Sunday, August 28, 2016


When I was a child my family and I lived on main Avenue in Groves when it was a shell road.  Our neighbor was the Smith Dairy and its pastures.  We of course had no television set, so my main source of entertainment electronically was a console radio that sat in our living room.  My dad, however, was always keen on providing the family with some sort of entertainment that he would scout out and locate.  I vividly recall a trip to a vacant lot in the area where "Dr. T" had erected his tent and stage.  The doctor billed his entourage as “Dr. T’s Magic Medicine Show.”

The doctor’s show consisted of a few magic acts, a song or two and a few other acts that passed for entertainment; but the main thrust of the gathering was the doctor’s lengthy spiel concerning the merits of his magic elixir—a concoction he claimed would cure almost every ailment known to man from backaches to hair loss.  In hindsight, I now know that Dr. T’s magic elixir consisted primarily of alcohol with some tasty flavoring added to it.  It probably did make some people feel better if they drank enough of it at one time.  I doubt, however, that it ever really cured any serious ailment.   Following the doctor’s spiel, his assistants would launch themselves into the audience hawking the bottles of Dr. T’s cure-all medicine, which almost everybody bought for a buck or two.

Dr. Trump is putting on his own medicine show.  Since watching the Republican nominee for president lately perform on television, I am immediately reminded of Dr. T’s medicine show in which he extolled the virtues of his medicine claiming it could cure almost everything, but didn’t.  Like Dr. T, Mr. Trump’s cures are described in very vague terms without telling you really how or why his proposed remedies, which are unstated, would cure what’s wrong with America.  His recent performance at the Republican convention was completely devoid of any concrete proposals which would help us with jobs, crime, terrorism or anything else.  If you ask Mr.  Trump, “How are you going to stamp out crime immediately upon being sworn in as president?” His answer is, “Right away.”  When asked how he is going to do away with ISIS; “very quickly,” he says.  And, “How are you going to bring jobs to the United States?” “I’m going to re-negotiate trade deals.”

I suspect that no person in their right mind would employ a homebuilder to build them a nice home when that homebuilder would not or could not show plans, had never built a home in the past but only promised that he was the best builder around and would build a beautiful home for you.  If we would not trust a homebuilder under such circumstances to build us a home, why on earth would we trust someone to run our national government who had no experience, who refuses to outline any cogent plan for improving our lives and has never served in an elective office.  While most of our homes are our greatest investments, the cost of a home pales in comparison to what we all have at stake when trusting someone with the office of president.  Alexander Hamilton while confronting a political opponent said it best.  He said, “Is it recommended for a person to have no theory?  Can man be a systematic, able statesman who has none?  I believe not.”  Hamilton went on to say, “In civil life we never progress in selection of leadership unaided in producing a single measure of important public utilities.”  Donald Trump has no theory of government and certainly has never produced a single measure of important public utility.

 Mr. Trump fails to answer the question posed by gold star father Kzir Khan at the Democratic National Convention concerning his deceased son who died in the military.  He said, “Mr. Trump, what have you sacrificed?”

Monday, August 22, 2016


Concern over the life of the unborn is a worthy endeavor.  What about concern for the lives of those already born?

In a backdoor effort to curtail abortions, the Texas Legislature seriously reduced funding and stopped funding of Planned Parenthood in the State of Texas.  The September issue of “Obstetrics and Gynecology” reports that maternal deaths in Texas have doubled since the funding reduction and the cessation of support for Planned Parenthood.  In 2010 when the cuts were made there were 72 reported deaths of women related to childbirth.  The most recent report was 2012 when the number of maternal related child deaths was pegged at 148 which caused Texas to lead the nation in such deaths.

Many in the Texas Legislature seem to believe programs run by the private sector are always better than any government program.  It is somewhat strange that when it comes to women’s health and counseling, those same politicians obviously believe a state-run program can be more beneficial than Planned Parenthood.  Truth be known, Planned Parenthood has been unfunded by the Texas Legislature as an additional way to deter abortion.  This is even though the Legislature has the authority and power  to fund Planned Parenthood while excluding abortion services by that organization.  In fact, most Planned Parenthood facilities had already ceased offering abortion services prior to the Legislature’s action putting them out of business.

After shutting down Planned Parenthood, the Legislature has authorized what they call an initiative for women’s health.  It appears not to be working.  It is disorganized, and has relied primarily on an organization dedicated to opposing abortion.

Even if the Legislature could not be motivated by humane concerns over the health of pregnant would-be mothers, it seems consideration should be given to costs.  It has been proven time and time again that lack of prenatal care can lead to problems in children which the state ends up having to deal with for several years.  They can’t seem to get it straight that healthy mothers more often lead to healthy children.

The shocking facts above, along with other policies neglecting protection of life, call into question the real commitment of our governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.  Our top leaders seem to ignore not only the health of mothers but problems with the agency responsible for the care and safety of children.  Several children have died for lack of follow up, investigation or action by Child Protective Services.  Sadly, for some time, our state has refused to address the problems with this agency.  CPS has long been understaffed, underfunded and burdened with caseloads too large to properly manage.

Because Abbott and other top leaders want to burnish their conservative credentials, Texas has become number one in the nation in the number of children without adequate healthcare.  It seems that Attorney General Paxton is more concerned with suing the U.S. government than relieving the suffering of thousands of Texas children.

It is time for us to elect some statewide leaders who really care about protecting the right to life rather than partisan bickering over bathrooms and wasting millions of dollars on frivolous suits against our own government.

Monday, August 15, 2016


 Recently, several newspapers as well as several conservation groups have reported that recent research has found no sea turtle nest on the beaches of Galveston and the adjoining peninsula.  Scientists attribute the lack of sea turtle nests to damage done to the Gulf of Mexico by the Horizon oil spill.  The absence of turtle nests is significant in that it is an indication of the ecological condition of the Gulf of Mexico.

Mr. Donald Trump strongly advocates abolishing those pesky regulations that are holding our economy back.  This, and his denial that global warming exists, is a view shared by other billionaire businessmen who care more about making a dollar than protecting the environment we all live in.  Donald Trump and other irresponsible industrialists claim that environmental regulations are holding our economy back.  

I suppose they want to return to the good old days when paper mills were able to use the Neches River as a giant sewer for their waste.  Perhaps they would like to return to the days when the Sabine River had so much mercury in it that it was dangerous to eat the fish you might catch there.  Without environmental regulations, what if we allow oil companies to cut corners and have another blowout in the Gulf?  I suppose Mr. Trump would say what’s the loss of a few pelicans, trout or turtles compared to letting oil companies make greater profits?  Obviously, Trump is more concerned with the profits made by BP, Shell Oil and others than he is whether or not the eco system which produces much of our seafood survives. 

I’ve always considered fishermen and hunters America’s best conservationists.  Unfortunately, too many of us in that category have lost sight of protecting the very thing which allows us to enjoy our hunting and fishing.  Instead, hunters are focused more on whether or not we will be able to keep semi-automatic weapons with 15 shot mags.  

Fellow sportsmen, it is time to wake up: Take a stand for preserving our ecology even if it sometimes discomforts those who would sacrifice it on the altar of profit.  If we don’t wake up, we could in the near future awaken to discover that we have no game to shoot with our nice weapons and no fish to catch on our shiny, offshore rigs.

Monday, August 8, 2016


The no new tax motto by politicians is hurting home-owning Texans.  The fear of runaway taxation stoked by conservative politicians has led to a stupid tax policy in our state.  More accurately, it has led to no tax policy in our state.  Our legislature continues to lurch from crisis to crisis and claiming no new taxes while elevating our fees on everything possible.  The latest is a substantial increase in our car registration. 

The word “taxes” has been elevated—or lowered—to the level of a swear word.  As a result, few, if any, of those seeking office will even say the word.  The big lie following grandiose promises of politicians as to where the money will come from is that we will glean it by reducing waste.  Unfortunately, the most recent waste in Texas—as viewed by our elected members of the Legislature—happens to be at the expense of our children.

We live in a changing world.  Life itself is dynamic.  States change, technology changes, populations change and human needs change.  Therefore, why shouldn’t tax policy be one of change?

Democracy works best when our leaders offer new ideas, debate whether or not old ones are still valid and discuss and share with the public where it is we should be headed.  Unfortunately, taxation in Texas has never enjoyed any rational or considered study.  Our school mess is a prime example of why the lack of any vision or policy relative to taxation is hurtful to us all.  

The basic problem with school finance is that it is unwieldy, grossly unfair and does not provide an adequate amount for the state to meet its constitutional duty of an efficient system of public education for all.  Because our legislature has failed to provide an adequate amount of funding to support public schools, in oly 20 years Texas’ homeowners taxation has gone from near the bottom to second or third from the top of all states of the union.  Our public debt has exploded to the point that Texas’ taxpayers face a mountain of debt at both the state and local level. Because schools are now so dependent on the property tax, we continue to struggle with its inadequacy and unfairness.  Patrons of one school district can produce with a minimal tax effort thousands of dollars per student while the school district next door struggles with the maximum effort on taxes and can raise only a small portion of what their neighboring rich district can acquire.

If all property in Texas were taxed the same, we would not only have a fair tax but the tax on our homes and small businesses would also be much lower.  We would also do away with the continual lawsuits at the state level over school finance.  Unfortunately, we, the taxpayers, along with our elected state leaders and legislators, rushed to repeal the constitutional state property tax several years ago. Regrettably, that delivered scant benefits to the ordinary homeowners in Texas and large benefits to huge property owners.

Texas leads among the states in population growth with fewer, if any, forms of tax which match our growth.  The sales tax may be the exception, but it hits the poor and middle class hardest.

An income tax is generally regarded by Texas taxpayers as an instrument of the devil, and rejected out of hand with little or no discussion.  In-depth studies of the income tax, however, reveal the average homeowner or small business owner would fare much better with it than having to tolerate the ever-increasing property taxes on our homes or businesses.  An income tax as a revenue source would be more fair, more productive and able to keep pace with the changing needs of our state.  The ever-escalating tax on our homes is a tax on most of our most valuable possessions and continues after our productive years are long since in the past. 

While pondering our state’s budget and hopefully our taxation policy, we can only hope and pray our elected leaders will get their heads out of the sand and adopt IBM’s old motto: “THINK!”

Monday, August 1, 2016


Recently it has been reported that Trump University was investigated by our then attorney general and current governor, Greg Abbott.  The result of the investigation was that, in view of findings that Texans had been “duped” out of several thousands of dollars, Trump University agreed to leave the state and not return. 

In fact, the assistant attorney general at the time (Abbott) recommended a penalty against Trump University of $5.4 million. Attorney General Abbott apparently passed on the option of a $5.4 million dollar fine or any reimbursement for victimized Texans and let Trump and his fake university leave the state.  Later, it seems, Abbott chose to accept a $35,000 contribution from Trump.  On top of that, our attorney general, Mr. Paxton, has now sent a cease and desist letter to the whistleblower and is attempting to cover up the whole thing. 

News sources do not attach a quid pro quo between allowing Trump University to escape a serious lawsuit and penalties and the contribution to Abbott. However, my question remains: Does it not tell us something about the ethics of our governor who is willing to accept a fairly substantial contribution from a man whose conduct led to him being exiled from Texas because of his con-artist-type behavior?

It seems the Republican Party which once prided itself on dedication to strict law and order and high morals now seems to find ways to embrace Donald Trump, who without a doubt is a serial liar, philanderer, con artist and bully.  Not only that, it seems the Grand Old Party in Texas has decided to turn a blind eye to illegal conduct and even do away, or make powerless, state agencies which attempt to corral unlawful conduct and unethical practices in government.

Our past governor, Rick Perry, who claims to be a Godly man, managed to “shop around” for a friendly Republican court to dismiss his indictment for trying to blackmail an elected official to bend to Mr. Perry’s will.  Little, if anything, has been said by leading Republicans about Rick Perry’s slush fund that we now know was nothing more than a slush fund for his cronies and a source of political contributions for Mr. Perry’s war chest.  There has even been little mention, if any, outside of a newspaper or two about Perry shelling out several thousand dollars to ex-staffers as they left his employment to get on his campaign payroll.

Perry must have set the standard of using state dollars for political purposes because we now know our Republican Ag Commissioner and Bush legatee have spent several thousand dollars paying employees who no longer were coming to work or doing any beneficial work for the taxpayers of this state.

I suppose we shouldn't expect more attention on ethics from a party which chose a man indicted for cheating citizens to be our state attorney general.  Mr. Paxton seems more inclined to sue the U.S. than con-artists in Texas.

Apparently, too many of us (voters) missed the message conveyed by the Republican Legislature abolishing the integrity unit of the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and adopting instead a “shop for your prosecutor” system for elected officials charged with criminal wrongdoing.  Our state Ethics Commission is virtually a toothless tiger and there appears to be little appetite among our elected officials from the governor on down to arm that body and make it capable of being a true watchdog for bad conduct among our elected officials.  

I guess it is alright to allow the Ethics Commission to remain so weak—particularly, in view of the fact it seems a majority of Texas’ voters do not seem to care.


Conflict between conservative leaders and science is not new.  History reveals that in 1633 in Italy the conservatives jailed the leading scientist of the time, Galileo, for expressing his view that the earth rotated around the sun.  Almost 400 years later, it seems conservatives are still at odds with science.

Sadly, however, in actuality, today's battle is over money and greed. 

Conservative Republicans continue to deny scientific findings in order to help their wealthy benefactors, even when history has proven the denial of scientific facts is not in the interest of a majority of us.  The standard bearer for the Republican Party, Donald Trump, has been quoted calling climate change a "hoax," "mythical" and a "con job" and stating that "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make manufacturing non-competitive."

Do you recall when the cigarette industry continued to publish article after article by "bought" scientists saying smoking was not harmful to the human body and was not really the cause of lung cancer? Similarly, hundreds if not thousands of working men and women died from asbestos exposure while corporations not only denied the connection, but actually concealed it from their workers.

Locally, in Jefferson County, how long did it take for refinery workers to force their employers to admit that benzene was a cause of leukemia and benzene emissions a contributor to leukemia among our children? 

One only needs to read a recent publication entitled “Dark Money” to discover how many billions are being spent by the Koch brothers to preserve their multi-billion dollar activities through the bogus denial of climate change caused by their refining plants’ emissions.  

The most recent example of conservative conflict with science deals with the oil and gas industry in Texas, but the handmaiden for Texas oil and gas is our elected Railroad Commission.  A new study by University of Texas scientists has revealed a large number of recent earthquakes are in fact caused by drilling activities.  This fact is hotly disputed by our elected Railroad Commission, and even worse, our Republican controlled Legislature—which espouses the primacy of local government—has passed a law prohibiting cities from regulating drilling activities which affect local citizens by creating tremors.

It seems some things never change.