Friday, August 04, 2006

On call with Barbara Radnofsky

The next Senator from the Great State spent some time with a few of us blog-types on the phone last night, talking about her campaign, her opponent, and the brightening Democratic prospects in November.

Radnofsky had spent the day in Southeast Texas -- Jasper, Beaumont, Orange, Port Arthur, and Baytown -- talking to newspaper editorial boards and seeing firsthand the still-unrepaired damage from last summer's Hurricane Rita. In our 45-minute call we discussed immigration, education, healthcare, and veterans' affairs as well as polling and debates.

Some highlights follow, dear reader, but first take a moment and go read a little about Pence-Hutchison, our incumbent Aging Prom Queen's response to the immigration 'problem'.

Shorter version: Kay Bailey is asking all people in the United States without proper documentation to "just please go home".

Seriously. She calls it 'self-deportation'.

Once they do so, they can proceed to Ellis-Island type 'centers' -- buildings to be constructed by Halliburton, I'm guessing -- where they will be medically examined and biometrically tagged.

I'll bet you think I'm making this up, don't you?

Those people who get the US Government's Seal of Approval get a shiny new ID card matching their ear tag and the chance to apply for something called a Good Neighbor SAFE visa, and while they wait, Uncle Sam gets busy tightening up border security Republican-style (which means triple fences, more helicopters, guards, and much larger detention facilities). This process appears to be designed to last two years, and then once the President of the United States has certified our country's borders as "secure", then people get to begin returning – provided, that is, that they can prove they have a job waiting for them.

Oh yes, one more thing, this 'guest worker' program is limited to citizens of Latin American countries which have ratified NAFTA and CAFTA.

After twelve years -- seventeen if they need the extra time -- these folks can apply for citizenship without leaving the US. Yesterday on Lou Dobbs' program they were calling this legislation the "Amnesty for All" bill.

That label alone likely queers the deal with the conservative hard-liners.

Fabulous plan, isn't it? I'll bet the eleven to twelve million undocumented workers here now will be rushing to take advantage of this opportunity.

Hutchison's own opinion of her legislation?

"What Mike and I are trying to do -- we've been meeting for a month -- is put something out there and say, 'Let's start.' We're not saying this is perfection. We're not saying this is the end result."

OK, now that you've managed to stop laughing, let's point out that Barbara Radnofsky thinks this idea is just as bizarre and doomed to failure as you do. This is unfortunately typical of the impact Hutchison has made throughout her tenure; it’s another example why the senior Senator from Texas has been so ineffectual. After thirteen years she still has no idea how to craft or even advance legislation, much less serve the interests of any but a narrow band of her constituents.

Radnofsky used a fishing term to describe Hutchison's incompetence: "she hasn't put out the traps." I don't know if Barbara has ever done any crabbing along the Texas coast, but I have, and I damn sure know what that phrase means: it means someone is too lazy even to catch themselves something to eat. Barbara probably meant that Hutchison hadn't done her due diligence. I took it to mean that Kay Bailey has simply done the same thing she has done all her life -- waited for someone else to catch, clean, cook and serve the food she eats -- and do the dishes afterwards.

And that's really an apt microcosm of Kay Bailey's political career. Cheerleader, homecoming queen, TV weather girl. She's never worked for anything in her entire life; it's all been handed to her. It's also part of why she refuses to agree to a debate with Barbara, describing herself as "too busy" even as she skips votes in the Senate.

Kay Bailey is weaker than rainwater. She’s the human equivalent of pablum. And everyone -- her colleagues, her supporters, and her constituents -- all know it. It’s why when you write or call her office you never get anything but a canned response.

KBH did manage to become a lawyer, though her interpretation of the law occasionally falls short of the law's actual definition, such as when she considered Karl Rove's (alleged) perjury to be a technicality, or when she recently asked Alberto Gonzales to simply overlook the anti-trust provisions being violated in the Wright Amendment.

These are only a few of the reasons why the woman once described as "the most popular politician in Texas" is suddenly slumping in the polls, even as Radnofsky begins to creep up. Texans -- like the rest of America -- have developed an acute case of Bush fatigue, and Kay Bailey has been one of the many enablers of its disastrous agenda.

At the conclusion of our conference call I asked Barbara specifically about the odd phenomenon of Democratic disillusionment, expressed in MSM articles like this one, and she said she'd experienced it in her nearly five hundred trips around the state, and that she, like Chris Bell and David Van Os in previous Texblogosphere calls before her, had also sensed a turning of the tide. The outrage of Republican policies in Washington and Austin has been expressed repeatedly by the Republicans who have shown up at Courthouse Tourstops and Trans-Texas Corridor hearings. The momentum is clearly shifting, the Traditional Media is largely unaware of it, and Democrats up and down the ballot will be the beneficiary.

Next week, as part of the push to November, the Texas Progressive Alliance (of which this blog is a founding member) will announce our first Texroots-endorsed candidates. Many of the Democratic candidates you have already read about here will be featured. A call to arms -- including of the financial kind -- will be part of that appeal.

Texas is going to turn a little more blue, and we're all going to have a hand in it.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Chris Bell on stem cell research

"To me it's not just an issue, it's personal."

Where does Grandmaw stand on this issue? Should we even bother asking Dick Friedman?

Tom gets to run, after all

according to an early flash from the Chronic.

I think this is good news, though replacing him would've suited me fine as well. District 22 is electing Nick Lampson, regardless of opponent.

This race no longer qualifies as all that interesting -- except for hearing that last crunch of The Coackroach being squashed on November 7.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

On Castro and regime change

With this news that Fidel has handed off some of the titular responsibilities of running Cuba to brother Raul -- no spring chicken himself -- I have asked a Cuban-born American citizen to guest-post here in the next few days.

She emigrated in 1962 1961, in the arms of her mother and father, and lived in New York and Petersburg VA before moving to Texas in the late '70's, where I met and later married her.

Mrs. Diddie has a few blog-worthy tales to tell about her family's experience as political dissidents, asylum-seekers, immigrants, and then US citizens. Regarding the man ultimately responsible for my being introduced to my wife, I only hope that his now-timely demise doesn't force her to hasten a thoughtful posting. Her mother has end-stage Alzheimer's and her father suffers again from a return of the bladder cancer that he has valiantly beaten back five times over the past ten years, so getting a few of their recollections of La Revolucion published is urgent enough as it is.

Look for this post here hopefully by the end of the week.