Texas Liberal

All People Matter

We’ve Just Got To Fight

Republicans impeached Clinton, stole the 2000 election, question Obama’s citizenshipwreck the economy for political gain, use legislation to keep the poor and people of color from voting, and talk about states rights and seccession.

(Above–Clinton impeachment trial in the U.S. Senate.) 

Our political disputes today are not about just policy differences that are open to compromise in the long-term.

There is no middle ground when the other side sees you as illegitimate by definition.

It is just about conflict and the need to win at this point.

(Below–Our fellow Americans. Photo by dbking)

August 26, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

You Can Laugh At Trump Or Palin—Just Be Certain You Don’t End Up In A Concentration Camp

You can laugh or think you know more than people like Donald Trump…..

(Below–Donald Trump. Picture by David Shankbone.)

Sarah Palin…..

(Below–Sarah Palin. Photo by T Toes.)

Ron Paul…..

(Below–Ron Paul. Photo by Gage Skidmore.)  

And Michele Bachmann.

( Below–Michele Bachmann.) 

Just be sure you don’t end up in a concentration camp or living in a dictatorship of some kind.

(The best political history I am aware of Nazi Germany is the three-volume history of Nazi governance of Germany by Richard J. Evans.)

If you think these things can’t happen here, review the history of Native Americans who were almost wiped out by the genocidal policies and actions of the American government and the American people.

Think of Black Americans who have been forced to confront hundreds of years of slavery and Jim Crow.

Nazi Germany was a place you would recognize. There were newspapers, radio, cars, movies, and a politics of  left and right in  the years leading up to Nazi Germany. These things can happen in the most modern and up-to-date societies.

You are mistaken to give any benefit of the doubt at all to people in our nation who would eliminate the social safety net, deny the facts on where the President was born, establish propaganda channels like Fox News, blame immigrants for our troubles, and slash education funding to the bone so we are all ignorant.

You can laugh at people who believe crazy things. You can think you are smarter than Sarah Palin. You can see Donald Trump as a clown.

History tells us time after time that nothing is so horrible it can’t come true.

It is up to each of us as individuals to make the decision to work together to be certain that people we see as ”stupid, or “ignorant” or as “clowns”  don’t end up with the power to dictate our futures and ruin our lives.

April 28, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Blogger Round-Up—You Have To Make The Call To Get Involved

Here is the most recent edition of the Texas Progressive Alliance round-up.  The TPA is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

(Above–My polling place. The most recent election day was a mess in every respect.)

Please visit TPA bloggers every chance you get.

Please follow the example of TPA bloggers and get involved yourself.

I don’t know what else I can tell you that will be of greater value. You’ve got to get involved unless you want nuts to be running this country.

The round-up—-

Off the Kuff discusses the issue of Latino turnout in the wake of Tuesday-before-last’s elections.

This week on Left of College Station Teddy takes in the landscape after the storm and presents a way forward for Texas Democrats. LoCS also begins the Texas Legislature Watch by looking at the bills thatRepresentative Fred Brown has pre-filed, and covers the week in headlines.

Letters From Texas explained a fundamental truth to state Senator Dan Patrick: democracy is about more than two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

Killing Medicaid and CHIP along with Grandma and the kids will devastate the Texas economy. CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why the evil Heritage Foundation wants to hurt the Texas economy. Continue reading

November 21, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Two Short Videos—The Creative And The Practical Are One In The Same And Draw Meaning And Substance From One Another

1. While politics and democracy are sometimes called the “art of the possible”, I feel these things are at core acts of creativity and imagination.

2. In political life, and in the larger sphere of our democratic freedoms and responsibilities, something is imagined as a desirable outcome and steps are planned to reach that goal.

3. Thought comes before action.

4. Also, in my view of politics and democracy, all people have the ability to understand complex things. People have more ability than they realize.

5. It is, of course, not a given that people will make the effort to try and understand complex things or that outcomes in a democracy will be positive outcomes. Believing in democracy can require a measure of nihilism.

6. What you can do about possible bad outcomes in society is do your best to be a part of society and the democracy.

7. With our minds, with effort and self-discipline, and with technology that is accessible to many, we can convey our beliefs in both a creative and practical manner. There is no contradiction between the creative and the practical.

8. There are few contradiction of any kind. Though to say this does not imply that we cannot hold strong beliefs.

9. At the top of this post are two short videos that I filmed in Houston. In each video I list a few points I’ve observed about democracy. It would not take you more than two minutes total watch both videos.

10. I made the videos with my little Flip Camera and have posted them on my blog that I get for free from WordPress.

The things we need are around us and they are accessible with effort and self-discipline. Every time is the right time to talk about freedom and democracy. All people can understand complex things and all places have value and meaning.  Good outcomes are never a given and people are often brutal. The creative and the practical are one in the same and draw meaning and substance from one another.

June 3, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amanda Ulman, Socialist Candidate For Mayor Of Houston, Should Run A Serious Campaign—Or She Should Not Run At All

(Blogger’s Note 11/5/11–What I said here about Ms. Ulman’s campaign 2 years ago is valid again for her 2011 campaign.)    

Amanda Ulman is a Socialist candidate for Mayor of Houston.

It is useful for voters in Houston to have the option of a socialist candidate. Republicans have put the idea of socialism back in the public’s mind after a long absence. Nobody was thinking of socialism before the Republicans started calling Barack Obama a socialist.

Though it has been many years, socialist candidates for public office were once able to win between 5% and 10% of the votes in elections all over the nation. Once in a while they would even win a race.

In 1912, Eugene V. Debs took 6% of the vote nationwide as the Socialist candidate for President of the United States. There is nothing to say that candidates running as Socialists could not at some point in the future win support in our nation.

If Ms. Ulman is going to run for Mayor of Houston, as she did also in 2007, she should be serious about what she is doing. Otherwise, she will be easy to dismiss as a kind of joke.

As far as I can see, Ms. Ulman does not have a web site. How can a credible campaign in this day and age not have web site? Ms. Ulman is missing a cheap and easy way to get her message out.

I can tell Ms. Ulman that as Election Day approaches, people will start putting her name in search engines as they see her name on the ballot.

Two years ago, when Texas Liberal got much less traffic than it does today, I got something like 1000 hits in the days leading up to Election Day for a post I’d written about a candidate for Mayor of Houston named Outlaw Josey Wales. (Sadly, Mr. Wales is not running in 2009.)

Every time I write about a candidate for public office, I get a large spike in my blog traffic for that post in the last few days before the election. People see who is running for the various offices and they research these candidates. Often traffic about that candidate’s post goes up for a few weeks before the election as people early vote.

With a web site, Ms. Ulman could write about how her Socialist beliefs are relevant to governing Houston. What is more socialist than a government run police department or fire department?

Ms. Ulman could talk about the local relevance of issues like the need for universal health insurance or a more fair distrubution of income. The three “serious” candidates for Mayor of Houston, all Democrats, seem not to care very much about issues facing the poor—and about economic issues facing working people of all kinds—here in Houston.

While Ms. Ulman may not be able to raise much money, she could stand on busy street corners with a sign that simply said: Amanda Ulman–Socialist For Mayor Of Houston.

I realize she might not want to do that by herself in the current political climate. Still, voters would could least attach a real human being to the idea of socialism and would see that at least one fellow citizen of Houston holds socialist beliefs.

Has Ms. Ulman contacted the editorial boards of the Houston Chronicle and of the various community weekly newspapers in Houston asking for an interview? Has she asked for time on all of the T.V. and radio community affairs programs? Has she produced a cable public access message that is being broadcast? Does she have a Twitter account?

Ms. Ulman could represent a real choice for voters frustrated with the big money donors and lack of attention to so many serious issues that seems to define campaigns for Mayor of Houston. Maybe Ms. Ulman could be the start of a real core of socialist support in Houston. You never know.

Ms. Ulman should run a real race or she should give it up and stop harming her cause by not being serious.

Here is a series of articles from The Nation magazine about ideas for socialism in modern America.

September 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up With Cotton Bale Compressing Machine Photo

Image, Source: intermediary roll film

Below is the weekly Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The Texas Progressive Alliance is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

Above is a picture from 1939 of men putting bales of  cotton into a compressing machine that shrinks the size of the bale. The picture was taken in Houston. The photographer was a John Lee and is part of the American Memory series of the Library of Congress. 

If you would like to buy an updated machine of this kind from South Korea, here is your chance. Here is information about what it was like to work a machine such as the one you see in the picture. The link is to the Folklife in Louisiana web site.

The round-up–

The Texas Cloverleafwonders why only one person showed up to a budget meeting where taxes are being increased in Denton County. No tea bags left?

Neil at Texas Liberal offered the fullest extension of the back of his hand to opponents of Houston’s Ashby high-rise.

TXsharon at Bluedaze wonders what Governor Perry is thinking to appoint a global warming denier as the highest environmental official in Texas at a time when polling shows Americans support Obama on reducing greenhouse emissions and when the EPA has just confirmed water contaminated with hydraulic fracture fluid. Maybe the question should be: Does Perry think?

South Texas Chisme wants you to know that Medicare is a PUBLIC heath care option. Ciro, stand up. Henry, wise up.

Bay Area Houstonhas video of Republican Pete Olson punking himself at his own town hall meeting while trying to use a sick kid for political gain. Continue reading

September 6, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Japanese Elections Shift Power And Move Japan To The Left

Elections in Japan have resulted in, to some degree, a shift to the left. Beyond ideological issues, the long-standing ruling party has been booted out and a more competitive two-party system for Japan may be in the offing.

( Above—A Buddhist Temple in Kyoto. Japan. Here is information about visiting Kyoto.)  

The Democrats have soundly defeated the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). Do not view these party names through the prism of American party labels. The Liberal Democrats are the party of the right. The LDP has held power in Japan for all but a few months since the end of World War II.

A good explanation of what was at stake in Japanese elections can be found in this post at the blog World Elections. 

The blog Observing Japan has comprehensive posts on the political situation in Japan.

The new Prime Minister of Japan in likely to be Yukio Hatoyama. Here is his profile in the BBC.   

From that profile—

“In his manifesto, Mr Hatoyama said he wanted to improve people’s lives through increased welfare spending. “I want to approach policy from the perspective of the citizen, not leaving it to the hands of bureaucracy,” he wrote. “I want to create a horizontal society bound by human ties, not a vertically-connected society of vested interests.” Mr Hatoyama says he wants to raise spending on healthcare, child support and subsidies for farmers. But he has ruled out raising taxes to do this – prompting critics to ask where the money will come from.”

( Above –Japan as seen from space.)

In regards to the ideological shift as it impacts international policy, Democrats say they will reevaluate the Japanese military relationship with the United States and may no longer assist in the refueling of American ships headed to the War in Iraq. Japan may now look more towards it’s Asian neighbors and less towards the United States on security issues.  

Here is the New York Times story on the election.

Domestically, the ideological shift is caught up with what is the larger story of the election. The excerpt from Mr. Hatoyama’s profile gives some sense of what has been promised. Japan’s economy has been stagnant for many years and people in Japan are concerned about the impact of globalization.

Here is a Q & A from the BBC about policy differences between Democrats and the LDP. 

Yet articles I have read about the election suggest that weariness with the long-ruling LDP and a desire for a more competitive political system are a big reason why the Democrats have won. There is a widespread belief—seemingly correct—that the LDP has held power for too long and that the political system is rigged to a favor a certain few over the needs of the many.

For this desire for change to have real meaning, it will soon enough have to be accompanied by policy changes and a greater transparency in how Japan is governed.

Here are some basic facts about Japan. The population of Japan is approximately 128 million people.

(Below–Sapporo, Japan. Here is information about visiting Sapporo. )

August 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up With Picture Of Chicago Mayor Daley At Sears Tower Observation Deck


Below is the weekly Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The Texas Progressive Alliance is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

Above is a photo of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley taken at the observation deck on the top floor of the Sears Tower in Chicago. I was at the Sears Tower two weeks ago and in walked Mayor Daley. I took this picture as he greeted the public.   

The round up—

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wonders why we put up with temper tantrums and intimidation from the far right. Everyone should have their say in our democracy.

Off the Kuff takes a look at the at-large city council races in Houston.

BossKitty at TruthHugger has been awakened from slumber by the nightmare of the health care reform debacle. Look who’s causing all the trouble and who’s being thrown to the wolves in Without Health Options, Where Is Your Voice?

Over at TexasKaos, lightseeker connects the dots between the fear mongering, health care reform, and history. He throws in the return of the militias for good measure. If armed and frightened groups are reappearing in Iowa, how long before they show up in Texas. You do remember the Republic of Texas movement, don’t you? See it all in Fear, Health Care and History: A Reflection Updated! – Return of the militias

Harry Balczak at McBlogger begins a new feature, This Week In Lawyerin’, in which he’ll take a look at some arcane legal concept and educate you on it. This week, what to do when caught with kiddie porn. Continue reading

August 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tom Schieffer Asks If There Is A Better Texas In A Parallel Universe—Maybe A Universe Where Democrats Did Not Fail Texas For Many Years

Democratic candidate for Governor of Texas Tom Schieffer recently released the statement at the bottom of this post about where Texas ranks in the nation in a number of important quality of life indicators.  

( A number of Houston-area bloggers had lunch with Mr. Schieffer earlier this week. I was at that lunch. I’ll have more to say in the week ahead about what I thought of Mr. Schieffer.)

Mr. Schieffer gets it right that Texas is in many respects a child-hating mess of a place. Though he is wrong to blame it all on incumbent Republican Governor Rick Perry. Governor Perry is a hard-hearted man who easily turns his back on the suffering of others. But it is Democrats who have run Texas since statehood. Democrats ran this state until not so long ago. 

It is not as if Governor Perry entered a Garden of Eden and paved it over. Texas has long had serious issues that have gone unaddressed or have been made intentionally worse to help make the already powerful even more powerful.

Democrats should not get a free pass on the harm they have done to Texas. The Democratic Party in Texas has yet to earn the trust of liberals and progressives, and has yet to earn the trust of hard-working Texans who need some help in life. (Which is not to suggest that many hard-working Texans are not to blame for helping to elect folks like George W. Bush and Rick Perry.)

One thing I enjoy about Mr. Schieffer’s statement below is his reference to a “parallel universe.” I wonder if bloggers get paid big money in the parallel universe. Dr. Max Tegmark at M.I.T is a leading proponent of the theory of multiple universes. Here is his web page on that subject.

Here is Mr. Schieffer’s campaign web home.   

Here is Mr. Schieffer’s statement—     

If Governor Perry, as he told reporters yesterday, thinks we’re doing well in comparison to other states, he’s living in a parallel universe. Just take a look at his scorecard as governor. 

Texas is: 

51st (counting the District of Columbia) in the percentage of people older than 25 who have a high school diploma. 

50th in the percentage of unemployed people receiving benefits. 

49th in teacher pay.

 49thin benefits paid to women, infants and children under the WIC program.

 46th in SAT scores. Continue reading

August 22, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

I Think I’ll Ask Republicans In My Personal Life If They See Me As A Nazi

I’ve been listening to some of the things Republicans are saying about the Obama health care proposals and about the overall direction of the Obama administration.

They are using terms like Nazi and fascist and saying that Mr. Obama and his supporters want to destroy the Constitution.

In your professional life and in day-to-day life as you interact with people in the world, you can’t concern yourself with people’s politics. You won’t be able to get by in life if you do that.

But I’m thinking that maybe I’ll ask the few family members I have that are Republicans, if they feel that I am a Nazi or if I support candidates who are Nazis.

If you are going to use that kind of language out in the open, or back people who use that kind of language,  the people in your personal life should know where you stand.

August 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 1 Comment

Houston Mayoral Candidate Annise Parker Offers Plan For City Dog Pound, But Offers No Plan For Poverty And Houston’s Children

File:Annise Parker.JPG

The campaign web home of Houston mayoral candidate Annise Parker, our current Houston City Controller, has plenty of information about what Ms. Parker would do about the city dog and animal pound if she is elected.

( Above—Annise Parker. Ms. Parker is a Democrat running for Mayor of Houston.)

What you won’t find at her campaign web home is any information about Ms. Parker’s approach to poverty in Houston if she is elected. Also, you won’t find what Ms. Parker would do to improve the lives of children in Houston.   

The city dog pound is a mess and it should be made right. It is an issue our next mayor needs to address.

But what about poor folks and all the poor children we have in Houston?

Here is some extensive data on poverty in Houston for 2007.

Some of the facts—

* Just over one-third of kids in Houston under the age of 5 in Houston lived in poverty in 2007. The number for Texas as a whole was just under 27%.

* Nearly one-fifth of all women aged 35-44 in Houston lived in poverty in 2007.

* Over 8% of people in Houston had an income less than that of half the poverty level in 2007.

With the hard economic times in 2008 and 2009, it is likely that these already bad numbers are now worse today.

Given the condition of so many of our people in Houston, is it any shock we mistreat dogs? 

Ms. Parker is a decent person. She’s right that the pound needs to be fixed. Yet there are even more pressing issues in Houston that Ms. Parker does not appear to be focused on at the moment.

August 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round Up With Facts About Spindletop Oil Gusher

Below is the weekly Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The Texas Progressive Alliance is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

Above is a picture of the “Lucas Gusher” at Spindletop near Beaumont. The picture is from 1901. This was the first oil found in Texas. 

Here is what it says about this discovery in the excellent Handbook of Texas Online.

From the handbook—

“The Spindletop oilfield, discovered on a salt dome formation south of Beaumont in eastern Jefferson County on January 10, 1901, marked the birth of the modern petroleum industry….On January 10 mud began bubbling from the hole. The startled roughnecks fled as six tons of four-inch drilling pipe came shooting up out of the ground. After several minutes of quiet, mud, then gas, then oil spurted out. The Lucas geyser, found at a depth of 1,139 feet, blew a stream of oil over 100 feet high until it was capped nine days later and flowed an estimated 100,000 barrels a day. Lucas and the Hamills finally controlled the geyser on January 19, when a huge pool of oil surrounded it, and throngs of oilmen, speculators, and onlookers had transformed the city of Beaumont.”

Here is some history of the oil industry in Texas from the Texas Almanac.

From the Almanac–

“When oil came gushing into Texas early in the 20th century, the changes were even more profound. Petroleum began to displace agriculture as the principal engine driving the economy of the state, and Texans’ lives were even more drastically affected than they had been by railroads….The impact of oil on Texas and Texans is often analyzed in terms of corporate development, personal and corporate wealth, and the overall economy of the state and politics. Oil also dramatically affected the lives of those who owned the land from which oil was produced, or who were directly involved in oil exploration, extraction and processing. The discoveries of oil fields led to the founding and flourishing of numerous Texas towns, to the establishment of companies that have become multinational conglomerates, and to the amassing of vast personal fortunes.”

Here is the web home of the Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum.  You can visit this museum near Beaumont and relive the early days of Texas oil. 

The round up—

Off the Kuff takes closer look at that story about Texas turnout in last year’s election.

WCNews at Eye On Williamson adds some context to what’s being said in Texas about unemployment insurance, the stimulus, and Gov. Perry.

This week at McBlogger, Krispy Kreme takes a moment to tell of her personal experiences with folks desperately in need of adequate health care.

John Coby at Bay Area Houston thinks Clear Lake Hospital has a heart of cold. Continue reading

August 1, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blue Dog Democrats—What Do You Expect With Only Two Major Parties In A Nation Of 300 Million People?

Many of my fellow liberals are upset about the so-called Blue Dog Democrats who are putting the breaks on aspects of President Obama’s health care proposals.

While I also wish that everyone was as liberal as I am, I’m not sure what people expected after last November’s elections.

If you try to win a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives when there are only two major political parties for over 300 million people, and if you contest and win House seats in Republican leaning districts—What do you imagine you’ll get? A Democratic majority of all liberals?

I think some of these blue dogs could be a bit more brave. I also think President Obama could do a better job selling his ideas to the public. I wish the public as a whole got things right more often instead of allowing themselves to be scared by false notions of government running their lives.

Yet in the end I have to wonder what people figured would be the result when Democrats won House  and Senate seats— in both 2006 and 2008—that had previously been held by Republicans.

There are only two major political parties in our nation of over 300 million people. Any legislative majority in the House or Senate is likely to consist of a variety of viewpoints. This is especially so for Democrats who have a far more diverse voter base than do Republicans.

Democrats can win as many legislative seats as possible and have a more divided caucus, or they can lose some of the more moderate members and have smaller majorities or no majority at all.

July 31, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 4 Comments

Houston Council Candidate Karen Derr Should Help Clean 1218 Shepherd Drive


Above you see the Karen Derr for Houston City Council sign located at 1218 Shepherd Drive in Houston.

Ms. Derr is running for Council At-Large position #1. As you can see on the sign, her campaign web home is KarenForCouncil.org.  

We’ll assume that Ms. Derr and the Derr campaign got permission from the property owner to attach that sign to that fence. I’m certain the campaign did not just come around and stick a sign up on vacant property.

( Please click here to see who else is making use of this fence.)

So even though–of course–the sign has been placed there legally, I do wonder why Ms. Derr or the Derr campaign does not report this property to the city for possible citation. This location is a public eyesore!

Though I do suppose reporting the property would be a knife-in-the-back of the property owner. Maybe the Derr campaign could pay back the  owner for his or her loyal support by offering to clean the area behind the fence.

Maybe Derr campaign volunteers could walk this stretch of Shepherd and make it nicer for all the people of Houston.  

For the moment however, what you see is the Derr for Council campaign as it is represented at 1218 Shepherd Drive.

July 30, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Texas Progressive Alliance Round-Up With Illustration Of Official State Of Texas Cooking Implement

Below is the weekly Texas Progressive Alliance round-up. The Texas Progressive Alliance is a confederation of the best political bloggers in Texas.

Above is an illustration of a Dutch oven. The Dutch oven is the official State Cooking Implement of the State of Texas.

Here is a list of Texas State symbols.

Here is the link to the Lone Star Dutch Oven Society.

The third paragraph in this Handbook of Texas Online article about Buffalo hunting mentions use of the Dutch oven by the hunters.  

Here is the link to the International Dutch Oven Society.

The round-up–

CouldBeTrue of SouthTexas Chisme is sick of cronies running our cities our state and our country!

WCNews at Eye On Williamson on more GOP shenanigans: Republicans, hypocrisy, the stimulus, and more Carter “nuttiness”.

Off the Kuff notes that as Texas’ unemployment rate continues to rise, we are now in the position of having to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government to fulfill our unemployment insurance obligations. Heckuva job, Governor Perry!

John Coby at Bay Area Houston has posted a A How to Guide for Illegal Immigrants to Vote in Texas Elections.

Xanthippas takes on more disability-as-diversity nonsense. Also, on a side note, his blog Three Wise Men‘s 5th anniversary is this Tuesday. We’ll be putting up a special post in commemoration.

The Texas Cloverleaflooks at how the NTTA will be raising rates because volume is down. So much for supply and demand theory.

This week, an old author returns to McBlogger with a true story about dogs. Completely unrelated to politics and nothing but funny. Continue reading

July 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment