Texas Liberal

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Earmarks Are Excellent–They Help Texas & Help All People

U.S House Democrats are moving to temporarily restrict so-called earmarks. This is a mistake. The Houston Chronicle reports today that curtailing earmarks would, among many other things, impact a project at the Houston Zoo and would cut funding for much needed improvements in Downtown Beaumont, Texas.

Most earmarks are good. They help communities across the nation and create jobs. They also help expand the reach of government and provide sound reasons to maintain taxes at a rate adequate to meet the needs of the public.

Hopefully all this earmark fuss is just for show. Democrats are the party that holds government can make a difference in people’s lives. We should be confident in our beliefs.

I am going to write my local congressperson and say that I am for earmarks. I urge all others do to the same.

January 31, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Taxes---Yes! | 1 Comment

Texas Bloggers And All People Can Ask TexasLiberal Questions Of Political History Because I Have A Huge Book With All The Facts

A few months ago I purchased the fifth edition of the Congressional Quartlerly Press Guide To U.S. Elections. I needed a nice big book to get me through the long Houston, Texas winter. (That’s a joke.)

This two-volume book has results for every governor’s race and U.S. Senate election ever held through 2004. It also has primary results for gubernatorial and Senate races. It has results for all U.S. House of Representatives elections beginning with 1824.

Not only all that—Also contained within the two volumes are presidential election totals along with primary results and delegate counts from the conventions. Each nominating convention is detailed and a recap of the party platform is given. In addition, there are descriptions of all American political parties and other lengthy essays on American political history. 

In short—It is a hell of a book.

Because I love all my fellow Texas bloggers and because I love all people, please allow me to make myself available for any question you might have about American political history. Leave a question here in the comment space and I’ll reply. Or e-mail me at buffalo underscore bayou at hotmail dot com.

Here at TexasLiberal the creed is—as President John Kennedy once said—That service is its own reward. 

January 30, 2007 Posted by | Books, Political History | Leave a comment

Bloggers Might Consider Copying Some Posts Because It Sure Is A Lot Of Work To Lose When The Blog Is Done

One of the good things about the computer age is the ability to maintain friends over distances of both time and space. A friend I’ve been able to maintain via-email in the 8 years I’ve lived in
Houston is Mike Barron of New York City. Mike knows all about computers.  

In contrast to the enhanced durability of some friendships, the electronic age also produces very transient blog postings. A few days ago in TexasLiberal I asked if any of our blogs would be archived and available to anybody in the future. Here is a response Mike left about this subject— 

1.    As a Systems Administrator for a computer art program, I find myself frequently concerned over the archiving of digital material. It’s a big problem, especially when it comes to digital art: digital standards, software, storage media all change very rapidly over time. What if you get a piece on a floppy disc, for instance? The floppy used to be ubiquitous, but now — a mere five years later — it’s pretty hard to come by. How do you view that piece? Or worse, what if the piece relies on a piece of software or an operating system that is no longer produced? How do you view these works? How do you preserve them?Fortunately, text is a bit easier to preserve, but still problematic. The onus is on the author though. I usually write my blogs in a text editor and save in a format that is fairly universal, i.e. doesn’t rely on a particular piece of software to be read (formats such as txt, rtf, rtfd are good). This way, even if technology changes, there’s a good chance these documents will be readable, at least for a while, and/or can be converted to the latest, greatest format.Beyond whatever process you decide upon, though, it is VERY unlikely that blogs will be archived in any way shape or form by anyone other than their authors.Welcome to the digital age.Mike Barron

Another suggestion might be to print each post as you write it. All this may seem self-centered, but a blog takes a lot of work. You’ve got to decide if you want to lose all that work when you are done with the blog.   

You can link to Mike’s blog here.

January 29, 2007 Posted by | Blogging | Leave a comment

Excellent Blog South Texas Chisme Teaches Lesson On How To Disagree Without Being Angry

An excellent and friendly Texas political blog is South Texas Chisme. This blog covers, among other places, Corpus Christi and Brownsville. 

A few weeks ago I took the position that Democrats should only support another Democrat for Speaker of the Texas House. I allowed myself to get into a nasty time-wasting exchange of comments on Burnt Orange Report. I let myself get angry which is always the wrong course. I also made some posts on my own blog about the subject and a few of the comments I got in reply were not so warm. 

South Texas Chisme did not agree with me on the Speaker’s race. Yet the blog linked to one of my posts. We also exchanged private e-mails where I was told I was wrong—But was not told that I was a jackass or that I loved Tom Craddick.

I don’t believe in Karma. The only way decent people get noticed is when someone points out that they are decent. South Texas Chisme is a good operation and worthy of your attention.

Also, I’ve looked up the word chisme. According to the Berlitz Spanish Pocket Dictionary it means “bit of gossip.”  

January 26, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Good People, Texas | 2 Comments

Dead Houston City Worker Earned Near-Poverty Wage & My Letter To City Officials About This Issue

Last week, City of Houston road crew worker Jerry Hines, Jr, was killed while helping motorists during bad weather. The Houston Chronicle reported that Mr. Hines earned only $17,000 a year. I have e-mailed the following letter to my Houston elected officials. We will see what responses I get.——  

The Houston Chronicle reported that Jerry Hines, Jr., the city road crew worker killed on the job last week during the bad weather, earned only $17,000 a year.  Might you please tell me if this report was correct? Was this a salary for full-time work?

I calculate that an employee paid $17,000 a year for full-time work is making $8.17 an hour.  Do you believe $8.17 an hour is a living wage and that a city government should be paying such wages?

Might you also please inform me if other city workers make similar salaries? If so, how many and what kind of work do they do?

I was appalled when I read what Mr. Hines earned. I am hoping you have information that will put this report in a different light. If not, I am asking what steps you will take to help city workers earn a decent wage.

Thank you. 

9/18/07—Please click here for an update on the subject of low pay for City of Houston workers. 

January 25, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Taxes---Yes!, Things I've Done | 16 Comments

Will Any Of Our Blogs Be Archived Or Are We All Just Puffs Of Smoke?

It’s a long way from 14th-century England to 21st-century Houston, Texas.  And it’s quite a distance between 14th century poets who still reside in the memory of at least some people and modern bloggers who, often, write very much for the moment.     

I’ve been reading Lives Of The Poets by Michael Schmidt. It is a history of English- language poetry told through biography of the poets and analysis of their work. It is a story that starts nearly 800 years ago in Middle Ages England. 

Near the beginning of the book the author writes, “Poems swim free of their age.” I’m not sure the same can be said of blog posts over who should serve as Speaker of the Texas House in 2007. 

I know the intent of political bloggers is to shape current debate. But I wonder if future political historians will be able to see what was written on blogs in order to tell the story of our times. Are any of the blogs we spend so much time on going to be archived in a way that will make them accessible years from now?

In any case, if you have a question about the 14th-century poem Piers Plowman by William Langland—Please do leave a comment. I might be able to help.  


January 24, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Books | 1 Comment

Instead Of Watching State Of Union, I’ll Be Asking If God Is Black

Instead of watching the State of the Union speech tonight in my Houston home, I intend to watch a rerun of All In The Family.

I’m going to watch the episode where Archie Bunker argues the question “Is God Black?” with his neighbor Henry Jefferson. Henry was George Jefferson’s brother.

In this discussion Jefferson says black people are better athletes. In response Bunker demands to know, if black folks are so great and if God is black, why are all the astronauts white? Jefferson says it is because the astronauts are picked by “lily-white” Americans who only pick other lily-white Americans.

It sure is a funny exchange. 

Considering what color God might be, or doing anything else at all, is time better spent than listening to Mr. Bush.  

January 23, 2007 Posted by | Things Watching Tv Made Me Think About | 2 Comments

Houston City Worker Killed On Job Made Only $17,000 A Year

The Houston city worker, Jerry Hines Jr., killed on the job on January 17, made only $17,000 a year. This according to the Houston Chronicle.

Mr. Hines was assisting motorists on the side of the road during the bad weather last week when he was hit by a passing car. Mr. Hines and a co-worker had decided to pull over and help people who had spun out on the ice. It was this decision to help that led to Mr. Hines being killed. 

Houston Mayor Bill White said Mr. Hines was one Houston’s “everyday heroes.” The Mayor led a moment of silence at a City Council meeting. Mayor White did not, as far as I’m aware, call for paying city workers a decent salary.

For a 40 hour week, Mr. Hines would have only been earning $8.16 an hour. This is not a living wage.

In the days ahead I intend to write and call my Houston elected officials and ask how many city workers are paid such low wages and ask what can be done to pay them more.

I urge others reading this post to do the same.

January 22, 2007 Posted by | Houston | Leave a comment

Perry’s 40% Makes Him Governor Just The Same–Our Boy Ralph Yarborough Went To The Senate With 38%

Some have argued that Rick Perry’s lousy 40% vote total last November somehow limits or weakens his so-called mandate as Governor of Texas. I wish this were so—But it is not. Governor Perry won the election and that is what matters.

The Governor may or may not decide to be a better Governor because so many Texans voted against him. Or he may feel liberated that he can serve the next four years while only having to satisfy such a small base. Like it or not, it’s his call to make. 

In 1957, the great Texas liberal Ralph Yarborough first won election to the Senate with just 38% of the vote. This is was in a three-way special election to fill the seat of Senator Price Daniel who had resigned to become Governor.

After that election, a law was passed in Austin requiring runoffs for Senate seats. The new law made a difference in 1961 when John Tower finished first with 31 % in a crowded multi-party primary field to replace Lyndon Johnson.

Tower won the runoff with 50.6%.

If a present day Ralph Yarborough had won the 2006 governor’s race with 40% we on the left would quite happy. Given that, we must admit that Governor Perry won fair-and-square.

We only have one Governor at a time. That Governor has all the powers of the office. Regretfully, that one Governor for the next four years will be Rick Perry.

January 19, 2007 Posted by | Political History, Politics, Texas | 1 Comment

Right-Leaning Blog Broadens This Liberal’s Perspective & Both Major Parties Lie All The Time

My favorite “right-leaning” blog is Last Row. That blog, like my blog, is written in Houston, Texas.

Houston,Texas can be found on the shores of beautiful Buffalo Bayou.   

The author of Last Row found TexasLiberal a few months ago and has been a steady reader. He often leaves comments. He has spent more time on my blog than I have on his. I am going to work to improve in this respect.

Last Row has many posts that are religious in nature. I am not religious. However, I did recently buy a copy of Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain. I also have on order at the moment an audio collection of sermons by Martin Luther King.

Maybe all that will score me some religion points with my friend.

It’s important to have relationships with people of differing outlooks. Not because of feel-good tripe about bipartisanship and diversity. Bipartisanship is a word we often use to hide our desire for power. Diversity is a word we often use to make something that is worthwhile and difficult seem banal and easy.

It’s important because there are truths far more lasting and relevant than the transience of a blog post and the perpetual lying of both of our major political parties.  

January 18, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Good People, Houston | Leave a comment

Eating Locusts Seems Little Different From Eating Raw Fish

I saw a feature today about people who eat locusts in Nigeria. They call the locusts “desert shrimp.”   

I believe I would eat locusts if we had an insect restaurant in Houston. I don’t see how locusts are any yuckier than snails or raw fish and I have eaten those things.

This is something of a throw-away post and I apologize for the lack of original content. I’m busy though and my feeling is that you run the blog or the blog runs you.   

January 17, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

More Honor Roll Kids And Fewer ROTC At King Parade Would Be A Good Change

The Martin Luther King Parade in Downtown Houston would benefit from fewer ROTC units and more honor roll and debate club members. I bet the same is true at King Parades around the country.

Every year I go to the King Parade and every year I see a large number of ROTC kids marching with bayonets and rifles. Nothing could be more contrary to the message of Martin Luther King—Especially at a time when we are in an unnecessary war.

It would take just a little imagination to have honor roll students, student newspaper staffs and language club members march instead of ROTC. Such a change would better reflect the purpose of King’s work.

Of course, all this was less of a problem yesterday when so many of the parade participants failed to show up because it was cold. That’s okay–It’s not like Martin Luther King ever marched under tough circumstances.

A published report this morning said that 75% of marchers showed up yesterday for the AM Houston King Parade. Based on the King parades I’ve seen in the past, that number is simply wrong.  

January 16, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts Jan.-June 2007, Houston, Martin & Malcolm | 5 Comments

2007 Houston Martin Luther King Parade Was A Mess

The 2007 Houston Martin Luther King Parade was a disorganized mess. 

Each year I go the morning parade. (Incredibly, because of some silly nasty dispute, we have two parades in Houston) In past years, the morning parade would run nearly three hours. Today’s parade went an hour at most.

Much of that hour consisted of long gaps between marchers. These gaps sometimes ran as long as five minutes.

I don’t know how many people were lined-up on the parade route, but it had to be at least a few thousand. 

The weather in Houston is awful today. But so what? I made it Downtown. So did many other people. At least some of the marchers showed up. Where was everybody else? 

How can real progress be made when a parade can’t be organized correctly? What hard work for justice will be accomplished when a few hours of rain and cold scares people off? What example is set when adults tell kids it is to cold to march?

1/16/08–Please click here for a Texas Liberal Martin Luther King Reading List.

Please click here for a report on the 2008 Houston King Parade.

January 15, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Martin & Malcolm | 2 Comments

Excited Houston TV Stations Follow Ice Storm Like Advance of Radiation In Novel On The Beach

Ice may or may not be coming to Houston. Local TV stations, excited that something bad might happen, have been following the storm for days. 

In the novel On The Beach by Nevil Shute, a nuclear war has occurred. The radiation is creeping over the Earth and the only people left are in remote Australia. The book is about these few remaining folks waiting for the radiation to arrive.

The day-by-day tracking of the ice storm has reminded me of On The Beach.

Slowly… slowly…slowly…the terrible event approaches. 

January 15, 2007 Posted by | Books, Houston | 1 Comment

French Separatists Fail To Wash Hands

An outbreak of nasty stomach flu is afflicting Quebec.

From anecdotal accounts I’ve heard, a nasty stomach flu has also been in Houston.

One way the stomach flu is spread is when people fail to wash their hands. 

This is disturbing to me in many respects.

Please wash your hands as often as possible. 

January 13, 2007 Posted by | Please Wash Your Hands | 3 Comments