However, the real work of freedom and the real force for a better Texas will come from average everyday Texans who are willing to vote and work for a more hopeful future.
Here are some details of the Texas Legislative special session that is in the works after the Sunday night filibuster.
In Wisconsin, people occupied the State House and fought hard against the anti-worker legislation the Republicans were proposing.
Texans have the same option as measures that threaten public education and the public health are proposed and enacted in our legislature
One state senator can’t do the work of an entire state.
Every Texan has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes you value, and even run for public office.
It is up to each of us to do the work of freedom and fair play for all.
Here is the dog tag of Korean War combat veteran and medic Tony Aquino. Tony never said anything macho or boastful about his service. He would tell you if you asked.
He was a liberal who opposed the Vietnam War and both Iraq wars. He resented people like B. Clinton, Quayle, G.W. Bush & Cheney who used connections to get out of serving, and then sent other people to war.
Just like you and I, and just like our nation taken as a whole, Tony was both flawed and decent.
Tony was alive last Memorial Day. Now he is dead.
A Houston police officer was killed while serving the city over Memorial Day weekend.
“A Houston police officer was struck and killed by a suspected drunken driver early Sunday while investigating an accident on the North Loop near Yale. The 38-year-old officer, Kevin Will, died at the scene, Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland said. Will was a father of two children, ages 6 and 10, and his wife is 6 months pregnant with their third child, the chief said. The driver, 26-year-old Johoan Rodriguez, was taken to an area hospital for toxicology tests, police said. He’s currently in jail, facing pending charges of intoxication manslaughter of a peace officer, felony evading and possession of a controlled substance… “At this morning’s roll call, (Will) announced to his comrades that today was his one-year anniversary in Vehicular Crimes, and he made a joke that he’s been here a year, so does that qualify him to be a veteran or is he still a rookie?” McClellan said. ..”
Above is a picture of Officer Will.
Everybody who drives in Houston knows that our roads are filled with drunks, crazies, and people taking all sorts of unnecessary risks.
While even at the most difficult times we can acknowledge that criminal acts can be in part the result of economic and social conditions, we must recall the fact we all have a choice to make about how we will conduct ourselves on our roads.
The decision to drive in a way harmful to others is made by each individual who gets behind the wheel.
I’m sorry about the loss of Officer Will.
Texas Republicans Pass State Budget That Attacks Education, Health, And Family Planning—TPA Round-Up
At the end of this post is the weekly Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best politcal bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers who are working for a better Texas.
With the round-up this week comes the news that the Texas Legislature has passed a state budget.
‘Texas lawmakers approved a $172.3 billion, two-year budget on Saturday that cuts billions from education and human services and uses accounting maneuvers to cover a budget shortfall… Public schools would receive about $4 billion less in state aid compared with what they’d get under current formulas through the next two years. Plus $1.4 billion for other public education programs and instructional materials would be cut. State funds to higher education would be cut by about $1.2 billion, although that would be softened a bit by funds allocated in separate legislation. Tens of thousands fewer students would get college financial aid than in the current two-year budget period. It would cut Medicaid reimbursement rates to hospitals — excluding children’s and rural hospitals — and leave unfunded $4.4 billion to $4.8 billion in projected state Medicaid costs, forcing the next Legislature to deal with the expense…”
Here is some of what Texas State Senator Wendy Davis had to say about the budget—
…“Cutting $4 billion dollars in state funding for public education will result in thousands of educator job losses, overcrowded classrooms and put an end to the state-funded prekindergarten programs,” Senator Wendy Davis said. “Throughout the state, school districts are already responding with massive layoffs and requests for the state to waive current restrictions on classroom sizes.”
While those in charge try to defend the budget with false assertions that public education received slightly greater funding in this budget than the prior biennial budget, for the first time student population growth has not been funded. Defending the budget through slippery wording and fuzzy math, as Perry and Dewhurst have done, will do nothing to erase the harmful consequences of these cuts on Texas schoolchildren.
“Even more disturbing, this budget kicks the can of public education and healthcare funding down the road, with deferrals of current obligations totaling $7.1 billion that will need to be backfilled in the next budget cycle. Accordingly, when the legislature reconvenes in 2013, it will begin its budget cycle at least $7.1 billion in the hole. This is not responsible governance.”
Texans can decide what they think about all this. Republicans and the so-called Tea Party can go on and on about waste and illegal immigrants using up public services. My guess is that many people across the political spectrum in Texas have concerns about education and health in our state, and have concerns about how young people in Texas will compete in a changing economy.
The impact of this budget will be felt in many ways over the next two years. If the 2013 legislative session will be one that works to help Texans—or is one that once again attacks working Texans and engages in culutral warfare such as the forced sonogram bill—is up to each of us as Texans.
Here is the round-up—-
At TexasKaos, lightseeker seeks to explain why snake oil is not a cure for evaluating teachers for purposes of improving public education. Check outSnake Oil, Classrooms and Teacher Evaluations. Continue reading
Houston Memorial Day Observance At Federal Cemetery To Feature Non-Inclusive Prayer—We Each Must Choose What Kind Of Nation We Are Going To Have
A federal judge has allowed a Texas pastor to use a non-inclusive prayer at a Memorial Day ceremony honoring Americans who have died in the service of our nation.
“The nation’s agency for military veterans has agreed to stay out of religious refereeing for now, backing down from its attempt to tell a minister how to craft a prayer for a Memorial Day invocation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Fred Hindrichs told federal District Judge Lynn Hughes that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will not demand that Memorial Day prayers at Houston National Cemetery on Monday be as non-denominational as possible. “(The agency) will let the prayer go on this Monday,” Hindrichs told Hughes. The change of heart came one day after the judge granted the Rev. Scott Rainey a temporary restraining order against the agency after officials told the pastor to edit his prayer to make it as general and non-denominational as possible. Rainey’s prayer, submitted for review at the agency’s request, included the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer and thanked Jesus Christ, the Christian savior, in closing….Roy Walter, senior rabbi at Congregation Emanu El, said he agrees with Rainey’s free-speech position. “I do believe the government doesn’t have the right to tell him what he can and cannot do,” Walter said. But the rabbi said Rainey’s prayer doesn’t reflect that all veterans are not Christians. “I don’t think it’s sensitive to the fact that a great many people who are veterans, who gave their lives or lived through service, are not Christian.”
I’ll simply say this–The judge and the pastor here each had a decision to make about including everybody, or not including everybody, in a Memorial Day observance at a federal cemetery.
We all know that people of many religious beliefs, and atheists as well, have fought and died for our nation.
We all have to make a choice about what kind of nation we are going to have.
The judge and the pastor in this matter have presented one view of America.
I would submit that there is a more generous and hopeful choice that can be made that honors the value of every American who has fought for our freedom.
(Above—Rick Perry. Photo by Gage Skidmore.)
If Americans want another Texas Governor as President, one who to the right of even George W. Bush, that is a choice people are free to make.
While I take nothing for granted, my guess is that this is not what the nation wants.
I make no secret that I’m to the left of most voters. Independents and people in the center can read the link above and figure out what they think of Governor Perry for themselves.
If the state can force one type of unwanted medical procedure on free citizens, than why can’t it force any type of unwanted medical procedure on free citizens?
Not even Texas Republicans are on-board with the idea of Mr. Perry running for the White House. Governor Perry stands at 4% in a poll of Texas Republican Presidential preferences.
Whoever the Republican nominee is in 2012, one thing will be certain. He or she will be from the far-right of the political spectrum.
Folks can decide what they want at the ballot box in 2012.
Today marks the 100th birthday of Hubert Humphrey.
Mr. Humphrey was a liberal champion of civil rights and full employment.
Mr. Humphrey was Vice President from 1965-1969 and the 1968 Democratic nominee for President.
From the Minnesota Historical Society about Mr. Humphrey’s time as Mayor of Minneapolis—
“In 1948, under his leadership, Minneapolis enacted the nation’s first municipal fair employment law. Buoyed, he went on to deliver a fiery speech at the 1948 Democratic national convention, an impassioned plea urging that a strong civil rights plank be included in the Democratic platform. Although the speech was not well received, Humphrey was instrumental in spurring the convention to add a civil rights plank to their platform.”
The Historical Society entry also has links to a number of reference sources about Vice President Humphrey.
The U.S. Senate website has good profiles of all the Vice Presidents.
As vice president during 1968—arguably the United States’ most politically turbulent post-World War II year—Hubert Humphrey faced an excruciating test of statesmanship. During a time of war in Southeast Asia when the stakes for this nation were great, Humphrey confronted an agonizing choice: whether to remain loyal to his president or to the dictates of his conscience. His failure to reconcile these powerful claims cost him the presidency. Yet few men, placed in his position, could have walked so agonizing a tightrope over so polarized a nation. Near the end of his long career, an Associated Press poll of one thousand congressional administrative assistants cited Hubert Humphrey as the most effective senator of the preceding fifty years. A biographer pronounced him “the premier lawmaker of his generation.” Widely recognized during his career as the leading progressive in American public life, the Minnesota senator was often ahead of public opinion—which eventually caught up with him. When it did, he was able to become one of Congress’ most constructive legislators and a “trail blazer for civil rights and social justice…”
Senator Humphrey was a liberal and an establishment politician. He took a risk that paid off with civil rights, while his failure to take an agressive stand one way or another on the Vietnam War would cost him later in his career.
Mr. Humphrey is worth taking some time to learn about. Learning about past political leaders offers insight not just on the times they impacted, but on the present day as well.
With Memorial Day weekend almost here, please allow me to suggest some possible ways to observe the holiday—
1. Drive safely-— Make sure you have a designated driver if you will be out drinking. Be safe on the roads. As a general matter–Please slow down and be careful on all the highways of life.
Often it seems we take a day that is meant to honor service and sacrifice, and we turn it into a time for us to conduct ourselves like idiots.
2. Tip well all weekend and on the holiday—Please recall that Monday is a holiday and that you might well expect time-and-a-half for working a holiday. Please consider this fact if you are out and about for the weekend ahead and for Monday.
Respect for our fellow working people is a measure of our own self-respect. Almost all of us have to work for a living. Let us use the freedom we have to honor the value of our everyday lives.
3. Give some thought for the real purpose of Memorial Day—The purpose of the day is honor soldiers who have died in our wars. Take the time to fly the flag in front of your home, to attend a Memorial Day observance, to call or visit a veteran you may know, to donate to veterans related group or charity, to read a book that would increase your understanding of the sacrifices made by our service men and women, or to observe the holiday in any manner that you feel would be helpful and respectful.
And, of course, American freedom has been served by soldiers from other nations all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Our thoughts need not be limited to our own nation. People all over the world care about freedom and have fought for freedom.
Many people have over the years also have taken great risks and made personal sacrifices for the cause of peace. This should not be forgotten. There are many different types of courage.
Houston Mayor Annise Parker Offers City Budget Democrats Would Blast If She Were A Republican—Working People And The Poor Take The Biggest Hits
Republican Governor Rick Perry and the Republican-dominated Texas legislature are moving towards passage of a state budget that will severely cut needed state services such as education and health care.
Democrats and all forward-looking Texans have rightfully condemned this budget.
Here in Houston, Democratic Mayor Annise Parker and the Democratic-majority are moving towards passage of a city budget that lays off more than 700 city workers, cuts library hours, and closes some city pools and community centers.
(Above–Houston. Picture by Yassie.)
In this economy, these former city workers may now go for many months–if not longer–without a good job. How many public resources will they use collecting unemployment or visiting the emergency room after their benefits run out?
In the 2010 elections, Governor Perry was soundly reelected and Texas voters chose huge Republican legislative majorities
As hard-hearted and shortsighted as the political majority may be in Texas, our state government officials can at least claim that people got what they voted for.
In Houston, city voters supported Barack Obama with 61% of the vote in 2008. Both final candidates in the Houston 2009 mayoral runoff vote were Democrats. City voters elected a majority Democratic City Council in 2009.
Yet we have a budget in Houston that appears to reflect many of the same values we find in our state budget.
If a Republican Mayor and council had proposed this budget, they would be criticized by the same people now attacking Governor Perry and the legislature.
Democrats and progressives have a right and a duty to ask more of Mayor Parker.
Tax increases should have at least been on the table.
If we are going to ask Rick Perry and Republicans in control of state government to find more revenue to meet the legitimate needs of Texans, we should ask the same of Annise Parker and our Houston City Council.
It appears that working people and the poor are the ones taking the cuts in this budget.
Where are the Democrats and the progressives asking hard questions about if the budget could have been structured in some other way?
Why do we give any benefit of the doubt to a Mayor who attends Republican fundraisers, portrays herself as a “fiscal conservative”, and who has now offered a budget that is balanced on the backs of those least able to take the hit?
Where is the confidence in our beliefs as Democrats and progressives when we consider Mayor Parker?
(Blogger’s Note–5/21/12—Here are Houston area events for Memorial Day 2012.)
Memorial Day, 2011 is May 30.
Freedom-loving citizens in the Houston and Galveston area will attending Memorial Day events in the days ahead.
For all of you good folks who wrongly feel that liberals do not care about our troops, please recall that you are getting this information at a blog called Texas Liberal.
A big Memorial Day event in Houston each year is the ceremony at the Houston National Cemetery.
(Above–Houston National Cemetery. Picture by Postoak.)
Here are some details on the 2011 event—
“This year, the Department of Veterans Affairs is pleased to announce that retired Air Force Colonel Ann M. Testa, current federal security director, George Bush Intercontinental Airport, will give the Memorial Day address at Houston National Cemetery… Testa served in the United States Air Force for over 27 years retiring as a Colonel in 2001. In addition to earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from MIT, she received a Master of Science degree in Human Resources Management from the State University of New York. In addition to Testa’s remarks, the event will feature a parade of colors and wreaths by numerous local veterans’ organizations, ROTC units, and Boy and Girl Scout troops. All Boy and Girl Scout organizations in southeast Texas are invited to attend. There will also be many symbolic highlights including a flyover by the U.S. Coast Guard; a performance of Taps; a cannon salute; a riderless horse procession by the Houston Police Mounted Patrol; Amazing Grace performed by Ian Martin; and a rifle salute by the VFW District #4 Ceremonial Detail accompanied by Co. A 13th U.S. Regular Infantry with muskets. Peggy Slay, president of the Houston Gold Star Mothers will lead the pledge of allegiance…”
Here are some details about parking at this event—
Park FREE at the North Shepherd Park & Ride, 7821 North Shepherd at Veterans Memorial Drive, Houston 77088, for a convenient connection to the 108 Veterans Memorial METRO bus. The route will run from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. (fares apply) on a 20 minute frequency. Additional transportation will be provided at the gate of the cemetery to the event for elderly and disabled.
Houston Veterans for Peace will be planting U.S. and Texas flags in honor of Texans who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan at Discovery Green Park in Downtown Houston. Civilian deaths will also be noted in this observance. This event will run from Saturday 5/28 through Memorial Day.
While I wish it were otherwise, there is no Memorial Day Parade in Houston.
Here are some specfics about a Memorial Day event at Seawolf Park in Galveston–
“The Memorial Day Service held at Seawolf Park is the 10th annual such service and begins at 11 am on Monday. The service is open to the public and we invite all to come and be part of this remembrance…. This service features a speaker from each branch of the service who remembers their lost. We also conduct a tolling of the Boats for all the submariners lost in WWII who have no graves. If their operational activities permit, a USCG helicopter will hover over the harbor outside of Seawolf Park and place a wreath in the water for those lost at sea who have no grave. The submarine USS Cavalla at Seawolf park is a WWII veteran and responsible for sinking the Japanese carrier Shokaku which had attacked Pearl Harbor. “
The Galveston County Daily News has a list of other Memorial Day events for Sunday and Memorial Day in Galveston County.
If you are aware of any other events in the Houston-Galveston area, please post a comment.
Below is a history of Memorial Day and a number of links about subjects related to Memorial Day—- Continue reading
Republican U.S. House Leader Says Joplin, Missouri Tornado Help Contingent On Other Budget Cuts—122 Counted Dead So Far
Republican U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia says that any federal assistance for the Joplin, Missouri tornadoes will have to be offset by others cuts in the federal budget.
(Above—Picture of Joplin damage as taken by macahanC6R.)
“House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said Monday that if Congress passes an emergency spending bill to help Missouri’s tornado victims, the extra money will have to be cut from somewhere else. If there is support for a supplemental, it would be accompanied by support for having pay-fors to that supplemental,” Mr. Cantor, Virginia Republican, told reporters at the Capitol. The term “pay-fors” is used by lawmakers to signal cuts or tax increases used to pay for new spending.”
Do you think that Mr. Cantor and the current hard-right Republican Party would help hard-working Americans when times are rough?
Are these the people you want in power when you need the Medicare and the Social Security that you have worked to earn?
In the end, people are just going to have to decide what kind of country we are going to have.
Here are five daily goals I’ve set for myself—
(Above–You’ve got to keep your goals in focus without losing the big picture.)
1. Maintain strong relationship(s) with wife and longtime friends.
2. Communicate my values in some manner.
3. Do something creative that may or may not involve political views.
4. Learn something new and further consider what I already know.
5. Establish new lasting relationships if possible.
I’ve had some success with these goals, but I’m yet to be where I’d like to be.
Every person has the ability to set goals and to work to bring these goals to realization.
While always recalling that circumstance and luck play a big part in life, you’ve got chart your own course so that others do not chart it for you.
In 2011, Memorial Day is Monday, May 30
Here is some history on the origins of Memorial Day and, also, links appropriate for Memorial Day
Take the time it requires to learn about the world.
Here is a brief explanation of the origins of Memorial Day—
Memorial Day originated in 1868, when Union General John A. Logan designated a day in which the graves of Civil War soldiers would be decorated. Known as Decoration Day, the holiday was changed to Memorial Day within twenty years, becoming a holiday dedicated to the memory of all war dead. It became a federal holiday in 1971, and is now observed on the last Monday in May.
(This representation of a disagreement between Tecumseh and William Henry Harrison is a reminder that sometimes U.S. troops were called upon to do harm to the native population. Tecumseh died in the War of 1812.)
Here is the article that broke the story of mistreatment of veterans at Walter Reed Hospital. We say we care about our veterans, but that does not always appear to be the case.
Here is Iraq Body Count. This organization counts the number of Iraqis killed in the Iraq War. All people have equal value.
( Both a strong military and a strong resistance against going to war are important aspects of democracy. )
Here is information about the Civil War. (Photo below is of dead Union soldier.)
I called my father from the Korean War Memorial and asked him about the historical accuracy of how the troops were sculpted. He said based on my descriptions, it was an accurate portrayal. ( Photo below)
I’ve been able to visit Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu. Many of our dead from wars in the Pacific are buried here. This is one of the most important and impressive locations you can visit in Honolulu.
Below is Arlington National Cemetery. I was fortunate to once visit Arlington on Memorial Day weekend and see the American flags at each gravestone.
Without people willing to die to protect the freedom of others, I would not be able to express my views in this blog post. Without such people, none of us would be able to enjoy the day-to-day freedoms we often take for granted.
Once again a volcano has erupted in Iceland.
Airlines have been warned ash from a new volcano erupting in Iceland could cause disruption… This time it’s not the Eyjafjallajokull volcano – which caused massive disruption to flights for a week last April and left 10 million passengers stranded – but another called the Grimsvotn volcano. Ash could reach northern parts of the country by Tuesday and parts of the rest of Britain, France and Spain by Thursday or Friday if the eruption continues at the same intensity. Iceland closed its main international airport and cancelled domestic flights on Sunday as the powerful Grimsvotn sent a plume of ash, smoke and steam 12 miles into the air.
(Above– The Grimsvoten volcano as seen from space in a 2004 eruption. Here are facts about the Grimsvoten volcano.)
This post has some basic information on volcanoes. Often we here about things in the news many times over the years without giving closer thought to what is really taking place.
Often it is the most basic facts that are lost.
For example—What exactly is a volcano?
Here is an explanation of volcanoes from an interview with a scientist conducted by the children’s book publisher Scholastic—
“Volcanoes are really mountains that build taller and taller, with time, as they erupt. That means that molten rock, magma, comes from within the earth and erupts onto the surface. The volcano might be explosive and produce ashes or be effusive and produce lava. The explosions are usually first because there are lots of gases inside the magma. When you have a bottle of soda pop, you do not see any bubbles of gas, but when you open it, bubbles form almost instantly. Once the gas bubbles have all escaped, the soda is flat. Once the magma is flat, a lava flow comes out. Most of the volcanoes from around the Pacific Ocean are composite, which means that there are layers of ashes and lava. Most volcanoes are 10,000 to 100,000 years old — it takes time for them to grow big.”
Some volcanoes are underwater. Here is a post I wrote that has many facts about undersea volcanoes.
The Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Washington reports the following about the origin of the word volcano–
“The word “volcano” comes from the little island of Vulcano in the Mediterranean Sea off Sicily. Centuries ago, the people living in this area believed that Vulcano was the chimney of the forge of Vulcan — the blacksmith of the Roman gods. They thought that the hot lava fragments and clouds of dust erupting form Vulcano came from Vulcan’s forge as he beat out thunderbolts for Jupiter, king of the gods, and weapons for Mars, the god of war. In Polynesia the people attributed eruptive activity to the beautiful but wrathful Pele, Goddess of Volcanoes, whenever she was angry or spiteful. Today we know that volcanic eruptions are not super-natural but can be studied and interpreted by scientists.”
(Below—A picture of the Vulcano island.)
Here are facts about volcanic ash from the United States Geological Survey. This link gives you all the facts you need about volcanic ash.
From these facts—
“Small jagged pieces of rocks, minerals, and volcanic glass the size of sand and silt (less than 2 millimeters (1/12 inch) in diameter) erupted by a volcano are called volcanic ash. Very small ash particles can be less than 0.001 millimeters (1/25,000th of an inch) across. Volcanic ash is not the product of combustion, like the soft fluffy material created by burning wood, leaves, or paper. Volcanic ash is hard, does not dissolve in water, is extremely abrasive and mildly corrosive, and conducts electricity when wet.”
However, if you need even more facts on ash, the BBC has a Q & A.
The Earth is a complex place with an interesting geology that merits study even when no big disaster is taking place.
Here is a link to Geology. com. There is a great deal of information at this site about the Earth.
A very useful book to learn about these topics is called Earth–The Definitive Visual Guide. I have this book at home and look at it often. It has great pictures and helpful text to help folks understand the world.
There is a lot more to our existence than just freak-show ash clouds that make people study things they might not otherwise consider. Please be someone who is informed and who is curious about as many things as possible. We all the ability to know many things. The information we need to learn these things is all around us if we just make some effort.
(Below—The Cleveland Volcano in Alaska as photographed from space in 2006.)
Here is the weekly poasting of the Texas Progressive Alliance blogger round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best politcal bloggers in Texas.
(Above–The flag of Texas in Galveston Bay as a ship passes by. Picture copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)
TPA bloggers are working hard each day to get the word out about Texas and national politics. They are citizen-bloggers.
The work of freedom is up to each of us. Every individual has the ability to attend a public meeting, attend or organize a protest, write or call an elected official, talk to friends and family, start a blog, donate money, write a letter to the editor, volunteer for candidates and causes you value, and even run for public office.
Here is the round-up–
The guy in charge of the Letters From Texas blog, which isn’t the Capitol Annex blog, published a guest post entitled “Caught in the Zipper,” written by the guy in charge of the Capitol Annex blog, which isn’t the Letters From Texas blog. Confused yet? Our work here is done.
WCNews at Eye On Williamson has the latest installment of My Congressman is an idiot – John Carter praises Socialism.
refinish69 at Doing My Part for The Left is getting fed up with The Texas Lege…The Gift That Keeps On Giving. The only cure for the herpes that is the Texas Legislature is to vote the jerks out of office. Continue reading