A Legislator’s Got to Know His Limitations
February 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
Sorry, “Dirty” Harry Callahan, for shitting on your killer closing line in Magnum Force, but the Texas lege has suffered from Lt. Briggs syndrome for as long as anyone living (or dead) can remember. Why some of our legislators think they are possessed of Solomonic wisdom is a mystery to me, but how my dogs to decide where they crap and piss is equally mysterious.
But we are not here today to dwell on our lege’s innumerable and interminable limitations.
Today’s subject is “A Legislator’s Got to Know His Priorities.” (And “Her” priorities, so as not to leave out those of fairer sex [or unfairer sex,] depending on which legislatrix you are speaking of.)
In 2011 the Goobernator called for a special legislative session, in part to pass several pet bills that even the lege had the sense not to pass. There was widespread protest against the special session by Big Pink’s inmates, who had their own pet priorities: there were vacations to be taken, money to be earned and campaign donations to be wheedled.
Vacations, by design, are supposed to involve fun, and members of the lege, and congress of the Republic of Texas before it, have been legendary for their fondness of fun. Tending to the welfare of Texas should never get in the way of a having good time. As well it should; We the People tend to fare better when our caretakers are busy taking care of their of their preferred means of personal gratification instead of the “good” of Texas.
Back in the days when our solons had to worry about getting scalped by roaming Comanches after getting scalped in one of Austin’s many gambling houses, members of our House of Representatives were slipping out of session for their fun just as their senatorial descendants would do in 2011, as reported in the Austin Sentinel:
January 15, 1842
We witnessed on Thursday night a most ludicrous scene. The House of Representatives had resolved to sit late at night, but about 9 o’clock members slipped off, one after another, until at last on some question the House was without a quorum. The House was under high press of business, and in a spirit of determined industry it resolved to have its members by some means. Accordingly the Sergeant-at-arms was dispatched to bring in the absentees, willing or not.
At the residence of a citizen, about a quarter mile distant from the capitol, a little dancing party was in full progress, and there some of the members had assembled to relieve their minds from the cares of business by a little lively amusement. Matters were progressing at this place very pleasantly. The strains of the violin and the chime of the triangle were merrily ministering to the mazes of the dance, and an honorable member from a populous and important county of the Republic had thrown off all the leaden dullness of dry legislation, and was evidently fast appreciating the full merit and enjoyment of a lively reel, when the door, before the musicians were placed, slowly opened, and a black, grim-looking head and phiz were slowly and inquisitively thrust into the room – the eyes of the person rolled around to the different corners of the apartment, until apparently satisfied with the result of his examination, the whole body at last followed, and the fearful person of the Sergeant-at-arms stood erect in front of the door-way, and became visible to all except our friend aforesaid, who saw nothing but his partner, the circle around, and the long line of floor down which he was about to tread, and whose mental vision comprehended at that moment nothing but the pleasant sound of the music and the enjoyment of that momentary relaxation.
Some members, however, who were in the next room, and received items of character of the intruder, were seen making their escape from the place with an extraordinary degree of haste. The guests participating in the dance, one after another, recognized the character of the new-comer, and began to give way to their risible faculties, and just as our friend from _________ was about to lead off his partner, with his right foot advanced and raised, his back slightly bent and his hand raised towards that of his partner, he noticed the tittering of those around, innocently raised his eyes and beheld the personage at the door. It is impossible for us to describe the quizzical horror that was portrayed on his countenance at that moment. It is beyond the skill of the most talented artist to give an accurate illustration of it. His limbs were paralyzed, and the hand and foot which were raised when he looked up, retained their position for the space of a minute. From some cause the officer concluded not to disturb, we believe, because he could not find enough more to do any good, and our friend became sufficiently relieved to proceed with the dance, but for half an hour after he had recovered full possession of his faculties. The other members who had so expeditiously withdrawn themselves, soon came back and continued to participate in the hilarity of the time.