Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Trees In What Was A Building


Here are trees in what was once a building in the Mt. Auburn neighborhood of Cincinnati.

Nothing is forever.

Nothing is even for all that long.

Make the best of each day, while at the same time seeing the big picture.

Photo copyright Neil Aquino.

January 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Senator Reid Says That Chinese Dictator Is A Dictator

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Chinese dictator Hu Jintao a dictator in a recent interview.

(Above–Senator Reid.)

Mr. Hu, who is President of China as well as a dictator, is in Washington this week.

Senator Reid will be among members of Congress meeting with Mr. Hu later this week.

China is indeed a dictatorship. You and I help the Chinese dictators remain in power by purchasing so much stuff made in China.

Here is the most recent Amnesty International report on China.

From that report—

“The authorities continued to tighten restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and association due partly to sensitivities surrounding a series of landmark anniversaries, including the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic on 1 October. Human rights defenders were detained, prosecuted, held under house arrest and subjected to enforced disappearance. Pervasive internet and media controls remained. “Strike hard” campaigns resulted in sweeping arrests in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), particularly following violence and unrest in July. Independent human rights monitoring was prevented in Tibetan-populated regions. The authorities continued to strictly control the parameters of religious practice, with Catholic and Protestant groups practising outside official bounds being harassed, detained and sometimes imprisoned. The severe and systematic 10-year campaign against the Falun Gong continued.”

Here are some basic facts on China from the BBC.

Here is my post marking the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989.

January 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Not Needed

Sometimes what you have to sell is not what people need at the moment.

This picture was taken last week in Cincinnati’s Eden Park.

Photo copyright Neil Aquino.

January 19, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Woman Houston Firefighter Harassed By Colleagues—Uniformed Forces Need Self-Discpline And Should Attend To Job At Hand

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that the Houston Fire Department failed to correctly address workplace harassment against firefighter Jane Draycott.

From the Houston Chronicle—

“The Houston Fire Department’s failure to properly address discrimination complaints by a female firefighter and subsequent retaliation subjected her to a “hostile work environment” based on her gender, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has determined….Draycott and another firefighter, Paula Keyes, found racist and sexist graffiti scrawled on the walls of their dormitory at Station 54 on July 7, 2009. The incident occurred after Draycott had complained to HFD officials of harassment.  The EEOC looked at two events. The first one was what took place after Draycott filed the complaint of harassment on June 29, 2009, and then was subjected, along with Keyes, to racist and sexist graffiti scrawled on their dormitory walls on July 7. The second involved Draycott alone. The EEOC confirmed Draycott’s allegation that former Fire Chief Phil Boriskie and other members of the HFD command staff allowed and encouraged “male firefighters to disparage and humiliate” her upon her return to work on Jan. 13, 2010….”

To her credit, Houston Mayor Annise Parker has taken a very tough line on this behavior.

Folks in Houston may recall just a few years ago when some in our fire department were in my view openly disrespectful to then Mayor Lee Brown.

Update—1/19/10—A Latino Houston firefighter has filed a complaint with the city claiming that he was hanged in effigy at a Houston firehouse and a ethnic slur was used against him.

When people join an uniformed force that is run by taxpayer dollars and is subject to civilian control, the expectation is that there will be discipline and respect for others from that force.

Hopefully Mayor Parker will continue to demand higher standards of conduct from our Houston firefighters.

January 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Black Muslim Makes Effort To Sell Me Final Call—He Had Brains And Imagination

Hamburger Wearing An Astros’ Hat, a regular contributor to this blog, is reading the Black Muslim newspaper The Final Call.

I came across a Black Muslim today selling The Final Call. He made an effort to sell me the paper. The last few Black Muslims I had seen selling the paper did not try. I could only guess they did not try since I’m white.

You can’t make assumptions about people. That guy selling the paper today had both smarts and imagination.

Malcolm X had both smarts and imagination. He grew and evolved as he saw the world as a whole.  Here is some basic information on Malcolm X.

January 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

It Works Out Well

This book was given to me 22 years ago by the only person who ever broke my heart.  She wrote a very nice inscription in the book. Soon after we hit the rocks. Over the years we had some contact. and we found we had nothing in common anymore.  I found this book recently after having not seen it for many years. I enjoy the inscription and recalling our friendship, while at the same time feeling a disconnect from who she later became. It works out well.

January 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

Here is the weekly posting of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

Often I offer up a Texas-related addition to the weekly round-up posting, but I’m on a tight schedule.

However, in addition to all these fine TPA posts, my post yesterday on the Tea Party vision of America’s future is pretty good.

Here is the round-up—

Refinish69 at Doing My Part for the Left has misgivings about the border patrol shooting at teenagers because they are throwing rocks. The hate mongering expressed in the immigration bills for the 82nd Texas Legislature will only add fuel to the fire.

Off the Kuff writes about the upcoming legislative battle over class size limits.

Bay Area Houston gives the bird back to the Harris County GOP. (With video.)

Hydraulic fracturing brings PEAK WATER to the Eagle Ford Shale as residents find their water tables dropping. A resident found Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS and contacted TXsharon about their flammable water. Continue reading

January 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

The Tea Party Agenda For Our Nation—Is This What You Want?

What does the so-called Tea Party stand for? What is the Tea Party agenda?

A recent blog post by Tea Party follower David Jennings at his Houston and Texas political blog Big Jolly Politics gives a clear sense of the ideologically extreme Tea Party agenda.

Mr. Jennings regularly attends and offers up observations from meetings of Tea Party cells. His most recent report from the Clear Lake Tea Party here in Houston gives a clear sense of a radical, unworkable, and often un-American Tea Party vision for our nation.

Reporting on a talk given the Clear Lake Tea Party member named Robert Gonzales, who Mr. Jennings describes as the “founder” of this local Tea Party cell, Mr. Jennings offers up a list Tea Party priorities for the days ahead.

Here are some of these Tea Party priorities as reported by Mr. Jennings—

* “Reject Obamacare.”

Repeal of Healthcare Reform will allow insurance companies  to once again toss people off coverage because they get sick, and will allow insurance companies to once again impose lifetime caps on policies. Is that what we want to go back to in our nation? Read about Healthcare Reform for yourself. It does a lot of good. For the extreme right in this nation, the issue is not the good points or the weak points of Healthcare Reform. Instead, it is all about political ideology and scoring political points no matter the merits of the program. You see the same with the reflexive far-right rejection to the idea of global warming.  No facts of any kind matter in the discussion. Ideology and anger are all that counts.

* ” Reinstate Judeo-Christian Values. ….Prayer back in schools and hanging the Ten Commandments in public buildings…”

People can pray anytime they want.  People can live true each and every day to the religious values they hold. Are these values so weak that they must be posted in every building? This would be little different from how an insecure and fearful totalitarian state posts propaganda in every classroom and in every possible location. Where is the confidence in ideas that Christians hold as eternal?  Does Christianity need government support? Can’t people find the truth for themselves rather than forcing one idea of truth on an ever-more diverse nation? What will stop a future government from posting anti-Christian messages in public buildings at some point?

* ” English as the official language….”

It sure would be intrusive of government to tell people how they should speak.  Will the declaration of an official language come with a language police? Will private business places that advertise to Spanish speaking customers or Chinese speaking customers be subject to fines or some type of official sanction?  Will people inform on others who are speaking the wrong language? We could set up a whole new language enforcement bureaucracy.

* “….Deport all illegal aliens, post the army along the border…”

How would we find all the undocumented people in this country? Raids into private business places and into private homes? Informants?  Does the Tea Party think they will just turn themselves in to the authorities?  Does the Tea Party think family and friends will just allow these people to plucked from their homes without a fight? If all undocumented people are being deported, what would they have to lose by fighting back? Do we really want the army employed for domestic purposes? Will the army take part in the raids to track down the so-called illegals? Once our country is cleansed of the illegals, what domestic mission will our army next be given? How about enforcing the payment of taxes? I think the army would be very useful for that purpose.

* “Repeal property taxes.”

Those three words are the extent of what Mr. Jennings wrote as the Tea Party goal on this subject. We already have no income taxes in Texas. Due to Republican mismanagement, Texas has a budget deficit of over $25 billion. Texas is nowhere near first in the quality of education we offer our children. How is “repeal property taxes” a serious idea in any respect?

* “ Reassert states rights under the 10th Amendment: Eliminate funding for EPA, education.”

It is worth noting that states rights is found in the Tea Party creed in the same place as is eliminating EPA and education funding. This is the states rights doctrine. It is about separating ourselves from the nation as a whole. Yet the air in Texas can be so bad that even the Republican State of Oklahoma has complained to the federal government. Being a bad neighbor can infringe on the rights of others. People in Houston know how bad the pollution was before stricter environmental regulations.

Do you think we should eliminate education funding? Kids who grow up in Texas are going to have to compete for jobs with kids from the rest of the nation and from around the world. Adherence to the lost cause of states rights will be cold comfort when you are breathing even more toxic air, and you are not educated well enough to get a job.

This radical Tea Party agenda is held by only a minority of Americans. But in mid-term elections with reduced turnout, a minority can easily carry the day. The same can be said for local elections that draw less attention than a Presidential election. The Tea Party is holding meetings and organizing.  Far-right ideas are held by some of the loudest voices in the 24 hour internet/cable news landscape.

It is the choice of every freedom loving American who values the future of our nation to either get involved in public affairs or, instead, to allow your life to be defined by others. Is the Tea Party/Republican Party plan outlined above what you want to see for  yourself, for your family, and for your nation?

Copyright 2011 Neil Aquino

January 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Despite Warming Earth, No Real U.S. Debate On Climate Change Takes Place

2010 has tied with 2005 to be the warmest global year on record.

2010 was also the 34th consecutive year that the global average temperature was higher than the  20th century global average.

People can go on debating global warming. Maybe it is so that warming has not been proved 100%. Maybe warming has only been proved to an 80% or 90% certainty.

The real political issue is that the American right won’t accept global warming because of ideological issues and because of economic concerns. The facts don’t matter.

Conservatives, and the corporations that own conservative politicians, don’t want Al Gore and the environmental groups to be proven right. They don’t want any taxes and regulations that might be wisely applied if global warming is indeed real.

These are folks willing to put the future at risk so that they can score political points in the here and now, and so that often quite prosperous industrial concerns can avoid regulation.

For at least this moment in time, no real debate on the question appears possible in our nation.

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Simple Gifts Performed At Arizona Shooting Memorial Service

(Blogger’s Note 1/13/11—Simple Gifts was sung at the end of the memorial to the Tuscon, Arizona shooting victims. This is a meaningful song with lyrics all should hear. I’m reposting my entry about Simple Gifts that I first posted in 2009.)

Above is a video of me speaking the words of the Shaker hymn Simple Gifts while standing on the eastern end of Galveston Island.

The video runs just over 90 seconds.

Behind me as I speak is a ship in Galveston Bay that is sailing out towards the Gulf of Mexico.

Simple Gifts is one of my favorite songs in the world.

If you click this link, you’ll see the lyrics and the song will play.

The song was written by Joseph Brackett. Here are some very basic facts about Joseph Brackett.

Here is some information about Shaker music.

Here is some history of the Shakers.

From that history—

“One of the numerous religious sects who emigrated to American shores in search of religious freedom, the Shakers followed Mother Ann Lee to the United States in 1774. Here they established several colonies– the first in 1776 at Nikayuna near Albany, NY–whose governing principles included celibacy and agrarian communal living.”

Here are some things you could see if you visited Galveston, Texas.

Here are some facts about Galveston Bay.

Here is the link to the Galveston Bay Foundation.

Here is a link where you can track the location of ships around the world.

Here is some history of ships and boats.

The part of Simple Gifts I like best is where it says that to bow and to bend we should not be ashamed. I would like to live my life by that principle, but so far I have lacked the discipline to do so.

January 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Copland’s Fanfare For The Common Man A Strong Choice To Begin Arizona Memorial Service

The Tuscon memorial service for the Arizona shootings began with a rendition of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man.

(Above–Mr. Copland.)

This dignified tribute of the day-to-day work of democracy, is a strong way to note the work of politics and freedom. This was the work taking place at the constituent meeting Congresswoman Giffords was holding at the time of the shooting.

We are all equal citizens.

Here is a brief history of this work from National Public Radio. You can also hear Fanfare at this site.

This work was commissioned for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 1942.

Here are facts about the great American composer Aaron Copland. Mr. Copland lived 1900-1990.

Mr. Copland is also well-known for his famous work Appalachian Spring.

Dignity is found in the creative and hard-working response to the challenges and opportunities of daily life.

The playing of Fanfare for the Common Man to begin the memorial service was appropriate and hopeful.

Without  for a moment forgetting the part that circumstance and dumb luck plays in life, we all have the ability to make the best of who we are in this existence. We all have the ability to make each day a day of great value.

January 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Up In The Air

I’m up in the air today.

The picture in this post is of what I believe to be Mt. Rainier. I took this picture last summer.

It is unlikely I will see Mt. Rainier in-between Cincinnati and Houston.

Yet I do think we must acknowledge that we are all off course to at least some degree in our lives.

Still—I am hopeful about reaching my destination both today, and in the journeys ahead.

January 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cincinnati Snow

It is snowing today in much of the nation. It has been snowing today in Cincinnati, Ohio.

With this post are two pictures of the snow I took today in Cincinnati’s Eden Park.

In one picture you see the park. In the other picture, you see the Ohio River. On the opposite side of the river is Kentucky.

It is nice that I live in Houston where it is most often quite warm. It is also good to have a chance to visit Cincinnati twice a year and to sometimes see snow.

Seeing different things keeps your mind sharp.

January 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Impact Of Tea Party/Republican Party Conduct And Policies Becoming Clear For All To See

The alleged shooter in the Arizona massacre was in court today, as the heat continues for Sarah Palin and the Tea Party.

Texan Tom DeLay has been sentenced to three years in jail.

The State of Texas has a massive budget deficit, as our Republican-controlled legislature prepares for the upcoming session.

This problem was caused by Republicans running Texas and now they will have to fix it. Regretfully, they will likely balance the budget on the backs of the poor, and on the backs of working people in Texas.

I’m ready to get back in the fight. However, I’m on the road in Cincinnati, Ohio. The picture below looks something like a country road, but it is part of Cincinnati’s East End. This is an area near the Ohio River, and in the vicinity of the first white settlement in Cincinnati back in 1788.

We need to keep fighting and, also, we some time off in life.

Stay informed and stay politically active as the true impact of Tea Party/ Republican Party conduct and policies are made plain for all to see.

The hard work of freedom and justice is the work of each and everyone of us.

January 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Nice Quiet Walk

Well… The WordPress IPhone app is a bit glitchy today. I’ve twice written a post about the Arizona shootings, and twice lost the post.

I’ve got other things to get to, so here is a picture from my walk on the Ohio River this morning here in Cincinnati.

It was a nice quiet walk. It is valuable to have time to think.

January 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments