Texas Liberal

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Who, Where, and What Is Home?

I’ve been thinking lately about the subject “How should we define home?”

Is home simply the structure where we live? The city or town where we live?

Such definitions seem narrow.

I’ve come to the view that home is a combination of people, place, and purpose.

Home can be something we are doing as much as a geographic location. Home can be how we feel when we are with a certain person. Or, if you’re lucky, you can feel at home with more than one person.  

Here is my view of home—

People—Who are people we enjoy spending time with?  Who do we trust? Who can we share memories with? Who do we look forward to being with in the future?  

Place—Where do we feel comfortable?  Where can we most be ourselves? Where do we have past? Where do we have a future?

Purpose—What are the things we do with our time that give life meaning? What has given our lives meaning up to now?

Here are some pictures showing how this defintion of home works for me—-

People—Whenever and wherever I am with my wife, I am at home. Here we are in Boston. There are also friends and family I feel at home with. 

Place—Galveston, Texas has been my home away from home in the ten years I have lived in Houston. It’s a place I can take a walk and think about life. Galveston will recover soon from the effects of Hurricane Ike.

Purpose—I take satisfaction in communicating my beliefs and knowledge to others. I enjoy the process and act of communicating.

These are the things that define home in my life. You will have your own ideas about who, where, and what home is in your life.

September 30, 2008 Posted by | Galveston, Relationships | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Despite Massive Public Subsidy For Stadium, Cincinnati Bengals Are Terrible Year After Year

Despite a massive public subsidy from the taxpayers of Hamilton County, Ohio to build a stadium, the Cincinnati Bengals football team have posted 0 wins and 4 defeats so far in the 2008 NFL season. This is a terrible record.

Not only are the Bengals terrible in 2008, the Bengals have had only one winning season in the past 17 years. 

The Bengals are possibly the worst team in all of professional sports. They may also be worse than any college, amateur or pee wee team.

This is the ninth season the Bengals have played in Paul Brown Stadium. This stadium has been paid for with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. In these nine seasons, the Bengals have had one winning year. What a lousy team. They’ve let down the public in so many ways. With a free stadium, can’t they put a winning team on the field?

When Paul Brown Stadium was funded, at knifepoint as the Bengals threatened to move to another city, a lot of fuss was made about how the new stadium would economically benefit Cincinnati and Hamilton County. Has any public official who supported the deal ever checked back to see if the deal has really paid off for the people of Cincinnati and Hamilton County?

The Cincinnati Bengals stink year after year. They stink even after they are given the advantage of millions of dollars of free public money. 

Above is Paul Brown Stadium along the riverfront in Downtown Cincinnati. Each time I drive past that stadium, as I do in my trips home to Cincinnati, I think of what a failure of imagination and hope for the future it is for a community to spend millions on a football stadium, and not on the needs of average people.   

I think about how the Bengals bullied the public into approving the stadium deal.

And I think about how the Bengals stink year after year after year.

September 30, 2008 Posted by | Cincinnati | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Quick Observations On Bailout Bill Failure

The House of Representatives has voted no on the Wall Street Bailout bill. Here are some quick observations I have on the subject.

I support this legislation.

1. If this nation ran on a parliamentary system, the government would collapse. 

2. While I am ideologue in many respects, this vote is being held hostage to ideologies of both the right and the left.

3. After the failures and lies of Iraq and this possible failure of our financial system, how can average people trust anything they are told?

4. Average people–the Main Street we keep hearing about—have some fault here. Many sought to live beyond their obvious means.

5. The flawed initial proposal from the White House, John McCain’s seemingly pointless suspend the campaign stunt, and the rabid free-market ideology of many House Republicans, show that Republicans are simply not competent to govern.

6. The idea that any speech by Nancy Pelosi killed the bill is silly. If House members felt this bill was good the country, why would a speech change people’s minds?

7. I understand that this bill came from the White House and that House Republicans are often very far to the right, but Democrats have a majority in the House. They have the obligation to make this work in the House.

8. Members of Congress had the right to vote as they saw fit. Even in crisis we have to keep our faith in democracy and move ahead to the next solution.

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Let’s Take The Lemon Of The Bailout And Make The Lemonade Of Greater Regulation And Universal Health Care

With the $700 billion Wall Street bailout moving towards a vote in Congress, let us no longer hear that government should stay out of our economy.

This proposal came from a far-right Republican President and has had the support of most Republican senators.

If we can do this, we can have universal health care. If an argument in favor of the bailout is that in time taxpayers will get the money back from the bailout, why not also invest in average Americans? Won’t we also get a return on an investment in average folks?  

(Here in Texas, many are making use of government programs to help recover from Hurricane Ike.  Even in Texas people are finding that stuff happens and that help is sometimes needed from government.)

It’s clear now that we can have more regulation of our economy and that government can take steps needed to protect Americans from the excesses of Wall Street and irresponsible banks and financial firms. 

Do you think your retirement is safe in the hands of an unregulated Wall Street? And in regard to health insurance, do you trust the private sector to ever deliver on the right that all have of access to health care?   

I understand the bailout is hard to accept in many respects. Who wants to bailout Wall Street?

It is conservatives from the White House and Senate who have made the case here for government intervention in the economy. We should take advantage of this unexpected support for a place for government in our economy. We should do this just as Franklin Roosevelt turned the Great Crash into something better. Let’s take this lemon and make lemonade.

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics, Taxes---Yes!, Texas | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Is Sarah Palin

This recent Associated Press story details abuses of power and favor taking Sarah Palin took part in as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska.

From the story—-

Though Sarah Palin depicts herself as a pit bull fighting good-old-boy politics, in her years as mayor she and her friends received special benefits more typical of small-town politics as usual…When Palin needed to sell her house during her last year as Wasilla mayor, she got the city to sign off on a special zoning exception — and did so without keeping a promise to remove a potential fire hazard… She gladly accepted gifts from merchants: A free “awesome facial” she raved about in a thank-you note to a spa. The “absolutely gorgeous flowers” she received from a welding supply store. Even fresh salmon … Some of her first actions after being elected mayor in 1996 raised possible ethical red flags: She cast the tie-breaking vote to propose a tax exemption on aircraft when her father-in-law owned one, and backed the city’s repeal of all taxes a year later on planes, snow machines and other personal property. She also asked the council to consider looser rules for snow machine races. Palin and her husband, Todd, a champion racer, co-owned a snow machine store at the time…James Svara, professor of public affairs at Arizona State University and author of “The Ethics Primer for Public Administrators in Government and Nonprofit Organizations,” suggested such behavior is part of small-town politics…”Small towns are first-person politics, and if people are close, it’s hard to separate one’s own personal interest and one’s own personal property from the work of the city,” Svara said. The key questions from an ethics standpoint include whether the politician makes a potential conflict of interest known and removes himself or herself from actions related to it, he added.

Most people who read Texas Liberal don’t like Sarah Palin no matter what. But there are also many who come to this blog via Google or other search engines. 

You’re reading here what kind of person John McCain picked to be Vice President. This is someone who one year from today could be President.

Here is a view from right-wing columnist Kathleen Parker saying Governor Palin should be dumped from the ticket for the good of the nation.

This column discusses how women had to pay for rape kits while Governor Palin was Mayor of Wasilla.

These are the facts about Sarah Palin. No amount of hiding her from the press is going to change these facts.

September 29, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Outside The Houston Public Library

Here is a picture I took of the plaza in front of the newly renovated Downtown branch of the Houston Public Library.

I took this picture from a third floor window.

The library is a fine example of how government makes a positive difference in people’s lives.

September 28, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Taxes---Yes! | , , , | 3 Comments

Photo Of The Grave Of Samuel Adams

Above is a photo of the grave of the great patriot Samuel Adams.

I took this picture in Boston last June. 

You can find this grave in the Granary Burying Grounds in Boston, Massachusetts.

Here is information on Samuel Adams.

September 28, 2008 Posted by | History | , , , | Leave a comment

Obama-McCain Debate Summary With Peter Fonda Picture

The first debate between Barack Obama and John McCain is over. It won’t surprise you that I feel Senator Obama won the debate. I’m going to spare you my thoughts because there is no way I would have said Senator Obama had lost the debate even if he had appeared on stage carrying a bottle of whiskey while singing Danny Boy.

Such is my summary of the debate. You can take it or leave it. By Monday we’ll be on to other issues and people will barely recall the debate took place.

(Above is a car buried in the sand on Bolivar Peninsula, part of Galveston County, in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. For the purposes of this blog, the car represents how Barack Obama buried Senator McCain’s postions with the truth. The photo is from the Houston Chronicle.) 

In my home we’ve already turned off the post-debate coverage–the debate ended maybe half an hour ago–because it is tedious. We have on an infomercial featuring Peter Fonda discussing a Time-Life collection of music of the 1960’s. The ad says I’ll get extra benefits if I order within the next few minutes. Below is Mr. Fonda, the biker, with Jack Nicholson in Easy Rider.

As Senator Obama moves towards victory, there are a few things I would like my readers to please note—

Well-known political analyst Charlie Cook says Democrats have at least some chance of winning 60 Senate seats.

Sarah Palin still won’t explain why women had to pay for rape kits while she was Mayor of Wasilla.

And for those of you looking for the longer view, Hugh Brogan’s The Penguin History of the United States is the best one-volume history of the U.S. I have read.

September 27, 2008 Posted by | Books, Campaign 2008, History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

It Is Excellent That There Are Many Different Ways We Can Conduct Our Important Relationships

In my reading of the Pulitzer Prize winning Paul Revere and the World He Lived in, I made note of the fact that Revere had letter-writing relationships with two cousins in Europe he would never meet.  

When I read this, I put the book down. I thought about how excellent it is that our relationships can take so many forms. That we can even have bonds with people we never meet in person.

Maybe Paul Revere and his cousins exchanged enough letters over a lifetime that they came to feel  they knew each other well. 

Today, beyond the ability to meet face-to-face, we have the phone, e-mail, and, just like Paul Revere, letters. We have cars and jet planes to help us meet people that in the past we would have never met, or met much less often.

When we are not communicating with people who are important to us, we have the ability to give them some thought and to ponder what we will say the next time we get the chance to communicate. 

I’ve written in this blog that I am not a bridge-builder. This is true. I have only the time and resources that I have, and I make no effort to pretend I can stomach everybody I meet.

I try very hard with the people who are in my life.

Our lives often feel they are out of control. That we are on a pace faster than what we wish was the case. Our relationships often suffer in such circumstances.

The very good news is that with discipline and imagination, we can have many excellent relationships even when life is demanding. You just have to work at it and realize that your efforts are appreciated.

September 26, 2008 Posted by | Books, Relationships | , , , | 1 Comment

Billions In Hurricane Aid For Texas—Please Stop Talking About Small Government

Texas is going to get billions of dollars in federal money for hurricane relief after Hurricane Ike.


When Texans refuse this money, I’ll believe all the talk around here about small government and government out of our lives.

Maybe as we get the help we need from money raised by the taxes we pay, we can begin to see ourselves as part of a community instead of lone rangers or whatever.

Stuff happens and people need help—Even in Texas.

September 26, 2008 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Taxes---Yes!, Texas | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Democratic Harris County District Clerk Candidate Loren Jackson Leaves Excellent Comment on This Blog—Mr. Jackson Respects All Laws

Last month, I made a post about incumbent Harris County District Clerk Theresa Chang planting campaign signs in public parks here in Houston.

It seems that wrongdoer Chang is committing this offense around the county. Loren Jackson, who will be elected County District Clerk at the expense of Ms. Chang in just a few weeks, recently left the comment below on my blog in response to my post of last month.   

Thank you Mr. Jackson for your comment, for you service to the people of Harris County, and for your respect for our laws.

From Mr. Jackson— 

Mr. Aquino,

This came to my attention the day that it happened. I gave Ms. Chang the benefit of the doubt and e-mailed her campaign manager privately asking for the removal of the signs and to refrain from posting her signs in public rights-of-way in the future.

Four days before, she also had illegally placed signs at 59 and the Beltway (right-of-way of a highway). The week following the e-mail, she placed signs in a public highway right-of-way at Hwy 59 and Townsend Blvd near Humble, and in public rights-of-way all over Fairmont Pkwy in Pasadena, on 34th Street, on TC Jester, on Scarsdale, and many other locations around the city.

Both Mrs. Chang and myself are attorneys, who swore an oath to uphold and defend the laws of this great State. The very law we swore to uphold happens to be located on each sign that we place. I have chosen to uphold that law. I publicly encourage Mrs. Chang to also begin upholding that law.

Please report illegally placed signs to the following:

Harris County Commissioner Precinct 1: Theodus Gay (713) 991-6881 ext. 1105
Harris County Commissioner Precinct 2: Laura (281) 487-2910

Precincts 3 and 4 are Republican controlled, and therefore, may or may not be of assistance in removing a Republican candidates’ illegally placed signs.

Other contact numbers for illegally placed signs:
City of Humble: (281) 446-2327
City of Pasadena (713) 475-4826
Texas Department of Transportation (Highway Rights-of-way): (713) 802-5071
City of Houston: Dee Harris (713) 218-5820.

September 26, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Houston, Politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Q. Adams Won Presidency With 31% Of Vote in 1824—In My Darker Moments About Democracy, This Warms My Heart

In the famous “corrupt bargain” election of 1824, John Quincy Adams won the election even though he won only 30.9% of the popular vote.

This is the Texas Liberal Election Fact of the Day.

In a four-way race, Mr. Adams (photo above) finished second to Andrew Jackson in the popular vote total.

Final popular results were Mr. Jackson of Tennessee 41%, Mr. Adams of Massachusetts 31%, Henry Clay of Kentucky 13%, and William Crawford of Georgia 11%.

31% is the lowest popular percentage ever received by a successful candidate for the Presidency. 

Because no candidate won a majority of the electoral college, the race went to the House of Representatives. ( Here is information about the Electoral College including what happens when no candidate wins an electoral vote majority.)

In the House, Mr. Jackson’s arch-rival, Henry Clay, gave his support to Mr. Adams. This allowed Mr. Adams to win the election in the House. Mr. Clay was subsequently selected by Mr. Adams to serve as Secretary of State. The position of Secretary of State was seen then as a stepping stone to the Presidency.

The charge was made, denied by both President Adams and Secretary Clay of a “Corrupt Bargain.” The allegation was that a deal had been cut exchanging Mr. Clay’s support for the Secreatry of State’s office.

Corrupt Bargain or not, Andrew Jackson easily defeated President Adams in 1828 by a margin 0f 56%-44%.

Some days, when I am down on the people, I take a small measure of satisfaction from this 31% President. He made all those Indian-hating, slave-keeping Jacksonians wait another four years. 

Abe Lincoln won the White House with 39.9% of the vote in his 1860 four-way race. Mr. Lincoln ,however, won enough electoral votes on Election Day. Mr. Lincoln’s total is the second lowest percentage total for a winning candidate.

I believe in democracy, but sometimes, as we all realize, the majority gets it wrong.

September 25, 2008 Posted by | Election Fact Of The Day, Political History, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Post #1000—Little Is So High Or So Low That It Is Unwelcome

This is the 1000th Texas Liberal blog post. That’s a lot of work.

Is blogging a good use of time? How we use our time is many respects a roll of the dice. Hopefully, when the bell tolls, you’ll be glad with the things you did.  

We’re having a big party to celebrate my blogging milestone. See above the top name entertainment at the party. It’s a wild night. Salma Hayek was nice to give of her time.

What? You did not get your invitation? It must have been lost in the mail.

Texas Liberal knows no boundaries—high or low—when it comes to serving the blogging public.

Did you know the National Enquirer reported last week that the Palin family kids have been engaged in any number of misdeeds over the years? The Enquirer was one of the few magazines restocked at Walgreen’s after Hurricane Ike last week. I read all about it. Here is the link to the Enquirer.

They have a new Sarah Palin scoop that is pretty good. They have the name of her lover.

No–It is not John Edwards.

I hope these stories, if true, are able to be worked into the campaign in a way that hurts the McCain/Palin ticket.

It’s all about family values. That’s what Governor Palin says.

Despite the tawdry nature of this post so far, Texas Liberal remains able to meet your intellectual needs.

Check out here the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virgina. They have complete information on all the Presidents. It is very well done.

Or click the link for a review of Alan Taylor’s American Colonies—The Settling of North America. This is one of the best books I have read in recent years. Read it and you’ll not just have a sense of what life was like before the American Revolution, you’ll have a sense of why the American political and social landscape is as it is today.

I have used both these sources a number of times for this blog.

And please never forget–Texas Liberal has the best Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List on the web.

Here is the one post I’m most glad I’ve written. It’s called People Have A Right To Define Family As They Wish.

Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.

September 25, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Books, Campaign 2008, Politics | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

McCain Debate Delay Is A Stunt

Below is an example of a stunt–


And here is another example of a stunt—

As a final example of a stunt, below you see John McCain who wants to suspend his campaign and delay this Friday’s debate because of the financial crisis.

John McCain

If Mr. McCain were President and we had a financial crisis at the same time as a foreign crisis, would he suspend work on one of the issues to deal with the other? Is he just hoping two big things won’t happen at the same time?  

Maybe the real crisis Senator McCain is facing is that he is falling behind in the polls.

September 24, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , | 4 Comments

I Did Not Allow My Car To Fixed By The Man In A Giant Red Truck Who Stopped Me In A Parking Lot

I have a small dent on the back of my car. The dent is the result of somebody who hit me while I was parked and away from my car. The person who hit my car forgot to leave a note. 

Today, I was in another parking lot here in Houston and two men in a giant red pickup truck pulled up as I was leaving my car. The man driving the truck spoke to me. I did not want to talk to this person, or to anybody at that moment, but such is life.

The man driving the truck said he owned a body shop that was underwater from Hurricane Ike. Sure. It’s “underwater” 12 days after the storm. Not even Galveston is still underwater. He said if I gave him 35 minutes and paid him $240 that he, and the silent man in the truck, would fix my dent. 

There is no way I would do this in any case, but in the context of the recent hurricane this is just what people have been warned about. Don’t do business with anybody who solicits you off the street or who just knocks on your door at home out of the blue.

This is the case for both car and home repairs.

I wanted to ask him if he would be declaring this money on his income tax and if he would just like to follow me to the ATM and take my money while waving a crowbar at my head. Or, rather, would it be be best if I were to simply give him my ATM card and password so he could get the money himself.

In terms of the tax issue, did not the man driving the truck realize that the Progressive Income Tax was one of the great political achievements of 20th Century America.

I told the guy no and he went away. I was glad he went away though I still regret I had to speak to him at all.  

Here is a list of ways to tell that a contractor is scamming you.

Here is some information about mobile body repair scams.

Here is information about scams in established body shops

Bottom line on car body work—Don’t allow your car to be damaged in any way.

People are out and about like vultures. They want to rip you off. Don’t be ripped off.

Here is information on vultures.

September 24, 2008 Posted by | Houston | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment