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October 24th, 2003:

Unintelligently Designed Policy

The title to this post is cribbed from Angry Bear, who reminds me that the forces of darkness are gathering again in Texas for the annual vote on textbook purchases. From Bob Park’s What’s New newsletter.


The Texas Board of Education has scheduled the science textbook vote for November 6. The books they approve will be used by Texas students for several years and will influence the choice in many other states. The Discovery Institute, based in Washington state, pushes I.D., and seeks to dilute arguments for evolution. C.A. Quarles, the Chair of the Texas Section of APS, is gathering signatures on a letter to the Texas Board of Education. For info Texas scientists and teachers should e-mail [email protected].

As in many states, the state Board of Education here was hijacked by the religious right some years ago, and this is the fruit that their efforts have borne. This is an issue that never goes away, and since Texas is the 900 pound gorilla of textbook purchases, what happens here will affect you next.

Reponse from Diana Davila Martinez

As I mentioned earlier, I got a call from Diana Davila Martinez after I’d published an email from Diane Mosier of the Greater Heights Democratic Club. Ms. Davila Martinez objected to some of the things that had been said about her, and I promised her an opportunity to respond. Here’s the email she sent me, so you can judge for yourself.

Let me start by saying that we are excited about the widespread support we are receiving in this effort. In addition to the Houston Chronicle endorsement I am proud to have received yesterday, I have been endorsed by Houston Voters Against Flooding, Council Members Gordan Quan and Carroll Robinson, State Representative Harold Dutton, Former District H City Council Member Felix Fraga, Latina PAC, HCC Trustees Bruce Austin and Herlinda Garcia, Baptist Ministers Association of Houston and Vicinity, Houston Black American Democrats and Harris County Democratic Party Secretary Francisco Sanchez.

While I understand politics well, I like most voters detest backroom politics and strong armed maneuvers by political bosses. I am very disappointed that several organizations, including HGLPC and Harris County Democrats, totally denied me, the only candidate with a solid voting record of support for their issues, the opportunity to even screen before them.

I am a Democrat, one that not only espouses the principles of the party, but has as a State Representative for three terms fought hard to implement them in
public policy. I have been a strong voice on redistricting, affirmative action, labor issues, education, women’s rights, and civil rights. And contrary to some of the misinformation that is being circulated or insinuated about me, I am not supporting any Republican candidates and I have not received any money from Mr. Perry.

As a candidate, being afforded a fair opportunity to present my qualifications and what I hope to accomplish through this office is all I can ask of voters. I grew up in District H and I’m rearing my boys in District H. District H will be well served with my academic training and legislative experience. I intend to be a strong independent voice on Council who can effectively represent the residents of District H.

So there you have it. It’s a difficult choice in District H, but at least it’s a choice between good candidates rather than lesser evils. I expect that either Davila Martinez or Adrian Garcia will wind up in a runoff with Hector Longoria, and when that happens I will support whoever that person is.

Friday dog blogging

Let Calpundit have his cats. For those of us right-thinking people who prefer dogs, here’s a great article in the Times about how to tell where someone lives in the City by what kind of dog they own. Be sure to look at the slide show – in the second picture, the one that features the jumping fox terrier named Bosco, the dog next to Bosco looks an awful lot like Harry, enough so that I’m starting to wonder just what he was up to while we were in Paris.

Speaking of Paris, it’s another city that’s full of dogs, and unlike most places in the States, they’re allowed to go pretty much anywhere their owners want to take them. We saw them in the lobby of our hotel, in the Galeries Lafayette department store, and in various restaurants. One side effect of taking your dog everywhere is that it gets to be very socialized, and thus more comfortable in crowded, noisy situations. Only once in the entire week do I recall hearing a dog bark. Keep that in mind the next time you’re swearing about a yapping dog in a backyard somewhere.

Falwell on Boykin and Clinton

Mark Evanier catches Jerry Falwell saying something really dumb on Crossfire.

BEGALA: General Boykin said — and I’m quoting him here about our president — “Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him.” He’s right about that. “Why is he there? And I tell you this morning, he’s in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this.” Now, in case General Boykin is watching, and for our folks at home, let me show a couple of images here. First, this is God. God is depicted, actually, by Michelangelo in his masterpiece in ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. On the right side of your screen is William Rehnquist. He’s the chief justice of the Supreme Court. He’s the one who put George Bush in the White House, isn’t he, Reverend Falwell? Not God.

FALWELL: Well, if — if you don’t take the Bible seriously, what you and Hussein just said would be true. But the vast majority of believers worldwide, Christian, followers of Christ, believe that God rules in the affairs of men. And history would support that.

BEGALA: So God put President Clinton in office?

FALWELL: You worked for a long time for Bill Clinton. You worked for a long time for Bill Clinton.

BEGALA: So God put him there?

FALWELL: I think that we needed Bill Clinton, because we turned our backs on the lord and we needed a bad president to get our attention again to pray for a good president. That’s what I believe.

You know, if one looks at it that way, that is a pretty good reason for believing that God put Bush in the White House. Falwell was just wrong about which President God installed as a means to get our attention. Makes as much sense as anything else does.

Full transcript here. It should be noted that there was laughter after Falwell’s last line, so perhaps it was all intended and interpreted as a joke, I don’t know. Doesn’t change what I said, though.

That’s not the point

Ezra attempts to answer a question that President Bush recently posed:

Who can possibly think that the world would be better off with Saddam Hussein still in power?

The problem here is that this is the wrong question to be asked. It’s a meaningless question meant to distract us from looking at the implications of how we went about removing Saddam from power and what it has cost us in money, lives, missed opportunities, and international reputation.

Who can possibly think that I would be better off not buying and eating food? No one, of course. But if you were to learn that my entire food budget was spent on Cheetos and vodka, would you think that this was a good use of my resources? What if you found out that I was spending so much on food that I could no longer pay for my mortgage? That doesn’t sound very smart, either.

Let’s play what-if for a second. Suppose we could turn back the clock to before Bush’s speech in fron of the UN, before we really started to beat the drums about Iraq. Suppose at that time we made a deal that Saddam would immediately step down from power and disappear from the earth as his army was disbanded, and in return we’d withdraw $150 billion from our Treasury and burn it. In other words, we’d achieve the end of deposing Saddam, which as time goes on seems to be the only justification for this adventure, and all it would cost us is the money we wound up spending anyway. No soliders or Iraqi citizens killed, “Old Europe” is still our buddy, and the fate of Iraq is left up to the Iraqis themselves. Is this preferable to what actually happened?

If so, then we can begin to discuss the real questions, such as “Did we do the right thing in deposing Saddam the way we did? Was the cost of our actions – in blood, in money, in everything – worth the results that we gained? Were there other goals in our war against terrorism that we should have focused on first before we dealt with Saddam?” Those are questions that don’t have answers anywhere near as easy as the one our President would like to ask. But if Don Rumsfeld can ask some tough questions about whether or not we’ve been doing the right things, then so can the rest of us.

Slacktivist takes on “Left Behind”

Allow me, somewhat belatedly, to add my voice to those (such as Patrick) who have cited and praised Slacktivist‘s ongoing series of posts about the “Left Behind” books (start here and look for posts whose titles begin with “L.B.”) As others have noted, Slacktivist is himself a devout Christian who brings a deep understanding of the Bible and theology to this discussion. He’s only up to page 15 of the first book (this could turn out to be the longest book review ever) and there’s a ton of material for him, which he handles with wit and aplomb. Check it out.