Sunday, December 23, 2012

Response to letter against military budget reductions

In Beverly Nuckols letter published December 18 she states “Because of air travel, any enemy is no more than a few hours away — or only minutes, as North Korea demonstrated last week with their rocket launch.” She mentions it as if it were some reason not to reduce our bloated military budget. Osama bin Laden wasn’t deterred from attacking this nation by our vast military superiority as exemplified by 5,200 nuclear missiles or 10 aircraft carriers we had then and still have today. None of those weapons could have stopped the Twin Towers from being destroyed and none were used to kill bin Laden yet our military budget increased by around $300 billion per year over the last 22 years.

Nuckols also says we should begin by eliminating budget items added since 2009. I’m all for that since one of the first things added was funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which the Bush administration had kept out of the budget so it would look like it wasn’t affecting our national deficit.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Letting tax breaks for millionaires expire isn't the same as raising taxes

Ken Coleman’s letter “Paying for nothing…” misses some important points like the fact that President Obama isn’t asking to raise taxes on anyone, he’s simply refusing to further extend tax breaks for millionaires that were set to expire in 2010.

Coleman also fails mention that while many Americans don’t pay federal income taxes they do pay sales taxes and whether directly or indirectly they pay property taxes among other forms of taxation. He also fails to recognize that the reason they pay no federal income taxes is that they earn near poverty level wages or have no job at all. Before you say they should get a job there are 3 to 4 unemployed for every job available so even if every job were filled there would be plenty of unemployed left.

If Mr. Coleman and those who believe as he does really want everyone to pay taxes they should push for full employment policies and raising the minimum wage to a livable level. If someone who works a full time job they should be able to feed, clothe, house and provide medical care for their families. When anyone working for a living can be self sufficient then we can talk about more people paying taxes.

Coleman should also consider that the tax rates President Obama wants to return to are the same rates that went with low unemployment while the rates we have now were supposed to create jobs and have not even when left in place for over a decade.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ignoring the bloated Defense budget in "fiscal cliff" discussions

We hear lots of talk about the “fiscal cliff” and Republicans demanding budget cuts but no one ever seems to talk about the elephant in the room called the Defense budget. The U.S. spent $680 billion on our Army, Navy and Air Force in 2011 accounting for 45% of the worlds military spending. In addition over $50 billion was spent on civilian intelligence agencies.

The U.S. has ten active aircraft carriers and three more under construction, no other country, not even China currently operates more than one and al-Qaeda has none.

According to the Arms Control Association the U.S. has over 5100 nuclear warheads, Russia has about the same number but roughly half are awaiting dismantlement. China has 240, France under 300 and the United Kingdom about 225, India and Pakistan about 100 each, North Korea may have ten if they’re able to build functioning warheads and al-Qaeda has none.

The U.S. has over 800 military bases on foreign soil, that’s over four for every nation on earth.

Surely we can retire four aircraft carriers, a few thousand nuclear warheads and close several hundred overseas bases to help bring our federal deficit under control. It’s time we faced the fact that this nation can no longer afford to maintain the empire we established over the first half of the last century. We won’t be the first super-power to recognize it but if we do it now we’ll be the first to avoid waiting until we’ve wrecked our economy.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Donna Campbell evading questions like "the Artful Dodger"

Meet Donna “the Artful Dodger” Campbell, who thinks she’s won the Texas Senate seat in District 25 just because she beat Jeff Wentworth. I call her “the Artful Dodger” because she’s made a habit of dodging questions from columnists at this newspaper and others.

Campbell dodges opportunities for voters to get to know her at non-partisan events when her opponent John Courage will be in attendance, like the San Antonio CRS, a realtors group, Rotary Clubs, and others. She’s been invited by League of Women Voters groups on Wimberley and San Marcos but has failed to even be respectful enough to respond to them.

With so many opportunities dodged you’ve got to wonder if she’s hiding her ignorance of the needs of the district. Is she hiding the fact that she’s as inarticulate as the video of the editorial board interview shows her to be? Is she hiding her elitist views such as school vouchers, which only cover a quarter of the cost of private school tuition, will somehow give poor people a choice in where to send their children to school. Or could it be all of the above?

John Courage has been interviewed by newspapers around the district, he’s attended non-partisan events and even attended a TEA Party meeting. I’m voting for John Courage for Texas Senate because he listens to everyone.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

TEA Party candidate in SD25 afraid to face voters

Who’s afraid of John Courage in Senate District 25? Donna Campbell, that’s who. After watching Courage and Campbell being interviewed by the San Antonio Express News editorial board for an hour I can understand why she doesn’t want to be seen in the same room as Courage. She’s both clueless and inarticulate; most of her responses were TEA Party rhetoric without specifics.

With nearly half a million voters in Senate District 25 yet to hear from Campbell she’s only been seen at TEA Party events and cowering at the homes of existing supporters. Campbell won’t accept invitations to be interviewed by opinion writers for the major newspapers in the district. When she and Courage have been invited to non-partisan candidate forums she has refused the invitation which means those organizations won’t let Courage address their members either because they don’t want to be seen as partisan. When voters ask her questions she doesn’t want to respond to on her Facebook page she bans them.

John Courage recognizes that Texas per pupil funding for education is near the bottom in the U.S. causing overcrowded classrooms in which there aren’t even enough desks for the students. Campbell’s solution is to violate the Texas Constitution and provide half the per student funds to pay part of the tuition at religious schools.

Campbell should be very afraid to be seen in the same venue as John Courage but voters should demand it.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Critical thinking and higher order thinking skills aren't part of the Republican education agenda

You have to wonder what Republicans are thinking when it comes to education when you look at the Republican Party of Texas 2012 platform: “We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills, critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.”

How do you make scientific discoveries if you don’t challenge fixed beliefs? How do you analyze an unfamiliar situation and find a solution to a problem without critical thinking skills? As to undermining parental authority, if you’ve done your job right as a parent no school can ever undermine your authority.

We all understand that high paying jobs go to educated, creative people yet in Texas when we were already 48th in education spending per pupil Gov. Perry and the Republican controlled legislature cut education funding by $5 billion. They did this while wailing about respecting the Constitution. It seems to me that they showed great disrespect for the Texas constitution’s Article 7 requirement to “make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools”

Every dollar that goes to education is an investment in the future of this state and its people. This November it’s important that we elect legislators that respect our constitution and understand the need to invest in our future, obviously that means voting for someone other than a Republican.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Disappointed in US Senate candidates

The Houston Chronicle covered the debate between the Democratic candidates for US Senate here

Our two US Senate candidates both leave something to be desired. Yarbrough thinks securing our border with Mexico could use some Berlin Wall style thinking. Sadler regrets that the party platform calls for decriminalizing marijuana because Americans aren’t ready for that.

Yarbrough ran twice as a Republican so in my mind he’s already a questionable candidate and suggesting that a Berlin Wall along our southern border (think Herman Cain's moat) is the way to solve our immigration problems just confirms my dim view of the man. Sadler ought to have more courage since he wants to be a leader in our country and instead of bashing our newly minted platform take it a step further by recognizing that part of our immigration problem is caused by our failed “War on Drugs”.

Our border immigration/border security, drug cartel violence, over-incarceration of non-violent offenders and the attendant damage to our economy, national security and official corruption are all interwoven issues and if you fail to understand one of them you fail to understand the whole picture.

We have a lot of important problems to solve in Texas and the U.S. which leaves me disappointed that both of our US Senate candidates are clueless on at least one of them.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Death Penalty Isn't Always Justice

Texas Democrats came out strongly for justice when the 2012 state convention added repeal of the death penalty and replacing it with life without parole to the party platform. Exonerated death row inmate Anthony Graves, who was nearly executed twice, spoke to a large audience explaining how our dysfunctional justice system continues to wrongfully execute innocent people.

Graves spoke from the heart and reminded attendees that you can’t undo an execution. He also told us that while outsiders think life without parole is getting off easy those in prison with such sentences don’t see it that way and many would rather face execution or in his words “take the needle”.

While people of color are disproportionately represented among those executed don’t think it can’t happen to middle aged white guys. Gov. Perry allowed Cameron Todd Willingham to be executed even after being presented with evidence that no crime had been committed at all.

We should also recognize that it costs four times as much to try a death penalty case and execute the convict as it does to jail someone for 40 years. That means we spend an awful lot of our criminal justice resources on killing someone when we could be protecting our families from violent crime by having more cops on the beat.

If you’re a small government, low tax conservative who believes our criminal justice system should be tough on crime wouldn’t it be more cost effective to stop this big government boondoggle?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

End the big government boondoggle

Republicans constantly make the dubious claim that fewer regulations on businesses would increase profits and encourage them to hire more people. There is something we could cut regulations on that would reduce costs to our local, state and federal governments, increase employment, reduce both violent crime and official corruption and increase tax collections without raising tax rates. That something is legalizing marijuana then regulating and taxing it like alcohol and tobacco. On Saturday June 9, 2012 the Texas Democratic Party took a giant step forward by adding a platform plank calling for decriminalization of marijuana.

Every year the police in this country arrest more people of marijuana possession than they do for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault and other violent crimes combined. After over 40 years of the “War on Drugs” marijuana use is more prevalent and the marijuana is more readily available than it was when President Nixon declared the war.

By any measure the prohibition of marijuana possession and personal use is exactly the big government boondoggle that conservatives so often complain about. It’s way past time that all our political leaders recognize that prohibition today is just as counter productive as it was in the 1920’s and 1930’s and repeal it. As one who doesn’t drink alcohol and doesn’t smoke tobacco or marijuana I have nothing personal to gain, I just want to see sensible public policy.

I’m proud to have led the effort to add decriminalization of marijuana to the Texas Democratic Party platform.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Desperate people do desperate things

While the TEA Party continues to play into the hands of Wall Street bankers and billionaires with delusions of grandeur the U.S. economy is once again swirling around the drain. If House Speaker John Boehner is successful in his oft stated goal of making President Obama a one term president we can all look forward to further austerity measures which will put the economy into a tailspin the likes of which haven’t been seen since Herbert Hoover was President.

Many Americans were in desperate shape even prior to the Great Depression and once it struck their ranks only grew. Our parents and grandparents often went hungry sometimes for days on end. What is usually glossed over in history classes in this country is that there was quite a bit of civil unrest in this country in the early part of the 20th century with labor strikes and government troops used by the corporate bosses to break those strikes often using deadly violence.

We’ve already seen pre-cursors to such heavy handed tactics in places like New York and the University of California at Davis where police pepper sprayed peaceful protestors who were sitting on the ground. What the Koch brothers and the Walton family seem to have forgotten is that in this age of improvised explosive devices when people have nothing left to lose they are willing to take measures that they would never have risked with just a little food on their tables and a roof over their heads.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Texas A&M SA revels in egg on its face

After the crosses were taken down from the building on the Texas A&M San Antonio campus a few months ago it seemed that the episode was over. Sadly that has never been the case as Sissy Bradford, the professor who made the request to have them taken down,  was ostracized by the administration, harassed by staff and students alike, had her car vandalized and received death threats from parties unknown. When she reported the death threats to the university police she was told she’d have to prove who threatened her.

Professor Bradford continued to teach and was assigned four classes in the fall for which a number of students registered. After getting no help from anyone on campus she talked to the press and within hours of the latest story being published her fall classes were canceled. Does anyone really think that’s a coincidence?

When a student with a Presidential scholarship went to talk to the university president on Prof. Bradford’s behalf she was told “I don’t like you anymore” and lost her scholarship.

Sissy Bradford’s story has now been covered by Rick Casey on KLRN television and gone international with the Guardian in the United Kingdom publishing the story as well. The Texas Tribune, the New York Times and other media outlets are preparing stories on the situation. Texas A&M San Antonio now has egg on its face once again and it’s all the administration’s fault for not taking Prof. Bradford’s safety seriously.

Friday, May 18, 2012

War on Drugs - epitome of big government waste

In “Say ‘no’ to pot” Wednesday, Bobby Traeger writes about the potential harmful effects of marijuana as though that alone is reason to keep it illegal. Well then why aren’t alcohol and tobacco illegal, after all they’re both harmful to health and addictive?

Alcohol was illegal in the 1919 to 1933 and look at what a debacle that was. Not only was there a dramatic rise in organized crime, violence and government corruption but Americans lost respect for law enforcement as well. We’re repeating the same process and losing once again.

The “War on Drugs” is nothing more than a big government money waster. Last month the Federal Bureau of Prisons reported that nearly half of all its prisoners were being held for drug convictions. If you believe in small government eliminating the “War on Drugs” should be one of your biggest priorities due to the obscene cost in time and resources for police, prosecution and prisons.

If you’re interested in keeping teens healthy and safe take a lesson from how alcohol and tobacco are regulated and the success of education about the dangers of tobacco. We have successful models to use; let’s stop the insanity of repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

American Taliban Strikes Again

Once again the American Taliban has struck a blow against our Constitution’s protection of religious freedom by promoting the National Day of Prayer on Thursday.

The right frequently makes the claim that if something isn’t specifically stated in the Constitution our federal government shouldn’t be involved in it, yet when it comes to religion and prayer they say just the opposite. The Constitution of the United States makes only two references to religion and both are in the negative. In Article VI it says “…no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” In the First Amendment it says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;…”

No where in our Constitution does it say that this is a “Christian” nation as theocratic extremists repeatedly assert. No where in our Constitution or its history is there any evidence that it is based on any of the several versions of the Christian bible.

As Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State reminds us “Americans don’t need to be told when or whether to pray”. Sadly Mayor Castro refused to sign a proclamation urging citizens of San Antonio to celebrate the First Amendment. It is time our elected officials stop pandering to those who would impose an unconstitutional theocracy on the citizens of this great nation and do away with the “National Day of Prayer”.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

End to big government boondoggle known as the "war on drugs"

Senator Wentworth’s April 19 Viewpoint goes into some detail on the damage that drug cartels are doing to Texas. He fails to mention the even greater damage the overall “war on drugs” is doing to our society and that of our neighbors in Mexico where there were over 3,000 murders in Juarez alone in 2010.

At last weeks Summit of the Americas in Cartegena, Latin American leaders discussed reform and regulation to replace prohibition, even Canadian Prime Minister Harper conceded at a press conference that the drug war is “not working”.

A wider variety of more powerful drugs is more widely available at lower prices to younger people than they were prior to the “war on drugs”. Any criminologist will tell you that the point of outlawing something is to make it so expensive and so difficult to obtain that people just don’t do it. Based on that criteria; the “war on drugs” is a failure.

The United States has 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's incarcerated population while nearly one third of them are there over drug offenses. The cost to arrest, prosecute, incarcerate and probate these “crimes” is staggering.

It is time we recognized that the “war on drugs” is the same kind of counter-productive failure as Prohibition was in the 1920’s and 1930’s. Televangelist Pat Robertson and Congressman Ron Paul both believe that this big government boondoggle should end and so should anyone who believes their tax dollars should be wisely spent.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Liberal isn't a dirty word or insult, it's a badge of honor

What have liberals ever done that conservatives like Dale Wehrle find so offensive? Liberals passed the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act. You do like clean water to drink don’t you? Clean air is really nice too.
Liberals made sure that African Americans have the right to vote, passed the Civil Rights Act and ended segregation. Liberals passed the 19th amendment insuring that today’s women have the right to vote.
Liberals created Medicare and complain as you will it is far better than private insurance would be for those 65 and older because insurance companies would either reject seniors outright or charge unaffordable rates because they’re just in it for the profit.

Conservatives voted against all those things.

ACLU stands for American Civil Liberties Union and it isn’t a liberal organization at least not in the way Wehrle seems to think; if it were they would never have supported neo-Nazis’ First Amendment right to demonstrate in Skokie, Ill. or Lt. Colonel Oliver North when his fifth amendment right not to incriminate himself was violated.
The ACLU is “the” organization to turn to when your civil rights are violated. You know, the first ten amendments also known as “The Bill of Rights.”

If you’re offended by liberals and our accomplishments that’s your right under the Constitution, as for me I proudly wear the label “Liberal.” I’m also proud to have been a card carrying member of the ACLU.

Monday, March 12, 2012

LTE on Sen. Inhofe using the bible to pretend that global climate change is a hoax

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) in a recent interview about his new book claimed that the bible says man can’t change the weather and therefore the notion of global climate change is a hoax. Inhofe maintained that only God can change the climate and for us to believe that our actions can alter the seasons is pure “arrogance.” He said: “…The Genesis 8:22 [verse] that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.”

I’m stunned, farmers and ranchers all over Texas have noticed for years that our weather is less predictable and rain doesn’t come at the usual time of year so crops are producing less than they used to. Our oceans are rapidly acidifying and the plant life it used to support is dying off leaving less food for other sea life, so fishing boats are less productive than ever before.

Inhofe continues “The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.” No climate scientist has ever claimed that we’ll stop having summer and winter. All they’re saying is that we’ll get more violent storms, more and deeper droughts in some areas as well as more and heavier rains in others.

If anyone is arrogant it’s Inhofe and those who cherry pick bible passages to support anti-science positions.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Wiggins controversy and opportunity to discuss the ineffectiveness of prohibition

Much has been said here about Mike Wiggins and whether or not he should resign his position as County Judge. Situations like this are often called teachable moments, we should all take a step back and look at the larger issue of whether or not marijuana should be legalized.

Marijuana has been used for 4,000 years, nearly as long as alcohol. Alcohol is 10 times more likely than marijuana to be a factor in an auto accident. Marijuana is addictive to 9% of users as compared to alcohol at 15% and tobacco at 32% so you can’t say it should be prohibited for health and safety.

Recreational use in the US wasn’t widespread until after it prohibited in 1937. Today almost any high school student will tell you they could get it if they wanted it so you can’t say prohibition is protecting our children.

The US wastes $15 billion per year on the “War on Drugs” without reducing availability or demand for marijuana making it the poster child for ineffective government programs. It’s time we regulate it and tax it like the other recreational drugs; alcohol and tobacco.

Albert Einstein once said “…nothing is more destructive of respect for the government and the law of the land than passing laws which cannot be enforced.” While it’s past time to legalize marijuana as long as it is illegal as an elected official Mike Wiggins should resign otherwise he reinforces disrespect for government and the law of the land.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Health insurance isn't a gift from employers, it's part of an employee's pay

Bob Shearer’s letter “President Obama has violated his oath of office” claims as others who oppose the President that businesses run by religious institutions shouldn’t have to abide by the same rules as everyone else. Shearer seems to think that health insurance provided by employers is some kind of gift when in fact it is a part of the employee’s compensation package.

The reality is that it’s the employee’s work that’s being compensated and the employer is simply a conduit for insurance premiums. The only reason we even have this convoluted system is that for profit insurance companies offer lower rates to larger pools of customers so it’s to the employee’s financial advantage to participate in the employer’s insurance program rather than buy individual coverage at a higher price.

There are two alternatives to this convoluted mess that would resolve Shearer’s concerns if he really wanted to “protect” employers from paying for medical care they found morally objectionable. Option 1 is to do what many advanced countries around the world do and offer single payer government sponsored program. Option 2 is simply require for profit companies to offer the same rates to everyone in a community so that they can’t cherry pick the healthiest people and leave the sickest with the highest bills.

Friday, March 2, 2012

LTE in response to a guy that thinks this is a "Christian" nation and always was

Dale Wehrle and other purported constitutionalists might want to revisit some of this nation’s history when claiming that this is or ever was an exclusively “Christian” nation.

Roger Williams who founded Rhode Island in 1635 after a run in with the Puritan government of Massachusetts over separation of church and state wrote a warning against opening “a gap in the hedge, or wall of separation, between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world”. That sounds a lot like Thomas Jefferson’s “building a wall of separation between Church & State” reference in his letter to the Danbury Baptists.

Perhaps most important to the constitutional argument though is our fourth president James Madison, lauded as the “Father of the Constitution” and primary author of the Bill of Rights. Madison was an ardent proponent of separation of church and state for decades who when opposing Patrick Henry’s efforts to merge them wrote in his Memorial and Remonstrance “[T]he Bill implies either that the Civil Magistrate is a competent Judge of Religious Truth; or that he may employ Religion as an engine of Civil policy. The first is an arrogant pretension falsified by the contradictory opinions of Rulers in all ages, and throughout the world: the second an unhallowed perversion of the means of salvation.”

If a man such as Madison thought it best to maintain separation of church and state where does Mr. Wehrle get the idea that the U.S. was ever a “Christian” nation?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

To the clown who thinks the school lunch guidelines are a government infringement on parental rights

Your new satire writer Carolyn Goodenough must have come from The Onion, her piece titled “Stand up for freedom; end government intervention” was hysterically funny. I did find it odd that you’d place it in the letters to the editor but I guess that was part of the joke. She really had me going so I looked up the new healthy lunch program called “Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs” just to be sure she was kidding us.

Thanks for including her funny material but perhaps you should place her next piece in a more appropriate location like the comics page.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Response to letter claiming that our President is at war with religion

Dale Wehrle’s letter History and God is so full of half truths and outright fabrications that he out to take up fiction writing for a living.

In his first paragraph Wehrle claims that the “…Supreme Court has ruled it illegal to pray in school or mention God or Christianity in commencement addresses.” The fact is that the Supreme Court has said nothing of the sort, what they have said is that representatives of government meaning elected officials and those on government payrolls like superintendents, principals and teachers may not, in their official capacity, offer prayer as part of a commencement address or before the assembled student body.

Wehrle’s next fabrication is, “Our current president went on record to proclaim, ‘We are no longer a Christian nation!” All you have to do is look it up on, a non-partisan organization, to learn that the real quote is “We are no longer ‘just’ a Christian nation, but a nation of many other faiths as well.”

I take personal exception to Wehrle’s last paragraph in which he refers to Hitler having overrun most of Europe “He appeared unstoppable, except for divine providence.” I know that it was the blood and sacrifice of WWII combat veterans like my three brothers and their buddies which drove Hitler’s troops back at the Battle of the Bulge.

We should all take heed of Sinclair Lewis’ prescient remark, “When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

Thursday, February 2, 2012

So you think religious groups should be able to deny insurance coverage for contraception

Michael Gerson’s op-ed “Insurance rule declares war on religion” is just one of many I’ve seen lately that make this entirely spurious claim. No one said that any of those who believe that contraception is immoral has to use it, the Obama administration simply said that insurance has to cover contraception for those who choose to use it.

But let’s assume for the moment that the Bishops and others making this case have it right, what then do you say to the Christian sect known as Quakers who say that war is against their religion, should we close the Defense Department? Should we allow Quakers a discount on their taxes so they aren’t paying for this nation’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the not quite wars in Yemen and Libya?

What if a religious group opposed Viagra and other drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction? Their argument might be that if God intended you to have sex he wouldn’t have taken away your ability to have an erection. Would that group have the right to deny coverage for such drugs from any insurance plan they offered their secular employees?

As the group Americans United for Separation of Church and State frequently reminds us, this is a secular nation of laws not a theocracy based on the Christian Bible. That’s a good thing, because as you can tell from the variety of Christian sects they don’t even agree on a single interpretation of their own holy book.

Response to Ruppert letter attacking local tax hikes

Charles Ruppert's letter published January 26 blasts everyone from the TEA Party to Democrats for failure to be outraged by local tax hikes. Cibolo residents will remember Ruppert as the mayor who wouldn't spend the money to fix potholes and drainage problems on Main Street. Apparently everyone but Mr. Ruppert understands that local taxes provide local value such as well maintained streets and drainage that prevents rain water from running through people's homes.

Local taxes provide police and fire protection and they provide as significant portion of the local school district's funds. When Mr. Ruppert was mayor of Cibolo he boasted of repeatedly lowering local property taxes. Subsequent administrations and city councils, which are majority Republican, have recognized that low taxes aren't everything. They've pulled back from the idea that "low taxes" are an end in themselves so that residents of downtown Cibolo and visitors alike don't risk damaging their cars by driving on Main Street.

If Ruppert really is so enamored of low taxes and vanishingly small government I suggest that he visit Somalia where he can experience pirates, dirt roads and cholera first hand.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Negotiating your pay like the Pentagon budget

At my next annual review with my boss I’m going to use the Pentagon’s budget tactics. While my co-workers are taking pay cuts or getting pink slips I’ll make outrageous demands for 5% increases every year for the next decade then I’ll back down to a 1% cut this year while retaining my inflation adjusted salary from that point on.

That’s what the reported $500 billion budget cut Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is crowing about really is. He’s not talking about significant cuts to current spending he’s simply saying that we won’t increase spending as much as previously planned.

The real question is; if we’ve just ended the occupation of Iraq and we’ll be out of Afghanistan by 2014 why would we need to maintain high levels of defense spending let alone continue to increase it? We already spend more on defense than the next 13 nations combined. Why aren’t we returning to pre-war spending levels?

President Eisenhower, no military slouch once said “Every gun that is fired, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Gingrich uses facts to tell untruths

During Monday’s Republican party presidential debate Newt Gingrich remarked "… the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history. Now, I know among the politically correct you're not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable."

The real problem is that among Republicans the use of “facts” doesn’t mean speaking the truth. In this case yes there are more people on food stamps than at any time since the program began but then the economy is in worse shape for a longer period of time than at any time since the food stamp program began and guess who’s responsible for that? Why none other than the Republicans and a few Democrats who are essentially owned by the banks and worked so hard to remove all the regulations that protected this country from banking failures that could collapse our economy.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Letter to the editor - It takes one to know one

Monday Senator John Cornyn sent out an email with the headline: President's Appointments are “Intemperate, Arrogant, and Irresponsible” in which he chastises President Obama for making recess appointments that don’t comply with his precious traditions.

What’s intemperate is John Cornyn and the other Republican senators holding up debate and voting on judicial and agency director nominations rather allowing the Senate to do its constitutionally required job of reviewing them.

What’s irresponsible is John Cornyn and the other Republican senators delaying justice for many because the open court seats prevent cases from being heard and decided in a timely manner.

What’s arrogant is John Cornyn and the other Republican senators deciding without debate that those nominees should not hold the offices for which they have been nominated.

Senator Cornyn, all I can say is Pot meet Kettle.