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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

Josh Berthume's blog

Monday Roundup - TAKS, Dewhurst, and Iowa

The Association of Texas Professional Educators meets in Austin today for some lobbying action, which will include a review of teacher pay, cost of living increases for retired teachers, and discussion on the TAKS test. It is no secret that educators don't like the TAKS test, and one legislator or another saying that enemies of the TAKS test are enemies of accountability is an old saw that keeps getting older. Now that parents are also organizing against the test in increasing numbers, there might be some changes made.

Weekend Roundup - Committees

Committee assignments are out, and Jim Pitts is gone from Appropriations, as was predicted. KT has a copy of Pitts' letter over at BOR, in which he makes a lot of noise over how retaliatory Craddick was in his doling out of committee assignments, and especially in that Craddick didn't give him the assignments he wanted. I checked at a couple of other sites to see if this was one big hilarious joke, but it turns out Pitts actually wrote a letter in which he was disappointed in Craddick for not letting him stay on Appropriations.

Molly Ivins hospitalized

I just received this - Molly Ivins, every progressive's favorite syndicated columnist, has been hospitalized with complications from her ongoing battle with cancer. She may be able to go home Monday - AP has the whole story. She's an important part of our community, and all the best to her.

Friday Roundup - The Trouble with Committees

If you'll recall, we said several times around here that Craddick was going to have trouble ruling due to the hustle he had to run during his race. The first sign of those troubles is starting to appear, as covered by Burka, the Statesman blog, the Chron proper. There are too many people to punish and too many people who will become problems if they aren't rewarded for selling whatever they had to in order to help Craddick. The fact that assignments were postponed 'indefinitely' could amount to nothing, but who knows. It might be a while before committees come out, but it can't be too long.

Two kinds of laws

On the legislative front, there is sometimes a great disparity. On the one hand, State Senator Rodney Ellis filed a bill on Wednesday which would prevent state investments from buying into companies that do business with the Sudanese government. On the other, State Representative Charlie Howard authored legislation which would ban breasts and buttocks on billboards. Alliteration aside, this bears discussion.

Thursday Roundup - Rep. Juan Garcia on Who's Blue

This week's episode of Who's Blue? features State Representative Juan Garcia. Tell your friends and neighbors. Also, you may want to fill yourself in on what House Democrats did yesterday on health care, with Representative Garnet Coleman leading the charge. Republicans didn't really show up, but with an expanded and active Democratic minority, CHIP may be a central issue this session, whether the GOP wants it to be or not.

Is Hillary actually the frontrunner?

I have seen it again and again this week. "O, Hillary!" the press says. "Your legendary countenance has come! Your status as a million-pound gorilla is sure to ruin the formerly strong hearts of those that challenge you! And verily, you took all the money out of New York! And lo, the Washington Post says you are totally already winning and will be the Democratic nominee any day now." The national poll conducted by the Post and ABC News has Hillary ahead of everyone else at 41%. However, at this stage in the game, national polls barely do anything than register name ID. The only polls that matter right now are the polls from the first primary states, and in those states, the race is much, much closer.

Wednesday Roundup - After the Big Night

Paging through the usual chunk of news stories and blogs this morning, I came across an entry on The Huffington Post by David Rees, creator of the brilliant Get Your War On, which was once solely on the Internet and now runs in Rolling Stone. He referred to the State of the Union as Congress' "Night To Remember," as if it were the yearly prom. He's funny, and his post includes mention of a tactical plan in which Condoleezza Rice and Dennis Kucinich team up to personally arrest terrorists.

Tuesday Roundup

While many have been advocating as of late for the public financing of elections or a total overhaul of McCain - Feingold, Senator Clinton took a step that may have wrecked the proverbial joint: she became the first candidate since public financing for Presidential campaigns was offered to turn down matching funds for both the primary and general elections. Bush and Kerry had both chosen to not take public money for the primaries in 2004, and of course Bush had no reason to; both, however, took it during the general. By opting out of the program for both the primary and the general, Senator Clinton is essentially signaling to everyone that she feels as if she can raise more money in total than the additional matching $125 million or so the program would provide. Which she can, and will.

A Different Approach to Accountability

I saw this first in the Washington Post, and then over at Daily Kos - labor, trial lawyers, and progressive activists are launching a PAC and a lobbying firm aimed at making sure Democratic elected officials - in this case, in Congress - vote in a manner which matches the political makeup of their districts. If Democratic Congressmen do not vote their constituencies, They Work For Us and Working For Us PAC pledges to find primary opponents for them. There's one main difference separating this organization from the plans to do the same against Texas state reps - They Work For Us says they will not target Democrats with conservative districts.

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