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.

September 22, 2022

Is That An Elephant in Your Uterus?

By Glenn

When a woman walks into a doctor’s office should Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick and Ken Paxton walk in too?  Should national Republicans like Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy and Ted Cruz watch a woman’s exam?  Should these politicians make medical decisions for women?

Republican politicians in Austin and Washington think they should. 

Pregnancy is one of the most dangerous and complicated experience in a woman’s life.  Since the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973, women have been free to make medical decisions for themselves.  State and federal politicians had to allow a woman to make decisions that impacted her health and life.

On Jun 24, 2022 the conservative Supreme Court took those freedoms away.  The conservative court gave power to state politicians.  State politicians can now place the life of a developing fetus before the life and health of a breathing woman.

The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision allows politicians to create a one size fits all regulation for all pregnancies in the state.  Before Dobbs, Abbott and Patrick placed bounties on women whose pregnancies ended before birth, encouraging vigilantes to spy on their neighbors.  They also drafted a radical “trigger” law just in case the conservatives on the Supreme Court gave politicians more power over women.

Doctors across the nation and the state are warning the public about the consequences of this new found power.  For example in Ohio, a ten year old rape victim had to leave the state for an abortion because, like Texas, Ohio Republicans denied abortions to all rape victims.

In Louisiana, a woman had to leave that state because she carried a fetus without a head. It clearly could not have lived outside her body.  Since the politicians decided a heartbeat defined a life, the woman could not get an abortion.  The state law required her to carry the dead body to term and deliver it.

All across the country, women face these horrible realities because politicians want to legislate away medical complexities.  Doctors now must deny women cancer treatments because chemo could cause an abortion.   Under these new laws, chemo treatments could be prosecuted as murder.

All my life conservatives told me they wanted small government.  Abbott, Patrick, Paxton, McConnell, McCarthy and Cruz now stand between a woman and her doctor.  Is that small government?

https://politicalcartoons.com/sku/117384

Now, Lindsay Graham and the Republicans in Congress want the federal government to have these same powers.  They want the federal government to restrict women’s medical choices.  They want federal prosecutors to hunt women who defend their health and life during pregnancy. 

If these conservatives impose themselves on women, there would be no escape.  Pregnancy is one of the most dangerous and complicated experience in a woman’s life.  I trust women, not politicians.  Who do you trust?

September 15, 2022

A Republic, Not A Monarchy

By Glenn

The death of Queen Elizabeth II reminds me how lucky we are as Americans. We don’t have a monarchy. We have a Republic.  The American Republic belongs to all the people, not a single person.

Our Republic, however, owes much to the history of the English monarchy.  American constitutional history often traces its origins back to 1215. In that year English nobles forced King John to sign the Magna Carta.

This “Great Charter” was the first explicit limitation on monarchical power.  After 1215 English monarchs had to respect the privileges of nobleman and churchman.  For example, if the king accused the nobleman or a churchman of a crime, then the king had to present evidence before a jury.  Eventually that jury system expanded to include all Englishmen.

Another key event happened in 1641 when Charles I tried to arrest Members of Parliament. Charles led armed guards into Parliament to make the arrests.  The MPs, however, had already left the building and Charles left London empty handed and humiliated.

Eight months later Charles raised an army and declared war on Parliament. The English Civil War ended seven years later.  Parliament won and tried Charles for treason.  He was found guilty and executed.

This execution was a revolutionary act.  Before this trial, kings considered the kingdom as a piece of personal property.  Kings could never betray themselves.  Now, kings had to answer to Parliament.

Over the next 200 years Parliament placed more and more restrictions on the monarchy.  English monarchs learned their lesson.  If they broke the law, they faced removal from the throne and a death penalty.

Charles II signed into law the “writ of habeas corpus,” agreeing to show physical evidence to criminal suspects.  William and Mary agreed to an Act of Religious Toleration and Bill of Rights.  William IV and Queen Victoria expanded voting in Parliamentary elections for more men.  George V expanded suffrage to include women.

Gradually, people took power from monarchs in Great Britain.  Elizabeth II reigned peacefully for 70 years.  She learned her history.  The will of the voters matters more than the will of the monarch.

Unfortunately, the majority of Republicans have forgotten these lessons.  They have pledge their allegiance to one person, not the people.  

On January 6, 2021 Donald Trump incited his armed followers to storm the United States Capitol to overturn our election.  Like Charles I, Donald failed.  Like Charles I, Donald continues to incite and encourage violence against the majority of citizens in the United States of American.

I have no doubt the people will prevail.  Votes matter more than violence.  History is on the side of the people, not tyrants.

September 15, 2022

Public Service vs. Private Profit

By Glenn

Conservatives have been pretty clear about one aspect of their governing philosophy.  They say that they will run government like a business.  Liberals, however, see government as public services.  The results are dramatically different.

Liberal policies shaped American politics after the Great Depression.  Franklin Delano Roosevelt provided a role model for creating government services.  The Great Depression exposed the limits of free markets. 

During the Great Depression, unemployment reached 25%.  For two years conservative President Herbert Hoover urged Congress to keep it hands off of the economy.  Businesses were free to fail, and they did.  The economy only got worse.

FDR responded with programs that he described as “practical Christianity.”  FDR didn’t push a theology, or a set of beliefs, rather he took action.  He used the government to feed the hungry.  He used the government to employ the unemployed.  He used government to electrify and to bring phone service to rural areas.

Once the overall economy stabilized, FDR tackled institutional or systematic poverty.  He knew from research that Seniors, individuals with disabilities, widows and orphans experienced poverty more than other Americans.  He created Social Security to keep them feed, clothed and housed.

This practical Christian approach was widely popular, and FDR won reelection 3 more times.  It was so successful generation of politicians followed his example creating a GI Bill for Veterans and low cost college education for young people.

Conservatives had limited electoral and polices successes until Ronald Reagan. Reagan made a direct appeal to Southern Democrats who had previously supported the segregationist George Wallace. Reagan made vague statements about protecting traditional values, but in the context of a Civil Rights movement, Southerners heard the dog whistle.

Reagan Conservatives then set down the path of dismantling public services.  Government would be run like a business.  They defunded public transportation.  They defunded public schools. They defunded public healthcare. 

This business model spread to higher education.  Conservative politicians cut state funding.  Colleges and universities responded by raising prices to keep their doors open.  This change forced working and middle class families to take out student loans. 

This cycle has continued for the last forty years.  President Joe Biden has provided a small measure of debt relief.  We will not break the cycle until politicians stop treating government like their business.

August 25, 2022

Let’s go Joe!

By Glenn

Between January 20, 2001 and July 14, 2008 prices at the gas pump rose from $1.47 per gallon to $4.11 per gallon.  During that extended price rise, two Texas oil men sat in the Oval Office and made decisions.  Dramatically, gas prices fell to $1.61 by December 2008.  

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney created an environment favorable to the Big Oil companies, and they drove prices up.  Unfortunately, Bush and Cheney also removed restriction on Wall Street and created the worst recession since the Great Depression.  That recession drove down prices. 

When President Barack Obama took office, he stabilized and grew the economy.  Obama cut middle class taxes, expanded healthcare access, saved the US auto industry and sparked the creation of 8.9 million jobs.

It should not have been a surprise that gas prices rebounded to the level Big Oil set.  The market, however, couldn’t sustain prices at $4 per gallon.  Consumers started saving fuel by driving fewer miles and driving more fuel efficient cars. 

By the end of President Obama’s second term in office retail gas prices stayed consistently around $2.50 per gallon.  In the four years Donald Trump occupied the Oval Office, prices at the pump fluctuated dramatically.

 Prices started off at $2.56 and then rose to $2.96 in fewer 5 months.  Prices then plunged in October from $2.90 to the January 2019 low of $2.23.  By May they had swung back up to $2.89 per gallon. 

Everything changed, however, in spring of 2020.  Covid 19 began killing Americans and Donald choose to lie about it.  Throughout the month of February he compared it to the seasonal flu.

On February 26, Donald said “This is a flu. This is like a flu. It’s a little like a regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner.”

Covid was not like the flu. As it killed millions globally, demand for gasoline plummeted and so did prices. In April of 2020 they stood at $1.77 per gallon and only gradually rose back to $2 per gallon on Election Day 2020.

Since that time the unemployment rate in April 2020 high of 14% to 3.6%.  In the first fifteen months of Joe Biden’s Presidency, the United States economy added 8.3 million jobs.  It was no surprise then that gas prices rose back to $3 per gallon—right where Big Oil thought they could sustain them.

What was a surprise was Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine. It sent oil markets into a panic.  That panic drove prices up to $5 per gallon.

Joe Biden, however, didn’t panic.  He had a sure and steady hand on the rudder.  America is sailing into strong head winds and making progress. The sure steady hand has helped bring prices at the pump down to earth. Let’s Go Joe!

August 25, 2022

Let’s Go Joe!

By Glenn

Between January 20, 2001 and July 14, 2008 prices at the gas pump rose from $1.47 per gallon to $4.11 per gallon.  During that extended price rise, two Texas oil men sat in the Oval Office and made decisions.  Dramatically, gas prices fell to $1.61 by December 2008.  

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney created an environment favorable to the Big Oil companies, and they drove prices up.  Unfortunately, Bush and Cheney also removed restriction on Wall Street and created the worst recession since the Great Depression.  That recession drove down prices. 

When President Barack Obama took office, he stabilized and grew the economy.  Obama cut middle class taxes, expanded healthcare access, saved the US auto industry and sparked the creation of 8.9 million jobs.

It should not have been a surprise that gas prices rebounded to the level Big Oil set.  The market, however, couldn’t sustain prices at $4 per gallon.  Consumers started saving fuel by driving fewer miles and driving more fuel efficient cars. 

By the end of President Obama’s second term in office retail gas prices stayed consistently around $2.50 per gallon.  In the four years Donald Trump occupied the Oval Office, prices at the pump fluctuated dramatically.

 Prices started off at $2.56 and then rose to $2.96 in fewer 5 months.  Prices then plunged in October from $2.90 to the January 2019 low of $2.23.  By May they had swung back up to $2.89 per gallon. 

Everything changed, however, in spring of 2020.  Covid 19 began killing Americans and Donald choose to lie about it.  Throughout the month of February he compared it to the seasonal flu.

On February 26, Donald said “This is a flu. This is like a flu. It’s a little like a regular flu that we have flu shots for. And we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner.”

Covid was not like the flu. As it killed millions globally, demand for gasoline plummeted and so did prices. In April of 2020 they stood at $1.77 per gallon and only gradually rose back to $2 per gallon on Election Day 2020.

Since that time the unemployment rate in April 2020 high of 14% to 3.6%.  In the first fifteen months of Joe Biden’s Presidency, the United States economy added 8.3 million jobs.  It was no surprise then that gas prices rose back to $3 per gallon—right where Big Oil thought they could sustain them.

What was a surprise was Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine. It sent oil markets into a panic.  That panic drove prices up to $5 per gallon.

Joe Biden, however, didn’t panic.  He had a sure and steady hand on the rudder.  America is sailing into strong head winds and making progress. The sure steady hand has helped bring prices at the pump down to earth. Let’s Go Joe!

August 18, 2022

Did You Get the Memo?

By Glenn

Every August I remember our history.  For professional historians, history is based on documents.  Documents give us a look into real time events rather than looking backwards.  Documents help us separate reality from storytelling.

August 6 PDB

On August 6, 2001 a Central Intelligence Agent handed George W. Bush a Presidential Daily Brief.  Its title could not have been clearer: “Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US.”  It laid out the history of “al-Qa’ida” attacks against the United States.

 “FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijacking or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal building in New York.”

Not only did Bush ignore this memorandum, his administration shifted the focus from al-Qa’ida to Iraq.  They did not believe non-state actors like Osama Bin Laden could carry out an attack.  Instead, President Bush allowed Vice President Dick Cheney to plan for an invasion of Iraq.

Domestically, Attorney General John Ashcroft moved resources away from preventing an al-Qa’ida in the US.  In the summer of 2001 he developed Justice Department goals and priorities that omitted the threat from al-Qa’ida.  In fact, his September 10 budget request cut counter terrorism funding.

This willful ignorance was a fateful mistake.  On September 11, 2001, fourteen men from Saudi Arabia​, three from United Arab Emirates​, one from Lebanon​ and one from Egypt attacked the United States of America.  Not one man was from Iraq.  Not one had any connections to Iraq.

Just as the CIA and the FBI predicted,  al-Qa’ida murdered thousands of Americans on our soil.  They conducted the attack right under the noises of President Bush and Vice President Cheney.

Bush and Cheney then launched a massive disinformation campaign to rewrite history and cover up their failures.  By and large they were successful.  Their ability to lie convinced the Congress and the public to attack Iraq.

The attack not only cost millions of Iraqi lives, the war cost the lives of American service men and women.   It diverted much needed resources from the hunt for al-Qa’ida.  Osama Bin Laden escaped justice until President Barak Obama redirected troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

Today law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, are warning of more terrorists attacks.  We have already seen many small scale attempts.  These terrorists are inspired by Donald Trump.

We have the memo.  We have the daily brief.  Are you going to be like George W. Bush and ignore the memo?  Are you going to take action to stop Trump’s Terrorists?

August 11, 2022

Team USA

By Glenn

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, it gets better.  Since Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the global recovery from Covid 19 stalled.  Global traders panic, driving up prices and clogging supply chains.

Market fears of a new, and wider, disruption never materialized, however.  Energy supply remained strong, as Europeans carefully rebalanced their energy mix.  The global economy slowed but did not collapse.

The temporary panic in the energy market hit American consumers hard.  The gasoline panic drove prices at the pump up for several months, but they have now been falling for over two months

Just as the price increase had a ripple effect on other goods and service, the decline has had the opposite effect. Prices are returning to normal and inflation is under control. 

That is not the only good news.  After years of searching, United States intelligence agencies tracked down and killed Osama Bin Laden’s right hand crony.  Ayman al-Zawahiri’s death brought justice and demonstrated American determination.

American service men and women from wars past also found justice.  Over Republican objections, Congress passed, and President Joe Biden signed, the PACT Act.  The act reverses years of neglecting our troops.

Veterans from Vietnam and Global War on Terror had suffered from exposure to toxic chemicals.  Know substances like Agent Orange and unknown substances from burn pits slowly rotted veterans from the inside out.  The PACT gives them access to treatments for the first time in decades.

Relief is also on the way for Seniors.  The Inflation Reduction Act allows Medicare to negotiate lower prices for prescription drugs over the next ten years.  It also caps the out of pocket prescription expenses at $2000 per year. 

Democrats had tried to do more, but Republicans block them.  For example, Democrats wanted to cap insulin prices at $35 per month.   Republicans objected and forced this cost saving plan out of the bill. 

All of this action is against a back drop of a strong jobs report in August.   Shattering expectations, American employers added 528,000 jobs in July.  The unemployment rate fell to 3.5%.  American really is back to work after the Covid recession.

We all have lots of good news to cheer.  Our team is on the field competing against the world.  Our team is winning.  Will you join the celebration?  USA! USA! USA!

August 4, 2022

Can You Tell the Difference?

By Glenn

Misdirection is a common technique used by con men.  Con men create a distraction that looks threatening, and then they use it to steal from you.  They could bump into you.  They could even have accomplishes who start a fake argument.

Con men appear often in the Gospels.  They did not like Jesus’ interpretation of the law.  Jesus used the law to lift people up: feed the hungry, care for sick, welcome the stranger and safeguard the prisoner.  The con men preferred a law that hurt vulnerable people.

 One of the best examples of this Gospel meme appears in John Chapter 8. 

“At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.”

John 8:2-11

Here we have the classic con men.  Jesus was teaching about love, and the Pharisees wanted to discredit him by turning the people’s attention to crime and punishment.  They wanted to incite the anger of the crowd to punish the woman and reject the Gospel.

Poussin, Nicolas, France, Musée du Louvre,

Jesus, however, was not distracted.  He simply paused and started writing on the ground with his finger as the con men badgered him with questions.  Finally, he made a very simple statement.

“‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’  Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.  At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.”

“Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’  ‘No one, sir,’ she said.  ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’”

John 8:2-11

Who is the role model here? Jesus or the con men? The one teaching love or the many teaching condemnation and punishment? 

Both Jesus and con men heard the same scripture.  Both could cite it back and forth to each other.  They differed on how to live the words. 

These approaches to the law make a very practical difference.  Jesus’ way breaks the cycle of violence and abuse.  The con man’s way encourages violence and abuse.  Can you tell the difference when you hear a preacher or politician talking about the law?

July 29, 2022

Bad Apple(s)

By Glenn

Benjamin Franklin updated a Medieval saying: “the rotten apple spoils his companion.”  This proverb has been handed down to us as “One bad apple spoils the bunch.”  If you eat fruits and vegetables regularly, you know this to be true.

We also know it’s true for people.  We want our kids to hang out with other good kids.  We worry when we see one or two bad apples in the bunch.  Learning to tell the difference between a good apple and a bad apple is essential to adult life.

Why is Donald Trump surrounded by so many bad apples?   Does Donald hire criminals? Or does he turn them into criminals?

Just look at the number of Trump’s associates convicted of crimes or submitted guilty pleas:

  • Steve Bannon, Contempt of Congress
  • Michael Cohen, Criminal Tax Evasion, Campaign Finance Violations
  • Michael Flynn, Lying to FBI
  • Rick Gates, Conspiracy against the United States, Lying to investigators
  • Paul Manfort, Tax Fraud, Bank Fraud, Money Laundering, Witness Tampering, Lying to Congress
  • George Nader, Possessing Child Pornography, Pedophilia
  • George Papadopoulos, Lying to FBI
  • Roger Stone, Lying under Oath, Obstruction of Justice, Tampering with a Witness

This shouldn’t come as surprise to anyone.  Donald bragged about raping married women.  He paid hush money to a porn star in order to keep his affair secret.  Donald bankrupted several casinos.  He tried to extort Ukraine by withholding military assistance.

On one of his last day to occupy the Oval Office he sat joyfully, watching his mob storm the United States Capital on January 6.  We know his supporters carried out this assault on American democracy.  Prosecutors have secured 329 Guilty Pleas.  Courts have sentenced 185 of these criminals.

These criminals were his supporters.  No court has found otherwise.  These criminals were in Washington at his request.  Donald sat and watched as they hunted for Vice President Pence.  These criminals wanted to obstruct the Constitution of the United States of America.

Donald’s aides pleaded with him to call off the assault.  They wrote a script for him to read: “I want to be very clear: you do not represent me. You do not represent our movement.” 

Donald refused.  Donald struck through those words.  Why?  Because these bad apples DID represent him.  He called them there.  Donald liked the assault.  Will the conservative movement keep these bad apples in their bunch?