late.

Last session the Texas legislature tried to quietly defund the health insurance for retired teachers.  Teachers often work for long hours and poor pay in exchange for retirement security.  It came as a surprise when the legislature broke its promise to retired teachers, raising premiums and out of pocket expenses.  Fearing a wave of angry voters, the legislature delayed the price increase for health insurance.

These “cost saving” gimmicks have directly impacted students too.   Last week the Department of Education ruled that the Texas Education Agency illegally denied children with disabilities an education.  Mike Morath, appointed by Governor Greg Abbott, placed a capped on the number of children served.  This change forced local school districts to deny services to children who needed help.

If Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick get his way, this situation will get worse.  Patrick is pushing the Texas Legislature to approve a voucher scheme.  Vouchers would divert public funding away from our schools to private investors.  Private investors would be free to cut pay, restrict retirement benefits and, most importantly, deny an education to all students.

All of these measures are done in the name of saving money and cutting red tape.  Abbott and Patrick refuse, however, to consider the one thing that will actually save money and improve Texas public education. Stop wasting money on standardized tests. Texans pay over $90 million a year to terrorize teachers and students.  Indirectly, the Legislature forces every Independent School District to prepare and administer these bubbling exercises.

Each of these canaries should warn us of dangers ahead.  The conservatives in the Texas Legislature are determined to follow the lead of Kansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.  Each of these states cut taxes, creating a funding crisis in public education.  Governor Abbot wants to take away our local ISDs ability to fund themselves by capping the overall revenue collected in each district.  This change would impose a one size fits all across Texas.

The results in Texas will be no different than in Kansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.   Class sizes would increase.  Art and music programs would suffer.  Teachers would face furloughs and job losses.  Parents might even find themselves paying extra for daycare on Fridays as school districts shift to four day weeks.

The carnies are dropping all around us.  The survivability of Texas public education depends upon us seeing the dying canaries and taking action.  Our Texas founding fathers had the foresight to guarantee public education in our constitution.  They wrote, “A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”   Do we defend this right, or do we forget the sacrifices of the Alamo?

January 11, 2018

A Tale of Two Amendments

By Glenn

How often have you heard people say, “We respect our teachers”?  When the Teacher of the Year from Vermillion Parish Louisiana spoke her mind, however, we saw with our own eyes how meaningless this statement has become.  On January 8th Deyshia Hargrave stood up to exercise her First Amendment rights during a School Board Meeting.  She was polite.  She was focused.  Moments later, Mrs. Hargrave found herself face down in handcuffs.

The First Amendment is the lynch pin of limited government.  Our Founding Fathers knew that it was the key to maintaining a free society.  Well known are protections for speech and religion, but often overlooked is the freedom of petition for redress of grievances.   Each individual has a right to complain to the government and demand a fix.

Hargrave’s complaint was not unusual.  Over the years she saw few pay raises but frequent increases in class sizes and work load.  During the School Board meeting she raised her hand and asked a simple question.  How could the School Board vote to give the Superintendent a raise, increasing his salary from approximately $110,000 to more than $140,000?

The School Board President dismissed her question, stating the floor was open for comments not a question.  Who in the room didn’t understand her “comment”?  How can public officials claim to value teachers when they only reward Superintendents? She was stating clearly that the School Board did not in fact value teachers.  She said, “It’s basically taking our money.”

As she stood waiting for a response from the Board, a law enforcement officer paid by the Board told her she had to leave.  She stood her ground and waited for an answer.  The officer then grabbed her and escorted her out of the meeting.  In the hall, she turned and asked what she done wrong.  The officer forced her to the ground and handcuffed her.

Now contrast that with the events in 2014 at the Clive Bundy Ranch in Nevada.   Mr. Bundy had repeatedly refused to pay his rent to the American people.  When Federal law enforcement officers arrived to evict him, Bundy’s supporters drew their weapons.  Cameras from around the world capture images of these criminals pointing guns at our men and women in uniform.  Federal agents backed off and the Bundys walked free.

Their supporter claimed to be exercising their Second Amendment Rights.  They made clear they had the right to shoot tyrannical local, state and federal officials.  At the time they were not taken into custody.  They were not throw face down nor were they handcuffed.  Even though they threatened the lives of the “Men in Blue” they walked free.

Here we have Two Amendments side by side.  In the first case a teacher politely demanded respect during a school board meeting and found herself in handcuffs.  In the second case armed vigilantes pointed weapons at sworn defenders of the law and walked free.  Something is radically wrong with a country that punishes speech but praising violent insurrection.

January 4, 2018

Merry Christmas

By Glenn

The commercial Christmas ended at Midnight December 25 as retailers switched to Easter candy.  Believers, however, have had the rest of the Twelve Days of Christmas to reflect.  Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate at the darkest time of the year to remember the light.  It’s no wonder then that light plays an integral part of the festivities.  We light up our homes, but we should also light up our hearts.

For Christians, Jesus knew service brings light into the world.  He entered the world as a servant, not a warrior.  Saint Paul tells us “Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.”

Being a light in a world then requires following Christ’s example.  Instead of focusing on the cruel and judgmental parts of scripture, Jesus focused on the merciful and kind aspects.  When people were hungry, Jesus fed them.  When they were strangers, Jesus welcomed them.  When they were sick, Jesus healed them.  These actions and themes are the Gospel.  Kindness and mercy are the Good News.

Jesus faced opposition even from his closest followers.  According to the Gospel of Matthew, a multitude, drawn by his compassion, followed Jesus to a remote place.  His disciples complained that they could not feed the crowd.  Jesus ordered them to give their only food supply to the people.  I can just imagine how those disciples felt giving away their last fish and bread. Instead of going hungry, however, all ate well.

This behavior is quite a contrast with the story of the “rich man” who neglects Lazarus. Every day the rich man saw Lazarus outside, full of sores and without food.  Lazarus begged for mercy, but the rich man refused to hear the cry of the poor.  Did the rich man feel blessed?  Did he feel Lazarus deserved his poverty? We don’t know.  We do know Lazarus enjoyed God’s mercy, while the rich man suffered his judgment.

It’s all too clear that Christians ought to be a light for their neighbors, especially the least among us and the stranger.  We ought to be like the despised Samaritan.  In the Gospel of Luke Jesus contrast the Good Samaritan’s behavior with the temple priests.  The priests couldn’t even stop to help a brutally beaten man.  It was left to a Samaritan, a foreigner, to care for the injuries and pay for his health care.  The foreigner was the best neighbor.

This message was not popular.  Cruelty and bigotry had a more immediate sense of satisfaction.  The political and religious leaders of the day knew it.  According to the Gospels, they constantly tried to trick Jesus.  One day they brought an adulteress to him, knowing the law required a public stoning.  Jesus showed mercy and asked the “person without sin” to cast the first stone.  The crowd walked away.

Christmas is about bringing light into a dark world.  It’s not about shopping or saying “Merry Christmas.”  It’s about letting your light shine.  Let it shine for the hungry.  Let is shine for the sick.  Let it shine for the accused.  Our neighbors need mercy and kindness, all of them, not just the ones who look and think like us.  Merry Christmas.