Normally when the general public ponders Texas, a whole lot of big sky and rugged individualism and generosity of spirit springs to mind. The thought of progressive politics is probably farther away than Bedouin olive trays are to an armadillo. But that's exactly what's going on right now as the country's most heroic representatives try their darndest to protect the Lone Star State's most precious commodity. The lives of our precious yellow roses. Our lady folk.
For the first time since George W. Bush signed No Child Left Behind, the House has passed a major rewrite of federal education law. On Friday, the House approved the Student Success Act along party lines-Republicans for, Democrats against-but the bill has little chance of getting past a Democratic Senate and a White House veto threat. Democrats in Washington don't trust the states to hold themselves accountable, and a recent audit of how Texas has mishandled a half billion-dollar contract with testing giant NCS Pearson shows why.
Despite all the caterwauling you hear about nepotism, rigged elections, waivers, loopholes, crony capitalism, foxes guarding henhouses, gerrymandered legislative districts, incompetent court-appointed attorneys, misleading negative campaign ads and government surveillance programs, we Americans are an alarmingly contented bunch.
Saturday's verdict in the George Zimmerman trial has sparked national outrage, and rightfully so. And yet, with much of the focus on race, there is an accomplice to Trayvon Martin's death that has, to a surprising degree, escaped scrutiny and a seat in the dock- guns, and our lenient, permissive approach to them. The fact that it's a repeat offender makes matters even worse.
To understand why Texas' new anti-abortion law is an invasion of privacy, you have to know my friend. It's a sad story, and despite what Texas Republicans might claim, it has nothing to do with abortion. It does have to do with a woman's wellbeing, however, which is why his story is important.
In 2005, Senate Republicans floated the idea of altering Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for judicial nominees. The proposal, dubbed the nuclear option, involved breaking Senate rules to change Senate rules. (The rules require a two-thirds vote for rules changes, but the nuclear option changes the rules by simple majority.) Democrats fought back against it furiously. Harry Reid led the fight, saying on the Senate floor: "I would never, ever consider breaking the rules to change the rules." Well, adjust your clocks to "never." Reid is now poised to execute the nuclear option.
New York City's politics has now gotten more titillating. First came news that Anthony Weiner, the Democrat whose crotch-shot sexting to a woman he never met led to his resignation from Congress, was running for mayor. Now comes the news that former New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer, who resigned due to his involvement in a prostitution scandal, is running for city Comptroller.
We all know that the 2016 campaign will cost way more money than ever before - $10 billion is the latest head-spinning estimate - and that the reform laws aimed at curbing fat-cat clout have virtually collapsed. But still, it was shocking last week when the nation's top watchdog said that she's powerless to police the new Wild West.
I had never really thought about such books existing, but the May 8 "Newsweek" reports that Amish romance novels are big business, accounting for as much as half of the inspirational fiction market and involving dozens of new titles each month.