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The opinions of Steve Southwell, Editor of the Lewisville Texan Journal
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Lewisville City Council Breaks Wind

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/12/24 21:40:00 (2883 reads)

From the "If it ain't fixed, break it" department: On December 18th, the Lewisville City Council passed an ordinance banning the use of wind turbines for the generation of electric power within the City of Lewisville.

Here’s how the Agenda item read:

19. Consideration of an Ordinance Amending the Lewisville Code of Ordinances Prohibiting the Use of Wind Turbines for the Generation of Electric Power Within The City of Lewisville.

ADMINISTRATIVE COMMENTS:
Commercial windmill farms are becoming more common in Texas, generating pollution free electric power in larger and larger amounts. Typically these windmills, or wind turbines, are found in sparsely populated locations outside of metropolitan areas. There is, however, increasing interest in using private wind generators for producing electric power for individual home use. Published information about individual wind turbines indicates that such towers would range from 45 to 85 feet in height, but also express concerns about the noise made by the turbines. It is possible that future technology will provide a less intrusive way of harnessing energy from the wind, but until then the current technology would appear to provide more of a noise nuisance than benefit when used on individual lots within an urban area.

RECOMMENDATION:
That the City Council approve the proposed ordinance prohibiting the use of wind turbines for the generation of electric power within the City of Lewisville.

OK, something just doesn't smell right to me about this. Did we really have a problem with too many wind turbines within the city limits? I sincerely doubt that "noise" is the issue here, since most of the city is in the extremely noisy flight-path of DFW Airport, or along the extremely noisy I-35 corridor. A light "whup, whup" sound in the background might actually be soothing, compared to the ambient noise levels in the city. I can certainly understand the sense that you wouldn't want to have these within tightly packed residential neighborhoods, but if that were the motivation, then why not just enact zoning regulations for them, with appropriate setbacks and decibel levels?

I've requested more information from the City, and will update this post when I receive it.

Most of Texas' wind farm generation comes from West Texas, and feeds the grid for consumption mostly along the I-35 corridor. Transmission congestion for the 375KV Texas power grid has throttled Texas wind generation quite frequently lately according to ERCOT records, with the generators producing more voltage than the grid can handle. Upwards of 30% of the power generated is lost via transmission. Relocating power generation sources closer to the point of usage requires less generation. Of all power sources, wind energy is the most environmentally friendly.

I think the city should reconsider this ordinance, and hear cases for wind generation on their individual merits.


WhosPlayin.com is powered by 100% wind energy.

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Was There a Major Safety Issue Found at Comanche Peak Recently?

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/12/17 23:29:04 (1637 reads)

Though I'm not a full-time journalist, I do attempt to publish only substantiated stories here, and not rumors. However, the cat is out of the bag that I'm following a lead about major safety issues recently found at Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant.

Since I covered the Michael Burgess Town Hall meeting this summer, and he mentioned Nuclear power as being in his preferred list of options, I've wanted to do a few blogs to thoroughly explore the issue, explaining as best I can in layman's terms how nuclear energy works. I put out the first in my 3 part series about Nuclear Energy this summer, and have been sitting on part II waiting on some time after the elections to get more news resources and examples of the various types of safety failures I was trying to explain.

That's why it piqued my interest when I heard on KERA 90.1 FM (our local NPR affiliate) on Friday, Dec. 8th that inspectors had found 2 major problems in the nuclear power plant in Glen Rose: Firstly, that a water tank designed to flood and cool the reactor in the case of an emergency situation had been left dry, and apparently may have been dry for a period of years. Secondly that some of the chemical mixtures for the reactor had been improperly formulated.

Today, when I went googling for that story, I was unable to turn it up anywhere, so I sent an email inquiry to one of the local bloggers down in that area at the Somervell County Salon to see whether they had heard anything of this story.


I've been unable to find a report of it on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's websites for Comanche Peak:
Comanche Peak Reactor #1
Comanche Peak Reactor #2
This of course assumes that it was the NRC that found the problem. I suppose it could have possibly been the NNSA (National Nuclear Security Administration).


At any rate, I'll keep looking for information on the problem, and will publish an update when I find it. In the mean time, if anyone reading this knows where I might find a copy of the report or the citation, either confirming or discrediting this story, please contact me, or post a comment.

If I understand the problem correctly, this was a failure of the safety system that would have been used in the case that the reactor needed emergency cooling water to quench the heat and/or slow the reaction by using a chemical mixture that reduces neutron flux. I'm speculating to some extent because I'm not a nuclear chemist, nor am I familiar with the plant's design, nor have I seen the report - only heard it on the radio.

To put this in an analogy I think is fair, imagine going in to get a tire changed on your car, and you discover that lo and behold, your brake is totally missing on that wheel. Further, your car shows evidence that it's been missing the brake for years. All this time, even after taking your car to the shop for professional maintenance, you've been driving with only 75% of your braking power. Now imagine that instead of a 2 ton car capable of thousands of dollars in damage, and killing several people, you're driving a rig that has an output rated in gigawatts and kilotons, and is capable of killing thousands and costing billions in damage. If the story is true, it's quite disturbing.

In the event of a meltdown or containment breech at Comanche Peak, residents of Glen Rose would be the first to buy the farm, but depending on weather conditions, the DFW Metroplex could see mass casualties as well

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Will Congressman Burgess lose his seat on Energy and Commerce? (updated)

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/12/10 3:39:34 (1701 reads)

In the 109th Congress (2005 - 2006), our 26th Congressional District Congressman Michael Burgess served on the prestigious 57 member Energy and Commerce Committee.

Since the Democrats have taken control of the House, I'm going to take a guess at what's going to happen here. First, according to this house website, Burgess is ranked 30th of 31 Republicans in seniority in this committee. There are currently 26 Democrats on the Committee. Since the committee will likely balance out to 30 Democrats and 29 Republicans (or possibly 31 to 26) Democrats will gain 5 to 6 seats.

First, lets see which Republicans are leaving the committee by virtue of not being re-elected:
- Vice Chairman Michael Bilirakis is out. His son Gus was elected to take his place, but this doesn't give him a place on the committee.
- #19, Rep. Charles Bass was defeated by Democrat Paul Hodes.
- #26, Rep. Butch Otter, left office to become Governor of Idaho, and was replaced by Republican Freshman Bill Sali.

So, the three Republicans above have lost their seats. If the Republicans have lost at least 4 seats, then strictly by seniority ranking, then #31, Rep. Marsha Blackburn of TN should lose her seat. If the Republicans have lost at least 5 seats, then by seniority, #30, Rep. Michael Burgess will have to go too.

As of now, Democrats have 231 of 435 seats, meaning a 53.1% majority.
29 of 57 seats equals only 50.8%, whereas 30 of 57 is 52.7% - most closely mirroring the new majority makeup. Since 5 congressional seats still hang in the balance, if those seats went to Democrats, it would take the majority to 54.3%. If Democrats had a 31/26 ratio on this committee, it would roughly equal 54.4%.

Update 12/12/06 - 10:09pm: With Ciro Rodriguez winning the CD 23 race, defeating Republican Incumbent Henry Bonilla, Democrats now control 232 of 435 seats, meaning a 53.33% majority. As of now, that would still mean 30 to 27.

Though Republican Leadership doesn't HAVE to enforce seniority, it seems possible they will:
- North Texas Liberal reports that Michael Burgess will serve as Vice Chair of the GOP Policy Committee. Sounds to me like a nice consolation prize.
- In a recent newsletter, Burgess highlighted his "4th Annual 26th Congressional District Transportation Summit on Tuesday, November 28th" which was held at the Texas Motor Speedway. (In his first term, Burgess served on the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he submitted a bill for a whopping $5 mil. to expand I-35. The bill died in committee, if I remember correctly.)

On the other hand, Burgess was ranked by Congress.org as #36 in effectiveness compared to other members of the Energy and Commerce Committee, outranking 6 other Republicans.

We won't know committee assignments for sure until they are approved by the Committee of the Whole, but I would say that it's quite possible Burgess would lose his seat on E & C. Only the Republican leadership, and perhaps Burgess himself knows for sure.

What does this mean for North Texas?

It's hard to say for sure. Having Burgess move down to the Minority party, makes him even less effective in having our local interests heard. However, he hasn't done a stellar job of that so far, so we don't lose much. Given that Texas is facing over a dozen new fast-tracked coal-burning power plants, we could use a E & C bill that imposes tough federal regulations to prevent this "race to the bottom" that Rick Perry has placed our state into.

That being said, based on my personal conversation with Burgess, I think he actually understands the problems we face with energy. With less Republican pressure on him, he may come to his senses and vote his conscience on some of these things.

He still opposes fixing Medicare Part D to allow federally negotiated prices, and this is something that falls under the 33 member E&C Subcommittee on Health. If he stays in the E&C Committee, his profession as a medical doctor will most assuredly guarantee him a seat. In my opinion, this is a bad thing. Being a doctor qualifies one to fix the human body, but it doesn't necessarily allow one to fix an ailing system. Since he's been down in the trenches in healthcare, he knows a thing or two about the system, but he's not demonstrated much understanding of the concept of universal coverage. He has, on the other hand, worked to cap malpractice claims against incompetent doctors. He does seem to be against the practice of lowering payments each year to Medicare providers, and that's a smart thing - one of the few that I agree with him on.

So, I guess I'm ambivilent. If I were totally partisan, I'd want him off the committee, so he would lose seniority and be easier to beat next election. But it probably benefits North Texans to have a member on that committee with seniority. I'd rather throw Joe Barton under the bus on this one.

I think we'll see John Dingell as Chairman, and Henry Waxman and Ed Markey as Vice Chairs. (I don't know much about Dingell, but I'm impressed by Markey and Waxman)

I'd be interested to hear the thoughts of others on this. (Mike - chime in here, if you want to...)

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2007 Congressional Schedule is Posted - 145 days in session.

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/12/10 1:52:17 (2550 reads)

The work schedule for the 2007 Congress has been posted.

The 2007 congressional calendar, by Majority Leader Steny Hoyer goes through the end of October and has Members working 4 1/2 days per week instead of the 3 days maintained under the Republican leadership.


January: 16 voting days, 2 days "Republican Retreat", off for MLK day, Swearing in, and voting begins Jan 4th.
February: 12 voting days, 5 days "District Work Period", 2 days "Democratic Retreat"
March: 19 voting days
April: 10 voting days, 10 days "District Work Period" (including Passover, Good Friday, and Easter)
May: 17 voting days, 4 days "District Work Period"
June: 19 voting days, 1 day "District Work Period"
July: 15 voting days, 5 days "District Work Period" including July 4th.
August: 3 voting days, 20 days "District Work Period"
September: 15 voting days (4 days off for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur)
October: 19 voting days with scheduled adjournment on the 26th

Members will be required to be in DC for 145 days, and will have ALL weekends off. Congressmen will generally be required to be present by 6:30pm on Monday nights when Congress is in session.

There are 45 days marked as "District Work Period".

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Immigration: Enforcement or Progress?

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/11/25 23:32:38 (1555 reads)

Sebastian Lara has posted a lengthy but worthwhile essay on the topic of immigration reform: Enforcement or Progress on his blog, Burrocracy.

In the essay, he examines the similarities between the laws that enforced segregation before the civil rights movement, and the laws that are being proposed to clamp down on immigration. Here's an excerpt:

Federal policy that is unrealistic and unjust, was enforced through local laws that establish and institutionalize this injustice. Only after the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision, which revered Plessy v. Ferguson, did federal law change and similarly so did local laws where segregation was legal.


This is relevant to today’s topic of immigration because as much as anti-immigrant proponents deny they are racist, little else explains the fervor that is expressed in their efforts today. Proposition H.R. 4437 has encouraged dozens of communities to propose anti-immigration laws in order to make life difficult for immigrants. They admit it themselves. “Since mass deportation of illegal immigrants is impractical, then we must make lives as hard as possible on them, so they go back home,” they argue. They go on to argue “we must make sure no one hires them, no one rents to them, ensure that they do not benefit from public schools nor get health care benefits.” Furthermore, many anti-immigrant proponents feel that illegal-immigrants have no rights at all, that because they are not authorized to be in this country that this is justification for mistreatment, exploitation and humiliation of these people, and support laws that would facilitate them to do as much. In recent demonstrations they have chanted, “Rule of Law, rule of Law!”


Read the entire article at Burrocracy...

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My Thoughts About the 2006 Mid-Term Elections

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/11/11 12:21:13 (1307 reads)

It has taken me a while to absorb the results of these elections. I've purposely held off commenting until now because I wanted to be able to share my thoughts without emotions getting in the way.

I worked very hard on these elections. This was the first time in my life that I've had so much invested in the outcome of an election. As a Democratic precinct chair, I was responsible for turning out the Democratic vote in my precinct. As a campaign advisor and volunteer for Tim Barnwell for U.S. Congress, I was responsible for trying to make the most of limited campaign resources and get our message to the voters. As an alternate election judge, it was my duty to make sure that every eligible voter had the opportunity to cast their ballot and have it count.

As a Democrat, I can say that overall, I'm very pleased and optimistic about our outlook as a nation. With control of both the Senate and the House, checks and balances are now restored. The nation's business will hopefully now be addressed and not take a back seat to the corporate interests and partisan stranglehold that have so badly corrupted the process.


For Texas the only bright spots for me were that the voters of Central Texas soundly rejected the campaign tactics and big money backing of Nicholas Van Campen Taylor, in favor of moderate Texas Democratic incumbent Chet Edwards, and the voters in Sugarland, Texas rejected Shelley Sekula Gibbs in Tom Delay's old district, choosing Democrat Nick Lampson - the former Congressman and victim of the Perry/Delay/Craddick redistricting scheme.

Overall, I think Texas loses because of this election. The majority of voters chose "anyone BUT Rick Perry" and they lost. Rick Perry will serve yet another term. Because the voters re-elected Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Attorney General Greg Abbott, nothing will stop him from continuing to sell off our public lands, allow the pollution of our environment, and shortchange our children's education.

Had the voters actually strayed from partisanship long enough to look at the Attorney General's race and compare the records and stances of the candidates, I do believe that informed voters would have chosen David Van Os. He would have been the balance that Texas so sorely needs in its government. He would have put a stop to the Trans-Texas Corridor project, held corporate interests accountable for their misdeeds, and protect children.

Here in Denton County, no Democrat won any office. That was very disappointing, but yet, we see that our candidates did better than they ever have. We gained a few percentage points over the past election cycle, and it's part of a trend.

What went wrong? I think the question presumes an expected outcome of victory. Victory for candidates in Denton County would have been considered as an upset. Of course victory is what we all worked for. You never try for anything less. But the expectation would have been that we energize and turn out a higher percentage of voters for Democrats than in years past. We did that and gained momentum, despite the fierce competition from a well-funded well-oiled Republican machine.

In the race for U.S. Congress, for instance, we did quite well. In a heavily Republican area, (Dick Armey's old district) we garnered 37% of the vote for our Democratic candidtate, Tim Barnwell, despite the fact that he only had a $15,000 budget, compared to the $780,000 of his opponent, incumbent Republican Michael Burgess.

    When I think about what we have to work with here in Denton County, I believe that our problem is systemic:
  • Denton is part of the Dallas - Fort Worth media market. For local candidates, getting on television is prohibitively expensive. The free coverage of the elections provides little time for the candidates, but it's rarely prime-time. Coverage in local papers is almost irrelevant because of declining circulation. Further, since the Dallas Morning News is owned by the Belo Corp., coverage is definitely slanted.
  • Texas voters overwhelmingly identify themselves as Republicans or Conservatives. Many of these identify as such because of the "values issues". The Democratic party has done a poor job of explaining our values.
  • The Democratic position has been defined to the public by conservative radio and television commentators.
  • Because we have a Republican incumbency, there is a momentum there that is hard to break. The power of incumbency provides the Republican candidates with P.R. opportunities that the Democratic candidates just do not get.
  • The Democrats do not have a "farm team" of suitable candidates for higher office who hold lower offices.

So, the solution to bring Denton County back into balance is to work at breaking that system. On November 8th, we started on that. You'll be hearing from us in a big way in 2008.

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Happy 231st Birthday, Marines!

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/11/10 19:09:51 (1312 reads)

Today is November 10th, 2006, and it is the U.S. Marine Corps' 231st birthday.

As is tradition, here is the Commandant's message:



Quote:
UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS BIRTHDAY MESSAGE - 10 NOVEMBER 2006

ON NOVEMBER 10TH, 1775, OUR CORPS WAS BORN AS THE CONTINENTAL CONGRESS RAISED THE "FIRST AND SECOND BATTALIONS OF AMERICAN MARINES." EACH YEAR AS WE CELEBRATE OUR BIRTHDAY, WE PAUSE TO REFLECT ON THE MARINES OF YESTERYEAR WHO FOUGHT IN OUR TOUCHSTONE BATTLES AND FORGED THE MODERN MARINE CORPS WITH THEIR COURAGE, INTEGRITY, AND UNDYING COMMITMENT TO THEIR FELLOW MARINES. EACH OF OUR STORIED BATTLES IS A LINK IN THE LONG CHAIN THAT BINDS ALL MARINES TOGETHER-FROM THE CONTINENTAL MARINES AT BUNKER HILL TO THE TEUFELHUNDEN CROSSING THE WHEAT FIELDS OF BELLEAU WOOD. THIS CHAIN BINDS US TO THE MARINES ON THE CREST OF MOUNT SURIBACHI; IT PASSES THROUGH THE ICE AND SNOW OF THE CHOSIN RESERVOIR AND THE STEAMING JUNGLES OF VIETNAM, AND IT ANCHORS FIRMLY TODAY IN THE DESERT SANDS OF IRAQ.

THIS YEAR'S CELEBRATION AGAIN FINDS MANY FROM OUR RANKS SERVING WITH
DISTINCTION IN HARM'S WAY. AS WE HAVE FOR THE PAST 231 YEARS, OUR CORPS IS ANSWERING THE NATION'S CALL. I CAN REPORT FIRST HAND THAT OUR MARINES FIGHTING ON THE FRONT LINES OF THE LONG WAR ON TERROR ARE PERFORMING BRILLIANTLY, ACQUITTING THEMSELVES WITH HONOR, DEDICATION, AND DIGNITY IN DIFFICULT AND DANGEROUS ENVIRONMENTS.

ALL MARINES ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE. REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU ARE SERVING, YOU ARE ADDING NEW CHAPTERS TO THE LEGACY THAT WAS EARNED WITH SWEAT AND BLOOD ON OLD BATTLEFIELDS. JUST AS PREVIOUS GENERATIONS OF MARINES SHAPED TODAY'S MARINE CORPS, YOUR DEEDS ARE MOLDING THE CORPS OF TOMORROW. OUR CORPS HAS NEVER BEEN STRONGER, AND ALL AMERICANS ARE EXTREMELY PROUD OF YOUR MAGNIFICENT PERFORMANCE AND UNWAVERING COMMITMENT TO SERVE OUR CORPS AND COUNTRY. WITH HIGH CALIBER MARINES LIKE YOU, OUR FUTURE HAS NEVER BEEN BRIGHTER.

ANOTHER IRREPLACEABLE ELEMENT OF OUR SUCCESS AS MARINES IS THE TERRIFIC SUPPORT WE RECEIVE FROM OUR FAMILIES. THROUGH THE LONG HOURS, THE EXERCISES, AND THE COMBAT DEPLOYMENTS, THEIR SUPPORT IS UNCONDITIONAL AND FIRM. THEY GIVE US LOVE AND DEVOTION, PROVIDING US WITH THE STRENGTH TO DRIVE ON WHEN DUTY CALLS. TODAY WE SHOULD ALL ACKNOWLEDGE OUR LOVED ONES FOR THEIR PATIENT, STEADFAST SERVICE.

TO ALL WHO HAVE EARNED THE TITLE MARINE, TO THE SUPERB SAILORS WHO SERVE WITH US IN EVERY CLIME AND PLACE, AND TO OUR PRECIOUS FAMILIES-I WISH EACH ONE OF YOU A HEARTFELT HAPPY 231ST BIRTHDAY.

SEMPER FIDELIS AND KEEP ATTACKING!

M. W. HAGEE, GENERAL, U.S. MARINE CORPS

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Michael Burgess ignores Air Traffic Controllers

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/11/10 18:28:17 (1783 reads)

Another public letter to Michael Burgess from yet another peeved constituent:

Dear Congressman Burgess,

Congratulations on your re-election to U.S. Congress.

I had received a (mass) e-mail from you over a week ago, campaigning for your re-election, and wanted to respond to you then but decided to wait until after the election when I would have more to say. And boy, do I have more to say.


You probably don't remember, but I had contacted you back in June of this year concerning a matter between the FAA and the Air Traffic Controllers. A bill introduced in the house, H.R. 5449, would have ensured fair negotiations between the two parties instead of a forced, one-sided contract by the FAA which would all but guarantee the early retirement of nearly 4000 eligible Air Traffic Controllers by the end of 2007, causing a severe shortage, because of the financial penalties and demoralizing work rules hammered upon these highly skilled, dedicated professions. The bill was supported overwhelming by the House but was not enough to meet the 2/3's required to pass the bill, as set by the Speaker of the House.

YOUR vote, even after many pleas via e-mail and phone calls, was an astonishing NAY. As I had advised in a follow-up letter to you, my husband is an Air Traffic Controller and we, along with other members of NATCA, would be taking into consideration the actions of our elected officials over this important issue come election time. My husband even invited you to tour the Fort Worth (air traffic control) Center as his personal guest so that you would have any opportunity to see first hand what it's like to be an Air Traffic Controller. Not surprisingly, there was no response from you.

Aside from that, virtually EVERY petition or request I have ever sent you on ANY issue was answered back with some lame excuse as to why you opposed it, rubber-stamping the Bush agenda, rather than standing up and doing what was best for middle-class American. And now you are no doubt extremely disappointed that the Democrats have completely swept control of Congress, but as they say... WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND.

And although there was little chance of you NOT winning your own re-election, given the disproportionate amount of money you had to work with over your challenger, it gave me great satisfaction to support and vote for candidate Tim Barnwell. I admire Mr. Barnwell as he has worked tirelessly and given up his own substantial earnings for over a year in order to campaign full-time for what he believes is best for this district and the American people, against the odds and without big corporate or special interest money. I only wish there were more honest and courageous candidates like him.

From here on out, I will NOT be contacting you with petitions and/or requests as I have found that those efforts only fall on a deaf ear. But this election should be a wake up call to you that, although you may fit in with the 'good ole boy' mentality here in Texas, you are completely out of touch with mainstream America.

Hopefully, this will send a clear message to the Republican Party -- for their actions and inactions over the last several years -- that you can fool the American people for awhile, but you can't fool them forever. Sooner or later truth always prevails. Good luck in your political life.


Sincerely,

Linda Booth
North Richland Hills, TX

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Why Vote?

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/11/7 6:29:49 (753 reads)

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Interview with Barbara Ann Radnofsky for U.S. Senate

The Editor's Column
Posted by WhosPlayin on 2006/11/6 14:42:42 (1230 reads)

Recently, you may have read my FAKE post-debate interview with Kay Bailey Hutchison. That was just for fun, but now we have a REAL interview with Barbara Ann Radnofsky - the most qualified candidate for Senate. She's running against Kay Bailey Hutchison.

WhosPlayin: Barbara Ann, thank you tremendously for taking time out of your schedule to share your thoughts with our readers. You've been quite a busy lady - are there any cities left in Texas that you haven't visited? What's the total trip count up to now?

Barbara Ann: We're driving back from 562, in San Antonio!

WhosPlayin: And you must be getting an ear-full from people at each stop. Which issues are people approaching you with the most?

Barbara Ann: 1. Iraq 2. Economy and wasting our taxpayer dollars 3. Health care

WhosPlayin: How often do you hear from citizens of the opposite political persuasion? Do you still see any common ground, or are things just too divisive for constructive conversation?

Barbara Ann: I hear from Republicans and Independents all the time, because I reach out to them. There's lots of common ground.

WhosPlayin: I know from hearing you speak that you are a woman of faith. You work with the Anti-Defamation League as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation (an organization with broad ecumenical interest to Jews, Christians, and other Scholars). Would you care to share a bit about how your religion has played a role in your values and your life's mission, and how it might serve to guide you in your policy decisions?

Barbara Ann: I am a deeply spiritual person and believe in the golden rule. Favorite biblical phrases and stories always motivate me. You won't be surprised I love the story of David and Goliath.

WhosPlayin: The Republicans piously rant about "restoring family values". In fact, their platform for 2006 states:
Christian Nation - America is a Christian nation, founded on Judeo-Christian principles. We affirm the constitutional right of all individuals to worship in the religion of their choice.
Yet the policies and budgetary priorities that your opponent and other Republicans have supported seem anything but family friendly or "Judeo-Christian". Why do you think prominent religious leaders and the American public have failed to call them on it? Is it the "wedge" issues, or are the American people really buying this?

Barbara Ann: I'd speculate unnecessarily on motives of that. Folks ache for common ground and civility. One of my favorite sayings from Hillel comes to mind: "If I am not for myself, who will be for me. But if I am only for myself, who am I? And, if not now, when?"

WhosPlayin: A majority of Americans now seem to think the war with Iraq was a mistake. Republicans like your opponent, Kay Bailey Hutchison, still try to link Iraq with 9/11 and W.M.D.s. They've likened dissent to disloyalty, and seem to have framed the issue as if there are only two options: "Finish the Job" (whatever that is) or "Cut-and-run". Now the situation in Iraq is getting worse by the day, and our presence there may be contributing. How can we extricate our troops in the most honorable way, with the least loss of life and liberty for Americans and Iraqis?

Barbara Ann: We should set goals, a timetable, and withdraw. Our presence de-stabilizes Iraq. We must provide proper equipment (including helmets and armor) to the troops there, who lack proper protection.
Senator Hutchison believes that we can not even think about leaving Iraq until the country is stabilized. Senator Hutchison is promising perpetual war. My opponent recently admitted that she did not read the 90-page classified version intelligence assessment on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The 90-page classified version intelligence assessment Sen. Bob Graham begged his colleagues to read concerned weapons of mass destruction. The document was the only national intelligence estimate requested on Iraq's WMD before the war, and was not created until Sen. Graham requested it in September, 2002.
Please take a look at my essays "No Penalty for Being Wrong" and "No More Iraqs" on the news section of
http://www.radnofsky.com

WhosPlayin: As a Gulf-War I era veteran, myself, I pay close attention to veterans issues. I know that Kay Bailey Hutchison serves on the Veterans' Affairs committee, but I don't feel a lot of love. Your press release at http://www.radnofsky.com/press_release.php?items_id=522 shows a few of her transgressions. I know that Gulf-War veterans who served in the region are dying and becoming permanently disabled at a rate double that of veterans like myself who served state-side. Gulf-War Syndrome and exposure to depleted uranium are implicated. Now we have troops coming back from the region in larger numbers with serious injuries and PTSD. If you're elected, how do you not only make things right for our veterans, but make sure that they don't have to keep fighting each time the Congress passes a budget for the year?

Barbara Ann: The key is to elect someone who will fight for the priority of assure funding mechanism for the Veterans Administration. We must also:

  • Authorize and fully fund a VA hospital south of San Antonio
  • Give Group 8 veterans medical benefits
  • Adopt a new GI Bill of Rights for the 21st Century
  • End the widow's tax and disability/pension offsets, requiring forfeiture of earned benefits
  • Restore staffing cutbacks in counselors, nurses, and other primary care providers
  • Reform veterans' death benefit and combat disability-related compensation
  • Eliminate unfair and unscrupulous lending practices targeted at veterans and military service personnel
The most recent Rio Grande Guardian news article explores indepth the funding issue, it is posted at www.radnofsky.com in the news section.

WhosPlayin: I have to ask you this for the benefit of other bloggers who have been so vigilant in trying to get out the word about the dangers to our troops and to civilians. of the depleted uranium munitions that we're using in Iraq: At a time when our president is posturing for a new war against Iran over their enrichment of uranium, we're actually shooting the radioactive byproduct of that process as bullets. Would you support a moratorium on the further usage of depleted uranium projectiles, or at least a serious study of the "collateral damage" that this dangerous substance is causing?

Barbara Ann: Yes. And, if we're to expose our troops, we must have proper screening.

WhosPlayin: There are just so many issues right now on the national level, that it's difficult to really cover them all. I appreciate that you've spent a lot of time putting together an issues chart on your website. I'd like to give you an opportunity to talk to our readers about any issues I haven't covered above, that you feel are important to discuss. What else would you like to tell our readers about the issues?

Barbara Ann: The waste of our tax payer dollars (as Texas ranks last in government largesse and 49th in per capita transportation spending, which goes to wasteful projects, like Alaskan bridges to nowhere) threatens our future, our children's future and our national security.

My legislative priorities include fiscal responsibility, education, and health care. Education and insurance reform reduce waste, save billions, avoid disease, and lower taxes. Health care reform will also ensure our ability to respond to bio-terror attacks.

I'm the daughter and granddaughter of injured veterans, and we need a G.I. Bill of Rights for the 21st century. Please see the issues chart for more details on my positions and proposals at www.radnofsky.com.

We must attack corruption and special interests, eliminate the wasteful earmark system, and make our Congress people accountable for their conduct including no automatic pay raises and no special benefit and pension/insurance system.

WhosPlayin: What would you say to those people out there who would consider themselves Republicans but feel disenfranchised from their party? Why should they vote for you - or any Democrat for that matter?

Barbara Ann: My election will restore balance, credibility, fiscal responsibility and effective representation to Texans in the United States Senate. As a mother of three, wife, teacher, lawyer and mediator, I'm a professional problem solver who knows how to represent people, how to fight for people and how to bring people together.

WhosPlayin: Anything else that you'd like our readers to know about yourself?

Barbara Ann: Texans trust me to stop wasting our tax payer dollars, to honor the promises to the brave men and women who have served our country, to eliminate the alternate minimum tax that is hurting the middle class and to advocate for Texas farmers and ranchers and bring home the drought and wildfire relief they need. I am an advocate of education and insurance reforms which will reduce waste, save billions, avoid disease, and lower taxes. Health care reform will also ensure our ability to respond to bio-terror attacks. I'm the daughter and granddaughter of injured veterans, and believe we need a G.I. Bill of Rights for the 21st Century. I've been given an A rating by the NRA and will fight to protect the constitution including the Second Amendment.

My opponent refuses to pledge to stay 6 years in the senate if elected. She has given every indication that she will cut and run from her senate service. The senior senator from Texas believes perjury is a mere technicality, she will not take a stand on outlawing horse slaughter, she has proven over her 13 years in the senate that she is a liberal spender, and she has voted to rubberstamp failed Bush Administration policies 95.6% of the time.

Under Hutchison's 13 year senate career, Texas ranks first in uninsured children, first in high school drop outs, 41st in federal funding, and drought and wildfire relief has been delayed for two years. The problems that Texas and our nation face can be solved but we need a leader in the senate who has a track record of solving problems. My opponent is not a problem solver.

WhosPlayin: Barbara, thank you so much for your time. We know that you're really busy and we wish you the best of luck.

WhosPlayin is Proud to endorse Barbara Ann Radnofsky for U.S. Senate

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