Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Stay The Course—Concern Yourself With The Substance Of The Message And With Your Own Hard Work

Above is a picture of myself from Occupy Houston on October 29.

I found the sign I am holding at the Occupy site.

I often use the phrase “Stay the Course” in my personal conversations.

I use the phrase because I recall that Ronald Reagan used it to his benefit.

We should set a goal and then we should stay the course to reach that objective.

I like everything written on that sign.

You’ll notice the misspelled word on the sign.

I don’t care.

I know that spotting misspelled words on signs made by Tea Party backers is something of a sport for some folks on my side of the aisle.

I think this is often done to make fun of the person holding the sign instead of critiquing the view that person is espousing.

If those folks holding up the misspelled Tea Party signs were so dumb, how come they outworked us and beat us so badly in the 2010 elections?

Calling other people dumb does not make it better when you have been whomped at the voting booth.

People may be a lot of bad things. They may be ill-informed about the issues of the day. Or they not be very nice at times.

But people are not stupid.

If you say somebody is stupid, you’re saying you are better than them in some basic organic biological way.

I’m not for that kind of talk.

That sign I’m holding is a great sign.

Let’s worry about the roots more so than the branches.

Here is the Occupy Houston website.

Here is the Occupy Galveston website.

Here is the Occupy Wall Street website. 

Poke around the web and Facebook and find an Occupy effort near you.

Or start one yourself.

October 31, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

At the end of this post 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 working for a better Texas.

(Above–Photo from Occupy Houston taken on October 28. Photo Copyright 2011 Neil Aquino) 

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.

This do it yourself outlook is well-represented by Occupy Houston and Occupy Galveston. Find an Occupy effort near you. Or start one yourself.

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

Here is the round up—

Off the Kuff has information about the interim redistricting maps that the federal court in San Antonio will be considering.
Letters From Texas discusses Republicans not understanding basic biology, which is why some candidates might not even realize that they’re advocating banning birth control. Much worse, others do understand it.

Several Houston city council candidates earned the coveted PDiddie endorsement. Pick up your progressive voting guide at Brains and Eggs.

As early voting for the November constitutional amendment election gets started,WCNews at Eye On Williamson says Vote No on Prop 4 – the latest transportation scheme.

Libby Shaw says it best in Rick Perry: A Right Wing Wrecking Machine . She compares the degrees of diaster that separate Perry from Romney. The result is a “how low can you go” contest that America can’t afford, not when one of these mean-spirited clowns could be the next American President. See her post at TexasKaos.

Neil at Texas Liberal continues to blog about and to support Occupy Houston and Occupy Wall Street.

October 30, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Events At Occupy Houston—Please Take The Time To Learn More About The Occupy Wall Street Effort

Above is the poster for the Corporate House of Horrors to be held by Occupy Houston at Tranquility Park this evening.

Here is the Occupy Houston website. 

Tomorrow–October 30– there will be the event you see on the poster below.

It is hopeful to see this type of energy and creativity here in Houston and in our nation. This stands in sharp contrast to efforts that spend a lot of time asking silly questions like if President Obama was born in Kenya.

Here is the Occupy Wall Street website. 

I support the Occupy effort because I work hard everyday, pay my taxes, and vote in every election. I’m hoping for and working for a society where hard work pays off, everybody pays a fair share of taxes, and where we care for each other when times are difficult.

As Americans learn about this movement, they are open to hearing more. Even one-in-four conservatives are open to the Occupy Wall Street effort.

Please consider the Occupy Wall Street effort. Look for Occupy efforts near where you live.

The issue is at stake is the ability of Americans to live decent lives. In many respects it is a fundamentally  conservative movement.

Find out for yourself. There is little more central to the Occupy effort than the message that we each have to take responsibility for our democracy and for our future.

October 29, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

You Can See Michelle Obama In Houston If You Have Thousands Of Dollars To Attend The Fundraiser At The Mansion Of The Former Enron Trader

Michelle Obama is coming to Houston on November 1.

(Above–Michelle Obama.)

You can see the First Lady in Houston if you have thousands of dollars to attend a fundraiser being held by a former Enron trader.

(Update 10/31/11—This event has now been canceled. The claim is that the First Lady had a scheduling conflict.)  

Here are some details from the Houston Chronicle

“The First Lady will be in town Nov. 1 for a glitzy Democratic fundraiser at the River Oaks mansion of Laura and John Arnold. The super-wealthy hedge fund manager and his wife will introduce Obama to individuals who paid $10,000 for the privilege or couples who paid $15,000. There’s a bargain-basement price, as well — $250 per person to attend the cocktail party earlier in the evening.”

Here is how the event has being reported by Politico

“An upcoming Houston fundraiser featuring first lady Michelle Obama at the home of a former Enron executive who is part of a movement to convert public pensions to 401(k)-style plans is angering some local Democrats. John Arnold, a Houston billionaire and former Enron trader, is hosting the Michelle Obama event with his wife, Laura Arnold, at their Houston home on Nov. 1.  Arnold is part of an organization pushing to convert public pensions — including teachers, police, firefighters and others — to 401(k)-style plans.”

Here is how my fellow Houston blogger Perry Dorrell at Brains & Eggs views this event—-

Let’s count the six degrees of separation: Michelle Obama, John and Laura Arnold, Enron (Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, Andy Fastow, et.al.), George W. Bush.

Whoops. That’s only four.

Anybody still confused about what OWS  (Occupy Wall Street) is all about?

Meyerland Area Democrats President Art Pronin was quoted in the Politico article. Mr. Pronin is uncertain why the First Lady would take part in such an event as it seems to run contrary to the interests of so many everyday working people.

Here is a blog post on this issue by Mr. Pronin.

Here is the Occupy Wall Street website.

Here is the Occupy Houston website.

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

Karen Derr Makes Her Case For Houston City Council District C In 2011

I asked Houston City Council District C candidate Karen Derr if she would like to make her case with a brief statement at my blog.

I live in District C. I am voting for Ms. Derr.

Ms. Derr was nice enough to provide the following statement—

In 2009, when I first ran for city council at large, my previous political experience had been volunteering for candidates I admired since I was a child.  Those who know me knew that I wanted to make a difference in Houston as an elected representative  and when I sold my company in 2008, I launched my campaign.  I learned a great deal in that campaign and some of what I learned was eye-opening.   I learned that there is a disproportionate level of influence over the political process from those who do business with the city. Seasoned political watchers look at the money raised from these “usual givers” to predict who will win and this determines who’s a good bet for further investment and endorsements.  As an active volunteer, I was convinced that everyone needs to be engaged – apartment dwellers, home owners, parents, seniors, business owners and youth – yes, even youth need to be involved in making our neighborhoods better.   Yet, there is a considerable lack of faith in our city government and our elections are decided by dismal voter turnout.

I strongly believe these two facts are closely connected and that those of us who aspire to serve on city council need to rebuild that trust by avoiding close financial relationships with those who benefit from contracts, 380 agreements and behind the scenes access to city hall. Other candidates this election cycle take a different position on this issue and that’s their prerogative. However, let us not be so naive to suggest that money doesn’t change things. It does. And in a time with so few resources available to neighborhoods, it’s particularly important that tax dollars are spent efficiently and fairly. In this economic climate, mine aren’t the only eyes being opened.  Voters know what their neighborhoods need to thrive – neighborhood based patrolling, bike trails and sidewalks that connect with neighborhood friendly local businesses, clean air, and protection from flooding. They know these improvements could be more easily acheived if backroom deals were negotiated in the open to fully benefit communities.  This new awareness makes it a great time to run for public office.  A candidate with a passion for these issues can win without a bloated campaign budget.  I believe this is a climate in which a candidate can win with hard work and good communication skills to express a determination to reach these goals that resonate with voters.

Here is a Houston Chronicle overview of the District C race.

Here are my endorsements for 2011 Houston elections.

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

2011 Harris County Green Party Endorsements For Houston City Council

Below are the Harris County Green Party endorsements for Houston City Council in 2011.

Here are my Houston municipal election endorsements for 2011.

Green Party members:
Don Cook, for Houston City Council At-Large Position 1
Video interview on Greenwatch
Amy Price for Houston City Council At-Large Position 4

Video interview on Greenwatch

also endorsed:
Jenifer René Pool (At-Large 2)
Jolanda Jones (At-Large 5)
Karen Derr (District C)

also endorsed OCCUPY HOUSTON (non-partisan)
Greenwatch TV about O H

October 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq Veteran Scott Olsen Wounded By Police At Occupy Oakland—Please Consider Supporting The Occupy Wall Street Effort

Above is a picture of former Marine Scott Olsen after he was seriously wounded by Oakland police yesterday as they attempted to break-up the Occupy Oakland effort.

Mr. Olsen was hit in the head with a projectile of some kind.

The folks who helped bring about this recession with economic crimes and fraud don’t go to jail, but you see above what can happen when you advocate for economic fairness.

YouTube has a video up that strongly suggests police fired so-called non-lethal force into a group of people seeking to assist Mr. Olsen after he was wounded.

The Voice of America reports that Occupy Oakland protestors are not giving up.

Here is how Jon Stewart reported on the situation in Oakland. 

Tea Party events have in many cases treated very well by police. This has been the case even when Tea Party rallies have involved people brandishing guns in public.

Political protestors of all viewpoints should be given a wide latitude. The current Supreme Court has made clear that First Amendment rights are very important.

The Citizens United case was about free speech for political donations of many kinds and from very powerful interests. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Westboro Baptist Church people may shout offensive things at the funeral services of veterans killed in combat.

Free citizens must be allowed to take part in our democracy. Occupy Wall Street supporters do not have the money to buy millions of dollars in campaign ads, or to buy the votes of politicians on both sides of the political aisle.

I support the Occupy Wall Street effort because I’m a hard-working, taxpaying citizen who votes in every election. I want a society where there are good jobs, where everybody pays a fair share of the taxes , and where we show some care for each other.

 Here is the Occupy Wall Street website.

There are Occupy efforts taking place all over the nation. Look around and you may find one near you.

Here is Occupy Houston.

Here is Occupy Galveston.

If there is not one near you, then start one yourself. 

There are Occupy pages all over Facebook.

People have a right to protest and to ask for a fair society.

I’m certain that many police officers feel the very same way. Police officers are everyday working people.

Please take time to consider the Occupy Wall Street effort and please consider lending your support in some way.

October 27, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Please Refer To The Previous Day’s Post

Due to a confluence of circumstances, I don’t have much time for the blog today.

Above is the confluence of Buffalo Bayou and White Oak Bayou in Downtown Houston. This is a prominent spot in the history of Houston.

While I’m a bit short on time at the moment, my post from yesterday about who liberals and progressives can support in upcoming Houston city elections took some time to write.

Please visit yesterday’s post if you’d like a bit more blogging action.

Thank you for reading Texas Liberal.

(Photo copyright Neil Aquino 2011.)

October 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Who Can Liberals & Progressives Support In 2011 City Of Houston Elections?—Who Is Running For Houston City Council?

It is time for our Houston municipal elections.

(Above–Houston City Hall.)

Early voting runs October 24-November 4. General Election Day is November 8.

Here is a link to help you find out where to vote.

Who can a liberal or progressive support in these elections?

As is so often the case in Houston, the pickings are slim.

Houston city elections are low-turnout affairs in which an electorate not representative of Houston’s demographics chooses from candidates who discuss a very narrow range of issues. Just how much is it that can we hear about red light cameras?

The credibility of the candidates on the ballot is often judged by how much money they have raised.

Here is my look at the Houston city ballot and, also, some additional links to help you figure out how you’d like to vote.

Houstonians merit liberal and progressive options at the ballot box.

Houston was a 61% Obama city in 2008. If we can’t muster up some decent candidates, then maybe we should use our political energies to support Occupy Houston.

While we should vote in every election, the energy and hope we are seeing from the Occupy Wall Street movement is more positive  and hopeful than anything occurring in our municipal elections.

Here are my endorsements—

Mayor-–I’m leaving my ballot blank for Mayor. I simply don’t believe Mayor Annise Parker has any consistent commitment to progressive values. Good people will disagree, but the Mayor has had two years to offer leadership on pressing issues of poverty and on the lack of broad political participation in Houston. She seems to have little interest in these subjects.

Mayor Parker is likely to win reelection in 2011. The absence of competent and credible opponents, and her campaign war chest of more than $2 million helps make this so. Yet despite her good electoral outlook for 2011, the Mayor is concerned with winning a strong majority of voters in 2011 so as to strengthen her hand with City Council, and to help her fend off challengers in 2013.

I’ve no desire in helping the Mayor accomplish these goals. No matter what percentage of votes cast in 2011 Annise Parker ends up  winning, it will be done with an overall turnout of somewhere between 10% and 15%. There is no way the Mayor will have a credible mandate from an involved public. Why should Mayor Parker be given the illusion of a mandate when she has never engaged in serious grassroots efforts to expand voter turnout in Houston, and when she does not pursue policies that are inclusive of Houstonians of every economic status?

(Update 10/31–Mayor Parker has received a grade of A- for fiscal conservatism from the Texas Conservative Review. I say again that Mayor Parker does not warrant the support of liberals and progressives.)

(Below–Recent picture of ongoing drought in Houston as seen in Memorial Park. The grassroots have dried up. Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino)

Council At-Large #1–Incumbent Stephen Costello plays all sides of the political aisle while Green Don Cook does not work hard in his campaigns. Mr. Costello’s Renew Houston plan addresses the serious issue of flooding in Houston, but is also regressive in how it is funded and makes little effort to include green solutions in the plan. I’m leaving my ballot blank in this race.

Council At Large #2–I’m supporting Jennifer Rene Pool in this 10 candidate race.  She will occasionally say liberal and progressive things. Maybe she means some of them.

Council At-Large #3–Incumbent Melissa Noriega is a thoughtful person and has my support.

Council At-Large #4–Green Amy Price is an energetic and upbeat. She works hard to learn the issues and will be a councilmember who seeks solutions and who listens. Incumbent Democrat C.O. Bradford has on his balance sheet his terrible administration of the crime lab when he was Houston’s police chief, and his calls for austerity-type budgeting for Houston.

Council At-Large #5–Only you know if you want to support Jolanda Jones for one last term. She is always involved in some type of fuss. Sometimes it seems to be her fault, while other times it is not her fault. In any case, you wish that Ms.Jones was a more disciplined and effective advocate for the poor and disenfranchised in Houston. Her story on Council seems in good part to be of an opportunity missed. After some thought, I’ve decided I’m going to vote for Ms. Jones.  Ms. Jones made a recent visit to Occupy Houston and I appreciate that fact. I’m not aware of any other incumbent city official who has done the same.

Council District C-–I live in this district. Karen Derr is a more progressive option than Ellen Cohen. I’m going to be voting Ms. Derr. Ms. Cohen is a fund-raising machine who in the recent past has accepted campaign funds from gay marriage opponent Bob Perry. I’d rather have a fresh voice in City Hall rather  than a candidate who seems to have the advantage in part due to her friendship with Mayor Parker, and in part due to her ability to raise a lot of money from big donors. Ms. Cohen gives the impression of being an incumbent even before she is elected.

Council District H–I don’t live in this district. However, incumbent Ed Gonzalez merits mention as a decent person and as someone open to hearing voices on all sides of a debate.

There are also 10 amendments to the Texas Constitution on the ballot. Here is my in-depth analysis of these propositions.

There are 2 resources that stand out when considering our city elections. These resources cover all the Houston district council seats up for election in 2011.

Houston blogger Charles Kuffner has a page at his blog Off The Kuff with his interviews of many of the candidates. This page also has links to the websites of the candidates and listings of selections by the various interest groups that endorse in city elections.

The League of Women Voters of the Houston Area offers a voter’s guide that profiles and asks questions of all the Houston candidates.

Fellow blogger Perry Dorrell at Brains And Eggs has made a series of excellent posts endorsing candidates in Houston for 2011.

Greg Wythe at Greg’s Opinion has also made some well thought-out endorsements.

Houston city elections often seem to be a taxpayer-financed subsidy for a political class of consultants, city contract seekers, and all-purpose opportunists who all have little do with everyday life in Houston.

That said, you should still go and vote. I don’t have the heart to tell you otherwise.

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

Vote in Houston in 2011 and then commit yourselves to making our local democracy better.

(Below–Houston skyline in 1971. Photo by YixilTesiphon. Here is a link to a history of Houston.) 

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

130 Arrested At Occupy Chicago—Occupy Wall Street About A Fair Shake For Hard Working People

A big thanks to the 130 people arrested at Occupy Chicago yesterday.

Above is a recent photo from the Occupy Chicago Facebook page.

Occupy Chicago will continue its efforts despite the arrests.

After two nurses were arrested, National Nurses United will be marching on Chicago City Hall to demand that the all charges be dropped.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel raised something like $12 million for his election victory earlier this year.

The whole process is so corrupt on both sides of the aisle.

Nurses and everyday working people don’t have millions of dollars to get their message out.

What everyday people have is their time, effort, and imagination.

People should not be arrested for taking part in our democracy.

I support the Occupy Wall Street movement because I am a hard-working, taxpaying citizen who votes in every election.

People should have access to good jobs and those jobs should offer fair wages and good benefits.

Those most able to pay taxes should pay a fair share.

Everyday American citizens should have a larger voice in our politics.

Here is the Occupy Wall Street website. 

Here are links to Occupy efforts in Texas. If you don’t see your city on this list–which is a few days old now– than go ahead and start Occupy yourself wherever it is you may live.

Please consider taking the time to learn more about the Occupy Wall Street effort.

In my view Occupy Wall Street is about everyday people who want a fair shake in exchange for hard work.

October 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 6 Comments

Boat Out Of Water

Here is a boat completely out of the water at the Houston Ship Channel.

I took this picture a few months ago.

That sure is something that they could get that big tug boat up so high.

October 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up—Texas In Australia

At the end of this post 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 working for a better Texas.

(Above–The Texas Memorial Hall in Texas, Queensland, Australia. Photo by Mattinbgn.)

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.

This do it yourself outlook is well-represented by Occupy Houston and Occupy Galveston. Find an Occupy effort near you. Or start one yourself.

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

Here is the round-up—

Off the Kuff looks at the likely effect of voter ID on voter participation. Hint: Fewer people will be able to vote. Who could have guessed?

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme calls out Lamar Smith for his racist legislation that will harm abused women.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson says it’s time for the people of Williamson County to stand up so they no longer ask: how do these people keep getting elected?

Neil at Texas Liberal offered some pictures of Occupy Houston. Neil has visited the good folks at Occupy Houston a few times now and donated some supplies and a few bucks. The Occupy movement has taken hold in many Texas cities and across the nation. Please consider supporting Occupy in some fashion.

The Ghost of Sam Houston has some unkind words for Rick Perry’s energy plan over at Darth Politico.

In the spirit of Halloween, McBlogger takes a look at The Return of the Living Dread.

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

Bug On A Leaf—I’m Glad I’m Not A Bug

Here is a picture I took a few weeks ago here in Houston of a bug on a leaf.

I have no idea what type of bug or what type of leaf is shown in this picture.

While I’m certain insects are essential to the Earth’s ecosystem, I’m glad I’m not a bug.

Bugs don’t live very long and they do not have blogs.

Here is a link to Entomology section of the Smithsonian.

Here is a field guide to insects of Texas from Texas A & M. 

Here are facts about leaves.

(Photo copyright 2011 Neil Aquino.)

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

Iraq War Ending—How Will We Treat Our Veterans?

President Obama is bringing the troops home from Iraq.

How will we greet and regard our troops when they return?

Will they get a parade and good lifetime benefits?

Or will we ignore our Iraq veterans? Will we soon find them on the unemployment lines? Or find many of them homeless?

We know already that people view days such as Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day as days to go out and shop, or to do anything but remember our veterans.

The Iraq War was based on a lie. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11.

Politicians on both sides of the political aisle approved of the Iraq War

There have been more than 100,000 civilian deaths in the Iraq War. 

My father was a combat veteran of the Korean War.

Here is what my father once wrote about war and about the Cold War—

“One thing that I learned is that the young men who fought in our wars should never be forgotten…Another fact I learned…is that millions may serve but far fewer fight. So, in reality, for many who have served, war is a glory-and-gory myth that feeds on its own legends and publicity. …Another truth I learned is that civilians are combatants in war–embattled victims perpetually on a losing side….That brings us to the biggest deception: The need to be ready defend our freedom if we are to keep it. Those who say that freedom has a price are absolutely right, and wrong: International conflict today is beyond ideology. The only freedom American and Russian leaders offer their freedom today is the freedom to kill ourselves in the name of freedom.  This is not freedom, but allegiance to a suicidal death culture….Today, we are servile to our masters, mistaking economic well-being for true freedom, which is the freedom to live hopefully and not to die needlessly.” 

George Bush offered Americans the freedom to die in Iraq. That was all he offered. He did not offer the truth or any sense of honor, decency, or purpose.

Does America have the national character to treat our returning veterans with respect?

Here is a timeline of the Iraq War from Reuters.

October 21, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 6 Comments

World Series

I’m listening to the World Series right now on the Texas Rangers flagship station KESN.

I’m hearing this station on the Major League Baseball app on my iPhone.

This is just how people kept up with the games back in the old days.

(Below—Fans following 1911 World Series in New York City by watching a “playograph.”)

A strong resource to learn about the history of World Series play can be found by exploring Baseball Reference.com. 

One of the two starting pitchers in the first World Series game back in 1903 was none other than the great Cy Young.

(Below–Cy Young.)

I have followed the World Series for many years. Though not as far back as Cy Young days.

October 20, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment