Senate candidate RadnofskyIf today's media turnout for Barbara Ann Radnofsky's announcement for U.S. Senate was any indication of interest, she may need to repeat the notification of her candidacy at other venues in the state. Ms. Radnofsky, the Democrat who wants to unseat Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, appeared at SMU, where she attracted a few interested folks and one camera -- from Fox News Channel 4 -- and, at best, a pencil or two.
Nonetheless, she insisted that her analysis over the last two years, including 275 "trips" over the state, have convinced her that beating Hutchison -- the most popular statewide votegetter -- is "doable." As she said, "I wouldn't have gotten into it otherwise."
Ms. Radnofsky, a lawyer with the Vinson and Elkins firm in Houston, said "corruption and incompetence" among Republicans controlling Washington has driven Texans to recognize that "we must change." For too long, she said, "we have had a Republican senator beholden only to a Republican administration."
She said her top issues will be education, health care, and veterans' issues.
Ms. Radnofsky is no dummy; she's a serious candidate. She entered the University of Houston at age 16, received a bachelor's degree (magna cum laude) in 1976 and got her law degree at UT. She's been married 23 years, has a daughter in Rice, a son at Texas A&M and a daughter in high school. She's a plaintiff's lawyer and a mediator.
So far, she's the only candidate in the Democratic primary. She said her clients promised to raise a half million dollars to discourage any opposition.
As a candidate, she's well spoken -- in both English and Spanish. But she'll need more than Hispanic support to pull off what would be the upset of the year.
She also said that her recent visit to Washington, where she got a favorable reception from the Senate Democratic leadership, convinced her that "Texas is in play" in the 2006 election.
The overwhelming victory for traditional marriage in Texas on Tuesday November 8th should send a number of shockwaves across the political landscape. One point that was exposed clearly was the complete disconnect between the editorial boards of Texas newspapers and the people.
Every one of the large papers, and most of the mid-sized ones, threw their hats in the ring in opposition to Proposition 2. Against this monolithic bloc, Texans were adamant. They took those editorials and threw them back in the scribes’ faces, with 76.2 percent of the voters giving the thumbs up to traditional marriage.
Nothing gets 76.2 percent of the vote. Nothing that’s contested anyway.
Politically, that’s about as close to a rout as you can come. In fact, it’s an embarrassingly crushing defeat for the opponents of Prop 2. Maybe that’s why they took their website down within two hours of the polls’ closing.
But the real loser is the media. This was the Kentucky Derby, and they put their money on "anybody but Secretariat." A more humiliating display of their powerlessness is hard to imagine.
For years, the media have stood astride the road of conservatism like some angry gnomes. "Don’t tread this road, or I will summon a great magic against you," they have shouted. And for years, conservatives have balked. Fear of the gnomes has forced them off the road of conservatism, time and time again, even when their constituents begged them to get back on it.
It’s not that they’re RINOs – it’s that they’re scared. Scared of what the gnomes of the Austin American Statesman, the Houston Chronicle, and the Dallas Morning News will do to them if they oppose political correctness, or immigration, or CHIP.
In truth, the editorial boards sit behind their curtains like the Wizard of Oz, turning dials, creating smoke, and shouting into amplifiers. But when it all comes down to it, they’re helpless against the people. And on Prop 2, the people gave them the finger.
Michael Sullivan, of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, hit on this in an editorial a few years back called "Why the Statesman Doesn’t Matter." Sullivan argued, rightly so, that politicians should tune out the media, because ultimately, they’re not representative of anything but a liberal fringe.
The liberal bias in media nationally is well-known and heavily commented upon. One might think that Texas, being a conservative state, would at least skew the data a little in the direction of moderation. Not so.
In 1992, I was a journalism student at Texas A&M – arguably the most conservative state university in the country. In a straw poll of students in the department, Bill Clinton and George Bush were virtually tied, even though, campus-wide, Clinton came in third after Bush and Ross Perot.
At the most conservative state-run journalism program in the nation, the best conservatives could do was break even. Of course, A&M’s journalism program has now been shut down.
Journalism attracts liberals the way business schools attract conservatives. In 1974, with the resignation of Richard Nixon – which resulted in great part from the work of reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein – a new era in journalism began. Fueled by almost limitless egos, the belief arose that it was now the proper place of journalists to change the world, as opposed to just reporting on it. With that attitude, of course, it follows that a newsman’s role is not to just tell us what the people think, but to advocate for what they should think.
And advocate they have. Virtually every conservative politician has been skewered and stretched on the rack of the editorial pages. Time and time again, the media have endorsed against the conservative agenda. And time and time again, the people of Texas have ignored them and voted their conscience. The Houston Texans have a better winning percentage.
Maybe it’s time that we took journalists at their word. How often have the editorial pages called for political representation that "looks like Texas." How often have they demanded that businesses hire more minorities? How often have they called for more diversity?
Perhaps they could illustrate this sacred principle by taking the lead themselves. If you want a diverse editorial board, you don’t hire five white liberals, a black liberal and a Hispanic liberal. That’s not a diversity of ideas.
When was the last time a paper hired a white male from Abilene? A suburban woman from The Woodlands?
The bottom line is that Texas newspapers don’t look like Texas. Certainly not the Texas that voted for Prop 2. Maybe it’s time for elected officials to brush aside the gnomes and follow the will of the people who voted for them, not the rantings of editors who didn’t.
Reading where a bunch of Hollywood types (you know the ones... people that everyday folks like us relate to on a daily basis) are throwing lush fundraisers at some of their posh tinsletown cribs for possible presidential runs by the Hillary & Al set.
Anything wrong with that? Not really when you consider that most middle class and poor folks wouldn't be caught dead throwing a fundraiser for anyone Demo. or Republican.
No, what really makes this a story is that there's been a lot of talk from the SoCal set about Al Gore redeeming and transforming himself... ...OK...
Redeeming himself from what? There's never been a more vocal group than the Gore apologists who thinks this guy walks on water. So how do you go from that lofty perch to a position of having to redeem yourself?
Transforming himself into what? Right...Now here's where he can really shine because if we don't know anything about Al, we know he's "transformable". He can go from cigar store indian wooden to slash and burn outrageous in the blink of an eye - or one month in an election campaign.
With all this promoting by the glitteratti for redemption and transformation there still seems to be one huge disconnect with Al...any germ of a new idea or thought concerning anything relevant.
There are two ways to get to know what Texas Jew-boy Kinky Friedman is all about. The first is to is rent the 70s movie The Songwriter, starring Willie Nelson and Kris Kristopherson. No, Friedman wasn’t in it but you’ll get a pretty good idea of the world he comes from. The second way is it to hear him speak. Having done the former, today I did the latter at the Society of Industrial Realtors lunch where the Kinkster was a stand in for former SOIR no-show (the governor was attending a funeral) Gov. Rick Perry.
It was informative. For example his crowd learned what has six balls and … well … the answer is the State Lottery. Actually there was a lot of nervous laughter from a crowd apparently unsure if it was OK to laugh at Friedman’s bawdy humor.
I also learned Friedman’s plan for closing the Texas border. He credits former Texas Ranger (the ones with guns not bats) Wakeem Jackson with what he calls the “Six Mexican Generals” plan. It works this way: you divide the Rio Grande into six sectors each commanded by a Mexican general. Then you deposit a large sum of money in an escrow account for each on New Year’s Day. Throughout the year you deduct $1000 for each illegal immigrant caught on the Texas side of the border. On New Year’s Eve you give each general his balance due.
It is unclear how Hispanic votes may respond but along with a lot of nervous laughter from the SOIR crowd there were a lot of heads bobbing a yep. One thing for sure, Kinky Friedman is dead serious about closing the US border even if a governor really can't do that much.
Friedman did say that Texas needed migrant workers and he had no plans to send those already here home. Instead, he wanted the Mexican government to subsidize their education and health care. “If they won’t do it where they are supposed to do it, maybe they’ll pay us to do it,” was his idea.
The sell-out crowd also learned that if Texas had a Secretary of Energy Kinky would name Bio-Willie Nelson to the post (for those who don’t know Nelson is the number one promoter of bio-diesel fuels). Since Texas doesn’t have such a secretary Kinky allowed as how Willie was more likely to wind up as (honorary) head of the Texas Rangers.
Friedman did hit some serious themes. He noted that “Gov. Perry had called six special sessions of the legislature to deal with education and obtained a single vote: a 150 to 0 vote against his own education plan.” He also decried “teaching to tests where kids think the Civil War was fought in Europe.” Friedman is clearly willing to spend more on teachers and more on education in general.
He took several swipes at the governor’s big business contributor base by suggesting that he would “take Texas off eBay” and suggesting he would appoint “young people to boards and commissions instead of billionaire contributors.”
Friedman had a blast for both parties when he wondered how a state “that has a majority of non-White Democratic leaning voters can elect Republicans and why it is that Republicans can control everything and not agree and anything.” He considered that a recipe for “an independent victory.”
“How could he work with politicians after bad mouthing them for a year?” one man asked. “Easy,” said Freidman, “I’ll charm the pants off of them.” Apparently he hasn't met many politicians.
To hear Friedman talk is to realize he has become deadly serious about the race. Can he win? Well, when I was a kid growing up on a North Texas ranch I knew a lot of folks like Kinky. They weren’t Jewish Country singers; they were Scots-Irish, Southern Baptist farmers bit they talked a lot like him and thought just like him. They would have liked Kinky a lot. They might have even voted for him.
Norm is on the road back home and thinking about how Football is a game of seconds not inches. A year of study, blood, sweat and tears and in four minutes the Eagles are headed down, the Cowboys are headed up.
No point offering advice to the Democrats, who have the world, and also their chief Republican adversary, by the tail. So we gather, anyway, from the polls. Still, for the record:
What goes around, comes around. Or, as W. H. Auden phrased it notably 66 years ago, "Those to whom evil is done/Do evil in return." Now evil is a strenuous words to use in the context of an indoor sport like American politics, but the enduring insight is worth attention. What you do comes back to bite you. When/if, as the Democrats plan, they go back to running America, they will find Republicans -- maybe a whole bunch of them -- acting out lessons learned at Democratic knees. Such as:
1. Don’t just assent to a federal judicial nomination nomination. Question. Doubt. Fight. Don't let a putative enemy -- a Ruth Bader Ginsburg, say -- on the court without demanding to see all, meaning all, the nominee’s papers, then fretting aloud over whether he or she will upset the court’s delicate balance. Call the nominee, if you must, an :"ideologue" who is "out of the judicial mainstream."
We can’t say yet that this approach has worked in the case of Judge Samuel Alito. It has worked well, nevertheless, at the appeals level, where Democrats, by glowering and threatening, have managed to keep off the bench various judges of excellent ability and repute, all of whom they would have confirmed 15 years earlier, before -- sigh! -- we all started hating each other.
2. Don’t work with the president on anything. Nancy Pelosi in the House and Harry Reid in the Senate have perfected this approach. Everything GeorgeW. Bush says is -- to them -- suspicious and probably a violation of civil liberties.
Democratic pooh-bahs don’t even need the facts. The script says, Bush lied us into war, only rich people benefit from tax cuts, and who needs oil that comes from an Alaskan wildlife refuge?
As for ending the Iraq war in a way congruent with American interests, and thus dignifying the American loss of life there, that’s fine, but don’t anticipate from the opposition party any whispered words of sympathy. Further, let’s question every rationale for the war, so that, if homefront obstructiveness takes its toll on our effort, we Democrats can say, told you we shouldn’t have gone in there. Let’s hire some more special prosecutors, by all means.
These are large and mighty lessons from the minority party. It might behoove Republicans at all levels of party life to keep rags and silver polish handy to make these lessons bright when, as they must some day, the Democrats retake control. What’s the fun of minority status if not to make the majority miserable? I think that about capsulizes the present Democratic attitude.
It never is fair to posit some magical time when politicians of different parties and large ambitions worked together large-mindedly for the common good. Politics, based as it is on the lust for power, is about as nasty as a trade as, well, pro football. Republicans, we may now have to admit, overdid the Bill Clinton thing: indeed, showed toward the guy the same kind of visceral dislike many Democrats manifest towards George Bush.
Even if every article of Sen. Joseph Biden’s weekend knock against White House integrity proved Gospel true, where would that get us at the moment? What good would it do?
Democratic rancor over the war and the high court makes it hard for members of the two parties even to talk civilly to each other. That's why this word to wise Democrats. What goes around can come right back and bite you in the hindquarters. Likely the Republicans should have taken that advice to heart back in impeachment times, but you know what? That's gone. What's left is the ugliness and corrosiveness of 2005: of which, if you know human nature, you can bet we haven't seen nearly the last.
DallasBlog.com welcomes Sandra Lewis's Blog on Food and Life. Sandy has garned legions of fans worldwide as she has blogged about food and its role in life. Delightful and serendipitous Sandy doles out recipes, restaurant advice and more and drops it all in a background that makes reading Food and Life the kind of experience that gets your day started right.
A well-placed Dallas source has told DallasBlog that Dallas County Republican Judge Margaret Kelliher was observed recently having lunch at the Palomino restaurant with a number of local Democratic operatives, including former Dallas Council member Lois Finkelman.
The word on the street is that Judge Kelliher has struck a deal with Democrats relating to the retirement of Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson. Representative Johnson is expected to retire either in 2006 or 2008, at the latest. If she steps down, State Senator Royce West is the odds on favorite to replace her. Then, according to the scenario laid out to DallasBlog, John Wiley Price would run for West’s seat in the Texas State Senate. Both West and Price will have served enough time in state government and county government respectively to be entitled to their full pension as elected officials.
The interesting part comes next. If Price were to step down as County Commissioner, the County Judge unilaterally appoints his replacement. There are many excellent Black Republicans to choose from in Dallas County, but our sources tell DallasBlog that Judge Kelliher has made a deal with Dallas County Democrats to appoint a Democrat to that post. In return for that commitment, Dallas County Democrats would agree not to mount a serious challenge against Judge Kelliher when she runs for re-election as a Republican in 2006.
It may only be November 2005, a year away from the next general election, but with District Attorney Bill Hill announcing that he won’t run for re-election, and with Republican Judge Kelliher wooing Dallas County Democratic activists, it looks like 2006 already is shaping up to be a very interesting election campaign year in Dallas County.
The newly created Texas Tax Reform Commission, headed by former Democratic Comptroller John Sharp, meets next Monday, November 21st, in Austin for the first time.
Rep. Garnet Coleman criticized the governor November 7th, saying the Sharp Commission was not inclusive enough in its membership. Coleman said the commission should include educators, workers and consumers. Will Lutz reported on the Coleman criticism of the Commission in a November 7th story at DallasBlog.
John Sharp reacted to Coleman’s comment in a reply published in the San Antonio Express-News. Sharp said, in what has to be the quote of the week, that: "I love Garnet to death, but I think if he died and went to heaven, he’d complain about his room."