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March 08, 2004

Barred?

By Jim Dallas

Someone mentioned that the recent Perry episode would likely hurt my chances of being accepted by the bar when that day comes to pass.

Ever the diligent wannabe-lawyer, I dug up this passage in state law:

Sec. 82.028. Moral Character and Fitness of Applicant.

a. The Board of Law Examiners may conduct an investigation of the moral character and fitness of each applicant for a license.

b. The board may contract with public or private entities for investigative services relating to the moral character and fitness of applicants.

c. The board may not recommend denial of a license and the supreme court may not deny a license to an applicant because of a deficiency in the applicant's moral character or fitness unless:

1. the board finds a clear and rational connection between a character trait of the applicant and the likelihood that the applicant would injure a client or obstruct the administration of justice if the applicant were licensed to practice law; or

2. the board finds a clear and rational connection between the applicant's present mental or emotional condition and the likelihood that the applicant will not discharge properly the applicant's responsibilities to a client, a court, or the legal profession if the applicant is licensed to practice law.

d. The board shall limit its investigation under this section to those areas clearly related to the applicant's moral character and present fitness to practice law.

There are reasons why I'd be sorry about this whole sad affair (example number 1 - if it really was putting a strain on the Perry family, as it appears it may be, and for that I am sorry).

But I'm not really sure this is one of them.

The Board of Legal Examiners is further governed by Rule IV --

(b) Good moral character is a functional assessment of character and fitness of a prospective lawyer. The purpose of requiring an Applicant to possess present good moral character is to exclude from the practice of law those persons possessing character traits that are likely to result in injury to future clients, in the obstruction of the administration of justice, or in a violation of the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. These character traits usually involve either dishonesty or lack of trustworthiness in carrying out responsibilities. There may be other character traits that are relevant in the admission process, but such traits must have a rational connection with the Applicant’s present fitness or capacity to practice law and accordingly must relate to the legitimate interests of Texas in protecting prospective clients and in safeguarding the system of justice within Texas.

Now, I know that we've already been tried in the Court of Public Opinion (presiding judge, The Austin American Statesman). But lacking a tort, there is no formal complaint of wrong-doing on my part. At this point, it is simply a game of he said, he said.

Moreover, the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct consistently allude to "knowing" deception or misleading. Nothing I ever posted here was knowingly false; indeed, it was factually accurate to the extent that (a) there was a rumor and (b) I was describing the nature of the rumor.

According to the ABA, the TBLE, and just about everywhere else I can find some description of what the standard of character is, the question involved is usually dishonesty, not stupidity.

Sure, this is embarassing, and shameful, and something I'll live to regret -- but what of it? So was the time I dropped my parents video camera in the pool. So was the time that I went around the neighborhood letting air out of bicycle tires to see what it smelled like (I was about 6).

If the state Board of Legal Examiners was going to string a man up every time someone called into question his moral judgement, there'd be no lawyers left.

We're talking about the state board of legal examiners, not the Star Chamber.

(I'd note though, that my career in journalism is probably finished. Although I personally think this has as much to do with Perry's potentially slanderous accusations against the Burnt Orange Report ("conspiracy"; "organized effort" to slime him, etc.) than it has to do with our potentially libelous musings about his sexuality. Mainstream journalism is practically a religion, and there's a wide gap between what constitutes "journalistic integrity" and what constitutes the "integrity" which most normal people are judged by.)

Finally, reading the TDRPC, state law, etc. I get the feeling that Charles Soechting would get disbarred long before I would ever get barred from acceptance to the bar.

Aside from rubbing (perhaps deserved) shame in my face, I quite frankly think these commentors are simply being hysterical, or attempting to intimidate. This hasn't been fun for anybody, but I fully intend to move on with my life.

I of course, invite lawyers (since they've been there, done that) to say a few thoughtful things about this.

Posted by Jim Dallas at March 8, 2004 04:41 AM | TrackBack

Comments

I find it interesting that "Ricky Vandal" feels himself qualified to comment on another's character and fitness to be a member of the Texas State bar, when he appears to be a kid primarily devoted to following a fantasy religion and cyber-stalking the daughter of the Preident of the United States (check out his webpage).

Posted by: Vicky Randle at March 8, 2004 07:24 AM

Jim,

Don't worry about this at all. Forget about it and move on.

Posted by: WhoMe? at March 8, 2004 08:11 AM

I believe Byron is the only one who ever had an "About" link, unless I missed something new. Not everything has to be some great conspiracy...

I don't think anything that happened on this site was ever dishonest. There were disclaimers out the wazoo about the accuracy of the information. If "real" journalists would post such disclaimers in their day to day stories, I would have much more trust in the media today.

Posted by: Jason Young at March 8, 2004 08:59 AM

Reporting the content of a rumor is spreading the rumor. Now, if you want to do this in the context of a private bull session, that is fine, but by going to the internet, you take on the bully pulpit and the obligations to truth which accompany same. If you wish to cloak yourself in the journalist's cloth, you also should take on the ethical obligations of the "high religion" of journalism. Those canons exist for a reason, and it is bad enough that they are often forgotten in the mainstream press.

I do not think these acts should prevent you from joining the bar. And, they do not reach the level of moral lapse, only poor judgment in a particualr context. I trust you'll be more careful on behalf of your clients.

But, do not fold your tents. This is a site which I often visit for Texas politics news, and it is thoughtful and generally balanced.

Yeah, it is all fun hurting other people until someone hurts you . . . you may not like Rick Perry's politics, but at the end of the day these are people. You know, like the Clintons . . .

Posted by: Keith G. at March 8, 2004 09:21 AM

I'm a lawyer and whoever is telling you that this would disqualify you doesn't know what they are talking about. People have become lawyers after having done much worse (I remember some case from my ethics class in which a guy robbed a bank.) Many people who have exhibited actual criminal behavior becomes lawyers--think of all those George W. types who drove their daddies' SUVs into a ditch after having a few beers. If they weren't allowed to sit for the bar, we'd have half as many lawyers in the state.

So relax, drink some mojitos while the weather is nice, and ignore the silly conservative people.

The real thing you have to be upset about is that you're going to law school. Ugghh!

Posted by: John G. at March 8, 2004 10:29 AM

Did you know the rumor to be false or at least strongly suspect it might be false?

If not, then I see no moral wrong in what you have done. Hell, I'm sure at least HALF of the people muttering about it for the last month were lawyers themselves!

Posted by: Blue at March 8, 2004 10:38 AM

Did you know the rumor to be false or at least strongly suspect it might be false?

If not, then I see no moral wrong in what you have done. Hell, I'm sure at least HALF of the people muttering about it for the last month were lawyers themselves!

Posted by: Blue at March 8, 2004 10:39 AM

I have known Charles Soechting for some time now. I can honestly say that I know him personally and professionally. He taught me the value of hard work and respect for the legal profession. It is because of his strong and principled work ethic that I have succeeded in my legal career.

As far as Charles' beliefs, he does not waiver from what is just and fair. Charles ran for Chair of the Texas Democratic Party in order to provide leadership and positive ideas for Texas.

I invite you to get to know Charles and all of the positive things he stands for. If you take that time, I believe you will find the power source that democratic Texans need.

Posted by: Texas Democrat at March 8, 2004 11:40 AM

I agree with the lawyer who advised you to forget it. All these folks wringing their hands over the Perry rumors are the same ones who spent hours talking about the "unusual markings" on Clinton's dick.

As to Perry's feelings, well, he is a big boy - he's been in politics a long time. And it's not the first time I have heard rumblings about his infidelity.

In 2002, I was chatting with guy who told me this story. He was waiting for service at the Harley-Davidson store on Braker when Perry and and entourage came in (to the store's credit, they made him wait in line.) As he was standing there, he joked with his bodyguards that his wife found a note from another woman. "You boys are supposed to clean me up better than that."

Posted by: Jazzmaven at March 8, 2004 12:03 PM

BTW, you do know that the SJ Mercury news made mention of the story, abeit without mention of either Burnt Orange or the same sex aspect.

Basically, they just quoted the Austin Statesman.

Don't feel so bad. Think about fellow UTer Berkeley "Bloom County" Breathed, who had that entire alligator incident, which was intended to deceive the press.

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at March 8, 2004 12:52 PM

One final note: There is no reason to be sorry for whatever pain you might have caused.

You reported on a rumor floating around.

I don't live in Austin, but from what I've read, there are a number of reasons to report on the fact that the rumor was floating around.

You are talking about folks who spread rumors of a similar nature about Ann Richards.

I'm not talking about going Derbyshire on anyone, but quite frankly, by being an aggressive supporter of bigotry, Perry made rumors about these allegations news.

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at March 8, 2004 01:04 PM

Have you ever visited Ricky Vandal's site? This guy thinks of himself as the pope of his own religion. That reminds me of David Koresh or Jim Jones.
A quick search reveals that "Ricky Vandal" likes to visit pro-Democratic blogs and leave a trail of inflammatory and pointless rhetoric before flitting on to yet another blog. The purpose seems to be disruption rather than debate or dialogue.

I had noticed a similarity in the "styles" of Ricky Vandal and Horace Bunce. They both give the impression of a 16 year old who just read an Ann Coulter book and now feels he knows the solutions to all the world's problems.

This may just be a single frustrated sociopath with way too much time on his hands. But this could also be a GOP dirty trick to get Democrats to spend lots of time dealing with idiotic posts rather focusing on sending Dubya to early retirement.
I'd keep an eye on those I.P. numbers.


Jim, if you can't get into the bar in Texas, you still have 49 other states and DC to choose from.
In Illinois, you'd probably be elected a judge.
=)

Posted by: Tim Z at March 8, 2004 01:23 PM

Regarding Charles, when I said the thing about him, it was only for comparative purposes regarding the issue.

I've talked to him a couple times over the weekend; one of which was an email thanking him for various things.

So I have to agree 100-thousand percent with Texas Democrat.

Posted by: Jim D at March 8, 2004 01:42 PM

"In Illinois, you'd probably be elected a judge.
=)" - Tim Z.

I am reminded of Malone in The Untouchables.

"If he pulls a knife, you pull a gun. If he sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way."

Posted by: Jim D at March 8, 2004 01:43 PM

"In Illinois, you'd probably be elected a judge.
=)" - Tim Z.

I am reminded of Malone in The Untouchables.

"If he pulls a knife, you pull a gun. If he sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way."

Posted by: Jim D at March 8, 2004 01:43 PM

Hell, it's not like you spent millions of dollars making videotapes showing Perry's links to a string of mysterious murders like Bill Clinton was lucky enough to get.

Governor Assbag can get off his high horse.

Posted by: Adam at March 8, 2004 01:47 PM

"If he pulls a knife, you pull a gun. If he sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That's the Chicago way."

Jim-
Metaphorically, that's how elections are still won up here.
heheheh

Posted by: Tim Z at March 8, 2004 02:22 PM

[i]--First of all, by spreading unsubstantiated rumors, repeatedly, and thereby slandering an offical without fact checking (and because of your democratic leanings a possible purposeful intent to harm an opponent) you have shown yourself to be a dishonest person. Integrity is of paramount importance to be admitted to the bar.[/i]

Let's look at this skewed take first. The equation of slander with spreading rumors has an underlying assumption that these "rumors" are offered without disclaimer with the intent that they are substantive. As far as I can remember reading, you were always careful to identify these rumors as rumors. Using that disclaimer signifies that this is not fact and is not being reported as such. If someone can't appreciate the difference between rumor and non-rumor, tough crap.

[i]Secondly, constantly whining about the fact you did not understand the ramifications of your reapeated slander (again each time without fact checking) shows another character deficiency. You do not seem to be able to take responsibility even though the law considers you to be grown up. How is the board going to trust you to take responsibility for the business and possible lives of people or corporations if you can't even take responsibility for your own actions?[/i]

It's not slander if you add the disclaimer of "...this is rumor" or "..this is speculation..." By your broad standard of slander the opinion pages of America's papers would be mostly white space because gossip and opinion would be rendered slander under your definition. There is a world of difference in saying someone is having an affair and saying that there is a rumor of someone having an affair.

[i]Thirdly, you spread unsubstatiated rumors, in other words you are a liar (you have never done anything to substantiate the rumors or fact checked them). This is a another possible reason to turn you down. This character trait is a hint you might obstruct the administration of justice.[/i]

Since when is rumor that is disclaimed something that requires fact-checking? It seems to me that in high school no one gossiping about who the captain of the cheerleading squad was seeing on the side or what the president of the Student Council was sniffing on the weekends was required to fact-check. We didn't have blogs at that time but I can guarantee you if we did, it would have been blogged.

I don't understand where in the hell this whole issue became a discussion of slander and lies and recrimination when it should have been obvious with the disclaimers present that this was always rumor and gossip!?! The only people that I can seem to find who think Andrew, Byron, Jim, or Karl acted in a criminal manner here are Republicans...as evidenced by the following from Mr. Vandal:

[i]A presidential candidate who sold his country to the Viet Cong (as the military leader of the North Vietnamese has declared himself about Kerry), crooks who are allowed to become lawyers (now I understand why some judges see nothing wrong with breaking the law by allowing gay marriages) and uneducated college graduates. This is scandalous.[/i]

Do you smell what Ricky's cookin', folks? A piping-hot pan of Biased Biscuits!

[i]You are a dishonest person. Personally I do not wish you to be admitted. I have made copies of this site and cut the articles from the newspapers. In due time I will present these to the Board. There is capital punishment in Texas. A dishonest person has no business being part of such a justice administration.[/i]

And I've made a copy of your rantings I posted above and will gladly provide it to any formal organization that might look into this incident in the future. You're just as biased as most of the people who frequent this site (including myself), which explains your vague ideas of slander in pursuit of indicting someone who is speaking out against your Governor in addition to reporting rumor and gossip about him.

[i]PS. Why did you unable the "About Us" extentions?[/i]

There was only ever 1 enabled.

Posted by: Patrick at March 8, 2004 05:21 PM

You know, I'm not sure, but I think Ricky has read The Closing of the American Mind.

I also think Ricky needs to be more careful about his own slander: "you spread unsubstatiated rumors, in other words you are a liar (you have never done anything to substantiate the rumors or fact checked them). "

You need to go back and reread his posts: He acknowledged that they were rumors.

I still don't know if there is any truth or not to the rumors, and I was very clear in all of my posts on the issue that the scandals regarding Rick Perry were only rumors. I've received multiple emails over the past week from people claiming to know something, or able to prove something regarding the scandal, but I haven't received anything that has proven the suggested rumors.

Earlier, he wrote, "it's probably best to say that the rumors have not been verified, and could range anywhere between scurrilous and damning."

In the post linked by Atrios, he even quoted a Republican source indicating that something was coming down about Perry. Contrary to your lies, Jim D has tried publicly (and, from his posts, privately) to substantiate the rumors.

Let's review what a lie means: When you say something is true when in fact you know it isn't. Show us where Jim D said that these rumors were true and that he knew that they were not true.

Posted by: Tx Bubba at March 8, 2004 05:50 PM

This is a silly thread, but for what it's worth:

When I went to UT Law School in the 1980s, you filled out a form called "Intent to Study Law" that went to the State Bar. I think it now goes to the Board of Law Examiners (or whatever that agency is called). Blogging about widespread rumors already published in mainstream media and writing about it with restraint will certainly not cause you any problems. Neither will removing that tag on your mattress, jaywalking or masturbating.

I do remember one amusing story regarding the Intent to Study Law process. A graduate -- who happened to be working in the Senate -- was denied an opportunity to sit for the Bar Exam because he answered "Yes" on the question about whether the applicant was addicted to drugs or alcohol. When the Bar called him about this, he acknowledged that he drank an average of ONE GALLON of gin every day!!!! Bob Bullock had just been elected Lieutenant Governor, and he and Senator Whitmire intervened, sent him to what Bullock called "drunk school," and he went on to have a successfull practice.

Posted by: notgonnatell at March 8, 2004 06:03 PM

If Lil' Ricky ever filed anything against anyone, just copy his website and send it in in rebuttal.

These committees deal with krank cases all the time submitting complaints. His would get thrown in the trash with all the other nutcases correspondence.

(By the way, did you know my education has failed me?)

Posted by: WhoMe? at March 8, 2004 07:26 PM

Just please don't post any nude pics of Ricky Vandal beating his wife with a baby seal while Rush Limbaugh tongues him. That wouldn't be polite to do to Jesus-loving folks like myself, and, as you know, politeness counts.

Sarcasm, based on pure imagination, doesn't count. It only multiplies.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden at March 8, 2004 07:50 PM

"Why does the hearse horse snicker
Hauling the lawyer away"?

Posted by: John Q at March 8, 2004 08:45 PM

As for the "About" thing. It's still there. Do a search on the site for it. I didn't delete it. I deleted the link from the main page because in the future, I would prefer if reporters or others wishing to write about me or this site to contact us individually first. For those of you who read this site regularly, you know who we are. If people in the media want to know more about us.... we have emails. Use them.

Posted by: Byron L at March 8, 2004 08:47 PM

Jim, I wouldn't worry about this at all.

I'd bet an open records request to the state bar would verify that less than one of 5,000 applicants are even subject to the scruitany.

Furthermore, given how hard it is to be disbarred or even reprimanded in some cases, I doubt this will have much of an impact on anything.

On the other hand, It'd be amusing if all four of you filed an ORR with the Office of the Governor and see if they have a "dossier" on BOR or any of you.

Posted by: Vince at March 8, 2004 09:58 PM

Ricky -

You're funny. That you clearly could not see that I was making light of Tim Z's comments about the corrupt political traditions of Illinois when I mentioned the trademark lines from Brian DePalma's "The Untouchables", I think that clearly shows how disingenuous (or seriously deprived of cultural stimuli) you are. I'm sorry, but I can't take...a goober-head... like you seriously.

And don't be comin' back at me with that statement alleging that I'm unfit to be a lawyer because I'm racist against peanuts "cuz I called you a goober-head."

------------------------

"On the other hand, It'd be amusing if all four of you filed an ORR with the Office of the Governor and see if they have a 'dossier' on BOR or any of you."

Well, Vince, my (totally unsubstantiated, groundless speculation) guess is that Perry probably went in with some kind of list, when he went to talk to the Statesman.

Why do I think this? Well, first of all, I doubt Ken Herman simply was going to pull us out of his hat. The governor clearly had an opinion about our site, so he either knows of it, or he's making stuff up.

Why else do I think this? Because the timing of the release of Anity Perry's statement, Kathy Walt's statement, and Tina Benksier's statement suggests a degree of coordination among Republicans (as Harvey Kronberg has said).

If the Governor's Mansion and the Texas GOP are coordinating (still speculative), it further would suggest that there was probably a conscious decision to single out a few sites (us, Buzzflash, Atrios) to "flesh out" the Governor's story to Ken Herman and the Statesman.

On the other hand, this theory is not borne out by the texts of the press releases themselves -- neither Anita Perry, nor Walt, nor Benksier make any reference to us. Then again, all three "supporting" press releases are extremely short and probably meant only to be window dressing.

So it would be my hypothesis, given the way that this has played out, that either the Republican Party or the Governor's office did there homework, and that might include a dossier as you suggest.

Again, though, I'm simply speculating. I find it also plausible that Ken Herman may have shown us to the Governor, which then prompted the response.

Either way, I'd prefer to leave this be rather than seek out amusement. As the governor of this great state once said, "Why don't you let us just get on down the road." I couldn't agree more.

Posted by: Jim D at March 9, 2004 12:33 AM

Eh, this was going to be an entire post, but this is getting out of hand.

Anyway -- From the Moral Clarity Department.

Act I -- Feb. 13 2004, 5:42 PM:

As a Church leader of a Church, which accepts homosexual marriages, I'm disappointed in Kerry's cynical and distasteful behaviour. He has made liberals seem sleazy, untrustworthy and unelectable. First he says he is a war hero, then I see footage of him at Hanoi Jane's anti-war demonstration in the 70's denouncing soldiers fighting in Vietnam as murderers and warcriminals. Kerry can't even keep a vow to his wife, so how are we supposed to believe him when he vows to uphold the constitution? The girl was only 20 years old. Kerry is 60 for goodness sake. He was banging a baby. Isn't Michael Jackson in court for that? But I guess Creepy Kerry can always flee the country and hide in France, like Roman Polanski. So the rumors about Kerry using Botox are true after all. Though looking at the age difference he probably wasn't using Botox to stiffen his forehead.

Act II -- The Guardian, morning of Feb 14 2004 (late Feb. 13 in the United States of America):

The Democratic frontrunner, John Kerry, was yesterday forced into denying an unsourced internet report that he had an affair with an intern amid signs that the race for the White House is turning into one of the most vicious in modern history.

Mr Kerry's denial, delivered on a radio talk show, marked the first widespread public airing within the US of the allegation, which appeared on a rightwing website, the Drudge Report.

Mainstream American newspapers and media outlets had shunned the story, although it was picked up by newspapers abroad. However, there had been intense speculation about its veracity - and the origins of the rumour - as well as the possible effect on Mr Kerry's campaign and private life, if the story proved true.

Interlude -- (Cokes and Popcorns Are Available in the Main Lobby)Kerry's alleged lover denies the affair; the rumors are traced back to Wesley Clark staffer. Kerry and the Democrats shrug it off without any real fingerpointing.

Act III -- The Burnt Orange Report, March 6 2004 8:06 AM

Democrats are losing it fast. A few years ago it was "NO, PLease, Monica Lewinsky is Clinton's private affair. It has no impact on his job". And now we have Democrats spreading gossip like loose toothed senseless old maidens. Good to see our taxpayer money is being used by students for silly gossip.

Act IV --

You will NEVER be allowed to sit for the bar. You spread malicious lies to smear opponents and now you have stooped to threats. Your character's dishonesty knows no bounds. Apart from that you show your irresponsibility, which makes you unfit to take responsibility for other people or businesses... A presidential candidate who sold his country to the Viet Cong (as the military leader of the North Vietnamese has declared himself about Kerry), crooks who are allowed to become lawyers (now I understand why some judges see nothing wrong with breaking the law by allowing gay marriages) and uneducated college graduates.

(End)

Now, personally, I don't give a hoot-in-hell what sort of Dungeons-and-Dragons New Age nonsense people go around putting on Burnt Orange Report, but when people threaten legal action against me, I feel compelled to look into who they are and whether they have any credibility.

In three words:

Pot.

Kettle.

Black.

This concludes our broadcast day.

Posted by: Jim D at March 9, 2004 02:56 AM

Naughty troll. No cookie.

Posted by: Adam at March 9, 2004 08:59 AM

Y'all, Ricky should be treated with the same attention that we give the screaming guy on the corner with the "Jesus is Coming, Are You Ready?" sign. He's obviously a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

Anyway, I don't think anyone at BOR has any reason for any sort of concern. I think these guys did what they should have done, in the manner which it should have been done -- and if anyone is going to point fingers at them they should also be pointing fingers at the Statesman, the NYT, the DMN, the Houston Chronicle, the Dallas Observer, the Austin Chronicle, and every one of the print publications who had reporters here in town and up in Haskell County digging for nuggets... I don't see Perry Inc. all up in arms over Daily Kos, Atrios, or any of the other bloggers who mentioned it.

This is a non-starter. It's over.

Posted by: PG at March 9, 2004 11:47 AM

The day the Bar accepts you is the day justice dies in Texas.

Could you BE a bigger drama queen?

Too bad you aren't this concerned about some of the things Dear Leader (AKA Bush) is doing to our country. Talk about hypocritical.

Posted by: Jason Young at March 9, 2004 05:04 PM

jim-

this guy is obviously delusional, and i'd imagine jenna's secret service detail would be interested in his "sweet love" for her...

why not forward them his website and info?

Posted by: cdr at March 9, 2004 06:20 PM
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corpus christi caller times
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crawford
crawford lone star iconoclast

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del rio
del rio news herald

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el paso times
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galveston
galveston county daily news

harlingen
valley morning star

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houston chronicle
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laredo
laredo morning times

lockhart
lockhart post-register

lubbock
lubbock avalanche journal

lufkin
lufkin daily news

marshall
marshall news messenger

mcallen
the monitor

midland - odessa
midland reporter telegram
odessa american

san antonio
san antonio express-news

seguin
seguin gazette-enterprise

texarkana
texarkana gazette

tyler
tyler morning telegraph

victoria
victoria advocate

waco
kxxv news (abc)
kwtx news (cbs)
waco tribune-herald

weslaco
krgv news (nbc)

statewide
texas cable news
texas triangle


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