Monday, April 27, 2015


Former Lt. Governor Bill Hobby once said each session is about money--everything else is merely poetry. 

The current session of the Legislature, as most in the past, is struggling with how to keep their campaign promises of taking less tax from the people, while at the same time doing something about our crumbling infrastructure such as highways and bridges, providing decent educational opportunities for our children, and doing something about the millions of uninsured folks that are having to choose between putting food on the table and providing healthcare for their families.  Most of these needs are coming in far behind other actions being taken--just so elected folks can claim they have honored their campaign pledge of cutting taxes.

The recent article which caught my eye in a local paper concerning casino gambling talked about casinos just across our eastern border raking in $61.4 million in the past month.  Without a doubt about 80% to 90% was donated to the casino industry and to the tax coffers of Louisiana by Texans. 

I will say without fear of contradiction that I am not a gambler–casino or otherwise.  It seems when I lost my lunch money matching pennies in the 6th grade, gambling lost its allure for me which has never been rekindled.  I have visited one of the big casinos in Lake Charles for a function to which I was invited and managed to escape without letting them have any of my money. 

While I believe casino gambling to be a sucker’s game in which an individual would seldom if ever win, it is a fact that it does draw thousands of people who are willing to donate their money in the vain hope they will strike at rich at the crap table or hit the jackpot on a slot machine.  The point to my observation is that I really don’t think much of gambling of any form.  That would include the Texas lottery in which your chance of winning is about the same as getting struck by lightening tomorrow.  

While one might make a decent argument--and I could argue against the folly of wasting your money on gambling or risking addiction to a pastime which could lead to family bankruptcy--our current law simply does not prevent gambling. What Texas does in its moral indignity is simply to require people to give their money to Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma or Mexico.  We clearly have not prevented anyone in Texas, unless they are without transportation at all, from gambling.  

My point is, if Texans are going to gamble and waste their money, why shouldn’t we fix it so that their wastefulness can be beneficial to the rest of their fellow Texans who could use the money to help our schools, highways, or poor folks in need of medical care. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Open Carry

I have a very vivid memory of growing up under the tutelage of a strict, Baptist mother. Our weekly family religious activities included Sunday morning and evening church, Wednesday night prayer meeting, occasional revival services, and various other special events at the church. It also included daily Bible readings during which I read the “Good Book” cover to cover at least two times, plowing even through the early chapters containing all of the begats. My recent observation of the Legislature has made me realize, however, that perhaps I have a gap in my religious training because I don’t remember ever having carried the U.S. Constitution to Sunday school. 

Although I have yet to find it in scripture, my observation of the Legislature tells me many gun laws stemming from the Constitution are mandates from God.  There are only a couple of cases I believe could be interpreted in the Bible to justify or mandate open carrying of weapons–the first being David’s slingshot.  However, that obviously was part of a military operation and not intended for civilian open carry.  The other was the fact that disciple Peter was obviously armed in the Garden of Gethsemane when he whacked off the ear of the Roman soldier; but that occasion was quietly not condoned as Jesus replaced the ear and reprimanded Peter.

I get a little nervous when our political leaders mount a great effort to try to combine religious teaching with legislation.  It reminds me too much of ISIS, the Taliban and other radical, Islamic sects that would govern according to Sharia Law.

I’m usually confronted by folks who argue that obviously our U.S. Constitution was based on Judeo-Christian principles and thereby inspired by God through its writers.  Unfortunately, through the years politicians have used the Bible to justify their own position--probably beginning with the Crusades in which good Christian soldiers slaughtered thousands in the Near East in the name of Christ, on down to the provisions in our Constitution in which people of color were counted only as 3/5ths human, and other politicians used the scripture to justify slavery. It gives me pause.

Do not let it be said I am anti-gun, however, in that I own more guns than most of the average citizens in Texas.  I have owned a gun and have been shooting as long as I can remember.  In addition to my hunting weapons, of which there are many, I own about a dozen which I have as keepsakes from murder trials where I have defended folks for the use of these weapons.  I don’t really have a problem with open carry, which I believe to be no worse than any carry.  As a matter of fact, I can see one advantage to open carry in that you will be well aware that the person you are confronting is well armed and will do well not to engage him in any serious confrontation. 

What I suggest as hypocritical conduct is that of claiming for political purposes that God has mandated this or that.  I suspect, if we really examined the issues closely, God would strongly favor children in Texas being well-fed, not have to go to bed hungry, being well-educated, and having decent medical care.  

This whole business reminds me of what I read about an incident with Abraham Lincoln.  Someone was assuring Lincoln to continue the fight during the Civil War on the grounds that God was on the Union’s side.  Lincoln looked at the person and replied that he was not so much concerned about that as he was about who was on God’s side.