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Japanese Elections Shift Power And Move Japan To The Left

Elections in Japan have resulted in, to some degree, a shift to the left. Beyond ideological issues, the long-standing ruling party has been booted out and a more competitive two-party system for Japan may be in the offing.

( Above—A Buddhist Temple in Kyoto. Japan. Here is information about visiting Kyoto.)  

The Democrats have soundly defeated the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Do not view these party names through the prism of American party labels. The Liberal Democrats are the party of the right. The LDP has held power in Japan for all but a few months since the end of World War II.

A good explanation of what was at stake in Japanese elections can be found in this post at the blog World Elections. 

The blog Observing Japan has comprehensive posts on the political situation in Japan.

The new Prime Minister of Japan in likely to be Yukio Hatoyama. Here is his profile in the BBC.   

From that profile—

“In his manifesto, Mr Hatoyama said he wanted to improve people’s lives through increased welfare spending. “I want to approach policy from the perspective of the citizen, not leaving it to the hands of bureaucracy,” he wrote. “I want to create a horizontal society bound by human ties, not a vertically-connected society of vested interests.” Mr Hatoyama says he wants to raise spending on healthcare, child support and subsidies for farmers. But he has ruled out raising taxes to do this – prompting critics to ask where the money will come from.”

( Above –Japan as seen from space.)

In regards to the ideological shift as it impacts international policy, Democrats say they will reevaluate the Japanese military relationship with the United States and may no longer assist in the refueling of American ships headed to the War in Iraq. Japan may now look more towards it’s Asian neighbors and less towards the United States on security issues.  

Here is the New York Times story on the election.

Domestically, the ideological shift is caught up with what is the larger story of the election. The excerpt from Mr. Hatoyama’s profile gives some sense of what has been promised. Japan’s economy has been stagnant for many years and people in Japan are concerned about the impact of globalization.

Here is a Q & A from the BBC about policy differences between Democrats and the LDP. 

Yet articles I have read about the election suggest that weariness with the long-ruling LDP and a desire for a more competitive political system are a big reason why the Democrats have won. There is a widespread belief—seemingly correct—that the LDP has held power for too long and that the political system is rigged to a favor a certain few over the needs of the many.

For this desire for change to have real meaning, it will soon enough have to be accompanied by policy changes and a greater transparency in how Japan is governed.

Here are some basic facts about Japan. The population of Japan is approximately 128 million people.

(Below–Sapporo, Japan. Here is information about visiting Sapporo. )

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Think About Whatever You Wish As You Watch This Barge Pass By On The Ohio River

Above is a video of about one minute and 40 seconds of a barge slowly moving down the Ohio River on a nice summer’s day . If you turn on your speakers you’ll hear crickets, the wind, and some general background noise.

I filmed the video from the Eden Park Overlook in Cincinnati, Ohio.

You can look at the barge and think of the direction you’re headed in life. You can think of the direction that society and the world is headed. Though the barge in the video is only going one way, you can bet it will at some point turn around and go up the river the other way. 

It’s possible that the barge in the video was on course for the Mississippi River.

There are options about what direction we can follow and where we can go.

You can watch the wake the barge makes and think of the effects your actions have on others. You can think of people trapped by circumstance in a world they did not make themselves.

You can look at the Ohio River and think about how the Ohio connects to the Mississippi and how the Mississippi connects to the sea. Everything is connected.

You can listen to the crickets and think about bugs and insects.

You can look across the river to the Kentucky side of the river. Not far from where the barge is there are a number of bridges that take you across the river. You could think about the ability for gaps to be bridged. Or you could think about how you would likely drown if you tried to swim across the river to reach the other side.

You can think about anything you wish at whatever pace suits you.

August 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up With Ted Kennedy Links

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At the bottom of this post is the latest Texas Progressive Alliance weekly round-up. The Texas Progressive Alliance is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. Immediately below this paragraph are a number of links I’ve compiled to recall the life and work of Ted Kennedy. These links are from a post I made just a few days ago, but that I feel deserve another go-round.     

The Kennedy links—

Here is the link to Senator Kennedy’s official government website

Tedkennedy.org is a good memorial site.   

Ted Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the Senate for 46 years. Here is the link to the Art & History page of the U.S. Senate web home. If you look around, you’ll learn a lot. It’s a site to bookmark and visit many times.

Health care was Senator Kennedy’s leading cause. Here is the White House Health care reform web home. President Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress must keep faith with Senator Kennedy’s lifelong work for health care for all. 

Here is the web page of Physicians for A National Health Program.  This group supports single payer national health insurance. This is the public option that has been in the news.

Here is Senator Kennedy’s obituary in the New York Times.

Here is coverage of Senator Kennedy’s passing in his hometown Boston Globe.

The American Prospect and The Nation are good liberal magazines. These magazines are strong resources to learn about many of the causes Senator Kennedy fought for and to renew your own commitment to political liberalism. 

To win the fights still to come, we need leaders like Senator Kennedy and we need the hard work of average citizens.  

The TPA round-up—

From TXsharon at Bluedaze, EPA testing has now confirmed wells are contaminated with various substances connected with gas drilling–proof that hydraulic fracturing contaminates our drinking water. Even Motley Fool supports the FRAC Act and says industry is “crying wolf.”

Should Texans care about NJ? The Texas Cloverleaf examines why the GOP thinks we should.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme says a ‘Wise Latina‘ kicks Republican butt once again.
Continue reading

August 29, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 5 Comments

Singing Simple Gifts At Cincinnati’s Eden Park Overlook

Here is a video of me singing the 1848 Shaker hymn Simple Gifts at the Eden Park Overlook in Cincinnati. The video runs 30 seconds.

Here is a link to more information about this classic American song. At this link I recite all the lyrics to Simple Gifts while a ship passes behind me on Galveston Island, Texas.    

It is a gift to be simple.

It is a gift to be free. 

To bow and to bend I won’t be ashamed.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Please Allow Me To Offer The Fullest Extension Of The Back Of My Hand To Opponents Of Houston’s Ashby High Rise

Please allow me to offer the fullest extension of the back of my hand to opponents of the Ashby High Rise here in Houston. The specific location of the Ashby High Rise is 1717 Bissonnet.  

This absurdly tall building has been given a permit to go ahead by the City of Houston. It is a 23 story building in a residential neighborhood. 

That’s Houston for you. 

Normally I’d oppose this because developers are hyper-sleazy and I assume our Houston city government is rigged to favor developers over citizens.  

In this case however, I find the opposition to the building by the affluent citizens of the impacted neighborhoods to be obnoxious. These people have yard signs and bumper stickers and a web site.

The neighborhood groups opposing the building are the so-called Boulevard Oaks Civic Club and the so-called Southampton Civic Club.

Where have these groups been in the past in promoting a citywide agenda to help make Houston a more decent place to live? In the time since this issue has been on the table—at least 18 months—where have these groups been in helping a cross-section of Houston fight developers and fight the overall blight that is a well-deserved trademark of Houston as a whole.  

Many folks in Houston don’t have the resources for an organized opposition to runaway construction where they live.

Above is a picture of the Valero Refinery at 9701 Manchester in Houston. The picture is one I took a few nights ago as I took an evening ride in Houston. People live in close vicinity to this refinery. The air stinks. I’m not saying that this specific refinery is especially dirty. I have no way of knowing that. 

I’m just saying that plenty of people in Houston live near these Blade Runner type scenes and live near the bad air and noisy trucks and trains that serve these industrial facilities. Nobody cares so much about folks living near refineries and chemical plants. Here is the latest Houston Chronicle story about a bad air alert in the Ship Channel area.       

In the past I’ve suggested that the world’s tallest building or a biosphere be built at the Ashby High Rise location.

With the permit a go, I simply hope that the building is built. If for some reason the building is not constructed, maybe a refinery and extension of the Ship Channel to the Ashby High Rise area would be a good idea. Such a project would create jobs that are no doubt needed by people who live near refineries and the Ship Channel.

August 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Links To Learn About Ted Kennedy And The Causes He Supported

Here are links to help recall the life of Senator Ted Kennedy and to look ahead to the battles still to be fought and won.

(Above–Ted Kennedy running for the Senate in 1962.)

Here is the link to Senator Kennedy’s official government website

Tedkennedy.org is a good memorial site.   

Ted Kennedy represented Massachusetts in the Senate for 46 years. Here is the link to the Art & History page of the U.S. Senate web home. If you look around, you’ll learn a lot. It’s a site to bookmark and visit many times.

Health care was Senator Kennedy’s leading cause. Here is the White House Health care reform web home. President Obama and the Democratic majorities in Congress must keep faith with Senator Kennedy’s lifelong work for health care for all. 

Here is the web page of Physicians for A National Health Program.  This group supports single payer national health insurance. This is the public option that has been in the news.

Here is Senator Kennedy’s obituary in the New York Times.

Here is coverage of Senator Kennedy’s passing in his hometown Boston Globe.

The American Prospect and The Nation are good liberal magazines. These magazines are strong resources to learn about many of the causes Senator Kennedy fought for and to renew your own commitment to political liberalism. 

To win the fights still to come, we need leaders like Senator Kennedy and we need the hard work of average citizens.  

( Below–Senator Kennedy in the 1990’s.)

August 27, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All Three Candidates For Houston Mayor Are Democrats—Where Is Comment On Senator Kennedy And Health Care Reform?

All three leading candidates for Mayor of Houston are Democrats. These candidates are Annise Parker, Gene Locke and Peter Brown.

Despite the fact that these candidates are all Democrats, none I’m aware of have yet to comment on the death of Senator Ted Kennedy. None have offered any support to health care efforts that might well help many uninsured citizens of Houston get coverage. Health care reform was a lifetime concern of Senator Kennedy.

Health care reform is an issue with a direct impact on Houston.

These three candidates have actively sought out the support of local Democrats in Houston. I hope that these Democrats running for Mayor see party affiliation as more than simply something to be used when it suits them and ignored when inconvenient.

Not one serious Republican in Houston thought his or her city was worth putting forth a Republican vision for the future of Houston. Democrats should fill this void with strong leadership that puts the values of the Democratic Party at the center of where Houston should move in the years ahead.    

The lie is that our Houston city elections are non-partisan. The fact is that candidates for city office can and often do make note of their party affiliation. It is time for the Democratic Party in Houston and Harris County to assert control of Houston City Government that voters of Houston seem prepared to allow at the ballot box.  

(Update–Gene Locke has made a Twitter comment on Senator Kennedy’s death. That’s a small start.)

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Death Of Senator Kennedy Should Be Spur To Renew Fight For Public Option In Health Care Debate

A renewed push for a public option in the health care reform fight would be a fitting tribute to the memory of Ted Kennedy. I’ve called the White House to express this view.

Here is information on contacting the White House. The phone number is 202-456-1111.

It is time to take the debate back from the far right and to use last year’s Democratic election victory to implement lasting and meaningful health care reform.

August 26, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Should I Accept Facebook Friend Request From Houston Mayoral Candidate Annise Parker?

Houston Mayoral candidate Annise Parker has asked me to be a friend on Facebook. I had not known that Ms. Parker viewed me as a friend. In fact—We’ve never met.

Should I take her up on her request? Why, sure! Ms. Parker has taken time from her busy day to extend me her warmest friendship.

I know that soon I’ll be invited to the Parker home for dinner.

August 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment

Visit Kenosha, Wisconsin—Find Some Peace In Life

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If you take a walk on Lake Michigan waterfront in Kenosha, Wisconsin on a day it is raining, you will be left to yourself and your thoughts. I took such a walk two weeks ago. Above is a picture I took while on my walk.

I’ve never been to Kenosha on a sunny day, but I am sure it is quite light and bright when the sun is shining. For my purposes, the dark day worked fine. 

Though the rain kept folks away when I was in town, people do visit Kenosha and there are things to see and do in Kenosha. Even in the rain there were folks fishing at the lakefront. 

Here is a link to what you can do and see when in Kenosha.

I enjoyed my visit to the Kenosha History Center.

Here is the link to the Daily Kenoshan newspaper.

It is good to find a place where you can have some peace. Doing so will allow you to collect your thoughts and assess what you want to do in life.

It is good to visit a small city like Kenosha where the folks will be glad that you have decided to look around.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Paid Sick Days Needed For American Workers—Swine Flu Is Coming

There is concern about a second wave of Swine Flu in the United States that might be triggered in part by the start of the school year.

Many adults may need to take off work to take care of sick kids. Many adults may get sick themselves.

Yet many American workers don’t have paid sick time or don’t have enough paid sick time.

Here is a link to a Huffington Post story based on research by the Drum Major Institute about how many workers lack paid sick days in the United States. It is estimated that 46 million private sector workers do not have a single paid sick day.     

Here is the link to the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy.

Legislation to guarantee American workers paid sick time was recently introduced in the House of Representatives.  We’ll see if it ever passes. With a Democratic President and large Democratic majorities in both Houses of Congress, you’d think long overdue legislation to make sure everybody has paid sick days would pass easily.  

You hear a lot of talk about family and children in the United States. But really what many have in America is contempt for any group of people who need some help to get by in day-to-day life. Many have this contempt even if the help required is something that people have earned by virtue of the work they have done.

August 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up With Picture Of Chicago Mayor Daley At Sears Tower Observation Deck

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Below is the weekly Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The Texas Progressive Alliance is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

Above is a photo of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley taken at the observation deck on the top floor of the Sears Tower in Chicago. I was at the Sears Tower two weeks ago and in walked Mayor Daley. I took this picture as he greeted the public.   

The round up—

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why we put up with temper tantrums and intimidation from the far right. Everyone should have their say in our democracy.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the at-large city council races in Houston.

BossKitty at TruthHugger has been awakened from slumber by the nightmare of the health care reform debacle. Look who’s causing all the trouble and who’s being thrown to the wolves in Without Health Options, Where Is Your Voice?

Over at TexasKaos, lightseeker connects the dots between the fear mongering, health care reform, and history. He throws in the return of the militias for good measure. If armed and frightened groups are reappearing in Iowa, how long before they show up in Texas. You do remember the Republic of Texas movement, don’t you? See it all in Fear, Health Care and History: A Reflection Updated! – Return of the militias

Harry Balczak at McBlogger begins a new feature, This Week In Lawyerin’, in which he’ll take a look at some arcane legal concept and educate you on it. This week, what to do when caught with kiddie porn. Continue reading

August 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tom Schieffer Asks If There Is A Better Texas In A Parallel Universe—Maybe A Universe Where Democrats Did Not Fail Texas For Many Years

Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas Tom Schieffer recently released the statement at the bottom of this post about where Texas ranks in the nation in a number of important quality of life indicators.  

( A number of Houston-area bloggers had lunch with Mr. Schieffer earlier this week. I was at that lunch. I’ll have more to say in the week ahead about what I thought of Mr. Schieffer.)

Mr. Schieffer gets it right that Texas is in many respects a child-hating mess of a place. Though he is wrong to blame it all on incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry. Governor Perry is a hard-hearted man who easily turns his back on the suffering of others. But it is Democrats who have run Texas since statehood. Democrats ran this state until not so long ago. 

It is not as if Governor Perry entered a Garden of Eden and paved it over. Texas has long had serious issues that have gone unaddressed or have been made intentionally worse to help make the already powerful even more powerful.

Democrats should not get a free pass on the harm they have done to Texas. The Democratic Party in Texas has yet to earn the trust of liberals and progressives, and has yet to earn the trust of hard-working Texans who need some help in life. (Which is not to suggest that many hard-working Texans are not to blame for helping to elect folks like George W. Bush and Rick Perry.)

One thing I enjoy about Mr. Schieffer’s statement below is his reference to a “parallel universe.” I wonder if bloggers get paid big money in the parallel universe. Dr. Max Tegmark at M.I.T is a leading proponent of the theory of multiple universes. Here is his web page on that subject.

Here is Mr. Schieffer’s campaign web home.   

Here is Mr. Schieffer’s statement—     

If Governor Perry, as he told reporters yesterday, thinks we’re doing well in comparison to other states, he’s living in a parallel universe. Just take a look at his scorecard as governor. 

Texas is: 

51st (counting the District of Columbia) in the percentage of people older than 25 who have a high school diploma. 

50th in the percentage of unemployed people receiving benefits. 

49th in teacher pay.

 49thin benefits paid to women, infants and children under the WIC program.

 46th in SAT scores. Continue reading

August 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Why Are My Wife’s Arms Outstretched In This Picture And Why Is She Smiling?

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Why are my wife’s arms outstretched in this picture taken last week in Cincinnati and why is she smiling?

Her arms are outstretched because she is an open and welcoming person. They are also outstretched to enable her to strike at and bat away the many things in life that she does want anywhere near her.

My wife is smiling because she is kind. She is also smiling to mask the contempt for much of what she observes in the world.

August 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Giant Boar At Indiana State Fair—Wash Your Hands Even If You’ve Only Looked At It

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Above is a picture of what is said to be the second largest boar in the world. The word boar in this case seemed to describe a male domestic pig and not a wild undomesticated pig.  

I took this picture last week at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. Here is the link to the Indiana State Fair. The fair runs through August 23 so there is still time for you to attend.

I have a picture of the world’s largest boar that was in a nearby pen. But this picture is better.

The big “Please do not touch” sign seemed to be as much about Swine Flu as the fact that the boar might attack you.  

Around the swine pavilion at the fair where many posters instructing you to wash your hands after visiting the exhibit. The signs said that if you do not wash your hands after visiting the exhibit, that you might contract the swine flu.

Here is the link to my seven swine flu poems. 

Here is how the Mayo Clinic says you should wash your hands

  • Wet your hands with warm, running water and apply liquid soap or use clean bar soap. Lather well.
  • Rub your hands vigorously together for at least 15 to 20 seconds.
  • Scrub all surfaces, including the backs of your hands, wrists, between your fingers and under your fingernails.
  • Rinse well.
  • Dry your hands with a clean or disposable towel.
  • Use a towel to turn off the faucet.
  • August 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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