Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Don't Let Las Brisas Poison Our Waterways

With its unacceptable air permit in limbo, Las Brisas now needs to be fought on another front - its also unacceptable waste water permit.  Please submit your concerns to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and ask for a public meeting on the permit in Corpus Christi (this is the first step in protesting a permit).

You can submit your comments at :

You will need to type in the permit number when you get there:  WQ0004911000.

Don't delay, Mamas!

Texas Primaries Election Day!!!!

If you haven't voted yet, please do so today!  Democracy does not work without you!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Trying To Get My Supermom Back On

It's been a month now that I've been a bit under the weather due to a bleeding incident that left me very anemic.  I've been taking lots of iron and am much better, but I have needed more rest than my lifestyle is really planned around me getting.  To stay in shape for work, I've been resting a lot of the rest of the time and things have sort of fallen apart around here.  The house has been a mess, the animals have been a mess, the nutritional value of the meals getting eaten around here have been a mess...you get the picture.  It kind of ticks me off that even the things that I usually do not actually do myself do not get done if I am not paying much attention...but, oh, well.  

I am trying to pull things together now - giving the girls their orders sobre household chores, dealing with the animals and the garden, getting things done with the Girl Scout troops and making plans for the Lone Star Baby's upcoming birthday party (first slumber party!), being a decent citizen, exercising a little, yada, yada....I don't think my family can manage for me to do much more resting, the way things are going.

Junior Woman

Friday was the Lone Star Girl's last day of 10th grade.  She did very well in school - all A's for her final averages, and lots of swimming on the swim team and some beautiful artwork in her sculpture class.  She is President of the Art Club, Historian of the National Spanish Honor Society, Event Coordinator for Invisible Children and Marketer for the Gay-Straight Alliance Club.  She also remains very involved in Girl Scouts, helping with the Brownie Troop, planning her Gold Award Project and helping plan Council events.  She represented our Girl Scout Council at the National Conference in November and will represent us at the Girl Scouts' World Forum this July.  And -  she still likes to spend time with her family.  I'm a lucky mama.  We're very proud of our Junior Woman.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

More Bad News For Beach Access

On May 21st, the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled against the Texas Open Beaches Act in the case of a Galveston woman whose house became beach after Hurricane Rita.  As I understand it, this was not even a residence, but property acquired by property rights activists for the sole purpose of trying the law.

I am all for protecting private homes and am not a fan of eminent domain in almost any case, but beach access is a different matter.  The Texas Constitution includes public beaches as a right that Texas citizens are meant to have forever.  That means that property owners should know what they are getting into and not buy close to the vegetation or dune line if they are not willing to take the risk.

Recent court decisions mean that all someone who wants their own private beach has to do is buy close to the line and wait for a storm.  With that sort of thing going on, it will not take many years or many storms before all of our beaches are closed to public access.

This is wrong.  I hope these rulings can be overturned.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

No SNAP: Farm Bill would Cut $33 Billion From Food Stamp Programs

The budget approved by the House requires $33 billion in cuts from federal agricultural spending in the next ten years (to start with) and the House Agriculture Committee has approved a proposal to take it all out of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP - formerly food stamps).

This move would result in 2 million Americans losing SNAP benefits entirely, while another 44 million Americans would experience cuts to their benefits.  Everyone who receives SNAP benefits would be affected and 280,000 American children would also lose free school meals that they qualify for on the basis of qualifying for SNAP benefits.

Guess who still gets money?  Rich corporate farms.

Almost 4 million Texans receive SNAP benefits.  More than half of these Texans are children.

Call your Congressional Representatives, Mamas!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Citgo's $1.5 Million For Hillcrest

This makes me mad: fighting-to-control-myself-and-not-do-something-crazy mad.  

So ...

 Citgo wants to be all-nice-community-loving and come in and give all this money to create lovely programs to help the people of Hillcrest, their fence line community, do they? 

But they don't want to buy out Hillcrest so the residents can move someplace safe and there can be a buffer zone around the refineries, do they?

They don't want to clean the poison with which they have sickened and damaged so many children, do they?

Oh, no.  Money for neighborhood programs will make it all better.

Pardon my sarcasm.  It beats the alternative.

Texas Windstorm Rate Hike

I think it is so unfair that coastal property owners (this does not just mean people with fancy beachfront property but anyone living in a coastal town) are getting a 5% rate hike from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and may see even more hikes very soon.  It is completely untrue that we are more of a risk - tornadoes causing massive damage and massive windstorm claims happen all over the state - much more often than hurricanes do.  Those legislators in tornado alley are piling their costs on us.  The whole state should pay in equally because windstorm damage happens in the whole state.

Mammon, Part One

I often despair of the value system of our culture.  I try to fight it in the way I live and the way I raise my children, but I am by no means immune to it, just the same.  I feel my own sins of excess so acutely, and walk around everyday with so much guilt,  that I am often amazed by the sorts of things with which others seem perfectly comfortable.

Recently, my husband's aunt spent a few days with us.  She is a traveling minister of sorts and certainly does not live with any sort of material excess at all.  I think just about everything she owns fits in her car, and the car was a gift to her.  She lives entirely on the good will of those she feels called to minister to and I know no one else who lives as simply.  

Do you feel a "but" coming on here?  

I have not been feeling very well lately so I spent most of her visit resting but she was here on Mothers' Day and was very politely inquiring about our plans as she wanted to go to church.  Our own Quaker Meeting is so small that it only meets two Sundays each month and this was not one of them.  I know of several local churches that would be to our aunt's taste and suggested them to her.  I was not, however, willing to let her take the Lone Star Baby, who adores her, along.  Aside from having our own Mothers' Day traditions planned, I would not have the Lone Star Baby in a fundamentalist church as she is too young to be able to easily deal with spiritual teachings so different from what I am teaching her - a problem we have every time this aunt comes to visit (don't get me started about what she told the LSB about Haiti).  

I wanted to be gentle and kind about not sending the Lone Star Baby, but our aunt wanted to know why, so I had to tell her that it was because I did not want her to be taught was was taught at those churches...the ones our aunt would like....ouch.  I hate having to say things like that.  Our aunt dropped it, though.  I really wanted her to get to go to her own kind of church, even if I wanted it to be without us,  but she then started to talked about televised services maybe being best.  I felt bad about that, but knew she would stick with it as she had before.  We tried to find some listings for televised services and I kept flinching as she suggested people like Joel Osteen, who I personally would consider a minion of Satan if anyone was.  

It is hard for me to understand how someone as spiritual as this woman, who has devoted her life to her vision of God, could be taken in by people who truly only worship money and want others to worship it, too, even though she certainly does not worship money herself.  Jesus' standard was pretty clear:  if you have two coats, give one to someone who has none.  Do I meet that standard?  Never.  I am selfish and horrible and sinful, even at my best.   Do I, however, claim that my sinfulness is God's work for abundance in my life?  No.  I am not that delusional.  My sin is my own.  Jesus told us to love our neighbors and to care for the poor, over and over and over again - more than He told us anything else - when I fail to do so, it does not come from Him.  People like Joel Osteen still manage somehow to be respected by non-materialistic people like my aunt just because they are famous for being evangelists even when what they really evangelize for is greed. 

Later on in our visit, our aunt told us a story about how J.C. Penney had been faithful in tithing his ten percent and that God had blessed him so much for doing so that he ended up wealthy enough to tithe 90% and live well on only ten.  I felt so sick.  After disappointing her about church, I was not going to say anything, but I am horrified by the very idea that someone could believe that God gives Testimonies by making people rich.  Also, J.C. Penney makes his money abusing little girls in Third World sweat shops.  I am pretty sure that God wants no percentage of that.

I am so tired of the world of mega-churches that try to get people to come to Christmas services by giving away cars.  I am tired of wanna-be mega-churches that have helicopter candy drops on Easter. 

No one can live the way these televangelists/church-media-empire-types live except by exploiting and hurting others of God's children.  It is honestly hard, even when living modestly and trying not to, not to do an awful lot of that exploiting, the way U.S. businesses function.  What kind of example is that to us?  I wish I lived in a culture that encouraged me to do my best to follow Christ's teachings instead of one that so perverts them and makes it so hard for me to follow them.  I am weak and it is hard to swim against the cultural tide just every moment.  It is hard for my kids to be so surrounded by Mammon everywhere and grow to value simplicity and caring for the poor. 

Most of the time, no matter what I try to do, it looks like Mammon is winning in the United States.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Las Brisas Permit Sent Back - A Victory for Clean Air!

On Monday, a district judge sent the Las Brisas air permit - which the TCEQ had passed against the recommendations of two administrative law judges, their own Office of Public Interest and numerous medical societies and scientists - back to the TCEQ for further review.  The judge basically said that worse-case scenarios had not been properly modeled in regards to proper technology to handle the plant's fuel, air quality standards and storage and transportation of the petroleum coke.

As a mother, I certainly feel that my children are safer today!  It's like the best Mothers' Day present ever!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

New-ish Column at We the People News!

My new (actually, it is a reprint) column for Mother's Day is up here at We the People News!  Please read it!  Thoughts?

Happy Mothers' Day, Mamas!

Love to all the Mommies!!!!

Love especially to my wonderful mother who taught me responsibility and compassion, and who still teaches me those values, which have become the touchstones of my life.  

Everything that I am, Mama, I learned from you. I love you.

Mother's Day One: This Mother is Proud of Her Girl

On Saturday night, the Lone Star Girl attended a march-and-screening to raise awareness about the mission of the Invisible  Children.  She and her friend at school practically organized the march single-handedly, with the great support of their Spanish teacher and club sponsor. The Girl has been involved with Invisible Children since well before the KONY 2012 campaign and all of its hype. She has done a lot of research on the organization, waded through rumors and reports,  and is convinced, as am I after checking into it, that it is a responsible, transparent and well-intentioned organization. 

Personally, I still have some discomfort with the organization because I worry a lot about colonialism. I know, thanks to my daughter and her research, that the majority of Invisible Children's program planning and execution is done by Ugandans in Uganda.  I know that other much less scrutinized organizations, such as Lutheran Social Services, have been involved in much more colonialist, if also well-intentioned ways, such as bringing the "Lost Boys of Sudan" here to live. 

These are complicated issues, though, and we in the West have such a talent for ruining the lives of people in other countries - I still worry.  

My daughter also feels that colonialism is bad.  She understands my concern and point of view, but she has one, too - hers is that we are all citizens of the world and have a responsibility to help anyone whose human rights are being violated, no matter who we are or who they are. 

These are, once more, complicated issues.  I can't untangle my thoughts on them entirely and neither can she.  I doubt that anyone who truly cares really can at this point.

She is trying, though.  She is standing up for people where she can and always, always thinking and trying to help others.  

I am so proud of her.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Religion And Child Abuse Redux For Mothers' Day Weekend

Probably, I should not wade into this.

Certainly, it is not really my affair.  But...really, I think when there is a force in one's community that is hurting - even killing - children....well, really it is the business of us all.

I just have to speak up about the appeal of Hannah Overton's case.

I have never met Ms. Overton or her immediate family that I recall, but I have, in the course of raising my children, met a good number of people in her family, one of whom I am really very fond of although I am probably about to upset her deeply - and I know some people in her church.  I know that there is an unhealthy belief among many people in that church, including some in Ms. Overton's family, that corporal punishment is a necessary thing in raising a Godly child.  This is a trend spread by the likes of Michael Pearl, Gary Ezzo and L. Elizabeth Krueger - supposedly Christian parenting experts, but, in my opionion, people who are neither Christian nor experts.

And I think that very religious subculture is why Andrew Burd died.

I was not there and cannot say for sure, of course, but I saw the video of Ms. Overton being interviewed by the police and I, who have had to interview plenty of abusive parents in my career in social services, feel that I know a liar when I see one in that context.  I believe she lied - the tells were there.  When one places her lying eyes next to her children's testimony that the spice mixture she claimed to give Andrew to satiate his strange appetites was used on them as a punishment, and next to the testimony of the former foster mother who denied that Andrew even had Pica issues, what happened seems pretty clear:  a horrible clicking together of puzzle pieces made up of lies and corporal punishment.

I do not believe that Ms. Overton meant to kill or even harm Andrew.  I believe she loved him and, out of love, wanted him to grow up to be a Godly child.  

Maybe that means that her capital murder charge was wrong.  I'm not a lawyer and do not know what intentions equal what charge under the law.  

I do, however, believe that Ms. Overton employed a means of corporal punishment on Andrew that resulted in the unintended consequence of his death.  I also believe that if your method of discipline kills your child, you are culpable, even if you meant him no harm at all, and I believe she meant him no harm.

I think you should not lie about it later, if you claim to be a Christian.  You should take responsibility.

I think that your so-called Christian congregation, instead of rallying behind your innocence, should think of the way they work to raise their children to be Godly.  

If it is through the violence of corporal punishment, think of the way you risk them.  Think also of the kindness of Christ to little children and do not hurt them anymore.  You can raise them in God's love without hitting, without poisoning.  

I think the reason I feel driven to speak about this is both because of the harm being done to children and the way God's Name is being taken in vain - both trouble me deeply.

Please do not hurt children in God's Name.  Please do not hurt them at all.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Making History In Civil Rights

I know I am not the only person who will always remember that President Obama, in 2012, became the first sitting president to tell the world that he believed that gay Americans should not be denied the stability and sanctity of marriage.

Such an important message, and like so many other important messages about the world, it took the wisdom of little children to bring it about.  Thank you, Sasha and Malia, for showing your dad the way.

Statements from the bully pulpit do not equate with a sudden lack of bigotry in public policy, of course, but this was a step, I think, a huge step for civil rights.

May all of our families be allowed the blessings of marriage and full equality of rights under the law.

De-Lurking Contest Results

Congratulations to Andrea of Remains of The Day - the Lone Star Baby pulled Andrea's name from a hat this evening, making her the winner of our De-lurking Comment Contest.  She will receive a slightly used copy of Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros.  Please FB me your mailing information, Andrea!

There was actually only one other name in the hat from the whole week, though, folks.  I need more people to let me know they are in a Lone Star State of Mind, please.  Do comment.  Do.

The darling owner of the other name in the hat will also receive a Sandra Cisneros prize this time, but a different one - Woman Hollering Creek.  Please FB your Texas mailing info., Veloute.  

Thank you!!!

Friday, May 04, 2012

No Las Brisas

Our appeal of TCEQ's granting of the Las Brisas air permit goes to court Monday afternoon in Austin.  I really wanted to go and take the kids but am unable to travel at this time due to a health issue.  Anyone who can attend is encouraged to do so - formal attire and best court behavior, etc.  

Hopefully, this court will listen to the medical professionals and science and save us from the economic (bye-bye, tourism, hello non-attainment) and extreme health problems that would be caused if Las Brisas were to be built in our community and increase our industrial pollution by over 80%.  

I became involved in this issue because my daughter has asthma and her conservative, Republican doctor said that this would hurt her and so many of his other patients.  Industry advocates have tried to paint the issue as a bunch of crazy tree-huggers who don't care about the local economy being obstructionist, but nothing could be further from the truth.  Doctors and microbiologists have led the movement against this, the only petroleum-coke plant that has ever been permitted in a population center.

Please pray that the children of our community escape this harm.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

May Day

"Eight hours for work, 8 hours for rest, 8 hours for what you will."