Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Let Us Stay The Course

We keep hearing that liberals, progressives, and Democrats are in trouble in 2010.

But as Charles Blow writes in the New York Times, there is still hope.

From the column–

“Sure, some seats will change party control, but a landslide is hardly certain, particularly if Democrats can change their tune and energize their base. A New York Times/CBS News poll released this week asked respondents whom they would vote for in their own districts if the midterms were held today. Among those the poll determined to be likely voters, Republican candidates held a small edge. (Likely voter models are used to make predictions about the midterms.) However, among all registered voters, Democrats held a larger edge.”

We need to be upfront, as many Democrats running across the country are indeed being, about the accomplishment of Health Care Reform.

With HCR, there are no more lifetime limits on policies, you can’t be kicked off a policy because you get sick, and kids can’t be denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

These benefits are not nearly the entirety of HCR. Take the time to learn more about the program.

Ask people in your life who oppose HCR just why they feel the way they do.

As for the election ahead, let’s be like that ship you see above that is staying the course in Galveston Bay.

Just like that ship, let us all stay the course.

September 19, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

The Staircase To Prosperity Has Been Dismantled

The Census Bureau reports that personal incomes have been stagnant for a decade.

This has not happened at any time since the Great Depression.

The rich are doing well.

Many of the rest of us are struggling.

People want to work hard to do well enough to have a decent life.

But as you see in the picture above that I took a few days ago in Galveston,Texas, the staircase to prosperity has been dismantled and many are stuck on the beach of stagnant and falling wages.

Please read here about Republican policies that have favored the rich and hurt the middle class and the poor.

September 18, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Unattended Lifeguard Station—Tea Party America

Here is an unattended life guard station from the beach in Galveston, Texas. I took this picture two days ago.

This is the Tea Party/Republican view of our society. They feel we should all be left alone to fight the rip currents of life.

Under the Tea Party/ Republican Party, we’d have privatized social security that rises and falls at the whims of the markets. Is this what you want when it is time to retire? What happens when you want to retire after a lifetime of working and the market is down?

We’d go back to health care where you can be kicked off coverage because you get sick.  The new Health Care Reform bill prevents this from happening anymore.

We’d have schools and parks starved for resources even more so than now.

We’d have financial institutions deregulated and food safety regulations stripped. Do you want another financial collapse and more food recalls?

Do you think for a moment that the private sector will do the right thing without being watched over? Do you think for a moment that your hard work will matter when you get sick or when it is time to retire?

The current hard times are in good degree the responsibility of Wall Street greed, George W. Bush, and of individual citizens who bought more than they could afford.

The election coming up is about competing ideas as much as it is about individual candidates.  It is, of course, also about the legitimate frustration people are feeling in tough times.

We’ve got to decide how we are going to live. It may be satisfying to vent anger. But when all is said and done, how will that expression of anger serve you when you need the help you’ve earned through your work and your care of your family?

If we don’t look out for each other, and don’t have a government able to help those caught in an unexpected tide, then our economic storms and hard times may for many of us never let up.

September 17, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Rain And Sun

Rain and sun at the same time in Houston a few days ago.

Life is full of mixed results.

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

When Must One Register To Be Able To Vote In Texas In 2010? When Is Election Day?

Who can vote on General Election Day in Texas and in Harris County, Texas? When must one register to vote in order to be eligible? What day is Election Day?

The last day one can register to vote this year is October 4.

The first day of Early Voting across Texas is October 18.

Election Day across Texas is November 2.

Here is a summary of important dates in the upcoming election season.

These are the qualifications for being eligible to vote for all of Texas —

To be eligible to register to vote in Texas, any United States citizen residing in Texas who is:

  • At least 18 years old on Election Day
  • Not a convicted felon (unless sentence, probation and/or parole are completed)
  • Not declared mentally incapacitated by a court of law.

The information below describes how one can register—

Registering to vote is easy in Texas. It doesn’t even require a stamp! Official applications to register to vote are postage-paid by the State of Texas. In most Texas counties, the Tax Assessor-Collector is also the Voter Registrar. In some counties, the County Clerk or Elections Administrator registers voters. You may obtain an application from the county Voter Registrar’s office, the Secretary of State’s Office, libraries, many post offices, high schools and on the web. From our website, you may request that we send you an official, postage-paid application. Or, you may download an informal application, but you will be required to affix a stamp before mailing. You may also register to vote when you apply for or renew your driver’s license.

Read the instructions on the form, fill it out and mail it to the Voter Registrar in your county, or take it to the Voter Registrar’s office in your county. You must be at least 17 years and 10 months of age on the date you apply.

If for any reason you cannot register yourself, with your permission, your spouse, parent or child may fill out and sign an application for you if that person is a registered voter or has applied for voter registration. This person is known as your “agent.”The application must be received in the Voter Registrar’s office or postmarked 30 days before an election in order for you to be eligible to vote in that election. You will receive a voter registration certificate in the mail after the Voter Registrar has processed your voter registration application. Upon receipt of the voter registration certificate, sign it, fold it and keep in it in your wallet and take it to the polls with you when you vote.

All voters who register to vote in Texas must provide a Texas driver’s license number or personal identification number issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety. If you do not have such a number, then you must state that fact and provide the last four digits of your social security number. If you do not have a social security number, you must also state that fact.

These facts come from the office of the Texas Secretary of State. You can click the link for full details.

Here is information about registering to vote in Harris County, Texas. When you register to vote in Harris County, be certain you fill out the registration form correctly without any mistakes. The County Registrar, Leo Vasquez, has often shown himself more concerned  with keeping people from voting than he is in making sure that people are able to vote.

Here is the campaign web page for Bill White for Governor of Texas. Please consider voting for Mr. White. The incumbent Governor is already the longest-serving Governor in the history of Texas. It is time for somebody new.

September 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Birthday To William Howard Taft

Happy Birthday to fellow Cincinnatian William Howard Taft.

Here are some facts on Bill Taft from the excellent Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.

And, of less note, happy birthday to me.

Time to step away from the computer and take a ride 50 miles south to Galveston, so I can take a long walk and see the sunny shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

September 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Can’t The Most Wealthy Pay Some More Taxes In Hard Times?—When Will We Grow Up?

Even in this deep recession, we are having a hard  time getting the top 2% of wealthy Americans to pay a tax rate that they were paying in case just a few years ago.

Senate Republicans say they will fight the repeal of Bush tax cuts for top earners. These are people making over $200,000 in single earner households and $250,000 in dual income homes.

Why is it so hard in this nation to get anybody to sacrifice for anything?

Is this a great nation where the people are willing to do what it takes to get back to prosperity, or are we just out for ourselves even as we go on and on about how we love America?

Here is what President Obama said in his inaugural address

“Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.  Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered.  Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many — and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet….We remain a young nation.  But in the words of Scripture,the time has come to set aside childish things”

I think President Obama should return to this theme that we need to grow up and realize we are part of a society. This message should not be directed only at the wealthy. We should also recall that in some respects, though in not all respects, we brought this recession upon ourselves. Muslims and immigrants did not force us to buy big houses and big cars that we could not afford. Nor did Muslims or immigrants force to pass tax cuts that we could not afford.

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

Ellen Cohen Set To Return In Texas House District 134—Picture Of My Bookshelves

(Blogger’s Note–Brilliant Harvard Kennedy School of Government graduate and Burnt Orange Report blogger Phillip Martin has teamed up with Annie’s List to report on some of the most competitive  races for the Texas House of Representatives in 2010. Phillip has been nice enough to allow me to share this analysis with Texas Liberal readers. Today’s profile is on Texas House District 134 here in Houston. I live in this district. Above you see a picture of my bookshelves. These books are part of  District 134. Below it says that 134 is one of the most well-educated in the state and I want to show you that this is indeed the case with a picture of books.  Also, as if blogging itself was not a sufficient act of vanity, it suits my ego to show folks that I have a lot books. )

Candidate PagesRep. Ellen Cohen website, on Facebook, on Twitter

Candidate Pages: Sarah Davis website, on Facebook, on Twitter

District Overview: The Numbers, The Issues, and the Candidates

Rep. Donna Howard and Rep. Cohen share similar circumstances although their districts are very different: they have run and held districts that were previously held by Republicans by appealing to a relatively well-informed electorate. And they have won support from independent voters by serving as intelligent, common sense Democrats in districts where they have deep personal roots. They remain subject to targeting by Republicans because their districts were held by Republicans just five years ago, but their outstanding representation gives their oppponents little chance of winning. District 134 is home to Rice University and is one of the most affluent and well-educated in the entire state. It is also home to the highest concentration of ticket-splitting voters in the state, and one of the most closely divided in terms of partisanship. The 2008 Presidential election split 49.8% to 49.1% in favor of John McCain. Rep. Cohen, however, won with 55.5% of the vote, and polls from insider her district have shown that she is expected to win re-election handily.

Rep. Cohen, as a cancer survivor, a widow and mother of two  understands that Texas families must be able to afford their property taxes, health insurance and have access to quality public education, and those are the issues she will focus on this election. Sarah Davis, however, is a muddled mess in terms of policy and politics. A comparison of screen shots from (1) her website taken earlier this spring, and (2) the website content this fall indiciate a sudden lurcing to the right — she’s gone from a moderate Republican to turning almost Tea Party. What’s even more puzzling is that Sarah Davis signed in and voted for Hilary Clinton in 2008. Who is the real Sarah Davis? No idea, but it probably won’t matter after November

Why Rep. Ellen Cohen Will Return Next Year

Rep. Cohen took House District 134 by storm in 2006, and she has earned greater support ever since. She serves on the Higher Education Committee as well as the powerful Appropriations Committee, and has been able to pass legislation that directly improves quality of life in her district. With more cash, a solid record, a top-notch team and proven leadership, Rep. Cohen would be tough for even the best GOP candidate to beat. Davis, however, can’t seem to stay firm on major policy points and even voted Democratic in the last election. Her campaign isn’t saying anything, so voters are left wondering who the real Sarah Davis actually is. Rep. Cohen should win the race.

June 30 Campaign Finance Report:

HD 134: Cohen vs.Davis Contributions
Expenditures
Cash on Hand
Loans
Rep. Ellen Cohen (D)
$230,181 $175,331 $265,536
Sarah Davis (R)
$54,130 $35,685
$103,073 $114,200
Cohen’s Advantage
$80,014 $202,026

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Houston Area League Of Women Voters Host Meet The Candidates Event On Sept. 18

The League of Women Voters of the Houston Area will be holding a big meet the candidates day for Harris County on Saturday, September 18 at the George R. Brown Convention Center. The event starts at 3 PM.

(Above–A great deal better than a Glenn Beck rally. Here is some history of the struggle for Women’s suffrage.)

You say that Saturday September 18 is Yom Kippur and you can’t go? Okay…Hard to say anything other than that is indeed an oversight for what will otherwise be a great event. I hope the League keeps this fact in mind for the next time.

Here are the facts on the event—

September 18, 2010, the League of Women Voters of the Houston Area is cosponsoring I-Day Houston (Infrastructure Day) with the Houston Chapter of the American Society of Civil engineers. I-Day Houston is being held in the George R. Brown Convention Center, Entrance C, 3rd Floor, starting at 3pm. The event is free and open to the public. I-Day Houston includes town hall meetings, a candidate meet and greet, and debates.

Town Hall Meetings on Infrastructure

Co-sponsored with American Society of Civil Engineers
Talk about problems and solutions with experts, such as Dr. John Lienhard,
host of
The Engines of Our Ingenuity
Session One: 3:00–4:00 pm
1a. Transportation
1b. Energy
Session Two: 4:30–5:30 pm
2a. Storm & Waste Water
2b. Ports & Airports

Candidate Meet and Greet

Brought to you by the League of Women Voters
of the Houston Area Education Fund

Talk to candidates seeking federal, state, and county offices. Ask them why they deserve your vote.
Open to the public at 3:00–5:30 pm Continue reading

September 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Sending Signals

I just read about the Tobacco Hornworm Caterpillar (above) in New Scientist Magazine.

When the caterpillar eats a tobacco leaf, the leaf releases molecules that attract a predator of the caterpillar.

This is just like how when folks who support the Tea Party and the Republican Party bash government, immigrants, and Muslims, a signal is sent out to the rich to come and prey on all of us.

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 2 Comments

Hippo, Giraffe, And Pumpkin Read Snow By Orhan Pamuk

Hippo, Giraffe, and Pumpkin are reading the novel Snow by the Turkish author Orhan Pamuk.

Hippo, Giraffe, and Pumpkin read many novels as they seek insight into the human condition.

If you were Hippo, Giraffe or Pumpkin, wouldn’t you want to understand just why people do the things they do?

Pumpkin wants to know what can be done to prevent Halloween.

However, Snow is not about Halloween. It is about tensions between Islam and the West, and about the universal concern people have for how they are viewed by others.

Here is a review of Snow from The New Yorker.

Mr. Pamuk has won the Nobel Prize for literature. Here is Mr. Pamuk’s web home.

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Kristi Thibaut Set To Win Again In Texas House District 133—Brilliant Harvard Gov. Graduate & Annie’s List Provide Top Analysis For Texas Liberal Readers

(Blogger’s Note–Brilliant Harvard Kennedy School of Government  graduate and Burnt Orange Report blogger Phillip Martin has teamed up with Annie’s List to compile a number of profiles of competitive Texas State House of Representatives races in 2010.  Republicans control the Texas House by only a 76-74 margin. Phillip has been nice enough to offer up these legislative  race profiles for Texas Liberal readers. Here at Texas Liberal, I never shy from giving my readership the best in political blogging. My commitment to this type of quality is only enhanced when somebody else is doing the work and all I have to do is cut and paste onto the blog.

The first electoral profile I’m running is of Texas House district 133 which covers portions of Houston and the Houston area. In this district, incumbent Democrat Kristi Thibaut will be winning a second term over a Republican challenger.

While I have no words to add to these posts beyond a brief introduction, I will be adding pictures. Above you see a woman waiting at a train station in Alief back in 1902. A person waiting for a train is metaphoric of the fact that so many of us are waiting for the train of hope, the train of common sense, and train of prosperity to pick us up from the station of despair represented by years of Republican control of Texas. Sadly, this train is long overdue. I’m not suggesting that Alief is the station of despair. It’s just a metaphor and you don’t have to be so literal.  A book you can read to learn about the railroad history of Houston is Rails Around Houston by Douglas Weiskopf.)

Here is the first profile—

Candidate PagesRep. Kristi Thibaut website, on Facebook, on Twitter
Candidate Pages: Jim Murphy website, on Facebook, on Twitter

District Overview: The Numbers, The Issues, and the Candidates

District 133 is situated in the west side of Houston, outside the 610 Loop. The district has two distinct communities. The southern half is centered in the Alief area, with significant Latino, African-American, and Vietnamese populations. The northern half contains the wealthier, Anglo Memorial community. A majority minority district, Rep. Thibaut and Jim Murphy have been battling back and forth to represent it since 2006, when Murphy won against Thibaut. In 2008, Thibaut claimed victory by just 497 votes. This decidedly middle-of-the-road district split 51.9% for Obama in 2008 and many analysts say it has a small “undecided” swing voter population, meaning elections often rely on who can get the most voters to the polls.

In the Legislature, Rep. Thibaut  has proven herself as one of the most effective and aggressive members of the Texas House. She was named ‘Freshman of the Year’ by her peers in the House Democratic Caucus and served in key roles on two conference committees that tackled foreclosure rules for struggling homeowners and university entrance requirements. Meanwhile, Jim Murphy has moved farther to the right in what appears to be an attempt to sweep up surge voters in an tough year for Democrats, but a fire destroying all the Harris County voting machines has brought attention to the election, and that, coupled with Bill White’s popularity in the county should spin turnout for both sides.

Why Rep. Kristi Thibaut Will Return Next Year

Rep. Kristi Thibaut has a strong record in her first term in the legislature going into Round Three with Murphy, and she knows her opponent. She has the mixed blessing of incumbency, a great team, and a strong field plan. She has used the office to help her district in concrete ways, including hosting job fairs, school supply drives, a Veterans Benefits District Fair and more. Rep. Thibaut is running an aggressive grassroots voter contact program and we should look for a healthy amount of advertising on cable TV as well.  A Harris County district, where Bill White took more than 85% of the vote for mayor – twice – Thibaut could also be helped out by turnout for the governor’s race. This race will be a close one to watch all the way until Election Day, as — along with Rep. Diana Maldonado in HD 52 — Thibaut is one of the top targets for Republicans this November.

June 30 Campaign Finance Report:

HD 133: Thibaut vs. Murphy Contributions
Expenditures
Cash on Hand
Rep. Kristi Thibaut (D)
$116,363 $48,002 $150,012
Jim Murphy (R)
$111,752
$62,630
$124,915
Thibaut’s Advantage
$4,611 $25,097

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Tea Party Blogger In Harris County Acknowledges Hard Work And Initiative Of Houston Liberal Bloggers In Setting The Agenda—TPA Round-Up

At the bottom of this post is the weekly round-up of the Texas Progressive Alliance. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

TPA bloggers in Houston scored a big success in recent weeks, as we helped correctly define the story after Harris County Tax-Assessor Collector Leo Vasquez and a local Tea Party outlet went after the Houston Votes registration drive in an apparent attempt to suppress minority turnout in Harris County.

Perry at Brains & Eggs,  John Coby at Bay Area Houston, Stace at DosCentavos , and Charles at Off The Kuff posted about this bad conduct on a number of occasions. I have also commented on the matter here at Texas Liberal and at The Daily Hurricane.

Statewide, South Texas Chisme offered up a post on the matter.

In defeat, top right-wing blogger David Jennings at a Tea Party annex called Big Jolly Politics admitted that Conservative bloggers in Houston and Harris County have not shown the initiative and gumption required to become a potent force in local politics.

David said that our victories locally have been long-standing—“ For years, when a story hits a news outlet, the lefty bloggers in Houston have had their way in forming the “narrative” on said story. Narrative is everything when it comes to public perception.”

Republican Harris County Judge Executive Ed Emmett seems to have gotten the message. He has used Republican attacks on the right to vote in the county as a starting point to suggest  that a non-partisan voter registration chief be appointed to oversee elections in the county.

Texas Progressive Alliance bloggers will stay on the case and keep looking out for the people of Houston, Harris County, our Great State of Texas, and our nation.

Here is the most recent TPA round-up—

This week on Left of College Station Teddy takes a look at the positions of Chet Edwards and Bill Flores on energy, and finds it unlikely that leadership on the environment, clean energy, and climate change will come from Texas Congressional District 17. LoCS also covers the week in headlines.

WhosPlayin is watching the tax rate election for his local school district, where anonymous mailers are flying and things are not looking good for it to pass.

Libby Shaw is at again over at TexasKaos, exposing Republican puppetry of the rankest order. Who’s pulling the strings? Check it out:Meet the GOP/Tea Party Billionaire Puppet Masters, Part 2. Continue reading

September 12, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

September 11

I’m sorry for the folks who died on Sept. 11, and I’m sorry for people anywhere who die because of religious, racial or ethnic intolerance, or who die because the few hoard resources needed by the many. These things are all connected and they harm and kill people all over the globe every single day. Let’s work for a better and more just world.

September 11, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 3 Comments

Dem Ag Commissioner Candidate Hank Gilbert Blasts Incumbent Staples On Texas Bed Bug Infestation

Hank Gilbert, the Democratic nominee for Texas Agriculture Commissioner, says that incumbent Commissioner Todd Staples has not taken necessary steps to stop bedbug infestation in Texas.

(Above–Hank Gilbert–As American as Amber Waves of Grain.)

Mr. Staples has been more concerned with his buddies in the pest control industry, than he has been with the best interests of the people of Texas.

In addition, Mr. Staples is not doing all he can to educate Texans about how to prevent bed bug infestation.

Please visit Mr. Gilbert’s campaign web home.  The Governor’s race gets the attention, but all the statewide races impact people’s lives in our Great State of Texas.

Here is my post from earlier his year in support of Mr. Gilbert.

Below is Mr. Gilbert’s press release on this important subject.

Bed bugs might make you giggle, but you won’t be giggling if they get into your home and into your bed.

Here are some facts on spotting and preventing bed bugs.

Bed bugs are advancing across Texas. Mr. Staples does not seem to care. The Texas Department of Agriculture needs to step up and put everyday Texans before big money political donations.

The release—

TYLER-Hank Gilbert, the Texas Democratic Party’s nominee for Agriculture Commissioner, questioned Wednesday why the Texas Department of Agriculture, the state agency in charge of pesticide regulation, has been silent on the epidemic of bed bugs sweeping the state from Odessa to Fort Worth to San Antonio.

“Given the issues in other states with the misapplication of commercial pesticides to combat the bed bug epidemic, it is astonishing that the Texas Department of Agriculture isn’t doing a thing to inform and educate consumers about the dangers of pesticide misapplication or in how to find applicators licensed to treat bed bugs,” Gilbert said.

“The EPA recently issued a warning to consumers about using chemicals meant for outdoor use inside to treat bedbugs, and warned consumers about unscrupulous pest control companies trying to take advantage of people with bedbug problems. It is inexcusable that Todd Staples is abdicating his responsibility to protect Texans to the federal government when he is in charge of the agency that regulates pest control in Texas,” Gilbert said. Continue reading

September 10, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment