But it was made all the better that I didn't have to attend alone - in a Houston suburb called Katy I met up with two of our eastern volunteers, Carl Wetzel and Frank Freeman, both of whom have given amply of their free time to aid our election.
Thank heavens, because I would have never been able to navigate downtown Houston in the morning traffic. Carl drove, and we arrived at the courthouse in plenty of time. That's right - unfortunately it was a courthouse, with a formal hearing format planned, and all citizens not invited as witnesses were stuck in the gallery without permission to speak. Disappointing, because I spent all week compiling McCaul's history on immigration and I had a number of prickly questions to ask.
Still, the Civic Justice Center is extremely pretty. Out front we had our basic pro and con groups.
Someone has got to tell the pro-immigration side to stop chanting in Spanish. Every syllable just annoys the con side even more and adds fuel to the flame. You can hardly blame them for wanting an English-speaking country, though of course such a law is not Constitutionally allowed to our federal government. After a solid morning of trading simplistic chants across the chain link barrier, neither side seemed much in the mood for reasonable discussion. Still, Frank and I passed out Badnarik brochures at the noon break.
The hearing itself wasn't anything exceptional, though it was certainly long. Thanks to McCaul's clever campaign strategy of never showing up, anywhere, Wednesday was the first day any of us on the staff even got to see him in person. Ted Ankrum, the Democrat candidate, was also in attendance, making it all the more a pity that Michael could not come. (He was in Austin for a Taxpayers' Rights event) McCaul opened up the hearing quite amiably, explaining that this was a solemn and important issue and it would be a shame for anyone to politicize it.
He then spent the rest of the day reminding everyone that his House bill would solve any problem you could name, and when he wasn't talking about it then Sheila Jackson Lee would remind us that her bill will solve all those problems even better. It was, in a word, shameful.
The witnesses were a worthy group of border patrol agents and local sherriffs from the border areas, all with horrific and (I'm sure) very truthful accounts of gang violence and drug cartels. Nobody addressed the issue of why these black market groups have so much power. (Hint: it's supply and demand) Instead we listened to story after story of all the weapons these gangs have, how well equipped they are, how dangerous a war it is for our agents. None of this is insignifcant, but it's a stretch to say it was solving a problem. And since McCaul only seemed interested in plugging his bill after every testimony, he didn't seem very interested in a new solution either.