Wed June 18, 2014 12:00 pm By Paul Burka

As I have written several times before, I am very concerned about the idea of a "surge" along the Texas-Mexico border. My main reason is this: It is a bad idea to have a paramilitary operation that includes a large number of private citizens. That is what is going to happen if there is a surge. There is going to be a horde of armed folks showing up with guns to play soldier. I can't think of a more dangerous situation. The border is a dangerous place to begin with. A surge only makes it worse.

Rick Perry should return to Texas and address this problem. A letter signed by state leaders in support of a surge is not a fix. An armed vigilante force is not a fix. A letter from the tea party is not a fix. I'm not sure that there is a fix, but this plan isn't it. There is no doubt that the situation on the border is serious. It is both a humanitarian and a demographic crisis. But it can't be fixed by politicians playing politics during an election season in an attempt to throw red meat to the base. That's not leadership--and the situation will suffer because of it.

(AP Image / Alicia A. Caldwell )

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Fri June 13, 2014 10:16 am By Paul Burka

I'm stunned that Rick Perry allowed himself to be drawn into a discussion of homosexuality in an appearance before the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, in the nation's most gay-friendly city. I thought he was far too seasoned a politician to make that kind of blunder. Apparently not. Here's what Perry said:

"I may have the genetic coding that I'm inclined to be an alcoholic, but I have the desire not to do that. And I look at the homosexual issue in the same way."

Perhaps this should not come as a suprise because it reflects the thinking of the Texas Republican Party at large, which recently adopted a party platform that supports the legality of gay-conversion therapy. That platform reads, "We recognize the legitimacy and value of counseling which offers reparative therapy and treatment to patients who are seeking escape from the homosexual lifestyle. No laws or executive orders shall be imposed to limit or restrict access to this type of therapy."

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Wed June 11, 2014 5:45 pm By Paul Burka

All I can say is, "It's about time." The Davis campaign has been a disaster. Precious days have been lost. Even so, money keeps coming in. Davis will be well funded for the fall, but she needs a staff that is better prepared on state issues.

Democrats have already started describing the Republican slate as the "Abbott, Patrick, Paxton ticket." There is always a "be careful what you wish for" component to these races. Patrick in particular is a very shrewd operator who has widespread support from the conservative base. He is a dangerous opponent. Democrats who underestimate him do so at their peril.

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Tue June 10, 2014 10:32 am By Andrea Valdez

Yesterday, when we unveiled the cover of our July issue featuring Rick Perry, we also told you about "The Perry Report Card," an upcoming magazine feature where, as the title suggests, we graded the tenure of the governor on eight areas of public policy. We invited you to weigh in with your own grades for Perry on the subject of transparency and ethics. Under consideration today is his work on criminal justice. 

Perry is (in)famously tough on crime. He fully endorses the use of the ultimate punishment (when warranted), and to that end has signed off on more executions than any other governor in modern history. And his record on that is unlikely to be exceeded, because the number of death sentences issued in Texas has dropped sharply since 2005--when he signed a law giving juries the option of sentencing murderers to life without parole. And that's just one of the ways in which his record is more nuanced than one might think. At the end of this past legislative session, he signed the Michael Morton Act (which is designed to prevent wrongful criminal convictions) into law, and earlier this year, he also came out in favor of letting states choose if marijuana should be decriminalized in their communities. 

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Mon June 9, 2014 12:49 pm By Paul Burka

There are three Texan Republicans who may run for president in 2016--Rick Perry, Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul (the senator from Kentucky, who grew up in Texas and appeared at the state Republican convention this weekend). I don't think any of them could make it across the finish line. But there is a real possibility that one of them could be the vice-presidential candidate. And the envelope, please...

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