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Burnt Orange Report is redeveloping our website for the first time in almost a decade. This is critical to the ongoing existence of BOR.

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Burnt Orange Report

Have You Heard About Our 9-9-9 Plan?


by: Katherine Haenschen

Mon Apr 23, 2012 at 11:29 AM CDT

On this day in 2003, Burnt Orange Report was started by a group of UT students to keep track of Capitol happenings and Austin politics. 12,000 posts, 58685 comments, 6500 registered users, 6.5 million visits and 11.4 million page views later, we're excited to still be keeping our eyes on Texas politics, and celebrating our 9th birthday today!

Burnt Orange Report has evolved from its origins on the 40 Acres to become one of the leading state blogs in the progressive Netroots, and has featured the writing of dozens of staff bloggers. BOR's writing team has matured from a group of independent and outspoken Longhorns into a group of legislative staffers, activists, organizers, attorneys, and thought leaders on politics in Texas. Our wider blog community includes institutional leaders, political consultants, elected officials, lobbyists, and concerned Texans writing in our journals and in the comments.

Over the last 6 months we've been working hard here at BOR to expand and professionalize our operations. That's resulted in a higher volume of posts and a broader range of viewpoints, as well as the expansion of our writing staff and the publication of guest posts from across the state. We're also expanding our political operations, with the launch of our statewide polling series and planned support for Democrats in key races this November.

Today, we're launching our 9-9-9 plan, to raise more support for our efforts on BOR and keep going strong through 2012 and into next year's Legislative session.

BOR's 9-9-9 plan is simple: we're asking for $9 a month, for the remaining 9 months of 2012, in honor of our 9th birthday. Sign up for our 9-9-9 Plan today!

Our 9-9-9 Plan won't raise taxes on 84% of Americans, and it won't get you a low-quality pizza either. Instead, BOR's 9-9-9 Plan will help expand our online organizing efforts and work to get more Democrats elected at all levels of the ballot here in Texas. Sign up for BOR's 9-9-9 Plan today and help us keep even more eyes on Texas politics.

We know that our readers value what we've been doing on BOR for 9 years. BOR plays a vital role in our progressive infrastructure here in Texas, and we're committed to expanding that role and doing even more to support our Democratic and progressive causes. As our publisher and longest serving writer Karl-Thomas Musselman frequently points out, BOR is a community blog, and we value the participation of our readers in what we do, from holding events to conducting straw polls to commenting on our posts. Now, we're asking you to support what we're doing and help keep it going with a $9 monthly donation, in honor of our 9th year of doing our blog business.

If you're here in Austin, join us for our 9th Birthday Bash next Monday, April 30th at The Gingerman. We'll also be celebrating the birthdays of four of our staff writers, all of whom are marking their own anniversaries of existing in the next two weeks.  

BOR's 9th Birthday Bash
Monday, April 30 | 5:30-7:30 p.m.
The Gingerman | 301 Lavaca Street | Austin, TX
RSVP on Facebook

Thanks again to everyone who has helped BOR last these 9 years. With your continued support, we're looking forward to what we can do this cycle, and in the next 9 years to come.  

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

An Open Call for Writers: Help Write the Future of Texas Politics


by: Phillip Martin

Fri Jan 14, 2011 at 00:05 PM CST

Who wants to lead?

Every few years, Burnt Orange Report reinvents itself. It last happened almost five years ago with a major site upgrade that gave our site its current look, and with the expansion of our writing staff from around four regular writers to around eight. In those five years, we've been through:

  • Special sessions where Republicans raised taxes while creating a permanent structural deficit that is the primary source of our current $27 billion budget crisis
  • The Boyd Richie vs. Glen Maxey TDP Chair race of 2006
  • Bob Gammage vs. Chris Bell primary in 2006, and Bell's subsequent run for Governor
  • The 2007 Speaker's drama, which culminated in the ousting of Craddick and election of Speaker Straus in 2009
  • The Rick Noriega U.S. Senate campaign
  • Clinton vs. Obama and one hell of a primary
  • The election of President Barack Obama
  • The Bill White campaign, and the accompanying 2010 massacre
  • Countless Austin city council races, State House races, and more

Throughout the years, Burnt Orange Report has provided an honest, well-researched, progressive viewpoint of Texas politics. We've made passionate arguments, broken news stories, and served as a community forum for Texas Democrats.

Now, we need you to continue the tradition.

KT, Matt and I aren't going anywhere entirely, but our roles are changing. For some time now, KT and Matt have worked diligently on a new design for BOR. Within weeks -- and possibly days -- we'll have the new site layout up and running, and with the new site we want to have new writers. Not just one, and not just two. We want eight or ten writers. We want writers from across Texas, not just from Austin. We want new voices from new backgrounds, able to write and analyze politics from Beaumont to Brownsville, Dallas to El Paso, and everywhere in between.

The qualifications are simple:

  • Willingness to take on assigned writing
  • Ability to brainstorm and creatively develop your own analysis
  • Strong technical writing
  • A passion for developing the way we think, understand, and act as Democrats in Texas

We will have much more on the future of BOR -- including the new roles KT, Matt, myself, Katherine and others will play -- in the coming days. Broadly speaking, though, know that we have developed a plan to double, then triple, our traffic. We are going to aggressively market our site, expand our readership and -- with that -- hopefully expand our influence in the state of Texas.

All we need is you to lead. If you want to be considered for a writing position on BOR, please send your name, contact information, where you currently live, areas/topics of interest you'd want to write about, and two writing samples of your choosing to phillip@burntorangereport.com. Thanks, and good luck!

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

Paul Burka Analyzes BOR's Analysis of Speaker Race; "Great Job, But Naive Feel"


by: David Kobierowski

Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 00:32 AM CST

Eileen Smith, of Texas Monthly, interviews Paul Burka, also from Texas Monthly about the BOR analysis of the TX Speaker of the House Race.

Burka on BOR's analysis of the TX Speaker's race:

"BOR did a great job, good research, but a little bit of a naive feel because it's a mathematical model of a speaker's race, but you can't do it because right now there is no speaker's race, only one candidate".

That one candidate that Burka is referencing is obviously Rep. Tom Craddick.

Here's the link to the full 8+ minute video at BurkaBlog, titled "You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You", Fri., Nov. 14th, 08'.  There's a lot more juice to this and y'all should check it out.  If below link does not work, do a search for "burkablog" at the texasmonthly.com site. Here's the link to the 8 min. video:

http://www.texasmonthly.com/bl...

What do y'all think?  I thought Phillip's analysis was sound, as grounded as any, and not unrealistic.  Gutsy, but not naive.

Best,
David Kobierowski

Discuss :: (4 Comments)

Shattering Blogger Stereotypes: Part Three - Age & Experience


by: Phillip Martin

Tue Jul 29, 2008 at 09:00 AM CDT

The following is part of our ongoing series, "Shattering Blogger Stereotypes." Part 1 shattered the myth that females don't blog. Part 2 shattered the myth that "old and new media" are some sort of adversarial, dividing line.

Today's myth -- that all bloggers are young, inexperienced, and have no business weighing in on these important political issues. As if the talking heads on TV and political consultants that run campaigns are infallible, or something.

Here's a concrete articulation of this myth, courtesy of none other than Joe Scarborough (via Matt Yglesias):

Also during this segment, Scarborough attacked liberal bloggers for correcting McCain's error, saying they were probably "just sitting there, eating their Cheetos" and saying, "Let me google Anbar Awakening!" He added, "Dust flying - Cheeto dust flying all over. They're wiping it on their bare chest while their underwear - you know, their Hanes."

The absurdity of such a statement is best articulated by highlighting the age and experience of some other progressive Texas bloggers who are members of the Texas Progressive Alliance. While there's often a focus on Burnt Orange Report -- and you can read about our age & experience here -- the truth is we're just one group of dozens of active bloggers in Texas. And what we lack in age we make up for with experience.

But this isn't about BOR -- this is about the Netroots as a whole. With that said, the following is based on feedback from our TPA group - some chose to remain anonymous, so are identified as "Female/Male A/B/C/etc."

Here's the experience of Texas bloggers - in their own words:

Ted McLaughlin

I am 61 years old, but still feel 26. I am a juvenile parole officer and have worked in various aspects of law enforcement since 1976. I have a B.S. in Social Sciences from a church college (Texas Wesleyan University), but I am an atheist.

In the late sixties and early seventies, I was a hippie, and that still guides my political beliefs. I was a state delegate for Jesse Jackson twice, and attended four other state conventions as a delegate. I have been a Democratic precinct chairman in Tarrant County, and currently hold that position in Potter County.

Anna Brosovic

I'm 35 years old, a tech worker, born and raised in the Deep South by a Dixiecrat Dad. My political awakening came around the time of Iran Contra. My family was deeply effected by Reagan's economic policies, so I hated Saint Ronnie by the time he left office. I did more work than I could detail here during the 1990s.

Then the bastards stole the election in 200, and I thought, "hey, we're now a banana republic, but f*** it cause this a**hole's only getting four years." During that first summer of the Bush regime I was comforted by his low 40s approval ratings, and then of course 9/11 happened.  I started my blog that day and have been railing publicly against the Bushies ever since.  

With Jerome Armstrong and Aziz Poonawalla, I started the Howard Dean movement online. I've put boots on the ground or generally volunteered for at least 8 house races, 2 state senate races, 2 us house races, 2 primary/presidential campaigns, and I'm sure there will be many more in the future.

Female A

I'm 55. I was in middle management in the oil and gas industry for 12 years. I was raised by a pull yourself up by the bootstraps, conservative, single mother who used to yell, "Fornicator!" when JFK appeared on TV. She was, however, for equal rights. But, she informed me that she wouldn't help me with college because I could just get married--that worked out so well for her. She felt it was more important to help my brothers get an education so they could support their wives. Neither of them did so.

When I was 5, I became an equal right activist because I saw a tiny African American boy trying to get a drink, but he couldn't reach the water fountain. I lifted him up so he could get a drink. His mother shrieked in horror and fear, yanked him away and literally ran from the store. When my mother explained the "white" and "colored" drinking fountains, I felt a profound sense of shame.

Alexander Wolfe

I'm 34, an attorney, married with two kids. I'm half Cherokee by my dad's side, so I either am or am not a minority depending on which side you're looking at.

I am relatively inexperienced at politics. I'd say it was the rip off that was the 2000 election, combined with the continuing idiocy of this administration and Republicans in general in the face of some very serious and difficult problems, that drove me to become more partisan and ideological. And I'd say it was the trend towards easy access blogging for anybody anywhere that finally led me to start putting some of my rants online.

Female B

I'm a 46 year-old white woman, who after a politically active youth in high school and college got sucked into the necessity of being an adult and making a living. My drama production degree didn't exactly have employers pounding down my door. Eventually, I backed into a software development career, and started to relax a bit.  

2000's selection enraged me.  9/11 terrified me.  I got drawn in to the news, despite the gnawing feeling of helplessness that anything I could do meant any damn thing at all.

In the run up to the 2004 election, I discovered Daily Kos and Atrios, and suddenly I had a focus for my re-awakened political consciousness. I started commenting, sending money, and then writing diaries.  Suddenly, instead of just helpless, unfocused rage and despair, I had a fight. I will be fighting this fight the rest of my life.

Because I'll be damned if I'm going to leave this mess for the next generation to fix.

There's much, much more to read. Click "There's more" on the link below to learn more...

There's More... :: (20 Comments, 1880 words in story)

Shattering Blogger Stereotypes: Part One - Female Bloggers


by: Phillip Martin

Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 04:30 PM CDT

The following is the first part of our "Shattering Blogger Stereotypes" series.

Stereotype: Almost all bloggers are male; there are no female bloggers.

The stereotype that all bloggers are male is one of the odder, most obviously false stereotypes that pervade many conversations about the Netroots. I think it's most appropriate to tackle first, because breaking it apart breaks down many of the gender-specific roles that are unfairly assigned to bloggers.

National Scope: Huffington, Malkin, Wonkette, Gawker

One of the Contributing Editors to Daily Kos, MissLaura, wrote a diary on the subject of "why are there no female bloggers?" last April. Her (correct) argument follows:

Time and time again, reporters write articles that reproduce the divisions they claim to be questioning. They ask why there aren't more well-known political bloggers who are women, and refuse to mention widely-read counterexamples. They ask why the best-known women bloggers are feminist, not political, bloggers (as if feminism isn't politics), and quote women identified as feminist bloggers to make their point.

MissLaura is one of several front-page writers for DailyKos that is female. Additionally, the Executive Editor (#2) for the site -- Susan G. -- is a female. And while it may be easy to roll off names like Markos, Chris Bowers, Jerome Armstrong, Atrios, and Matt Stoller, think of all these other national bloggers you (undoubtedly) know of:

  • Arianna Huffington, of Huffington Post -- As MissLaura put it, Arianna is "building a freaking empire" with the HuffPo. More so than any online news magazine, Huffington Post is exploding with influence, breaking stories, and power.

  • Wonkette --The ultimate snark-blog, Wonkette is one of the sharpest, most consistently entertaining political blogs in the country. She's pioneered a style for countless blogs across the country (including some right here in Texas).

  • Elizabeth Spiers, founding editor of Gawker -- When she starts a blog, regardless of the target, people flock to the site. More importantly, like Wonkette, her style is mimicked by many but matched by few.

  • Michelle Malkin -- Does she drive me up the wall with her right-wing wackiness? Of course. But her columns are syndicated in newspapers across the country. There's no denying her power.

  • Digby - Female.

  • Jane Hamsher - Founder of firedoglake -- which has more visitors than almost any other national blog -- Hamsher has built one of the most responsive online communities in the country. Firedoglage has interviews with prominent candidates across the country, and their press secretary resides here in Austin.

These are just some of the hugely successful, national female bloggers I'm familiar with. If you want to learn about more, follow this link to an informative, "top-50" style rundown.

Texas Scope: Texas Kaos, In the Pink Texas, Muse, & More

Female prominence in the Netroots isn't limited to national case studies. Here in Texas, we have numerous active female bloggers that provide incredible coverage of local and national politics.

  • Anna Brosovic -- What can be said about Anna? She founded the Texas Progressive Alliance. She, along with Jerome Armstrong and a few others, helped start the Howard Dean movement. She's prominently featured in Nate Wilcox's new book, Netroots Rising. She's a rockstar, and she is someone all of us in the Netroots are endlessly proud of.

  • Texas Kaos -- Under the leadership of boadicea and TxSharon, Texas Kaos is one of the longest lasting blogs in Texas. Often covering stories we overlook, their reach to tens of thousands of political activists is important for the progressive movement in Texas.

  • Musings -- Led by Martha Griffin (a board member of TexBlog PAC and campaign manager for one of the hottest State House races in Texas -- Sherrie Matula vs. incumbent Rep. John Davis), Musings is a great place to read any news out of the Fort Bend and Harris County area.

  • Eileen Smith (In the Pink Texas and Texas Monthly's "Poll Dancing") -- After managing ITPT for years, Eileen was invited to work as online editor for TexasMonthly.com. Her posts -- often filled with biting humor, sarcasm, and cross-self-promotion -- are widely read in Texas. Often quoted in many newspaper and television reports, her influence (as much as she tries to pretend its not there) is very real.

I feel obliged to note that Burnt Orange Report, unfortunately, does not have any female bloggers writing on the front page of our site -- though it's not for lack of trying. Every time we ask for new writers, we beg for female applications. I've even cornered several female friends to write for our site. But we can't force it -- so other than a few past writers, we have no female front-page writers. Though some of our best and most active community commenters and diarists are females.

Please apply, if interested.

Conclusion: Prominent Women Bloggers Are Influential in the Netroots

There's no doubt that there still lies an imbalance of male vs. female bloggers in the Netroots. That is an imbalance that exists in many sources and places of business -- including newspaper rooms, where many "firsts" are still being cracked.

However, the imbalance is not what many would think. Female bloggers are wielding great influence in the Netroots from all angles (progressive, conservative, business, and more). The stereotype that only men blog is inaccurate, and one you shouldn't need to repeat again.

I'll let MissLaura bring it home:

We're here, writing thousands of words a week on every political topic imaginable. If you don't see us, look to yourself.

 

Discuss :: (18 Comments)

Shattering Blogger Stereotypes: A Series


by: Phillip Martin

Tue Jul 22, 2008 at 08:00 AM CDT

Dear Readers, 

One of the most dangerous ceilings the Netroots must still shatter has nothing to do with crashing party gates or supplanting the influence of corporate lobbyists. No one seems to question our technological ability, our passion, or our talent. And while a very few are engaging in fascinating discussions of "citizen journalism" and how bloggers are redefining the medium of news reporting for the 21st century, that's unfortunately not what most people are talking about.

No -- as in most social situations since the middle school cafeteria, stereotypes rule the day.

What I learned from reading the coverage of Netroots Nation in my hometown of Austin, TX (as well as other coverage from general news reports from around the country) is that bloggers have a long way to go to shatter stereotypes that have been created and perpetuated over the last four years.

These are stereotypes that were generated, largely, by different groups that wanted to see us fail -- including Democratic insiders during the rise of Howard Dean in 2003-04, the TV talking heads on national news networks that like to editorialize without the facts, and Republicans who don't appreciate the public holding them accountable for their crimes and corruption (a reason why plenty of Democrats don't like the Netroots, either).

Some of it is our own fault -- there are characters within the netroots community that fit the caricature, as in all social circles. We all look a little like each other sometimes.

Unfortunately, this caricature is the only way bloggers are understood by many people that comprise the larger factions that interact with politics  -- whether it's the press, politicians, or the public at large. Most images and imaginings perceive the "typical blogger" to be something like this:

  • He's a he.
  • He's white.
  • He's young and inexperienced.
  • He hates the traditional/mainstream media.
  • He doesn't operate in the "real world" -- whatever that is.
  • He isn't willing to compromise, and doesn't care what you think.

Obviously, there are many more superficial stereotypes, but these are the ones that are the most pressingly damaging to our efforts -- and the ones, not coincidentally, that are by far the most inaccurate. 

Well, it's time to correct those stereotypes.

This week, I'll be writing a series titled "Shattering Blogger Stereotypes." It is my intention to inform everyone who reads the series about what's actually going on in the netroots, to dispel some of the more disastrous perceptions many appear to have of us, and to bring the conversation of our purpose front and center.

I hope you enjoy the series. Part 1 later today will focus on gender in the blogosphere. Be sure to check back, and as always, thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

Phillip Martin

Senior Adviser, Burnt Orange Report 

Discuss :: (13 Comments)

Introducing Myself: Doug Mayeux


by: Doug Mayeux

Thu Jan 31, 2008 at 09:33 AM CST

First of all, allow me to thank KT, Matt and Phillip for giving me this opportunity. I started reading BOR last April when my father recommended BOR as the best site for learning about Texas politics. I was living in Alaska at the time, where I was stationed by the Air Force from 2003-2007. I have always been interested in politics, thanks to a wonderful, progressive upbringing by my parents - Randy and Jeannie Mayeux. It wasn't until I was unable to get involved politically (because of Air Force regulations), however, that I evolved into the passionate activist I consider myself today.

Several events in my adult life have helped to define who I am politically. I remember getting in a fight in choir my junior year of high school. One of my classmates tended to passionately argue against the role of slavery in causing the civil war. I am an opinionated person, and my argument for the role of slavery ended up angering my classmate. I AM NOT A FIGHTER, but I sometimes have the ability to anger/excite people. In this case, I say fight, but really it was just a push and a shove. None the less, this event helped to develop my passion for politics.

I am also very stubborn, and during the 2000 general election (in which, I am proud to say, I voted for Al Gore), I had many arguments with my friends and classmates. I voted in Ohio, in hopes of helping Al Gore take Ohio (I was a student at Ohio State) - unfortunately, I was unable to convince many of my friends to do the same, and Bush took Ohio.

I can't count the number of conversations had while in the Air Force, needless to say, I was severely outnumbered. In the 2004 cycle I was as vocal as possible in my opposition against Bush and the war in Iraq. At that time, most military members supported Bush and the war with little question. One conversation I had with a young woman was heated, and in the end, we agreed to disagree. Her problem with my argument was that she could not accept the possibility that her brother was in Iraq fighting an erroneous war. How do you argue against that?

Also during this cycle, one of my supervisors threatened to discipline me for arguments that were dangerously close to insubordination. The necessity for discipline in the military leaves little room for civil disobedience, let alone arguing that the commander in chief is a liar. It's safe to say I am better off out of the Air Force.

Finally, my single-most influential event occurred in November, 2005. I was deployed to Kuwait at the time, and occasionally served on a CST or Convoy Security Team. The CST escorted buses that were transporting personnel. The proliferation of IED use in Iraq led the military to own the roads. We literally ran anyone that was not an official or Allied military off the roadways. The problem with this in Kuwait is that we are virtually an occupying force - with no need for Kuwaiti occupation. There is no need to run Kuwaitis off the roads - we do it anyways.

In my November convoy, I was riding in the vehicle responsible for clearing the road. As we ran a vehicle off the road, the driver, a middle-aged man driving his wife and two children looked at me. HATRED - no other word can describe his look.

This single moment will forever be burned into my memory. It was this moment that led me to seriously delve into politics, to seriously begin to question things. No longer would I argue for Democratic ideals and progressive values only because of my upbringing and conditioning. I began to research the issues, and question why I am a progressive. I have not finished this period of learning (all you have to do is read through my comments and diaries from the last year to see that I am constantly evolving), but I am at least at a point where I can argue issues in an educated manner. I don't think we ever stop learning.

Among other things, I am planning to write a series on the issues in Texas. I am approaching this series as though each topic were a research assignment, and while these stories may be drier than usual, I think they will add a certain level of robustness to many of the issues we regularly argue. I hope to bring some excitement as well, and as you will see shortly, I am not afraid to throw a wrench into the mechanism of things.

Once again, thank you to the editorial-board, and enough about me, it's time for politics.

Discuss :: (5 Comments)

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Burnt Orange Reporters
Editor and Publisher:
Katherine Haenschen

Senior Staff Writers:
Genevieve Cato
Joe Deshotel
Michael Hurta
Ben Sherman

Staff Writers:
Omar Araiza
Emily Cadik
Phillip Martin
Natalie San Luis
Katie Singh
Joseph Vogas

Founder:
Byron LaMasters

Blogger Emeritus:
Karl-Thomas Musselman

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