December 21, 2017

Gifts for Christ or Herod?

By Glenn

Christmas time teaches a lot about our priorities. In my house growing up it was all about the kids. Our families would all gather at my grandmother’s house, later my dad’s, to celebrate. The highlight was the kid’s opening presents. Giving to the “least of these” was the reason for the season. It brought out the best in all of us.

This Christmas, President Trump and the conservative controlled Congress decided to give presents. The American people received a $1.5 trillion deficit increase while wealthiest among us received tax cut. Instead of joy, 9 million children and their families found a lump of coal under the tree as the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) died.

CHIP serves uninsured children under age 19 and pregnant women. Until this year it was a bi-partisan program. CHIP had all the features conservatives demand: state run, state flexibility and participant co-pays. It also had some pretty liberal features. The cut off for eligibility was 200% of poverty or $ 48,600 (family of four), opening it to thousands of North Texas families.

In other words, the vast majority of CHIP eligible families have jobs, pay taxes and play by the rules. They simply do not earn enough to afford private insurance. Insurance means the difference between seeking medical care and suffering without.

Suffering is not a Christmas virtue. Suffering keeps kids out of schools and creates a whole host of problems. The ripple effects include more than academic and social losses. Mothers and fathers lose money or jobs when they stay at home to care for a sick child. Healthy children mean low income parents can work and take care of their own families. CHIP is money well spent.

The money doesn’t actually go to the families, however. The money is a job creator. Doctors, dentists, nurses and lab technicians earn a living off these federal and state tax dollars. When small towns lose this money, how many well-paying jobs will also leave? We’ve already seen rural hospitals close in states that refused to expand Medicaid.

Letting CHIP die also seems awfully strange for conservatives who claim to be “Pro-Life.” Texas already has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world. Cutting CHIP will make it worse. Prenatal care is an essential part of a healthy life. Early childhood care is an essential feature of a healthy life. Every pregnant woman should have access to health care before and after her child is born. CHIP is Pro-Life.

Cutting funding for CHIP, Medicare, Social Security and public schools is the real “War on Christmas.” Christ came as a child. The Wise men brought gifts, not for Herod, but a babe lying in a manger. Are we a people who bring gifts to Herod or the children? What are your priorities this Christmas?

December 15, 2017

Roy Moore’s Conservative Values

By Glenn

Tuesday sure was exciting.  Doug Jones won a US Senate seat in the “Red State” of Alabama as a Democrat.  His opponent, Roy Moore, had the backing of President Donald Trump.  Moore also claimed to have the backing of God, but after his loss, I’m not so sure.  What could possibly have gone wrong?

Much of the media attention has been focused on accusations of Roy Moore’s taste for young girls.  While credible, these accusations were never proven in a court of law, and many Alabama voters refused to believe them.  Instead, Moore’s supporters pointed to his conservative values.

What were these values?

Roy Moore was no stranger to politics or the law.  Twice Alabama had removed him from the state’s Supreme Court.  Moore had refused to obey a Federal Court order.  It required him to remove a religious display on government property.  His violation of the First Amendment was strange because Moore favored the first ten amendments to the constitution, but he wanted to get rid of all the rest.  He blamed America’s current problems on those additional amendments.

Moore’s conservative values then included getting rid of the anti-slavery amendment, the voting rights amendment and the equal rights amendment.  I know conservative politicians often talk about rolling back federal regulations, but do we really want to allow the return of the “good old days”?  From my professional experience, I can tell you that they weren’t so good for blacks, women or the poor.   There wasn’t even a real middle class back then.

Moore didn’t hide these positions.  They were central to his political identity.  While trying to deflect pedophilia charges, Moore laid out his conservative version of history.  He said America started going downhill in 1965 when America created “new rights.”  In 1964 the Federal government passed the Civil Rights Act and then followed the next year with the Voting Rights Act.

These laws radically changed the county, opening up economic and political opportunities for women and other minorities.  Do conservatives really believe these laws hurt America?  Are we really worse off as a nation because women and minorities now have equal rights?

It shouldn’t surprise anyone then that the majority of Alabama voters refused to support him based on his conservative values.  Hopefully, we can all agree, liberal or conservative, that the Federal Government did the right thing by adding these amendments.  All men and women are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights.   Returning to the “Original Intent” of the Constitution is not an option.  Liberty and justice is for all of us, nor a chosen few.

December 7, 2017

The Conservative Deficit Creation Strategy

By Glenn

The conservative deficit creation strategy is clearer every day.  Not long ago we heard conservatives scream that deficits were bad.  Now conservatives control the United States House of Representatives, the Senate and Presidency, and they are eagerly creating $1.5 trillion dollars in deficit spending.  Why would they do that?

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) explained his deficit strategy.  “We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit… Frankly, it’s the health care entitlements that are the big drivers of our debt…”

Ryan knows that he can’t blame Medicare and Medicaid for our debt.  Instead he says “entitlement.”  Wage earners pay for these two popular liberal programs with every paycheck, planning for their retirement.   By creating a deficit with tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, conservatives will turn right around and demand cuts in Medicare and Medicaid.  Will they be there for you?

We don’t have to look far to see this plan in action.  Conservatives just killed Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  This life saving program provided insurance for 9 million Americans.  Senator Orin Hatch (R-UT) said the federal government doesn’t have the money anymore.   Hatch said that he liked it “[b]ut I have a rough time wanting to spend billions and trillions of dollars to help people who won’t help themselves, who won’t lift a finger and expect the federal government to do everything.”

Remember, these are children from working families.  These families are doing more than lifting a finger.  They are living pay check to pay check and simply can’t avoid health insurance.   Hatch gave this excuse the very same week he voted to create $1.5 trillion in new deficits. The strategy is clear. Cut taxes. Create a deficit. Cut services to seniors and children.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) also admitted that tax cuts will not pay for themselves.  He said, “We need to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future. ”   What are “structural changes” that reduce spending?  Are you ready for cuts to Medicare and Social Security benefits?

You can also look at the deficit creation strategies in Oklahoma and Kansas.  Conservatives in both states slashed taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations.  They claimed the resulting job creation would bring in new taxes.  Public school teachers and nursing homes in both states are suffering because the reality didn’t match the theory.

We know from personal and historical experience that debt is a tool.  It provides leverage to lift heavy problems. Personally, we use debt to buy cars and houses. For liberals, governments use it in an emergency to lift the economy and pay debt off once the economy is growing on it’s own.  For conservatives, the heavy problem is cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits.  Do you support creating $ 1 and $1.5 trillion in new deficits as an excuse to cut your entitlements?

December 1, 2017

We the people must hold elites accountable.

By Glenn

Power demands sacrifices.  In aristocratic societies, the elite demand sacrifices from the many.  In democratic societies, the many demand sacrifices from the elite.  The whirlwind created by charges of sexual harassment and assault are a healthy sign that our democracy continues to grow and mature. We the people must hold elites accountable.

For too long male dominated society blamed female victims of sexual aggression.   In Deuteronomy Chapter 22 God commands the Israelites to stone a rape victim if she didn’t “cry out for help though she was in a city.” This ancient form of “slut shamming” lasted well into the modern era.  Too often we hear our neighbors blame the “short skirt” or say “she was asking for it.” Society blamed the victim instead of making the man take full responsibility for his crime or abuse.

Thankfully, Modern America is much more democrat than the past.  Over the past fifty years women have earned positions of power in government and business.  At first, submission to sexual abuse was seen as the price of admission, a form of hazing.  Some people have gone as far to say that women seeking power or the spotlight bring abuse upon themselves.   These attitudes must be thrown into the dustbin of history.

Like many issues, we know how to solve the problem.  Powerful people, however, want to make it complicated to protect themselves and their positions.   We can stop the mistreatment and abuse if we listen to the legal experts.  They have spent a life time developing guidelines and standards to evaluate and enforce workplace behavior.

In 1986 the US Supreme Court addressed the problem of a hostile workplace in the case of Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson.  Since then, the legal standard for identifying sexual misconduct has had pretty straight forward criteria.  Sexual misconduct refers to unwanted words and actions that are severe or pervasive.

Consent, or lack of, is the first criterion.  Touching co-workers without their consent or “talking dirty” to them creates a hostile work environment.  People in powerful positions, however, have an additional burden.  They can create hostility by forcing consent. The most obvious form of misconduct is an exchange of sex for a promotion or a grade, but there is any number of lesser favors required such as always asking the women to get the coffee.

The second criterion is severe misconduct.  A severe incident such as rape or grabbing another person’s genitals only needs to happen once.  There are no second chances.  Physical and verbal assaults are not acceptable.

The third criterion addresses the grey areas and is called pervasive.  These behaviors are the little things that add up over a short period of time.  Jokes about body size or physical anatomy fall into this category.  If a co-worker asks you to stop saying these things, then stop.  No means no. None of these criteria take a rocket scientist to figure out.  They simply require education.

America is no longer an aristocratic society.  Men and women are equal before the law.  They are equal in the workplace. They will be together in the workplace, school, movie sets and the halls of Congress.  Each and every one of us has a right to a safe environment, free from abuse and harassment.  When someone demands sexual sacrifices as a price for inclusion, we must protect the victim, not the powerful.

November 23, 2017

I Give Thanks

By Glenn

It’s always a good thing to stop and examine our lives.  Thanksgiving reminds us to see all we have instead of what we lack.  Many of us get into the bad habit of concentrating on the negative instead of the positive.   Today, Modern America provides many reasons to give thanks.

If we take a short trip back in time 100 years ago, we find a world exiting the First World War.  Discharged veterans of the war found themselves jobless and with few benefits.   Luckily for Americans, overseas competitors in Europe were broken economically and psychologically.  This change pushed US manufacturers and finance to the front of the world stage and the job market looked bright in the 1920s.

The optimism hit a brick wall in 1929 when Wall Street crashed, bringing the entire world economy down.   As millions lost savings accounts, homes and jobs, President Herbert Hoover resisted calls for government action.  He preferred the traditional approach of letting the economy right itself.  It did not.

In 1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt offered voters a New Deal, and they took it.  The New Deal brought electricity and roads to city and country side alike.  It introduced consumer financial protection with the FDIC and the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Seniors gained access to Social Security, and millions of Americans went back to work.

These New Deal successes laid the ground work for Modern America.  When troops arrived home after World War Two, they were welcomed with a GI Bill that provided housing and educational assistance.  These programs were so successful lifting Americans up, Congress extended the opportunities to everyone with the FHA loans and Pell Grants.

The last key to building Modern America was to fulfill the promise first made by the Founding Fathers: All men are created equal.  We all know that that promise left out Africa American slaves and women.   For much of our history legal racism and sexism stripped them of their dignity and freedom.  With Supreme Court action in 1954 and Congressional action in 1964/65, we began to right these wrongs.

Today, I give thanks that I live in Modern America.  Our tax dollars take care of the veterans, seniors, the disabled and unemployed.  Public schools and universities strive every day to provide ladders of success for Americans from all walks of life.   We may not be a perfect union, but Modern America has done a much better job taking care of the least among us than 19th Century America ever did.  For all of these changes that improve our lives, I give thanks.

November 22, 2017

A New Hope

By Glenn

For myself and many others, the election of Donald marked a new low. Local events bring a New Hope.

Several years ago, a colleague and friend of mine was denied tenure by a previous Southeastern Administration. Her English Department faculty supported her application. Something happened beyond the reach and observation of the faculty, including myself. Rachel presented her case to a jury in Oklahoma and won.

OKLAHOMA CITY – A transgender professor whose tenure and promotion was denied at Southeastern Oklahoma State University has been awarded $1.1 million by a federal jury in a landmark Title VII case.’

This jury verdict is a BFD. Average Americans, not some “elite,” have the empathy within themselves to recognize that employment is based on merit, not sex, sexual orientation or gender identity.

This criterion should be obvious in Higher Education. Our entire hiring and promotion process is founded on teaching, scholarship and service. Our current President, Sean Burrage, actually added protection for sexual orientation and gender identity to our handbook.

Rachel’s victory with a jury should be a warning that the future belongs to “Liberty and Justice for All.” It is a future in which All means All.

October 28, 2017

La Mappa mundi d’Albi

By Glenn

This map is an incredible document.  I can’t wait to see it with own eyes on day.

“La carte a été conservée dans la bibliothèque du chapitre cathédral tout au long du Moyen-Âge, où elle a été utilisée régulièrement. Entre le XIIe et le XVIIIe siècle, peu d’éléments sur l’histoire de ce document subsistent. On sait juste que la reliure a fait l’objet de restaurations au XVIIe puis au XVIIIe siècle. Échappée des flammes à la Révolution (l’ensemble des archives de la cathédrale a brûlé), elle est devenue bien d’État et a été confiée à la ville. En 1843, la carte a failli être vendue. En 1908, elle prend place dans la bibliothèque de l’hôtel Rochegude avant d’être transférée dans les réserves de la médiathèque en 2001.”

August 18, 2017

My Presidents vs Not My Presidents

By Glenn

Since people have a hard time understanding honor, let me offer this. Not all men are perfect. We know this. The question is simple: “Did they move America forward, or did they try to take it back?” I honor the men and women who made us a “more perfect union,” not the men and women who created division and destruction.

 

August 18, 2017

Great Event With Beto O’Rourke

By Glenn

 

From the Herald Democrat article

“Democracy is participatory,” Melancon said. “We need people to participate and get involved because it is your country. It is for all of us. An assault has been launched on our freedom, our way of life. They launched an assault on our democracy.”

O’Rourke’s speech centered mainly upon four issues — healthcare, immigration, equality and education. He took a strong stance against the potential of a Mexican/American wall and discussed what he said was the negative impact of the current administration’s immigration opinions. Citing the events of the Charlottesville, Virginia, white nationalist rally on Saturday, O’Rourke also condemned extremist views on immigration.

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