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Unlike Sleazy John Edwards, If I Ever Have A Midlife Crisis I’m Going To Read A Long Book

File:Man and woman undergoing public exposure for adultery in Japan-J. M. W. Silver.jpg

Sleazy John Edwards has admitted he is the subject of a federal probe of his 2008 Presidential campaign. It’s possible that he misused campaign funds to pay off the woman he was having an adulterous affair with while his wife suffers from cancer. 

Above is a couple in Japan in 1860 being shown in public for adultery. 

I’m 41 and have been married nine years. If I ever feel I’m having some type of midlife crisis, I’m going to read a long book. That will be how I let go and feel young again.

The longest book I’ve read is the one you see below  The Power Broker by Robert Caro. It is 1344 pages. I read it when I was in my 20’s. If you ever see me reading an even longer book, maybe I am having a midlife crisis and i’m doing something to make me feel young again.

The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro: Book Cover

May 4, 2009 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Does Congressman Gene Green Need With All That PAC Money?

What exactly does Houston-area Congressman Gene Green (above), a Democrat, need with$842,656 in PAC money? This is the amount of PAC money Congressman Green raised in 2007-08.  This PAC money was 78% of all the money Mr. Green raised in this election cycle. Overall, Mr. Green was fifth in the entire U.S. House  in 2008 for money given by PACS as a percentage of all campaign funds raised.   

Mr. Green serves the 29th U.S. House District of Texas. The district includes, among other places, much of the Houston Ship Channel and other parts of Houston, portions of Pasadena, Baytown and Humble, as a well as South Houston and Jacinto City. Here is a profile of the district from Mr. Green’s office. 

These PAC statistics are from a recent USA Today story. 

Two Texas Republicans, Joe Barton and Kevin Brady were the PAC champions. Mr. Barton, of Ennis, got 88% of his money from PACS while Mr. Brady, of The Woodlands, came in next at 86%.  Overall PACS spent $416 million on federal elections in 2008.

You can click here and get a picture of where the money Mr. Green raised in 2008 came from. Below is a list of various industry groups that donated to Mr. Green for the most recent election. 

Health Professionals $168,396
Oil & Gas $84,500
Lawyers/Law Firms $77,472
Electric Utilities $57,949
Industrial Unions $52,750
Building Trade Unions $52,000
Chemical & Related Manufacturing $50,538
Transportation Unions $40,500
TV/Movies/Music $40,500
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $34,600
Automotive $19,000
Beer, Wine & Liquor $17,500
Lobbyists $17,250
Telephone Utilities $17,000
Sea Transport $16,500
Misc Energy $15,000
Public Sector Unions $15,000
Telecom Services & Equipment $14,000
Misc Unions $13,500
Retail Sales $13,000

Just what does Rep. Green need with all this money from all these groups? His 2008 Republican opponent raised just over $14,000. Mr. Green has won reelection with almost 75% of the vote in the last two elections. In 2004 he won with 94%.

Maybe what Mr. Green wishes to do is scare off any potential Hispanic primary challenger in a district that is two-thirds Hispanic. Now I know it would be shocking if Mr. Green was taking advantage of money from the alcohol industry and the pharmaceutical industry to scare off potential Hispanic opposition in a two-thirds Hispanic district, but these things do happen.

(Local gasbag Marc Campos has been trying to stir-up a primary fight   for Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee. That’s his right and I don’t care one way or another, but if his goal is to increase Hispanic representation in the Houston-area, a subject he often discusses with varying degrees of bluster, the 29th might seem his better chance. C’mon Marc– Find a candidate for this one! )  

Mr. Green has, according to the 2008 Almanac of American Politics, voted  for a bill to roll back subsidies for the oil industry. It’s not that Mr. Green is at the total beck-and-call of the groups that give him money. It’s rarely that simple with these guys. (At least in any way you can pin down.)  Though I wager campaign contributions may well gain access to speak to Mr. Green and senior members of his staff.

Here is some information on Mr. Green’s voting record.

The issue is that Mr. Green uses his incumbency to scare off challengers and that he is such a willing participant  in a system that, while legal, is rotten. This should not be the program. It would be of value for a primary opponent of any ethnicity to take on Mr. Green in 2010 and to bring these issues to greater public attention.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Listening To Joy Division While I Blog Makes My Posts More Angry

Sometimes I listen to music while I blog. Mostly I listen to stuff that is not much more than background music and offers little distraction.  

But sometimes I listen to a Joy Division (picture above) CD I own as I blog. It’s a live recording of  a concert in Paris in 1979. I like it a lot. Though I can only take it to a certain extent. It’s depressing and angry. That’s okay because I believe what Martin Luther King said about how the well-adjusted person in a sick society is the person who is really messed up.

(Please cick here for the best Martin Luther King Reading List on the web.)

(Please click here to watch Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart Video on You Tube.)

When I listen to Joy Division as I blog, my posts are more angry than normally so. I think that’s good because angry is a reasonable state to find yourself in.  

For example, a few minutes ago I had the U.S. Senate on my TV. I was watching Senators explain the stimulus compromise.  Majority Leader Reid called Susan Collins of Maine, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, and Joe Lieberman of Connecticut to explain the compromise. It  made me sick. We win the election, and it still comes down to two Republicans, the most conservative Democrat, and a back-stabbing McCain supporter to broker the deal. It’s disgusting. When will this shit ever get better?

I had to turn the TV off and come and turn on Joy Division and write this post.  I don’t do any drugs and I’m not a big drinker, but I needed to be under the influence of something.  The Senate and the TV were sapping my life force and I needed relief.

Have I ever mentioned how off-putting I found much of the Democratic campaign here in Harris County, Texas last year?  I hinted at it in criticisms of David Minceburg’s terrible campaign for County Judge Executive. I’ve let the blog reading public down by not being  more forthcoming.  

Houston and Harris County is a mess of poverty and people wasting their lives because they are poor and have little chance at ever not being poor.  I’m not going to tell you I have the answer to longterm structural poverty. But I do know the answer will not be found in talking about traffic congestion relief and  restoring electricity more quickly after your every-so-often hurricane.

If you live in Houston bad traffic and hurricanes are part of the deal. What did you expect?

The County Democratic Party found it could raise money easily enough when it became apparent to big money donors that at least some Democrats were going to win in November. The task of voter registration was in large degree left to the primary campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. It seems clear enough that the coordinated campaign had what it felt it needed and saw little reason to dig deeper. 

They did not need to reach down to potential voters who rarely show up at the polls but who, if they voted, might well vote Democratic. And if you don’t need their votes, you don’t need to address their concerns.

Can you blame Hispanics for not voting in greater numbers in Harris County? I mean you can in the sense of why can’t they get their asses to the polls, and claim the political power that their hard work  and raw numbers around here merit? 

Yet in an another regard, nobody in the Democratic Party was really talking to Hispanics last year. Go find 100 Hispanic people on the street in Houston and Harris County, and ask them what the local Democratic Party has ever done for them. Maybe it has done a little bit for them. Maybe. But I bet those things have never been communicated effectively. You have to care about  people before you’ll effectively communicate with them.

Well…the CD is down to the last song and I should make my post. When I’m drunk I talk a lot and I say nice things that I really do think, but am too reserved to say in normal conversation. When under the influence of Joy Division, I get more angry and say things I should have said before.

February 7, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Martin & Malcolm, Music, Politics | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

If Mr. Obama & Mrs. Clinton Can Make Up, Who In Our Lives Can We Move Ahead With?

It appears that President-elect Barack Obama is going to select Senator Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Without forgetting that political relationships are about using people, there is a lot to be said for moving ahead after a hard fight and hard feelings.

Given this reconciliation between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton , it is a good time to think about who in our lives we can move ahead with, past bad times, to a better relationship.

When we are in our graves, how will our anger and our grudges serve us?

November 30, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics, Relationships | , , , , | 11 Comments

Random Thoughts On A Time-Pressed Day

Hello blog readers. I had a plan for what I wanted to post today, but life got in the way and I’ll not have the time to do what I wanted. (Below–The sun rises and sets and time passes by.)

C solarcorona2003.gif 

So please allow just a few random thoughts.

I wonder sometimes if the ease of keeping up with old friends via e-mail and Facebook makes it less likely we will try hard to make new friends. A new person seems a much less sure bet when the old people seem always near.

A dispute here in Harris County, Texas, where Houston is located, is about why Hispanic turnout was relatively low on Election Day. The best information I’ve seen on the subject can be found in this blog post at Para Justicia y Libertad

New leadership seems needed for Harris County Hispanics. The old leadership has made little progress over the years. Also, the Harris County Democratic Party is not willing to do what’s needed to gain more minority voters beyond those most easy to get to the polls. The party has an idea of the voters it is willing to try and win. What it’s not willing to do is address questions of social justice when it can rely on, with mixed success, traffic congestion and hurricane preparedness as standard campaign issues.  

I think you can find this type of situation in big cities across the nation.

I read a few days ago that the unsettled frontier democracy we associate today with Andrew Jackson, was always doomed to fall to the more middle-class and settled frontier vision of Henry Clay. We know that Jackson won the White House while Clay tried many times but failed. Yet you often never know until long after the heated battles of the day are over, as to who has really won the issues at the core of the fight.  

Sorry for the absence of links. I’m on the fly today. Thanks for reading the blog and please visit often.

November 19, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Relationships | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hope Is A Rocket That Breaks The Gravity Of Resentment

A few days ago I posted that resentment is a many layered lasagna.  I said it would take some time to shake off the layers of frustration from the Reagan/Bush/Gingrich/Bush years.

Another thing I can say, is that hope is a rocket that breaks the gravity of resentment. 

When we launch space missions to other planets, the rocket has to break the gravity of the Earth to reach space. Then the probe has to break out of the Earth’s orbit to move on to another planet.

Mariner 4 launch 2.jpg

(Above–The 1964 launch of the Mariner 4 mission to Mars using an Atlas Agena D rocket.)  

With the election of Barack Obama, and with strong Democratic majorities in each House of Congress, I don’t have to expend as much energy being pulled back by the depressing gravity of public life. As we progress, maybe I can use some of that newly freed energy to open myself to people and thoughts I might not have otherwise had patience for.   

For the time being at least, the prospect of something better is a rocket breaking the gravity of resentment. Now I can take a better look at new things to be seen.

(Below–Galileo mission to Jupiter with exciting live action effects. This mission took place between 1989 and 2003. )

Galileo Jupiter.gif

November 18, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2008 Voting Patterns Linked To 1860 Cotton Production

“The top map is voting patterns in this 2008 election– the bottom map is cotton production in 1860…”

The above map shows that the “blue” areas of the South, counties where Barack Obama outpolled John McCain are where there was a great deal of cotton production at the start of the Civil War.    

This map is taken from Strange Maps. Or, you can’t always be sure about these things, a blog called Pin The Tail.

What was true abut the cotton production areas of 1860 and the strong Obama areas of 2008, is that they are places where black folks lived back then and still live today.   

Click here for a U.S. Census list of the percentage of black people living in each of the states. Mississippi is first at 37.2% and Montana is last at 0.6%.  

This link to the New York Times shows where either Republicans or Democrats ran ahead in Presidential balloting from 2004. For the most part, the only parts where Senator McCain gained on George W. Bush was in mostly white areas of the South and Appalachia.

I hope folks in the rural South, elsewhere in the South, and in Appalachia, figure out that insularity and racial suspicion in an increasingly diverse nation, is not the ticket to helping their kids in what will be a difficult economic future.

November 17, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, History, Politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

If He’d Not Cheated On His Wife, Maybe John Edwards Would Be Considered For Obama’s Cabinet

Who will serve in President-elect Barack Obama’s cabinet? There are many articles out on this subject. Here is a link to one such article. You can read it though it is the kind of thing that’s out of date almost as soon as printed.

One name not on any of these lists is former Senator, Presidential candidate, and Vice Presidential nominee John Edwards of North Carolina. He is not on the list, despite the good work he could have done on the issues of poverty that have been his focus, because he cheated on his wife.

Mr. Edwards cheated on his wife as she suffered from cancer and while he was seeking the Democratic nomination for President. I’m glad Mr. Edwards is not on these cabinet lists because cheating on your spouse is wrong. What if he had won the nomination and all this stuff had come out?

My wife is the best person in the world.  I’d sooner swallow thumb tacks than cheat on her.

November 10, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever, Relationships | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Best States For Obama & McCain

 

Barack Obama’s best state on Election Day was tropical Hawaii (Above–Hawaii). Mr. Obama won Hawaii with 72%. At one point in his life, Mr. Obama lived in Hawaii.

Also, Mr. Obama won 60% or more of the vote in California (61%), Connecticut (60%), Illinois (62%), Maryland (60%), Massachusetts (62%), New York (62%), Rhode Island (63%) and Vermont (67%). He won 93%  in the District of Columbia.

John McCain’s best state was dusty Oklahoma (Above–Oklahoma). The McCain/Palin ticket took 66% in Oklahoma.

Other 60% states for Senator McCain were Alabama (60%), Alaska (62%), Idaho (62%), Utah (63%) and Wyoming (65% ).

Overall Senator Obama won the popular vote with 52%.

I’m glad America followed the lead of Hawaii instead of that of Oklahoma.

November 7, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hispanic Turnout Low In Harris County—Turnout Overall Is Lower Than Projected

Turnout of Hispanic voters and of all voters was lower than projected in Harris County, Texas. Around 60% of eligible voters showed up at the polls or early voted. Hispanic turnout may have been as low as 40% to 45%. The 2008 turnout of all voters was only two percent higher than in 2004.   

The Houston Chronicle article on the subject addresses some theories for the relatively poor showing. You can read the article and take the theories for what they are worth. 

It’s suggested in the Chronicle article that Hispanic voters who supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary saw little reason to vote in November.  If this is so, that sure is silly. Maybe this is a nicer way of saying that the issue was not Hillary Clinton but was Barack Obama instead.

In any case, whatever the exact thinking, this shows why we’ve never had a Hispanic Congressperson from Houston or a breakthrough Hispanic political figure in Houston like a Barbara Jordan or a Mickey Leland.  

I recall during the campaign that the Chairman of the Harris County Democratic Party said the party was counting on the increased turnout in the Democratic primary to be a source of high Election Day turnout.

We criticize the national campaigns when they take potential volunteers out of state, but then we rely on the national campaigns to generate our turnout.   

Another theory is that re-registration requirements after people move within the county deters voting. The county’s chief voter registrar, Republican Paul Bettencourt, says this is not so. He says his office makes it easy for people to vote.

Sure. Mr. Bettencourt, who as our county tax assessor actively encourages people to challenge their tax assessments, is all about inclusion and doing his duty.

I think there is a bottom line here—People just did not show up to vote. In the end it really is on those people who did not vote.

But I’ll say this as well– Democrats held power in Harris County and in Austin up until the 1990’s. It’s not clear that these Democrats made any real effort to improve the lives of urban and minority voters.

In 2008, the focus of countywide Democratic candidates in Harris County for the most part was traffic, hurricane related issues and Republican misdeeds. These are not issues meant to dig deep down in our county and excite people who do not normally vote.  

In our city council elections, the Democratic Party refuses to make endorsements under the claim the races are non-partisan. Well–the races may be non-partisan on the ballot. But parties can endorse. Parties endorse in so-called non-partisan city elections in other parts of the country. Our Harris County Democratic Party appears to have little interest in taking advantage of the Democratic voting majority in Houston.

It seems sometimes that our Hispanic community in Houston does not see a value in taking political leadership equal to its numbers and that the Harris County Democratic Party is content enough with low turnout and with an electorate that asks little beyond garbage pick-up and traffic relief.

November 7, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello People Of The World!

I want to say this evening that I’m an American citizen and a citizen of the world as well. I’m a citizen of the United States because the wheel came up on my number and I was born here. I’m citizen of the world because we all are and because we all matter. Existence itself is good enough for me when it comes to seeing who counts in life.

I’m glad that folks around the world are taking heart and gaining hope from the fact that Americans elected Barack H. Obama as President of the United States.

Above are students at a school in New Delhi.

And here is my blogger friend at A Wide Angle View Of India.

Below are some folks in Kenya.

Hello Kenya!

Here is the excellent Global Voices with links to world bloggers writing on the American election. 

Both photos are from the New York Times.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

McCain Campaign Treated Palin Like A Dumb Trophy Candidate

One thing I never call people is stupid. I don’t think people are stupid or dumb. They might be ignorant, but they are not stupid. In a democracy we assume that the average person has the ability to understand what is taking place.

If ignorant, the chance always exists that uninformed people can be brought up to speed. Hope remains. Think of all the people who voted for George Bush in 2004 and then voted for Barack Obama in 2008. These are people who caught on.

The other thing is that when you insult somebody you had better be sure they will not get the last laugh.

A lot of people seem to think Sarah Palin is dumb or stupid. The people who seemed most sure of that fact were in the John McCain campaign. She did a few bad interviews at the beginning of the campaign, and they put a muzzle on her the rest of the way. They did so even after she did well in her debate with Joe Biden. 

The McCain campaign should have taken her off the trail for a few days and treated her with respect. I’m glad they did not, but that is what would’ve been best for the McCain effort. She could have been coached on issues. Her talents as a communicator would have taken care of the rest.

Instead, they just wanted her to be a woman who did the heavy lifting of motivating the base while the man-in-charge went around looking for the main prize. She was a trophy candidate. 

I wish Sarah Palin was dumb. Then I would not worry about her anymore. She may be ignorant and mean-spirited, but she is not dumb. People often said that Ronald Reagan was clueless, but most times Mr. Reagan got the best his foes.  

Sarah Palin is a disciplined quick-learner. She calculates her next move every step of the way and knows just what she needs to know to advance on the next level. It might flatter liberals to think that folks who believe that people and dinosaurs lived at the same time are stupid. Sure–They are so stupid they kicked our asses at the polls for years.

Sarah Palin is smart and dangerous. Her abilities merit nothing but our respect and close watching.

You might win a fight by being better informed than your foe. Or by laying better plans or by working harder. But if you think that you are simply smarter than the other man or woman, you are likely in for a surprise.

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , | 4 Comments

California Gay Marriage Ban A Reminder You Can Never Fully Trust The Culture

The vote in California to ban gay marriage is a timely reminder that even on a day when things seem to have gone well, you can’t trust the culture of our nation. This is true even in a center of liberalism such as California. 

California is a solidly Democratic state. Yet the people of California have banned gay marriage. With 95% of all votes recorded, Senator Obama had won 61% of the California vote. At the same time, 52% of the California public voted to prohibit gay marriage.

I don’t have many expectations of the 37% in California that voted for Mr. McCain, though I’ll bet that at least 10% of them voted to allow gay marriage, but what is wrong with the Obama supporters who favored the ban?

Bigotry and prejudice–That’s what is wrong with them. It seems that at least 15% of the electorate in California are people who voted for Mr. Obama and then voted to deny gay people the right to have the relationships they want in this brief and brutal life.

A proposal to give farm animals more space in their pens passed with 61%. That’s fine. I might have voted for it myself. But why can’t we care for people we have to live with in life as much as we do for animals we are going to eat?

Even on this happy day, keep a distance from what is around you. Don’t lulled into feeling that all is better. Remember that even people on your side of the aisle can stick a knife in your back. Embrace your friends and be happy for all that has been gained, but don’t forget the full picture.

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Black Urban Liberal Elected President Of The United States

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , | 3 Comments

God Turns Back On Elizabeth Dole

 
Senator Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina, who in a few weeks will be known as former Senator Elizabeth Dole, has lost to State Senator Kay Hagen. Senator Dole had run an ad saying that Ms. Hagen was an atheist.  (Above is a painting of the Hindu goddess Radha. Hindus in North Carolina will have a new senator. Here is a link to the Hindu Center of North Carolina. North Carolina is a diverse place and all people in that state merit representation.)   

There was no divine intervention for Senator Dole tonight. She has lost her race and is out of the Senate.

November 5, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Election Night Blogging, Politics | , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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