April 14, 2007
More on Danno's outburst

For those of you who didn't get a chance to see or hear the fracas on the floor of the Senate yesterday, the video is here - jump ahead to the 5:01 mark for the good stuff - while Greg and RG Ratcliffe have audio clips. If you just want to read more, visit Professors R-Squared, who scored the fight for Sen. Whitmire and who have links to more coverage, or see Danno's response to Patricia Kilday Hart.

I think it's important to remember that Dan Patrick isn't playing by the same rules as the rest of the Senate. His message and his mandate weren't to go there and work with committees to effect change mostly at the margins. It was to go there and to express the very contempt that he so clearly showed yesterday for a system that doesn't operate the way he thinks it should and doesn't hold to the values that he thinks are important. He's a bomb-thrower, not a legislator. His closest comparables are people like Lon Burnam, and his mission is to be an agent of change. He fully expects, and I daresay welcomes, the slings and arrows that he'll suffer in service of his goal, because it fuels his narrative of one man against a corrupt machine that will do whatever it must to keep him down. From his perspective, and by his means of scoring it, he won that fight on Thursday.

The thing is, though, that even some of Patricks' supporters might realize that he actually had the power to enact some of those cuts from his $3 billion list. He was on the finance committee, after all, and probably could have gotten enough support there to shave a few million bucks here and there. Not a whole lot - if any of the things he was proposing were obvious or uncontroversial, it's a sure bet that someone else would have brought it up - but enough perhaps to make a statement. (His list is on his website. For the record, there are things there, like eliminating abstinence education and the Texas Enterprise Fund, that I agree with.) Even by Patrick's rules, his performance didn't carry the same clout it would have had David Dewhurst shunted him off to committees that held no interest to him or had less real power. Patrick had a real opportunity, and he chose instead to do what he has always done, which is basically lob spitballs from the back of the classroom. The explanation he gave to Kilday Hart for his timing is baloney and self-serving. He was there when the budget was being made. If it's not to his liking, then some of the blame for that is his. If this was the best he could do, then maybe next time Dewhurst should put him on the Agriculture committee. At least then his aggrievedness will feel more genuine.

One last point. Something that ideologues of all stripes have a hard time with is the realization that most people - the mainstream, if you will - don't agree with them on most things. The reason Patrick's List would mostly not have passed muster is because most of the things on there have real support for them, and most legislators would not want to give a future opponent the ammunition of having voted to kill them. It's easier to rattle sabers than it is to change minds, and sometimes the reason minds don't change is because they had it right the first time.

UPDATE: As two people, including Patrick's chief of staff, have noted in the comments, Sen. Patrick is not on the finance committee. I'm not sure why I thought he was - partly, I misread the Kilday Hart posts, partly I remember that he did get good committee assignments and extrapolated from there. Either way, it's no excuse for not looking it up, and I apologize for the error. However, Patrick is still a Senator and not just a guy in a radio booth. He may not have been on Finance, but he could have made proposals, authored bills, or introduced amendments, to do the things he wanted to. He could have affected the process, timing issues or no, but chose this path instead. Kilday Hart makes a similar point in her response to him.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 14, 2007 to That's our Lege

Your post is pretty fair until you get to the Finance Committee part. Dan is not a member of the Finance Committee and therfore had NO input into the process. Once the budget came out of committee on Tuesday those not on the Finance Committee had just two days to review a $152B budget. The Senate suspended the printing rule which made it even harder for us to get the text. The list we came up with was completed just as the Senate went into session. The decision to release the list to the press was not made until the tone of the debate demanded its release. Meanwhile the body suspended the rules that bills be "heard on three several days"; limiting the public's input into the debate.

In short, the process of limiting public input and debate forced our hand and demanded the strategy we employed.

I should know all this since I am Dan's Chief of Staff and I am the one who finalized the list and wrote the press release (with the type-o in the headline "eaned" instead of "earned" - that is proof we were rushed).

We knew all along there would be supporters and detractors for each item on the list. However, in a debate about the state not spending enough, we wanted to at least begin the conversation about where we might look to cut.

Posted by: court koenning on April 14, 2007 3:52 PM

None of the freshmen are on Finance.

Posted by: A on April 14, 2007 6:16 PM

This is what happens when we put people in government that hate government. He reminds me of what Sam Rayburn said about people like him--it takes a master carpenter to build a barn, but any jackass can kick it down.

He isn't there for any reason except for his own ego. He isn't there to serve anyone except his own ambitions.

He is a bully. He doesn't give a shit about the middle class. The real middle class would never be mistaken for rich people.

Homeland Security is a federal issue. So why not scream about the lack of federal support rather than make like he cares about the middle class of Texas.

The Leg cannot ever be accused of overspending. We are the cheapest bastards in the nation. So Whitmire is a fabulous man--a hero. Patrick is a thug.

Posted by: jaye on April 14, 2007 11:34 PM

Rep. Lon Burnam should not be compared to the worst of the right, he should be compared to the best of the right and middle and left.

He's got your provable democracy right here:

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Go To:

Find Contact Information for your Texas Representatives at:TX Lege Members

THE most important action to take right now, is to contact your House Representative by visiting their Capitol office and/or mailing or faxing a personal letter urging him/her to sponsor HB 3894 (the bill for Hand Counted Paper Ballots 2007) NOW! Please go to our newly overhauled website at www.voterescue.org for contact information and an overview of the bill. When you receive a favorable reply, please let Karen Renick, Director, know at 496-7408 as soon as possible.

Posted by: Prove Our Democracy with Paper Ballots on April 16, 2007 4:06 PM