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.
Internet users are able to view much of the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Look at the middle of the right hand side of the link I provide above.
The print at the top of this post is titled Secretary Seward Buys Alaska.
This work was completed in 1973 by Warrington Colescott.
Secretary of State William Seward is buying Alaska from the Russians in this painting while a cast of characters look on.
Animals are looking on as well.
Nobody seems to be up to any good. Even the animals seem to have an angle.
Here is a picture of the check used to purchase Alaska in 1868. This took place during the administration of President Andrew Johnson.
Here is a description of Mr. Colescott’s work from an exhibition of his prints held in Albany in 1995.
Here are some facts on the Alaskan Purchase from the Alaskan Humanties Forum.
Here is the link to the Seward House Museum in Auburn, New York.
The Smithsonian provides an excellent resource by making this art so easily available to the general public.
There is so much to learn and understand if we take the time to do so.
Considering a work of art can lead us to any number of subjects to study, and to discoveries and reflections about history and public life and about our own lives as well.
What should to get this Christmas for the people in your life that you don’t like?
The Texas Liberal Panel of Experts has some suggestions of books that you can give such persons.
Extinct recommends Fed Up! by Texas Governor Rick Perry as a literary lump of coal for that unspecial someone.
Fed Up! talks about how to get the federal government out of your life while you collect social security and as your Congressperson asks for earmarks to build yet more roads in Texas.
Hamburger Wearing An Astros’ Hat says Decision Points by George W. Bush would be a real Christmas downer.
Decision Points is about offering excuses and rationalizations for things gone wrong, while at the same time putting forth a worldview of being responsible for your actions in life.
Cactus says a gift Going Rogue by Sarah Palin will ruin not only Christmas for the recipient, but it ruin New Year’s Day and Valentine’s Day as well.
Going Rogue is a book by a person who does not read very much. The book tells about how rugged individualism shapes Alaskans even though Ted Stevens spent years in the Senate making sure Alaska got every federal dollar possible.
Now if on the odd chance you want to do something productive for the holiday, don’t forget you can give the gift to yourself and others, of your greater involvement in civic affairs. In this way you’ll be able to fight the likes of Rick Perry, George W. Bush, and Sarah Palin.
Picture Of The Day— Above you see a picture of the Seattle Fisherman’s Memorial that I took last month.
From the web page for this memorial—
“In 1988, the Seattle Fishermen’s Memorial dedicated this magnificent bronze and stone aggregate monument at Seattle’s Fishermen’s Terminal. The celebration culminated years of effort and generous contribution by Seattle’s commercial fishing community. This towering sculpture and the bronze name plaques at its base have become a place of reverence, recognition and healing for the families of more than 675 local commercial fishermen and women who have lost their lives pursuing their livelihood since the turn of the century.”
Our food does not appear on our plates by magic. Fish, at least those not raised on a fish farm, need to be caught out in the dangerous open water.
It’s good when we honor our fellow working people. We can’t have true respect for ourselves if we don’t have respect for our fellow working people.
Link Of The Day— No matter what they tell you, folks in Alaska love federal money from Washington D.C. They are addicted to this money. They are creations of this money. They are dependent on this money. The people of Alaska are not rugged enough and tough enough to get by unless they get a lot more federal money than they send to Washington in taxes. A lot of people up there in Alaska go on and on about how they hate the federal government. Yet at the same time, like a drug fiend needing heroin, they take as much federal money as they can get. They are crazed for the this money. They’ll never stop asking for this money because they can’t exist without this money.
From the New York Times—
“Backed by a blue row of saw-toothed mountain peaks, the Republican state lawmaker Carl Gatto finds himself on a fine roll. Roll it back, he says, roll back this entire socialistic experiment in federal hegemony. Give us control of our land, let us drill and mine, and please don’t let a few belugas get in the way of a perfectly good bridge. “I’ve introduced legislation to roll back the federal government,” he says. “They don’t have solutions; they just have taxes.” And what of the federal stimulus, from which Alaska receives the most money per capita in the nation? Would he reject it? Mr. Gatto, 72 and wiry, smiles and shakes his head: “I’ll give the federal government credit: they sure give us a ton of money. For every $1 we give them in taxes for highways, they give us back $5.76.”
Texas Link Of The Day— Harris County Republican County Commissioner Steve Radack wants more government now to help fight pollution in the county. This call by Mr. Radack is based on his belief that the private sector must be monitored, regulated, and forced by the police powers of the state to do the right thing.
The Houston Chronicle reports that Mr. Radack wants to see a new environmental police unit to fight private industry pollution in Harris County. At current, pollution control in the county is done by the Harris County Public Health and Environmental Services.
Here is what Mr. Radack says—
“In the unincorporated area you’ve got people who are committing crimes as far as pollution is concerned and pretty much operating with impunity because of the way that department is being run,” Radack said. The county had a separate pollution control department from 1971 to 1998, when it was folded into Public Health and is one of nine divisions. Radack said that if the Court approves restoring it as a separate unit, it could and should be done quickly. ”(Pollution) kills and injures people, livestock, pets,” Radack said. “It’s a very important aspect of law enforcement.“
Given Mr. Radack’s views on this question, does it follow that he believes government regulation is needed in many aspects of the economy to police private sector abuses?
Logic would insist that the above assertion is just what Mr. Radack holds to be true.
Above is a Musk Ox. Just looking at that thing puts me in a good mood.
What is that Musk Ox considering? I think it is making up its mind about whether it will gore you or take a nap instead. On one hand it likely hates people, but on the other hand it is sleepy.
Here is a link to the Musk Ox Farm in Alaska. The farm is a non-profit that helps native people in Alaska gain from the domestication of the Musk Ox.
At the Musk Ox Farm, the wool of the Musk Ox is harvested once each year. This wool is called Qiviut. Here is the link for products you can buy that are made out of this Qiviut.
( The name Musk Ox Farm reminds me of how the animals in George Orwell’s Animal Farm named the farm they took over from humans “Animal Farm.” I don’t think the Musk Ox themselves run Musk Ox Farm. Here is a biography of George Orwell from George Orwell.org)
The Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage is a place where you can learn about Alaska’s native populations.
Here is the Alaska Native Knowledge Network from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. If you are willing to poke around for a few minutes, there is a lot of information at this site.
Not surprisingly, people hunt the Musk Ox. They are easy to kill because when threatenedthey form a defensive circle that is condusive to simply shooting them down. What great sport that must be.
Here is information about the Musk Ox from Musk Ox Farm—
The musk ox, Ovibos moschatus, is an ancient species of arctic mammal currently found in remote areas of the far north, including Greenland, Alaska, Canada and Siberia. During the Pleistocene, musk oxen wandered across the Bering Land Bridge to populate North America with the likes of the wooly mammoth, saber-toothed cat, and giant ground sloth. Fossil records indicate the musk ox ranged as far south as France and Ohio during the last Ice Age. The largest wild populations of musk oxen can be found in Canada, especially on Banks and Victoria Islands, Northwest Territory. Musk oxen died off within Alaska by the late 1800′s and were reintroduced from wild herds in eatern Greenland in the 1930′s. Once in danger of disappearing completely, musk ox populations have made a dramatic comeback with a current worldwide population of about 150,000 animals.
Despite their common name, musk oxen have no musk glands and are not oxen. Although they may resemble bison, musk ox are more closely related to goats and sheep. This arctic ungulate, like domestic cattle, has a four-chambered stomach and eats a wide variety of foods such as lichens, grasses, and leaves.
Here are some more facts about the Musk Ox.
Below is a picture of a bunch of Musk Ox. Maybe they are having a meeting of some kind.
There are questions about the patriotic loyalty of Sarah Palin and her husband Todd Palin. Both attended meetings of the secessionist Alaskan Independence Party. Mr. Palin was a member for a number of years. Governor Palin may or may not have been a member. She claims she was not. In any case, Governor Palin addressed the party as recently as 2006.
Let me ask—Who attends meetings of political parties that advocate secession as a possible solution to local grievances?
There are also questions about Ms. Palin’s longtime church. It seems that is very far to the right and that Governor Palin may feel the War in Iraq is part of a larger messianic plan. Ms. Palin attended the Wasilla Assembly of God.
As we consider Governor Palin for an office that puts her next in line for the Presidency, we need to be certain of her loyalty to our nation and its constitution. We need to know if her religious beliefs will lead the nation into dangerous and uncharted waters.
From the New York Times—
In the mid-1990s, the Alaskan Independence Party was experiencing a boom of sorts. A governor had been elected on its ticket in 1990, when the party was not even a decade old. And membership was swelling. Among the new recruits was Todd Palin, whose wife, Sarah, would later become governor…
The Palins attended the party’s convention in their hometown, Wasilla, in 1994, according to party officials, where the party called for a revote on statehood and a draft constitution for an independent Republic of Alaska. Mr. Palin joined the party. Ms. Palin remained a Republican and never joined the Alaskan Independence Party, but returned to its convention in 2006 to speak as candidate for governor. After she had been elected, she recorded a video greeting that was played at the party convention this year. “Good luck on a successful and inspiring convention,” she said. “Keep up the good work, and God bless you.”
Now that she is the Republican nominee for vice president — for a campaign whose motto is “Country first” — the couple’s interaction with the Alaskan Independence Party has gotten attention because of its reputation as a secessionist group. Alaskan Independence Party officials released a statement Monday saying that Ms. Palin had been a member for two years, from 1994 to 1996, information included in reports in The New York Times and other news outlets. In Internet videos of recent party meetings, other party officials can be seen boasting of Ms. Palin’s past membership.
On Tuesday, though, the party’s chairwoman, Lynette Clark, said the earlier statement was false. Ms. Clark said that she had based it on information another party member had given her, but that a review of the records showed only that Ms. Palin had attended the 1994 conference. Ms. Clark added that while the review confirmed Todd Palin as a member, it did not indicate that Ms. Palin had been one.
On Wednesday, Ms. Clark released a corrected statement, saying, in part, “I, foolishly, repeated and accepted as fact what an officer of this membership shared with myself, and husband Dexter Clark, over a year ago.”
Ms. Palin has been registered as a Republican since May 1982, according to the State Division of Elections. Mr. Palin registered as a member of the Alaskan Independence Party in 1995, remaining a member for all but two months of the next seven years, until he registered as an undeclared voter in July 2002.
he Alaskan Independence Party’s Web site, akip.org, which includes the motto “Alaska First — Alaska Always” in its banner, describes party members as seeking “a range of solutions to the conflicts between federal and local authority,” including “advocacy for state’s rights, through a return to territorial status, all the way to complete independence and nationhood status for Alaska.” It calls for repatriation of lands held by the federal government “to the state and people of Alaska,” as well as, among other issues, the right to home-school children and the privatization of government services.
Ms. Clark objected to descriptions of her party as secessionist, saying it advocates “states’ rights” and “state sovereignty.” Ms. Clark said she interpreted Ms. Palin’s attendance at the 1994 convention as reflecting an interest in hearing a variety of perspectives. “Her heart is very Alaskan,” she said, “and we have Alaskan issues.”
Alaska, though in many ways a creature of the federal government, is a strong Republican state in Presidential elections.
Alaska is very likely to vote Republican again in 2008.
( Above is a section of the Alaska Pipeline. Click here to learn about the Alaska Pipeline.)
The roads and railroads of Alaska come from the federal government. There is a significant military presence in Alaska and that is the federal government as well.
But Alaskans resent federal restrictions on land use in Alaska and limits on oil drilling in Alaska.
The premise seems to be that 670,000 people occupying 16% of the nation’s land should have full control over the national resources that exist in Alaska.
Another significant factor in the Republican leanings of Alaska is the libertarian bent of many Alaskans.
In 1980, Libertarian nominee Ed Clark won 11.7% is Alaska. This is the best statewide showing ever by a Libertarian.
It’s not hard to figure that anybody willing to live in a distant place like Alaska is somebody who wants to live as they see fit.
But do these folks refuse the money coming from Washington?
Nope–They want the money.
(Wouldn’t it be great to get a few hundred thousand of your most screwball friends together and be allowed to select two United States Senators and get billions of dollars of federal money?)
With only three electoral votes, far away from much else, and almost certain to go Republican, Alaska may not be heard from much in the 2008 Presidential election.
2006 Population—671,000, 48th of the 50 states, 68% white, 15% Native, 4% Asian, 4% Hispanic, 3% black.
Here is basic information and history for Alaska.
Recent Winners—2004 G.W Bush–61%, 2000–G.W Bush 59%, 1996–Dole 51%, 1992–G.H. W. Bush 40%, 1988–G.H.W Bush 60%
( The first Bush won with only 40% in 1992 because Ross Perot won 28%. Alaska was Mr. Perot’s best state in 1992. It was also Ralph Nader’s best state in 2000. Mr Nader won 10% of the vote.)
Last (And Only) Democrat To Carry Alaska—Lyndon Johnson, 1964. ( 1960 was the first time Alaska voted in a federal election.)
Presidents From Alaska—None
Vice Presidents From Alaska—None
Significant Presidential General Election Candidates From Alaska—None
The Alaska Report has a lot of news and perspective on Alaska.
Barrow ( Photo below.) is the northernmost town in America. 4,500 people live in Barrow. Click here to learn about this town.
Texas Liberal Live Blogging Of Super Tuesday Is Up & Running—(And Now That The Day Is Done, It Is Still Worth Reading!)
Huckabee Wins W.V.—-6:00 PM
Mike Huckabee got his Super Tuesday started right by winning the West Virgina Republican convention. He takes all 18 delegates from West Virginia.
What a shock that Republicans have winner take all primaries and conventions!
West Virginia was one the most Democratic states until George W. Bush won it in 2000 and 2004. It seems 71% of West Virginians live in a gun-owning household. I wonder if gun ownership entitles those folks to health insurance?
John Kennedy’s 1960 primary win in West Virgina over Hubert Humphrey proved a Catholic could win an overwhelmingly Protestant state.
Obama Takes Georgia—6:00 PM
Barack Obama has been called as the winner of the Georgia Democratic primary.
Georgia is 29% black. This means the Democratic electorate in Georgia has many blacks.
President Bush won Georgia with 58% in 2004. That means Georgia whites vote strongly Republican.
If Mr. Obama is nominated, by how much will Southern black turnout increase? Will Southern whites be open to a black candidate? CNN says Mr. Obama won 40% of the white vote in Georgia. But a Democratic primary is different from a General Election.
Wrong To Bribe Voters, But Okay To Give Them Alcohol—6:15 PM
Today I was reading America’s Three Regimes—A New Political History by Morton Keller.
Here is what this book says about 18th Century Southern elections—
“…there was much treating of voters to drinks on Election Day—”swilling the planters with bumbo”—just as in English towns. But there appears to have been little overt vote buying of the sort common in 18th century English parliamentary elections.”
Seems like progress. I would not refuse a drink at the polls.
McCain Best In Connecticut—7:00 PM
John McCain has won Connecticut.
Mr. McCain had the endorsement of Connecticut Senator Joe Liberman. Mr. Liberman’s endorsement might help Mr. McCain with so-called “Independent” voters in November. It seems less clear this endorsement will help with the more conservative voters Mr. McCain is struggling to win.
Unlike G.W.H Bush In 1980, Romney & Obama Win Home States—7:17 PM
Mitt Romney has won his home state of Massachusetts and Barack Obama has won his home state of Illinois.
It’s reassuring to win your home state
The first George Bush lost his home state of Texas to Ronald Reagan in the 1980 Texas Republican primary. The margin was 51–47%.
Hillary Clinton Projected In Oklahoma–Oklahoma 2nd Best State For Socialist Eugene Debs In 1912—7:25 PM
Hillary Clinton is the projected winner in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma is one state Democrats will be avoiding in the general election campaign. President Bush won the Sooner State 60-38 in 2000 and 66-34 in 2004.
Oklahoma voters were not always so misguided. The great Socialist Eugene V. Debs won 16.4% of the Oklahoma vote for President in 1912. Nevada was the best Debs’ state that year. His national total was 6%.
I have faith in the people of Oklahoma and I know they will wake up someday soon.
McCain Winner In Tiny Delaware—He Could Be A Threat In Some Northeastern & Middle Atlantic States—7:50 PM
John McCain has won Delaware. This goes with wins already tonight in Connecticut and New Jersey. All three of these Atlantic seaboard states have voted for Democrats for President in recent elections.
If there is any Republican who could make a run at these places next fall it would be Mr. McCain.
Delaware was the only state to vote for the winner in every Presidential election between 1952 and 1996. In 2000 and 2004 Democrats carried Delaware.
Italy Moves Towards Elections—Rest Of The World Continues To Exist– 8:15PM
The center left government of Prime Minister Romano Prodi has lost its governing majority and an election seems likely within the next two months. Regretfully, conservative Silvio Berlusconi may return yet again as Prime Minister. Based on the last few Italian elections, it will be close.
No matter how focused we are on ourselves, the rest of the world still exists.
Obama Is Alabama Winner–2nd Black Man To Win That Primary— 8:35 PM
Between 1932 and 1944, Franklin Roosevelt won at least 81% of the vote in the one-party Solid South state of Alabama.
In 1948, after Harry Truman desegregated the army, Strom Thurmond, running on a States Rights ticket, won 80% of the vote.
Now Barack Obama has won the Alabama Democratic primary. He is in fact the second black man to do so. Jesse Jackson won it in 1988.
Obama Winner In Kansas—Governor There Possible VP, But She Most Likely Could Not Deliver Her State—9:24PM
Senator Obama has won Kansas. That state’s governor, Kathleen Sebelius, has been out working for Mr. Obama and has been mentioned as a possible running mate. But Kansas is so Republican that I don’t think she deliver Kansas on Election Day.
That would be just as John Edwards did not help in North Carolina in 2004, or Lloyd Bentsen did not help Democrats in Texas in 1988.
With the Electoral College map so tight, a potential running mate needs to be able to put a state in play. Kansas is not such a state for Democrats.
Romney says losing is “fun and exciting.”—9:38PM
Well, he did say ”fun and exciting” and he was referencing the campaign—But I am paraphrasing to a degree. Romney said he is going to stay in the race past tonight.
Governor Romney’s father, former Governor George Romney of Michigan, won exactly 3,830 Republican primary votes when he ran for President in 1968. So there is at least one threshold the son has surpassed.
Obama First In Minnesota Caucus—I Think Paul Wellstone Would Have Been Pleased—10:09 PM
I can’t know for a fact, but I think the great liberal Paul Wellstone of Minnesota would have taken to the campaign of Senator Obama. Here is the link to Wellstone Action! They do a lot of good work for the liberal and progressive side of the debate.
McCain Makes Lousy Surrender Comment—10:30 PM
I had the misfortune of watching Senator McCain on CNN today. He was saying that Democrats who favored a times withdrawal from Iraq were advocating “surrender.”
What does “surrender”mean here? Does Senator McCain think that Democrats advocate American troops in Iraq turning over their weapons to the militants and asking for mercy? That’s what surrender is.
Would a real man of honor make such a comment? No Democrat supports any type of surrender.
Huckabee Somewhere Between George W. Bush and Pat Robertson–11:00 PM
Mike Huckabee has won Georgia, Arkansas, West Virginia and Alabama this evening. He says he is in the race to stay.
Governor Huckabee has the string support of Evangelical Christians. Evangelicals played a large role in the nomination of George W. Bush in 2000. But Bush also had the support of low-tax conservatives and the Republican establishment. Governor Huckabee is no George Bush.
On the other hand, he is more of a candidate than was Pat Robertson in 1988. Mr. Robertson never won a primary and as a “message candidate” won only 9% of primary voters. Running the same year on the other side, Jesse Jackson won 29% of Democratic primary voters.
So Mr. Huckabee is more than Pat Robertson was in 1988–Though that will not be nearly enough.
McCain in California And Missouri– Can Schwarzenegger Make McCain Viable In California This Fall? 11:36 PM
All night we’ve been hearing McCain had not made the knock-out punch. Well, it seems to me he at least has everybody else on the ropes pretty good. These two late night wins are most helpful to Mr. McCain.
An even bigger question than who will win the California primary tonight, will be is the more moderate Westerner McCain viable in California in November. You can bet that subject is already on the Republican radar. Just forcing the Democratic nominee to campaign in California this fall will be a Republican victory.
I’m certain McCain supporter Arnold Schwarzenegger is already thinking it out. (While his wife Maria Shriver will no doubt continue her work for Senator Obama.)
Signing Off With Obama’s Alaska Win—The Race Now Moves On Texas, Ohio & Other Points–12:08 AM
Barack Obama is the winner is Alaska.
The race now moves on to Texas, Ohio, and other points.
Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.
Alaska Senator Ted Stevens is known as a champion of Congressional earmarks for his home state of Alaska. He has been criticized for what is often termed “pork “ by those who oppose his appropriations.
Senator Stevens is unrepentant.
According to The 2008 Almanac of American Politics, Mr. Stevens said this about the federal money to Alaska—
“Congress has not awakened to the fact that we’ve got a state with one-fifth the land in this country. My mission is to try to make Congress understand that the promise of statehood is that we should have the ability to establish a workable private-enterprise economy in the areas that want it. And that’s basically 90% of the state.”
This argument mirrors one aspect of the “American System” championed by Henry Clay of Kentucky in the first half of the 19th Century.
Clay advocated public money for roads, canals and other improvements to help build the American economy. One can see an analogy between Clay’s America, still a frontier in many respects, and Stevens’ Alaska in 2007.
Click here to read about what the Erie Canal did for New York State.
I favor the idea of earmarks. While no doubt some are wasteful, I support the expansion of the role of the federal government and the allocation of government money into local communities across the country. This is a core mission of American liberalism and we should be proud of the fact that people are being helped and jobs are being created. That is what tax money is for.