August 21, 2003
I've run out of clever title ideas

I guess I don't have any more excuses for avoiding Killer D/Texas 11 stuff now that I'm safely out of class and back in touch with the world. There really isn't much to report - the Dems have amended their lawsuit to claim that their First Amendment rights are being abridged, the Republicans have scoffed in response, and the clock keeps ticking on Special Session 2: The Governor Strikes Back. There's a bit more coverage here, and an interesting history of an episode of quorum breaking in 1870, which may or may not offer some parallels to today, depending on which university political science professor you ask for a quote.

During the 1870 special called session, the boiling-point topic was the state militia.

The senators who left the chamber went to a nearby Capitol committee room to discuss strategy, according to Volume 2 of The Texas Senate, a history edited by Patsy McDonald Spaw, secretary of the Senate.

The Senate sergeant-at-arms sent to retrieve them "flung himself through" a committee room window because the senators had locked the door, according to Spaw's history. He finally convinced them to return.

The "Radical Republicans" had the absentees arrested, then excluded from their seats all but four necessary for a quorum, according to the Handbook of Texas Online. The term radical was applied to those who "were more willing to accept black suffrage" and take action against postwar violence, Moneyhon said.

Several of the quorum-breakers were held under arrest for three weeks so the Radical Republicans could pass their legislation, the handbook says.

One of the senators E.L. Alford of La Grange was expelled after an investigatory committee found he "did, in contempt of the Senate, violently resist said arrest, and did forcibly close the shutters" of the committee room, according to Senate history.

Seems a bit extreme to me, but I no longer rule anything out if I can help it.

Dave McNeeley blames ambition for the stalemate, the Star-Telegram calls out Tarrant County Senators Jane Nelson, Kim Briner, and Chris Harris to "tell Perry and Dewhurst that the current redistricting-poisoned special legislative session should end immediately", and the Chron salutes Bill Ratliff. On a different topic, the Morning News says Texas should be more like Colombia, whose citizens are about to vote on a reform that would "require that the votes of all elected officials be public". I'll drink to that.

Finally, a little comic relief, spotted by Gunther in the Political State Report:

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- After rumors swept the ranks of Texas Senate runaways that arch-foe Tom DeLay had been in town, the Democrats swept their Marriott hotel rooms Wednesday for electronic bugs.

They found no evidence of eavesdropping, but 11 Texas Democratic senators on the lam in Albuquerque took the possibility of cloak-and-dagger tactics at least somewhat seriously.

"There have been some clicks and some things like that," said Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus and a leader of the boycott of a special session on redistricting. She said staffers did not tell her they had had the rooms checked for listening devices, but she did not think it was a bad idea.

"Let's face it, it's happened in Republican administrations before," she said, alluding to the bugging effort central to the Watergate scandal that felled President Nixon.

U.S. House U.S. House Majority Leader DeLay, R-Sugar Land, is the mastermind of the congressional redistricting effort the Democrats are in Albuquerque to block. When Democratic state House members fled Texas in May to block redistricting in the regular session, DeLay tried to involve federal agencies in the effort to track them down.

The Democrats heard rumors that DeLay paid a visit to Albuquerque last week.

A spokesman for DeLay denied that, and called the Democrats paranoid.

"It's the latest offering from the conspiracy-theory-of-the-month club," Jonathan Grella said. "Sounds like someone is aggressively tapping the Marriott minibar."

John Madden once told a story about an opposing coach, who after addressing his players in the locker room at the Oakland Coliseum at halftime, looked up at a light fixture on the ceiling, shook his fist at it, and yelled "And damn you, Al Davis! I know you're in there!" Given all that's gone on so far, it's hard to blame the Dems for feeling that way about Tom DeLay.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on August 21, 2003 to Killer D's | TrackBack

I hope that Special Session 3 isn't titled the Return of the Democrats...

Posted by: Lavoisier1794 on August 22, 2003 9:51 AM

The coach John Madden was referring to was Harlan Svare of the San Diego Chargers, the perpetual doormat for the Raiders of that period. It's also the title of a collection of essays written by Jack Murphy, beloved sports columnist of the San Diego Union (so beloved that we briefly named a stadium after him).

Posted by: Jon Gallagher on August 22, 2003 4:06 PM

Thanks, Jon. To the best of my recollection, I read that story in Madden's seminal work Hey, Wait A Minute! I Wrote A Book!. It's pretty funny either way.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on August 22, 2003 4:34 PM