July 29, 2021

Seeds of Sedition

By Glenn

The January 6 attack on American Democracy grew from seeds planted 40 years earlier.  In the 1980s conservative activists created incendiary rhetoric to attack our government.  Since the New Deal, conservatives had lost to a wave of progressive legislation. 

Back the Blue Except for the Coup

The Federal Government improved the lives of seniors with Social Security and Medicare.  It improved the lives of women and minorities with Civil Rights legislation.  The Federal Government improved the lives of millions of Americans by cleaning the air and the water.

All of this progress was, and is, popular.  Conservatives couldn’t attack them head on.  They created a mythical beast—“The Government.”  In 1980 Ronald Reagan highlighted federal deficits and wasteful spending.  Reagan then turned around, cut taxes on investors and raised taxes on wage earners. 

Reagononics created even larger deficits. During the 1988 Republican primary, Grover Norquist used his newly organized Americans for Tax Reform to extract a “No New Taxes Pledge” from candidates.

This pledge put moderate Republicans in a box.  To secure their right flank in a primary, they not only pledged no new taxes, they also pledged to cut taxes.  Unfortunately, these tax cuts never trickled down.  They only made government revenues drop.  For men like Norquist this was the goal.

The goal became known as Starve the Beast. “The idea is that if revenues are unilaterally reduced, this reduction will lead to a higher budget deficit, which will force legislators to enact spending cuts.”

Across America, citizens experienced reduced public services.  Veteran faced long wait time at VA hospitals.  Teachers waited years between pay raises.  Seniors saw Social Security benefits taxed as income.

You know who didn’t suffer?  Millionaires and Billionaires.  They experienced record prosperity as investment taxes plummeted and stock prices soared.

For conservative politicians, this change was the big win.   They rewarded their donors and kept their voters distracted with dramatic stories of crime, abortion and religion.  Conservative politicians escalated their explosive rhetorical attacks on the government.

These attacks were amplified by Rush Limbaugh, G. Gordon Liddy and Fox News.  The culmination of this anti-government hysteria reached a crescendo in 1995.  Anti-government terrorist Timothy McVeigh blew up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City.

The Oklahoma City Bombing should have been a wake up call.  Conservative politicians, however, couldn’t retreat.  They needed anti-government hatred to reverse progressive reforms.  Was the January 6 riot the end of this terrorism?  Was it a new beginning?

July 22, 2021

Promote the General Welfare

By Glenn

Taxes fund public services.  A vote is our voice for funding these services.  As a community, we decide on which services to fund or how they are funded.  We benefit from these services either directly or indirectly. 

The U.S. Constitution: Preamble

Direct benefits are pretty easy to understand.  If you have a child in a school, then you and your child receive a direct benefit.  Not only does the child receive an education, but the parent does not have to pay the cost all at once.

The costs associated with an education are also shared with the rest of the community.  Adults without children in schools also pay for the education.  These adults receive an indirect benefit.

Indirect benefits are harder see.  The Texas Constitution, however, does a pretty good job explain why we need public education. 

“A general diffusion of knowledge being essential to the preservation of the liberties and rights of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.”  (ARTICLE 7)

Knowledge is power.  We, as a community, benefit from knowledgeable neighbors.  Education empowers our neighbors to improve their own lives.  Educated citizens become plumbers, teachers, nurses, doctors, and yes, even lawyers.

We all benefit from the freedom to choose our occupation.  We work harder and better when we do things we like. 

Not all government services however are as concrete as public education or roads.  Many of our public services today are insurance.  These protect us from a catastrophic fall.  They are often called a safety net.

Fifty percent of the Federal budget supports the two biggest safety net programs, Medicare and Social Security.  Private companies found no profit insuring our seniors.  These programs insure a basic level of income and care.

Other safety net programs include unemployment benefits, workman’s compensation, and Medicaid.  These insurance programs soften the fall from losing a job, getting hurt on the job or needing basic medical treatment.

These programs work just like private insurance, except the costs are lower.  There are no investors diverting premiums to their own pockets instead of paying claims.

When politicians attack government spending, these are the programs threatened.  Can we afford to lose our public schools, our Social Security, our Medicare or our unemployment insurance?

July 15, 2021

Voting Preserves Our Republic

By Glenn

Voting is the life blood of a democracy.  Votes express the will of the many to direct the actions of the few.  Voting preserves our Republic. Restricting voting kills democracy.

Americans have struggled over the last 232 years to expand voting.  In the beginning, woman couldn’t vote.  Slaves couldn’t vote.  Men without property couldn’t vote.

The Founding Fathers simply didn’t trust the many to direct the few.  The Founders were the few men with property, and they weren’t going to allow the many without property to participate in government. 

This situation allowed slavery to continue. It allowed the few at the top to extract taxes from the many below them.  Limited voting meant property owners could abuse their workers.  It meant husbands could beat their wives and children.

Voting empowers the many to end the abuse of power. This is why Republicans are scared of voting.  They want the freedom to return to an abusive past. 

Voters want reliable energy.  The Texas government has the power to hold energy companies accountable.   Restricting voting means these companies will continue to abuse their customers.

Voters want a quality public education system.  The Texas government has the constitutional responsibility to provide one.   Restricting voting allows Republicans to continue their assault on our future.

Voters want affordable, accessible healthcare.  The Texas legislature has consistently refused to expand healthcare options.  Expanding Medicaid would help 1.4 million adults.

These are popular policies.  Republicans know when they lose, Texas will work for the many, not just the few.  Their donors are spending billions to prevent it.

Texas Democrats have chosen to defend your right to vote.  Members of Texas House traveled to Washington to demand federal protections.  The Right to Vote is guaranteed by the United States Constitution. 

Every America adult is created equal and has the right to vote. Congress must act to protect voting rights across America.  Politicians should not pick and choose their voters. 

In a Republic, voters choose their representatives.  An attack on voting is just as offense as the physical assault on the United States Capital.  It is time to defend the United States from these attacks.

July 8, 2021

Uncle Sam Needs You

By Glenn

The World watched on January 6, 2021, as criminals swarmed the United States Capital.  The thugs wanted to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.   Most of us looked on in horror.

Congress had gathered in a solemn, constitutional ceremony to count the Electoral College votes.  Each state had certified the results.  Courts from every corner of our great nation had confirmed the legality of the 2020 election.

The Loser, however, refused to accept reality.  Offering no evidence, the Loser tempted his followers with glory, wealth and power.  He invited his minions to Washington and then instructed them to “Stop the Steal.”

Defend from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

They attacked the United States of America.  The mob broke windows.  They desecrated our democracy.  The Loser’s supporters even beat a police officer with an American flag. 

That day should have been a galvanizing moment in our history.  We, the People of the United States of America, defended our nation against internal enemies of democracy.  For a moment it was.

The very next day, William Barr, the Former Republican Attorney General, admitted the truth.  Barr said the Loser of the 2020 election “orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress” and his behavior was “betrayal of his office and supporters.”

On January 13, 2021 House Republican leader, Kevin McCarthy also pointed the finger at the Loser of the election.  “Some say the riots were caused by antifa. There’s absolutely no evidence of that and conservatives should be the first to say so.”  McCarthy said the election loser “bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.”

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

Slowly, however, the Loser turned the insurrection into a political sledge hammer.  The Loser continued to lie.  Most Republicans felt fear grip their hearts.  They turn against the United States of America.

Kevin McCarthy let his spine turn to jell-o.  On Thursday January 28, 2021, he traveled to Mar-a-Lago and forgave the loser.  He decided his hatred of Democrats was stronger than his love for America.

That meeting gave other Republicans permission to sanction sedition.  The Republican Party decided that the truth and elections didn’t matter.  They choose false glory, wealth and power over humility and service. 

Every Republican now faces a choice.  Do they support the Loser?  Or do they defend America?  Uncle Sam needs you.

July 1, 2021

Vaccines are Pro Life

By Glenn
Covid 19

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Since February, the United States of America has been making steady progress in the fight against Covid 19.  Public safety measures such as mask wearing and physical distancing slowed the spread of the virus.  We bought time for the development of several vaccines.

The vaccines are highly safe and effective.  Government and private researchers worked diligently to develop and test them.   Experience with other vaccines has taught us that side effects appear quickly and not over the long-term. 

With millions around the world taking the vaccines, scientists have a pretty good understanding about the benefits and the risks of each.  This information has been shared with doctors and public healthcare officials.

We now know that unvaccinated individuals risk death, hospitalization and long-term disability.   All of these could result in financial bankruptcy.  On the other hand, vaccination protects against death, hospitalization and long-term disability. 

Nearly every person dying or hospitalized has not had the vaccination. Everyone needs to talk to a trusted medical professional about this life saving treatment.

The time to act is now. 

In other parts of the world, the virus is mutating, or changing, faster than vaccinations.  A virus is a living organism.  Like all life, viruses evolve to survive and reproduce.  The Delta variant, which scientist first found in India, transmits faster and kills humans more effectively. 

The current vaccines protect against known variants.  This situation might not last.  As Covid 19 spreads and reproduces, there is always the possibility a more deadly strain will evolve.

The best way to solve the mutation problem is slowing the spread.  Not only have vaccines proven safe and effective at preventing death and serious illness, they have also broken the transmission chain from one human to another.

Scientists tell us the vaccination rate needs to be near 70%.  Unfortunately, there are still a significant number of our neighbors who deny the dangers of Covid and refuse to vaccinate themselves.

The vaccination rate across Texas is only 41%.  In Grayson County, the rate is worse.  Only 32% are fully vaccinated.  That is only half the recommended rate.

Please talk to your family and friends.  Covid 19 has killed over 600,000 Americans.  It is still killing 300 of our neighbors every day. 

Encourage them to seek medical advice from a professional.  It could be a life or death conversation.

June 24, 2021

Abuse is Closer Than We Think

By Glenn

Many of the old German folk tales deal with risks and threats. Children needed to learn that there are dangers in the world. What must of us don’t realize is that the dangers are closer to home than we want to admit. 

Most of us prefer to believe threats come from strangers: “Stranger Danger.” The story of Little Red Hood can illustrate the point.  A wolf is the the villain, while the grandmother is the victim.

In reality children are more often than not hurt by someone they know.  “Trusted family” members hurt children.

“Good Christian” youth ministers, priests and preachers hurt children.

Coaches hurt children. Rape occurs in the home. Abuse occurs in the home.

The predators in our society walk amongst us.  We know them, and they know us.  This fact makes it harder to protect the people we love.  We simply don’t want to recognize and admit the threat. 

We would prefer to believe there are wolves out there ready to pounce.  

The Catholic Church refused to admit systematic abuse.   

The Boy Scouts of America refused to admit systematic abuse. 

The US Olympic Committee refused to admit wide spread abuse. 

Criticizing something, or someone, we love is hard. 

Demonizing a stranger is easy.  A similar scenario plays out with guns. There is a paranoia sweeping through American about strangers with guns. 

The reality the gun in the home is much more of a threat than a stranger with a gun.  Accidental shootings and suicides kill and hurt more Americans than “Stranger Danger.”

As people bring more unsecured guns into the home for protection, who is more likely to get hurt?

 A child? A family member? A friend?

The moral of the story is simple.  Dangers and threats are real.  The paranoia around “Stranger Danger”, however, blinds us to the dangers in our own homes, churches and schools.

June 17, 2021

Unreliable Energy

By Glenn

Here we go again.  ERCOT, Electric Reliability Council of Texas, has warned us that the Texas power grid is about to fail.  That doesn’t sound very reliable to me.

It must sound reliable to Greg Abbot and Dan Patrick. They failed to provide solutions in the last legislative session.  A few ERCOT Board members did resign.  This failure, however, is a systematic problem, not a personnel problem.

We learned about the reality of systematic failure just this winter. In February, millions of Texas lost power.  At least 151 of our neighbors died as a result.  The real death toll may be as high as 700 Texans.

According to the Dallas Federal Reserve, Texas families and businesses lost between “$80 billion–$130 billion in direct and indirect economic loss.” At the same time, energy providers made billions in profits.  I guess failure is just good business.  Does it make sense to your family?

The summer heat is threatening a repeat of the freeze, and ERCOT wants you to suffer for these profits. 

It has asked you to “set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher – every degree of cooling increases your energy use by six to eight percent” and to “Turn off lights and pool pumps and avoid using large appliances like ovens, washing machines and dryers.”

This shouldn’t surprise you.  The ERCOT board is made up of industry leaders.  As I wrote in February, Texas Republicans have made it clear that they don’t believe in regulation or oversight. 

Republicans call this the Free Market.  Energy companies are free to make a profit, and you are free to suffer.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  The Texas Legislature needs to put some teeth in energy reliability legislation.  It is wrong for companies to collect billions in customer dollars and then drop the ball when we need it most.

Michael Webber, an energy professor at University of Texas, wants more done on the demand side.  Customers need help insulating their homes and apartments.  Quality windows and insulation can be costly.

The Legislature should provide tax credits and rebates to improve Texas homes.  Not only would this reduce demand, but it also would make the indoor climate more comfortable.

As Texans, we pay billions in taxes and energy bills.  We should be calling the shots in Austin, not the energy companies.  We need reliable energy.  Systematic failure is not an option.

June 10, 2021

Turn Up the Heat

By Glenn
Glenn Melancon

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I love heat. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that summer is my favorite season. I’m always happy to see winter far behind us.

Growing up summer always meant sun, water and travel.   Dad’s government job offered us many opportunities beyond a secure paycheck and good healthcare. His vacation was always a family vacation. 

Sunrise over water

When we were in the United States, Mom and Dad would pack up the car and drive us to Louisiana. Both of their parents lived outside of New Orleans about an hour from each other.

Summer was a time to be outside and rekindle friendships with my cousins.   There was no Facetime or Facebook.  We simply had time together in the summer and holidays.

When we lived in Germany, Mom and Dad always made time and saved money for us to take a Grand Tour.   Our trips were inexpensive, but they weren’t cheap. 

More often than not, we would picnic on the side of the road. The big challenge was keeping the sandwich container on the top of the Coleman ice chest from dropping into the ice. Nothing is worse than a soggy sandwich.

Accommodations were also spartan. Sometimes Dad would pack the heavy canvas tent, and we would find a wonderful campground. When that option was not available, they always found an small guest house or hotel.

Traveling this way made our vacations pack a punch. We saw Paris, Rome and Venice.  We learned about the castles, churches and the Beaches of Normandy.

Jackie and I tried to offer our boys the same treasures.  We camped from East Texas to the Grand Canyon.  We spent time with grandparents and cousins.  We’ve saved money for big trips to Germany, France and Italy. 

This summer we had a unexpected surprise.  Christopher’s Army station put him in South Carolina, while Alexandre’s Air Force assignment ordered him to Florida.   We packed up the car and drove to see them and their families.

Jackie, always the planner, found us an affordable beach house in Florida.   Our sons and their wives joined us as well as our granddaughter and Jackie’s mother. We had four generations living under one roof for a week.  

I love the summer heat.  It is liberating and refreshing.  Summer is a time to see our beautiful country and the world.  Most of all, summer is a time to make memories.

June 3, 2021

Trust Texas Women

By Glenn

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Life for Texas women is about to get much more stressful.  The Republican led Texas Legislature just passed, and Republican Gregg Abbot signed, a new law allowing vigilantes to harass women.  

Conservatives simply don’t trust Texas women.   They want the government and busy bodies to invade the privacy of a doctor’s office.  They want power over pregnant women.

In America women have equal rights.  They are intelligent enough to make informed medical choices.  A woman has the right to walk into a doctor’s office without having a conservative politician looking between her legs.  Most of all, she has a right to self-defense.

Pregnancy is one of the most dangerous and complicated periods in a woman’s life.   Not only do they risk significant health and life dangers, many too often face angry boyfriends, husbands, and parents. 

Texas women have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in America.  The Texas Legislature just made this matter worse.  

The new law allows random people to sue a doctor, nurse or anyone who “aids and abets” an abortion.   Using words like “aiding and abetting” creates a criminal atmosphere.

An abortion is when a fetus separates from the wall of the uterus.  A miscarriage is an abortion that happens naturally.  Somewhere between 25% and 30% of pregnancies end in miscarriage.   In Texas women chose to end their own pregnancy 9% of the time.

In other words, natural abortions occur more often than medical abortions.  How are Texas vigilantes going to tell the difference?   Will they even care?  Does anyone doubt that some busybody lawyer, or disgruntle boyfriend, will abuse their new power over women?  

The Texas Legislature just made every miscarriage a potential crime.  Crimes must be investigated.  

I know many women who want to announce their pregnancy as soon as possible.  They are excited about the pregnancy.  Now, they should wait. 

If they announce their pregnancy and it ends, they open themselves, their friends and medical staff to a lawsuit.  Is it really that hard to imagine vindictive relatives or coworkers accusing a woman of an illegal abortion?  

I trust Texas women.  I trust women to walk into a doctor’s office and understand the medical advice they receive.  I trust women to develop their own moral understanding of the world.  They don’t need medical advice from a politician. 

Politicians in Austin just made pregnancy in Texas much more complicated.  They grew the size of government.   Conservatives simply don’t trust Texas women.  

May 27, 2021

Expert Advice

By Glenn

My dad, Yves “Buster” Melancon served for twenty seven years in the United States Army.  He earned the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 3.  He started his career as a mechanic and ended as an Automotive Superintendent.

Some of my best memories are helping him work on cars.  In the 1970s he didn’t have a computer to diagnose a problem.  Most of the time, he used simple observation.

I say simply, but it was trained.  He trained his eyes and ears to determine what was working and what was broken.  Dad was an expert.

Yves “Buster”/”Frenchy” Melancon, Somewhere, Vietnam

I find it odd that so many people today attack experts.  There is a good reason to listen to them.  Dad always said “Never let your gas tank go below one quarter.”

There were a couple of practical reasons for this advice.  First, you should never completely trust your gauges.  Running the gas down to the extreme limit could mean running out of gas.  Second, he had seen the bottom of gas tanks.  Water, sludge and other impurities settle down there. These are no friends to your engine.

Another great piece of advice was to always check your oil level.  By the 1980s, more and more cars only had what he called an “Idiot Light.”  To save money car companies started removing the oil pressure gauge.

The Idiot Light didn’t really provide the driver with any useful information.  It simply said, “hey idiot, you have a problem.”  It could be the water, the oil or some other unknown issue.

One night, my oldest brother ignored my dad’s expert advice.  He drove from DeRidder to Lake Charles for a concert.  He didn’t check the oil.  As he drove home in the middle of the night, the car ran low on oil and left him stranded.

Dad knew.  His training and experience educated him.  The Army promoted him and gave him responsibility based on his expertise.  As an officer in the United States Army, his expertise saved lives.

Yves “Buster”/”Frenchy” Melancon, Somewhere, Vietnam

Our society benefits so much from experts.  Experts provide clean drinking water, reliable energy, good roads and healthy bodies. 

The anti-expert fetish started in the 1960s.  Experts found that seat belts saved lives and wanted a law mandating seat belts.  Car companies lied and said seat belts killed.  I am so glad we listened to the experts.  The next big fight was over smoking and then second hand smoke.  Once again, the experts were right, and the tobacco industry was wrong.

Experts save lives.  Yes, sometimes expert advice is disruptive, but we ignore that advice at our own peril. We have the ability to solve problems if we are willing to train our eyes and ears.