Sunday Reading

The news today is focused on Libya and the fact that the United States is now engaged in a third war when our military is already over-extended because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  It’s a big shift from the 24/7 coverage of Japan we’ve seen lately.

The war in Libya is yet another example of President Obama’s desire to make everyone happy despite his inability to do so.

His liberal base can’t believe he hasn’t somehow magically extricated the U.S. from the conflicts started under President Bush.  Conservatives, meantime, say Mr. Obama dithered too long while the Libyan rebels were being slaughtered by Col. Gaddafi.  Both sides have legitimate reservations about the President’s strategy, or lack thereof.  That’s why Obama needs to be steadfast in his resolve.  This is the kind of situation where President Bush would get it right politically.  He’d act as if he didn’t care what anyone thought, but the truth is he cared deeply and by acting that way he at least pleased a core group of supporters.

Closer to home, I’ll continue to ask the tough questions on education funding in Texas.  I talked about it on CBS 11 News this past week.  The video’s here.

There’s been a healthy debate over whether to call this a crisis.  Governor Perry insists it isn’t that big a deal and schools simply need to do more with less just like we all do during tough economic times.  He’s also said that if teachers are laid off, it won’t be as a result of anything done or not done in Austin.

A senior political reporter in Austin put it to me this way:

I see nothing wrong with using the word crisis. It’s the biggest shortfall in Texas history. It very likely will, as you say, result in thousands of layoffs, significant cuts in higher education and social services. Perry has a personal political motive for downplaying this, which is fine. But legislators actually tacking the problem, both GOP and Dem, are very clear about the severity. The fact that this will be solved is irrelevant. Of course it will be solved; the constitution requires a balanced budget. Saying the state’s budget problem somehow undervalues the size of the mess. It’s a mess. It’s perfectly defensible in my mind to call it a crisis.

Anyway, once we get a new budget by whatever means, the GOP will have dealt with the crisis. I’m not sure how that’s unfair to the GOP, to have taken on the crisis and dealt with it.

So, a crisis it is.  Who’s in charge of it?

The Dallas Morning News today offers up cool, clickable, maps of who the real power hitters are in Austin.  Here’s the map of House members and here’s the Senate.  The analysis from The News finds the Dallas area’s clout has slipped.  That makes sense.  Dallas County’s moved to the left while the rest of the state has moved to the right.

The House is set to take up Voter ID this week, which means Democrats will have a lot to say but no say-so in what happens.  They don’t have the votes to stop it and the Senate made an exception to its two-thirds rule for this issue.  Democrats have long held the requirement that people show a photo ID when voting will disenfranchise the poor and minorities (who generally vote for Democrats).  Republicans say it will “secure the voting system” and deny any attempt to keep any legitimate voter from casting a ballot.

Oh, and just for fun, Mitch Carr and I will be talking to Steve Martin tomorrow at 9:30 am on KRLD.  He’s out with a new bluegrass album.  Yes, that Steve Martin.

I would take all the credit for lining up Waco’s own Steve Martin, but the truth is Mitch Carr is our show’s connection to the stars.  He also talks Monday with one of the stars of Law & Order, Criminal Intent:  Vincent D’Onofrio.

This is cool:  Steve Martin connected with the Dixie Chicks to make the album happen.  I’ll have to ask him about that.  Honestly, I never know what to ask celebrities when they’re on the show.

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