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Republicans' special-session maneuvering shows contempt for Texans and mischaracterizes Texas' political history; the same party asks for the same kind of blind allegiance on foreign policy.

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The full obscenity of the redistricting battle is easy to lose sight of in the midst of the constant maneuverings. It is driven solely by Tom DeLay, without grassroots demand or even much interest -- and in recent weeks widespread public opposition -- and the tiresome partisan refrain is that when the Democrats were in power they did the same thing, and the Republicans are simply demanding fair, constitutionally guaranteed representation. When Texas was a one-party state controlled by gerrymandering Democrats, goes the Republican whine, no one complained; now it's our turn.

Unfortunately, the actual history contradicts this argument. True, for the past 100 years Texas has been a one-party, Democratic state. After the Civil War, Democrats were the party of the South. Only after President Lyndon Johnson pushed through massive civil rights legislation in the early Sixties did Republicans begin to gain serious power. The implication behind the current partisan maneuvering is that somehow progressive Democrats had their way for 100 years, and now is the time for conservative Republicans.

Whereas party loyalty may have dramatically shifted, political philosophy hasn't. Conservative Democrats ran the state for decades, more recently in alliance with moderate Republicans, while progressive/liberal/moderate Democrats were in the permanent minority. It is too glib to suggest that the big political "shift" in Texas metaphorically is that those politicians who once wore blue now wear yellow -- party allegiance has deeper implications than that -- but it also isn't that far off. Under the Democrats, conservatives controlled the state and the congressional delegation; under Republicans, the same is true.

The Democrats, however, rarely worked together, while the Republicans, especially in the Texas House, are now in lock step. (The Killer Bees who fled the Capitol in 1979 were not Republicans thwarting the Democrat-controlled body, nor vice versa. They were moderate and progressive Democrats in conflict with conservative Democrats and their Republican allies.) Even those Republicans privately opposed to redistricting remain tightlipped, letting former lieutenant governor Sen. Bill Ratliff courageously take the heat.

Granting indefensible historic Democratic gerrymandering, this effort is still unprecedented in an off year absent a court order; not only does it attack Democratic incumbents, but it shows no respect for seated rural Republicans. Which leaves us with some clear points:

In terms of political philosophy, this is no corrective: Conservatives have always dominated the ranks of elected Texas legislators. Those who now vote Republican have long been well-served both in Washington, D.C., and in Austin. Texas didn't rocket down to the bottom five in most areas of social spending in the last decade but has languished in this sad state for decades of Democratic rule.

Even in terms of party affiliation, this isn't a legitimate response: Republicans control a representative number of districts. It's just that in six of those districts the voters keep getting it wrong, electing Democratic congressmen, so it is time to restrict their rights at the polls. As with term limits, the driving concept is that the voters can't be trusted and must be closely shepherded.

The only agenda being served is DeLay's. He wants both breathing room on close House votes and to be House majority leader (quick, name the current majority leader). The vast majority of people throughout the state who have spoken up on redistricting -- regardless of their party affiliations -- are opposed.

The goal of the current Republican leadership is a one-party, one-ideology country, in contradiction to every basic principle of American political precedent, the ambitions of this country's Founding Fathers, and the U.S. Constitution.

Gov. Rick Perry simply magnifies these problems in his dishonest support and immoral lack of concern for Texans and Texas. Boasting a glibness even most TV news folks should regard as shallow, Perry denies problems and ignores complexity, which makes for great sound bites but pathetically inept, uncaring governance. Serious statewide troubles include the economy, the budget, employment, social services, health coverage and costs, education, and infrastructure. Blithely asserting that in calling the special session on redistricting he was responding to citizen outcry is unconscionable. Unfortunately, in the new Texas, that seems to be the moral norm.

end story

By now, even if you supported the invasion of Iraq, are convinced weapons of mass destruction will be found, and view the ongoing turmoil and combat as relatively minor but not unexpected pains connected to regime change, the administration's determination and rush to invade has to seem questionable. Wouldn't a little more time spent gathering intelligence, mobilizing allied support, and planning for the post-invasion have better served both Iraq's and this country's interests? Even the most militant, determined-to-invade partisan should have a hard time justifying the timetable. Instead, we get some of the dumbest arguments imaginable.

One of this week's "Postmarks" contributors characterizes as ingenuous my assertion that the fact that Saddam Hussein didn't use WMDs seems to suggest he didn't have them. First, he dismisses the argument that Hussein didn't use them by pointing out that Bush had warned Iraqis what would happen to them if they did. Given that, with a slap to the forehead, why don't we caution the Iraqis, who almost every day are attacking, wounding, and killing our troops, frequently being wounded or killed in the process, that Bush doesn't want them to do that either? That should stop them.

Most outrageous is the argument that not only is a pre-emptive war justified, but even proving an imminent or implied threat is unnecessary. If the United States thinks a nation is a threat, it is. Better to attack them early, getting it out of the way, than risk things getting messy later on. So which sovereign nations need to be taught a lesson? Let's start on that right now!

The underlying assumption is that those who support the war are two-fisted patriots, realistic in their appraisal of other peoples and other countries, willing to do what it takes for the good of this country. After 9/11, any action against a foreign country is a justifiable defense of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Conversely, those against the war are knee-jerk humanists, spineless Chamberlain-esque appeasers who see the world through rose-colored glasses, not really understanding the nature of our enemies (which seems to include much of the population of the rest of the world) or what needs to be done!

Prior to 9/11, to varying degrees, conservative and reactionary Republicans constituted an overwhelming majority of the community that was most passionately isolationist, nationalistic, and opposed to international diplomacy. Many wanted out of the United Nations, feeling that what is good for the U.S. is good for the U.S., and the rest of the world be damned. Yet, in just a few short years, they've become our leading internationalists; though maintaining the same core values and, with neither study nor travel, they've come to understand the values, goals, personalities, and politics of other countries better than anyone else. They know what the world thinks, what it is capable of, how it threatens this country, and what we need to do about it. As Hussein's people feared us so greatly that they listened to Bush over their own leader, so will the rest of the world respect our might and accede to our vision and demands.

History, international study, constructive open dialogue, freedom of information, open government, respectful interaction with allies, proving political allegations, and respect for varying points of view and foreign sensibilities just serve anti-American, Democrat (read communist) apologists seeking to destroy this country. Real patriots, true Americans need only look inside themselves, listen to the radio, and, with unquestioning, passionate militancy, follow President Bush to know the truth. Now, if this truth doesn't exactly set you free, it does make the modern world simpler and less threatening. end story

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