Texas Liberal

All People Matter

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

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

Grave With View Of Traffic Would Be Fitting End To An Urban Life

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I saw this grave a couple of weeks ago at Glenwood Cemetery  in Houston.

It seems that a grave with a view of traffic would be a fitting end to an urban life.

Behind the grave in the center of the picture you see there is a car showing something of a ghostly image.

Maybe it was a ghost car.

January 7, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Festive Decorations At Houston’s Glenwood Cemetery—Life And Death Require Each Other

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The office at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston was decorated in a festive fashion on Christmas Eve Day.

There are poinsettias along the staircase and a wreath over the porch.

Life and death could not exist without the other.

Everything we need is around us each day and is accessible with hard work, imagination and luck.

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

Christmas Wreath & Grave Marker With Similar Look—We Beat The Odds To Exist And To Recall The Dead

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I took a ride around Houston’s Glenwood Cemetery this afternoon.

I enjoyed how the wreath placed next to the grave marker you see in the picture above had an aesthetic as similar as you might find between a wreath and a grave marker.

The stone was the only one I saw like it in the cemetery. The wreath was the only one I saw up high on a single pole.

When you think of how so little of existence is comprised of living things, it is hopeful that we are here for any amount of time.

It is something that we can–even for just a brief time– hold back the law of existence that says things fall apart.

It is even more hopeful that we have the capacity  to recall people who have returned to from where they began.

December 24, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The National Rifle Association Finally Speaks After The Newtown Shooting—Hypocritical Cowards

The National Rifle Association has finally addressed the Newtown, Connecticut shootings.  They held a so-called press conference today.

(Above–Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown after the shooting.)

In the days since the shootings the NRA has stayed silent just as you would expect of cowards. They were cowards despite all the tough talk and all the guns they own. The NRA did not take questions at the press conference. The people killed in Newtown did not have the option to avoid being shot by the gunman.

The NRA said that an armed policeman should be in every school and that violent video games should be regulated.

All we hear from the right is about small government and free markets.

And yet in this case the solution is more government.

I see.

If more government is the solution to gun violence, than why is more government not the solution to many other problems in America?

The right-wingers in Congress that the NRA backs are at present fighting against any tax increase for even the most wealthy.

The NRA also called for more mental health services in the United States.

I agree with this proposal.

Yet I don’t believe I heard anything today from the NRA about raising the taxes needed to fund more mental health services in these lean times.

Does the NRA believe in anything but mayhem?

The NRA solution to an abundance to guns in America is to make sure that there are even more guns in America, just as the Texas conservative solution to the large number of people without health care in Texas is to shut down women’s health clinics so that even more people don’t have health care.

These are murderous solutions from people who seem to be in love with hurting people and with death.

December 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 6 Comments

Thoughts About The Connecticut School Shooting

Even at this point not long after the violence, many of the facts of the Newtown, Connecticut mass-shooting of children and school staff are clear enough.

The facts are clear enough because we have seen these type shootings happen again and again in America. We keep lists of the most deadly mass-shootings like we keep baseball statistics.

We have yet another well-armed off-balance individual who has gone to a public place and killed a number of people. And we know that it will not be long until it happens again somewhere in America.

I have 3 points to relate here that convey my thoughts on the matter based on reactions I’ve seen expressed in the news and on social media since the shooting took place.

1. It really is meaningless for the Democratic elected officials to express regret over the Connecticut shooting without talking about efforts they will propose to address the reasons for the violence.

2. We all know the extreme right will not relent on gun control just as they won’t on climate change, taxes for the rich, or as we saw on the international disability treaty killed in the Senate recently despite the support of Bob Dole. How long do we let maybe 25% of the country hold us up on every measure of progress?

3. It is good that people care about each other and want to offer prayers for the dead in the Connecticut shooting. Prayer makes a hopeful difference in many people’s lives. But in terms of stopping the violence, prayers will have no more effect then did Rick Perry’s call for prayers to end the Texas drought while denying climate change. Public policy changes are required to address public policy problems.

California U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein says she will propose legislation in the next Congress to regulate high-powered guns.

There is plenty of leeway in this country to address gun violence without taking after law-abiding folks who have a gun at home for whatever purpose. The debate over guns in America needs to move away from over-rigid interpretations of the Second Amendment and move towards general public safety.

December 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 10 Comments

Texas Lt. Governor Candidate Jerry Patterson Is Prepared To Shoot—Though The Target Is Not Clear

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Republican Texas Land Commissioner and 2014 Lt. Governor candidate Jerry Patterson is prepared to shoot.

Though I’m not sure who Mr. Patterson  is shooting at in the context of 2nd Amendment issues because nobody is coming to take your gun.

Could Mr. Patterson appear any more weak and insecure than he does in this picture?

But if going on about guns will keep these folks from some other issue where a real debate is taking place then I suppose it is for the best.

While this society is in fact blood drenched in gun related violence, there is no credible nationwide effort to address this concern.

Just today there was workplace gun violence in Houston.

From the Houston Chronicle

“A salesman shot and wounded his manager during an argument at a car dealership along Interstate 10 in west Houston Friday morning, officials said…The shooting happened in an office at the dealership, police said. The salesman and the manager got into an argument that escalated into a scuffle, and the manager was wounded.”

The gunmakers collect the cash as people buy more and more guns, the pandering politicians stay in power, and folks keep dying.

November 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Veterans Day 2012

Sunday, November 11 is Veterans Day. Monday is when the holiday will be observed with bank closings and no postal delivery.

Here is an excellent set of facts about veterans in America from the United States Census Bureau.  The Census reports that there were 21.5 million veterans in the United States as of 2011. Click the link for a statistical profile of America’s veterans.

Here is how the Census Bureau describes Veterans Day—

“Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day honors military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation. A national ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.”

Here is the link to the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. 

Above you see a picture of where a portion of my father’s ashes are kept at the Rhode Island Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island. Tony was a combat veteran of the Korean War.

While regretfully I have not yet been able to visit this cemetery, there is apparently a nice walking trail that you can explore at the cemetery that is maintained in part by the University of Rhode Island. URI is where my father attended college.

Here is what my father wrote some years ago about war—

“One thing that I learned is that the young men who fought in our wars should never be forgotten…Another fact I learned…is that millions may serve but far fewer fight. So, in reality, for many who have served, war is a glory-and-gory myth that feeds on its own legends and publicity.…Another truth I learned is that civilians are combatants in war–embattled victims perpetually on a losing side….That brings us to the biggest deception: The need to be ready defend our freedom if we are to keep it. Those who say that freedom has a price are absolutely right, and wrong: International conflict today is beyond ideology. The only freedom American and Russian leaders offer their  people today is the freedom to kill ourselves in the name of freedom.  This is not freedom, but allegiance to a suicidal death culture….Today, we are servile to our masters, mistaking economic well-being for true freedom, which is the freedom to live hopefully and not to die needlessly.” 

A good thing we could do for our veterans is to respect them and treat them well while they are still with us.

Another good thing we could do is to stop uncritically venerating everything military—especially since so few are willing to serve in our all-volunteer forces and we are not at heart sincere as a nation in saying we respect those who serve—and work towards a culture of peace and true respect for human life.

November 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

13th Annual March To Abolish The Death Penalty In Texas On 11/3 In Austin—Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

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 you see notice of the 13th annual March to Abolish The Death Penalty here in Texas. Here is the website of this march.  This march will be in Austin on November 3rd.

It is not difficult to imagine that innocent people are put to death in Texas or that many of our political leaders in Texas would not care very much if such a thing is happening. Our political leaders in Texas do all sorts of brutal things.

Here is the website of the Texas Moratorium Network that is working to end the death penalty in Texas. Here is the Facebook Page of the Innocence Project of Texas.

The everyday citizens who are working hard against the death penalty remind us 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.

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 has a Q&A with Democratic SCOTX candidate Michelle Petty, who is running against one of the Court’s least ethical members.  

BossKitty at TruthHugger wants all Texans to have all the Texas Voting Information they need, so this will stay at the top of the blog’s homepage until November 6. Meanwhile, she is disgusted that our Cowardly Congress Kicks The Can Again, and is overjoyed to see more corporate manipulators exposed, in Do You Hear Me Now?

Three Wise Men forecasts the 2012 presidential and Senate elections.

With Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein scheduled to be in Houston and San Antonio from October 4-7, PDiddie at Brains and Eggs found it necessary to once again slay the persistent urban legend that Ralph Nader was responsible for Al Gore’s defeat in the 2000 election.

We’re facing another legislative session that will be harmful to the majority of Texans unless we act now. That’s why WCNews at Eye on Williamson is pointing this out now: Here we go again.

Over at TexasKaos, Libby Shaw explains why the GOP is obsessed about voter fraud. Hint: the best way to get away with something is to accuse your opponents of it.

Neil as Texas Liberal noted that you have the right to take pictures of bridges and infrastructure and anything in plain view so long as you are not tresspassing. Neil said that business and government are teaming up to deny the basic freedom to observe and make note of the things that are around us in a so-called open society.  

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme observes that Greg Abbott, likely gubernatorial candidate, goes all Christian Taliban by promoting bible verses in school.

October 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 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

Military Version Of Call Me Maybe Is Best—We Let Our Troops Die Without Caring Very Much At All

The song Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepsen  is sweeping the nation.

Or maybe it is done sweeping the nation and I’m a bit behind.

The New York Times recently reported that this song is the first ever to enjoy such great success without radio play as a part of making it a hit.

I’ve watched a number of versions of this song on You Tube and the best one was performed by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

You see that video above. If it won’t play here than just click it through to You Tube.

Our soldiers have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan for a number of years now. We don’t care much anymore because our national character is so often just that cheap.

We’d let anybody die for us so long as we can live just as we please.

The soldiers you see in this video our are fellow human beings just as are the people they are engaging with in various ways in Afghanistan.

All people are complex and merit consideration as individuals and as who they are in the full context of our interdependent world.

Here is what my father—who died last year—wrote based on his combat experience in the Korean War—

“One thing that I learned is that the young men who fought in our wars should never be forgotten…Another fact I learned…is that millions may serve but far fewer fight. So, in reality, for many who have served, war is a glory-and-gory myth that feeds on its own legends and publicity. …Another truth I learned is that civilians are combatants in war–embattled victims perpetually on a losing side….That brings us to the biggest deception: The need to be ready defend our freedom if we are to keep it. Those who say that freedom has a price are absolutely right, and wrong: International conflict today is beyond ideology. The only freedom American and Russian leaders offer their  people today is the freedom to kill ourselves in the name of freedom.  This is not freedom, but allegiance to a suicidal death culture….Today, we are servile to our masters, mistaking economic well-being for true freedom, which is the freedom to live hopefully and not to die needlessly.”

I know our troops have to be fighting for more than our ongoing Presidential campaign where the two major party corporate-owned liars are discussing everything but the core issues of the disappearance of jobs in our changing economy and the realities of climate change.

Yet whatever that cause is, and whatever the virtues of service and sacrifice, something is obviously being lost on our troops.  USA Today reports that there were 154 military suicides in 2012 up until June 3. 

Meaning is very often hard to find. There is no shame in looking for relief in a silly pop song.  I don’t have a neat thought to round out this post. I just know that as my father said we are very much living in a “death culture” and that we really don’t care who we harm so long as nothing much is asked of most of us and even as others fight for us far from home.

August 27, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Militarized Police A Cause That Left And Right Can Agree About—Anaheim Police Shot A Man In The Back

Our increasingly militarized police are more and more out-of-control in this nation.

Above you see a picture from Occupy Los Angeles showing ongoing protests regarding militarized police in Anaheim, California.

Anaheim police shot a man in the back for no good reason at all.

Militarized police would seem to be an issue that folks on both the left and right would be concerned about.

Both government and big business benefit and gain power at the expense of the individual when public protest is intimidated by police that have crazy powerful weapons.

In a free and healthy society there is balance and a measure of trust between government and the individual.

This balance and trust is upset when the police are armed as if they were members of the military, and when free citizens are intimidated away from exercising basic First Amendment rights of free speech and lawful assmebly.

(Below–Shirts for sale at Pocho.com that will benefit Anaheim police shooting victims.)

August 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Demolition Is As Natural As A Stroll In The Park

I took a walk this afternoon in Houston’s great Antonio Marron Park.

There is a trail in this park that runs along Buffalo Bayou.

Walking on this portion of the park, I saw across the bayou the demolition yard you see in the picture above.

In a big industrial city like Houston, demolition is as natural as a stroll in the park.

In the whole of existence, stuff is created and destroyed. There is no contradiction to be found in this fact.

How could we have a walk in the park if there was not a recycling of the elements?

If the elements were not recycled, how could anything exist?

Every part of life and death—and of beginning and ending— serves a purpose.

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

People Believe Wild Things Because Nothing Is So Brutal That It Cannot Be True

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote in 2008 about conspiracy theories that many people believe. 

For example, 30% of black people believe it’s possible AIDS was deliberately manufactured to kill black folks.

This is held out as a crazy thing to think.

I don’t believe it myself.

But if you asked me if many white people and white politicians don’t care if poor urban black people live or die, I would say that’s correct.

And plenty of black politicians don’t care either.

In my own experience as a city council aide in Cincinnati, Ohio, I read the files of black cancer patients who had intentionally been given extra doses of radiation to see how they would react.

Get this—They suffered.

Poor black people in cities, blacks and whites in rural areas, our colonized undocumented labor force, and poor people of all kinds, get inferior hospitals and inferior care.

When you ask black folks if AIDS was the work of government, maybe what you’re really asking if the government would do things that would kill people who look like you do.

“Yes” seems to be a logical reply.

Mr. Kristof wrote that it was crazy that 36% of Americans believe that government orchestrated 9/11 or knew about it advance.

Well—I’ve always thought that was a mistaken belief .

George W. Bush was intent on going to war in Iraq before 9/11. He did not need any provocation.

What people know is that we lied about why we went to war, we did not give our troops the right equipment to save their lives, we sometimes kill innocent civilians, and that the troops sometimes get rotten care upon arriving back home.

Did the government or former President Bush know about 9/11 in advance?

No.

Was a government led by President Bush capable of terrible acts that cause people to die?

Sure–All the damned time.

Mr. Kristof mentioned two other conspiracy theories in his column.

One is that the levees in New Orleans were opened on purpose in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

This was not so.

Yet it had been known for years that the levees might not hold during a bad hurricane and that much of New Orleans was vulnerable. Then, after it was clear the disaster response was poor, President Bush said his FEMA director was doing a “heckuva job.”

So why not figure that levees were opened by design? Is that much worse than the truth of the matter?

Another view held by many is that crack cocaine was deliberately introduced into poor neighborhoods.

Now that one is crazy.

These communities were already so flooded with alcohol, cigarettes, overpriced grocery stores offering inferior produce, bad schools and a host of other urban afflictions, why would you have to introduce something new to harm people?

The history books tell us that we won our land in good part by exterminating the native population, and that we built up the land with the frequent and longtime use of slave labor.

Our own experiences in life show us that our cities are left to rot year after year. And the poor are getting more poor even as the rich get richer.

So when you ask if the people in charge of our country are capable of barbaric or even genocidal acts, why would many give any other reply than “yes?”

And if you ask would millions of Americans stand by and do nothing or even support terrible and genocidal acts?

Of course they would.

People believe all sorts wild and terrible things because they have every reason in the world to believe such things.

July 11, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 2 Comments

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