Saturday, September 09, 2006

More Barbecue. This Time in Edna With Shane Sklar

So I was out at the Fort Bend Democrats Headquarters today, and Don walked up to me and said, “you wanna go out to Edna and eat some barbecue? They have some thing going on in Senate District 18.”

I didn’t think about it very long, I just said “sure, count me in”.

Edna, Texas, I knew, was the hometown of Shane Sklar, Democratic Party nominee for Texas Congressional District 14. I figured I could use another jolt of slow cooked cow and entubed hog. So I went for it. I knew Edna was down south somewhere, just off the Senator Lloyd Bentsen Highway (US 59 to you Philistines). So I got in my fuel-efficient automobile with a Google map and drove to a gas station because I really didn’t know how far Edna was from Rosenberg. Or what the gas prices were out there.

It’s far.

By my standards, it’s far.

Senate District 18 covers an incredible amount of real estate consisting of all or parts of Aransas, Austin, Bastrop, Caldwell, Calhoun, Colorado, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Goliad, Gonzales, Jackson, Lavaca, Matagorda, Refugio, Victoria, Waller, Washington, and Wharton Counties. So no wonder there were several Democratic Party County Chairs there.

And no, the Democratic candidate for SD 18 wasn’t there. There is no Democratic candidate for SD 18. It was just a great way to get a whole bunch of SD 18 people together to revel in the excitement. And Don brought a whole bunch of these little devils (yeah, the one on the right) to the party. They are really catching on, even among the stealth Republicans who slide their campaign signs up next to them (Who, me? Republican?).

Shane Sklar showed up while everyone was feeding.

This must be some sort of record for me. The man isn’t even running in my congressional district, but this makes it 3 times in a week that I’ve shaken Shane Sklar’s hand, and he now recognizes me and reads my blog. I was so impressed with this that I bought a Shane Sklar camouflage campaign T-shirt.

So after munching on what I consider to be the second best barbecue dinner so far in the 2006 campaign, Don, who is on the SDEC, called the meeting to order and introduced Shane. He started talking and I told myself I should pay close attention because I now had a subject for my blog. I got a pen out of my pocket, snatched some unused napkins, and took notes this time. Shane’s got a lot to say, and some very unique issues. I wanted to get it right. (Yes, my handwriting is horrible, but the napkin wasn't cooperating, and I had a cheap, cheap pen).

By the time I started writing, Shane was on insurance rates. He says that even his health insurance went up. And the man is 30 years old and healthy as a horse. It’s all because of the pharmaceutical industry, he says. Here we have an industry whose profits are among the highest in the world in comparison to their costs, and we are paying higher insurance premiums because of the gift that the Congress and Senate gave to Big Pharma last year This is a government subsidized industry, and we are paying more on top of what we have been, all because of their greed.

Then he laid into his opponent, Libertarian in Republican Clothing, Dr. Ron Paul. Recall in a previous posting, I mentioned that Ron Paul is a card-carrying Libertarian (who runs for congress as a Republican – it’s OK to vote for Libertarians if they say that they are Republicans). He spends most of his time in Congress making his Libertarian points. Points that are entirely out of the mainstream of 21st century American politics.

For instance: Dr. Paul, Shane says, wants to put the United States economy back on the gold standard – you know, the economic standard that caused the collapse of national economies worldwide back in the 1920’s? Shane said that Paul is so out of the mainstream that he worries about the price of gold, when he should be worried about the price of gasoline.

Shane said that Paul’s hypocrisy was revealed when he announced the passage of HR 4939, a relief bill for Hurricane Katrina victims. What Paul failed to mention, however, that he voted against the bill. Shane said “he helped us with Hurricane Katrina”. “What did he do?” someone in the audience called out. Shane: “I’m still trying to figure it out.”

Shane mentioned an interview Ron Paul gave to Libby Copeland of the Washington Post two months ago. Copeland added to this article, and you can find it right near the end, this:
“On his opposition to war in Iraq, he told a radio interviewer a few years ago, 'I'm generally very much ignored'."
Shane argues that if your Congressman is ignored, then his constituents are also ignored. He has self-confessed: he can’t get it done.

Shane’s campaign is picking up vis-à-vis the money thing. His only hurdle, he says, is name recognition. In a poll, 48% of the district voters would vote for someone new other than Ron Paul. Shane’s task, he says, is informing them who that new someone else is.

Shane’s message is that Democrats, for far too long, have remained quiet, maybe because of things that went on in Clinton’s term, but that “they now have more than enough reason to speak up”. Republicans have become more concerned with political gamesmanship than solving problems. Signs like “Had Enough” are an appropriate expression of Democratic outrage.

In closing, Shane said what has become my favorite tagline for his campaign, and it is a powerful one:

“I don’t believe we need a congressman who wants to make a point. I believe we need a congressman who wants to make a difference”

That was the highlight of the meeting and the dinner, although the food was up there on my short list of good things that happened in Edna. Third highest? Don's remark that it is widely known, and getting around, that Shane is a hunk. Second highest? I think they were remarks by a county chair in the audience, can’t recall her name, a delightful person, who in her remarks about what strategies in the past led to successful elections, said that what works is when we put a team together, we all like each other, we’re all friends and we support each other. Democrats win when Democrats work together toward their common goal.

True dat.


Susan said...

Hal - her name is Evelyn Burleson and she's one smart cookie. She's everybody's favorite county chair - all over Texas.

Hal said...

Thanks. I have a bad time with names. I knew you would straignten me out.