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 against 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.

July 16, 2020

Conservative Apocalypse

By Glenn

Apocalypse means “to lift the veil.”   In an Apocalypse you can see behind the curtain.  Covid 19 has been an Apocalypse for conservatives.  Their reactions have shown us who they are and what they value.

In May, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said, “No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren?’”  Patrick expected Americans over 50 to risk their lives for young people to go to work.

At the time calmer heads prevailed, taking steps to protect lives.  Unfortunately, that was short lived.  President Donald Trump, aided by armed protesters, terrorized local officials.  They demanded an end to the protections against Covid 19.  Texas Governor Greg Abbott quickly surrendered.

Donald’s Words vs. Covid’s Reality

Abbott released a phased reopening based on targets for the spreading virus.  Texas never met those targets.  Covid 19 spread fasted than any benchmark in the Governor’s plan.  Did Abbot correct his course? 

Abbott’s first instinct was to deny the science and moving full spread ahead.  He falsely claimed Texas had the pandemic under control.   Conservatives around the country bragged that they didn’t have to play by New York rules. 

Covid 19 has revealed that conservatives do not believe in science.  They proudly trust their gut and common sense.  Common sense said that Southern heat would kill the virus.  Ignoring science, however, has come at a terrible cost.

Tens of thousands of Texas are getting sick every day.  Texas hospitals, over flowing with patients, now turn away ambulances.  The death toll that had remained low with protective measures is climbing. 

Death is not the only consequence of appeasing Donald and armed terrorists.   The science is clear that thousands will suffer long-term heart, lung, liver and brain damage.  With so many Texans without health insurance, the financial burden will be just as devastating. 

Have conservatives learned for their mistakes?  No, they want to play double or nothing with our children’s lives.  US Senator John Cornyn recently said “We still don’t know whether children can get it and transmit it to others.”  Wrong.  There have been 53 child cases of Covid 19 in Grayson alone.

Parents of dead children know this.  Doctors know.  Why is Cornyn casting doubt on the dangers of Covid 19?  He wants schools to reopen to free parents to go back to unsafe work environments.  Opening schools puts the life and health of children and teachers at risk.

Covid 19 has been an Apocalypse for conservatives.  We get to see behind the curtain.  Conservatives do not value life: young or old.  They value money above all else, a Golden Calf. 

July 9, 2020

Bacon, Sir Francis, Not Fried.

By Glenn

Francis Bacon is in many ways the father of the Modern World.  In 1620 he explained why astronomers were making revolutionary breakthroughs studying the planets.  He called his work Novum Organum, or New Methodology.  The world knows his contribution as the Scientific Method.

The journey to Bacon took nearly eighty years.  The century before Nicolaus Copernicus imagined a solar system.  All of the Greek philosophers and Christian theologians before him insisted that the earth was the center of the “wanderers,” or “planets.”   Humans and saw seven lights move across the “heavens”. 

Over the next 80 years astronomers looked for evidence to support Copernicus and refute authority.  In one generation Tycho Brahe carefully plotted the position of the wanders.  In the next, Johann Kepler applied a new mathematical model to the heavens, an ellipse. 

As evidence mounted, both secular and religious experts resisted.  How could the sun be the center of all things visible?  Galileo Galilei, however, broke the dam.  With new technology, a telescope, Galileo made it possible for any school child to challenge ancient experts. 

Galileo pointed his telescope at the “wanders” and proved they were not heavenly lights at all.  They were physical bodies reflecting the light of the sun.  Each planet went through phases like the moon and the phases only match if the sun, not the earth, were at the center.

Bacon knew this history and explained why these great minds broke down centuries of accepted wisdom and common sense.  Astronomers knew that planets did not behave as established models predicted.  Instead of dismissing the data, they revised their model.  This change was a key to new discoveries, simply admitting the old way of thinking might be wrong.

The astronomers then painstakingly made precise, minute observations.  They measured each observable change and recorded the data.  Each data point was meaningless, however, in isolation.  True meaning came from the relationships among the data points.

Mathematics was essential to the rethinking of the cosmos. These men were educated in the fields of geometry and algebra. Their education allowed them to see pattern that common sense missed.   Bacon studied their method and simplified it: hypothesis, observe, record, conclude and retest the hypothesis. 

Bacon saw the utility of this method beyond astronomy.  In an unpublished essay, New Atlantis, he imagined a society that applied science to all human problems.  Instead of sending explorers out in search of gold and slaves, what if society funded explorers to seek out safer transportation technology or cures for diseases? 

Bacon’s predicted answer came true.  Modern societies followed Bacon’s advice and used the scientific method.  These societies lived longer.  They had greater freedom.   They were more prosperous.    It is not time to turn back now.  Millions of lives are at stake.  Scientists, not politicians nor preachers, will solve our Covid 19 problem.

July 2, 2020

Masked Tyranny

By Glenn

Governments protect and serve the people.  Laws protect us by keeping us from hurting each other.  Agencies serve us by performing essential tasks that are too expensive for anyone person to buy alone.  Over the course of the last hundred years government actions have improved our lives.

With every new idea, however, there was a backlash.  Corporations spent millions of dollars to incite public outcries of tyranny.  Each of those moments looks pretty foolish with hindsight.

Many of these debates center around product safety.  Over time consumers report the danger of everyday items.  No one likes to spend money on a faulty or deadly product. 

Companies on the other hand are reluctant to pull a product that sells well.   They create massive media campaigns to hide the danger and highlight the experiences of happy customers.

Cars are a great example.  They obviously transformed our lives in countless ways.  Unfortunately, the early cars were also deadly. 

When the government tried to mandate seat belts, and later air bags, car companies pushed back.  They successfully generated the fear that seatbelts killed.  When that eventually failed, they falsely claimed the safety features would make cares too expensive.

Too expensive?  What is a human life worth?

Another common product found in twentieth century America was cigarettes.  Millions of Americans experienced the pleasure of smoking this drug.  In 1964 the US Surgeon General Smoking documented the cancers associated with smoking. 

The tobacco industry fought back.  It spent millions hiring celebrities, and even doctors, to create doubt about government research.  It wasn’t until the 1990s that the tobacco executives admitted the smear campaigned.  

Since then we have slowly reduced both smoking and cancer related deaths.  One controversial move was to ban smoking in public places.   Bars and restaurants feared government action would drive away customers.   That fear never materialized. 

More than ever Americans love going to bars and restaurants.  Banning smoking not only made it a safer environment for workers and consumers, banning smoking also made these venues more pleasant than a smoke filled room.

The newest false claim of tyranny revolves around masks.  Cloth masks reduce the spread of Covid 19.  Many of us choose to voluntarily protect our neighbors.  Unfortunately, too few are.  If the government decides to mandate masks, it will not be for a wacky conspiracy.  Masks are based on evidence and science.  Wearing masks will save lives.

***update*** I write on Mondays. Three days later Governor Abbott comes around to issuing an order.

June 25, 2020

Barometer

By Glenn

In June 1944 Dwight Eisenhower faced a monumental choice.  He had to decide whether or not to risk lives of thousands of troops on the beaches of Normandy. He turned to the science of meteorology before making his decision.

Meteorology was still an adolescent science in 1944.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and the navy needed smooth sailing.  Ancient mariners simply watched the horizon for storm clouds.  Often the sighting was too late to save the crew.  The barometer improved their chances of survival.

At first the barometer settled in old philosophical argument. Did air have weight? The Greek philosopher Aristotle (c.350 BC) had said no. His answer was the authority until the 1600s.

Several Italians, including Galileo, reopened the debate. Each experimented with different instruments to measure air pressure. The debate was settled when scientists showed a link between elevation, or sea level, and air pressure. Air pressure was higher at sea level because more air rested above the instrument.  Air had weight.

By 1800, scientists learned that a rapid drop in atmospheric pressure preceded a storm. Seamen and farmers found this useful. Advanced warning saves lives and profits. Many of us now watch the morning weather to plan our day. The science is not perfect, but it is useful.

Eisenhower understood meteorologist limitations, and yet, he placed thousands of lives in the hands of scientists. They told him it would be calm enough to land. The successful landing helped bring the Second World War to an end faster. Scientist saved lives.

Today, the epidemiologists are warning of a storm ahead. Like meteorology, the science of germs has advanced over the last 100 years. It can save both civilian and military lives. We spent billions of tax dollars to protect our communities.

For a few months, Donald Trump and Greg Abbott listened to the scientists. The Governor ordered Texans to stay at home, reducing the spread of COVID-19. All of that effort is about to be swept overboard.

Just over 50 days ago, Greg Abbott at Donald Trump’s urging, decided to ignore the epidemiologists. Like the early sailors, we have been sailing into a storm. The politicians say, “Look at those blue skies. The storm is a hoax.” COVID-19 is no hoax. On Monday June 22, Greg Abbott admitted “To state the obvious. COVID-19 is now spreading at an unacceptable rate in Texas, and it must be corralled.” Abbot, however, decided to do nothing to protect us.  It is every man, women and child for himself.  No lives matter.

Texas is sailing into a storm. The Governor of Texas read the barometer. He knew the scientific truth.  Instead of following the example of Eisenhower,  Abbot followed the lead of Donald.  Abbot is ignoring the science.  Are you ready to die on this beach? 

***UPDATE***

Since Monday, Abbot has taken a baby step and paused the reopening. We need more. Too little, Too late.

“Gov. Greg Abbott pauses Texas’ reopening, bans elective surgeries in four counties to preserve bed space for coronavirus patients”