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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 8, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas Page 4A — Herald-Zeitung — Sunday, May 8, 2005 FORUM ■NM Other Viewpoints Progress made on recorded votes The Dallas Morning News on recorded cotes in the Texas Legislature: Congratulations. Thanks to your unwavering support assuming that you’re among the BH percent ofTexans who want legislators to record their vote.s a bill to require recorded votes has moved to within shouting distance of approval by the Senate. Last week, the Senate Administration Commit tee voted 5-0 to send the hill, authored by Sen. John Carona of Dallas, to the Senate floor with a recommendation for passage. Its not the strongest course they could have taken; a similar measure to change the Texas Constitution to require recorded votes failed on a 3-2 vote (with two supporters not present). But this is a significant step toward giving you the ability to know, in detail, how your elected representatives are performing their jobs. Passage by the full Senate should be a done deal... we look to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, a proponent of open government, to schedule an early vote. That will put the belli firmly in the I louse’s court. A similar bill by Rep. Elliott Naishtat of Austin has languished without a vote in the I louse State Affairs Committee for more than seven weeks. We call on the committee chair, Rep. David Swinford of Amarillo, to schedule a vote, and we urge the panel members to reflect the desires of their constituents with their votes. Controversial this legislation isn t, with nearly 190 organizations and political leaders statewide on record in support of it and no organizations against it. Bruising battles almost certainly lie ahead as I louse and Senate conference committees try to thrash out differences on complex issues such as the budget and school finance. With this issue, we’re handing them an easy win. Seventy-seven percent ofTexans told lite Texas Poll that they’re likelier to vote fora candidate if that candidate supports recorded votes. What s not to like? Today in History By The Associated Press Today is Sunday, May 8, the I28lh day of 2005. There are 237 days left in the year. This is Mother’s Day. Today’s I lighlight in I listory: On May8,1945, President Truman announced in a radio address that World War ll had ended in Europe. On this date: In 1541, Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto reached the Mississippi River. In 1846, the first major battle of the Mexican War was fought at Palo Alto, resulting in victory for (leu. Zachary Taylor's forces. In 1884, the 33rd president of the United States, I larry S. Truman, was born near Lamar, Mo. In 1886, Atlanta pharmacist John Styth Pemberton invented the flavor syrup for Coca-Cola. In 1958, Vice President Nixon was shoved, stoned, booed and spat upon by anti-American protesters in Lima, Peru. LETTERS POLICY Letters must be 250 words or less. ■The Herald-Zeitung reserves the right to edit all submissions. ■ Guest columns should be 500 words or less and must be accompanied by a photo. ■ Address and telephone number must be included so authorship can be confirmed. Herald-Zeitung Serving New Braunfels anil Comal County since 1852. New Braunfels Zeitung was founded 1852; New Braunfels Herald was founded 1890. The two papers merged in 1957 and printed in both German and English until 1958. Managing Editor Gary E. Maitland Editor and Publisher Doug Toney Circulation Director Jeff Fowler Advertising Director Neice Bell Operations Director Vilma Linares News Editor David Rupkalvis Mi HOW TO CONTACT Humans are, and have always been, flawed, selfish and fallible Mail letters to: Letters to Editor do Herald-Zeitung RO. Drawer 311328 New Braunfels, TX 78131-1328 Fax them to: (830) 606-3413 e-mail them to: news S’ What follows are a few of the basic premises on which I base my thinking. You might or might not agree with them, but may I suggest that you make a list of your own basic premises. It will help you clarify your thinking. I) Government is inherently incompetent, and no matter what task it is assigned, it will do it in the most expensive and inefficient way possible. 2) The American government is corrupt from top to bottom. 3) If you rely on the mass media to inform you about your community, state and nation, you will, with rare exceptions, be woefully ignorant of what is really going on. 4) The universal franchise is a bad idea. The notion that the destiny of the nation should be put in the hands of ignoramuses, parasites, boobs, party hacks and idiots is absurd on its face. 5) Public education in America is a failure and is so flawed it cannot be reformed. 6) Not much has changed in the past 5,000 years of human history. All of that might sound cynical, but it really isnt. True conservatives have argued for years that government, even a benign one, is iike a clumsy, retarded giant, and therefore you have to be careful to limit what tasks you assign it. You can make a career out of just criticizing obvious bloopers committed by the various departments of government, because they all commit them. The Romans built roads that are still around, but states today continue to build roads that will pothole and crack within a year, sometimes sooner. Look at the federal airport-security people. They take nail trimmers away from grandmothers but allow real weapons to get through. And so on and so on. CHARLEYREESE Charley Reese is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. You can write to him at PO. Box 2446, Orlando, Fla. 32802. As for the news media, since most media companies are now controlled by a handful of corporations whose sole interest is in maintaining a high profit margin, you are getting mostly fluff instead of hard news. Hard news is labor-intensive. It is cheaper to go with the fluff. Thomas Jefferson’s theoretical belief in a free press soon foundered on the reality, and he came to despise it. As for government corruption, it’s all around us. Sure, there are honest public officials, but the system itself is corrupt. It now requires so much money to run for office that the field is narrowed to bored millionaires and office-seekers willing to take as much money as they can from anywhere they can get it. That’s why Congress pays no attention to the people. It pays attention to the suppliers of campaign funds — not to mention junkets, fancy vacations and off-the-radar business deals. As for the universal franchise, the problem with that is obvious. People who wish to vote should at least be required to pass the same test given to immigrants who want to become citizens. A lot of voters are not even sure what state they live in — or what century, for that matter. I low can people who are ignorant of history, economics and basic science make an intelligent choice for a national leader? They can’t. They will go with the demagogue. And, of course, it is public education that is mass-producing these ignoramuses. Imagine people completing 16 years of formal education and not knowing how to spell, punctuate or use their native language correctly. Imagine college graduates who know virtually nothing about their country’s history or geography. As for the final premise, it is simply a reminder to utopians: Human beings are selfish, flawed and fallible animals. They always have been, they are now, and they always will be. Therefore, any human institution, public or private, will reflect those flaws. If you want perfection, plant a rosebush. WWilHI United States Government PRESIDENT ■ George W. Bush 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20500 SENATE ■ Kay Bailey Hutchison Russell Senate Office Building Room 284 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-5922 Fax: (202) 224-0776 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 145 Duncan Drive, Suite 120 San Antonio 78226 Telephone: (210) 340-2885 Fax: (210) 349-6753 ■ John Cornyn Russell Senate-Hart Room 517 Washington, D.C. 20510 Telephone: (202) 224-2934 Fax: (202) 228-2856 Web: (Send e-mails through Web site.) AUSTIN OFFICE: 221 West Sixth St., Suite 1530 Austin 78701 Telephone: (512) 469-6034 Fax: (512) 469-6020 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 600 Navarro, Suite 210 San Antonio 78205 Telephone: (210) 224-7485 Fax: (210) 224-8569 CONGRESSMAN ■ Lamar Smith Rayburn House Office Building Room 2184 Washington, D.C. 20515 Telephone: (202) 225-4236 Fax: (202) 225-8628 Web address: (Send e-mails through Web site.) SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 821-5024 Fax: (210) 821-5947 ................................................. HOW TO CONTACT Texas Government GOVERNOR ■ Rick Perry State Capitol, Room 2S.1 RO. Box 12428 Austin 78711 Telephone: (800) 843-5789 Fax: (512) 463-1849 STATE HOUSE ■ Carter Casteel 254 E. Mill St. New Braunfels 78130 Telephone: (830) 627-0215 Toll Free: (866) 687-4961 Fax: (830) 627-8895 WHILE IN AUSTIN: RO. Box 2910 Austin 78768-2190 Telephone: (512) 463-0325 Fax: (512) 473-9920 E-mail address: carter.casteel@ STATE SENATE ■ Jeff Wentworth 1250 NE Loop 410, Suite 720 San Antonio 78209 Telephone: (210) 826-7800 Fax: (210) 826-0571 WHILE IN AUSTIN: Telephone: (512) 463-0125 Fax: (512) 463-7794 E-mail address: jeff. Wentworth® senate, ■ Judith Zaffirini RO. Box 627 Laredo 78042-0627 SAN ANTONIO OFFICE: 12702Toepperwein Road #214 San Antonio 78233 Telephone: (210) 657-0095 Fax: (210) 657 0262Bush must find a way to take a tough stance with Putin As CALTHOMAS Cal Thomas is a columnist for Tribune Media Services International. He hosts "After Hours" on Fox News Channel Saturdays at ll pm. EST. Direct all mail for Cal Thomas to: Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 1500, Chicago. 60611, or leave an e- mail at www. calthomas. com. ike many other people, I wondered what happened to all of the communists lfter the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Did they experience an instantaneous conversion to free market capitalism and a democratic way of life, trial by jury and other Western principles, or did they go underground, awaiting their return to power like die-hard Confederates in America who defiantly vowed, ‘The South shall rise again!”? During the 1990s, no one seemed to care. The “victory over communism’’ celebration would last tilt* decade and many believed (with the notable exception of China) that humankind’s last adversary had been thrown onto “the ash heap of history,” as Ronald Reagan had prophesied. As with Islamic terrorists, premature judgments about evil and its numerous incarnations can be hazardous to one’s interests, even one’s life. President Bush looked into the eyes of Russian President Vladimir Putin at their first meeting and confidently told the world that the former KGB officer was someone who had a soul, because the president had seen it. “I was able to get a sense of his soul, a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country,” Bush declared after their 2001 visit. Last month, Putin was widely reported to have described Ute collapse of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” This got the attention of at least two influential members of the House of Representatives — Rep. Chris Cox, California Republican, and Rep. Tom Lantos, California Democrat and the ranking Democratic member on the International Relations Committee. Both men co-chair the Russia Democracy Caucus. In a rare display of biparti sanship, once characteristic of the way American politicians handled foreign policy issues, Cox and Lantos have introduced a bill that urges the president to suspend Russia’s membership in the Group of 8 nations (G-8) until it adheres to international norms and standards of democracy. In a joint statement, Cox said, “Russia has failed to complete a successful trail-Sidon from communism to free enterprise, and from a Soviet police state to a stable, securely democratic society. Vladimir Putin needs to show that his nation belongs in the same league with the other G-7 members.” Lantos said, “The major industrialized democracies gave Russia a seat at the table after the Cold War’s end, expecting that Russia’s newfound respect for human rights, the rule of law and free expression would persist.” Lantos added that Russia had “tossed aside this historic opportunity (and) Russia’s leaders are making a mockery of the G-8 by failing to live up to the basic norms of a democratic society, and shifting the blame for their crackdown on basic rights.” Lantos said that Russia has continued to court global opinion for its support of antiterrorism efforts, while simultaneously dodging criticism for its shoddy human rights record. I Ie specifically mentioned the postponement of the corruption trial of oil executive Mikhail Khodorkovsky, which was originally scheduled to begin at the end of April, but which has now been postponed until after President Bush’s Moscow visit next week. The president will have to decide how tough a stance to take with Putin, but he should express American displeasure with the progress, or more accurately, the lack of progress towards a free and democratic Russia. It is one thing to stumble along the way to democracy. It is something else again to walk backward toward the old totalitarian ways that kept Russians in their grip for most of the 20th century. ;