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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Monday, August 04, 2003


DN's Backbone Award: the Texas 11 and Sen. Bill Ratliff

posted by annatopia at Monday, August 04, 2003 permalink View blog reactions
With an overwhelming majority in the thread comments, the Texas 11 (aka the Killer D's) and Republican Texas Senator Bill Ratliff are the recipients of this week's Backbone Award. I'm glad you voted this way, because it gives me the opportunity to try and clarify exactly what's going on down here.
As of right now, eleven Texas state Senators are in Albuquerque, NM to prevent a power grab initiated in Washington DC at the behest of Tom Delay (and most likely, Rove & Co.). They fled the state (as our House members did earlier this summer) after Gov. Goodhair - er, Perry - called a special session to address redistricting. Don't be fooled by the current "cry me a river" rhetoric coming from Perry and the Republicans. They've been claiming that there's business to address in Austin (which there is - we're in the middle of a terrible budget crisis - but the R's didn't care about that during the regular session), that the D's have a case of sour grapes (they base this on Texas appearing to trend Republican), and that the Legislature hasn't addressed redistricting since the 2000 census. Put simply, they're lying.
The most important - yet rarely mentioned - fact is that the Legislature did try to address redistricting after the census. When they couldn't come up with a reasonable plan, the issue was put before the courts (which are notoriously conservative, just FYI). Texas law mandates that the courts work it out if the Leg can't. The courts came up with the current plan and the issue was laid to rest... until Delay came along.
The R's have tried every dirty trick in the book, and the D's have fough back just as hard. Immediately after the first special session ended, the Texas 11 fled to prevent a quorum, expecting Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst to literally lock them in the building. The reason they fled is because of yet another dirty trick: Dewhurst said he'd suspend Legislative rules in order to pass redistricting. Normally you'd need a 2/3 majority to pass such a bill, but Dewhurst (since it's the Lt. Gov. who really wields the power in Texas) can change the rules to only require a simple majority. So, if the Senate doesn't have enough members to conduct business, then the plan can't be brought to the floor. I've talked about the implications of this bill on my own site, so I'll spare you the details. Needless to say, I'm very happy that the D's are fighting back because I'd be disenfranchised if they didn't.

Ratliff is the only Republican who's been gutsy enough to stand with the Texas 11 in opposition to redistricting. While he hasn't fled the state, he'd promised to vote against redistricting. His contact info is here. To support the Texas 11, you can sign this petition and encourage Gov. Perry to end the special session, you can contact Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, or contact the Texas 11 and let them know they have your support. There's also a support rally scheduled for August 9. The Texas 11 are Senators Barrientos, Ellis, Gallegos, Hinojosa, Lucio, Madla, Shapleigh, Van de Putte, West, Whitemire, and Zaffrini.
For blow-by-blow coverage, please visit Save Texas Reps, Charles's Off the Kuff, Byron's Burnt Orange Report, and the Quorum Report.

I'd be remiss if I didn't give credit to the honorable mention for this week, the Democrats who are promising to filibuster uber-conservative William Pryor's nomination to the federal judiciary. They also handed a defeat to cat-killer Sen. Bill Frist, who attempted a cloture motion on Priscilla Owens's nomination. Once again, Sen. Dick Durbin is leading the fight against these extremist nominees along with Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont. Kudos to Durbin and Leahy!


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Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.