Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Texas Last In The Provision Of Health Care—Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up

Here is the weekly posting of the 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.

With the round-up this week is the news that Texas is dead last in the provision of health care among the 50 states.

From the Austin American-Statesman-

” The 2011 State Snapshots report is based on 155 quality measures gathered by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The measures include disease prevention efforts, deaths from various conditions as well as infant mortality and suicides, cancer treatment, and how well health care providers manage chronic conditions such as diabetes and patients with incurable conditions….Texas is weakest on measures of home health care but showed strengths in nursing home care, said the report, released this week. “

And yet for all this, the reaction of Governor Rick Perry and other Texas far-right extremists is nothing other than a states rights based massive resistance to the health care reform that has passed Congress and been approved by the Supreme Court.

The work of fighting for health care reform in Texas, and advocating for life over death in opposition to the brutality of the states rights/libertarian crowd, is our responsibility.

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 freedom and justice is up to each of us.

Here is the round-up—

Off the Kuff disputed the notion that Rick Perry would be doing better than Mitt Romney if he were the GOP Presidential nominee.

BossKitty at TruthHugger wonders where all the constitutional scholars are, and why they are so silent, in Preamble to the US Constitution Violated.

While the Supreme Court delivered landmark case decisions earlier and later in the week, the two Texas Democrats battling for the nomination to the US Senate held a debate. They were overshadowed, as it turned out, for good reason. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs paid attention but really wishes he hadn’t. Continue reading

July 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts On The Death Of Rodney King

I’m sorry for the death of Rodney King. Mr. King drowned yesterday in Southern California.

Mr. King was a fellow human being who was responsible for his many mistakes, and who also very much part of a world that he never made. I’m sorry Mr. King was never able to find a right path in life.

I’m sorry for the police who were so removed from their humanity for some amount of time that they beat Mr. King so severely.

I’m sorry for the many police officers who know a right path, but who sometimes end up engaging in actions that are wrong and who end up defending many of the persons and institutions in our society who profit when we are unable to get along.

I’m sorry that some folks in Los Angeles used the excuse of the not guilty verdict in the trial of the Los Angeles police officers accused of beating Mr. King to attack their own communities and to attack the innocent truck driver Reginald Denny.

I’m sorry for all the self-destructive behavior we see in America.

I’m sorry for the people who leave comments about Mr. King’s death such as the one you see below from the Facebook page of Houston hate speech radio station KTRH 740

“Looks like His baby days are over, the welfare state will have to pay all his babies mothers, to bad it was not a family event. Hes all wet”

I’m sorry that we are never able to come to full terms with the most brutal aspects of our national history.

I’m sorry–and hopeful–for all of us because  for both good and ill Mr. King, the police who beat him, the rioters in Los Angeles, Reginald Denny, and the people who say they are glad Mr. King is dead are  quintessentially American.

I’m hopeful because sometimes progress is made, and because so many of us realize there is better path than the way we so often treat each other in this nation.

Here is an obituary of Mr. King from the Los Angeles Times.

June 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

Houston Area 2012 Memorial Day Events

Memorial Day 2012 is Monday, May 28.

Here is my annual posting of Memorial Day facts and links.

As always, there will be a number of events observing Memorial Day in the Greater Houston area.

The leading event in our area each year is at the Houston VA Cemetery. At the bottom of this post are details of the 2012 events from the website of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Fort Bend County will be observing Memorial Day in Fulshear.

The George Ranch in Richmond, Fort Bend County will be having a Memorial Day observance on Saturday, May 26 that will take a historic look at how America’s wars have impacted Texans.

The Galveston County Daily News regularly updates a list of Memorial Day events in Galveston County. Here is the  most recent listing.

Here is a link to Memorial Day weekend events in The Woodlands.  These planned events in The Woodlands seem a bit more festive than reflective.

The Woodlands Memorial Day weekend events involve “Fireworks. Live Music. Vendors. Street Performers. And more….”

I guess we would not want to think about death or anything that would detract from shopping.

My late father was a combat veteran of the Korean War. Here is a small portion of what he wrote a number of years ago about 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  people 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.” 

We can honor those who have died in our wars without buying into our violent culture that often values war over peace, and without forgetting that we sent our soldiers to a war in Iraq that was based on lies.

If there are events in the Houston area I am missing, please leave a comment and I will add that event to this list.

Here is the Houston VA observance—

A special Memorial Day Service will be held on Monday, May 28, 2012 at 9:30 a.m. at the Houston VA National Cemetery, located at 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive.

This year, the Department of Veterans Affairs is pleased to announce that retired Navy Reserve Captain Richard L. Halferty will give the Memorial Day address. Halferty serves as the Chief Operating Officer for H.M.S. Telecom LLC., and has extensive experience in logistics, contingency and emergency planning.  Halferty served in the United States Navy Reserve for over 38 years retiring as a Captain in 1986.  He currently serves as Chairman, Korean War Veterans, Lone Star Chapter.  Among his military awards are the Navy Commendation Medal, China Service Medal, National Defense Medal, Armed Forces Reserve and the United Nations Medal.  Continue reading

May 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cigarette Machine

Above is a photo I took recently in Houston of a cigarette machine.

You used to see these machines all the time. Now you don’t see them so often.

The cigarettes in this machine cost $10.

Tobacco is indeed the Devil’s weed.

Though the truth is my dad smoked incessantly from the Truman years up until his death–from lung cancer—in 2011.

I’d be hard-pressed to say anything other than that cigarettes probably made by father’s life more enjoyable.

Still—Please do quit now if you smoke.

Just the price alone of a pack cigarettes is enough to make you quit.

Here is some history of vending machines. 

May 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 4 Comments

At Rest

The dead were at rest yesterday in Galveston, Texas.

May 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 1 Comment

Baby Killers

The United States has high rates of premature births and of infant mortality.

From the New York Times of 5/3/12 regarding premature births

“Although American hospitals excel at saving premature infants, the United States is similar to developing countries in the percentage of mothers who give birth before their children are due, the study’s chief author noted. It does worse than any Western European country and considerably worse than Japan or the Scandinavian countries… That stems from the unique American combination of many pregnant teenagers and many women older than 35 who are giving birth, sometimes to twins or triplets implanted after in vitro fertilization, the authors said. Twins and triplets are often deliberately delivered early by Caesarean section..Also, many American women of childbearing age have other risk factors for premature birth, like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or smoking habits. And the many women who lack health insurance often do not see doctors early in their pregnancies…”

Here is the link to the World Health Organization report that was the source of this report. 

The United States also has high rates of infant mortality.

Again from the New York Times

“According to a new analysis, the United States now ranks 41st in the world in terms of neonatal mortality, the death rate of infants less than one month old. The rate is higher in the United States than in, among others, Cuba, Slovakia, Croatia and all of Western Europe and Scandinavia.”

Where are so-called “pro-life” forces addressing these concerns? Where are they?

What they do instead is make it all worse.

Here in Texas, the state government and the state’s conservative voters support and pursue policies of hardship and death.

 The Associated Press reports that more than one million children in Texas lack health insurance—

“The analysis of official state and federal data by the non-partisan Center for Public Policy Priorities found that 1.2 million Texas children have neither private nor public health insurance….Almost 40 percent of Texas mothers received little or no prenatal care and one in seven babies were born premature, statistics show. The difference between being insured and uninsured is stark: 90 percent of insured kids are healthy, while only 58 percent of kids without insurance are considered healthy.”

Republicans in control of the Texas state government have passed a law preventing state funds for women’s health services at Planned Parenthood.

No provision has been made to provide these services elsewhere despite the great number of Texans without health insurance.

All our Republican leaders do in Texas is oppose efforts to expand health insurance coverage and block ways for women to get care.

This is not unlike what we are seeing from conservatives on the national level.

I don’t get how these people who enact these policies and support these policies live with themselves.

May 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Life Is Many Things At Once—Creation May Or May Not Be Worth The Violence And Disruption It Involves

Above is a picture I took in January of 2011 of Pioneer Cemetery in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Cincinnati is one of my home towns.

One thing I like about this cemetery is that it contains the remains of the Revolutionary War soldiers who were among the first wave of white settlers in Cincinnati.

Also here are the remains of the women who made everyday life work.

When we expand our view of history, we are most likely to get the all the facts right. We are most likely to include all that merit inclusion.

In this cemetery, I like the juxtaposition of the settlement of a newer America beyond the Appalachians with the men and women of an older time.

Yesterday I ran on the blog a picture of the big industrial Houston Ship Channel which had in it a number of nice colorful flowers.

Everything is more than one thing at once.

These multiple qualities can be living things, industry, conceptions of the past, conceptions about places, confluences of time, the living and the dead themselves, and whatever else that sails your ship.

I’m very mindful that a Native American population was present in Southwestern Ohio before the white man arrived.

There is violence and disruption with every act of creation.

It is not clear to me that every act of creation is worth the violence and disruption that helps make it possible.

May 2, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The State Motto Of Texas Is Friendship—This Is So Despite the State-Mandated Rape Of The Forced Sonogram Law And The Millions Of Uninsured People

The state motto of Texas is “Friendship.”

That one word is the entirety of the state motto of Texas.

Above is picture of our state motto and a map of Texas that I took at a restaurant here in Houston.

I like the simplicity of this a great deal.

I like the thought it expresses a great deal.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I value friendship a great deal.

As for the fact that state-mandated rape is the policy of Texas with the forced sonogram law?

You’ll just have to look away as your offer your fellow man or woman a firm handshake, and look him or her right in the eye just as any Texan would do.

As for the fact that Texas is first in the rate of uninsured persons and that we simply let people die from lack of care?

I dunno…..I guess we should just all be friendly to each other so long as we don’t see the brutality all around us here in Texas.

April 25, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Diverging

Above is photo I took in Cincinnati in March of 2011. I took this picture a few days before my dad died in Cincinnati.

I made a post about the picture at the time, and noted that my father would soon be leaving the main track or be taking a diverging course.

I think about this picture often.

There are things I’d like to do differently in life, and ways I wish things were different in our society.

I now often envision these changes or transitions that I’d like to see as a switch from the main track to another route.

It seems like a gentle enough switch in this image. Just a slight altering of your course.

Yet in the end you’ll end up far away from where you started.

April 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Veteran Suicides A Major Problem—Before We Kill You With Neglect, We Tell You How Much We Care

Opinion columnist Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times recently wrote about suicides of  American veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Here is some of what Mr. Kristof said—

“HERE’S a window into a tragedy within the American military: For every soldier killed on the battlefield this year, about 25 veterans are dying by their own hands. An American soldier dies every day and a half, on average, in Iraq or Afghanistan. Veterans kill themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. More than 6,500 veteran suicides are logged every year — more than the total number of soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since those wars began. These unnoticed killing fields are places like New Middletown, Ohio, where Cheryl DeBow raised two sons, Michael and Ryan Yurchison, and saw them depart for Iraq. Michael, then 22, signed up soon after the 9/11 attacks. Then Michael was discharged, DeBow picked him up at the airport — and was staggered. “When he got off the plane and I picked him up, it was like he was an empty shell,” she told me. “His body was shaking.” Michael began drinking and abusing drugs, his mother says, and he terrified her by buying the same kind of gun he had carried in Iraq. “He said he slept with his gun over there, and he needed it here,” she recalls. Then Ryan returned home in 2007, and he too began to show signs of severe strain. He couldn’t sleep, abused drugs and alcohol, and suffered extreme jitters….Michael and Ryan, like so many other veterans, sought help from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Eric Shinseki, the secretary of veterans affairs, declined to speak to me, but the most common view among those I interviewed was that the V.A. has improved but still doesn’t do nearly enough about the suicide problem…Likewise, neither Michael nor Ryan received much help from V.A. hospitals. In early 2010, Ryan began to talk more about suicide, and DeBow rushed him to emergency rooms and pleaded with the V.A. for help. She says she was told that an inpatient treatment program had a six-month waiting list. (The V.A. says it has no record of a request for hospitalization for Ryan. While Ryan was waiting for a spot in the addiction program, in May 2010, he died of a drug overdose. It was listed as an accidental death, but family and friends are convinced it was suicide. The heartbreak of Ryan’s death added to his brother’s despair, but DeBow says Michael is now making slow progress. “He is able to get out of bed most mornings,” she told me. “That is a huge improvement…..”

Note that President Obama’s Veteran’s Secretary would not talk to Mr. Kristof.

It is no surprise that this is how we treat veterans in the United States.

The whole war in Iraq was based on a lie.

We did not give our troops the equipment they needed when fighting in Iraq.

We killed many thousands of Iraqi civilians to make clear our contempt for life.

We sent wounded veterans to Walter Reed where many of them got lousy care.

And now we let our soldiers kill themselves while Mr. Obama’s Secretary of Veterans Affairs won’t talk to the supposed liberal apologists at The New York Times.

Here is what my late father, Tony Aquino , a Korean War combat veteran, wrote about our wars 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.”

I found out not long after Tony’s death last year, that after he got home from Korea he would wake up from nightmares and would break dishes around the house. Tony never got over fighting in that war.

And for what? For a war that is not officially over to this day? So red-baiters at home could score political points? To defend Jim Crow?

Of course our leaders are often killers. They kill time and time again, and they do so with the enthusiastic complicity of so many of our fellow citizens. Millions of Americans are sick and crazed with a love for violence.

The expression of great care for a group of people in our country is often a kiss of death.

No matter if it is children or our veterans, you can bet that we are in good part neglecting–or worse–those we say we value most.

Both at home and abroad, let this nation be most defined most of all by our love of violence and by our contempt for those who serve.

April 18, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 2 Comments

Houston Parade For Iraq Veterans On Saturday, April 7—You Can Go And Still Not Forget That The War Was A Lie

There will be parade in Houston on Saturday, April 7 to honor those who served in Iraq.

Here are details of this parade

“The parade, sponsored by the City of Houston in partnership with the Astros 2012 opening weekend festivities, will step off from the corner of Texas and San Jacinto at 4 p.m. and then proceed east on Texas to Crawford and then north (left) on Crawford to Congress, ending at Minute Maid Park.”

I will attend this parade.

You can honor our veterans without forgetting the fact that War in Iraq was based on lies,  and that more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians died in this war.

My dad, who saw combat in Korea, was always clear to me that he viewed himself as just an unlucky guy fighting a bunch of other unlucky guys.

He saw combat veterans, and civilians killed in a war, as people for the most part being harmed and used by others who did not have to bear the cost of what was taking place.

In any case, I hope to have some pictures of the parade up on the blog within a few days.

April 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Photos From Sunday Trayvon Martin Protest At Houston City Hall

This past Sunday afternoon, I attended a rally in at Houston City Hall calling for justice in the case of Trayvon Martin. This rally was organized by the Houston NAACP and by LULAC in Houston.

I went to this protest and took some  pictures.

The Trayvon Martin shooting , which took place in Sanford, Florida, is relevant to Houston because everything is connected. The killing of Trayvon in Florida could happen to a young person any place in our nation.

Above you see a picture of the Houston rally. There were estimates that 1,000 people showed up. Most of the people were black. But by no means were all the people at the rally black.

What people wanted at this protest was simple.

They wanted peace, justice, an end to racism, and the right to be who they are.

These are goals as American as apple pie.

These citizens made their own signs and came on down to the rally.

You will see that one of the signs indicates that the person holding the sign is his or her brother’s keeper.

What could be more basic and accurate?

Among the speakers at the rally were Congressperson Sheila Jackson Lee in blue, former Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia in the hoodie, and two students from Texas Southern University.

The young lady in red is a TSU student. I’m sorry that I did not catch the names of the two young people from TSU, but they did a good job at the podium.

In addition to Congressperson Jackson Lee and Ms. Garcia, Richard Shaw from the Harris County, Texas AFL-CIO was present.

I do regret that while many local black officeholders were at the event, that white and Hispanic elected officials did not seem to be present.

We are all connected.

It is especially confusing  that Houston Mayor Annise Parker was not there, or that she could not send a representative.

Mayor Parker, a so-called Democrat, was in 2011 able to attend the Reagan-Lincoln Day fundraiser of the Harris County Republican Party.

What Mayor Parker needs is a challenger from the left in 2013.

While there was a strong crowd at City Hall last Sunday, there is always room for your involvement.

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

March 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trayvon Martin Case Requires Justice

I want to add my voice to those concerned about the killing of 17 year old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida.

(Above–Trayvon Martin)

From what I have heard and read, it appears that this young person was shot and killed for the offense of walking while black or being outside while black.

He also seems to have been killed because of someone else’s improper sense of entitlement and impunity.

Hopefully the so-called  justice system will further investigate this matter, and a fair trial will be held for George Zimmerman. Mr. Zimmerman is the man alleged by many to have shot and killed Mr. Martin.

Here is an overview of the Trayvon Martin case from ABC News. 

This case has brought to needed attention the ongoing and seemingly never-ending fact in our nation that you can kill black people and get off easy for doing so.

Also, the so-called “stand your ground”  law in Florida seems to be first of all about shooting people. 

We are a nation that often seems crazed with violence, and where some lives appear to have less value than other lives.

We need to work for justice and decent treatment of all people in our own lives and in our society as a whole.

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

My friend Errington Thompson at Where’s The Outrage has been posting about the Trayvon Martin issue  for a number of days now.  Errington has also been writing usefully about race in America in recent days. Please check out his blog. 

March 22, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 10 Comments

I Like The People My Friends Have Become—Every Day Has Value

On my recent visit home to Cincinnati, I met up with a number of friends.

In some cases I took their pictures. These are the pictures you see above.

I met some of these folks in the 1980’s. Two I have met since I left Cincinnati in 1998.

Strong and long-lasting relationships make us better able to deal with the hardships of life.

Also–if we pay attention– these relationships provide us with context to understand the lives that all sorts of people lead in our difficult world.

Everybody I met up with for lunch, dinner, coffee, or a drink had a story to tell.

This is no different from any person you know.

The lives my friends lead have great worth.

I like the people my friends have become over the years.

I work hard to keep up with my friends. I’d suggest you do the same. Don’t wait for others to act.

Every person has value. Every place has value. Every day has value.

March 10, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Rally For The Health Of All Texans On 3/12—All People Are Connected

There will be a March 12 rally at Planned Parenthood in Houston to protest the drastic and unwarranted cuts for the health care needs of so many Texans.

And don’t forget the Texas forced sonogram law which many see—correctly in my view—as a form of state-mandated rape.

Below are details of the March 12 event. What I have posted is a Planned Parenthood press release that I received.

The only regretful aspect of this press release is the failure of Planned Parenthood to include any men as speakers, and, by doing so, to ignore the obvious fact that this is a matter for all Texans and not just women.

All people are connected. Health and human rights are universal concerns.

Here is the link for Planned Parenthood–Gulf Coast.

Here is the press release—-

TEXAS WOMEN TO GOVERNOR RICK PERRY:

“DON’T MESS WITH US”

Community Leaders Speak out at the Latest Stop on the 

Women’s Health Express 

Houston, Texas — In support of Texas women and in response to the disastrous women’s health policies of the Perry Administration, Texas women, health providers, elected officials and other women’s health supporters and community partners speak out tell Governor Rick Perry:  DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS WOMEN.   

On March 12, 2012, the Women’s Health Express will be rolling into Houston to meet supporters who will rally against the State’s continued attacks on women’s health care programs. From all across the country, women have been mobilizing to fight back against politicians who try to restrict women’s access to reproductive health care.  Now, Governor Perry is about to see what happens when you mess with Texas women.

WHAT: “Don’t Mess With Texas Women” Rally

WHEN: March 12, 2012 at 11:30 am/Official program to begin at 11:45 am

WHERE: The Women’s Health Express Bus at PPGC: 4600 Gulf Fwy Houston, TX

 SPEAKERS: State Representative Carol Alvarado 

      State Representative Jessica Farrar

    Dr. Michelle Curtis, OBGYN

A patient who receives health care through the Women’s Health Program

    Melaney Linton, CEO, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. 

More than one-quarter of Texas women are uninsured, and women in Texas have the third-highest rate of cervical cancer in the U.S., yet Texas Governor Rick Perry is effectively sabotaging the entire Medicaid Women’s Health Program, risking the health and lives of thousands of women who rely on the program for lifesaving screenings for breast and cervical cancer, birth control, screenings for diabetes and hypertension, well woman exams and more. 

Perhaps even more shocking, this is just the latest move Texas officials have made to deny health care to women.   

In the last few months, budget cuts passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Perry cut the state’s family planning program by more than two-thirds — which will take health care from 160,000 women per year.  These cuts also affect services including Pap tests, clinical breast exams, and birth control. The well woman exam a woman receives through WHP is often her only opportunity to receive health care.

For more than 75 years, Planned Parenthood has been Texas’ most trusted source of nonprofit reproductive health care. Planned Parenthood’s 65 health centers in Texas provide health care to nearly 260,000 Texans each year including 104,604 cervical cancer screenings; 122,928 breast cancer screenings; and 440,931 tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections.

March 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments