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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

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.

Burka has several comments on the whole deal, and shares my sentiment that Pitts was being politically ignorant or willfully unreasonable in asking to retain or be given extremely important committee assignments, and he didn't just fall off the turnip truck, so he obviously asked for far more than he could ever hope to get in an effort to dispense some "Woe is me" sentiment. It is all a calculation. Pitts could never have honestly thought he'd get back on Appropriations, so don't be fooled.

The other assignments are not totally surprising. Democrats are still, in large part, locked out of committees with any real weight, although some of the Craddick D's received some compensatory slots, like Representative Patrick Rose's seat on Human Resources, which gives him some room to move on CHIP. Representative Dawnna Dukes will probably end up with a subcommittee on Appropriations and is now on Calendars.

All in all, the assignments are more or less what I expected, and Pitts' surprise is feigned. This process has provided a clear lesson in how politics works at the state level in Texas, and the fact that Craddick didn't shut everyone who opposed him out of everything important is the only thing that really surprised me.

In other news, there were some pretty big protests today at the National Mall and around the country against the Iraq War. It has been remarked around our office that President Bush just keeps doing things that people hate, without any seeming concerns for his party, his legacy. If I'm the holding forth on the subject, I throw in the additional "without any seeming concern for our country," but I am known to be occasionally melodramatic. At any rate, no one really likes his foreign policy much anymore and I'm wondering what sort of fight this is going to turn into on the Hill.

Here's a couple of stories about public education that I thought were of interest. First off, Texas schools are apparently doing a thing or two to get around the no-pass-no-play rule that requires passing grades in all courses for student participation in extracurricular activities. The trick some districts use allows them to designate a class as exempt from the no-pass-no-play rule if it is honors or advanced. The Dallas Morning News article on the subject gives some of Austin ISD's exemptions as an example, which makes me wonder if they list these as "Advanced Hospitality" or "Honors Auto Repair" in the schedule of classes.

The other one is about how Lt. Governor Dewhurst is looking into requiring steroid testing for student high school athletes. He says it will save lives, although I'm sure an argument from his party will no doubt include the whole managed-society, get-government-off-our-backs diatribe. School districts have also railed against the idea in the past, citing costs as the main concern, which is a reasonable argument. I guess if Dewhurst can cook up a way to pay for it, the program might have a shot. I guess an investigation into the root causes of why steroid use occurs in the first place would be too much to ask.

And finally, in case you thought he was gone for good, Jeb Bush rallied the troops at the Conservative Summit this weekend. He engaged in some broad proclamations about how the party had abandoned its roots and needed to return to fiscal responsibility and small government. If you think he's not running for something, you're probably wrong.

We'll see you Monday - this upcoming week will feature an interview with, as well as an article by, Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a look at the possibility of casinos in Texas by staff writer Josh Davis, and some other assorted surprises. Stay tuned.

The President's Foreign Policy

I hope even the most ardent protester understands that a complete withdraw from Iraq would not bring an end to the war. We simply cannot ignore the inevitable onslaught of Civil War that would erupt if our forces were to leave. Nor should we forget that certain foreign elements are perched like vultures, waiting for their chance to devour what's left of the nation.

I try to think in terms of history, not politics, when I consider this war. I try to imagine what the people of Iraq would write in their History books, god-willing, twenty years from now. What would it say about the American invasion, destruction, and eventual withdraw that led to some of the worst chaos Babylon has ever known? I imagine a comparison of the dreadful Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, or parallels drawn with our failed invasion of Vietnam.

I imagine a story about a Country called America, whose great riches and international success were all borne out of a 13 year revolution that ultimately depended on the foreign aide of the French. This Country grew strong and bold, and eventually invaded Iraq promising a better life and government. After a few years, however, the American public grew restless and withdrew its forces, and the Iraqi nation was crippled. Nearly all remnants of infrastructure; government, energy, water, social life, were destroyed.

America had started a war based on bad intelligence, created an atmosphere of chaos, enraged international powers, and spent trillions on a war without ever forming a long-term plan. But their biggest crime was leaving behind the devastation and death it had created without a forethought of the future generations of Iraqis.

I will admit that I formerly considered myself a Republican solely because I was fooled into believing the President truly cared about establishing peace and Democracy in a place where violence has reigned for over a century. I was fooled into thinking we would have international support, or that this war would be a fairly simple one. For some crazy reason, I believed the President would have a real plan for such an endeavor.

But as we have painfully learned, all of this was false. Now we are left with the burden of carrying out this seemingly impossible war. I cannot help but feel that if we fail the Iraqi's, we are failing ourselves and our very ideals of liberty. Perhaps it is one of my greatest weaknesses, but I am one of the liberals who firmly believes in the power of Democracy to reach beyond all physical, religious, or political boundaries.

Thus we are left in this quagmire. We cannot fool ourselves into thinking that a withdraw would end the violence, nor can we pretend that Iraq would be better off at this juncture without US forces present. At the same time, however, we understand that our presence continues to invite violence from competing anti-American forces. So while major critics of the war seem to have their solution all mapped out; many of us are left wondering how in the world we can salvage the situation in Iraq without forsaking our cherished values of liberty, equality, and justice.

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