Texas Liberal

All People Matter

City Of Houston Campaign Sign Crackdown—My Two Favorite Signs

Houston Mayor Annise Parker says the city will be cracking down on campaign signs that are placed improperly.

Having a campaign war chest  of more than $2 million helps you take the high road when dealing with candidates who have far less money.

That’s a measure of sarcasm on my part.

In fact—I’ve been on the patrol for improperly placed campaign signs myself. I’ve contributed a number of pictures to the Empty Lot Primary blog of signs in vacant lots and in the public right-of-way.

You might ask—“Which two pictures have you enjoyed the most?”

I will show you.

Below is a Bolivar Fraga sign that I took a picture of just yesterday. Showing this sign on the blog allows me to also show you all that fine public art on that blocked-up storefront.

Showing you this picture also permits me to say again that Houston City Council At -Large #2 candidate Bolivar Fraga tells Democrats that he is a Democrat and tells Republicans that he is a Republican.

And then– of course—we have this classic Eric Dick sign.

The Republican Mr. Dick is running in the same race as is Mr. Fraga.

We’ll see in the weeks ahead if the City of Houston is really serious about this effort.

(Both photos copyright Neil Aquino 2011) 

September 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 7 Comments

Senator John Cornyn Cares A Great Deal About Texas Wildfires And About Photo Ops

Texas U.S. Senator got a briefing yesterday from the Texas Forest Service about the wildfires in Texas.

Above you see a picture from this briefing.

The Senator is the gentleman with white hair.

Do you think the folks from the Texas Forest Service briefed Senator Cornyn on the sharp cuts to the Forest Service approved by Governor Rick Perry and the Republican-controlled Texas legislature?

From the Fort-Worth Star Telegram-

The Legislature cut the agency’s funding this year to $83 million from $117 million, according to Robby DeWitt, the forest service’s associate finance director. … Chris Barron, executive director of the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas, said: “It’s very frustrating that they don’t have the proper tools and resources to fight these fires. If fire departments had enough funding, if the forest service had enough funding, we wouldn’t be in this predicament over each and every year.” 

Senator Cornyn wants you to know that he is very concerned about the wildfires in Texas.

Senator Cornyn is real concerned just as long as you know that his concern does not translate beyond a photo op, and a briefing with people who have no choice but to sit with the Senator and to be used as props.

September 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

Some Things In Life Are Clear Enough

The three pictures above are from places I’ve been in the past year.

The top picture is from Newport, Rhode Island.

The middle picture is from right here at home in Houston.

The bottom picture is from Cincinnati.

(All pictures copyright Neil Aquino.) 

While the signs in the picture may well have helped somebody, they all pointed to issues that were clear enough.

Not everything in life is in plain view.

But when something is made clear enough, it should not be so hard to respond.

So many things in our day-to-day lives are clear enough.

Yet so often people fail to get the message and fail to respond.

September 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments

Welding—-Melting, Pressing, Hammering

Above is a picture I took of people welding a ship or a barge of some kind at the Houston Ship Channel.

(Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)

Here is a history of welding. At the bottom of that history are other welding related links.

Here is a definition of welding from Merriam-Webster

Join together (metal pieces or parts) by heating the surfaces to the point of melting with a blowpipe, electric arc, or other means, and uniting them by pressing, hammering, etc.

Sometimes we hear about concepts and themes of unity and connection. Such talk might conjure up images of peace and cooperation.

It is not always that way.

Sometimes things are brought together by—“melting with a blowpipe, electric arc, or other means, and uniting them by pressing, hammering, etc.”

September 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Amy Price For Houston City Council At-Large #4—Ms. Price Listens To People

Amy Price is a running as a Green Party candidate for Houston City Council at-large position 4.

(Above–Ms. Price.)

The incumbent in this race is C.O. Bradford.

Mr. Bradford—a Democrat—has offered Democrats an austerity based fiscal message and a council tenure where he has worked with Republicans to undermine Mayor Annise Parker.

Mr. Bradford’s record of service to the people of Houston includes his time as police chief and his poor stewardship of the City of Houston Crime Lab. Mr. Bradford was police chief from 1997 to 2004.

The impact of the crime lab scandal goes on to this day. 

Mr. Bradford is not loyal to the best ideals of his party. Nor is he public official who has done his job well.

Lacking these qualities, what does Mr. Bradford offer the people of Houston?

Ms. Price is working hard on the campaign trail each day not just to defeat Chief Bradford, but to offer the people of Houston a hopeful progressive choice.

It is not enough to simply be someone other than the person you are running against. You have to offer something of value to the voters you are running to represent.

Ms. Price is asking questions and seeking solutions. She is talking to everyday people in Houston, and not to big corporate donors or advocacy groups who often have narrow agendas.

As Houston voters consider the 2011 City Council field, they will find Ms. Price both true to the values she asserts on the stump, and a person who inspires confidence in voters of all ideological leanings that she will be able to do the job.

Here is an interview with Ms. Price that was conducted by Houston political blogger Charles Kuffner.

Here is the link to Amy’s website.

Here is her campaign blog. 

Here is a link to donate to Ms. Price.

Ms. Price is running a daily series of questions and answers on her campaign blog.

Below is a complete entry from one of her recent posts.

As early voting and Election Day approach for our Houston city elections, the work of deciding who will best serve our city is up to each of us.

It is the responsibility of voters to look beyond name recognition and fundraising advantages to see who will do the best job.

I encourage Houston voters to study the options available on the 2011 municipal ballot and to vote as they see fit.

Here is Ms. Price’s blog entry—

Challenge: a big, complex city

Solution: listen to its inhabitants

While block walking this weekend, I had folks share some fantastic ideas with me. Here they are.

For discouraging the sort of cyclic electricity usage that could lead to brownouts (especially in the future, when we’ll have more people crowded into the same space): have more expensive peak rates and lower off-peak rates. Just like your cell phone plan.

For encouraging water conservation when rationing is going on: up the rates during rationing. The surest way of ensuring that folks do what they should do is to make it something they want to do. Continue reading

September 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ongoing Drought In Houston

Above is a picture of trees at the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center.

I took this picture yesterday.

These trees are sick and dying due to the long drought that we are having in Houston and in Texas.

Here is the most recent federal map on where in the U.S. drought conditions are prevailing.

Here is a link to water conservation rules and suggestions for Houston.

Here is a Houston Chronicle story on the drought’s impact on local trees.

I hope it rains soon.

(Photo copyright Neil Aquino 2011)

September 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Houston Council At-Large #2 Candidate Bolivar Fraga On All Sides—He Can Call Harris County GOP At 713-838-7900 To Clear Up The Confusion

Houston At-Large #2 City Council Candidate Bolivar Fraga appears to be playing all sides.

The Harris County Republican Party website lists Mr. Fraga as a Republican.

This would make sense as Mr. Fraga voted in the 2010 Republican Primary.

However, Mr. Fraga told Houston political blogger Charles Kuffner in an interview that  he voted in the Republican primary to support one candidate in particular.

Mr. Fraga told Mr. Kuffner that other than in 2010 he has voted in Democratic primaries. You can find the exchange on this topic in the 11th minute  of Mr. Kuffner’s interview with Mr. Fraga.

At the same time, we find that Mr. Fraga has been endorsed by the conservative C Club of Houston.

The C Club of Houston says right at the top of its website that it has a goal of  “Keeping Houston Politics Fiscally Conservative…”  

Here is Mr. Fraga’s website.  Maybe you see virtues in his campaign and you would like to cast your ballot for him in our municipal elections. That is your call.

What I would say is this—Mr. Fraga is looking to take advantage of the fact that he is a relative unknown to create different impressions with different voting groups.

With this being the case, how can anybody have confidence in the things Mr. Fraga asserts in his campaign?

Mr. Fraga tells Mr. Kuffner that he is a Democrat.

Mr. Kuffner’s blog is strongly on the side of Democratic candidates.

Mr. Fraga tells the C Club that he is on board with a conservative agenda.

The C Club stands with conservatives.

If Mr. Fraga is a Democrat, he can call the Harris County Republican Party at 713-838-7900 and ask them to list him as a Democrat rather than as a Republican.

Many will tell you that Houston municipal elections are non-partisan.

While it is true that party identification is not on the ballot, candidates are free to identify themselves with one party or another as they campaign.

There are partisan differences in how cities deliver basic services.

Cities can decide to work with unions or to fight unions. Cities can decide to layoff people or to value municipal employees. Cities can work hard for green initiatives in how operate on a daily basis, or they can ignore more environmentally friendly ways of operating.

Mr. Fraga’s course so far in this campaign leaves all voters uncertain of where he stands on issues before Houston.

September 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

200,000th Major League Baseball Game—Who Knew?

A few hours back I made a post about attending an Astros’ game this evening.

As it turned out, this was the 200,00th Major League Baseball game played since the founding of the National League in 1876.

Who knew?

Well….it seems these nice folks below knew.

Sometimes you just show up someplace and there is a blog post already waiting for you.

The 200,000th game involved the Colorado Rockies defeating the Houston Astros by a score of 4-2 in 13 innings.

Here is a list of the all the major leagues and a number of other historical statistics from Baseball-Reference.com. There have been 6 recognized major leagues in professional baseball history.

A great book to learn the history of Major League Baseball is Koppett’s History of Major League Baseball  by Leonard Koppett.

A strong history of the Negro Leagues is Shades of Glory by Lawrence D. Hogan.

Everything is better when we know what came before. Context gives meaning to events.

Below is a picture from the 200,00th game. This picture features a beer vendor and an outfielder.

September 25, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

End Of Baseball Season

(Blogger’s Note 9/25/11—As it turned out, this game was the 200,00th game in Major League Baseball history.)

I’m attending what may be my final Houston Astros’ game of the season this evening. The regular baseball season ends next week.

I follow baseball but do not often write about in the blog. There is enough sports out there already .

The Astros’ are having the worst season they have ever had since beginning play in 1962.

That does not bother me very much as I simply like to attend the games and not worry about who wins or loses.

I’ve been fortunate to attend a number of baseball games over the years. In 1990, I was able to go to a World Series game in Cincinnati.

I go to between 15 and 20 games each season.

The picture above is of an Astros’ game earlier this season. I picked this picture because I like the patterns on the field made by shadows from the roof above at Minute Maid Park.

I would have voted against the public funds used for the construction of the stadium had I lived in Houston at the time. I did vote against public funds for construction of stadiums in Cincinnati

I voted against  public funds to build the Houston Rockets basketball arena in Downtown Houston. The first public vote failed. Yet the issue was brought before the public a year or so later and it passed the second time.

We just had to have our basketball arena.

The best web site to follow baseball is Baseball-Reference.com. Baseball-Reference.com is in fact one of the best web sites that I have seen of any kind.

September 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Fall Is Here—Please Enjoy All Seasons Of The Year

(Blogger’s Note 9/23/11 –I made this post last year and have updated it just a bit for this year. It looks to me like it took some work, so why not use it again? Thanks for reading Texas Liberal. I hope you enjoy all seasons of the year.) 

September 22 is the first day of fall.

(Above–The 1890 painting Autumn Rain by Julian Alden Weir.)

What exactly is fall?

Here is a definition.

From that defintion–

“The autumnal equinox marks the first day of the fall season. On this day, the Sun is again directly over the earth’s equator, and daylight lasts 12 hours in the Northern Hemisphere and decreasing. This day is typically recognized as September 22 in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the first day of spring is recognized on September 23.”

Though I imagine we all get the idea no matter the specific definition. Even if it is our own idea that we get.

The seasons mean different things to different people and the seasons mean different things depending on where you live.

Here are facts about why leaves change color from the United States National Arboretum.

The seasons may mean something totally different from what we take them to represent in everyday thought.

Martin Luther King once said this—

“The sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality.”

Metaphor gives life substance.

Above is a picture taken by Wing-Chi Poon of the Lost Maples State Natural Area in Texas.

This park is in Bandera and Real counties in Texas.  It is yet another resource provided by government for the good of the general public.

I turned 44 a few days ago. I don’t suppose that it is yet the autumn of my years. Maybe it is mid to late summer.

For those who don’t want summer to ever end—No need to worry.

Climate change is real and it will stay warmer more and more as the years pass by.

Summer is my favorite season. I like the heat and the long days because I feel they are the most conducive to creativity and optimism.

Though, of course, fall has many virtues.

In the last few years I lived up north in Cincinnati, fall made me apprehensive because the short cold days of winter that were approaching struck me as depressing.

Now that I am in Texas, I would enjoy at least a few crisp autumn days.

This makes me yet another person to observe that we only know what we are missing until after the fact.

Houston is often very hot and first day of fall does not mean so much. It’s greatest meaning may be that hurricanes rarely strike this part of the country after the third week of September.

How should we note the first day of fall? Should we conduct a sacrifice?

No. I think that would be somewhat severe.

Instead, let us mark the new season by being kind to others.

I think that would be best for all seasons of the year.

(Below—Autumn at Tsaritsyano Park in Moscow. Picture taken by Корзун Андрей.)

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Republican Presidential Debate Crowd Boos A Soldier Serving In Iraq—Rick Santorum Says Dumbest Thing Ever

Here is what we have learned from the Republicans running for President in 2012—

* The chief of the Federal Reserve should be roughed up if he visits Texas according to Texas Governor Rick Perry.

* Texas-sized use of the death penalty is a cause for cheering.

* Letting the uninsured die is a cause for cheering.

Booing soldiers serving in Iraq is okay if they happen to be gay.

The Republicans are telling us all who and what they are.

What are you going to do it about it?

The work of freedom and democracy is up to each of us.

If this what the American people support in 2012, then we will all know where we stand in this country.

Also—Did you catch in the Republican debate that Rick Santorum said the following

“Any type of sexual activity has absolutely no place in the military.” 

That may be the dumbest comment ever made by a candidate for public office.

That is something I would like to see Mr. Santorum try to enforce.

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 6 Comments

New Phone App Will Help Americans See The Amount Of Forced Labor In What We Buy

A new phone app will help Americans see how much forced labor was involved to make the things we use each day.

From CNN-

“Was your smartphone made in a sweatshop? Were those diapers made by slaves? Were children in another country forced to put that stitching in your designer jeans?  Consumers will be able to find out after the debut Thursday of a new app and website that measure the forced labor in everyday products.  Created by the U.S. State Department and a watchdog group, the free app and website will make consumers aware of their “slavery imprint.” “This is a new way to create awareness about the issue of modern slavery and empower consumers,” said Ambassador Luis CdeBaca, director of the State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.”

Here is the website of State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.

While at the website, I signed up for e-mail updates.

Government has a role in informing consumers about the things they purchase. In this way, consumers can make decisions with as much information as possible.

I’m certain I buy things that are made with forced labor. I imagine we all do.

The good news is that we can address this problem and change how goods are made.

Government has a role in protecting the workers who make the products we buy in the United States. In a connected world, we cannot  just wash our hands of the consequences of our decisions.

As mentioned above, Luis CdeBaca runs the State Department Trafficking office.

The Trafficking office reports to the Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs. Her name is Maria Otero. 

The U.S. Department of Labor has produced a report about which nations in the world use child labor and what types of products are produced by child labor. 

A Republican state senator in Missouri proposed earlier this year that Missouri role back child labor laws.

While this proposal did not pass, Republicans are going after many of the protections that American workers have in our nation.

It is good that our federal government is involved in important work of addressing forced labor and human trafficking. Such work helps consumers at home, and helps working people all over the globe.

It is work that shows the United States living up to the promise of freedom for all.

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

KTRH 740 Host Michael Berry Says Senator Lindsey Graham “Gayer than Hell..”—We Are All Free To Express Ourselves

(Update 2/16/12–Mr. Berry  has been reported in the media has being invloved in a hit-and-run outside a gay club in Houston. Read the story and reach your own views.)  

Here is what former Houston City Councilmember and current KTRH 740 AM radio host Michael Berry had to say on his Facebook page today  about Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham–

“Lindsay Grahamnesty is on Fox right now. Acting gayer than hell as usual. He grates on my nerves. Liberal Lindsay. Squish.”

I’m appreciative of people like Mr. Berry who tell us exactly who and what they are.

There were a number of comments after Mr. Berry’s Facebook post that appeared to suggest a measure of agreement with his views.

For example–

“Posts like this are why I love you. In a non gayer than hell way of course.”

Or this view expressed by a fellow citizen of our nation–

“He needs to go. I can’t stand this man. Lindsay, is that like Pat- is he a man or a woman?”

People are free to believe what they want to believe, and they are free to express themselves.

I encourage all people to speak their minds and to be involved with the issues of the day.

September 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ass-Headed Demons—Long A Part Of Life

Above are ass-headed demons on display at the British Museum in London. This ceramic plaque is from 15th century Burma.

Thesw ass-headed demons were sent by Mara, the god of death, to distract the Buddha from his course of enlightenment.  Mara was defeated after the Buddha asked the Earth-goddess to see how hard he was working for enlightenment. The Earth-goddess sent a giant earthquake and Mara retreated.

I bet we all have people in our lives who we see as ass-headed demons.

Some might be well-known political figures or people in the news, while others might be folks we’re forced to deal with each day in life.

As you can see, ass-headed demons have long been a part of life and existence.

September 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Republican Texas State Rep. Says Birth Control Is Target Of State Budget Cuts—They Are Telling You What They Are

Republican Texas State Representative Wayne Christian says that cuts to family planning agencies by the Texas legislature are about birth control as well as about abortion.

(Above–Wayne Christian on the left with Texas Governor Rick Perry. These men are concerned that Texas women have access to birth control.)

Here is what Representative Christian said

“The goal is to get government money out of the abortion process and if contraceptive services have to suffer a bit of collateral damage in the process, so be it. When The Texas Tribune asked state Rep. Wayne Christian (R-Nacogdoches), a supporter of the family planning cuts, if this was a war on birth control, he said “yes.” …“Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything, that’s what family planning is supposed to be about,” Christian said.”

Representative Christian is elected by folks in Shelby, Nacogdoches, San Augustine, Sabine and Jasper counties.

I bet folks in these fine Texas counties use birth control.

I wonder in how many town hall meetings or voter forums that Rep. Christian has told his constituents that they should not use birth control?

So much for government staying out of your life.

The good thing here is that at least Rep. Christian is telling you up front what he supports.

This is just as we are seeing with Republicans in 2011. They are telling us that Texas-sized use of the death penalty and letting the uninsured die is a cause to cheer.

Rick Perry and the Texas  legislature are quite content to allow women to go without decent health care so long as they can keep up the attacks on Planned Parenthood and on birth control. 

We are going to have an election in 2012 and we are going to have clear choices to make.

I’m looking forward to the election and to knowing where we all stand on the issues before the nation.

When somebody tells you who and what they are–You should believe them.

September 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment