Archive | June, 2008

Great Band Name Update

We at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters are always on the lookout for the best band names. And frankly, this one might have made the cut aside from their name, based on their claim that they specialize in a combination of “experimental, ghettotech, and showtunes.” Given that, if their name had been anything other than “Trainwreck in Motion,” they would have made the cut.

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What is Wrong with This Picture?

Despite appearances, one of these women is a Republican, and the other is a Democrat. The diabolical enabler of this difficult-to-explain moment, an unnamed celebrity Republican, was smart enough to be operating the camera, thus ensuring his own safety.

Your assignment: in the comments section, guess which one is the Democrat, list the most absurd reason you can think of for your guess, then wish her a very happy birthday today.

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Headline of the Week, “American Pie” Division

How do they get this stuff by their editors?

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Wide Open Spaces

I’ve been meaning to write about Brewster County for a long time. I haven’t gotten around to it before now, because it’s difficult to know where to start.

For the geography-impaired, Brewster County is in the Big Bend region of West Texas. Just across the county line in Presidio County is Marfa, where people go to be discovered. In South Brewster County is Terlingua, where people go to disappear. In between are Alpine and, where I hang out, Marathon.

If you look at a county map of Texas from the primary election, Brewster County is that Obama island on the border, in the sea of Clinton country. There have been days where the hottest spot in Texas was at the lower elevations in South Brewster County on the Rio Grande, while at the same time the low temperature for the state was happening in Alpine or Marathon, because of the higher elevation. The country is indescribably beautiful. Photographs do it no justice, and descriptions generally fall short of reality. Big Bend is truly where the deer and the antelope play, and where the stars at night are big and bright. (clap-clap-clap-clap)

Well forget all that – none of that crap is why I go out there.

The reason I love it is, the people are nuts. Stark raving lunatics. And all in a good way.

Pound-for-pound, there is more absurdity per square mile than anywhere else, per capita, according to 4 out of 5 dentists. Chances are good that whenever Molly Ivins strayed from writing about politics, she was instead writing about something weird happening somewhere in Brewster County. Like the time some folks in Terlingua were mulling over Washington’s desire to build a border wall, who then built a test wall and had a contest to see how long it would take somebody to successfully scale it (winning entry: 30 seconds). And like the good people of Lajitas who elected a goat, Clay Henry, as their mayor. And the tourists who got drunk and castrated the mayor. And the resulting trial, which ended with…wait for it…wait for it…a hung jury.

No matter what direction you randomly look in Brewster County, one is always left with the strongly-held impression that you just can’t make this stuff up.

At no time is Marathon weirder than at new year’s, when about 30 of my friends and I converge on the unsuspecting town to behave badly for a few days. Most of us are authors, journalists, lawyers, lobbyists, politicos, or their significant others. While there, we turn into dominoes-playing, tequila-swigging, big-talking, practical-joking lunatics with an apparent bent toward non-destructive pyromania.

Of all the colorful characters in the region, none are more so than George Covington. It might be a 276-way tie, but George is right up there somewhere. He writes a column for the Alpine Avalanche, 30 miles, or half a grocery store trip, away from Marathon. No matter what he writes about, it’s both funny and thought-provoking.

Turns out George, whom I haven’t met face-to-face yet, went to college with Senator Judith Zaffirini, and in a recent column suggested that the entire Texas Legislature be replaced by clones of Pete Gallego (the local state rep) and Zaffirini. I immediately and strenuously objected to the notion, because an entire legislature cloned from those two would create a severe shortage of tequila and red meat in the Capitol. Despite the best efforts of Zaffirini, Gallego, and their clones, progress would come to a screeching halt in the absence of those two crucial legislative lubricants.

Zaffirini sent me the most recent picture of George “Is That Your White Cane, Or Are You Happy To See Me” Covington the other day, so I’m stealing it to post here. From the looks of things, it seems the sight-impaired Covington is on his game.

Meanwhile, a group of the above-mentioned lunatics who usually converge for new years is also converging on Marathon this weekend, for our “Summer Solstice” celebration. Yes, I know the summer solstice has already passed. But I guess we figure that any day our group is in Marathon, the full-time residents of Marathon know it will seem like the longest day of the year.

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Dear Texas Legislators:

As a public service, I once again respectfully present you with a situation that, while I don’t really understand what the hell is going on here, I am pretty sure that some of you will want to look into “it” and outlaw “it” immediately, if “it” is not already illegal here.

Even if that which is being reported doesn’t interest you, you may well want to outlaw sales and distribution of the Miami Herald, for writing headlines that make whatever is really going on sound much more interesting than whatever is going on. Which, of course, is the main reason I posted this in the first place. But go ahead and outlaw “it” anyway, because I’m pretty sure somebody’s having fun either doing “it” or having “it” done to them.

PS: you will also notice from the lede that apparently, Miami-Dade County has something called “medical police.” How come Florida gets medical police and we don’t? That’s a whole ‘nuther piece of legislation right there. Would you people please get to work? Now we’re even behind Florida for Christ sake.

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Good morning, Texans!

Moving a bit slow this fine Monday morning? I completely understand — it happens even in the best of families. But don’t worry, this should explain everything.

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

The poll question last week was, “what would be the most interesting hook-up in the Texas capitol?”

A no-brainer from the start, winning handily with 58% were Glen Maxey and Warren Chisum. As most Capitol-watchers know, Glen Maxey used to have the longest job title in Texas politics, always quoted in newspapers as “State Representative Glen Maxey, the only openly-gay legislator elected in Texas.” Meanwhile, back in the day Chisum had quite a title himself: “State Representative Warren Chisum, the guy who won’t let anybody have any fun.” Of course Chisum’s title was mostly overheard in gay bars, bath houses, and among Chisum’s staff.

The pairing of Rick Perry and Dawnna Dukes came in second, with 16%. Our Governor’s escapades have been well-documented all year. First, he had a brief flirtation with Rudy Giuliani, ending when Giuliani lost his ass in the Florida primary, and wore white after labor day. Perry then began dating John McCain, immediately inspiring the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s,” but the Dawnna Dukes thing surely signals trouble for the McCain pairing. Actually, the Dawnna Dukes thing especially signals trouble for Dawnna Dukes.

Patrick Rose and Ana Mowrey came in third with 13%. Inventing this pairing is a travesty of justice by any measure. I owe you bigtime for this, Patrick.

Bringing up the rear were David Dewhurst and Norma Chavez, with 11%. Inventing this pairing is a travesty of justice by any measure. I owe you bigtime for this, Norma.

Vote in this week’s poll on top of the right hand sidebar, and comment on it here.

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Interoffice Memorandum

To: Miya Shay, Elise Hu, Catie Beck, Jenny Hoff, Mary Benton, and whoever the new Mike Rosen is at Fox7

From: Station Management

As always, thank you for all your hard work on broadcast TV covering political news in the Texas Capitol. We know it is a challenging assignment, but the work is important and our viewers deserve the very best.

That said, screw up one more time and we’ll be assigning you stories like this:

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Candidate Training 101

Candidates, thanks for coming to class today. I know you’re working hard, and I appreciate your dedication to public service.

I know all of you hope you will win your elections. Unfortunately, that will only be possible for about half of you.

But at the very least, chances are great that you won’t end up like either of these two worthy opponents, one of whom is dead, and the other of whom must live with the pathetic reality that he lost an election to a dead guy.

Key quote from voter: “”I know he died, but I don’t want change.”

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Great band name update…

We here at Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters leave no stone unturned to bring you the very best in band names, whether we like the music or not.

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Weekly poll do-over

Over the weekend we did our usual weekly poll wrap up, except it was a bit unusual because it actually contained a serious thought or two. On this site. Written by me. I know, I know — but it happens.

Except that this other essay is a much more insightful, constructive, and hopeful perspective on it than the wrap-up appearing here. If you glanced at the LettersFromTexas post, thanks. Now go to Mean Rachel’s site and absorb every word of her perspective on it.

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Best headline of the week so far

Every once in a while, a headline writer manages to slip one by ’em.

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Voter participation update

Apparently, the electorate in Pillsbury, North Dakota, has no significant complaints about how things are going.

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Weekly poll wrap-up

The results of last week’s poll are in. It was an uncharacteristically serious question, “if you could climb into a time machine and change the outcome of one historical event this decade, which would it be?”

A clear majority, 62%, said they’d go back to the 2000 election, get Ralph Nader off the Florida ballot, make Al Gore the obvious winner, and prevent George W. Bush from ever becoming President.

The other two choices fell far behind, tying at 18% apiece. One choice was to go back to 2001 and prevent the terrorist attacks on September 11th. The other choice was to go back to 2004 and warn the world about the looming tsunami, saving almost 350,000 innocent lives.

This is the first of the LFT weekly polls in which I never voted. I could not bring myself to vote against the lives of 350,000 innocent victims of a natural disaster. But I understand why almost everybody else did; the current state of world affairs is more complicated than a simple math game, even when the numbers represent the raw cost of human life.

The 2000 and 2001 poll choices were really the same choice in a practical sense, put in different ways. The lingering bad aftertaste of the Bush Presidency will hinge on, and follows from, what happened on September 11, and the illogical and wrong-headed choices made by the President as a result. 9-11 was the backdrop for the ill-fated Bush doctrine that the U.S. would go it alone when necessary, which Bush then immediately made sure would be necessary. 9-11 was the excuse for the tragic abandonment of multilateral diplomacy and the process of continuous dialog and negotiation – the new way forward would instead be that the U.S. would see no shades of grey, and would pause for little discussion. 9-11 was the justification used to go to war against a two-bit country uninvolved with 9-11. 9-11 was the excuse used to chip away at the United State Constitution, as if taking away fundamental American rights was the best way to preserve fundamental American rights.

The results of the poll indicate that the totality of Bush’s mistakes is far worse than the sum of its parts – if one took every ill-fated decision ever made by this administration, and added up the cost of each in terms of lives lost, it is doubtful under any measure that together they would reach the 350,000 lives lost because of the tsunami in 2004. But 62% don’t believe that’s all it’s about. They’re right.

It’s not just about lives lost, and lives ruined. It’s also about the stunning tragedy of the loss of moral authority. It’s also about the resulting alarm and sadness surrounding the body blows to a sense of justice, and the rejection of the rule of law. It’s about the shame and anger felt by regular run-of-the-mill Americans, many of whom may only have the vaguest sense of our place in the world, but who sense that grave injustices continue to be perpetuated in their names. And it’s about intensely-patriotic Americans who always believed we are better than this, and never until now had cause to doubt it.

The world knows that this American President still has 7 months remaining, and so they nervously wait. It is doubtful that they will soon forget all that the Bush Presidency has done to them or to others.

But, without a doubt, even if we could ever forget all the things Bush has done, we will always remember how he made us feel, and all it has cost us.

Back to our usual ridiculousness, this week’s poll is up on the top of the right-hand sidebar. Vote on it there, and feel free to comment on it here.

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