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Wall Street Journal Lauds CSE Social Security Pledge
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Press Release

Wall Street Journal Lauds CSE Social Security Pledge

In an editorial titled “Grandma Doesn't Scare Anymore”, the Wall Street Journal today examined how the Social Security issue played during the 2002 elections. The Journal found that, despite Democrat scare tactics, in several key races GOP candidates won by taking principled stands in favor of Social Security reform. Some excerpts from today’s Wall Street Journal editorial:

11/13/2002
Conservatives Want to Strip Textbooks of Facts, critics say
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Conservatives Want to Strip Textbooks of Facts, critics say

BY Gary Susswein

With the State Board of Education poised to vote on new social studies textbooks later this week, a group of teachers, parents and activists on Tuesday blasted textbook changes that they say have been made at the behest of Christian and capitalist critics. Some of the disputed changes by the books' publishers delete the suggestion that global warming and acid rain are proven scientific phenomena, that Christians accepted slavery and that the Earth is "millions of years" old, a timeline that contradicts literal interpretations of the Bible. "A small group of busybodies have used this process to wipe out facts they don't happen to care for. That's not a review; it's vandalism," Andrew Riggsby, a University of Texas classics professor, said at a Capitol news conference sponsored by the Texas Freedom Network, which seeks to keep religion out of public policy. The group and its supporters plan to send 4,000 postcards to textbook publishers and state officials urging them not to go along with the changes. But some of the groups that requested the changes accused the Texas Freedom Network of peddling its own radical political agenda and unfairly referring to an open, citizen-oriented textbook review process as censorship. "It's laughable that they have called themselves mainstream," said Peggy Venable, spokeswoman for Citizens for a Sound Economy. "After last week, it's clear that mainstream Texas citizens are fiscal conser- vatives." Venable's group pushed for textbooks to describe global warming as a theory that is not universally accepted and to omit sentences that said communism and socialism helped people. The State Board of Education reviewed and accepted public testimony earlier this fall on social studies textbooks for public schools. Before the final board vote, publishers are supposed to change factual errors that have been spotted. But the question of what, exactly, is a factual error has turned the textbook approval process into a political maelstrom and an ongoing struggle to define Texas values. Some groups, for example, say science has proved that fossil fuels date back millions of years, and others say the Bible offers a different theory and that the scientific evidence should not be treated with absolute certainty. In addition to voting on the proposed changes this week, the Board of Education will vote on whether to allow publishers to continue making changes to their textbooks beyond this week. Because Texas is the nation's second-largest textbook consumer, it can dictate what other states get as publishers target their offerings for Texas. "We are tired of the religious right dictating how and what our children learn in school," Susan Moffat, the parent of a fifth-grader at Lee Elementary School in Austin, said at the Capitol news conference. "Our democracy is based on a strong separation of church and state. We do not tell others what to believe." gsusswein@statesman.com; 445-3654 (from box) By the book A sampling of some of the disputed lines in social studies textbooks being reviewed by the State Board of Education this week. Textbook excerpt: "(M)any other teachings in the Quran, such as the importance of honesty, honor, giving to others and having love and respect for their families, govern their daily lives." Critics say: Perpetuates "propaganda" for Islam. Textbook excerpt: "Acid rain damages trees and harms rivers and lakes." Critics say: Presents sentiment as fact instead of theory. Textbook excerpt: "Approximately 1 out of five people in the US does not have medical insurance. The majority of these uninsured people are children in lower income families. Because they do not have insurance, they might not be able to get some forms of medical treatment." Critics say: Provides no evidence of widespread availability of health-care options for the poor; low-income children do not represent a "majority" of the uninsured. Textbook excerpt: "Christians would later accept slavery in other contexts." Critics say: It's anti-Christian and overemphasizes U.S. role in slavery. Textbook excerpt: "In a communist system, the central government owns all property, such as farms and factories, for the benefit of its citizens." Critics say: Communism did not benefit its citizens. Sources: Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy, Texas Freedom Network

11/13/2002
George W. Bush: Political Entrepreneur
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Press Release

George W. Bush: Political Entrepreneur

© 2002 Copley News Service, 11/12/2002

11/12/2002
Grandma Doesn't Scare Anymore
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Press Release

Grandma Doesn't Scare Anymore

Soon to be former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt was prescient about one thing this election year: In September he predicted that last week's results would be "a referendum on Social Security." It was, and the reformers won.

11/12/2002
Groups Spar Over What Goes In Social Studies Books
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Groups Spar Over What Goes In Social Studies Books

BY Connie Mabin

Susan Moffat doesn't want the beliefs of social conservatives forced on her fifth-grade daughter during social studies class. University of Texas assistant professor Andrew Riggsby craves students who have been taught all sides of history in high school. The Rev. Sid Hall disagrees with using the classroom as a platform for pushing Christianity. The three were among dozens who gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday to criticize what they say is an unfair influence of social conservatives and religious right groups in Texas' textbook adoption process. The Texas Freedom Network, a nonprofit group that calls itself a watchdog of the religious right, said an example of the influence is removal of positive portrayals of Islam in the proposed books after some said it was "more propaganda" for the religion. "Good textbooks help me. Censored and distorted ones hurt," said Riggsby, who specializes in Roman history. Some want to "wipe out facts they don't happen to care for. That's not review; that's vandalism. You can't ignore the facts just because you don't like them." Peggy Venable, director of thee conservative Citizens for a Sound Economy, said her group supports patriotism, democracy, free enterprise and some of the proposed textbook changes. She also said she wants all sides of debatable issues covered in textbooks. For example, her members disagree with books that do not explain both views of global warming and instead become "activist workbooks." The State Board of Education rejected an environmental science textbook last year after some objected to its praise for the federal Endangered Species Act and its warning about the threat of global warming. Texas Freedom Network supporters "try to lump all citizens who they don't agree with as religious right and we don't have anything to do with religion," Venable said. "We're simply saying put both (views) in there," she said. The education board is scheduled to decide Thursday what social studies books Texas students will use over the next six years. Textbooks decisions are always contentious in Texas. People with various views spend hours reviewing proposed books for factual errors and offering opinions on what should and shouldn't be in the texts, decisions that often lock up the 15-member elected state board. For publishers, millions of dollars are on the line - Texas will spend $345 million on social studies and other books this year, and the books adopted here are marketed in dozens of other states. Only California buys more textbooks in the United States. Four red wagons filled with postcards asking the board to support factually accurate books free from "promoting religious beliefs or political agendas" were parked near the Capitol as about 50 people joined the Freedom Network. Network executive director Samantha Smoot said one publisher agreed to eliminate references to "fossil fuels being formed millions of years ago" so there would be no conflict with biblical timelines, which indicate the Earth has existed for a much shorter time. Another publisher deleted a passage that said Osama bin Laden's orders to his followers to kill Americans runs counter to Muslim teachings. "No idea could be farther from Muslim teachings," the deleted passage said. Critics said the book was too kind in describing Muslim beliefs. Representatives for textbook publishers insist the changes cited by the Texas Freedom Network are a small fraction of the revisions that have been made since the original versions of the books were presented to the state. Critics disagree. "Mainstream Texans have had enough of far-right groups pushing their personal religious and political beliefs into Texas public school classrooms," Smoot said. Venable said the Republican sweep in last week's election proves that Texans are conservatives and that Smoot's group does not represent the mainstream.

11/12/2002
Charlie Cook: CSE “Absolutely A Part of” Improved Conservative Ground Game
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Press Release

Charlie Cook: CSE “Absolutely A Part of” Improved Conservative Ground Game

Renowned political analyst Charlie Cook, author of the Cook Political Report, spoke today at a post-election roundtable organized by Citizens for a Sound Economy. Less than a week after Election Day, Cook offered his analysis of the outcome. Among his key points:

11/11/2002
CSE Tax Pledge Shapes ’03 Oklahoma Agenda
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Press Release

CSE Tax Pledge Shapes ’03 Oklahoma Agenda

This election, Oklahoma CSE volunteer activists asked all state candidates to sign a pledge promising not to raise taxes during the next legislative session. Using e-mail, phone calls, and community walks, CSE informed all of its 4,700 Oklahoma members of the pledge results.

11/11/2002
GOP's Plan is to Push Agenda
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GOP's Plan is to Push Agenda

BY John Mortiz

AUSTIN--Flush with a smashing Election Day victory, Texas Republicans now hope to advance a legislative agenda they say has been blocked by decades of Democratic dominance. Even though they have held the governor's office for eight years, controlled the Texas Senate for six of those and have carried every statewide office for the past four years, the Republicans' power has always been checked by a Democratic majority in the Texas House and by its Democratic speaker. The elections broke the Democrats' control of the House and Democrat Pete Laney's 10-year reign as speaker. The Republicans' consolidation of power comes as Texas faces a looming budget shortfall and with voters demanding relief from the spiraling cost and declining coverage of homeowners insurance policies. But even with their unchallenged authority over all branches and all agencies of state government, the extent of the mandate handed to the Republicans remains unclear. "The only clear mandate that came out of the election was to fix homeowners insurance and maybe say no to a tax hike," said Harvey Kronberg, who publishes the Austin political newsletter Quorum Report. "The Republicans are not going to want to write a tax bill their first session when they are completely in charge." The Republican victors, led by Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov.-elect David Dewhurst, agree that homeowners insurance will be on the front burner Jan. 14 when lawmakers assemble for the 78th Legislature. But they adamantly insist that voters gave them clear instructions to wage a frontal assault on the challenges they say will face Texas in 2003. "We will address the state budget with a tighter belt, through budgetary reform, and with an eye toward smarter spending," Perry said in his first post-election news conference. "With a $114 billion budget, we have the resources to keep our fiscal house in order. We must now show the courage to set priorities. "We will address the lawsuit abuse that jeopardizes jobs and that drives up the cost of health care while good men and women leave the medical profession," said Perry, who won in his own right the job he assumed when George W. Bush became president. "And central to providing economic security for the people of Texas is rate relief for Texans who have been overcharged for their homeowners insurance policies." With Texas facing a budget shortfall of $5 billion to $12 billion during the two-year cycle that begins in September, business interests and conservative organizations hailed Perry's pledge to hold the line on state spending and new taxes. That pledge was echoed by Dewhurst and state Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland, who will be Texas' first Republican House speaker in more than a century. "Thank God for Tom Craddick for saying new taxes are off the table and everything else is on the table," said Peggy Venable, director of Texas Citizens for a Sound Economy. "Our members want smaller government; they want government to do less, not more. And I think that's what the voters want, too. I think that's what they were saying on Tuesday." But some from the other side of the political spectrum warned the winners not to read too much into the election returns. Samantha Smoot, who heads the Texas Freedom Network, said voters embraced the GOP because the candidates preached from a moderate platform. The party's statewide candidates were careful to steer clear of issues such as limiting reproductive choice and offering tax-dollar vouchers to send children to private schools, Smoot said. The Republicans would be wise not to raise them during the upcoming legislative session, she said. "These candidates went out of their way to avoid talking about issues like school vouchers and other pet causes of the far right wing," Smoot said. "If they now go and try to pretend that there was some sort of mandate to put those issues forward, I think that would be very deceptive." Perry said lawmakers have no reason to shy away from a "limited" voucher bill, saying the Republicans' support for such a measure is well documented. Dewhurst, who also supports vouchers, said it was doubtful that time will be available in the 140-day session to get to vouchers. Surviving Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, are assessing the shelling that their party endured on Election Day and will probably be on the defensive. "There are very few silver linings on our side," said state Sen. Mario Gallegos, D-Houston. "We took a pretty big hit, and there's no way to sugar-coat it." Having spent the past six years on the minority in the Senate, Gallegos and other Democrats have grown adept at using rules and parliamentary procedures to protect their turf. A key Senate rule -- one that requires the agreement of 21 of the 31 senators for a floor debate on any bill -- has traditionally kept that chamber in the political center. However, with Republicans now holding 19 Senate seats, a push to change the rules and allow bills to come to the floor with a simple majority vote is possible. "It's still real early in the process to know whether anyone is going to want to change the rules," Gallegos said. "I still haven't met a lot of the new senators yet. I plan to sit down with the lieutenant governor-elect [who presides over the Senate]. And I guess the Democratic caucus will want to meet to see what our agenda is going to be." Most observers said that solving the budget will consume much of the session. Some also said that the first programs targeted for cuts would be those benefiting low-income Texans because several of the lawmakers who championed such initiatives will be leaving. Gone are state Sen. Mike Moncrief, D-Fort Worth, chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, and state Rep. Patricia Gray, D-Galveston, the House Public Health Committee chairwoman. Both declined to seek re-election because their districts were redrawn with less friendly constituencies. "Some of the health programs could be in jeopardy," said Kronberg, the Quorum Report publisher. "You might see some rollback [in the Children's Health Insurance Program] and cuts in the discretionary Medicaid funding." F. Scott McCown, who heads the Center for Public Policy Priorities, said there will be a fight over those cuts. "It will be our mission to protect the Children's Health Insurance Program, Medicaid and Child Protective Services," McCown said. Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, a Republican who chalked up the largest majority of any statewide candidate, said the left-leaning organization will have her as an ally in that cause. "I am identifying ways we can deliver health care to our uninsured and underinsured more efficiently and with less money so that no child should have to do without," said Rylander, the state's top budget officer. Consultant Chuck McDonald, who was press secretary under Democratic Gov. Ann Richards and now represents several business organizations, predicted that the Republicans will use their newfound clout in Austin wisely. "I think the Texas Republicans will continue the tradition of bipartisanship in the Legislature," McDonald said. "People who are expecting a real one-sided agenda are going to be disappointed. I think the Republicans are capable of governing." Key legislative issues * Homeowners insurance -- Observers and players agree that voters expect action to reduce spiraling homeowners insurance rates. Gov. Rick Perry has designated the issue a legislative emergency, meaning that it will be tackled early and that a bill could go into law immediately after the governor signs it. Key players: State Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, who has called for a special session on homeowners insurance, and state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Marble Falls, who led a legislative committee that spent the past year studying the issue. * Budget shortfall -- The state budget is shaping up as an issue that could dominate the agenda. The official estimate is that lawmakers will face a $5 billion shortfall for 2004-05; some say it could reach $12 billion. Key players: Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander, who is charged with making the official revenue estimate and who must certify the budget before it can take effect; and the chairmen of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance Committee, who have not yet been named. * Social programs -- Health and human-service programs are called "budget drivers" because they eat up a giant share of the state's revenue. Pressure will be tremendous to contain these costs and not to slash social services.

11/11/2002
Congress Should Move On Economy
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Press Release

Congress Should Move On Economy

© 2002 Copley News Service, 11/8/2002 Something is seriously out of kilter when The New York Times can report, as it did on Sunday: "Stocks thrive on downbeat economic news." Bad news is good, and the worse things get, the more optimistic investors seem to become.

11/08/2002
Election 2002 Round up
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Press Release

Election 2002 Round up

Click the following links for information on these states:North Carolina PennsylvaniaNew Hampshire

11/08/2002

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