Texas Liberal

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My Wife Is 2008 Person Of The Year & This Blog Is 2008 Blog Of The Year

For my last post of the year, I’ve selected my wife as 2008 person of the year, and my blog, Texas Liberal, as 2008 blog of the year.

Above you see my wife and myself. Please also note the people behind us celebrating the wife’s selection as 2008 person of the year. (This picture shows how we dress for dinner each night.)    

There was no other candidate for person of the year. My wife is the best wife ever. 

As for the blog of the year selection, I admit I had to ignore a number of blogs that are better than this one. However, once I did, the choice was clear.     

My favorite post to write this year was If Polar Bears Could Vote.  In that post I was able to run the picture you see below of Polar Bears capturing a submarine.

Thanks to my wife for a great year. 

And thanks to everyone who visted Texas Liberal in 2008. I set a goal of 1000 views a day for 2008. I ended up at or around 911 depending on the last day. That’s a good showing from the 177 a day I did last year. My goal for 2009 is 1,250 a day. We’ll see.

Good luck to you and yours in year ahead.

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, My Wife Is The Best Person Ever, Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Best Of Texas Progressive Alliance Blogging In 2008

The Texas Progressive Alliance is a (loose) group of Texas bloggers who, for whatever differences they may at times have on specific issues, are committed to a better and more progressive Texas. Texas political bloggers range from aspiring political professionals to committed citizens (or maybe a bit of both in some cases) who blog to make a difference in our state, for fun, and, in my case, to stay off the streets and out of trouble.     

2008 was a heck of a year for Texas Progressives. The Presidential Primary came to Texas (for real), we caucused, conventioned, challenged, credentialed, voted, elected, counted, re-counted, brought Netroots Nation to Texas, watched Tom Craddick fight for his life, said farewell to legends, got a head start to on the race to replace Kay Bailey Hutchison and more. A lot more.

It is in that spirit that we bring you the final round-up of 2008. Enjoy.

jobsanger has posted on a variety of subjects, including the popularity of George Bush in 11% Of Americans Are IDIOTS, the Ku Klux Klan in The Klan Is Still Stupid, a plan to steal water from the Panhandle in The Coming Rape Of The Ogallala Aquifer, the fall of a county sheriff in Potter County Sheriff Indicted On Felony Charges and Potter County Sheriff Convicted, and the 2010 governor’s race in Who’s The Dem In 2010 Governor Race?

John Coby at Bay Area Houston has blogged on a number of issues concerning Bob Perry’s home building industry, the Texas Ethics Commission, insurance deregulation, electricity deregulation, and including some humorous posts. One of his favorites series is Spending Campaign Cashwhich has resulted in a number of stories in the news and contributed to a bill to be filed by State Representative Senfronia Thompson.

South Texas Chisme covered such entertaining South Texas stories from the original
DA Hissy Fit
to his poor imitation, various ethics problems including a
few felonies to helping Republicans recover and Democrats to prosper. And, we
never forget about that Republican monument to racism and fear otherwise known as that d*mn fence!

As he approaches his seventh anniversary as a blogger, Off the Kuffd ecided to look forward rather than back on the year. My thanks to my TPA colleagues for all they do, and my best wishes to all for a great 2009.

The Texas Cloverleaf looks back on 2008, as it’s first full year on the blog scene comes to a close. The DNC kicked off the year by picking the Jewish named donkey over the black one for it’s mascot, in what would become the ultimate irony of the political season. Adding to ironies, cash strapped TxDOT gave away $20 million for a Dallas park. We were introduced to GOP family values: 16 US Senators, including our own from Texas, voted against funding for HIV/AIDS prevention, leading to more deaths, and the Palin clan popped out more replacements as part of God’s will. Don’t forget to carve the backwards B on your face for posterity. 2008 was a whirlwind and couldn’t have been more dramatic. Here is to a 2009 with the same kind of flair!

Continue reading

December 31, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Politics, Texas | , , , | Leave a comment

Blogger’s Note

Blogger’s Note—For the next few days I’ll be taking it easy with the blog. It will be something of a Christmas/New Year’s Day break. I might post each day until the New Year. Or I might notCome the New Year, I’ll be offering thoughts on the historic context of the enlarged Democratic Congressional majorities in Congress, resuming my Who I Would Have Supported For President series, and, in general, be up and running with new material.

Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.

December 26, 2008 Posted by | Blogging | | 3 Comments

January 19 Is Martin Luther King Day, January 20 Is Inauguration Day—Take These Days Off Work If You Are Able

Monday, January 19, 2009 is Martin Luther King Day.  Tuesday, January 20, 2009 will be Inauguration Day for Barack Hussein Obama.

I’ve taken these two days off from work.  What great days they shall be. Take them off work if you are able and enjoy the holiday and the great events of the inauguration.

Of course, some get King Day off in any case. Though many do not. In 2009, take the day if you don’t get it and enjoy a holiday of history, justice, and hope.  Take the next day as well and celebrate with freedom loving Americans such as yourself.      

Below—True Blue Americans will be taking both these routes come the third week of January. Maybe a new sign and a new route will have to be made where you can get off at the same exit for Martin Luther King and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.   

Here is the second edition of the Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List. There are three additions for 2009.  

While it is always instructive to watch a rebroadcast or listen to a recording of the I Have A Dream speech,  there is a next level for someone who wants to better understand Dr. King and his message. 

Reverend King asked serious questions about America as a war criminal nation in Vietnam and he asked if America  merited divine judgement as a wicked nation of racism and social inequality.  These questions, even in the time of Barack Obama, are still worthy of consideration.   

Here is an admittedly incomplete, but I hope, useful Martin Luther King viewing, visiting, listening, and reading list. The three additions for 2009 are noted towards the bottom of the list.  

An excellent book is Martin & Malcolm & America—A Dream Or A Nightmare by James H. Cone. This book follows the words and the careers of both these men. The premise, which holds up, is that Dr. King and Malcolm X  (photo below) were not as far apart as sometimes portrayed. Malcolm was a man with a broader vision than one of simple racial solidarity, and King was in many respects a fierce and almost apocalyptic critic of America.  

I’m glad to say I bought my copy of Cone’s book at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta, Georgia.  This site is operated by the National Park Service. You can tour Martin Luther King’s boyhood home at this location. You’ll also want to tour the Auburn Avenue Historic District around the King home.    

Regretfully, the nearby Ebenezer Baptist Church (photo below) , King’s home church, is currently under renovation. It will reopen in late 2009.  Still, the District as a whole is very much worth a visit.

In Washington, when you visit the Lincoln Memorial (photo below), you can find a small marker indicating the exact spot where Rev. King made the “Dream” speech. It is a good place to stand.

The best one volume work on King’s life is David Garrow’s Bearing The Cross—Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Bearing The Cross was the 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner for biography.  You can’t help but feel the almost deep-sea like pressure on Dr. King in the final years of his life. I wondered if towards the end of his life King felt that death was going to be the only escape from the exhaustion, the misunderstandings and the conflicts.

An interesting DVD is King–Man Of Peace In A Time Of War. Much of the hour long presentation is a rehash of King biography. What makes this special is a roughly 15 minute interview Dr. King did with afternoon television host Mike Douglas.  Mr. Douglas asked tough questions about Dr. King’s stance against the Vietnam War and about the effect of that opposition on the Civil Rights movement. Dr. King is calm, cool and collected. You could see how King was a leader who could speak anywhere and to anyone.     

A solid explanation of Reverend King’s theology and a good analysis on the failure of Southern segregationists to mount an even more aggressive opposition to the Civil Rights Movement, can be found in A Stone Of Hope—Prophetic Religion And The Death Of Jim Crow by David L. Chappell. 

A Testament Of Hope—The Essential Writings And Speeches Of Martin Luther King, Jr is needed for a complete King library. In honesty though, I’ve always found this book to be sprawling and without  clear focus. It consists of King sermons, some interviews and excerpts from his books. You need to have it on your shelf, but there are more concise ways to get the “essential” King.  ( Photo below is Rev. King with Coretta Scott King.)      

Here are the three new titles for 2009—

A quality children’s book on King is Martin’s Big Words  by Doreen Rappaport. The writing in this book is clear and concise and respectful of the intellect of children. It’s a great introduction to King and a gateway to further studies by young people.

A comprehensive examination of King’s radical views on economic questions can be found in From Civil Rights to Human Rights—Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice by Thomas F. Jackson. King had leanings towards forms of socialism and came to see the fight for fair wages as an essential element in the fight for full human rights. It should not be forgotten that King died in Memphis fighting for striking sanitation workers.    

A web resource to learn about King is the Martin Luther King, Jr, Research and Education Institute that is run by Stanford University. There are King sermons and addresses you can read and a link to a King Online Encyclopedia.  (These things said, there is nothing as good as having you own printed collection of King sermons that you can take anywhere and make notes and underline key passages as it suits you.)

 There are three reference sources on Dr. King that in my view stand out.

Strength To Love is the best collection King sermons. It is a concise manageable book. You can cram it in your back pocket or in your purse. ( A larger purse at least.) I think you could read nothing but this one 158 page book, and know everything you need to know about Martin Luther King.

The audio collection of King’s sermons called  A Knock At Midnight might change your life. Stick the CD’s in your car stereo or turn it on at home and you’ll  hear Dr. King just as he was—Mighty and frail at the same time. I’ve listened to the sermons on Knock many times and they never get old. You can’t help but learn something or see an old question a new way each time you listen.   

The definitive books on Martin Luther King’s life and the Civil Rights era are found in Taylor Branch’s three volume America In The King Years series.

These three books are the Pulitizer Prize winning  Parting The Waters 1954-1963, Pillar Of Fire 1963-1965, and At Canaans Edge, 1965-1968.  (Photo below is of Rosa Parks being booked during the Montgomery Bus Boycott.)

These books stand not only at the top of King biography, they stand as great examples of American biography. The picture of Dr. King is complete. You get the good and the bad. There will be times you’ll shake your head and ask yourself how Rev. King could have said that or done that.    

You’ll also see how brave King was and how brave the Civil Rights marchers and protesters were. You’ll get a clear sense of the obstacles faced not just from whites, but from status quo blacks as well.  Mr. Branch offers a great deal of context for King’s life and experiences. He provides full portraits of other great Civil Rights leaders.

I can’t recommend all three volumes strongly enough. Read them and you’ll be an expert.        

Please click here for a Texas Liberal post on King’s sermon Unfulfilled Dreams


December 26, 2008 Posted by | Barack Obama, History, Politics | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Please Have A Good And Safe Holiday

I used this picture last year on Christmas. The scene in much the same this year as well.

Please have a good and safe holiday. If it is not quite the holiday you have hoped for, find some definition by which it will still be a good holiday.  Please enjoy the day that you have. There will be plenty of time for trouble and worrying after Christmas.

December 25, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 3 Comments

Puritans, King, And This Blogger Agree—Evil Is An Active Force In Life

In his Albion’s Seed–Four British Folkways In America, author David Hackett Fischer writes about five major Puritan doctrines and ideas that were brought to Massachusetts from England in the 17th century.

(Here is information about Puritanism in New England.)

These five were depravity, covenant, election, grace and love.

Here is what Mr. Hackett writes about the idea of “depravity”—

“…depravity…to Calvinists meant the total corruption of “natural man” as a consequence of Adam’s original sin. The Puritans believed that evil was a palpable presence in the world, and that the universe was a a scene of cosmic struggle between darkness and light. They lived in an age of atrocities without equal until the twentieth century. But no evil ever surprised them or threatened to undermine their faith…. They believed as an article of  faith that there was no horror which mortal man was incapable of committing. The dark thread of this doctrine ran through the fabric of New England’s culture for many generations. ”

While I’m not religious, I do suscribe to some of these ideas about so-called depravity. Life is often a battle between good and evil. And there is nothing so horrible that it can’t happen.

Maybe I find agreement because on one side of the family I’m descended from Puritans off the boat in 17th- century Massachusetts. Or maybe it is because I’m an ideologue and can relate to fanatics. Or it could just be that I have lived in our world and these are the conclusions I’ve reached.

Evil is not just about brutal acts in foreign nations. Evil is a relevant term for our leaders lying to get us to declare war on nations that pose no threat to our security. Evil is a relevant term for the willful mismanagement of our economy for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many.      

Martin Luther King saw evil as an active force in the universe. Here is what he said in his great sermon “Unfulfilled Dreams”  

“….. you must face the fact that there is a tension at the heart of the universe between good and evil. It’s there: a tension at the heart of the universe between good and evil. Hinduism refers to this as a struggle between illusion and reality. Platonic philosophy used to refer to it as a tension between body and soul. Zoroastrianism, a religion of old, used to refer to it as a tension between the god of light and the god of darkness. Traditional Judaism and Christianity refer to it as a tension between God and Satan. Whatever you call it, there is a struggle in the universe between good and evil.”

Like Martin Luther King, I’m hopeful that evil can be challenged and, at times, overcome. It is good that while evil is a fact of our existence, so is the ability to fight back with faith, reason, kindness and hard work.

(Please click here for the best Martin Luther King Reading & Reference List on the web. I’ll be updating it with two new titles early in 2009.)

December 24, 2008 Posted by | Books, Colonial America, History | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Shirtless Presidents

Barack Obama— 


John Kennedy—

Teddy Roosevelt—

Gerald Ford(The jumper on the left)

Ronald Reagan—

December 23, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Christmas Tree Over Bar Entrance—Philadelphia 1938

digital file from intermediary roll film

Above is a photo of a Christmas tree over a bar entrance. The photo was taken on Market Street in Philadelphia in 1938 by Paul Vanderbilt.

I found the photo on the Library of Congress American memory web page.

Here are some photos of Market Street in the current day.

Here is a history of Market Street in olden days .  Here is more information on Market Street.   

Below the tree you see an advertisement for Guckenheimer Whiskey. Here is information on the Guckenheimer distillery and brand. It is an informative link.

December 22, 2008 Posted by | History | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Many Texas Kids May Lose Health Insurance Because Of Hurricane Ike

This is from the Houston Chronicle—

“At least 36,000 children living in the areas affected by Hurricane Ike may fall off the rolls of government health insurance programs because they have not re-enrolled for the coming year. Stephanie Goodman, a spokeswoman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, said more than half of the 72,000 children statewide who did not re-enroll in Medicaid are from the Houston and Beaumont areas — both hit by Hurricane Ike. “We expect to see some swings in enrollment, but this was bigger than normal,” Goodman said. “Seeing a higher percentage from one area also raised warning signs that we need to stop and take a look at this.” Children will have coverage through the end of the year as agency workers call families to find out why they did not submit applications. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike and a worsening economy, it is critical that safety net programs are operating as efficiently as possible so that struggling families can get the help that they need,” said Barbara Best of the Houston-based Children’s Defense Fund Texas office. Medicaid coverage applies to children whose families are at federal poverty levels, meaning a family of three would earn no more than $17,600. CHIP coverage is available for a similar family earning up to twice that amount. Goodman said many families did not return application renewal forms that were mailed to their homes. The agency is trying to determine if mail and other disruptions caused by the hurricane prevented families from completing paperwork.”

This was all foreseeable. It could have been a priority to address.  It’s just that nobody bothered.

Now when it comes to job cuts at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston–Well, folks are all over that making sure it gets done. 

Where is the coordinated response of our elected officials— at least the Democrats—to these problems? Where are the doctors who worked hard for so-called tort reform in Texas, but are now silent when people need help?

(Update–This issue has been addressed for the time being. We’ll see how this is dealt with over the longer haul. Why is it such an adventure to make sure kids have health insurance in this state? Or adults for that matter.)

December 22, 2008 Posted by | Ways We Hate Children | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Type Of Sacrifice For Winter Solstice?

What type of sacrifice is appropriate for the winter solstice?  (Here is an explanation of the winter solstice.)


Or, more simply, an offering of fruit and other foods?

The truth is that no sacrifice is appropriate for the winter solstice.

As Americans, the only reason we sacrifice is when we are forced to by a global economic collapse—Such as the one we are experiencing today.

Here is a list of winter solstice celebrations from Religious Tolerance .org

Here is a list of winter solstice celebrations from the BBC.

Here is my winter solstice post from last year that featured Odin.

It is good that the days will now be getting longer.

December 20, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

Next Senator From New York Should Be From Upstate

I have no problem with Caroline Kennedy in the U.S. Senate (Though some do)  but I believe the next U.S. Senator from New York should be from upstate New York.

(Above–Utica, New York.)

Governor David Paterson must select a replacement for Secretary of State designate Hillary Clinton. Ms. Kennedy is seen as a leading contender for the spot.  

My mother’s side of the family is from upstate and I know this part of New York to be one of the great parts of our nation. I’ll also note it has been moving towards Democrats in recent years after many years of voting strongly Republican.

New York’s other Senator, Chuck Schumer, is from the city.

The need for a senator from upstate was highlighted by the idiotic comments of New York City Democratic U.S. Representative  Gary Ackerman. Mentioned as a possible candidate for the vacant seat, Mr. Ackerman said he does ” not do Utica.” ( Mr. Ackerman is now, inevitably as these things go, planning to visit Utica.)

Yet the people of Utica and the Utica area elected a Democrat to Congress in 2006, and again in 2008, after a number of years of Republican representation. The Democrat in the House from Utica is Michael Arcuri.

My mother’s family is from Utica and I have been to Utica many times. It is a fine city that has been welcoming to a number of refugees from around the world in recent years.

I’ll also note that the wife and I took a summer vacation to Niagara Falls a few years back and that we enjoyed seeing the sights of Buffalo.

I’ve not spent much time in New York City, but I’m glad to say I have good memories of Utica,  Rome, Buffalo, Albany, Cooperstown and Lake Placid. As upstate follows the general trend of the Northeastern United States away from Republicans, let’s help that trend along with a Democratic U.S. Senator who shows that all people in New York State matter.

Here is a view from Rochester in favor of a Senator from upstate.

(Below—Geneva, New York in Ontario County. Geneva is the Gateway to the Finger Lakes.)

December 19, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Person I Shared Meal With Did Not Thank Busser For Removing Plate From Table

In recent weeks, I’ve had occasion to share a meal with someone at a restaurant, who, when a busser came to clear the plate for this person, did not say “thank you.” 

(This person was not the wife. Nor is it any elected official I have recently broken bread with.)  

Needless to say, when I saw this behavior I thought I had gone back in time to a barbaric age.

I notice this kind of thing. I think many people do. I bet the busser did.

Here is a link to Ms. Manners. Here is a link to Ms. Manners’ Guide To Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, Freshly Updated. It is a great book. I’m glad to say I’ve read it cover to cover.

If someone provides you a service—Please do thank them.

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Books | , , , , , | 10 Comments

If Rick Warren Wants To Offer Prayers As We Nationalize The Economy—Then All The Better!

Some on my side of the ideological aisle are not pleased that right wing mega-preacher Rick Warren (above)  will be giving an invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration.

All I can say is this—

If three or four years ago you had told me that Rick Warren would be offering up a few words at the Presidential Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama, while at the same time we might soon be considering an 850 billion dollar government stimulus package, and, in effect, partially nationalizing a fair portion of the American economy——

Well, I would have told you that would be one damned good day that I didn’t imagine I’d ever really live to see.  

Right on Pastor Rick! I’m happy to have you offering blessings for the liberal dream of an economically interventionist government beyond our wildest hopes of recent years.

December 18, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , , | 4 Comments

My Secular Blessings To Both Parties Involved In The Ten Minute Walgreens Transaction I Stood In Line Behind At 11:40 PM

Last night at 11:40 PM I went to the Walgreens. Not to rob the place, but to buy some Diet Coke and a copy of Ebony. (These are the things people need at 11:40 PM.)  

I thought I’d get in and out of the Walgreens in quick order. Instead, I got stuck behind the dreaded ten minute transaction.

A man was buying many large cans of baby formula. He had a number of coupons and requested each can be rung up separately.  This I suppose because only one coupon was allowed for each transaction.

As can happen, the scanner could not read the coupons and so it took much time to ring up the sale. The cashier tried many times, but the bar codes were resistant to decoding.

The man seemed agitated. Not so much at the clerk, but in general. He had a head twitch that quirked around a few times and at least two points during the wait he began to pace.

Finally, it was done and the man left with his cans of baby formula. It took about ten minutes for it all to work out. He said thank you when it was done. I always look for that. I hope whatever is agitating him resolves itself in a good way.

The nice clerk apologized for the delay. I told her it was no big deal. What can one do if the coupons won’t scan?

I offer my secular blessings and goodwill to both parties involved in the ten minute Walgreens transaction at 11:40 PM. All involved were doing their best. I shall try to emulate them in my life by trying to do my best.

December 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Domino’s Pizza Delivery Man Merited $5 Tip For Working On Cold Night—Picture Of A Pizza As The Sun

This evening I ordered a Domino’s Pizza.

( Above–What it would be like if we got our light and heat on the Earth from a giant sky pizza instead of the sun.)

I don’t know the phone number for Papa John’s. And the last time I ordered from some local place it sucked. There was a Domino’s magnet I had gotten in the mail right on top of my refrigerator. It was all so easy. I ordered Domino’s.

When you call Domino’s you get an automated deal that asks you a bunch of questions. You are given the option to speak to a “Domino’s Team Member” if you would rather go that route. That is always just what I do. If everything is automated, how will anybody have a job?   

I ordered the pizza and the man came within the appointed 30 minutes. I would rather he drive safely than get here within 30 minutes.

My total was $14.52. I had a $20 and tipped him the $5.48. What the hell. Delivering pizza on a 40 degree night is lousy work. The guy is friendly. I remembered him from the last time I ordered a pizza. 

Even in hard times–especially in hard times– we’ve got to help people stay employed and help people earn a buck.

(Blogger’s note–A comment was left on the first version of this post by Tim McIntyre of Domino’s Pizza stating that conservative activist Tom Monaghan no longer owns Domino’s. This was an error on my part. If you have not reached this post directly, Mr. McIntyre’s comment can be read by clicking the comments link at the bottom of the post. Though he does not identify his title,  Mr. McIntyre is Vice President of Corporate Communications at Domino’s.

I apologize for the mistake.  

I will note that in his reply to my post, Mr. McIntyre did not address safety issues involved with the 30 minute delivery policy. This may be because the 30 minute delivery claim, while still advertised, is in fact no longer in effect.  Some might see the ads as misleading.  As for political donations, according to the most recent information, the Domino’s Pizza Political Action Committee was in 2008 a minor donor to Republican Congressional candidates in its home state of Michigan.  Domino’s CEO and Chair David Brandon is a consistent donor to the Republican Party and individual Republican candidates. That is his right as it was Mr. Monaghan’s right to donate to conservative causes with the money he made at Domino’s

Mr. McIntyre is, I’d suggest, somewhat of the mark when he states that Domino’s never donated money on either side of the pro-choice/pro life debate as I implied in the first version of this post. The company itself may never have of done so, but Mr. Monaghan was clearly and correctly identified with Domino’s Pizza at one point and at least some portion of the money he was earning to make the big donations came from Domino’s. 

At the bottom line, however, I should have confirmed that Mr. Monaghan was still at Domino’s. He no longer runs the operation and is not on the board of directors. I thank Mr. McIntyre for the correction.)  

December 16, 2008 Posted by | Politics | , , , | 8 Comments