May 18, 2023

Conservative Ideology Is A Debt Problem

By Glenn

For the first hundred years of American history, there was one cause of public debt: war.  The United States of America started in debt, and it paid its bills.  There wasn’t another spike in debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio until the American Civil War.

At this point, you might ask what is the debt to GDP ratio?  It is the amount of our public debt compared to the size of our economy.  That ratio is the number that economists care about. 

It is not hard to understand.  Your bank will lend you more money if they know you have a high income and high long-term earning potential.  The bank will lend you less money at a higher interest rate if they know you have a low-income and low long-term potential. 

During the American Revolutionary War, the Civil War and WWI, US debt rose to about 35% to 45% of annual GDP.  The Fourteenth Amendment is clear that Congress has a duty to pay the debts: “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.”

When Congress passes a budget, it authorizes the President to incur debt to pay bills beyond the amount collected from taxes.  A 1917 law theoretically places a limit on how much debt the US government can borrow. 

That law has never been tested in court. Every time the USA has approached that limit Congress has always voted to pay its bills.  For this reason, investors worldwide consider US public debt as one of the safest investments in the world. 

During the Great Depression, Franklin Delano Roosevelt convinced Congress to take on more debt for public works projects like schools, airports, dams, and bridges.  Conservatives cried in frustration.  They had already failed to end skyrocketing joblessness by trying to balance the budget. 

FDR’s New Deal put America in a good position heading into the Second World War.  The economy was on the right track and became the Arsenal for Democracy.  American factories used borrowed money to manufacture the tanks, planes and ships needed to beat back tyranny.

When the war ended, neither Democrats nor Republicans wanted to return to the failed economic policies that lead to, and prolonged, the Great Depression.  America taxed the wealthiest citizens and rewarded wage earners.  A strong economy produced more taxes that paid down the debt from the Great Depression and the War. The debt to GDP ratio fell from 115% to 35%.

Not until the 1980s did a third cause of debt emerge in American history. Ronald Reagan led a conservative revolution to reverse the previous fifty years of taxing the rich to pay for government services.  He cut taxes for the rich and services for everyone else.  Reagan’s deficits drove the national debt to GDP ratio up from 35% to 45%. 

The lessons from this history are clear.  Use diplomacy and alliances to reduce unnecessary wars. Effectively regulate financial markets to stop them from burning the economy down. Ignore conservative politicians who claim tax cuts and deregulation will balance the budget.

May 11, 2023

If I Had A Hammer

By Glenn

Have you ever heard the saying, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”?  I’ve heard it all my life.  It served me as one of those wise sayings: use the right tool for a job.

My dad would certainly agree.  He would get so angry when we used a pair of pliers or a crescent wrench instead of a properly fitting combination wrench.  Even when a tool had multiple uses, like a crescent wrench, I was taught to use the more specialized tool.

It turns out, however, that historically speaking, the phrase “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail” is not that old after all.  Most versions of it come from the 1960s in psychological studies. 

It shouldn’t have surprised me.  The 1960s is a decade known for breaking with old habits.  Women and African Americans fought against discriminatory laws and won.  For centuries, discrimination was the hammer used to beat down every problem nail.

It took listening to women and minorities to find Civil Rights solutions.  Those solutions came in the form of new laws that outlawed discriminatory behavior.  As Dr. Martin Luther King knew when he marched on Washington, government was a solution.

Today, we have a gun violence problem.  We are in fact on track to have a record number of mass shootings in America like the one in Allen, Texas on May 6. As reported in the Guardian, “the US is on pace for 60 mass killings this year. There were 31 in 2019, 21 in 2020, 28 in 2021 and 36 in 2022.”

The conservative solution to this problem is more guns.  Conservative politicians have flooded our streets with unregulated weapons designed for a battlefield.  It should come as no surprise that they have turned our schools, malls, and churches into war zones.

In Stark, Louisiana a 14-year-old girl simply wanted to play hide and seek in her neighborhood.  It is a game my friends and I played all through the summers growing up.  Instead of fun, she won a bullet in the head.  Luckily, she lived.  Will the next child?

Kaylin Gillis was not as lucky.  On April 15, 2023, her boyfriend used someone’s driveway to turn around.  The homeowner shot her dead. 

Every statistic shows that more unregulated guns have led to more shootings and more death.  Clearly handing guns out like candy is not the right tool to stop the rise in gun violence.  We are not going in the right direction.

There are sensible and more effective tools in our box to fight gun crime.  There must be universal background checks for every gun purchase.  A person carrying a gun in public must have a license and training. All gun owners must have liability insurance for each gun just like all car owners have insurance for each car.

We can have a “well-regulated militia.”  We can protect the lives of innocents Americans in schools, malls, and churches.  It is up to us to tell conservative politicians to stop dropping the hammer on our health and safety.  We need a new tool.

May 3, 2023

Conservatism Is Expensive

By Glenn

Fox News just agreed to pay $787.5 million for lying about Dominion voting machines.  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton offered to use $3.3 million of tax dollars to settle a whistleblower case.  Donald Trump paid nearly $300,000 to cover up his extramarital affairs.

It must be nice to have millions of dollars to pay for bad behavior.  My momma always said, “Lazy people work the hardest.”  I’d like to add, “Believing conservative propaganda is expensive.”

These conservative lies stretch way back.  During the Great Depression Herbert Hoover promised economic growth with a balanced federal budget.  He watched as unemployment rose and businesses failed.

Both the American people and Franklin D. Roosevelt put conservative propaganda aside in 1932.  Not only did the New Deal put America back on track, but FDR also successfully lead America against NAZI Germany and Imperial Japan.

After the Second World War liberal policies built the largest middle class the world had ever seen.  The GI Bill helped veterans buy houses and go to college.  The Federal Government invested tax dollars in highway construction, aviation manufacturing and computer innovation. 

Laws protected Union membership and set high minimum wages. Wage growth and steady work lead to increased consumer spending.  This strong demand drove private investments into products from housing and automobiles to radios and televisions.

In 1980 Ronald Reagan exploited the energy crisis to demand tax cuts for wealthy investors.  He wanted to reverse the New Deal. Reagan told voters that the tax cuts would trickle down to wages and generate government revenues.

We are still paying for this expensive lie. The worker’s share of income dropped.  Reagan’s budgets created record deficits and debt.  Public investments in schools, roads and bridges slowed.

When President Bill Clinton reversed these losses, conservative voters rebelled again.  Clinton’s Vice President Al Gore wanted to use the Clinton surplus to pay down the debt and shore up Medicare and Social Security.  George W. Bush demanded tax cuts for the wealthy again.

Not only did Bush’s tax cuts explode the deficit, but Bush lied about Weapons of Mass Destruction and started a foolish war in Iraq.  That war lasted over seven years.   Bush and the conservatives in Washington put it on our national credit card. 

Today’s conservatives in Washington may be different men and when, but they are selling the same snake oil.  They don’t have, and never had, a deficit reduction plan.  They want to starve the United States of revenue and cut Veteran’s Benefits, Social Security and Medicare.

Conservatives have a long history of fiscally irresponsible behavior.  It does not matter if it is paying hush money to a porn star or lying to start a war.  Why would you trust them?

April 27, 2023

Liberty and Justice for All

By Glenn

The Pledge of Allegiance ends with six memorable words: “With Liberty and Justice for All.”  As we say these words, we are setting a standard for our own behavior.  We will fight for liberty and justice for all.

These are very powerful words also embody my Christian faith.  On numerous occasions, priests and Pharisees tried to trick Jesus with complicated questions of law.  Jesus also found his way back to a simple answer: “Love your neighbor.”

“Love your neighbor” is the central message of Judgement Day.  When the Son of Man comes on a cloud, he will separate the sheep and the goats.  The sheep who feed the hungry, clothed the naked, were kind to the prisoner and welcomed the stranger will enter the Kingdom of Heaven.  The goats who neglected the hungry, the naked, the prisoner and the stranger will be cast into the fire.

Surviving Judgment Day requires us to Love our neighbor.  Jesus saw this a commandment: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Many of Jesus’ parables give examples of neighborly love.  In the story of the Good Samaritan, a priest and a Levite saw a man lying beaten on the side of the road and “saw him, passed by on the other side.”  Unlike these two outwardly righteous men, a Samaritan showed mercy to the stranger and helped him.

In another story Jesus tells the story of the beggar Lazarus suffering outside the gate of a rich man.  The rich man, like the priest and Levite above, refuses to show mercy to Lazarus.  When they both die, Lazarus ascends to the side of Abraham while the rich man found himself in torment. 

With the tables turned, the rich man wanted mercy in the after life inside of torment.  Abraham told him that it was too late.  The rich man then begged for Lazarus to return and warn his living brothers.  Abraham rebuked him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”

Meister des Codex Aureus Epternacensis

Both the Gospels of Matthew and Luke contain an expanded sermon on “Love your neighbor” that starts with “Blessed are the poor.”  Jesus then proceeds to describe righteous behaviors.  For example, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”

Jesus wasn’t interested in empty words.  In Luke he says, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. 48 They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.”

We need an American built on a rock.  That rock is Liberty and Justice for All.  We want Liberty and Justice for ourselves.  We must also guarantee it for our neighbor.  It’s the American way.

April 13, 2023

Getting Away With Murder

By Glenn

On July 25 2022, Daniel Perry shot and killed Garret Foster.  Perry went to trial, and a jury of his peers found him guilty of murder.  Texas Governor Greg Abbott wants this murderer to walk free.

Foster had been part of a lawful assembly in Austin.  He was speaking out against government brutality.  He legally carried a AK47-style rifle.

Perry was also legally driving in Austin while working for Uber.  He turned his car into the protesters.  This action was similar to the driver in Charlottesville, Virginia.  During that protest, James Fields Jr. used his car to murder participants.

Politicians like Congressman Pat Fallon tried to justify the Charlottesville’s murder.  At the time of the murder, Fallon served as a Texas Representative.  He introduced legislation in Austin would have legalized running over protestors.

Fallon wrote “A person operating a motor vehicle who injures another person with the motor vehicle is not liable for the injury if, at the time of the injury: (1)  the person operating the motor vehicle was exercising due care; and (2)  the person injured was blocking traffic in a public right-of-way while participating in a protest or demonstration.”

This extremist legislation failed, but support for murdering protestors is still popular among conservatives.  When Kyle Rittenhouse killed a protestor in Kenosha, Wisconsin, he instantly became a conservative celebrity, and he convinced a jury to acquit him.

The July 25 2022 incident combines both aspects of the Charlottesville and Kenosha killings.   Perry did not use his car to attack; instead, he used his own gun to kill Foster without leaving his vehicle.  Perry, like Rittenhouse, claimed that he shot because he feared for his life.

Clay Jones /

The Texas jury, however, decided Perry was not justified and convicted him of murder.  Both prosecutors and defense attorneys presented their case. The jury believed the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt.

One of the key pieces of evidence was Perry’s own words.  Even though he did not take the stand in his own defense, he did write about preparing to go to downtown Austin.  USA Today reported on Perry’s social media posts. 

Perry wrote he might “kill a few people on my way to work. They are rioting outside my apartment complex.” Later, his friend asked, “Can you legally do so?” Perry replied, “If they attack me or try to pull me out of my car then yes.”

Governor Greg Abbott and Congressman Pat Fallon are promoting this type of lawless behavior.  They are turning our streets in Afghanistan.  Abbott and Fallon want Americans to solve their problems with guns and violence.

As Americans we know better.  Our history shows that Civil War and Civil Rights violence delayed reconciliation and progress.  Abbott’s pardon of this murderer would encourage more gun violence. Is this the kind of leadership you want?

March 30, 2023

Gun Safety

By Glenn

On March 27, 2023 a shooter blasted their way into Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee.  In a matter of minutes the shooter killed three nine year old children and three adults. 

Armed with two military style assault rifles the shooter then took up a sniper position on the second floor and ambushed the police. Somebody within the building had the composure under fire to call 911. 

The police arrived, took fire and rushed the building.  Just 14 minutes after the 911, police killed the shooter.

These murders were the 13th school shooting incident in the first three months of 2023.  Some of our neighbors are scared that there is worse to come.  Please give the gun owners in your life words of comfort. 

Hug your guns today.

Let them know they are safe.

Let them know that the adults in their life are watching out for them.

Let them know….

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all guns are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Guns will have a long life.

Guns will be free to kill.

Gun, the God, made them in His image and guns will be happy.

For the school teachers and the children, please let them know that their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed.  Their blood has sealed a New Second Amendment Covenant.  Their blood feeds God, the Gun.

As God, the Gun, grows stronger, so does the courage of Constitutional carrying Americans to shoot politicians and the godless. These Americans are also scared.  They are scared of losing elections.  They are scared of a diversifying neighborhood.

Calm their fears. Let them know we like American exceptionalism.  Let them know we are the only rich country who accepts the blood sacrifices of children and teachers. They crave a Civil War to live their “heritage.”

Above all let them know that Jesus was wrong.  Jesus was wrong to tell Peter, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” Tell them God, the Gun, has given a Second Amendment truth.  “All that take the gun will live by the gun.”

March 23, 2023

Honesty Is The Best Policy

By Glenn

While honesty is the best policy, it doesn’t always make the best politics.  Twenty years ago, President George W. Bush lied about Iraq.  The invasion made conservatives happy but was a disaster for America, Iraq and the entire Middle East.

George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice told America and the World that Saddam Hussein was a bigger threat than Osama bin Laden.  Bin Laden’s terrorists had killed thousands of Americas on 9/11. 

The Bush Administration had invaded Afghanistan to get Bin Laden.  They couldn’t get the job done.  US intelligence agents found him hiding in the mountains of Tora Bora, but President Bush ordered American resources to focus on Saddam Hussein in Iraq instead.

Bush and his team justified this shift in focus by fabricating a vague case based on Weapons of Mass Destruction. Hussein was a familiar face to American voters since the first Gulf War under President George H. W. Bush.  After defeating Iraq in Kuwait, the Elder Bush ruled out an invasion of Iraq and regime change.

The Elder Bush knew the truth and told it to the American people.  Invading Iraq would have been a strategic disaster.  The US had no justification for the invasion.  Iraqis would resent the invasion. America’s allies would renounce the invasion.

This wise statesman was trained in international diplomacy.  He crafted an international sanction regime to check Hussein and an international inspection regime to make sure Iraq didn’t pose a threat to its neighbors.  The system was not perfect, but it worked to keep Hussein in check.

We know it worked because United Nation inspectors warned the American public before the war.  The UN told the truth.  Hans Blix, a Swedish diplomat and Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reported that he found no WMD in Iraq.

The younger Bush team would not listen to the truth about WMD.  On February 3, Collin Powell, the US Secretary of State, told the UN that Hussein had a sophisticated WMD program.  French diplomats reviewed the evidence and compared it to their own.  France, America’s oldest ally, refused to believe the lies.

Vice President Dick Cheney persisted.  Liberals warned the public of the looming disaster.  Iraq would be a quagmire similar to Vietnam.  On March 16 Cheney told the American people “Now, I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq, from the standpoint of the Iraqi people, my belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.”

The US invasion of Iraq began three days later. To no one’s surprise, American troops quickly overwhelmed the Iraqi military.  US forces, however, couldn’t find the WMD.   Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense, continued to lie, “We know where they [Iraq’s WMD] are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south, and north somewhat.”

These lies 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 Barack Obama redirected troops from Iraq to Afghanistan.

March 16, 2023

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day

By Glenn

Saint Patrick’s Day has become a beloved American holiday.  Whether that means pinching someone for not wearing green, drinking green beer, or eating corned beef and cabbage, the holiday has made it into our popular culture.

Saint Patrick himself is a Roman Catholic saint.  The Church grants the title Saint to a person for Christ-like behavior during their life time.  It also establishes a miracle after the Saint died by ruling out any natural explanations.

For the Church, the miracle is a crucial part of beatification.  Beatification means the person has already entered into heaven. The Saint is in the presence of God and can intercede with God for the living.  The most famous prayer for intercession is the Hail Mary.

“Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

You will hear this prayer of intercession at a Catholic Wake during the recitation of the Rosary.  The living ask Mary, Queen of Heaven, to intercede with a prayer for the dearly departed.  At the hour of our death Mary will plead our case before her Son, the Judge of the Living and the Dead.

The Catholic Church teaches that all Saints can intervene for humans with God.  Most saints, like St. Patrick, are associated with specific causes.  It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that St. Patrick watches out for the Irish just like Saint Joseph watches out for families and refugees.

English Puritans, called “Pilgrims” in American history, tried to erase saints from popular culture.  They falsely accused Catholics of worshiping saints.  As Calvinist, Puritans wanted to purge everything but the grace, or mercy, of God from society.

Puritans smashed statues.  They broke stained glass windows.  They white washed churches to cover religious art.  They falsely accused Catholics of worshiping these objects as idols.  Puritans even banned Christmas.

By the time the English founded colonies in the Americas, there were not many Catholics left in the home kingdom.  This meant very few colonies had Roman Catholic residents and no holidays for Saints.

The big change came well after the War of Independence.  The Irish potato famine lasted from 1845 to 1852.  Hundreds of thousands of starving men, women and children immigrated to the United States.

“Print shows a one panel, three scene cartoon showing, in the first scene, an Irish man with the head of Uncle Sam in his mouth and a Chinese man with the feet of Uncle Sam in his mouth, in the second scene they consume Uncle Sam, and in the third the Chinese man consumes the Irish man; on the landscape in the distant background are many railroads.”

Luckily for them, the First Amendment protected their faith and their rituals. On the flip side, however, Puritan anti-Catholic bigotry remained strong. 

This bigotry manifested itself in a new political party, the Native American Party, or the No Nothing Party. The party saw Irish Catholics as a threat to American exceptionalism.  They accused the Pope of organizing a plot to destroy American Democracy and the Irish being a criminal race.   

I am not Irish, but I am a Roman Catholic.  It’s sad to remember the bigotry and obstacles faced by those early immigrants.  I am proud, however, that Americans eventually put that aside and made America a More Perfect Union.  Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

March 9, 2023

A Free and Independent Press

By Glenn

On February 27, 1968, Walter Cronkite changed history. Cronkite was a household name by that time. During the 40s, 50s and 60s, he covered everything from Second World War to the Olympics.  Cronkite gained the trust of the American people by telling the truth.

As the host of the CBS Evening News, Cronkite told the American people that the war in Vietnam had no military solution.  This frank honest assessment did not please the political and military leaders in the United States. The Founding Fathers crafted the First Amendment for just such a moment. Voters needed the truth.

In 1968 they heard competing versions of reality. President Lyndon Johnson and his generals had promised the public that victory was within sight.  Privately, however, the Pentagon reached the opposite conclusion. The generals knew Cronkite reported the reality on the ground in Vietnam. 

Cronkite’s editorial put LBJ between a rock and a hard place.  Democrats on his left wanted a quick exit from Vietnam, while Republicans on his right demand a more violent war.  Secretly, the President opened negotiations with Hanoi and reached a peace deal.

Ricard Nixon, the 1968 Republican nominee for President, caught wind of the peace plan and reached out to the communists in North Vietnam.  He promised them a better deal if they prolonged the war until after the election.  North Vietnam accepted his offer, keeping the war issue alive for the election.

Nixon won the election and reopened peace talks. Unfortunately, he accomplished nothing.  North Vietnam held the better hand and the American public was tired of troops dying with no end in sight. The press continued to dig for the truth and stumbled onto a whole new can of worms.

On October 10, 1972 Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward published an explosive article in the Washington Post. The title read “FBI Finds Nixon Aides Sabotaged Democrats.”  Like Cronkite, Bernstein and Woodward told voters the truth.

“FBI agents have established that the Watergate bugging incident stemmed from a massive campaign of political spying and sabotage conducted on behalf of President Nixon’s re-election and directed by officials of the White House and the Committee for the Re-election of the President.”​

At first, Nixon successfully lied to the public and won reelection. Investigation after investigation, however, revealed more crimes. On August 7, 1974 Republican senators told Nixon that he needed to resign to avoid removal from office.  The next day, the President stepped aside.

Cronkite, Bernstein and Woodward proved that our Founding Fathers got it right.  An independent press is essential to a democracy. Conservative politicians, however, walked away with a different lesson.

Conservative politicians needed a dishonest press to win elections and weld power. In 1996 Rupert Murdoch hired a Republican political operative, Roger Ailes, to run Fox News.  Fox News attacks the truth.

March 2, 2023

Pierced Themselves With Many Griefs

By Glenn

I think it is safe to say that the modern conservative movement prides itself as the defender of Judaeo-Christian values.  Like the Sadducees and the Pharisees in the Gospels they love public displays of religion.   Every year professional conservatives stir up fake controversies like the “War on Christmas.”

For well over ten years, conservative politicians paraded their religion in front of television cameras. One of their favorite tricks was to publicly profess their identity by displaying the Ten Commandments.  Some like Judge Roy Moore of Alabama used tax dollars to carve an idol of the Commandments.

These politicians wanted to declare their own righteousness in the public square.  The conservative media played along.  Talking heads praised these unconstitutional government employees and disparaged any critics.

These modern “Sadducees and Pharisees” were not really interested in taking care of the least of us.  No, they wanted to use the Ten Commandments as stones to throw at others. The assessment might sound harsh but let’s look at one commandment in particular: “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor” (Deuteronomy 5: 20). 

This commandment is repeated and expanded in Exodus: “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness. Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.” (Exodus 23:1-3)

Should conservatives, who promote the commandments as the bedrock of Western Civilization, have difficulty understanding that bearing false witness is a sin? Should conservatives have a hard time understanding “that being a malicious witness” is a sin?

I ask these questions because Fox News owner, Rupert Murdock, swore under oath that his employees lied to viewers. In November and December of 2020 Fox News lied about the Presidential election results. 

We know about these intentional lies because Fox News damaged a private business: Dominion Voting Systems.  Dominion makes voters machines and Fox News hosted malicious witnesses, who falsely testified that the machines stole votes from Donald Trump.

Fox News executives allowed the malicious witnesses because they didn’t want to alienate their viewers.  Viewers generate ratings.  Ratings generate profits.  At the least these revelations should embarrass Fox News and the conservative movement. 

Conservatives might have avoided this hypocrisy if they had lived the Ten Commandments, instead of parading in front of them.  They should have also read Timothy: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”