Texas Liberal

All People Matter

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

Shelia Jackson Lee Gets It Right—Carry The Constitution With You At All Times

Above is Houston-area Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

Rep. Jackson Lee is known for her knack for finding the camera.

Rep. Jackson Lee also has a consistently liberal voting record that serves her district and all people of Texas well.

The picture shows Rep. Jackson Lee at the Muslim-bashing House hearings held earlier this month by Republican Rep. Peter King. She is holding a copy of our United States Constitution.

Mr. King represents folks on Long Island. He chairs the so-called Homeland Security committee of the House. Mr. King held these hearings to “investigate” Muslim involvement in domestic terror.

Mr. King discussed no other group in these hearings. Just Muslims.

Are Muslims the only folks capable  of engaging in terrorist acts?

No.

Rep. King should know this because he was long an active supporter of the violence-loving Irish Republican Army.

In strong contrast to Rep. King’s un-American singling out of one group of citizens, was Ms. Jackson Lee ‘s bringing the United States Constitution to the proceedings.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I advocate bringing a copy of the Constitution with you everywhere you go.

You never know when you have to argue for an expansive interpretation of the Constitution that allows for a wide range of government actions on behalf of the public.

Our government of the people has the right to act as a counterweight to the influence of big money, and other powerful but narrow influences.

Our government of the people has the obligation to expand the rights of citizens to meet the needs of the times.

The strongest arguments for this wide view of opportunity are the promises of freedom written into our founding documents.

Ms. Jackson Lee brought her Constitution to this shameful hearing and spoke of freedom for all.

At least that is what I imagine she was saying. I had the sound off on the television for most of her remarks.

I think I was reading a book at the time. I can’t stand all that talk in these hearings.

We’ve let the political right claim ownership of the flag, and the Boston Tea Party, and the Constitution.

The freedom of all people is a progressive cause.

Put a flag sticker on your car with your liberal/progressive bumper sticker. Invoke the founding fathers to support your views. Read up on American history and tell people the facts when they get it wrong.

As they work day- and-night to screw-up the future, don’t let conservatives also mangle our past.

March 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yet Another Sports Stadium In Houston—Thank You Taxpayers

Great news!—Houston is getting yet another stadium.

In case you did not feel that facilities built over the last decade for the baseball Astros, football Texans, and basketball Rockets were enough, now we will have a new stadium for the soccer Dynamo.

The pictures at the top and bottom of this post come from the Facebook page of Houston City Councilmember Stephen Costello.

In the center of the photo above is Mayor Annise Parker. She is wearing orange. Three people to the left is Houston U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee.

I’m not certain who the other folks are. I suppose I could study the picture and maybe guess. But the bottom line is that they are the interchangeable municipal luminaries who back big-ticket projects in Houston year-after-year while rarely–if ever– mentioning that we have a 60% child poverty rate in Houston.

(Above–Some things never change. Painting is “Thumbs Down.” It is an 1872 work of Jean-Leon Gerome.)

The Dynamo stadium uses less public money than have the recent sports complexes in Houston. Though the city paid $15.5 million to buy the land where the stadium will be located, and the Dynamo will get sales tax “rebates” amounting to $3 million over the next 30 years. The City of Houston and Harris County have also committed $10 million each in taxpayer dollars towards the facility.

Taxpayer funds will be used even as we plead poor on services for the poor, education, honoring pension commitments, and keeping up our roads.

Claims of the economic benefits of stadiums are greatly exaggerated.

The sign below says “This your stadium.”

Sure.

February 14, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

KIng Street Patriots, Tea Party & Republicans Have High Regard For Dead Black People

The so-called King Street Patriots, a local Tea Party cell in Houston, care a lot about black people when they are dead. It is just the living ones that they don’t worry so much about.

The King Street Patriots are taking part in an effort to clean the Olivewood Cemetery in Houston. It’s a campaign stunt by the Republican running against Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee in the 18th Congressional district of Texas.

Olivewood is a historic black cemetery in Ms. Jackson Lee’s district. Above is a picture of Olivewood that I took a few days ago.

At the same time they are tending with such respect for the dead, the King Street Patriots and the Republicans want to repeal Health Care Reform.

Here are some of the things that HCR accomplishes—

Insurers Will No Longer Be Able To:

  • Deny coverage to kids with pre-existing conditions. Health plans cannot limit or deny benefits or deny coverage for a child younger than age 19 simply because the child has a pre-existing condition like asthma.
  • Put lifetime limits on benefits. Health plans can no longer put a lifetime dollar limit on the benefits of people with costly conditions like cancer
  • Cancel your policy without proving fraud. Health plans can’t retroactively cancel insurance coverage – often at the time you need it most – solely because you or your employer made an honest mistake on your insurance application.
  • Deny claims without a chance for appeal. In new health plans, you now have the right to demand that your health plan reconsider a decision to deny payment for a test or treatment. That also includes an external appeal to an independent reviewer.

Consumers in New Health Plans Will Be Able to:

  • Receive cost-free preventive services. New health plans must give you access to recommended preventive services such as screenings, vaccinations and counseling without any out-of-pocket costs to you.
  • Keep young adults on a parent’s plan until age 26. If your health plan covers children, you can now most likely add or keep your children on your health insurance policy until they turn 26 years old if they don’t have coverage on the job.
  • Choose a primary care doctor, ob/gyn and pediatrician. New health plans must let you choose the primary care doctor or pediatrician you want from your health plan’s provider network and let you see an OB-GYN doctor without needing a referral from another doctor.
  • Use the nearest emergency room without penalty. New health plans can’t require you to get prior approval before seeking emergency room services from a provider or hospital outside your plan’s network – and they can’t require higher copayments or co-insurance for out-of-network emergency room services.

These are the facts. This is what the Tea Party/Republican Party opposes. And as the plan rolls out, millions will do not now have access to coverage will get access to coverage.

In 2007, 19.5% of black Americans had no health insurance. This was in comparison to 10.4% without insurance for whites. And these numbers were from before the recession.

Republicans had years to do something about the problem of access to health insurance in our nation. They did nothing.

Here is a story about average Americans who are now so much better off because they can get care.

The King Street Patriots, the Tea Party movement, and the Republican Party  have such regard for dead people, that they want to make sure we have as many dead people as possible from the lack of health insurance.

Yet you can bet your last dollar that just like with Social Security, these people will take the benefits of Health Care Reform when it serves their personal needs.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Is Jarvis Johnson For Real As He Discusses Poverty In Race Against Sheila Jackson Lee?

Houston City Councilmember Jarvis Johnson sent out the numbers you see below about the 18th Congressional District of  Texas. Mr. Johnson is running in a Democratic primary in this district to unseat incumbent Sheila Jackson Lee.

(Above–The 18th was once represented by Barbara Jordan.)

(Here is a profile of this race from the Houston Chronicle.)

From Mr. Johnson about the 18th

151,855 (23%) residents are in poverty,

66,238 (35.4%) children are in poverty

25% of women are in poverty

28 % of African Americans are in poverty

25% of Latinos are in poverty.

From the 2006-2008 American Community Survey Census

67% are high school graduates or higher compared to the 85% national average.

17% have a Bachelor’s degree or better compared to the 27% national average.

50% of housing units are owner occupied compared to the 67% national average.

50% of housing units are renter occupied compared to the 33% national average.

$37,133 is the median household income compared to the $52,175 national average.

Here is a map of the 18th District.

Okay– I’m glad Mr. Johnson is discussing poverty. Poverty is an issue that should have mattered in the race for Mayor of Houston last year. Houston is full of poverty and misery.

The question is—What is Mr. Johnson going to do about any of this?

Here is something of an issues platform on Mr. Johnson’s campaign web home. I think it has a measure of substance.

However, nowhere on Mr. Johnson’s web home can you find a detailed explanation of what he would propose to help fight poverty in the 18th district.

I think many people are tired of Congresswoman Jackson Lee’s endless publicity seeking and are open to change.

Earning the trust of voters is difficult when minority voters and urban Democrats of all kinds vote for Democrats year-after-year and our cities only seem to get worse.

Imagine if state legislators and Congressional representatives in electorally safe urban districts devoted some of their campaign war chests to voter registration? Imagine if they began to really speak the truth about the problems facing the poor and the problems facing urban America?

Here’s an article recently published in New Scientist magazine about the impact of stress, poverty, and crime on breast cancer rates of women in American urban neighborhoods.

From the article—

“But according to a novel collaboration between sociologists and biologists, the strain of living in some of the toughest neighbourhoods in the US may cause biological changes that lead directly to earlier deaths. Results from the collaboration indicate that social isolation and a fear of crime cause an overload of stress hormones that can change cell biology, sending tumours into overdrive. “We’re showing that your social environment can affect your health directly,” says Suzanne Conzen of the University of Chicago. “It goes into gene expression. That concept is really new.”

Science is finding new ways to report a story that anyone could guess—Poverty kills.

Republicans seem lost to any measure of decency on this issue. What is so frustrating is the silence of so many Democrats on the question.

I’m going to listen to what Mr. Johnson says on these issues of poverty as the campaign moves on to the March 2nd primary Election Day.

Hopefully he is for real.

Despite many disappointments with politicians,  I like to “Keep Hope Alive” as Jesse Jackson often urged folks to do.

(This is the Texas Liberal “*Texas Primary Post of the Day.* Posts do not appear each day.)

January 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Shelia Jackson Lee Not At Funeral Of Deli Meat King Oscar Meyer

Wienermobile

Packaged lunch meat king Oscar Meyer has died at the age of 95.

Above you see a picture of Mr. Meyer’s funeral.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked the Wienermobile be retired and that the Oscar Mayer company consider a line of vegetarian products.  

(The name of the company is Oscar Mayer. Meyer is the correct spelling for the man who is a subject of this post.)

Here is the web home of PETA.   Please click here to see what the folks at PETA think of the McDonald’s Happy Meal.

Mr. Meyer’s death was noted at Meat International.com. It is also the 30th anniversary of Certified Angus Beef.

As far as I know, Houston Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee was not at the service for Mr. Meyer.

Congresswoman Jackson Lee has established a reputation for attending funerals and for speaking at these funerals.   

Ms. Jackson Lee spoke at the memorial service for Michael Jackson. Below you see a picture of her at the service.

photo

July 10, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

What Does Congressman Gene Green Need With All That PAC Money?

What exactly does Houston-area Congressman Gene Green (above), a Democrat, need with$842,656 in PAC money? This is the amount of PAC money Congressman Green raised in 2007-08.  This PAC money was 78% of all the money Mr. Green raised in this election cycle. Overall, Mr. Green was fifth in the entire U.S. House  in 2008 for money given by PACS as a percentage of all campaign funds raised.   

Mr. Green serves the 29th U.S. House District of Texas. The district includes, among other places, much of the Houston Ship Channel and other parts of Houston, portions of Pasadena, Baytown and Humble, as a well as South Houston and Jacinto City. Here is a profile of the district from Mr. Green’s office. 

These PAC statistics are from a recent USA Today story. 

Two Texas Republicans, Joe Barton and Kevin Brady were the PAC champions. Mr. Barton, of Ennis, got 88% of his money from PACS while Mr. Brady, of The Woodlands, came in next at 86%.  Overall PACS spent $416 million on federal elections in 2008.

You can click here and get a picture of where the money Mr. Green raised in 2008 came from. Below is a list of various industry groups that donated to Mr. Green for the most recent election. 

Health Professionals $168,396
Oil & Gas $84,500
Lawyers/Law Firms $77,472
Electric Utilities $57,949
Industrial Unions $52,750
Building Trade Unions $52,000
Chemical & Related Manufacturing $50,538
Transportation Unions $40,500
TV/Movies/Music $40,500
Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $34,600
Automotive $19,000
Beer, Wine & Liquor $17,500
Lobbyists $17,250
Telephone Utilities $17,000
Sea Transport $16,500
Misc Energy $15,000
Public Sector Unions $15,000
Telecom Services & Equipment $14,000
Misc Unions $13,500
Retail Sales $13,000

Just what does Rep. Green need with all this money from all these groups? His 2008 Republican opponent raised just over $14,000. Mr. Green has won reelection with almost 75% of the vote in the last two elections. In 2004 he won with 94%.

Maybe what Mr. Green wishes to do is scare off any potential Hispanic primary challenger in a district that is two-thirds Hispanic. Now I know it would be shocking if Mr. Green was taking advantage of money from the alcohol industry and the pharmaceutical industry to scare off potential Hispanic opposition in a two-thirds Hispanic district, but these things do happen.

(Local gasbag Marc Campos has been trying to stir-up a primary fight   for Congresswoman Shelia Jackson Lee. That’s his right and I don’t care one way or another, but if his goal is to increase Hispanic representation in the Houston-area, a subject he often discusses with varying degrees of bluster, the 29th might seem his better chance. C’mon Marc– Find a candidate for this one! )  

Mr. Green has, according to the 2008 Almanac of American Politics, voted  for a bill to roll back subsidies for the oil industry. It’s not that Mr. Green is at the total beck-and-call of the groups that give him money. It’s rarely that simple with these guys. (At least in any way you can pin down.)  Though I wager campaign contributions may well gain access to speak to Mr. Green and senior members of his staff.

Here is some information on Mr. Green’s voting record.

The issue is that Mr. Green uses his incumbency to scare off challengers and that he is such a willing participant  in a system that, while legal, is rotten. This should not be the program. It would be of value for a primary opponent of any ethnicity to take on Mr. Green in 2010 and to bring these issues to greater public attention.

March 3, 2009 Posted by | Houston, Politics, Texas | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments