Below 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.
As I say each time I post the round-up—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.
We can also seek to impact society by consistently acting in a way that reflects our best values. Or by working on an artistic or creative effort that expands the range of thought and imagination we have in our society.
I repeat these thoughts so often on the blog because there is nothing more important I can say.
The work of freedom and justice is up to each of us.
Here is the round-up—
Off the Kuff notes that for the second election in a row, the city of Houston voted 61% for President Obama. Keep that in mind the next time someone tries to tell you that Texas is Austin surrounded by a bunch of Republicans.
Success for Democrats in Williamson County has been few and far between in recent years, and has only come through hard work. WCNews at Eye on Williamson points out that little has changed: It won’t just happen…(continued).
Barack Obama’s re-election to the presidency, just as his first election, is defined in large measure by the pathetic quality of his competition. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs observes that while Republicans have only themselves to blame for their circumstances, maybe it’s time for the victors to help them work through their bitterness.
Neil at Texas Liberal said that the table of self-respect is always set. The question is will people show up?
Above is a picture I took a few weeks back at the San Jacinto Battlefield State Historic Park that is just outside Houston.
This is the place where the battle that won Texas independence was fought in 1836.
It is great that the grass is being restored to how it looked in 1836.
I’m sure that will be some very tall grass. Here is a report about this grass from Houston public radio station KUHF.
Looking at the sign that told me about the grass, I wondered also if the borders that were in place in 1836 should be restored as well.
Below is a map of Mexico as it was in 1824. (Map by Golbez.)
Now that would be quite a restoration.
There are major wildfires taking place in all over Texas, in other plains states, and in portions of Mexico.
(Blogger’s Note 9/7/11—This post is from April. Here is a link to the current wildfires in Texas. If you review this post, you’ll see that there are facts about wildfires in general that are useful to understanding what is taking place.)
Update 4/22/11–Texas Governor Rick Perry has asked people to pray for rain.
Update 4/21-11—Cooler and more humid weather is helping firefighters.
Update 4/20/11—People in England are reading about the fires.
Update 4/19/11–More and more fires in Texas.
Update —4/15/11 —The Texas Forest Service has ongoing reports of wildfires in Texas.
From National Geographic—
“There are three conditions that need to be present in order for a wildfire to burn, which firefighters refer to as the fire triangle: fuel, oxygen, and a heat source. Fuel is any flammable material surrounding a fire, including trees, grasses, brush, even homes. The greater an area’s fuel load, the more intense the fire. Air supplies the oxygen a fire needs to burn. Heat sources help spark the wildfire and bring fuel to temperatures hot enough to ignite. Lightning, burning campfires or cigarettes, hot winds, and even the sun can all provide sufficient heat to spark a wildfire. Although four out of five wildfires are started by people, nature is usually more than happy to help fan the flames.”
As of the afternoon of Wednesday, April 13, Big Bend Now reports that while some of the fires in Texas are contained to a degree, there are still a number of concerns.
Because conditions are so dry in much of Texas, there are, as of April 13, 194 Texas counties with burn bans in effect.
If you are the one who starts a fire in your community because you have broken burn ban rules, you will forever be seen by your neighbors as the town dumbass.
Texas is so large that it can be difficult to grasp where Texas news events are located. While I’ve lived in Texas for 13 years and have explored at least some of the state, these fires are hitting areas of Texas I’ve never visited.
The excellent Handbook of Texas Online is a great resource to learn all about the state. These are the folks who publish the Texas Almanac. The Almanac is another great was to find out about Texas. You should buy a copy.
I’ve long been of the view that many of problems of urban Texas—I live in Houston— have much in common with the problems of rural Texas. I’d be certain that the good folks in West Texas who have suffered from these fires will need the help of individual citizens, charitable groups, and of government to recover.
My friend Harold Cook who very familiar with this part of Texas–and with of all of Texas for that matter–has written about the fires at his blog Letters From Texas. The great Texas political blog Juanita Jean has also posted on this important topic.
Rolling blackouts are ongoing in the Houston-area and elsewhere in Texas as the cold weather settles in for a few more days. There is also the prospect of snow and ice.
Blogger’s Note—Here is my snow in Houston post.
- Limit electricity usage to only consumption that is absolutely necessary. Turn off all unessential lights, appliances and electronic equipment.
- Do not use your dishwasher, laundry equipment, hair dryer, coffee maker, pool pump or other home appliances between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. or 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.
- Reduce the opening and closing of refrigerators, freezers and doors.
- When at home, open blinds and shades during sunny days to take advantage of the sun’s natural heat
- Turn your thermostat to 68 degrees or lower in the daytime and 55 degrees at night or when you’re away from home.
Why are we having these rolling blackouts in Texas?
“A higher-than expected surge in power use due to the cold weather, combined with up to 50 power generating units going offline unexpectedly, led to the emergency.”
This is at least what the energy companies are saying.
I guess Texas needs help from Mexico beyond the low-wage labor we all benefit from even as some of us bash immigrants.
“Rotating outages are controlled, temporary interruptions of electrical service initiated by each utility when supplies of reserve power are exhausted. Without this safety valve, generators would overload and begin shutting down to avoid damage, risking a domino effect of a region-wide outage.”
We all need a metaphoric safety valve in life. We all need a release from the pressures of daily life.
It could be reading, working on a blog, exercising, volunteering for a cause we value, keeping up with friends, walking the dog, or whatever helps you complete your life.
These things of value in your life are not the same as a rolling blackout. On the contrary, they may be the times when we feel most alive.
Let’s conserve the energy needed to avoid more blackouts as the cold weather persists in Texas.
Let’s reserve the personal energy we require to have the time and resources to enjoy life beyond what we must do each day to get by.
We can also use our reserves of personal effort to advocate for our political beliefs and to try to make the world a better place.
It is June 14. June 14 is Flag Day in the United States.
Above is a North American flag designed by an Alex Covarrubias of Monterrey, Mexico.
You got it you right-wing crazies—I’m running this flag because all us liberals want the United Nations to come and force the United States to merge our borders with Canada and Mexico.
Happy Flag Day to all people all over the world. All people matter in all nations of the Earth.
The first match of the World Cup will be played at 9: 30 AM U.S. Eastern Time on Friday June 11. This match will be between Mexico and host team South Africa.
(Above–Toltec warrior columns in the city of Tula in the Mexican state of Hidalgo. Here is a good history of Mexico.)
This post is the first of a series of previews I’ll be writing of World Cup matches.
Let’s begin with the some basic facts.
(Below—Mexico City. Looks like a smoggy day. Here is information about visiting Mexico City.)
Nationality: Noun and adjective–Mexican(s).
Population (July 2009 est.): 111,211,789.
Annual growth rate (2009 est.): 1.13%.
Ethnic groups: Indian-Spanish (mestizo) 60%, Indian 30%, Caucasian 9%, other 1%.
Religions (2000 census): Roman Catholic 76.5%, Protestant 6%, other 0.3%, unspecified 13.8%, none 3.1%.
Education: Years compulsory–11 (note: preschool education was made mandatory in Dec. 2001). Literacy–91.4%.
Health (2009): Infant mortality rate–18.42/1,000. Life expectancy–male 73.25 years; female 79 years.
Work force (2008 est., 45.5 million): Agriculture, forestry, hunting, fishing–21.0%;services–32.2%; commerce–16.9%; manufacturing–18.7%; construction–5.6%;transportation and communication–4.5%; mining and quarrying–1.0%.
(Below–Cape Town. I hope black folks can find good paying work on those docks in the new South Africa. Here is information on visiting Cape Town.)
Nationality: Noun and adjective–South African(s).
Annual growth rate (2006 World Bank Group): 1.1%.
Population (2007, 47.9 million): Composition–black 79.7%; white 9.1%; colored 8.8%; Asian (Indian) 2.2%. Official figures from 2007 South African Census athttp://www.statssa.gov.za.
Languages: Afrikaans, English, isiNdebele, isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, siSwati, Tshivenda, and Xitsonga (all official languages).
Religions: Predominantly Christian; traditional African, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish.
Education: Years compulsory–7-15 years of age for all children. The South African Schools Act, Act 84 of 1996, passed by Parliament in 1996, aims to achieve greater educational opportunities for black children, mandating a single syllabus and more equitable funding for schools.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2007)–58 per 1,000 live births. Life expectancy–52 yrs. women; 49 yrs. men. Health data from 2007 Census Report:http://www.statssa.gov.za.
(The links here are from U.S. Department of State fact sheets. There is a lot of information to be found at these links.)
You’ve got to give the advantage to Mexico based on life expectancy. There is a roughly 25 year edge here for our friends south of the U.S. border. That’s what you get when your leaders go on for years insisting there is no relationship between HIV and AIDS.
(Below–A picture of a Yucca forest in Mexico taken by Tomas Castelazo. Here are facts about Yucca trees.)
How does Amnesty International see the two nations? Who has the human rights advantage?
From Amnesty on Mexico—
“Human rights concerns persist, particularly at the state level where violence surrounds local elections and misuse of the judicial system is common. Federal efforts to combat violence against women in the border town of Ciudad Juárez have continued with limited success. A number of human rights defenders have been threatened and at least three journalists have been killed despite proposed legislation to strengthen human rights protection in the Constitution.”
(Below—The Drakensberg Mountains are the highest mountain chain in South Africa. Photo taken by pzfun. Here is information about visiting these mountains.)
Here is Amnesty on South Africa—
“A significant number of foreign nationals living in South Africa continue to report facing prejudice, discrimination and abuse on a daily basis. Both the International Organization on Migration and Human Rights Watch completed extensive research on the issue of migrants since xenophobic violence exploded in 2008. Many people were killed and more than 100,000 displace during the violence. Local South Africans complain foreign workers are taking away valuable jobs. Although unemployment numbers demonstrate a decline since 2001, the Labor Force Survey approximates 23% of South Africans are unemployed. The construction fueled by the 2010 World Cup is said to have increased the employment outlook over the next several months.”
Summary—This is a close call. Two great and flawed nations are in this match. South Africa has undergone a historic transformation form apartheid to a wider democracy while Mexico is a land that has contributed a great deal to North American history and culture. On the other hand, South Africa has let down the world in its response to AIDS and dominance of the ruling African National Congress threatens to diminish the quality of South African democracy, while Mexico sometimes looks like a failed state in its inability to stop drug-related violence. Let us cheer on both nations as they work towards a more complete realization of their potential.
(Below—Zulu warriors in 19th century South Africa. Here is a very useful history of South Africa.)
Mexican helicopters have been spotted over U.S. air space here in Texas. This is the second time this has happened in recent weeks.
“The defense department says it is investigating reports of a Mexican military helicopter seen flying in Texas. Zapata County Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez says several people reported seeing the aircraft on Sunday flying over an RV park near Zapata, some 100 miles northwest of McAllen on the border with Mexico. Border Patrol spokesman Jason Darling says the Mexican military is conducting operations near Zapata along the Rio Grande….”
Maybe an invasion of Texas is being planned.
If President Obama were to allow Texas to be conquered by Mexico, this would mean many fewer electoral votes for the Republican presidential candidate in 2012. It would also mean two fewer Republican Senators and a net loss for Republicans in the U.S. House.
After reelection in 2012, President Obama could reassess if fighting to take back Texas from Mexico would serve our national interests.
Pancho Villa, who you see above, invaded U.S. territory in 1916.
Here is the link to Pancho Villa State Park in Columbus, New Mexico. Columbus was the town attack by Villa.
Conflict with Mexico may not just be a thing of the past.
A strategic analyst named George Friedman has written a book called The Next 100 Years: A Forecast For The 21st-Century.
I have read this book. Whether it makes any sense or not I could tell you, but it is interesting to read and to think about what the future might hold.
Here is a description of what the book says about trouble with Mexico at the end of our current century—
“Interestingly, Friedman argues that towards the end of the century this trend of increasing demand for labor (coupled with decreasing population) will reverse, due in large part to the extensive use of robotics. America will begin trying to force Mexican’s living in the U.S. to move back to Mexico. By this time however, Friedman believes that the Southwestern U.S. will have become more like Mexico than the U.S. and will likely spark a conflict for which the best solution for the U.S. will be to allow Mexico to have the territory.”
Maybe this prospect makes a case for preemptive war with Mexico.
Above is a picture of Harris County, Texas Republican chair Jared Woodfill.
Houston is in Harris County.
Notice the sign under the cut-out of Ronald Reagan.
America is “ours” while Mexico, it seems, is “yours.”
Did signs like this exist when America was stealing parts of Mexico with armed force?
If so, they were ignored.
The Republican message seems to be that if you are Hispanic or an immigrant or have a basic spirit of human decency, that your vote is not wanted.
Based on the outcome of the 2006 elections, the public seems to be getting the message.
The photo was taken by the Houston Chronicle.
Thank you to loyal American Carl Whitmarsh for circulating this picture.
The following is from Alan Taylor’s American Colonies: The Settling of North America. It is about the passive but meaningful resistance of subjugated people. It is about the response of Mexican Indians to Spanish domination in the 16th Century.
” To sustain a measure of psychological autonomy, Mexican Indians privately nurtured a mythic understanding of the Spanish conquest as cosmically insignificant and ephemeral: of no more enduring significance than the many previous cycles of rising and falling native powers. Having experienced the Aztecs, and the Toltecs before them, the natives of Mexico expected to outlive their Spanish masters.. From our own vantage point on the radical transformation of Indian lives under the onslaught of colonization, this native myth seems far from “true.” But the Indians preserved much of their cultural identity within that transformation, rendering the myth real in their thoughts.
Because of the internal nature of native resistance, the friars could achieve no more than a compromise in matter’s of faith and practice. They ultimately had to tolerate a vibrant religious syncretism in which the new Catholic forms absorbed native content. The cult of the Virgin assumed a special importance as it came to resemble the former celebration of the maternal spirits of the maize, the corn mothers.”
I think this is useful in seeing how people today and always have responded when to outsiders a situation might seem hopeless. There is always some way to respond.