Audition

Image Caption: Emergency hospital during influenza epidemic, Camp Funston, Kansas. Emergency hospital during influenza epidemic (NCP 1603), National Museum of Health and Medicine. Description: Beds with patients in an emergency hospital in Camp Funston, Kansas, in the midst of the influenza epidemic. The flu struck while America was at war, and was transported across the […]

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Who Would Have Thought It?

Four or five years ago, who would have thought (predicted) that a President of the United States would be considered the least credible and least helpful leader in the world during a worldwide health crisis?  The steady erosion of credibility began before election and has only increased over time.  The pettiness, mendacity, churlishness and vindictiveness […]

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More Bad Policy

Image property of Jim Young/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images / NYtimes.com The COVID-19 pandemic is very serious, but it is temporary.  On the other hand, the rollback of environmental regulations has a lasting effect, particularly if Trump is re-elected. On Tuesday, March 31, the Trump administration announced its final rule rolling back the Obama-era automobile […]

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Our Test

Image by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pixabay  We are being watched.  Our adversaries are observing how we respond to the COVID-19 crisis, which in a sense is a test of our ability and willingness to defend ourselves in biological and conventional warfare.  It would be naïve to believe our enemies are not paying attention.  What lessons have they […]

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Monkey See, Monkey Do

An editorial opinion by Jennifer Latson, an editor at Rice Business, which appeared in the Houston Chronicle on March 5, 2020, caught my eye.  The title, “Rudeness, and Kindness, trickle down from above,” seemed like just plain ‘ol common sense, but there is science to back this up.  Researchers at UCLA conducted an experiment which […]

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Such a Pity – and Stupid too.

Original image property of: KOJI HIRANO / GETTY IMAGES / Earthjustice.org An opinion piece by John Leshy in The New York Times of March 4, 2020 returned my attention to Trump’s mismanagement of national parks, national monuments and federal lands in general. Leshy is a member of the board of the Grand Canyon Trust. Trump […]

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Supreme Court Strikes Again

Image by KERBSTONE from Pixabay  On 3/11/2020, the United States Supreme Court entered an order “staying” the earlier ruling of the Ninth Court of Appeals in San Francisco which had stopped the enforcement of Trump’s “wait in Mexico” policy.  This ruling does not mean the case is over.  The appeal will go on.  However, it does mean that […]

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The Anti-Science President

When I started to write this blog the first thought that came into my head was:  the only person that hates science more than me is Trump.  But, that isn’t really true.  The truth is that I was really poor in science and math, but I have great respect for science and scientists.  How could […]

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Climate Change Poll

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay   I had a very interesting experience in a jury trial recently.  One of the lawyers in the case asked the jury panel during jury selection whether they believed climate change was real or a hoax.  This is a highly unusual question, but how a juror answers is revealing.  […]

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Teflon Don

Original image property of 3D4MEDICAL / 3D4MEDICALFor the last 3 plus years we have been treated to photo-ops of Trump seated at the head of a long conference table while those in attendance take turns flattering him.  Those who are blowing kisses and throwing flowers have got to be sick to their stomachs before, during and after […]

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Disinformation

On March 2, 2020, The New York Times reported that an official at the Interior Department is forcing the inclusion of intentionally misleading language about climate change into the agency’s scientific reports.  This includes debunked claims that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is beneficial.  According to the Times, the misleading language appears in at […]

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Proud to be an American

National crises have always provided the opportunity for our best to be at their best.  Unfortunately, the opposite is also true. Like you, I’ve been watching television and reading newspapers trying to find out about the coronavirus and trying to figure out how this pandemic will affect me, my family, my business, my community, my […]

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Is There a Difference?

Original Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay You may have read or heard that Vladimir Putin is making arrangements for his future.  Russia has, at least in theory, a constitution and term limits.  To stay in power Putin will have to put his country through some constitutional, legislative and political machinations.  Needless to say, he […]

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Assuming the Worst

Original image property of Wikipedia / ABI image captured by NOAA’s GOES-16 satellite A criminal trial is underway in Houston against Arkema Inc. and Arkema senior level employees arising out of an explosion at Arkema’s plant during Hurricane Harvey.  Arkema is in the plastics business.  Arkema uses organic peroxides in its manufacturing process.  Organic peroxides […]

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The Oath

Many Republican commentators, elected officials and Trump surrogates are denouncing Senator Mitt Romney’s vote to convict Trump.  He is reviled by the Republicans as a traitor and applauded by the Democrats.  I was touched by Romney’s emotional speech explaining his vote because he emphasized the importance of his sworn oath before God to exercise impartial […]

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The Rest of the Story

Image property of the New York Times/ NYTimes.com/ Mohammed Salem / Reuters If you read this blog you may recall I posted a Report From The Border.  That story is about what my wife and I personally witnessed when we visited Brownsville and Matamoros where refugees are waiting in Mexico for their opportunity to plead […]

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Racing Backwards

Image by Ralf Vetterle from Pixabay  The Trump administration is moving quickly to finalize dozens of regulatory rollbacks and other actions to weaken environmental protections.  This includes eliminating protection for birds.  Henceforth, the Trump administration will not enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1917, which makes it illegal “by any means or in any manner” to hunt, […]

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A Different Take on Mideast Peace

Image by ErikaWittlieb from Pixabay  When Trump announced he and son-in-law Jared Kushner had a plan for peace in the Middle East, it was no surprise Benjamin Netanyahu was all in favor of it and that the Palestinians rejected it out of hand.  They were looking at the plan from a conventional geopolitical point of view and, of […]

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Shameful

I have refrained from writing about impeachment, but the farcial, shameful character of the proceedings can’t be allowed to seem normal or acceptable.  It is always good to start by looking closely at the Constitution.  (Please note that in some instances the spelling and capitalization are not modern.)  Article I, Section 2[5], states:  The House […]

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Plastic

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay  Chris Tomlinson writes an always interesting and informative column for the Business section of the Houston Chronicle.  On January 29, 2020, Mr. Tomlinson wrote about the war on plastic and the probable effect it will have upon producers of natural gas.  China is banning single-use, disposable plastic products such as straws, utensils […]

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The List

Political advertising, particularly advertising during the primary season, is probably a pretty good indicator of the issues that the politicians think will motivate their base.  Bearing in mind that the primaries are elections contested within a political party, in this day and time you can rest assured that every politician who has enough money to […]

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Musical Chairs

I’m sure you know and have played this children’s game: a group of people walk around a set of chairs until the music stops, then scramble to find a seat; the person left standing is eliminated; when the music begins again, a chair is removed and so on and so on until two (2) people […]

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Big, Dirty Secret

I recently commented on a federal court case involving the claims of thousands of homeowners who lost their homes due to flooding during Hurricane Harvey.  The claimants accused the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of “taking” their private property for a public purpose without just compensation in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. […]

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Scattershooting…

On January 23, 2020, it was announced that Trump’s EPA had “rolled back” clean water rules.  A better description would be “gutted”.  When environmental protections are removed, the proponents of removing them always invoke the imagery of innocent small landowners, struggling family farmers and small business owners being maliciously harassed by an arbitrary, unreasonable, capricious […]

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The Cost of Ignoring Reality

On 1/17/2020, the Houston Chronicle ran a story (see below) on a report issued by McKinsey & Company, one of the largest and probably best known business consulting firms in the world, regarding climate change. The report concluded that absent major preparation climate change will do substantial damage to the world’s economies and wreak havoc […]

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Humpty Dumpty

One has to wonder whether nature can survive the Trump presidency and, if so, how long it will take to recover if it can recover. On December 24, 2019, The New York Times ran a depressing story about how the Trump administration is failing to enforce the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the […]

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Meddling in Elections

I got a big surprise in my mail recently.  Among the letters, bills and fliers was what appeared to be a full-sized newspaper.  At first I thought the newspaper delivery person had mistakenly crammed the paper in my mailbox, but it turned out to be a “newspaper” called The Epoch Times.  As I looked it […]

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It’s Not Just the Ukraine

Above: Newly elected President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele Image Credit: Associated Press/ AP/ Gulfnews.com   On Sunday, December 15, 2019, the CBS program Sixty Minutes interviewed the newly elected President of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele.  The subject of the interview was primarily immigration.  Recall that Trump created a policy that required refugees to wait […]

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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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