Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Many People Think Saddam Had Something To Do With 9/11—So What?

Much comment has been made about how many Americans still believe Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11. This despite the fact it has been shown time and time again this is not true. Often this observation is followed by a snide reference to the Bush administration’s use of the term “reality based community” and a lament that society is falling into an Orwellian hole of disinformation. 

Yet it is has always been the case that people believe all sorts of wrong things. Given some of the beliefs that have been widely held in American history, such as it is okay to keep slaves and that the only good Indian is a dead Indian, I find the commonly held notion that Saddam was linked to 9/11 to be fairly benign.     

The political and social environment is always full of error and misunderstanding. The hope is that whatever the people are getting wrong does not lead to some type of mass slaughter. Short of that, the liberal must do his or her best to help people and society find the right path.    

Or, if you get lucky, maybe whatever the people are screwing up will prove to be an error in favor of causes you support. Liberals will, like anybody else, take what they can get.       

August 18, 2006 Posted by | Politics | 3 Comments

Today’s Defeat May Be Tomorrow’s Victory

The Democratic party has suffered a long slow drain of white Southern support since World War II. The “Solid South” that voted overwhelmingly Democratic between the end of the Civil War and World War II is now Republican territory.

Gains Democrats made by the enfranchisement of blacks in the South have been more than offset by the defection of whites. 

Some white Southerners left the Democrats in 1948 to support “Dixiecrat” Strom Thurmond for President against Harry Truman. They were angry with Truman because he had desegregated the army and supported some Civil Rights measures. More white Southerners switched parties in response to, among other things, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s and President Lyndon Johnson’s support of Civil Rights’ legislation. 

Since the landslide GOP win in the 1994 mid-term elections, the large numbers of white Southerners voting Republican has been critical to Republican success. Many political observers say Democrats must find ways to reconnect with white Southerners.

I believe a different interpretation is possible. 

Democratic majorities of the New Deal era were based on a pact with the Devil. Segregationists were to the Democratic party what heroin is to a junkie. White Southerners needed the relief the New Deal provided and F.D.R needed Southern support. Sacrificed in all of this were black Americans.

The Democratic party could not have retained the votes of a majority of white Southerners while keeping a soul. Given the ongoing deep conservatism of many white Southerners, the same may still hold true.  Democrats have not found their way back to majority status since 1994. Yet Republican margins in Congress have been small and the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004 were close.

The electoral map is always shifting. A state or region that seems firm on one side now may vote quite differently a few years later. While many, though not all, white southerners stay far to the right, the rest of the country may shift another way.

What may emerge is a coalition of Western, Great Lakes and Northeastern voters who will shift Congress and the White House back to the Democrats.  Democrats have recently made gains in, among other places, Colorado, Nevada and Montana.

Nothing is ever settled. The ebbing of white Southern support has done a lot of damage to Democrats at the polls. However, the end result may be a party more ideologically coherent and better able to represent the needs of Americans who share a commitment to basic fairness and decency and Americans in need of some help from their government.   

August 16, 2006 Posted by | Elections, Political History, Politics | 3 Comments

Veggiemobile

While I am not a vegetarian, and have little desire to become one, I must commend TexasLiberal reader Barb for her response to my posting about the Weiner Wagon. She provides us all with food for thought. Here is what Barb said–  

“Maybe they should have a Veggiemobile to reach out to prospective vegetarians. A Veggiemobile would surely hold its own in such a fight since the driver would be full of vitamins and the Wiener Wagon driver will be tired out from consuming all of those nitrates. Vegetarianism is generally good for the environment.”

August 15, 2006 Posted by | Good People | 1 Comment

The People Of Houston Damn Well Did Want A Dixie Chicks Concert

The Dixie Chicks were scheduled to play Houston this fall. The concert was cancelled. The reason given was slow ticket sales. The explanation never made sense. Houston is a big city with plenty of people who don’t like George Bush. It seemed unlikely the Dixie Chicks could not fill an arena. A story in the Houston Chronicle today explains that the slow ticket sales story was never true. 

August 15, 2006 Posted by | Good People, Houston, Texas | Leave a comment

Taxes Can Make Us Happy

Click this link to the BBC for an explanation of how taxes can make us happy.

August 15, 2006 Posted by | Politics, Taxes---Yes! | Leave a comment

Wiener Wagon Attacks C-SPAN School Bus

I was watching TV a few days ago and saw an ad for Oscar Mayer wieners. The Wiener Wagon was driving about promoting the brand. I’d like to see the Wiener Wagon someday. Even more than seeing the Wiener Wagon, I’d like to see the C-Span school bus. I love C-SPAN. I love the C-SPAN bus. I’ve wanted to see that bus for years now. Most of all, what I’d like to see is the Wiener Wagon in some type of car fight with the C-SPAN bus. Liberals should not be afraid to admit having an occasional violent impulse. It’s only human.  

August 14, 2006 Posted by | Things Watching Tv Made Me Think About | 2 Comments

Taxes–Yes! Pork–Yes!

A TexasLiberal reader recently left a comment suggesting that a flat tax would be a good idea. This was in response to my post that cheating on your taxes is treason. 

The progressive income tax is a great achievement of liberalism. People who have more money should pay more taxes. The more they earn, the higher percentage of their income they should pay. Nobody gets rich without help from others. To make money you need a good education, good employees and a stable society with laws and decent infrastructure. 

The reader who advocated a flat tax also said pork barrel projects should be curtailed. I disagree. Pork is good. It provides jobs. It builds things that are needed. And, of course, a few things that are not needed. So what? If we want to reduce the deficit, we should go after corporate welfare and millionaire tax-cheats. 

I appreciate everyone who reads my blog and everyone who leaves a comment. Though I disagree with the comments this particular reader left, it was nice that he or she took the time to do so.   

August 13, 2006 Posted by | Politics, Taxes---Yes! | 3 Comments

LBJ Cared About The Debate Team— Not About The Football Team

A new biography of Lyndon Johnson called LBJ: Architect of American Ambition, details LBJ’s time as coach of the debate team at Sam Houston High School here in Houston

Here is what the book quotes Johnson as saying about debate contests while he was coach.—- 

“The debates took place before a packed house. I used to have pep rallies before debating contests. I’d have people get up and sing songs….just like you would at a football game. ….You couldn’t get in. Every place was taken on the balcony, every one on the floor, and they were sitting in the windows to hear the debate.”   

Excellent! The onset of another football season is, as always, depressing. It’s good to know that at least once in Texas the debate team could hold its own against football.

August 11, 2006 Posted by | Books, Houston, Texas | Leave a comment

Benedict Arnold

After the 2000 election, Joe Lieberman, among many others it must be said, basically stood by while Republicans did everything possible to steal the vote in Florida. In 2006, having been rejected by Democratic primary voters in Connecticut, Lieberman is now running hard to win as an independent in November. If only he had fought as aggressively for Democrats six years ago as he now battles to support President Bush and his failed Iraq policy.

August 9, 2006 Posted by | Lousy People, Politics | 2 Comments

Cheating On Your Taxes Is A Kind Of Treason

A recent report says tax cheating by the very rich is on the increase. Cheating on one’s taxes should be seen as a kind of treason. If tax cheats were regarded as traitors, as in fact they are, we would have a more accurate perception of the damage done. It’s not just about the money that the government– and by extension the American people — lose out on. It’s about the assault on the legitimacy of our system. The burdens of running our society must be shared by all. And those most able to pay should assume the largest obligations. I’m not saying we should string tax-cheats up in the town square. But a life sentence for a tax-cheat who has ripped off the American people for millions of dollars would sure get some attention.    

August 8, 2006 Posted by | Politics, Taxes---Yes! | 5 Comments

District Lines Are Drawn By People Who Have Earned The Right To Do So By Winning Elections

The question of how to best draw congressional districts provokes many different responses. All the various solutions are subjective. All involve, despite what anyone might say, political judgments of one kind or another.

Many on the left and in the center say Republicans have locked up control of Congress by drawing ironclad lines favoring them. What’s not always mentioned is that Republicans were able to draw these lines because they won elections for governor and state legislatures. 

Here in Texas, district lines are a hot subject. A very partisan redistricting was done for the 2004 election under the direction of former Congressman Tom DeLay.  While drawing lines a second time in a decade is unusual, the lines drawn by DeLay are more representative than what they replaced. 

The previous lines sent more Democrats than Republicans to the U.S House. This did not reflect the views of a majority of Texas voters. Republicans win every statewide election in Texas. The   DeLay gerrymander is closer to how the people of Texas vote. 

As for drawing lines more than once a decade, the expectation seems to be politicians and political parties should not take advantage of favorable political circumstances that give them control of the process. I expect people I vote for to pursue partisan advantage for the sake of the positions I support. 

Some say the current process enhances the power of the conservative wing of the Republican party at the expense of more moderate voters. Conservative Republicans control the process because they organize and vote. Are they supposed to reject power that they have earned? If the situation were reversed, as it has been in the past and may be in the future, I’d want to see as many liberals as possible in Congress.

An argument is sometimes made that so-called “non-partisan” committees or panels should draw district lines. The notion is that such panels would direct the process back towards more moderate politicians in both parties.

That is a silly idea. Politics is partisan by nature. Alleged moderates are politicians as well. Just because someone occupies an imagined “center” does not mean they are not practicing politics. In all likelihood the claim of being in the middle is a ploy in and of itself.

The way to control the process is to win elections for state legislatures and governorships. That is how Democrats did it for 60 years before the disaster of 1994. And it is the only way Democrats will regain long-term power in the United States House of Representatives.

August 7, 2006 Posted by | Elections, Political History, Politics, Texas | Leave a comment

Kinky Is No Fun

I’ll have more to say about the Texas governor’s race as November approaches. Including the time Democratic nominee Chris Bell invited me up to his law office for a scolding. For the moment, let me share a blog address.  Independent candidate Kinky Friedman is not a funny guy. And he would not make a good governor. All he does is suck up time and media space that might otherwise be used for discussing just how bad Governor Rick Perry has been for Texas.

August 6, 2006 Posted by | Lousy People, Politics, Texas | 1 Comment

Cheerleaders & Chicken Wings

A few weeks ago I went to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game. The Reds have cheerleaders– as if the baseball game were some type of barbaric football match. The following is a letter I sent to Reds’ CEO Robert Castellini. These things will stop only when people make a fuss.  

Dear Mr. Castellini: 

I recently attended a Cincinnati Reds game. 

During the game, a routine by your cheerleaders was shown on a big video screen. At the same time, an ad for chicken wings at Hooters was displayed on another big screen.  

Outside of your taxpayer-financed stadium you have a posted list admonishing the paying customers on how to behave. 

In likening your very own employees to pieces of meat, it is clear that it is you and your organization who need the pointers on how to act.  

Thank you. 

August 4, 2006 Posted by | Cheerleaders, Cincinnati, Things I've Done | 3 Comments

Galveston, Texas—Still Above Water

Yesterday I drove to Galveston, Texas. Galveston is 50 miles south of my home in Houston.

Galveston is where a hurricane killed 6,000 people in 1900. The city never really recovered from that storm or from the construction of the Houston Ship Channel 90 years ago. When Houston became a salt water port, ships that once stopped at the Port of Galveston went to Houston instead.  

In recent years however, Galveston has seen some “upscale” development. Taking my walk on the Galveston Sea Wall yesterday, I saw that the Mayflower Hotel, constructed in the shape of an ocean liner, is being converted to condos that will sell for as much as $500,000. There are also at least three high-rise apartment or condo buildings being built at the moment.   

While I cannot say for 100%, the odds are against Galveston’s many unemployed or underemployed residents actually getting construction work in this mini-boom.   

The pattern in Texas is that the foremen and job bosses are Anglos who live anywhere but the community where the construction is taking place, while the workers are low-paid Hispanic immigrants.  

Politicians from both parties will do nothing to provide training for the people of
Galveston who could use new skills and a job. Instead, the politicians will kiss the ass of any developer who makes pie-in-the-sky promises about alleged future benefits from whatever the project of the moment is. (That is if the developer could only get a tax abatement.)   
 

It is interesting to see these buildings going up when just a few months ago the near-destruction of Galveston was being forecast as Hurricane Rita approached. Rita turned away from Galveston at the last moment. It did significant damage to the
Beaumont, Texas area and to much of the western Louisiana coast.
 

Galveston has now gone 106 years without a hurricane doing big damage. This is in large part due to the Sea Wall which keeps the city safe from a storm-whipped Gulf of Mexico. I’m sure investors calculate the risks before they build high-rise condos and figure they can make their profit before the next big storm arrives. What does it matter if the city sinks into the sea so long as they get a return?

Galveston is a nice quiet place to spend an off-day from work or a vacation day. You can have a pleasant walk along the water and find an inexpensive place for lunch. I’d suggest a day in Galveston to anyone.

August 2, 2006 Posted by | Galveston, Texas | Leave a comment

Mel Gibson & Siouxsie Sioux

Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic tirade upon being pulled over for drunk driving does not come as a big surprise. I imagine many people had already guessed Mr. Gibson was a bad guy. But his comments reminded me of a lesser known anti-Semitic remark that hit closer to home when I learned about it.  

In Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, author Simon Reynolds writes about a nasty song lyric once sung by Siouxsie Sioux of Siousxie and the Banshees.  She sang, “ Too many Jews for my liking.” I had to throw away my Banshees “best of” CD, which I enjoyed very much, after discovering this fact.     

Rip It Up and Start Again is a great book. It’s a history of bands such as Public Image Limited and Gang of Four. I’d suggest it to anyone wanting a better understanding of bands and music that for many people was the soundtrack of their younger days.   

August 2, 2006 Posted by | Books, Lousy People, Music | 25 Comments