Monday, September 26, 2016


Because of freedoms enjoyed by American citizens, we can, if we so choose, burn the flag, criticize the president, or kneel at a football game during the playing of our national anthem.  While such an act can capture national attention, it does little about the things Mr. Kaepernick is currently complaining about.

Once, I was told the story about a large family, the mother of whom had hideous scarring to the point she looked like a creature from a horror movie; and yet, the children all seemed to shower her continually with affection and hugs and kisses.  When someone asked why there was so much doting on such an unattractive person, it was revealed that years before there had been a terrible fire at the home of this family and these children had been rescued—their lives saved by their mother braving the flames, resulting in her sustaining horrible, disfiguring scarring.  

The same story might be told about the United States of America.  No doubt our country has scars, and several things which can be criticized.  Yet, it remains a beacon to which almost every citizen of every other country is drawn.

When America was birthed as a nation by the development and adoption of our Constitution, some of those participating in its writing deplored slavery.  Even so, they did not prevail at the time and a provision was written into our founding document classifying some humans as less than human because of their skin color.  Nonetheless, because of the general provisions and freedoms assured by our Constitution and subsequent Bill of Rights, we have emerged as a thoughtful, caring nation in many regards.  Citizens of all stripes enjoy more privileges, rights and protections than any other nation on earth.  Hopefully, we will continue to evolve in this regard.

While I will defend Kaepernick’s right to express his dissatisfaction about things in this country, I also have the right to deem him wrong in his behavior.  The drawback of the kneeling exercise teaches minority little league players they are being short-changed by their country.  Further, it clearly fails to inspire children to do things in a positive manner that would improve the way of life for us all.  It is my belief that more can be accomplished standing up than kneeling down. Even kneeling in prayer would not be as productive without an active follow through of faith. 

Marching to the polls, attending your city council or school board meeting, door-to-door knocking for a candidate of your choice, or volunteering for a “get out the vote” campaign would do infinitely more to change things for the better than simply a relatively effortless protest.

Among our many other privileges as Americans we have the ultimate ability through voting to alter the course of our nation and our society.  Unfortunately, only a small percentage of American citizens take advantage of this wonderful privilege.  How much better would it be if we focused on inspiring children to participate in large numbers of informed voting.  It is my fervent belief our nation would be far better off if those who spend hours organizing marches to protest the shortcomings of our country would spend more time organizing mass marches to the polling places on election day.

Our nation may not be perfect, but without a doubt it is great.  It is up to us to try to keep it that way.   How much better would it be if those who aspire to leadership of our fellow Americans of all stripes could inspire others to change our nation for the better through responsible, thoughtful participation.

Monday, September 19, 2016

An Open Letter to Evangelicals of a Certain Political Persuasion


I have recently become aware of a gentleman who would love to become a deacon in your church.  This is an older gentleman who is currently married to his third wife.  He has a history of publicly boasting of his past adultery and sexual conquests.  When asked, he has expressed the view that he has never felt the need to confess or ask forgiveness from God or anyone else.  He is known to have insulted numerous people because of their race, national origin or religion.  So far he has also refused to apologize for this behavior to any of the people whom he has offended.   

Also, this gentleman is somewhat loose with the truth and has told a few whoppers when it would be beneficial to him.  He is somewhat profane with his language in public speech.  He appears to have a dim view of most women stating on occasion that women look better when they are on their knees.  He regularly ridicules people with whom he differs, especially on the subject of their religion. 

While claiming to be a devotee of the Bible, he is unable to cite a single biblical verse with which he was familiar.  Additionally, he has not demonstrated an ability to even correctly cite scriptures in the Bible—particularly, New Testament books that have two parts.

In spite of these minor flaws, I am certain this gentleman would contribute greatly to your church because he says he is very rich.  However, there is no evidence that he has tithed or is committed to do so.  It is my understanding that in the near future this gentleman will be applying and requesting your church to select him as a member of your board of trustees, deacon or whatever your governing body is.  I look forward to seeing how this gentleman is received by your church.

Author’s note:  If you would not accept such a gentleman in the fold to govern your church, why on earth would you support such a man to lead the nation?

Monday, September 12, 2016


My father, who lived through a depression, was a person who had firsthand experience with hard times.  His father died when he was a young boy and so he was required to drop out of school to help support his family.  He later became president of one of the largest local unions in the United States.  I suppose his experience shaped much of his thought concerning working people.  He harbored a deep-seated belief that a man’s job was almost as sacred as his right to worship.  He witnessed firsthand the difference between laboring under circumstances where a man’s livelihood could be terminated at the whim of a boss and the conditions which could prevail while working under a decent union contract.

It is difficult for me to fully grasp the fact that so many wage earners who live from payday to payday do not appreciate the difference between working with some job protection and with none.  Seldom does a week pass at my law office without receiving a call from an hourly wage earner who has been unfairly treated, fired from their job, or subjected to oppressive behavior by their superiors.  Most are stunned when I relay to them that in Texas and many other states there is no real job protection unless there is a union contract or a personal employment contract.  Most of these cases involve circumstances where the employee is accused of certain conduct but there is no proof the accusations against them are true.  

Sadly, I have to tell them that in the absence of a contract—union or otherwise—they have absolutely no remedy whatsoever because Texas is what is called an "at will" employment state.  An employer can discharge an employee for absolutely no reason whatsoever other than the fact that the employer wants them gone.  The only avenue available to people who work for a living are the federal statutes which prohibit discrimination based on race, gender, age, national origin—or in some cases, disability.

Many people in our state mistakenly believe that the Right to Work statute has something to do with maintaining your employment unless discharged for good cause.  Unfortunately, the Right to Work statute in Texas and other states has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the right to keep a job or earn a living.  It is simply a device by which "closed shop" agreements by unions are made unlawful.

Even more stunning to me is that so many working people in our state have turned to the Republican Party as their choice for government leadership.  In Texas, since the late 1970’s, with the growing control of the Republican Party in our State Legislature and statewide elected offices, the concept of fairness in the workplace—or even safety in the workplace—has taken a nosedive. 

Republicans—not only in Congress but also in our own State Legislature—have fought at every turn against safety measures such as OSHA.  Even consideration of a decent minimum wage law is not a matter even to be discussed in the halls of government.  Worker compensation or other insurance provisions for injured workers in Texas is not mandatory; and even if it exists, it is well-nigh impossible for an injured worker to find a lawyer who would handle his case against insurance companies and their high-dollar attorneys.  The Legislature’s restrictions on worker's comp has made it virtually impossible for an attorney to be adequately compensated for handling a worker's comp case unless able to do it virtually pro bono.

The Koch brothers and most Republican leaders continue to ignore hazards of the work place—and also to deny that climate change is a scientific fact.  Money and profit trump worker safety and public health.  We should all remember that those defending positions in the name of good business are much the same interests who lied to workers for years about silicosis.  And, they are the same folks who refused to acknowledge the harm of smoking.

It is truly time for people who work for wages to wake up, arise, and vote in every election possible—and closely examine which party serves their livelihood.

Monday, September 5, 2016


It is good to set aside a date to honor labor, both the verb and the adjective.  The primary reason America has reached its level of greatness is because its underpinning is labor, both the efforts put out by American citizens, as well as our fellow Americans who provide the real work to give us the goods and services that make our lives better.  

It is truly an American blessing that we can profit by our labors and are free to engage in the laboring efforts of our choice.  

With the current shrinking of the middle class, it is especially important that we honor labor.  Clearly, in our capitalistic society the infusion of capital is essential to our economic well being.  Still, we should pause remember today that nothing would be made, produced or provided without those of us who work with our hands.

We need not only to honor labor ourselves but call it to the attention of our political leaders—state, national and local—that they should be ever mindful of honoring labor with safe workplaces, decent conditions and a fair wage for a day’s pay.

Unfortunately, in today’s political climate too many of our officeholders ignore the fact that many who labor in full-time jobs cannot afford their basic needs.  

We as well as our elected politicians should be ashamed that, in a country blessed with the abundant wealth that exists, many who labor full time are required to be on food stamps and other forms of welfare.  Too many laborers are not adequately protected from the dangerous conditions of their job.  As an example, many states, including Texas, do not even require worker's comp coverage for those who might be seriously injured or disabled while producing goods and services for the rest of us.

Too often even our tax policies belie the degree to which we respect labor and hard work.  We should be asking why our tax policy is such that money earned by money is taxed at a much lower rate than money earned by the sweat of one’s brow.

The right of workers in the labor force  to organize themselves into unions to speak for them should be zealously guarded and honored as part of the American way of life.  Organized labor has lifted workers from the drudgery of  dangerous and degrading workplaces.  It has stamped out child labor and provides some degree of protection to citizens in the workplace from unfair treatment.

Many of us who believe in America’s greatness should remember the words of Ulysses S. Grant who said, “The laborer is the author of all greatness and wealth.  Without labor there would be no government, and no leading class, and nothing to preserve.”