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Texas Observer VOLUME 94, NO. 16 A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor: Ronnie bugger Editor: Nate Blakeslee Managing Editor: Barbara Belejack Associate Editor: Jake Bernstein . Managing Publisher: Jim Ball Circulation Manager: Rosie Bamberger Art Director: Julia Austin Poetry Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye . Copy Editor: Roxanne Bogucka Development Director: Charlotte McCann Interns: Emily DePrang, Rachel Proctor, Emily Pyle, Emily Rapp Seitz Contributing Writers: Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Louis Dubose, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross, Brad Tyer. Staff Photographers: Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum. Contributing Artists: Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Ben Sargent, Penny Van Horn, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farentholdjohn Kenneth Galbraith. Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Maury Maverick Jr., Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam: Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001 Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board: Ronnie bugger, Marc Grossberg, Molly !vim, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, Gilberto Ocafias. The Texas Observer entire contents copyrighted 2002, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January and August \(24 issues profit foundation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin,Texas 78701. Telephone: E-mail: [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page: . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin,Texas. Subscriptions: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access:The Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin,Texas 78701. The Books & the Culture section is partially .fimded through grants front the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission and the Writer League of Texas, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. Y it : 0 n August 6, with the support of Senate Democrats, President Bush gave himself Fast Track authority. Plans for complex trade agreements with foreign governments are in place. When completed, these massive and intricate trade deals will be presented to Congress for an up-or-down vote on a 90-day deadline. Fast Track authority gives Bush a terrifying new power. The trend in “free” trade agreements is to create rules administered behind closed doors by unelected bureaucratsthat supercede the laws created by our democratic process. For example, California passed a law banning MTBE, a poisonous gas additive that contaminated Santa Monica’s groundwater. Methanix, a Vancouver-based company that manufactures MTBE sued the United States for $970 million in lost profits. \(On August 7, a special tribunal dismissed some of Methanix’s claims, but left the The Bush administration realizes that gutting regulations in Congress would be messy, if not impossible. After all, that process could open the door to democratic debate. Luckily for him, the Democrats sold their constitutional power to balance Bush for a pittance: a few more dollars for worker retraining after Fast Track has laid them off. Achieving goals on the sly has become a hallmark of this Rovian White Ijouse. Fast Track’s potential end run around regulations is just one of a number of instances where the administration’s actions mirror the Sun Tzu adage: “To win without fighting is best.” Perhaps this is no coincidence. Karl Rove taught Tzu’s “The Art of War” as part of a 1997 course he gave at the University of Texas on “The Modern American Political Campaign.” August also saw Bush push a traditional Republican back-door stratagem to downsize essential government services. In this case, Bush refused to authorize $5.1 billion in homeland security spending, blaming a deficit caused largely by his own generous tax cut to the very wealthy. And after Labor Day, the Senate will resume the confirmation hearings of Priscilla Owen for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. If approved, Owen will do everything she can to curtail abortion and consumer rights \(see “Judging Prissy,” by Andrew effort of trying to sell his stance to Congress and the American people. One of the most troubling backdoor assaults is Bush’s education reform. Abetted by Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy, Bush scored a big victory with the “No Child Left Behind” education bill \(see “The Stakes for States” by Emily Pyle in this “reform,” the administration’s effort to impose the so-called “Texas Miracle” on the nation might very well accomplish the radical right’s long-term goal of dismantling the public education . system. A constant in Bush’s string of victories is the crucial support of Democrats. The opposition party, even with its slim majority in the Senate, often seems to play handmaiden or fool to King George. An unwillingness or inability to embrace an agenda with which to parry administration policies has been the Dems’ undoing. Given the current mood of the country, a movement to keep corporations from poisoning and abusing us just might sell. The Democrats could also save the nation from judges bent on imposing a radical Christian ideology on a pluralistic people and its secular government. And they could take back the mantle of the party of education by articulating and fighting for a well-funded, student-inspiring educational system available to all. J.B EDITORIAL Katy Bar the Back Door 8130102 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3