Thursday, January 04, 2007

The usual insomnia

-- As I have spent much of the past few days in the Texas Medical Center waiting while chemotherapy bags drained into my father-in-law, I understand this completely. My take is that it isn't even so much the time lost by the patient but by his caregivers.

Update (1/5): For those who have sent me their kind thoughts, an update on my father-in-law's condition is posted in the comments.

-- The contest for speaker of the Texas House occupies much blog bandwidth lately. Too many to link to; you can follow the play-by-play over in the Texas Blogwire in the right column. I do better with color commentary (though I'll be in Austin next Tuesday when the Lege convenes to watch the action, and post here about it). The conventional wisdom holds that Tom Craddick is toast. I don't think he is, yet. Here's my observation/projection as of the moment:

Jim Pitts will have a press conference in roughly twelve hours to announce that he and Brian McCall will join their forces to defeat Craddick under one flag -- his. Senfronia Thompson is poised to re-enter the race in order to manage a voting bloc of around fifty Democrats who committed first to her, then to McCall when she withdrew, but are lukewarm at best about Pitts.

If Senfronia controls those fifty-ish votes, she (and Texas Dems) are in a pretty sweet bargaining position. Unless, because the GOP loathes the idea of the Democrats controlling the outcome of the speaker's election, they suddenly coalesce again around Craddick. Then they have all the votes they need -- there are around ten or so Democrats who are firmly with the incumbent speaker -- and in the process ram it down everybody else's throats.

So my point is: pay close attention during the Capitol presser this afternoon to which Republicans are standing with Pitts. Not just the announced names of those who signed his pledge card, but which ones are actually standing there behind him. The ones that are not present are the real swing voters, and they are much more critical here than the Democratic members who have sold themselves out to Speaker Craddick.

Sylvester Turner, Harold Dutton, Dawnna Dukes, Kevin Bailey, Aaron Pena, etc. aren't even pawns in this game; they're drones -- the same as any of Craddick's mindless GOP supporters -- and as such they don't have the significant influence on the result that is believed. Honestly, only the Republican insurgents do. If Craddick buys back the support of the rebels -- literally buys them back, with promises of chairmanships, unfunded primary opponents in 2008 and so on like that -- then together with the Democratic sold-outs it's over.

This poker match is going to have the stakes raised several times over the next few days. Craddick is far from finished. And once the smoke clears next week there will be precious little "bipartisanship" to be had in this session, no matter the outcome.

Of course, I could be wrong about everything.

Update (90 minutes after this posting): Senfronia claims to have sixty votes, though McCall had less than that, and his tally had as many as 19 Republicans. I still think her number is closer to 50.

Update (1/5): No names and no supporters at the press conference yesterday. That's not good for anybody but Craddick.

-- It's Thomas Jefferson's Quran. You can't attach a value to irony this priceless.

-- The same with this level of deceit (though the price to ExxonMobil was apparently a paltry $16 million). Please remember this every time you need to fill your gas tank.

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