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June 15, 2005

Burnt Orange Reporters

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Thanks to all of those that submitted their interest and information to us in regards to writing for BOR. At this time we will close the application process and begin the deliberation and voting process. I hope to have this wrapped up by next Monday when we will announce those that will be joining us on BOR. Accounts will then be created and the new writers will be asked to introduce themselves.

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June 12, 2005

On the Applications...

By Byron LaMasters

If you would like to write for BOR, remember, we'd like to see your application really soon. Tonight was to be the last night, but if you need a little extra time, send an e-mail to us to let us know it's on the way. But at the least, let us know your intent today. For those that have applied, we will be in touch soon. ~Karl-Thomas

We have received several applications for new writers on BOR, and both Karl-Thomas and I spoke last night on how we are pleased with the quality of the applications thus far. We would both like to add new writers as soon as possible, but we want to give people who are considering applying a few more days. Unless anyone objects, let's make the deadline this Sunday, June 12.

For those of you who missed the application post, click here for details.

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June 06, 2005

Joining the BOR Team...

By Byron LaMasters

While I will be posting much less frequently, all BOR writers want this blog to build on the success that we have had over the past two years. In order to do this, we will need fresh faces and energy to ensure that BOR continues to be professional, progressive, Democratic and student-led. We are seeking 2-4 people that can join the BOR team, and blog on a regular basis. Here are some of the things that we are looking for in potential candidates. These are not necessarily requirements, but rather things that we are specifically looking for:

  • Candidates should have a passion for writing. Blogging should not be a chore, but rather should be something that is fun and enjoyable. Bloggers joining our team should commit to writing a minimum of 3-4 posts most weeks, and perhaps as many as several posts a day.
  • Candidates should be a Democrat. Although our bloggers vary in our ideology, we are all Democrats and BOR is a Democratic blog.
  • In addition to being a Democrat, candidates should regularly follow Texas politics. Candidates with experience attending political events, fundraisers and volunteering are preferred.
  • Candidates should also be in Texas. Our niche is Texas politics from a student Democratic perspective. Ideally, candidates should be students (UT or UT system students preferred) as well.
  • Candidates should be interested in writing primarily about Texas politics. We cover national politics, but our main focus is Texas politics.
  • Candidates should have basic HTML skills. While blogging does not require a great deal of HTML knowledge, candidates should know the basics – links, posting images, blockquotes, italics, bold, etc.
  • Previous blogging experience is a big plus. Whether it be a previous or current blog, or simply Kos or MyDD diaries, this experience is valuable to anyone interested in writing for BOR. Absent blogging experience, regular readers, people who have previously written for their high school or college newspaper and BOR commenters will also receive strong consideration.
  • Candidates with specific interest and detailed knowledge of local politics are strongly encouraged. I would like to find someone to take my place writing frequently about Dallas, and we can certainly use people with in-depth knowledge of local politics in San Antonio, El Paso, Houston, the valley and west Texas.
  • Women and minorities are strongly encouraged. We are all aware that the blogosphere is overwhelmingly White and male. This shouldn’t be intended to discourage anyone from applying to write for us, but we would simply like to strongly encourage female and minorities that have an interest in blogging to consider applying.

If you believe that this may be you, then we hope that you will apply to join our team. Writing for BOR is a great opportunity to become more involved in politics and activism. BOR is read by about 60,000 visitors a month, and blogging for us is certainly one way to get yourself read and known by leaders and activists in the Texas Democratic Party.

If you would like to apply, please email the following to:

  • Please tell us about yourself in a paragraph or two. This should include your name, age, hometown, school attending/attended, major, party affiliation, political experience, blogging/writing experience and interests (political and otherwise).
  • Please tell us why you would like to write for BOR, and what you believe that you can specifically add to our community.
  • We would also like candidates to include a minimum of two writing samples. If you have previously blogged or have articles online, send us the two or more that you believe are best reflective of your work. If you do not have any of your work online, we would like you to write at least two samples of the type of posts that you would contribute to BOR. These samples can be quoting a news article and including commentary, writing an opinion piece about a specific issue or writing your thoughts on any recent event – the end of the legislative session, school finance, the looming 2006 GOP primary in Texas, news and results from local municipal elections, or anything else.

I hope to see a lot of applications, and I don’t want to put up a deadline yet. We would like to be able to start making some decisions by next week. We’ll make an announcement in the coming days on when we will be closing the application process. If we have more quality submissions than we are able to ask to join our team, then we may ask our readers to get involved by posting the samples and asking our readers to share our thoughts via comments or email.

If you have any questions about the process, please email us at: Apply@BurntOrangeReport.com. Jim, Karl-Thomas, Andrew and I all have access to this account, so all four of us will be reviewing applications.

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June 02, 2005

Changes in my life, BOR

By Byron LaMasters

Dear Readers and Friends,

As you all may have noticed, my posting over the past weeks has decreased as I have undergone the process of transition from student to life after college. I recently received my undergraduate degree at UT-Austin with a B.A. in government and history, and I have spent much time over the past months considering what to do next. While there is a good chance that I will eventually continue my education, I have decided that after spending the vast majority of my life as a student, I would like to take some time to focus on my career.

Those of you who know me, and those of you who read BOR on a regular basis know that my passion is politics. I live and breathe politics. And I have desired a career in politics where I will have the ability to work with candidates, consultants and most importantly, help elect Democrats to all levels of office. Fortunately, I was offered a job in this regard with the Tyson Organization, and I have accepted their offer. Tyson is a Democratic political consulting firm in Fort Worth with a national client list, and I will begin working for them next Wednesday, June 8. I am very excited about this opportunity, and have committed to work for Tyson through December 2006.

Due to nature of blogging and political consulting, it will be impossible to continue blogging in the same manner as I have in the past. I have consistently sought to maintain the highest standard of ethics at the Burnt Orange Report in regards to disclosing any potential conflicts of interest, and I do not want there to be any doubt regarding my intentions. Since it will be impossible to include full disclaimers of the many Tyson clients on BOR, I have decided to limit my blogging on BOR. Effective Wednesday, I will no longer blog on any topic that would present a possible conflict of interest with the Tyson Organization, or place myself in such situation. In this regard, I will no long post on Democratic primary elections, municipal elections or elections involving Tyson clients. I still plan to post occasionally on issues that I care about, and on the silly things that Republicans often do from time to time, but my blogging will be greatly reduced.

Furthermore, I will be selling the Burnt Orange Report to Karl-Thomas Musselman in the coming weeks (I have consulted Jim and Andrew on this as well). Karl-Thomas and I have agreed to a basic framework of a sale, and we hope to finalize everything in the next week or two. I have decided that this is the best decision for me, my future employer and the blog. I want Karl-Thomas, Andrew, Jim (and all other current and future writers) to be able to write their conscience about Democratic primary races and municipal races without regard to my employer. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is to remove ownership, editorial discretion and future advertising and revenue rights from my control.

Having said all of this, the Burnt Orange Report has been an important part of my life for the past two years, and more than anything, I desire its continued success. In the next couple of days we will lay out a process to add new contributors to BOR. All founding members and frequent contributors will take a leading role in ensuring that BOR continues to be professional, progressive, Democratic and student-led. We will lay out an application process for new writers to BOR. We would like to add at least 2-4 new regular contributors, and perhaps some less frequent guest posters as well. If you are interested in writing for BOR – especially if you are a Democratic UT student, or frequent commenter, I hope that you will consider applying to join our team.

Finally, thank you all for your support, your loyal readership and your informed feedback. I am very excited to be entering a new stage in my life, and I know that the future of BOR is bright with Karl-Thomas at the helm.

Thank you,
Byron LaMasters
Byron AT BurntOrangeReport DOT com

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May 19, 2005

Blogging this Week

By Byron LaMasters

I just wanted to briefly apologize for the minimal amount of posts this week. I'm busy graduating, and I'll be busy with family obligations over the next several days. Karl-Thomas is struggling with his antiquated dial-up connection in Fredericksburg, and I assume that Jim is either tackling or recovering from law school finals. As for Andrew... I don't know what his excuse is...

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May 12, 2005


By Byron LaMasters

I just finished the last exam of my last course of my last semester for my undergraduate degree. It's a weird feeling. I'll be graduating next Friday.

Posted at 03:44 PM to About Burnt Orange | Permalink | Comments (16) | TrackBack

May 11, 2005

Take the Pew Test

By Byron LaMasters

Take it, here. They call me a liberal. Shocker. What are you?

Posted at 11:02 PM to About Burnt Orange | Permalink | Comments (10) | TrackBack

May 05, 2005

How Republican Are you?

By Byron LaMasters

Since I have nothing better to post this morning, I'm stealing this quiz from Pink Dome.

Take it, here.

My results?

I am:
"You're probably one of those people who still thinks that getting a blowjob is not an impeachable offense."

Are You A Republican?

Well, I am not 20% Republican. I've never voted for one in my life, but yes, I agree with the above statement.

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May 03, 2005

Comments are Back

By Byron LaMasters

Just in time to comment about Ann Coulter and the anti-booty bill!

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May 02, 2005


By Byron LaMasters

I'm sorry that the comments are down today. I have a support request into Dreamhost, so I hope that the problem will be resolved as soon as posible. Until then, feel free to email if you need to contact me - Byron AT BurntOrangeReport DOT com.

Posted at 02:45 PM to About Burnt Orange | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 26, 2005

Karl-Thomas on the front page

By Byron LaMasters

I probably wasn't the only one a little bit surprised to see this picture when I opened up my Daily Texan today.

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April 20, 2005

Your Ever-Impenetrable Burnt Orange Report -- now with five percent more evil!

By Jim Dallas

I got this idea from Kevin Drum, who writes at an 8th grade level, so blame him.

I conducted a readability analysis using this website of the last ten posts by Byron, Karl-Thomas, and myself. I didn't analyze Katie, Dobbs, Andrea, or anyone else, since there aren't a whole lot of recent posts from them. Full results below the fold.

The results? Well, let's just say you'd better have at least a tenth-grade education:

Jim - Flesch-Kincaid Grade: 9.53

Byron - Flesch-Kincaid Grade: 9.98

Karl-Thomas - Flesch-Kincaid Grade: 8.50

All Fog indices were higher than 11.6. This is roughly equivalent to the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, I re-analyzed BOR's RSS stream using the gematriculator, which reports that:

This site is certified 62% GOOD by the Gematriculator

Granted, this is a slight change in methodology from our last report, which probably explains how the presence of an aspiring lawyer only results in a five percent increase. Then again, we've added Katie as a contributor since, so I'm sure that gives us a lot of "light side of the Force" brownie scout points.

Which reminds me, one month until the last Star Wars and two weeks until the fourth season of The Family Guy debuts!


Summary Value
Total sentences 154
Total words 2,520
Average words per Sentence 16.36
Words with 1 Syllable 1,612
Words with 2 Syllables 486
Words with 3 Syllables 271
Words with 4 or more Syllables 151
Percentage of word with three or more syllables 16.75%
Average Syllables per Word 1.59
Gunning Fog Index 13.24
Flesch Reading Ease 55.91
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 9.53


Summary Value
Total sentences 107
Total words 1,899
Average words per Sentence 17.75
Words with 1 Syllable 1,182
Words with 2 Syllables 407
Words with 3 Syllables 235
Words with 4 or more Syllables 75
Percentage of word with three or more syllables 16.32%
Average Syllables per Word 1.58
Gunning Fog Index 13.63
Flesch Reading Ease 55.13
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 9.98


Summary Value
Total sentences 158
Total words 2,644
Average words per Sentence 16.73
Words with 1 Syllable 1,748
Words with 2 Syllables 570
Words with 3 Syllables 257
Words with 4 or more Syllables 69
Percentage of word with three or more syllables 12.33%
Average Syllables per Word 1.49
Gunning Fog Index 11.63
Flesch Reading Ease 63.94
Flesch-Kincaid Grade 8.50

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April 18, 2005

TYD Elections

By Byron LaMasters

As Jim noted below, we held our Texas Young Democrats (TYD) convention this weekend. I first became involved in TYD's in 2002, and this year was the largest convention since that time. Much of the reason for the increase in involvement has been due to several contested elections, along with renewed interest in working to take back Texas for the Democratic Party.

I was actively involved in the convention, and hosted the workshop on weblogs and websites where I tried my best to restrain myself from speaking too much, and asked my panel of BORers Jim Dallas and Karl-Thomas Musselman (also UT webmaster), and Dallas County YD webmaster Kirk McPike to speak on many of the questions that the workshop participants asked.

The elections today were the first contested elections since I became involved in TYD. My friend Mike Apodaca of El Paso was elected president unanimously. I ran on a ticket with several other candidates, and all of us were elected, including the three of us in contested elections.

David Wilkins (Dallas Co. YDs) defeated Erica Contreras (Harris Co. YDs) for Executive Vice President by a vote of 40-31. I defeated Bill Kelly (Harris Co. YDs) for VP of Finance by a vote of 46-25, and Angel Lopez (San Antonio YDs) defeated Jess Kline (UNT UDs) for VP of Membership by a vote of 39-32. It may surprise many of you that UT Democrats and Aggie Democrats voted together in all three races. Tonight, just this once, I will oblige our Aggie Friends with one token "Gig 'em" to show our appreciation.

My successor as UT UD President, Haley Greer (Capitol City YDs), was elected Treasurer without opposition. DCYD President David Hardt (Dallas Co. YDs) was re-elected as National Committeeman, and Shondra Wygal (Harris Co. YD) was re-elected as Secretary unopposed. After defeating Erica Contreras for Executive VP, David Wilkins nominated Erica for Chair of the Regional Directors, where Erica was elected without opposition.

Katie Naranjo of the UT UDs ran to replace me as Region 6 Director, and she was elected without opposition. Karl-Thomas decided to run for Region 6 Judicial Director, and he also was elected unanimously.

I am looking forward to serving as the next TYD Vice President of Finance. As VP of Finance, I will chair the Committee of Budget and Finance, and I hope that my former opponent will serve as a member of that committee, because he has many good ideas and connections to offer for our organization.

During the next year, I am looking forward to working with major donors as well as enacting a sustaining membership program so that the TYDs will be on solid financial footing going into the 2006 elections. As soon as our sustaining membership program gets underway, I'll be sure to inform our readers of all the details.

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April 16, 2005

Texas Young Democrats, Liveblogging Kerry

By Byron LaMasters

Today kicked off the Texas Young Democrats convention, and our fundraiser at Scholtz's was a rousing success. More importantly, it provided the first opportunity in just about all of our memories for much of the BOR team to meet in one place. When we realized that five BORers were at one place, and I just happened to have my digital camera, we had no choice but to take a picture. It could have turned out better, but you take what you get (Jim, Karl-Thomas, Katie, Andrew and Byron left-to-right):

We had a little better luck with pictures of some of our guest speakers. U.S. Senate candidate Barbara Radnofsky kicked spoke first, followed by State Rep. Mark Strama (D-Austin) and former Congressman Chris Bell (D-Houston). Here's some pictures I caught of them:

Finally, I have press credentials for the Kerry event at UT tomorrow (or rather, later this morning). I plan to liveblog the event, and I just might be able to get an audio copy as well.

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March 29, 2005

Please Welcome Katie

By Byron LaMasters

I hope that you all will join me in welcoming Katie Naranjo to the Burnt Orange Report. Katie is the Secretary of the UT University Democrats, and is running to be my successor as Region 6 Director of the Texas Young Democrats. I support Katie to fill my seat as I am not running for re-election, and am running to be Vice President of Finance of the Texas Young Democrats. Katie is a freshman at UT, and she asked to join the BOR team. I've seen BOR's number one weakness for awhile as our failure to have a consistent female poster, so I was delighted when I learned of Katie's interest in posting on BOR. Please welcome her to our site, and I look forward to hearing more from her.

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March 18, 2005

We're One Big Happy Family. Yessirreee.

By Jim Dallas

Andrew caught a little flak for his post regarding Terri Schiavo, but one comment struck me as particularly, well mean, but also constructive, in the sense that it suggested Andrew start a spin-off blog.

Really, I happen to believe everyone should start at least one blog, and perhaps more! I have my own side blog. As does Karl-Thomas. It's a good idea.

However, I don't want to suggest by any means that Andrew should leave. Absolutely not! We're not all on the same page here at Burnt Orange. And indeed, the ideological meanderings have kept things interesting. For example:

  • Andrew and I are both mostly against gun control. My understanding is Byron and Karl-Thomas are mostly for it (correct me if I'm wrong).
  • I'm not exactly super progressive in gender politics; occasional poster Andrea, umm, is.
  • Ever since leaving Austin, I've occasionally drifted off into obnoxious libertarian land, with Chicago School-influence rantings about why smoking shouldn't be banned(just to name one post), and the infamous "maybe Newt Gingrich is right about health care" post.
  • I know Karl-Thomas has a tremendous faith in grassroots democracy, which has occasionally made a few of his posts regarding Howard Dean unintentionally amusing. Of course, he's not the only one.
  • As for Byron, he's way too smart and usually right about everything. That really is all I got to say. Although he's got really weird musical preferences.

That said, we here represent only a tiny slice of the wonderful ideological diversity in the Texas Democratic Party. And while we're not always running the same plays, we're all on the same team!

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March 14, 2005

Tom Musselman for City Council

By Byron LaMasters

Karl-Thomas's father is running for Fredericksburg city council. Tell your friends in Fredricksburg to support Tom Musselman for Fredericksburg City Council. I would encourage you all to donate to the campaign, but apparently Fredericksburg city council candidates rarely receive outside funding, so that would be bad form. Regardless, Karl-Thomas's father has extensive conections in Fredericksburg, and would be a great service to the council. Learn more about his campaign here.

Update: There's a (sort-of) blog here.

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March 11, 2005

My Moral Dilemma on Abortion

By Andrew Dobbs

I have been struggling with a rather significant moral crisis of late, really over the last few days. For months I’ve been considering the repercussions and various thoughts behind some of these issues, but some news I read recently put the issue into context, brought it out into full relief and plunged me into this distress. I trust you all and I want to hear what you all think about this one, so please read this rather lengthy post and respectfully comment as you see fit.

Earlier this week I read some coverage of a new euthanasia policy under consideration in the Netherlands. The Netherlands already has laws that allow euthanasia, but the new policies are quite a bit beyond that. The policy would allow the parents of a child born severely deformed or diseased to the point that their life would likely be short to euthanize the infant. In essence, if the child is born with such a condition that they will apparently live a short and “unfulfilling” or painful life, the parents can kill the child after it has already been born.

I find this to be so morally repugnant as to barely need explanation. The ending of an innocent human life is a crime, a catastrophe, something that we should all condemn. If a grown person seeks to end their life rather than suffer a terrible illness and the subsequent loss of dignity, it is my conviction that such is their right (though I believe that physician-assisted suicide violates medical ethics). But an infant has no way of communicating its intentions. Furthermore, many of the illnesses that parents will be able to “treat” with killing their child will be ones that cause no pain for the infant, though the experience will clearly be traumatic for the family. Should one be able to off granny just because taking care of her is a pain- whether granny wants to go or not? Clearly not. An infant is an even more clear case of innocence. So when you kill a living human without its consent, only for one’s own convenience or peace of mind, it is wrong, and this policy is wrong.

Still, this made me ask some tough questions. What is the difference between that infant and a fetus that is a few days or a couple of weeks from being born? What is the difference between that fetus and one that was first conceived months before? Are they living? Are they human? If they are a living human life, shouldn’t ending that life simply for convenience or social and economic stability be just as abhorrent as killing a new born baby or any other innocent human being? If they are living humans, clearly this is repugnant.

So I began to think and ask questions. I am a person of faith, but I decided that since public policy shouldn’t be based on any particular religious worldview, I wouldn’t consider arguments based on religious grounds. I also figured that I should use logic and science and not propaganda, so I decided to stay away from anti-abortion groups and their rhetoric. I decided that one question was of primary importance: when does life begin? When is something a living human? If that is at birth, then abortion is perfectly fine (on a secular level, at least). If, however, that is before then, then abortion after that point is in fact murder, and is a grievous crime.

I began by simply considering the fact that we could be wrong. If we are convinced that life only begins at birth and that we then allow people to terminate their pregnancies, and we then find out at some point that the “fetus” was actually a human life, what will the consequences be? Still, this was one of those religious arguments that I said that I would ignore for the time-being. Additionally, this same line of argumentation could be used to justify outlawing or refraining from pretty much anything. So it seems to be an argumentative fallacy.

So I then decided that I would go to the people whose job it is to study life- biologists. I went online and looked around scientific websites for the scientific definition of life. What I found was that life is usually defined as an entity made up of at least one cell, that can and has evolved, that can at some point in its lifecycle reproduce, grows, has metabolism and respiration, has genetic material such as DNA or RNA, has at least internal movement, has structural organization and has not yet died. Now, not all living things share all of these characteristics- male mules can’t reproduce, some single cell organisms don’t have respiration but rather other chemical processes- and some non-living things share these- viruses have DNA, fire can grow, reproduce and metabolize. Still, anything that has most of these is “living.” Let’s look at a newly fertilized zygote. It is made of cellular material, it is a part of the lifecycle of an organism that has evolved, will at one point be able to reproduce, it clearly grows, it has metabolism and respiration, it has DNA, has internal motion (and once it develops further- in only a short few weeks- it will be able to move independently) and clearly has not yet died. It seems clear that in terms of biology, from the moment of fertilization the organism is “living.”

Still, it seems that even with all of these life is defined more by just knowing what is alive or not than any kind of rigorous set of tests. I suppose that evolution, the presence of at least one cell, metabolism and the fact that it has yet to die would be the most important- no nonliving thing evolves, has cells and metabolizes things and by their very definition all things have yet to die, I believe all living things have evolved or can evolve, have at least one cell (correct me if I am wrong) and all have to convert raw materials (food) into energy- metabolism. Human fetuses have evolved, they have many cells (and have two at the moment of conception), they metabolize food and they are not dead. These would seem to confirm that they are alive.

So after that debate I decided to see what scientists define as the life cycle of a human being. The life cycle is just what it sounds like- the series of events that occur in the life of an organism. At any point in this cycle the organism is alive, except for the point of death, which is usually included as the end of the cycle. If the human life cycle is just birth, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, old age and death, then everything before that is “pre-living” or not living. But the majority of scientists believe that it begins before birth. Most include fertilization and prenatal development in the human life cycle. While some see birth as the beginning, these theories tend to rely more on philosophical underpinnings- i.e. the recognition of self and so forth- rather than pure biology. This suggests that scientists- who are paid to not let personal or religious bias into their work- tend to regard life as beginning at fertilization. The pre-birth period is as much a part of life as infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age this seems to say. To end an innocent life in any of those other periods would get you sent to prison, possibly to death. Why is ending a life before that legal?

So I started coming up with arguments to counter these slightly frightening facts. First, I considered the fact of development. A zygote is barely developed- it doesn’t look like a human, it doesn’t act like a human, etc. As a result, it really shouldn’t be considered “human life.” Yet isn’t an infant undeveloped? It doesn’t act like a fully mature human nor does it really look much like one. We wouldn’t kill an infant so why is killing just a slightly less developed human any less of an atrocity? It seems that the fact that fetuses aren’t developed isn’t a good excuse to allow for abortion.

Another argument I considered was that this life is different from other types of life in that it is dependent on another human not just for care and provision, but for even the most basic of functions. Its waste is carried out by another person, its breath and food is actually shared by another person. It is clearly a much different form of life than the traditional conception of “human.” Still, when one starts making distinctions between living humans and declares a whole class of them fit for extermination, isn’t that absolutely abhorrent? Isn’t that the idea at the very heart of genocide? If we acknowledge the biological fact that a fetus is alive and it is human, yet a different form of human life, and we then decide that this particular variety of human life can be exterminated at will how are we any better than the Nazis or the butchers in Somalia, Sudan, Japan in World War II or other genocidal regimes? In fact, it seems, we are not if those things are true.

What about rape, incest or the life of the mother, I asked then. The last of these is the easiest to answer in this case- self-defense is a recognized defense for homicide. When carrying a child to term would likely kill the mother, the mother has a right to protect her own life as well and should be able to terminate the pregnancy. Rape and incest are far more pernicious problems. The woman has already been victimized and now has a horrible reminder of the crime. Still, the child did not choose to be conceived and was not the perpetrator of the crime. That the life is innocent, and should not be ended for the crimes of another is the simple answer, but some serious wrinkles remain. Incest caries the likelihood of genetic deformity and a painful life for the child, yet whose say is it to decide for that child whether this pain and deformity is justification to end its life? Still, for incest I can see an argument for ending the pregnancy, though it is a gray area. Rape is a bit more complicated, but one could say that nine months of carrying a child could cause serious trauma to the mother, and thus an abortion could be justified. But as we said earlier (when discussing the Netherlands), being distressed or psychologically burdened by another person is not a justification for killing them, merely a motive. Either way, we need a far better adoption and foster home system than the one in place today for all these cases and others.

In the end, I am now on the verge of being convinced that life- scientifically, biologically and factually speaking- begins at conception, and after that any unnecessary ending of that life is in fact a grievous thing that should be made illegal. I say “on the verge” because such important changes of opinion shouldn’t be undertaken lightly. I have changed a lot over the last several years, mostly because the university has made me open my mind, open my eyes and consider a broad range of ideas. This process of open-mindedness has led me to this point, and this might be the biggest change of them all.

But I will remain a Democrat, and if anything this will make me more progressive. The reason is simple: I value human life at all of its stages and it is ludicrous to say that we will protect a life before it is born, but leave it to the wolves after it is born. If anything, the whole line of thought on the sanctity of life is making me go back to my old position on the death penalty, opposition rather than the openness I had held of late. Furthermore, if we simply outlaw abortions, nothing much will change. Before abortion was legal women got abortions and if it were made illegal again today it would still happen. With illegal abortions come unsanitary and unprofessional practices which threaten the life not only of the unborn child, but of the mother as well. It is a dangerous thing to do. If unborn children are in fact alive, it is a moral imperative that abortion be outlawed, but it is a coincident moral imperative that we make it easier to have an unplanned child to prevent “back-alley” abortions as well as huge new burdens to women in this country.

These protections should be child-based rather than parent-based in order to prevent the phenomenon (at one point a reality in this country) where having a child out of wedlock is a free ride to a government check. Poor women for years had a serious economic incentive to have children out of wedlock while they were young- the opportunities for advancement were scarce, money was available without much work, so they had children- and we should avoid this. I say this not because I’m a cold-hearted stingy type, but rather because the number one predictor for poverty in this country is whether you have both parents in the home. I want to prevent poverty, and ending out of wedlock pregnancies is step one. There are several important policies that will make it easier to handle an unplanned pregnancy without encouraging young women to plan out of wedlock pregnancies. Medical coverage for children should be universal. Child care should be free for everyone who can’t afford it. Clothes for children, decent housing (with some work requirements, so as not to encourage the phenomenon discussed earlier), a world-class education system and other necessities should be provided.

Furthermore, women who would face serious repercussions for revealing the pregnancy should have a safe place to turn to- not some depressing place as in the old days, where they were either demonized or isolated- but rather a welcoming home for them. This may cause young women in abusive or simply unhappy homes to get pregnant as a ticket out, but that means we need better child protective services to prevent abuse from happening in the first place and better school counseling and other mental health services to make sure they have constructive ways of dealing with their problems.

I also mentioned one other issue earlier: for women who can carry the child to term, but even with all the services can’t or are unwilling to care for the child, we need a dramatically improved foster home and adoption system in this country. Foster homes need to be loving places that take good care of kids, not (as they are in a minority, but still significant number of cases) dens of abuse and neglect. Adoption needs to be a much easier process and the attempts to discriminate against gay and lesbian couples must end immediately. There are millions of families that can’t have kids and want them. There are today millions of women who have unwanted children. They need to be matched up and, when possible, the natural mother should take a role in the child’s life. I have always been a big advocate for adoption because both of my parents are adopted- my father at birth because he was unwanted by his natural mother (who today might have been merely aborted him), though he was wanted deeply by two of the finest people on the face of this planet- my paternal grandparents- and my mother’s father abandoned her family and was adopted by my maternal grandfather. Adoption is a wonderful thing whether you support abortion rights or not, and it is a pressing issue that we must continue improving on.

Finally, we need to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. The way to do this is to have a serious, open, frank and honest discussion in sexual education in our schools- and only Democrats are talking about this right now. Abstinence should be the starting point- kids who aren’t responsible decision-makers yet shouldn’t be having sex. Still, history since 50,000 BC or so has shown that adolescents will have sex even when it is a very bad idea. Abstinence-only education has been shown to actually increase the likelihood that kids will have sex and dramatically increases the likelihood that they will use no contraception or protection. They tell kids that using condoms doesn’t change anything, and they believe it. We have to start by telling kids that sex is a serious choice- if only because once you start having sex it is nigh impossible to stop. It also complicates relationships, leads to a greater chance of heartbreak and the whole dynamic of having to sneak around parents makes the whole thing rather destructive to families. It’s annoying, it’s addictive and will leave you hurt and alienated from people you really care about. That, of course, is if you don’t get pregnant or a disease- those just make everything even worse. So sex should be avoided, but if they make the decision- the rather unwise decision at the age of 15 or 16- to have sex, they should be intelligent about their contraceptive and disease-prevention options. These options should be made more affordable, more available and more discreet for young people, and everyone else for that matter. Widely and easily available contraception and an honest discussion about sex will help us to avoid many of the unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

Human life is sacred, everyone can agree on that. We as a country have more or less decided that abortion is a right. What we now must do is ask ourselves- as honestly, frankly and unflinchingly as we should discuss sex with our nation’s young people- when life begins. Religion has a place at this table, but common sense and scientific reason have an even more important place in the policy-making of a secular government. If what I have found so far (and my search has not ended yet, nor will it ever likely) is accurate- that life begins at fertilization both by the independent definition of “life” and a scientific understanding of the life cycle- then abortion must end.

Choice is not a valuable argument as no one has the right to choose whether another human lives or dies except when that person poses an immediate threat to one’s own life.

Women’s rights is not a valuable argument in that no one’s rights include the right to kill an innocent human being, not to mention that at least 50% of the lives we are snuffing out are women who will never have a choice on anything.

Political difficulty is not an excuse as the history of our country is the history of oppressed groups taking on monumental difficulties to set themselves free, and in this case we must stand up for those who not only cannot speak for themselves, but are as yet unborn.

Finally, constitutionality is not a valid excuse as it is clear that if these embryos are living humans then Roe v. Wade was a bit of unconstitutional abomination on par with Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson. In the end, if life begins at conception, we have no choice but to protect that life with every element of our law available to us. Democrats must take the lead, as only Democrats can protect life before it is in this world and after it is born. It is time for politics to leave this discussion and for level-headed and honest people to debate the issues with themselves and others in a respectful way.

I invite you to join me in this vital task, and urge you to respond to all of this, respectfully of course.

March 03, 2005

So, who exactly are all you folks?

By Byron LaMasters

Last year, BlogAds initiated a "2004 Blog Reader Demographic" survey for all users of BlogAds. It came at a busy time for me, and I forgot to urge our readers to participate. This year, however, I hope to see significant participation from BOR readers. The information is useful for potential advertisers, but more importantly, the information is useful for us so that we know who our audience is, so that we can better cater to our readers.

I would very much appreciate it - especially if you are a regular reader of the site - if you would follow this link to tell us more about yourself. The survey should take 5-10 minutes, and just make sure to write "BurntOrangeReport.com" for the answer to question 16. Thanks a lot, and we're looking forward to learning more about our readers.

Blog Reader Demographics 2005 Survey

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March 02, 2005

The Right-hand Sidebar

By Byron LaMasters

The right-hand sidebar underwent a major overhaul over the weekend. I spent several hours deleting broken links and sites/blogs I no longer read, and adding blogs I read on a somewhat regular basis, or believe are beneficial to our readers. I had already updated the Texas blogroll several weeks ago, but I needed to update everything else - the only thing I need to complete is the "about/contact" page which will be completed when I get the information that I need from all of the writers.

Specifically, I've made significant changes to "Daily Reads" and "More Reads". I also created the categories of "GLBT Blogs" and "College Blogs". So scroll down the right-hand side bar and check them out...

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February 28, 2005

Doing a Favor For Jon Mureen

By Andrew Dobbs

With all this talk about SG, I forgot to mention that my one time nemesis Jon Mureen called me the other day. Jon ran for SG President my freshman year and I gladly helped Brian Haley beat him. Jon's a nice enough guy I suppose and we became rather cordial after it all was over. Now he's apparantly at the University of Virginia law school and did a Google Search of himself to see what future employers would find. He claimed that the first thing were some comments some trickster left on BOR claiming to be him saying crazy things. The search didn't turn this up, and someone had removed the posts, probably Byron.

I wanted to put the posts up so everyone could see what Mureen was so worried about, but now I can't. What I CAN do is put up the rather silly email that Jon sent me threatening me to take down the posts. Here you go:


I’m still hoping to resolve this civilly, but judging by your refusal to respond, I can infer that you do not care to. This issue will have to be resolved one way or another, so unless I hear from you within 48 hours, we will commence legal proceedings, and you will receive word from my attorney. At that point, I will leave the rest of the communication to him.

If doing the right thing is not enough motivation for you to remove the pages, you should also know that it is in your best interest to do so. If you refuse, not only will the Burnt Orange Report and its agents be held liable for knowingly publicizing slanderous and false information (and refusing to remove it), but it will also be fairly easy to determine who created the false identity. In addition to his own civil liability, that individual will face criminal charges for identity theft.

Andrew, I hope it doesn’t come to any of this, but please know that I am serious. As a law student, I have the time, resources, and access to quality legal counsel that will allow me to see this through.


Jon Mureen

Well Jon, we didn't slander you- if anything we were libelous seeing that libel is written and slander is spoken, but we weren't even doing that. See, we run a website and anyone can put whatever name and write here. We didn't say anything about you, so we couldn't have libeled or slandered you. If I owned a truck stop and someone put on a bathroom wall "For a Good Time, Call Jon Mureen 434-906-04**", could I be sued for insinuating that you would show some lonely trucker a good time? I think not. And this unknown webperson didn't really "steal your identity" so much as s/he portrayed a parody, a satire- protected speech under the First Amendment (I'm sure you'll cover that in law school at some point). So bring your attorneys on, Mr. Mureen.

I don't know what this shows- that Mureen will be a good attorney because he is an uptight prick or a bad attorney because a) his knowledge of the law is feeble at best and b) he is such a weak-willed type that he is worried that a few silly BOR posts will keep a graduate of the University of Texas and UVA law out of a job. Either way, the email was a bit on the silly side.

The posts are down and this suggests to me that there will likely be no reason for me ever to talk to Jon Mureen again, which makes me rather happy. I hold no grudges, I kicked his ass once already and got my jollies then. Hope Mr. Mureen can let it go sooner or later as well.

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Open Thread

By Byron LaMasters

I won't be posting until later in the day, but yall are welcome to use this as an open thread, since we haven't done one in awhile. Feel free to talk about the Oscars last night, or about BOR's mention in two daily newspapers today, the Dallas Morning News and the Daily Texan, or whatever else you'd like.

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February 22, 2005

Spreading Firefox

By Byron LaMasters

Karl-Thomas and I were chatting last night while we were working on posts, and we made an observation. While using Internet Explorer, Karl-Thomas noticed that some links on BOR were opening slowly and/or incorrectly. On the other hand, I was using Firefox and had no trouble with the links in question. So, he tried opening the links on Firefox, and I tried opening the links on IE, and sure enough Karl-Thomas had no trouble with the files on Firefox, while I experienced the slowness of opening the files on IE.

I've been using Firefox as my Internet browser almost exclusively since the beginning of the year, and I would highly recommend it to all of our readers. Firefox blocks more spam / pop-up ads than IE, downloading files is more user-friendly with Firefox, and as someone who almost always multitasks while online, I find the tabbing feature of Firefox to be very useful. Finally, I've noticed that many websites - including BOR run faster with Firefox.

I must say that I'm surprised that 30% of BOR readers already use Firefox 1.0. That's quite impressive considering that Firefox 1.0 launched barely three months ago. Already, Firefox has attained nearly a 5% market share. It makes sense that blogs would show Firefox with a larger browser share as blog readers are more tech-savvy than your average Internet user. I think that BOR's focus as a UT-student based political blog gives us a younger audience than others - also increasing our Firefox share. Here's the Firefox Share of some other blogs I read frequently (although these numbers seem to vary by a few points either way each time I reload):

Off the Kuff - 15%
Political Wire - 17%
MyDD - 28%
Daily Kos - 33%

Anyway, I would certainly encourage all of you to get Firefox (it's free) if you haven't yet:

Get Firefox!

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February 14, 2005

Ok, so this picture DID turn out...

By Byron LaMasters

I mentioned last week how the picture of Karl-Thomas and I in San Antonio didn't exactly turn out, but I just noticed a picture on the University Democrats webpage of us from the February 2nd meeting. I was showing my support for Martin Frost for DNC Chair, vainly attempting to get a wireless connection, and savoring a tasty cookie - completely oblivious to the fact that someone was taking a picture, while Karl-Thomas apparently was going for the punk-ass blogger look. Anyway, here ya go:

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February 07, 2005

Comments Working Again

By Byron LaMasters

Comments are now working again. My apologies for taking so long. It has been a frustrating four days, but everything is working now, so go ahead and start commenting again. If you're interested in the full story for our comment problem, take the jump to the extended entry.

I have to say that in my 20 months of using Dreamhost, this was the first time where I was genuinely perturbed with their service. Apparently, a week ago, Dreamhost made an announcement requesting that MoveableType users upgrade to version 3.15, or otherwise be subject to a stoppage of some services. Unfortunately, since I only received the "Level 5" or "most urgent emails", I don't recall receiving that notification (I've since signed up to receive level 2-5 emails from Dreamhost). Then on Friday, Dreamhost disabled my mt-comments.cgi file, thus disabling all comments. I read through the latest Dreamhost announcements, noticed the request to upgrade to MT 3.15 (I was using MT 3.121), and upgraded. Then, I emailed Dreamhost back asking them to enable my mt-comments.cgi file. Dreamhost usually responds to support requests within 24 hours, but it took them nearly 60 hours to fulfill this request.

They finally responded to my request stating that the comments should be working, so I checked, and the comments still were not working, and I promptly filed out another support request last night. This afternoon, I finally decided to go into my ftp program and look at the properties of the mt-comments.cgi file. Sure enough, the permissions were set at 200, so I changed it to 755, checked to see if the comments worked, and sure enough they did. Overall, I've had a great experience with Dreamhost, but this was quite frustrating. Still, I'd recommend Dreamhost - it's $10/month, their service is generally pretty good, and until our traffic increases by a factor of ten, we won't have to pay any more for additional bandwidth.

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February 03, 2005


By Byron LaMasters

The comments are down due to a spam attack this morning which caused my hosting service to disable my mt-comments.cgi file. I don't have time to work on this problem this afternoon, so hopefully, I'll be able to take care of it tonight or tomorrow.

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February 02, 2005

Memories of Da 'Burgh

By Jim Dallas

In a strange coincidence, Kos made a slight boo-boo in a post today:

Rep. Bobby Bonilla (R) is eyeing a Senate run if Kay Bailey Hutchinson retires to run for governor, as expected. That would open up a congressional seat that has narrowly elected Bonilla in several past elections.

Meanwhile, the DSCC's and Ed Rendell's top choice to challenge Santorum next year, Bob Casey Jr., met with party leaders in DC to discuss the race. Democrats want Santorum out in the worst way -- the number one target, in fact -- and feel that Casey's popularity in PA will give them the best chance for success.

In my previous post I made a subtle joke about Bobby Bonilla, the retired baseball player. Why? Because Bobby Bo was one of the stars of the Pittsburgh Pirates in the late 1980s (along with Barry Bonds).

I lived in Pittsburgh for a few years, and I was a huge Pirates fan.

Incidentally, during the same time Bob Casey Sr. was governor of Pennsylvania, and I remember him being in the news a lot.

Almost brings a tear to my eye, all these childhood memories.

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January 21, 2005

More Changes

By Byron LaMasters

As I started last week with my Texas blogroll updates, I'm continuing with site updates here at BOR. Since we're a group blog, and especially since we've been expressing our varying viewpoints on the DNC Chair race, I made changes today intended to make it easier for our readers to know whose post they're reading. Instead of having to read or scroll down to the end of each post to figure out which one of us wrote the post, you can now see the author of each post directly under the title of the post. Tell me what you think, and if there are any further changes along these lines that we can make.

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January 18, 2005

Andrew's Comments Earlier today

By Byron LaMasters

I called Andrew earlier this evening and told him that I thought that this post was inappropriate. I timedated it down a few slots, because I felt that it distracted from several other posts this evening. Every writer of this blog is free to express their own opinion, but at times we disagree. I think that Andrew's criticism of Kos and Jerome was a cheap shot and unfair. Andrew's not by a computer at the moment, but he might have some comments later on this evening.

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January 17, 2005

My thoughts on Fowler to be posted tonight

By Byron LaMasters

I just got off the conference call with Donnie Fowler. Overall, I was quite impressed, but I have to run some errands, then it's Big Monday Basketball. Go Horns!

I have about six pages of notes from the conference call, so I'll post my thoughts on Donnie Fowler sometime tonight. For now, again, check out Annatopia.

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January 06, 2005

The Koufax Awards

By Byron LaMasters

Cool. We got nominated for a Koufax award, the premier lefty blog award (no offense to The View From the Left). BOR was nominated for Best Group Blog. Other categories include Best Overall Blog (by a non-professional) and Most Humorous Blog. You are allowed to vote once for each category in the comments section. We would certainly appreciate any votes for BOR in the Best Group Blog category, but there are a number of other well-deserving blogs in that category as well, so vote for your favorite. Vote here.

Update: Wow. Another nomination for Best Single Issue blog (Texas Politics). Lots of well-deserving blogs in that category as well, including several of interest to Texas readers - Off the Kuff, The Daily DeLay and Grits for Breakfast. Vote here.

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Color me Amused

By Byron LaMasters

Since last night, traffic at BOR has been about twice our average amount. Why, you ask? Our coverage of the DNC race? News about Jack Stick's contest? Our coverage of the Ohio challenge, Karl-Thomas's Sleepless Winter Tour, or our Koufax Award nomination?

No, no, no. Don't be silly. Our traffic is up because everyone is doing a Google Search on Ashlee Simpson getting booed at the Orange Bowl. Sorry to disappoint, but check out Boi From Troy's take on Ashlee Simpson getting booed and his Orange Bowl recap if you're interested.

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January 04, 2005

A Good Start to 2005

By Byron LaMasters

I got in from Los Angeles tonight, and so far 2005 is going pretty well. Of the Bowl Games I cared about, the teams I supported went 4-0. The Longhorns won and the Red Raiders beat Cal big time giving the Longtorns vindication for their Rose Bowl birth in the first place. Finally, the hated Aggies and Sooners both got embarrassed, which is always a pleasure to see as a Longhorn fan.

I can't even complain too much politically so far. President Bush got shamed into vastly increasing our tsunami relief funds, and House Republicans have dropped their bid to loosen House ethics rules. So far, so good. I'll get back to regular posting tomorrow.

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January 01, 2005

How I spent my New Year's

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Something interesting happened to me tonight that I have to share because I think I'm supposed to.

After chauffering a drunk friend around town as the designated driver while listening to her problems, and listening to an alcoholic talk about his relapse on New Year's Eve, I stopped at a convenience store to get a soda so that I could go home and finally have a drink for myself.

As I was walking out the door, a lady asked me to come over and talk to her. At 5 in the morning, people don't want to talk about good things and I almost had had my fill of listening to people's problems. But I did. It wasn't an unusual story. Two homeless women sitting at bus stop begging for change so that they could get something to eat and maybe a cheap motel room so they could have a bath and warm place to sleep. I didn't have any cash but I had plenty of change and some leftovers that Suzanne had left in the car when I took her home.

After the tsunami hit the Indian Ocean beaches and the death toll began to climb, it became a bit surreal. I mean, 150,000 dead people because of an earthquake and some water, it's really beyond the human imagination to comprehend just how much suffering that entails. The numbers are just too big. But one person at a bus stop begging from the bottom of her heart for some help, that's impossible to ignore.

It is so easy to get lost in politics. It's so easy to just get wrapped up in the day to day fighting over things and to forget why you're fighting. I think I'm a religious man, and I'd like to think God took the time to remind me why I'm a liberal Democrat. I believe that government is fundamentally a force of good in people's lives. Great things can be accomplished when all the resources of our republic are put behind something; we know because we've done it before. Conservatives feel that it is the individual's responsibility to do great things. But I ask you, what is a government but the representation of all the individuals that make up the citizenry?

We may never be able to help all the homeless people. We may never be able to feed and shelter them all. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try. And we shouldn't forget why we fight the good fight. We shouldn't forget why we are here.

I'll wake up tomorrow a little more eager to fight and help those who can't help themselves. And the next day I'll be more eager still. I will challenge myself to be more eager to help all the helpless people . I hope we all do the same. Great things can be accomplished; we know because we've done it before.

This is a gust post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

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December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I know it is still a few hours until it is actually New Year's Day in North America, but I'm going to be out celebrating so I had better do it now. I've already been to one New Year's Eve Eve party honoring the birthday of Dick Clark, his 251st. I swear to God, the lower left-hand corner of the Declaration of Independence reads "Dick Clark, Keep on rockin'".

I've been unusually busy the past week with high school basketball tournaments, so my posting was not up to par, but with the holiday season finally behind us I'll be able to cover a few things that I may have skipped over recently that deserve some scrutiny.

With all that said, have a safe and happy New Year's, and be sure to drink responsibly. I wouldn't want any of you to miss Texas kick the shiznite out of Michigan tomorrow.

This is a guest post from Nathan Nance. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

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December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas from Our Family

By Byron LaMasters

In my 22 years of celebrating Christmas in Texas, this year was the first where there was actually snow on the ground on Christmas Day. Needless to say, the situation called for a family picture. So, without further adu, please accept this as our Christmas greetings to you and your family.

Byron, Janet and David LaMasters, 12/25/2004 (Click on image for enlarged copy).

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December 20, 2004

Online Quizes were SOOO 2003, but....

By Byron LaMasters

I found this one interesting via Greg and Stout Dem:

You Are a New School Democrat

You like partying and politics - and are likely to be young and affluent.

You're less religious, traditional, and uptight than most Democrats.

Smoking pot, homosexuality, and gambling are all okay in your book.

You prefer that the government help people take care of themselves.

What political persuasion are you?

These things are gross oversimplifications, but it's close enough.

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End of the Year Awards

By Byron LaMasters

It may not be the Wizbang 2004 Weblog Awards, but I'll take it. Wizbang is a bunch of Republicans anyway. Just look at their top awards: Best Overall Blog - Powerline, Best New Blog (Established 2004) - Kerry Spot, Best Group Blog - The Volokh Conspiracy, Best Humor Blog - ScrappleFace. All a bunch of right-wingers. Kerry Spot was a project of the National Review. Good God.

I'll take our award from the first annual The View From the Left Best of the Year Awards. Thanks a lot =)

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December 14, 2004


By Andrew Dobbs

I'll be on and off for a little while, as my PC appears to be broken. While I wait to find a way to fix it, I'll only be able to post at work or the library, limiting my ability to post. Today I have a few things to put out there, but it'll be the exception to the rule.

Thanks for the patience.

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December 13, 2004

Sorry about that

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I'm sorry if the last post seemed to kind of jump toward an idea at the end. I got sidetracked for about an hour with a caller who wanted to know the history of the founding of Baylor University. He wanted to know who Baylor was named after and where that person was buried.

I ended up doing several Google searches trying to find everything I could on Judge Robert Emmett Bledsoe Baylor, formerly of Kentucky and Alabama, who came to Texas and helped establish the need for a Baptist university. Originally the school was to be named San Jacinto University, then Milam University before it was finally chartered on Feb. 1, 1845 as Baylor University.

Baylor was a District Judge and professor of law at Baylor until his death on Dec. 30th 1873. As per his request, he was buried on the campus grounds in Independence, TX. The university moved in 1886 to consolidate with Waco University, forming Baylor University at Waco, where it still is today. Baylor's remains were moved in 1917 to Baptist Women's College, now known as the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX.

How's that for a free history lesson.

Anyway, I'm such a dork that I had to share all of that useless knowledge with you until I could find something more suitable to write about.

Guest post by Nate Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com

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Regular Posting to Resume

By Byron LaMasters

I finished my finals Saturday around noon, proceeded to sleep about 16 of the next 24 hours, then packed things up, and came back to Dallas yesterday afternoon. So, after about a week hiatus from blogging regularly, I expect my posting to resume to normal levels this week.

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December 09, 2004

Greetings from Napland

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I've been taking a nap, hoping to give other guest posters a chance to, er, post. I've been crowding BOR a little I think, mostly because I'm so used to having to write for a blog by myself that I have to have an opinion on everything.

I really appreciate the feedback from earlier. It helps me know if I'm doing a good job of communicating my ideas and opinions, which is what I think blogging is all about.

This is a guest post from Nate Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

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December 08, 2004

MT 3.121, Comments Working

By Byron LaMasters

Thanks to Charles Kuffner for his email directing me to what caused his comment approval problem - it was the same deal with me. I had to delete my old MT Blacklist, since it's added into the latest version of MT. The funny thing is I remembered that Charles had written some posts on his switchover to MT 3.121, but I only searched his archive on "Moveable Type" and "MT 3.121", which did not include this post.

I bought the MT 3.121 Unlimited Personal Edition. I held out for awhile on buying it, but I had gotten to a point where I was running MT Blacklist perpetually to block spam, and being able to get support (with the paid version) in the long run is probably worth it. Plus, I got $20 off for donating to Moveable Type last year so they would add BOR to their "recently updated" list on their website (back when I needed to boost traffic). While I still have some leftover Blogads money from October, I've posted my paypal link if you feel at all inclined to make a small donation for our MT 3.121 upgrade.

Anyway, problem resolved, and with 21 hours before my first final, I'm heading over to the library to catch up on the studying for my two exams tomorrow.

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December 07, 2004


By Byron LaMasters

I've updated my version of Moveable Type to 3.121, but I'm still working the kinks out, so I'll have more details on everything when it's all taken care of. I have a support request in to MT on the comment issue (I'm just wishing I would have had this problem next week when I will have much more time to deal with these things). For now, there's a slight improvement. Comments are working, but they require my approval (I'm trying to get them back to where they automatically post as before). So, post your comment, and I'll try and find time to approve them during a study break tomorrow. In the mean time, email our guest posters if you have anything you'd like to tell them. I'll be back to normal posting on Sunday or Monday (I have two exams Thursday and one on Saturday), and I'm sure that Karl-Thomas, Jim and Andrew (and of course, Zach and Andrea) will get back to normal posting when they finish they're finals as well.

And again, thanks to our guest posters... if it were not for them, you'd be looking at a lot of blank space this week.

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Commenting on comments

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

The latest email from Byron tells me that comments are still not working like they should, but I'm one of those crazy people that likes to know what readers think.

The guest posters have all started adding their email addresses at the end of their posts, and I would like for any body to feel free to email me with comments or questions. It's there for you to use if you want and I'm open to anything from gloried praise to hateful criticism. So get in touch.

To kind of get the ball rolling, I have a question. How are you celebrating the holidays? I've noticed among my family and friends, there's more of a holiday mood. There are more tiny tennebaums in our newsroom than in years past. When I got home Sunday night, I found a fully-ornamented Christmas tree complete with angel on top. We haven't had a Christmas tree in out house since I was 10, but there it was.

I just can't understand what is special about this particular Christmas that everyone is in the mood to celebrate. Is it economic, is it too much arsenic in the drinking water, what is it?

This is a guest post from Nate Nance. Nate is a sports/news clerk at the Waco Tribune-Herald and writer/editor of Common Sense a Texas-based Democratic Web log. He can be reached at nate_nance@yahoo.com.

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December 05, 2004


By Byron LaMasters

We're having some problems with comments. I'm not quite sure what the deal is, but we're working on it and should get things fixed asap. Thanks for understanding.

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December 03, 2004


By Byron LaMasters

Thanks for everyone who posted in the open thread. I had several ideas of how to improve BOR, and your thoughts gave me even more. Here's what I've decided to do for now:

  • I've added the user name "Guest Contributor" to BOR. Posting by us will likely be very light over the next week due to exams, so I plan on asking a few people to do guest posts over the next week to fill the lull. Where we go from there, I'm not sure, but I think a trial period will give us ideas on how to integrate more voices into BOR without sacrificing content or quality. If you've emailed me in the past about writing for BOR, it's probably buried in my email, so email me again: Byron AT BurntOrangeReport DOT com. If you haven't emailed me in the past, but are interested in writing a guest post, email me as well.
  • I think the idea of a e-magazine format like The Gadflyer is quite intriguing. I've meant to work on the format of BOR for quite awhile (even if I just decide to make more subtle changes), but for some reason it tends to get delayed. Hopefully, I'll have time to make some changes over winter break.
  • West Texas and Panhandle voices.... good idea. I'd love to have my friend Mike from El Paso contribute to BOR, and the folks over at Panhandle Truth Squad do a good job of covering the panhandle, although they'd certainly be welcome to guest post on occasion at BOR if interested.
  • Andrew works for the Texas Democratic Party. He is a Democrat. He's not switching parties. I'm sometimes puzzled by the changes in his philosophy over the past years. After all, when I first met him, Andrew had been a Naderite in 2000, and thought that Ron Kirk was too conservative and pro-business for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

    Now, Andrew is by far the most conservative and hawkish member of BOR. And the whole Contumacy thing bothers me a little bit, but I'll let Andrew explain it when he wants. But then again, the Iraq issue is personal for him. His father is in (or is going to) Iraq to help train the Iraqi police force (And my thoughts and prayers are with him, even if my only experience meeting Andrew's father was at their family's Memorial Day BBQ where Mr. Dobbs told more than enough off-color John Kerry jokes). If my father (who served in the Air Force for nine years) was over in Iraq, I'd probably feel the same way. The debate over whether to attack Iraq is over. I opposed attacking Iraq, and I think that the evidence that has come out over the past year gives those of us who opposed the war vindication.

    But so what? Senator-Elect Barack Obama (D-IL) at the Democratic convention put it best: "There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America."

    Whether one supported or opposed the war has nothing to do with what has to be done now. I think that President Bush has screwed up just about everything that could be screwed up with Iraq, but that doesn't change my position. We're in Iraq, we can't leave, and we need to win. Period. And while I'll never support this president, I'll always support our troops. As far as I'm concerned, Andrew does (and always will) have a place in both the Democratic Party and BOR.

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December 01, 2004

Open Thread

By Byron LaMasters

This one is for you guys. I called both Andrew and Karl-Thomas earlier today for their thoughts. Now I want yours. The Burnt Orange Report started as a UT-based blog by Jim and I. Now, it's a group blog of UT students (even if Jim has graduated and gone to law school). But in the past few months several others have expressed their interest in writing for BOR. I'll be graduating in a semester. Andrew and Zach will probably graduate in another year or so.

So what next? I think that it's critical to maintain a student voice at BOR, but where do we go now? One idea is to start a new blog that would be Texas-centric, and keep BOR UT-centric. But BOR IS Texas-centric. I think that approach would likely duplicate our efforts. I tend to favor the idea of expanding BOR, adding new voices, and focus on maintaining BOR's status as one of the premier Texas-based blogs. At this point I'm leaning towards adding a "Guest Writer" user name for some people that have asked to contribute to BOR, so we can get some help in the next week or two while we're going to be busy with finals. But I'm less sure of what to do after that. I'm open to ideas. Let us know what you'd like to see in both the immediate and long-term future of BOR in comments. Thanks.

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November 22, 2004

To Our Readers

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I know that some of you may be worried by the slow down in BOR content. That is due to a couple reasons.

Elections are over for this fall (minus that state to the East of Texas which has two House races). We'll be covering that.

Most of the writers on here are headed towards finals or end of year tests. It's just the nature of a blog run by college students.

But fear not. With the Texas Leg starting in just a few short months, BOR will (hopefully) be your front line report for finding out what is going on in the StateHouse. With Andrew adding insight from the Texas Democratic Party, Byron adding knowledge with the fact that he just knows a lot of people, and me adding the insight of University Democrats action and the chance that I may end up roaming around the chambers a lot in the spring, you should be fully served. (Sorry Jim, being out in Houston you will just have to keep us up to date on, um, city council elections? :)

And Austin will have City Council elections of our own in May. So there will be some reporting on what is happening there.

So pardon us a bit for the break. Readership is dropping off for most of the blogs this month. I don't feel that it is long term, just that the election spiked readership. You are still one of more than 1000 daily visitors here at Burnt Orange and we are happy to have you.

Spread the word. Comment. Maybe write for BOR? We write because of you.

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November 05, 2004

A Year Without Politics

By Jim Dallas

Win or lose, after one of these sorts of campaigns one tends to be a little bit burned out. Especially if you're on the side that comes up short.

We've tuned in, turned off, and dropped out. Time to tune out, turn on, and drop in for a while. It's part of the natural balance of things.

So now I think I'm going to take a year and try not to be so obsessive-compulsive about this politics thing. I'm going to play games (some of political nature*) and do some good works (the good thing about charity, compared to politics, is that you don't have to spend months or years fighting people in order to get something done). may... may... try to actually put more effort into school work.

That isn't to say that I am slacking off entirely. I'm still going to be a virtuous, civic-minded, well-informed American.

And I'm not going to stop blogging. But I'll probably be posting mostly fart jokes and sports scores for a while.

* The standard here is whether we're talking real-word politics or not. That won't keep me from fighting hard for, say, the Angry Troll Party in the online simulated Republic of Make-Believe.

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November 03, 2004

Election Night Thoughts

By Byron LaMasters

I'm back home from KUT. Things are pointing to a Bush victory, although I'm not sure what the heck is going on in Ohio. I don't think we'll have a resolution in the presidential race anytime in the next couple of hours, so I'm going to put up some posts on other races. Regardless, it's a disappointing night for Democrats - especially in the U.S. Senate. Here in Texas things are pretty bleak overall. It looks like Chet Edwards won (thank God), but that's it. I'll have some good news on a few things here. Mark Strama has beaten Jack Stick tonight, the Wohlgemonster has lost, as has Phil Crane, and I feel good about some gains I'm seeing in Dallas County races.

As we've been chatting about the returns, Jim said this to me: "If we win, great, but something went seriously wrong tonight. There is something seriously wrong with our party and the way we are doing things. What worries me especially is that the "easiest" people to blame are the people who worked hardest here: young people, liberals, etc.". I'm inclined to agree. If Kerry contests this thing, I'll be on the streets tomorrow to fight with him, but if not, Democrats have some serious soul searching to do. It's not a process I look forward to do.

I'm going to date this for tomorrow morning, even though this is being posted at 1:25 AM -- I think it's a bit more important a post than my thoughts on the Dallas Sheriff's race (among others).

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November 02, 2004

Live Election Night Radio Analysis

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be the Democratic analyst on Austin's NPR affiliate KUT 90.5 in the 11 PM hour tonight (there'll be a moderator and a Republican analyst as well). Use this as an open thread on my analysis - I think I'll be coming on right about 11:20 PM. If you're out of the Austin area, there's a live stream where you can catch it.

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November 01, 2004

Trying to make sense of Everything

By Byron LaMasters

It's been roughly 72 hours since checking my email, which means I have about 250 in my BOR and UT accounts. I'm catching up on a weekend of bloglines and CNN to figure out where everything stands. Overall, I'm much more confident than I was last week about the presidential race, and I ought to be home the rest of the day, so by this evening (unless I decide to take a nap), I'll probably have a flurry of posts (including a recap of my New Mexico trip).

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Burnt Orange in Oklahoma

By Byron LaMasters

I guess it's only fitting that since our readers had to view crimson and cream for three days after OU beat Texas, that students at OU get to read about burnt orange in their student newspaper today.

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Back Safe in Austin

By Byron LaMasters

I got back to my apartment at 3 AM after a long trip back from Las Cruces, NM. We had a close call with a deer on Highway 290, and with a rabbit on the offramp to a rest stop on I-10, but we and (hopefully) the rabbit survived. I was able to swerve to miss the deer, and I think the rabbit made it across the road before the van got there, but I'm not entirely sure.

As for New Mexico -- I'll have a lot to say after I get some sleep, clean and take back our vans, and take my exam tomorrow (Monday). But, for now, I'll keep things brief. The field organization in Las Cruces (and I assume nationally) is just phenominal - something I can now say from first hand experience. While we canvassed on Saturday, we ran into dozens of people from ACT, the NAACP, ACORN as well as with the New Mexico Democratic Coordinated Campaign (where we were volunteering) doing about every kind of GOTV work imaginable. Voters and potential voters that were never touched in previous elections have received multiple phone calls and door knocks this year. I also had the chance to meet that elusive undecided voter, and I'm confident that I swinged a few undecideds and/or non-voters over to the Kerry side. I'll elaborate more later. I'm going to bed now, but I can at least go to bed with the confidence that there is abso-fucking-lutely no way that we lose this election on the ground. In 48 hours, John Kerry will be President-Elect. You can write it down.

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October 29, 2004

New Mexico Bound

By Byron LaMasters

Heading for New Mexico... I may have some Internet access, but I don't know for sure, so use this as an open thread if you wish. I'll try and post some while I'm out there, but probably not too much. I'll be talking to as many people as I have the chance urging them to go out, and vote for John Kerry for president.

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October 18, 2004

Watch KRV-TV Tonight

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be on KRV-TV tonight at 9 PM with Zach Stephenson of the College Republicans and Students for Bush. We'll be discussing our perspectives of the presidential debates, and the current state of the presidential race with a focus on jobs and the war in Iraq in a 4-5 minute segment on the show.

We'll be on the award-winning KRV News 9:

This fall, get all your local UT and national news from KVR News 9, Monday nights at 9:00 PM. Get award-winning informative reports geared towards a student perspective. It's news you can use, broadcast LIVE from KVR-TV.

I think its available to most of Austin via either campus cable and the Austin Community Access Center:

KVR's over-the-air signal reaches homes in central- and east-Austin over VHF channel 9. In addition, KVR is available 24 hours/day in on-campus dormitories via cable channel 15 and in other on-campus buildings via Campus Cable channel 51. KVR is simulcast over Time Warner Cable from 9-10pm Monday-Thursday via channel 16, which is operated by the Austin Community Access Center.

I'm looking forward to it. If anyone is able to watch it, let me know what you think.

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I Voted

By Byron LaMasters

I voted an hour ago in my second presidential election. Karl-Thomas, and a bunch of the University Democrats camped out in front of the UGL all night. I have to give them credit where credit is due. They were all over the 10 PM news last night, and when I arrived to campus at 6:55 AM this morning, there were three local television trucks taking live shots of the line of about 50 people. Additionally, the Daily Texan had a huge picture and story on the front page of the paper. The whole idea was a bit goofy, but it generated great publicity, even though the only real benefit of camping out in front of the early vote location is the satisfaction of voting first (7:05 as opposed to 7:15 AM). I guess it's a big deal, especially for people that were either voting for the first time, or for the first time in a presidential election.

I cast my first vote just about four years ago when I went with my mother one day after school to vote early for Al Gore. This time it was with a bunch of University Democrats for Kerry and the rest of Democrats on the ballot. Overall, the process took about two minutes.

First, I checked the Democratic box for straight ticket voting...
Then, I scrolled down to write-in Lorenzo Sadun for Congress...
Then, I voted for Libertarians Quannah Parker and Tom Oxford for Court of Criminal Appeals...
Then, I voted FOR the Capitol Metro Referendum.
Finally, I reviewed everything to make sure the computer didn't do anything quirky, like cast a vote for a Republican or something, then pushed the "cast ballot" button.

Karl-Thomas and I talked about the Capitol Metro Referendum for a little bit last night. He said he was conflicted on the measure, as he thought that the commuter rail proposal was too watered down, and rejecting it might force the city to go back to a real light rail proposal. However, he changed his mind after people basically told him that the proposal was commuter rail or nothing, and a little bit of mass transit is better than none at all. The proposal was watered down because in 2000, Austin narrowly rejected a light rail referendum because a right/left coalition of anti-rail conservatives and anti-development liberals, and small business owners that would have to relocate if rail were to be built joined together in opposition. Essentially, the downtown bureaucrats wanted to put together an uncontroversial proposal this time that would pass easily, since something is needed as Austin has perhaps the worst traffic of any midsized city in America.

I can't say that any of the votes were tough calls for me. Travis County is lucky to have extremely well qualified Democrats up and down the ballot. It's always a pleasure to vote for local elected officials that I've worked with like Elliott Naishtat and Bruce Elfant as well as candidates that I've had the opportunity to get to know through the primary and general election season like Nancy Hohengarten, Stephen Yelenosky, Lorenzo Sadun and Greg Hamilton. Voting for Ronnie Earle, even though uncontested, is my way of bitchslapping, errr... voting against Tom DeLay, Tom Craddick and the GOP corruption in this state. And of course, I had been waiting four years to vote against George W. Bush again. It was a pleasure to cast not just an anti-Bush vote, but also a pro-Kerry vote, because I trust, and have confidence in the next President of the United States, John Kerry.

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October 14, 2004

Back to Burnt Orange

By Byron LaMasters

So very much better, now. My eyes were getting sore, and besides we're BOR-ers, not crimson and creamers - that just doesn't sound right on multiple levels.

Although, if you must see crimson, I still have the crimson template up - just in case I'm stupid enough to make a bet with an Oklahoman next year.

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October 13, 2004

Debate Liveblogging and Updates

By Byron LaMasters

First, everyone be sure to welcome Zach Neumann to BOR. He's been a friend of mine and Andrew's at UT for two years now, and also used to be a University Democrats officer, and is currently a junior at UT. Zach emailed me on Monday, and said that he loved BOR, but wanted a larger focus on international issues and offered to fill that void. I said sure, and added him on. His first post isn't on foreign policy, but expect most of his posts to be on that topic. As for adding contributors to BOR, I really don't have a policy. I've been told multiple times by many of our readers that our biggest weakness in terms of content is that there are no female bloggers on BOR. I agree. I added Andrea in March, but she posted just once, and that was it. Andrea's a good writer, but she was busy with an internship, a job and school, and well, there's only 24 hours in the day. Still, I know a lot of BOR readers would like to see a regular female voice here, so if you, or anyone you know is interested, email me at: Byron AT BurntOrangeReport.com - and yeah, this isn't a "no more boys allowed" thing. Anyone that's interested is welcome to email me - basically the only major requirements are that you're a Longhorn and a Democrat (or progressive independent-minded, you-get-the-idea).

Second, happy birthday to Karl-Thomas. I've never had a really sucky birthday, cuz, well, my birthday is in July, so there's no school to worry about. But I do know how Karl-Thomas feels. Two years ago when I was president of the University Democrats among other activities, there were times where I thought I was about to have a mental breakdown. But, I've since learned (I hope) not to try and do too much, not to fall too far behind in classes, and to make time for things besides school and activism. Karl-Thomas is doing a heck of a lot of work between being a UD officer being co-chair of the GLBTAAA, classes (and of course, blogging), so wish him the best.

As for myself, I had a midterm yesterday (30% of my Latin American Revolutions grade), another midterm today (20% of my Human Sexuality grade) along with a paper (20% of my History of Science grade), so it's nice to finally have all that behind me, although I'll admit Karl-Thomas has me beat. I figure I've gotten about 13 or 14 hours of sleep in the past three nights combined (he's had seven).

Anyway, after an afternoon nap I'll plan on liveblogging the debate tonight assuming that I can find a place where I can watch it with a working television and working computer in the same room (I misplaced my cell phone over the weekend, and my computer that I'm having perpetual problems with decided to quit working entirely on Monday, so this is a more difficult task that it might otherwise sound - fortunately, the rest of my week is relatively free and painless, so ensuring that I have a working computer and working cell phone by the end of the week are my top priorities).

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Blogger B-day

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I'm turning 20. As of 11:52 p.m. tonight. The day isn't over yet but I think it's going to be the worst birthday I've ever had.

I have a research paper worth 35% of my grade due in an hour that isn't written. I have a social work paper due tomorrow and an update on the progress of my project, which is really nothing to report. And the social work paper I didn't do last week. And my german oral exams got moved up to tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. And I have pulled two all nighters in the last three days for a total of 7 hours of sleep in the last 72.

Go me.

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October 05, 2004

Visual LiveBlogging

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Don't think anyone was here for the live blogging? Think Again.


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September 22, 2004

My Father Is Going to Iraq

By Andrew Dobbs

Yesterday in my post on Tom DeLay, some guy calling himself "Bill" felt it necessary to call me full of crap and to suggest that I hate America. He also said this:

Though i really respect Andrew Dobbs, I feel that his opinions (and those of like minded people) are based on unreality. I bet if he had a brother in Iraq or a father or mother whos erved the community he wouldn't hold such American hating positions.

Guess what "Bill"- my father is currently on his way to Iraq to train Iraqi police officers in firearms and defensive tactics. Why is he qualified to do this? Because he was a police officer for 25 years. My father is voluntarily putting himself in the belly of the beast and he has spent a majority of his life in uniform looking down the wrong ends of guns. He has served the community.

And don't you, or anyone else here ever suggest that I hate America. I catch flack from the left on campus because I hate Michael Moore and because I now support the Iraq war, because I am a firm believer in the war on terrorism and I support a strong military (including a National Missile Defense system). If you want to say that I hate America, give me a call- you know my name and you go to UT so use the directory and look me up. We'll find a place to meet, you'll call me unpatriotic to my face and then I'll kick your ass.

Just because someone disagrees with you doesn't mean they are evil. Just because they think that Tom DeLay is a bad dude doesn't mean they hate America. It is funny- you'll bend over backwards to defend draft dodgers like Tom DeLay, Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich and the like but you'll never give credit to veterans like John Kerry, Tom Daschle, Tom Harkin or Al Gore. Still, I don't believe that you or your candidates hate America- I just think that you all are cowards. I think that more than any other indictment or accusation or investigation your barely literate, barely legible, fairly neurotic screeds of accusation against me prove that your hero and former employer- Tom DeLay- is a worthless piece of scum.

I'll be waiting for your call- my Dad taught me never to back down to a bully.

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September 18, 2004

BBC Blogs BOR in Austin

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

During the convention I talked to a lot of reporters from all over the place. One of which was Kevin Anderson, who is now traveling across the US for the BBC blogging with fellow reporter Richard Greene. Since he was in Austin he gave me a rang and we met at the historic Scholz's Biergarten for a chat about Texas politics. (Kevin aslo has some great stuff from Mike Lavine and folks out in San Marcos in surrounding posts. They were in Colorado recently as well.)

The Blog is here and my bit is the second story from the bottom. (Look for this picture).

I've copied my piece with him in the extended entry in case it disappears from the site blog.

I first spoke to Karl-Thomas Musselman in the lead-up to the Democratic Convention in Boston.

He was Texas' youngest delegate to the convention, and he had his own blog and also writes for the Burnt Orange Report, a Democratic blog about Texas politics.

"The creativity of grass roots blogs fills in where most journalists fear to tread," he said.

He's a government student at the University of Texas at Austin, so being in town, I thought I'd give him a call.

We met at Scholz Garden, a local watering hole where Deaniacs - supporters of insurgent candidate Howard Dean - like Karl-Thomas gathered for the Meetups, the use of which was of the Dean campaign's online innovations.

Meetup.com is a site where people with similar interests can find each other online and set places to meet up offline. The interest doesn't have to be politics.

A quick search of the Austin area shows that there are Meetups about dog agility, the right to bear arms, cat rescue and witches, just to name a few.

As a volunteer for the Dean campaign, Karl-Thomas travelled to Iowa, to New Hampshire and to Arizona. He was there in Iowa for the famous "Dean Scream" speech.

Because the Deaniacs had such an attachment to people in the campaign and the candidate himself, Karl-Thomas said it was hard to let go.

After Dean's last stand in Wisconsin, Karl-Thomas said: "It was almost like losing a loved one. You had to go through a process of grieving."

At first he felt demoralised, but Howard Dean transformed his presidential campaign into a broader campaign to elect fiscally responsible and socially progressive candidates.

Karl-Thomas had been a committed Deaniac

Dean for America became Democracy for America, and Karl-Thomas has been working to elect Democratic candidates to local and state office in Austin.

Part of those efforts has been voter registration drives, and he said that at the university, they have registered 1,720 voters as of last week.

Generally, he thinks that voter turnout will be higher for this election than in the presidential election in 2000.

He predicts turnout will be up, at levels not seen since 1992, about 55%.

"I get this sense, this feeling that this is one of those elections that is going to draw out those people who rarely ever vote, people who vote once every 20 years," he said.

As an example, he said that his uncle hasn't voted since 1976, since the Jimmy Carter-Gerald Ford race.

Karl-Thomas' uncle believes "that all politicians are crooks and sleazes", but his uncle recently registered to vote.

He said that that there are lot of people who will turn out for this election to vote for "anybody but Bush".

They may not necessarily be voting for John Kerry, but if there is anything they do this election, they will cast a vote, in essence, against George Bush, he said.

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August 17, 2004


By Andrew Dobbs

Hey, I just wanted to put this down so that I can never be accused of conflict of interest or impropriety or whatever.

The views that I express on this website in no way reflect the positions- official or unofficial or otherwise- of the candidates, committees or organizations for which I work nor the Democratic Party as a whole or anything other than my own personal, private viewpoints. If I say it, it is because that is the way I see it, not anyone I work for so please don't try and get a read on the philosophy or programs of anyone I'm working for by reading this blog.

Once again- what you hear me say is me, not anyone else.


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July 25, 2004

Today's Plans

By Byron LaMasters

High Speed Internet Connection.... check
Cell Phone Charging..... check
Shuttle Reservations in an hour to the subway line.... check

To do today:

1) Get Aquainted with the Boston subway system
2) Check out the Fleet Center to make sure I can get credentialed without too much difficulty.
3) Spend some time checking out historical sites in Boston, as I doubt I'll have much opportunity to do so during the week.
4) Check out the protesters "pen" that everyone is talking about.
5) Check on the Texas delegation
6) Blogger Happy Hour at 8 PM.

That's the plans. I will not be bringing my laptop with me today, since I want to get aquainted with the city and the credentialing process before I have to worry about lugging around my laptop. Anyway, I hope to have a chance to post this evening before going to the blogger happy hour, but we'll see how the day goes.

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Getting things together

By Byron LaMasters

Errr... things are a little bit rocky here, but I'm managing. The high speed internet connection in my hotel room didn't work last night, so I just switched rooms this morning, and I need to buy a cell phone charger as I left mine at home. Other than that, things are going well so far. I'd like to do some touring of some of the historical sites in Boston today, since I don't anticipate much opportunity to do so later in week.

Anyway, check out my NPR interview, here. It aired yesterday.

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July 24, 2004

Live from Boston

By Byron LaMasters

I'm live from Boston, and I can tell it already. There's a bunch of Red Sox fans going nuts in the bar next to where I'm eating. I'm grabbing a quick bite at the Logon airport before going to my hotel to check in. I think I'll be going to a young Democrats party in Cambridge tonight, but I'll check into that when I get in to the hotel. Anyway, one of the advantages of a group blog is that I can take a few days away from writing if you feel like your in a rut - or if you know that you're about to spend the next six days blogging constantly, as is the case here. Regardless, I'm back in my blogging mood, and I wrote this in the airplane today:

You would think that DFW would be the easy part of my trip considering the security and commotion it brings about in Boston this week. Yet, I managed to have something of a minor adventure in Dallas earlier today. My Delta flight with an hour layover was overbooked, but they could book me on a direct flight to Boston on American leaving an hour and a half later. They asked me if I would be interested, and I said sure - as long as my bag gets there. I'm currently somewhere above Tennessee, and there is an open middle seat (I'm by the window), so I'm considering myself lucky so far, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed about the luggage. So, needless to say, I had some time to spare in the airport, and I made good use of it.

I'm an outgoing person by nature. I got it from my mother. She could find herself stranded on a desert island for a day with five strangers and by the end of the day she would have five new best friends. On the other hand, my father would be more than happy stranded on a desert island by himself with a remote control and a good book. I take after my mom. So, on that note, I talked to two fascinating women at the DFW airport as I awaited my flight. It troubles me that I forgot their names, but I'll surely remember the conversations.

First, was this African-American woman - probably late 20s or early 30s who was an airline security screener. I met her on the shuttle bus from terminal E - where my Delta flight was - to terminal A - where my American Flight to Boston departed. We were the only two passengers on the bus, and the driver wasn't too talkative, so I asked her - since she was in her security uniform - which exit to take for gate A10. She told me when to exit, and then after hearing that she was a security screener, I asked her why she was taking the shuttle from E to A. Why? She has to park way out near the entrance to the airport (and those of you unfamiliar with the DFW airport - it's huge). Not only that, but she has to pay $30 a month out of her own pocketbook to park there. Then she has to take one shuttle into the actual airport, then another to get to her terminal. Was she bitter about having to go to the trouble? No. She seemed to be happy with her job, and someone who was genuinely motivated to perform the important job on the front lines of national security. But does she deserve to pay $30 a month to do her job, only to take two shuttles to get there? She continued to tell me that most of the companies - the fast food joints, the news stands, the restaurants, etc. in the airport pay for close parking for their employees - so that they can park nearby to where they work. Yet, the federal government does not. That means that the guy at Au bon pan who made my chicken Caesar wrap for lunch probably has his parking paid for, yet the woman who checks to make sure that I'm not a terrorist does not. Someone needs to get with the program. If we're serious about airport security in America, we need to treat airport screeners as professionals. That means professional training, professional service, and professional pay. Treating airport screeners like professionals means not forcing them to pay $30 to park far away only to take two shuttles to do their job keeping America safe. They deserve better. Even so, the woman was friendly, and had a smile on her face. For her, it was just another day at work keeping America's airplanes safe from terror.

While I was waiting to board my airplane, I somewhat awkwardly spurred up a conversation with a young woman - I doubt she was any older than I - who was in a US Army uniform. I should force myself to do it more often. There was a young Hispanic guy - probably also about my age in front of me at the check in casual civilian clothes, but with a US Army bag. He was alone, as was I, so I thought of a way to spring up a conversation. Nothing came to me, so I just minded my own business. However, at the gate, I had just finished my chicken Caesar wrap, and I had another 15 minutes before my flight - not enough time to make it worth buying a wireless internet pass to log in and check my email, but enough time to spark a conversation. So I approached a very tired young woman in a US Army uniform, and I'm glad I did. I asked her if she was going to Boston. No, she was going on the following flight to Minnesota for two weeks of R&R. She had just come from Iraq, and had spent the last twenty hours in airports. I told her my story. I'm covering the Democratic convention in Boston for my website. And most importantly, while I opposed the war, I thanked her for her service. I'm just as proud today - the summer of 2004 - than I was in the winter and spring of last year that I opposed the war in Iraq. Having said that, its so important, especially for those of us who opposed the war in Iraq from the beginng to go out of our way to say thank you. It's so chilling to me to see people younger than myself die in Iraq. It's quite jarring. I just turned 22, and I turn the television on and see 19 year olds American kids die. It makes me feel so old. We all owe a debt of gratitude to our men and women in the armed forces, and its important on occasion to say thank you for their effort. That, more than anything is what I'll remember from today. And it made me feel good about our country and the people that fight for it. I'll remember to thank our troops more often. Not by writing about it on my blog, or praying about it at the kitchen table, or singing about it before the ballgame - but actually by going up to a service member and saying “thank you“. I'm sure they hear it all the time, but I know that serving in Iraq, having to kill another human being, seeing friends die or become disfigured - it all surely takes away part of your humanity. And it is my hope that the gratitude of millions of Americans will help restore with our troops and our veterans that sense of humanity. The conversation ended on a bright note as well. After hearing I was a Democrat, she told me her father was a Democratic State Senator in Minnesota, so she grew up in a political family. I was also envious to hear that she had met Paul Wellstone before he died - and she was quite a fan. My last question was what one thing would you like to see the U.S. government do to help the situation over in Iraq? The answer: Elect John Kerry president. Amen to that.

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July 20, 2004

I'm Getting Old

By Byron LaMasters

13 - You're a teenager. You're important. Finally, people listen to you. Finally, they take you seriously. You are somebody.

15 - Drivers Permit. You can drive with mommy and daddy. You can go places. You can drive. You feel a sense of liberation. Finally.

16 - No more mommy and daddy. You have a drivers license. You can see the city. You can do whatever you want, if you can get away with it. You are free, really.

17 - Age of consent. You can f*ck (what's that, Dick Cheney?) whoever you want. Well sorta.

18 - You can vote and you can smoke. I could care less about smoking, but I'm still just as proud today as I was in November of 2000 that the first vote that I ever cast at 18 was for Al Gore for President. I was proud of that vote when I cast it, I'm proud of it today, and I'll be proud of it the day I die.

20 - No longer a teen. Now you really get taken seriously. Sort of.

21 - Officially. You are an adult. You can drink (legally). A year ago I had a blast down in Austin with my friends. Good times. Fun times. Now what?

Today, I turned 22. I'm officially old. What else is there to look forward to? Getting older? I love being 22, I'm happy, but there's nothing left agewise to look forward to. Just getting older. I guess I'll just take my grandfather's advice. Getting older is a heck of a lot better than the alternative. Amen to that.

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Shameless Plug

By Byron LaMasters

More from me in the news regarding the convention.

The Miami Herald:

Despite its embrace of the electronic entrepreneurs, the Democratic Party appears cognizant of the risk of opening the door to the unpredictable blogosphere. Though there is no shortage of blogs that lean to the right, most of those credentialed for Boston fall to the center, if not to the left.

Party organizers said they were overwhelmed with about 200 applications. The criteria for inclusion: professionalism of the site, originality and readership.

Those chosen include blogs like Burnt Orange Report, run by Byron LaMasters, a University of Texas student, who suggests on his site that he might have made the cut because ``I'm from [President] Bush's home state, and I've had to hear his crap much longer than most Americans.''

It's funny what people decide to publish from an interview. The rest of the interview was pretty subdued, but I guess they were looking for some fiery rhetoric, and I gave them a little.

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July 16, 2004

Selected Photos for Vancouver

By Byron LaMasters

I had fun today walking around Vancouver making sure that I could successfully take pictures and upload them on to the laptop that I have with me here (and that I'll have with me in Boston). I think we had success. I took about forty pictures today, but here's a few of my favorities:

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June 30, 2004

Talk with CNN

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Today I chatted with Mark, the guy from CNN about what all they might be interested in as far as the National Convention goes. They are looking to profile interesting people from across the State and Country heading into the Convention. We chatted some about my four year story on becoming a delegate and my journeys with the Dean campaign this past year. We also talked some about my future ambitions as far as politics goes and if someday I was interested in running for office.

So let me just say this, I am interested in running for office, more than anything, the Texas State House. Back home in Fredericksburg, that is a bit of a tall order since the District is 79% Republican drawn (I'm not kidding). But that wouldn't even stop me in reality because I believe that if anything, it spread a Democratic message in an area that usually doesn't get to hear it.

And any Democratic vote gotten anywhere in the state, is a Democratic vote for a state-wide candidate. It doesn't matter if it is from Precinct 148, UT Campus in Travis County, or Precinct 3, Fredericksburg, Gillespie County.

I am also looking 10 years down the road about a seat in Travis County as people, long term, do their dance from office to office. Mark my words; one of these days, I will be in the Texas House. It may take time, persistence, and perseverance, but if I can work four years towards a National Delegate Dream, this too can be done. Time will tell.

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I'm a Chauvinistic Pig!

By Byron LaMasters

I'm not sure if I should be offended for being called a chauvinist (a homosexual chauvinist at that), or if I should take it as a badge of honor, considering that the attack comes from Chris Elam - an Aggie who happens to be a Republican political consultant whose client list includes our good friend, Tom DeLay (and I'd be neglectful if I did not point out that Chris Elam is a heterosexual).

I guess I'll choose the badge of honor. Chris got a bit perturbed with my take on a story stating that escorts and strip clubs were preparing for a big week when the GOP is in town for their convention. Did I mention that Chris is straight?

A bit perturbed is an understatement. First, Chris makes an ad hominem attack on strippers and "madams", since you know - they can't be trusted. Well, sure, some exaggeration might be involved, but I'll trust a stripper before I'll trust a Republican. Second, Chris suggests that it's not the Republicans that would be engaged in these activities. Why, it's the liberal media! Of course. I should have thought of that one myself. You know, because Republicans would never do things that contradict the strong family values planks in their platform. Third, Chris calls me a chauvinist, because I don't think of the women. Or maybe right-wingers believe that homosexuality is synonymous with chauvinism, since we believe in the superiority of one's own gender - hmm... well in bed, yes, but everywhere else... no. Fine then, call me a chauvinist in the bedroom, but it's an insult anywhere else. Otherwise, the sarcasm escapes me. Fourth, Chris accuses me of turning on feminists and embracing conservative moral values. Wait, didn't he just attack me as a chauvinist? You really have to spell it out to these right-wingers. I stated that a Republican delegate poised a greater threat to the institution of marriage by going to a strip club or hiring an escort than did gay and lesbian couples that wanted to get married. The right-wing Republican interpretation of that is that I want to close down strip clubs and I'm a hypocrite since I'm a liberal that ya know, should be supporting these feminists. Right. I'd challenge Chris to find me a couple that has gotten divorced because gays and lesbians want to get married. On the other hand, I'm sure we could both find people who got divorced because of an affair that one partner had with a stripper or escort. I never made a moral judgement on either of those activities, simply a factual one. It's not my place to make moral judgements on either activity, but that's a debate for another time. Anyway, I'll spare yall the rest. You can read more from Chris on his blog, here. He happens to be a heterosexual by the way (did I mention that earlier?).

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June 27, 2004

National HIV Testing Day

By Byron LaMasters

It's fast. It's easy. It's painless. Get tested if you're at risk for HIV / AIDS. Today is the national HIV Testing Day, so do it.

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Old Friends and Crazy Shit

By Byron LaMasters

I got up today in my typical Sunday morning routine. I Slept in. Made a pot of cofee, then spent a few relaxing hours reading the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times. So who's on the front page of the Dallas Morning News? My old friend from elementary school, Doug Havard. I was friends with Doug from 4th grade through 6th grade when we both attended the Parish Day School. We parted our seperate ways after sixth grade. I kept in touch with him until eighth or ninth grade, but at that point we more or less lost contact. Doug was always a wheeler-dealer. In elementary school he'd buy a box of baseball cards and sell the packs to myself and my friends for a profit. Unfortunately, he turned to selling drugs and fake i.d's in high school and college. When he was arrested for selling GHB to an undercover cop, he fled the country. A part of me was hoping he'd just fade away - have a nice life with the hundreds of thousands of dollars that he had made on some remote beach. But Doug got greedy. He got himself involved in an international money laundering scheme and was arrested this month in England. I don't have any sympathy for the guy. He'll be in prison for a long time, and that's a good thing. Anyway, read today's Dallas Morning News for more. For further background, read this 2002 Dallas Observer story.

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June 19, 2004

Veronica Rivera Wins

By Byron LaMasters

Democrat Veronica Rivera defeated right-winger Marc Levin in the ACC run-off election tonight by a 63 - 37% margin. The turnout was pathetic, at 1.3%, but its good news regardless.

Results here.

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June 05, 2004


By Byron LaMasters

I'm leaving for Austin this morning. I'll be in Austin for the weekend, returning to Dallas Monday mid-day. I'll be staying with various friends, so I'll have some Internet access, but not a lot, so posting will my light from me over the weekend.

Anyway, I'm sure that Andrew, Jim and Karl-Thomas will keep up the good work. I'll be back Monday if I don't post before then.

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June 03, 2004

Supporting Friends

By Byron LaMasters

Just wanted to make a few plugs for friends that are running for stuff:

BOR contributer Karl-Thomas is running to be a national delegate from his hometown of Fredricksburg. His webpage is Musselman For America. Even as the hardcore Deaniac that he is, he's running to be a Kerry delegate. If you have a few bucks to spare, he can use your support. Donate Here.

My friend Mike Apodaca is also a candidate from El Paso. He is running to be on the SDEC (State Democratic Executive Committee). Here's his webpage. Mike is the Executive Vice President of the Texas Young Democrats, a precinct chair, and President of the UT-El Paso University Democrats. He's also a hardcore Democratic activist, and all around good guy (even if he has a wonky side that tends to produce 75-page club organizing manuals). Mike has also been endorsed by State Sen. Eliot Shapleigh (D-El Paso). Anyway, he can also use your support, so if you have some change to spare, donate here.

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May 25, 2004

Summer Plans

By Byron LaMasters

Apologies for the light posting the past few days. I was packing and moving out of my apartment in Austin for the summer, and I just got back in Dallas this evening. I've finally more or less settled down in Dallas for the summer. I start an internship with the Dallas County Young Democrats on the 28th. It's a good opportunity because it's paying, so I'll make a little money this summer, and the position is a good opportunity for me. I'll be working on things like helping to update their webpage, working on a media strategy, planning meetings and events, fundraising, etc. I've also worked with the President of the DCYD's David Wilkins before (who is also the new Vice President of Finance of the Texas YD's (as of April) and the newly elected (as of a few weeks ago) Secretary of the Dallas County Democratic Party). Anyway, congrats on your elections, Dave. What's next? Heh.

I'll be in Dallas most of the summer, but I'll get to travel a little bit. Here's what I know so far:

Sat-Sun June 5-6: I'll be in Austin for the LGRL Pride events and the SD-14 precaucus.

Thurs-Sun, June 17-20: I'll be in Houston for the Texas Democratic Convention. I'm an alternate, but I think I'll inquire about getting press credentials since Bill Richardson and John Edwards are scheduled to attend.

Thurs-Sun, July 15-18: Family trip to Vancouver, Canada.

Thurs-Sun, July 22-25: Still debating whether to go to the convention in Boston. I did not file paperwork to be a delegate. Basically, I would like to be a delegate, but to be elected a delegate (especially in Austin) it basically requires a sustained campaign (emailing delegates, calling delegates, mailers, etc.). Since I'll be working in Dallas and I currently don't have an Austin mailing address, I figured it wasn't worth the effort (and I've already received several mailers and emails from delegates). I figured I had two things going for me. The delegate qualifying form had checkboxes for "historically underrepresented" groups, and I had two I could check (gay and under 30), but I have the fact that I'm a white male working against me, so it would have been a challenge (and there are people in SD-14 that are running that have been active in Austin politics for much longer than I). Anyway, back to the convention. I did apply for press credentials with the DNC. I'm not really expecting to get them since I'm sure there's a lot of bloggers that get a lot more traffic than we do that applied, but I figured there was nothing to lose.

Anyway, it's nice to be done with school for another year, and I'm looking forward to a nice summer of working, reading, working out, laying by the pool... *fill in the rest*.

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May 20, 2004

New Email

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be trying to shift over much of my emails related to BOR over to my new account: byron@BurntOrangeReport.com over the next few weeks. My UT email account gets a lot of spam and fills up quickly, so I'll try and use this account for BOR related stuff.

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May 07, 2004

A personal note

By Jim Dallas

Little kids have a strange attraction to penguins, or so it seems. I think it's because penguins are about the same size that they are, although it could just be that they are "silly-looking" animals. Or maybe it's because they're a certain juxtopositional appeal about Texas-born penguins. Or maybe kids are into Linux, which would be a good thing I guess.

I draw this observation from the six aquarium tours I guided in the last three days (and now I am about ready to slip into a sensory-deprivation tank, which I would do, if I didn't have more work tomorrow!). A lot of kids will say, "that's cool, but when do we get to see the penguins?"

Also, apparently ever marine animal is now officially recognized not by its scientific or common name, but by the relevant character's name in the feature film Finding Nemo. Which is fine by me, because I'd rather say "Dori" than "Pacific Blue Surgeonfish."

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May 05, 2004

Yes, I'm Alive

By Byron LaMasters

Just thought that I'd reassure everyone that I'm still here even though I haven't posted much in the past few days (and I haven't been answering many of my emails). Posts will be sporadic over the next week as we're wrapping up the last week of classes and exams. As usual, I procrastinated this semester, so I'm having to cram in the last week here, but I'll make it. I just turned in a 23-page paper an hour ago, and now I'm off to study for a test tomorrow, but I'll try and post a little bit here when I have the chance.

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April 29, 2004

BOR in the News Again

By Byron LaMasters

I met with the author of today's Daily Texan story with the University Democrats P.R. Director yesterday to give him a John Kerry bumper sticker to use for his story. He didn't interview me, but he talked about BOR as one of a number of political propaganda sites that are used by both Democrats and Republicans to convey their point of view. I don't think that the story is unfair by any means, but I'm a bit amused with the sense of shock and amazement that the author has that the websites of John Kerry and George W. Bush (and the sites of supporters of each) present a biased point of view. Well, duh! I've never claimed to be unbiased. I support John Kerry for President and I'll do whatever I can to get him, and other Democrats elected this November. Anyway, if you're interested, read the story or just check out some clips here:

Notbush.com presents what the site refers to as "informed talking points from the mainstream media." Visitors are asked to submit articles from third-party media sources, such as the New York Times or Washington Post, that are posted on the site to guide online discussion. Because the site is dedicated to replacing Bush, any article in favor of his campaign will not be posted, said Archuleta. He hopes using third-party articles instead of documents written by members of Notbush.com will lend credibility to the material and influence voters. However, because a majority of the articles are editorials, readers are more often than not subjected to opinion pieces, instead of facts.

The site draws 3,000 new visitors a day according to Archuleta, who adds that he foresees up to 100,000 hits a day if the current growth rates continue. He cautions new visitors that, despite the site's dedication to replacing Bush, Notbush.com is not a slander outlet.

"We need the people who are undecided and thinking people to make rational decisions," Archuleta said. "There are enough sites with Bush with devil horns doing a little dance in a monkey suit."

But campus Republican groups don't see much of a difference. Members of Students for Bush, a conservative student organization, say Notbush.com epitomizes political slander sites.

"Negative propaganda has been used for years to try to discourage voters," said Students for Bush co-director Matt Stolhanski.

Ok, Matt, so the left is using "political slander" because we're attacking Bush. If attacking Bush is political slander, then what do you call the vicious attacks by the Bush campaign against John Kerry? Isn't that "slander", too? Anyway, the site goes on to mention the University Democrats and the Burnt Orange Report:

As far as the Bush campaign site is concerned, Katherine Ford, public relations director for the University Democrats, said the chief problem is that the Web site is essentially an attack against Kerry, a campaign strategy the Bush-Cheney campaign claimed it was not going to use.

"I think [the Bush-Cheney campaign] knows that their asses are on the line in this election and that they're going to have to insult the other candidates," Ford said.

Ford added that she isn't impressed with Kerry's site either because it essentially contains rebuttals to the Bush-Cheney attacks. As a result, Ford believes, the Kerry site is not focusing enough on the issues of the election.

According to Ford, University Democrats would like to work with Notbush.com and other similar sites by spreading awareness and providing material. University Democrats are already participating with the Burnt Orange Report, an online discussion run by University Democrat Byron Lamasters, by assisting in those discussions.

Despite the quantity of third-party political activist sites available, Ford remains reluctant to believe any Web site is going to convince people to vote one way or the other.

"I think people already have it in their mind who they're going to vote for," Ford said. "I can't just look at a Web site and decide 'Oh, I'll vote for that guy."

Make of it what you want.

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Right Side Bar Changes

By Byron LaMasters

I made some changes yesterday with the right sidebar. I hope that yall will find them useful. I added links to the websites of the candidates we're supporting in the May 15th Austin Community College Board (ACC) election, and links with more information about collective bargaining for Austin firefighters and information supporting the proposed Travis County Hospital District.

Further down, I borrowed the links to the Texas Congressional candidates which I had not yet linked to from Off the Kuff, and I also added links to selected races for the Texas State House and U.S. Senate. I also added some more news links down at the bottom of the page. Finally, I rebuilt all of my categories, date-based and individual archives which hadn't been rebuilt in awhile.

Anyway, let me know if you have any thoughts on the changes.

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April 26, 2004

One Year Anniversary

By Byron LaMasters

I'm two days late on this, but I got busy with the Texas Young Democrats Convention (I'll post on that shortly) over the weekend and didn't get around to doing this post on Saturday. I should note that on April 24, 2003, the Burnt Orange Report was born over at livejournal. My first post was on "Blogs Changing Politics", and for memories sake, I'll repost it here since it's interesting to reflect on my thoughts a year ago:

Blogs Changing Politics

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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April 15, 2004

I'm a Traditional Liberal

By Byron LaMasters

The Harvard Institute of Politics has an interesting "Political Personality Test" for college students. They divide students into four categories: Traditional Liberals, Secular Centrists, Religious Centrists and Traditional Conservatives. Anyway, it's fun to play with a little bit.

Take the test, here.

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April 06, 2004

Tonight at 10

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

If you happen to receive TV signals out of the Austin area for KXAN (NBC), KVUE (ABC), or FOX7 (KTBC?) tonight at 10 you may see my smiling face on the tele from today's press conference for the Austin Coalition for Marriage Equality. If you are interested in joining ths movement, review the website or come to Spiderhouse this Monday at 6:30 p.m. on the back patio. I'll be writing about ACME events here as they happen.

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March 31, 2004

Temporary Changes

By Byron LaMasters

It's taken me longer than usual to load BOR the past few days, so I've made some temporary changes on the right-hand sidebar deleted some images (the Marriage Equality and Beat Bush images) and the general blogroll from blogrolling.com. Hopefully that will speed things up to a reasonable speed for now.

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March 30, 2004

Apologies for Yesterday

By Byron LaMasters

I just wanted to briefly apologize for the problems accessing BOR yesterday. Our service provider, Dreamhost had a "major distributed denial of service attack (DDOS) aimed at one of [their] main routers". Personally, I had difficulty accessing BOR most of the day yesterday (along with Off the Kuff and Yellow Dog Blog which are also hosted by Dreamhost). Anyway, this is the first time that there's been a problem with Dreamhost for more than an hour or two, and they've assured us that they are doing everything in their power to prevent such problems from occuring in the future. So cross your fingers, and lets hope everything will run smoothly for awhile.

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March 22, 2004

Back in Texas

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Yes, I have returned from my trip to Gulf Shores Alabama where the water was clear, the beaches white, and the college boys, well, few in number. Hopefully I'll get back into the grove of things but this next week will be a semi-hectic one since I have two midterms next week and a major paper all on two days.

In addition to that I have been doing a lot of catch up work relating to stepping up to become one of the new co-directors for the GLBTA Affairs Agency here at UT. And then in addition to that I have been coordinating events with the newly formed Austin Coalition for Marriage Equality which will meet again next Monday at 6:30 on the back patio of Spiderhouse (just off Guadalupe around 30th for you progressive Austinites). Hopefully I'll be able to chat about that more in the future as my life is taking me into that arena of activism.

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Back in Austin

By Byron LaMasters

I made it back home to Austin. That's the good news. The bad news is that my computer in my apartment isn't working. It just will not turn on. Not good. For now, I suppose, I'll just use the computers at the UT computer lab. It's always something.

I really enjoyed the Internet Cafe that I went to three times throughout my New Orleans trip. The cafe was a quaint little coffee shop on Royal Street (one block away from Bourbon St.) in the French Quarter. However, even being in the middle of the French Quarter, it was tucked away into a little courtyard that was relatively calm and peaceful. Yeah, Bourbon Street was fun, too, but it was nice, especially yesterday after I had checked out of the hotel, and my friends had already left (several drove and one had an earlier flight) to go there and spend a relaxing late morning.

Since I was by myself most of the day yesterday, I decided to just walk around awhile. After walking through the French Quarter and Jackson Square, I walked up to the Mississippi and took a stroll along the Moonwalk.

The Moonwalk was named after former New Orleans mayor Moon Landrieu, best known by many now as the father of U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana). During his tenure as mayor from 1970-1978, Moon Landrieu helped create a park and pedestrian walkway along the Mississippi River for the enjoyment of the citizens and tourists of New Orleans. As I walked along the river and read for a little while in the park, I tried to recall what exactly Moon Landrieu accomplished. I thought that he had been involved in the Civil Rights movement, but I wasn't sure what he did. Well, a quick search on him reveals a great deal about his commitment to Civil Rights. He was a leader for Civil Rights in New Orleans:

In 1960 Moon Landrieu was elected by the 12th Ward of New Orleans to the Louisiana State House of Representatives. There he was one of the few white legislators who voted against the "hate bills" of the retreating segregationists which the legislature passed in the effort to thwart the desegregation of public facilities and public schools.

In 1966 Landrieu was elected Councilman-at-large of the New Orleans City Council. In 1969 he led a successful push for a city ordinance outlawing segregation based on race or religion in public accommodations.

Moon Landrieu was elected Mayor of New Orleans in 1970, and reelected in 1974, serving until April of 1978. During his tenure he oversaw desegregation of city government and public facilities.

I probably visited the Moonwalk in New Orleans half a dozen times during my trip, and it makes me grateful that in doing so, I paid tribute to a great Civil Rights leader for Louisiana.

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March 19, 2004

Hello from New Orleans

By Byron LaMasters

I'm writing this from deep in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. I'm at the Royal Access Internet Cafe a block away from Bourbon Street. It's been a good trip so far, and I'm looking forward to the rest of it. I have 50 minutes left in my session, so I'll probably go ahead and post something here in a little bit.

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March 17, 2004

New Orleans

By Byron LaMasters

I'm headed to New Orleans this morning. I'll be back on Sunday. Andrew and Jim should be posting more over the next few days to fill in (or at least I hope that they do *nudge, nudge*). I'll probably stop in at an Internet Cafe that I looked up in the French Quarter to check on things once or twice, but I'll try to resist the temptation to blog too much, and enjoy my Spring Break. I look forward to returning refreshed and ready for the final stretch of the semester.

Update: Today is turning out pretty well so far. I'm writing this from the DFW airport. American Airlines overbooked my flight, so I volunteered to take a flight three hours later in exchange for a $200 travel voucher. I guess I'll have to make some travel plans for this summer....

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March 15, 2004

Posting this Week

By Byron LaMasters

Posting from me will be light this week. It's our Spring Break, and I'll be going to New Orleans on Wednesday with some friends. It will be nice to get away for a few days. I don't have a laptop, and I'll be staying at a hotel, so I won't have regular Internet access. I may post sometime on the trip, but I'm going to be more focused on enjoying New Orleans than on posting from Wednesday through Sunday. Andrew is here in town working over break, so he'll probably be helping fill in, and I'm sure that Jim and Andrea can help a little bit. Karl-Thomas is also out of town for Spring Break, so I doubt we'll be hearing much from him.

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March 14, 2004

Be Optimistic!

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Well, just another day for me before I leave for the Coasts of Alabama. But tonight I just returned from the Optimist Club Young Texan/Texanne award dinner where I was awarded out of 12 contestants (selected from hundreds) , the statewide Young Texan of the Year!

Exciting times indeed and I'll be sure to put that $1000 scholarship to good use since it brings up my total awards to over $35,000 for paying UT tuition bills.

Have a fun and safe spring break ya'll. And as the University Democrats e-mail I got said, try to break some cherished Republican values. I'm sure you can get creative with that.

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March 13, 2004

BOR Logo

By Byron LaMasters

We've recently been looking into Cafe Press about selling some merchandise. One of the things that I'd like before I sell anything though, is a good logo. What would be a good logo for the Burnt Orange Report? Any Ideas? Any talented graphics people out there? If so, email me (LAMASTERS AT MAIL DOT UTEXAS DOT EDU) your ideas and graphics. I'd like the logo to reflect our focus: "News, Politics and fun from deep in the heart of Texas". I'll give a $20 prize to anyone who develops a logo that we decide to adopt. I'm not a graphics person, but if anyone wants to try their hand, email me.

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March 11, 2004

Together we can beat CF

By Jim Dallas

I don't enjoy begging for money, particularly about non-political/personal issues.

However, I'd like to tell you about a cause that I am currently involved in that matters a lot to me.

As some of you may know (and perhaps some of you do not), my younger sister Madison has been living with cystic fibrosis for seven years, and generally there has been little to mention about it since she has been so blessed as to receive very good, cutting edge treatment -- much of which has stemmed from research funded in part by generous contributions from people like you to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disease that makes breathing a major chore for those with the disease. CF causes life-threatening lung infections and the average survival age of those with the disease is the early 30s. Currently, there is no cure and the future of those with CF lies in the hands of people like you and me. By sponsoring me in the GREAT STRIDES campaign, together, we can make a real difference in the lives of those with CF.

Tremendous advances in the last decade have allowed my sister to live a pretty normal life, at least for the time being. Yet there still is no cure for CF, which means every day is still a struggle.

I've had a wonderful opportunity to spend a lot more time with Madison since I've moved back home, and I've learned two things about her. The first is that she's even more sweet than I remember. The second is that she's incredibly aggressive when victory depends on it. Pick a board game - any board game, from CandyLand to Monopoly to Chess - and she'll beat me because she's so determined.

I believe strongly that we can and will find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis - if we are determined.

If we work together to help the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation sponsor the wonderful and promising medical research that some of the best and brightest doctors in the country are working on. Every little bit helps improve the quality of life for people, like my sister, who are fighting cystic fibrosis.

That is why I've been a regular participant in the GREAT STRIDES Walk and why I am making a special commitment this year to raise $250. I believe that I can meet or even exceed this goal, if you help me by pitching in $10 or $20 today.

If you are not able to contribute but would like to show support, then I invite you to take part in the GREAT STRIDES Walk this year. It is held at over 550 sites nationally. I will be walking on Saturday, May 15 at Moody Gardens in Galveston.

Also, Monday, March 29 is CF night at Taco Cabana on 61st Street in Galveston. If you are in the Galveston area, please consider coming by between 5 and 9 pm for the event.

Thank you for your time,


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March 03, 2004


By Byron LaMasters

As you certainly have noticed... We've joined BlogAds. I'll have more on BlogAds soon, but let us know what you think now. If you have any suggestions.. let us know...


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February 18, 2004

Traffic Overload!

By Byron LaMasters

Well, not quite. Fortunately, we have a good server here thanks to Dreamhost, which gives us a good deal of bandwith for $10 / month, but wow!

The 25,000+ unique visits (55,000 + hits) we received today was more than the approximately 15,000 we received the entire month of January. Our traffic has been increasing from about 400-500 unique visits per day (average over a week) to around 600-700 (ave. / day over a week) over the past week or so as I've come out of my mini-rut from posting, but today was just phenomenal.

Obviously, Atrios is the one I owe the most thanks to, as his link surely generated the majority of today's hits in regard to my post on the rumors circulating about Governor Rick Perry. We'll see if something breaks in the mainstream media about that story. There's so many rumors about it, I'd be very surprised if nothing eventually hits the mainstream media, but you never know.

I've also been reworking the right sidebar and blogroll. I've added a few features, notably a good deal more of blogs, many of which I should have linked to a long time ago, and many of which I've just started reading more recently. I've also added links to a number of polsters which I find valuable in following the presidential and other races. I've also added links to the donation page to a lot of Democratic candidates (notably Texas congressional candidates) which I strongly support, and I would urge a donation to them (or you can always send a tip here through PayPal). On the money note, if our hits / visits continue to increase (obviously I'm not expecting to get anywhere near as many hits / visits as today on a regular basis at all), I'm considering adding BlogAds as we've all seen the effect that they had for Ben Chandler and others. I know that one Texas Congressional candidate, Morris Meyer is running BlogAds, and I'd encourage others to as well.

Anyway, I've saved the Site Meter stats pages for today. If you'd like to see them, click below...

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February 12, 2004

States I've Visited

By Byron LaMasters

So I saw this on Off the Kuff and The C Blog, so I figured I'd post mine.

create your own visited states map
or write about it on the open travel guide

And here's the countries...

create your own visited country map
or write about it on the open travel guide

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February 11, 2004

Some Changes

By Byron LaMasters

I finally rebuilt BOR with a few changes. I deleted the links for the presidential candidates and blogs of candidates that have withdrawn from the race (I know, it's embarrassing, I still had a link to Bob Graham's site, yikes!). Even worse, the date-based archive pages still had links to the Constitutional Amendment endorsements we made back in September. Of a little bit more controvery, I deleted the "BOR for Dean" section. While I presume two of our contributors still support Howard Dean for President (Karl-Thomas and Jim D.), two of us are uncommitted (Andrew D. and I). So, I felt that it was appropriate to remove the Dean webring and "BOR for Dean" links. Of course, any BOR contributors are willing to post regarding their preferences, but I think the right sidebar ought to be left to our consensus (or at least 3-1 majority) choices regarding endorsements.

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January 09, 2004

Out of Town, Again

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be out of town this afternoon until Sunday evening. Unfortunately, I won't have internet access, as I'll be outside of Chicago for my grandfather's wedding. Hopefully, others can fill in for the next day or two. Thanks!

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January 04, 2004

Star Sightings in Los Angeles

By Byron LaMasters

As I wrote earlier, I decided to spend my new year's in Los Angeles. One of my good friends that graduated from UT last spring moved out here and my parents bought my airplane ticket for me a Christmas present, so I headed out here. It's been a good trip. I did manage one "star sighting" of sorts. And I'm giving myself bonus points because I actually met him in person as opposed to just to just seeing him.

Anyway, I met Bryan Singer last night at a bar in West Hollywood. I didn't recognize him, but he was a friend of someone who I was talking to and I was introduced. He was the director of The Usual Suspects, X-Men and X2. I reluctantly saw X2 at the theators this summer. I was never really an X-Men fan, but I had nothing better to do, so I went. I surprised myself and I really liked it. Perhaps it was because I could relate to it in the way that "Iceman" came out to his family as a mutant. I didn't know this until last night, but it now makes sense then that Singer is openly gay, which I was happy to learn. As liberal as Hollywood may be, there seems to be a lack of prominent openly gay people in the industry. Anyway, that's my LA story. It's been a fun trip, but it's time to go back to Dallas tomorrow.

And as a side note, I've supported the Vons Strike while I'm here. We shopped at Ralph's (who's locked out workers are back) while we were here.

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January 03, 2004


By Byron LaMasters

December 31, 2003

Happy New Year

By Byron LaMasters

I'm about to go out and celebrate new year's here in Los Angeles with one of my good friends from UT that moved out here after he graduated last spring. I'm excited, and happy about the new year. Best wishes for everyone in 2004!

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December 25, 2003

Merry Christmas

By Byron LaMasters

Merry Christmas everyone from the Burnt Orange Report. I haven't been posting as much as I expected over break. I've been busy with some political work that I've been doing back here in Dallas, along with spending time with family and friends. Anyway, best wishes for a Happy Holidays for all our readers.

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December 10, 2003


By Byron LaMasters

Yeah, its that time of year. I probably won't be posting for a few days due to exams. I would assume that its a similar situation for Jim, Karl and Andrew. I'll be back and probably have a lot to say on a regular basis when exams end (for me Saturday). I'll plan on blogging regularly through the end of the month when I'll be going to L.A. for New Year's, then I'll be back in Texas until school starts back again in mid-January.

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December 02, 2003

Check out Yellow Dog Blog

By Byron LaMasters

No posting this morning over here on BOR from me, but I've got several posts worth checking out over on the official blog of the Texas Democratic Party, the Yellow Dog Blog:

The Morning News Roundup - the latests regarding Chet Edwards, Chairman Soechting and Sen. Bivin's.

Editorials Speaking out against re-redistricting and in support of the Colorado decision.

Press Release from the UTEP Democrats announcing the election of Mike Apodaca as Executive Vice President of the Texas Young Democrats.

The announcement of a revamped website by the U.S. House Democratic Caucus.

Time to go to class!

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December 01, 2003

No, I'm not Dead

By Byron LaMasters

Just wanted to let everyone know that I'm not dead before people start calling me and making sure that I'm ok (that's what happened the last time I went a few days without posting). Nah, I'm fine. I just got back in Austin yesterday and yesterday was one of those total veg days where I didn't go outside or even turn on my computer - weird I know. I needed it though - this week will be full of studying marathons, so being well rested is good. I had a good Thanksgiving seeing family on Thursday, then I had some weird personal / relationship issues come up. Not really weird in a good or bad way, just in a weird way. Heh. I'll leave it at that. Anyway, this week is the last week of classes here at UT before exams (and I have 2 finals tests this week), so I'll be busy with studying, work (after tonight, I'm off until Friday though), and of course I'll try my best to blog daily on BOR and Yellow Dog Blog. Finally, a special thanks to Jim, Andrew and Karl for keeping everything up to speed during my little hiatus.

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November 26, 2003

Posts Today

By Byron LaMasters

I probably won't be posting today. I'm busy all day, then I'm driving to Dallas tonight for Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I'll get caught up tomorrow between Turkey and Football.

As for the "." post. Glad to see it garnered so much debate. I posted it because I was having trouble getting BOR to load after I had done a post (I think it might have to do with clicking on view site while a post is rebuilding, and continuously hitting refresh - yeah, I'm impatient). Anyway, the period made the page load without a problem and I would have deleted it but seeing that it started discussion, I kept it up. I guess I'll have to try it again sometime. A few more comments and it will be right up there with abortion and gay rights as the most debated topics on BOR.

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November 20, 2003

Well, now they know.

By Jim Dallas

In today's Victoria Advocate:

A short business meeting followed and Griffin again took the chair to introduce Soechting. He said that Soechting was a former DPS trooper who had gone to law school. Soechting beat out Garry Mauro to replace outgoing party chair Molly Beth Malcolm. Griffin said that after Soechting was elected he vowed to get out and meet the people of the party all around the state. Griffin said that he reads newspapers from all around the state and sees stories that indicate Soechting is doing as he said he would.

Soechting opened by patting his coat pocket and saying, "I've got a speech here, but I'm not going to read it since I know what it says." He said that he lived on land just six miles from where his great-great-grandfather settled when he arrived in Texas and mentioned a brother who teaches German in El Campo in the high school.

Soechting continued in the vein established by Chandler. He called for increased participation by youth as a key to future strength for Democrats and mentioned that Howard Dean had made a connection with young people through the Internet. When he asked who in the audience knew what a blog was, only a few hands went up, reflecting the middle-aged skew in the crowd.

Meanwhile, in the blogosphere,

The Yellow Dog Blog.

You know me. Always getting in shameless plugs. Tahee!

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Haiku Thursdays

By Jim Dallas

In order to promote the arts and literature, I will now be posting once weekly in the form of a haiku:

Haiku is one of the most important form of traditional japanese poetry. Haiku is, today, a 17-syllable verse form consisting of three metrical units of 5, 7, and 5 syllables. Since early days, there has been confusion between the three related terms Haiku, Hokku and Haikai. The term hokku literally means "starting verse", and was the first starting link of a much longer chain of verses known as haika. Because the hokku set the tone for the rest of the poetic chain, it enjoyed a privileged position in haikai poetry, and it was not uncommon for a poet to compose a hokku by itself without following up with the rest of the chain.

Largely through the efforts of Masaoka Shiki, this independence was formally established in the 1890s through the creation of the term haiku. This new form of poetry was to be written, read and understood as an independent poem, complete in itself, rather than part of a longer chain.

This will also give me practice in case the Kicking Ass blog ever has another haiku contest.

To celebrate the inaugural week of Haiku Thursdays, here is part one of the HTh triple-shot:

Bush in a nutshell:
Major-league a-hole using
little league logic

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November 13, 2003

About the Burnt Orange Report

By Byron LaMasters

Welcome to the Burnt Orange Report.

We're called the Burnt Orange Report because UT's colors are Burnt Orange and White, and we didn't really like the sound of the White Report. We'll save that one for the Council of Conservative Citizens and their good friends Haley Barbour and Trent Lott.

The Burnt Orange Report was founded at Live Journal in April 2003 by Byron LaMasters and Jim Dallas. In June 2003, Andrew Dobbs joined the Burnt Orange Report as a contributor. Later that month we decided to upgrade to our own domain name: BurntOrangeReport.com, which is owned by Byron. Our current site is hosted by Dreamhost (which we highly recommend), and we use the Moveable Type software (also highly recommended for any aspiring bloggers out there). Karl-Thomas joined our team of contributers in October 2003.

We are all students at the University of Texas at Austin (ok, well Jim has graduated now). We blog about National politics, Texas politics, Austin politics, UT and other college issues, and anything else that interests us. We're all Democrats and have been all involved in the University Democrats. We'd all probably consider ourselves progressives, but we don't agree on everything. We're no dittoheads, and we all have different writting styles and we even have our disagreements, since we all think for ourselves and all that, but we believe in most of the same general Democratic principals.

Thanks for stopping by, and we always appreciate respectful comments and debate.

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Open Thread

By Byron LaMasters

Ok, so I need to update my blogroll. Who needs to be added? I'm especially looking for Texas bloggers but anyone is fine. If you got a good blog and want it on our blogroll, or know of a blog that deserves to be there, let us know!


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November 11, 2003

Attn: Bloggers

By Byron LaMasters


S/he's spammed me multiple times over the past few days with gambling and Viagra ads. Just a heads up to all of yall.

If you haven't already, ban these IP addresses.

Update: I also just added theses IP Addresses to my ban list (spammers): 2003.11.12 2003.11.12 2003.11.12

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October 31, 2003

Update from Byron

By Byron LaMasters

Blogging is funny. I got a call from a friend this morning worried if I was ok, because I hadn't blogged in a few days. I'm fine. Actually, great now. I just had a busy week - with work throughout the week, and tests yesterday and today. I made it. I'm going to Dallas for some meetings for the weekend after some Halloween parties in Austin tonight, so I'll be busy, but fortunately Jim's been on the job posting this week, and I've been happy to see Karl and Andrew chip in when they have the chance. Thanks guys... next week should see more regular posting from myself.

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October 18, 2003

Addition to the Family

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I'm Karl-Thomas, the newest addition to writing staff here. After haunting the comments here for the past few months, I've been accepted into the Burnt Orange Family, not that that is the reason why. Many thanks to Byron, Andrew, and Jim who have done an awesome job to date.

I hope to keep up the proud tradition of high quality Democratic ranting and raving while bringing "fair and balanced" thoughts to the table concerning the world in which we live.

It may be about national politics, the Democratic Presidential Contenders, views on the news, or the latest count of DPS officers looming about in one of my favorite hang-outs, the Capitol Galleries.

I'll get started tomorrow with some serious posts. Until then, thank you and goodnight!

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October 04, 2003

Best of Luck

By Byron LaMasters

To Jim... he's taking his LSAT today...

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September 09, 2003

And now introducing...

By Jim Dallas

The Burnt Orange Report is proud to introduce a new feature, which we hope will be useful to political fanatics as well as other students --

The Online Political Atlas of Texas

The site will host maps, datafiles, and more fun stuff.

If you have any suggestion or comments, please feel free to deposit them here or e-mail Jim D.


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August 26, 2003

Back in Austin

By Byron LaMasters

Well, I'm back in Austin now, too. I'm in my very bare apartment that I moved into today (my parents will be coming up on Saturday to help me move all my stuff in here). I start classes again at 10 AM tomorrow. I realized this afternoon that the computer I'm using which my dad built me over the summer (his new hobby is building computers, which is great with me) didn't have a dial up modem connection. It just had the DSL line. Well, I won't be getting my cable/DSL modem stuff set up for a week, so I got a little hyper. But I calmed down, bought a dial-up modem at CompUSA, went to a meeting, then went home and installed the thing. So, now I have a (very slow) internet connection. Nonetheless, I'm basically back to normal blogging, so you can all dance in the streets.

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Back in Texas

By Byron LaMasters

I'm back in Texas. The NYC trip was great. Currently, I'm packing to move back to Austin. I'll be heading back there in an hour or two (from Dallas). Hopefully, I can get my computer set up and get an internet connection in my new apartment, even if I have to use my AOL account and a phone line for a day or two (I know, that's so 1990s, right?).

Finally, I must say that I'm happy to learn that my state senator and 10 of his colleagues are still in New Mexico. I voted for Sen. Barrientos because he represents my views and fights for his constituents. So, needless to say, I'm still a happy constituent (I guess I always have this fear that when I'm away from news for several days, something crazy will happen).

Update: Two down, ____ to go....

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August 24, 2003

Back in Austin, an itinerary

By Jim Dallas

I'm back in Austin, which means broadband internet access as well as being in the "thick of it" again.

I'm planning on going down to see Dean's speech in San Antonio tomorrow.

Until then I'm going to unpack and clean up the apartment, and start looking for a job.

Hasta mañana,


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August 08, 2003

A New Computer

By Byron LaMasters

Well, I have a new computer. So, I've been installing lots of stuff and configuring things and all. Blogging from me will likely be kind of light over the weekend (as I'm also going to Austin for most of the day Saturday). I have my father to thank for the new computer. I had a 2+ year old Dell which I had numerous problems with (everyone else seems to have had a good experience with Dell. Not me). For a log of my experiences with Dell in 2001, go here. Needless to say, I'm never getting another one (you'll notice that I was a little bit angry when I made that page). Fortunately, one of my father's new hobbies is building computers. So, esentially he gave me his old computer with a new hard drive (which is only a year old and much faster than my Dell) and built himself a new computer. We're both happy. I'm using Windows XP Professional for the first time on my computer (I've used it at the UT liberary). UT students can buy Windows XP for $6 at the Campus Computer store (UT has a deal with Microsoft), so it was worth it. Anyway, I've installed Kazaa Lite, and am downloading all my music, so I'm having fun.

Speaking of my father, he's a doctor, and has asked me to write here that he strongly supports Prop 12. As you may know, I've come out in opposition to Prop 12. My father and I have debated the issue several times, and I've offered to post his comments on here unedited if he would like that (of course I would comment on whatever he says, but I'd post anything that he would write).

Finally, I'd like to welcome Andrew back to Texas. He spent the summer as an intern for Howard Dean in Burlington, Vermont. Now, he's back in Texas. He'll be glad to know that I attended my Meetup last night and wrote letters to two undecided Democratic / independent voters in New Hampshire on why I support Howard Dean.

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August 01, 2003

6500+ Unique Visits in July

By Byron LaMasters

Just a special thanks for everyone who helped make July our best month so far. The last week has been our second best week ever, bested only the week the Killer D's broke quroum in May (that was when we were still over at live journal). The 6500+ is up from about 2500 (livejournal and here combined) in June, just over 6000 in May (thanks to about 3000 the week of the Killer D's) and a few hundred in April. Thanks again for everyone who visits regularly, and for any and all donations (see paypal link to the right), however big or small.

We're always open to suggestions on how to make this site better, so leave comments, or email me.

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July 27, 2003


By Byron LaMasters

Well, as you may have noticed, I took the weekend off from blogging. Thanks to Jim and Andrew for filling in for a little bit. The weekend hiatus was unannounced, as I didn't really plan on it. But, well, I got to play host all weekend to my friend Sam from San Antonio. We went to a bunch of 21+ bars in Dallas that I had never been to before, went shopping, and along with Dustin, went to a young Democrats party on the 23rd floor of an apartment in downtown Dallas. Awesome place! I can definitely say that Dave has my vote for President of the Dallas YD's for life! Today, we saw Seabiscuit, and no, I didn't run into any of the Kucinich forces. I'll blog on my thoughts on the movie in the next day or two. It's definitely worth seeing.

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July 21, 2003

Back Home

By Byron LaMasters

I'm back in Dallas, and I'm 21! Yay! I did take Josh's advice from my comments. I got drunk, I had fun, and I didn't get thrown in prison. It's probably the only time that I'll ever be taking his advice, but it was fun to be on the same page with him for once. I ended up driving down to Austin on Saturday afternoon, after my Texas Young Democrats meeting. I had dinner at the Brick Oven on Red River with a lot of my UD friends. There were about 12 of us. We then went back to my friend Haley's apartment where I was staying and I got ready to go out. They all chipped in to by me a bottle of Grey Goose Vodka, which we all took shots of at midnight, and my friends tried to sing me happy birthday. After that, we headed towards 6th street where we went to about four bars to get shots before heading down to 4th street. I thought ahead, and we had ourselves a designated driver (Thanks, Mark!). It was a fun night, and we made it back to Haley's around 3:something. Sunday, we went out to The Oasis in the afternoon. I had never been there before. It's not exactly the place to go for food, but it has a great view over Lake Travis. I ordered what I think was the Oasis Sunset, or something like that. It was this $9.95 drink that came in a cup you could keep (I needed a 21st birthday souvenir, right?). It had three kinds of rum and was quite strong. Everyone was waiting on me to finish it. Afterwards we went out to Lake Travis for a little bit, then back to Haley's. I was worn out Sunday night, so I stayed in Austin, then came home today after running several errands.

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July 20, 2003

Happy Birthday, Byron!

By Byron LaMasters

I'm 21 today!

Yes, I'm pre-dating this post, because I'll be partying at the time at which this post is actually dated. I've decided to go to Austin for the weekend. I have a meeting tomorrow (Saturday) morning, and will be driving to Austin afterwards. I'll come home on Sunday or Monday. It will be fun to see friends and have fun.

Want to give me a birthday present? PayPal makes a birthday donation easy! How about $21 for my 21st birthday? Heh. It's worth a shot!

I probably will not be posting again until late Monday. However, I think that Jim and Andrew will both be posting something over the weekend. Also, sorry for the *very* slow page load time today - I'm not sure what the problem is, but I'll try and get it fixed on Monday if it still persists then.

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July 13, 2003

Dean Dallas Rally

By Byron LaMasters

Len reminds me that Howard Dean will have a rally in Dallas this evening. I'll be there. Who else will be there? Let me know, and I'll look for you!

Sunday, July 13 at 7:00 pm!

Dallas City Hall Plaza, 1500 Marilla, Dallas, TX

Speaking of Howard Dean, Burnt Orange Report contributor Andrew Dobbs is becoming famous. It looks as if he had the opportunity to meet Judy Woodruff when she came to Vermont to interview Joe Trippi.

Ben Affleck?

By Byron LaMasters

I was at a party tonight and for the second time in the past month, a girl told me that I looked like Ben Affleck. I don't see it, but I guess that its a compliment. Does anyone else see it?

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7 Days

By Byron LaMasters

In a week, I'll be in Austin, celebrating my 21st birthday (7/20/82)! Yay!

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July 12, 2003

About Byron

By Byron LaMasters

I've meant to do this for a while, so here it is. This post is similar to a post on my old livejournal page entry, here. It will remain permanently linked on the index page under the "about us" heading under Byron L.

My name is Byron LaMasters. I'm 20 (21 on 7/20/03), and I consider myself a "pragmatic progressive Democrat". Both of my parents are from Illinois, but I was born in San Antonio, so I'm legitimately a native Texan. I'm proud of the label most of the time, but I can't say that I'm proud of the leadership of my state. I grew up (since I was four) in suburban north Dallas. My dad is a doctor, and my mom is a teacher. My dad is basically a libertarian Republican, while my mom is more of an independent Democrat. They might argue with those labels, but they're fair enough. When I was younger, I sided with my dad. I remember him giving my mom a hard time for voting for Bill Clinton in 1992, and again in 1996. I voted for George Bush in my elementary school's mock election in 4th grade in 1992 (although Ross Perot was the "cool" candidate to vote for). In 1996, I remember joining my dad in his interest in Steve Forbes (remember in 1996, Forbes was the "flat tax candidate", as opposed to 2000 when he ran as the "flat tax, religious wingnut candidate"). In 1998, however, I was in high school, and had become an avid reader of the New York Times. When I finally learned more about the two major parties, and learned about politics independent of my parent's biases, I found myself agreeing with the Democratic Party about 95% of the time. I remember quietly cheering for Democrats in the 1998 midterm elections (I was 16), and opposing impeachment later that year. I remember shaking hands with (now, Senator) Chuck Shumer in 1998 outside Yankee Stadium when my family visited New York that year.

I've been involved with Democratic Party politics since I turned 18 in 2000. I first volunteered for the Regina Montoya Coggins campaign that year (she ran against Rep. Pete Sessions). I was inspired to get involved upon hearing that Pete Sessions said in a town hall meeting that he "didn't represent the gays" (Yes, I'm openly gay, and have been since my senior year in high school.). At the time, Sessions 5th district included the Oak Lawn area of Dallas which has a large gay population. I got involved and volunteered probably 20-30 hours a week for the Coggins campaign. While I didn't admit it at the time, politics was the primary reason that I quit football my senior year in high school. She lost, but I learned a lot in that campaign about voter registration, voter education, etc. I also co-authored a pro-Gore opinion piece for my school paper. You can read it here.

After the 2000 election I was angry, and got involved in protests in support of the recount. I founded "Trust the People-Dallas" to protest Bush's "selection" by the Supreme Court. The webpage is still online, here if you're interested. While I lost interest in the site and organization eventually, the effort earned me lots of friends and contacts in Dallas politics that have meant a lot to me. I won a citizenship award my from my high school for my involvement, as among other things, I co-founded a "politics club" at my high school, and registered those in the senior class who had turned 18 by Election Day. I remember asking to take Election Day off from school (it was excused), as I volunteered from 5 AM until 7 PM for Regina Montoya Coggins and other Democrats.

I decided to go to college at UT-Austin in the fall of 2001 and major in government. I immediately got involved with the University Democrats. The leadership was mostly seniors, and I had the opportunity to run unopposed for Public Relations Director the Spring Semester (2002). I then ran for President for the fall 2002 semester, and won. I served through May 2003, when I declined to run for re-election. The job was rewarding, but also stressful at times. I think that I did my best. My best memory of the experience was introducing former governor Ann Richards at our October 2002 GOTV rally. The worst, was probably the next week when we went from losing "victory party" to losing "victory party" on election night. The current President, Haley Greer, is doing a great job. I currently serve as President Emeritus, and I'm a Junior at UT. I'm also involved in the Texas Young Democrats, and serve on their board as a regional director and as the vice-chair of the college caucus. I'll write more about my experiences as University Democrats President, but this ought to do for now.

As for religion, I was raised Presbyterian, and I currently consider myself a non-practicing Christian (meaning I go to Christmas and Easter services, and maybe a few more with my parents throughout the year - I have never felt alienated or uncomfortable in the church, yet it is not at this time a significant part of my life). I grew up in suburban north Dallas in a traditional family. I was an only child. As I said, I consider myself a pragmatic, progressive Democrat. By that, I mean that I will usually vote for progressive Democrats (that are electable) in the primary when I have a chance (although in Texas oftentimes our choices are limited), and I vote straight ticket Democrat in the general election. I have never voted for a Republican. I experimented in voting for some Greens in the 2000 election (although I did vote for Gore), but I have not since, and I have no plans to in the future, as I believe that Ralph Nader, and the Green Party are partially responsible for Al Gore not being our President today (I'll go into my feelings about this some other time), and I am still unwilling to forgive them for it. I tend to call Greens, "Grepublicans" as I believe that the Green Party, and Republican Party have similar goals... getting Republicans elected, and hurting Democrats.

I consider myself rather liberal on social issues. I support abortion rights in all cases (I see it as a women's health issue. I don't necessarily encourage abortion, but I believe that it should always be an option.) and gay marriage (Although gay marriage is an issue that should be pushed a little bit at a time. Vermont-style Civil Unions and non-discrimination laws ought to be the priorities of gay rights advocates for now). I support legalization, and government regulation of marijuana (legalization of other drugs ought to be studied, although I don't necessarily advocate their legalization), lowering of the drinking age, and age of consent to 17, ending all publicly funded "abstinence-based sex education", and requiring all public schools to teach sexual education in a comprehensive manner. I strongly support public funding for NPR, the arts and humanities, museums, libraries, etc. I oppose private school vouchers, school prayer, required moments of silence in school, displaying the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, an anti-flag burning amendment, and funding of faith-based programs. I support a moratorium on capital punishment, not because I see it as inherently immoral, but rather because I believe that it is unfairly applied. I have mixed feelings about abolishing capital punishment. I also have mixed feelings on gun control. I've evolved from being very pro-gun control and pro-gun registration, to being much more libertarian on the issue. I support the assault weapons ban, and automatic trigger locks on guns, but beyond that, I basically hold libertarian views on the issue. I've essentially evolved to Howard Dean's view on the issue, and he has an 'A' rating with the NRA. Scary. If law abiding citizens want to buy lots of guns, I'm all for it. Laws limiting the number of guns that an individual can purchase in a month (week/year/day, etc.) are silly. As for order, I have participated in anti-war protests, but I think that the people that try to get themselves arrested are just plain stupid. I believe that civil obedience, while well intentioned, often has a negative effect in shaping public opinion.

On an economic level I consider myself slightly more moderate, but still center-left. I support rolling back all of Bush's tax cuts, a nationalized health care system (I strongly support the CHIP program), public preschool funding for all children, and free college education at state universities for students who have a B-average or better in high school. I agree with Republicans that local school districts that are doing a good job, ought to have more flexibility in how they spend their money. I support a state income tax in Texas to solve our budget crisis. I support a federal balanced budget amendment (with a clause that would allow for a deficit with a 2/3 majority), NAFTA, WTO and expanding free trade, but with strict labor and environmental standards. I support a living wage. I support the Kyoto Protocol, and believe that the government should offer strong incentives to automakers to make vehicles that use significantly less gas. We must become energy independent in this country. I strongly oppose drilling in ANWR, but the government ought to create incentives to generate alternative sources of energy.

I consider myself a multilateralist on foreign policy. I believe that the United States ought to fully fund our share of the United Nations, and work through the UN and NATO to solve international disputes that do not directly threaten our national security (like Iraq). I generally supported Clinton's intervention in Yugoslavia and Bush's intervention in Afghanistan, but opposed Bush's war in Iraq. Click here for the statement that I made in my capacity as University Democrats President regarding the war in Iraq. We should work within the United Nations to rebuild Iraq. The United States ought to engage in a Marshall Plan type rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan. I support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and generally consider myself pro-Israel (although not as pro-Israel as many of my Jewish friends would probably like). However, I also consider myself anti-Likud, anti-Shas and anti-Sharon. I think that the approach that Sharon's government has taken has failed miserably. Even so, I hold Yassir Arafat in even lower regard. Peace in the Middle-East will require three leaders (American, Israeli and Palestinian) committed to peace in the region. Several years ago, Barak and Clinton came very close to that goal, but neither Sharon nor Bush share their predecessor's commitment to peace. Their needs to be new, forceful leadership among the Palestinians for peace to be achieved as well. Hopefully, we'll see that happen soon.

At this point, I support Howard Dean for President. Having said that, I do have some reservations about him, and I will discuss them in future entries. I would be fine with Edwards or Kerry as the nominee, and I have been very impressed with Wesley Clark. I think that Clark would make an excellent Vice President or Secretary of State for any Democrat. If Clark runs for President, I would take a serious look at him. I think that Gephardt is old news, even though I think that he's come up with some good ideas, I have a hard time forgiving him for complete lack of any unified message from congressional Democrats in the 2002 campaign. Joe Lieberman is a decent Senator, but we won’t beat Bush by running Bush-lite. I like Bob Graham as a Senator, and I could see him as a good candidate for Vice President. The rest are a bunch of spares, and aren’t really worth taking too seriously.

So, I decided to take a test to see where others saw me as standing. I think that its relatively accurate, but take it for what it's worth (far left = -10, far right = 10). I do have a tendency to take these often, and the numbers fluctuate from (-3) to (-6) depending on how I answer the questions. I'm thinking of starting to take it every couple of months and track my political compass over time:

The Political Compass:

Economic Left/Right: -3.88
Authoritarian/Libertarian: -4.97

And here's what I scored on the Libertarian Party Quiz:

World's Smallest Political Quiz:

According to your answers, your political philosophy is left-liberal.
Left-Liberals prefer self-government in personal matters and central decision-making on economics. They want government to serve the disadvantaged in the name of fairness. Leftists tolerate social diversity, but work for economic equality.

Your Personal Self-Government Score is 90%.
Your Economic Self-Government Score is 20%.

And here's what I got on Politopia:

I am a Southerner - an egalitarian - "which means that you advocate an increased role for the government in the economic realm. You are more or less pleased the government's role in the personal realm".

And the Pew Research Center:

I am a liberal Democrat.

Liberal Democrats:
COMMENTS: Extremely tolerant on social issues. Champion individual rights and a range of liberal causes. Despite steadfast support for Democratic candidates, many Liberal Democrats prefer to call themselves Independents. Most favor having a third major party.
DEFINING VALUES: Pro-choice and support civil rights, gay rights, and the environment. Critical of big business. Very low expression of religious faith. Most sympathetic of any group to the poor, African-Americans and immigrants. Highly supportive of the women's movement.
WHO THEY ARE: Most highly educated group (50% have a college degree). Least religious of all typology groups. One-third never married.

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