April 30, 2022

Addiction

By Glenn

Addictive behavior can destroy the addict as well as those around them.  Addicts find it harder and harder to distinguish reality from imagination.  They tell themselves lies and demand others accept the lies as truth.

Dealing with an addict can be very exhausting.  Addicts respond to the truth with false allegations and threats.  Their paranoia grows with each attempted intervention.

As more and more evidence mounts about the events on January 6, 2021, it is hard not to see a group of addicts.  Conservative politicians and activists became addicted to power.  They enjoyed using it to punish their opponents.

That is not how democracy works.  Democracy works when elected leaders respect the will of the voters.  Joe Biden earned 81,268,924 votes. He earned 7,052,770 more votes than the loser. 

According to the Constitutional process established by the Founders, the 7 million vote advantage translated into an Electoral College victory of 306 to 232.

The loser tried to challenge these facts in court.  In courtroom after courtroom, the loser lost again and again.  Like an addict the loser refused to accept reality. 

Donald Trump was not the only addict, however.  He surrounded himself with addicts.  According to text messages from Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Republicans in Congress wanted Donald Trump to declare Martial Law.

Stop and think about that for a moment.  A sitting Congresswoman sent a message to the White House asking the President of the United States to consider Martial Law.  Elected Offices wanted to throw away the Constitution of the United States of America.

Who in their right mind considers a dictatorship acceptable?  Who in their right mind thinks politicians, not voters, determine the outcome of elections.

If Republican politicians secretly conspired to tear up the constitution, why were they surprised when a mob attack our democracy on January 6?  The mob tried to disrupt constitutionally mandated counting of electoral votes.

Lies fed these behaviors.  Rational people like Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell private and officially rejected the lies. What made them different?

Both Pence and McConnell accepted the Constitution.  They understood that losing an election requires giving up power.  Addicts cannot give up power.  Addicts will burn the whole house down to satisfy their appetite.

April 21, 2022

Beto Came to Sherman

By Glenn
April 21, 2022

Build Ladders

By Glenn
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Glenn Melancon

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I have often heard it said that most of success is showing up. Well, I have shown up to Southeastern for 27 years now and still have a few years left in me.  The Faculty Senate recognized my career with a Life Time Achievement Award.

My success, however, wasn’t just my life time.  I was lifted up by hundreds around me.  They built ladders for me to climb.

The climb began long ago in Raceland, Louisiana.  My Mawmaw Melancon was the widow of a sugar mill worker.  She had worked the fields alongside him and then survived his early death.  Mawmaw never refused my request to read Green Eggs and Ham. Her gift of reading opened up so many doors.

Raceland Sugar Mill

My Dad’s decision to join the US Army also created many more opportunities for me.  Not only did the Department of Defense schools provide a world class public education, but my parents showed me the world. I saw historical places first hand as we visited churches, castles, palaces, and museums. 

I will never forget standing in a German bunker above the Normandy beaches. I will never forget looking up at Abraham Lincoln and knowing his contribution to building a better America.  These experiences made history real for me. 

In high school I learned from the Salesians of Don Bosco. They staffed Archbishop Shaw High School. Father Roy and Brother Dave taught us the value of service through their lives. Head Football Coach Hank Tierney stressed the importance of technique and intelligence.

When I went to college, I continued to find support.  In the 1980s states like Louisiana paid 75% of the costs attending college.  My parents could afford the rest of the tuition and room rent.  I only had to pay for the extras.

Luckily, I had my big brother Randy looked out for me.  He ran a sandblasting and painting shop in Morgan City.  I worked for him every school break, hauling sand, moving pallets, scraping rust, or driving a truck.

Since I lived with him, I saved my money to spend while attending University of Southwestern Louisiana.  I didn’t have to work during the semester.  Randy removed that worry, and I enjoyed my college years.

Sometimes I enjoyed myself too much, but eventually I learned moderation and time management.  It didn’t hurt that I found two incredible mentors: Vaughan and Amos Ed Simpson.  They taught me how to be a trained historian.

Amos E. and Vaughan Simpson

Their advice served me well at LSU.  Just as important, however, was finding new mentors.  Meredith Veldman, Victor Stater, Karl Roider and John Henderson helped me develop as a researcher.  They pointed me in the right direction and kept me focused.

Not only did Amos and Vaughan teach me in the classroom, but they introduced me to their professional friends at the Southwestern Social Sciences Association.  It was at a SSSA Annual Meeting that I meet Ed Byrd and Ingrid Westmoreland from Southeastern.

By coincidence Dr. Byrd died the year I earned my Ph.D.   Having meet Dr. Westmoreland, it made it easier to apply for the job SE job. Her guidance and support helped me succeed for the past 27 years.

No one made my climb easier than my wife Jackie.  She was there every step from graduate school until today.    I am very fortunate to have her, and so many others, lift me higher than I could go on my own.  I just showed up.

April 15, 2022

The “Way of the Cross” Leads to Easter

By Glenn

Good Friday, the day Jesus hung on that old wooden cross, has been celebrated by Christians for centuries.  It was the culmination of His mission on earth.  The night before his execution he experienced the agony in the garden.  According the the Evangelist Luke 22: 41-44,

41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

Instead of running, Jesus embraced the cross, taking on the sins of the world.  He had done nothing wrong.  Instead He bore the weight of the world’s sins and did not shrug.  Altruism, not self gratification, is the Christian vocation.

El Greco, The Disrobing of Christ, 1577–1579, Toledo, Spain

Paul explain the significance of this act of self sacrifice by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Philippians 2: 9-11

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place

   in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

   to the glory of God the Father.

The “Way of the Cross” leads to Easter.  Jesus warns, however, that His suffering, death and resurrection were not the end of the story.  

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”

How can we possibly take up our cross daily?  The Gospels are full of examples: “Bear Fruit” Luke 3: 8-9

“Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. Indeed the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; so every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 10And the crowds were questioning him, saying, “Then what shall we do?” 11And he would answer and say to them, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.”

In this passage John is exhorting the crowd to bear good fruit, professing a belief in God is not enough. When pressed for a definition of fruit, John says to share with your neighbors in need. This message is consistent with the 8th century prophets, Amos, Isaiah and Jeremiah. The consequences of disobedience are clear, barren humans will be cast into the fire.

“The Greatest Commandment” Matthew 22:36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Jesus’ ministry built upon the foundation laid by John. God gave the Law not only to foster the relationship between humans and Himself, but also to restore the proper relationship between humans. When asked “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus could have simply ended with “Love the Lord your God.” He didn’t. He chose to expand the answer to “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus is reaffirming that, yes, I am my brother’s keeper.

“Leave Your Gift at the Altar” Matthew 5: 23-24

23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

Earlier in Matthew, Jesus says clearly that God does not want to hear our empty words of praise if we are not willing to ask forgiveness from our neighbor. A healthy relationship with God requires a healthy relationship with our neighbors.

“They have Moses and the Prophets” Luke 16:19-31

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. . . . 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

In this passage Jesus explains that his requirements for salvation are not new; everything needed to gain access to the Kingdom can be found in God’s commandments. Human, however, have misunderstood the message. We believe riches are a sign of God’s favor and poverty is a sign of God’s condemnation. Like the Rich Man, we cling to our material processions as if they were God. Jesus warns, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16: 13)

“As a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” Matthew 25:31-46

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. . . . “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ 45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ 46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Matthew 25 gives the most vivid depiction of the Last Judgment. The Son of Man divides into two groups; there is no middle ground. Again, the judgment does not rest on lineage or belief; it rests upon human actions. Some humans will respond to the Word of God and serve their neighbor, while others will serve themselves.

What does the “Way of the Cross” mean then as we approach Easter?  How can we “take up our cross daily”?  We can serve others the way Jesus served us.  The benefits are priceless.

April 7, 2022

Big Government Conservatives Take Back Rights

By Glenn

Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson has fought her way past big government conservatives.  She is on her way to confirmation to sit on the highest court in America.  Her story is a story of America.

As conservative Senators questioned her, both inside and outside the committee room, they revealed how far back they are willing to take America.  They revealed their contempt for Modern America.

To understand the conservative judicial philosophy, it helps to remember their first big loss in Modern American History: Brown v. Board of Education (1954).   Senators and Representatives issued what they called the “Southern Manifesto.”

“We regard the decisions of the Supreme Court in the school cases as a clear abuse of judicial power. It climaxes a trend in the Federal Judiciary undertaking to legislate, in derogation of the authority of Congress, and to encroach upon the reserved rights of the States and the people.”

Fast forward to 2022; Senators used this same rhetoric to attack Judge Jackson. 

For example, Senator Mike Braun (IN) claimed in interview that Judge Jackson would legislate from the bench and trample on States’ Rights. 

When the interviewer pressed Sen. Braun for a specific example from the past he evaded until the interviewer asked about Loving v. Virginia (1967).  He chastised the Loving case because it outlawed state bans on interracial marriage and freed individuals to marry the person they choose.

Later Braun retreated from this extraordinary statement, but at the time he held firm.  He claimed “It’s the beauty of the system, and that’s where the differences among points of view in our 50 states ought to express themselves.”

Senator Marsha Blackburn (TN) used the hearing to call into question Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). Griswold established that a woman has a Right to Privacy in her doctor’s office.  Connecticut had restricted Estelle Griswold access to birth control pills. She sued and won.

The Supreme Court ruled that women, not the states, had the power to make health issues.  States had to demonstrate that birth control pills caused harm in order to regulate them.  Until states could prove harm, society had to trust women to make this choice.

All of these questions, however, danced around the big question.  Should state governments or women make decisions about reproduction?  In Roe v. Wade (1973), the Court ruled that states could not interfere in the early stages of pregnancy but could in the final stages.

Conservative senators want to take America back.  They want to give states more power and limit the freedom of adults.  American voters have to decide if they want to grow government again.

Abortion law, China trade war, Colorado shooting, Iran: Top columns
March 31, 2022

Feed the Sheep

By Glenn

Accountability is one of those words politicians love to throw around.  Voters and politicians alike apply it to their opponents but rarely use it look in the mirror.  Accountability means taking responsibility for one’s actions.

Accountability requires weighing cause and effect.  Did a certain word or action create or cause a measurable effect?

Conservative politicians love to talk about the degeneration of American culture.  They have had great electoral success pointing to the increased acceptance of homosexuality in society.  If you listen to self-proclaimed “Christian” radio, you will have no trouble hearing the thousands of problems they blame on homosexuals.  

Using homosexuals as a scapegoat falls into the right wing narrative of world history.  If you listen long enough, you will hear how homosexuals caused the fall of Rome or the damage from hurricane Katrina. 

These so called Christian voices sound more like Pharisees than Jesus.  They want to throw stones at the weak but refuse to hold the powerful accountable.  

If you don’t believe me, go read the Gospels for yourself.  Go read each account from start to finish.  Read how often Jesus condemns greed.  Read how often he condemns homosexuality.   In his strongest condemnation of sexual abuse, he tells his followers in Matthew 5:  27-30 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.”

Notice this is not about attacking others.  If you have an issue, reform yourself.  On the other hand, Jesus has much to say about greed.  Greed not only destroys society, it also threatens salvation.  The only people Jesus condemns to Hell are greedy.

In Matthew 25 Jesus describes the Last Judgement.  He divides the saved from the damned. Let’s look at the damned in Matthew 25: 41-43.

“Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’”

Here is Christian accountability.  No scapegoat will save you.  Will you feed His sheep or throw the stone? 

March 24, 2022

Cut the Test, Pay the Teachers

By Glenn

Our Texas founding fathers knew we needed to guarantee public education if our State was to continue to be successful. They wrote:

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.

Education funding is the Texas State Legislature’s responsibility, not local school boards.   We have seen, however, the legislature continually cutting the state’s share of education cost.

By dodging the Texas Legislature’s constitutional responsibility, Republicans can cut corporate taxes.  Local Independent Schools Districts are left holding the bag.  To keep our schools open, Texas ISDs raise taxes.

Who pays local ISD taxes? Local home owners and small businesses do.  Big businesses often dodge these taxes.  They demand tax abatements from local government and threaten to leave if they don’t get a break.

This one-two punch leaves you and I holding the bag.  I’ve lived in Texas since 1995 and every year my taxes go up.  Every year is the same old dance. Republicans cut corporate taxes and raise ours.

What needs to be happening is the opposite. We need to shift more of this responsibility from property taxes to the state. We also need to raise the homestead exemption to really cut local property taxes from the bottom up.

Texas Republicans have also raised the cost of local education.  They have created unfunded mandates like standardized tests.

Standardized tests are bubbling exercises on steroids. These exams directly cost over $90 million per year.  The indirect costs are even higher.

For example, schools counselors rarely counsel students anymore.  They can’t help students work through the emotional trauma of losing a parent or a friend.

Standardized testing often takes them away from that critical job.  They have to count and secure the exam when it arrives at the school.  They have to train the students and the teachers in burdensome test regulations.

We waste millions of dollars a year and force every Independent School District to prepare and administer these tests.  The exams do nothing but terrorize our teachers and students.

Texas Republicans need to follow the Texas Constitution.  Texas must have an efficient system of public free schools.  Texas Republicans must improve Texas education, not destroy it.

Cut the test.  Pay the teachers.

March 17, 2022

Break Big Oil’s Monopoly

By Glenn

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. The first oil shock happened in 1973. Energy prices are set by “the market. The global energy market keeps failing us.

We have known the market is failing us for 49 years.  We know what can fix it: conservation and competition.  Conservatives have opposed these solutions every step of the way.

Real patriotism requires breaking the oil monopoly.  When any one product dominates an essential market, it can set prices. Conservation breaks the monopoly on the demand side.  Alternative sources of energy and transportation break the supply side monopoly.

Conservatives foolishly cling to a single failed effort: more domestic oil.  More domestic oil can’t solve a global market problem.  The United States is already the number one producer of crude oil.

US fields account for 15% of the annual global supply.  This is a huge turnaround from the low of 2008.  Since President Barak Obama took office, US crude oil production has risen from 5 million barrels per day to 11 million barrels per day. 

https://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/oil-and-petroleum-products/where-our-oil-comes-from.php

We produced so much oil the US is now a net exporter of petroleum products.  US based companies sell more on the global market than American consumers can buy.

What changed in 2008?  First, in 2003 President George W. Bush lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction and invaded Iraq under false pretenses.  His management of the occupation was such a disaster that crude oil and gasoline prices soared.

This blunder triggered a fracking rush in the United States.  Fracking needs high crude oil prices to justify the exploration and drilling costs.  During the Obama years, US petroleum production rose from a distant third place behind Saudi Arabia and Russia to the number one position.

During this time world producers managed world supply to meet the demand.  They tried to keep the price per barrel of crude between $60 and $80 per barrel. US companies have enough more than wells to meet demand.  They don’t want to drill.

https://www.macrotrends.net/1369/crude-oil-price-history-chart Crude Oil Prices – 70 Year Historical Chart

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to upset that global equilibrium.  Gas and crude prices rose based on this fear.  There is no oil shortage.  Energy traders are exploiting a fear.

When “the market” raises prices because of a POTENTIAL supply problem, we call that gouging. Do you want the government to prevent price gouging? Or should businesses be free to exploit fear?

As long as there is an oil monopoly, we will fall victim to price gouging.  Liberals wanted more energy and conservation choices. Conservatives have repeatedly said no. Can we have a better future?  Yes, we can.

March 11, 2022

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.

By Glenn

I support LGBTQ+ because I am an American. I will not fear my neighbor because of who they are. I believe all humans are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe in limited government. I am a liberal. I will love my neighbor as my neighbor as myself.

March 11, 2022

Natural Monopolies

By Glenn

In 1776, Adam Smith published a ground breaking book, The Wealth of Nations. Smith introduced the French phrase laissez-faire to the English speaking world.  The phrase best translates as “free market.”

Smith criticized European monarchs for subsidizing domestic production and granting monopolies for foreign trade. He argued that monarch redistributed income from small farmers and artisans. Removing the subsidies and monopolies would allow the little guy to compete fairly.

The justification for laissez-faire remains the same.  The reality, however, is much different.   American policy makers only follow laissez-faire when it hurts big business, but they interfere in the economy to help big business. 

This pattern started with first real national corporations.  Federal and state governments leapt to the aid of railroads. Both gave these corporations large tracks of land as capital to finance construction.  The railroads then sold the land to developers along the tracks.

In the town along the railway, farmers and ranchers had to deal with a whole new set of monopolies.  Obviously, there was only one railroad company in town, but there was also only one stockyard, one grain elevator and one bank.

These monopolies could, and often did, squeeze every bit of profit out of farming and ranching.  Farmers and ranchers complained about unfair market practices, and they want government protection.  The free market was crushing them.

 

Granger warns a sleeping America about consolidation and monopolies.

The cries for help were drowned out by big businesses’ crocodile tears. American oligarchs loved their natural monopolies and didn’t want the government helping anyone else.

Making matters worse, farmers and ranchers faced global competition.  While the owners of railroads, stock yards, grain elevators and banks controlled a local monopoly, food products traded in a distant commodities market. 

Once the product left the farm or the ranch, the producers lost control.  Prices now depended up regional, national and even global supply.  Traders knew the numbers and bid to keep their own cost down, leaving less money in the pockets of farmers and ranchers.

The New Deal tried to remedy this imbalance.  At the height of the Great Depression, voters turned to Franklin Delano Roosevelt.  FDR ignored the screams of big business.  The reforms FDR introduced stabilized rural communities for generations.  Some like Social Security still provide a steady stream of income.

Unfortunately, Ronald Reagan sold the free market snake oil in the 1980s.  Protections for family farms and ranches vanished.  Large commercial farms and processors replaced small businesses.  Thanks to conservatives Rural America again faces big business alone.