Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Responding to claims that tradition justifies Gov. Perry calling for Day of Prayer

In Ms. Nuckols letter “Day of prayer one of Texas’ oldest public traditions” she makes the argument that because we’ve always done it that way we can keep on doing it. That’s really odd for someone in the Republican Party which prides itself on being the party of emancipation. After all slavery was an accepted practice for nearly all of recorded history and amongst Christians and Jews alike.

Tradition doesn’t make something right, if it did Nuckols wouldn’t have the right to vote just because she’s a woman. Of course if we really want to operate on the premise that we should do things the same way we’ve always done them then we should take “In God We Trust” off our paper money because it was only added in 1957 during the height of the Red Scare.

The problem with Gov. Perry’s prayer shindig is that it isn’t just exclusively Christian in nature; it’s only for certain types of Christians. The event’s most prominent sponsor, the American Family Association, is well known for slinging extreme anti-gay and anti-Muslim rhetoric. The AFA is also known for blaming gays and lesbians for the Holocaust and for Hurricane Katrina. And there’s Dr. John Benefiel of the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network in Oklahoma City. Benefiel’s views are so outside the mainstream that he believes the Statue of Liberty is “a demonic idol”.

Our governor should be working to make all Texans feel included whether they are a member of his religious tradition or not.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Letter responding to "freedom of religion" doesn't imply freedom from religion

In Beverly Nuckols’ recent letter “A Little Perspective for Texas Atheists” she makes the absurd assertion that the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion does not also imply the option to choose freedom from religion.

If you walk into a pizza parlor and the sign says – “Large Pizza $9.99 choose any single topping”, does anyone really think you can’t order that pizza without a topping? Must you only select from sausage, pepperoni, ham, green peppers or black olives, isn’t no topping an option?

Regarding Gov. Perry’s shindig, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, led by Reverend Barry Lynn, has this to say on the issue: “AU believes Perry’s sponsorship of a “Christians-only” event fails to honor our country’s religious diversity. His actions are divisive, unwelcoming and constitutionally inappropriate.”

Rev. Lynn isn’t the only faith leader to take an opposing position. Over two dozen members of the Houston Clergy Council as well as Rev. Dr. Stephen Sprinkle, Associate Professor of Practical Theology at Texas Christian University and others believe that Rick Perry is wrong too and no one would call them atheists.

Monday, July 11, 2011

More students, fewer teachers - Republicans attack public education

The SCUC ISD will have 19 fewer teachers available in the 2011-2012 school year while enrolling 538 more students due to state budget cuts according to Superintendent Greg Gibson. In addition the Board of Trustees made the highly controversial decision to eliminate the District Police force and has reduced the number of administrators by 6 along with other cost saving measures that became necessary when our state legislators saw fit to reduce funding by $450 or 11% per student.

Now you’ll hear from our Representative in the state legislature, John Kuempel, and even the Governor that they’ve actually added $1.6 billion to the elementary and secondary education budget but what they don’t tell you is that’s what it takes just to cover the increase in the number of Texas students with 89% of last year’s per student rate.

So our schools will serve 538 more kids which calls for 18 more teachers but instead we’ll have 19 less. That’s going to leave us 37 teachers short of the number we should have. This comes on top of higher performance requirements and even more days of state mandated testing during this budget cycle.

Apparently John Kuempel and his Republican colleagues’ conservative philosophy doesn’t include investing in the future of our children and our state. If you’re not happy with your kids and grandkids getting shortchanged on their education remember whose fault it is when you vote in November 2012.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Jobs, taxes and bringing the troops home will fix the budget deficit

Betty Clifford’s tirade is simply too much to ignore. Any economist whether left, right or center will tell you that governments aren’t like families when it comes to budgets. We were paying down our debts before President Bush and his cronies decided that the ultra-wealthy deserved even bigger tax breaks than they already had. So yes, one of the steps to reducing our budget deficit will have to be letting the Bush tax cuts expire. Another step will be to end the occupation of Iraq, end the war in Afghanistan and bring all our troops home.

Most importantly because it is both a major cause of our deficit and the damage it is doing to families all over this nation we must focus on creating jobs. Now I’m not talking about more tax cuts to “stimulate” big companies because there’s plenty of evidence that doesn’t work, just look at the Bush years where we had big tax cuts and no change in unemployment. No, I’m talking about investing in the infrastructure that we’ve allowed to crumble all over this nation like the interstate highway bridge in Minneapolis that collapsed killing 13 people August 1, 2007.

If we put people back to work they’ll spend their paychecks which will increase demand at stores all over the country and they’ll hire more staff and all of them will pay more taxes. Then we’ll also have the benefits of resurfaced highways and replacement bridges to deliver the goods that make the economy run.