Zero Faith

“I had zero faith in the justice system, but I thought we should give it a try.”  Those are the words of Elizabeth Burnham, a homeowner who lost everything in Hurricane Harvey flooding after she was informed she had won her lawsuit against the U.S. Corps of Engineers.  Ms. Burham and other homeowners were flooded […]

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Get Out and Stay Out

The Wall Street Journal had an interesting article on December 12, 2019 about how the Trump administration is making it very hard for persons of “extraordinary ability” to obtain visas to enter the U.S. The approval rate for petitions based on “extraordinary ability” filed by professional athletes, scientists, professors and industry executives has fallen from […]

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Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way

  The United Nations Conference of Parties 25th annual negotiation on climate change, which was  held in Madrid this year, has ended with no discernible progress being made on global warming.  With the U.S. pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord, the result was entirely predictable.  It is as if the leading actor simply vanished […]

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Scattershooting

The NCAA president, Mark Emmert, has said Congress is likely to pass federal legislation regarding the compensation of student athletes for use of their name, likeness and image.  In fact, although the NCAA is usually proud of its autonomy, Emmert seemed to welcome the prospect of Congress doing this.  California and 20 other states have […]

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The Riddle of Climate Science Deniers

The latest figures compiled by the Pew Research Center show that 90% of Democrats and 39% of Republicans (2/3 of Americans overall) think the government is doing too little to combat climate change.  When I read this figure my immediate reaction was to be amazed that there could be such a wide disagreement about scientific […]

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Flaring of Gas

I was recently travelling south of San Antonio on Highway 16 through the Eagle Ford Shale oilfield.  Rising out of the brush country arose a very tall tower with an enormous flame on top.  Obviously, some company was flaring gas from many wells at the same facility.  It was by far the largest gas flare […]

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Are Judges Political?

The question of whether judges are political, i.e., whether their decisions are potentially influenced by political beliefs and political doctrine, has been around forever.  This question may now be before the U.S. Supreme Court in a case arising out of Delaware.  The facts are that the Delaware Constitution mandates that the state’s 3 highest courts […]

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More About the Border

I posted a blog (Report From The Border) on November 19, 2019 which detailed our recent experience at the Mexican border. As luck would have it, the Houston Chronicle ran a front page story also on November 19, 2019 on the same subject. I encourage you to read the Houston Chronicle story. I found it […]

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Too Poor to Apply

Trump’s point man for keeping people from “s___hole” countries out of the U.S. is Stephen Miller.  On November 19, 2019, The New York Times ran a story about Miller’s affinity for White supremacists  and their ideology.  He is also a fan of President Calvin Coolidge who had strong opinions about race and ethnicity and who […]

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Report from the Border

My wife and I just returned from a trip to the U.S./Mexico border at Brownsville.  The purpose of the trip was to see firsthand how immigrants are being treated and how our law enforcement agencies and judicial system are performing. Our trip was arranged through Texas Impact and The Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy […]

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Income and Wealth Inequality and Taxes

2019, The Wall Street Journal published an article in its opinion section written by Alan Blinder, a professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton.  Blinder’s opinion piece references a new book by two economists at the University of California, Berkeley, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zuchman.  Saez and Zucman traced tax records back to 1913, […]

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Trump vs the Environment

On November 1, 2019 it was reported that the Trump administration intends to loosen restrictions on transporting LNG (liquefied natural gas) by rail.  This move is intended to help the oil, gas and railroad industries.  However, tank cars full of explosive natural gas traveling through cities and towns is an obvious danger to people and […]

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Waiting for the Next Massacre

On Tuesday, October 29, 2019, a Pennsylvania judge ruled that 3 gun control ordinances enacted by the City of Pittsburgh were void.  The ordinances prohibited assault weapons and large-capacity magazines and empowered courts to take away guns from those who posed an imminent threat to themselves or others.  These ordinances were passed after a mass […]

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Hungry Children

Trump intends to cut school lunches for almost one million poor children.  This is as a consequence of his decision to make it more difficult for poor families to qualify for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), more commonly and often derisively known as “food stamps”.  Trump’s plan is to disqualify all families with […]

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Forced Arbitration

Many times in the past several years I have spoken out against laws and court decisions which force us to resolve disputes in arbitration rather than in a court of law.  These forced arbitration contractual clauses have found their way into virtually every contract you are required to sign to obtain ordinary goods and services, […]

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Controversial Judicial Appointments

Trump is on pace to appoint a record number of federal appellate judges.  These judges enjoy lifetime appointments and are one level below the U.S. Supreme Court.  The vast majority of federal cases are decided by these judges.  Considering that these nominees must be confirmed by the Senate; that Republicans have a 53-47 majority in […]

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Environmental Hypocrisy

The world recently reacted with anger over forest fires in the Amazon Rain Forest of Brazil.  The fires are intentionally set to create pasturage for cattle and new crop land.  The president of Brazil responded defiantly at first, but then seemed to say the fires were illegal and blamed the fires on criminals he couldn’t […]

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Asylum

The U.S. Supreme Court is allowing the Trump administration’s new asylum policy to take effect while the appellate process continues. Please recall that the Trump policy requires asylum seekers to apply for and be denied asylum in any country they travel through before reaching the U.S. This policy reversed longstanding policy which allowed asylum seekers […]

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Voting – Health Insurance – Poverty

I recently wrote a blog about a man named Thomas B. Hofeller. Before his death, Hofeller and his political consulting firm were hired by Republicans in 46 states, including Texas, to concoct gerrymandered voting maps and political strategies that helped Republicans get elected and stay in power. There is ongoing litigation in North Carolina concerning […]

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Dark Secrets

A court in North Carolina recently threw out voting maps gerrymandered by Republicans. New maps must be created by September 18 and the ruling is very specific about how they must and must not be drawn.  This ruling was probably unexpected by Republicans because the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that drawing voting maps was […]

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Food Insecurity

The timing is jarring. Our Brazos Valley Food Bank is hosting its annual Feast of Caring fundraiser on August 7, 2019. The success of this event is crucial to the thousands of food-insecure people in our area. While the Food Bank works hard to make its fundraiser a success so it can fulfill its mission, […]

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Do Politicians Care What You Think?

The short answer to this question is an emphatic “No!” This was the finding of 2 professors, Joshua Kalla from Yale and Ethan Porter from George Washington University, who conducted a study to answer this question. They discuss their study in The New York Times article of 7/12/19, “Politicians Don’t Care What You Think.”  If […]

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Just When You Think it Can’t Get Worse

My wife and I recently returned from Minnesota where we attended a wedding. We took the opportunity to travel through Northern Minnesota from Duluth, along the shore of Lake Superior to Thunder Bay Canada, up to Ely, the gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, and over to Hebbing, the epicenter of iron mining and […]

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You’re Fired

A very interesting, highly unusual thing has just happened in the case regarding the Trump administration’s decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census: the entire team of lawyers who had been representing the Trump administration in this litigation are being replaced. To set the stage for you, please recall that this case […]

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FAA Balloon Pilot Update

I recently wrote about the FAA’s failure to implement a law requiring commercial balloon pilots to obtain medical certificates verifying their fitness to fly passengers. Despite prodding from Representative Lloyd Doggett of Austin, the FAA has still not acted. Reprinted here is an update from Representative Doggett regarding his continuing efforts to force the FAA […]

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Mixed Signals

On June 7, 2019, the Houston Chronicle reported several stories about energy that left me wondering which way we are heading environmentally.  The front page story was about carbon dioxide removal technology (giant vacuum cleaners) which would be deployed around the world to filter out carbon dioxide.  The technology is hypothetical, unproven and, if it […]

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Speaking from the Grave

Image property of C-SPANOn June 7, 2019, The New York Times reported on an unusual voting rights case. The background facts are that a leading Republican voting strategist, Thomas Hofeller, died last August.  Hofeller was considered a mastermind of gerrymandering and other machinations that ensure that Republicans stay in control.  Hofeller was hired by Republicans […]

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Safety

I posted a blog a few months ago about the tragic balloon crash in Caldwell County that killed 15 people, including two who had deep roots in Brazos County.  A bill proposed by U. S. Representative Lloyd Doggett of Texas requiring commercial balloon pilots to have medical certificates passed with bipartisan support and became effective […]

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Medical Malpractice “REFORM” Failed Patients

Image by Fernando Zhiminaicela Medical malpractice law in Texas has endured many major changes through the years.  These changes have made holding healthcare providers responsible for harm much more difficult and extremely expensive.  The first attempt at so-called “reform” occurred in 1977 and the latest version of reform took effect in 2003.  In every instance, […]

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If You Don’t Like the Answer, Change the Question

On May 28, 2019, the New York Times reported on the latest efforts of the Trump Administration to discredit climate science and climate scientists. The article, “In Climate Fight, Trump Will Put Science On Trial,” by Coral Davenport and Mark Landler, is well worth reading.           The article details how Trump and his political advisors […]

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It’s the Law – Until it Isn’t

The U. S. Supreme Court has just overturned its own precedent in the case of Tax Board of California v Hyatt. The question presented in that case had to do with governmental immunity. The legal issue will not affect your life, but the way the Supreme Court arrived at its result could make an enormous […]

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A Dangerous Road

Some Democrats are saying that the disputes between Congress and Trump have caused a constitutional crisis. Republicans respond to the effect that if there is a crisis, it is caused by the Democrats who are overreaching for political gain. Regardless of your political persuasion and setting aside the question of motive, there is a looming […]

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Honoring Our Troops? Not This Time.

This past Monday, May 20, 2019, the United States Supreme Court issued a decision in the case of Daniel vs. United States. This case is the latest by the Supreme Court to apply the so-called “Feres Doctrine” in dismissing a tort cased filed on behalf of a member of the Armed Forces of the United […]

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IMMIGRATION: Fact or Fiction?

The overheated political rhetoric about immigration policy has exposed a fundamental fact: the general public and the vast majority of lawyers are ignorant of the law. This makes us vulnerable to all sorts of spurious claims made by politicians who willfully and knowingly use our ignorance and misunderstanding of the law against us.   The […]

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A Sleight of Hand

The Trump Administration (Office of Management & Budget) is proposing regulations which will change how inflation is calculated. You might say “so what,” but this change could profoundly affect the eligibility of millions of poor people for government programs such as Medicaid, food assistance, housing assistance and other social safety net programs.  This is because […]

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Driving Nails in the Coffin of Your Rights

On 4/24/19, the U. S. Supreme Court probably drove the last possible nail in the coffin of cases wherein an employer or, for that matter, any company enforces a contractual provision which states that disputes must be resolved by arbitration (rather than in a court of law) and prohibits participating in a class action case. […]

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The Census Citizenship Question Hurts Texas

On April 23, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of U.S. Department of Commerce v New York. The Supreme Court will have to decide whether the Trump Administration will be allowed to include a question concerning citizenship in the 2020 Census. The evidence before the Court proves conclusively that inclusion […]

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“Tell Them We Are Full” – No Room in the Inn

It is often hard to keep in mind that we live in two parallel universes. The first is the universe of reality. The second is the universe of politics. In the universe of reality, immigration policy is a real problem that needs to be rationally addressed and fixed. In the universe of politics, immigration policy […]

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The Effective Assistance of Counsel

Photo by verkeorg on Foter.com / CC BY-SAOn April 9, 2019, the Houston Chronicle ran two interesting stories regarding the appeals of two Texas death penalty cases. In the first case, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes of Houston ruled that it was permissible for one of the defendant’s two lawyers to sleep during the defendant’s […]

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The Price of False Promises and Angry Threats

My father used a lot of old sayings in an attempt to teach me at opportune moments. Those moments were almost always just before or just after I made a big mistake he knew I would regret. One of the sayings my father was fond of was: “Son, don’t let the wind of anger blow […]

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The Perils of Fame and Greed

Image property of Wikipedia.comIt has been recently reported that Michael Avenatti, the lawyer who has become famous for representing Stormy Daniels, has been arrested and charged in New York with trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike, the giant shoe and apparel company. The facts related to the charges involving Nike seem to be that […]

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The Question of Impeachment

Image by: gfk DSGNJust like you, I have heard what seems like an endless number of opinions about impeaching President Trump. I have not read anything that explains the process better than an article now appearing in The Atlantic by Yoni Appelbaum entitled, “The Case for Impeachment.” The longer the Trump Administration lasts, the more […]

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The Dangers of a Cozy Relationship

Boeing 737 Max 8: Image property of Getty / www.dailstar.co.ukThe crashes of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 have exposed a major fault in the regulatory relationship between the FAA and the manufacturers of aircraft. As the facts now appear to be, Boeing was regulated by its own employees. If you are like me, this is hard […]

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Be Careful What You Write and Publish

Justice Clarence Thomas. Image property of AE Biography/ AE Television Networks/ Biography.comJustice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court is mostly known for his contentious confirmation hearing (which he likened to a lynching), for not asking questions from the bench and for his perpetually sour countenance. He can be counted on to vote with […]

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Speaking Truth to Power Has a Cost

Image property of: NYT / Associated PressObituaries appearing in major newspapers are fascinating. You can learn a lot or be reminded of history you have forgotten and there is frequently a backstory about the deceased that you probably would never have known about otherwise. The New York Times of 2/22/19 ran the obituary of A. […]

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Hard to Believe

The Trump Administration has become notorious for appointing people to important positions that have a demonstrated antipathy or disdain for the agency or department they have been appointed to lead. If you have harshly criticized an agency or said it shouldn’t exist or lobbied for a special interest group or industry that is regulated by […]

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Corporate Leaders Emerge on Global Warming

On 2/7/19, the front page of The New York Times and all major news papers featured an article on global warming entitled “2018 Continues Warming Trend, As 4th Hottest Year Since 1880”. The article featured a graph that unmistakably demonstrates the warming trend. According to the article, 2018 was the 4th highest average surface temperature […]

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Let’s Just Don’t Get That Started

Even though a deal seems to have been made among Congressional leaders, Trump is still threatening to declare a national emergency or to act by executive order or to do both to build his wall. Should President Trump declare a “national emergency” in order to build his wall? Setting aside without debate the question of […]

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I Remember When…

As we get older we tend to remember the past as being better than the present and probably even better than it actually was. This was my reaction to a story written by Kathryn Eastburn in the Houston Chronicle of 2/4/19 which has to do with the loss of our wetlands habitat. Ms. Eastburn describes […]

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The Dangers of Coal Ash

Image is property of Nenad Zivkovic/ShutterstockOn January 17, 2019, The Texas Tribune published a story about groundwater contamination in Texas caused by the negligent storage of coal ash. Coal ash is what’s left after coal is burned at power plants. Coal ash has to be stored safely to prevent leeching and seepage. According to the […]

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