Guest writers

Uncommon Sense with Glenn Mollette

I  don’t know how to write a column on this theme except to say stop, stop, please stop the killing, everyone.
Killing somebody is the not the answer. Killing people because of race, gender, religion, or for any reason under the sun, is wrong. Killing does not eliminate problems. It does not solve family or neighborhood squabbles.
Yet we kill all the time. America is a nation of killers. We’re all about killing, killing and killing.
Do we want to start counting all the people killed in all the wars just in the past couple of hundred years? How many have we killed on foreign soil? How many have been gunned down in Chicago in the past ten years?
When you start adding up the deaths during the past ten years in school shootings, theatre shootings, nightclub shootings, alleged wrongful shootings by police and of police themselves, it goes on and on.
People are sentenced to prison or sometimes the death chamber because of killing. People are filled with rage over somebody they love being killed and want to kill the person who killed their loved one.
People who are emotionally able to reach a point in their lives at which they can sleep peacefully and even forgive someone who has murdered a loved one do so often after years of emotional, spiritual and psychological help. Many are never able to reach that point in their lives.
If somebody assaulted your child, spouse, parent, sibling or friend, you would be filled with hurt and rage. If somebody tries to enter my house and hurt our family, I will use one of my handguns and shoot with intent to kill.
My hope and prayer is that such incident never happens. I’m sure that is also your hope and prayer for your own family. Somehow, we must ingrain this hope and prayer in every American, the hope that we never have to hurt or kill.
Our churches used to send missionaries around the world preaching the commandments “thou shalt not kill” and “love your neighbor as yourself” and our own church ministers used to preach them, too.
Most of America’s churches gave that up a long time ago. Today, the focus of the church is entertainment and creating a feel-good environment.
When I was a child I used to read the phrase “thou shalt not kill” written everywhere. I saw it in such places as public classrooms, courthouses and even on Sunday-school walls at church. Later, for some crazy reason, America started thinking that the ten commandments were offensive and that the sixth commandment was no longer necessary.
Having the sixth commandment posted throughout America was a lot less offensive than the killing that’s now going on in
our country.
The commandment did not prevent killings. Black people were still treated cruelly and even murdered with the commandment posted everywhere. A chapter and verse is not a cure-all and is even stupid if we just ignore it. In the days when “thou shalt not kill” was written, people were killed all over the Middle East and it hasn’t stopped.
Somehow we have to get to the hearts of people and that means all races, nationalities, genders and religions have to quit hating, biting and fighting.
Life’s golden rule says: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
If all churches, communities, religions, political parties, race groups, gender groups and the whole world would just truly embrace this principle, then the world would do much better. Bad stuff would stop and so would the killing.
Glenn Mollette is an American author whose syndicated column is read in all 50 states.

Criss, Lloyd                         Lloyd Criss

By guest writer Lloyd Criss

This is your invitation to join the battle to “take back Texas”. Donald Trump’s presidential-nomination campaign of hate, minority bashing, contempt for truth and promotion of violence has stirred the conscience of the nation. Those targeted by his attacks, almost everyone, are motivated to vote in the 2016 general election.
The same Trumpism that we are now witnessing on the national level is what we have been experiencing from the Republican party in Texas for the past two decades.
The sad fact is that my party, the Democrats, have allowed them to get away with it. The bad guys have had their way for too long.
This is exemplified in just four key Republican attitudes to our daily lives, property-tax unfairness, insurance greed, school financing shortage and state fiscal accountability.
Texans’ property taxes are out of control. Loopholes placed in the Texas property-tax code by the corporate lobby have enabled large corporations and special interests to reap multimillion-dollar property-tax refunds while the taxes for homeowners and small businesses have continually increased due to annual appraisals by county property-tax appraisal districts.
According to National Association Of Insurance Consumers, Texas homeowners pay among the highest property-insurance premiums in the nation and receive the least benefits.
Windstorm insurance rates are under the total control of the insurance industry. Gulf Coast consumers have experienced a five-per-cent rate increase for each of the past five years. That exceeds 27.6 per cent in the total increased annual premium cost.
Texans’ education quality is among the poorest in the nation. Currently Mississippi is the only state with a lower rating.
The legislature cut Texas public schools’ funding by $5.4 billion in 2011, causing massive teacher layoffs and across-the-board larger classrooms. As a result, some 600 independent school districts were forced to sue the state for funding equity.
Turning to state fiscal accountability, our legislature foolishly appropriated $500m for border security with the full knowledge that it lacked immigration authority.
On the other hand, the state refused a $4 billion federal grant that would have provided healthcare coverage for many thousands of needy Texans and additional revenue for our state’s hospital districts.
I could go on and on about the injustices performed by the Texas Republicans and how they have used our state government to compensate themselves and their friends at our expense.
Are you ready to help me do something about it? Together we can begin the process of taking back Texas.
Our fight is for all of those Texans whose rights have been violated by state government.
When Democrats vote, everyone wins. Thank you.
Lloyd Criss, a former chairman of Galveston Democratic Party, lives in La Marque and is the party’s candidate for the state house of representatives’ district 23 seat in this year’s general election.

Hackbarth, John              John Hackbarth

Well spoken  Well spoken  Well spoken  Well spoken Well spoken

The second column in a monthly series in which dentist John Hackbarth reveals the way to a perfect smile and confident conversation

For most young children, a visit from the Tooth Fairy is an exciting event. I have never heard of an adult having the same excitement about losing one of their teeth.
When we age, we often lose our hair or figure but that doesn’t mean we should lose our teeth.
I have several patients who have made regular visits to my practice for more than 50 years and have maintained their teeth in good condition. The point is that good care by both patient and dentist will enable the former to keep his or her teeth.
The toothless cartoons of grandma and grandpa are more about disease than they are about age.
There are two major reasons adult teeth become loose – gum disease and trauma.
Gum and bone disease is a very complicated process, one that would bore most people. To simplify it, think of a splinter in your finger. If you don’t take it out, the area will turn red and swell and, if left in for a few days, will start festering and continue to swell until the body pushes it out.
Likewise, if you have certain kinds of bacteria on the roots of your teeth, the body will think of it as a foreign material, much like the splinter. The gum around the tooth will turn red, swell and start to bleed. If left untreated, the bone will recede, the tooth will become loose and the body will reject it just like the splinter.
It’s important to note that there is no pain associated with this process of infection and inflammation. Periodontal disease is the silent killer of our teeth and the number-one reason why people lose their teeth.
Being hit in the mouth can loosen teeth. If the affected teeth are not damaged, the dentist can stabilize them and they will tighten up again and be OK. If a tooth keeps suffering the same blow, it will never tighten up.
This is why the way your teeth hit – or bite – together in the mouth is important. Teeth are designed to take vertical forces. If the forces are from side to side and not from above or below when your teeth hit together, something will give. Sideways forces can loosen your teeth.
Diagnosis and treatment
There are many variables in both disease and bite issues and only a highly trained dentist can oversee the treatment of these issues.
Here are some signs that indicate gum-disease or bite problems:
Bleeding gums on brushing or flossing;
Red, inflamed gums;
Front teeth beginning
to separate, creating gaps;
Bad breath; and
Looseness of any or all
of your teeth.
Remember, lack of pain means nothing.
The bottom line is that, if your teeth are tight, you can brush and floss away bacteria.
Loose teeth trap bacteria, allowing bugs to flow into your blood stream, thereby affecting all your body’s organs and compromising your overall health. The more embedded the bacteria become, the more they destroy the bone.
It is a vicious circle so, for health reasons alone, pick up the phone and call your dentist.
John Hackbarth is a Texas City dentist who believes in prevention rather than cure. Readers with dental questions can call him at 409-935-2111 or go online to his website, texasdentalhealth.com.

Husney, Ezra 2016                 Ezra HusneyColeman, Rachel 2016                    Rachel Coleman

By guest writers Ezra Husney and Rachel Coleman

On June 24, the Texas supreme court issued its decision in a decade-old dispute between a school district and a homeschooling family. Instead of putting the case to rest with a clear and unambiguous ruling, the court sent the case back down to a lower court while limiting its own discussion to technical questions of jurisdiction.
The court missed an opportunity to clarify the responsibilities of school districts with regard to homeschooling in the state of Texas, which is unfortunate as the current rules offer little guidance.
The case began in 2006 when Tori McIntyre, an El Paso homeschooling family’s eldest daughter, ran away in order to attend public school. After she was placed in the ninth grade, despite being 17 years old at the time, her grandparents notified the city’s school district of their serious concerns regarding the education of their other homeschooled grandchildren.
The district requested that the McIntyre parents sign a homeschool verification form and, upon their refusal, filed truancy charges.
The charges were soon dropped but, in the aftermath, the McIntyres filed a suit against their family members and the school district claiming they had violated their rights under state and federal law.
Texas is one of 11 states where parents are not required to provide any notification of homeschooling, leaving hundreds of thousands of school-age children completely unregistered.
Also, parents in Texas need not submit any evidence that they are educating their children. While the law requires that parents provide instruction in good citizenship, math, reading, spelling and grammar, there is no assessment mechanism to ensure that such instruction is provided.
Texas law offers some of the fewest protections for homeschooled children in the country, which makes the introduction of clear rules regarding the responsibilities of school districts all the more pressing.
The Texas supreme court’s ruling centered on two rather technical legal issues.
The first was whether the courts even had jurisdiction over the McIntyre case. In order to bring a complaint regarding Texas education laws to a state court, one must first exhaust administrative avenues for resolution; for example, by taking the matter before the state’s education commissioner.
The school district maintained that, because the McIntyres had not done so, the case should be dismissed. On this question, the supreme court ruled that courts did indeed have jurisdiction over the matter because the complaints involved broader constitutional issues. However, the court declined to rule on these constitutional issues, opting to send the case back down to a lower court.
The second legal question was whether Mark Mendoza, the district official who filed truancy charges against the McIntyres in 2007, was shielded from personal liability. Because he acted in his capacity as a governmental official, the court ruled that he was indeed protected.
The core issue that remains unresolved after this ruling is whether Texas school districts are permitted to conduct minimal oversight of homeschooling. In this case, district officials merely asked that the McIntyres submit a verification-of-homeschooling form.
The state’s supreme court, in its 1994 Leeper decision, upheld the permissibility of homeschooling as long as the basic educational needs of students were being met. But school district officials are given virtually no guidance on what they are permitted to do in order to ensure that these basic educational needs are, in fact, being satisfied.
We hope that, in reviewing this case, the lower courts will rule in favor of district oversight so as to vindicate all of Texas children’s right to education.
Rachel Coleman is executive director at Coalition For Responsible Home Education and Yale University senior Ezra Husney is a fellow at the institution.

Abbott, Greg - Gage Skidmore:MGN                        Greg Abbott

By guest writer Greg Abbott

An open letter to all Texans

Editor’s Note: This letter first appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Friday.

Our hearts are heavy. Last night in Dallas, five law-enforcement officers were killed; seven officers and two civilians were wounded.160710 Dallas shootings 3
The coordinated ambush and deliberate, brutal executions were acts of cowardice – hiding behind innocents to target and savagely slaughter peace officers dedicated to preserving life and our freedoms.
The full force of the law must ensure that all responsible are brought to justice and that our communities are kept secure.
Justice will be served, but justice is small solace for the families
left behind.160710 Dallas shootings 2
We mourn for the families of the fallen, for the law-enforcement community and for our nation.
Respect for our law-enforcement officers must be restored in our nation.
The badge every officer wears over his or her heart is a reminder of a sacred trust, a commitment, a contract with each of us.
For law-enforcement officers to stand in front of us and all that threatens, we must stand behind them.160710 Dallas Shooting
Every life matters. With each innocent life lost, we lose more of our humanity. It is time for us to unite as Texans, as Americans, to say “no more”.
No more will we tolerate disrespect for those who serve.
No more will we allow the evil of hate merchants to tear us apart.
Although anguish and sorrow may darken the days ahead, we will not be overcome by evil – we will overcome evil with good.
Texas is an exceptional state with exceptional people. We’ve faced tough challenges in the past but we have come together to overcome those challenges.
In the coming days, there will be those who foment distrust and fan the flames of dissension. To come together – that would be the greatest rebuke to those who seek to tear us apart.
There is far more that binds us together. We see that great strength in times of tragedy, in times of great need. Whether fire or flood, or the acts of depraved individuals, Texans are the first to open their hearts, their homes, their wallets to offer charity and love.
I ask for your prayers – for our law-enforcement officers, for the city of Dallas, for our state and for our nation.
May God comfort those who have lost a family member and may God heal the hurt in our communities.
I have faith in the goodness of Texas, of America. For, in the end, evil always fails.
Greg Abbott is governor of the state of Texas.

Thompson, Brent - Dallas Area Rapid Transit Officer - DART:MGN                     Brent Thompson

Krol, Michael - one of five officers fatally shot in Dallas, Texas - Wayne County Sheriff's office:MGN                          Michael Krol

Zamarripa, Patrick - one of five officers fatally shot in Dallas, Texas - Twitter:MGN                     Patrick Zamarripa

Governor Abbott has pledged that justice will be done for the five officers who were slain in Dallas on Thursday