Same Sex Marriage

The Case Against Misleading Journalism (And For Bernie Sanders): Part I of II

It is no mystery. One of my greatest pet peeves is inaccurate and misleading journalism. I mean, really? You get PAID to report the news. Your job is to fact check, cite check and present an educated assessment of the story de jour.

It is so unfortunate that I have to call out a fellow liberal, but something must be said. Jonathan Chait, a writer for New York Magazine, wrote an article this week titled, “The Case Against Bernie Sanders.”  As an avid news reader and consumer of knowledge, I was intrigued.

After cross-checking each source cited and linked, I began to get that icky feeling again. I had flashbacks of Josh Mitchell and the Wall Street Journal. Thus, I feel in the interest of truth, I must take on the task of dissecting his article for your enlightenment and enjoyment.

But this is a complicated issue for me. Therefore, I have decided to break this post up into two parts.

This is Part I.  In this blog, I will explain some of the personal reasons I support Bernie Sanders. In the next part, I will dissect Mr. Chait’s article. This should be fun. J

PART I: When Feelin’ the Bern is not a Medical Emergency

feel the bern

It’s probably pretty obvious to most of you that I am a bleeding heart liberal. I am especially liberal when it comes to social issues, civil rights, separation of church and state, religious liberty, equality, drugs, the right to die, law enforcement, judicial reform and a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body. I believe in the autonomy of each human being. I believe that adults should be able to make choices for themselves without government interference or input.

Side Bar

This used to be a conservative point of view, but in my opinion, neither party can claim this as their cornerstone anymore. That’s why I am not a Democrat, Republican, or member of any political party. Rant complete . . .

I believe that a human being, by virtue of being alive, has the inalienable right to do what he or she wants so long as they are not harming others, putting others in danger, or harming or endangering another’s property. I truly believe in each individual’s “Pursuit of Happiness,” whatever that pursuit may entail. I don’t even care if people want to hurt themselves or their own property. That’s their prerogative to the extent that it is not harming others. (Before some troll starts calling me out for this paragraph, my intelligent readers know that each of these statements is qualified and more complex than this brief explanation. Therefore, any discussion about people with mental health issues, incapacity, or unaddressed issues that these blanket statements may provoke, etc. cool your jets. I know.)

I love my country and like Bernie Sanders, am very hopeful for the future. I believe in US. I especially believe in my generation and the generations to come. We do not live in an isolated world where we are unconcerned and unconnected with the rest of the planet. We watch as other economies and societies flounder and flourish.

We read about Germany welcoming American students to come to Germany to receive a free college education. We wonder why the Germans can do this for Americans, yet our government cannot (or will not) do it for us.

We read articles about paid parental leave in Europe and especially Norway and Sweden’s approach to maternity and paternity leave. Yet, young women in this country are afraid to even insinuate that they may want children in the future to their overwhelmingly white male employers. And if you do get pregnant, I hope you work for a company that provides some type of paid leave for you. They do not have to, after all.

When we browse through our newsfeed on Twitter or Facebook, we see articles or personal stories about people ranging in age from 18-30 who have died in combat fighting a war that we have no stake in. We read heartbreaking statistics and stories from our friends about loved ones who made it back from this endless war only to take their own lives because they are not given the support they need when they get home.

We wonder why our country cannot look like other countries. Why is our country consumed by the acquisition of “things”? Why are we strapped with student debt that will cripple millions of us for a QUARTER OF A CENTURY? Think about that. That’s like having a mortgage on a house for 30 years, except at the end of 30 years you have nothing to show for it. Why can we not take care of our veterans? Why can we not have a fair election system?

People my age listen to their friends talk about work. How they are asked to work more and more hours with no expectation of raises or bonuses. The attitude in the working world from our perspective is: “If you don’t like it, we’ll find someone else who will do it for less. Be happy you’re even employed.”

We watched our parents’ unflinching loyalty to their employers. They played by the rules, contributed to their 401(k)’s and they are masters at their craft. Now they wonder if they will ever be able to afford to retire. Their wages are stagnant, their retirement plans and home values suffered severely after the crash in 2008. So, what was the point?

The people whose parents benefitted the most from collective bargaining and unions (baby boomers, specifically), proceeded to elect people who dismantled that safety net for American employees. They elected politicians who made it harder for average people to seek the relief of bankruptcy. They elected politicians that bailed out Wall Street with OUR tax money.

And it is no coincidence that the cost of college and student loan debt (accompanied by interest rates upwards of 7%) have sky rocketed since the recession. Each action has an opposite and equal reaction. Each part of our economy is so intertwined within itself that the most destitute of our communities and citizens ultimately pay the highest price.

Why should we play by your rules? What has it gotten you? We have a healthy distrust for government and an unwavering barometer for truth, justice and unfiltered bull shit.

Why not universal healthcare? The insurance companies have screwed ALL Americans. Why do we allow corporations to determine who does and does not receive medication and healthcare by virtue of a person’s ability (or inability) to pay?

Money in politics has rigged elections for a party that does not represent our beliefs and is fiercely opposed to change and progress. We have atoned for our crimes of seeking an education by committing up to 25 years of our lives paying off our student loans. We watch as our friends, neighbors and members of our community are arrested for possession of marijuana and police are literally getting away with murdering young black men and women. We see You Tube videos of police conducting raids on medical marijuana dispensaries and consuming their products. We read reports of law enforcement selling weapons and laundering money for drug cartels. We are pissed!

The Democrats are not innocent in this. They have become complacent. They have forgotten about states like mine. Texas is a historically blue state. Bet you didn’t know that, did you? But the party has abandoned us. And let’s not forget Bill Clinton’s indispensable role in signing mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines into law and further deregulating the banks, among other mistakes of his presidency.

Our country is a mired pool of hypocrisy and injustice. In my opinion, we do need a radical change.

This is why I support Bernie Sanders. Are all of his budgetary plans completely hammered out to the nearest cent? No. But do not be fooled, nobody else’s proposals are either. Wise readers, do not get caught up in the rhetoric. Never stop seeking the truth.

When I look at Bernie Sanders’ record, it is consistent and honest. He, like many other people, has evolved on certain issues. He’s recently been ridiculed for his past stance on gun legislation, but as a person from Texas, I get it. And it is nothing compared to what the Clinton campaign would have you believe.  Every state is different, but Bernie rarely is. This speaks to me and people my age. We’re tired of the bullshit. And there is one voice out there who seems to get that.

Since the mainstream media tends to ignore Bernie Sanders, let me drop some truth bombs on you with some excellent sources so that you can learn more about Bernie Sanders.

  1. Here is a list of Bernie’s most important issues. Feel free to cross-reference these proposals with his 30+ year voting record on Google.
  2. Bernie just released his budget on his website. You can see it here.
  3. 210 leading economists support Bernie Sanders’ plan to raise the minimum wage to $15.00/hour by the year 2020.
  4. 170 leading economists support Bernie Sanders’ financial reform plan to reign in Wall Street.
  5. If you disagree with economists and you yourself are not an economist, you become that person that diagnoses themselves with severe life-threatening ailments by using WebMD. Neither you nor your computer are a doctor, and you need to see a professional. The same goes for economics.
  6. Bernie is unquestionably a loyal-long time LGBTQ community and rights advocate. Just this morning, the Human Rights Campaign endorsed Hillary Clinton. A petition has already appeared on calling for the group to withdraw their endorsement because, lest we forget, Hillary Clinton is an uber-religious soldier in the democratic party. Unlike Bernie Sanders, and much like Barak Obama, Hillary was really late on the uptick.  While Bernie has been the house DJ for the most fabulous party on earth for over 30 years, Hillary only showed up around 2013 and even then she stood in the corner quietly watching to see what others were saying about **in a whispery southern voice** the gays! I do declare!
Parents guide

This abomination of a book is available for free on Amazon.

  1. Want to check out which Democratic nominees have been lying during this election cycle and what they have been lying about: click here!
  2. Here is a fact-check comparison for all 2016 presidential candidates: click here!

Although this is a short list, it is a list to get you started on getting know Bernie Sanders’ stances on issues and the truth about his campaign. Love him, hate him, it doesn’t matter if your opinion is based in fact.

I’ll see you tomorrow when I explore Mr. Chait’s article for you. And if you run across an article that just doesn’t sit right, feel free to share it with me in the comments.

Peace and Love,




It’s Time We Judge Our Judges: Lubbock Judge Ceases to Perform all Marriages After SCOTUS Decision

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding the work ethic and general professional disposition of millennials. In 2014, a Gallup Poll revealed that approximately three out of 10 workers age 18-34 fear losing their job. As a millennial, but more a member of the Oregon Trail generation, I have felt real fear in the workplace. Tip toeing over my boss’s hair-trigger emotions, reading and revising every email to make sure I did not sound too assertive, and doing things that I was not morally comfortable with because it was my job.

And just in case you are thinking, “This sounds like a millennial problem,” the same study found that approximately 20% of all workers in the United States fear losing their job. So why is it that we should be the only ones to bear this burden? The regular working people of America do not have to be alone. We can share the misery and I propose we start with our elected officials; more specifically, let us begin with local judges who refuse to do their jobs and uphold citizens’ rights under the United States Constitution.

For those of you who do not know, I was a toxic tort lawyer before I opened my own estate planning firm. In case you are not familiar with toxic torts, this area of practice encompasses a wide variety of personal injury suits related to carcinogenic (cancer-causing) or harmful chemicals that people have been exposed to and have suffered injury as a result of that exposure. I specialized in asbestos defense–this means that I defended companies accused of exposing employees to asbestos. For the most part, I believed in what I was doing. This is because asbestos litigation had been going on for so long by the time I got into the industry that most of the big players–the really bad guys–had been sued into bankruptcy. Although, I will admit that some cases were tougher than others.

There were days that I felt guilty sitting across the table from a plaintiff that had recently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer with a 0% survival rate. Morally and emotionally, some days were very difficult. When you see a grown man break down and cry, it leaves a little mark on your soul that you cannot rub off. But I still did my job. You see, when I became a member of the Texas bar, I swore an oath to defend the laws of the United States and the State of Texas. I also am bound by the ABA and Texas Rules of Professional Responsibility to represent my client as effectively as possible within the bounds of the law.

There comes a time in some lawyers’ lives where they rise into positions of power, namely by becoming judges. Sometimes, people become judges who are not even lawyers. In some places, like Texas, it is not required that you are a licensed attorney in order to become a justice of the peace. But regardless of how they get there, the judiciary branch of our government is supposed to be the objective arbiter of legal questions and interpretation of laws. The founders intended it to be independent of all political affiliations. This was supposed to ensure that the legislative and executive branches are kept in check and did not run afoul of state or federal constitutions.

Unfortunately, some judges are deciding to shirk portions of their judicial duties in the name of their religious convictions. In Lubbock, Texas, for example, Judge Jim Hansen has announced that he will stop performing all marriage ceremonies now that the Supreme Court has deemed same-sex marriage to be a civil right. As a justice of the peace, this is part of his job description. And it is not an issue of Texas judges not being held to the same standard as other judges. Even though they are elected, and some of them are not lawyers, they are all required to sign the following form:

Texas Oath of Office

There is no indication that Judge Hansen attended law school. But does this excuse his blatant disregard for the duties that his office requires or the oath he signed when he took office? NO. Maybe it is time that the voters in Lubbock, Texas let Judge Hansen know that if he is not willing to do his job, we want him fired.

If you stopped doing part of your job, would you expect to continue reaping same the benefits of your employment? Would you expect to continue showing up day in and day out, taking a pay check, and being secure in your position? Or, would you expect to arrive at work to find a banker’s box poised neatly on your desk? And how about the fact that most employees in Texas are “at will”? You can be fired for any reason (or no reason) in Texas.

I believe that a civil servant who has sworn an oath to uphold the law should not be secure in his position when he refuses to perform the duties of his office. It is time to tell our public officials that we are not the only ones who should fear being fired. And we will not tolerate our tax dollars paying the salaries of people who refuse to do their job.

Ken Paxton: Constitutional Cowboy or Rodeo Clown?

I am so tired of Texas politics. Anyone who has met me knows how much I love the Lone Star State, but over and over we are made to look like the most backward, bigoted, and idiotic state in the country. I take personal offense to this. I am not a backward, bigoted idiot. None of my friends fit this characterization, either. But our elected officials are some of the most hateful, inflammatory and misguided people in this entire country.

Yesterday, ironically on the day of the Sabbath, and in his infinite wisdom, Attorney General Ken Paxton made a statement encouraging civil servants in the state of Texas to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples if it offends their religious beliefs. His instructions state:

  • “County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.
  • “Justices of the peace and judges similarly retain religious freedoms, and may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections, when other authorized individuals have no objection, because it is not the least restrictive means of the government ensuring the ceremonies occur. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”

This is dangerous for a few reasons. Unfortunately for Paxton’s civil-servant followers, if you are an agent of the state or a municipality, you are bound by the United States constitution. Failure to follow these laws opens government employees up to civil rights lawsuits. And in his defense, Paxton acknowledges this dilemma by saying:

It is important to note that any clerk who wishes to defend their religious objections and who chooses not to issue licenses may well face litigation and/or a fine. But, numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis, and I will do everything I can from this office to be a public voice for those standing in defense of their rights.

Now, Paxton is not going to pay for your lawsuit, but he seems to suggest he knows some attorneys who may be willing to defend you pro-bono. Good luck with that. And try not to forget, that if you do get sued, you will be subjected to the federal court system. Go ahead, google the average price of defending a federal lawsuit.

Ken Paxton is an attorney. He attended law school at the University of Virginia and practiced at a relatively prominent national law firm before he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. On paper, he seems like a well-educated regular guy. But his actions seem to suggest that he is not. Yes, he graduated law school, but I will tell you this, if he had graduated from my law school, I would be embarrassed. Maybe he just forgot what he learned there. You know, the part about the federal constitution . . .

Ask any first year law student what the constitution says about the states’ obligation to follow Supreme Court rulings. This is not one of those constitutional clauses that has been hotly debated because it is pretty damn clear. The supremacy clause of the United States Constitution states that the “Constitution and the laws of the United States . . . shall be the supreme law of the land . . .”  When the Supreme Court ruled last week that same-sex marriage is a civil right under the Fourteenth Amendment, it became the law of the land. Like it, love it, hate it? It matters not. Your opinion on the subject is yours, but the law and the rights of others are not yours to take away or limit.

You see, the rights of same-sex couples to marry is now vested in them. As H.R. Haldeman said, “You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.” I am so proud of the Supreme Court (which is a very rare occurrence for me). I am proud to be an American, especially an American that will be remembered as being on the right side of history, albeit to the left of my state’s leaders.

Get out there and celebrate love.

Peace and love.