September 24, 2020

1933, 1954, 2020 SCOTUS

By Glenn

1954 was a pivotal year in the history of the United States.  Since 1933, a coalition of representatives from Northern cities and rural Southern states had worked to improve the lives of average Americans. Franklin Delano Roosevelt built that coalition. 

The fruits of the coalition were collectively known as the New Deal, or the welfare state.  The success rested on the Constitutional power to provide for the “General Welfare.” The welfare state legislation started with employment benefits, moved to Social Security and culminated on Medicare and Medicaid.

Today, half of all federal spending flows to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  The Federal Courts have routinely upheld Congress’ constitutional power to spend to promote the “General Welfare.”

Public support for the welfare state was overwhelming.  FDR won four terms.  Harry Truman then ran on the Fair Deal and served for eight more years.  Business conservatives sued to defeat liberal policies and lost in the US Supreme Court. They had no way to stop this popular revolution.  

In 1953 Truman turned the keys of the Whitehouse over to Dwight D. Eisenhower.  Even though Eisenhower was a Republican, he took no action to cut down the tree of the welfare state.  In fact he made sure that tree continued to bear fruit for America.

Ike expanded the federal government.  He proposed, and built, an interstate highway system.   Ike supported the National Defense Education Act of 1958.  It promoted science education from elementary schools to universities. 

In the following years Ike’s efforts bore fruit.  Federal investments in computer technology produced breakthroughs in commercial mainframes, personal computers and eventually the internet.

At the same time, however, Southern conservatives grew more frustrated.  African American activists at the NAACP were not satisfied with separate but equal.  They used federal courts to demand their full constitutional rights.  That meant dismantling Jim Crow and protecting Civil Rights. 

In 1954 the United States Supreme Court handed a death sentence for Jim Crow.  Brown vs the Board of Education required states to desegregate public education.   Southern conservatives fumed. 

One hundred and one Southern politicians signed a Manifesto denouncing judicial activism as an abuse of power.  They claimed that the liberal US Supreme Court attacked the “habits, traditions, and way of life” of the Southern States. Business conservatives saw their opening drive a wedge between Southern workers and the Democratic Party. 

Eventually, Southern and Business conservatives joined forced. They launched a culture war against “liberals, minorities and feminists.”  Business conservatives would roll back the New Deal.  Southern conservatives would roll back Civil Rights. The only thing that stood in their way was the US Supreme Court.  Without a liberal Supreme Court, will we lose Social Security, Medicare and Civil Rights?

September 17, 2020

Donald's Deadly Lies

By Glenn

Donald’s chaos is producing predictable results.  Every day he stirs the pot.  His chaos makes it difficult to save American lives and jobs. 

On February 7, 2020, Donald privately confessed the truth to Bob Woodward.  His confession was recorded for the entire world to hear.

“It goes through air Bob. You know, the touch, you don’t have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flus… This is more deadly five per, this is five percent versus one percent and less than one percent.  You know so, this is deadly stuff.”

Covid 19 is deadly stuff.  On April 13 Donald said, “This thing is a killer if it gets you. If you’re the wrong person, you don’t have a chance.”

Donald knew.  Donald chose to lie.  Mike Pence choose to cover up the lie. Texan John Cornyn sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.  Coryn failed to defend America.

Donald and Corny left America defenseless.  Covid 19 is deadlier than September 11.  Covid 19 has killed more Americans than the war in Vietnam.   Covid 19 has killed 200,000 Americans on our own soil.  200,000 more Americans will die by the end of the year. It will be deadly than WWII.

Donald knew.  Donald lied to the American public, and the Republican Party followed.    At every level of our government Republicans shake in fear of a Trump Tweet.  They are scared to tell the truth.

What happened when Democrats tried to raise the alarm?  Like Paul Revere, they warned “Covid is coming.”  Donald dismissed the alarm as the Democrat’s “new hoax”. 

Parents and grandparents are dying. Doctors and nurses are dying.  Teachers and custodians are dying.  Covid 19 is the number one cause of death for police this year.   The truth is not a hoax.

Donald lied.  He said we could go to church by Easter.  He and John Cornyn knew better.  What if Americans had followed this lie?  How many more would have died by listening to this false prophet?

What if they had simply told the truth? How much division, discord and chaos do lies create?  Would we have the rapid testing to remove uncertainty?  Would we have the deadly arguments about masks? 

What if the President of the United States of America told us, the American people, the truth. Covid 19 is a deadly virus transmitted by air.  Every time we breathe in and out we risk infecting others and ourselves.   “If you’re the wrong person, you don’t have a chance.”

Donald knew.  He chose to lie.  Wear your mask.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  Are you the right person?

September 10, 2020

Faith, Reason, Justice

By Glenn

The Gospel that I learned as a child centered on the Gold Rule.  Jesus said, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”  The principle is found in cultures around the world.

Immanuel Kant, coming at the end of the Eighteenth Century European Enlightenment, called it the categorical imperative.   Human reason could teach us to “Act as if the maxims of your action were to become through your will a universal law of nature.”

We all go to sleep every night.  In America we expect to sleep securely.  Most states have even passed “Castle” and “Stand your Ground” laws to prevent wrongful prosecution of Americans in their home.

Imagine one night, you go to sleep.  In the middle of the night you hear a crash.  It’s dark.  Strangers are in your home.  Your loved one reaches for a gun to defend your home.  The strangers shoot.  Moments later, you are dead.

How would the Golden Rule apply here?  Should your family have submitted to the home invasion?  Should your family have had more fire power to defend itself?  Should the defenders be punished? These are not hypothetical questions.  These are real questions in modern America.

On March 13, 2020 three plain clothed police knocked down the apartment door of Breonna Taylor.  The officers did not present a warrant.  They did not identify themselves.  Breonna’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, defended her castle and stood his ground.

After a brief gunfight, Taylor lay dead and Walker was in police custody.  The officers raided a home with no criminal activity.  The police walked free.  Was this justice? Was this right?

The Black Lives Matter movement does not think it was justice.  Do you agree with them?  Did you agree with them until you heard it was a Black Lives Matters spotlight event?  

What if this were in Grayson County?  Or your hometown? Would the behavior of the police be justified if it had happened in your home?  Would the behavior of the police be justified if it had happened to your family?  Would you have defended your home? Would you have died?

Both the Golden Rule and the Categorical imperative help us clarify right and wrong.  Long before the night of March 13, elected lawmakers told us that we have a right to defend our castle from home invasions.  The Founding Fathers enshrined into America’s Constitution the “right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Was the killing of Breonna Taylor reasonable? What is more fundamental than the right to sleep peacefully in our home?  If you dismiss Black Lives Matter, arguing this could happen to anyone, why would it be OK?  Does the government have the authority to execute you while you sleep peacefully? 

September 3, 2020

Donald's Deception

By Glenn

Teresa Horn from Tahlequah Oklahoma died on August 28.  Four days early she tested positive for Covid 19.  Four days before that she was teaching class.  She had taught Special Education for 26 years.  

The Center for Disease Control reported this week a total of 183,000 deaths.  Teresa Horn’s death will add to that number.  Do you care?  Or do you think Donald Trump is right to say “It is what it is”?

“Our death rate is currently 2.7 per million, compared to an average of about 0.1 per million throughout Europe. If the US had followed Europe’s lead, our total COVID-19 deaths would be about 30 per day instead of the 1,000 per day we’re currently experiencing.” Kevin Drum

On Monday, Donald continued his deception campaign.  Instead of taking responsibility and protecting lives, he shared a false conspiracy theory about Covid deaths.  Donald is down playing deaths like Teresa Horn’s.

Mrs. Horn had a heart problem.  Millions of Americans have heart, lung or kidney problems.  You might even have one. When the CDC reports deaths, it includes Covid as well as other health issues.  This information helps healthcare professionals identify Americans at risk of dying from Covid 19.

Conservatives are exploiting this transparency for political gain and putting American lives at risks.   They falsely assert that only 6% of the 183,000 deaths are due to Covid.  They lie, claiming all the other deaths were other causes.

Teresa Horn died because of Covid 19.   It stressed her heart, and she died quickly after contracting the disease.  She did not die because of heart disease.  She had heart disease and lived with it.  Covid killed her.

Why is Donald Trump spreading these lies?  He wants you to believe that Covid 19 is a Democratic hoax.  At a campaign rally on Feb. 28, 2020, he said “this is their new hoax.”  At every stage of this crisis Donald has put his own political career above American lives.

Donald’s recklessness was on full display during the Republican National convention.  He demanded hundreds of people gather with him in person.  They sat shoulder to shoulder without masks.   What kind of leadership is this? 

Teachers like Teresa Horn face hundreds of kids every day.  The potential for spreading the virus are high.  Do we really want our teachers, parents and children following the example of Donald Trump?

We all know his professional and private life is a train wreck.  He bankrupted multiple casinos even though the odds were stacked in his favor.  Donald Trump bragged that he raped married women. 

When he ran for office Donald paid a porn-star, Stormy Daniels, to keep quiet.   In August of this year a Federal Judge ordered him to pay her legal fees associated with an invalid Non-Disclosure agreement.

Our teachers and our children deserve better.  Americans deserve a President that will take National Security and public health seriously.  183,000 Americans have died.  Do their lives matter to you?  Donald is just going to play through.

August 27, 2020

Calm, Compassionate and Thoughtful

By Glenn

As I grew up, I was taught the qualities of a President.  Presidents were calm, compassionate and thoughtful.  Presidents lead by example.  Presidents put the interest of the country above themselves.  Presidents sought a United States of America.

Above all, President offered a vision for a better America.  They wanted to part of the solution.

I don’t ever remember a President speaking recklessly every day.  I don’t remember Presidents bragging about their immoral conduct.  I don’t remember Presidents using the office to enrich themselves and their family.   I don’t remember waking up every day to words of division and rancor.

I don’t remember Presidents sucking the hope out of America every day. 

I am ready for a return to a calm, compassionate and thoughtful President.  I am ready for a President who will lead by example.  I am ready for a President who can bring the country together to work on American goals, not personal goals.

I heard that man speak.  His name is Joe Biden.  Biden wants to draw on the best of America.

Biden looked to the great builder of the American middle class: Frank Delano Roosevelt.  Roosevelt took office after the disastrous Presidency of Herbert Hoover. 

In 1933 FDR said, “So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Fear and chaos once again have paralyzed the White House.  We are not advancing.  There are no plans for a better American.  There is no vision to overcome this discord.

In fact just the opposite is coming from the current occupant of the Oval Office.  Every day begins with name calling.   Every day starts with disparaging remarks against American medical professionals.  Every day starts with false accusations Foreign Service Officers.

I am ready for a return to calm, compassionate and thoughtful President. 

Biden knows we can rebuild America “with modern roads, bridges, highways, broadband, ports and airports as a new foundation for economic growth…. With child care and elder care that make it possible for parents to go to work and for the elderly to stay in their homes with dignity. With an immigration system that powers our economy and reflects our values. With newly empowered labor unions. With equal pay for women. With rising wages you can raise a family on. Yes, we’re going to do more than praise our essential workers. We’re finally going to pay them.” 

American can look to its past and make itself better.  That is the America I know and love.

August 20, 2020

Post Office Trust

By Glenn

The Constitution (Article 1, Section 8) authorizes Congress to create and fund a Post Office.  The Founding Fathers foresaw the usefulness of universal, publicly owned mail service.  Letter carriers have become some of the most trusted members of our communities.

We all know the traditional pledge of the Post Office.  “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”   

Donald Trump is threatening that tradition.  Donald’s handpicked Post Master is ripping out the familiar blue post boxes as well as the behind the scenes mail sorting machines. 

Reports are coming from all over the country.  The mail is slowing down.  Seniors and Veterans are missing their mail order prescriptions.  Businesses can’t deliver products on time.   

What’s next?  Social Security Checks?

The big question is “why?”  Donald has made it clear.  He sees voting by mail as a threat to his reelection.  Just like Donald did with Covid 19 testing, when he sees something directly threatening his reelection, Donald moves to shut it down.  He doesn’t care who he hurts.

Donald has turned to conspiracy theories to justify his destruction of this cherished American tradition.  He has fabricated a false story of voter fraud.  No one has ever found evidence of wide spread voter fraud. 

Who else is going to get hurt by this reckless selfishness?  Two groups use mail in the ballots the most in Texas: Seniors and Active Duty Troops.  Seniors don’t need to stand in long voting lines to have their say.  Troops can’t leave their duty station to exercise their rights.

If you need to vote by mail, here is how you can protect yourself from Donald’s destruction.

1) Apply for your ballot now.  The deadline is Friday, October 23, 2020.  Don’t wait.  You will need to submit a form to the Grayson County Elections administrator.  2) Vote and return your ballot as soon as possible.  Don’t wait.  Vote.  Sign it.  Check the proper postage.

If you still don’t trust Donald’s mail, you can deliver your “mail in” ballot to the Grayson Elections Administration.  The Office is located at 115 West Houston Street in Sherman, right across the street from the Court House.  The voter will need to show a photo ID and sign a log.

Donald swore an Oath to Defend and Protect the Constitution of the United States of America.  He swore to faithfully execute the laws of the United States of America.   Donald J. Trump is violating his oath by attacking the Post Office and our right to vote.  Will you defend America?

August 13, 2020

Donald Defunds Social Security

By Glenn

Donald Trump issued an Executive order defunding Social Security of the next 4 months.  In 1936 President Franklyn D. Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law.  It was the first permanent piece of social welfare legislation. It has stabilized the lives of our seniors ever since.

The Social Security Administration, an agency of the federal government, runs Social Security.  It is publicly owned, which means it is socialism.  Every working American, except teachers in states like Texas, collects Social Security when they can no longer work.

Social Security is a federally mandated, socialist entitlement.  Republicans have hated it since its creation.  They have sought to undermine it every step of the way.  Democrats fought to expand it.

In 1965 Lyndon Baines Johnson signed the biggest expansion into law.  Republicans like Ronald Reagan tried to scare Americans into rejected it. 

Reagan had narrated a recording in 1961 for the American Medical Associations.  He warned “From here it’s a short step to all the rest of socialism, to determining his pay and pretty soon your son won’t decide when he’s in school where he will go or what he will do for a living. He will wait for the government to tell him where he will go to work and what he will do.”

Thankfully, voters, LBJ and Congress ignored fear mongers like Reagan.  Medicare has been a blessing for millions of Americans.

From the beginning, however, Progressives have highlighted one major drawback of Social Security and Medicare.  It is funded by a payroll tax, not an income tax.   In 1936, Abraham Epstein, the founder of the American Association for Old Age Security, criticized the funding mechanism for the new law.

“This transfers the entire burden of old-age dependency after 1942 to the backs of the young workers and their employers, to the exclusion of the well-to-do….No other nation has ever put into operation a plan of this nature without government contributions derived from the higher-income groups.”

How does this work?  Only workers and the employers pay FICA taxes.  Wall Street Bankers don’t pay on their trades.  Real estate investors don’t pay when they flip a property.   The most profitable parts of our economy don’t support Social Security and Medicare.

Today, we are in the middle of a global pandemic.  Both the contagious nature of the disease and the drop in consumer spending forced millions of our American neighbors into the unemployment lines.

Donald has failed to cut a deal with Congress.  He can’t even get Republicans on board.  Instead he ordered the Social Security Administration to stop collecting FICA taxes until 2021. 

This Executive Order does nothing for the unemployed.  Just as important, it defunds Social Security.  Do we really want a President undermining the tax base for Social Security and Medicare?  

August 9, 2020

Generosity

By Glenn

Matthew Chapter 20 starts with a parable about workers’ pay.  An owner agrees to pay everyone a denarius at the start of the day.  He then hires more workers periodically throughout the day, even when there was little daylight left.

When it is time for the paycheck, the last hired were paid first.  They received a denarius for their effort.  The workers who were hired first grumbled.  They too had received a denarius for their effort.   The early workers thought they were treated unfairly by the owner’s generosity.

The owner retorted, “I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

Why does generosity provoke such envy?  The workers hired at the end of the day wanted to work, but they could find none.  They too needed a wage large enough to pay their rent and feed their families.

This parable is not behind us.  A friend of mine, Stanley, wrote me an email recently relaying just such a story.  He passed on the experiences of “people who helped someone pay for their groceries in line at Walmart or wherever. The point of all the stories was that the person who helped their neighbor was later scolded or belittled by a family member or friend for allowing themselves to be duped or scammed.”

The giver never felt scammed.  One wrote, “If you’re scamming me for Tyson chicken and apple juice  and cauliflower, then just take my money.”

After 2000 years of Christian teaching on the virtue of generosity, why does the jealousy of the poor still permeate our society?   One big reason is the millions are spent every year during elections to generate envy. 

Ronald Reagan showed the way.  He spurred a conservative revolution around the false idea of the undeserving poor.  Reagan conservatives blamed poor people for our budget problems.  Reagan argued the rich were suffering at the hands of the poor.

As I write about this, millions of Americans are losing both the unemployment benefits and their eviction protections.  Donald and Mitch McConnell believe our disaster relief package has been too generous.  Without suffering the unemployed will never experience the hunger for a job. 

This message resonates with conservative voters.  Why should America extend a generous hand to those without a job?  Conservatives constantly preach that they want a Christian nation.  They don’t. 

Every time someone talks about policies based on love and generosity, conservatives grumble just like the workers in the field.  Like the hypocrites they want to bang the gong of prayer in public schools or stone our LGBTQ neighbors.  Generosity is a virtue to be proud of. 

July 30, 2020

Heal the Pain

By Glenn

How do we react to pain?  Do we treat it or ignore it?  The answer to this question is at the heart of the argument between liberals and conservatives.

In October of 1929 Wall Street crashed.  The financial markets froze as speculators could not pay their loans.  Banks lost income and failed.  Bank failures wiped out the life savings of millions of Americans.

Beyond the financial markets, ordinary business lost consumers and shed jobs.  More job losses meant fewer customers.  It was a vicious cycles that seemed to have no bottom.  Millions of American suffered, losing their jobs and homes.

President Herbert Hoover was a conservative.  He believed in “free markets” or laissez-faire.  He took limited steps to alleviate the suffering.  He saw pain as a necessary motivation for Americans to get back on their feet.

Hoover also saw pain as a valuable lesson.  It created a moral hazard.  It taught right from wrong.  Pain taught individuals what not to do.  Conservatives believed that alleviating the pain would prolong the crisis because people would never go back to work as long as they were well-fed.

Unfortunately, that is not the way the world works.   Jobless Americans can’t pay rent.  They can’t buy food.  They can’t but clothes.  When they lost income, businesses lost customers.

In 1930 the unemployment rate was almost 9%.  In 1931 it was near 16%.  By 1932, an election year, unemployment was 23%.  The free market had failed to correct itself.

Not only was the personal suffering unnecessary, but it also depressed the entire economy.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt ran against Hoover in 1932 and offered a liberal alternative.  FDR promised to do something to alleviate the suffering.

Roosevelt offered a New Deal.  He would regulate big business to stop them from abusing their size in the market place.  He would create job programs to put the abled bodied to work.  He would offer immediate relief to workers with no jobs.  FDR promised to shorten the work day and week. 

FDR won in a landslide with 57.4% of the vote and 472 of 531 electors.  Americans were tired of suffering for nothing.  Conservatives predicted doom and gloom.  They argued that liberals were destroying the moral fiber of America.  Without pain Americans could not tell right from wrong.

Liberal America started to prosper once the New Deal kicked into gear.   By 1936, FRD’s reelection year, unemployment was 17%.  The New Deal had saved the free market.   Jobs returned.  Americans paid their rent.  They bought food.   They bought clothes.  Consumer spending drove more job creation. 

Americans don’t need to suffer.  No one needs to suffer.  We are all better off when we relieve suffering.  Like the Good Samaritan we need to heal our neighbor.  The rewards are great. 

July 23, 2020

Conservatives Wasted Our Summer

By Glenn

Conservative conspiracy theories have wasted our summer. Our summer was supposed to be a time to regroup and refresh.  All of the other Western European countries used the summer to heal their communities.  

Western Europeans followed the advice of scientists and doctors. They shut down large gatherings. They implemented large-scale Covid 19 testing. They mandated masks in public. They implemented contact tracing.  Most of all they made sure everyone could pay their bills.

They had no protest against these safety measures.  All of this combined to drive down the infection rate and stopped mass hospitalization.  As a result, they are slowly and safely, leaving their homes and going back to work.

The United States is going in the opposite direction.

Conservative, following the lead of Donald Trump, treated covid-19 as a hoax. Instead of listening to the doctors and the scientists, conservatives listened to talk radio, Facebook and politicians.  When Covid was treated as a real threat, Donald spread the lie that China unleashed the virus.

We are collectively paying the price for conservatives’ failure of leadership.  The first Congressional relief package will run out in October.   According to the Wall Street Journal, large companies are planning layoffs and furloughs.  When extended unemployment benefits end, too many Texas families will not be able to buy food or pay rent.

Low infection rates in Western Europe have allowed their football, or soccer, league to restart.  They have no fans in the stands, but they can survive on TV advertisement revenue.   Players are isolated from the rest of society to insure Covid 19 doesn’t spread throughout the league.

In the United States, university and pro teams have tried to welcome players back.  They experienced the opposite results.  Both players and staff caught Covid, forcing the institutions to shut down training.

The next big test will come with schools.  For weeks conservatives have repeated the mantra that children and teenagers can’t contract Covid 19.  Day by day this is proven a lie.  Once again, according to the Wall Street Journal, Israel opened schools and at least 1,335 students and 691 staff got sick. 

How many people in our communities have contact with school children or school staff?  How fast will children and teachers spread the Covid 19 to each other?  How fast will they spread it to their mothers and fathers, their sisters and brothers and their grandparents?

Yes, 2020 was a wasted summer.  Donald told us Covid 19 would simply disappear.  He told us we could go to church at Easter.  We could celebrate July 4.  He could hold mass political rallies.  America had the opportunity to heal itself.  Conservatives said no.  They wasted our summer, putting our lives and economy at risk.