Texas Liberal

All People Matter

I’m Going To See Obama Today, But Best Rally I Ever Attended Was Hope, Heston, Ford & Reagan

Barack Obama will be in Houston today and I’m going to go see him.

He’ll be appearing at the Toyota Center this evening. ( I’m proud to say I twice voted against public funding of the Toyota Center.)  

I’m looking forward to seeing Mr. Obama, but the best political rally I ever attended was a Republican rally in 1980 at the Cincinnati Convention Center. 

In the final week before Election Day, this rally featured Bob Hope, ( Below with Barbara Eden.)

 Charlton Heston,


 Gerald Ford, ( Here with Leonid Brezhnev)


And Ronald Reagan


 I was 13 years old and it was a lot of fun.

Texas Liberal is leading the way in political history blogging in 2008.

February 19, 2008 Posted by | Campaign 2008, Cincinnati, Political History, Politics, Texas Primary '08, Things I've Done | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Day I Met Ethel Kennedy At The Kennedy Compound

File:Kennedy bros.jpg

( Update 8/26/09—Here are links to help recall the life of Ted Kennedy and to help look forward to the battles still to be won.)  

I once met Ethel Kennedy and her son former Congressman Joe Kennedy. This was in 1992 and took place at the Kennedy Compound  (Click the Kennedy Compound link for some info about the place from the National Park Service) in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

Mrs. Kennedy is the widow of the late Senator Robert Kennedy who was assassinated in 1968.

I got into the Kennedy compound by paying $250. The event was a fundraiser for Joe Kennedy.

Congressman Kennedy won 83% of the vote in 1992 and did not need my $250. I had a friend who was a fan of the Kennedys who wanted to go and it seemed that it would be interesting to go to the Kennedy Compound.

And so it was.

We flew from Cincinnati , where I lived at the time, to Boston and then rented a car for the drive to Cape Cod.

We were brought into the compound on a yellow school bus.

Once inside, the first thing I saw were some people who looked like regulars in the Kennedy Compound. They appeared to be laughing at the people in the bus.

We were driven past some houses that were identified as the homes of Ted Kennedy, Robert and Ethel, and President Kennedy.

I saw the private beach space where some of those grainy color images of the Kennedys’ playing touch football must have been filmed.

The theme of the fundraiser was the 500th Anniversary of Columbus. It’s a bit hazy now, but some people, including the Congressman, were dressed up as Ferdinand and Isabella and other figures of the time.

That did not seem overly friendly to the Native American populations of New England.

(Please click here for a previous post on Ferdinand and Isabella in Texas Liberal.)

We were fed hot dogs, beans, soda and beer. I guess lobster ran more than a $250 donation.

We were asked to look up to a window in one of the houses and wave to Rose Kennedy. We did as we were told.

An announcement was made that a car was blocking the driveway of Mrs. Onassis. Was she home? I’ll never know.

As for Ethel Kennedy, her glance at my name tag , while perceptible, was practiced and slight. She smiled and said—And I’ll never forget this—“Hello Neil. Thanks for coming.”   

 I said–“Yes ma’am.”

Mrs. Kennedy and I shook hands while we spoke.

When the fundraiser was over we were bused out and the gates were locked behind us.

It was worth my $250 to see the Kennedy home. Though the $6 fee to take the National Park Service bus tour of the LBJ ranch is the more accessible and affordable deal.

December 18, 2007 Posted by | Political History, Politics, Things I've Done, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Possible Response When Asked “How Is Your Day?”

We all get asked, “How is your day?” or ” How is your day going?” or some variation of that question.

It seems like throwaway type of question. Maybe in many cases it is meaningless. Still, it reflects basic courtesy and a realization that other people exist in the world. These are things we can’t take for granted in our society.

At some point I started to reply to this question with the response “Everyday is a good day.”

At first it was really just a line. But I got such a positive response from people I began to think about it more.

If I thought it was completely trite I’d stop using the reply. However, the sense I get is that people think about what I’ve said for a moment and it helps put whatever may be bothering them in perspective.

An underlying issue is death. People will often say something like—“That’s right. any day you wake up is a good day.” 

Black folks will often say: “I know that’s right” with an emphasis on the word know. Whites are a bit less emphatic,  but I’m still certain they are glad they woke up for the day.  

“Every day is a good day” is a small way to reply to a common courtesy that adds to people’s day and, also, makes you appear to have some insight even if you really have no special wisdom.  

And if you repeat it enough you might begin to believe it yourself.

October 31, 2007 Posted by | Things I've Done | , , | 2 Comments

I Came Within Inches Of Hitting A Pedestrian With My Car Because I Was On Phone While Driving


Recently, I came within inches of hitting a pedestrian because I was talking on the cellphone while driving. I just did not see her. I had to swerve to avoid her and could not have missed her by more than a foot. 

It’s that simple. I’m near certain that if I’d not been on the phone, I would have seen her. I could have hurt her or killed her. I might well now be facing charges and a lawsuit. All for nothing.  

Like many people, I’ve taken up talking on the phone while driving to save time and to keep in touch with others with time that seemed like downtime. I’ve done this even though I knew it was the wrong course. 

I feel a bit dumb even admitting what happened. Yet I know plenty of people who talk and drive. This practice has become, despite the risk of an accident, a fact of modern life.

I’m done with talking on the phone while driving.  

October 24, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Things I've Done, Uncategorized | , , , | 8 Comments

Yep, I Voted For Perot Once—Every Vote I Have Cast For President


 Here is every vote I have made for the office of President  of the United States. 1988, 1992 and 1996 were  in Ohio. 2000 and 2004 were in Texas.  

1988—Democratic primary–Jesse Jackson ( Still my favorite vote), 1988 General—Mike Dukakis. 

1992—Dem. Primary—Jerry Brown ( My next favorite vote), 1992 General—Bill Clinton

1996 — Took the ballot of Ross Perot’s Reform Party in the Ohio primary and voted for Perot in the general. ( People don’t recall, but Perot ran somewhat to the left in 1996 and Clinton was going to win in any case.—-Anyway, that’s what I did. )

2000 —Signed to put Greens on the ballot in Texas and so was not allowed to vote in Democratic primary. Voted for Ralph Nader in the general.

2004 —Voted for John Kerry in primary and general.   

2008?—Edwards, Obama and Clinton in that order are my choices so far.  

I feel I’ve done the best I could with the options I had.

August 16, 2007 Posted by | Political History, Politics, Things I've Done | 2 Comments

Cairo, Illinois Reminds Me Of How Much I Love My Wife


One place I wanted to see for years was Cairo, Illinois. This is where the Ohio River flows into the Mississippi River.

Moving from Cincinnati to Houston in 1998, my wife and I found that Cairo was on the drive to Houston. We stood on an observation platform where the rivers meet. It was a good moment.

Now when I fly back to Cincinnati once or twice a year, the plane sometimes flies right over that point. Each time it does, I think about being there with my excellent wife.

The wife and I have also been to the point in Pittsburgh where the Ohio River begins. So Pittsburgh also makes me think of how much I love my wife. 

General Grant was camped out in Cairo for a time during the Civil War. General Grant reminds me how glad I am the North won the Civil War.    


August 16, 2007 Posted by | Cincinnati, Good People, Things I've Done | Leave a comment

I Stopped At Ron Paul For President Rally On My Way Home From Work Today

I stopped at the convenience store on my way home from work this evening here in Houston. I wanted a Twinkie. After parking I noticed that a Ron Paul for President rally was taking place across the street. There were maybe 40 or 50 people at this event. 

Knowing fellow whack-jobs when I see them, I crossed the street to see what the story was. I figured I would fit in well-enough. I hoped that Congressman Paul was making some sort of appearance at the restaurant that seemed the focal point of the rally.

I thought of questions I could ask Mr. Paul—“What did you have for lunch today?” “Did you get a chance to catch high tide down in Galveston this afternoon? I hear it was really high.”

I crossed the street and a man on the corner holding a Paul For President sign smiled and asked if I had heard of Mr. Paul. I said I had. He handed me a brochure. He seemed like a nice guy. I was thinking here is a right-wink kook and I’m a left-wing kook. We could switch places and who would really know?

I asked the sign-man if Mr. Paul was speaking. He said no. He said that some sort of Republican meeting was taking place and that Mr. Paul’s supporters were here to make some kind of point. He was not sure what meeting it was or what the point was.

I could understand not knowing. Often the less you know, the less life hurts. He was along for the ride. Aren’t we all to a degree?

Without the excitement of an actual appearance by Ron Paul, I went back across the street and drove home.  

June 13, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts Jan.-June 2007, Houston, Politics, Things I've Done | 13 Comments

Shared Humanity, Citizenship & Liberalism—200th Texas Liberal Post

This is my 200th Texas Liberal post. I’m appreciative of everyone in Houston, in Texas, and elsewhere who has read the blog and, in some cases, left a comment. 

There are three aspects of personal identity that lead me to write this blog. These aspects of my identity are shared by many others. Retaining individuality while embracing what people have in common is always a worthwhile goal to pursue. 

Most essential is the simple fact of my humanity. I am one among many. I am equal with all others. This sense of shared humanity is why I’ve written the words “All People Matter” at the top of this blog.

Next is my citizenship. I have all the political rights and obligations that citizens in a democracy have. This blog is a manifestation of my citizenship.

And then there is my liberalism. My ideology is important to me as it helps define how I view my humanity and my political role as a citizen. I believe that political liberalism in the New Deal/Great Society sense is one good practical expression of the belief that all people matter.

Of less value to me is identification with the Democratic Party. I knew little about political blogs before I started Texas Liberal. I’ve been surprised to the extent a Democratic Party line is followed in some, though not all, left-leaning political blogs.

I say this while at the same time believing that political party discipline is the best way to organize a legislative chamber. Political parties give voters options and establish more clear lines of accountability for what takes place in a legislative body. If I were running for office instead of being a blogger, I might stick closer to a party line.

On a purely Texas note, I’ll never understand how many of my fellow Texas left-leaning bloggers can be more loyal to the Democratic Party than I am, while at the same time accepting that the Texas legislature is organized on a so-called bipartisan basis.

This acceptance undermines the right of Texans to have options at the voting booth and means that Democrats will never have a clear and clean governing majority in Austin.

In any case, I enjoy having a blog and I respect many of my fellow Texas Bloggers. I’ve had a lot of support from friends and strangers and I’m fortunate to have the time needed to express myself through Texas Liberal.

Please keep reading as I try to make Texas Liberal even better.    

March 28, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Houston, Politics, Texas, Things I've Done | 3 Comments

I Wore Shirt & Tie To Jury Duty Because I Respect Justice Even If Harris County Is Run By Execution-Crazed Savages

I had jury duty today here in Houston, Harris County, Texas. I wore a shirt and tie to jury duty. I also polished my shoes and wore my newest pair of pants.

I got dressed up because I respect justice and I respect my fellow citizens. I feel this way regardless of how the city, the county and the State of Texas conduct our courts. 

Justice has a rough time in these parts. We love to execute people, we have people found innocent after many years in jail and the Houston Police crime lab is a mess.

I was not picked for a trial today. But I did my duty and put my best face forward as a citizen.    

February 6, 2007 Posted by | Best Posts Jan.-June 2007, Houston, Things I've Done | 4 Comments

Dead Houston City Worker Earned Near-Poverty Wage & My Letter To City Officials About This Issue

Last week, City of Houston road crew worker Jerry Hines, Jr, was killed while helping motorists during bad weather. The Houston Chronicle reported that Mr. Hines earned only $17,000 a year. I have e-mailed the following letter to my Houston elected officials. We will see what responses I get.——  

The Houston Chronicle reported that Jerry Hines, Jr., the city road crew worker killed on the job last week during the bad weather, earned only $17,000 a year.  Might you please tell me if this report was correct? Was this a salary for full-time work?

I calculate that an employee paid $17,000 a year for full-time work is making $8.17 an hour.  Do you believe $8.17 an hour is a living wage and that a city government should be paying such wages?

Might you also please inform me if other city workers make similar salaries? If so, how many and what kind of work do they do?

I was appalled when I read what Mr. Hines earned. I am hoping you have information that will put this report in a different light. If not, I am asking what steps you will take to help city workers earn a decent wage.

Thank you. 

9/18/07—Please click here for an update on the subject of low pay for City of Houston workers. 

January 25, 2007 Posted by | Houston, Taxes---Yes!, Things I've Done | 16 Comments

Tip At Time-And-A-Half Rate On New Year’s Day

If you eat out on New Year’s Day, tip your server at a time-and-a-half rate. The same is true if you take a taxi on New Year’s Day or use any type of service that normally involves a tip. 

By New Year’s Day I mean all 24 hours of the day. The cabbie driving you home at 2 AM because you are drunk is working on New Year’s Day. 

Pay people the same money you would expect for working a holiday. It’s the good liberal thing to do. It’s the decent human thing to do.

December 27, 2006 Posted by | Things I've Done, Tip Your Waiter Time-And-A-Half On Holidays | 1 Comment

Liberals Should Keep Green Party Alive So Democrats Don’t Use Us Like They Use Black Voters

I’ve made a $25 donation to the national Green Party. I did this despite my regret for having voted for the erratic Ralph Nader in 2000 and despite the failure of the Texas Green Party to grow as a third party force.

I do support Democrats. In 2006 I made donations to the Harris County Democratic Party, the Texas Democratic Party and to my local ill-fated U.S. House candidate. I donated to the state party despite my suspicion that they don’t do very much.

I gave to the Greens because I want options. I don’t trust Democrats to address global warming, the problems of big cities or job and wage concerns linked to globalization. I don’t want to be used by Democrats in the same way they use black voters.

At the moment Greens don’t appear to be making electoral progress. At least not in Houston or in Texas. As I recall, in 1998 Greens were on the Texas ballot in at least two races where no Democrat ran. In 2006, no statewide Green candidate was on the ballot.

Still, you never know when a third party will force one of the major parties to finally take action on the most important issues. We must have options.

November 29, 2006 Posted by | Politics, Things I've Done | 3 Comments

Tip Your Server At Time-And-A-Half Rate If You Eat Out On Thanksgiving Day

Many people skip the holiday cooking and eat out on Thanksgiving Day. I often eat Thanksgiving Dinner at a seafood place with a view of the ocean in Galveston, Texas. That restaurant is always full.

If you eat out on Thanksgiving Day, please be certain to tip your server at a time-and-a-half rate. If you normally tip 18%, you should consider leaving 27% on Thanksgiving Day. 

Your server is working a holiday. He or she should be paid at the same time-and-a-half rate you would expect for working a holiday.

If you stop at your local convenience store on Thanksgiving, maybe you could buy the person who rings you up a $1 scratch-off ticket. The person behind the counter is working a holiday and should be recognized for doing so.

We can’t respect our own work until we respect all work. People working a holiday might well rather be with family or friends. Treat such people with courtesy and offer up the money that you would hope for in the same circumstance.

November 20, 2006 Posted by | Best Posts 2006, Things I've Done, Tip Your Waiter Time-And-A-Half On Holidays | 15 Comments

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

It Can’t Be Said Enough—Winning Elections Is Up To You

I lived in Ohio for many years. Republicans have controlled Ohio for a long time now. The 2006 election looks good for Democrats in Ohio. This is an e-mail I’m sending to friends and acquaintances in Ohio about the upcoming election.  

Election Day 2006 promises to break the Republican hold on power in Ohio. Ted Strickland has a strong chance to be elected governor and other Democratic gains are possible. A tight race is being fought in Ohio for U.S. Senate between Democrat Sherrod Brown and Republican incumbent Mike DeWine. Brown is running to the left on economic issues. A victory in a big swing-state like Ohio would make a national impression.  

Democrats seem likely to make gains in the Senate in 2006. Because of the power the minority party holds in the Senate, each seat matters. The one seat difference between, say, 48 or 49 Democrats can be enough to torpedo a wacko right-wing Bush judge nominee.

I’ve bought a $25 money order. I’m sending it to the Brown for Senate campaign. We’ve all been bitching for years about the Republicans. Now is the time to do something. Elections are won when average people like you and I do things to win them. 

Thank you.      

October 4, 2006 Posted by | Elections, Politics, Things I've Done | Leave a comment