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Forget California. The real political breakdown is in Texas with Democrats still in exile. Moveon.org called to help.
August 20, 2003 5:47 PM   Subscribe

Forget California. The real political breakdown is in Texas with Democratic Senators still in exile after 22 days. Moveon.org has been called to help. Sen. Rodney Ellis writes to Moveon to help fight the on-going GOP power-grab.
posted by skallas (38 comments total)

 
Thanks for reminding, skallas. I heard about it when they walked out, but you know how the media is with following up.
posted by scarabic at 6:03 PM on August 20, 2003


Cowards. Can't have it their way, so they fled the state and now are too wimpy to come back and face the music.

And yes, if it were Republicans doing it, I'd call them cowards, too.
posted by davidmsc at 6:10 PM on August 20, 2003


I don't know, davidmsc; if they had any hope of winning the legislative fight, it might be fair to call them cowards for refusing to engage in it. Only a fool gets into a fight that he knows he can't win, though.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:18 PM on August 20, 2003


Denying the other party victory by not playing the game is an increasingly prevalent tactic. If the outcome would be bad for you, simply stall, avoid, or do not play.

This tactic does two things:
-It stalls the outcome you do not want. You are not any worse off from this, since your other option is loosing.
-It causes the other game player to be forced with a difficult situation, which is how to compel you to come back to the table.

Since use of force is generally not an option or one that the other player is, generally speaking, unwilling to take, the strategy is generally quite successful.

Until a strong countermeasure is developed I think we will see not playing and denial as increasingly prevalent strategies.
posted by rudyfink at 6:23 PM on August 20, 2003


Cowards. Can't have it their way, so they fled the state and now are too wimpy to come back and face the music.

Yeah, so, that's all bullshit and stuff. You're not calling the Republicans "cowards," but you mind telling me when you plan to call the Republicans, oh I don't know- how about "petty" for choosing to do this redistricting plan for no reason other than the fact that they can? Maybe "duplicitious" for wanting to do it only because they know for a fact the Republican majority will vote to remove up to six Democratic Congressmen from their offices? And do let me know when you'll call the Republicans "wasteful" for the amount of money they've spent on multiple "special sessions" called to serve no purpose but to continue, forever if necessary, until the GOP gets exactly what it wants.

Sorry, but bullshit. Just. Plain. Bullshit. To even suggest that refusing to participate in a fixed violation of every precedent of census-year redistricting in the nation's history at the cost of minority voter representation and blatant partisan gerrymandering for pure political gain merits an accusation of "not having it their way" on the group that DIDN'T orchestrate this shatters any sense of logic or credibility.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:31 PM on August 20, 2003


Can't we just all agree that anything Tom Delay has a part in is pure fucking evil?
posted by machaus at 6:43 PM on August 20, 2003


Two things I learned from this that I didn't know before. 1) There has already been a redistricting plan assembled by a panel of Judges which had Supreme Court approval. (As is apparently the procedure in Texas) 2) Since the Republicans couldn't get the 2/3 vote as required by state law, they did away with it.

At first I thought the Democrats were just trying to do an end-around on the Republicans by not allowing a vote. But, now it seems that they are just keeping up with the Republican end-around. No wonder politics suck in the USA.
posted by Eekacat at 6:46 PM on August 20, 2003


A little of the history of the old and honorable practice known as "Gerrymandering" (which pre-dated the word.) (PDF file.)

It's easy to take sides, but in truth it's just part of the game.
posted by kablam at 7:27 PM on August 20, 2003


I think both sides should take a break and go see American Splendor together.
posted by gluechunk at 7:30 PM on August 20, 2003


Denying the other party victory by not playing the game is an increasingly prevalent tactic. If the outcome would be bad for you, simply stall, avoid, or do not play.

Hasn't the filibuster been doing that for years?

Can't we just all agree that anything Tom Delay has a part in is pure fucking evil?

Done and done.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:35 PM on August 20, 2003


Also, just to add something possibly viable to the conversation, I was writing about this on my blog recently and came up with this, I'm sure imperfect but not-completely-pointless analogy:

Imagine if the Democrats had control of the National Senate. And the Presidency. And the SCOTUS had no ability for checks and balances. Now, say the Dems decide that even though they have a majority, it's not enough. They want a bigger lead in the national senate. They look to the West Coast. Specifically, they look at Oregon, Idaho, and California. Say, for example, that both Oregon and California, both being fairly liberal states, have two Democrat Senators each. Total of Four. Say then that Idaho, a fairly conservative state has two Repulican Senators. Total = 4 Dems to 2 Repubs.

Now say someone crunches the numbers and sees that Oregon has a much larger populous than Idaho. So they want to combine Oregon and Idaho into one State where the liberal populous of Oregon will overwhelm the relative conservative minority of Idaho. Then, to compensate for the other two Senators, they split California in half, effectively giving the state four Senators total. They find a line, no matter how loopy, where they're 95% sure that both halves will have a majority Democrat basis. Net effect: Six Democrat Senators. Net gain: Two new Democrat Senators where there used to be Republicans.

Does this sound fair? What would you do?

Feel free to trash it, but that's pretty much what the Texas Repubs are doing.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:37 PM on August 20, 2003


Bottom line - the new Right Wing political tact in America is that all that matters is to win. So it is fair to use any tricks - no matter how dirty - to further this end, to win. Again - those who pay attention to rules or scruples (derived from religion, or from wherever) are idiots)

Ironically, this power play in Texas shows how far the American Right has come in it's totalistic embrace of relativism.
posted by troutfishing at 8:00 PM on August 20, 2003


Bottom line - the new Right Wing political tact in America is that all that matters is to win.

Cool, so this means they'll finally be on par with their Democrat counterparts, right?
posted by insomnyuk at 8:18 PM on August 20, 2003


And yes, if it were Republicans doing it, I'd call them cowards, too.
posted by davidmsc at 6:10 PM PST on August 20


Well, here's your chance! It seems California Republicans resorted to the same tactic in 1994.


It's easy to take sides, but in truth it's just part of the game.
posted by kablam at 7:27 PM PST on August 20


Yes, but "the game" has always been played at scheduled intervals -- until now. Now the GOP won't let the rules stand in their way of winning.
posted by pmurray63 at 9:23 PM on August 20, 2003


Based on another facet of the callous and cruel right wing of the US, Joe Conason writes this in his new book "Big Lies":

What conservatives really hate most is a fair fight, which brings out their inner wimp. In the spring of 2001, when CNN revamped the tired format of Crossfire and introduced fiery liberal Democrats James Carville and Paul Begala to the lineup, Republican leaders started muttering about a boycott. An informal directive to avoid Crossfire leaked out from the office of the Senate Republican leadership, perhaps in an effort to intimidate the aggressive new hosts or the CNN management.

Conservatives aren't really worried about liberal bias, because they know that it doesn't exist. They just prefer a fixed fight.
(pg. 51)

Is there any question that the Republican leadership is waging a prolonged campaign of divisiveness meant to undermine the very statesmanship that politics in a democracy require? Their way or the highway indeed. These hateful, derisive bastards must be stopped for the sake of this country. They have unfortunately supplanted the very idea of what it is to be an American for far too many, as to not be a right wing extremist is to call into question one's very fitness for citizenship.

These Texas democrats are fighting with some of the last tools in their chest. Is there any question, regardless of political ideology, something has gone gravely wrong in our Constitustional Democracy when it must come to drastic measures such as this?
posted by crasspastor at 9:55 PM on August 20, 2003


Well, so long as we here can continue to avoid the wild psycho hyperbole, blatant ignorant prejudice, my-side-right-or-wrong partisanship and willfull caustic divisiveness that is the epitome of all things Republican, I still have hope for this land.
posted by UncleFes at 10:15 PM on August 20, 2003


Hah. Actually, I have some faith that these people COULD put such a wrench in the GOP plans. When this matter is put off again, and they come back, I bet the first thing the GOP will propose is changing the number of people necessary to achieve a 'quorum'. I mean, if they're willing to change the numbers needed to pass legislation, isn't it only natural and logical for them to destroy each and every constitutional obstacle that gets in their way?

Why haven't any right-wing politicians come out against gerrymandering as a practice in general? I understand that it's required by law to ensure representation of minorities in some cases, but since it keeps developing into more and more of a crazy map slicing game, shouldn't we just embrace some sort of homogenous method of splitting up the votes, making this kind of obsolete?
posted by Busithoth at 10:31 PM on August 20, 2003


Busithoth -
yeah, it's called proportional representation. And it would require a constitutional amendment to become law.
posted by notsnot at 10:48 PM on August 20, 2003


Josh Marshall once again makes the case that this is orchestrated from Washington. He followed the Democrat's last exodus, and the actual and attempted misuse of DoJ and Homeland Security resources that DeLay & Co tried to use to track the Dems down. After shredding documents and stonewalling cooperation with investigative bodies, this travesty has been sufficiently squelched.

There is one republican that did not go along with this - Bill Ratliff. He finds the whole thing so distasteful that he is thinking of resigning. Wonder if his colleagues are running television commercials crticizing him and placing a French flag in the background like they did Olympia Snowe of Maine when she wouldn't lockstep on the tax bill.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:52 PM on August 20, 2003


nice democracy or whatever you guys got going down there
posted by timb at 1:58 AM on August 21, 2003


I sent these guys some money today for publicity etc.. I'm glad this is on here. The news media in the US really is a sad sack of shit.

I bet the first thing the GOP will propose is changing the number of people necessary to achieve a 'quorum'

Actually they already thought of that. I have a much longer explanation with more background but it's an email so I can't link it.
posted by maggie at 2:12 AM on August 21, 2003


From the Daily Kos via Gray Davis' speech on republican political tactics:

This recall is bigger than California. What's happening here is part of an ongoing national effort to steal elections Republicans cannot win.

It started with the impeachment of President Clinton, when the Republicans could not beat him in 1996. It continued in Florida, where they stopped the vote count, depriving thousands of Americans of the right to vote.

This year, they're trying to steal additional congressional seats in Colorado and Texas, overturning legal redistricting plans. Here in California, the Republicans lost the governor's race last November. Now they're trying to use this recall to seize control of California just before the next presidential election.

They spent $3 million to put this recall on the ballot, but you're going to have to spend $65 million of your hard-working tax dollars to conduct that election. I'm sure you'll agree with me that money could be better spent educating our children.



This is how a democracy is run?
posted by sic at 2:58 AM on August 21, 2003


This is how a democracy is run?

No, but it is how it's spun.

I firmly believe that we live in a plutocracy that has the window dressing of democracy. Democratic process exists only as a sound bite for Begala and Tucker to bandy around with snide giggle to the wings and the ad men.
posted by Dagobert at 3:29 AM on August 21, 2003


Things to remember--

Redistricting is always a hard-fought partisan battle. Over the years, some informal 'rules' have emerged as a general truce. Both sides generally adhere to the spirit of these rules, because failure to do so can be spun by the opposing party into an electorate backlash.

There are three major rules of the truce:

1) The Rule of Ten: Districts are redrawn once after each national census, i.e., every ten years.

2) The Rule of Incumbancy: Districts are never redrawn specifically to unseat a Congressman, unless a seat is being lost (because then it's unavoidable).

3) The Rule of Turf: This is State business, and only State business. The Federal boys can keep it to themselves.

All three rules prevent the sort of tit-for-tat into which redistricting can easily devolve.

The current districting fight violates all three of these rules. Redistricting was completed in '01 under court order. The new district plans unseat minority party incumbants (who, oddly enough, represent minority districts which also go away under the new plans in clear violation of the Voting Rights Act). And it was all done at the behest of the national GOP leadership.

Me thinketh it stinketh. No matter how much perfume you pour.
posted by Cerebus at 5:59 AM on August 21, 2003


Cowards. Can't have it their way, so they fled the state and now are too wimpy to come back and face the music.

As opposed to the lying Republican Lt. Governor, and the hypocritical Republican legislators? And yeah, what everyone else has said.

By davidmsc's standard, one could say that George Washington & co. were cowards for fleeing British rule rather than engaging in a political process with London.
posted by riviera at 6:08 AM on August 21, 2003


With all the Republican-bashing going on here, I wanted to point out Texas State Senator Bill Ratliff, a Republican with a long history in our state government, who's been a thorn in Tom DeLay's side through all this because he apparently still believes in tradition and fairness.

This is from yesterday's Austin American-Statesman:

On Tuesday, Sen. Bill Ratliff, R-Mount Pleasant, disclosed that when he was lieutenant governor two years ago, DeLay asked him to drop the two-thirds tradition for a shot at redistricting in a special session. Ratliff said he refused.

He said Dewhurst made a mistake when he didn't do the same thing this year.

Ratliff said the standoff is killing the Senate's tradition of bipartisan cooperation.

"The real tragedy is that it was all predictable and avoidable," he said. "But each step that is taken, just by one more step, destroys the Senate I knew."


Ratliff has crossed party lines and sided with the Democrats at a few key junctures in the current battle, too, but I haven't had coffee yet so I don't have specifics.

I'm a very liberal Austinite who is disgusted by the GOP on a daily basis, but it's important to remember that there are still a few "old school" Republicans hanging around that believe that there are more important things than a lust for power.
posted by eyebeam at 6:40 AM on August 21, 2003


Eyebeam - To be sure. So let those Republicans who still have scruples come to the fore and save their party from the likes of Tom Delay!!
posted by troutfishing at 6:53 AM on August 21, 2003


http://www.bushrecall.org/
posted by specialk420 at 8:54 AM on August 21, 2003


bush recall. that is just silly. you'll have a chance very soon in something called an election. while I'm voting against him, he'll still win.
posted by thekorruptor at 11:14 AM on August 21, 2003


The last six months in particular have been a real eye-opener for me. I thought I understood power before this; boy, was I wrong. I have to thank the Republicans for this education. I couldn't have gotten it on the left; many people there are uncomfortable with power and therefore can't wield it effectively.
posted by Slothrup at 11:51 AM on August 21, 2003


Well, so long as we here can continue to avoid the wild psycho hyperbole, blatant ignorant prejudice, my-side-right-or-wrong partisanship and willfull caustic divisiveness that is the epitome of all things Republican, I still have hope for this land.

Speaking as a libertarian who agrees and disagrees with both major parties on many issues, let me say:

That was an inexcusable blast of psycho hyperbole, blatant ignorant prejudice, my-side-right-or-wrong partisanship, and willful caustic divisiveness.

Well done.
posted by jammer at 4:17 PM on August 21, 2003


I uphold and defend the Texas Democrats for what they're doing.

But I now abhor MoveOn.org and will never, ever give them my email address, information, or money.

Let's just say that you've been had (including me) if you participated in that "vote" to choose which candidate received MoveOn's endorsement. Did you check to share your email and information with your favorite candidate? Have you received any emails from that campaign yet? No?...then check out FEC records and check out which is the only campaign that received email addresses & other personal details from MoveOn. (Other campaigns would have killed for that information.)

If you're going to endorse a campaign, fine. Do it. It's your right as a PAC. But don't pretend to gather information under some "vote" to choose which candidate to select as your endorsee, and then sell that information to your pre-selected candidate. They knew no candidate would get over 50% and I'd be willing to bet money this was all planned. Grrrr.
posted by jennak at 4:21 PM on August 21, 2003


What would the Dean campaign do with a bunch of email addresses?
posted by turbodog at 4:40 PM on August 21, 2003


jennak, could you clarify? You linked to a sheet which shows MoveOn recieving $2,750 from the Dean campaign. This means.........?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:40 PM on August 21, 2003


I linked to said page because MoveOn did not report its expenditures; from what I understand it is not required.

None of the other presidential campaigns purchased the email list from MoveOn. (Check it out if you don't believe me -- just go to each campaigns' expenditures and look through all the "M" entries.) Only the Dean campaign was able. (I.e., the PAC only made the list available to the Dean campaign.)

$2,750 is nothing in terms of campaign spending. I dare you to find me a national campaign that wouldn't purchase a list at such a cheap price when it contains the info for hundreds of thousands of people who *asked* to be contacted about volunteering and/or contributing to their campaign -- especially if such a list was compiled by a reputable PAC conducted during a well-publicized event.
posted by jennak at 6:22 PM on August 21, 2003


Grrr, sorry. I meant to say, "MoveOn.org did not report its income...." Bad proofreading.
posted by jennak at 6:25 PM on August 21, 2003


jennak:
Well, one TPM reader noted that the Dean campaign was far more on top of contacting supporters than the Lieberman camp, at least. I actually wouldn't be surprised if the Dean camp was the only one to purchase said e-mail list; they are mounting the only new-media campaign in the Democratic run up, after all. I think you've got very little evidence to back up your claim, (how do we know that MoveOn didn't just give the list to its favorite non-Dean candidate?) and no evidence that MoveOn denied other candidates the opportunity to buy the list.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:07 PM on August 22, 2003


1) I know first-hand that this is the case.

2) No other campaigns had the opportunity to "purchase" the list -- and by FEC laws, a campaign has to purchase this kind of list. So no, it's not possible that MoveOn.org just gave the other campaigns the list.

3) Again, $2,750 is a bargin for a list of hundreds of thousands of supporters who asked to be contacted by you.
posted by jennak at 3:51 PM on August 22, 2003


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