Sometimes you’ve got to turn around.
Picture of SUV at the edge of a flooding Ohio River in Cincinnati earlier this month.
(Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)
Harris Party Green Party Fundraiser On March 31—If Our Elected Leaders Can Party Shop, Why Can’t You?
If Democratic Mayor Annise Parker can attend the big Harris County Republican fundraiser and Democratic Councilmember C.O Bradford can hang out with Republicans, than I don’t see why anybody else can’t shop around a little bit among this various political parties.
There is always room for new voices and new ideas. I can’t imagine that many progressives and liberals in Houston can be overly contented with the municipal and county leadership of either major party in Houston and Harris County.
I watched the 1955 Katherine Hepburn movie Summertime a few weeks back.
I caught this scene where Ms. Hepburn gave a small Italian boy a cigarette.
I wish we could get back to those good old days of wholesome entertainment.
Things were so much better back in the day.
I’m feeling a bit inundated with the need to catch up with personal correspondence and with the need to nail down some ideas for future blog posts and other projects I’m working on.
I’ve still not caught up with life after two weeks away in Ohio to deal with family concerns.
So please excuse the brevity of this post and the absence of links.
Either you run the blog or the blog runs you.
The picture is one I took earlier this month of the flooding Ohio River in Cincinnati.
As you see for yourself, the picture suggests the concept of feeling inundated.
The good thing is that most often the flood recedes.
Understanding that the river is flooded might be seen as a value of the political left in that we are understanding the role of circumstance.
What can we do about the fact that the river is flooded?
Taking action to catch up on things I need to do to despite the adverse circumstance of the flooding river, might be seen by a few as a value of the political right.
I’m moving ahead despite temporarily frustrating circumstances.
My view is that the values of the political left involve both seeing the world as it is, and responding in the most hopeful way you can find.
We are wrong to cede to the political right taken as a whole any virtue at all.
Individuals of all beliefs may have many virtues, but in these times of right-wing extremism in the United States, we must indeed focus on self-reliance as we seek to move forward.
There is always something we can do to move forward.
This post did not end up being so brief after all.
(Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)
At the bottom of this post is the most recent weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.
On a fully unrelated note, I never realized until a few days ago that I could write in color on the blog. I can’t imagine why I will need to write in color on the blog, but it did come as something as a surprise.
So please allow me, just this once, to type my standard reminder to Texas Liberal readers is what is termed by WordPress as “Sea Green”
You always have the option to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes you value, and even run for office yourself. The work of freedom and democracy is up to you. Nobody will do this work for you.
Above is a painting called Green Sea. It was painted by Milton Avery in 1958. Mr. Avery lived 1885-1965
At least I digress to the extent that one subject can be removed from another subject in a world where all things are connected.
Connection—And by extension the role of context and circumstance in life, are at the core of the liberal ideology in politics.
We are all connected by the simple fact of existence itself.
What a sharp contrast to the go-it-alone view of the political right, in which nobody is morally obligated to help others.
Here is the round up—-
WhosPlayin has been focused on Lewisville city council elections and the criminal records of two of the candidates, each of whom has assault convictions and each of whom lied on their ballot application.
Bay Area Houston notes that When the Galveston County Republican Party Chair slept with teabaggers he woke up with a bad taste in his mouth… and no job.
Are you in favor of preserving the mortgage interest income tax deduction, or do you favor phasing it out for larger, more expensive homes and/or wealthier taxpayers — or eliminating it altogether? PDiddie wants your opinion at Brains and Eggs. Continue reading
Texas Liberal Panel Of Experts Reads Asian Poetry From Across The Ages Every Chance They Get—Not A Word Is Wasted
It has been sometime since the Texas Liberal Panel of Experts has been seen on the blog.
I’m sure you’ve been wondering what they’ve been up to in recent weeks.
They’ve been reading books of Asian poems written many years ago.
What else did you think they’d be doing?
Extinct has been reading Japanese Death Poems–Written by Zen Monks and Haiku Poets on the Verge of Death.
Being a Woolly Mammoth, Extinct is always interested in reading about death.
Here is a poem from Death Poems written by a man named Gasan in 1885–
Blow if you will,
Fall wind—the flowers
Have all faded.
Hamburger Wearing An Astros’ Hat is reading Crossing The Yellow River–Three Hundred Poems From The Chinese.
As you can tell from the picture, Hamburger has studied Crossing many times.
Below is a poem from Crossing called View From Heron Tower. It was written by a Wang Chih-huan who lived 688-742.
The white sun is hidden by the mountains.
The Yellow River empties into the sea.
Climb up one floor:
You’ll see a hundred miles more.
Cactus is reading Written on Water—Five Hundred Poems from the Man’yoshu.
Cactus likes to read about water for a change of pace from the day-to-day life of a cactus.
Below is a poem from Written that was authored by a Kakinomoto-no-Hitomaro. This poet lived in the late 7th and early 8th centuries.
Far above the roar
Of the rapids of the stream,
About the peak of graceful Mt. Yutsuki,
Hover heavy clouds.
Samuel Slater Bobblehead is reading Songs of the Kisaeng–Courtesan Poetry of the Last Korean Dynasty.
As always, Samuel Slater Bobblehead is quite industrious in his reading.
Below is a poem from Songs called Who Caught You? It was written by Kungnyo. Kungnyo lived in either the 16th or 17th century.
Who caught you, fish, then set you free
Within my garden pond?
Which clear northern sea did you leave
for these small waters?
Once here, with no way to flee,
you and I are the same.
The poems in these books waste no words. They convey both ideas and feelings from across many years.
No wonder the Texas Liberal Panel of Experts enjoys these books to such a degree.
(Below–The Yellow River in Qinghai Province. Picture by Andre Holdrinet. This is not as serene a place as it may appear. There was a big earthquake in this province in 2010 that killed many people. Here are facts about the the Yellow River.)
The name of the probe is Messenger. Messenger is sending data and pictures back to Earth about conditions on Mercury.
If Messenger is sending messages to beings on Mercury, I’m sorry to the great degree that this blog post is missing the real story.
(Above—Messenger orbiting Mercury as seen by an artist.)
I’m glad I live in a time where we’ve been able to learn about the planets in our solar system.
Even more amazing, we’ve been learning about planets outside our solar system. I never thought that would be possible in my lifetime.
If intelligent aliens exist on these distant planets, I implore them to stay away.
They will bring terrible diseases. They will enslave us. They will steal our oceans.
What is it like on Mercury?
Mercury is a terrible place.
At least it is in the context of human existence.
I imagine that in the full scheme of existence, Mercury is just like it needs to be.
“Temperatures on Mercury’s surface can reach 800 degrees Fahrenheit (430 degrees Celsius). Because the planet has no atmosphere to retain that heat, nighttime temperatures on the surface can drop to -280 degrees Fahrenheit (-170 degrees Celsius).”
Below is a picture of Mercury sent from Messenger.
A book about the solar system I enjoy is called The Grand Tour–A Traveler’s Guide To The Solar System by Ron Miller and William Hartmann.
Grand Tour has many pictures, drawings and facts about all aspects of our solar system. The book is currently in a third edition.
Some people say government should only pertain to the most minimal functions.
Yet it is only government that could fund missions to understand distant space.
There are no minerals on Mercury that we will be mining from private profit. There are no advertising jingles that Messenger will be sending from Mercury.
There is so much to learn about existence. There is so much context to understand as we consider our views about the world.
Every person has the ability to learn about any subject.
Take the time it requires to learn about our world.
The more we learn, the better we will understand all that is taking place.
According the Facebook of Republican Texas State Senator Dan Patrick, Houston Mayor Annise Parker was the only Democrat to attend the Lincoln-Reagan Day fundraiser of the Harris County Republican Party.
How you view this fact could be a kind of Rorschach Test.
(Above–Rorschach Test. I see a polar bear climbing Mt. Everest.)
It could be that Mayor Parker was conning Republicans as she works to fend off possible challengers in the 2011 election.
It could that Mayor Parker is a political moderate and that she is reaching out to voters of all parties.
It could be that Mayor Parker is deserting Democratic voters for political reasons even though she was elected Mayor in 2009 as a Democrat.
In any case, Democrats, progressives and liberals have the right to ask more of the Mayor in what was a 61% Obama city in the 2008 election.
How is that Mayor Parker can attend a Republican fundraiser where Senator Patrick and Mike Huckabee took the stage to play a tune, but she could not attend the rally outside Houston City Hall last week to address the sharp cuts to vital public services being considered in the ongoing session of the Texas legislature.
Democrats, progressives, liberals, and others who would reliably vote for Democrats, merit a Mayor who consistently addresses basic questions of economic fairness and opportunity in Houston.
Given the wide divide between the two major parties at the moment, and given the strong divisions between the parties on civil rights questions that Mayor Parker has championed in the past, you have to wonder what the Mayor is sacrificing for the rest of us as she seeks the political support of the Republican far-right in Houston.
(Below–Senator Patrick (left) and Mike Huckabee (right) jamming at the Lincoln-Reagan Day Harris County Republican Fundraiser.)
I Apologize For Ever Having Voted For Houston Councilmember C.O. Bradford—Bradford Merits No Support From Voters Of Either Major Party
I apologize for ever having voted for Houston City Councilmember C.O Bradford.
I made this error when I voted for Mr. Bradford in 2008 to be Harris County District Attorney.
Mr. Bradford, a former Houston Police Chief, was the Democratic nominee for District Attorney.
I voted based on party when I should have simply not voted in the D.A. race. Neither candidate was worthy of support in that race.
While he did sound like a Democrat in 2008, Chief Bradford admitted at the time that he did not do all he could have done as Chief to deal with the deeply-flawed Houston crime lab.
As a current member of Houston City Council, Mr. Bradford often makes little effort to sound like a Democrat anymore. This despite the fact he was happy to take Democratic votes in 2008.
‘The City of Houston tends to over regulate. Understandably, the City must regulate from time to time for health and safety reasons. Even these interventions should be a limited, measured approach with broad substantive input from the citizens and businesses being impacted. Today, businesses and citizens are strapped with too many taxes, fees, and permitting requirements. Why is this so? Well, the answer can be found in one word – “spending. …”
I’m certain many would agree with this statement. Fine. But Democrats believe government has a role in making our communities better, and in making the lives of our citizens better. I’m sure folks who agree with Mr. Bradford’s minimal government views can find a real Republican to support.
You can be a Democrat and favor fiscal restraint. Nobody is in favor of waste. We do not have unlimited cash to run government. Yet what Mr. Bradford is doing here is identifying himself with the extreme and harmful budget cutting advocated by many in the current political climate, and offering nothing constructive for Democrats looking for fiscal moderation, but not looking to be Republicans. If given the choice between a Republican and a Republican—People will pick a Republican.
Mr. Bradford, as a Democrat, has the obligation to offer more than just a reflexive opposition to spending.
Now Mr. Bradford is teaming up with Republicans and others to attack the storm water drainage fee that Houston voters passed at the ballot box last November.
Some are upset that churches will have to pay a fair share of the fees required to address chronic flooding in Houston.
Councilman Bradford will be appearing with conservative Houston Councilmember Mike Sullivan and conservative Paul Bettencourt as panelists at a Houston Area Pastor Council meeting about the storm water fee.
This meeting will be held at Houston’s First Baptist Church. According to the Houston Chronicle, First Baptist is currently spending $12.6 million to renovate a Worship Center and $3 million to upgrade other facilities.
Mr. Bettencourt is best known for being reelected as Harris County Tax-Assessor Collector in 2008, and then quitting the post just a few weeks after the election.
That is some company Democrat C.O. Bradford keeps.
It is not clear why Mr. Bradford opposes the storm water fee given that he said the following on his campaign page—
“…. Let’s get back to a commitment to basic sanitation (garbage & water), infrastructure issues, police and fire. Core services are the City of Houston’s business!”
What is more basic to a hurricane -prone semi-tropical place like Houston than addressing flooding with new storm water infrastructure?
Mr. Bradford is not saying one way or another.
Which political party does Mr. Bradford truly support? Which city services does he see as essential? What are his political motives?
The only thing you can be certain of is that Councilman Bradford does not merit the support of any principled voter.
Above is an entrance to Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals, underwater from Ohio River flooding.
I took this picture last week. You can see the Bengal’s logo in the water.
This picture is very fitting because the taxpayers of Hamilton County, Ohio remain underwater for one of the worst publicly-financed stadium deals ever.
Despite the public subsidy, the Bengals lose year after year.
I told you so. I voted no at the ballot box in 1997. I told anybody who would listen that the public subsidy for a stadium was wrong and that the Bengals were a bad outfit.
I know it is not polite—But in this one case I just have to tell you that I told you so.
(Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)
Above is Houston-area Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.
Rep. Jackson Lee also has a consistently liberal voting record that serves her district and all people of Texas well.
The picture shows Rep. Jackson Lee at the Muslim-bashing House hearings held earlier this month by Republican Rep. Peter King. She is holding a copy of our United States Constitution.
Mr. King represents folks on Long Island. He chairs the so-called Homeland Security committee of the House. Mr. King held these hearings to “investigate” Muslim involvement in domestic terror.
Mr. King discussed no other group in these hearings. Just Muslims.
Are Muslims the only folks capable of engaging in terrorist acts?
In strong contrast to Rep. King’s un-American singling out of one group of citizens, was Ms. Jackson Lee ‘s bringing the United States Constitution to the proceedings.
You never know when you have to argue for an expansive interpretation of the Constitution that allows for a wide range of government actions on behalf of the public.
Our government of the people has the right to act as a counterweight to the influence of big money, and other powerful but narrow influences.
Our government of the people has the obligation to expand the rights of citizens to meet the needs of the times.
The strongest arguments for this wide view of opportunity are the promises of freedom written into our founding documents.
Ms. Jackson Lee brought her Constitution to this shameful hearing and spoke of freedom for all.
At least that is what I imagine she was saying. I had the sound off on the television for most of her remarks.
I think I was reading a book at the time. I can’t stand all that talk in these hearings.
We’ve let the political right claim ownership of the flag, and the Boston Tea Party, and the Constitution.
The freedom of all people is a progressive cause.
Put a flag sticker on your car with your liberal/progressive bumper sticker. Invoke the founding fathers to support your views. Read up on American history and tell people the facts when they get it wrong.
As they work day- and-night to screw-up the future, don’t let conservatives also mangle our past.
How is it that we have the money to attack Libya?
Each Tomahawk missile we have launched on Libya cost $569,000 in 1999 dollars.
Then there are all the costs of fuel and manpower and whatever else involved.
Britain has a big austerity program going on.—Still, the U.K. also found the resources for war.
How much will this all cost American taxpayers?
I don’t know.
But given that the President has said we must cut even programs that help the poor, whatever the Libya mission costs would seem to be more than we have.
Or at least more than we told we have by both major political parties.
The full term is Tomahawk Land Attack Missile. The Tomahawk name is trademarked.
(Above–A Tomahawk missile product.)
Just because your tax dollars bought the things, does not mean you can call the missile you build in your garage a Tomahawk.
I support the Libya mission. I think we need to act to prevent a massacre of Libyan dissidents and rebels by Colonel Gaddafi.
Hopefully, I’d see the question the same way if a Republican President had ordered the attack.
How do Republicans feel about the Libya mission?
It is hard to view Republicans as credible on this question.
In the years since 9/11, Democrats and liberals have often been attacked for being soft of terrorism and for not supporting our troops.
This despite the fact that draft-dodger George W. Bush and draft-dodger Dick Cheney did not provide proper body armour to protect our troops fighting in our wars.
“A secret Pentagon study has found that as many as 80 percent of the marines who have been killed in Iraq from wounds to the upper body could have survived if they had had extra body armor. Such armor has been available since 2003, but until recently the Pentagon has largely declined to supply it to troops despite calls from the field for additional protection, according to military officials.”
I recall how back in 2002 Democratic Senator Max Cleland of Georgia, a triple amputee from combat in Vietnam, lost his seat after being attacked by his Republican opponent as weak on national security. Television ads were run in that campaign picturing Mr. Cleland with Osama and Saddam.
In regards to Libya, I imagine Republicans believe we should support a sitting President at a time of conflict. I’m sure they feel that to believe otherwise would be to put our troops at risk.
Right? Did I get the standard Republican line correct here? Or does it only apply when we have a Republican President?
I’m concerned the allied troops fighting for a better future in Libya. I’m concerned for people in Libya. I hope rebel forces in Libya have democratic aspirations.
It seems sometimes the best you can hope for on these type issues is that you get at least some measure of truth from people in power.
It does not have to be this way. People do not need to be helpless.
Our leaders from both parties know that often what we appear to want most is to avoid military service, avoid taxes, get cheap gas, and to blame Muslims for our problems.
We always have the ability to expect more of ourselves.
If we asked more from ourselves, we would get more from our leaders.
( Below–Senator Cleland in Crawford, Texas in 2004. Mr. Cleland was attempting to deliver a letter to George W. Bush asking that attack ads on John Kerry’s Vietnam service be stopped.)
At the bottom of this post is the most recent weekly Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.
For the most part, TPA bloggers have no official affiliation with the Democratic Party. They are citizen-bloggers who blog on their free time.
Consistent with this ethic of citizen involvement were two rallies held in Texas this past week.
( Above—The Houston City Hall protest.)
These rallies were not led by the Democratic Party of Texas or by the Harris County Democratic Party.
If we waited for the official structures of the Democratic Party to help folks find a response to the far right-wing Republican Party of Texas, then we might have to wait until the end of time itself.
The Democratic Party and most Democratic officeholders do little to mobilize people.
In many cases, Democratic officeholders sit in safe districts and never face a serious primary challenge. Sometimes they have unspent campaign funds.
These are folks who could be out helping organizing folks and registering voters.
In the end, it is up to each of us to do the work of freedom.
You always have the option to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes you value, and even run for office yourself.
Don’t wait for others to act. Do it yourself.
Here is the round-up—-
Off the Kuff noted that in the days just before the Save Texas Schools rally, State Rep. Scott Hochberg filed a bill that made clear what the effects of cutting the public school budget would mean for local school districts.
Despite a strengthening progressive uprising, the Texas Democratic Party remains so feeble that it appears unable to capitalize on an open US Senate seat in 2012. That’s why the nascent movement to draft Tommy Lee Jonesto run keeps gaining steam, notes PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.
As thousands of Texans turned out on Saturday to “Save Texas Schools”,WCNews at Eye On Williamson reminds us whose fault it is that Texas schools need saving — and that their ruin has been the GOP’s plan all along:Yes Governor Perry, it is your fault. Continue reading