Texas Liberal

All People Matter

People Of Texas City & All People Must Realize That Taxes Are Needed For A Decent And Safe Society

Residents of Texas City, Texas have begun early voting on a property tax rollback. Texas City is located between Houston and Galveston and has a population of just under 50,000 people.

The Texas City fire department and police department oppose the rollback. These public safety forces realize that providing city services costs money. And they understand that this money must come from taxes. 

A group calling itself Citizens for Progress has been formed in Texas City to fight the rollback. It’s good to see an organized effort in support of the taxes that we all must pay to live in a good society.

Just recently, a person was killed in a fire in unincorporated Fresno, Texas. Fresno is just outside of Houston. Without municipal taxes, Fresno has inadequate fire service and this was a factor in the fatal fire.

The bottom line is that if you want a decent community and a decent society than you must pay taxes. The unending national anti-tax propaganda of recent years has undermined our basic quality of life and our national and personal security.

Let’s hope the people of Texas City stand up for their community and vote to maintain adequate levels of taxation.  

February 27, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Taxes---Yes!, Texas | 1 Comment

Repeat Matches In Presidential Elections

Far from Houston, I recently read about the race for the 35th Aldermanic district in Chicago. The two leading candidates, Rey Colon and Vilma Colom, are running against each other for a third consecutive time.

This got me to thinking about repeat Presidential matches. 

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson ran against each other in 1796 and in 1800. Adams won in ’96 and Jefferson in ’00.

J.Q Adams beat Andy Jackson in 1824, but Adams lost to Jackson in 1828.

Henry Clay was one of the five main candidates along with Adams and Jackson in 1824. Clay then lost to Jackson in 1832.

William Henry Harrison was one of two Whigs to lose to Martin Van Buren in 1836. Harrison beat Van Buren in 1840.

Benjamin Harrison beat Grover Cleveland in 1888. That outcome was reversed in 1892.

William McKinley beat William Jennings Bryan in both 1896 and 1900.

Dwight Eisenhower got the better of Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956.

Ross Perot took 19% of the vote in 1992 and 8% in 1996 in elections won by Bill Clinton.

Thankfully, we will be spared a John Kerry/George W. Bush repeat.  

February 26, 2007 Posted by | Political History | 3 Comments

Obama Can Visit Houston If His Motorcade Does Not Disrupt My Commute

The 2008 Presidential race is in full swing and it is sure is tedious.

Senator Barack Obama is swinging through Houston and Austin. At this point Mr. Obama can’t have a very large traffic-disrupting motorcade. So I guess his visit is okay.

However, if Mr. Obama delays my 40 mile daily round-trip commute for even a minute he will lose my potential support. What do we need all this campaigning for so many months before any real votes are cast?

TexasLiberal supports the ghost of Paul Wellstone for President. I got a letter today from Wellstone Action saying it is time for me to donate again. That is exactly what I will to do.

My support for the ghost of Paul Wellstone will continue until such time that the race for President is something less than a waste of time to follow. I can’t imagine that will be any time before the World Series.

I can’t claim I’ll ignore the whole thing. Yet I know that I have books to read and walks to take instead of following a full year of our so-called leaders ass-kissing millionaires for campaign loot.

Already Senator Clinton and Senator Obama are in some kind of stupid snit involving zillionaire David Geffen. Mr. Geffen, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton can buzz off if this is what we have to look forward to for a whole year.  

February 23, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Politics | 8 Comments

People Have A Right To Define Family As They Wish

I recently flew from Houston to Chicago to visit family. Some of the family I spent time with I like. Others I could take or leave.

We should be free to define family as we wish. For example, I find little to be more mean and intrusive than telling people who they may or may not marry. Life is short and it is rotten to deny people the relationships that they want and hope for.

Also, we may feel we have friends we value more than people who by conventional definition are seen as family. Or we may feel that a requirement for a close family relationship is that the family member in question be someone we would want as a friend. 

None of this has anything do to with treating family and all people with basic civility and respect. These are universal obligations.

Values we associate with family such as love and loyalty can become selfishness when not open to others. Family should be defined as broadly as possible. Individuals have the right to decide who they wish to include in their own idea of family. 

(Before you leave a comment, let me be clear that I do not think you should have 12 wives or that government should legalize marrying a cow or whatever other silly examples that these discussions often produce)  

February 22, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts Jan.-June 2007, Politics, Relationships, Uncategorized | 23 Comments

Pete Rose Has Message For Texas Bloggers, All Bloggers & All People

I’m reading a book about Pete Rose. Though I live in Houston now, I lived in Cincinnati for 18 years. I saw Rose play many times and met him once. In the book I read something about how Rose played that may be helpful to others. 

In Hustle by Michael Sokolove, there is a chapter about Rose playing in the very low minor leagues in 1960 in Geneva, New York.

Rose’s roommate in Geneva was Art Shamsky. Shamsky said that from the start Rose had a uniquely clear view of what his strengths and limits were.

Sokolove writes— “If he (Rose) hit a home run in the previous night’s game, he did not imagine himself a power hitter.”

This idea of having a clear and honest view of your strengths and limits has meaning in just about every aspect of life.

In the narrow sphere of this blog, I know that I have only so much time and that I have different audiences I’m trying to reach. I try to reach these audiences and grow the blog in a way that works with my abilities and schedule.

This idea can be extended in many other ways that would be useful in daily life. Also, thinking in these terms might allow for a more humane understanding of the actions of others.

Who knew Pete Rose was such a thinker?       

February 21, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Books, Cincinnati | 1 Comment

Houston-Bound Travelers Fail To Wash Hands After Using Restroom At O’Hare Airport In Chicago

Travelers headed to Houston,Texas used a men’s room at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and then failed to wash their hands. This took place on the afternoon of February 19, 2007. I saw it happen. 

These people used the restroom, walked right past the sinks in the restroom, and then boarded a Houston-bound airplane.

It’s possible that some Houston passengers were concerned that the airplane would not be icky and germy enough without their help.

Some of these people may be walking the streets of Houston right now. Others have made their connections and are spreading Chicago toilet germs all over the Earth.

O’Hare is one of the world’s busiest airports. One can only guess how many people use the restrooms.

My friend Shannon in Colorado has told me that “hands are made for hugging.” I’ve countered her claim with the statement that “hands are made for washing.”

Please wash your hands.  

February 20, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Please Wash Your Hands | 17 Comments

Dos Centavos Is A Strong Texas Blog & Alsab Was A Great Race Horse

Due to Houston family obligations, TexasLiberal will go “dark” for the next four days. During that time, and at all times, I suggest you read the excellent Texas blog Dos Centavos. 

Dos Centavos does a great job covering issues of import to the Hispanic community in Houston and in Texas. These are issues of importance to all Texans and all people.

Also, the author of Dos Centavos is a nice guy. Send him an e-mail and you’ll see. A mix of substance and kindness is always a winner.

The word I use to describe the time I will not be posting is “dark.” That is the term my father used for when the race track was closed. He would say, for example, that Narragansett Downs is dark on Tuesdays.

The most famous race at Narragansett Downs in Rhode Island was a match race between Alsab and Triple Crown winner Whirlaway that took place in 1942.

According to the book Champions published by the Daily Racing Form, Alsab led most of the way and held on by a nose in the mile and 3/16 race.     

February 15, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Books, Texas | 5 Comments

Considering A Bjork Song In The Context Of The Ancient Greeks

Driving on a not-so-nice Houston freeway, I was listening to Bjork sing a song called “All Is Full Of Love.” She repeats the title of the song over and over. I wasn’t moving so quickly on the highway and I had time to consider what Bjork was asserting.

I’ve been reading a book called Early Greek Philosophy. It’s one of those Penguin Classics books. The book consists of the remaining fragments of the writings of long-ago Greeks. 

The issues the philosphers deal with are elemental. What do things consist of? What is the best life? These questions have value when it can be so hard to believe anything anymore. Maybe it would be best to return to the most basic questions and start all over again.

Bjork’s lyric that “All Is Full Of Love” makes more sense than it may sound. I often consider the fact that the atoms which comprise inanimate objects arise from the same place as do the atoms of which I am comprised of. With this in mind, it may not be so far-fetched to grant human or organic qualities to non-living things.

I wish I could fully agree with Bjork. I don’t really think that all is full of love. However, I do believe that a combination of imagination and understanding of the world around us can lead people to a more humane vision of what existence is.

So good for Bjork—She’s at least on to something.               

February 15, 2007 Posted by | Books, Music, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Tip Server Time-And-A-Half On President’s Day–William Howard Taft Might, Or Might Not, Thank You For it

On President’s Day, and on all holidays, should you eat out in Houston, in Lubbock or anywhere at all, you should tip your server at least time-and-a-half. The same goes for tipping cab drivers and anybody else who is normally tipped. 

You should pay others what you would like to earn on a holiday. It’s only fair. Time-and-a-half is what people deserve on any and all holidays.  

I share a birthday with President William Howard Taft. I also attended the same high school as Taft. Taft was not a Progressive in the mold of Teddy Roosevelt. Though nor was he as bad as Calvin Coolidge or Herbert Hoover.  

On President’s Day I’m going to follow a clear course. No Taft-like mixed messages. I’m going to tip my fellow working Americans a nice big holiday tip.     

February 14, 2007 Posted by | Tip Your Waiter Time-And-A-Half On Holidays | 4 Comments

Houston Councilwoman Sue Lovell Thinks Dead City Worker Jerry Hines Deserved Low Pay

Houston City Councilwoman Sue Lovell, a so-called Democrat, seems to be of the view that dead Houston city worker Jerry Hines Jr., deserved low pay.

Mr. Hines was killed on January 17, 2007, while helping a motorist during bad weather. 

The Houston Chronicle reported that Mr. Hines made only $17,000 a year. That comes out to $8.17 an hour.  I wrote a letter to my Houston City Councilmembers asking if they thought $17,000 a year was adequate pay for city employees.

Here is the response I got from Ms. Lovell’s office—  Mr. Aquino—The council member wants to let you know that a lot of new hires start in entry level positions depending on their qualifications and work experience and then apply for other positions within the city once an opportunity becomes available. It is unfortunate that Mr. Hines was unable to take advantage of the many opportunities the city has to offer. I hope this helps you better understand this situation. Thank you for bring your concern to this office.

My take on this response is that Ms. Lovell believes that Mr. Hines was earning all the money he deserved. It also seems to be the case that Ms. Lovell thinks it is okay for entry-level city workers to receive low pay.

I voted for Ms. Lovell once. I won’t make that mistake again. 

February 14, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Politics | 9 Comments

Texas Should Build Atomic Bomb In Effort To Gain Aid From Washington

The State of Texas should build an atomic bomb in an effort to extract aid from  Washington. Governor Rick Perry should issue an executive order now to begin a crash program of nuclear armament.

This plan would be modeled on recent talks to disarm North Korea. The North Koreans have worked out an agreement that will provide oil and economic assistance in exchange for giving up the bomb.

Texas should demand the aid needed to bring the state into the 21st- Century—Only then will we give up our bomb.

Texas may already be fairly classified as a rogue state as noted by Bay Area Houston. No state more willingly inflicts more misery on more people than does Texas. Atomic weapons would not surprise detractors of Texas and might well further enhance the image of the state among conservatives.

Also, it is an insult to all Texans that France is a nuclear power while the Lone Star State is not.     

February 13, 2007 Posted by | Politics, Texas | 4 Comments

Reasons Houston Hispanics Have Not Been More Politically Involved

An article in the Winter 2006 issue of The Next American City offers reasons why Hispanic activism over immigration and other issues has not taken off in Houston. 

Here are some of the given reasons— 

1. Houston does not a history of social protest. There was not a great deal of work done for Civil Rights in Houston in the 1960’s.

2. Spanish language radio stations promoted immigration rallies in Chicago and Los Angeles last year. Spanish language stations in Houston did not do the same.  

3. The Catholic Church is Texas is more conservative than in other places.

4. The sprawled-out nature of the Houston metro area makes organization difficult.

5. The anti-worker climate in Houston makes people afraid to take part in protests.

6. Houston does not have strong community organizations.

While none of this will come as a shock to people who live in Houston and in Texas, the article is well-done and is part of a larger series of articles discussing  immigration and cities.

The Next American City is a magazine I saw for the first time last week. In each issue, one topic is selected and analyzed for how that subject impacts urban America.

Even though the magazine places much of its content online, I am buying a subscription so that I will be more than a web freeloader.

February 12, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Immigration | 1 Comment

Historian David McCullough As A Model For Texas Bloggers & All Bloggers

Historian David McCullough was not trained as a historian. Yet he is one of America’s leading writers of serious popular history. He has written well-regarded books about Harry Truman and John Adams. 

It is possible that McCullough’s success is a model of sorts for bloggers.

As some bloggers, including some in Texas, seek journalistic credibility, it is good to see that success can be obtained in specialized fields without specialized training.

In Booknotes by C-Span’s Brian Lamb, McCullough points out that Robert Caro and Barbara Tuchman also did quite well writing history without formal training.

I’m not a journalist and I’m not looking to be seen as one. Yet many political bloggers feel they should be regarded as such for doing work that daily newspapers aren’t doing. I think this point has a degree of merit.

(Though I am not a reflexive basher of the so-called mainstream media. I think in many circumstances they are doing the best they can.)

McCullough is an example of serious-minded self-creation who may serve as a useful lesson for bloggers.       

February 11, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts Jan.-June 2007, Blogging, Books | Leave a comment

Voter Reaction To Hispanics May Mirror Similar Response To Immigrants Years Ago In Snowy Buffalo

A book I’ve been reading makes a point about Buffalo, New York in the early 20th century that may have relevance to politics today.

The book is Richard Hofstadter: An Intellectual Biography by David S. Brown. Richard Hofstadter was a political scientist and author who lived between 1916 and 1970. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning Age Of Reform. 


Hofstadter grew up in Buffalo. 

As Eastern European immigrants moved into Buffalo in the first third of the 20th-century, the old WASP establishment of that city knew its days of political power were numbered.

The response of the Buffalo establishment was not to work out a transfer of power or a sharing of power with the newcomers.

Instead, as author Brown quotes a Buffalo historian—“the WASP gentry strove consciously to define and to strengthen their identity and their legacies as the bearers of a noble, yet clearly threatened, New England Tradition.”

Anglo voters in Texas realize that a big demographic switch is on the way. Already Anglos are a minority of all Texans. The response of many white voters has been to support immigrant-bashing and right-wing candidates. These voters know that once power is lost it may not return in their lifetimes.

It remains to be seen if Democrats can take power in Texas without a few more years of demographic change.     

February 9, 2007 Posted by | Books, Immigration, Political History, Politics, Texas | 5 Comments

I’m Seeking To Redefine Texas Manhood By Reading Foreign Novels In Public

I’m seeking to redefine Texas manhood by reading foreign novels in public. If you see a guy in Houston reading a book outside—That’s me.

I feel that when people see how confidently, and even brazenly, I turn the pages,  what I’m doing will sweep Texas. Public reading of foreign novels and being a man in Texas will become one in the same.

Here are some of my recent conquests–

I’ve read Malgudi Days by R.K Narayan. This is an account of a fictional village in India.

I’ve read We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. This is a Russian novel said to have been the model for George Orwell’s 1984. The story is about the terrors of a futuristic highly collectivized society.

In Texas we know that an absence of society and collective goals causes hardship as well.

At the moment, I’m reading Bread and Wine by Ignazio Silone. This is about Italian life in the time of Mussolini.

I will continue this public reading until I see a change towards books and away from trucks and football.   

Or, since I am reasonable, I would also be quite content with a Texas that embraces trucks, football and books.  

February 8, 2007 Posted by | Books, Texas | 8 Comments