Archive | October, 2008


Fred Baron has passed away.

At 61, and seeming much younger than that, it was way too soon for the previous sentence to have been written about him. But cancer is a terrible thing. My own mother was only 59 when she lost her own battle on that front, cheated out of the final, and best, quarter of her life. Too many families face the same situation. Now the Baron family faces it as well.

At the heart of it, crammed into those 61 years, Fred Baron was a man whose loyalties were beyond question, and who could be counted on to fight hard and come to the rescue.

Some might agree with those who would try to sell you on the concept of “greedy trial lawyers,” but during his professional career Fred was a trial lawyer who tried his damnest to make sure people who were hurt, or the families of those who were killed, had their say. He gave them a chance at justice, fighting against those with considerably more resources to defend themselves. And in the background was his fundamental belief that this should never happen again, to anybody.

Some might think that right wing candidates backed by powerful Wall Street interests should always win, and perhaps shouldn’t even be credibly challenged. But Fred didn’t agree, and he worked hard to ensure that other voices were credibly heard, above the intimidating rumble of the mighty unanswered media buys of the powerful opposition completely dominating Texas politics at the time.

Even the timing of his decision to go “all in” at the political poker table was beyond assail. He did so only after he had completed his professional mission and retired from his law firm. This was a man who had no remaining vested interest, other than whatever destination his principles led him.

Fred Baron was a force of nature, and a man of deep conviction, principle, and courage, who was unassailable even while being assaulted, and unblinking even while under attack.

He followed his beliefs, and pursued his values, and treated it all like an action verb. He invested his efforts and his resources like few dare, or bother.

Unlike so many, he declined to allow fear to dictate his actions, realizing that it’s among the worst of motivating factors. He decided that if nobody else would step onto the field of battle and defend that which he believed in, he would do so alone – with the full confidence that once results were seen, others would follow. He was right.

And most importantly, when he fought back, he was fighting for others, not himself. His own rights were already protected. His own needs were already long-since met. His own place in the world was solid. Being Anglo, and male, and straight, and American, and wealthy, generally makes things pretty secure.

No, there was really nothing remaining to fight for if you’re Fred Baron, unless you decide that others are worth fighting for. So he fought for folks he didn’t even know – people who conservatives in unchallenged power were insisting live a life that wasn’t even imaginable, understandable, or accessible – people not even in possession of the bootstraps the opposition was insisting they pull themselves up by.

Fred Baron deliberately picked fights against the most powerful among us, on behalf of the rest of us.

Agree or disagree with his point of view, or where his personal values and loyalties led him – isn’t that the kind of person we all wish we were?

In lieu of flowers, leave it all out on the field, be fearless, and fight like hell.

Read Phillip Martin’s Burnt Orange Report Tribute

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Finally, a Democrat worth believing in stealing for

I live in one of the neighborhoods in Austin that perfectly demonstrates what they say about Democrats in Travis County. It drives Republicans nuts.

When I moved in years ago, the precinct was heavily minority. As one might expect, it was also strongly Democratic. Over the years as East Austin gentrification changed the neighborhood and more anglo families moved in, the precinct actually became more Democratic than it had been before, and turn-out in most elections has gone up too. You haven’t seen a lot of that elsewhere in Texas. Damn tax and spend liberals. Also, we’ve all changed our middle names to “Hussein.”

There’s a rent house down the street, in which the tenant moved in after the primary elections. The first thing he did was plant a Ron Paul sign in his yard. I don’t really understand the Ron Paul cult. After the primary, when does that guy think he’s going to get to vote for him? In a related story, nobody talks to him, and area children will undoubtedly skip his house on Halloween. I bet his house is even one of those dead zones described in the Verizon commercials. See what can happen? You Ron Paul cult people really should get with the game plan.

Aside from the Ron Paul cult dude, my entire neighborhood has been completely covered up with Obama yard signs. Competely. Covered. Up.

Even my next door neighbors got into the act. You have to understand about my neighbors. They’re…interesting. Lets just say they’re not generally known around here as civic leaders. As witness to that notion, the way they obtained their Obama yard sign in the first place was to steal somebody else’s Obama yard sign and plant it in their own yard. We know this because Dolly, the local Obama sign person, being a creative sort, did all kinds of unique things to each Obama yard sign she distributed. She immediately recognized my next-door-neighbor’s sign as one she had planted in a yard a block or so away. When she went to double-check, sure enough, the original location was missing a sign.

The deep enthusiasm is, indeed, a nice contrast from elections past. In fact, if I had not thrown away my John Kerry yard sign after the last Presidential election, the damn thing would still be there. The Republicans might even stop by every once in a while to wash and wax it.

Fast forward to the last few days. Every single Obama sign on every major street in my ‘hood has suddenly been stolen in the middle of the night. All of them. Including mine, and including my next door neighbors.

Some of my fellow hoodies are pretty P.O.’ed about this, but I’m not. I could not be tickled pinker to finally have a Democratic nominee for President of the United States who so threatens Republicans that one or more of them feel frightened enough to resort to stealing hundreds of Obama yard signs. As if that will change the outcome of this election. As if that will muscle people back to the Republicans’ flawed view of the world. As if it will do something to preserve their ever-narrowing little world.

On the other hand, there is a contrasting theory that Travis County Democratic Chairman Andy Brown went through and stole them himself, so he could re-sell the signs to raise more money, to buy more signs. If so, more power to him.

Most of all, I truly enjoy the irony of my next door neighbors’ situation: somebody stole from them the Obama sign they stole from somebody else.

Steal it forward. Vote Obama.

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Demons are a Ghoul’s Best Friend

In anticipation of Halloween, we take a brief break from the rigors of the final stretch of campaign season, to proudly bring you an internet game: Stomp the Flaming Bag of Poo.

Where else can you find this level of high-quality thought-provoking discourse?

And speaking of Halloween, the midnight Halloween deadline is quickly approaching for you to enter the Letters From Texas Electoral Vote Contest.

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This has been some-e-lection alright

I’m always browsing through the website looking for a laugh. Trouble is, I’m always finding cards I wish somebody would send me, instead of seeing cards I’d be tempted to send others.

That said, one reason it’s bound to have been a great year for them is because of their political cards. Here are some great ones.

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Escaped East Texan Alert

Dear East Texans:

Yet another of you has obviously escaped, this time to Wisconsin. Please increase your border security immediately.

Amazingly, alcohol was apparently involved.

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Desperate Cries for Help Your Faithful Correspondent in the News

Crack Associated Press reporters Jay Root (most recently of the might-as-well-be-defunct Fort Worth Star-Telegram) and April Castro (most recently in the Z-Tejas bar) co-write an election preview piece on the legislative outlook in which I am included, presumably because it’s kind of cool how I gratuitously insult George W. Bush.

Austin America-Statesman Washington Bureau reporter Jason Embry writes an analysis piece on the Congressional district 10 race, in which I somehow fail to gratuitously insult George W. Bush.

Sneak Preview: applicable if you’re in the Austin area on Election night, I’ll be part of the News 8 coverage team all night after the polls close in the central time zone at 7 pm. I’ll be joined by, among others, Republican Hans Klingler, who is assigned to disagree with everything I say. Klingler and I have been hand-picked for this prestigious assignment mainly because we’re old enough to seem slightly credible to the 8-10 year old target market, yet we’re young enough to still have hair.

As you may already be aware, Hans is an underhanded double-dealing low-down mean spirited sniveling Republican. Since he is my good friend, I will tolerate absolutely no insults whatsoever of Hans on this website. Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters has strict policies against such things.

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Letters From Texas “Biggest Baddest Politically Savvy Mo-Fo In Texas” Contest!

Winners announced

Think you know what’s going on in the race for President? Well talk’s cheap, bucko. We’re having a contest!

Email me with your best guess for how many electoral votes Obama will get, and the winner not only gets a free t-shirt of his or her choice from, but will also be enthusiastically bragged about on this website as The biggest baddest politically savvy mo-fo in Texas, 2008 Edition. Now how the hell can you beat that with a stick, like you do your cat?

Personally, I think Obama is heading for 319 electoral votes, but I’ll change my mind 12 times between now and election day. What about you? And, oh yeah, we’re not letting you wait until the last minute either. You have to enter by Halloween, because one never knows what surprises await on the final weekend before election day.

CNN’s electoral vote calculator map is a helpful tool to help you work out the math.

Here’s the deal: you’re considered entered in the contest if you email me by midnight, October 31st, with your estimate of how many electoral votes Obama will get. In case of multiple entries by the same person, only the last entry will count (in other words, you’re allowed to change your mind, until the deadline)

Why email? Because it wouldn’t be fair for the late entries to see what the earlier entries have guessed. Also, some people might not want to out themselves prior to the election.

All entries which correctly guess the number of electoral votes Obama receives (or ties for closest) will be enthusiastically bragged about on this website as the official Letters From Texas Worldwide Headquarters Biggest Baddest Politically Savvy Mo-Fo In Texas. And one will get a free t-shirt of his or her choice (in case of a tie, a drawing will be held to choose the t-shirt winner).

Feel free to comment, but remember that you’re not entered until I get your email. Good luck!

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Weekly Poll Wrap-Up

Last week’s poll question was “McCain’s campaign is sinking like a rock. What could he still do to win?”

Coming in with a hefty 42 percent was “Get every American in battleground states snot-slinging drunk before voting.” I’m actually not sure that would work, since all the mean drunks would probably just even more mad at the last eight years of Republican rule. Meanwhile, the…um…non-mean drunks would all hook up and get a room, thus forgetting to vote at all.

In second place with 30 percent was “Dump Palin and replace her with Jesus.” That actually might work, since the elimination of the costs associated with Palin’s wardrobe alone could put significantly more NcCain TV spots up in Florida.

In third with 18 percent was “Make all future appearances with the Steve Martin fake arrow through his head.” I have no idea where that came from. But it couldn’t hurt.

In last place with 15 percent was “Show up with bin Laden in chains at the next ‘Obama is the Anti-Christ’ rally.” I guess I shouldn’t have included the “anti-Christ rally” part, since that’s what they’ve been doing already and it hasn’t helped. But neither has Joe the Plumber. Or John The Senator. Or Sarah The SNL.

There won’t be a poll this week. Stand by for a special announcement on top of the right hand sidebar!

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Dear Mike McCaul:

It seems like you’ve had a trying week. Lucky for you, I’m here to help.

I think this would be a great time to do everything you can possibly do to lower your blood pressure.

You can thank me later.

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I’ve been framed!!

I’m innocent, because I’ve already voted. But…have you?

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Special note to the remaining “undecided” voters of America

People. Seriously. I keep seeing you in the polls. I know some of you just don’t want to tell a pollster who you’ll vote for, so you claim to remain undecided. Others of you simply don’t want to admit that you’re not voting at all, but indeed you live under a rock, never intended to vote, and have paid no attention. Whatever – I salute you. This is not addressed to any of you people.

But, for those of you who truly do intend to cast a ballot by the time the polls close on November 4th, but who remain undecided in the Presidential race: WTF are you thinking?

This issues have never been more clear. The distinctions between the candidates could not be more stark. The choices as to what direction you would most want the country to go are obvious.

So whats say you just make up your little bitty minds, hmmmmm? Meanwhile, here’s the impression the rest of us have of you at the moment.

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Dear State of Texas:

On one hand, we seem to have a little problem with prison guards smuggling stuff in to prisoners.

On the other hand, we also occasionally have issues with public school teachers taking leave of their senses.

What is called for is some out-of-the-box thinking. This is so obvious, oh beloved State of Texas, I can’t believe you didn’t already think of it yourself.

Texas has lots of prison guards. Texas also has lots of teachers.

For a one-week trial period, effective immediately, all teachers will report to the prison nearest you for guard duty. Meanwhile, all prison guards will report to your nearest public school – you’ll be teaching classes.

I’m guessing it could be a win-win for both education and public safety. It’s also possible that neither the guards nor the teachers would notice a substantial difference.

I should bill you people for this stuff.

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Time to put this election to bed

Clearly, the Obama supporter was wrong, and he’ll be fined for it.

But the McCain supporter is even worse off – his candidate is well represented, both on a yard sign and in the back of his truck .

(for a guy who claims to have hated McCain, does it occur to you that putting the stuff in “small bags” was kind of polite? Yeah, me too.)

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A picture is worth…

…exactly two words, in this case.

While I was in line waiting my turn this morning, a very nice older woman who was standing in line in front of me turned around and said, quite ferociously, “I’ve been waiting for this moment for eight damn years!”

Indeed ma’am. Indeed.

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FUBAR-Cam Update

A line at the polling place, right off the bat.

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