I was listening to Run DMC in my car a few weeks back here in Houston while ordering something from the drive-up window of a well-known coffee chain. The young man at the window heard the music and said I might enjoy A Tribe Called Quest.
Since the young man at the drive-up window did well with my tea, I took his advice and purchased a greatest hits CD of A Tribe Called Quest.
In one of the songs on that CD, reference is made to the base running speed of former St. Louis Cardinal outfielder Lou Brock.
Positive mention of Lou Brock as a player annoys me. Brock, who played between 1961 and 1979, is viewed as a great or near great player because of his many stolen bases and because he had more than 3000 hits. Brock is in the Hall of Fame despite the fact he should not be in the Hall of Fame.
A review of Brock’s career shows a flawed player. Brock had many hits, but not many of them were for extra bases. Brock did not walk enough. He struck out often. Brock’s stolen base total is mitigated by the fact that his percentage of successful stolen base attempts is not high in relation to other successful base stealers.
As of the end of 2006 season, Brock ranked 15th in number of times appearing at the plate as a batter. However, Brock is not even close to being in the top 100 for walks. Brock is also 13th in times striking out. That is a lot of strike outs for a guy not hitting many home runs.
Brock is not in the top 100 for extra base hits. Despite his speed and long career he is only 55th in doubles. All-time stolen base champ Rickey Henderson was successful in 80.8 % of steal attempts. Brock was successful 74.5% of the time. Henderson had 1406 stolen bases while Brock had 938.
At his best Brock was a capable player, but almost never among the best in the National League. For his career, Brock hardly merits mention in relation to a contemporary such as Roberto Clemente. He is a pip-squeak when put up against Willie Mays or Hank Aaron.
Look behind the hype and behind the well-known statistics and “facts.” Often you’ll find a different story.
A few weeks back, Texas Democratic Party Boyd Richie held a so-called town hall meeting at the University of Houston. I attended this meeting and asked Mr. Richie a question.
While I appreciated Mr. Richie making himself available, his answer to my question stunk.
I asked if the Texas Democratic Party had a position on a full-time Texas legislature. Mr. Richie said he thinks the legislature does enough damage in the limited time it does meet. He saw no reason for a full-time legislature.
I understand that feeling. However, I was hoping Mr. Richie might address the clear fact that a state the size of Texas needs a full-time legislature. This stuff about about bills dying at the end because the session is over is crazy.
It should not be like a football game where a game-closing drive falls short because the clock runs out.
I was also hoping Mr. Richie might offer some optimism about the prospect of a Democratic legislative majority in the next few years.
While I’ll admit to some doubts, I do think it is possible a Democratic legislative majority could make Texas at least a somewhat better place in the near future.
If we are looking for a Democratic legislature, would it not be best if it met full-time so it could do more good?
If things can’t get better, why should we bother with politics at all? If Mr. Richie can’t imagine a better future, what good is he?
Ideally, I’d vote for the most liberal Democratic Presidential candidate in the 2008 Texas primary. Regretfully though, that candidate in 2008 is likely to be the same person it was in 2004—Representative Dennis Kucinich.
I like Representative Kucinich well enough. I wish he were my Congressperson instead of the one I have. And yet–I can’t take Dennis seriously as standard-bearer for my views on the national stage.
My first vote for President was for Jesse Jackson in the 1988 Ohio Democratic Primary. I knew Jesse would not win the nomination, but he made it to the convention and he made his case with a strong speech.
The late Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota considered running for President in 2000. He did not make the race in part due to severe back pain. Wellstone was the real thing and I think he would have done a great job carrying the banner as a serious candidate of the left.
Dennis Kucinich is no Paul Wellstone. I know some folks get excited over Kucinich’s push to impeach Vice President Cheney. To me, whatever I think of Mr. Cheney, that stuff is a waste of time. It marks Mr. Kucinich as a candidate of narrow segment of the left and not a candidate who can carry the message to a larger audience.
Reverend Jackson and Senator Wellstone were men with a more broad appeal than Mr. Kucinich. Mr. Kucinich won 3.8% of all Democratic primary votes in 2004. Compare that low number against the 29.1% of primary voters Reverend Jackson won in 1988.
It’s not all about the numbers. Beliefs count for a lot as well. But anyway you figure it, Dennis is not the man in 2008.
My view is that if the Devil came to be with us, he’d come in the form of Houston -based TV preacher Joel Osteen. Coming as Pat Robertson, for example, would be very obvious and most people would be immune to his evil works.
How much smarter it would be for the Devil to come as this so-called “Pastor” Osteen. Pastor Osteen smiles, talks his happy talk, hits up the flock for money, and all the while the world outside gets worse and worse. If Pastor Osteen is not the Devil, he may well be doing the Devil’s work.
A favorite book of mine is called The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann. In this book Mr. Brueggemann calls for a church that confronts power and injustice, instead of a church that serves as an enabler of so many evils in our society.
Maybe two years ago, I was reading this book while taking a walk in a secluded Houston park. While walking, I ran into none other than Joel Osteen. We were the only two people on that trail.
If I had thought quickly, l would have handed him the book. I could have of said to Pastor Osteen—“Pastor Osteen, here is a book about a God of justice you have never addressed in your TV sermons.”
Who knows? Maybe he would have taken it as a sign from God and changed his evil ways. Every time I see that guy on TV I think about how I blew my chance.
Houston City Council Candidate Melissa Noriega offers the prospect of real change for Houston. Ms. Noriega is someone willing to listen and someone with a genuine capacity for imagination.
Given the huge problems Houston has and given the failure of both Democrats and Republicans over the years to address these problems, this capacity for imagination is the greatest strength Ms. Noriega can offer our city.
I’ve written two blog posts suggesting a measure of hesitancy over Ms. Noriega’s candidacy. I was put off by the lack of specifics on her web page—Which is for most people the most accessible way to learn about her— and I have a longstanding disappointment with the silence of many Houston City Hall Democrats over the borderline third-world conditions we have here in Houston.
At the suggestion of the blogger who writes Greg’s Opinion, I called Ms. Noriega to get what I was told would be a more accurate picture of who she really was.
Ms. Noriega and I spoke for nearly half-an-hour. She listened to me and I listened to her. After speaking to her, I believe Ms. Noriega has the potential to be a leader on council and in Houston. Ms. Noriega and I have also had an e-mail exchange since then and again she was gracious and open-minded.
I believe Ms. Noriega has the ability to see that as an elected official, she has the prerogative to define her office as she sees fit in order to help her constituents. Political office is at heart an act of imagination. I believe she will give serious thought to creative solutions to tough problems and that she will speak on issues others leave alone.
It is good that Ms. Noriega is the strong favorite to win the Houston City Council run-off election next month and I look forward to her service on council.
I have two bumper stickers on my car. One says “Texas Democrat” and the other says “Vote Democratic.” (One need not believe fully in the cause to show the colors. I imagine I believe enough….Sometimes at least.)
Not long ago, while putting my groceries in the car in the supermarket parking lot, a man came up to me and said “Thanks for surrendering our country to the Muslims.”
(If Muslims can deliver universal health care they can have the country. Maybe Muslims would do a better job running the country.)
I reacted to this gentleman without thinking and replied by suggesting that he “Get the f*** away from me.”
While this was a sincere statement on my part and consistent enough with my vocabulary in the private company of friends, family and wife, I was sorry to have responded in this manner in a public place. The commons are polluted enough without me adding to the mess.
As an aging ex straight-edge punk rocker and a native New Englander with some blue blood on my non-Italian side, I’m a Puritan at heart.
However, while I may have opinions on what others do, I would not stop them if I could. People have minds of their own and they must proceed as they see fit. Only my actions are under my control.
So the next time a grumpy person disrupts my thoughts about Babe Ruth or Plymouth Rock or whatever I was thinking about when that guy spoke to me , I shall endeavor to react in a more reasoned fashion.
A few days back I had lunch at a Mexican seafood restaurant here in Houston. I looked at the menu and saw that I could order octopus. In the past I would have of ordered the octopus. I’ve had octopus many times.
However, since I last had octopus I’ve seen some nature programs showing just how smart these creatures are. I saw an octopus in a lab leave its tank and slither over to another tank where some food was kept. Apparently the octopus is a curious creature. It will investigate and, seemingly, ponder things it encounters in the ocean.
I looked at the menu and felt a measure of revulsion at the thought of this smart creature being captured and killed.
I’ve been reading Writings on an Ethical Life by Peter Singer. Singer, a professor at Princeton, has written about globalization, euthanasia and animal rights. His book about globalization ,called One World, is excellent and stresses the equal value of all persons wherever they may live on the Earth.
In a chapter from Writings on an Ethical Life, Singer says the issue is not the intelligence of the animal, as I considered about the octopus, but simply the fact that the animal has a capacity to suffer.
Animal rights issues or becoming a vegetarian are not things at the top of my list at the moment. However, I was surprised at the intensity of my reaction to the octopus on the menu. Who knows where this line of thought may lead? We always have the capacity to see issues in a new light as we acquire new information.
I was in Galveston today. While strolling on the beach, a seagull flew by and crapped on my shoe. I think it was targeting me.
I took it in stride and kept walking. That’s all we can do in life when crap happens.
In college, I was turned-off when studying Henry David Thoreau. While I, like all people, have many conflicting impulses, maybe my strongest impulse is against someone separating himself from the whole.
I feel this way despite a strong wariness of the will of the political majority, however it may be defined at any given moment, and despite the atomistic bent of my solid 1980’s Midwestern hardcore punk rock credentials.
Last week I watched an episode of Hawaii Five-O for the first time in many years. In this episode, top cop Steve McGarrett was asked to test some sort of telephone snooping device. McGarrett said into the phone, “If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”
This spoke to me. I’d heard it before—But for whatever reason it resonated with me very much on this one particular afternoon. I knew the quote was from Thoreau’s Walden.
So I went out a few days ago and bought a copy of Thoreau. We’ll see if he reaches me or if my Andrew Jackson “of the people” impulses exert too strong a pull.
This evening I attended the Texas Rangers/Houston Astros game in Houston.
In the first inning the man sitting next to me coughed in my direction without covering his mouth. In my mind I was thinking, “Get your smallpox self out of my face.” However, I remained calm on the outside.
How hard is it to cover your mouth when you cough?
The best play of the game was made by a vendor selling bottled water for $3.75. Customers would hand the young man $4.00 and he would tell them he was out of quarters when they wanted the change back. Ha! I hope he made a few extra bucks tonight.
Slugger Sammy Sosa plays for the Texas Rangers. Sosa is close to becoming the fifth player ever to hit 600 home runs. When Sosa came to bat, people would boo and yell about steroids. I wonder how many of the people booing were hooked on prescription drugs, illegal drugs, booze, caffeine, sugar, food in general and porn?
My wife is out of town and I went to the game alone. I brought a book because you can get a lot of reading done in the time between half-innings. All time has value.
A Full-Time Texas Legislature, End Of One-Third Rule In Senate And Party Line Vote For Speaker—Steps Towards Democracy In Texas
Here in Texas the legislature meets only once every two years, one-third of the state senate can block legislation and the House Speaker is elected with votes from members of the opposite party.
Really. It’s true.
And we have no income tax.
Does this absence of democracy and fair taxation more reflect fear of others or is it self-loathing? In a state like Texas, where the strong kick the weak for sport and where the public has never known anything better, I imagine it is a mix of both.
A state with more people than Australia needs a full-time legislature. The senate should find a new and higher number of senators required to block bills. And the House Speaker should be selected by party line vote in a way that respects the House majority that the public elected.
As a new Democratic and demographic majority comes to the front in Texas, we should be endorsing full-scale change in how we conduct politics in Texas.
Texas Liberal is sorry to post about sports. Sports get too much attention in our society. Still, because I am a hypocrite, here is a baseball post.
I’ll be attending the San Francisco Giants/Houston Astros game tomorrow night in Houston. Barry Bonds of the Giants has been booed by Houston fans each time he has come to bat for the past two days.
I won’t be one of the people booing Mr. Bonds tomorrow. I lived in Cincinnati for 18 years and for much of that time I was subjected to Pete Rose. I don’t know what Mr. Bonds has done or not done, but he can’t be much worse than Pete Rose.
Mr. Rose bet on his team and is a convicted tax cheat.
Mr. Rose was from the West Side of Cincinnati. While it is not so much the case anymore, the West Side of Cincinnati was for many years the more law-and-order part of town.
I always felt that many of Mr. Rose’s most vocal supporters were some the same people who had been hostile to black Hall-Of-Famer Frank Robinson during his time in a Cincinnati uniform in the 1960’s.
A solid book about Mr. Rose is Hustle–The Myth, Life And Lies Of Pete Rose by Michael Sokolove.
Jerry Falwell died today. I’m sorry when any person dies. Not long after Rev. Falwell’s death today, I heard some disparaging comments making light of his departure. I’m not comfortable with that sort of thing. As tempting as it can be at times, you can’t fight hate with hate.
The comments I heard today about Rev. Falwell’s death reminded me, in a way, of what Malcolm X said after the shooting of President Kennedy. Malcolm said “the chickens had come home to roost.”
While quite controversial at the time, these comments were not personal in regards to President Kennedy. Here is a take on what Malcolm said from Martin Luther King biographer Taylor Branch as written in the book Pillar Of Fire: America In The King Years 1963-1965—
“Malcolm argued from history that the “climate of hatred” so widely blamed for the assassination was anything but marginal to American society. This was the gauntlet of an aspiring prophet—telling a nation that a revered leader had been struck down by a righteous punishment…..”
Rev. Falwell died from natural causes. No lesson can be drawn from his death. The best thing in regards to Rev. Falwell is to just move forward and hope that he has found some peace from all that sad anger.
Texas House Speaker Tom Craddick is on the ropes again. It seems clear that he is weak and should go. Mr. Craddick should not go because he is a bully or because he is harsh on the poor, though he is those things, he should go because he is a political failure.
Mr. Craddick is failing his caucus and as such he is failing in his highest political obligation as Speaker—To deliver a Republican House majority in the 2008 elections. After Republican division over the Speaker’s post at the beginning of the session, Mr. Craddick has not delivered party unity at this late date.
Why would any Republican who wants to be in the majority past 2008 support Mr. Craddick at this point? He obviously can’t get the job done. Frankly, it might serve Democrats to keep the guy. Why help Republicans solve this big problem?
Some Democrats do hope to influence the process of who becomes Speaker. They might be able to because the Texas legislature is not a real democracy where competing parties articulate competing visions. Instead, deals are cut behind the scenes and nobody really knows why a legislator supports one candidate for Speaker over another.
My hope is that Republicans get their act together and take command of the process. Not because I like the Republicans. I don’t. It’s just that we had an election in 2006 and Republicans won a House majority. That should be the end of the matter.
I understand it is possible that a Republican other than Mr. Craddick might pursue a more humane course towards the poor in Texas. Yet in the end I feel we must respect the outcome of the last election. An elected legislative chamber should be run by the elected majority.
After 2008 or 2010, when a different party may hold the Texas House majority, I’ll have this very same viewpoint. I bet that I’ll have a few more people from my side of the aisle agreeing with me at that point—Especially if the demographics of Texas appear to suggest a long- term Democratic Party revival in the Lone Star State.
Burnt Orange Writer Has No Need To Apologize For Support Of Iraq War As People Must Follow Conscience—I Don’t Lament My 2000 Nader Vote
A writer on the Burnt Orange Report here in Texas recently made a post apologizing for his initial support of the Iraq War.
While he was certainly free to make that post, I felt he had no reason to do so. He supported the war based on his conscience and his best guess at the time. It’s all we can ask of anybody.
It’s one thing to be mad at the dishonest people who started the war, it’s another thing to bear a grudge against one person doing his best in a difficult world.
I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000. While because of the Electoral College it did not matter so much in Texas, I’m certain I would have done the same if still living in the battleground state of Ohio. I lived in Ohio up until 1998.
I’m asked sometimes by friends if I regret my vote for Nader in 2000. I don’t. I did the best I could at the time.
There is often pressure to conform to certain views in the Texas left blog world. (And, of course, in the rest of the world as well.) The hell with that I say. People must do as their conscience guides them to do.