Texas Liberal

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Photo Of Rainy Day In World War II Era Houston

digital file from intermediary roll film

The above photo is of a rainy day in Downtown Houston.

The picture was taken by John Vachon in 1943.  

The picture is part of American Memory collection from the Library of Congress. 

This specific photo is from a collection of documentary pictures taken by government photographers in the Roosevelt years.

The days come and go. People have their lives.  People come and go. 

May 31, 2008 Posted by | Houston | , , , | Leave a comment

The Continental Divide In Our Lives

I’ve heard the term Continental Divide many times, but I never know what it was until I looked it up recently in The Penguin Dictionary of Geography.

Here is what the continental divide is—

The main waterparting in a continent, e.g. in North America, where the streams flow on one side of the divide to the Pacific and on the other side to the Atlantic. 

Click here for more information.

As the map above shows, there is more than one continental divide in North America.

Some water goes to the Atlantic, some to the Pacific, some to the Arctic Ocean, some to the St. Lawrence River and some to the Gulf of Mexico. ( And from the St. Lawrence and the Gulf to the Atlantic.)

I think that in one or more ways we all have the equivalent of a continental divide in our lives.

For example, we may have very set ways of thinking about certain issues or situations, as fixed in our minds as any geographic feature on the Earth. 

Just as water that falls on one side or the other of the divide is certain to flow in a specific direction, there are issues or circumstances we are only able to consider and respond to in a rigidly set and pre-determined way. 

Our minds are made up. Or we lack the mental flexability to respond in a different or unique way.     

There could be a divide we feel exists between ourselves and other individuals or maybe even whole groups of people.   

There is left brain and right brain thinking. This is an internal divide people have in varying degrees. I’m more right brain.

Maybe we often have the feeling that something we are trying to accomplish is certain to succeed or to fail. No matter what we do, our efforts will end up in a certain place. 

The good news is that with some thought and imagination, we can get past most internal, and at least some external, divides. 

While the outside world matters a great deal, our lives, thoughts and beliefs are not set in stone.


May 30, 2008 Posted by | Books, Relationships, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Scott McClellan—A Turncoat Just Like His Mom

Former George W. Bush Press Secretary Scott McClellan has written a book critical of his former boss.

Mr. McClellan is a turncoat—Just like his mom.

Mr. McClellan’s mom is well-known here in Texas. Carole Keeton Strayhorn has run for office as a Democrat, a Republican, and as a third-party candidate.

Ms. Strayhorn served as Mayor of Austin as a Democrat, as Texas State Comptroller as a Republican, and then ran as an independent against a Republican incumbent for Governor of Texas in 2006.

She dropped and changed party affiliations to suit her ambitions.

If Mr. McClellan had a real problem with George W. Bush, he could have to resigned in protest.

Instead, he is making big money with a book.  

No loyalty to either President Bush or the American people.

Above you see a picture of some apples on a tree. Here we see that not only do the apples not fall far from the tree, in this case they are root and branch the same rotten fruit.  

Here is what it says in Matthew about trees and the fruit they bear—

You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

Here is some information about apple trees. 

May 29, 2008 Posted by | Books, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A Strain Of Nihilism In My Belief In Democracy

In Revolutionary Characters–What Made The Founders Different, author Gordon Wood says the following about Thomas Jefferson—

Jefferson’s faith in the natural sociability of people…lay behind his belief in minimal government….Jefferson would have fully understood the Western world’s recent interest in devolution and localist democracy….For Jefferson, there could be no power independent of the people, in whom he had absolute faith.

I find myself tending more in a belief in democracy for its own sake. People must have a say in how they are governed. I don’t know to what extent the root of my belief in democracy is faith in the people. I don’t find I need that faith to believe in democracy.   

There is a strain of nihilism my view. The people must govern whatever the outcome. Safeguards must exist for the protection of minority groups in society. But in the end, if a society as a whole pursues policies that lead the end of that society, so be it.

People are born to be free. What they do what that freedom is another question.

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Books, History | , , , , | 3 Comments

New Martin Luther King Book

Cover Image

I bought a new Martin Luther King book last week. It’s called From Civil Rights To Human RightsMartin Luther King And The Struggle For Economic Justice.  It was written by Thomas Jackson who is  an Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.  

This book discusses Rev. King’s economic views and his role as a fighter for a broad array of rights beyond racial equality.  This larger focus is often forgotten in what is recalled about Dr. King.  

Here is a review of the book from the Texas Observer.

From the review—

Jackson describes King as a democratic socialist—one who believes that economic and political power should be distributed equitably among all the people of a polity. From his teens, when King wrote of his “anti-capitalist feelings,” throughout his college, graduate school, and seminary years, and finally into his life as a public figure, his beliefs were strikingly consistent. (Pastor King was thrust onto the national scene during the Montgomery bus boycott at the age of 26; he became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize at 35 and was assassinated at 39.) To gain a wider audience, King resisted labeling his prescription for what ailed America. “Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism,” Jackson quotes him as saying, “but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.” Nonetheless, King emerges from this portrait as a democratic socialist, first, last, and always, who also happened to be a civil rights leader. For King, the right to vote was no more or less essential than the right to a job and a decent place to live. Human beings had a natural claim to all of them.

I look forward to reading this book. I have read so many King books that I have to be convinced that any new title is worth the time. 

If I like the book, I will add it to my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. My Martin Luther King reading & Reference List is the best of its kind by any blogger and maybe the best on the web.

May 28, 2008 Posted by | Books, Martin & Malcolm | , | Leave a comment

Though Only 3% Of Water Is Fresh Water, We Can Still Make A Go Of It

This afternoon I came across the fact that only 3% of the water on Earth is fresh water.

I’ve seen that number before, but forgotten about it. 

It’s amazing that so many people and so much life is sustained by 3% of all water.

Sometimes, I feel that only a small percentage of my time is really useful to me and to others.

I know it is important that we sleep, go to work and go grocery shopping, but those things are not really what I want to be doing with so much of my time.

This is so even though sleeping, working and grocery shopping are not always that bad. And I am sometimes of use to others at work. ( At least I hope I am.)

And no matter what else, I know how lucky I am to have time with my wife, time with friends and family, and time to read, think, and work on my blog.

Still, I get frustrated once in a while that life is not fully what I wish it was.

Yet if six billion people can live off of just 3% of the world’s water, I suppose I can make a good go of things with the limited resources of time I have in my control.    

Here is the link to the UNESCO fresh water resource page. Water, like time, has great value.

The photo above is of Lake Laddjujaure in Sweden.

May 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 4 Comments

I Find Popular Obama Posters To Be Creepy


I’m all for Barack Obama, but I find these Obama posters I’ve seen in a number places to be creepy and propaganda-ish.

Propaganda-ish in the sense of making me feel I live in a dictatorship or some sort of George Orwell state.

Maybe it’s just me on the liberal side of the aisle—But these posters give a sense of why some have called Obama supporters cultish. 

Here is the story behind the posters.

 Images Obama  

May 27, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , | 6 Comments

Wife Okays My Purchase Of Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle

My wife and I were in Target today.

We walked past the DVD aisle and I saw that Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle was on sale for $7.99.

I told the wife I wanted the movie.

Last week I told that wife that I had a dream that I watched Harold & Kumar.

It’s true. I had just such a dream.

I showed the wife the movie. She just looked at me. She noticed it was the “Extreme Unrated” version.

I said that was the only one they had for sale. I think it’s the only one they make.

The wife shook her head and told me to buy the movie if I wanted it.

I do not need to run every purchase by the wife, but I was uncertain that she wanted $8 of our money spent on Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.

The wife is a great wife. She’s the best person in the world.

Here is a review of Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle.   

I notice that it is from the director of “Dude, Where’s My Car?”

That was a helluva movie. I just hope that Harold & Kumar is half as good.  

May 27, 2008 Posted by | My Wife Is The Best Person Ever, Uncategorized | , , | 3 Comments

Goat Meat—If You Have Some, I’ll Eat It

I recently read the following article in The Muslim Observer

HILLSBORO, MO—Demand by Muslim and Hispanic communities in America has farmers raising more goats.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said Monday that the U.S. goat herd has grown from 2.5 million in 2002 to about 3 million today with more than 80 percent of the animals being raised for meat.

“It’s the No. 1 consumed meat in the world,” said Scott Hollis, a goat specialist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “It’s very popular, except here.”

Farmers say goats are relatively inexpensive to purchase and raise and don’t require a lot of land. That means small and weekend farmers find it an attractive niche market, the Post-Dispatch said. On the downside, goats are vulnerable to disease and major supermarket chains aren’t big buyers of goat meat.

The Muslim Observer is a weekly newspaper I picked up in a business run by an Islamic person. It is published in Michigan. It is a publication fully committed to Muslims living as citizens of the United States.  

Here is the full St. Louis Post-Dispatch article on goat meat.

Here is information about raising goats for meat. 

Supermarkets will sell goat meat if people start to ask for it to be sold. It might take time, but they will.

It’s interesting how demographic changes alter what we eat and what we consider as normal.

Things change because life is always in flux. If you accept this, you are more likely to be well-adjusted and more likely to enjoy the things life has to offer. 

I see here that Muslims and Hispanics enjoy goat meat.

Does this mean that the right will come to see goats as a symbol of the threats our nation faces? Will they label goat keepers as people attacking our nation from within? 

The goat in the picture is a Valais Blackneck goat.

Here is information about goats.

May 26, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 10 Comments

The Two Most Important Factors & Issues In The Presidential Race

Here is my view as to the two most important factors and issues in the upcoming Presidential race. 

1. The preexisting partisan preferences of the electorate. 

Most know already how they are going to vote. The old adage is that no matter what, 40% of the country will vote Republican and another 40% will vote Democratic. The rest is up for grabs.

Most people’s votes are set in stone.

2. Will Americans vote for a black man named Barack Hussein Obama for President of the United States?

Personally, I think enough of them will vote for Barack Hussein Obama on Election Day 2008. It might take some folks a bit of thought and reflection to get there—But I think they will.

And what an excellent day that will be. 

For all the hundreds of millions of dollars to be spent, and for all the endless analysis, I feel these two concerns are at least 90% of what will determine this election. 

Maybe 95%.

May 26, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Political History, Politics | , , , | 4 Comments

Book Being Written On World’s Finest Punk Rock Club—The Jockey Club

I got an e-mail a few days ago with news of a book being written about The Jockey Club. This was a punk rock club in Newport, Kentucky that operated from 1982 until 1988.

It was a lot of fun.

I hope you have a place you recall fondly from a well-spent youth of hanging around with your friends.

The Jockey Club book is being compiled by Aurore Press of Cincinnati. Newport, Kentucky is just across the river from Cincinnati.   

I will write something for the book. Hopefully whatever I submit will be included.

In those days I was the Hockeypunk. I was known in punk rock circles from Dayton to Louisville and a few places in-between.

20 years later I’m Texas Liberal.

It’s all the same act.

Please click here for the time Johnny Rotten spoke to me and my other greatest punk rock moments.

May 25, 2008 Posted by | Books, Cincinnati | , , , , , | 10 Comments

John Adams’ View Of What Makes A Gentleperson

I’ve been reading Revolutionary Characters—What Made The Founders Different by Gordon S. Wood. Here is a brief review of this book.

In this book I read about what John Adams said makes a “gentleman”—

“By gentleman, are not meant rich or the poor, the high-born or the low-born, the industrious or the idle: but all those who have received…an ordinary degree of erudition in liberal arts and sciences. Whether by birth they be descended from magistrates and officers of government, or from husbandman, merchants, mechanics, or laborers; or whether they be rich or poor. 

I like this idea by President Adams very much. All that’s needed is to update what he said to include women.



President Adams suggests, correctly, that learning is the path to distinction and societal honor. 

Without forgetting that some face disadvantages in life that get in the way of learning, knowledge is accessible in our society at low cost. There is a lot to learn online, books are often cheap, and the library is free.  

All people have the ability to be well-learned, wise and, as a result, distinguished.

Click here for the excellent John Adams page at the Univ. of Virginia’s Miller Center for Public Affairs.

The painting of Mr. Adams is by Gilbert Stuart and was completed in 1823.  

May 24, 2008 Posted by | Art, Books, History | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Photo Of Carew Tower—The Tallest Building In Cincinnati

Here is a picture I took last month of the tallest building in Cincinnati.

The Carew Tower is 574 feet tall and has 49 stories.

The observation deck up on the roof is a great place to visit. You can see a lot from up there.

Construction of the building was finished in 1931.

Here are some more facts about the Carew Tower.

Here is a list of the tallest buildings in the world. 

May 23, 2008 Posted by | Cincinnati | , | 1 Comment

TexBlog Pac & Progressive Texas Bloggers—Now Is The Time

TexBlog PAC has made its first endorsement.

The endorsed candidate is Diana Maldonado.

Ms. Maldonado is running for Texas State Representative in District 52. This is Williamson County.

Above is a picture of the Williamson County Courthouse. Click here to learn about this fine county

I don’t know much about Ms. Maldonado or the area she hopes to represent.

I can only process so much in life.

However, I feel confident that the people who made the endorsement knew what they were doing. Please click here to read about the TexBlog PAC Board of Directors

The bottom line, for me at least, is not the specifics of 150 House races. That would put me to sleep. The point is that a Democratic majority in the Texas House would make Texas a better place to live.

Gaining five seats would give Democrats a majority in Austin. 

Previous House majorities in Texas, both Republican and Democrat, have, at best, leaned to the right.

Demographic changes in Texas, and the view now held by many that Republicans have failed Texas and the nation, make 2008 and beyond the right time for a new course. 

TexBlog PAC has two main goals.

An immediate focus is to help elect a Democratic majority in the Texas House of Representatives.

A more longterm goal is to help establish blogs as a relevant force in Texas politics.   

When candidates can raise money through direct internet appeals and organize on-line with Facebook pages, why have blogs as the middle person?

For one thing, blogs have the ablilty to focus attention on unkown and lesser known candidates and causes.

For another thing, someone running a blog, is someone who might be willing to take the time and energy needed to help elect liberals and progressives to public office.

There is a value to independence and there is value to organization. It takes all kinds to make something work.    

Texas bloggers have a real opportunity in 2008.   

Now is the time—well, really earlier was the time, but the moment has not passed—for Texas liberal and progressive bloggers to work together to continue to establish themselves as meaningful in Texas politics.  

Fighting about the Clinton/Obama race serves no purpose.  

It is excellent that blogs such as the one you reading right now, Houston’s There….Already , Amarillo’s Jobsanger, and the very good new blog The Old Eighteen from the Dallas area, are ready to help lead the way to a great 2008.   

I can tell you that I’ll assist TexBlog Pac in any way I can.

May 23, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Democratic National Committee Leaves Black Bloggers Off Convention List

There’s been discussion in the relatively narrow world of political blogging, about the absence of Black-run blogs from the Democratic National Committee’s list of accredited blogs for the Democratic convention in Denver.

One blog was selected from each state. In most cases, though not all, selected blogs were those with high traffic, a specific focus on state and local political issues, and an established Democratic Party partisanship.  

This left a pool of mostly white bloggers. 

Yet many Democratic voters are Black.

As are many bloggers—And this includes many with strong traffic.

Burnt Orange Report will be the Texas blog in Denver. All right—They’ll do a good job I’m sure.

Here is the full Denver blogger list.

Houston’s There…Already wrote about this issue in a recent post.   

The Francis L. Holland Blog is leading the way in posting abut this concern.  ( I’ve got Francis on my blogroll. I think he needs to integrate his blogroll and give me a listing.)

The Dallas Morning News wrote an article on the subject. 

The blog Dallas South discussed the topic.

Celtic Diva’s Blue Oasis posted from the perspective of being one of the selected blogs. This woman is a good person seemingly doing her best.

For my part, if I were selected for credentials by a major political party, I’d feel that I had lost my way. 

When I started blogging, it never occurred to me that blogs had “official” relationships with the parties. I suppose that’s because I never read any blogs before I started one. I figured blogging was an organic inclusive process. ( You can see I gave it little thought.)  

If someone slipped up and gave me credentials to the convention, I’d blog about how Black folks and many other folks in cities vote Democratic every election, and still our cities get worse. I’d ask why urban policy does not seem to exist as an issue for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Then I’d ask why neither Senator Obama or Senator Clinton has made the world food price crisis an issue. I’m sorry it costs $4 a gallon to fill up your SUV, but many people in the world can’t afford a bowl of rice. I support the party of the left because I feel that all people matter no matter where they live.  

But that’s just me.

At the same time, I’d advocate for the nominee of the Democratic Party in my posts.

That’s the trap. I’m not going to be voting for a Republican. 

To get the illusion of being listened to, it seems I need to be a working-class white voter in Pennsylvania who can’t fully face the idea of a Black president.  

I’m white and I work, so I guess I’m half way there.

The majority opinon I’ve read explaining the absence of Black bloggers from the convention list is a flawed process and/or some level of neglect.

That’s worse than purposeful exclusion. It speaks to an ingrained pattern of taking people for granted. Inclusion is a habit.

The good thing is that it’s a habit that can be picked up at any point.

Here’s hoping the Democratic National Committee gets with the program. It was a given that the selection criteria used was not going to pick a list of bloggers representative of the many different people who vote for Democrats.   

( This is cross-posted at the Houston Chronicle where I’m one of eight featured political reader-bloggers.)  

( Please click here for my Martin Luther King Reading & Reference list. It is first-rate.

May 23, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , | 7 Comments