Texas Liberal

All People Matter

My Very Good Phone Conversation With Melissa Noriega

With the constructive input of a fellow blogger, a post I made critical of Houston City Council candidate Melissa Noriega’s campaign has been turned into a more positive thing.

A few days ago I made a post criticizing the campaign being run by Ms. Noriega. I said Ms. Noriega was ignoring or glossing over critical issues in Houston. I said her campaign was failing to challenge or respect Houston voters and might well be taking voters for granted. 

My views elicited a measure of disagreement. Fellow blogger Greg Wythe suggested my concerns would be addressed if I called Ms. Noriega’s headquarters. In frankness, this simple enough idea had not seriously occurred to me before. Houston has two million people (Some of who may even vote in next month’s special election.) and I did not figure I’d get anybody who would listen.

I made the call Greg suggested. A very nice lady answered. After I told her why I was calling, she passed the phone to Ms. Noriega. Ms. Noriega and I talked for about 20 minutes.

Ms. Noriega, who was friendly from the start, said she had read my post and asked me to talk a little more about my gripes. I restated some of the points I’d made on the blog and also talked about a general frustration with a Democratic Party in Houston that rarely addresses some of our worst problems.

Ms. Noriega said, (I’m paraphrasing when I describe what Ms. Noriega said in our call), that it might be so that her campaign homepage does lack some specifics.

The most interesting part of our conversation was Ms. Noriega telling me that she is talking to people to help her define the role of a city council member should she be elected. She said she had a firm commitment to the daily nuts and bolts operation of the city. She also said that she understood there are important issues in Houston beyond what some might see as the core functions of municipal government.

Since Ms. Noriega was nice enough to listen, I told her that I view public office to be in many ways an act of or a province of the imagination. I said public officeholders can define their responsibilities as they see fit.

Or, at the least, officeholders always have the option to mix day-to-day issues of governance with other issues that may at first appear to be removed from the business at hand, but are in fact also directly linked to the lives of citizens. Ms. Noriega seemed open to this concept.

Ms. Noriega was both friendly and direct in our talk. I think it’s fair to say that she won me over in some respects. I asked her for a bumper sticker and I’ll put it on my car.

I’m going to vote for Green Party candidate Alfred Molison in the May 12 special election. I’ll do so because I’ve said I would and because there is value in supporting candidates calling for things not yet advocated by the major parties. (Here is a link to a post I made about supporting Greens sometimes as a buffer against being used by Democrats.) I’m also going to send both Mr. Molison and Ms. Noriega a $20 donation.      

I’m appreciative of Greg telling me to pick up the phone and I’m appreciative of Ms. Noriega’s time and her willingness to listen. If elected, I think Ms. Noriega will do a good job for Houston.    

April 20, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts Jan.-June 2007, Blogging, Good People, Houston, Houston Council Election '07, Politics | 9 Comments

Citizen In A Democracy Is The Highest & Best Title Any Person Can Have

My friend Kate, who lives in California, and who once lived in Texas, is on jury duty. She has a trial that will last many weeks. She is at the same time working her regular job.

Kate is up front about this not being ideal situation. It is hard work. Yet the bottom line is that Kate showed up for jury duty when summoned and that she is meeting her obligations as a citizen. Kate knows that the highest title and most complex job anyone can have is citizenship in a democracy.

The great honor of our citizenship is that it is shared with many millions of people. It is the things that are jointly held that matter the most.

The complexity of our citizenship is found in the difficulty of balancing our private interests with the public good. Finding this balance requires the discipline of critical thinking and personal effort.

What is excellent about this complexity is that any person of average intelligence–Kate is very smart– can find a reasonable enough solution if they are only willing to try. Again—The best things in life are the things that are open to all.

Kate is an excellent citizen. I can’t think of a better thing to say about a person.   

March 25, 2007 Posted by | Good People, Politics, Taxes---Yes! | 4 Comments

Excellent Blog South Texas Chisme Teaches Lesson On How To Disagree Without Being Angry

An excellent and friendly Texas political blog is South Texas Chisme. This blog covers, among other places, Corpus Christi and Brownsville. 

A few weeks ago I took the position that Democrats should only support another Democrat for Speaker of the Texas House. I allowed myself to get into a nasty time-wasting exchange of comments on Burnt Orange Report. I let myself get angry which is always the wrong course. I also made some posts on my own blog about the subject and a few of the comments I got in reply were not so warm. 

South Texas Chisme did not agree with me on the Speaker’s race. Yet the blog linked to one of my posts. We also exchanged private e-mails where I was told I was wrong—But was not told that I was a jackass or that I loved Tom Craddick.

I don’t believe in Karma. The only way decent people get noticed is when someone points out that they are decent. South Texas Chisme is a good operation and worthy of your attention.

Also, I’ve looked up the word chisme. According to the Berlitz Spanish Pocket Dictionary it means “bit of gossip.”  

January 26, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Good People, Texas | 2 Comments

Right-Leaning Blog Broadens This Liberal’s Perspective & Both Major Parties Lie All The Time

My favorite “right-leaning” blog is Last Row. That blog, like my blog, is written in Houston, Texas.

Houston,Texas can be found on the shores of beautiful Buffalo Bayou.   

The author of Last Row found TexasLiberal a few months ago and has been a steady reader. He often leaves comments. He has spent more time on my blog than I have on his. I am going to work to improve in this respect.

Last Row has many posts that are religious in nature. I am not religious. However, I did recently buy a copy of Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain. I also have on order at the moment an audio collection of sermons by Martin Luther King.

Maybe all that will score me some religion points with my friend.

It’s important to have relationships with people of differing outlooks. Not because of feel-good tripe about bipartisanship and diversity. Bipartisanship is a word we often use to hide our desire for power. Diversity is a word we often use to make something that is worthwhile and difficult seem banal and easy.

It’s important because there are truths far more lasting and relevant than the transience of a blog post and the perpetual lying of both of our major political parties.  

January 18, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Good People, Houston | Leave a comment

Santa Claus Is A Liberal

I was listening to the song “Here Comes Santa Claus” on the radio yesterday here in chilly Houston. Listening closely I learned that Santa Claus is a liberal.

Read these lyrics from “Here Comes Santa Claus”—- Here comes Santa Claus, here comes Santa Claus/ Right down Santa Claus lane/ He doesn’t care if you’re rich or poor/ He loves you just the same/ Santa Claus knows we’re all God’s children/ That makes everything right……

What a fine song. Santa is a good liberal. Santa is so good a liberal that he even leaves presents for mean little right-wing kids.

December 8, 2006 Posted by | Good People | 8 Comments

Paul Wellstone Was A Great American & A Great Liberal

Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota died four years ago today Senator Wellstone was a great American and a great liberal. He connected with average people. His successful focus on economic fairness is echoed, though not really equaled, in the Senate campaigns today of Jon Tester in Montana and Sherrod Brown in Ohio

From my perspective as a liberal, Wellstone had a unique ability to appeal to both old and new left. He worked hard and hit a wide range of issues satisfying many liberal constituencies. It never seemed like grandstanding or pandering. Wellstone knew, and we realized as well, that in many cases if he did not speak, nobody would.  Unifying the left and appealing to the general public at the same time is quite a feat. Wellstone pulled it off. 

Wellstone had a commitment to social justice in all forms. His advocacy of mental health issues took on an affliction many are embarrassed or afraid to talk about or acknowledge. He saw that pain suffered alone in a quiet room needed to be addressed no different than the more public pain of poverty or racial injustice  Wellstone was an academic with a commitment to action. He was a natural in a classroom or in a union hall. Wellstone was, as Huey Long said a good politician should be, both of us and above us. 

At the bottom line, Wellstone was hopeful that politics could be used to make life better.  One way to continue the work of Paul Wellstone is to take an active part in liberal politics. Another is to donate to Wellstone Action. Wellstone Action trains liberal activists to carry on the fight. 

October 25, 2006 Posted by | Good People, Politics | Leave a comment

Everyone Counts In Galveston, Texas & In All Other Places As Well

Today I visited campaign headquarters of the Galveston County Democratic Party. A very nice lady was staffing the office. She was smart and knew politics. 

Though I live in Houston, Harris County, Texas, I donated some money to the Galveston Democrats. Many Galveston residents have yard signs for Democratic candidates on their lawns. I wanted to help those good people out. I’ve already contributed to Harris County Democrats

At headquarters I found a great bumper sticker. It reads as follows—“Register & Vote—Everyone Counts In Galveston County”  What a perfect message!

While I’m a firm believer in partisanship, this bumper sticker was better for not suggesting a party preference. It was inclusive of all and struck to the heart of matter.  It asks us to “Register & Vote.” That’s right. That is what we all should do.

It then says—“Everyone Counts In Galveston County.” Right again. This is the heart of the liberal idea. Everyone counts. That’s why it says “All People Matter” at the top of this blog. Everyone does count in Galveston County, Texas. Everyone counts no matter where they are. All people matter.

October 24, 2006 Posted by | Best Posts 2006, Galveston, Good People, Politics, Texas, Things I've Done | 3 Comments

Many Liberals Enjoy Chicken Noodle Soup

I get an e-mail newsletter each week of the top 300 search engine terms. (The more explicit terms are weeded out.) Last week the term “chicken noodle soup” was ranked # 221. At first I thought this was people searching how to make chicken noodle soup.

With some research, I see the term is so big right now because of people looking for recipes, and also because chicken noodle soup is the name of a popular dance at the moment.

As for the soup— I enjoy it. I’m certain many other liberals and Democrats do as well. While I don’t know any chicken noodle soup recipes, I do have chicken noodle soup in my kitchen cabinet right now.   

We’ve got an election coming up in a few weeks. As it stands right now, plain-speaking, hardworking, chicken noodle soup eating Americans are taking it on the chin. Wages are stagnant. Health care for all is a pipe dream. A college education is becoming ever more difficult to afford. In Iraq, the President and his team are clearly not capable of running the war correctly. We’ve created a new haven for terrorists in Iraq while not doing enough to secure our ports and our own people at home. 

Liberals have been demonized in recent years. That is how politics goes. The truth is, however, that liberals eat chicken noodle soup just like everybody else. 

As for the Chicken Noodle Soup dance—I’m sorry but I don’t know much about that. What I am aware of is that no matter if you came here looking for soup or a dance, you should consider voting for Democratic candidates for Congress this November. It is time for change. Thank you.

September 21, 2006 Posted by | Good People, Politics | Leave a comment

Houston History Blog

Yesterday was the 170th anniversary of the founding of Houston.

It won’t surprise anyone that the initial claims of Houston as a nice place to live were somewhat exaggerated. I can’t imagine this place without air-conditioning and paved roads.  I recently came across a blog that is all about Houston’s history. You should check it out.

August 31, 2006 Posted by | Good People, Houston | Leave a comment

When I Saw Cindy Sheehan In Crawford, Texas

Last year I went to the Cindy Sheehan protest at President Bush’s ranch in Crawford. This is what I saw. I wrote this a couple of months after I made the visit.  

I drove to Crawford, Texas, to see Cindy Sheehan protesting outside of President Bush’s ranch. Crawford is about 41/2 hours from where I live in Houston.  Ms. Sheehan’s son was killed in the Iraq war. She spent much of the summer camped near the entrance to President Bush’s ranch. She wanted, but did not get, a meeting with the President. Before she was eclipsed by Hurricane Katrina, Ms. Sheehan received a lot of attention and was effective in helping diminish public support of President Bush’s war.  Crawford, near Waco, is small. It has a main street, railroad tracks, a few big silos and not much else.  According to the Waco Herald-Tribune, if I had made it to Crawford a day earlier I could have seen Al Sharpton and Martin Sheen. The Monday I went was calm. Ms. Sheehan’s protest was well-organized. Someone had the foresight to buy a house in Crawford a few years ago thinking it would be useful for some type of action against President Bush’s policies. It’s called the Crawford Peace House. The Peace House is next to a vacant lot that was used for parking the many cars that were there. I saw license plates from all over the country.  At the Peace House you signed your name in a register, looked at some photos of the protest, grabbed a bottle of water and, if inclined, made a donation.  A fleet of vans shuttled visitors from the Peace House to Ms. Sheehan’s protest.  Volunteers drove the vans. The woman who drove my van was a teacher who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. A pastor of some kind was among the passengers. I’m not sure what denomination he was. But I can tell you whatever faith he holds is a more peaceful faith than that held by Mr. Bush.  The preacher flew in from Baltimore just to see Cindy Sheehan. He said he had given an anti-war sermon that was written up in the Baltimore Sun. 

An older lady sitting next to me told me about a protest she attended at the Texas state capitol building in 1944.  It was great to be with people who shared my opinions and who had gone out their way to express these views. I encounter decent people everyday. But to actually be surrounded by allies was a welcome change.  I had read Mr. Bush’s ranch is in a dismal place. I would not agree. While I’d prefer a summer beach home in Newport, the land was not entirely flat and I’m sure you can see a lot of stars at night. There are even some trees. It’s quiet and if Mr. Bush is ever so moved, I’m sure he can get a lot of thinking done.  Ms. Sheehan’s protest took place under a big white tent. The tent was needed because it was very hot. Under the tent was a kitchen, a stage and sound system, tables and chairs, supplies of bottled water and recent newspapers and magazines to pass the hours.  The Cindy Sheehan protest in Crawford had the energy and sincerity of grassroots activity and also possessed the sound logistical and organizational qualities of a political rally for Howard Dean or John Kerry.     

By the time I made it to Crawford, Ms. Sheehan had become a celebrity and it was not so easy to see her. She was living in a mobile trailer and was not always out and about.  When Ms. Sheehan began her protest she camped by the side of the road and lived in a tent. Anybody who showed up could probably speak to her.  As the protest grew, a local landowner allowed his land to be used for a larger campsite. Access to Ms. Sheehan was limited. A crew of gatekeepers kept most people from Ms. Sheehan. The only reason I saw Ms. Sheehan at all was because she came out of the trailer to greet a group of high school students. I saw her from maybe ten feet away. I was blocked from coming closer by yellow crime scene tape. I found nothing wrong with this.Once you got to the tent there was not much to do. I signed my name in a register, put a few dollars in a jar and walked around. After about 40 minutes I got in one of the vans and headed back to “downtown” Crawford. On weekends there were rallies. On weekdays you simply came and offered your support with your presence. Back in downtown Crawford I walked into a store billing itself as the largest source of George W. Bush memorabilia in the world. In front of the store was a flat bed trailer carrying a large replica of the Liberty Bell flanked on both sides by two big tablets etched with the Ten Commandments. I bought a Western White House coffee mug and other trinkets. I did not buy the bust of Robert E. Lee.  My day in Crawford to see Ms. Sheehan was time well-spent. I was with people who shared my beliefs and stuck $30 in the various collection jars. Most days should be so good.   

August 30, 2006 Posted by | Good People, Politics, Texas, Things I've Done | Leave a comment

New York Mets First-Baseman Does Not Like Iraq War

After I make this post, I’m going to go the Houston Astros’ box office. I’m going to buy tickets to see the Astros’ play the New York Mets. My favorite player is with the Mets.

New York first-baseman Carlos Delgado once refused to stand for God Bless America at Yankee Stadium because of his opposition to the Iraq War. 

Now that is an All-Star for you.

August 28, 2006 Posted by | Good People, Houston | Leave a comment

Another Reason I’m Glad To Pay My Taxes

The following is a letter I sent to the mayor and police chief of Jersey Village, Texas. Jersey Village is a small suburb of Houston. The services provided by the officer who helped me are yet another example of the necessity of taxes and government. In Texas we do not have a state income tax. Our taxes are regressive and mean-spirited.  Being a liberal is about paying your taxes and maybe even paying a little extra if it seems appropriate and you have the resources.     

Dear Mayor Heathcott:

My name is Neil Aquino. I live in Houston. 

On Monday August 14, 2006, I blew a tire while driving through Jersey Village on highway 290. This took place around 5 PM I was driving in the left lane when the tire popped. 290 was as busy and awful as it always is at rush hour. I pulled over on the left shoulder. I wanted off the highway before I lost control of the car.  I called 911. I needed a cop more than a wrecker at that point. 

The Jersey Village officer who arrived was very helpful. He used his cruiser to stop traffic on 290 and get me over to the right shoulder. He placed himself at risk to help me. The officer could have easily been struck by another car or truck. 

I’m sorry I did not catch the officer’s name. I’m sure you can figure it out with the details I’ve provided.  I’ve enclosed a $20 check made out to your municipal fund so that Jersey Village can recover some of the costs involved in assisting me.  Thank you.  

August 21, 2006 Posted by | Good People, Houston, Taxes---Yes!, Texas, Things I've Done | Leave a comment

Veggiemobile

While I am not a vegetarian, and have little desire to become one, I must commend TexasLiberal reader Barb for her response to my posting about the Weiner Wagon. She provides us all with food for thought. Here is what Barb said–  

“Maybe they should have a Veggiemobile to reach out to prospective vegetarians. A Veggiemobile would surely hold its own in such a fight since the driver would be full of vitamins and the Wiener Wagon driver will be tired out from consuming all of those nitrates. Vegetarianism is generally good for the environment.”

August 15, 2006 Posted by | Good People | 1 Comment

The People Of Houston Damn Well Did Want A Dixie Chicks Concert

The Dixie Chicks were scheduled to play Houston this fall. The concert was cancelled. The reason given was slow ticket sales. The explanation never made sense. Houston is a big city with plenty of people who don’t like George Bush. It seemed unlikely the Dixie Chicks could not fill an arena. A story in the Houston Chronicle today explains that the slow ticket sales story was never true. 

August 15, 2006 Posted by | Good People, Houston, Texas | Leave a comment

Good Police Officers In Cincinnati

A friend told me about the annual gay pride parade held recently in Cincinnati, Ohio He told me the parade route ran past a police station. He said he saw a few women police officers in the window of the station giving the parade a “thumbs up.” I’m glad to know Cincinnati has such officers patrolling the streets.

July 27, 2006 Posted by | Cincinnati, Good People | 3 Comments