December 1, 2022

Punish Illegal Employers

By Glenn

Now that the election is over, conservative smoke and mirror politics is evaporating right before our eyes.  Gas prices have dropped to $2.60 in North Texas.  Fox News has stopped spamming crime stories.  Retailers are slashing holiday prices and seeing record sales.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, however, has returned to inflammatory talk about the border.  Abbott is parroting Donald Trump’s words about undocumented crossings.  Abbott falsely claims Texas is facing an “invasion.”  

When Donald used this phrase, he inspired a Plano teenager to buy a semi-automatic rifle and travel to El Paso.  In El Paso the teen murdered 23 Americans and injured 23 others. He wanted to defend Texas against the fake “invasion.”

Abbot is playing with fire.  We know this language inspires domestic terrorists.  A Federal jury just convicted two of Donald’s supporters.  Prosecutors presented evidence in court that Donald inspired them to join a seditious conspiracy against the United States of America on January 6, 2021.

Abbott is diverting our attention away from illegal employment. Gregg Abbot needs to tell his big corporate donors to kick their addiction to illegal labor.  Unscrupulous employers entice Mexicans and Latin Americans to the U.S.

Why would businesses hire illegal workers? Falsely documented workers don’t complain about working conditions or pay.  They know they are one complaint away from being turned over to immigration officials.  Corporate America illegally “imports” this docile workforce. 

If undocumented immigrants couldn’t get jobs, they wouldn’t come.  Greg Abbott and the Republican dominated legislature could solve the problem by simply enforcing existing employment laws and punishing illegal employers. 

Abbott and the Legislature could strengthen these laws by requiring E-Verify.  It is a Federal Website that Congress created in 1996:  https://www.e-verify.gov.  Here is what the website has to offer employers.

“In the E-Verify process, employers create cases based on information taken from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification. E-Verify then electronically compares that information to records available to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Social Security Administration (SSA). The employer usually receives a response within a few seconds either confirming the employee’s employment eligibility or indicating that the employee needs to take further action to complete the case.”

The election is over.  If undocumented border crossing is a problem, let’s find a solution that works for us, not the politicians. Mandating E-Verify would be a more cost effective way to shutting down illegal employment in Texas.  

November 18, 2022

Cajun Dirty Rice

By Glenn
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This dirty rice is a staple for Thanksgiving. Maddie passed it down to Jackie. I acquired it through marriage. I also add a cup of puréed liver and gizzards.

November 17, 2022

Deceitful Donald

By Glenn

At the beginning of the Second Gulf War, Vice President Dick Cheney confidently told us that American troops would be greeted as liberators.  We know that was a lie.  Like the Weapons of Mass Destruction lie, the Bush Administration told it to avoid facing reality.

These lies were deadly and costly.  When the last American troops left Iraq in 2011, the total cost was staggering. 

The Council on Foreign Relations estimated that tax payers spent $800 billion and that 4,500 Americans paid with their lives.  31,994 American troops were wounded in action.  We can’t even estimate the financial destruction in Iraq, and can guess that Iraqi deaths range from 100,000 to 1,000,000.

In 2003, however, it all looked like it was going according to plan.  During the initial bombing campaign, the US media mocked “Baghdad Bob.”  He appeared on Iraqi state media warning Americans of the tough fight ahead.

In many respects “Bob” deserved the ridicule.  He was lying about the fighting strength of the Iraqi Army.  In reality American troops overwhelmed it on the battlefield.

On the other hand, Baghdad Bob’s ridiculous predictions bore more resemblance to reality than Cheney’s.  The Iraqi insurgency made sure our troops slept with one eye open.  The insurgents made the fight much more deadly and costly than a war of liberation.

I’m thinking of Baghdad Bob again because Donald Trump is on my TV and in the news. Donald and Bob have much in common.  They lie.  They exaggerate. They threaten America.

The danger we face now is real.  Too many pundits downplay the Trump insurgency.  They only present it as a danger to the Republican Party.  Trump is a danger to our democracy.

Yes, Donald’s candidates lost across the country last week. There is no sign, however, that his fans will sit down and stay quiet.  They continue to lie about our election security and our Constitution. 

Deceitful Donald already inspired an insurrection.  Conservatives must put him aside.  Conservatives must tell the truth about Donald.  Some are.

Former Vice President Mike Pence couldn’t have been any clearer about January 6.  Trump “endangered me and my family and everyone at the Capitol building….The president’s words were reckless and his actions were reckless. It’s clear he decided to be part of the problem.” Pence’s honesty is a welcome breath of fresh air.

We have all heard the proverb, “Honesty is the best policy.”  Why then does it surprise so many of us when dishonesty produces failure?  Shouldn’t the failure make more conservatives question Deceitful Donald?  Shouldn’t they treat him with the same scorn as Baghdad Bob and Dick Cheney?

November 10, 2022

La même chose

By Glenn

It is a truism that elections have consequences.  No doubt this Tuesday election will also, but it will not change much.  All across the country voters dug into familiar patterns rather than alter course.

Nationally, President Joe Biden can lock in his legislative victories.  Here to stay are the insulin price cap for seniors, lower prescription drug costs for Medicare and a cap on out of pocket expenses for Medicare patients. Republicans opposed these policies even though they cut the cost of living for millions of Americans.

Overseas, our Allies feel more secure.  Republicans had threatened to cut aid for Ukraine.  Ukrainian freedom fighters had been using NATO supplies to successfully drive Valdmir Putin and his thugs back to Russia. 

While the Ukrainian liberation effort will likely take years rather than months, Putin’s impact on global prices is weakening.  The original surge in oil and gas prices has returned to normal, relieving the pressure on commuters and businesses.

The long hangover from Covid 19 is also winding down for most of the world.  Supply chains are being repaired, helping drive down the lumber prices at the hardware store.  The global computer chip market is rebounding, helping slow the price increases for new and used cars.

In Texas, the Republican sweep of state-wide offices means our property taxes will continue to rise and our local schools will see more cuts.  Criminals will continue to have easy access to guns, and we just have to sit and wait for the next school massacre.

Blaming the Federal Government for conservative failures is a Southern tradition.

While Seniors on Federal health insurance like Medicare and the Veteran’s Administration enjoy the benefits of socialized medicine, millions of workers remain uncovered.  Texas has about twice as many uninsured citizens as the national average.  Republicans are unlikely to help by expanding Medicaid.

Texas women will continue to face high maternal mortality rates.  We don’t know how high, because Greg Abbott’s administration refuses to release a crucial report.  Every pregnant women and her doctor are under the politicians’ microscope because of the no exceptions abortion bill.

The 2022 midterm election will probably do little to silence the conservatives who support armed rebellion against the United States of America.  They have created for themselves an echo chamber of self-pity and paranoia.

We can expect more domestic terrorists’ attacks rather than less. While several high profile Republicans election deniers lost their races, dozens of others found local support and won.

So yes, elections have consequences.  This week was a status quo election.  We can expect liberals to continue building a middle class and conservatives fighting tooth and nail to tear it down.

November 3, 2022

Snake Oil Fraud

By Glenn

Leadership requires correctly identifying problems and developing solutions. Demagogues often recognize when others are in pain, but they then exploit the pain for personal gain.  This technique helps the politician gain, and solidify, power. 

Demagogues behave exactly like snake oil salesmen.  Before the Pure Food and Drug Act (1906), capitalists crisscrossed the country offering a shimmering liquid to hopeful customers.  The pain experienced by the buyer was often real enough; the “cure” wasn’t.

Snake oil left the underlining medical condition.  If the consumer suffered from a degenerative disease, the person would get sick and die.  The Food and Drug Administration deemed this behavior a fraud and outlawed the sale of snake oil as medicine.

Snake Oil Doesn’t Work for Public Education Either

The First Amendment prevents making similar laws for politicians.  Demagogues are free to peddle their snake oil.  Voters have to educate themselves about competing candidate claims.  In a virtuous debate both sides would stick to reality.

But what happens when one side becomes untethered to reality?  What happens when one side just makes stuff up?  Are we really supposed to pretend that a snake oil politician and an educated politician are the same?

For example, the Biden Administration has arrested 1.7 million people trying to cross the US-Mexican border illegally.  How does this fact compare to campaign claims?  Greg Abbott falsely accuses President Joe Biden of having an open border. Beto O’Rouke says Abbott is duplicating federal efforts and draining the Texas National Guard resources and morale.

Compared to the Biden’s 1.7 million arrests, Abbott claims to have detained 21,000 people.   The cost of this snake oil continues to climb. Abbott has wasted $4 billion of our tax dollars and recently diverted an additional $359.6 million from Texas prisons.

At one point during this sales pitch, Abbott duplicated the check points for commercial traffic along the border.  State troopers disrupted the economy in a futile search for immigrants.  The stunt tied up traffic and cost businesses $9 billion dollars in less than ten days.

We have known about these problems for decades. Congress has increased the Federal border patrol budget from $263 million in 1990 to $4 billion in 2020This money hired an additional 16,000 agents.

Who was more fiscally responsible?  The Federal Government spent $4 billion and stopped 1.7 illegal crossing.  Abbott spent $4 billion and only stopped 21,000.  On top of that Abbott cost US businesses $9 billion.

Can we please stop buying this snake oil? We need real immigration reform that defines legal crossing that would work for Texas families and businesses.  Snake oil only works for politicians, not us.

October 27, 2022

Did You Get the Goldmine or the Shaft?

By Glenn

I used to love listening to country music in my dad’s pickup.  He had an eight-track that played all of his favorites.  Dad also knew where to find all his country stations on the radio.  I had a steady diet of 60s, 70s and 80s country hits.

Dad always liked the playful songs from Johnny Cash to Jerry Reid.  It seemed like I could look for hours at the album cover of Cash’s Everybody Loves a Nut as the LP spun on the turn table. I also never tired of singing along with Reid’s “She Got the Goldmine”… “I got the shaft.”

Reid’s satirical take on divorce deals with the frustration of getting less than a fair share.  It is clear by the end of the song that Reid had moved beyond his prior love of his wife.  Who could blame him?  She got the gold mine; he got the shaft.

Trickle Down Economics Treat

I guess that is why as an adult I don’t get conservative voters.  Their politicians always get the gold mine and give us the shaft.   Every year our property taxes go up and up.  Our taxes never go down.  The best we can hope for is having them frozen at age 65.

I can’t help but wonder “Who does get the tax cuts?”  The answer is not hard to find.  Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton are just like Donald Trump.  They take care of their mega donors first.

Millionaires and billionaires already own the gold mines.  Conservative politicians believe they are suffering and give them a tax cut.  This process started with Ronald Reagan.  He cut income taxes and raised Social Security taxes.

As tax payers, we are not the only ones hurt by this scam.  Conservatives then defund services from schools and police departments to VA hospitals and Post Offices. How many of us had to sit and wait for a Driver’s License?  

The problems we face range from a nuisance to an emergency.  For some of us taking off work to sit for an hour in DPS might be a welcome break, but for others, an hour takes money out of their pay check.  Our veterans may have learned “hurry up and wait” while in uniform, but do they really need to suffer for a doctor’s visit?

These crises are here by design.  Conservatives win elections by promising that government can’t work.  Once they are elected, they break the system and demand more cuts to public services.  Rinse and repeat.

After cutting income taxes, Reagan shed crocodile tears for a growing deficit.  Conservatives have spent the last 40 years attacking public schools and “entitlements.”  They want schools, Social Security and Medicare in private hands.  They want to finish redistributing wealth from us to their buddies.

I am tired of this song.  There is no reason for conservative donors to get the gold mine while we get the shaft.  We dug the mine.  We created the wealth.  We deserve better.

October 19, 2022

Life and Death in Texas

By Glenn

Texas Republicans want you to prepare for the next schools shooting.  Greg Abbott is sending school children home with fingerprint and DNA kits.  Abbott wants to make it easier for you to identify your child’s dead body.

Republicans have controlled Texas Government for the past two decades.  They have cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires.  They have made it easier for criminals and children to get their hands on guns.  Republicans have defunded public education.

Conservatives have the power to pass any legislation they want.  They even passed a law outlawing abortion at all stages of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape, incest or health of the woman.  These laws mean that women have to face a death sentence before they can access lifesaving care. 

Pregnancy is the most dangerous time of woman’s life, and Texas Republicans tied the hands of OB-GYNs.  Why haven’t Texas Republican used this power to save the lives of our children?  Is spending tax dollars on home DNA tests the best they can do?

Republicans love to scapegoat mental illness for gun deaths in Texas.  But what have they done to improve mental health? Not much.  Mental Health America, a non-profit dedicated to mental health wellness, ranks Texas dead last in care access.

If mental health did increase gun violence, why aren’t Republicans doing more?  Wouldn’t improving mental health services be a priority?  Not only would it improve people’s lives, it would also reduce violence and self-harm.

If conservatives can’t be trusted to take these easy steps, how can we trust them to take stronger measures?   Why can’t we have what the Constitution promises: a well-regulated militia?

Texans agree on meaningful gun safety regulations to save lives.  Common sense tells us that eighteen year old shouldn’t be allowed to buy a weapon designed for war.  Texas should raise the age to buy an assault weapon from 18 to 21.

These weapons are the reason for the DNA kits.  Assault weapons often leave their victims unrecognizable.  They ripe apart flesh and shatter bones.  After the school shooting in Uvalde, one parent identified their child by their distinct green shoes.

If Texas conservatives valued human life, they would join the rest of us and demand better.  We should have red flag laws which temporarily remove firearms from homes experiencing domestic violence.  We should close the private sales loophole that allows buyers to avoid federal background checks.

Once the horse is out of the barn, it is too late to close the door.  Once your child is killed at school, a DNA test will never bring them back to life. We need solutions that save lives.

October 13, 2022

Straw Man

By Glenn

Boxers and soldiers often train fighting dummies.  It is easy to understand why.  Dummies don’t fight back.  Eventually, however, a good fighters needs to train against another human as an opponent if they want to win a real fight.

Debates work similarly with words.  Some debaters only fight straw men; others, preferring a challenge, argue against a real human opponent.  Competitive debate requires a person to use logical facts or risk exposure as a charlatan.

Watching political commercials it is easy to see that conservatives prefer to argue against straw men.  Every election year they manufacture a mythical liberal.  Several years ago they created the lie that Barack Obama wasn’t American.  Millions of conservatives believed and spread this lie.

The commercials this year demonize President Joe Biden.  The commercials distort his record, creating a straw man easy to defeat.  The logical evidence tells a different story.

Despite conservative efforts to sabotage America, Joe Biden has a remarkable record of success.  Domestically, job growth was steady over the last year. The unemployment rate fell. 

Biden guided meaningful legislation through Congress.  Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act.  It limited out of pocket Medicare expenses to $5000 and capped the cost of insulin for seniors at $35.

The Inflation Reduction Act also prioritized “Made In America.”  It provided tax incentives to companies that provide alternatives to foreign oil.  The tax code will reward companies that manufacture solar panels, wind turbines and batteries in America.

Joe Biden also signed into law the CHIPs and Science Act.  The Covid 19 epidemic exposed America’s vulnerability to foreign manufacturing of semiconductors.  Semiconductors are the brains of most modern machines from cars to cell phones.

President Biden also had success overseas. He rallied US allies against Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.  NATO has imposed some of the harshest economic sanctions ever against Russia and supplied the Ukrainian freedom fighters with weapons to defend themselves.

NATO’s united front has made Putin’s potential allies think twice.  Both China and India have backed away from their earlier support.  Recep Erdoğan, President of Turkey, told Putin that he needs to leave all of Ukraine, including Crimea, before any peace deal.

Conservative political ads understandably leave this record out.  They don’t want voters to know the truth.  They create a straw man.  Conservative politicians want to continue raising our property taxes, defunding public schools and neglecting our future energy needs.

Fighting against a straw man will never make us stronger.  American needs the truth.

October 6, 2022

I Wish I Were A Rich Man?

By Glenn

I am always struck when I come to the end of the Good Samaritan parable in the gospel of Luke. The parable ends with the rich man begging Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to warn his brothers. Abraham ridicules the rich man.

Abraham said “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”  For me, this line summarizes the entire Gospel and the meaning of faith.  It lays out clearly the consequences for a believer.

The rich man was a Jew.  He had heard the Law of Moses and the warnings from the prophets. Presumably, like other rich men mentioned in the Gospels, “he kept the faith.”  He said his prayers.  He made his sacrifices.  He ate the right food.

When the rich man died, however, he found himself in hell instead of the Kingdom of Heaven.  This is precisely, the fate another rich man wanted to avoid.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a man asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”  He then boldly told Jesus that he had kept all the commandments, and then asked “What do I still lack?”  Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”    

There you have it.  If you are a Christian, these words come straight from a man that was raised from the dead.  The Jesus of the Gospels links Jewish law and eternal life.  Unlike today’s preachers, however, Jesus wasn’t running around casting stones at people having sex. Jesus saved his anger for selfish rich people.

Jesus saved the poor.  Lazarus was a poor, sick man.  Lazarus was so poor, he longed “to eat what fell from the rich man’s table.”  None ever fell.  Luke tells us that Lazarus found his fill at the side of Abraham.  Matthew also tells us what happens for people who help and care for a “Lazarus” in our lives.

“Then the King will say… ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’”

Why is it then that Conservatives, who claim they want a Christian nation, always act like the rich man in the Gospel of Luke?  They ridicule school lunch programs.  They ridicule public health programs.  They ridicule immigrant programs.  They ridicule prison programs.

I understand why conservatives don’t listen to the research that shows these programs work.   They are drowning in a world of lies created by Fox News and Talk Radio.  But why don’t conservatives listen to the one who rose from the dead?  I guess Luke told us when he said “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

September 29, 2022

Solutions, Not Fear

By Glenn

Conservatives politicians make two promises. They promise that government can’t work when they are elected. They promise to run government like their personal business.  Why are we surprised when things turn out good for them and their friends but bad for us?

Conservative politicians are on television complaining about everybody else except themselves. They have been in power in Texas for the last generation.  Their policies created the chaos around us.

Conservative politicians defunded our public schools.  They have flooded our streets with unregulated guns. They have glamorized killing government officials.  The loudly call on Texans to use “Second Amendment Solutions.”

Conservative politicians like Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton have been controlling Texas for the last 20 years.  If Texas is broken, then they broke it.

This November we have an opportunity to pursue constitutional solutions.  These solutions should work for us, the people of Texas, not conservative corporations. 

These solutions work hand in hand.  They have a proven track record of building the greatest country in the world: the United States of America. We can create a lawful society if we have a well-educated electorate and a well-regulated militia.

Uvalde Massacre

A well-educated electorate means saying no to school vouchers.  We don’t need to take tax dollars out of public education and give it to Wall Street.  Our money needs to stay in the classroom to pay for teachers and fund their benefits.

Teachers are leaving their profession because conservative politicians keep stacking on unfunded mandates.  Teacher and staffing shortages force teachers into overcrowded classrooms and require after hours paper work.

Police officers look down the barrels of unregulated guns every day.  They can’t tell the bad guy from the good guy.  They have to shoot first and ask questions later. We ask too much of them.

As a matter of fact a better educated society is less violent.  A better educated society is more compassionate.  A better educated society encourages reading, writing, math and science.   A better educated society teaches its children to respect their neighbors, not to fear them.

Beto O’Rourke, Mike Collier and Rochelle Garza offer solutions.  They want fully funded public schools. They want regulations that make sure criminals don’t have easy access to guns.  They want Americans to vote more, not less.  O’Rourke, Collier and Garza want to expand health care for Texans.

We know what conservatives promise: a failed government that fills the pockets of their donors.  We need a government that works for the people of Texas.  We need a government that values our lives.