Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up—The Work Of Freedom Is Up To Each Of Us

Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers working for a better Texas.

(Above–Texas!)

Every Texan and every American 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, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

I run these words each week in this space. This is because there is nothing more important that I can tell you.

The work of freedom and justice is up to each of us.

Here is the round-up–

Off the Kuff took a deeper look at that Wilson-Perkins poll of Texas.

Three Harris County judicial candidates and two Greens — one for US House of Representatives and one for US Senate — received the coveted Brainy Endorsement last week from PDiddie at Brains and Eggs.

BossKitty at TruthHugger knows this just another season for political science experiments on the voting public. Let’s see how well they do on transportation funding, the Voting Rights Act, and voter ID: Generalizations: Politics is Science and we are all test subjects.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson posted about his afternoon at the Texas Tribune Festival.

Libby Shaw asks What is Mitt hiding? Find out what she thinks it is at TexasKaos.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted about donations he made to both Green Presidential nominee Jill Stein and to President Obama. Neil said that Ms. Stein is best on issues such as our rigged economy, climate change, and the freedom to dissent. He also said that those who think there is no difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are simply wrong.  

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know that polluters can do untold damage and be liable for only $2 million, thanks to Republicans and their crony capitalism.

September 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Everything We Need To Understand The World And To Make Progress In Life Is Around Us Each Day

Here is a picture of supplies, parts, and tools that will be used for building and putting together things here in Houston.

I came across these items as I walking a few days ago.

This blog is a big believer that everything we need to understand the world is all around us each day—And that it is up to each us to make use of these tools.

Life is about everyday stuff done in a hard-working, creative, and hopeful way.

The work of creativity, getting things right, and justice is up to each of us.

Circumstance matters and we will likely need the help of others in what we hope to accomplish.

The role of circumstances beyond our control and the fact that we are all connected is central to the liberal and progressive view of the world.

We won’t always find the parts and tools that we need just laying out on the street corner and ready to go like we see in the picture.

The tools needed won’t be the same for every person.

But what we need to view the world in a creative and hopeful way and to move ahead is found each day in our relationships, in knowledge that is available from many sources, and from our own reserves of hard work and decency.

September 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Ann Johnson Offers A Voice In Tune With Texas House District 134—Focusing On Public Education And Women’s Health

Above you see Texas State Representative District 134 Democratic nominee Ann Johnson.

Here are the boundaries of District 134. I am a resident of District 134 where I live in the Memorial Park area of Houston.

Ms. Johnson is running to unseat first term incumbent Republican Sarah Davis. Ms. Davis defeated then-incumbent Ellen Cohen in the Tea Party wave of 2010.

I spoke with Ms. Johnson at her campaign headquarters last week. The picture here was taken during that conversation.

While I wish Ms. Johnson were more to the left, she represents a clear improvement over the incumbent.

Beyond being an improvement over the incumbent, Ms. Johnson merits consideration on her own accord.

Here are issues that Ms. Johnson cites as important in this race—

* Sufficient funding for public education.

* Making use of available federal funds–despite resistance from Governor Perry and Sarah Davis–for Medicaid in a way that will help Texans get care and protect jobs at the Medical Center.

* Protecting women’s health in Texas from attacks on cancer screenings and family planning services.

Here is an interview with Ms. Johnson conducted by Texas and Houston political blogger Charles Kuffner.

My friend Perry Dorrell has endorsed Ms. Johnson at his blog Brains & Eggs.

I talked to Ms. Johnson for about 45 minutes and I found her to be smart.

Here is how Ms. Johnson is described on her website

Ann is an attorney who represents children, an adjunct professor of law at South Texas College of Law and a former prosecutor. She took on Texas’ criminal justice system to protect children from exploitation and human trafficking. She fought all the way to the Texas Supreme Court – and won a landmark victory that has become a model for other states.

In private practice, Ann represents child victims of harassment and bullying in schools and is often appointed to represent children, including in two of the newly created alternative courts: the Harris County Mental Health Court and Growing Independence Restoring Lives (GIRLS) Court.

Ann is also a survivor. Ann fought cancer and won – and she’ll stand up to fiscally irresponsible, partisan attacks on health care for women and all Texas families.

In her alliance with Governor Rick Perry’s reckless slashing of public education funds and relentless attacks on women’s health, Sarah Davis has shown herself comfortable with extremist views, and out of touch with the concerns and moderate political leanings of District 134.

I ask my fellow voters in Texas House District 134 to please consider Ms. Johnson in the upcoming election.

September 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

This Bridge To Nowhere Is Simply In A State Of Becoming—Spaces Around Houston’s Bayous Being Improved All Across The City

I was walking along Buffalo Bayou in Houston a few days ago and I came across this bridge to nowhere that you see above.

(The more famous Bridge to Nowhere was in Alaska. It was said to be federal spending project that was quite wasteful. Though the project at the time was supported by Alaska Republicans such as Senator Ted Stevens and  Governor Sarah Palin.)

This bridge is part of improvements along Buffalo Bayou for the benefit of the people of Houston and whoever else might be in town.

Here are some of the specifics for the area where I saw the bridge-in-waiting. This is an area not far from Downtown.

Improvements and the construction of  new park space along the Houston’s Bayous is taking place all over Houston. This is something that is not just taking place proximate to Downtown.

There are things that do get better even in hard times. I’d ask Houstonians  to check out some of the links above and to make use of the new parks.

I’ve walked along a number of the new spaces and they are very well-done.

Government often does make a positive and hopeful difference in people’s lives.

The bridge above in a state of becoming—Just as we all are.

September 26, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Have The Right To Take Pictures Of Infrastructure—Business And Government Work Together To Deny Basic Freedoms In An Open Society

Houston public radio station KUHF reported recently about people in Houston who take pictures of  things such as refineries and bridges here in Houston.

(Above–You have the right to take pictures.)

These persons are often stopped and questioned by police and by private/corporate security officers.

From the KUHF report—

“As part of his work as a community organizer for environmental causes, Juan Parras takes photos of refineries and petrochemical plants near the Houston Ship Channel. Sometimes, he says he’s made to feel like a criminal for doing it.  In some cases, they’ve actually wanted to delete the pictures we took,” he says. When that happened, Parras says he just told the officers he didn’t know how to do that…People who photograph or videotape “critical infrastructure”– what the federal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) calls things like  refineries, bridges and airports — might be plotting an attack. Or at least that’s the message the government is publicizing in an effort to encourage all of us to report suspicious people…An anti-terrorism video produced by the City of Houston shows a woman taking notes and photos at a light rail station. When a police officer approaches, she tries to leave. The next shot is of the woman being held in the backseat of a patrol car….In July of 2010,  Austin-based photographer Lance Rosenfield was on assignment for ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative reporting project, which was doing stories on accidents and pollution releases from BP’s big refinery complex in Texas City….But after getting shots of a “Welcome to Texas City” sign along a highway that borders the refinery, Rosenfield noticed he was being followed by a private security truck. When he pulled into a gas station, a couple of Texas City police patrol cars pulled in. Rosenfield showed officers the photos on his digital camera. Satisfied he had done nothing wrong, the officers said he could go. But they also insisted on giving the personal information they’d collected from Rosenfield to a security officer from BP who also showed up at the gas station….Under federal regulations, the chemical industry is actually required to promptly report security “incidents” to the National Response Center, providing “as much … information as possible,” including addresses and phone numbers of people apparently like Rosenfield. “

I take many pictures around Houston for my blog and for another project I’m working on.  I was once stopped and asked questions by private security officers of a large energy company while I was on City of Houston property. These persons told me that if I did not give my name that they would call the police and the Coast Guard.

I’ll be honest—I gave in and told them my name because I was nervous and I did not want to deal with it all.

But the truth is that you have rights in this society. You have rights even given the collaboration of big companies and government to deny our basic freedom to observe and make note of what is around us in life.

Top Texas conservative blogger David Jennings wrote last year about being questioned by authorities after taking pictures of Houston Metro train facilities. 

The ACLU has a page of rights that each of us have to take pictures in our supposed land of the free.

Here is that page.

Here is some of what the ACLU says on this issue—

When in public spaces where you are lawfully present you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and police. Such photography is a form of public oversight over the government and is important in a free society.

When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs. If you disobey the property owner’s rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).

Police officers may not generally confiscate or demand to view your photographs or video without a warrant.If you are arrested, the contents of your phone may be scrutinized by the police, although their constitutional power to do so remains unsettled. In addition, it is possible that courts may approve the seizure of a camera in some circumstances if police have a reasonable, good-faith belief that it contains evidence of a crime by someone other than the police themselves (it is unsettled whether they still need a warrant to view them).

Police may not delete your photographs or video under any circumstances.

Police officers may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations. Professional officers, however, realize that such operations are subject to public scrutiny, including by citizens photographing them.

Note that the right to photograph does not give you a right to break any other laws. For example, if you are trespassing to take photographs, you may still be charged with trespass.

September 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Double Amputee In Wheelchair Shot Dead By Houston Police—A Complete Investigation Is Required

(Update–9/24/12.  The Houston Chronicle reports that Houston Police have asked the FBI to monitor the invesitigation into the shooting of Mr. Claunch.)  

A Houston police officer shot and killed double amputee who was threatening to stab an officer with what turned out to be a pen.

The dead man is Brian Claunch. Above you see a picture of Mr. Claunch.

The name of the officer who pulled the trigger was Matthew Marin.

From the Houston Chronicle

“A schizophrenic double amputee waving a writing pen from his wheelchair was fatally shot early Saturday by a Houston police officer, authorities said….Police were called to the East End personal care home around 2 a.m. because resident Brian Claunch had become agitated after his caretaker refused to give him a soda and a cigarette…. “He was approaching them aggressively,” said Houston Police Department spokes­woman Jodi Silva. “He was attempting to stab them with what is now found to be a pen.”..Claunch, who had been living at the home for the past 18 months with two other men, ignored officers’ commands and made threats against them and other occupants of the home… Claunch trapped one of the officers in a corner, authorities said…Claunch told him that he lost his right leg to just above the knee and all of his right arm when he was hit by a train… The victim, who was in his mid-40s, came to the East End personal care home more than a year ago, as part of a placement by the Harris County guardianship program. …Claunch liked to “doodle” and two days ago…(was) given…a black felt pen to draw with.” 

Here is the report on the shooting from Houston TV station KPRC. 

I am not in the shoes of the police officers involved in the incident. There should be a proper investigation. There are times in life when we call police officers and they are helpful.

At the same time, this case should be out there and not forgotten. Police officers can kill a person and get away with it even if what they have done is wrong.

It does seem possible that a double amputee in a wheelchair waving a pen could be have been dealt with in a manner other than shooting him.

Mr. Claunch could not have been tasered?

The Associated Press story about the incident says that the officer who shot Mr. Claunch had in 2009 shot and killed a person who had stabbed someone and who would not put down his knife.

It would be interesting to know what mental health assistance the Houston Police Department offered the officer after that shooting. It would also be interesting to know the quality of the facility where Mr. Claunch was staying.

A follow up story from the Chronicle disccuses concerns from some in Houston about how Houston Police deal with citizens who may be mentally ill. 

From the Chronicle—

“Advocates are calling for better training and more discipline after a Houston police officer fatally shot a mentally ill double-amputee in a wheelchair on Saturday, the third unarmed person police have shot in less than three months.”

 The people of Houston should  ask that a complete and fair investigation take place, and that the findings of such an investigation be acted upon in a way that reflects the facts of the shooting.

September 24, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 14 Comments

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up—The Work Of Freedom Is Up Top Each Of Us

Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers working for a better Texas.

(Above–Texas.)

Every Texan and every American 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, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

I run these words each week in this space. This is because there is nothing more important that I can tell you.

The work of freedom and justice is up to each of us.

Here is the round-up–

Off the Kuff analyzed the latest poll of Texas and its implications.  

BossKitty at TruthHugger is suspicious about the timing of that horrid film clip using the name of Mohammad as a fuse to global meltdown against all things western. She really wants to know WHO is responsible for Opportunistic Sadism and the US Election. But she would rather complain about why America’s leaders are so slow to address more imminent hazards to America’s children: Half Truths Don’t Protect Our Children From Dirty GOP Toxic Trash.

Paul Sadler, the Democratic candidate for US Senate in Texas, is making the right argument; the question is: will enough voters hear it? WCNews at Eye on Williamson makes it clear: Sadler painting Cruz as an extremist in US Senate race. Continue reading

September 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

I’ve Never Seen A Car Loaded So Full

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a car loaded as full as was this car that I saw on I-45 in Houston a few weeks back.

I was not driving when I took this picture.

I can only extend my peace and blessings to the person transporting all this organic matter on our Houston highways.

Though I might also please suggest that next time this motorist haul such a load in—at least— two trips.

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Sewage Treatment Plant And Asphalt Plant In Houston—It Is Interesting To Just Go Out And Look Around

Here is a picture I took in Houston a few weeks ago of a sewage treatment plant with an asphalt plant in the background.

I enjoyed this scene. In both cases materials were being treated and changed.

All around us things are happening and changing.

I like to drive around and look at things. Everyday stuff is often the most interesting stuff.

September 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

I Sent $50 To Both Green Presidential Nominee Jill Stein And To The Obama Campaign—We Each Must Choose Our Own Course

Above are Barbara Jordan stamps I bought at the Barbara Jordan Post Office here in Houston.

Here are facts about the great Congresswoman Barbara Jordan of Houston.

The two missing stamps were used to send a $50 donation to the Obama campaign and $50 to the Green Presidential campaign of Jill Stein.

There is a big difference between Obama and Romney and the election is not close to over. Many very good and decent people are working hard to reelect President Obama and they merit support.

I don’t think half the country consists of freeloaders and people who think they are victims.

I’m voting for Stein in Republican Texas because she best represents my views on a fair economy, climate change and the freedom to dissent.

The work of freedom is up to each of us and nobody else.

We each have to figure out our own course. We each have many ways we can make an impact.

Every Texan and every American 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, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

With the race for President in Texas almost certainly decided in favor of Mitt Romney, I ask folks to please consider the Green campaign of Jill Stein.

September 20, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Facts About Voting In Texas In 2012—What Is The Deadline For Registration? When Is Early Voting?

Election Day is approaching here in Texas and across the nation.

(Above–Give apathy and inaction the boot with your participation in public affairs here in Texas.)

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6.

The Texas Secretary of State says the following about 2012 voting in Texas—

“The deadline to register and be eligible to vote in the November 6, 2012 General Election is October 9, 2012. This can be either the postmark date or the date the application is received in the office of the voter registrar. You may, of course, register at any time before that date to ensure that your registration is effective for voting in November. You can obtain a voter registration application from your voter registrar’s office, libraries, most post offices, high schools, or from this office.”

Here is the link to the State of Texas website that discusses voting requirements in Texas.

You can find information here about questions such as what do to if you have moved since you last voted or if you can vote by mail.  Many subjects are addressed at this website.

There has been a lot of talk about new identification requirements for voting in Texas.

Here is what the Secretary of State says about this concern

To cast a ballot in person for the November 6 General Election during Early Voting or on Election Day, voters should present their voter registration card or in lieu of a voter registration card, at least one of the following:

  • A driver’s license or personal identification card issued to you by the Texas Department of Public Safety. You may also bring a similar document issued to you by an agency of another state, even if the license or card has expired;
  • A form of identification that contains your photograph and establishes your identity;
  • A birth certificate or other document confirming birth that is admissible in a court of law and establishes the person’s identity;
  • Your United States citizenship papers;
  • Your United States passport;
  • Official mail addressed to you by a governmental entity; or
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows your name and address.

Many folks like to vote early in Texas.

Early voting in Texas for the 2012 General Election begins on October 22 and ends on November 2.

Here is the website of the Green Party of Texas.

Here is the website of the Texas Democratic Party.

The work of freedom is up to each of us.

Beyond voting we should recall that every Texan and every American 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, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

September 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Ten Observations On Mitt Romney’s Comments On 47% Not Paying Federal Taxes—These Are Many Of His Own Voters He Is Talking About

Mitt Romney believes that nearly half of Americans are moochers on the public dime.

(Above–Mitt Romney. Photo by Gage Skidmore.)

Here is what Mr. Romney said

” There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax…[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

Here are my observations on Mr. Romney’s comments—

1. If 47% of the electorate was in the tank for President Obama before the election season began, he’d be ahead by a lot more right now since there clearly are also many tax paying people who support the President.

2. People who don’t pay federal taxes are still paying sales taxes and may well be paying property taxes.

3. Since nearly every Black voter in America is voting for President Obama, I guess taking all Black folks as freeloaders fits in with the Republican worldview.

4. As conservative commentator William Kristol points out, many of those who don’t pay federal taxes are people who will most likely vote for Mr. Romney.

5. It is states that are likely to support Mr. Romney where people get the most government money on a per-citizen basis.

6. Many don’t pay federal taxes because of Republican policies over the years.

7. Since he won’t release his tax returns, how can we know that Mr. Romney is paying any taxes?

8. Many hard-working people don’t pay federal taxes because many jobs in this country don’t pay very much money.

9. Many highly profitable corporations–and we all know that corporations are peopledon’t pay any income taxes.

10. I don’t know a single person of working age who does not work or, if not working, who is not actively looking for work. Not one such person in my life comes to mind. And few people I know well are voting for Mr. Romney

Going back to point #4, here is what some of what Mr. Kristol wrote about Mr. Romney’s assertions—

“It’s worth recalling that a good chunk of the 47 percent who don’t pay income taxes are Romney supporters—especially of course seniors (who might well “believe they are entitled to heath care,” a position Romney agrees with), as well as many lower-income Americans (including men and women serving in the military) who think conservative policies are better for the country even if they’re not getting a tax cut under the Romney plan. So Romney seems to have contempt not just for the Democrats who oppose him, but for tens of millions who intend to vote for him.” 

Mr. Romney’s views are in many ways an indictment of Republican policies over the years and of millions of people who are likely to vote for him this fall.

His comments are meant to delegitimize Obama voters as lazy people who do not work when just a moment’s thought on the subject would suggest this not to be the case.

Mr. Romney has made it clear who he is and what he thinks of millions of decent Americans.

We are each free to interpret this information as we wish as Election Day approaches.

September 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 7 Comments

An Alternate Skyline—Many Ways To Think Of Everyday Things

Above is a picture of a skyline of masts and energy rigs that I saw in the Galveston Ship Channel a few days ago.

We think of the a skyline being tall buildings in a big city.

But like so many ideas and everyday concepts in life, there can be multiple meanings and different interpretations of what is implied by use of a given term.

We can see and imagine everyday stuff in many creative and hopeful ways.

September 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Invasive Pacu Fish Caught In Concho River In Texas—Why Do People Need To Keep Flesh-Eating Fish And Killer Pythons?

The Facebook page of the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife reports that a Pacu fish was caught recently in the Concho River near San Angelo.

Above you see the Pacu that was caught.

A Pacu is a flesh-eating freshwater fish that should be living in South America where it belongs.  The Pacu is a relative of the Piranha.

Her are some facts about this fish.

Here are facts and some history of the Concho River.

Here is how the San Angelo Standard-Times reported the capture of this fish.

The person who caught this fish had been looking to catch catfish.

The Pacu is an invasive species that messes up natural ecosystems. People illegally dump these fish into streams and rivers. A lot of folks just have no sense.

The Federal Department of Agriculture has a National Invasive  Species Information Center. 

These efforts will continue so long as we don’t slash federal spending to the bone as part of the Ayn Rand budgeting advocated by Mr. Romney and Mr. Ryan.

We can have our rivers filled up with flesh-eating fish to go along with all the Pythons now slithering about the U.S.

Of course the core issue is our fellow citizens who feel they need to keep killer fish and killer snakes as pets, and then–shockingly–find that they can’t manage keeping such creatures.

So they just let them loose on the rest of us.

I’d suggest to people that they read a book or take up a model train hobby instead of inflicting killer creatures upon the nation.

September 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fill In Your Own Commandments

Above you see the Ten Commandments outside a Cincinnati church. I took this picture two weeks ago.

There can be no doubt that moral relativism in running rampant when even at a church only one Commandment remains visible.

You could come to this monument and fill in your own commandments.

Though I am not suggesting you really do that.

Here are the Ten Commandments as listed by Judaism 101. 

I’m not aware of any large group of people that truly live by the words they assert as holy. 

What is more frustrating though is people who tell others to live by words that they themselves do not follow.

September 17, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

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