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Sh*t John Cornyn heard in a bar

Pity poor John Cornyn, the so-called “senior” Senator from Texas.

Following Ted Cruz’ surprise victory in last year’s elections for Texas’ other US Senate seat, Cornyn has been brown-nosing Cruz and every other right-wing wacko he can find, prior to having to face Republican primary voters in his own re-election next year. He undoubtedly fears that he’ll be pasted with the dreaded “establishment Republican” label and lose to somebody far more wacky than him. That’s exactly what happened to Lt. Governor David Dewhurst, the heavy favorite to win last year, until he got pasted with the “establishment Republican” label and lost to the far-wackier Cruz.

So as post-2012 election Republicans nation-wide take stock in their party and make course corrections, Texas’s own proud native son’s course correction? Go nuts. His specific objective is to be just slightly more nuts than Cruz – a difficult task, given that Cruz’s objective is to be just slightly more nuts than Joe McCarthy.

Cornyn’s latest effort on that front is to claim, via Twitter a couple of weeks ago, that a “friend” told him that 300 people per night are crossing the border on his property:

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Let’s do the math. 300 people per night would be 109,500 people per year. Oh hell, let’s give the immigrants Christmas and Easter off, and call it an even 108,900 folks. That’s more people than the total population of Round Rock, Wichita Falls, or Odessa. And they’ve all been sneaking in undetected by all, in one spot, except for Senator Cornyn’s “friend.”

The people who actually do this for a living say it’s ridiculous, and Cornyn steadfastly refuses to identify his “friend.” At this point, it might be a fair question to inquire as to whether Cornyn feels like he actually has a friend. One would hope he at least has a faithful dog.

This would all be pretty funny except that this ain’t some back-bencher Louie Gohmert nutcase deal: John Cornyn is the number two Republican leader in the United State Senate. This is what passes for the upper echelon of the national Republican leadership, folks.

Forget about how Texans should demand more out of their elected grown-ups – how ’bout if the National Republicans demand better from their own leadership? When it it going to occur to thinking Republicans – and there are plenty – that the people at the very top of their political food chain are acting like morons, and in turn are making non-tea party Republican-leaning voters nation-wide look like idiots for having supported them?

Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, Senator. And here’s the truth:

– the number of people we are catching as they cross the border has decreased dramatically, a measure which even Republican agree means fewer are crossing in the first place

– the number of people we’re deporting is at an all-time high – a lot higher than under the Bush administration, or Clinton before Bush

– the percentage of border real estate under “operational control” has been dramatically increasing, not decreasing, by an average of about 126 miles per year since 2005

– the number of border patrol officers has more than doubled, from about 10,000 to 21,000, between 2004 and 2012. And those of us who hang out in the border region can see it – you can’t hardly swing a dead cat around there without slapping some hapless border patrol guy.

Senator Cornyn is fully capable of being part of solutions, and as the number two Republican in the Senate, one who think he would be. He should opt for that, instead of trying too hard to avoid getting picked last on the Republican schoolyard kickball team by repeating stories he hears in bars and continuing to be part of the hyper-partisan fear-mongering blather machine.

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Buzz from the TV show

On last week’s Capital Tonight on YNN Austin, which was a pre-game show of sorts for the U.S. Senate race debate last Thursday, I was asked to war game out what was at stake for the candidates. I said it was Ted Cruz’ “last best chance” to break through and force an error by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst. If post-debate polling is to be believed, Cruz failed to do so. That said, the pollster has close ties to – you guessed it – Dewhurst.

Spoiler alert: when – not if but when – you watch this week’s Capital Tonight, you’ll be doing so in our brand new time slot: Thursday nights at 7 pm. We have magnanimously done this, of course, to give you enough time after work to avoid being completely sober by the time you tune in. We’re much better-looking that way.

The fun starts at 7 pm Thursday night, on YNN Austin, and on the Texas Channel in other Texas media markets, channel 888 on Time-Warner systems.

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My U.S. Senate endorsement

Did you see the U.S. Senate debate last week on Houston public TV, which featured Democrats Paul Sadler and Sean Hubbard, as well as the four Republican horsemen of the apocalypse? If so, congratulations – you’re one of a handful of Texans who tuned in.

Debates like that are usually only important if they create a subsequent buzz. Since few people watch the actual debate, it is only if somebody seizes the moment, royally screws up, or otherwise makes a strong impression one way or another, the public discussion afterward can sometimes swing enough votes to affect outcomes.

So here’s my own personal buzz, for what it’s worth: while it might surprise and maybe upset a few people for whom I have a lot of respect, after watching the debate I’ve decided I’m voting for Sean Hubbard in the Democratic primary.

Sean Hubbard

Both Hubbard and Sadler comported themselves very well. Both articulated values with which I, as well as most other Texas Democratic primary voters, wholeheartedly agree. I believe either would make a fine U.S. Senator.

But here’s the deal: both Democrats in the race are under-funded. And unless one of ‘em wins the lottery, there’s no particular reason to believe that each won’t remain underfunded, especially compared to the Republican nominee, who intends to buy this Senate seat.

To be sure, lightning does occasionally strike in politics, but it usually doesn’t. So barring some unforeseen circumstance which changes the financial game, the reality is that Texas is one of the most expensive states in the nation to get out a message, the Republican nominee will have the funding necessary to saturate that message, and the Democratic nominee won’t. And while that’s a terrible shame, it also makes it more likely that the Democrat won’t prevail this November.

This, in my view, makes who Democrats nominate no less important. We have a Party to build. It cannot be built without growing enthusiasm, and it cannot be grown without attracting new voters to us, while retaining the support we’ve maintained.

Paul Sadler

There’s no doubt Paul Sadler is a rock-solid guy, and always was. He has a deep understanding of policy details which I deeply admire. And the likelihood that he would attract few new voters to the Democratic column is more a reflection on the electorate than it is on him. During the debate, he was the quintessential policy wonk, explaining government to people, with deep knowledge and much wisdom. I’m the kind of dork who likes that stuff. Most voters’ eyes glaze over.

Sean Hubbard surprised me at the debate. He is no less articulate than Sadler. He demonstrates an open-mindedness about new ideas, while simultaneously making clear that he would not turn his back on Democratic values. And mostly, he oozes enthusiasm and positive energy from every pore.

At 31, he looks younger than that, and he pointed out that he’s already older than Joe Biden was when Biden was elected to the Senate. Hubbard would be more likely to garner an excitement in a general election which is greater than the sum of its parts – not just because of his age, but because of his infectious enthusiasm and unapologetic zeal for the race. Isn’t that the kind of Democratic candidate that grows more voters than the “smartest guy in the room” types Democrats have already tried?

Here’s hoping lightning strikes. But even if it doesn’t, Sean Hubbard would be the kind of Democratic nominee more capable of attracting new folks to the Democratic column. It’s potentially important in that U.S. Senate race, it’s important in down ballot contests, and it’s important in future Party-building and elections.

To help you make your own decision, you can watch the Senate debate here. Also, while you’re listening to the Democrats, it’s also fun to watch the Republicans as they each explain why they’re totally for women’s freedom, even as they document why they’re not in favor of supporting any of those freedoms.

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