Tuesday, March 04, 2008

In honour of the Political Process ...

... Might I present something to really hack you off?

When it comes to legislative hi-jinks, the Texas State government has never failed to both amuse and disgust -- at the same time, in some instances.

In what other State would you have four State legislators take over the Speakers dais for the purpose of singing "I Had A Dream, Dear" in perfect harmony while over 150 of their buddies were flinging furniture and punching each others lights out?

The following, though, is pushing the limits. By way of Tolewyn:



Apparently, it seems to be common practice in the Texas Legislature that if a Congresscritter isn't present for a vote, any other Congresscritter can cast the vote for him.

I don't know about anyone else, but I elect my critters to State and Federal office to actually, you know, do some work. I vote for them; they vote for me -- that's the deal.

Them. Not someone in the next desk, not someone from the other party -- I want the bugsnipe whom I voted for to cast his own sodding vote on my behalf.

You know, you'd think I'd be used to this level of contempt from those sent to Austin and DeeCee to represent me -- but I still get disgusted and angry every time.

Damned critters.

LawDog

20 comments:

phlegmfatale said...

What an embarrassing spectacle-- seeing adults behaving in such an unconscionable manner! They need to be called on the carpet for this. It's not as though they keep a rigorous schedule, or anything (they meet for 140 days every two years). I think we all need to run for Texas Senator - _I_ could use the time off and the pay increase. The woman making the big excuse at the end about no bathroom breaks - what absolute twaddle! Why should they need bathroom breaks when they obviously don't even show up half the time?

Jerks.

bob@thenest said...

Yep, if the definition of critter is rule/lawbreaker, you've got 'em tagged.

So, three options, right?

1. Follow the rules.
2. Continue to ignore the rules.
3. Change the rules to fit the behavior.

Care to place bets on what will happen?

Forlorn Boater said...

On a similar note: I watched live on CSPAN the 1994 Congressional vote on the "assault weapons" ban. They have a little countdown clock timer for voting, and I was watching the clock run down down down, and the ban was failing. The clock ran to 0:00 and the ban had failed! WE WON! ... wait, what? They're still voting? And now we're losing... and NOW the vote is over?

Laws and sausages, indeed.

Tony said...

"In what other State would you have four State legislators take over the Speakers dais for the purpose of singing "I Had A Dream, Dear" in perfect harmony while over 150 of their buddies were flinging furniture and punching each others lights out?"

Never mind the button pushing, this is something that we need to see! :D Link to the video? Pretty please?

Rorschach said...

Part of the problem with the Lege and the Senate here in the Greatest State of Texas is that they are only paid something like $600 a month when in session, and nothing when not in session. That means you limit the kinds of people who can afford to run for the job. If the job paid a wage in which I could afford to eat, I'd certainly consider running myself, but the simple fact of the matter is that it is not a job in which you work 140 days every other year, you work pretty much 24/7.
As a result you get people like this that feel they are immune from the ravages of the electorate because they know nobody can afford to run against them.

Rorschach said...

Point of information, I know someone who was seriously considering running against Riddle in the primary but backed out because he couldn't give the habit of eating. As a result she is unopposed.

Rorschach said...

excuse me, that should read "give UP the habit of eating"

John S said...

D*d California does the same thing.

Legislators should be drafted and compelled to serve - any one who wants the job should be disqualified - the Cincinnatus model.

Yeah, I know that wouldn't actually work...

Anonymous said...

Singing "I Had a Dream Dear" is nothing.
Back in the late 1940s, our little town was faced with becoming a whistle stop. In other words, the railroad would no longer schedule the trains for regular stops here.
At the time, we had a mayor who was somewhat larger than life: a Buford T. Justice clone if there ever was one, and a lawyer, smart as a whip, but who enjoyed small town antics.
At the time the lawyer, whom we'll call Jack, had an office downstairs from the Buford T's lair, and was the recipient of frequent visits from Hizzoner, usually saying, "Jack, I'm bored. What'll we do?"
Then, "I know. We'll have a parade!"
And right smartly, we had one. My childhood was probably the scene of more parades than the Royals in England.
Now, Hizzoner, being faced with this ultimatum from the railroad, rose up in a fury, stomped downstairs and announced, "Those sonsabitches! They aren't getting by with this!"
Whereupon the wheels were set in motion. A local bakery was commissioned to build a cake. Years later, it was still the largest cake ever produced in the Great State, and it was in the shape of a train.
Red and black whistles in the shape of locomotives were ordered by the dozen.
Schools were let out.
A leading light of the town, one of those slashing dark females with lovely magnolia skin, black hair, and deep black pools for eyes for which Texas is rightly famous, was drafted to cut the cake.
When The Day arrived, a mule pulling a Model T was parked across the RR tracks and the railroad duly informed that there was a blockage on the track.
The train stopped, Sidonie cut the cake, and Buford, chewing his ever-present cigar, and the Lions, Rotary, and Chuck Wagon Gang climbed onto the train with punch and cake.
It did no good to refuse the cake. Buford was prepared to force-feed, if necessary.
The Railroad Commission immediately fielded the complaint, and Buford was ordered to appear before the Texas Congress in Austin to answer for his deeds.
Jack, being the lawyer, went along with him.
When his name was called, Buford, never one to hide his light under a bushel, was not quietly seated awaiting his turn, oh, no.
He and Jack were outside the chambers in the hall. Buford, with two large paper grocery bags, and Jack, bringing up the rear with two more, strode into Congress flinging red and black locomotive whistles with merry abandon.
They were pounced upon by our diginified legislators, who proceeded to turn the chamber into a shambles, blowing whistles and tossing them one to another.
Nah. Singing is totally pissant.
LawMom

Anonymous said...

Singing "I Had a Dream Dear" is nothing.
Back in the late 1940s, our little town was faced with becoming a whistle stop. In other words, the railroad would no longer schedule the trains for regular stops here.
At the time, we had a mayor who was somewhat larger than life: a Buford T. Justice clone if there ever was one, and a lawyer, smart as a whip, but who enjoyed small town antics.
At the time the lawyer, whom we'll call Jack, had an office downstairs from the Buford T's lair, and was the recipient of frequent visits from Hizzoner, usually saying, "Jack, I'm bored. What'll we do?"
Then, "I know. We'll have a parade!"
And right smartly, we had one. My childhood was probably the scene of more parades than the Royals in England.
Now, Hizzoner, being faced with this ultimatum from the railroad, rose up in a fury, stomped downstairs and announced, "Those sonsabitches! They aren't getting by with this!"
Whereupon the wheels were set in motion. A local bakery was commissioned to build a cake. Years later, it was still the largest cake ever produced in the Great State, and it was in the shape of a train.
Red and black whistles in the shape of locomotives were ordered by the dozen.
Schools were let out.
A leading light of the town, one of those slashing dark females with lovely magnolia skin, black hair, and deep black pools for eyes for which Texas is rightly famous, was drafted to cut the cake.
When The Day arrived, a mule pulling a Model T was parked across the RR tracks and the railroad duly informed that there was a blockage on the track.
The train stopped, Sidonie cut the cake, and Buford, chewing his ever-present cigar, and the Lions, Rotary, and Chuck Wagon Gang climbed onto the train with punch and cake.
It did no good to refuse the cake. Buford was prepared to force-feed, if necessary.
The Railroad Commission immediately fielded the complaint, and Buford was ordered to appear before the Texas Congress in Austin to answer for his deeds.
Jack, being the lawyer, went along with him.
When his name was called, Buford, never one to hide his light under a bushel, was not quietly seated awaiting his turn, oh, no.
He and Jack were outside the chambers in the hall. Buford, with two large paper grocery bags, and Jack, bringing up the rear with two more, strode into Congress flinging red and black locomotive whistles with merry abandon.
They were pounced upon by our diginified legislators, who proceeded to turn the chamber into a shambles, blowing whistles and tossing them one to another.
Nah. Singing is totally pissant.
LawMom

Firethorn said...

I think that they all deserve ten years in prison and a lifetime ban from any political/government office.

James E. Griffin said...

Resident Heretic here. Texas actually has some decent legislators. Proof? No personal income tax, and shall issue concealed carry.

Are there other taxes collected? You bet, but not nearly that of New Jersey or Taxachusetts.

Then there's the sheer number of bills filed: 7,536 in the House; 3,454 in the Senate. As others have noted, Texas is a part time legislature. They also have limited staff - I'm not a Texan, don't have time to look up number of staff. Somebody's gotta read the Bills. And no one person can read all the enrolled bills and stay sane, so you break up the workload.

Lastly, for this post, all legislatures have their own factions. Let's say a lobby - The Texas Assoc. for Professional Criminals - gets the attention of a bleeding heart legislator - say from Austin. (Did I say Austin? Silly of me.) He/she/it introduces legislation.

The TAPC is upset at the rural Bugscuffle Sheriff's department for putting their members in jail for disrespecting Texas statutes. The introduced legislation declares all Bugscuffle Sheriff's Lawdogs are currently in violation of Texas' vicious and dangerous dog statute. Penalties will apply if the Bill becomes law.

Another lobbying group, Right Thinking Texans for Goblin Abatement, are alarmed by the above bill, and get the attention of decent legislators - say those who voted for shall issue concealed carry. The fight is on, legislatively. (Hell, in the case of the above bill, may I suggest a fist fight may be in order?)

TAPC gets their legislators to have committee votes on their bill scheduled to conflict with another bill scheduled that RTTGA needs defeated - say a state personal income tax.

Say the folks from Austin almost have the votes in committee to pass both bad Bills. Since the Folks from Austin are the natural ally of TAPC, they're gonna schedule votes at conflicting times, and try to split up the good guy's numbers. (OK the acronyms are beginning to confuse me!)

The solution for the Good Guys? Good Guy 1 tells Good Guy 2 that he'll be at the committee vote voting against the personal income tax, and he'll carry Good Guy 2's proxy vote; Good Guy 2 carry's Good Guy 1's proxy to defeat the Bill to put down, at taxpayer expense, all Bugscuffle Sheriff's Lawdogs. Happy ending, both bad Bills defeated because one legislator can cast a proxy vote for another.

QED.

Firethorn said...

griffin,

The solution for that would be absentee voting or actually paying legislators a 'living wage' for their work.

Besides, from what we've seen it's more of a 'smash any available voting buttons' than structured proxy voting. Even if the legislator is sitting right there but is distracted.

James E. Griffin said...

Folks, the resident Heretic will have to disagree once again with some of you.

CBS 42 leads in with the voter ID Bill; around the nation, there are folks who want illegal aliens to be able to vote, even though they're not citizens. Looks like a media setup coming.

This video to me is clearly a media "gotcha" that misrepresents what's actually happening. Like accusing patrol police officers of "racial profiling" when cops know who commits most crime in their jurisdiction, and they patrol accordingly. Most media don't want to talk about career criminals, unless it's to bash the local Police Chief, or those who run the local jail.

In a legislature, paper ballots took some time to count, and recounts were a female dog. And in a show of hands, you had to watch: some folks would mess with the vote. Some guy in the back would raise both hands, the speaker's staff had to watch and count carefully.

The solution became electronic voting. There used to be only 3 buttons: green for aye; red for nay; and amber for abstain/present. Then someone's switch/button didn't work. That's why there's 6 buttons on each desk - a redundant backup.

Now, each vote is clearly seen on the electronic tote board. Has a legislator gotten mixed up and voted wrong? Absolutely, but if it's on the tote board, it's easier to see and correct. Normally to much laughter.

By the time a Bill comes to a vote, the whip organization BETTER know how most every legislator is going to vote: it's called vote counting, before you bring the bill to the floor. What I see in the video is clearly proxy voting. Remember there's only a limited time in which to vote.

Since there seems to be a house rule against proxy voting, I'd say it's an oops - somebody on the speaker's staff goofed, because most legislators know that without proxy voting, a chamber will be brought to a standstill. Even a full time legislature can't function in reality without proxy voting. Somebody should have found the rule against proxy voting in time to have it removed.

Would an opposing legislator want to embarrass a Speaker if possible? Yup, and insert funny language down in the whichness of the wherefor of the rules, and hope it got missed.

James E. Griffin said...

On the subject of a living wage for legislators. That's a full-time legislature, the Hamiltonian ideal. There are arguments yea and nay on this.

A full-time legislature means professional politicians. Some folks don't like that. A full-time legislature and staff means folks learn how to work the system better. And that can have problems of its own.

Part-time legislators with full-time staff means that unelected staff can sometimes run the show. Not good.

The part-time legislature is a Jeffersonian/Jacksonian idea. You wanted folk in office who've already "made it" in their own lives; they're, out of civic duty, giving something back to their community. In other words, you want legislators who are successful in real life making law, hopefully showing others in the community how to "make it" on their own. They know what works in real life, and hopefully make law that helps their community.

The other side of the argument is do you want to be governed only by rich people?

Lastly, a full time living wage legislature is considerably more expensive to the governed.

If I were given my 'druthers, I'd have a legislature that would do only that which myself and my friends/family cannot reasonably do for ourselves. Government would mostly leave folks to live their own lives, with as little interference as possible. But that kind of freedom scares some people.

Paul Simer said...

I saw this going on in the AR state senate on a high school trip. I asked the tour guide if that was OK and was blown off.

45govt said...

Hey, you guys get off lightly. The British government in direct contravention of an election manifesto promise to give a referendum on the issue, has just signed away our sovereignty to the unelected EU.
We are no longer masters of our own destiny, and this was done in the face of an +80% rate of public opposition to the signing.
Yep, you want crooked pols, look across the pond, to Ex-Great Britain.

Anonymous said...

WTF is THAT!?

I simply cannot believe that we let any legislator have more than 1 vote. I could see it if they had a written and signed proxy - but even then, I'm not a happy camper. Let the other idiot actually show up and vote.

Whatever happened to having someone recorded as "absent?"

Unbelievable!!!!! This has GOT to be stopped, ASAP.

Paul W
San Antonio

Feanaro said...

That's not unique to Texas.

I paged for a Representative in the Alabama House. "Hey, vote yes for me, I gotta pee."

Kevin said...

The practice is known as "ghost voting", and Texas isn't the only place it's used.

Tar and feathers, anyone?