The flat tire I had a few days ago provided me with a number of opportunities.
1. While waiting for the AAA roadside assistance gentleman, I read a few pages of the book about President James K. Polk I’m currently reading.
2. I was able to tip the AAA gentleman $5 for his help. All our fellow working people merit respect. How we treat our fellow working people is a measure of our own self-respect. Almost all of us must work for a living.
3. The flat tire allowed me to take the picture you see above and provided me with the material for this blog post.
4. I got a new tire yesterday. While waiting for the tire to be changed, I took an almost hour-long walk in the sunshine.
I’m aware of the fact that a lot of things in life are lousy. We should not lose sight of all that is lousy. We can only address the problems we know exist.
I’m simply saying we can make the best out of an inconvenience if we put some effort and imagination into our response to life’s daily hassles.
Here is an article on the history of automobile tires. At the bottom of the article is an extensive series of links on the subject of tires.
Many people have been killed, injured, and left homeless by the terrible storms and tornadoes in Alabama and across much of the South.
You can click here to see what the Red Cross is doing and how you can assist.
Here is a story from the Birmingham News that details many donation drop-off points and clean- up efforts that being made throughout Alabama.
President Obama will be visit Alabama today and offer federal assistance.
Here is some basic information on what a tornado is from the National Severe Storm Laboratory of the U.S. government.
Many places in the South and elsewhere in the nation are having a rough spring of tornadoes, floods, fire, and drought.
Folks can use some help. Please consider assisting in some manner if you are able.
You can laugh or think you know more than people like Donald Trump…..
(Below–Donald Trump. Picture by David Shankbone.)
(Below–Sarah Palin. Photo by T Toes.)
(Below–Ron Paul. Photo by Gage Skidmore.)
And Michele Bachmann.
( Below–Michele Bachmann.)
Just be sure you don’t end up in a concentration camp or living in a dictatorship of some kind.
(The best political history I am aware of Nazi Germany is the three-volume history of Nazi governance of Germany by Richard J. Evans.)
If you think these things can’t happen here, review the history of Native Americans who were almost wiped out by the genocidal policies and actions of the American government and the American people.
Think of Black Americans who have been forced to confront hundreds of years of slavery and Jim Crow.
Nazi Germany was a place you would recognize. There were newspapers, radio, cars, movies, and a politics of left and right in the years leading up to Nazi Germany. These things can happen in the most modern and up-to-date societies.
You are mistaken to give any benefit of the doubt at all to people in our nation who would eliminate the social safety net, deny the facts on where the President was born, establish propaganda channels like Fox News, blame immigrants for our troubles, and slash education funding to the bone so we are all ignorant.
You can laugh at people who believe crazy things. You can think you are smarter than Sarah Palin. You can see Donald Trump as a clown.
History tells us time after time that nothing is so horrible it can’t come true.
It is up to each of us as individuals to make the decision to work together to be certain that people we see as ”stupid, or “ignorant” or as “clowns” don’t end up with the power to dictate our futures and ruin our lives.
Former Texas Lt. Gov. Hobby, An Establishment Figure, Wonders If The Republican Intent Is To Ruin Texas
The Texas Observer has posted this nine minute talk by former Democratic Texas Lt. Governor William Hobby. Mr. Hobby served as Lt. Governor from 1973-1991.
In this talk, Mr. Hobby wonders if the intent of Governor Perry and the Republican majorities in the Texas legislature is to ruin the future of Texas with sharp cuts to education and other essential services and functions of government.
Mr. Hobby says our tax structure is not adequate to meet the needs of Texas. He says that the Republican leadership of Texas is engaging in a kind of “insanity.”
Mr. Hobby is not a big liberal. He is very much an establishment figure. He simply seems to have a hard time believing what he seeing in Texas.
All the facts are out there about the impact of the budget being discussed in Austin and where there budget will take our state.
It really comes down to the decision of each individual Texan that they are going to make the call to work with others to bring about a better future for Texas.
Every individual has the ability 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 public office.
The President was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.
(Above—Honolulu from space. Many on the right persist in the far out view that President Obama was born outside the U.S.)
I’m not sure why the birth certificate was released. Why not take the political gain offered by folks who never let up on the birth certificate issue?
With Donald Trump taking the credit for the release, maybe the intent is to enhance Mr. Trump among Republican primary voters.
Maybe the Obama folks know exactly what they are doing. When you are dealing with folks who are not rational, facts are not going to matter. Let them be seen for what they are.
What they are at this point is the mainstream of the Republican Party. Two-thirds of registered Republicans believe that President Obama was born outside the country or are not sure.
Among these not so rational people are Republican elected officials. Already this morning Republican Texas State Representative Leo Berman has said he is still not convinced that Mr. Obama was born in the United States.
From the Texas Tribune–
State Rep. Leo Berman, R-Tyler, has checked out the birth certificate President Barack Obama released this morning — and he’s not satisfied. Berman, who has raised persistent questions about Obama’s birthplace, said he has many more questions and that it will take “someone like a Donald Trump” to really determine whether the president has “pulled the greatest swindle, the greatest hoax, in the history of the United States.” Berman, who has filed a “birther” bill this session that would force future presidential and vice presidential candidates to show their birth certificate in order to get on the Texas ballot, said he’s got several key questions with Obama’s birth certificate: Why did it take the president so long, amid a conservative firestorm, to release it? Why does it look “brand new,” he said, when it’s supposed to be five decades old? Why doesn’t the hospital listed on the birth certificate have a “plaque on the door” commemorating Obama’s birth there? And has anyone checked with the delivery room doctor listed on the birth certificate (whose name Berman says is curiously difficult to make out)?
I’m hesitant to write about this silly issue at all, but the matter is an insight into the nature of American conservatives. Are these the people you want running our nation? Are they grounded in day-to-day reality?
On the Facebook page of Houston right-wing talk radio station KTRH, a posting was made about the release of the birth certificate.
Below is a sampling of what people had to say at the KTRH page —
If you believe that, I have 40 acres of swamp land to sell you !!! He did not produce it till TRUMP put the pressure on him. Test the ink on it and see how old it is!!
Took a while to get it doctored I see !
Ok and as has been discussed before a cert of live birth is very diff from a birth cert…. Just saying….
About time…he probably had to find somebody to do it under the table. I highly doubt that is real and genuine. That cert is about as real as Pam Andersons Boobs.
Question: 1) Why does this one look VERY different than the one released years ago? 2) Why is he just now releasing this one if the one released years ago isn’t the real one? 3) How can be believer this one is real if there has already been a fake one released in the past?
But its the same old COLB. NOT a certified copy of his birth certficate.
Wonder which flea market he purchased it from?
Is this a real one? or one the CIA made for him?
I’ll never believe it’s real!
“As long as an adult can walk into Hawaii’s version of the Department of Records and provide proof that they are a legal resident of Hawaii, the document is issued. The child, on the other hand, could have been born in Hawaii, Kenya, or a back-alley in Budapest.”
Throughout Kenya, people will chant “You Lie”
A City of Houston park I have come to enjoy is Tony Marron Park.
A portion of this park is along a section of Buffalo Bayou that at one point saw a great deal of boat traffic between Downtown Houston and the Houston Ship Channel.
Boat traffic has long since stopped at this section of the bayou.
As you can see from the two pictures above, there is still evidence of where the boats once stopped.
There are just no boats.
While my father was dying last month, I wondered about all the people he must have known over his 80 years.
They were all dead or otherwise gone. I was not aware of many people who dad was still in touch with in life.
When I walk along the trail at Marron Park and see where there was once life and activity, I think how we should value each day that traffic comes to call at the port of life and existence.
This traffic can be people, things we learn, ways that others communicate with us, opportunities to do constructive things, or—to be literal-minded–even a real boat.
Even the most routinely scheduled service is at some point rerouted or ended.
Take advantage of each day that you are on the path of some channel or route of existence.
From this column entitled The Bipartisan March Towards Fiscal Madness—
It is obvious that the nation’s desperate fiscal condition requires higher taxes on the middle class, not just the richest 2 percent. Likewise, entitlement reform requires means-testing the giant Social Security and Medicare programs, not merely squeezing the far smaller safety net in areas like Medicaid and food stamps.Unfortunately, in proposing tax increases only for the very rich, President Obama has denied the first of these fiscal truths, while Representative Paul D. Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has contradicted the second by putting the entire burden of entitlement reform on the poor. The resulting squabble is not only deepening the fiscal stalemate, but also bringing us dangerously close to class war. This lamentable prospect is deeply grounded in the policy-driven transformation of the economy during recent decades that has shifted income and wealth to the top of the economic ladder. While not the stated objective of policy, this reverse Robin Hood outcome cannot be gainsaid: the share of wealth held by the top 1 percent of households has risen to 35 percent from 21 percent since 1979, while their share of income has more than doubled to around 20 percent….In attacking the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent of taxpayers, the president is only incidentally addressing the deficit. The larger purpose is to assure the vast bulk of Americans left behind that they will be spared higher taxes — even though entitlements make a tax increase unavoidable. Mr. Obama is thus playing the class-war card more aggressively than any Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt — surpassing Harry S. Truman or John F. Kennedy when they attacked big business or Lyndon B. Johnson or Jimmy Carter when they posed as champions of the little guy. On the other side, Representative Ryan fails to recognize that we are not in an era of old-time enterprise capitalism in which the gospel of low tax rates and incentives to create wealth might have had relevance. A quasi-bankrupt nation saddled with rampant casino capitalism on Wall Street and a disemboweled, offshored economy on Main Street requires practical and equitable ways to pay its bills…So the Ryan plan worsens our trillion-dollar structural deficit and the Obama plan amounts to small potatoes, at best. Worse, we are about to descend into class war because the Obama plan picks on the rich when it should be pushing tax increases for all, while the Ryan plan attacks the poor when it should be addressing middle-class entitlements and defense.”
Nobody is telling us the truth on any of this stuff. Which makes sense in a way I suppose because the American people don’t want to know the truth on these budget matters.
Beyond President Obama’s lack of candor, one thing we must acknowledge right away is that Representative Paul Ryan’s budget plan is evil.
The Ryan plan is an assault on the poor, and it is an affirmation of a states rights/small federal government viewpoint that has always been the hallmark of the most regressive and narrow political elements in our nation.
You can bet that if we go backwards on our social safety net, we will also go backwards on civil rights, worker’s rights, and all sorts of personal freedoms. The states rights/small federal government view of our nation has always been accompanied with severe restrictions on the liberty of Americans not seen as equal by the political supporters of extreme limited government.
You can care about the budget deficit and still see the Paul Ryan plan for what it is. The Republican idea for our nation is no more than giving money to the few at the expense of the many, and weakening government to the point where the people will have no chance against big wealth. It is an evil plan and we should not be afraid to say so.
Nor should we be afraid to ask Barack Obama and other elected Democrats to tell us the truth.
Most of all, we should not be afraid to ask ourselves and our fellow citizens to do what is required to meet the challenges of the day.
Here is the most current weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political blogs in Texas.
Along with the round-up this week, I can tell you that despite Governor Rick Perry’s call for prayer over this weekend to end the statewide Texas drought, that it is not raning here in Houston. I’m not aware of any significant rain in Texas.
This does not mean that prayer has no meaning. Prayer brings solace and meaning to many people. Maybe what is the case is that the prayers of a state that is inflicting such misery on the poor at the moment in the proceedings of the Texas legislature are not being heard.
If Governor Perry thinks prayer can end the drought, maybe he should consider that our actions as a state are the cause of the drought.
Having previously declared himself out on supporting President Obama’s re-election campaign, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs finds even less to like aboutthe rumored candidacy of Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez for US Senate. Less, as in nothing.
Letters From Texas poked fun at the… um… hard turn John Sharp’s web domain has taken, in which somebody has… ah… erected quite a different focus. But most of the week was spent on more serious concerns – the West Texas range fires.
Neil at Texas Liberal noted that Rick Perry has asked Barack Obama and Washington for help with Texas wildfires. While everyone impacted by the fires merits help, it sure is something that Washington-basher Rick Perry feels he must turn to the federal government to solve Texas problems. Where are the Texas Tea Party citizen-volunteer disaster relief teams to help people in need?
You are not connected to the internet.
Photo taken in a vacant lot here in Houston.
(Picture copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)
Governor Perry Correct To Call For Prayer To End Drought—Maybe Plagues Are Being Visited Upon Texas For Neglect Of The Poor And We Should Pray For A Better Governor
( Above–It is hot and dry in Texas)
These three days run from April 22 to April 24.
From the proclamation—
WHEREAS, these dire conditions have caused agricultural crops to fail, lake and reservoir levels to fall and cattle and livestock to struggle under intense stress, imposing a tremendous financial and emotional toll on our land and our people; and
WHEREAS, throughout our history, both as a state and as individuals, Texans have been strengthened, assured and lifted up; it seems right and fitting that the people of Texas should join together in prayer to humbly seek an end to this devastating drought and these dangerous wildfires;
This is good. Texans of all kinds find solace and hope in prayer. Governor Perry is right to call upon Texans to consider the hard times that many in our state are dealing with at the moment.
However, if prayer is a possible solution to the drought impacting all Texans, it could also be so that the drought is a plague being visited upon Texas from God for how hard our hearts our towards the poor and most vulnerable in our state.
Governor Perry and our Texas legislature are currently considering brutal cuts to our state budget. These cuts would hurt some of the most needy and most hard-working Texans.
Texans have the option to pray for Governor Perry to be a more decent human being. Texans have the option to pray that we consider climate science as we deal with droughts and hurricanes in the Lone Star State.
Here is a 1953 Life Magazine article reporting how Texans at that time also dealt with a drought and prayed for rain. Maybe at that time Texans were being punished for Jim Crow laws. Maybe Texas has been on the wrong side of God for a long time.
Prayer and concern for others is of great value. At the same time, we must recall John Kennedy‘s words” that here on Earth God’s work must truly be our own.”
(Below–The Seventh Plague as painted in 1823 by John Martin. The seventh plague visited upon Egypt by God was as follows–”And Moses stretcheth out his rod towards the heavens, and Jehovah hath given voices and hail, and fire goeth towards the earth, and Jehovah raineth hail on the land of Egypt’
Today marks the 175th anniversary of the Battle of San Jacinto. This was the battle in which Texas Independence was won from Mexico.
To mark the day, Hamburger Wearing An Astros’ Hat is trying to use some Republic of Texas currency to buy a book of Texas history. Hamburger is a member of the Texas Liberal Panel of Experts.
While many conservative Texans might wish that this currency was still valid, I may have to spot Hamburger a few real dollars to buy the book.
It should be recalled that most Texans at the time wanted Texas to join the federal union as a state.
Below are some resources to learn more about Texas.
Everybody has the ability to learn for themselves about the subjects they view as important in life. The resources to learn about the world are all around us, and are accessible with effort and imagination.
Lone Star Nation–The Epic Story of the Battle for Texas Independence by H.W. Brands will tell you all you need to know about how Texans won independence from Mexico.
Texas: A Modern History by David McComb is short and readable history of Texas history all the way up to the current century.
(The budget of the Texas State Historical Society is under attack from Governor Rick Perry and Republicans in Texas. Is this how we should honor Texas history?)
The Handbook of Texas Online is very comprehensive on many aspects of Texas both past and present. The Handbook is also published by the Texas Historical Society.
Here is the link for San Jacinto Museum. You can see the San Jacinto battlefield at this site.
Here is the link to the Sam Houston Memorial Museum in Huntsville.
As the posters below indicate, there will be a big march and rally in Houston on May 1, 2011 for worker’s rights and fair treatment of immigrants.
Everybody has the ability to take part in our democracy and to work for a better Houston, Texas, and nation.
The Tea Party organized and head the upper hand in 2010. Is this what you want for 2012?
It is up to each individual to make the decision to work with others for a more hopeful future. There is more to public policy and politics than tax cuts for people doing well and cuts for working people and for people in a tough spot in life.
Conservative political leader William Rusher has died at the age of 87.
Mr. Rusher was a columnist and activist who played a prominent part in the gains of American conservatism over the past 50 years. Mr. Rusher played a leading role for many years for the important conservative magazine The National Review.
Portions of Mr. Rusher’s obituary from the New York Times are worth considering.
From the Times–
“Mr. Rusher championed postwar conservatism as a mainstream political movement that first tasted national success in the Republican presidential nomination of Barry M. Goldwater in 1964, and fulfilled its dream with the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980.”
Mr. Rusher was a vocal conservative who trumpeted his cause when his views were not widely held. He stuck with his beliefs and realized great victories.
“He and two colleagues founded the draft-Goldwater movement in 1961. With other prominent conservatives, he opposed the re-election of Richard M. Nixon in 1972 because of the president’s overtures to China. He started a third party that faltered in 1976, and was an adviser in Reagan’s presidential campaign four years later.”
Mr. Rusher was willing to go against his party for his beliefs. You have to be willing to chart your own course.
“… in 1975, Mr. Rusher explained how (a third-party) might work. “The only practical solution, therefore, is for conservative Republicans (broadly represented by Reagan) and conservative Democrats (most of whom have in the past supported Wallace)” — a reference to Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama — “to join forces in a new majority party, designed to win both the Presidency and Congress and replace the G.O.P. in toto as one of America’s two major parties.” In 1976, putting his ideas into practice, Mr. Rusher and several colleagues founded the New Majority Party. But it collapsed that summer at a convention in Chicago after a rival group pushed through the presidential nomination of Lester G. Maddox, the former governor of Georgia and an avowed segregationist.”
Mr. Rusher was right that there more conservatives than people realized. And he thought big. The emergence of the Tea Party has not replaced the Republican Party, but it has, for the moment at least, changed how Republicans operate. Mr. Rusher saw that one of the two major parties could be challenged. Of course, as we are dealing with the American right, the nomination of Lester Maddox in 1976 is a perfectly apt cautionary tale right up the current day.
“…He ended his syndicated column in 2009. “Undoubtedly,” he wrote in a farewell, “the most important single factor in the growth of conservatism has been the realization, on the part of individual conservatives, that their views were shared by others, and constituted collectively a formidable national influence.”
This is just so important. Winning elections and swaying the political debate can hinge on committed everyday people thinking things out and taking action. This was one way, along with the support of billionaires, that the Tea Party made an impact in 2010. It was a sense that things could different that helped Barack Obama win in 2008. In my view, there is no ideological majority in the United States. There are many factors that impact elections. But one of the most important things, and one thing every person can control, is what effort individuals make for their beliefs.
There can be no doubt that conservatives and the far-right have won many battles in the half-century since the early 1960′s. Just as liberals and progressives have won many battles. There are many battles ahead and we all have the ability to take part and move forward. Let’s take to heart the lessons of a man who sometimes got the better of us.
At least one good citizen of Houston is still holding out for Ralph Nader to be allowed to take part in Presidential debates.
The 2000 debates between George Bush and Al Gore would have served the public better if Mr. Nader had been involved.
While there is a difference between Republicans and Democrats, the big money donors and corporations seem in firm control no matter what.
Mr. Nader’s citizen activism is still a useful lesson. We as citizens are going to have to take our nation back from the coalition of the wealthy and mean-spirited who often have the upper hand in our political debates.
The following refers to the matzoh that was eaten in my home tonight at our Passover Seder, and is taken from the Haggadah that is read each year at Passover—
This is the bread of affliction that our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. All who are hungry-let them come and eat. All who are needy-let them come and celebrate the Passover with us. Now we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel. Now we are slaves; next year may we be free.
You can take this as literal or metaphoric. In any case, there is always the hope of being freed from bondage and affliction, and there is always the hope that we can move towards the place in life that we see as best and most just.
Here are facts about Passover, the Haggadah, and the Passover Seder. Passover marks the freedom of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.