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Mo Cowan Of Massachusetts Is 6th Post-Reconstruction Black U.S. Senator

(Blogger’s Note 1/31/13—I update this post each time there is a new Black Senator. Today is such a time.)

There have been six Black United States Senators in post-reconstruction America.

Just six.

Here is a post on the three black post-reconstruction Governors.)

Here are the five Black Senators to date—

Ed Brooke (above) was a Republican elected from Massachusetts in 1966 and 1972.  He was defeated in 1978 by Paul Tsongas who went on to a notable career himself. Mr. Brooke was part of the moderate to liberal wing of the Republican party that does not so much exist anymore. The decline of moderate Republicanism is a big reason why Democrats are so strong in New England and New York state today.

Here is a Time Magazine article from 1971 pondering if President Richard Nixon would consider replacing Vice President Spiro Agnew on the ticket with Senator Brooke.

Carol Moseley Braun (Above) is the only Black woman to have served in the Senate. She represented Illinois. Ms. Moseley Braun defeated an incumbent Democrat Senator in a primary in 1992 and went on to win the General Election.

People had hopes for Carol Moseley Braun. For a variety of reasons, some maybe relating to her own mistakes and some maybe a product of unreasonable expectations, Ms. Moseley Braun lasted only one term.  This New York Times story from Ms. Moseley Braun’s 2004 run for President offers some perspective.

If Ms. Moseley Braun had been able to hold on, Barack Obama would most likely not have been elected to the Senate as the third post- Reconstruction black senator.   Mr. Obama won the seat once occupied by Ms. Moseley Braun. The Republican who defeated her in 1998, Peter Fitzgerald, did not run for reelection in 2004 against Mr. Obama in strongly Democratic Illinois.

Barack Obama of Illinois was elected to the Senate in 2004. He then went on to even bigger things.

The fourth Black U.S. Senator was Roland Burris (Above) of Illinois.  Mr. Burris was appointed by the Governor of Illinois to replace Barack Obama. His appointment was made under controversial circumstances as Governor Rod Blagojevich made the nomination while under indictment for a range of offenses including trying to sell the Obama Senate seat.

Mr. Burris was the first statewide elected Black in Illinois. He was elected as Comptroller of Illinois in 1979 and served in that post until 1991. In 1990 he was elected Attorney General of Illinois. He has also run unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate, Governor of Illinois, and Mayor of Chicago.

Here is a comprehensive profile of Mr. Burris.

Mr. Burris did not run for reelection in 2010.

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The fifth post-Reconstruction Black Senator was Tim Scott (Above) of South Carolina. Mr. Scott was designated in December, 2012 to replace Senator Jim DeMint who resigned his office.

Here is profile of Mr. Scott from the PBS News Hour.

Mr. Scott is the fIrst Black Republican Senator since Ed Brooke. He is expected to run to fill the seat on a permanent basis.

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The sixth post-reconstruction Black Senator is Mo Cowan (Above) of Massachusetts.

Mr. Cowan was appointed to the Senate by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick to fill the vacancy caused by John Kerry being appointed Secretary of State.

Mr. Cowan is a well-connected attorney who has served as Governor Patrick’s Chief of Staff. Here is a profile of Mr. Cowan from the Boston Globe. 

Mr. Cowan will serve in the Senate until an election takes place on June 25. Mr. Cowan is not a candidate for the June election.

Why only six black senators in post-Reconstruction America?

Here are some reasons for the low number —

1. Jim Crow and racism long denied Black people the right to vote and to run for office.

2. Even given the (not always uncontested) right of Blacks to vote today, a large proportion of Blacks in America live in the South where whites are not always inclined to vote for Blacks. This is how George W. Bush or Mitt Romney easily carries Mississippi even though 30% of people in Mississippi are Black.

3. Many states have very few Black people and so Black candidates are less likely to emerge from these places. Though it must also be said there were not so many Black folks in Massachusetts to help elect Ed Brooke.

4. The overwhelming majority of Blacks are Democrats. As many Senators are Republicans, this limits the options for Black Republican Senators.

5. Since most Blacks are going to vote for Democrats no matter what, Democrats use this fact and do not push Blacks to run for the highest offices. If someone is going to do something for you anyway, why not take advantage of them?

6.  Since many Black office holders have safe majority-minority districts or serve in majority-Black cities, why take a chance on a tough statewide race?

7. Black politicians often have a terrible record of cultivating new people and young people for the tough battles ahead. It’s easy to sit in a safe seat and accumulate power . It is more difficult to help people and fight for people in a more constructive way.

(There have been a full total of seven black U.S. Senators in our history. The other two, from the Reconstruction Era were Hiram Revels a Republican from Mississippi who served in 1870 and 1871, and another Mississippi Republican, Blanche Bruce, who served from 1875 until 1881. Both of these men were appointed by the state legislature as was done for much of American history. Here is information about the 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913, that provided for direct election of Senators.

January 31, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Young People Marching Off As If To War At King Parade

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I believe Martin Luther King would have been sad to see young people marching as if off to war at a parade in his honor. This picture is from the MLK parade in Houston last week.

These are young people involved with the R.O.T.C. I have no problem with kids trying to do well in a tough world.

But can’t we imagine and create a more hopeful society? I did not see marching groups of academic or vocational standouts at this parade.

It would just take a little thought and action to offer something better for our people and for ourselves.

Here is my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List.

January 30, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Narrow Houston Street—Thinking Stuff Out

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Here is a narrow street here in Houston that I came across a few days ago.

You might not equate such a narrow and old street with our sprawling and perpetually new city.

And yet there is indeed such a street in Houston.

My posts have been brief of late as I work on a new web site and think things out about how I want to proceed.

Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.

January 29, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Droopy Palm Tree At Intersection In Houston

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Here is a droopy palm tree at sunset at an intersection here in Houston.

January 28, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Binary Star Metaphor Gives Substance To Everyday Life

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I’ve been looking for an analogy or metaphor–because analogy and metaphor give substance to solid things–that would express the at-times insoluble gap between reaching out to people who have worked hard to see the world in flexible, hopeful and real terms, and to also live in a way that reflects my belief that the stone that was rejected will become the cornerstone no matter who it is that has been rejected.

Of equal frustration is the split between what I want to accomplish, and the stuff I have to do everyday. This is true for myself and billions of other people.

I read an article in New Scientist magazine recently that said that contrary to what had been thought, life could survive in solar systems that have two suns.

A planet in such a solar system would have a wild climate and a habitable zone of an odd shape that would be defined by the complicated variables of the orbits of the two suns. This is the analogy I was looking for.

The picture is of a binary star system called 61 Cygni. The picture was taken by the European Southern Observatory.

January 25, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Alizee’s I’m Fed Up Would Be A Fine New National Anthem—Thank You France For All You Have Done For America

This song & video by a French person named Alizee was recently posted on the Facebook page of Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz.

The song is called I’m Fed Up. It has some of the fine lyrics and would be our national anthem if I were President.

I’d have this Alizee fly in from Paris and sing this song instead of that alleged lip-syncing Beyonce.

I’d ask Alizee to sing our new national anthem in French as appreciation for  French help in the American Revolution and as respect for the very wise French opposition to George W. Bush’s murderous Iraq War that was based on lies.

In the past on this blog I’ve also suggested that Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring should be our national anthem. I stand by that suggestion.

This is a great and powerful nation and we can have as many national anthems as we wish.

January 23, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gandhi At Houston Martin Luther King Day Parade

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Here is Gandhi marching at the Martin Luther King Parade I attended here in Houston on King Day.

Here is a brief biography of Gandhi. 

Here is the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-Violence at the University of Rochester. 

Here is my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List.

January 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Stan Musial—Progressive & Decent

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I regret the death a few days ago of Hall of Fame baseball player Stan Musial at age 92.

(Above–Stan Musial.)

Mr. Musial was loyal to his wife, loyal to the Midwestern river city of St. Louis and welcoming to Jackie Robinson when he broke into the Major Leagues in 1947.

Mr. Musial campaigned for John Kennedy in ’60, was appointed to LBJ’ s President’s Council on Physical Fitness and supported Barack Obama.

Mr. Musial was active in the Polish-American community.

Mr. Musial had a basic decent progressive conservatism that I have a lot of regard for as an outlook of life. Mr. Musial was not a radical in any sense, but if more folks had his day-to-day commitments and values this would be a better society.

Here is the Associated Press obituary for Stan Musial.

Here is Stan Musial’s lifetime baseball record from Baseball Reference.com.

January 21, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Same Good Folks Over Time At Our Nation’s Race Tracks

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I’m convinced that racetrack crowds are the very same people holographically transmitted or somehow beamed over time & space.

These good folks at I saw at Sam Houston Race Park here is Houston two nights ago are the exact same folks I saw at Narragansett Park in Rhode Island in the 70’s & at River Downs in Cincinnati in the 80’s & 90’s.

There is an atmosphere of apathy and rest at racetracks that I’ve long found helpful to my state of mind.

January 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up—Citizen Bloggers Workiing Hard

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Below is the most recent 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.

As I say each time I post the round-up—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.

We can also seek to impact society by consistently acting in a way that reflects our best values. Or by working on an artistic or creative effort that expands the range of thought and imagination we have in our society.

I repeat these thoughts so often on the blog because there is nothing more important I can say.

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

January 20, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List For 2013

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(Blogger’s Note–This is the sixth annual Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List at Texas Liberal. There are 3 additions for 2013. )

While it is always instructive to watch a rebroadcast or listen to a recording of the I Have A Dream speech, there is a next level for someone who wants to better understand Martin Luther King and his message.

Reverend King asked serious questions about America as a war criminal nation in Vietnam. He asked if America merited divine judgement as a wicked nation of racism and social inequality.  These questions are as relevant as ever as America is engaged in endless war and as income inequality grows.

It is within your power to bring about a better world. You have the ability to understand complex things. Learn about what a true prophet of justice Martin Luther King was in our society. After you learn more about Dr. King, take action yourself  to address the great pressing social problems of American life, and to address adverse conditions in our world as a whole.

Here is an admittedly incomplete, but I hope useful, Martin Luther King viewing, visiting, listening, and reading list.

An excellent book is Martin & Malcolm & America—A Dream Or A Nightmare by James H. Cone. This book follows the words and the careers of both these men. The premise of the book, which holds up in the telling, is that Dr. King and Malcolm X were not as far apart as often portrayed. Malcolm was a man with a broader vision than one of simple racial solidarity, and King was in many respects a fierce and almost apocalyptic critic of America.

( Below–Martin & Malcolm)

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I’m glad to say I bought my copy of Cone’s book at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia.  This site is operated by the National Park Service. You can tour Martin Luther King’s boyhood home at this location. You’ll also want to tour the Auburn Avenue Historic District around the King home.

(Below—Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. This was King’s home church.)

In Washington, when you visit the Lincoln Memorial (photo below), you can find a small marker indicating the exact spot where Rev. King made the “Dream” speech. It is a good place to stand.

The best one volume work on King’s life is David Garrow’s Bearing The Cross—Martin Luther King, Jrand the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Bearing The Cross was the 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner for biography.  You can’t help but feel the deep-sea like pressure on Dr. King in the final years of his life. I wondered if towards the end of his life King felt  death would be the only true escape from the exhaustion, the misunderstandings and the conflicts.

An interesting DVD is King–Man Of Peace In A Time Of War. Much of the hour long presentation is a rehash of King biography. What makes this special is a roughly 15 minute interview Dr. King did with afternoon television host Mike Douglas.  Mr. Douglas asked tough questions about Dr. King’s stance against the Vietnam War and about the effect of that opposition on the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King is calm, cool and collected. You could see how King was a leader who could speak anywhere and to anyone.

A solid explanation of Reverend King’s theology and a good analysis on the failure of Southern segregationists to mount an even more aggressive opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, can be found in A Stone Of Hope—Prophetic Religion And The Death Of Jim Crow by David L. Chappell.

A Testament Of Hope—The Essential Writings And Speeches Of Martin Luther King, Jr is needed for a complete King library. In honesty I’ve always found this book to be sprawling and without  clear focus. It consists of King sermons, some interviews and excerpts from his books. You might want it on your bookshelf , but there are more concise ways to get at the “essential” King.

(Photo below is Rev. King with Coretta Scott King.)

New Listings for 2009

A quality children’s book on King is Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. The writing in this book is clear and concise and respectful of the intellect of children. It’s a great introduction to King and a gateway to further studies by young people.

A comprehensive examination of King’s radical views on economic questions can be found in From Civil Rights to Human Rights—Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice by Thomas F. Jackson. King had leanings towards forms of socialism and came to see the fight for fair wages as an essential element in the fight for full human rights. It should not be forgotten that King died in Memphis fighting for striking sanitation workers.

A web resource to learn about King is the Martin Luther King, Jr, Research and Education Institute that is run by Stanford University. There are King sermons and addresses you can read and a link to a King Online Encyclopedia.  (These things said, there is nothing as good as having you own printed collection of King sermons that you can take anywhere.)

New Listings for 2010—

Beacon Publishing in Boston has re-released two titles written by King. The books are available in both paperback and hardcover and are attractively  presented.

The titles are

Stride Toward Freedom–The Montgomery Story.

Where Do We Go From Here–Chaos Or Community?

Beacon describes Where Do We Go From Here in this way—

“In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., isolated himself from the demands of the civil rights movement, rented a house in Jamaica with no telephone, and labored over his final manuscript. In this significantly prophetic work, which has been unavailable for more than ten years, we find King’s acute analysis of American race relations and the state of the movement after a decade of civil rights efforts. Here he lays out his thoughts, plans, and dreams for America’s future, including the need for better jobs, higher wages, decent housing, and quality education. With a universal message of hope that continues to resonate, King demanded an end to global suffering, powerfully asserting that humankind-for the first time-has the resources and technology to eradicate poverty.”

Construction has begun in Washington of a King Memorial on the National Mall. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2011.

Here is the web site of the King Memorial. 

New Listings for 2011–

King–-The Photobiography Of Martin Luther King, Jr by Charles Johnson and Bob Adelman is a top-notch photo record of the life of Rev. King. It’s necessary that you read Dr King’s words and understand what he was saying.  It also has great value to see King as he battled the Southern sheriffs and as he marched with the people.

Powerful Days—The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore helps place Dr. King in context as part of a much larger movement.  We can’t forget that the Civil rights movement was, when all was said and done, led by average Americans who demanded that our nation finally live up to its founding ideas.

Going Down Jericho Road–The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King’s Last Campaign by Michael Honey reminds us that King died in Memphis fighting for the rights and wages of city sanitation workers. As I write this in early 2011, public employees are being blamed by some for the economic hard times we are facing. Don’t be tricked. Public employees are our fellow working people and Martin Luther King gave his life to make sure that they would be treated with dignity and respect.

New Listings for 2012—

Malcolm X–A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable was one of the N.Y. Times best books of 2011. It offers a new and expanded view on another great figure of the civil rights era.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is consistent with the focus of King’s final years on economic inequality. I cannot know for sure, but I believe King would have strongly supported Occupy Wall Street. Economic justice was an essential part of Martin Luther King’s work.

The Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth died in 2011. Rev. Shuttlesworth was a leader of the Birmingham Civil Rights campaign. Here is Shuttlesworth’s obit from The Birmingham News.  This link also ofers additional links to learn more about the Birmingham campaign.

New Listings for 2013—

The 2005 Citizen King video from the American Experience series on PBS can be watched in parts on You Tube. This 2 hour presentation focuses on the last 5 years of King’s life. It is well worth your time.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute tells the story of the black experience in that city and of the famous civil rights struggles that took place in Birmingham. The center also focuses on the fight for human dignity all over the world.  I was lucky enough to be able to attend the opening ceremonies of the Institute in 1992. If life takes you to Birmingham, this is the place to go.

A book that a made a great impact on me in recent years was John Brown–Abolitionist by David S. Reynolds. Brown is one of the very few people I’ve ever read about who saw all people as full equals. That he was able to do this in the 19th century makes this accomplishment all the more amazing. Brown was a prophet.

There are three reference sources on Dr. King that stand out as best.

Here are the three—

Strength To Love is the best collection King sermons. It is a concise manageable book. You can cram it in your back pocket or in your purse. ( A larger purse at least.) I think you could read nothing but this one 158 page book, and know everything you need to know about Martin Luther King.

The audio collection of King’s sermons called  A Knock At Midnight might change your life. Stick the CD’s in your car stereo or listen to them at home and you’ll hear  King just as he was—Mighty and frail at the same time. I’ve listened to the sermons on Knock many times and they never get old. You can’t help but learn something or see an old question a new way each time you listen.

The definitive books on Martin Luther King’s life and the Civil Rights era are found in Taylor Branch’s three-volume America In The King Years series.

These three books are the Pulitzer Prize winning  Parting The Waters 1954-1963Pillar Of Fire 1963-1965, and At Canaan’s Edge, 1965-1968.

(Photo below of Rosa Parks with M.L.K. in the background. Here are facts about the Montgomery Bus Boycott.)

These books stand not only at the top of King biography, they stand as great examples of American biography. The picture of Dr. King is complete. You get the good and the bad. There will be times you’ll shake your head and ask yourself how Rev. King could have said that or done that.

You’ll also see how brave King was and how brave the Civil Rights marchers and protesters were. You’ll get a clear sense of the obstacles faced not just from whites, but from status quo blacks as well.  Mr. Branch offers a great deal of context for King’s life and experiences. He provides full portraits of other great Civil Rights leaders.

I can’t recommend all three volumes strongly enough. Read them and you’ll be an expert.

Please click here for a Texas Liberal post on King’s sermon Unfulfilled Dreams

January 18, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Houston 2013 Martin Luther King Day Events—Let’s Have The Honor Roll March With Books In Hand Instead Of The ROTC With Rifles

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Martin Luther King Day for 2013 will be Monday, January 21 2013.

(Above–A picture I took at an MLK parade in Houston in 2011.)

What 2013 Martin Luther King Day events will be taking place in the Houston area?

Here are some listings—-

The big parade will be the Martin Luther King Grande Parade which begins at 10 AM on King Day.

Here is the web site for this parade.

Here is how the parade route is described on the web site— Originate In Mid-Town @ San Jacinto St & Elgin Street N/B On San Jacinto To Webster St.

There are two King parades in Houston each year. The folks who organize the parades have long been in a dispute that reflects no credit on anybody. The parade I have linked to above is the larger of the two parades and is the one  I go to each year.

While this is the best of the two King parades, a yearly disappointment is the participation of school ROTC groups displaying fake rifles at the parade. I have no problem with the young people who take part in the ROTC. But the fact is that King hated war and would have been sad to see young people with weapons—fake or otherwise—at a parade in his honor. It would just take some imagination and new thought to have honor roll and other academic and vocational standouts march in the parade instead of young people brandishing arms in celebration of a man of peace.

Another event in Houston that will mark King Day will be held at noon at the Children’s Museum of Houston.

There will be a Peace Day rally at the Children’s Museum along with a choir, oratorical events and other activities.

Houston radio station KROI has a list of King events for Martin Luther King Day weekend. They list the other King parade which also begins at 10 AM. That they don’t list both parades is maybe evidence of the ongoing contention between the parade organizers. Also frustrating  is that both of these parades begin at 10 AM. Why not have them at different times for people who would like to see both events?

Here is a King Weekend event at Rice University

“The Rice Black Student Association will hold its annual candlelight vigil and program Jan. 20. The outdoor vigil will begin at 7 p.m. in Rice Memorial Center’s Ray Courtyard, followed by a program at Rice Memorial Chapel.” 

The Houston Public Library will having events marking King Day.

Here is an event taking place in Galveston on Sunday, January 20—

“Galveston Historical Foundation’s African American Heritage Committee and Old Central Cultural Center, Inc. will honor winners of their annual essay contest at 3 p.m., Sunday, January 20th at Old Central Community Center, 2627 Avenue M. The event is free and open to the public with a complimentary lunch provided to attendees by Clary’”

Here is my 2013 Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. It is the best such resource on the web.

If there are events in the Houston area that I have missed, please leave a comment and I’ll be happy to add them to this list.

January 16, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Big Yard Makes For Healthy Infrastructure

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With this nice big yard to run around and play in and grow strong, I’m certain these concrete tubes will one day be ready to be part of a significant piece of infrastructure here in Houston.

January 15, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

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

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Below is the most recent 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.

As I say each time I post the round-up—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.

We can also seek to impact society by consistently acting in a way that reflects our best values. Or by working on an artistic or creative effort that expands the range of thought and imagination we have in our society.

I repeat these thoughts so often on the blog because there is nothing more important I can say.

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

Here is the round-up—

Off the Kuff discusses what some new state legislators are saying about education and the questions they should be asking but aren’t.

The GOP is for more of the same — demonizing the poor and less fortunate — while the Democrats are for finding reality-based solutions that help everyone get ahead. WCNews at Eye on Williamsonpoints this out: Fairness and equality (are) missing from Texas economy.

There were a few under-reported environmental developments in Texas last week, so PDiddie atBrains and Eggs reported on them.  

BossKitty at TruthHugger had to laugh at the low-brow War on Kwanzaa, then got riled at the Sunday Morning talk shows: Drop the script written by bitter old men!

Over at Texas Kaos, Libby Shaw explains how John Cornyn threatens to wreck our government. Check it out.

Neil at Texas Liberal posted that he left the woods for the safety of the city.

January 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Instead of Being Dumped, Ideas And Things Of Value Should Be Treated With Regard

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Above are some Christmas Trees I saw in Houston a few days ago.

Surely it is so that our feelings about Christmas and about holiday traditions merit more than just tossing these trees out into the dump.

These trees could have been composted.

Ideas and things that have value to us should be treated with respect.

This is true of Christmas Trees and of so many things.

January 11, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

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