Tuesday, July 28, 2015


The leadership of our state Legislature, in my opinion, has been somewhat foolish in handling the state’s money.  There are ways to deliver humanitarian relief and at the same time save money.

Our State Legislature has continually reduced the amount of money per student dedicated to education–both public education and higher education.  Not only will this cost us in terms of lost jobs, businesses, and innovative thinking in the future, but it in fact costs us money now.  The one which is most evident is the fact most inmates in Texas have not had the privilege of graduating from high school.  Most are there not because they are mean, but because they are ignorant of how to cope with the everyday challenges of life.  It costs the state more money to keep a young person in prison than it does to keep them in a graduate program in college.  Unfortunately, Texas has more of its citizens in prison than there are prisoners of all the countries of North America put together, as well as South America. 

Health care is another way our state is blatantly shortsighted.  Aside from children who are deprived of adequate health care as they grow up and who later become a burden on our social welfare system, there are specific examples of how poor health care and lack of foresight costs taxpayers millions and millions of dollars.  

A good/bad example of how we deal with health care is diabetes.  If a person with diabetes reports to a state health facility, he or she is asked, “Are you blind?”  “No.”  “Do you need kidney dialysis?”  “No.”  “Do you need an amputation?” “No.”  The answer is then, “Well, come back later when you get worse--we have a program for you.”  It has been estimated by medical experts that over half of diabetes in Texas could be controlled or cured by a simple screening and proper diet.  Although we once had a program to accomplish this, it has been scrapped by the Health Department and the Legislature.  We are virtually spending billions on the above-listed treatments brought about by diabetes.  It has escalated every year for the past fifteen years. 

 Cutting off assistance and attempting to put Planned Parenthood out of business  is another costly item.  Prenatal care has been shown to be very effective in the birthing of healthy children.  Young mothers without prenatal or adequate health care produce children with defects which lead to dependence on state programs for the rest of their lives.

Worker safety is yet another glaring example of wastefulness and harm to our citizens.  Texas leads the nation in job deaths.  Construction, refining and oil field work are all very dangerous and yet Texas is one of the few states which refuses to mandate workers’ compensation.  All too often workers in Texas who receive debilitating injuries on the job end up at emergency rooms which we, the taxpayers, eventually pay for--or even worse, they end up on welfare. 

Our Legislature and statewide leaders continually raise the issue of how they would like to give homeowners relief from burdensome property taxes.  The simple answer they continue to ignore is the state should adequately fund things which are clearly the state’s responsibility: a state system of public education, eliminating the multi-billion dollar state debt on highways, and adequately funding retirement programs for state retired workers as well as teachers.   

It seems not only foolish, but irresponsible to leave these matters as growing indebtedness while we leave several billion dollars in the so called Rainy Day Fund.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Donald Trump

The scary thing involving Donald Trump’s rise to lead the race to be the Republican nominee for president is not Donald Trump, nor his outlandish statements.  The frightening thing about Trump is the fact so many people have rushed to endorse his quest. 

How can so many people be taken in by his empty rhetoric?  Trump promises to have full employment in the United States with every citizen a job.  Close examination of Trump’s record would quickly reveal he has done all he can to avoid American labor; even to the extent of importing foreign workers on one of his projects in New York which avoided building requirements, safety requirements and certainly were working below scale on that job.  He has made a long list of promises without the first concrete plan of how he would accomplish his grandiose scheme to move America forward.

When asked about the recent agreement over Iran developing a nuclear bomb, he claims without particulars, “I would have done a much better job.”  This is like saying I could have beaten Mohammad Ali, if only I had been in the ring 20 years ago.  An equally outlandish claim is that Mr. Trump claims he can label most all Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers and still get the majority of Hispanics to vote for him.

“I am rich” is not a qualification to be president.  If this were so, El Chapo, the escaped drug lord in Mexico would qualify.

Trump’s denials are truly amazing.  This guy denies what he said when he said it on television.  Even now, while denigrating American military personnel who were captured in combat, he now claims he really didn’t denigrate them, he was only lashing out at one of his political opponents.  If anything, Trump is a modern day snake oil salesman who can’t even be honest about his net worth.  He brags he is worth 10 billion dollars and publishes a financial statement that includes no liabilities.

How can this guy, as he claims, seal our borders against illegal immigration when he can’t even keep them off his latest construction project.  Equally amazing is his claim he would build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico and make the Mexican government pay for it.  He claims he would have the Mexican government give us $100,000 for each illegal immigrant into our country.  How on earth could he do this?  Does he propose we once again invade Mexico to enforce such a claim?  

Should we trust Donald Trump’s political positions when they have constantly changed over the years?   He once praised Hillary as a great friend and competent leader.  Now, Trump views Hillary Clinton as an incompetent pretender to the presidency.  Also he once defended abortion as a woman’s right to control her own body--but now has morphed into an anti-abortion pro-lifer.  He has switched positions on so many things such as universal health care that they can’t be listed in the space available for this article.

Donald Trump is as phony as his comb-over hairdo.  We can only hope a good wind will bare his almost bald head.  We can also hope people’s inquiry and a revelation of Trump’s past will blow away his empty promises of full employment, border control, solid social security and the ability to bully China, Russia, Mexico and Iran.  Having a substantial number of citizens in this country who are qualified to vote and who are seemingly supporting Donald Trump--and his outlandish ideas--is truly a scary thought.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


In the 1960's, shortly after I was elected to the House of Representative, I was contacted by Tolbert Crowder, one of my good supporters.  Tolbert was a resident of Port Acres, lived on the bayou, and was an avid hunter, fisherman and advocate of environmental quality--particularly to our marsh area.  Tolbert informed me that alligators in Texas were about to be listed on the endangered species list.  

The problem seemed to be that alligators are a very valuable commodity.  Almost all parts of an alligator  are commercially usable.  Their teeth are ivory, their meat is edible, and their hides are valuable for producing various products such as belts, boots, etc.  I also learned through Tolbert that alligators are vital for the ecology of the marsh.  In times of drought, alligator holes which have been hollowed out in the nesting process are the only source of water for the creatures who reside in marshy areas.  The main problem causing the decline of alligators was poachers who would catch alligators and sell them.  If they were apprehended or stopped, even in suspicious circumstances, there was no way to prove the alligators were taken in Texas.  

Tolbert and many of his friends who were concerned would spend a considerable time catching young alligators and scratching their initials in their hide so they could be identified as Texas gators if and when poachers were caught in possession of same. 

At his urging, and the urging of other ecologists, as well as local game wardens, I introduced legislation making it a crime to be in Texas in possession of any part of an alligator.  I was quite satisfied I had done a good deed for the ecology as well as alligators.

Fast forward to several years later when I was a member of the Texas Senate.  I started receiving cards, calls and letters from many of my constituents, some of whom had lost their pet dogs to alligators coming up from ditches, drainage canals, or other ponds of water into my constituents’ yards.  It seems the original legislation had worked to propagate more gators in our area.  I soon realized the only natural enemies of alligators are humans.  Alligators are the ruling creatures in our marshes.

At the urging of Texas Parks & Wildlife, I again introduced legislation concerning alligators.  My new legislation provided that Parks & Wildlife could establish rules and regulations about the taking of 'gators in Texas.  The law we passed at that time is basically still the law and has resulted in very reasonable regulations which now allow controlled hunting or taking of alligators and even their commercial use.

As I tell my fellow citizens in trying to urge them to participate in politics, if a state law can have an effect on the life of alligators, imagine what it could do for or to you and your family.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Thoughts for the 4th of July

I am convinced our country will never be conquered by a foreign power in my or your lifetime.  I am concerned, however, that hypocrisy, greed and callousness will erode many ideals which have caused our country to become the greatest nation on earth.  To continue our greatness, we need to return to the attitude that we are all Americans who love freedom and should concentrate more on our American heritage than our political preferences. 

As a young person I was taught to respect our president even though I might disagree with his policies.  Today too many Americans are quick to demean our elected leaders by describing them as not real Americans, idiots, weak, uncaring, dishonest, and then lament our leaders are not respected around the world.  One good example of how sometimes good Americans miss the mark-- Vietnam vets should be among the most honored of our veterans.  Many of them chose to obey the law even though they were strongly against us being in the war.  They went and did their duty, even disagreeing with the politics which put them in harm's way.  Yet, many of them, when returning to America, were treated like ex-convicts rather than the heroes they were. 

America probably creates more and more millionaires via our economic system while more and more working poor suffer without adequate income, medical care--and some even basic sustenance--because of our current economic system. 

Voter participation appears to be at an all-time low, even in local elections, while too many of our politicians work to limit voting rather than encourage.  The influence of money in our elections is at an all-time high.  Money, according to our Supreme Court, is speech--and real speech seems to have become only TV entertainment.  Debates are no longer real debates, but sound bytes prompted by trite questioning by some TV personality.

One of the worst examples of national hypocrisy relates to action or inaction on the part of our United States Congress.  It seems many of our congressmen are hawkish, ready to go to war at the drop of a hat.  I've noticed most of them are individuals who never faced real combat.  Too many of our Congressional leaders are quick to want to go to war yet very reluctant to pay the cost or clean up the mess left by the aftermath.  Too often, it seems, our military veterans who have returned to America in body bags or seriously damaged are not adequately revered or cared for. 

A recent news article pointed out that even though Congress is well aware of the condition and status of our VA hospitals, the waiting line for our veterans to be accepted for medical treatment is 50% greater than it was only a year ago.  While making great speeches about how we love our veterans, our Congress lets the VA hospitals go three billion dollars in the hole.  All of this while many of our veterans wait for months to be afforded treatment for injuries or treatment they suffered in our defense. 

For this 4th of July, I suggest that we, as American citizens, resolve to contact our leaders to put our country’s money where the politicians’ mouths are in their 4th of July speeches.  

God bless America!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Not in office and growing old...

It has recently occurred to me ex-politicians should realize when they are no longer the occupant of an important office.  Additionally, all of us need to learn we are growing old.  In an effort to help all with those two conditions, I submit the following:


–no free tickets are being offered to you for things you didn’t want to go to anyway
–your jokes are not as funny as they use to be
–not being invited to groundbreakings by the Chamber of Commerce
–important people are harder to reach by phone
–fewer people get in your face and say, “You don’t remember who I am, do you?”
–your postman doesn’t bring you as much mail
–you’re not asked to make many speeches
–more folks remove you from their speed dial
–you wait longer on hold when calling someone
–“Our government was better when you were in” is your main topic of conversation
–people in public confront you with, “Didn’t you use to be ____?”


–when you see a good looking young woman you think “she reminds me of my granddaughter”    rather than “what a hot looking babe”
–most of your mail is medical bills or catalogs
–you and your friends talk mostly about your ailments
–you look forward to getting junk mail
–you read the obituary columns of the paper more often
–you find more of your acquaintances and old high school chums in the obituary column
–you attend more funerals than weddings
–your wife nags you more about your health
–your wife complains more about you not hearing her nag you about your health
–AARP sends you more invitations to join
–grandchildren are asked to help you with your computer and cell phone
–I can’t seem to remember the other things

I’m hopeful these suggested signs will help you to realize you are no longer in office and growing old.

In addition to the above signs, your friends can give you helpful hints about your aging process.  The most common reply you get from friends when complaining of aches and pains is, “At least it’s better than the alternative.”  I’ve started replying to that catchphrase by telling my friends, “That’s not what my preacher tells me.”  My only ambition at this point is to live as long and as well as my mother.  She would always say as she was approaching her 100th year, “I’ve lived a long and good life and done almost everything I ever wanted to do and look forward to meeting my Maker in the near future.”