January 1, 2021

Happy New Year

By Glenn

December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas

By Glenn

We live in a world of artificial lights. Light is all around us.  It can even be with us twenty four hours if we want it.  Natural light, however, brings so much joy.  Who among us is not mesmerized by the glow of a candle, a fire or a star?

Darkness is not simply the absence of light. Darkness is a sense of loss.  We lose our sense of direction, forcing us to stop and wait for a light to point the way. If we don’t slow down, we will likely run into something and hurt ourselves.

Darkness can also weigh on us.  It creates a greater sense of the unknown.  Darkness amplifies real and imagined dangers.  How much louder is a sound at 2 am in a dark house that 2 pm in a house full of light?

Without artificial light we are at the mercy of natural sources of light.  We sleep at night, snuggled in our houses.  We work in the day.  There is nothing like a fresh cup of coffee as the sun comes up.

We just passed the darkest moment of the year. December 21st was the winter solstice.  From now until June 20th the days will get longer and brighter.  

It should come as no surprise then that Christians chose December 25th to celebrate Christmas. Yes, Christians chose this date.  There is nothing Biblical about it.  It is completely symbolic.

In the dead of winter, in the darkest days of the year, Christians celebrate the Light of the World.  This Light brings Joy to the World.  We put lights on our houses.  We put lights in trees. We light up the darkness.

These artificial lights are symbols that drive home the Gospel message.

Matthew 5:  14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Our light is our works.  Do we give the gift of light?  Do we feed the hungry? Clothe the naked? Heal the sick? Welcome the immigrant? Show kindness to those in prison? Do we comfort the afflicted?

Can we, as Christians, humble ourselves even though we are made in the image of God, not deeming equality with God something to be grasped?  Rather, can we take the form of a slave?  Can we serve our neighbor?

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71427942

Service brings light into the darkness.  Christmas has all the symbols to guide a Christian on our journey through the world.  Where there is darkness, bring light.  Where there is sorrow, bring joy.  Where there is despair, bring hope. 

Merry Christmas!  Let’s make 2021 a Happy New Year.

December 17, 2020

State of Denial

By Glenn

I thought that we lived in the state of Texas.  Looking at Republican politicians, we must live in the state of denial.  Joe Biden won 306 Electoral College votes and 81,283,495 individual votes. 

Joe Biden easily won the Presidency.  There is no doubt.  Even Republicans in the states Biden won, say Biden won.  No lawsuit presented facts to challenge that Joe Biden won.

Republican election officials confirm Joe Biden won.  Republican governors confirm Joe Biden won.  Republican judges confirm Joe Biden’s victory was legal under the Constitution of the United States of America.

At the beginning of December United States Attorney General Willian Barr said “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.”

Texas Republican politicians, however, are in a state of denial. 

Misleading the way has been Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.  Paxton is infamous because he is currently under a federal felony indictment that could land him in prison.  He is accused of misleading investors by failing to disclose he would benefit personally from their investments.

Something similar happened with his frivolous lawsuit against Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania .  In each state the loser in the Presidential election sued to overturn the votes counted.  The loser never provided any evidence under oath.

The oath is a linchpin of our judicial system.  It is one thing to lie on Fox News or One America Network, but it is illegal to lie to a judge.  The loser’s attorneys refused to lie in court the way Rudy Giuliani lied on television.  They simply had no evidence.

When Ken Paxton filed his suit to overturn the election results, he knew these facts.  He simply didn’t care.  He abused his office by filing a frivolous lawsuit in the United States Supreme Court.   Paxton lacked any evidence, new or old.   

To no one’s surprise, the US Supreme Court refused to even hear the case.  It wrote, “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections.”    That is a fancy way of saying Paxton made no sense.

Well, someone was surprised.  Allen West, a confessed war criminal and Chairman of the Texas Republican Party, was.   He even pondered if it were time for Texas and other states to leave the United States of America and form a new country.

Allen West, self confessed war criminal, asks if Texas should leave the USA.

Do Texas voters really want Republican politicians to lead us out of America?  Is Texas really a state of denial?  Or is it a proud member of the United States of America?  I know my answer.  What is yours?

December 10, 2020

The Pretender

By Glenn

America has never had a pretender before.  Pretenders were regular features of European monarchies.  In monarchies the government, called the Crown, was the personal property of the king.  It passed from father to son or, rarely, to his daughter.

In America, we have a Republic.  The term “republic” derives from the Latin phrase “res publica.” The phrase means “public thing.”  Our government is a public institution, not a piece of personal property.  The people, not God, select our government.

The Founding Fathers choose a Republic over a monarchy because the historical evidence showed that people secure the blessings of liberty and prosperity better than kings.   In kingdoms, the heirs often squabbled over the throne.  The loser would act as a pretender, undermining the security and prosperity of the people.

The Founders didn’t have to look far into their own history to find a disruptive pretender.  During the Eighteenth Century, the Jacobites provided a constant source of irritation to the English.  These sore losers sought to restore the Stuarts to “their house.”  The English Parliament had driven the Stuarts off the throne twice because of mismanagement.

The March of the Guards to Finchley by William Hogarth https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobite_rising_of_1745

America only experienced this type of “pretending” once in its history.  In 1860 America voters elected Abraham Lincoln, a man hostile to slavery.  Every state accepted that Lincoln won the Presidency.  In response, however, a minority of sore losers decided to secede from the United States of America. 

The Confederates invoked the favor of “Almighty God” and built a new government around the cornerstone of white supremacy.  They might have succeeded at dividing the country, but they made a fateful error.  They attacked the United States of America.

Every school child learns that America won.  The costs, however, of that uncivil war was brutal.  Six hundred thousand Americans died because one side lost an election.  They betrayed our country’s values. They betrayed the Republic. 

Today, some Republicans are begging their leader to accept his loss.  Republicans in Georgia counted the votes THREE times.  Joe Biden won every time. The Pretender cannot accept reality. 

America has never had a Pretender before.  Pretenders are dangerous.  Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperge begged his leader to “quell the violent rhetoric being born out of his continuing claims of winning the states where he obviously lost.”  The pretender has not stopped pretending.

Sowing these seeds of violent division couldn’t come at a worst time.  Nearly three thousand Americans are dying every day.  A true American leader would rally everyone to save lives, not focus on himself. 

What do you want written in the history books?  Will you support the Republic or the Pretender? Reality or denial?  Your choice will write the history of America.  What will you do for your country?

December 3, 2020

Best Days Ahead of Us

By Glenn

I always get a chuckle when people talk about the “good ol’ days.”  When people image the past, they usually imagine themselves in a utopian cottage or a royal palace.  For the vast majority of people in past, their life was nasty, brutish, and short.

Before the late 1900s, humans lacked basic knowledge of microbiology and chemistry.  Instead of science they relied on common sense and superstitions to make sense of the world.  These methods were not very reliable.

Humans are particularly bad with evaluating novelty. We can’t recognize the benefits of something new.  We also have a hard time admitting the dangers of something old.

Two everyday items that had a hard time breaking through were potatoes and tomatoes. These two plants were indigenous to the Americas.  When explorers brought them back home, Europeans refused to eat them.

Can you imagine Italy without a tomato sauce or a St, Patrick’s Day boiled meal with potatoes?  Who would the nightmare of a burger without fries?

Europeans were convinced these modern staples were poisonous.  It took centuries to overcome this “common sense” of the Good Ol’ Days.

Hot showers and regular baths took even longer to catch on.  Well into the 1800s Europeans rarely bathed or washed their hands. 

In 1846 Ignaz Semmelweis, a Hungarian doctor, discovered hand washing prevented patient deaths.   Backed with data to support his argument, he recommended doctors wash their hands before treating their patients. 

Unfortunately, doctors refused to listen.  They refused to accept that they themselves introduced deadly pathogens into their patents.  I am certainly happy more doctors and nurse learn real science.

Hand washing was a relatively pain free and inexpensive solution to premature death.  What happens, however, when the solution costs someone money?

We don’t have to look much farther than the dangers of smoking and secondhand smoke.  In 1964 year US Surgeon General linked smoking to cancer and discouraged its use.

The merchants of death kicked into high gear.  They hired public relations firms to discredit the government’s report.  There was big money in selling cancer in a stick.  

Thankfully, we put the Good Ol’ Days behind us.  Our society values reality over conspiracies. We are getting better at distinguishing good from bad.  America’s best days are ahead.  

November 26, 2020

Family Memories

By Glenn
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Glenn Melancon

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My dad, CW3 Yves “Buster” Melancon, served twenty seven years in the United States Army. This meant that most of my first fourteen years were away from my extended family.  Holidays were a treat. 

Unlike my cousins, whose parents stayed closer to South Louisiana, I only saw my grandparents at Christmas.  Eventually, I only saw my grandmothers.  Both of my grandfathers died before I developed any real memory of them. Death cuts short new memories.

From second to fifth grade we lived in Bamberg, Germany.  During those three years, we were almost completely isolated from our family.   In 1973 a long distance call was expensive and an overseas call was a luxury.

Bamberg Rider

Dad retired in 1980, and we moved to “The West Bank” across from New Orleans for his new life.  The metroplex offered him a variety of job opportunities.  I’m sure a big benefit for both my mom and dad was living within an hour of their mothers and most of her brothers and sisters. 

We did see them more often, especially at huge Cajun weddings.  My mom had twelve brothers and sisters, and I had 50 cousins on her side.  During my high school years, we gathered to eat, drink, and dance.  For the first time I got to know my cousins.

After those brief four years, I moved off to college in Lafayette.  Visits home became less and less frequent.  At that point Christmas became an annual event at my parent’s house.  My dad’s mother had a stroke and moved into their house.  Dad’s siblings and my cousins all gathered to put a smile on Maw Maw’s face.

In 1989 I married Jackie.  We met in Lafayette, but remarkably she had grown up in my mom’s home parish, St. Charles.  Jackie knew many of my cousins on the “Landeche side” of the family.  Our wedding was in Luling, Louisiana, not far from New Orleans.  Both of our families and many of our high school and college friends attended.  We sure passed a good time.

Over the next four years, I worked on my Masters and Doctorate in History.  Since Jackie was teaching in Lafayette, we lived there.  Luckily, her extended family on her mom’s side lived within an hour.  We had plenty of support for our first son, Christopher, and then Alexandre was born.

We both knew life would change when I graduated from LSU.  That’s when I got a job at Southeastern in Durant.  We found ourselves hours away from home, but not family.  I had two aunts that lived in North Texas.  They had come here long ago to work at TI. 

This year will be different.  Christopher is in the US Army and Alexandre is in the US Air Force.  We don’t know exactly what Christmas will look like, but Jackie and I will be eating Thanksgiving dinner alone.  We want to make sure the people we love stay safe to make memories with them.  

Our parents taught us that true love requires sacrifices. We will live to celebrate together next year.

November 19, 2020

Reality Wins

By Glenn

Reality does not depend upon your beliefs.  For example, gravity is a scientific theory.   If you drop an object on earth, it will fall unless acted upon by an outside force.  You don’t have to believe in gravity for it to work.

Since January 2020, conservative politicians have been trying to speak Covid 19 away.  They pretended that their public denials would change reality.  Dallas television star and megachurch pastor, Kenneth Copeland, stood before his congregation and blew Covid away.

Copeland’s magic failed.  Despite the false claims it would magically disappear one day, it has not and it will not.

https://youtu.be/hsGbk820O_Y

Something has changed, however.   Since the election, Republican governors across the Midwest have been imposing new covid-19 restrictions. They had to face reality.   The virus is spreading. 

Before the election, they kept up the charade. Parroting the lie that covid-19 was simply the flu.

Conservatives demanded that everyone go about their daily lives as normal.  In the North and South Dakota, Republican governors rejected any government action.  They argued that individual choice was enough to slow the spread.   They now have the worst cases in America.

In Texas Governor Greg Abbott put Republican election efforts ahead of public safety.  He rejected the reality of a pandemic and increased capacity in bars and restaurants.

Abbott wanted the spread the lie that Covid 19 was defeated and the economy was bouncing back.  That was a political narrative that didn’t match reality.

Day by day Texans watched with their own eyes as Covid cases climbed in the month of October.  This period produced a false sense of comfort.  The number of deaths seemed to remain flat.

Like the Indian summer we often enjoy every fall, Covid without deaths will come to an end quickly.  Death is a lagging feature of Covid.  First people get sick.  Hospitalization rates then go up.  An increased number of dead are the last phase of the spread.

Covid 19’s will be an arctic blast on economic activity.  The struggling airlines industry has already started cutting back flights.  Many of us know traveling for business and pleasure simply is not safe.

Unfortunately, about 40 percent of Americans are denying reality.  They will not take precautions to protect themselves, their loved ones or their neighbors.  They continue to believe the political lies. They continue to spread the virus.

You don’t have to believe in Covid 19 to get sick.  Please be careful.  Wear your mask.  Wash your hands.  Keep your distance.

November 12, 2020

America Is Moving Forward

By Glenn

America is moving forward.  We have some big problems to face, and name calling will not solve them.  Leadership requires correctly identifying real problems, developing solutions to those problems and then implanting the solutions.

As all of us can see, Covid 19 did not magically disappear after the election.  In fact it is spreading at dangerous levels here in Grayson County and Texas.  For over a week local ICU rooms have been full. 

We know that small steps can make a big difference.  On Tuesday, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, a Republican, issued a state-wide mask mandate.  Wearing masks protects our health and jobs. 

We shouldn’t wait for government to act.  Governor Greg Abbot seems scared to take decisive action.  His failure to ask for small sacrifices is causing rolling shut downs across the state.  Wear your mask and keep a safe distance.

Even when Covid 19 is eventual driven down, however, Texas still faces a growing problem.  Texas trails the nation and has then highest number of uninsured citizens.  Health insurance is a big problem for Texas families.

Many other conservative states have already accepted federal funds under ObamaCare, or the Affordable Care Act.  Those states expanded Medicaid and drove down their uninsured rate. Texans pay federal taxes, but our legislature is blocking that money from returning to us.

Another big issue that needs attention is the trade war with China.  Contrary to bombastic assertions, trade wars are not easy to win.  It has raised taxes on Texas families between $831 and $2,031. 

China responded to these taxes by raising tariffs on US farm products.  American soybean farmers in particular are vulnerable.  Not only has China turned to Russia for alternative product, it is also looking to boast its own agricultural production.

The longer this conflict drags out the more damage done to US interests.  Mutual tax reduction is the only path forward.

Probably the biggest problem facing Texas right now is public education.  Before Covid 19 the exodus of teachers from the profession hit a five year high.  Public insults, high stakes testing and declining pay and benefits all drive teachers away. 

There is no relief on the horizon. Every pay raise goes immediately to the insurance company to cover health insurance.  Retired teachers are in a worse position because they don’t receive Social Security and their benefits are frozen.  The solution begins with respecting teachers and better compensation.

We can fix our problems.  It takes leaders who will focus on solutions rather than insults.  Are Texas voters ready to demand solutions from newly elected officials?

November 5, 2020

Democracies Count Votes

By Glenn

Legendary coach Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” In baseball it’s the last out.  He wanted his players to play until the end.  In politics elections are over after the last vote counted.

Once again we see the hollowness of conservative understanding of States’ Rights and Constitutional Law.  States, not presidents, set electoral law and policy. For better or worse states count votes differently. That’s the Law. That’s the Constitution.

No candidate has the right to unilaterally shut down the counting. Counting votes is essential to the electoral process.  States have already legislated when that process will end.

State law requires local election offices to count thoroughly.   They have standards to apply to each vote.  These standards have been in place for years.

It is a reckless lie to claim Americans have never counted votes after Election Day. It happens every election.

Do you really want to through away military ballots?  Do you really want to through way ballots cast by senior citizens or the disabled?  Your candidate can’t just declare victory and demand states stop counting all of the votes.

Conservatives must live in a Burger King drive through culture.  They want it their way, now.  No candidate is entitled to an office.  Our government rests on the consent of the governed, not the dictates of personal whim.

What ever happened to the traditional saying “Patience is a virtue”?

There are several states that have substantial outstanding ballots or close races: Arizona, Georgia, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.  The final electoral vote depends on who wins each.  Neither candidate is guaranteed to win the remaining votes.

If you are tied of this election year dance, the simple solution would be to eliminate the Electoral College.  No modern republic uses this archaic and complicated system.  Our European allies watch this chaos with bewilderment.

Why not just count the votes.  The candidate with the most votes wins.  It works for school boards, city councils and governors.  Let the people decide.

I can already hear the objections.  “The Electoral College is tradition.  We can’t change the constitution.  We must follow the law.”

Really?  Both the Constitution and the Law requires counting votes after the elections.  It’s not Burger King.  It’s American democracy.

October 30, 2020

Samuel Paty

By Glenn

“Depuis la cour de la Sorbonne, lieu historique de l’enseignement universitaire français, le président de la République Emmanuel Macron a rendu un hommage national au professeur Samuel Paty.” Publié le 21 octobre 2020 Translation by Google

A religious fundamentalist assassinated Samuel Paty for sharing satirical cartoons with his class. Satirical expression is an essential feature of “The West.” It has allowed us to challenge the absurdities of tradition and authority.

Je suis Samuel Paty

French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a moving homage to Professor Paty. I don’t always agree with Macron’s public policies, but he understands republican values.

____________________________

Samuel PATY was passionately fond of teaching and he did so well in several colleges and high schools including that of Conflans-Saint-Honorine. We all have anchored in our hearts, in our memories, the memory of a teacher who changed the course of our lives. You know, this teacher who taught us to read, to count, to trust us. This teacher who not only taught us a knowledge but opened a path for us by a book, a look, by his consideration.

Samuel PATY was one of these, of those teachers who will not be forgotten, of these enthusiasts able to spend nights learning the history of religions in order to better understand his students and their beliefs. Of these humble people who questioned themselves a thousand times, as for this course on freedom of expression and freedom of conscience that he had been preparing since July again last summer in Moulins by your side and the doubts he shared through requirement, out of delicacy.

Samuel PATY basically embodied the teacher that JAURÈS dreamed of in this letter to teachers which has just been read: “firmness united with tenderness”. He who shows the greatness of thought, teaches respect, shows what civilization is.

The one who made it his business to “make republicans.”

So, the words of Ferdinand BUISSON come back as if they were echoed. think for himself, that he owes neither faith nor obedience to anyone, that it is up to him to seek the truth and not to receive it ready-made from a master, a director, a leader, whoever he is “” To make republicans “, that was the fight of Samuel PATY.

And while this task today may seem daunting, especially where violence, intimidation, sometimes resignation takes precedence, it is more essential, more topical, than ever. Here in France, we love our Nation, its geography, its landscapes and its history, its culture and its metamorphoses, its spirit and its heart. And we want to teach it to all of our children.