April 15, 2021

End the Politics of Spite

By Glenn

Have you ever heard the Medieval saying, “Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face”?  Spite is an uncommon word today.  It means to hurt or offend. 

Often spite is an act of revenge.  One person feels offended and responds spitefully.  Revenge makes us feel vindicated or justified.

Unfortunately, spiteful behavior is too often self-destructive.  If you cut off your nose, you will damage your face.

For the past 10 to 15 years, politicians have taken spiteful action to gain the upper hand.  The victim of these destructive behaviors is the American people.

Take for example President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal.  Infrastructure supports other economic activity.  Without infrastructure other activities slow or shut down.   

Think of infrastructure as the skeleton and circulatory systems in the body.  Weak bones, like weak bridges, can cause a body to fall and not get up.  I don’t need to remind you of the dangers power and water loss created just a few months ago.

President Biden wants to avoid that type of pain by investing in America’s infrastructure.  The Biden team has detailed projects in every state, including Texas. The American jobs plan includes:

  • $115 billion repairing roads and bridges
  • $111 billion investment to ensure clean, safe drinking water
  • $50 billion to improve the resiliency of power supply
  • $400 billion to help more people access care and improve the quality of caregiving jobs
  • $100 billion to bring universal, reliable, high-speed, and affordable coverage to every family in America

Not only will these projects improve our communities, but they will create jobs here at home.  These jobs can’t be shipped overseas.  It is a win-win.

At least that is the way the majority of Americans see it.  Republicans have decided to make this a partisan issue.  Instead of rallying around America, Republicans have chosen the politics of spite.

Republicans believe their best path to win elections is to hurt America.  They want to cut America’s nose off and give it an ugly face.  They will then turn around and blame President Biden.

Who is getting hurt by these political dirty tricks? We are—the American people. 

These investments will make us stronger and more secure.  American will be better.  Texas will be better. Let’s end the politics of spite.

April 8, 2021

Remodeling Our Home

By Glenn

Not many things are more exciting, or frightening, than buying a new home.  With it comes both freedom and responsibility.  The owner has the freedom to change it at will but also must pay for the maintenance and repair.

We’ve owned this particular house in Sherman for about twenty years.  When we moved into it, we painted all the rooms and swapped out a few appliances.

Periodically, I’ve made minor repairs to toilets, light fixtures and locks.  Twice, I’ve taken on big projects remodeling a spare bathroom and bedroom.

For bigger projects I hire professionals.  This year we had a couple of major projects.  The AC compressor failed, the washing machine bearings wore out, and the glass stove top shattered.

In each case Jackie and I built back better.  The AC is better.  The washing machine is better.  The stove top is better.

If we ran our house the way conservatives run government, we wouldn’t have built back at all.  We would just let it gradually fail.

For the past forty years, America and Texas has struggled with basic maintenance and repair.  Conservatives prefer cheap fixes to better solutions.  We pay a steeper price, however, when our electricity and water systems fail.

Now, we have an opportunity to maintain and repair our home—the United States of America.  President Biden has proposed a bold infrastructure plan to upgrade road, bridges, electrical bridges, water systems and schools.

President Biden also wants us to expand new technologies.  Over the past year, many of us have needed faster internet or broadband to connect to work or school.  Some local business lost money because customers couldn’t connect to their store or service.

To pay for these projects, President Biden wants corporations and individuals earning more than 400,000 to pay more taxes.  Both received multiple tax cuts over the last 40 years of conservative rule.  Now is the time for them to pay their fair share.

We have seen our taxes increase year after year while the quality of our services suffers.  America needs maintenance and repair.  It has been neglected for far too long time.

The question you need to ask yourself is whether or not you want to watch America slowly fall apart.  More electrical failures.  More  water failures.  Less opportunity for small business to compete.  Personally, I have the experience with my home to know it is wiser to build back better.

April 3, 2021

Happy Easter

By Glenn

Reading the Gospel of John on Easter provides a great insight into “Christian Leadership” and “Christian Citizenship.”  John expresses in clear, unequivocal language the call to service and self-sacrifice.

The mystery of Easter starts in John 13.  Jesus is sitting down with his disciples for his “Last Supper.”  He surprises them by getting down on his knees to wash their feet.  Peter objects, “Never shall You wash my feet!” (John 13: 8) Jesus, however, continues undeterred and explains what it  means to be a leader and a citizen.

St. Ann’s Catholic Church, Sherman Texas

He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.  Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” (John  13: 12-17)

Can you imagine a more beautiful message?  Being a Christian leader is not about throwing stones or lording over others.  Being a Christian leader is taking on the dirty jobs.

Jesus then explains the meaning of Christian citizenship.  As a Jew, Jesus knew the law.  God told them, “You shall not bear hatred in your heart.  Though you may have to reprove your fellow man, do not incur sin because of him.  Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19: 17-18)

Jesus, however, took this a step farther and gave his followers a new commandment.  “Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have loved one another.”  (John 13: 34-35)  Here Jesus ups the ante by laying down a clear example for his followers.  Christian citizenship requires putting the interest of those around us ahead of our own.

Christian leadership and citizenship rests on the twin pillars of serving others and self-sacrifice.  If we take these literally, won’t we be worse off?  Jesus didn’t think so.  When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Simon Peter acted as any “normal” person would.  He drew his sword and struck the high priest’s slave.  Jesus rebuked him.  “Put your sword into your scabbard.  Shall I not drink the cup that Father gave to me?”  (John 18: 11) 

The Easter message ends with the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus.  By human standards there could be no greater humiliation.  There was no greater failure and sign of powerlessness than death on a cross.  By God’s standards, however, Jesus follows the law literally.  He loves his neighbors so greatly that he willingly sacrifices himself for the good of others.  Because of his voluntary sacrifice Jesus was glorified.

In the midst of all the candy and pretty cloths, let’s not forget this beautiful message. Service and self-sacrifice will renew the face of the earth. Have a happy Easter.

March 25, 2021

Original Intent to Suppress the Vote

By Glenn

People who scream about the “original intent” of the Constitution too often don’t know the “original intent”.  Or if they do understand the “original intent”, they want to use it to restrict their neighbors’ hard won freedoms.

Voting rights clearly fall into the second category.  The Constitution originally intended voting restrictions.  States had the right to limit voting anyway they chose.

The most common restrictions were property qualifications.  Only individuals who owned property could vote.  This qualification kept most Americans from the voting booth.  The Founding Fathers didn’t want poor people voting. 

By John Trumbull – US Capitol, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=180069

A property qualification had an added “benefit.”  It excluded women.  Most states had strict laws preventing women from owning property.  No penis.  No property.  No vote. 

In the 1820s, working class white males began demanding the right to vote. The argued their labor entitled them to participate in government. 

New states in the Eastern Mississippi and Ohio River valleys took advantage of these demands.  They offered suffrage (the right to vote) to all adult white males.   Eastern states had to follow suit or face violent protests from their white working class.

This remained the status quo until after the Civil War. Congress originally intended only to abolish race based slavery and say nothing about voting.  Voting restrictions would remain a States’ Right. 

The consequences were swift and predictable.  The former confederate states passed legislation retracting the Freedman’s right to vote.  Congress responded by passing the 15th Amendment, gaining the Constitutional power to protect the right to vote.

While this amendment was a big break with the “original intent,” it contained some major loopholes.  For example, the authors carefully, and intentionally, avoided expanding suffrage to women. 

Women felt betrayed.  Susan B. Anthony had been ardent abolitionist.  When she heard Frederick Douglas cut a deal to include black men but exclude women, she exploded.  Her vile and racists comments do her memory no good.

Eventually, however, feminists like Anthony won the right to vote.  At the same time, states became creative in their push back racial equality and voting.    Not until the 1960s Civil Rights movement did Congress finally fulfil the promise of the 15th Amendment.

Today the “original intent” mob has its sights on voting rights again.  Texas conservatives want local officials to block disabled voters from the polls.  They want the voter to get a note from their doctor before exercising their rights and protections under the law. Are you going to let it happen again?

March 18, 2021

Act of Terrorism in Grayson County

By Glenn

Studying history shouldn’t take a profile in courage.  Too many people want history to be a safe space for ancestor worship.

History is part of the humanities.  We study humans.  Humans can be beautiful.  They can be ugly.  We should try to replicate the beauty and avoid the ugly.

We can’t do either if we sweep things under the rug.  For too long Grayson County has swept an ugly part of its history under the rug.

In May of 1930 a white woman accused a black man of rape.  The man was George Hughes.  Sheriff Arthur Vaughan arrested Hughes and held him for trial.

In America, the government must prove an accusation in court.  Every American has a constitutional right to a jury of his peers.  This is an essential part of Due Process.

Rumors had began circulating about the rape, and a mob gathered outside the Court House.  They demanded blood.  Like many white mobs at the time, they didn’t want to wait for Due Process. Due Process was too slow. (See also White Supremacist Massacres)

The Sheriff, the Texas Rangers and the National Guard tried to maintained order for the trial.  The white mob persisted.  They broke into the Court House, ignoring both warning shots and tear gas.

With the Judge, Jury and members of the public in the Court Room, someone in the mob set fire to the Court House.  To make matters worse the mob attacked the fire fighters who unsuccessfully battled the blaze.

http://usgenwebsites.org/TXGrayson/ANewLand/History/courthouse/Sherman_1930Riot/Sherman_1930Riot.html

The accused, George Hughes, was trapped inside the Court House vault where he died. 

Not satisfied, the white mob dragged the body of George Hughes behind a car to the African American side of town.  The mob then hung Hughes and set his body ablaze.

The mob then turned their attention to their African American neighbors, burning black owned businesses and residences.  This act of terrorism sent a message to every resident of Grayson County.

Melissa Thiel, a current resident of Grayson, has asked the County Commissioners to place a historical marker outside the new Court House.  Thiel has spent the last year gathering records of the lynching. 

The record is clear.  A mob of over 5,000 terrorized the African American residents of Grayson Country.  The mob violated the law and ignored the Constitution of the United States of America.

Will County Judge Bill Magers and County commissioners Bart Lawrence, David Whitlock, Phillis James and Jeff Whitmire be brave enough to learn real history?  Or will they cower in fear of terrorism?

March 11, 2021

American Recovery Plan

By Glenn

Joe Biden promised to “Build Back Better.”  The liberals in Congress just passed the American Recovery Plan.  They set the agenda because Democrats won elections for the House, Senate and the Presidency,.

Liberals believe government programs can, and should, alleviate suffering.  Conservatives reject this approach.  They believe individuals should be left to struggle on their own to survive.

With majorities in the House and the Senate Democrats drafted legislation that has the support of 70% of Americans.  The American Recovery Plan will not only relieve immediate suffering, it will also Build Back Better.

https://www.cnbc.com/2021/01/20/biden-inauguration-day-live-updates-stream.html

The headline number for most of us if the $1400 relief check.  It goes to every adult with a valid Social Security number and earned under $75,000.  This money will flow into the local economy as we pay our bills for housing, electricity, and healthcare.

Parents get added relief.  For every dependent child on their 2019 or 2020 tax return, the parent will receive an additional $1400 as well as $3000 per child tax credit.  These benefits mean parents will be able to spend more of their own money on raising their children.

Contrary to much fear mongering, only legal residents of the United States qualify.

Unemployed Americans won an additional $300 a month for insurance.  Congress also passed a tax break targeted toward them.  They don’t have to pay taxes on the first $10,000 of benefits if they earned less than $100,000 in that year.

A pandemic recovery plan would be incomplete without addressing healthcare.  The American Recovery increases subsidies for individuals to buy private health insurance.  This part builds on the previous programs started under the Affordable Care Act, more widely known as ObamaCare.

The economic down turn also negatively hit restaurants and state budgets hard.  Congress included aid directed specifically toward them. 

Unlike previous bill, liberals set aside money for restaurants earning less than $500,000 per year.  They also provided money to help school districts reduced class sizes and buy personal protective gear. 

Finally, there has been a lot of talk about online learning and buying.  Far too many of us still don’t have reliable internet to learn or to sell/buy online. 

The American Recovery Act aims to make that better.  It created a $7.6 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund to expand broadband access in disadvantaged communities.

The American Recovery Plan takes a big step toward healing America.  It is good government and shows what can be done when elected officials believe in serving the public.   It is a much needed change.

March 4, 2021

Progressive America

By Glenn

I am proud to live in Modern America.  America is a progressive country.  Our democracy allows us to create laws to improve our lives.  Over the past 230 years much has changed for the better.

The progress has been slow but steady.  In the 1820s white laborers won the right to vote.  In the 1870s African American men won the right to vote.  They saw that right curtailed under Jim Crow, but won it again in the Civil Rights movement.  Women slowly gained political rights from the 1920s to the 1960s.

With political freedom came economic gains.  Too many people today falsely claim that politics doesn’t matter.  History teachers us, however, that political power precedes economic gains.

Of course there was push back all along the way.  People with political and economic power claimed expanded rights meant the destruction of America.

Not only is America still standing, America is stronger and more prosperous. American prosperity rests on our ability to address social injustices and economic disparities. 

Abraham Lincoln won his election in 1860 by promising to stop the expansion of slavery.  He argued slavery hurt white farmers as well as the slaves themselves.  Southern plantations owners argued slavery benefited the entire nation.  They boldly claimed ending slavery would kill the South.

Ironically, it was those very same individuals who attacked American democracy and ruined their region of the country for generations.  Their descendants then passed on the myth of Northern aggression and their hatred for the federal government.

Despite these constant attacks, America didn’t abandon the South.  During the Great Depression, the former New York Governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt could have focused on helping the most populous and successful cities.  Instead he invested in all of America.

Rural areas like Texoma received funds for economic development.  Projects were as big as electrification and as small as trails in Loy Lake park. Americans needed work, and the federal government provided it.

FDR’s “can do” spirit continued after World War Two.  The federal government built the Interstate Highway system.  It expanded Social Security to include Medicare.   The federal government forced the states to expand Civil Rights and economic liberty to women and minorities. 

The post war era also saw a whole host of consumer protections and innovations. Can anyone imagine today getting into a car without a seat belt or an airbag?   Do we really want to return to restaurants, shopping centers and hotels polluted with cigarette smoke?

America is a better place today because our ancestors made it better.  They saw problems and proposed legislative solutions.  I am proud of what American progress.  Let’s continue that tradition.

February 25, 2021

Safe and Secure Markets

By Glenn

Markets are truly a human wonder. They allow us to buy products which we lack the skill, resources or time to make for ourselves.  We rarely think about markets until they leave us in the cold.

Markets are simply part of our everyday life.  We shop for food and clothing.  Sometimes we make big decisions like buying a house or renting an apartment.  Without markets many of us would starve or struggle to survive.

In 1776 Adam Smith introduced a radical French idea to the English speaking world.  He was a Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Glasgow in Scotland. 

In An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations Smith promoted laissez-faire.  The French phrase literally means “let it make.”  French philosophers argued the government should let the economy make itself.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Smith#/media/File:Adam_Smith_The_Muir_portrait.jpg

Eventually, the English speaking world referred to this idea as a “Free Market.”  Free Market economic argues that individuals should be free to buy and sell in the marketplace.

Smith believed government regulations on trade favored the city over the country.  Government subsidies and tariffs diverted money from agriculture to commerce.  Ending government help would restore a natural balance in the economy.

He described this process as an invisible hand. An individual, who only pursues something for their own private interest, unintentionally produces a social benefit.  He criticized government regulations because they negated private decisions and hurt society as a whole.

It should be no surprise this theory fit well with the ideas expressed in the 1776 Declaration of Independence.  Individuals should be free to pursue their own political interest, and in the process, produce a social benefit.

One hundred years later American voters began to see the limits of free markets.  Large banking, transportation and industrial corporations dominated the market place.  They used their size to drive out competition.

Two new political movements developed to protect Americans from corporate abuse.  Populist wanted government regulation to protect rural areas of the country. Progressives wanted to expand government regulation to protect urban areas of the country.

Both the Populists and the Progressives played an important role in taming these corporate behemoths.   Voters demanded city, state and federal governments protect workers and consumers from abuse.

Too often we take these legal protects for granted and allow politicians to remove those protections.  We then pay the price with faulty and even deadly products on the market.  We must protect ourselves.

February 18, 2021

Unreliable Conservatism

By Glenn

Weather is what is happening around you at the moment.  I guess you noticed the weather is cold.  Record cold.  Get used to it.

Climate  refers to the large consistent patterns.  The earth’s climate is changing. That is a fact.  Since 1900, the earth temperature has risen over 2 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Even Exxon Mobile, a previous skeptic, has now admitted that “climate change risks warrant action and it’s going to take all of us — business, governments and consumers — to make meaningful progress.”  

For continental regions like North Texas, that means our summers will be hotter and our winters will be colder.  Not only have Texas conservatives refused to acknowledge this fact, they have also refused to protect our communities. 

Energy companies in Texas have been allowed to roam free on the range.  ERCOT, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, should be providing “reliable” energy.  It failed in the record cold.

Front Lawn

What is ERCOT?  Here is the description from its website.

“ERCOT is a membership-based 501(c)(4) nonprofit corporation, governed by a board of directors and subject to oversight by the Public Utility Commission of Texas and the Texas Legislature. Its members include consumers, cooperatives, generators, power marketers, retail electric providers, investor-owned electric utilities, transmission and distribution providers and municipally owned electric utilities.”

The ERCOT board is made up of industry leaders.  Texas Republicans have made it clear that they don’t believe in regulation or oversight. 

Contrary to much smirking, the failure started with poor planning.  It puts profits over people.  Republicans have looked away for years, and today we are paying the price.

Gas and coal plants failed and collapsed the power supply. Their machinery is frozen like the rest of us. This didn’t have to happen.

Dave Tuttle studies the industry at the Energy Institute at the University of Texas at Austin.   He recognizes a pattern in the outages. 

Tuttle knows that failure of gas and coal plants freezing was predictable.  It happens often.   The companies simply don’t want to spend the money on winterization.  ERCOT and Texas Republicans have accepted failure as part of the system.

What does that mean for you and me?  Expect more winters like this.  Climate change means hotter summers and colder winters.  We could do better, but that would require government planning and action.

February 11, 2021

Relief and Recovery

By Glenn
Topics:
Covid 19
Joe Biden

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Every day I walk my dog.  The daily pilgrimage started about ten years ago.  At the time empty lots lined the newly laid street.  Today it is a neighborhood with about 50 homes.

I watched each one built over the years.  Not one builder started with the roof.  Each started with the foundation and proceeded to add the infrastructure to support the rest of the home.

Just over a year ago, Covid 19 started to spread through our communities and devastated our economy.  It was similar to a hurricane or a tornado ripping homes apart.  Americans needed help.

Unlike hurricanes or tornadoes, Covid 19 was not a momentary event.  The Covid storm continues to batter our lives.  Saving lives requires mandatory limits on indoor activities like drinking inside of bars or dining inside of restaurants or teaching in closed classrooms. 

https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/01/19/958449203/400-lights-for-400-000-dead-to-illuminate-lincoln-memorial-reflecting-pool

Covid is like a flood that refuses to recede.  The longer the waters sit, the greater the damage to the foundation of our economy.

Last summer, the United States government passed a relief package that put a blue tarp on the roof.  Conservatives pushed backed liberal attempts to take care of the foundation. 

As a result, American millionaires and billionaires continue without even noticing the crisis.  The rest of us, however, see the waters of homelessness, job losses, and health costs rise all around us.  The tarp did little to provide comfort or safety.

Fortunately, America had an election.  The majority of us decided to rebuild the foundation.  President Joe Biden has asked Congress to prepare a new relief package.  Biden’s American Rescue Plan seeks to repair the foundation of our economy.

The plan would provide most adults with $1400 of immediate relief.  Experience shows that money will immediately flow into the local economy.  Americans will buy food, pay rent and visit a doctor.  This spending will keep Americans employed.

The American Rescue Plan also will provide direct aid to hospitals and states.  Detecting, tracing and treating Covid 19 is expensive.  The federal government will pay for more testing and public healthcare workers. 

Public education is another foundation of our economy.  Safely opening schools is a national priority.  Like the rest of America, schools need effective testing and protective gear.  Some schools need technology upgrades to deliver courses safely at a distance.

Covid 19 has been a national disaster.  It requires a national response.  Recovering and rebuilding starts with a solid foundation.  Putting people first will make us stronger, prouder and more secure.