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Fourth Of July Weekend Allows Us The Choice To Drive Safely, Treat Working People Well, And To Learn Something

Fourth of July weekend is almost here.

How can we have a good holiday?

Here are some thoughts—

* Please drive safely. Houston and everyplace in this nation is filled with crazy drivers who will ruin your life over nothing.

* Please treat working people well over the holiday. Anybody working the Fourth is working a holiday. If you were working a holiday, you would expect to be paid at a time-and-a-half rate. We all have the option of treating fellow working people the same way we would like to be treated.

* Take some time over the holiday to learn some history. Here is a link to Fourth of July book suggestions. Here is a link to the Declaration of Independence at the National Archives.

Here is a link to some Fourth of July events in the Houston area.

Please have a nice holiday.

June 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Republican-Appointed Majority Federal Judicial Panel Finds In Favor Of Health Care Reform—A Victory For The Power Of The Federal Government Over The States

A federal court panel with a majority of Republican-appointed judges has found in favor of the constitutionality of Health Care Reform.

From CNN—

A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has ruled in favor of the Obama administration and Congress, ruling a key provision in the sweeping health care reform bill passed last year was constitutional. The “individual mandate” requiring nearly all Americans purchase health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties — was challenged in federal courts by a large number of individuals and groups, saying people should not be forced to purcha a product like health insurance. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit panel disagreed. “We find that the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause,” said the three-judge panel on Wednesday, in a 64-page opinion…A key part of the ruling was written by Judge Jeffrey Sutton — a President George W. Bush — appointee and considered a conservative on the court.

While there is still a long way to go in this matter, today’s ruling is a strong victory for Health Care Reform and for the supremacy of the federal government over the states.

June 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Indiana Dunes A Great Place To Visit

original negative

The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is a wonderful place to go.

This park, on Lake Michigan, is not far from Chicago.

Go there this summer, or maybe even in the winter, with people you love.

Or at least can tolerate.

Or go by yourself and enjoy the peace.

It is often good to go places by yourself. Being by yourself helps you collect your thoughts and helps you have new thoughts.

Above is a picture of the area in winter taken by the Chicago Daily News in 1911.

Below is a more recent summer picture. The photo does not do full justice to how nice it is to look at the water.

Here is information on Lake Michigan from the State of Wisconsin.

Here is information about the Great Lakes taken as a whole from the American and Canadian governments.

June 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Gay Marriage Advance Part Of The Spirit of ’76

The Gay Marriage victory in New York must be seen as a progression from the Stonewall Riots of 1969.

But even more to the point, gay marriage is part of the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness pledged on July 4, 1776.

(Above—John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence. Painted in 1817.)

The Tea Party is smart enough to link their cause to our founding.

Let’s do the same with our better cause.

The advancement of the gay marriage across our great land is part of the progress of American liberty.

Whenever freedom prevails over intolerance, that is a victory for the Spirit of July 4, 1776.

(Below– Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delware. Painted in 1850.) 

June 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Houston Waterfall And Stream

Here is a Houston waterfall and stream that I took a picture of while out and about a few days ago.

It is part of a construction project taking place along Sims Bayou.

It is not so scenic. But when you live in a place like Houston, you’ve got to embrace your surrondings.

I doubt there is a natural waterfall anyplace in Houston. But there is plenty of construction and plenty of infrastructure.

So above is a picture that reflects well enough where I live.

June 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Newspapers Sold At Intersection

Here is the spot at the intersection of the 290 feeder road and highway 6 in the Houston-area where I often buy the early Sunday Houston Chronicle from the man standing out in the street and on the traffic island.

Anybody selling a newspaper on a Houston street corner in 95 degree heat is very much working.

I give the guy a few extra dollars for the paper. I hope the money he makes over the weekend helps him get by in life.

June 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

2011 Independence Day Events For Houston & Houston Area—Fourth Of July Reading List

(Update–6/24/12—Here is the list of 2012 Houston area Fourth of July events.) 

There will be many Fourth of July events in the Houston area this upcoming weekend. The Fourth falls on a Monday this year.

(Above–Fireworks.)

In addition to these events, you might also wish to take the time over the holiday and after the holiday to learn more about the American Revolution and American history.

You can start right here by reading and learning about the Declaration of Independence from the National Archives of the United States. 

Here at Texas Liberal, the view is that the Fourth of July is holiday of equal importance to all Americans. No side of the ideological debate in the United States has the upper-hand in who values The Fourth the most.

This post has links to events in Houston and, after these links, an Independence Day reading list. If you plan to head out on the Fourth in the Houston area, you might want to check to be sure that fireworks are still planned at your event. Our drought is ongoing.

Events—

* There will be a free outdoor concert put on by the Houston Symphony at Miller Theater in Hermann Park on the Fourth. The concert begins at 8:30 PM.  After the concert there will be fireworks.

* Bayou Bend Gardens on Memorial Drive in Houston will be hosting a free Fourth of July fesitval from 1 PM to 5PM.  There will be colonial music, a Betsy Ross presentation and a Declaration of Independence that you can sign.

* The big City of Houston event is Freedom over Texas.  This festival, which ends with fireworks, begins at 4 PM in Eleanor Tinsley Park.

* There are events over the holiday weekend in The Woodlands which include a Houston Symphony concert on Sunday the 3rd and a fireworks show on The Fourth. 

* There will be a variety of events in Galveston for the weekend of the Fourth.   These events will end on the Fourth with a fireworks display over the Seawall at 9:15 PM.

* The Galveston County Daily News publishes a daily list of Independence Day happenings for all of Galveston County.

* The good folks in Pearland are having an observance  for the Fourth at the Pearland High football stadium.  The festivities begin at 6 PM.

* There will be fireworks at Buffalo Run Park in Missouri City for folks in Fort Bend County to enjoy. This event starts at 7 PM.

* The George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station will be offering up the free I Love America all day on the Fourth. I say without irony that this I Love America deal at the G.H.W.B. Library looks like a pretty good festival.

If there are events I’ve missed, please leave a comment and I’ll add them to the list.

Please also recall that we are having a drought. Personal use of fireworks has been banned—as far I can determine—for the entire Houston/Galveston/Fort Bend/College Station area.

Do you really want to be responsible for starting a grass fire or burning down a neighbor’s house in these hot and dry conditions?

Here is the reading list promised at the top of this post—- Continue reading

June 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Considering Confederate License Plates To Honor Treason And Slavery—TPA Round-Up

At the end of this post is the weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers who are working hard for a better Texas.

Every Texan has the ability 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, and even run for public office. The work of freedom is up to each of us.

With the round-up this week is news that the State of Texas is seriously considering a license plate honoring the Confederate army and the brutal and treasonous causes the Confederate army fought for in the Civil War.

Above you see an image of the license plate.

Some will claim that honoring the traitors who fought against American armies so that black men and women might remain slaves is a matter of culture or regional identity.

(Below–Southern culture and regional identity from the years before the Civil War.)

I’m certain that when borderline disloyal politicians like Texas Governor Rick Perry drip the hateful words of secession and nullification that all they have in mind is the protection of a noble heritage.

None of it has anything do to with a black President or increasing numbers of minorities in the U.S. or the desire of big corporations to be free of federal safety and environmental regulation.

Where was all this Tea Party talk when George W. Bush was running up the debt  and raising the debt ceiling 19 times?

The State of Texas can offer these license plates to Texas motorists. Politicians in Texas and elsewhere can talk about secession and nullification of federal laws. I welcome all free speech in our great federal union.

For those of us who think that the outcome of the Civil War should stand, we need to remain aware that the enemy defeated in 1865 never goes away in this country.

The round-up—-

We have our first poll of Texas for next year’s presidential contest and Off the Kuff says that so far 2012 still looks like 2008.

Last week WCNews at Eye On Williamson posted on the Texas Republicans’ latest health care scheme: House GOP follows Oklahoma and Georgia into misguided health care compact.

Bay Area Houston has a theory about Rick Perry’s veto of the texting-while-driving ban. Continue reading

June 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Fourth Of July Reading List—It Is Up To You To Learn Your Past

The Fourth of July will be here soon.

(Above–Black Americans observing the Fourth in 1939 in St. Helena Island, South Carolina.)

What books would be helpful to learn more about the American Revolution and about America?

As I’ve said before, I don’t believe the Revolution was a liberal or conservative event in the sense we think about such things today.

Some of the Founding Fathers were religious. Others were not.  The Revolution had some aspects of a tax revolt. But who can know if folks in the early days of the nation would not have paid more taxes to get all the garbage out of the street or to prevent so many women from dying in childbirth?  Some of the founders believed in government being run from state capitols. Others supported a stronger national government.

Anybody who asserts that the American Revolution was a liberal or conservative victory in the modern sense is more concerned with today’s politics than with historical facts.

At the bottom line, it is up to you to know and understand our shared history. If you allow others to define your past, they will likely use that power to help bring about a future you don’t want.

(Below–1887 Fourth of July picnic in Custer County, Nebraska.)

Here are six book suggestions and a history blog suggestion that are strong sources to learn about the life in North America before colonization, after colonization, at the time of the Revolution, and to learn about the full history of our nation.

* 1491–New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann

There was a whole world here before 1492. 1492 is one marker in history. There is little understanding of who lived in the Americas before Columbus. American history did not begin in 1492 or  in 1620 when the Mayflower arrived.

* Mayflower–A Story of Courage, Community, and War by Nathaniel Philbrick

There are starting points in American history other than the landing of the Mayflower. Yet learning the story of the Mayflower is basic to knowing our history.

Before The Mayflower—A History of Black America by Lerone Bennett.

In many ways, nothing is more central to the American experience than the history of black Americans. So much has turned on the decision to bring black people to America, and on how those unwilling immigrants responded to life in North America.

* American Colonies–The Settlement of North America by Alan Taylor

This book is a good way to learn about the British colonies. It includes chapters about not just the 13 colonies we all know and love, but also has chapters on British Canada and about colonies in the Caribbean.

History of American Women–A blog.

This blog is a useful resource to know more about women of early American history.

* Patriots–The Men Who Started The American Revolution by A.J. Langguth

This book reads like a novel. It is an enjoyable and informative way to learn about the events and personalities of the Revolution.

The Penguin History Of  The United States by Hugh Brogan

The Penguin History is a one-volume non-ideological account of our nation that discusses the events of the Revolution and then goes on to provide the full context of American history. While I do sometimes read history books written from the left or the right, I find I’d rather have a balanced account that leaves ideological judgements up to the reader.

As a liberal, I’m confident that an examination of the facts–In a way both comprehensive, and sympathetic to the strengths and weaknesses of our fellow men and women— will lead to a view that America is best when it is welcoming of people of all kinds, and that government has, in tandem with the hard-work of a free people, a role to play in providing a basic social safety net for its people.

In any case, it is your responsibility to learn your history and to consider what this history means in terms of your beliefs and actions in the world.

Learn the past so you can be a hopeful and relevant part of the future.

(Below–How some see the Fourth of July. It is fine as far is it goes. But there is so much more. The painting–called The Spirit of ’76– is by Archibald Willard.)  

June 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sea Levels Rising Ever Faster—But Don’t Tell Anybody

A new study says that sea levels are rising at the fastest rate in 2000 years.

(Above–The sea is all around us.)

Is this complete proof that global warming is taking place and causing the seas to rise?

You can’t prove it for 100%.

Any bit of doubt allows corporate intrests–and the Republican Party that corporate interests own–to avoid discussing this issue in any serious fashion.

Here is the EPA climate change website.

I know— The EPA website is socialist plot to take away our SUV’s and make us all drive Yugos.

The new sea level study has been completed with funding from the National Science Foundation. 

Here are some facts about the NSF

“The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 “to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…” With an annual budget of about $6.9 billion (FY 2010), we are the funding source for approximately 20 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities.”

If we would just cut all funding for the NSF, than the problem of global warming and rising sea levels would go away.

Here are some details from the NSF sea level study—

“The rate of sea level rise along the U.S. Atlantic coast is greater now than at any time in the past 2,000 years–and has shown a consistent link between changes in global mean surface temperature and sea level…. The team found that sea level was relatively stable from 200 BC to 1,000 AD. Then in the 11th century, sea level rose by about half a millimeter each year for 400 years, linked with a warm climate period known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly. Then there was a second period of stable sea level during a cooler period called the Little Ice Age. It persisted until the late 19th century. Since the late 19th century, sea level has risen by more than 2 millimeters per year on average, the steepest rate for more than 2,100 years.”

Of course, as is often the case, it is not just conservatives that are the problem when it comes to the inability to have a serious discussion over important national issues.

Former Vice President Al Gore recently criticized President Obama for a lackluster approace to global warming concerns.

As it is with so many issues before us in our nation, everyday people are going to have to decide to take the lead and are going to have to pressure political and corporate leaders for more action.

At the moment, we seem unable to even discuss the matter because the Republican Party takes opposition to the idea of climate change as a matter of faith.

But the fact is that faith is faith and science is science. The two are separate for someone who has confidence in their faith and hope for our future.

June 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Good Riddance To Cantor And Kyl In Debt Ceiling Talks—Let’s Stand Up Against The Borderline Disloyal Republican Opposition

Extreme conservative House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has pulled out of the ongoing debt ceiling talks in Washington.

Republican Senator John Kyl of Arizona–who has a problem with facts–has also left these talks.

It appears that additional stimulus  and possible tax increases for those most able to pay may be on the table as needed steps to help the economy.

What a welcome difference from the Republican strategy of working to keep the economy from recovering in order to hurt President Obama politically.

I’m wary of all sides in these talks. It is hard to see how the unemployed and the poor have any champions in Washington. Millions of hard-working middle class Americans also seem left out as the rich get richer and corporations gain more power each day.

Let’s hope that President Obama and Democrats in Congress stand up for everyday Americans in these talks against a borderline disloyal opposition that wants to dismantle our government for the benefit of a greedy few, and in the name of pre-Civil War notions of small government.

June 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 7 Comments

Record Dead Zone Projected In Gulf Of Mexico—The Gulf Is America’s Drainage Basin

A record s0-called dead zone has been predicted for the Gulf of Mexico for 2011.

(Above–One small patch of the Gulf of Mexico. Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)

From USA Today

“The so-called dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico — a region of oxygen-depleted water off the Louisiana and Texas coasts that is harmful to sea life — is predicted to be the largest ever recorded when it develops later this summer, scientists report. The unusually large size of the zone is due to the extreme flooding of the Mississippi River this spring, which equaled or surpassed the historic floods of 1927 and 1937, according to the National Weather Service. The dead zone occurs at the bottom of the Gulf when there is not enough oxygen in the water to support marine life. Also known as hypoxia, it is created by nutrient runoff, mostly from over-application of fertilizer on agricultural fields….What happens to the sea life in that dead zone? Don Scavia, a professor of natural resources at the University of Michigan, says that most anything that can swim away leaves, but that anything that can’t leave, such as the bottom-dwelling bugs that fish and shrimp feed on, will die.”

While the dead zones end each year in September and are in some degree natural occurrences, they are greatly expanded by man-made cause and are symptomatic of our abuse of natural resources. The cause of the ever-larger dead zones is the flow of the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. It should be recalled though that the Mississippi has many different inland rivers flowing into it, and that what ends up in the Gulf are contaminates from all across the nation.

Agricultural experts in Missouri are looking for ways of planting crops that will reduce the size of the dead zone in the future.

Everything is connected.

Here are some general facts about the Gulf of Mexico from the EPA.

From these facts—

The Gulf of Mexico yields more finfish, shrimp, and shellfish annually than the south and mid-Atlantic, Chesapeake, and New England areas combined.

The coastal population of the five states of the Gulf of Mexico is projected by the Census Bureau to increase from a total of 44.2 million in 1995 to an estimated 61.4 million in 2025, nearly a 40% increase.

The Gulf of Mexico is a source of income for many with fishing and energy exploration. There is also the income that is genertaed from tourism from folks who enjoy the beach.

Regretfully, the Gulf is also a dumping ground of waste and filth and for accidents that spew nasty oil into the water.

I’m certain that additional steps can be taken to protect the Gulf. These steps however will require an active public that demands action. The work of a better nation is up to each of us.

June 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Escape Hatch

I’ve got a busy day ahead.

So please allow me the escape hatch of telling you that this brief entry is all I have time for today at the blog.

The escape hatch is from one of the Bolivar ferry boats that travel from Galveston Island to Bolivar Peninsula.

I’ll be back on-board tomorrow with all the blogging action you’ve come to expect.

Thanks for reading Texas Liberal.

June 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Why Is It Hot In The Summer?—What Lessons Can We Draw From The Heat Of Summer?

Today is the first day of summer.

(Above–Summer. Photo by Kwanesum

Why does it get hot in the summer and colder in the winter?

Here is why from the Library of Congress

“It is all about the tilt of the Earth’s axis. Many people believe that the temperature changes because the Earth is closer to the sun in summer and farther from the sun in winter. In fact, the Earth is farthest from the sun in July and is closest to the sun in January! The Earth’s movement around the sun causes the seasons, but it does not affect the temperatures during the seasons. During the summer, the sun’s rays hit the Earth at a steep angle. The light does not spread out as much, thus increasing the amount of energy hitting any given spot. Also, the long daylight hours allow the Earth plenty of time to reach warm temperatures. During the winter, the sun’s rays hit the Earth at a shallow angle. These rays are more spread out, which minimizes the amount of energy that hits any given spot. Also, the long nights and short days prevent the Earth from warming up. Thus, we have winter!”

It is interesting to note that summer is hot not because the Earth moves towards the sun, but because the rays of the sun are more focused in summer and because longer days allow more time for heat to build up.

An analogy can be drawn here in favor of the importance of focus and hard work needed to accomplish important tasks in life.

Also shown by this example is that relationships can be maintained against the obstacle of distance if we apply effort and time to keeping them strong.

When it is hot, think of why it is hot and get to work on the things that matter most to you in life.

(Below–The seasons come and go. Drawing by Tau’olunga.)

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Where Should You Go For Summer Vacation?—Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Detroit, & Galveston

(Blogger’s Note—This is a post I run each year. It merits another go-round because the places I list here are good places to go.)

Where should you and your family take a summer vacation this year? Where should you go by yourself or with that someone special for an excellent summer trip?

The answer is clear enough.

Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Galveston, Texas are the places to go.

I have visited all these cities in the summer and I can say they are good places to visit and see.

These cities have long-established museums and interesting neighborhoods to explore. They have good restaurants. They have grand old buildings. Each of these cities has a river, a lake, or an ocean to enjoy.

The wife and I—though she was not the wife yet at the time—spent a summer week in Buffalo and Niagara Falls in 1998. It was fun.

(Below–Buffalo)

File:Downtown Buffalo05.JPG

Here is information about visiting Buffalo and the Niagara region.

I took a family vacation to Cleveland in the early 1980′s. Nothing is nicer than the Great Lakes in the summer.

(Below—Cleveland)

File:ClevelandSkyline.jpg

Here is information about visiting Cleveland.

I lived in Cincinnati for 18 years. It is a pretty city in the Summer. There is more than enough for you and your family—unless maybe you would like to enjoy some time by yourself— to do for a few days.

(Below–Cincinnati)

Here is information about visiting Cincinnati.

The (future) wife and I  once spent a weekend in Pittsburgh. The weekend was not enough to see and do all that Pittsburgh offers.

(Below–Pittsburgh.)

File:Pittsburgh view-from-incline sm.jpg

Here is information about visiting Pittsburgh.

There is plenty to do in Detroit. There is an excellent   lake, a Greek quarter, the Tigers baseball team and many museums. It has been many years since I have been in Detroit, but I was there for a couple of weekends in the summer and there was more than enough to do.

(Below–Detroit.)

Here is information about visiting Detroit.

Galveston, Texas is my home away from home. I’ve lived in Houston for 12 years and I go to Galveston every six weeks or so to take a walk on the sunny shores of the Gulf of Mexico. There is plenty to do and see.

(Below–Galveston)

File:Galveston (Texas).jpg

Here is information about visiting Galveston.

Maybe you live near one of these cities. Maybe you’d like go somewhere where there is some history and some character.

Give one of these cities a try. Disney does not need your money. Go to  places where your visit will be appreciated.

You’ll be glad you did!

June 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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