Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Who Is Running In 2011 City Of Houston Elections?

Houston municipal elections are just weeks away.

(Above–Photo montage of Houston by Yassie.

October 11 is the last day to register to vote.

Early voting runs October 24–November 4.

Election Day is November 8.

Voters in Houston will be selecting a Mayor, the City Controller, 5 at-large citywide Council positions, and 11 district Council seats.

(Update 10/25/11—Here are my endorsements for Houston in 2011)

Who are the candidates?

There are some useful resources online for you to get the lay of the land.

Fellow Houston blogger Charles Kuffner has a list posted of the candidates and of what groups have endorsed the candidates.  Charles has also conducted interviews with many of the candidates.These interviews can also be accessed at the link above.

The Harris County Republican Party has a very helpful list of the candidates with the party identification of each candidate.

The Harris County Democratic Party—damned near useless in municipal elections as always—has a list of candidates that offers no clues at all as to who is a Democrat.

The Harris County Green Party has a web site as well.  There are two Green candidates in 2011.

While candidates are not listed by party on the city ballot, nothing prohibits candidates for Houston city office from saying what party they represent.

Party identification is a core political question that tells voters a number of things about a candidate.

I don’t know why the Harris County Democratic Party does not promote itself and all the Democratic candidates on the ballot  more aggressively in City of Houston elections.

Most people in Houston vote Democratic in most elections.

You would think that given how lousy turnout is in city elections year-after-year, that the Democratic Party would want to expand the number of people who take part in these elections.

You would think this would be even more the case as the 2012 elections approach. Democrats will have positions to gain and to defend in Harris County in 2012.

While I do not believe that Barack Obama will win Texas in 2012, there is no reason to concede 14 months before the election. You never know. Houston is the largest city in Texas. Should not every effort be made to mobilize likely Democratic voters in Houston?

I suppose though that if the local Democratic establishment did really try to expand turnout , they might have to start to answer questions about why our local Democrats are silent about a near 50% child poverty rate in Houston.

And, of course, we would not want partisanship to get in the way of Democratic Mayor Annise Parker’s outreach to Republicans.

Mayor Parker’s 70% victory with 15% turnout is going to be of cold comfort should Republicans make major gains in Harris County in 2012 and if Rick Perry is elected President.

As we progress towards Election Day, I’m going to have more on the candidates and on who liberals and progressives can support with some measure of enthusiasm.

I’m afraid that may not be a very long list.

In any case, it is up to each voter to learn about the candidates and to ask questions of the candidates during the election season.

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

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

Arab Spring Protests Are Ongoing—Protests Started With One Act

There have been large protests in Yemen in recent days and renewed protests in Morocco as the so-called Arab Spring continues.

(Above–Protests in Syria earlier in 2011. Photo by Syriana2011.)

These events take place as the very brave protesters in Syria keep up the presssure despite Tiananmen Square style brutality from the Assad government and as a new government takes over in Libya. 

Longstanding repressive governments have previously been toppled in 2011 in Tunisia and Egypt. 

One of the best sources to learn about these uprisings and revolutions is Global Voices.

Global Voices offers reports from bloggers and non-governmental social media users from all around the world.

Here is a Global Voices report about bloggers running for the Tunisian parliament.  Two of the 7 candidates profiled are women.

There is no way to be certain if the changes in the Arab world will lead to expanded freedoms or to new forms of repression. It may take years for any accurate appraisal to be given.

Yet the alternative to Arab citizens finding out for themselves what they will do with newfound liberties would have been more long years of dictatorship.

How could that be acceptable to any freedom-loving person?

It should also be recalled that while there are many underlying causes to the Arab uprisings, it is also so that all this started with one act by someone who had not before been widely known.

On December 10, 2010, a college educated 26 year old Tunisian named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire.

Like many Tunisians, Mr. Bouazizi had not been able to find steady work despite an education. Mr. Bouazizi had a number of rough encounters with local authorities in his town of Sidi Bouzid as he tried to peddle goods on the street.

Mr. Bouazizi reached a breaking point and set himself on fire with gasoline. This attracted attention all over Tunisia and led to the toppling of the Tunsian government.

From Tunisia these protests have spread to much of the Arab world.

Please don’t set yourself on fire—But who can know when or where the next act of defiance or despair will set in motion great change.

Hope and change that is more than a campaign slogan is always possible.

Yet just as we are seeing in the Middle East, it is up to everyday people to force change with brave and strong words and brave and strong deeds.

Below–Mohamed Bouaziz

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

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

Here is the most recent Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers who are working everyday for a better Texas.

Every Texan and every American 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, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

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

The round-up—

Off the Kuff discusses how many votes it will take to have a shot at winning citywide office in Houston this year.

Eric “Illegal Signs” Dick gets nailed to a utility pole the wall once more, and PDiddie atBrains and Eggs laughs and points.

Bay Area Houston notices that a new flavor of ice cream has been created for the Tea Party: Schweddy Balls.

Don’t use 9/11 to promote Bush or Cheney. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme is appalled at the thought that anyone would give them credit for good actions.

Neil at Texas Liberal made note of his growing appreciation for Rick Perry. With his lack of second-guessing over all the people who have been executed while he has been governor, at least Mr. Perry embraces our culture of violence and death with open arms. The governor of Texas offers voters a clear choice. We’ll see what people want in 2012 and we’ll move ahead from that point.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson demonstartes that a picture is worth a thousand words:Perry/Texas GOP budget cuts already proving costly for Texas.

At TexasKaos, lightseeker ponders the relationship between Rick Perry, Wildfires and Cultism. Give it a read.

Did you watch the Republican debate last week? So did McBlogger

September 18, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

I’ve Been Meaning To Run This Ship Channel Motel Picture

Here is a picture of the entrance to the Ship Channel Motel in Houston.

I took this picture last year and have been meaning to run it since.

I’m certain this is a fine establishment.

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

Sorry To See Friend Lose Radio Job

I’m sorry that my longtime friend Wildman Walker was fired from his longtime position at Cincinnati radio station WEBN.

Dennis commented on sports for WEBN.

Above is Dennis hoisting up some type of hockey trophy.

Dennis was a good and loyal friend to me many years ago.

Dennis has always been very resourceful. I’m certain he has a second act in Cincinnati radio.

I wish Dennis the best as he moves ahead to something new.

September 17, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 2 Comments

Looking At The Big Picture

I spent some time this afternoon looking at Houston from the 60th floor of the Chase Building in Downtown Houston.

Here is the website for this building.

Sometimes you’ve got to step away from the day-to-day stuff and look at the big picture.

September 16, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 3 Comments

More And More Poverty In The United States—We Don’t Even Talk About Poverty Anymore

Poverty in the United States continues to grow.

From The New York Times—

“Another 2.6 million people slipped into poverty in the United States last year, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, and the number of Americans living below the official poverty line, 46.2 million people, was the highest number in the 52 years the bureau has been publishing figures on it. And in new signs of distress among the middle class, median household incomes fell last year to levels last seen in 1997. Economists pointed to a telling statistic: It was the first time since the Great Depression that median household income, adjusted for inflation, had not risen over such a long period, said Lawrence Katz, an economics professor at Harvard.”

It should be noted that wages are stagnant all the way back to 1997.  The issue here is not just the recession. Our wages are stuck.

This concern is quite remote from all the debate we recently heard about the debt ceiling. Jobs and wages have been missing as big issues in Washington. President Obama’s current jobs bill is a start, yet at the same time the President is also talking about cutting federal health funds.

1 in 5 children in the United States live in poverty.

Here is the full Census report on poverty and also on health insurance coverage in the U.S. 

1 in 6 Americans do not have health insurance.

That these poverty numbers and health insurance numbers are not a source of national uproar, is a sign of the extent to which we have lost our way in this nation. President Obama never mentions poverty while the Republican Party takes every step it can to make the lives of the poor as miserable as possible.

These are moral questions. Budgets and our legislative priorities are moral questions.

Morality in this country as seen by the political right is a function of brutality and intimidation. It is moral to cheer about the death penalty and about uninsured people dying.

On the left morality is tempered by cowardice, and by the silent complicity of  many on the left who are fine with economic issues off the agenda. We don’t want to get at the core issues driving our politics and society today. We don’t see ourselves as tough enough and willing enough to fight on these questions.

Everyday people are going to have to decide what they want for our future. They are going to have decide that they care about the fates of others.

Every person who is able has the obligation to work. Most people want to work.

But what are people to do when you can’t get a job, and when the jobs that are available do not offer enough hours and money so that you can get by? What do we do when every effort to get people some health insurance is met with silly cries of socialism? What do we do when we can’t even raise taxes on the most wealthy at a time of debt and economic crisis?

We can’t keep going on like this. It won’t end well if we keep going on like this.

September 15, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | 2 Comments

Fire At George Bush Park In Harris County—Take Steps To Avoid Being The Cause Of Any Fires

There is a wildfire at George H.W. Bush Park in Harris County.

Here is a non-ideological assessment of the presidency of G.H.W. Bush.  Though this is not the main subject of this blog post, it is always the right time to learn about and to think about new things.

Here is a report on the fire from Houston TV station KTRK. 

(Update—9/14/11—Progress was made overnight in figthing the fire.)

The picture above is of smoke from the fire as it was seen a few hours ago. This picture was taken by my friend Ms. Alex Ragsdale.

As you can see, the fire is an urbanized area.

This fire is not surprising as there is an extreme drought in Harris County and in Texas.  There have been many wildfires in Texas in 2011 and in recent weeks.

These fires have been made more difficult to fight than need be, because Rick Perry and the Republican-dominated state legislature have cut funds for the Texas Forest Service and for firefighters in Texas.

Given the extreme drought conditions in the Houston and in Texas, it is best that we take steps to avoid being the cause of any more fires.

While some people may wish to do what is best, often we make mistakes.

Here are some tips from the Houston Fire Department about how you avoid being the cause of any more fires.

HFD recommends the following safety tips during this drought: Continue reading

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

Driver’s License Renewal—Peace & Blessings To All Our Fellows

I’m at the DMV right now getting my driver’s license renewed.

I’m happy to be with all my fellow citizens. And non-citizens.

All people must visit the DMV to get a driver’s license.

The picture here is of my shoes as I wait in line.

Some of our fellow citizens don’t look very friendly. I’m concerned that somebody might shoot me if I took a picture in which they felt they had been included.

On the other hand, I was able to lend a pen to a man who based on his accent might have originally been from Africa.

Peace and blessings to all our fellow men and women from all over the globe.

Peace and blessings and just keep your eyes focused down on the floor so as to avoid trouble.

September 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 3 Comments

Cheering Death—Tea Party/Republican Party Candidates Tell You Who And What They Are

Let us appreciate some folks in the crowd at the Republican debate last night cheering the idea of an uninsured person dying just as we welcome Rick Perry’s lack of concern — and the crowd’s roaring approval—that any of the 234 people he has executed may have been innocent.

Let the American people have clear choices in 2012 and we can decide as a nation what we want.

If you think that Social Security is unconstitutional as does Rick Perry, then you can support Mr. Perry for President and let the stock market and that steady 40 hour job you’ll always be able to count on provide for your retirement.

At least these Tea Party/Republican Party candidates don’t pretend they care and then do nothing.  They tell you who and what they are.

September 13, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 7 Comments

Industry Approved License Plate—Can’t We All Just Have The Same Message On Our License Plates?

Here is an industry approved license plate I saw on my travels in Cincinnati and Kentucky last week.

Here are some basic facts about coal in Kentucky. 

I wish we could just go back to license plates that had a nice tourism related saying on them– or some type of state motto—that everybody can support.

I don’t like thoughts expressed on license plates that I agree with anymore than ideas I do not support. I would not buy a license plate calling for higher taxes on the rich.

We just need to know that Pennsylvania is the Keystone State and that Texas is the Lone Star State and that Rhode Island is the Ocean State.

If you want to purchase a vanity plate—That is your affair. People have been able to buy such license plates for many years.

But it is best that government endorse no political or specific cultural message of any kind on our  license plates.

If you want to “choose life” or proclaim that you support pet adoptions or that you are a graduate  of Louisiana State or wherever —Then get yourself a bumper sticker.

Must we be bombarded with messages all of the time? Can’t we have just a broad identity common to all on our license plates?

There are so many avenues by which we can express ourselves these days.  The blog you are reading is a way I express myself.

As for my license plate—I’m happy to be known as a citizen of the Lone Star State no matter where in the nation I may drive. I’m happy to share that identity with every Texan.

Here is some history of Texas license plates.

Here is a great website with photos of many American license plates over the years.

Here are photos of license plates of the world.

Below is a fine license plate. It tells us that Nevada is the Silver State. The color makes the plate all the better. A common message need not be drab. (Photo by Stripey the Crab)

There should at least be some forum where we share a common identity. Just because we have the same message on our license plates, does not mean there are not plenty of other issues over which we can disagree and argue.

September 12, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Choices Made Since 9/11/01

I’m sorry for the people who died on 9/11.

I’m sorry we were told to shop after 9/11 and that many of us chose to consume beyond our means.

I’m sorry that some of the financial firms in Manhattan chose to cheat people and to rip people off.

I’m sorry we sometimes used 9/11 to scapegoat Muslims and torture people.

I’m sorry we used 9/11 to start wars based on lies, kill civilians, and then treat our veterans like crap.

We had choices to make about how we would honor the dead from 9/11 and honor our soldiers fighting abroad.

I’m sorry and ashamed that this is how our nation chose to act after we were attacked by the terrorists on 9/11/01.

The good news is that we always have the ability to learn from the past, and to make better choices for the future.

September 11, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

Rick Perry Skips Scheduled Wildfire News Conference—Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

Here is the most recent Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas. TPA members are citizen-bloggers who are working everyday for a better Texas.

With the round-up this week is news that Texas Governor Rick Perry did not show up at a scheduled news conference to address the Texas wildfires. This despite the fact that Mr. Perry had been able in recent days to go to California to campaign for President.

It could be that Governor Perry did not want to reply to questions about how some Texas firefighters have to pay for proper equipment, and how short-sighted budget cuts have impeded the ability to fight  wildfires in Texas.

As Rick Perry runs for President, it is up to each individual to decide how they will respond.

Every Texan and every American 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, engage in acts of civil disobedience, and to run for public office.

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

Here is the round-up—

Off the Kuff looks at a movement to end pensions for public employees.

Amy Price is one of just a few progressives running for Houston City Council in 2011, and PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is helping her campaign.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson shows that the Texas GOP’s next trick will be to come after pubic employee pensions to protect their wealthy campaign contributors:“Wisconsin-style” pension scheme coming to Texas. Continue reading

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

Cincinnati Casino Construction Site Is Pit Of Sin—Finished Product Will Be Den Of Sin

This pit of sin is the casino under construction on the outskirts of Downtown Cincinnati. I took this picture earlier this week.

This will be the first casino in Cincinnati.

This casino is a perfect addition to Cincinnati in a time when the only growth industries in our nation appear to be copper theft and selling stolen goods on online auction sites.

I’m sorry that voters authorized this casino.  It seems to me to signify a sense of hopelessness that jobs can be no longer be created in Ohio and the nation from any worthwhile form of commerce.

Gambling preys on the poor.

Right now this is a pit of sin. After it is constructed, I will take another picture on one of my Cincinnati visits and refer to it as a den of sin.

(Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)

September 10, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

Giant Burrito Takes Precedence Over Commentary On The Big Issues Of The Day

I’m certain that I was going to make a post this afternoon about the big issues of the day.

But then I got caught up in eating the giant burrito you see in the picture.

And now I have to get on my with my day.

I take a picture of very meal I eat in case I am someday recalled in the yet-to-be constructed  blogger wing of the Smithsonian. They might want to know about my every moment.

No. Really I took this picture because I knew I’d not have time for blogging today if I went out and got the burrito. I needed the picture for the post.

Here is some burrito history. 

With the burrito I was reading 1493–Uncovering The New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann.

Here is a review of this very good book.

Columbus sure did change the world.

September 9, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 3 Comments