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May 16, 2005

I see a pattern, do you?

By Jim Dallas

First Tom DeLay criticizing Justice Kennedy for doing research on the Internet ("that's outrageous!"). Now, Bob Novak criticizing NARAL lobbyists for searching public records (from Pandagon).

(To be sure, CNET argues DeLay might have (operative word "might") had a point; although I disagree -- judges do conduct sua sponte investigations often enough for lawyers to invent the term sua sponte and law students to know what sua sponte means. I'd criticize a judge for doing bad research (ala Pierre Salinger), not for doing research.)

I'm a bit torn on this issue, so let me elaborate. Normally us liberal types are for individual privacy. When you go and compile information on people without their permission, that makes us liberal types cranky.

But I, personally, would note, that once you've compiled the data, the worst thing that you can do is to hog it for yourself. David Brin, who normally writes science fiction, wrote a book a few years back making this argument - that it's better to have transparency.

People who go ape about search engines are not trying to defend privacy. They are trying to keep you from getting your hands on information that exists and someone else would otherwise hoard - and hoarding for their benefit, NOT for yours. Information not only "wants" to be free, it must if we are to have a free and accountable society.

Posted at 10:50 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Die, Nazi Spam, Die!

By Jim Dallas

I'm moderately frustrated by spam for herbal viagra and free porn. I'd probably be slightly frustrated by spam selling world peace and universal harmony (now only $19.95).

But German hate spam, apparently the product of a virus, has assaulted my gmail account, and it pisses me off in ways I didn't even know I could be pissed off.

Posted at 01:22 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 13, 2005

Update Firefox

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Just to let y'all know, Firefox has released an update to 1.0.4 now. If you havn't yet, update your browsers. If you havn't made the switch from Explorer (or god forbid, Netscape) switch to Firefox. I know personally that Byron and I (and many of the Student Government and University Democrats leaders on campus) are Firefox fans with its tabbed browsing and all of the great plugins that can be coupled with it.

Posted at 08:03 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 03, 2005

Don't Panic

By Jim Dallas

We're often asked, "what can I do to improve my blog?" Stephen Fry and Joby Talbot answer this question. iTunes required.

Posted at 02:21 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 27, 2005

Another Blogger Story

By Byron LaMasters

This time from the Fort Worth Star Telegram. My position remains the same - any publicity is good publicity, so thanks for the plug to BOR. We get top listing under "Popular Texas political bloggers":

Burnt Orange Report -- Byron LaMasters of Dallas, a student at the University of Texas at Austin, and friends cover state politics. They support the Democratic party. BurntOrangeReport.com

I can't complain with that, and I certainly appreciate the plugs from State Rep. Aaron Pena's blog.

Posted at 02:29 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 14, 2005

Texas Lege Group Blog

By Byron LaMasters

Aaron Pena is turning our Democratic legislators into legislator-bloggers. Check out the Lone Star Rising. It currently has posts from Rep. Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas), Rep. Veronica Gonzales (D-McAllen) and Rep. Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont).

Via Grits for Breakfast.

Posted at 05:25 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 24, 2005

Firefox 1.0.2

By Byron LaMasters

Via Kuff, I see that there's a new version of Firefox to download. Once you switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox, you won't be switching back. Download it here for free.

Posted at 05:44 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2005

BOR on CNN's Inside Politics?

By Byron LaMasters

I've received several emails this afternoon telling us that we got a plug on CNN's Inside Politics today. I didn't have the chance to watch, but I'm curious - what exactly did they say?

Let us know in comments...

Update: Ok, via email, here's the transcript (emphasis mine):

CROWLEY: Tom DeLay is among the hot topics in the blogsphere today. Here with me now to tell us all about it are CNN political producer Abbi Tatton and our blog reporter Jacki Schechner. Jacki, what are you hearing about Tom DeLay, or reading, I guess?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Candy. What we're reading about in regard to Tom DeLay is just the blogs, especially those on the left, keeping track of what is going on; all of his alleged ethical transgressions. Not so much digging on their part but really sort of collecting a roundup of what has been going on. Over at the Burnt Orange Report, a liberal Texas blog, they smell blood. He says: "There's something big coming soon," over at Running Scared, another liberal blog. They say: "While the Democrats are drooling, the Republicans are concerned. And he says: "With new allegations servicing on a near daily basis, the bug man is rapidly becoming a liability." So speaking of daily.

ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Yes. If you're having trouble of keeping track of all the DeLay stories out there, go to thedailydelay.blogspot.com. This gives you a roundup of all the different mainstream media stories out there on the congressman. Now Congressman Tom DeLay is also the subject of tomorrow's Blog Call. This is a group of liberal and progressive bloggers who have got together. They don't want to wait around for the mainstream media to pick up on their exposes. They want attention. So they have organized this weekly conference call, a blog call, where they're inviting members of the mainstream media to call in and find out what they're blogging about. Not reading the blogs themselves, actually calling up on the phone. Now this was the subject of a New York Times piece today that lots of bloggers have been linking to and reading and commenting on. Here, Amy Langfield (ph), not a political blogger, but read this this morning in The New York Times and she wonders why reporters can't just read the Internet. "This story," she says, "it's about some frothy political bloggers holding a conference call so reporters don't know how to use the Internet can listen to bloggers talk about what they've posted on sites in the past week. Just shoot me now."

Continued in the extended entry...

SCHECHNER: It's actually organized by a democrats.com, which is a liberal site, the Blog Call is organized by them. So obviously on the conservative side they are lashing out. They've got some pretty harsh words. We found one that was a little less scathing, and it's Outside the Beltway. And they say that they have no problems with bloggers trying to get notice in the mainstream press, or with activist bloggers banding together to get the message out. Their problem, this was interesting, is that the conference calls represent bloggers acting as political operatives and not as journalists. Another story that the blogosphere is talking about, the blogs talking about the blogs today, feels like a Monday, is that over at -- it was News Day, it was Stephen Levy's (ph) article -- or Newsweek, I'm sorry, my bad, Newsweek. Stephen Levy's article about the blogosphere being made up of primarily white males, or dominated by white males. A lot of the blogs think this is just a perception. It's not actually in fact the case. There are some people who feel that that's what's going on. But they have got some arguments against it over at Air Force Voices. This gentleman says he's a Hispanic male, so maybe he should just stop blogging, being sarcastic. What he liked about Captain Ed, over at Captain's Quarters, is he talks about he marketed his blog. He's one of the bigger blogs. And says that in short: "I took the time to learn my market and adapted accordingly. I haven't stopped marketing the blog either and don't plan to any time soon.

TATTON: Chrisnolan.com (ph) here, this is a female journalist writing about politics, the media and the Internet. She is saying -- she is talking about this and she has 10 issues here. One of the things she points out, this medium was first taken up by techies. And she's saying that men are linking to men even though the blogosphere has gotten much larger, most of these men still reading the guys they started out with three years ago. There are broader horizons but it's pretty much just talk.

My general mantra on blogging is that any publicity is good publicity. Even when the mainstream media attacks blogs, their attacks only serve to spur interest in our medium - thus increasing our visibilty and traffic. So, I take pride in the fact that CNN is watching what we write here.

Posted at 04:37 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

SXSW Interactive blogging

By Nathan Nance

I'm in Austin today blogging the SXSW Interactive Festival. Right now I'm sitting in a panel discussion on blogging about online worlds. Not real worlds; online worlds.

But at least these are our people. They're gamers and bloggers.

I'll be blogging all day from the Conention Center, liveblogging the keynote interiew of Wonkette at 2, and the Al Franken conversation at 5:30. It'll be over at my blog Common Sense at its new URL and blog host. Eileen from In the Pink and Pink Dome are supposed to be here as well.

Posted at 10:21 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 13, 2005

Not exactly related

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Just a public service announcement. If you want a G-mail (google e-mail, 1 gigabyte) Account, just leave a comment with the e-mail address you want me to send the invitation to. I have 50 invites and don't mind tossing a few overboard.

Posted at 10:18 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

March 11, 2005

Sign the Letter

By Byron LaMasters

All bloggers, left to right, should sign this letter.

Posted at 01:46 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 10, 2005

Late Night Fun

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

For all of you Austin students that read us, I would encourage you to join the "I Read the Burnt Orange Report" facebook group. Because we love you just as much as we think you love us.

Posted at 10:56 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Guest Blogging

By Vince Leibowitz

You know those people the late-night talk show hosts always have on their shows when a big name cancels or when, is in the early days of the Jimmy Kimmel Show, no one really famous wanted to come on the show? The low "B" and "C" list celebraties?

Well, if the Blogsphere has such a list, I'm on it. In addition to my guest posting here at BOR, I've also been asked to participate in a blog from Wood County, Wood County Issues. It's a blog that covers a lot of local politics (check out this great post about a letter the DA recently sent out) plus a wide variety of "other" material like the dangers of feeding deer at Holly Lake Ranch.

Though I'm a Van Zandt County resident, I used to live in Wood County (for more years than I like to remember), so I still keep up with politics over there. Plus, I'm sure I'll be able to come up with some other stuff from time to time.

So, now that I have added yet another blog to my list of guest-duties (which I'm very excited about, by the way), I'm wondering...should I send out some head shots and writing samples to try to get more guest gigs? You know, I could probably get quite a lot. I'd be like that guy who always goes on Letterman with all the zoo animals except, of course, without the zoo animals and much more entertaining.

Actually, that would probably not be a good idea. I'm pretty selective about sites I'll associate myself with. Wood County Issues has a reputation in Wood County for really getting down to the truth of various issues and breaking stories the local papers won't touch, so I am pleased to be a part of that. BOR's reputation is, well, obvious, and I am floored every time someone says they've seen my name here. Political State Report, the other blog I write for frequently, is another site that's getting more and more well-known and has a good reputation.

On the other hand, there are a number of blogs I just couldn't see myself writing for. At the same time, there are a number of Weblogs I'd just die to be able to write for on a regular basis in addition to my other blogging (hint, hint, hint to about three or four bloggers in the universe, by the way).

Seriously, though, check out Wood County Issues. I doubt I'll post there as frequently as I post here, but the site's publisher usually comes up with some interesting posts, if you're in to East Texas politics.

Posted at 02:49 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack


By Byron LaMasters

Good for the Harris County Democratic Party. They've started a blog - HoustonDemocrats.com. Via Greg and Kuff.

If they just fix their link to Kuff (which links to BOR instead), they should be all set.

Update: I'm happy to see that the link situation has been taken care of. Kudos to Harris County Dems!

Posted at 12:35 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Blogging and Pro-Wrestling

By Jim Dallas

From the frigid plains of Minnesota, Stone Cold Steve Perry takes on Preacher Hewitt:

What I'm talking about is evident in matters of idiom--the countless times, for example, that "liberal" is invoked as a taunting slur, roughly akin to the way "cheesehead" or "the fucking Yankees" might be tossed off on a sports-chat board. It's more than a matter of style; there's a worldview lurking beneath it, and what the worldview entails is summed up in the old Vince Lombardi maxim that winning isn't everything--it's the only thing. Now of course electoral politics has always been about winners and losers in a very important sense. But has there ever been a political moment so openly defined by swagger and triumphalism for their own sake--the will to humiliate the vanquished, grind them underfoot for the sheer pleasure of showing them who's boss? As a popular post-election sweatshirt hawked at the Drudge Report exulted, W is for Winner. Enough said.

What's at stake here in one sense is the difference between the moral universe of the citizen and that of the fan. For the fan, the only crucible that finally matters is being on the winning side. To ask whether what's being won is worth having, or in the public interest, or whether these victories may set the stage for future calamity, is about as interesting and sensible from the fan's point of view as suggesting that the Vikings really ought to think twice about playing the Packers this year (or, more nonsensically still, that bad things may befall them if they beat the Packers). As for the current censorial tenor of politics chat, the most rudimentary piece of fan etiquette is that the spoils and the bragging rights accrue to winners. Trash talk from losers is not endured in good humor. Failing to shut up after your side has been vanquished is an outrageous bit of bad manners--or, when it's politics we're talking about, an un-American activity.

The mindset expresses itself in a variety of ways. There's the reader who wrote to me shortly after the invasion of Iraq to ask, So what if Bush lied his way into war? It worked. The gleeful contempt with which the epithet "losers" was thrown around after the last election, as if it were the only word they could think of that was worse than "liberal." And the party the Power Line crew is throwing itself tonight at the Center of the American Experiment to mark Dan Rather's forced retirement. Will they rent Stuart Scott from ESPN to lead the room in his trademark winner's jeer, "BOO-Yaa!"? Whatever else you may say about Bush/Rove, they certainly didn't conjure this impulse into being.

You see this streak of end-over-means, in-your-face triumphalism playing itself out in the political alliances now coalescing on the right, where anti-tax, government-off-our-backs libertarians are seen to lie down with religious conservatives who want a government at least expansive enough to make sure no one out there is doing anything of which Jesus might disapprove. Or consider the right-wing blogs' dueling weapon of choice, a practice known as "fisking" that consists of reproducing whole stories from other media and yelling at them in hectoring, frequently disjointed asides until the fisk-er either reaches the end of the text or passes out from hyperventilating. It's a performance whose outcome is fixed with a wink from the start, like professional wrestling or, more exactly, like the version of pro wrestling Rush Limbaugh brought to the radio so long ago now: heroes-and-villains political entertainment made in a controlled setting, with lots of ranting rhetorical takedowns and no fretting over questions of equal time or accuracy. It's a show, folks.

A show... without spandex.

And of course, just like wrestling, blogging is totally tag-team. (See the full details here.)

Posted at 12:21 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Firefox 1.0.1

By Byron LaMasters

I just downloaded the latest version of Firefox. You should, too. Link here.

Posted at 12:38 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

March 07, 2005


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I noticed thanks to a Washington Post article that DemsTV.com should be launching in the next day.

Two Democratic political consultants are preparing to launch a weekly online political talk show that will showcase the party's message, lambaste Republicans and, they hope, open a new front in the ongoing media wars.

It's called DemsTV.com, and each Tuesday, beginning tomorrow, the Web site will feature 20 minutes or so of talking-head chatter from a rotating cast of young Democratic operatives.

"The primary focus is on politics, and, frankly, a heavy focus is on pointing out the foibles and scandals and dirty little secrets of Republicans that we think don't receive as much coverage in the mainstream media as they might," said Dan Manatt, one of the producers.

This week, he said, the program will include opposition research on the GOP's possible 2008 presidential candidates, the panelists' picks for the "blogger of the week" and their predictions of who will be the most important Democratic leaders in the coming years.

The program, which its creators say is the video equivalent of a blog, does not have any formal connection to the Democratic National Committee.

Posted at 12:25 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 05, 2005

Bloggers To Feel FEC "Wrath?"

By Vince Leibowitz

"Bradley Smith [of the Federal Election Commission] says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over.

Give me a break. Please.

Via Off The Kuff, I found this article which did anything but make me want to run out and hire personal FEC compliance counsel:

In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign's Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate's press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Smith should know. He's one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.

In 2002, the FEC exempted the Internet by a 4-2 vote, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. "The commission's exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines" the campaign finance law's purposes, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

Smith and the other two Republican commissioners wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections. But because they couldn't get the three Democrats to go along with them, what Smith describes as a "bizarre" regulatory process now is under way.

Gee. Could they now want to regulate the Blogsphere simply because, uh, so many blogs are progressive and Democrat-leaning? Hummm.

Thanks to McCain-Feingold, which I've never been convinced is just a terribly wonderful piece of legislation because I think it sends more money "underground" than ever before, Smith seems to think Bloggers may not be eligible for the "press exemption" within the law:

The real question is: Would a link to a candidate's page be a problem? If someone sets up a home page and links to their favorite politician, is that a contribution? This is a big deal, if someone has already contributed the legal maximum, or if they're at the disclosure threshold and additional expenditures have to be disclosed under federal law.

Certainly a lot of bloggers are very much out front. Do we give bloggers the press exemption? If we don't give bloggers the press exemption, we have the question of, do we extend this to online-only journals like CNET?

How can the government place a value on a blog that praises some politician? How do we measure that? Design fees, that sort of thing? The FEC did an advisory opinion in the late 1990s (in the Leo Smith case) that I don't think we'd hold to today, saying that if you owned a computer, you'd have to calculate what percentage of the computer cost and electricity went to political advocacy.

It seems absurd, but that's what the commission did. And that's the direction Judge Kollar-Kotelly would have us move in. Line drawing is going to be an inherently very difficult task. And then we'll be pushed to go further. Why can this person do it, but not that person?

How about a hyperlink? Is it worth a penny, or a dollar, to a campaign? I don't know. But I'll tell you this. One thing the commission has argued over, debated, wrestled with, is how to value assistance to a campaign.

So, if a hyperlink is a contribution, what about wearing a campaign tee-shirt or a campaign button? Would I have to divide up the area of my shirt by the space of the button to calculate the cost of the space the button takes up? If I go to Wal-Mart and more people see it, is that worth more? If a fat man wears a campaign tee-shirt, is that a greater contribution because it's more visible than on a baby, for example? If an extoridnarily beautiful woman dons a campaign tee-shirt is that worth more because more men will want to look at her?

Corporations aren't allowed to donate to campaigns. Suppose a corporation devotes 20 minutes of a secretary's time and $30 in postage to sending out letters for an executive. As a result, the campaign raises $35,000. Do we value the violation on the amount of corporate resources actually spent, maybe $40, or the $35,000 actually raised? The commission has usually taken the view that we value it by the amount raised. It's still going to be difficult to value the link, but the value of the link will go up very quickly.

This is totally absurd. Can anyone say (scream) FIRST AMENDMENT PROTECTION? I'd personally volunteer to be a test case for this garbage.


The problem with coordinated activity over the Internet is that it will strike, as a minimum, Internet reporting services.

They're exempt from regulation only because of the press exemption. But people have been arguing that the Internet doesn't fit under the press exemption. It becomes a really complex issue that would strike deep into the heart of the Internet and the bloggers who are writing out there today. (Editor's note: federal law limits the press exemption to a "broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication." )

There's sensitivity in the commission on this. But remember the commission's decision to exempt the Internet only passed by a 4-2 vote.

This time, we couldn't muster enough votes to appeal the judge's decision. We appealed parts of her decision, but there were only three votes to appeal the Internet part (and we needed four). There seem to be at least three commissioners who like this.

How can the commission not want to exempt the Internet? How is a Weblog any different from a newspaper editorial endorsing a candidate? It's not, except because of the medium by which it is delivered. If they're going to not exempt the Internet, then, in my view, they would have to un-exempt any newspaper that prints editorial endorsements.

Here's a real kicker:

I'd like someone to say that unpaid activity over the Internet is not an expenditure or contribution, or at least activity done by regular Internet journals, to cover sites like CNET, Slate and Salon. Otherwise, it's very likely that the Internet is going to be regulated, and the FEC and Congress will be inundated with e-mails saying, "How dare you do this!"

This is totally stupid. "Activity done by regular Internet journals to cover sites like CNET, Slate and Salon." Clearly, this would be ripe for litigation. Why would BOR or other sites not qualify? Many sites are written by ex-journliats (In the Pink Texas) or have ex-journalists that contribute (this one, me being the ex-journalist). Furthermore, this day and age, what is considered a "regular" Internet journal, and who is a journalist? It's about like defining what the meaning of "is" is. If you report what you see, write a column on something, etc., you are engaging in the practice of journalism, whether you are working for major media or just posting on some little hole in the wall at BlogCity or Blogspot.

It's going to be a battle, and if nobody in Congress is willing to stand up and say, "Keep your hands off of this, and we'll change the statute to make it clear," then I think grassroots Internet activity is in danger. The impact would affect e-mail lists, especially if there's any sense that they're done in coordination with the campaign. If I forward something from the campaign to my personal list of several hundred people, which is a great grassroots activity, that's what we're talking about having to look at.

If no one in Congress is really willing to stand up (and I doubt that), then it's time for the folks on the Hill to grow some cajones. This has got to be nipped in the bud, and quickly.

Q. If Congress doesn't change the law, what kind of activities will the FEC have to target?

A. We're talking about any decision by an individual to put a link (to a political candidate) on their home page, set up a blog, send out mass e-mails, any kind of activity that can be done on the Internet.

Again, blogging could also get us into issues about online journals and non-online journals. Why should CNET get an exemption but not an informal blog? Why should Salon or Slate get an exemption? Should Nytimes.com and Opinionjournal.com get an exemption but not online sites, just because the newspapers have a print edition as well?

Why wouldn't the news exemption cover bloggers and online media?
Because the statute refers to periodicals or broadcast, and it's not clear the Internet is either of those. Second, because there's no standard for being a blogger, anyone can claim to be one, and we're back to the deregulated Internet that the judge objected to. Also I think some of my colleagues on the commission would be uncomfortable with that kind of blanket exemption.

"The deregulated Internet?" Yes, that's kind of how it is supposed to be, given that, by and large, free speech is deregulated. Consider the irony in this, should Blogs be regulated: It is constitutional to burn a flag in protest, but it is a violation of the law to put a campaign site link on your blog. So, so wrong.

And, how can you get off saying Blogs are neither periodicals or broadcast media? Periodicals are publications updated regularly (blogs), and the Internet sure seems to me to be "broadcast."

Q. So if you're using text that the campaign sends you, and you're reproducing it on your blog or forwarding it to a mailing list, you could be in trouble?

A. Yes. In fact, the regulations are very specific that reproducing a campaign's material is a reproduction for purpose of triggering the law. That'll count as an expenditure that counts against campaign finance law.

This is an incredible thicket. If someone else doesn't take action, for instance in Congress, we're running a real possibility of serious Internet regulation. It's going to be bizarre.

God yes, it's going to be bizarre. Could you imagene the horror at the FEC when two million bloggers start sending in federal spending reports? Seriously, though, this is potentially one of the dumbest things anyone has talked about in a while.

If they're going to consider Blogs as expenditures to count against campaign finance law, then they'll have to make everyone who wears a tee-shirt, puts a bumper sticker on their car, or a yard sign in their yard "count against," too. Clearly, a yard sign and a blog are both free speech. If you're going to say one form "counts" moneywise, then you've got to say the other counts, too--and not just in that the campaign spent the money to print it, but in that someone put it on prominent display in their yard. At least, to me, this is a logical defense against regulation of the Internet.

Posted at 04:05 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 24, 2005

Grits for Breakfast Wins Best Single Issue Blog Award

By Byron LaMasters

Congrats to Grits for Breakfast - a local Austin blog focused on Texas Criminal Justice System for winning the highly prestigious Koufax Award for "Best Single Issue" blog.

Congrats to all the other winners as well.

Posted at 12:41 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 23, 2005

Most Humorous Blog

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The Koufax Bloggin awards are out, and in the most humorous category we get Jesus' General, who brings us this most wonderful cartoon which by far beats the anti-AARP ad.

Posted at 11:17 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Blog Comments

By Jim Dallas

A surreal thing happened today in the blogosphere. I can't really describe it, so just read these two posts:

First. Second.

Look, ever since the beginning of politics and journalism (the second and third oldest professions, respectively), there have been hierarchies which has tended to disregard input from the bottom ranks since the folks at the top tend to generate much, much more noise. That isn't to say that it's purely a power relationship; there's a rational reason why the top dogs get to the top. Still, the stratification of power tends to have a rather suppressive tendency. And when issues of concern do wind their way up the food-chain, it's usually in a highly-digested form (with credit not always going to where it is due).

I guess it was only a matter of time before this latest experiment in dot-communism eventually resulted in such blow-ups. That said, some forms of organization are considerably more permissive of bottom-up percolation.

Bets may now be placed on how long, if ever, the blogosphere will take to organize itself into an optimal information-synthesizing institution.

Posted at 03:35 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 22, 2005

Some Texas Blogs I've found Recently

By Byron LaMasters

Rio Grande Valley Politics and Dos Centavos...

Posted at 04:01 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 20, 2005

Geez, those PowerLineBlog Republicans are real A**holes

By Byron LaMasters

Read this and you'll see why.

Update: I've been asked to note, via email, that the blogger in question, John Hinderaker has apologized for the email in this post here. It's clearly written to try and shift the blame back to his opponents on the left, but it's an apology nonetheless.

Posted at 11:06 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Jerry Brown Has A Blog?

By Vince Leibowitz

I can't remember now how I stumbled across the link, but it seems that Oakland Mayor, former California Governor, and several-time Democratic Presidential Candidate Jerry Brown has a blog.

It's a Typepad blog, is pretty plain-jane and only has two posts. But, it is interesting that public officials are taking to the Blogsphere.

My question is why don't more elected officials have blogs? Maybe they should read this article on how blogs could be used to better inform their constituents.

Of course, the problem with any elected official writing anything is that their staff usually will end up writing it for them. However, with Brown's blog, I thought surely he must have done it himself, or else it might have been a little more flashy.

Even if written by "staff," blogging would be a good thing for the Texas Lege. Except for press releases and lots of stats, most of their websites are pretty useless. At least one Rep has already attempted to harness the power of blogs, Rep. Aaron Pena.

I mean, seriously, if you've ever been in the gallery of the Texas House or Senate you know there is a lot of "down time," so to speak. So, why not sit there and send your constituents a little note about what you're doing, via blog. Or, heck, "liveblog" some of that lovely debate such as we witnessed in 2003 over tort reform.

If I was in the lege, I'd tend to try to throw some humor into my blog, and would then probably get screwed come election time after the opponent's consultants sent out a mailer with what I wrote. For example, if I were in the House, I might write...

We're having some debate on HB 111111 today. It's rather amusing. I stopped listening to the Republicans an hour ago, because their arguments are all the same. Betty Brown broke her heel on the way up to the well of the House. Poor, Betty. We all laughed. I'm glad she is OK though. She could have sprained something. And Speaker Craddick looks like he used a little too much hairspray this morning. Can you believe Texas Monthly put him on the cover? Does he really have that much power? Also, did you know they have little "cartons" of Blue Bell Ice Cream in the lounge like we used to get in school? I've eaten 10 already today and it's only 1:30. One of the perks of being in the Legislature. Oh, and today I filed a bil to dismantle Governor Perry's Economic Development "slush fund." More on that later. Oh, wait...we're going to either vote on something or adjourn for lunch or something. Oh, but before I go, what is with all those people in the gallery today? Someone dropped a cell phone from the gallery on down to the house floor. But one of those guys in blue jackets snatched it up the minute it hit the floor. How amusing. Remember, folks in HDXX, if you bring your cell phones into the gallery, don't lean over the railing while holding it in your hand. You're just asking for an accident. I'll be back in the district this weekend and having lunch at the local BBQ place on Sunday, so everyone come by and see me, ya' hear?!

Well, I probably wouldn't blog anything quite like that (then again, maybe I would), but you get my point. By the way, all of that is fictious except the thing about the Blue Bell Ice Cream and the cell phone. My State Representative told me that about the Blue Bell a couple of years ago, and I thought it was neat. But, the stuff isn't free. I think they have to pay like a quarter for it or something. As for the cell phone thing, I saw it happen on the floor, but of the Senate, back in 2003 when I was on the floor where the "credentialed media" congregate during Van Zandt County Days.

Seriously, though, who in the Blogsphere can't see the potential for the state of Texas buying a giant MT license package and letting every state-level elected official have a blog? Supreme Court Justices! Railroad Commissioners! The Speaker! Heck, MT might even give it to the state gratis just for all the publicity they'd get.

Now, think what would happen if every member of the Lege had a web cam attached to those handy little laptops on their desk. Oohhh, the possibilities...

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County.

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February 14, 2005

Koufax Award Finalists

By Byron LaMasters

We didn't make the finals in any of the Koufax Awards categories, but go support the two Texas/Texan blogs that made it in the Best Single Issue Blog category - The Daily DeLay and Grits for Breakfast - although unfortunately, you can only vote for one.

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February 08, 2005

Another Capitol Blog

By Byron LaMasters

For an in-depth look at the goings-on of the lege sans the pink, check out Inside the Texas Capitol.

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February 07, 2005

Things are Getting Pink

By Byron LaMasters

It's another week, and it's another pink Texas blog - this one is In the Pink Texas, not to be confused with the Barbie homepage, InThePink.com. That makes two weeks in a row where Texas blog readers have been treated to a new "pink" blog. Last week we found Pink Dome.

In the Pink, Texas will be blogging on the Texas legislature from the capitol, so I look forward to the reporting.

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January 31, 2005

Wonkette has arrived in Texas

By Byron LaMasters

Washington D.C. has its online gossip queen, and with all the wackiness of the Texas legislature, it makes sense that Austin should have one as well. I had my chance a year ago, but I passed on taking it up full-time.

So, for those of you with the burning desire to know the answer to such questions as which state representative is knowledgeable in the art of feng shui, or which state representative has smeared Vaseline on her official photo, then check out Pink Dome.

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January 25, 2005

Pandagon Gets a Divorce

By Byron LaMasters

Ezra has left, relocating to Typepad, while Jesse will remain at Pandagon.

Best of luck to them in dividing their assests. I'll have to add Ezra to my Bloglines, and of course, I wish them well in their future blogging endeavors. They're both great writers, and I enjoy reading both.

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January 24, 2005

Loving the Koufax Awards

By Byron LaMasters

This is the first year where I've really paid attention to the Koufax Awards - the premier lefty blogosphere award. Perhaps it's because we were nominated for two awards, but it's also been a great opportunity to take a look at new blogs, and take a look at posts that I missed earlier in the year.

I'd like to specifically mention the latest Koufax Awards for best series. I should have read through more of the blogs before voting, because there are several great series in there. I voted for the Delay Rule Exit Poll by the Daily DeLay because I appreciated their work in exposing Republicans for their vote on the Tom DeLay rule.

However, I'd also highly recommend the two nominations of Annatopia. She received two nominations for blogging the GOP Convention and for her personal abortion story (1, 2 and 3). I was moved by reading her personal abortion story for the first time tonight, and it reinforces my belief that as a man, especially as a gay man, that I have absolutely no way of ever understanding what a pregnant woman must be going through. I will never have a personal or secondary understanding of what decisions a pregnant woman must go through, and that's one of many reasons why I'm emphatically pro-choice.

For what it's worth, I'd probably vote for Anna's personal abortion story for best series at this point, so hopefully someone of my readers can vote for her to make up for my vote. I'll feel better when someone does.

Anyway, I would encourage all Texans to support your fellow Texas bloggers the Daily DeLay (maybe not a Texan, but the topic is), and Annatopia... not to forget Norbizness.

Vote here.

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January 23, 2005

Something EPIC

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

In the year 2014, The New York Times has gone offline.
The Fourth Estate's fortunes have waned.
What happened to the news?
And what is EPIC?

Watch this future history of the media.
Think News. Think Blogs. Think Different.

And then see this cartoon, Fossil Fuel Terrorists.

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January 22, 2005

Memes and things

By Jim Dallas

Professor Mixon is a big fan of memes, if only because it allows him to say "it [a particular meme such as democracy] has infected your brain like a virus!" every class.

Oh boy, and I thought I was getting bored of the "memes" meme by reading blogs...

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January 20, 2005

Advice for New Bloggers

By Byron LaMasters

I just wrote an email to a new blogger asking for advice on how to build his traffic. I wrote him back with some suggestions for him, but they could just as easily be applied to any new or aspiring blogger out there, so I'll post it here (with a few modifications):

We've been at this blogging thing for almost two years now. Keeping and maintaining a blog regularly helps build traffic. It also helps to have a niche. Ours is Texas politics. My goal is to be one the best Texas political blogs. If your goal is to be the best blog anywhere, you'll fail. Find a niche and try to be the best at it.

The best way to get noticed is break a big story and get lots of linkage. That doesn't happen too often, so most of us have to resort to other methods. As for building traffic, the best way to get noticed is to post a lot (hopefully with your own thoughts, not just rehashing those of others), comment a lot on other blogs, and post on other people's posts, and ping them in trackbacks. People won't just magically come to you, but if you make yourself known on other blogs, you'll see some inquiring minds wander over. If they like the content, they'll stay and come back.

Finally, be patient. Lots of traffic doesn't come overnight. Don't blog because you want to make money off of it, or you want to be famous. Blog because you like blogging. There are much easier ways to make money or get famous. I average $150 / month through advertising now, but even after two years, that's still less than minimum wage if I divide that by the number of hours I spend blogging a month.

Anyway, best of luck.

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January 19, 2005

The first step is admitting that you have a problem

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I guess all our fussing and feuding over accountability has sparked someone's interest, Harvard is hosting a conference called Blogging, Journalism & Credibility this weekend.

In order to promote the event, the organizers started a blog. There will be relatively few people actually there, but it is being Web cast live and will apparently be interactive. I'm going to check it out. This is something of interest to me and to I guess most of you as well. How do bloggers continue on their path to changing the world and not end up the whipping boys of the mainstream media? Find out this weekend.

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On Kos, Jerome Etc.

By Andrew Dobbs

If anyone ever doubts that Kos and Jerome are loved, check out the defenses poured out on the posts I put up about their blogs. Even though I was the guy "attacking" them, I was bending over backwards to be nice to them. And don't get me started on their defenders- damn if they aren't passionate about the men. You gotta respect a man that can drum up that kind of support. And I do.

What I said was probably written in a bit too much haste. My point I think is valid- even if there could be the appearance that Frost's abandoning Kos' website last year could influence Kos' coverage, he should say something. Its not about whether Kos is a good guy or a bad guy- I know he is a very good guy. It is whether not-so-good guys on the other side will use this to discredit and harm us and our cause. I'm not attacking Kos, I'm trying to look out for him.

But I can understand why you all would interpret that differently, and I respect that. I apologize if I offended anyone, particularly Kos and Jerome. It wasn't intended as a cheap shot and that it was interpreted as such is distressing.

But I will say this- Kos is dead wrong about Frost. Martin Frost has done far more for this party and this country than any other person in this race. 14 congressmen, millions of dollars for state campaigns, revitalizing Dallas County Democrats, grassroots organizing all over this country. He may not have "net roots" cred, but this guy isn't the kind to throw a bunch of money at media consultants and kick back and expect the votes to roll in. He has provided for the training of thousands of door to door, grassroots activists. If you want a party that is democratic as well as Democratic, Martin Frost is your man.

Kos and others have gone to town on these TV ads, but they don't demonstrate Frost's devotion to the GOP- they show his ability to run a campaign. First rule is to know your audience, know their values, know their interests and use this to craft a message that will convince them to support you. He knew that most of those people were Bush supporters, most of them because he was tough on "homeland security," and that these people weren't interested in some liberal type. So he spoke to them, and guess what? In a 65% GOP district he got 47% of the vote. That means that almost 1 out of ever 5 solid Republican voters crossed over for Frost. If that happened nationally, we would win in a landslide every time. He has the skill to win, and he's the right man for the job.

Martin Frost is a fine man- one who has demonstrated time and again his devotion to this party, this country and our cause- people-driven government. I will not hesitate to jump to his defense, and today I probably should have paused for at least a moment.

I hope you will all keep visiting, all the other guys are nice people. I apologize again if I hurt Kos or Jerome- that was not my intent. Everyone have a great week, and let's try and put this behind us.

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January 18, 2005

Where Are the Disclaimers?

By Andrew Dobbs

Anyone who has been to MyDD or Daily Kos over the last couple of weeks have noticed that in their coverage of the DNC Chair race a couple of things stand out: a pretty intense support (even if left unstated) for Howard Dean and a pretty intense opposition to Martin Frost (stated loud and clear). This is their right, and though I disagree with them it doesn't make me think any less of them as bloggers. What does make me worry is their lack of disclosure on a couple of points.

First, that both of them are business partners in a consulting firm that counted Howard Dean as one of their clients, at least in the past. Once you've had financial ties to someone, you can't very well call yourself a journalist if you don't tag that onto every statement about the person- particularly when your statements appear contrived to make the person look good.

Secondly, that after Kos made some very foolish and hurtful remarks about private military contractors in Iraq (a position my Dad now holds- training Iraqi police commandos in Baghdad for DynCorp) Martin Frost withdrew his advertisements from Daily Kos. Once again, the guy essentially took money out of Kos' pocket and Kos never mentions this potential source of bias when he is reporting on the DNC Chair race.

This isn't meant to bash them or crib a page from the right wing talking points, but I think they should either give full disclosure or stop writing on this topic. As their coverage has been pretty good (if, as noted, a bit slanted towards one candidate) I would hope that they wouldn't give up reporting on the subject. But it is important that anyone who casually saunters onto their sites knows that this isn't just a couple of earnest progressives speaking their mind- they are two businessmen who are commenting upon former clients and unfriendly business associates.

If we ever want blogs to be taken seriously we have to live up to very high standards. When I talk about party matters I note (as I will note here) that I am an employee of the Texas Democratic Party and that nothing I say is meant to be representative of the views of the party, its staff, its chairmen, candidates, office holders, executive committee or contractors. Kos and Jerome should do the same, for the good of blogging.

I hope I didn't piss anyone off, but it needed to be said.

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January 16, 2005

Broken clocks break speed record

By Jim Dallas

I use FireFox a lot when I'm using Windows (continuing my avoidant behavior to IE).

I found a blog comment linking to this Freep post which explains how to make Mozilla run a lot faster. And boy does it work!

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January 15, 2005

Civilians and their darned blogs

By Jim Dallas

Brad DeLong points to this article about the positive role of bloggers and other citizen journalists.

I think the more appropriate term is "civilians," since obviously professional journalists are also citizens, whether they admit or not (unless they're big into civic journalism, but that's a different story), but that's just my opinion. And of course, in war, a civie can shoot you dead just as sure as any professional soldier (they're just not paid to do it).

Regardless, the article asks some big questions about how to integrate new and old media, which makes it worth reading.

Though I'd note that, in it's discussion about news aggregation, it fails to mention IndyMedia, which, despite it's radical tendencies, is (in my humble opinion), an overlooked model of structuring a medium.

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My Thoughts On The Kos Non-Scandal

By Vince Leibowitz

Guest Post By Vince Leibowitz

I hate to give any more bandwith to a non-story than it's already getting, but I felt I had a few important points to make on this particular issue--given that I've worked in the realm of both the "traditional" media and for politicians, and been a blogger.

JimD noted in his earlier post on this subject:

What's really at issue is whether employment should (ethically) bar bloggers from writing about their employers. This is really a matter of following procedural ethical norms, not one of substantive honesty.

Jim is correct. This is a personal ethics issue for the blogger, not something that should have any impact on a blogger's credibility in any way, shape or form.

And, as I believe blogs fall under the category of jornalistic media, ethics can be a complicated, slippery slope to navigate when it comes to issues like this.

I firmly believe Kos took all the necessary steps to stay on the right side of the long gray line that is journalistic ethics. He clearly pointed out his affiliation, as mentioned in earlier posts, and acted responsibly.

However, this entire situation brings to light a much more important point: that Bloggers have become and will remain part of the "mainstream" media, thus subject to the close inspection and scruitany of our counterparts. Further, this very "non-scandal" shows just how much credibility blogs have gained in the United States. Since Kos is obviously one of the leaders in the field, it's no surprise to me that he's in the spotlight right now. Though the Kos stuff is a "non-issue," the style of coverage is similar to what happened with the New York Times and Jayson Blair. The NYT is one of the nation's leading newspapers. Any hint of scandal in its hallowed halls is a huge story. Since Kos is so popular, credible and essentially what many other bloggers strive to be, he's become the focus of the media spotlight.

This also points out that there is--and should be--somewhat of a different standard of ethics for bloggers than for mainstream media when it comes to specific areas like conflict of interest.

No one at a major newspaper would likely be allowed to consult for a candidate or be on their payroll while writing for that publication.

However, in the blogsphere, many of us are or have been on candidate's payrolls, worked on campaigns as volunteers, or hold leadership positions within our party. That said, some of us may have an inherant bias going into specific stories which may color what we do. But, the same is true in journalism. Though most mainstream journalists aren't simeltaniously working in campaigns or holding party leadership posts, they all have their opinions and biases and--regardless of what is said about the "unbiased media," those biases often show through in journalists' work.

Does that make them less credible? In most cases, no. While it might make them "muckrakers," who needlessly go after people, agencies, etc., it doesn't make them less credible. Facts are facts, though sometimes the benefit to the public of those facts becoming part of a front page story is debateable.

During my tenure as editor of the Van Zandt News, Canton Herald, and Wills Point Chronicle in Van Zandt County, I was put in the spotlight on one occasion in particular for a story I did about a county commissioner.

The commissioner, Ricky LaPrade (R-Grand Saline), hired his father to do dozer work for Van Zandt County and submitted bills to the County Treasurer to have him paid for that work. Obviously, that's a no-no (it's called nepotism). The County Auditor refused to pay the bill, and sent him a strongly-worded letter about nepotism.

I got wind of this, and secured the documents in question. I wrote a story about this incident with comments from the Auditor, District Attorney, and other officials. However, the Commissioner in question never returned my calls.

At the next meeting of the Van Zandt County Commissioners Court, County Judge Jeff Fisher (R-Martins Mill)--now the Executive Director of the Republican Party of Texas--criticized me, my story, my ethics, and my truthfulness in open court at the conclusion of the meeting and without provocation. He--a sitting judge who hears criminal cases mind you--put his arm around the commissioner in question and proceeded to say he'd done nothing wrong and was innocent of my trumped up, muckraking charges.

At the time, I was sitting in the jury box in the county courtroom, where the press usually sat. I decided I'd had enough of this garbage, and stood up and asked Fisher if I could now respond in the same fashion since he'd taken about five minutes to slam me in open court. Stunned, he agreed, so I walked out of the jury box to the court table and sat at the mic reserved for those speaking to the court. I launched into a five-minute recitation of the facts, noted that they were all from public records, and (perhaps my biggest mistake) criticized Fisher for so openly and loudly criticixing me, proclaiming LaPrade innocent, and intimating that I had a hidden agenda in writing the story. Keep in mind that at this time I was not the party activist I am now because of my job at the newspaper. In fact, I don't think that, up to this point (sometime in 2001), I had attended a single meeting of the Democratic Party in this county.

The other local media had a field day with this story, and wrote about it on their front pages--including when Fisher followed me to the hall continuing our exchange, which, at that point, was really rather polite. I, on the other hand, wrote nothing of it. Since our papers were the "big dog," (wealthiest, highest circulation, most awards, etc.) they couldn't wait to smear this exchange on their front pages.

Overall, it had little impact on me, my job, or my credibility. I was seen as defending myself by the public. Oddly, one local journalist who published a monthly newspaper focusing only on politics, compared Fisher to Nixon and made me out to be the hero in his column.

However, from that point on, I was hated by Fisher loyalists and most of the local GOP-establishment--in spite of the fact that they got just as much good press as they got bad press, which is the same thing that happened with Democrats during my tenure.

The point is that, as a journalist, blogger, or whatever, when you express a strong opinion, present stirring facts, or even get a lot of attention for simply doing good work, you're going to come under tremendous fire--sometimes from all sides.

When I was a journalist, the wall of awards I'd earned (including the Nancy Monson Award from the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas and the Texas Press Association) doesn't make any difference to the people who disagree with your or who are looking for a reason to bring you down. To those folks, credibility isn't the issue--you yourself are the issue.

As a blogger, on the other hand, I took a decidedly different appropach when I went to work for the Bob Glaze for State Representative Campaign as its Communications Director. I stopped blogging, period. I did't blog on my personal blog, Free State Standard, and I didn't contribute to the Political State Report, either. I stopped cold. Why? Not because I didn't want to promote my boss, that's for sure. In fact, if I had been blogging, I would have blogged on all of our opposition research and had a field day. Whould that have been credible? Yes, I had all the facts and sources to back it up. Would it have been considered a conflict of interest? Likely yes, by many, even if I stated I was working for Glaze. Would it have been useful? Without a doubt.

However, I stopped blogging for another reason entirely. I stopped blogging because I didn't want the campaign to be hurt or criticized for anything I published. I am, after all, quite opinionated, and tend to call things as I see them. And, most often, the GOP is the main source of my "wrath," so to speak. So, knowing this, I didn't want Glaze being painted as having hired a liberal member of the " liberal blogsphere" (or whatever) who had become a lightening rod for the campaign.

If I had to do it over again, however, I probably would have kept blogging during the campaign. For one thing, I'd have kept an online but private daily campaign journal. And I would have exposed Dr. Glaze's opponent for what he really is when it comes to his votes on the issues. Maybe it would have helped, maybe it wouldn't have helped. But, I think I would have felt better doing it.

The bottom line is that this entire Kos affair is a non-issue. It's pointless for the media to engage in it. But, it's something we should all come to expect. As we become the prefered source of news, opinion, and information for so many people, bloggers will begin to be attacked and will be put in the spotlight in ways we've never before thought about.

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The idiocy of kos-gate

By Jim Dallas

This is not going to be a well-linked, well-worded post because the point I will be making is a simple one, and doesn't need lots of URLs to be self-evident.

Anyone alleging that the Dean campaign had an interest in surrepitously "buying" Markos or Jerome as a sort of fifth-column doesn't understand how Democratic politics work.

Do I think that the hiring of two well-known, well-read bloggers was calculated to improve Dean's standing among bloggers and grassroots activists. Obviously! When you hire consultants, you are not just buying a service, but also a bundle of things like respect and the power to intimidate. That's why, given two consultants (or lawyers) with equal talent charging an equal fee, the one who is better-known and more "intimidating" to others will be hire. It makes a statement about your intentions, gives your candidate more leverage within certain "in-groups", and garnishes more free media coverage. These things, while intangibles, do have economic value. Would you hire Johnny Cochrane or a no-name defense attorney, if both wanted the same amount of money?

Moreover, this is why, for example, Kerry and Edwards fought over Bob Shrum (who, presidential record aside, does carry with him a certain prestige within consultant circles).

With that said, it only makes sense that there'd be a strong positive incentive for Kos and Jerome to - at every point - note their connection to the Dean campaign. And for the most part, that's what they did.

To me, it's self-evident that this was the Dean campaign's motive for hiring them, because that's what big-time campaigns do; they're not looking for propagandists, they're looking for people who are, shall we say, connected. And from what I've read, I think Zephyr's statements can be inferred to mean that.

What's really at issue is whether employment should (ethically) bar 1bloggers from writing about their employers. This is really a matter of following procedural ethical norms, not one of substantive honesty. Reading both kos and zonkette, I think that's the issue, and rather than addressing it I think Kos is wasting a lot of time and effort trying to fend off what he perceives as a huge attack on his credibility using the "vigorous arm-waving" technique. I'm almost - almost - upset about the fact that this is being treated as a highly-personal issue by Markos, particularly as it regards a lot of dissing of Zephyr (who I met once, and who I know Andrew thinks highly of).

That point, stemming from the ancient bromides of the most-holy church of journalistic objectivity, is a debatable one. But the fact that the MSM is spinning this as a "truth-gap," implying that people were being lied to, is completely fabricated. I dare anyone of sound mind and body to come forward and say, "I read DailyKOS a lot in the late fall of 2003 and early winter and I didn't know - had not one single clue - that Markos was working for the Dean campaign."

Moreover, as noted above, you can explain this entire situation away without resorting to insinuations about dishonesty; a simpler explanation is that hiring Kos was done to get somebody who knew what he was doing as well as somebody who had a relatively-high level of prestige. It's a simpler explanation because you don't have to assume people are lying to you (are they or aren't they? and did they know they were? etc.); rather, straightforward economic motives explain people's behavior.

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What the Hell is a Slog?

By Byron LaMasters

Apparently, it's a "webless log". At least that's what Houston Chronicle is calling their commentary on blogging - which is on the web, and not a log (as there is just one post). This is a great follow-up to some of the comments on my post last night that the mainstream media is pretty much clueless and belittling when it comes to blogging.

Hat tip to Greg.

Update: Nate and Charles add some thoughts as well. We all seem to be in agreement on this one.

More: Check out Blog Houston and Is Full of Crap.

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January 14, 2005

The SCLM in Action Today

By Byron LaMasters

I was going ignore the whole "Howard Dean Paid Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas to write good things about him" non-story, because it's just that - a non-story that somehow found it's way into the Wall Street Journal this morning after this post by Zephyr Teachout. The so called liberal media, of course, jumped on this non-story, and made an even bigger non-story out of it. The story was in the San Francisco Chronicle a year ago, and Kos had a prominent disclaimer post when he began working for Dean, and displayed another disclaimer prominently on the first screen of the Daily Kos for the duration of his consulting work with the Dean campaign. I've been a regular reader of Kos since 2002, and you would have had to have been stupid or blind not to notice the disclaimer at the time. Kos and Jerome were not paid to write good things about Howard Dean - both of them were already supporters of Howard Dean, and were already writing positive posts about Dean. As for Jerome, he completely shut down his blog while he worked for Howard Dean.

In terms of ethics and blogging, I think that it's rather simple. Lots of bloggers work for candidates, elected officials, party organizations or committees, etc. There's nothing wrong with that. I think that proper ethics should be full disclosure. That's what we do here. Andrew works for the Texas Democratic Party, and he's mentioned that on numerous occasions. While he does not speak for the state party, his posts are possibly influenced somewhat by his job. There's nothing wrong with that as long as readers know it.

What really pissed me off about this whole non-story though, was how the mainstream media has taken off and run with it. Some have treated this similarly to Armstrong Williams being paid by the federal government. They're two completely different situations. Williams took $240,000 in taxpayer money to promote the Bush administration agenda without disclosing anything. Kos and Armstrong took a total of $12,000 ($3000 per month for four months) of a candidate's money to help the Dean Internet organization. I would say it was money well spent. Dean went from being nobody to the frontrunner largely because of his netroots internet organization. To grasp how utterly ridiculous the comparison of the Dean bloggers to the actions of Armstrong Williams, read Simon Rosenberg's thoughts and the nonpartisan Columbia Journalism Review.

Even worse is that the media is now engaging in outright lies. Bob Novak (of all people!) suggested that there was no disclosure (and Paul Begala hadn't done his research to correct him), and Bill O'Reilly claimed that "no one knew [that Dean had hired bloggers as consultants]" when it has been public record for over a year! Finally, O'Reilly said that the bloggers were paid $300,000 a month instead of $3,000, which was conveniently dubbed out in the reairing of the show. Talk Left has more.

Anyway, much of the lefty blogosphere is pissed off at Zephyr Teachout for bringing forward a story that had the potential to allow the right-wing media machine attempt to bring moral equivalence of the actions of Armstrong Williams to that of Kos and Jerome. It's annoying to see something that was news over a year ago get twisted and distorted, but I doubt that this non-story will have much of a shelf life. Methinks it'll be the Wall Street Journal authors that will look the silliest within a few days.

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Blogroll Updates

By Byron LaMasters

I made major changes to the blogroll this afternoon for the first time in... well a long time. One of the very few drawbacks to using Bloglines (which is a great service that makes reading about 50 blogs per day a managable task) is that I'm not forced to update my blogroll as often. I still need to update my "Everyone Else" blogroll, but I the Texas Blogs have been updated. I deleted everything that I either a) no longer read, or b) has not been updated in over a month, and then added some new blogs notably Aaron Peña's blog, Houtopia and The Red State.

Let me know if I'm missing anything.

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January 12, 2005

Blogging the Session

By Byron LaMasters

Is the United Ways of Texas. Check it out, via Sarah.

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Rathergate, a response

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

A commenter asked where was the BOR reaction to the Rathergate firings that happened this week in my Tuesday's with Tucker Carlson post. I can't speak for all teh writers here at Burnt Orange, but I can say this, I didn't really have much of an interest in it.

I know, what's wrong with me that I don't care about this huge story? Well, it's not that huge of a story. CBS wasn't ready to air the story because they were still in the dark about the memos origins and some people got fired for not doing their jobs. It has nothing to do with whether the memos were fake or not. We know Bush did not complete his time as he was supposed to in the Guard. The one eyewitness that has stepped forward to say he saw Bush doing drills in his "missing year" said he saw him in Texas when Bush says he was in Alabama training. The one piece of documentary evidence that proves he was in Alabama are dental X-Rays from January 1973, two months after he was suppossed to have reported back to Houston. The memos aren't even a key piece of the puzzle.

Like I said, not an important story. I believed that until I read this Newsweek piece by Howard Fineman. The point is, the old order, the mainstream media, is dying and the new order, the blogosphere, is set to take its place. But the establishment press won't go quietly and the "Blogger Nation" is still dependent upon the mainstream press. If either is to perpetuate, I think we'll see a new hybrid, a mix of the mainstream press and the bloggers. It would be mutually beneficial in a lot of ways, and I think we are already seeing that in the popularity of cable news shows (cable was the forerunner of the Internet) and the merging between cable and the blogosphere in blogs like Hardblogger and Bloggerman. Granted, the merging of those two would be a lot easier than say a newspaper and a blog, but it's an experiment that seems to work.

I say down with the old order, hello new news paradigm. I'll be watching and blogging the revolution, as always.

Guest post from Nathan 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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January 06, 2005

I didn't know that they existed...

By Byron LaMasters

Wow. A liberal, homeschooling mom in Texas with a blog. Not something that you see everyday...

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Gonzales Hearing Blog

By Byron LaMasters

Read all about the confirmation hearings for Al "Torture" Gonzales here.

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January 03, 2005

More Proof that Blogs are a "Growth Industry"

By Byron LaMasters

The AP reports on the growth of blogs in 2004...

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December 27, 2004

Even More on Blogging

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Because the new "hot thing" here on Burnt Orange seems to be to rehash each other's stories with a new perspective in the form of a new post (I really do love you all!) I'm going to toss in my couple of coppers on the issue.

I've been writing online for four years come this January. But I have been blogging for maybe a third of that. There is an area of difference in writing for myself, keeping track of my life and feelings and whatnot, and writing for BOR. I also was a newspaper reporter and editor (of two papers) for a total of 6 years before coming to college. Having my fingers and toes in all of these pools of literary water has been enlightening.

I viewed blogging as reporting before I viewed it as blogging. I believe now, that blogging is partly unique reporting and partly highlighting and connecting readers to the best of the vast amounts of other reports on the web. And those 'reports' can be from the New York Times or from other bloggers.

For instance, I do not believe that it will ever be easy for bloggers to generate the content that mainstream news organizations can when it comes to International Issues. They have extensive networks and contacts in various governments and agencies that everyday citizen bloggers just don't have access to. Were we do have strength as bloggers, is to quickly connect readers to the firsthand reports of bloggers in other countries that can report on local reactions, be it Indonesian bloggers talking about tidal waves, or Iraqi bloggers during the Iraq War.

Where traditional media (usually) tries to be unbiased, bloggers can call the shots as we see them (the O'Reileys of the Internet) and point it out when traditional media and other bloggers are in err. Bloggers will not settle for waiting for stories to come down the pipe from the press either; if we are interested and knowledgeable, we will do our own reporting, post it, and once in a while push it right back up that pipe to the press like Jerome over at MyDD has been with the Democratic National Convention updates.

Yes, there will be some natural merging of the mediums, whether it is blogger's attraction to circulation (hits) and ad revenue or the media attempting to be more "in tune" with their audience by adding Bloggers the mix. But I'm not too concerned about it at the moment because it's a natural evolution that we will have front row seats to report on.

With that, we here at Burnt Orange will continue in the Spring, to offer a window into the workings of the Texas Legislature, the Texas Democratic Party, the ongoing adventures of Governor Goodhair.

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The rise of the blogs

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

Byron's earlier post about blogging seemed to be answering a question that a lot of bloggers have asked since the election. What now?

I think the vast majority of political bloggers are going to stick with it. The really good ones are obsessed with it; it's an addiction that doesn't go away with one election cycle. I know I can't possibly stop. Blogging is a revolution in the way people gather and disseminate information. It's an intensely personal form of communication that reaches out to people across the globe. And you don't even need big media credentials to do it. With all it's flaws, I think blogging is still democracy at its finest.

I've always thought that the next step would be for blogs to gain legitimacy by merging with more traditional forms of media. The likes of Hardblogger and Bloggerman at MSNBC.com show the way. There are several newspapers who now have blogs, albeit nothing as independent-minded as Political Animal.

And then the tsunami came. The next wave of the revolution has already started as bloggers in Asia have begun acting as news reporters, collecting first-hand accounts from the disaster area.

Many of the blogs involved have been gathering first-hand reports from the affected areas, via telephone and email. First-hand reports, interviews, historical and scientific perspectives -- blogs are acting like news services. And you're the winner, as you can learn a lot from reading these reports.  Check some of them out, as this sort of thing is likely to be the wave of the future.

I don't think it will be very much longer before newspapers have bloggers on staff. As more people get their news from the Internet, and more people turn to the more entertaining and informative, if sometimes biased, blogosphere for the latest, it will become inevitable.

This is a guest post from Nathan 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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Rick Perry vs. the World Comes Out

By Byron LaMasters

Well, sort of. We still don't know his full name, but this is a start.

Check out the next post as well. For any Democrats / Independents / Moderates that think that KBH would be a liberal / moderate type, you're wrong. She'd be much less of an embarrassment to the state of Texas than Rick Perry, but she's still a conservative Repulican, who just happens to look moderate when compared to her homestate collegues Phil Gramm and John Cornyn.

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Vince and Kos on the future of blogging

By Byron LaMasters

I wonder if I could get a front page story out of the Dallas Morning News if I shut down BOR? Just kidding, there are no plans to do so, but both Vince Liebowitz and Markos Zuniga were profiled in a Dallas Morning News story on Friday - Markos because Daily Kos is one of the most popular blogs out there, and Vince because he shut down his blog, the Free State Standard last month. I'm not sure whether I should take it as a relatively decent article about the future of (political) blogging, or a subtle attack by the mainstream media on blogging as the title reads: "Elections over, blog popularity wanes: Politically oriented sites lost cachet (and cash) once campaigns ended". Hmmm, well judge for yourself:

A few part-time computer geeks parlayed their blogs into full-time gigs, attracting advertisers and loyal followings. Merriam-Webster anointed blog –short for "Web log" – its word of the year.

But with the election over and much of the country suffering political fatigue, traffic has slowed to a crawl on some blogs.

October was the heady heyday, with nonstop news and plenty of advertising to go around. Now, some bloggers are left wondering whether the success of their sites was a passing politics-fueled fancy.

Since Nov. 2, business has tumbled nearly 40 percent for BlogAds.com, which sells advertising for about 500 Web sites. Blogs, formerly updated around-the-clock, sometimes sit idle for days. And a few Web scribes are calling it quits, saying that they and their readers are pooped.

"People got tired of politics," said Vince Leibowitz, a blogger from Canton, Texas.

The communications consultant had a good thing going with his accounts of Lone Star State news and politics. He had reliable readers, he'd sold a few ads for the site and some of his posts were viewed as many as 4,000 times.

But after the campaigns shut down, so did his blog, called Free State Standard.

One of my posts on BOR got a brief mention as I asked our readers where to go next. It was an insert to the article:

Burnt Orange Report: So what next? ... 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.

Not surprisingly, I wasn't the only one unsure of what is next with blogging. I think that those of us who have been at this whole blogging thing for awhile, and do it primarily as a hobby will stick with it. It's nice to make a little bit of money on the side, but that's not why I do it.

I'm actually quite pleased with how things have evolved in blogging since the election. Our traffic is obviously down from October, but for most of November / early December, traffic leveled off at about the level that I had in August and September, which I was pleased with. Last week and this week will probably be slow in traffic because of the holidays, but I expect things to pick up with the start of session in two weeks.

I think the key to blogging is this. If you want instant fame and profit, blogging is a waste of time. You can't expect that a political blog will maintain it's October-of-an-election-year traffic and profitability over the long term. However, if you blog because you really enjoy it, then it's a good hobby to stick with for awhile.

Here's what Henry Copeland of BlogAds said in the Morning News article:

Henry Copeland, founder of BlogAds.com, also recognized that the pace of the political season could not continue.

Business was brisk in the weeks before the election, he said. But once the candidates called it quits and the campaigns stopped buying ads, sales fell 30 to 40 percent.

Mr. Copeland said he knew at the time that the sky-high sales numbers in late October would be fleeting.

"The good news for us is we got a lot of free press out of the political season," he said.

And Mr. Copeland still says that blogs are a growth industry.

In a few months, "their traffic will start climbing again," he said. "There are going to be new, weird stories for bloggers to cover."

Agreed. I plan on being patient, and continuing to blog, and if I'm lucky, maybe uncover some vast right-wing conspiracies.

Update: Greg has some thoughts on the article as well.

More thoughts from Kevin, Pegasus News and The Media Drop.

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December 22, 2004

I guess I wasn't paying attention

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I totally missed this story when I read Time's person of the year article Sunday. It's an article on how 2004 was the Golden Age of blogging and what we've learned from it.

I thought it was actually kind of funny. I missed out on a lot of stuff, like the Washingtonienne thing and the fake celebrity blogs. I didn't get into Friday cat-blogging, either (I'm a dog person anyway).

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

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December 09, 2004

Can't stop blogging about blogging

By Nathan Nance

Guest post by Nate Nance

I guess he's just trying to protect his mainstream media ground, but just about everything in this column about blogging from CBS News' David Paul Kuhn is ass-backwards. I mean, does this guy even read blogs? I'm fairly certain that readership is competition is enough to keep blogs honest just like newspapers. I mean, we all know when Josh Marshall says something it's probably true and we all know when Michelle Malkin writes something in her blog she's just being a Nazi. Simple as that.

But Kuhn goes on some weird kick about Atrios being a senior fellow for Media Matters and being partisan. Read Atrios' response and see if you can detect the barely hidden, seething anger at just how freakin' retarded he thinks this guy is.

Just another reason network news will be replaced by blogging in the information revolution.

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 07, 2004

Rick Perry vs. The World

By Vince_Leibowitz

Guest Post By Vince Leibowitz

It's Rick Perry vs. The World now, at least according to this new blog by an unknown author.

Thanks to Charles over at Off The Kuff who brought this little gem to our attention today.

Speculating on who the author is, I'm guessing it is someone connected in some way with Perry's camp. Whoever it is, they've noted the same thing I've been preaching for months about how Perry would fair against Kay Bailey Hutchison:

Perry isn't nearly as popular as Hutchison in state at large, but is popular with GOP activists who comprise much of the votes and manpower necessary to win an intra-party war.

Despite signing hate crimes legislation in 2001, Perry has since pleased conservatives with his push for redistricting, his refusal to raise taxes, and some spending cuts. He's also pro-life, and Texas Right to Life would undoubtedly back Perry loudly.

The reference to the James Byrd Jr., Hate Crimes Act makes me feel it's even more likely the blogger is someone from Perry's camp or a GOP operative who has obvious reasons for starting the blog. In my experience, it's only insider-type, ultra-conservatives who continue, some three years later, to bring up Perry's signing of the hate crimes legislation. Most people realize it's too politically-incorrect of a topic to keep rehashing.

Vince Leibowitz is County Chairman of the Democratic Party of Van Zandt County. He is a regular contributor to the Political State Report.

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December 01, 2004

Has it really been ten years?

By Jim Dallas

I've been an admirer of Huben's "Critiques of Libertarianism" site for a long time, but I had no idea it's been around now for 10 years.

On a side note, I think there is a lot that we can learn from libertarians. There is also, however, a lot that we should learn how not to do from the libertarian movement (e.g. how not to argue, how not to campaign, etc.).

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November 28, 2004

Goodbye, Vince

By Byron LaMasters

Well, not really. He'll still be around. Vince has decided to shut down his blog, the Free State Standard - one of the half dozen or so Texas blogs I try to check most every day. Vince had to take a leave of absense from blogging while he was working on a campaign the past couple of months, and its difficult to build back an audience if you quit for awhile (I guess that is unless you were the Bush Campaign webmaster or the other half of Markos Zuniga's consulting firm). But not all of us are that lucky.

Vince will still be around, though. He'll continue to write at the Van Zandt County Democrats Blog (he's the county chair) and the Political State Report (which reminds me, I need to add PSR to my blogroll, and maybe post on there again). I'm sure that Vince will also contribute to whatever we decide to do with Texas Tuesdays. Anyway, best of luck, Vince.

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You Get What You Vote For

By Byron LaMasters

Yesterday, I was chatting with my friend Chris who was complaining about his unwanted Republican troll posting comments on his blog.

Then today the good folks over at the Panhandle Truth Squad respond to their Republican commenters by telling them exactly what they voted for. I could have used some of those points when I ran into a friend in Dallas over Thanksgiving that I hadn't talked to since the election who voted for Bush.

Personally, I'm thankful for our Republican commenters. Even though they might think that I'm anti-Christian and intolerant, this is our blog, we have the final say, and that's good enough for me. If you aren't willing to take a little heat from time to time, you shouldn't allow comments in the first place.

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November 24, 2004

Blackadder references

By Jim Dallas

I see Atrios likes British comedies, too.

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October 25, 2004

I guess the Wingnuts Stuffed the Ballot Box

By Byron LaMasters

Because I certainly didn't vote for any of the winners for the Washington Post's Best Politics and Elections blogs. The most laughable is that the National Review's The Corner received the award for "Best Democratic Party Coverage". Huh?

I guess I'll hand it to them. Dems stuffed the online polls after the debates, the Goopers hit this one. It just goes to show that online polls are easy to manipulate and relatively worthless.

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October 14, 2004

Forward March

By Jim Dallas

I'm glad to see that my arch- cyber-nemesis, Adam Yoshida, who is truly the cutting-edge of right-wing insanity (trust me, I mean this in the most complimentary way possible), has gotten linkage from Michelle Malkin.

Honestly, how many of the 101st Fighting Keyboards have the honesty and integrity to just come out and say this?

I lay out this record not as a political case against John Kerry but to argue that, by traditional standards, he has a history of disloyalty. I point it out not to question his credentials, but rather his patriotism.

See, unlike most reactionaries and Bush-backers, Yoshi is not some kind of cowering, smirking weenie.

I think I can say that I feel as proud of Adam as the KGB would have, had they learned that the CIA employees got themselves a Starbucks cart at Langley.

"High five, comrade, high five!"

Or at least that's how I think the KGB would have felt. You know, from my vast knowledge of the KGB derived from Tom Clancy novels and made-for-television movies.

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October 13, 2004

It's a Mess!

By Byron LaMasters

The latest from BlogPAC, and it attacks Tom Coburn.

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October 10, 2004


By Jim Dallas

Sticky note for Byron: I changed the title this morning.

I don't know if y'all intended to change the entire color scheme. Y'all were the ones making bets, not me.

And for goodness sake, don't make sports bets with Sooners fans!

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September 29, 2004

Score one for the Lefty Bloggers

By Byron LaMasters

Kudos to David Brock for getting GOP pollster Frank Luntz canned as MSNBC's objective pollster in the debates tomorrow.

Roll Call reports:

The watchdog organization Media Matters for America was none too pleased that MSNBC had scheduled GOP pollster Frank Luntz conduct on-air focus groups following tonight’s presidential debate.

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Am I missing something?

By Byron LaMasters

Or is there a good reason why so many people are doing Google searches of "John Kerry" + orange and Kerry + orange today? I've received dozens of visits via those searches today, and I have absolutely no clue why.

Can anyone help here?

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September 25, 2004

Kos Dozen House Parties

By Byron LaMasters

Kos has an interesting idea for house parties for the Kos dozen. I'd be interested in either hosting, or going to one in Austin focused on Kos Dozen candidate Richard Morrison. Ideas anyone? Anyone else interested? Let me know...

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September 24, 2004

265.3 mbs

By Jim Dallas

That (also translatable as .2653 brooksies) is our current measure of Internet Fame on the Drum Index. By comparison, that's about a quarter of the IF rating for Kevin Drum, an eighth of the rating of Atrios, and one percent of George W. Bush.

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September 23, 2004

BOR in RHE306

By Byron LaMasters

It's nice to know that BOR is contributing to academia here at the University of Texas. I just noticed that we're used as an example in UT's entry level Rhetoric and Composition class (I tested out of it).

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Off the Kuff = Best Houston Blog

By Byron LaMasters

Congrats to Charles Kuffner on being recognized as the best local blog by the Houston Press:

Off the Kuff In a field cluttered with "what I had for breakfast" and "my girlfriend/boyfriend is so cute" entries, Charles Kuffner's gazette keeps track of local and national politics, music, baseball and a bunch of other stuff in an informative and digestible way. And among political bloggers, Kuffner also stands out as a sensible moderate Democrat amid all the paranoid libertarians, smug right-wingers and shrill lefties typing their screeds in cloudy cuckoo land.

And since I don't have much hope in gathering all the latest news on everything going on with Tom DeLay, and everyone's reaction to it between trying to get a few posts up here, catching up on sleep, and studying for my third exam this week, read Kuff today. He's got everything on the latest twist (is Tom Craddick next?) in the investigation by the Travis County DA.

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September 22, 2004

So wrong, yet so inevitable

By Jim Dallas

I was waiting to see who would insist the Florida hurricane trifecta was a "message from God" (A few years back when Galveston got hit by a couple of tropical storms in the same season I figured as much. I think the message was, "let's have the high school kids sit at home and play video games on a school day, just for fun." That's the difference between hurricanes and tropical storms -- a tropical storm is a good excuse, whereas a hurricane is a bad disaster).

Looks like the wait is over.

UPDATE: Incidentally, it occurred to me that the year I speak of was 1998 (hurricane names are repeated every six years). The two storms that hit Galveston that year were... Tropical Storm Charley and Tropical Storm Frances! Now explain to me this... Texas gets hit twice when Bush is up for re-election as Governor of Texas in 1998. And now Florida (a swing state) gets hit by storms with the same names exactly six years later when he's running for re-election as President? WTF?

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September 21, 2004


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Google has expanded their g-mail trial pool for their 1 Gigabyte Free e-mail storage service yet again. And once more, because BOR is your friend, for a third time this month, will offer up to 5 g-mail invites to our loyal readers.

So if you throw some jingle in, of whatever amount you feel BOR is worth, I'll send you an invite to the address that is included on the paypal receit. Be sure to leave a comment after you do so in order to make sure you have yours reserved.

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September 18, 2004

Philosophy Majors, I beseech thee

By Jim Dallas

Humble supplicant JIM D asks:

Please evaluate and explain this growing tangle of terminology. It appears to me that Volokh, Drum, Yglesias, and Crooked Timber could all be wrong. And if that happens, oh if Those Great and Learned Wise Men of the Blogosphere have lost their way, then surely we are doomed!

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August 26, 2004

History Repeating Itself All Over Again

By Jim Dallas

Let's face it, these have been incredibly slow news weeks. True, the Olympics are fascinating, we had a hurricane hit Florida, and there has been serious news abroad (in Iraq and Russia). These are all very serious for the people involved. But they're not really moving "stories" that capture the attention of the whole country.

The Campaign Desk hits political journalists for focusing so heavily on the Swifties, which is only a notch above Kobe Bryant, and various human interest stories.

Three years ago, I was working down in The Daily Texan basement, and I got a great kick out of reading a comic strip that was tacked up on the wall bemoaning the lack of real news the summer before (it was all shark bite stories and bear maulings, if I remember correctly). It was funny because it was true. Nothing really "big" had happened.

This was two days before 9/11.

Normalcy doesn't last long. I start to get skittish when the CJR starts bemoaning the reportage of silly stories like the Swifties, because it's usually not too long before the press corps have real news to report.

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August 25, 2004

Personal note

By Jim Dallas

Since basically, my time now belongs entirely to (in order), my civil procedure class, my contracts class, and my torts class, I will be blogging on such material since I really have no other frame of reference from which to blog. Feel free to read and to leave me helpful comments about why I should be pre-emptively barred from the Bar because I am an "evil-doer."

Although hopefully I will still regularly pop my head in here and say silly things.

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August 18, 2004

Instant Karma

By Jim Dallas

A very belated welcome-to-the-blogosphere to Oregon tag-teamers Kevin and Carla (Pre-emptive Karma).

I've done some role-playing games in the past with these two, both class acts.

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August 16, 2004


By Jim Dallas

Call me cruel, or simply hacktackular, but I like to shame blog trolls. I call it tough love.

My compassionate readers, please take a moment to laugh at troll "VRWC" in this pandagon comment thread.

Here's how "VRWC" performs the reverse-judo-flip-insert-foot-in-mouth:

1. Post random gobbledy-gook (knuckleheaded Republican talking points; alleged humor) in pandagon comment thread. Never mind that it is off-topic in the extreme.

2. Cry bloody murder when some "liberal" resorts to "ad hominem attacks", as if you actually were making an argument based on facts and logic, and thus we would actually care about rebutting you, but aren't.

(Jimbo's first rule of argumentation: people who aren't really trying to debate you are not entitled to your respect. Make fun of them early and often, or just ignore them if you are suffering from an excess of maturity.)

3. When people actually do try to discuss issues of substance, respond to them in a half-assed way and then throw in more shtuff that has nothing to do with what you are talking about.

4. When the heat really starts coming on, disappear. You have stirred the pot, now you can slurk back to your trollish cave.

Seriously, I am looking forward with much anticipation to a National Geographic channel special on trolls, especially their mating and feeding habits ("And now the female troll will IM the male troll --

Dubyasxylady83: OMG scary Kerry so totally sux donkeyballz!
TailgunnerJoe4Evr: Yeah totally ROFLMAO!"

-- and so on)

UPDATE: Oh darn, if I had just read the last post in this thread, I'd see someone has already summed this up:

The mentality that inspires clowns like VRWC to post off-topic, irrelevant, stereotype-driven blather is the same mentality that creates books like this for children. There's a certain satisfaction many people find in reveling in their own pig-headed ignorance. You can't argue with a moron who isn't even paying attention to what you're actually saying; it's third-grade playground logic. A stubbornly moronic stance can be very powerful because for any logical point thrown at you, all you have to do is shout "Liberals! Sensitive! Cambodia! French!" and a certain percentage of the peanut gallery will be won over. For too much of America, "nyah-nyah-nyah" is what passes for critical thinking. That's what we're up against.

That isn't to say that Republicans or conservatives are generally uncritical idiots, just the ones that spend all day trying to irritate users of left-of-center blogs with non-debate debates and agitprop.

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August 12, 2004

Get Connected

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Every night at 2:30, the Internet connection on my dial-up here at home seems to go out. This is very weird to me.

Reasonable Explanation: The ISP automatically shuts off any active lines at that time as it figures, it wants to reduce the load.

Tin-Foil Hat Explanation: My parents really aren't scared of technology and have set up this up in order to track whether or not I'm up this late.

Bids anyone?

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July 31, 2004

Mmmm... Tradition!

By Jim Dallas

Apparently, the appropriate response to trolls and trolling is to post recipes.

I did not know this.

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July 21, 2004

Support the Other Karl with a K

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I read Andrew's post earlier today on supporting a good friend of ours, Karl who was a blogger and great Deaniac that I got to know this past year. Here is photographic proof taken at Dean's November 18 Speech in Houston.

So after you have finished supporting him, think about helping this Karl with a K (and a hypen and a T!) who is going to Boston as a delegate and blogger for the Burnt Orange Report. You readers are in for a real treat with half of our 'staff' here being in Boston so we'd be really thankful if you support us. Byron did here.

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July 20, 2004

Send Carl With a K to the National Convention!

By Andrew Dobbs

I don't know if any of you were ever a fan of the blog Carl with a K, but I know I was and I had the incredible fortune of living with Karl Frisch in Vermont last summer. Karl is easily the funniest person I have ever met (get him to do his Jesse Jackson impression if you ever meet him- perfect!) and he has a harrowing story. Karl started out as a Republican and was in the closet about his sexuality. After working for Lamar Alexander and John McCain, he came out and was mistreated by his coworkers and superiors. He quickly realized that the GOP wasn't for him so he became a Democrat and started all over again, working his way up to the staff of Dean For America.

Now he wants to go to the Boston convention and he can't afford it at this time so he is participating in a contest from the DNC where the top 5 fundraisers get to go to the convention. Right now he's doing well but he still needs our help. Please go to his contribution page, http://makers.democraticaction.org/page/mm/carlwithak and drop some coin in his bucket. Be sure to add .36 (for 1836, the year of the Texas Revolution) so he'll know his Texas friends are responsible.

Help Karl get $2 Ks in the next few days!

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July 16, 2004

Boston Bloggers

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

The following is a list of some of the credentialed bloggers to the Democratic Natinoal Convention originally posted here. In addition, I will be blogging here and at my main site www.MusselmanforAmerica.com

In addition, I have made the following graphic that you are free to use.

" Alan Nelson of command-post.org
" Dave Winer of Scripting News
" Dave Weinberger
" Taegan Goddard's Political Wire
" NYU's Jay Rosen, who has lengthy essay about the incoherence of modern conventions and the freshness bloggers may bring.
" Markos Moulitsas Zuniga from the Daily Kos
" Jerome Armstrong
" Aldon Hynes for greaterdemocracy.org
" Jeralyn Merritt of TalkLeft
" Matt Welch, for his personal blog and Reason's
" Tom Burka for Opinions You Should Have and The American Street, which will also have two Oregon state delegates blogging from the convention, Jenny Greenleaf and "BeckyG."
" Paul McCullum, Will Oemler and Allison Grady for dinnerforamerica.com
" OxBlog
" Rick Heller for the Centrist Coalition's blog, Centerfield
" Matthew Gross
" Byron LaMasters of BurntOrangeReport.com
" Jessamyn Charity West for Librarian.net
" Dave Pell for electablog.com
" Natasha C. for Pacific Views and King County Democrats blog.
" Jesse Taylor and Ezra Klein of Pandagon.net
" Michael Feldman for Dowbrigade News
" Gordon Joseloff for WestportNow.com
" Christopher Rabb for Afro-Netizen
" Kirk W. Johnson for American Amnesia
" Bill Scher for LiberalOasis
" Brian Reich for campaignwebreview.com
" Stephen Yellin for DailyKos.com and for OurCampaigns.com

Other who may blog from the convention include:
" Ana Marie Cox, aka Wonkette
" Dave Barry

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July 14, 2004

Sorry for the Problems

By Byron LaMasters

My apologies to anyone who has had difficulty posting the past 16 hours or so. There was a problem with our hosting company - Dreamhost, but the problem has been fixed. I'm just glad that the problem happened now, as opposed to while I'm in Boston, since I was unable to post while the promblem persisted. Anyway, things are back to normal again.

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July 09, 2004


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Remember the Texas Tuesday's Post about Mark Strama that I wrote for earlier this week? Well it has appeared, in short, on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) official blog. You can see the short piece here.

Props to the Burnt Orange and Texas Tuesday's Team.

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BOR in the AP

By Byron LaMasters

This is cool. The Burnt Orange Report was mentioned in an AP news article today:

Wilhide would not release a full list of the approved bloggers, but said they included the Democratic-leaning Burnt Orange Report, Daily Kos, Pandagon.net and TalkLeft. Jerome Armstrong of MyDD.com also confirmed to The Associated Press that he had been accepted.

Bloggers will have the same access as traditional journalists within the FleetCenter convention hall, Wilhide said. And bloggers will join radio journalists with workspace in the FleetCenter itself, while other media will be in nearby buildings, she said.

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Cheap Airfare to Boston Still?

By Byron LaMasters

I just bought my airfare to Boston. I was expecting to pay something rediculous - like over $400. Am I lucky, or what? I found a roundtrip ticket from Dallas to Boston on Delta for $238 (I have to stop in Atlanta going, but it's direct coming home). Next up is getting a hotel. I'll probably just take what the DNCC (Democratic National Convention Committee) is offering. I talked to one of their guys on the phone for a bit today, since I had several questions, and I ought to have something by early next week. The DNCC also asked if it was alright if they gave my name and contact information out to media outlets who want to talk to bloggers that will be at the convention. So, within two days, I've already received three media requests. I'll be interviewed on NPR on Monday in their local Dallas studio, and I'm sure I'll have more excitement later in the week.

Anyway, I arrive in Boston at 6:15 PM on Saturday, July 24, 2004. I'll depart Boston at 5:20 PM on Friday, July 30, 2004. My schedule on Saturday night and Sunday is yet to be determined. Monday through Thursday I'll be primarily at the convention center, and then I'll probably take most of the day on Friday to tour around Boston before I fly back - or maybe catch up on sleep. Again, let me know what you'd like my coverage in Boston to focus on. Thanks.

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I'm Going to Boston

By Byron LaMasters

I was a bit shocked when I got a letter in the mail from the DNC on Tuesday with press credentials for both the perimeter and the hall to the Democratic National Convention in Boston at the end of the month. I had pretty much discounted my chances, since BOR - while being a top political weblog in Texas, is not really one of the top blogs nationally. I mean, yeah, we have a link on kos, but still we're around #200 in terms of traffic ranking of weblogs on the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem. We still get around 1000 page views a day - a number that I'm sure will rise dramatically when I blog the convention. Regardless, I must have something going for me. I was smart enough to send the DNC everything they needed (some bloggers seemed to forget about this minor security detail). You know - a copy of my drivers license, my social security number, etc. - to make sure I'm not a terrorist. Although, a background check on me (via Google.com) yields some interesting results. Maybe it's because I'm important enough for Rick Perry to call the top reporter for the Austin American Statesman into his office to dispel a rumor I posted that was initially spread by the governor's opponents within the Republican Party. Or maybe it's the fact that I'm a student at a University that rejected George W. Bush. Or maybe it's that I'm from Bush's home state, and I've had to hear his crap much longer than most Americans. I don't know. But it doesn't matter. I've been asked by the Democratic National Committee to cover the convention for this blog, and I accept the task. Since I was not expecting to be credentialed (and since I have a job this summer), I had not yet made plans to attend the convention. But I've managed to scramble some things together, so I should have all the airfare and hotel issues worked out by the weekend. Fortunately, I'm able to get some help with this from my employer (Dallas County Young Democrats) and from my parents, so the costs, while expensive, ought to be managable. My birthday is July 20th, so my parents contribution will be something of a birthday present.

Anyway, I'm very excited about this opportunity. I don't know if this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, or if this is something I'll be back at every four years if I decide to make a career out of this. I'm still not sure. I have another year of college to figure it out, I suppose. It doesn't matter, really. I'll have the opportunity to hear John Kerry and John Edwards accept their nominations to be the next President and Vice President of the United States - and for that, I consider myself very lucky. The first vote that I ever cast was for Al Gore in 2000, and every day as I see the wreckless policies of the Bush / Cheney administration I feel prouder of that first vote that I cast when I was 18 years old. Now, at the age of 22 (as of 7/20/04), I will have the opportunity to see the Democratic ticket completed to defeat George W. Bush. Having said that, my job at the convention is to blog. I want to cover issues that the mainstream media will likely ignore. My focus will be on the Texas delegation, but I want to meet as many delegates from across the country as I can. All of the delegates have a story, and the more that I can find the better. In particular, I would like to reach as many young people as possible. I want to know how young people across the country see this election. I want to know what Democrats can do to energize and bring more young people into the party. The mainstream media will cover all of the major speeches, and I will do that as well. But, I want to focus on things that the media won't quite capture. I want to hear from all of you. I'm doing this for my viewers. Fortunately, Karl-Thomas will also be in Boston as a delegate out of his senate district. So, there will be two of us from BOR covering the convention. Jim and Andrew have already promised to give their reaction to the mainstream media coverage of the convention. So here's my question. I'll be in Boston. I'll be spending a good four or five days around the convention. Yes. I'm a partisan liberal Democrat. But, I'm not going to be a lackey for the DNC. They'll probably approve of most of what I post, but I have my credentials, and I'll be in Boston as an Independent progressive Kerry / Edwards supporting Democratic blogger. So, here's my question to all of you. What do you want me to cover? What would BOR readers like to hear from the floor of the convention? I'll be there, and I'll have a laptop, and likely wifi access, so tell me what you want covered at the convention (if you don't want to comment, email me at: Byron@BurntOrangeReport.com).

Finally, while I do have some help getting to Boston, some of the cost will have to come out of my own pocketbook. So, if you'd like to help defray my costs, please donate to my paypal account (lamasters@mail.utexas.edu) here (and be sure to tell me what you'd like covered at the convention while you're at it):

Thanks again.

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July 06, 2004

And We Helped

By Karl-Thomas Musselman

Earlier in the week I had a post up about the Sandlin campaign job posting. Well, now it's down thanks to this last e-mail...

We very much appreciate your help with our search to find good people to work on the Sandlin campaign. We have since filled the field coordinator position, and if possible would prefer to have the spot that is on your site taken down in order to slow the amount of calls we receive. The posting did, indeed, lend itself to several good candidates. Once again the support is, as always, appreciated and we will continue to keep you updated with the campaign.

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June 30, 2004


By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I have a G-Mail account.

Yes, my friends, thanks to a good guy over in a Daily Kos Diary (Davidnyc), I have been invited and now have an account. I just got lucky that I got online today on campus. I still can't believe it.


I'm so original, aren't I?

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June 26, 2004

Intellectual Footsie

By Jim Dallas

Brad DeLong follows up on Matt Yglesias. John Rawls, David Hume, the National Review, and the word "niggardly" are involved. Two lessons will be learned here:

  • stupidity sometimes pays; and
  • never sign a social contract without the advice and consent of a philosophy major.

Go read it or else, eager young space cadets!

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June 18, 2004

Blogger Caucus

By Byron LaMasters

I'm here at Kaveh Kanes in downtown Houston with the Texas blogger big-wigs. We're talking about how to improve Texas Tuesdays. Let us know if you have any thoughts on where we should go with it.

Posted at 01:14 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 11, 2004

Blogger Caucus

By Byron LaMasters

Texas Democratic Convention
Houston, Texas.
Friday, June 18th.
1pm - 3pm.
Kaveh Kanes Coffeehouse
The Blogger Caucus!

Be there. You know where I'll be...

Posted at 04:05 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Spammer Alert

By Byron LaMasters

Upon checking the blog this morning, I realized that BOR just suffered the worst Spam attack ever. We had several hundred spam messages (246 to be exact) from this IP Address:

So, add that to your banned list. Making things more difficult was the number of websites that this spammer linked to. Usually they'll just plug in a few different links, so it's easy to kill them off by adding them into MT-Blacklist, but this guy was good. I got spam this morning from the following addresses:

allergyrelief.buy-rx-usa.com, sleepaids.buy-rx-usa.com, stomach-heartburn.buy-rx-usa.com, anti-anxiety.buy-rx-usa.com, anti-depression.buy-rx-usa.com, cholesterol.buy-rx-usa.com, musclerelaxers.buy-rx-usa.com, skincare.buy-rx-usa.com, antibiotic.buy-rx-usa.com, antiviral-herpes.buy-rx-usa.com, quitsmoking.buy-rx-usa.com, painremedies.buy-rx-usa.com, womenshealth.buy-rx-usa.com, menshealth.buy-rx-usa.com, weightloss.buy-rx-usa.com, zithromax.buy-rx-usa.com, zovirax.buy-rx-usa.com, zanaflex.buy-rx-usa.com, wellbutrinsr.buy-rx-usa.com, bupropion.buy-rx-usa.com, wellbutrin.buy-rx-usa.com, vaniqa.buy-rx-usa.com, sonata.buy-rx-usa.com, soma.buy-rx-usa.com, skelaxin.buy-rx-usa.com, fluoxetine.buy-rx-usa.com, propecia.buy-rx-usa.com, prilosec.buy-rx-usa.com, ortho-evra.buy-rx-usa.com, nasonex.buy-rx-usa.com, nasacort.buy-rx-usa.com, lipitor.buy-rx-usa.com, lexapro.buy-rx-usa.com, imitrex.buy-rx-usa.com, fosamax.buy-rx-usa.com, flexeril.buy-rx-usa.com, famvir.buy-rx-usa.com, butabitol.buy-rx-usa.com, fioricet.buy-rx-usa.com, cyclobenzaprine.buy-rx-usa.com, cipro.buy-rx-usa.com, celexa.buy-rx-usa.com, celebrex.buy-rx-usa.com, buspirone.buy-rx-usa.com, buspar.buy-rx-usa.com, aldara.buy-rx-usa.com, aciphex.buy-rx-usa.com, acyclovir.buy-rx-usa.com

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By Karl-Thomas Musselman

I wrote this as my opinion on today's failure in online democracy over at Daily Kos.

I don't get what some people here are saying.

The same community that freaks out over verified voting, that thinks the Republican Party stands for the opposite of Democracy, and thinks that voting in elections is the most basic part of good government suddenly has no problem with an election that has accusations of voter fraud, no paper trail, and shut people out of voting because the system crashed?

How can we stand for that? What about something called credibility?

Call a new election simply for the sake of Democracy.

Personally, I don't think results for this election should be available while voting. I also think that the election should be announced in advance for those people who don't check daily kos every 4 hours to see if the poll is up.

What would our outcry be if special elections were help at a momments whim?

I don't care about the outcome of this election. I care about the integrity of the process. Let's get it right, not settle for anything less. It won't hurt, I promise.

For a website that gets 100,000s of visitors a day, I don't feel comforatble letting just the first 1,800 voters votes that actually made it in decide an election. I don't care what the margin. Would we feel fine letting early votes decide election? If we were, more Republicans would win since they vote early more often than not.

Come On. Can we try not to be a laughingstock of the Right online?

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June 10, 2004

As Duly Appointed Representative of the Great Unwashed(TM)...

By Jim Dallas

I tried defending KOS's honor over at Greg's Opinion, who's getting a big kick out out of a (temporarily) failed experiment in KOS-style democracy.

(Sometimes Greg's Opinion ("Go to heck, damned hippies, and take your love beads and your Howard Dean buttons with you!") can be kind of square-ish, although we love him anyway. )

Not only did I pull a Bushism (yes, Homer, it's cross the t's and dot the i's), I managed to post it three times. Accidentally.

Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

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June 07, 2004

Congrats to Charles!!

By Byron LaMasters

Congrats to Charles Kuffner of Off the Kuff (and his wife, Tiffany), on the birth of their daughter, Olivia Rose Kuffner. Charles has a brief post on it here, and you can see the proud new father holding his daughter, here.

Again, congrats!

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May 25, 2004

Ideological Warfare

By Byron LaMasters

I'd say that there's about five or six blogs that I try and read on a daily basis. There's a lot more that I read every few days, or that I should read on a daily basis (and with the semester over, and having settled down finally for the summer, hopefully I'll increase that), but right now it's about five. As for Texas blogs, I read Off the Kuff and Greg's Opinion, and for national stuff I'll check out the Daily Kos, Political Wire and Atrios. So it interested me when Greg wrote a post yesterday entitled "Kos Idiocy Strikes Again" as a reaction to Kos's post yesterday that it is "Time for the DLC to Die". Greg also has a follow-up here.

The whole deal stems from the clash between Howard Dean and Al From, the head of the DLC (Democratic Leadership Council). Al From's protoge Simon Rosenberg of the New Democrats Network embraced the Dean campaign and the blogosphere while the DLC attacked Dean and his approach. For more background read this Joe Klien article.

I tend to take the middle ground on this one. I don't hesitate to call myself a liberal, even if some of my economic and foreign policy views range the Democratic spectrum (on social issues I'm an admitted unabashed liberal). Both Kos and the DLC have made their share of mistakes and misstatements, but I think that both are worthy contributors to the party. Obviously, Kos's comments about the deaths of the American contractors were inappropriate and ill-advised. I think he should have apologized more forcefully for the statement, and it's hard to be too critical of campaigns that disassociated themselves from him. Still, Kos has a large following, and has done tremendous work in organizing online progressive activists. As for the DLC, they ruthlessly hammered Howard Dean in the primary, and it worked. The DLC line was repeated throughout the media that Dean was angry, undisciplined and unelectable (just search "Howard Dean" on the DLC website). For this, many Democrats hate the DLC, blaming them for helping derail the Dean candidacy. On the other hand, if Dean couldn't stand up to his detractors within the Democratic Party, how the heck could he have stood up against the Republican attack machine? In retrospect, I'm glad that Dean isn't the nominee. I supported him, I gave him money, but in the end Dean failed to connect with middle America, which caused me to begin doubting his candidacy as early as last fall. John Kerry has united the Democratic Party - something that I'm not sure if Howard Dean could have done.

While Greg notes that the DLC is helping John Kerry with various aspects of his campaign, in some ways the DLC doesn't really get it either. Unlike Rothenberg's New Democrat Network (NDN), the DLC has refused to embrace the Netroots. I don't have a problem with moderate-to-centrist Democratic groups. We need them to win. But they need the Netroots to gain legitimacy among the Democratic base. Denouncing the Internet, like this anti-Dean diatribe last year only serve to alienate the DLC from the grassroots / netroots base:

The Internet may be giving angry, protest-oriented activists the rope they need to hang the party. The vaunted new medium for grassroots political organizing may in fact be contributing to the Iowafication of the nominating process, disproportionately magnifying the voices of the activist groups with the loudest, most combative, and populist voices.

The effect has been like two currents flowing together: Caucuses like Iowa's are briar patches where born and bred activists flourish. They are run according to complex procedures, and they exclude independents. The arrival of the Internet has provided a powerful set of tools for activists to get organized well in advance of the already front-loaded nominating season -- a period when, almost by definition, activists are the only ones focused on politics. Using the Internet, Dean has achieved a virtual mind meld with those activists by capitalizing on their visceral hatred of President Bush and disdain for moderate Democrats. When all is said and done, the new dynamic could lead Democrats right into the hands of President Bush, who wants nothing more than a liberal Democratic opponent.

Except the DLC was wrong. Iowa didn't "disproportionately magnify the voices of the activist groups with the loudest, most combative, and populist voice". Instead, as the DLC wrote post-Iowa, that it was a "vote for hope over anger":

Now the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party has spoken: Iowa was a landslide victory for hope over anger.

The word "stunning" hardly does service to the performance of Kerry and Edwards in Iowa. Up against all of Howard Dean's endorsements and organization, Kerry and Edwards each won more delegate shares (the arcane measurement used to judge success in Iowa) than Dean and Rep. Dick Gephardt combined.

The Dean campaign proved two things. First, that the Internet can be used as an extraordinary organizing tool. It can raise millions of dollars from grassroots activists and can dilute the power of special interest money. It can also organize thousands of volunteers to get involved in their communities and neighborhoods. Second, the Dean campaign proved that the Internet alone won't win elections. Thousands of out of state volunteers and $50 Million won't win an election without a message the connects with average voters. So who gets it?

Simon Rosenberg. He's a moderate Democrat, and his New Democrats Network is a moderate Democratic organization, but he's willing to incorperate the new methods used by Kos, MoveOn.org and the Dean campaign as means to broadening the appeal of the party. His latest project is a comprehensive outreach program to Hispanics, which was profiled by kos earlier today.

Anyway, I'm hoping that we can put aside these ideological fights until after November 2nd. Greg is right, they still exist, but we had that debate during the primary season, and the debate will continue on November 3rd. Obviously, some will continue the debate (just ask Dennis Kucinich), but fortunately John Kerry is a unifying figure within the Democratic Party. He wasn't my first choice, Kos's first choice, Greg's first choice or the DLC's first choice, but he's a candidate that all of us can accept (If the nominee were Howard Dean or Joe Lieberman, uniting the party would be significantly more difficult, even if the primary was less about ideas and more about who has the best profile, temperment and campaign to defeat George Bush). Speaking of John Kerry, I finished the Boston Globe biography and I'll post a report in the next few days.

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May 14, 2004

Here comes da judge

By Jim Dallas

I've been asked to judge in the first ever Iron Blog blogathon, attended by Rosemary Esmay (a.k.a. Queen of All Evil, a.k.a Iron Blogger Republican) and Ara Rubyan, the challenger.

My judging comments are posted below (the Iron Blog uses haloscan, which limits comments to 1000 characters, and I am far wordier than that!)


First, I would like to thank Ara and Rosemary for taking the time to give us this first Iron Blog blogathon. As pioneers, they deserve a certain amount of recognition from all of us.

Second, I would like to ask the Chairman to state topics of debate a bit more clearly in the future. I think a lot of bytes were wasted in arguments about what was topical. Now, it is true lots of debates will go down to "T-circle" (wink nod to the high school debate nerds out there), but frankly I think it ought to be minimized.


There is some discussion as to what the topic really is; are we constrained to Abu Ghraib or is Rumsfeld's total record valid? The Chairman informs me it is the latter. Moreover, it seems to me that there is a certain method to Rosemary's madness: (1) This debate is only about one incident ("Never mind that this debate is about the Abu Gharib scandal, the Challenger has decided that he has a better topic to debate." - First Rebuttal) and (2) one incident isn't enough to fire somebody over ("It would be irresponsible for Bush to fire a proven, competent leader simply over some photographs."). By those terms, Rumsfeld cannot logically be fired!

Accordingly, this seems to be an abusive limitation of argumentation on Rosemary's part (it essentially defines the debate out of existance). Now of course, I won't mark off for that -- in the future I expect challengers to argue technical points, so now you know my expectations.

Now, onward bloggin' soldiers:


Ara's opening statement goes point by point. It is well structured. I quibble over a few points, however.

First, since in later posts he is intent on using the "poor planning" and "Rumsfeld set the tone" arguments as specific reasons why the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse occurred, I think he probably should have been just a tad more clear about those arguments from the get-go. BEAT ME OVER THE HEAD WITH IT. CONNECT THE DOTS. Tell me that, the poor planning and lack of sufficient troops created stress, resulting in the troops to go totally insane.

I think with your sourcing, you kind of hint around it. All the pieces of the puzzle are laying on the table. It's your responsibility to put them together for idiot judges like me.

Second, a link to the studies regarding the need for more troops (particularly the RAND study) would have totally devastated Rosemary's contention that this was all just opinion. Frankly, I think the evidence you present is good but it doesn't lay out an irrefutable case that more troops were needed, and that the planning was lacking. A good logical argument ("We need this many troops because of x; this many because of y; this many because of z; we need x+y+z troops to be effective.") involving lots of military theory would, I think, essentially be "fact." And the whole "fact vs. opinion" argument would have died right there, with just a good solid link to the RAND study, or another fully-reasoned document. For example the Fareed Zakaria article here (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4711931/) that explores the contents of a 2003 RAND study in depth:

"Over the course of the 1990s, a bipartisan consensus, shared by policymakers, diplomats and the uniformed military, concluded that troop strength was the key to postwar military operations. It is best summarized by a 2003 RAND Corp. report noting that you need about 20 security personnel (troops and police) per thousand inhabitants 'not to destroy an enemy but to provide security for residents so that they have enough confidence to manage their daily affairs and to support a government authority of its own.'".

See how the justification for 500,000 troops is laid out using logic and strategery? I mean, honestly, despite my deep respect for Mrs. Esmay, I value the opinion of the bipartisan consensus ahead of the Queen of All Evil.

But it's your job to find that, not me (and accordingly, I will now wipe my mind clean of all that Zakaria said in that article, since it never was brought up in debate). Do better in the future.


First, stop the gratuitous Pelosi-bashing specifically. Generally, ascribing negative motives to your opponents (in essence, your argument that this is a partisan witch-hunt) is not the strongest avenue of attack. You're the Queen, damnit, don't go pulling a Hillary by talking about vast x-wing conspiracies.

On the flip side, though, I think you are doing well in arguing that there was no "cover-up" per se, and I think that helps to add moral clarity to the debate. On one level, though, I think it opens you up to the charge that you're missing the forest for the trees (or that you're burning a straw man). But I think, again, that you are right to talk about the facts about cover-ups and not the hype.

Second, be careful about what you say; in your opening statement you provide enough rope to hang yourself with (had Ara decided to pick up the football and run with it; alas, I am mixing metaphors).

You say --

"Should Rummy resign? No. Absolutely not. He stood up and took his spanking like a man. He apologized and he accepted responsibility for what happened. According to many of my liberal friends, saying that you accept responsibility is good enough. Just like it was good enough for Janet Reno and her many, many failures."

Why, Mrs. Esmay, would Rumsfeld apologize for something he didn't do? And if he didn't do anything, then why aren't you vocal about Rumsfeld caving in to those damn liberals? Either Rumsfeld did screw up (which you seem to be conceding here; he apologized and accepted responsibility for something, did he not? An apology by its nature is a declaration of moral fault.) or he did not (and he is falling on his sword). Moreover, by likening this to Reno-isms, you're basically saying their were failures.

And then you go on to say that it would be irresponsible for Bush to fire a "proven, competent leader," the contrapositive (if Rumsfeld is a proven competent leader then firing him would be inappropriate; if Rumsfeld is not a proven, competent leader, then firing him would be appropriate) of which strongly implies that competence is the gold standard for this debate.

So we seem to agree here that there (1) were failures and (2) failures may warrant removal. These little things grant a whole lot to Ara, and essentially turn the debate into a contest to see who can draw the line.

Finally, by bringing up the question about "what's the alternative," you are doing some fine rhetorical ju-jit-su. Kudos!



First off, your contention that personnel (e.g. the Secretary of Defense) are fungible reminds me of someone... but then again, that's my word, not yours.

Second, your contention that "failing to get the job done" goes a long way in clarifying where you are drawing the line as to what merits removal. See my previous commentary on Mrs. Esmay's opening.

Your response to Mrs. Esmay regarding alternatives - specifically that Rumsfeld is specifically and uniquely a net negative - paints you into a bit of a corner, though. And it doesn't entirely jibe with the "failing to get the job done" standard. We could go through a dozen secretaries before we find the right one. Edge to Mrs. Esmay on this question.


I'm not sure there's a bait-and-switch going on. As I said before, I think considering the entire context of Rumsfeld's record is legitmate. Although I appreciate your candor in expressing what you think is wrong with your opponent's argument.

Quite honestly, I appreciate the fact that you are taking the time to go and check all of Ara's sources and find the entire context; unfortunately, this doesn't work here, because I judge the context to support Ara's interpretation that we are in danger of losing the war (which the officers all but say explicitly) more than your interpretation that things are going "just fine." In this context, the quotes assert the existance of a brink (e.g. losing the war) and that there is a good chance that we are getting close to that brink (e.g. we may lose the war). That's pretty serious stuff.

Let me talk figuratively for a moment. A couple days ago I got into a car wreck; I hydroplaned and swerved off the road, hitting some water barrels (I'm OK, my car needs a few thousand in body repairs).

For you to say the situation in Iraq is "just fine" would be, I think, like me screaming "I'm just fine" as my Jeep is fish-tailing all over Interstate 10. After all, at that point I haven't hit the water barrels -- yet!

Now back to the subject at hand --

The retort about invading California was witty but a bit of a red herring. The question is not so much overcrowding as it is torture. And the question is not whether torture alone is proof but whether it is symptomatic of a larger failure - which Ara attributes to bad planning. So it was funny, but kind of pointless. Sort of like a duck-billed platypus.

Now, another semantics/grammar thing. When you discuss Rumsfeld's conduct of the war, you seem to be talking about the war in past tense ("It was not without loss of life but it was still brilliant."). You are clearly talking about something other than what Ara is talking about; for him, and for me, it appears the war is not yet over as there are still lots of people with guns running around taking pot-shots at grunts. Given that, it seems that you're arguing part of the war, which could easily be dismissed as a speck of brilliance in a sea of mediocrity. As for not leveling Fallujah, I'm glad that Rumsfeld isn't as bad as Hitler, but I don't think that's the issue at hand.

I believe the issue about the investigations into Abu Ghraib is again, a bit of a red herring, since you're getting caught up in legalisms. The question isn't "is Rumsfeld a crook" but "is he incompetent." Certainly, had Rumsfeld gone to Abu Ghraib and sodomized a few prisoners personally, that would be both criminal and incompetent (and I think you and Ara agree on this point). But criminality does not appear to be relevant to Ara's point, which is why he is so easy to dismiss it as a maybe. Or, as you said, "pulled a Pelosi." It's not because Ara's being frivolous, but because he's looking at another issue. Hence, red herring.

Again, the issue of "what's the alternative" is golden. It's fairly effective at showing that Rumsfeld getting the axe wouldn't, by itself, be a silver-bullet solution.



Ara, as a friend, blogger, and fellow Democrat, let me start off by saying you're overstretching your ground by making "someone better than Rumsfeld" your alternative (answering Mrs. Esmay's queries). Yes, it's true, someone better than Rumsfeld is highly desirable. But I think once we start speculating about hypothetical Rummy replacements, you're being abusive. You've got to stick with what is the most likely scenario upon Rumsfeld's termination, otherwise you're simply killing the debate.

Try this alternative on for size -- I want Rumsfeld gone, I want a newer, better, Secretary of Defense, and... I WANT A PONY, TWO GIRLS AT THE SAME TIME, AND WORLD PEACE! Arguably, this is better than either plan. But ponies, chicks, and hippies and are not relevant to this discussion, nor is the issue of who would succeed Rumsfeld unless you can tell me who, by "normal means" would be. And, my friend, Rumsfeld's successor would almost certainly be his lieutenant - PAUL WOLFOWITZ, the Prince of Darkness himself (of no relation to the Queen of All Evil, I presume). Now, you don't bring this up, but it is a serious weakness in your argument. Consider this thought.

Moreover, since Mrs. Esmay discusses this (see reference to the "war gods"), this technical debate item is going to cost.

Don't do it again.

Now --

I think your "litany of failures" is strong, and it works. Mrs. Esmay may dismiss them as opinions, but let's be honest, that'd be like dismissing all the complaints the Founding Fathers had in the Declaration of Independence (raising taxes, burning cities, coddling the Injuns) as just opinions. It's a gray area, but I'm leaning to you on this one. It's where you really riff on Rumsfeld hurting the country, which seems to be your standard of "how incompetent is too incompetent" which as discussed earlier is the golden key to the debate. And, my friend, that makes you the keymaster.


Uh, I'm not sure the whole discussion about Rumsfeld-working-for-the-President-therefore-we-should-fire-the-President is really relevant here. Moreover, Ara is laying the failures at Rumsfeld's doorstep, not the President's, and I thought that's what we're talking about.

We're talking about "should," the moral rightness-or-wrongness of canning the man. Ipso facto, the audience is George W. Bush, or whoever it would be that would do the firing.

(Yes,I believe in the policymaker paradigm of debate!)

You question Ara's facts, but provide only a few specific refutations.

The first questions Shinseki's motives. Probably appropriate given the high-stakes game of military paradigm-shifting that was the buzz in DC back before, uhh, 9/11 "changed everything." (Trivia question -- were women's skirt lengths longer or shorter before everything was changed by 9/11? I can't remember.)

But Shinseki (as Ara points out) was not the only authority predicting that Rumsfeld's troop allocations were insufficient.

You were very wise to question the Powell doctrine as an absolute rule; I recall reading a similar TNR article (not the Foreign Policy article you cite) and found it interesting at the time. It helps to make the case that the Powell doctrine was no longer seen as the consensus opinion in Washington; if it was not the consensus opinion, it is hard to hold Rumsfeld responsible for violating it. So this was a great idea to bring up. Too bad it comes out so late; I'd like to have seen this argument develop better.

I am not well pleased with your argument regarding the responsibility of the troops. Of course, I don't question that those immediately involved were immediately to blame; but as I noted in an earlier missive on your opening, this clashes with other statements. And Ara really rips these arguments in his closing.

As silly as it may be, you're still on the right track with the Underpants gnomes.



You're use of Lindsey Graham is brilliant and moving. I think it helps to re-establish your argument, and subtly answers Mrs. Esmay's "it's just fine" talk.

I think continuing the discussion on the Powell doctrine is important; it shows that the lessons of history after Kosovo could have been interpreted in a way supportive of the Powell doctrine. Earlier I say that Mrs. Esmay's point shows what consensus opinion was in the late 1990s; this makes the case as to what consensus opinion *should have been*. I'm not yet sure which I will consider more heavily in scoring yet. But I think it's certainly going to be close on this point.

Again, the alternate policy outline goes a bit beyond the topic at hand.

Your summation ("And if you exercise your authority and you fail to achieve the results that you are responsible for, then you should be relieved of duty.") is masterful.

And of course kudos for reminding us at the end that your position is that Rumsfeld must go.


I'd say a more than a couple of his facts go unrefuted; on the other hand, I think bringing up Kosovo -- while very late (and it's bad form to bring stuff up so late that people cannot answer them!) -- would have been fully appropriate a couple posts ago, and is appropriate (save the thing about Ara not being able to, umm, answer it) here. I think the beauty of this point, had you developed it, would be that many of the things considered failures in Iraq were overlooked or seen as successes elsewhere. Good catch.

I'm not at all sure why it is you are returning to the issue of Abu Ghraib in your closing. You seem to be repeating what you said earlier, except for the time line, which is nice, and would have been even better two or three posts ago.

(Although I did catch you referring to CNN as unbiased. I encourage all potential challengers to Mrs. Esmay to bookmark this statement for future use!)

The mailman analogy is good (perhaps a little offensive to mail carriers, though). Although it seems to be referring to Abu Ghraib, which is NOT the only issue relevant to this discussion.

Again, going back to the practical implications of Rumsfeld's departure is an effective tool. Although frankly, "not bending to political pressure lest we appear weak" seems like a recipe for authoritarianism (if it were the health and human services secretary failing to provide a hypothetical AIDS vaccine, would be "bending into the germs" to fire Secty. HHS?)


Again, I think there was substantial confusion about what the debate was supposed to be about, and the result was that there was a lot of talking past each other.

I think in terms of "who won" the argument itself (which is DIFFERENT than "who won the contest" since style and sourcing count seperately), I would have to walk away with the following conclusions:

1. Things are going really bad in Iraq

2. Rumsfeld's judgement was questionable, indeed, it may be a net negative.

3. Rumsfeld does not dispute his personal responsibility for stuff he was in charge of (hence the apology).

4. Firing Rumsfeld may improve the situation, but we don't really know since there's not exactly an alternative. We're stuck either with the devil we know, since praying ain't gonna get us the angel we want.

(Incidentally, this was George H.W. Bush's reasoning in not removing Saddam Hussein in 1991).

I will ponder over these issues as well as style/substance/etc. and return a point scoring to the chairman post haste.

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May 07, 2004

Fafblog does Cinco de Mayo

By Jim Dallas

Fafnir's introductory piece is about as accurate as what most TV news reporters told us about Cinco de Mayo (also called "Drink a Coors for La Raza Day," according to a professor at UT who lectured on this a while back) about 10 years ago:

Today is Cinco de Mayo! or as it is known in Mexico the Fifth of May. It is a holiday comparable in importance to the American Fourth of July. It celebrates the day when Mexico signed their declaration of independence and threw off the yoke of British colonialism, huzzah! It is also known as "Mexican Independence Day" or "The Day of the Dead" because the head of the Mexican army enlisted the spirits of the dead to help them fight the British troops. This became the basis for Lord of the Rings.

Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with the ceremonial burning of a piñata in the shape of King George, which is referred to as "the Guy." King George is called "the Guy" because it is sort of an informal version of saying "the Man," like "the Guy has me down" or "I gotta work for the Guy." He is also sometimes called "Guy Fawkes" as in "The Guy Fawkes you" or "I am getting Fawked by the Guy." It is a more polite substitution for "f**k." In Mexico they are always terribly polite.

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo today with a burning Guy or a thing for the dead or a gamelan or whatnot! It is Cinco de Mayo. Have fun.

Since Brad DeLong is keeping score, I guess I'm not quite ready to sign up for the Fafblog Faction (except on Saturdays from 10 pm to 12 am, when I'm either (a) very bored or (b) very drunk or (c) very, umm, both). I do not say that to suggest a lack of respect for Faf-itude, however.

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May 03, 2004

Get Ready for Texas Tuesdays!

By Andrew Dobbs

Starting tomorrow, this blog, my other project the Yellow Dog Blog, Off the Kuff, Greg's Opinion, Nathan from Save Texas Reps as well as several others (who I'll list tomorrow) are joining together for Texas Tuesdays. This will be a coordinated Texas Blogosphere effort where every Tuesday another congressional or legislative candidate from here will be profiled, get a guest post, a short interview and will be the object of a full court press for funds. We'll reveal our first candidate tomorrow and we really need to get some cash for our friends so make sure to set aside a bit.

If only 5% of the BOR readership gave $10 each we'd raise $500 each week. If we could get that on each of the 6 blogs so far we'd have $3,000 a week, more than $70,000 by Election Day. I know that that is mighty ambitious so I'll only ask that you give what you can when you can. Remember that skipping one night out or one new purchase of some sort a week in order to ensure a better future for Texas is totally worth it. We'll see you all tomorrow!

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April 14, 2004

Some Conservatives Get it

By Byron LaMasters

Recently, several Democratic candidates have been attacked by the right-wing for their association with liberal bloggers. The latest targets have been Stephanie Herseth and Brad Carson. My unsolicited advice to the Republicans regarding blogs was to embrace the community and do what the DNC and many Democratic candidates have done - use the netroots to connect to their constituents and raise money. Well the GOP might not be taking my advice, but the Club for Growth has. As much as I disagree with the Club for Growth, it's hard not to admit that they're one of the most effective and well-organized political organizations in the country.

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April 11, 2004

The things you learn as a blogger

By Byron LaMasters

One of the best side effects of blogging regularly is the fact that it constantly improves your writing sklls, grammar and vocabulary. Here's what I learned yesterday when I wrote:

What I can't stand about President Bush is that he does not seem to grasp the seriousness and enormity of the office.

The message I wanted to convey was simple. The presidency is a enormus and serious position, and I do not believe that George W. Bush grasps that enormousness and seriousness. Why is enormity not appropriate? Well, after reading it a few times, I decided (as I frequently do) to check out Dictionary.com, and make sure that my usage was correct. Well, sure enough, it wasn't:

e·nor·mi·ty ( P ) Pronunciation Key (-nôrm-t) n. pl. e·nor·mi·ties

1. The quality of passing all moral bounds; excessive wickedness or outrageousness.

2. A monstrous offense or evil; an outrage.

3. Usage Problem. Great size; immensity: “Beyond that, [Russia's] sheer enormity offered a defense against invaders that no European nation enjoyed” (W. Bruce Lincoln).


Usage Note: Enormity is frequently used to refer simply to the property of being great in size or extent, but many would prefer that enormousness (or a synonym such as immensity) be used for this general sense and that enormity be limited to situations that demand a negative moral judgment, as in Not until the war ended and journalists were able to enter Cambodia did the world really become aware of the enormity of Pol Pot's oppression. Fifty-nine percent of the Usage Panel rejects the use of enormity as a synonym for immensity in the sentence At that point the engineers sat down to design an entirely new viaduct, apparently undaunted by the enormity of their task. This distinction between enormity and enormousness has not always existed historically, but nowadays many observe it. Writers who ignore the distinction, as in the enormity of the President's election victory or the enormity of her inheritance, may find that their words have cast unintended aspersions or evoked unexpected laughter.

Well, add enormity to my vocabulary. I was unaware that the word conveyed a negative tone. Well, I guess I can even rephrase the sentence in question to use enormity appropriately. How about this:

It is an enormity that President Bush does not seem to grasp the seriousness of the office.


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April 05, 2004

My Obligatory KOS post

By Byron LaMasters

I'm a little late to the game on this one, due in part to the fact that I started writing this post several times over the weekend, but never really figured out what I wanted to say. For those of you out of the loop, here's the background. On Thursday, Markos of The Daily Kos wrote that he had no sympathy over the deaths of the American contractors that were brutally killed in Fallujah. Kos wrote that, "they are there to wage war for profit. Screw them." Such a comment is certainly inappropriate and insensitive, and Kos quickly realized that. While he didn't directly apologize (something that I still believe he ought to), he retracted his comments in a seperate statement.

Within hours, a delinking campaign began along with a campaign to get advertisers to cut their ties to Kos (which, so far has succeeded in convincing five advertizers to stop advertizing on Kos). Even the John Kerry blog has issued a statement that it has removed its link to the Daily Kos because of Kos' "unacceptable statement".

My thoughts?

First off, Kos's statement was highly irresponsible, and I'm not going to hold it against any advertiser that left Kos. They were getting hammered with tons of emails set up by conservative bloggers. It also gives some of the campaigns a chance to have their "Sista Soulja" moment where thay "stand up to the left". Fine. If they feel they must do it, that's their call. I'm not too worried about Kos. Kos will be fine. He may have lost advertisers, and he'll probably lose some more, but the candidate that began advertising on Kos last night has already raised over $6500 in less than 16 hours. Kos has a lot of dedicated supporters that will stick with him regardless, ensuring that any candidate that advertises with him in the future ought to acheive a pretty good return on their investment.

However, I would like to add that this whole incident has been blown out of proportion. Running ads on a weblog, or linking to a weblog does not imply that the advertisers endorse all (or for that matter, any) of the content on that weblog. I've been outspoken on this blog in my support of issues like gay marriage and my opposition to the war in Iraq. Does that mean that my advertisers agree with me on those issues? Do they endorse those issues? Not at all. I link to dozens of other blogs, some of which I agree with most of the time, and some of which I can't stand. Does linking to a blog constitute an endorsement of the content of that blog? Of course not. I link to blogs because I believe that they're valuable to myself and to our readers. I think an apt comparison would be that of talk radio. Do the advertisers of Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage agree with everything that they say on their shows? I found Michael Savage's comments on the events in Falluja far more offensive than Kos's comments. Savage wants to "WIPE OUT THE VICIOUS INHUMAN BASTARDS", and blames all Muslims for the actions of a few. Or lets use our favorite conservative columnist, Ann Coulter for example. Here's a woman who has called for attacking France, and for making Muslims pay for 9/11:

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren't punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That's war. And this is war.

I could spend all day going through Ann Coulter's lunacy... er columns, but it's beside the point. The people that advertise on Ann Coulter don't necessarily share her view, and people can make the distinction. Off the Kuff mentions the column of Kathleen Parker that calls for the nuking of the Sunni Triangle. There's a huge difference between someone like Kos, who is a decent guy and said something stupid, and people who really are crazy like Ann Coulter, Michael Savage and Kathleen Parker.

I worry that the actions by the right to discredit Kos will open a can of worms. Will people who disagree with me go through my archives and email my advertisers urging them to cut their ties with me? Will other bloggers on the left be targeted? Will the right-leaning blog Instapundit (which harshly attacked Kos) be targeted by lefty bloggers?

Anyone who writes as much as many of us bloggers do (and especially since bloggers don't have editors) is bound to make a stupid comment every once in awhile. When no one reads you, it's easy to delete or revise a post. But when you receive thousands of visitors a day, there's less margin for error. I can sympathise with Kos, because I, along with almost every other blogger out there have said things that are kind of dumb on occasion. We all do, and dumb statements have consequences. Kos will be ok. I'm sure he's learned from his mistake, just as I've learned a lot blogging over the past year.

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March 17, 2004

We Rule (The Internet)!

By Jim Dallas

CNN reports on a GWU study which purports to show that Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1 among "online political citizens."

It wasn't too long ago that Mike Huben joked that "Libertarianism 'rules' Internet political debate the same way US Communism "ruled" pamphleteering."

But not anymore.

Haha, take that, Libertarians!

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March 01, 2004

A liberal blog in... Belton, TX!

By Byron LaMasters

I'm pleased to see that my friend Mandolen, the President of the College Democrats at the University of Mary Hardin Baylor (in Belton, TX) has started a started a blog: Almost Ramblings. Best of luck to her efforts...

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January 10, 2004

The Banned

By Jim Dallas

One commenter is doing something cute -- posting comments (I presume automatically generated, since they are totally irrelevant and sound like random picks out of a quotable quotes book) and leaving links to herbal Viagra and porn sites as their "personal homepage".

We don't like commercial spam on the Burnt Orange Report, and now whoever this poster is gets to be banned IP user number 35!

Our current roster of the banned now includes,,,,,,,,,,,
,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and our newest member,

"You love me, you really love me!"

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December 31, 2003

Kos on front page of USA Today

By Jim Dallas

Although still upstaged by the ever-foxy Jennifer Connelly, Markos (as well as Houston-based GOPUSA.com and the blogosphere, generally) is now front-page news.

In other news, the Longhorns lost another bowl game they should of won. Congratulations to Washington State.

Now, just as soon as the 2003 Holiday Bowl is properly consigned to the memory hole, we can go through another roller-coaster season of Almost-But-Not-Quite-Winning-The-National-Championship with Mack Brown and the boys.

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December 08, 2003

Off the Kuff interviews DeLay challenger

By Jim Dallas


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November 21, 2003

More Bloggy Goodness

By Jim Dallas

The Austin American-Statesman has an opinion piece on the political use of blogs:

The big news for this year is the use of blogs in political campaigns. Howard Dean and Wesley Clark have both built their campaigns on the Internet, and the George W. Bush re-election campaign is gearing up one of the most sophisticated and expensive Internet campaigns we're likely to see...

...Christopher Lydon, a fellow at the Berkman Center for the Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, has recently mused (on his blog) that someone will have to write the "Blogging of a President 2004," a contemporary analog to Theodore White's classic book, "The Making of a President 1960."

Lydon writes, "what's happening out there is the start of a fundamental reordering of democratic energy and political influences, a drastic subversion of a discredited game, an inversion of the old pyramids of control, or perhaps a shape shift . . . from pyramid to sphere. The Internet represents a rewiring of the body politic, but it's not the technology that's interesting, it's the individual engagement and social model implied in it."

The article weighs the pros and cons of blogging, and even manages to get in a good swipe at the Bush "blog":

The president's re-election campaign is also offering some sophisticated tools, but the software tools available on www.georgewbush.com are tailored to centralize and control the messages coming from campaign headquarters, rather than promote online dialog. The Bush campaign blog, for example, doesn't solicit comments from visitors.

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October 14, 2003

I seem to run into the strangest people...

By Jim Dallas

In high school, I did a week-long job-shadowing program at KGBC, the thousand-watt AM radio station in Galveston. I got to follow around the news director (who, given the fact that Galveston is small-enough so that everybody-knows-everybody, was kind of a local celebrity) for a week. His name was Tim Kingsbury.

Only, it wasn't. His name was really Patrick Welsh, who had left his home in Ohio in 1983 after running afoul of the law. A few months after my mini-internship, he got caught and sent back to Ohio to face justice. The story later became the basis of a Lifetime channel movie and was covered on CBS's news magazine program 48 Hours.

For me, this was really shocking, as it was for many Galvestonians.

In high school, I figured that was going to be my one run-in with history. Although I find out now that may not be the case.

In a Daily Texan column last summer, I made a casual reference to pro-gun scholar John Lott's work, which by then (as I noted) had been heavily criticized if not outright-refuted. I had done my homework, read the journal articles, and felt it was not unreasonable to say that Lott's More Guns, Less Crime hypothesis (to wit, that "shall issue" concealed permit laws were responsible for a drop in crime) had not held up under scrutiny.

Incidentally, I still happen to personally believe in "shall issue" permit laws, simply because I feel that "may issue" laws can become discriminatory, which they have been in the past.

Back to the story. So about a week afterwards, I got an e-mail from an irate John Lott arguing that More Guns, Less Crime had not been debunked. I didnt get into an argument over the details; instead I told him that he was more than welcome to submit a guest column laying out his case to the Texan and that, as a researcher, surely his analysis would be taken seriously by the Texan editorial board. I didn't hear anything from Lott after that, which I thought was unfortunate because I wanted to hear what he had to say.

(And Mr. Lott, if you're out there, consider this a standing invitation from the Burnt Orange Report family to make a guest post on our blog).

Unfortunately the e-mail has long been purged from my inbox; I should have printed it out and framed it.

In any case, this last year has not been a pleasant one for Mr. Lott, and it gets even worse with a full-scale expose in Mother Jones:

If economist John R. Lott didn't exist, pro-gun advocates would have had to invent him. Probably the most visible scholarly figure in the U.S. gun debate, Lott's densely statistical work has given an immense boost to the arguments of the National Rifle Association. Lott's 1998 book More Guns, Less Crime -- which extolled the virtues of firearms for self-defense and has sold some 100,000 copies in two editions, quite an accomplishment for an academic book -- has served as a Bible for proponents of "right to carry" laws (also known as "shall issue" laws), which make it easier for citizens to carry concealed weapons. Were Lott to be discredited, an entire branch of pro-gun advocacy could lose its chief social scientific basis.

That may be happening. Earlier this year, Lott found himself facing serious criticism of his professional ethics. Pressed by critics, he failed to produce evidence of the existence of a survey -- which supposedly found that "98 percent of the time that people use guns defensively, they merely have to brandish a weapon to break off an attack" -- that he claimed to have conducted in the second edition of "More Guns, Less Crime". Lott then made matters even worse by posing as a former student, "Mary Rosh," and using the alias to attack his critics and defend his work online. When an Internet blogger exposed the ruse, the scientific community was outraged. Lott had created a "false identity for a scholar," charged Science editor-in-chief Donald Kennedy. "In most circles, this goes down as fraud."

Lott's recent baggage makes him an impeachable witness in the push to pass state-level right to carry laws, and raises questions about his broader body of work. Kennedy and others have even likened Lott to Michael Bellesiles, the Emory University historian who could not produce the data at the heart of his award-winning 2000 book "Arming America", which had seemed to undermine the notion that there was widespread gun ownership and usage in colonial America. But while Bellesiles resigned after a university panel challenged his credibility, thus far Lott has escaped a similar fate. An academic rolling stone, Lott has held research positions at the University of Chicago and Yale law schools, but currently works at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a Washington think tank much smiled upon by the Bush administration. AEI will not say whether it will investigate its in-house guns expert; by e-mail, AEI president Christopher DeMuth declined to comment on the possibility.


Chris Mooney is all over John Lott like white-on-rice on his blog. Check it out.

So here's my second rendezvous with history.

Actually, I hope I'm not being cruel by not considering the multiple occasions on which I shook Marty Akins hand, or the time that Ron Kirk spilled tea on me at a TCDP fundraiser. as my second and third rendezvous (and the John Lott affair as number four).

But as much as I like Marty Akins and Ron Kirk, the whole 2002 election debacle is something I'd rather forget.

ASIDE: Part of why John Lott is being taken to task is because of what some consider the exaggerated use of regression models. I tried recently to predict the 2004 election on the basis of such models -- and unless you believe Bush is going to carry the District of Columbia by a landslide, you'd be well-advised to note that it's a particularly prickly enterprise!

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Spammers Banned!

By Byron LaMasters

I just banned the following IP Adresses from posting:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and

After getting a few spams recently myself, I banned their IP addresses along with this list I got from Off the Kuff. I'd urge all bloggers to ban these folks. It's unfair to all of us to waste the comment space on spam. Respectful (and yeah, sometimes disrespectful) discussion is fine, but spam is not tolerated here.

UPDATE from Jim D: has also been banned, due to spamming. Death to the Spambots!

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October 13, 2003

Atrios gets a new laptop

By Jim Dallas

This is one of those touchy-feely stories ("But when all seemed lost, Atrios was saved by the kindness of an anonymous stranger...") that would have made it on to Dateline NBC if only it involved human organ transplants instead of computer hardware.

In any case, I'm glad that other people respect Atrios and are willing to put money up to see his blog continue.

(Incidentally, I also need a new laptop...)

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October 07, 2003

No comments on Bush Blog

By Byron LaMasters

Does it surprise anyone else that the new official Bush Blog does not have comments enabled?

Didn't think so.

September 27, 2003

New Blogs, More on YCT Bake Sale

By Byron LaMasters

I just added Barefoot and Naked to my Texas Lefty blogroll. Check it out for some interesting reads from France's Most Dangerous American Playing Cards to Republicans and English Fluency to Dallas County Politics.

I've also found myself reading the Bedlar Blog for my occasional dosage of insightful conservative commentary (did I just say that?).

Both Bedlar and Barefoot (and Naked) posted on my YCT = Racists post. Barefoot, here, and Bedlar, here. The newly revamped Curmudgeonly Clerk also blogged on the topic, here and here.

Considering that there were 18 comments (so far...) to my post, I'll probably do a follow up this weekend.

Posted at 11:52 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

September 13, 2003

On a wing and a prayer... the BOR Virtual Vote Watch Gala

By Jim Dallas

Here is a transcript of the behind-the-scenes vote-calling between me (Texasyojimbo82) and Byron.

Some names have been changed to protect the innocent...

TexasYojimbo82: We just got another big bounce
TexasYojimbo82: 53.2-46.8
TexasYojimbo82: dern tootin!
ByronL82: wow
TexasYojimbo82: We have picked up 12000 votes
TexasYojimbo82: on Eday
TexasYojimbo82: we are now down by 41000
TexasYojimbo82: eday - 52.6% AGAINST
ByronL82: you'll have to add this to the political almanac
ByronL82: the prop 12 returns
ByronL82: that would be interesting to see if it's close
ByronL82: collin co is only 62% for
ByronL82: it gave most gop candidate 73-80 in 2002
TexasYojimbo82: yeah
TexasYojimbo82: OK Byron
ByronL82: i think most of the urban/suburban counties are running way below the RPI
TexasYojimbo82: Hold on to your hat
ByronL82: dunno about rural
TexasYojimbo82: If the trend holds
ByronL82: and s. texas
TexasYojimbo82: The election should come down to 10-15000 votes
TexasYojimbo82: which uh
TexasYojimbo82: would be like about a percent I think
TexasYojimbo82: Yeah
TexasYojimbo82: It could come as close as 51-49
ByronL82: yeah it's down 53-47 in dallas with 50% in
TexasYojimbo82: My projection is 16900 votes as the spread
ByronL82: e-day vote in Dallas county is 60-40 against
ByronL82: i just ran that
TexasYojimbo82: per my excel spreadsheet
TexasYojimbo82: ok :-)
ByronL82: heh cool
ByronL82: 16900 yes or no?
TexasYojimbo82: you want?
ByronL82: sure
ByronL82: 53.07-46.93 with 39% in
TexasYojimbo82: I sent the sheet to you just now
TexasYojimbo82: it is prop12.xls
ByronL82: sent to where?
TexasYojimbo82: lamasters@mail.utexas.edu
ByronL82: oh shit i don't have excel on this computer yet
TexasYojimbo82: :-(
TexasYojimbo82: mo numbas mo numbas mo numbas
TexasYojimbo82: 52.95 - 47.05
TexasYojimbo82: 42.56 reporting
TexasYojimbo82: EDAY %

TexasYojimbo82: 29306.58011
TexasYojimbo82: oops
TexasYojimbo82: basically
TexasYojimbo82: I predict we'll pick up about half the votes we need
TexasYojimbo82: but only half
TexasYojimbo82: we need 54306
ByronL82: good news
ByronL82: Harris co has barely nothing in yet
TexasYojimbo82: oh hell yeah
TexasYojimbo82: :-)
ByronL82: i'm just looking at the co by co canvass
TexasYojimbo82: be sure to update
ByronL82: 17 of 730 reporting
ByronL82: bad news is that we're losing in co's in south texas like bexar and el paso
ByronL82: same in cameron
ByronL82: and hidalgo
ByronL82: but low turnout in both
ByronL82: we're a couple hundred votes up in mclennan co
ByronL82: with 1/2 votes in
ByronL82: thats good
TexasYojimbo82: Mark Harden's "bold" prediction is that all 22 will pass
TexasYojimbo82: I also posted our consensus that 12 would be "darn close"
TexasYojimbo82: numbers looking good again
TexasYojimbo82: 52.6-48.4% eday
TexasYojimbo82: sorry
TexasYojimbo82: that's 52.6-47.4 total
TexasYojimbo82: 48.4-51.6 eday
TexasYojimbo82: lemme see...
ByronL82: hmm well through 46.75% it's dropped exactly 4 pts from the early vote (56.77 - 52.78)
ByronL82: thus if it drops another 4 pts we win
ByronL82: in my very unscientific analysis
TexasYojimbo82: yeah
ByronL82: its just depends on where the boxes out are
ByronL82: and a lot of them are in harris co.
TexasYojimbo82: its now at eday 48.9-51.1
TexasYojimbo82: some pro-12 boxes just got counted somewhere
ByronL82: hmm thats narrowing
ByronL82: still at 46.75 in?
TexasYojimbo82: not sure
TexasYojimbo82: yeah
ByronL82: ok well thats still good
ByronL82: travis co is sittin on 34%
TexasYojimbo82: it's still probable I think it will get down into the 51 range at least
ByronL82: yeah
TexasYojimbo82: as in 34 percent counted or 34 not counted?
ByronL82: counter
ByronL82: d
TexasYojimbo82: damn
TexasYojimbo82: well thats odd
TexasYojimbo82: I wonder what they're waiting for
ByronL82: they usually take forever
TexasYojimbo82: bastards
TexasYojimbo82: they need to put the clerk on roller skates again
TexasYojimbo82: :-P
ByronL82: heh
ByronL82: ok... i'm gonna see what co's have more than a few dozen boxes out
ByronL82: bexar co has 194 of 654 counted
TexasYojimbo82: ok
TexasYojimbo82: hmm
ByronL82: prop 12 is ahead there but losing on e-day
TexasYojimbo82: are they still mostly pro- ?
ByronL82: Dallas still has 1/2 out
ByronL82: Perry's sort of declaring victory
ByronL82: ok no he's not
ByronL82: tv's reporting that he thinks it'll pass
TexasYojimbo82: Heh
TexasYojimbo82: typical Perry.
TexasYojimbo82: I would have guessed he'd declare victory yesterday
TexasYojimbo82: After what he did to Sanchez (Ok, maybe that's a bad example)
ByronL82: wow it's close in Denton co.. (heavily gop)
TexasYojimbo82: The man has NO CLASS
TexasYojimbo82: "Let's put a dent in the Denton GOP! Yay"
TexasYojimbo82: :: does cheerleader dance ::
ByronL82: Denton co is ahead with 55%, but it's a 70% gop co
TexasYojimbo82: I say we post this IM to the blog after its all over
TexasYojimbo82: :: shakes booty ::
TexasYojimbo82: You know what it's time for...
TexasYojimbo82: the ULTIMATE CHEER
ByronL82: heh ok
ByronL82: harris.... 111/730 in
ByronL82: oh hell yah
ByronL82: jefferson is out
ByronL82: 1/107
TexasYojimbo82: well
TexasYojimbo82: with half the vote counted now
ByronL82: and failing big in early vote
TexasYojimbo82: it is officially 52.8-47.2
TexasYojimbo82: with e-day at 50.9-49.1
TexasYojimbo82: sorry 49.1-50.9
TexasYojimbo82: you know
ByronL82: ok
TexasYojimbo82: Anyway my projection is that the spread will be 38000 votes out of over a million
TexasYojimbo82: which would be, uh,
TexasYojimbo82: about 52-48
TexasYojimbo82: which was what we guessed beforehand
ByronL82: well out of that last batch
ByronL82: more of collin came in
ByronL82: none from jefferson, Dallas or harris
TexasYojimbo82: ooh
TexasYojimbo82: well now we're getting basically pro-12 numbers and its still looking decent
TexasYojimbo82: ...
TexasYojimbo82: "sittin pretty"
ByronL82: we won big in Orange Co with 16% turnout
ByronL82: hah
ByronL82: 3373 to 5061
ByronL82: deep east texas is comin through
TexasYojimbo82: wait a second we already have 1200000 votes!
TexasYojimbo82: no sorry
TexasYojimbo82: added wrong
TexasYojimbo82: ooh boy
TexasYojimbo82: we just got a bump
TexasYojimbo82: we have 868,760 votes btw
TexasYojimbo82: 52.4-47.6
ByronL82: % in
TexasYojimbo82: with 53% reporting
ByronL82: oh wow
ByronL82: some big co must have come in...
TexasYojimbo82: ok eday is now 48.6-51.3
TexasYojimbo82: Im thinking so
TexasYojimbo82: the deficit is now 41386 votes
TexasYojimbo82: we have made up 13000 votes with eday so far out of the total deficit of 54421 (early votes only)
TexasYojimbo82: so the projection is now that we're about 30000 votes shy
TexasYojimbo82: or 51.5-48.5 roughly
TexasYojimbo82: to be exact
TexasYojimbo82: I project 1281614 votes with a deficit of 29859 votes
TexasYojimbo82: which is a spread of 2.3 percent
TexasYojimbo82: or 51.1-48.9 thereabouts
ByronL82: travis co came in mostly
TexasYojimbo82: ok
ByronL82: thats where the bump came from
TexasYojimbo82: well FINALLY
TexasYojimbo82: (finally)
ByronL82: webb county is all in
ByronL82: and we won it by 362 votes
TexasYojimbo82: OH HELL YEAH
ByronL82: Jefferson, Cameron, Hidalgo are still ALL out
ByronL82: like 0 or 1 prct from all in from them
TexasYojimbo82: deficit of 40,462 votes
TexasYojimbo82: predicted final: 51.1-48.9
TexasYojimbo82: eday: 48.5-51.5
ByronL82: yah probbly
TexasYojimbo82: total with 54 percent: 52.3-47.7
TexasYojimbo82: Well think about it
TexasYojimbo82: All we have to do to win an election is to clone Andrew about 30,000 times.
TexasYojimbo82: :-)
TexasYojimbo82: It seems to me Harris is still out
TexasYojimbo82: mostly
ByronL82: yeah
TexasYojimbo82: Im still stuck at 54 percent
TexasYojimbo82: Yeah they've only released about 20000 votes in Harris
TexasYojimbo82: that's way too low
TexasYojimbo82: that's actually only 1 out of 7 precincts
TexasYojimbo82: in Harris
TexasYojimbo82: Props 3,9,12,18, and 21 are all still very close
TexasYojimbo82: all others are sailing to victory
ByronL82: i just posted and updated
TexasYojimbo82: I called the race in favor of all props receving more than 55 percent with 54 percent reporting
ByronL82: i'm calling 18
ByronL82: Jim, you might just want to delete yours and update mine....
ByronL82: but do what you want
TexasYojimbo82: Well 18
TexasYojimbo82: is pretty close to my threshold of 55
ByronL82: fine, ok...
TexasYojimbo82: OK go ahead and delete
TexasYojimbo82: I didnt know you were posting
ByronL82: add the %'s to mine if you want
ByronL82: yeah sorry
TexasYojimbo82: 55 is arbitrary if you think 18 is solid go for it
TexasYojimbo82: (Id bet money at this point it is)
ByronL82: down to 51.5
ByronL82: with 66 in
TexasYojimbo82: okeydokey
TexasYojimbo82: updating my sheet
ByronL82: yeah i'm looking to see where they came from
TexasYojimbo82: I predict we will lose by only 9900 vote if the trend holds!
TexasYojimbo82: 9,944 to be exact
TexasYojimbo82: it is too close to call
TexasYojimbo82: the networks are wrong
ByronL82: yeah we've picked up11000 votes today in harris co
TexasYojimbo82: a slight nudge in anti-12 direction and it will go down
ByronL82: we were ahead 2000 in early vote
ByronL82: picked up another 11000 in 262/730 pcts
TexasYojimbo82: Oops wait
TexasYojimbo82: I forgot to change a number
ByronL82: with almost 500 out
TexasYojimbo82: actually I predict the deficit to be 18061 votes
ByronL82: jefferson (heavily anti-12 still out)
TexasYojimbo82: that still puts it at roughly
TexasYojimbo82: 50.6-49.4 range
TexasYojimbo82: Hey Byron
TexasYojimbo82: David wants to know
TexasYojimbo82: what the threshold is for a RECOUNT
TexasYojimbo82: We may have to demand one if this keeps up
ByronL82: dunno
TexasYojimbo82: I think its like a point or something
TexasYojimbo82: or a half-point
TexasYojimbo82: CALL [censored] :-)
ByronL82: Dallas co
ByronL82: gave us a lot of that boost
ByronL82: its almost all in
TexasYojimbo82: If we are legally entitled to one I say we demand a statewide recount
ByronL82: we were down 4000 in early vote, picked up that and another 12000 on eday
ByronL82: so 16000 swing with 40 pcts out in dallas
TexasYojimbo82: projected deficit: 19176 votes
TexasYojimbo82: Projected final: 50.7-49.3
TexasYojimbo82: With a projected total of 1.36 million votes
ByronL82: its all down to nueces, hidalgo and cameron i think... cuz Harris is coming in strong anti-12
ByronL82: if those three behave like normal DPI on e-day we're fine, but they were pro-12 in early vote
ByronL82: so that would give 12 the margin
TexasYojimbo82: yeah
TexasYojimbo82: Now wouldnt that just be a strange twist
TexasYojimbo82: to our "Southern [Texas] Strategy?"
TexasYojimbo82: As in, the whole "the Border will deliver Sanchez" meme
TexasYojimbo82: Byron, what's [censored]'s phone number?
ByronL82: heck we win texas with the urban/suburban anti-12 #'s and a good DPI turnout in the south
TexasYojimbo82: do you happen to know?
ByronL82: [Censored - Private Information]
ByronL82: cuz anti-12 is running WAY ahead of DPI in all of the non-border (except Bexar and Nueces) urban / suburban counties
TexasYojimbo82: I talked to [censored]
TexasYojimbo82: He said he isn't sure what the law is
TexasYojimbo82: But he said that if it is possible that basically he promised someone would look into it.
TexasYojimbo82: I think he was receptive :-)
ByronL82: well... constituent service...
ByronL82: you know
ByronL82: thats what its all about
TexasYojimbo82: yeah, I kinda phrased the request as a joke in that light
TexasYojimbo82: :-)
ByronL82: was he at some event for it?
TexasYojimbo82: Im not sure
TexasYojimbo82: ALSO
TexasYojimbo82: he said he had heard reports of voting irregularities in South Texas
TexasYojimbo82: (not a surprise, but still a story)
TexasYojimbo82: Of course the question is... do we ask for a recount which could distract the Dem base from redistricting next week?
TexasYojimbo82: (if its even feasible)
TexasYojimbo82: "So tell me Master, which counties are still out?" -- Grasshopper.
ByronL82: i'll post that a source said that there are voting irregularities in s texas
TexasYojimbo82: ok
TexasYojimbo82: The McAllen newspaper
TexasYojimbo82: specifically
TexasYojimbo82: listed the wrong polling places
TexasYojimbo82: so Cameron county was in total disarray
TexasYojimbo82: besides other "unspecified" allegations of voting irregularities
TexasYojimbo82: about two-thirds of Harris precincts are also unreported
TexasYojimbo82: btw
TexasYojimbo82: you know what I would kill for? A database that would link which counties haven't reported to their past performance
TexasYojimbo82: Basically, are the ones still out blue counties or red counties?
TexasYojimbo82: From what I see
TexasYojimbo82: It still looks like East Texas
TexasYojimbo82: i sout
TexasYojimbo82: is out
TexasYojimbo82: About a third of Bexar
ByronL82: yeah
TexasYojimbo82: half of Brazoria
ByronL82: Harris is the big question
TexasYojimbo82: most of Cameron county is out
ByronL82: if the rest of Harris goes the way the Harris votes in NOW go, it's a huge anti-12 vote
TexasYojimbo82: two-thirds of Galveston county are still OUT
ByronL82: but then Cameron, Hidalgo and Nueces are all huge ?
TexasYojimbo82: roughly half of Jefferson is still out
ByronL82: new #s coming.........
TexasYojimbo82: Let me make a bold prediction... most of the boxes still OUT are DEM precincts
ByronL82: if thats the case, then..........
ByronL82: jefferson is 60% in... low e-day vote though anti-12
TexasYojimbo82: ok
ByronL82: Harris still sittin on 262/730

Posted at 10:29 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 04, 2003

Open Source Politics

By Byron LaMasters

Since Kevin Hayden was one of the first bloggers that blogrolled BOR (back on our Live Journal page, it's only fair that I put in a plug for his new group blog, Open Source Politics. I've just scanned it a little bit so far, but definitely worth checking out.

Posted at 02:56 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 15, 2003

Everyone is Fair and Balanced!

By Byron LaMasters

Blah 3 has a huge list of fair and balanced bloggers.

We're here. We're there. We're everywhere.

Update: Scrolling throught the comments over there I see that Charles listed my site in the comments. Thanks!

What other Texan bloggers are fair and balanced?

100 Fair and Balanced Monkeys Typing, Dru Blood: Fair and Balanced Since 2002, Esoterically, Frothing at the Mouth, The Gunther Concept, Fair and Balanced Puppy Story Time with Norbizness, Off the Kuff, Ones and Zeros, Perverse Access Memory, Rhetoric & Rhythm, Skeptical Notion, Ted Barlow, The Scarlet Left and Yellow Doggerel Democrat.

Who am I missing?

Posted at 01:57 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 13, 2003

We're Fair and Balanced, too!

By Byron LaMasters

I'm proud to announce that the Burnt Orange Report will participate in Fair and Balanced Friday!

The Fox News Channel has sued political satirist Al Franken to stop him from using the words "fair and balanced" in the title of his new book, scheduled to publish next month. The suit claims that the subtitle is "likely to cause confusion among the public about whether Fox News has authorized or endorsed the book and about whether Franken is affiliated with FNC." Good lord. Who among the five, possibly ten percent of the American people who could recognize Franken in a lineup would think that he's affiliated with the Fox News Channel? The man stands politically to the left of every major entertainment figure except Michael Moore and maybe Janeane Garofalo.

We all know that this suit is hogwash. We also know that Al Franken can defend himself, and that his publisher can defend him, too. Anyone who has been a recurring cast member on Saturday Night Live for nearly 30 years doesn't need much help calling attention to his cause.

Nonetheless, it's the policy of this website to rise to the aid of satire whenver it's threatened, even if the threatened satirist is three links above it on the comedy food chain. Therefore, I declare this Friday a day of emergency protest.

Yes. This Friday, August 15, is Fair And Balanced day on the Internet. You are all hereby instructed to use the words Fair And Balanced in very creative ways on your various websites. My cosponsor in this effort, Atrios, informs me that many of you are already using "Fair And Balanced" in your taglines. Very good. Sometimes, I swear you don't even need instructions from me. But we can go further. Tell Fox News to take its Fair And Balanced slogan and shove it up its Fair And Balanced hole. Feel free to be more subtle than that, if you wish.

To repeat. This Friday is Fair And Balanced day. Use the slogan at will. I will not be keeping track of the uses on this site, because it made me tired last time, but I still trust that you will spread the virus in funny and creative ways. We cannot let Fox News beat us, people. If they sue one, they can sue all. Al Franken has resources. Fox News' next victim might not be so lucky.

I've seen this several places today, so I'll just thank everyone who I've found so far participating: Atrios, Charles, Ginger, Mike, I'd be remiss not to mention that Al's book is sitting at #1 over at Amazon.com. So, I guess Al Franken better write FOX News a big thank you card for giving him all the free exposure. Regardless, welcome to the new and improved Burnt Orange Report: Fair and Balanced News, Politics and Fun from Deep in the Heart of Texas.

Posted at 06:38 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 04, 2003

Blogroll Update

By Byron LaMasters

I've just made some updates to the blogroll and the right-hand column. There's now a section for Texas bloggers, on the left and on the right. I've also added a section for "the pros", and have significantly reduced the size of my blogroll. It's a lot easier for me to manage. I hope others feel similarly. Any suggestions? Am I leaving anyone out?

Posted at 04:40 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 03, 2003

Fun with FTP (and MS Excel)!

By Byron LaMasters

I'm working on a post on the Meetup Primary. I've spent much of this evening finding a new FTP client, as my WS FTP is only free for 30 days. So I had to search for a new one. I found CyD Client FTP XP which I really like so far. I wanted to do a graph on the Meetup Primary on Microsoft Excel, which I did. My first attempt is here. Anyway, I'll clean the graph up a little bit, and make it a little bit smaller, do some analysis, and I should have it up by tomorrow morning. I'm heading out tonight.

Posted at 08:08 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 02, 2003

And I thought I was crazy in High School

By Byron LaMasters

Man. Read about some of the battles my friend Chris fought while in high school. Damn, I thought that I was a crazy activist in high school. He makes me feel old. Heh. I'm glad he's on our side, even if he does work for a company (Chick-Fil-A) which I personally boycott.

And while I'm on the topic of crazy high school activists, I'd be remiss not to mention Mark whom I met working for Tony Sanchez last year. Mark is the editor of his high school paper in Plano, and a good liberal one at that. Be sure to check out his blog, too.

It's a relief to know that there are some sane people left in Collin County. Chris lives in Celina (rural north Collin County) until he leaves us for the University of Miami. As much as I'd like to see him continue to raise hell in Collin County, his vote will probably be worth a little bit more next year over there in Florida.

Posted at 03:05 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 31, 2003

Lasso: The Statesman Attempts a Blog

By Byron LaMasters

The Austin American Statesman seems to be trying to take after the Dallas Morning News and has started a blog of it's own called Lasso, which started on Monday. Here's what they want to do with it:

WELCOME TO LASSO: OK, this is the way Lasso is gonna work. Lasso will arise each morning with faithful dogs Dinah and Rico and slog his way through the day's Texas newspapers. He will report to you by mid-morning what he's found. During the day, Lasso may (or may not) add notes, comments, more links. He may just pop off. Depends.

That's it. Any submissions, letters or tips are welcome and most likely will find their way onto the site.

Content-wise, it's not bad. I could see it growing into a Texas-version of The Note. Stylistically, it could use some work. They ought to move it over to Movable Type, encourage more reader interaction and I'd love to see multiple authors, as on the DMN blog. Just my thoughts. I'll email Bill Bishop with them and see what he thinks. I like the idea, though. We'll see where it goes.

Posted at 02:22 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 28, 2003

Layout Mess

By Byron LaMasters

Not sure what happened to my margins, here, but I'll take a look at my html code tonight to see what happened. It's very weird... earlier today, for no apparent reason, both left and right margins just disappeared. Weird.

Posted at 06:30 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 25, 2003

Wacky Search Results

By Byron LaMasters

It's good to know that my site was of interest to the person who found it via a "foreplay fun" search on AOL. Amusing, but my friend Chris had the best google seach referral. Someone found his site from a google search of cell phones vibrating give orgasm. Nice.

Posted at 03:14 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 22, 2003

Dallas Morning News Blog!

By Byron LaMasters

Wow! My hometown newspaper now has a blog, found via Publius TX.

Posted at 02:54 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

July 18, 2003

Biden Blog

By Byron LaMasters

Well, since I'm linking to all the other unofficial campaign blogs, there's now an unofficial campaign blog for Joe Biden, found via Political Wire. I'm personally not a big fan of Biden, but best of luck to the blog.

For more presidential blogs, check out my Presidential Blogs post, and my follow up reporting on the Graham Blog.

July 16, 2003

Off the Kuff

By Byron LaMasters

Charles is experiencing technical difficulties with his blog, Off the Kuff. He's asked me to notify my readers, since we share some of the same audience. Let's all hope that he gets things fixed up soon, so that he can get Off the Kuff back online.

Posted at 11:52 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

July 15, 2003

Graham Blog

By Byron LaMasters

Over the weekend, I posted on Presidential Blogs. At the time, I was unaware of a blog supporting Bob Graham for President, but I have since found the Bob Wire, which is an unoffical blog supporting Bob Graham for President. Best of luck to them.

July 14, 2003

Chris for Dean

By Byron LaMasters

Well, it looks as if my friend Chris (or Chris for Dean) has started a blog, The Scarlet Left. Keep up the good work! We need more "angry, young liberals" like you!

Posted at 04:35 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 13, 2003


By Byron LaMasters

After a little help from Mike and Charles, I finally made it into the Ecosystem over at Truth Laid Bear. It looks like we're starting out at #185, so we'll see where we go from there!

Posted at 02:10 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2003

Presidential Blogs

By Byron LaMasters

Howard Dean's campaign started the blogging era of presidential campaigns with the Blog for America. Other campaigns are slowly catching up, but still, no other candidate has an official blog. While I thought that the Dennis Kucinich blog was official for awhile, as it has several posts that look as if they were made by the candidate, there's a disclaimer at the bottom, that it's not official, but done by "friends of Dennis Kucinich".

The Blog for America lists dozens of unofficial Dean Blogs in its "blog links". The Dean 2004 blog was one of the originals, but dozens more have joined the act. But Dean (and Kucinich) supporters aren't alone in the blogosphere. John Edwards supporters have several sites, including Edwards for Prez, which has made it on to my blogroll. Young people have gotten involved at Youth for Edwards. Oliver Willis hosted Americans for Edwards, but has since removed his "Edwards 2004" button on his site.

The Kerry Blog has also found its way on to my blogroll. So has the Draft Clark blog, and the Dick Gephardt blog. Also, just starting out is the Gephardt Grassroots blog. And, how could I forget, yes, for all my misguided Republican friends out there, there is a G. W. Bush 2004 blog, recently moved to Bush Blog dot US. Take a look at it. A couple of these guys have blogs on my blogroll, but some of their posts are seriously misguided to say the least. Josh is supporting Howard Dean, too! I'm all for it! Yes, Josh, help us take back America! Not only that, but the folks on the Bush Blog are taking jabs at Kerry for his military record. Is Bush's military record really something the Bush folks want to get into a debate with? Who went AWOL again? Oh well, it does make me feel good to know that I'm provoking them a little bit, here and there.

I haven't seen much of anything from Joe Lieberman, Bob Graham, Carol Mosely Braun or Al Sharpton, but if their supporters have blogs out there, let me know!

Update: As Kris points out in the comment thread, the Bush Bloggers take after their man in the censorship department. When trying to post a comment on the blog, you get this message:


Your comment has been queued for moderation by site administrators and will be published after approval.

How typically Bushesque.


By Byron LaMasters

Thanks to Charles step by step guide, I finally figured out this categories thing. I tried setting up categories several weeks ago, but I didn't have much success, and I pretty much gave up. Yesterday, I decided that I had procrastinated long enough, and that I'd figure out categories however long it took. So, I did. Charles has a great guide in a .txt file, so it's easy to read. I got a little bit confused at one point, I think because Charles uses Moveable Type version 2.21, and I use version 2.64. The line that he directs you to in the index template was a little different, but I figured it out pretty soon. Charles directs you to this line in your index code (this is partially for my own reference, so bear with me):

<div class="posted">Posted by <$MTEntryAuthor$> at <a href="<$MTEntryLink$>#<$MTEntryID pad="1"$>"><$MTEntryDate format="%I:%M %p"$></a>

In order to include the category of the entry at the footer along with the time posted, name and comments / trackbacks, Charles directs you to add the bold code to the line:

<div class="posted">Posted by <$MTEntryAuthor$> at <a href="<$MTEntryLink$>#<$MTEntryID pad="1"$>"><$MTEntryDate format="%I:%M %p"$></a> to <a href="<$MTEntryLink archive_type="Category"$>#<$MTEntryID pad="1"$>"><$MTEntryCategory$></a>

My footer code, however, looked like this:

<div class="posted">Posted by <$MTEntryAuthor$> at <a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>"><$MTEntryDate format="%X"$></a>

I figured it out, and changed it accordingly:

<div class="posted">Posted by <$MTEntryAuthor$> at <a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>"><$MTEntryDate format="%X"$></a> to <a href="<$MTEntryLink archive_type="Category"$>#<$MTEntryID pad="1"$>"><$MTEntryCategory$></a>

I also added several categories that previosly had not existed, so that all of my posts since this site began have now been categorized. I haven't organized my old entries on the Live Journal page, but that might be a future project. As you can see, we've written a lot about redistricting, and I hope to expand on to other topics soon, but redistricting has been a fascinating story, and its been fun to blog. My next blog project, which I hope to tackle sometime this weekend, is to clean up my blogroll. I'm thinking of creating a new blogroll just for Texas bloggers, but its still in the planning stage. I also figured out how to change the templates of the archives pages, the individual entry pages, and the categories pages. By making those templates match the index page, it adds my Site Meter code to all of the archives pages, which is good for me, because it gives me a better reflection of my referrals, as I'm slightly obsessed with my Site Meter traffic reports (and I'm proud to report that we received over 1000 hits this week for only the second time - the first was back on the Live Journal page, the week of the Killer D's quorum-busting trip to Ardmore) . I'm also wondering why the footer is double spaced. I can live with it, but it's a little annoying, so if anyone can tell me how to single space the footer, I'd love to know. Anyway, let me know what you think, and if you have an suggestions. Thanks!

Posted at 01:02 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

July 10, 2003


By Byron LaMasters

Just wanted to wish Sarah a Happy Birthday over at the Appalachia Alumni Association Blog. Despite what the name might suggest, there's some Texans over there, and they're doing a good job covering a lot of recent action here. So, take a look.

On the topic of birthdays, I'd be remiss not to mention that I will be turning 21 in ten days (July 20). I'm looking forward to it.

Posted at 04:48 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2003


By Byron LaMasters

First, of all, a special thanks to Charles Kuffner for promoting my site, and congrats to the Rice Owls for their victory in the CWS. I know that Charles and a lot of other folks in Houston are quite happy tonight. Finally, I'd urge my Republican friend, TX Pundit, who feels that "drawing districts is an inherently partisan process that should not be left to the supposed high-minded courts", to take a look at Charles's post on Rick Perry's change of heart on redistricting. Two years ago, Rick Perry felt that a special session to deal with redistricting would be a "waste of taxpayer money", yet today, with Republican majorities in the state senate and state house, it is suddenly worth spending taxpayer money on a special session to re-redistrict. I read Off the Kuff daily, and if you're a fellow Texan political nut, you should too.

Also, thanks to slightly off center, the C Blog, and ReachM High Cowboy Network Noose for the kind words in the past week or so.

Posted at 12:25 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 22, 2003


By Byron LaMasters

Today (Saturday), I mostly worked on layout. I put together the homepage rather quickly several days ago, and I just had the chance to add some things to it. I decided to add a blogroll, as opposed to just using html links. It's easier to organize. I also added referral tracking. I added a line to separate the blog from the links on the right hand column. I still need to do an "about page", but that should get done soon. Anyway, let me know if you have any suggestions. I consider myself an intermediate in HTML code. I know basic coding, and I know enough to make a decent layout, but I'm not too familiar with advanced HTML and javascripts. Thanks.

Posted at 01:55 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (0)

June 19, 2003

A New Home

By Byron LaMasters

Yes, the Burnt Orange Report now has a new home on our very own domain, and hosted by Dreamhost. Live Journal served us well, but it was time to graduate. So, here we are. Yes, there's still a lot of work to be done here, but it's good enough for now. As always, advise and suggestions are welcome.

Posted at 02:49 AM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (1)

June 18, 2003

Movable Type

By Byron LaMasters

I'll be writing an entry soon on Movable Type for Dummies. Transferring to Movable Type has been, well... an experience. With the help of my friend Bryan, I finally successfully installed moveable type last night. I bought the domain and service for burntorangereport.com through Dreamhost last Thursday. I consider myself reasonably computer literate, but my understanding of complex web technology is still rather limited. I've done several webpages before, and I know how to use ftp, but things like mySQL and perl meant nothing to me until last week. So, in the next day or two, I'm planning on writing a detailed entry on how your average blogger can figure out how to install Moveable Type.

Posted at 07:40 PM to Blogs and Blogging | Permalink | Comments (6)

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