Category Archives: Articles

A HISTORY LESSON FOR GOVERNOR PERRY’S BENEFIT

Governor Pick Perry doesn’t like the way higher education is funded. He wants to micromanage it.

He doesn’t care that higher education is poorly funded. (Texas ranks 50th in percentage of high school graduates, 27th in college graduates.) The issue is neither higher education nor funding, issues about which he knows little and cares less.

The issue is the power of the Governor vs. the power of Legislature. The Texas Constitution gives the Governor the power of line item veto. The Governor can veto certain “items of appropriation” without vetoing the whole appropriations act. The line-item veto is almost meaningless because the Legislature can package items to keep a Governor from micromanaging.

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HOW TOM DELAY GOT STUCK ON THE BALLOT

Poor Tom Delay! He can’t get off the ballot.

Poor Republicans! They can’t get him off the ballot!

Why?

Because in the early 1980s, both parties ignored their own voters in the primaries and replaced candidates whom the voters had nominated (“stalking horses”) with candidates more acceptable to the party leadership. Just as the Republican Party has unsuccessfully tried to do now by replacing Tom DeLay.

In other words, the Republicans are lying in a bed they helped to make. The result is likely to be that the only Republican seat to be lost as the result of DeLay’s shenanigans will be the one DeLay has resigned.

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THE PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC HIGHER EDUCATION

Public support for higher education is declining all over the country. In state after state support is going down. Tuition is going up.

In 2002, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University barely made the US News & World Report top fifty.

That’s right—the top FIFTY.

And that was three years ago in the good old days. Today, UT-Austin is 46th. A&M is 62nd.

Texas is spinning downward. We have already plunged past mediocrity in health care, poverty, and environment. Must we do so in education as well?

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PARDON ME!

President Clinton’s end-of-term pardons have come in for a lot of criticism. Executive clemency, as Presidential or Gubernatorial pardons are called, has played its part in Texas history, too.

Governor Sam Houston pardoned murderess Mary Monroe because the Texas Supreme Court opinion upholding her conviction had been written by Oran Roberts, then heading the convention that would lead Texas into secession.

“I’ll pardon her”, Houston said. “No citizen should be deprived of liberty by such a fellow.” The pardon itself simply reads “It being shown to me by petitions and facts presented that there is reason for the exercise of executive clemency….”. Seems reasonable to me.

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THE GREAT Y2K COMPROMISE

The nation is deadlocked politically.

The Presidential race is too close to call. The new Senate will be divided 50-50.

What’s needed is a compromise that lets the new President take office with broad support and provides the divided leadership the country wants.

Here it is:

Bush and Gore ask Congress not to count the tainted Florida electoral votes. There is no electoral majority. Congress elects the next President and Vice President.

The House of Representatives, voting by state, elects Bush President.

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THE 2000 ELECTION

The next President and Vice President of the United States have not yet been elected, nor will they be elected when the votes in Florida and Oregon have been counted, nor will they be elected when the electors meet in the state capitols December 18 and cast their votes. They will not be elected until a joint session of Congress canvasses the electoral votes next January 6.

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BILL HOBBY FOR PRESIDENT!

Yes, I have decided to run for President.

You may think it’s too late now that the primaries are nearly over. Not to worry. Certainly Governor George W. Bush will try to keep me off the ballot, but he’s not very good at that. And besides, I’m not nearly as crazy as Ross Perot and he was on the ballot in every state!

My platform has two parts.

First are the things I will NOT do.

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WHO COUNTS?: THE POLITICS OF CENSUS-TAKING IN CONTEMPORARY AMERICA – BY MARGO J. ANDERSON AND STEPHEN E. FIENBERG.

A census seems pretty simple. Just count the people. Then decide how many votes each state gets in Congress and for President. Then divvy up a few hundred million dollars and go on about your business.

But often in history, it seems to be more complicated than that. Jesus was born during a census in Bethlehem and crazy King Herod tried to murder all the boy babies born that day. President George Washington’s first veto (1790) was of a bill apportioning Congressional seats among the thirteen states.

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EDUCATION IN TEXAS

The Austin Independent School District has been rated “unacceptable” by the Texas Education Agency—too many dropouts and too many low-performing schools.

Among the state’s nine largest school districts, which educate 21 percent of its students, there were 42 low-performing schools. One hundred and six of the state’s 6,803 public schools were low-rated, 47 more than last year.

In other words, many children are not getting their tax-paying parents’ money’s worth. Texas’ greatest need now is better education. This was Texas’ greatest need 100 years ago, 50 years ago, and 10 years ago, and it will likely be the greatest need 10, 20, 100 years from now.

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TEXAS OFFICIALS: TEXAN OR REPUBLICAN? CENSUS PARANOIA

The State of Texas has lost about $1,000,000,000 of federal aid in the last decade because the Census Bureau failed to count 483,000 Texans in the 1990 census. That’s $200,000,000 a biennium—enough for a teacher pay raise or whatever is dearest to your heart among the services provided by state government. Hardly chump change.

The 1990 census undercounted about 8.4 million people. The 2000 census may undercount even more, and Texans may lose even more of their own money. And that’s the way Governor Bush and the two Texas Senators–Phil Gramm and Kay Bailey Hutchinson–want it.

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