Above is a picture I took today here in Houston of the grave of Vidal Ramirez Garcia.
The grave says that Mr. Garcia was a private first class in the army during World War II.
I don’t know anything about Mr. Garcia. But it seems that he was a man of Hispanic origin who served the United States in a time of war.
Today we hear stories about people who have been in the United States for many generations being told to go back where they came from.
In the end, we all back to where we came from.
We have a choice as individuals.
We can go on about if the President is from Kenya and blame immigrants for our own problems, or we can be welcoming to our fellow human beings as they seek a better life in a tough world.
This is the choice we have.
This does not mean we can’t have laws regarding immigration or that those laws should not be enforced.
What it does mean though, is that we allow anger to guide our public policy we lose any chance of being a decent people.
Pollution coming from Texas is so bad that it offends Oklahoma.
“Coal-fired power plants in Texas are responsible for dozens of bad air days in neighboring states each year, according to a new analysis released by an environmental group Tuesday. The study, produced by the Sierra Club, attributes as many as 64 days with harmful levels of smog in Oklahoma to Texas’ coal plants. It also ties the plants to as many as 20 days of unhealthy air in Arkansas and up to 16 in Louisiana. “The coal plants are a real problem — not just for Texas, but the entire region,” said Jennifer Powis, a regional representative for the Sierra Club, which opposes the new push to build more coal-fired plants in Texas. The report supports earlier concerns raised by Oklahoma officials about the potential impacts on their state from the nearly 30 coal-fired plants either operating, permitted or proposed in Texas. The attorney general for Oklahoma asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency in May to require Texas to show that the new plants will not foul the state’s air before issuing permits for construction…..Oklahoma, for example, had 64 days that exceeded soon-to-be-finalized federal limits for ozone in one year because of emissions from existing coal plants in Texas. The proposed plants would cause another 11 days of dirty air north of the Red River, the study concluded.”
Oklahoma is no tree-hugger place. Yet the air coming from Texas is so bad that Oklahoma is angry.
It’s all part of the so-called states rights kick that Governor Rick Perry, Attorney General Greg Abbott, and the state legislature are indulging in for temporary political gain.
We cannot not forget that no man is an island.
We can say we are going it alone, but all things are connected. Our bad air is harming people in other states. It is also, of course, harming people in Texas as well.
States rights is a philosophy that may sound good to some. But the reality has been that over our national history, this idea has been used to justify the worst civil rights abuses.
In this case, we see that states rights views are being used in a way to justify even more harmful activity.
I am in no way a reflexive opponent of industry.
Industry is needed to create the products we use in our lives. People need the jobs that industry provides. The technology that drives industry is an extension of our intellects.
A balance must be found between clean air and the needs of industry. The State of Texas has no interest in finding that balance. The State of Texas wants to press ahead with an extreme ideological point at the expense of others.
When even a very conservative state like Oklahoma objects, you have to wonder if we are going overboard with a my-way-or-the-highway view in Texas.
We are playing the music very loud all day long and our neighbors object. We are not the only people who live in the neighborhood.
Public Citizen Texas is doing a great job in fighting for clean air and an economically prosperous future for Texas. Check out the Public Citizen homepage and see the great work they are doing.
( Below–Picture I took a few months ago on a cloudy day of industry in Pasadena, Texas.)
The incumbent Speaker, Republican Joe Straus, was elected two years ago with the help of Democrats in the House.
With Republicans gaining many seats in this month’s election, some Republicans are calling for someone they feel would a more conservative Speaker to take the office from Mr. Straus.
Speaker Straus is Jewish.
Not surprisingly given the people involved in this contest , the fact that the Speaker is Jewish is becoming an issue in the race.
“….a new series of attacks is coming from the Religious Right, with Straus’ religion used against him. On his blog, Texas Capitol Reporter Harvey Kronberg reports that robo calls have begun in parts of the state. The voice on the calls tells people to support a “true Christian speaker.” Joe Straus is Jewish. Furthermore, the Republican Liberty Caucus has come out in support of North Texas Republican Ken Paxton (R-McKinney), citing a New Testament Bible verse in its original endorsement. That verse has since been removed from the group’s officially posted endorsement.”
The Jewish Herald Voice is concerned. This newspaper has written about Jewish life in Houston and in Texas since 1908.
Jews have a long history in Texas.
“No aspect of nineteenth-century Texas history is without the involvement of committed Jewish Texans. Adolphus Sterne of Nacogdoches served as alcalde, treasurer, and postmaster in 1826, Albert Moses Levy was surgeon in chief in the revolutionary army in 1835, Jacob and Phineas De Cordova sold land and developed Waco, Simon Mussina founded Brownsville in 1848, Henri Castro founded several towns, Michael Seeligson was elected mayor of Galveston in 1853, Rosanna Osterman funded significant religious and charitable activities through her will, Sid Samuels and Belle Doppelmayer were in the first graduating class at the University of Texas in 1881, Olga B. Kohlberg started the first public kindergarten in Texas in 1893, and Morris Lasker was elected to the state Senate in 1895. Jews also established themselves in Beaumont, Brenham, Corsicana, Gainesville, Hempstead, Marshall, Palestine, Texarkana, Tyler, Port Arthur, Wichita Falls, Baytown, Corpus Christi, Brownsville, New Braunfels, McAllen, Alice, Amarillo, Columbus, Wharton, Giddings, Navasota, Crockett, Lubbock, Longview, Jefferson, San Angelo, and Schulenburg.”
An ongoing exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science is called Forgotten Gateway—Coming To America Through Galveston Island. A portion of this interesting exhibit is about how Jews were often denied entry into America through Galveston for no other reason but that they were Jewish. The program runs through February 20, 2011.
The photo below is of the Beth Yeshuran Jewish cemetery in Houston. The large grave in the middle of the photo is that of Private Nathan Pizer. Private Pizer was a United States Marine who was killed in action in France during WW I.
Jewish folks have long served our nation.
It makes no difference what religion anybody is when it comes to who can serve in public office. We must remain vigilant. So-called states rights views, now all the rage in Texas and elsewhere , have long been associated with intolerance and injustice.
We can either fight back against this un-American behavior, or we can see the years of our lives wasted by extremists who refuse to acknowledge the outcome of the Civil War.
Political independents who often vote for candidates of both parties need to please consider what they will be getting from Texas Republicans over the next two years.
This despite the fact Dr. Harris ran against Healthcare Reform in the recent election. Dr. Harris is an anesthesiologist.
Dr. Harris wants government benefits for himself. If you want government to help with your health care though you are a socialist.
Decide for yourself if this program might help you, your family and the nation.
Do you want to go back to when there were lifetime limits on polices and to when you could be kicked off your policy for getting sick?
Anger at government will be a cold comfort when you need help.
It has been two weeks since Republicans made significant gains across the country on Election Day.
The focus of the election was jobs and the economy. 56% of folks in a recent CBS News poll say the most important issue for the new Congress is jobs and the economy.
Yet as millions of Americans still deal with unemployment and underemployment, the Republican focus is on everything but jobs and the economy. Where incoming Republican governors have addressed jobs, it is to kill jobs by refusing already approved federal dollars for high-speed rail infrastructure projects.
* Republicans in control of the House of Representatives are planning nearly 300 investigations of President Obama. The last time a Republican House went after a Democratic President, it led to a destructive impeachment process. What excesses will we see this time?
* Newly-elected Republican Governors are killing high-speed rail projects that will create jobs. In Wisconsin, soon-to-be Governor Scott Walker received large amounts of campaign cash from road builders who have a direct interest in stopping rail projects. Wisconsin had an unemployment rate of 7.8% in September.
* The Republican President of the Kentucky State Senate, David Williams, declared his allegiance to the Tea party and said he supported repeal of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. This amendment allows for the direct election of U.S. Senators. Mr. Williams believes that returning election of Senators back to state legislatures would move our nation back to the limited measure of popular sovereignty first written into the constitution. Many Tea Party supporters back this position.
Do you want to give your vote for United States Senator away? This is Tea party extremism in action. In September of 2010, Kentucky had an unemployment rate of 10. 1%. Yet what the Republican President of the State Senate is discussing is no longer allowing the public to vote for U.S. Senate.
* In Texas, Governor Rick Perry and Republicans in the state legislature are considering pulling out of Medicaid and out of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This is being considered even though 3.6 million Texans use these programs. You can be certain that many in Republican rural Texas use these programs. Is this what these folks were voting for earlier this month? We’ll see about that when people find out that benefits are being cut.
What about all the people in Texas who work in jobs connected to health care? With such drastic cuts in funding, where will these people find work? Isn’t it good and honest work to be employed in health care so people can get better and go on with life? Where will we have any jobs in this society if we go after everything?
* The leader of the U.S. House Tea Party Caucus, Rep. Michele Bachmann, spent her time spreading a lie that President Obama’s trip to India was costing 200 million dollars a day. This assertion was simply not true.
What exactly is the point of undermining the President of the United States as he goes to visit a globally important nation like India?
For Republicans in Washington and in states across the nation, this election was not about jobs and the economy. Instead, the election was about extreme ideology that puts the jobs and the health of the American people at risk.
Anger at Washington is not going to get you a job. It is not going to pay the bills if you get sick. The Republican bait-and-switch is in already in evidence. These folks have no constructive thoughts. It is the same anger-driven politics that led to President Clinton’s impeachment and to the placement of Sarah Palin on the national ticket two years ago.
It’s up to all of us to be aware of what is taking place, and to make sure that Congress is focused on jobs and the economy and not on sideshow hearings and ideological tangents.
Please meet Extinct. Extinct is the newest contributor to my blogging efforts.
In the picture above, you see Extinct reading about a time when his kind ruled the Earth.
The book Extinct is reading is Prehistoric Life—The Definitive Visual History of Life on Earth by DK Publishing.
It would be difficult to understate the lack of concern Extinct has at the moment for the future of the human condition.
Says Extinct–“It is one thing to be wiped out in a world not of your own making, it is another thing to have the tools and knowledge to do the right thing and yet to choose another course.“
It could just be that Extinct is upset about an article he read in the New York Times this morning about the unexpectedly fast melting of the Greenland ice cap.
Says Extinct— ” If Woolly Mammoths had had a “House of Mammoths” were we could have addressed issues of concern, I’m certain that we could have put our differences aside to explore just what it was that was making us all die. Why can’t human beings see that the threat of global warming is not an issue inherent to one political party of the other?”
I could not have expressed these concerns any better than Extinct has here in his first post at Texas Liberal.
Because the public has spoken, all red light cameras are being turned off in Houston.
As we allow our smart phones and personal computers to track us for the good of commerce, we surely can’t allow government to know when we were running a red light at a Houston intersection.
Anybody who drives in Houston knows our roads are filled with crazies.
Now, because we as a community lack the character to obey the law and to conduct ourselves with others in mind, the carnage will get that much worse.
And just to make certain you’ll die if you’re not killed in the accident, we here in Texas will work to repeal Health Care Reform and to pull Texas out of Medicaid.
Pro-life all the way!!!!!
(Read here about all the ways Health Care Reform helps average working people. Do you want to go back to lifetime limits on policies and to when you could be kicked off your policy for getting sick?)
(Below–The Grim Reaper will be making some extra stops in Houston. Drawing by MesserWoland. )
Here is the weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.
Every person has the ability to take part in our politics. Whatever we think of the so-called Tea Party and the billionaires who fund the movement, the fact remains that in the most recent national elections people on the right were much more active and mobilized than were more forward-looking Americans.
As a result, we are now having the agenda set by folks talking about gutting Social Security and how God won’t allow climate change to impact the Earth. We’re hearing about everything except job creation.
If you want something better for Texas and for the nation as a whole, you’re going to have to get involved. That’s the only way it is going happen.
You see above a picture of an empty podium and an unused microphone. That podium and that microphone are waiting for you to add your voice.
In Texas, newly empowered Republican majorities in the Texas legislature are going to balancing the budget on the backs of the poor. Already they are discussing pulling out of Medicaid.
The legislature will be considering every brutal and crazy thing in the world in the upcoming session.
Nationally, the unlimited secret campaign money we saw in the 2010 election will set the agenda as Republicans get their corporate marching orders.
Just like TPA bloggers, you’ve got to do something on your own to help turn Texas and our nation around. You can volunteer for a candidate , run for office yourself, attend local city council or school board meetings, start your own blog, donate money, and no doubt a bunch of other things I’ve not mentioned.
Step up to the podium. It’s up to you.
Here’s the round-up—
There was some good, some bad, and some ugly in last Tuesday’s election returns. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has the deets.
After Tuesday’s Demageddon, Mean Rachel offers some advice as to what political candidates should do with their social media accounts after losing an election. Continue reading
(Above–Drawing of a narwhal.)
A small device is attached the narwhals. When they dive , data is recorded. The narwhals in this study live in Baffin Bay up in the Arctic.
The data shows that the water is warmer than was thought, and that the ice is more thin than had been known.
American conservatives might argue that narwhals don’t believe in God and that they don’t live in the “heartland” with “Real Americans.”
All true. Narwhals never attend church and there are likely no narwhals in Nebraska or Kansas.
On the other hand, narwhals are like many “Real Americans” in that they are willing to work for less than a livable wage without offering any objection at all.
In fact, narwhals are the perfect employee for the American conservative movement. They are willing to work for absolutely no wages.
While I understand our current political realities, I’m not certain at the bottom line why being a Republican would make one a doubter of climate change.
There is a video going around of Republican U.S. Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois essentially saying that global warming won’t do great harm to the world because God made a promise to Noah that He would not destroy the Earth. Mr. Shimkus may end up with a powerful committee Chair in the next Congress that will have oversight on climate issues.
I’ve no interest in being dismissive of people’s religious beliefs, but I just don’t see how this kind of thing will serve as a helpful environmental policy in the years ahead.
People are at some point going to have decide what kind of future we are going to have in this world. The facts are more clear everyday. We can keep on denying the facts for ideological reasons or we can move ahead.
A great book to learn about all types of whales and dolphins is the National Audubon Society’s Guide To Marine Mammals Of The World.
There was so much smoke coming from this ship that I thought it was maybe on fire.
I thought to myself—“If that ship is on fire and I have pictures, that will really boost my blog traffic.”
I’d write a post titled–“Photos Of Today’s Ship Fire In Galveston.”
I understand that a fire on that ship might have meant that people were jumping overboard to save their lives, and that the ship might be dumping toxic substances onto the sea.
But what about my blog traffic?
As it turned out though, there was no reported ship fire that day.
So, as the old saying goes,—
Where there is smoke, there is in most cases just more smoke.
Often we want to believe something is up, but really what is going on is everyday life.
Of course, as you can tell by all that smoke coming from that ship, and by the frequent tone of our daily lives, the smoke is toxic enough.
It is hard to imagine in a religious place like Texas that prayer needs to mount a campaign.
However, based on the yard sign you see above, prayer needs some help.
I took this picture in Houston about two weeks ago.
It is great if people wish to pray. More power to folks who wish to pray.
I hope that what folks pray for is that we be more kind to each other, and that we be willing to help each other instead of turning on each other when times are difficult.
Prayer is no substitute for being a good person.
Thanksgiving is coming up. It’s a day we are supposed to spend with family, eating a large meal, and watching football. If that’s what you do, good for you. You’ll get no argument here. (Despite my dislike of football and the concussionsand long-term disability suffered by football players.)
However, for many, Thanksgiving is a different holiday than the popular image of the day.
Some spend the day with friends instead of family. Some are alone.
Maybe you don’t like your family or maybe your schedule and/or budget does not allow travel to where your family lives. Maybe you’re alone at this point in life.
Whatever Thanksgiving is for you, it’s your choice or your circumstance. Many popular notions and conceptions are as unrealistic as the menu above. How many people are serving pumpkin bread in the shape of a pumpkin? Or mashed turnips?
Each year my wife goes to see her family in Chicago for Thanksgiving. For scheduling reasons, I’m unable to go with her to Chicago or to my parents home in Cincinnati. Most years I’m fortunate enough to get an offer from a co-worker here in Houston for Thanksgiving dinner. I politely decline.
Instead, I drive down to Galveston and have a day at the ocean. I eat at some seafood house. It’s always packed and I’m always the only person there alone. I survive just fine. People are too busy stuffing themselves to notice I’m alone.
One year I did not go to Galveston. Instead, I went to the House Of Pies on Kirby Drive in Houston. I had just purchased all three volumes of Robert Remini’s life of Andrew Jackson. I had a lot of reading to do. I sat in that restaurant for maybe three hours reading about President Jackson. It was a wonderful day.
In the House Of Pies that day were gay couples and folks of all types. There were all sorts of people in, I’d wager, all sorts of personal situations.
All good relationships between people have value.
All people have value.
Whatever Thanksgiving brings your way, make the best of it. Life is not like what is shown on TV commercials and TV shows. Life is what it is. You have great value.
Have a very good Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving Day is almost here and you need to know when to thaw your turkey.
Though you do have the option of a vegetarian Thanksgiving.
These turkeys below are thawed, but they seem not quite ready for the table.
Follow these guidelines so you do not poison your family and guests.
From the USDA instructions—
Fresh or Frozen?
- Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
- Buy your turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it.
- Keep it stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook it. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak.
- Do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys. If not handled properly, any harmful bacteria that may be in the stuffing can multiply very quickly.
- Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.
- Keep frozen until you’re ready to thaw it.
- Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely; however, cook within 1 year for best quality.
Do not play around with this stuff. Do not make others sick.
Here is more of what the USDA suggests—
Thawing Your Turkey
There are three ways to thaw your turkey safely — in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave oven.
|In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds
|4 to 12 pounds||1 to 3 days|
|12 to 16 pounds||3 to 4 days|
|16 to 20 pounds||4 to 5 days|
|20 to 24 pounds||5 to 6 days|
Keep the turkey in its original wrapper. Place it on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. If necessary, a turkey that has been properly thawed in the refrigerator may be refrozen.
|In Cold Water
Allow approximately 30 minutes per pound
|4 to 12 pounds||2 to 6 hours|
|12 to 16 pounds||6 to 8 hours|
|16 to 20 pounds||8 to 10 hours|
|20 to 24 pounds||10 to 12 hours|
Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping. Submerge your wrapped turkey in cold tap water. Change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.
In the Microwave Oven
- Check your owner’s manual for the size turkey that will fit in your microwave oven, the minutes per pound, and power level to use for thawing.
- Remove all outside wrapping.
- Place on a microwave-safe dish to catch any juices that may leak.
- Cook your turkey immediately. Do not refreeze or refrigerate your turkey after thawing in the microwave oven.
Above you see a sultry Pilgrim holding a Thanksgiving Turkey.
She’s going to have that turkey beheaded and served up for dinner.
What was the role of women in Colonial Massachusetts and Colonial New England?
From American Colonies—The Settling Of North America by Alan Taylor—
“It took a family to cope with the diverse and constant demands of building and maintaining a farm in New England. English culture expected all adults to marry and divided their labors into male and female responsibilities. Men conducted the heaviest work, including clearing, constructing, tending the livestock, harvesting the hay, and cultivating the grain crops. Women maintained the home and its nearby garden, cared for the numerous children, made clothing and soap, and prepared and preserved foods, including butter, eggs and cheese. But when a husband was away or incapacitated, the wife also had to assume his labors, taking the role of ” deputy husband” until he returned or recovered….The New English understood marriage as both romantic and economic. Husband and wife were supposed to be both temperamentally and financially compatible…As in the mother country, New English men monopolized legal authority, landownership and political rights….In all this, New England simply replicated the gender hierarchy of the mother country. More noteworthy are the modest ways in which the Puritan faith provided a bit more authority, protection, and respect for women in New England than they enjoyed in the Chesapeake or the old England. … Above all, Puritanism preached the importance of love and mutual respect as the foundations of Christian marriage.”
American Colonies is a great book.
Take the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday to learn more about our colonial origins.
A great source to learn this history is the blog History of American Women.
Since prevailing in the U.S. House, gaining Senate seats, and winning significant victories at the state level, what have Republicans done since last week’s election that will likely create jobs?
Nothing. What they have done instead is talk about political conflict, and eliminated forward-looking rail infrastructure projects that would have created jobs.
* Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that job one is to make sure Barack Obama is a one-term President. It appears that the next two years about going to 100% about politics if Republicans get their way. How will this help the nation?
* Republican leaders in the House of Representatives plan relentless investigations of President Obama. Would this effort not be better spent on helping fix the economy?
* Incoming Republican Governors refuse to create jobs with an offer of federal dollars for high-speed rail. An ideological minority may not want government to do anything that helps people, but what people want are jobs.
* Republicans plan to offer ceaseless attacks on Health Care Reform that prohibits lifetime dollar caps on policies and that prohibits insurance companies from kicking you off your policy if you get sick. Anger at government is not going to be of value to you when you are sick and have no place to turn.
Many people voted Republican last week because they are frustrated with the harsh economy. What they may find over the next two years is that the people they voted for are more focused on political advantage instead of working for America’s best interests.
It is incumbent upon those who are concerned with the nation’s course to discuss these matters with friends, family, and neighbors as we move ahead.
Our future can’t be left to the frustrations of the moment. This is the case no matter how understandable these frustrations may be.