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Burnt Orange Report's Journal
Thursday, April 24th, 2003

Date:2003-04-24 00:41
Subject:Moving In
Security:Public
Mood:creative

... and boy do things look barren.

This will be the future home of the Burnt Orange Report, a collaborative effort of Jim, Byron, and some other crazy people.

Tune in soon for more...

- Jim D.

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Date:2003-04-24 03:26
Subject:Who's in, whose out - Austin mayor election
Security:Public
Mood:curious

Poll #127580 Austin City Elections, May 2003

Who will be the next mayor of Austin?

Will Wynn
1(50.0%)
Jennifer Gale
1(50.0%)
Brad Meltzer
0(0.0%)
Herman Luckett
0(0.0%)
Christopher Keating
0(0.0%)
Max Nofzinger
0(0.0%)
Leslie Cochran
0(0.0%)
Marc Katz
0(0.0%)
Write-In/Voto Escrito
0(0.0%)

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Date:2003-04-24 03:32
Subject:Blogs Changing Politics
Security:Public

Blogs are indeed changing politics as we know it. With blogs, anyone can publish anything to a worldwide audience anytime, all the time. I believe that blogs are leading the “second” Internet revolution, capable of revolutionizing politics the way that the television did in the 1950s and 60s.

Blogs have already had a profound effect on news and politics, changing the way news is made and published. The Agonist became famous for providing minute-to-minute coverage of the war in Iraq. So what, you say… that’s what CNN is for, but the Agonist linked to global sites offering worldwide perspective on events often ignored by the American and western media. One example is the video clips and pictures of American POW’s in Iraq shown on Al-Jezeera but not on US television. No worry, Americans could find it on the Internet, courtesy of blogs.

Meetup.com has turned a long-shot Democratic presidential candidate, Howard Dean, into a contender. Dean had a small following at the beginning of the year, but it was primarily among anti-war liberals, gays and lesbians familiar with his signing of the Vermont civil-unions law, and local leaders from and near his home state of Vermont. With Meetup.com , Dean had a tool to organize thousands of activists galvanized into action by his firm anti-war stance, and rousing speeches made to NARAL Pro-choice America in January, the Democratic National Committee in February and to the California Democratic Party Convention in March. These Internet savvy activists could watch Dean’s speeches on C-SPAN and get involved in their communities by joining the Dean Meetup which the Dean campaign smartly linked to from their homepage. Soon the Dean Meetup Challenge began among these activists and Dean raised a surprising $2.6 Million in the first quarter of 2003 – nearly as much as Joe Lieberman, a nationally tested politician. Dean raised $750,000 online, and was able to attract contributions from over 12,000 individuals, giving him broader financial support than every other Democratic presidential candidate save John Kerry, another nationally known politician. Blogs and the Internet were able to raise Howard Dean from a candidate expected to raise little over $1 Million to being on the heels of Joe Lieberman in fundraising. Now, Dean Meetup.com has over 17,000 members meeting monthly in hundreds of cities across the county. This gives Dean the profound advantage of building a grassroots organization in every single state in the country. No longer is the Internet one component of a strong campaign, but it is becoming the center of any strong grassroots campaign.

The Dean Campaign has also started a blog, run by the campaign and there are others such as this that are not official campaign sites, but serve the same purpose. This unprecedented step of an official campaign blog keeps supporters updated daily with the efforts of the campaign. This has revolutionized politics. Just a decade ago, volunteers and activists were frequently left out of the loop. In order to find out how a campaign was going or what was needed to be done, activists had to call their local or precinct organizer. That organizer would call the county organizer. The county organizer would call the state organizer, and the state organizer could get in touch with the national campaign. Often, it took weeks for messages to get relayed back and forth, and little was done in the later primary states until weeks before primary date. That delay of weeks has now been forever eradicated. Blogs and email changed that. Now, blogs are starting to replace email as the preferred method of political communication – many people that are reluctant to get on an email list, or that skim over their email are more inclined to bookmark a blog. Dean has even started a text-messaging service for campaign updates. No wonder Dean has heavy student support. His campaign speaks our language. Other candidates, from city council to president should be advised to do the same. Gary Hart is one such example. He started a blog last month on his website. It still leaves much to be desired, but he can lay claim to being the only presidential candidate with his own personal blog. Speaking of Gary Hart, is he running or not? The campaign denies recruiting campaign interns, but I can tell you that they undoubtedly are. We know first hand and contributed to this piece run on political wire. This is an example of news that would be impossible without blogs. Mainstream media won’t give us the time of day, but bloggers are happy to listen to us. So what might not be news to the mainstream media is news to the Internet media.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-04-24 03:56
Subject:Lite Guv Dewhurst: An Unlikely Voice of Reason?
Security:Public
Mood:grateful

Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst's "tremendously creative" (that's what Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, is calling it) school finance plan seems to be gaining steam in the state senate, despite stubborness on the parts of Gov. Perry and Speaker Craddick. And considering that Dewhurst's plan might be the least cruel option the Republican legislature could take in its ruthless crusade to end the Robin Hood program, that's probably a good thing.

Dewhurst's plan - which would cut local property taxes in half, implement a statewide property tax, and raise sales taxes by closing loopholes isn't necessary less harsh on poor families; sales and property taxes are still fairly regressive. But, by creating a statewide tax base, at least Dewhurst's plan isn't going to leave property-poor districts stranded. While the Dewhurst plan can't beat a state income tax on its merits (and yes, Dewhurst's property tax proposal will require a constitutional amendment, just as an income tax bill would), it's far better than doing nothing.

Dewhurst - who many worried was something of a right-wing nut - seems to be the most pleasant surprise of the 78th Legislative Session. Unfortunately, the sort of zealotry some expected Dewhurst would pursue hasn't gone away, it's simply gravitated over to the governor's mansion and to the House. Oh, well, perhaps that's simply a fact of life in the brave new world of Republican Texas.

Posted by: Jim D.

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Date:2003-04-24 04:09
Subject:Bush lie of the day...
Security:Public

On January 15, 2003 George W. Bush came out opposing the University of Michigan affirmative action program in this speech. He took a clear position on a case before the Supreme Court: "The Supreme Court will soon hear arguments in a case about admission policies and student diversity in public universities... the method used by the University of Michigan to achieve this important goal is fundamentally flawed."

Then yesterday, Ari Fleischer said: "Let me put it to you this way. The President typically never does comment on anything involving a Supreme Court case, a Supreme Court ruling or a Supreme Court finding" - when referring to the bigoted remarks made by Republican Sen. Rick Santorum earlier this week regarding the Supreme Court case challenging the Texas sodomy law.

Hmmmm....

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-04-24 04:55
Subject:With friends like this, who needs enemies?
Security:Public
Mood:pessimistic

Looks like House budget writers missed the mark by a mile, according to new estimates from the Comptroller's Office which show that even the draconian cuts in education and health care will still leave a $2.9 billion budget shortfall in the next biennium.

For Team GOP, the clock was already running out and now the comptroller's ruling is like getting a 50-yard penalty on the last third-down. Craddick and company are going to need a Hail Mary in order to prevent what is increasingly looking like the inevitable - massive tax hikes - or the sort of spending cuts which would send Texas back to the stone age; pick your poison.

Sure, it's still possible that they could do something really crazy, like sell-off the tobacco settlement to the highest bidder or legalize all gambling. But they could also exhibit great moral fortitude and admit that their no-new-taxes mantra was sorely mistaken.

(As a diversion, try the Austin American-Statesman's budget game. It's harder than it looks!)

Let it not be forgotten that in merrier days - about eleven months ago - the Republicans drafted a state party platform that practically called for the elimination of all taxes. On it's surface, that might now seem to be an idea discarded in the dustbin of history. But look at the big picture - it's not.

Ironically, it's this very same inflexible anti-tax mantra - on the federal level, which has so condemned GOP lawmakers in Austin. Democrats in Washington have called for bailing out the states. But it won't happen, because President Bush would rather cut taxes for the wealthy instead. Though it's worth noting that this isn't a zero-sum game - the federal government can always legally borrow money, which most states can't do.

We always knew that, as long as Bush was in office, a very few special interests would get the gold mine while the rest of got the shaft, but who knew that Bush's old GOP buddies in Austin would end up getting screwed, too?

Posted by: Jim D.

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Date:2003-04-24 13:03
Subject:The Big Tent?
Security:Public

Listening to the modern-day Republican party, the party of Lincoln, today is almost like listening to an elementary school playground. The rhetoric is the same.

Start in 1995 when Dick Armey called openly gay Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank by the slur of "Barney Fag". Then Trent Lott comparing gays and lesbians to alcoholics and kleptomaniacs: "You should try to show them a way to deal with that problem, just like alcohol...or sex addiction...or kleptomaniacs" in 1998 (and I won't go into his Black people problem). Also in 1998, GOP Sen. Don Nickels (OK): "I don’t think they [gays and lesbians] should be a representative of this country." At the Texas Republican Party convention in 1998, "Robert Black, the [Texas] state [Republican] party spokesman, called [the Log Cabin Republicans] a 'hate group' and compared them to the Ku Klux Klan." The Log Cabin Republicans may hate themselves, but calling them a hate group is beyond absurd. And don't get me started with Jesse Helms who has made scores of quotes like these: "These people are intellectually dishonest in just about everything they do or say". Then of course there's Jerry Falwell regarding the 9-11 terrorists attacks, "...I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America...I point the thing in their face and say you helped this happen".

Hmmm... so that leads us to the latest in Republican "bigotry eruption" by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA):
"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything,".

Huh? How does consentual sex between two adults compare to the nonconsentual sex in incest or bestiality? Republicans have a gift for making hateful remarks as asides, and not realizing that they've offended anyone (ask Trent Lott) until the firestorm has spread. Santorum is in a similar possition as Lott. Santorum is the #3 ranking Republican in the US Senate and many organizations have urged him to resign his leadership post, most notably the Human Rights Campaign. So, once again, the Republican party has a test. Will it do the right thing and tell Santorum to go, like they did to Lott? Or will Republicans remain the party of unabashed hatefulness and of unrepentant bigotry? The Human Rights Campaign ought to be ashamed. Where are all the Republican Senators that they've endorsed? Finally, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) both

[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<a [...] http://www.cnn.com/2003/allpolitics/04/24/santorum.gays/">') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

Listening to the modern-day Republican party, the party of Lincoln, today is almost like listening to an elementary school playground. The rhetoric is the same.

Start in 1995 when Dick Armey called openly gay Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank by the slur of "Barney Fag". Then Trent Lott comparing gays and lesbians to alcoholics and kleptomaniacs: "You should try to show them a way to deal with that problem, just like alcohol...or sex addiction...or kleptomaniacs" in 1998 (and I won't go into his Black people problem). Also in 1998, GOP Sen. Don Nickels (OK): "I don’t think they [gays and lesbians] should be a representative of this country." At the Texas Republican Party convention in 1998, "Robert Black, the [Texas] state [Republican] party spokesman, called [the <a href="http://lcr.org/">Log Cabin Republicans</a>] a 'hate group' and compared them to the Ku Klux Klan." The Log Cabin Republicans may hate themselves, but calling them a hate group is beyond absurd. And don't get me started with Jesse Helms who has made scores of quotes like these: "These people are intellectually dishonest in just about everything they do or say". Then of course there's Jerry Falwell regarding the 9-11 terrorists attacks, "...I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who try to secularize America...I point the thing in their face and say you helped this happen".

Hmmm... so that leads us to the latest in Republican <a href="http://www.dailykos.com/archives/002459.html#002459">"bigotry eruption"</a> by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA):
<i>"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything,"</i>.

Huh? How does consentual sex between two adults compare to the nonconsentual sex in incest or bestiality? Republicans have a gift for making hateful remarks as asides, and not realizing that they've offended anyone (ask Trent Lott) until the firestorm has spread. Santorum is in a similar possition as Lott. Santorum is the #3 ranking Republican in the US Senate and many organizations have urged him to resign his leadership post, most notably the <a href="http://www.hrc.org">Human Rights Campaign</a>. So, once again, the Republican party has a test. Will it do the right thing and tell Santorum to go, like they did to Lott? Or will Republicans remain the party of unabashed hatefulness and of unrepentant bigotry? The Human Rights Campaign ought to be ashamed. Where are all the Republican Senators that they've endorsed? Finally, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI) both <a href="Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, both <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/04/24/santorum.gays/">spoke out</a>, albeit very timidly. But, I ask the HRC where is Gordon Smith (R-OR)? Where is Susan Collings (R-Maine)? Does Rick Santorum represent them?

So, I can only draw one conclusion. <b>Gay Republicans hate themselves</b>. <a href="http://andrewsullivan.com">Andrew Sullivan</a> is one of them. He has some interesting thoughts on the Santorum issue, but how in the world can any self-respecting gay person feel comfortable in the modern-day Republican Party?

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-04-24 14:03
Subject:Tuition Dereg.
Security:Public

A State House committee passed tuition deregulation last night, a bill that esentially takes tuition rates out of the hands of our elected officials in the Texas legislature and gives it to the unelected, appointed members of the Board of Regents. It's just another example of the legislature shielding itself from responsibility. We can deal with our tuition rates going up, but at the very least, we want to be able to know who is responsible and be able to fight back in the next election. We can't do that with the regents, especially when the regent board has ZERO student representation.

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-04-24 15:21
Subject:Austin Elections Info
Security:Public

Here is a sample ballot for the May 3 city elections. Early voting continues until April 29. You can vote early at these locations. On election day, you can vote at these locations. Also, you may be able to vote at a mobile voting location.

Spiffy new computerized balloting is being used for this election.

The Travis County Democratic Party has a list of club endorsements posted on their site.

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Date:2003-04-24 18:42
Subject:ACC Ballot Props.
Security:Public

In addition to the city council and mayoral races, Austin voters will be deciding the future of Austin Community College. Austin voters have a choice... we can vote no and turn thousands of students away, raise ACC tuition by 30%, see an increase in crowding and parking problems and see vital health-care and safety programs cut... or we can vote yes and continue to provide strong education for our community, keep tuition rates low, build more parking spaces and classrooms to ease crowding and continue vital ACC programs - all for a small tax increase.
ACC YES!

Posted by: Byron L.

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Date:2003-04-24 23:47
Subject:Whatever you say, Tom.
Security:Public
Mood:optimistic

The Houston Chronicle's R.G. Ratcliffe reports that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay claims to have support for a proposed congressional redistricting map in the state lege. But that support seems to be, well, rather unsupportive:

But endorsements of DeLay's plans for redistricting, which he hopes will increase the state's Republican representation, were at best lukewarm from House Speaker Tom Craddick and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

"I don't know that we're going to do anything," said Craddick. "There's not a consensus in the House or Senate to do anything at this point."

Despite claims to the contrary from Martin Frost, DeLay's still claims that his plan has been held tightly under wraps from the public, because The Exterminator fears that Democrats might voice complaints about it (who needs this democracy thing anyway, right Tom?).

That's the public claim, anyhow. What seems more likely is that DeLay seems to be covering his ass because congressional redistricting probably isn't going to happen. In this sense, DeLay's "secret plan" for redistricting reminds me a lot of Richard Nixon's "Secret Plan" for ending the war in Vietnam.

Though it's key that we all keep praying.

(Ironically the Statesman's Dave McNeely includes a quote in his story from DeLay whining about how legislatures and not federal judges should make election laws. Would anyone care to remind Mr. DeLay of the Florida election debacle?)

Posted by: Jim D.

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