September 16, 2021

Cruelty is a Feature, Not an Accident

By Glenn

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 ignited the rise of Big Government Conservatism.  Just a few months before, George W. Bush had won a razor thin election by presenting himself as a compassionate conservative. 

Within days of the September attacks his mask fell off. Bush started to channel the blood lust rising in conservative circles.  I will never forget my drive home on September 11. 

The local radio talk show hosts were interviewing Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican moderate.  The WBAP hosts asked her if the United States was prepared to use nuclear weapons against the attackers.  Hutchison responded that a nuclear retaliation was possible.

That morning, no one knew who was responsible for the attacks.  No one could know how many innocent people a nuclear bomb would kill.  Despite this ignorance, this so called conservative moderate entertained the idea of murdering thousands as revenge. 

George W. Bush fed this blood lust.  Just days after the attack, he started building a false case against Iraq.  President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney fabricated an excuse to invade a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

Bush, Cheney, Fox News and talk radio then destroyed anyone that challenged their lies.  Conservatives called men like Senator Max Cleland, a disabled Vietnam Veteran, a coward and traitor for opposing the Iraq War. 

Congressional Republicans jumped on the war bandwagon.  When America’s ally France tried to silence the drums of war, Congressional Republicans changed the menu in the cafeteria.  French fries became Freedom Fries.  French Toast became Freedom Toast.

Exploiting the September 11 attacks for political gain was very popular with the Republican base.  In 2004 Democrats nominated John Kerry, another Vietnam War Veteran, as their candidate.  Bush donors spread lies and smeared his service record.

Conservatives embraced the Swift Boat lies.  At the Republican Convention, participants mocked John Kerry’s service to America by wearing band aides with small Purple Hearts.  They falsely claimed Kerry faked his injuries to win one of America’s highest honors.

The 2008 Presidential election was no better.  Conservatives fabricated and spread the racist, bigoted lie that Barack Obama was a foreign born Muslim.  When the Republican nominee and Vietnam War hero John McCain defended Obama from these lies, conservatives turned on him too.

The September 11 attacks poisoned American conservatism.  Politicians, Fox News, and talk show hosts embraced cruelty and pain.   They demonized anyone who promoted compromise and dialogue.  Healing America requires facing this ugly truth.

September 10, 2021

Yes, I’m a Feminist

By Glenn

In 1862 the United Kingdom’s Parliament passed the first in a series of Contagious Disease Acts.  The Members of Parliament considered sexually transmitted diseases a matter of national security.  The MPs believed prostitutes spread the disease to the Armed Forces and weakened them.

The Acts specifically targeted suspected prostitutes, not the soldiers, sailors, or marines.  It empowered Police Officers to detain and inspect women.  The inspection included an intrusive speculum exam. 

(Men, if you don’t know what this is, ask a trusted female friend or relative).

The pretext of this body cavity search was to find and stop the spread of STDs among the Armed Forces.  Parliament identified female prostitutes as the source of this national security threat and gave Police the authority to “hospitalize” (jail) any women showing signs of an STD.

Would it surprise you to learn that in the late 1800s women neither voted nor served in Parliament?   According to tradition, men looked after the “weaker sex.”  Men dominated the public sphere—politics, war and the market place—while women took care of the private sphere—home, childcare, and church.

Prostitutes violated this tradition.  They entered into the public sphere.  They stepped outside of social protections and hurt men. 

The men who passed these laws publicly advocated for property rights and a free market.  The hypocrisy was clear.  Men should be free, but women needed to be controlled.

The Contagious Disease Acts were a step too far for Victorian women.  They knew that a threat to women’s rights anywhere was a threat to women’s rights everywhere.  These acts sparked the beginnings of modern feminism.

Feminists like Josephine Butler highlighted the inherent inequality of the act.  It punished the women involved but the men faced few consequences.  Butler no longer trusted male politicians to protect her and other women.

Women around the United Kingdom mobilized and spoke out.  They didn’t want to engage in prostitution, but they did want to protect themselves from big government.

In 1886, the feminists won.  Parliament repealed the acts.  The battle for political and social equality, however, had just begun.

A new generation of feminists like the Pankhurst family expanded their demands.  Feminists fought for and won the right to vote, workplace safety standards, and better wages for all. 

Politicians often can achieve their momentary goals of protecting their special interests.  If they overreach, however, they may get more than what they bargained for.

September 2, 2021

Time to Come Home

By Glenn

The United States Armed Forces have shown the world again that it is the best trained and equipped on the planet. In 2001, they went into Afghanistan to kill Osama Bin Laden and dismantle the 9/11 terror network.

Long after their mission to kill Osama Bin Laden was successful and Al Qaeda driven from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden kept his promise to bring Americans home.  Every other President before him hesitated.  I am happy that President Biden did not.

President Biden prioritized the lives of US troops.  He extended an artificial deadline negotiated by Donald Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to make that happen.  In November 2020, days after the US election, Pompeo surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban and promised all US forces would be gone by May 2021.

To protect US lives President Biden moved the deadline to August 31. In July, the US military returned control of Afghanistan over to the Afghans.   The pull out went well. Thousands of US forces got out safely. 

Biden kept his promise. Unfortunately, the US trained Afghan forces were not up to the task of holding back the Taliban.  US forces then had to organize an incredible mission to evacuate thousands of Americans and Afghans who thought they could stay after the US exit.  The Afghan government failed to secure the country, not the US military.

While conservatives continue to badmouth US military operations, let’s look at the facts.  American service men and women successfully evacuated 110,000 people.  That is 48% of the total of 230,688.  Team USA can be a force for good in the world.  The US military did its job.   

Conservatives on Fox News and in Congress wanted President Biden to delay.  They never wanted to leave this war.  Now some want to send US forces back into Afghanistan. 

Conservatives have learned nothing.  After 20 years, trillions of dollars, and thousands of dead Americans, they still want to nation build.  Conservatives refuse to recognize that US troops would always face another suicide bomber.  

No more Americans need to die in Afghanistan.  The mission is over.  They are coming home.

The next time some politician tries to convince you that occupying a foreign country is easy, please, remember the recent images.  Armchair patriotism is easy today.  It is much harder when we are trying to stop the drumbeats of war.  Twenty years in Afghanistan is too long.

August 26, 2021

Covid: Think Globally, Active Locally

By Glenn

I don’t know about you, but I started off my summer with hope.  Together—united as one nation–we had turned the corner on Covid 19.  The experts were right.  Masks and physical distancing saved lives and bought time for many of us to get vaccinated.

In June, however, conservative politicians decided it was time to surrender.  They cut and ran from good public policy.  They inflamed their followers to reject the common good and embrace selfish behavior.

https://apps.texastribune.org/features/2020/texas-coronavirus-cases-map/#daily-hospital-anchor

Conservative politicians resumed a tried and true technique.  They created doubt, fear and rebellion.  This technique worked to delay anti-tobacco legislature.  It worked to delay environmental legislation.  It worked to delay equal rights legislation.

Politicians like Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick, and Ken Paxton launched a coordinated attack on the defense of America from a deadly disease.  Through a series of executive orders and frivolous lawsuits, they stripped local governments of their life saving powers.

The results were predictable.  The vaccination rate slowed to a trickle.  The public abandoned masks. Large numbers of Americans started gather in poorly ventilated indoor spaces.

These behaviors created ideal conditions to reignite Covid 19.  Positive cases increased.  Hospital beds filled.  Now, Texas has ordered more mortuary trailers to handle the overflow of dead bodies.

Last week I saw a ray of hope.  Once hesitate Americans are changing their mind about the vaccines.  The vaccinate rate is again climbing.  Unfortunately, it is climbing slower in conservative areas of the country like Texas.

Liberal politicians are encouraging their supporter to follow the sciences.  More and more of them are getting the vaccine.  States will liberal governments are literally saving lives. 

This is not happening as quickly in Red states.  For example, when The Loser of the last presidential election traveled to Alabama for a rally, he tried to promote vaccines.  The crowd booed.  Instead of taking the vaccine, people in these states are taking cow and horse pills to prove they aren’t “sheep.”

My hope comes from local School Boards and County Judges.  They have challenge Abbott’s, Patrick’s, and Paxton’s big government policies.  Abbot, Patrick, and Paxton abused the power of the state to tie the hands of local officials. 

Local leaders have had enough.  They are tired of watching the failed policies spread sickness and death.  They are tired of bus driver shortages, nursing shortages, and waiter shortages.  Workers, student and diners have a right to a safe work environment.

These local actions give me hope.  The public is demanding action.  Real leaders listen.  We can have a safer community soon if we launch a counter offensive now.

August 19, 2021

The Best Hope for Peace

By Glenn

I was born in Heidelberg, Germany, in a United States military hospital.  My dad proudly served in the US Army for 27 years.  He was there to defend against a Soviet invasion.

The US Army first arrived in Europe during World War Two (1939-1945). It was part of an Allied Coalition that defeated the NAZIs.  At Yalta, the leaders of the coalition decided to divide Europe and rebuild it. 

This was the start of the largest and most important social experiment in human history.  In Western Europe, the United States, Great Britain and France built institutions that valued popular participation, a reduction of poverty, a free press, well- regulated capitalism and an independent judicial system.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

The Soviet Union, however, had a different vision for Eastern Europe.  It had conquered the East and paid a bloody price.  It was determined to exploit that victory.  The Soviet’s set up puppet governments across the continent.  They held fraudulent elections.  They stole resources, labor and infrastructure for the benefit of the USSR.  They punished independent journalists, property owners and judges. 

This division lasted throughout the Cold War (1947-1991).  Over the years, military forces in Western Europe increasing took a back seat to politics.  Talking and compromising became more important than shooting and killing.

This transition never happened in Eastern Europe.  Every time the Soviet military loosened its grip on Eastern Europe, local dissidents tried to break free.  In 1956 and 1968 Soviet tanks broke independence movements in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

The United States, Great Britain and France had literally found a way to turn swords into plowshares.  The former advisories learned to live and prosper together.  The Soviet exploitive model, however, promised perpetual violence.

The great irony is that the United States ignored this success outside of Europe.  US political leaders used the language of freedom to exploit resource rich countries.  The result of this exploitation was no less violent than the Soviet experience.

Instead of promoting popular participation, the United States picked dictators to rule over the people.  These dictators were considered “strongmen.”  Americans had a hard time trusting local people to govern themselves.

Chiang Kai-shek in China.  Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. Augusto Pinochet in Chili. Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines.   Ngô Đình Diệm in Vietnam. 

Time and again, the United States soldiers, like my father, had to fight to protect these dictators.  They never once fought in Europe.  Democracy, anti-poverty programs, a free press, and an independent judiciary are the best hope for peace.  Those that live by the sword will die by the sword.

August 13, 2021

Can you do a little?

By Glenn

First conservatives told us to sacrifice seniors.  Now, they want us to sacrifice teachers and school children.  Over 600,000 Americans have already died.  Conservatives call this Pro Life.

In March of 2020, Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick objected to Covid 19 mitigation efforts.  He 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?’” 

Let’s imagine we had taken Patrick’s advice and let seniors die while the rest of us did nothing.  What would be the body count?  1 Million dead?  2 Million dead?  

How many more Americans need to die before conservative politicians start taking Covid seriously?

Texas Governor Greg Abbot has ordered public schools to disarm themselves in this deadly fight.  Masks, simply and effectively, reduce this risk of spreading Covid 19.

The CDC recommends that “If you are not fully vaccinated and aged 2 or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.”  Abbott ignored these recommendations and banned mask mandates in Texas Public Schools..

Abbot’s order contradicts infectious disease science.  It dramatically increases the health and lives of Texas students, staff and faculty.  Everyone inside a Texas Public School has a reason to fear that the school year will end in serious injury or death. 

If you don’t believe this is possible, just look at what is happening in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  More and more children must be treated in the hospital.  ICU units are filling.  Is this healthy? Is this Pro Life?

Arkansas is experiencing the same uptick in ICU occupancy.  Their Governor, Republican Asa Hutchinson, said he regrets signing his state’s mask ban into law.  Disarming public servants not only lowers an important barrier to transmission, it sends the message that Covid is no longer a threat.

Covid 19 is clearly still a threat to the life and health of everyone around the world.  We are, however, in a much better position to defend ourselves. 

Vaccines are the best long term solution.  They are highly safe and effective. Nine out of ten hospitalizations are unvaccinated individuals.  More adults need to take the shot.

Children under twelve are not eligible for the vaccines yet.  Clinical trials are underway, but we simply don’t know the results.  Hopefully, they can receive protection too.

The best temporary defense for them is universal mask wearing.  We can, and must, protect our children.  If we don’t, we are simply aborting their lives.

August 5, 2021

Never Too Late To Learn

By Glenn
Topics:
Covid 19
Texas

Discuss it:
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I hate to repeat myself, but maybe now somebody is willing to listen.  I wrote the following on June 26, 2021.  I have only edited a little to update a few data points.  This discussion is life or death.

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 risks 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 slowed the transmission chain from one human to another.  They are not perfect.

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.

Since June 29th the vaccination rate across Texas has only risen from 41% from 44%.  In Grayson County, the rate is worse.  Only rose from 32% fully vaccinated to 33%.  That is only half the recommended rate.

Please talk to your family and friends.  Covid 19 has killed over 600,000 Americans.  On June 29th, it was killing 300 of our neighbors every day.  Now, it is killing nearly 400 Americans every day.

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

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.