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.

February 4, 2021

Heal the Sick

By Glenn

One month after the installation of my pacemaker, I’m well on the way to recovery.  I missed a couple of days of work, but with paid sick leave and good insurance coverage, only a slight tingling on my chest remains.

Reading the news, I can’t help but notice that I am abnormal for a working adult. Hourly workers don’t get paid sick leave.  If they don’t work, they don’t get paid.  If they don’t get paid, they don’t eat or pay their rent.

How stressful must a minor sickness or illness be? How much more pressure would a major health condition create? Heart disease? Diabetes? Pregnancy?  Cancer?

I’ve had good health coverage all of my life.  As a child, I grew up on, or near, military bases.  I was born in s United States government hospital in Heidelberg, Germany.  As the last of four living children, my parents brought me home with no debt hanging over their heads.

When I was reckless, like jumping out of a tree, injuries were common.  In first grade on Fort Leonard Wood, I simply hobbled home, and my parents took to the doctor.  I don’t remember any fuss about costs at all.

Once my dad retired, things changed.  One day, during a transition from one civil job to the next, I sliced open my thumb. 

My cousin Mark and I had been playing in my mamaw’s yard.  By playing, I mean cutting wood with a cane knife and starting a fire.  Her house was in the county about an hour from New Orleans.

I was a pretty bad aim and pretty reckless.  The cane knife ripped open my thumb down to the bone.  Even though Raceland had a hospital, my mom and dad drove an hour back into the city.  They took me to the Naval Air Station for care. 

The only health insurance my family had was based on dad’s twenty-seven years of service.  The private hospital would have been too much of a financial burden.

I can’t help but look back now and ask, “What if we had no insurance?”  What do parents do today if they get sick?  What do parent’s sacrifice if their child is injured? 

Nearly 20% of Texans lack health insurance. That is twice the national average. 

President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law nine years ago.  It provided federal funds to expand Medicaid to working families.  Texas Republicans refused to take the money. 

Why can’t we as Americans unify around healing our sick? Why must our neighbors lose a job or go bankrupt just to take care of a child?  It doesn’t have to be this way. America can do better.

January 28, 2021

I apologize

By Glenn

I’ve been involved in public politics for more than 20 years now. Criticism and disagreements are all part of the process. Often it is just name calling without any substance. 

Every once in a while, I will get a comment that makes me stop and think a little bit more. The following letter did just that. The author criticized my comparison Donald Trump to a Carnival Barker. 

Take a look:

“An article from Jan. 8, 2021… (compares) a carnival barker— lies (and) intent to deceive (with) Donald Trump. Our president Biden had made the same error in comparing Donald Trump to a carnival worker. I have been in the carnival industry for 30 plus years and I have… to make money. I neither lie, deceive or cheer people. And find it a personal attack of my integrity. The carnival industry, as a whole, has for decades now has been trying to repair the image from the past. Owners, industry associations and carnival professionals like myself who love the industry work hard and diligently to maintain a safe fun family experience full of good memories and a desire to attend again next year and if course generate revenue for the local organization sponsoring the event. Dress codes of conduct and caps on customer spending in games are just a few of the policies set by the majority of carnivals. Another example of discrimination. It happens to us all.”

After careful consideration, I need to apologize to people who work in carnivals. They have worked hard to overcome stereotypes.  They are hard-working Americans trying to earn a living. 

While like all professions, they may have a few bad apples, it was wrong for me to stereotype them.   Comparing them to Donald Trump was even worse.

Donald Trump bragged about raping married women.  He paid hush money to hide cheating on his wife.  He bankrupted multiple casinos and threw tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires.  

Donald spent much of his time occupying the White House doing nothing at all.   He woke up every day, watched Fox News and twitted lies and nonsense.  As the day progressed he headed to the golf course on the tax payers dime, or more accurately millions of dollars. 

So yes, I need to apologize to the hard working men and women of the carnival industry. I used an outdated stereotype to illustrate a point. In the process I wrongly projected Donald Trump’s behavior on to you.

I am sorry.

Your hard work and dedication should never have been compared to the a morally, intellectually and financially bankrupt person like Donald Trump. I wish you well in the future. 

Granada Spain
January 21, 2021

Truth Creates Unity

By Glenn

We all know to take the keys away from a drunk driver.  Drinking impairs decision making and judgment. In government, lies produce the same results.  Over 400,000 of our neighbors have died because of Covid 19 lies and political denial.  Will our democracy be next?

On Jan. 22, 2020 a reporter asked Donald Trump whether there were “worries about a pandemic.” Donald answered “No, not at all. We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

Less than a month later, on February 7, Donald made a private confession.

“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.”

Did this reality stop the lies and denial?  No.

On Feb. 26, at a White House news conference, Donald commented on the country’s first reported cases: “We’re going to be pretty soon at only five people. And we could be at just one or two people over the next short period of time. So we’ve had very good luck.”

Here we are a year later, and Covid 19 has not disappeared.  A drunk has been driving our car, and the results have been deadly. Donald’s lies threaten more than our health.  They threaten our democracy. 

In the spring, state and local governments took steps to slow the spread of Covid 19.  Since Donald’s followers believed Covid 19 was a hoax, they saw public health measure as tyranny.

Donald fanned the flames.  He called on his supporters to “liberate” the states.  In Michigan Donald’s rhetoric inspired a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.  Luckily, the terrorist attack failed, but they were a sign of things to come. 

After losing the Presidential election to Joe Biden, Donald Trump launched another huge lie: the election was stolen.  This lie, like the Covid hoax lie, inspired anti-American violence at the US Capitol.  Finally, Republicans are trying to take away Donald’s keys before he crashes our democracy.

On January 19, 2021, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell said “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like.”

Finally, some Republicans are telling truth.  They refused to tell the truth about Covid 19, and 400,000 Americans died.  By telling the truth now, can they help us save American democracy, or have they already crashed the car?

January 14, 2021

Tell The Truth

By Glenn

Now is a moment for strength, not weakness. Strength requires facing the truth. As the Good Book says, “Thou shall not bear false witness.” 

On Jan. 6, domestic terrorists broke into the United States Capitol to stop the confirmation of the Electoral College vote. What we saw was disgusting.

Not since the Civil War has a political party fought against American democracy. After the armed rioters broke into the US Capitol, they drove both Houses from the floor, vandalized the building, placed bombs and killed a police officer. They wanted to overturn an American election. 

Minutes before the insurrection, the crowd had gathered to hear Donald Trump speak in front of the White House.In December, he had tweeted an invitation for them to come to Washington.Donald had told them to “go wild.”  His adoring minions dutifully organized. They told the attendees to prepare. They were going to “storm the Capitol.”   

On Jan. 6, standing in front of the White House, Donald repeated the now familiar lie. He convinced the mob the pending vote in Congress was theft. The mob needed to “stop the steal.” Donald told them, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol.”

Except he didn’t march. Donald ran to the safety of the White House while the crowd taunted police.  The mob was hell bent on capturing the United States Capitol. They pushed through law enforcement.  They beat police with bats, wrenches and even American flags.  The mob chanted, “Where is Pence?” as they carried zip ties, guns and nooses. It could have been worse.

There is no way to separate Trump-inspired violence from Trump’s election lies.  Trump invited the mob to Washington, riled them up with lies about the election and sent them to the Capitol to pressure Congress to overturn the election.  

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bocca_della_Verit%C3%A0#/media/File:Rom,_Bocca_della_Verit%C3%A0.JPG

But it wasn’t just that day. Since the election he and his Republican cohorts have been peddling the same lie of a fraudulent election. That has been unmasked as a lie by every court, by every Republican judge and official with authority over the vote.   

In 50 cases and more the courts from the US Supreme Court down has upheld the election as legal and binding. These facts did not matter. The lie incited the mob.

After the riot, William Barr, Donald’s Former Attorney General, said Trump was guilty of, “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress” and his behavior was “betrayal of his office and supporters.”

A few responsible Republicans across the country have joined him.But Grayson County officials have not faced the truth.  Why choose to be on the wrong side of history? 

Grayson County Commissioners must stand up for what is right.  Until then, do they seriously want to teach our children to surrender to domestic terrorists?  Do more Americans have to die for Donald’s lies?

January 7, 2021

Trust is a Life Skill

By Glenn
Topics:
life

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Not all life skills are the same.  Some are more important than others.  One essential skill is learning to tell the difference between fact and fiction. We have to learn who is telling the truth and who is lying to us.

If we don’t learn this skill, life can become pretty miserable.

This week I had to confront reality.  I had to face the facts or suffer the consequences.  I had to trust a doctor whom I only met in July.  He told me the truth. Should I trust him?

This summer, while teaching online, I fainted.  It was the second time that I had lost consciousness for no apparent reason.

My normal doctor, whom I’ve known for about 20 years, scheduled an MRI and sent me to a cardiologist.  The MRIs were nothing new for me.  They are loud and boring.  

The cardiologist was.  He seemed like a nice young man.  (Now that I am over 50, I can say that.)  This stranger asked me to wear an overnight heart monitor. 

This too was pretty easy.  I had already worn a similar device for sleep apnea. The halter found nothing.

The next step was an implanted chip to provide continuous monitoring for up to five years.  I asked the doctor if this were the Bill Gates model. He said that he didn’t know but would find out.  My sarcasm obviously failed. 

The implanted chip was a good choice.  It quickly discovered that about once per month my heart slows and pauses for 5-6 seconds.  The doctor is concerned that these episodes could happen while driving or another activity.

Think about it.  Once per month my heart slows and pauses for 5-6 seconds.  No doctor listening to my heart could have found it.  Even the chances of a twenty-four hour monitor finding the pause would be small.  I don’t understand how the chip worked, but it did.

The next step is a pacemaker.  That is a pretty big step, but I will follow my doctor’s advice.  He told me that it could save my life or someone near me.  If one of these episodes happened while driving, the results could be catastrophic.

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007369.htm

At each step of the way I had to test my skills as an adult.  Were these experts lying to me or telling me the truth?   Certainly there is a financial gain related to the procedure?  Couldn’t they just recalibrate the results?  Couldn’t they find those lost five seconds?

I decided to face reality.  I’m not a medical doctor or expert.  Part of growing up is learning to tell the difference between fact and fiction, learning who to trust.   It is a life or death skill.

January 3, 2021

Granny Comeaux’s Cabbage Rolls

By Glenn
Topics:
Food

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Jackie makes the best cabbage rolls every New Year’s Day. She uses a recipe handed down from her great grand mother: Granny Comeaux.

Blend in blender: 1 Bell pepper, 2 celery, 1 large onion, parsley, green onions, garlic

Drain in colander

Mix Meat in Bowl: 1 lb. Ground pork, 1 lb. Ground beef

Season meat with salt, pepper, Tony’s, garlic powder

Mix together blended vegetables and one cup raw rice into meat

boil leaves for 5 minutes, cut stems out, Bowl

Line large pot with outer leaves of cabbage

place rolls in pot

2 big cans of tomato soup and water top two rolls, add salt to whole pot, boil cover for 45 minutes

Here is the “actual recipe” Maddie (Jackie’s mom) dictated over the phone.