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The devil’s work

Sep 21, 2012 By Paul Burka

Rick Perry’s recent pronouncement about religion and politics—“Church and state separation is the devil’s work”—is an indication of why he will not get anywhere if he tries to run for president again. He might as well wear a stamp on his forehead labeled “extremist.”No doubt there are people in America…

Check Out These Pumpkin Dishes from All Around Texas

Sep 20, 2012 By Layne Lynch

Fall is upon us and you know what that means: pumpkins! Yes, these orange gourds are already making their way into local farmers markets and Texas restaurants. I’m pretty crazy about pumpkins and the eclectic culinary creations they inspire, so I decided to reach out to a number of Texas chefs and see…

The battle over UT

Sep 20, 2012 By Paul Burka

I wrote the cover storyin the current issue of TEXAS MONTHLY. The subject is the future of higher education generally and the threats to the academic reputation of UT-Austin in particular. In the story I deal with Governor Perry’s attempt, starting in 2008, to control higher ed by…

Is Fisher moot?

Sep 19, 2012 By Paul Burka

The case of Abigail Fisher v. the University of Texas at Austin, an affirmative action case involving undergraduate admissions to UT-Austin, is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court some time this fall. I wrote about the case in an April BTL, and last night, I…

Sneak Peek: The Wanderer Goes To . . .

Sep 17, 2012 By Jordan Breal

For the October installment of the Wanderer, I spent three days exploring a Houston hood with a colorful history (a 1973 Texas Monthly article called it “the strangest neighborhood in Texas”) and a colorful array of shops, restaurants, and watering holes. Can…

Stuffed Venison Flank from Jesse Griffiths’ Afield

Sep 17, 2012 By Layne Lynch

Last week, we talked to Jesse Griffiths about his new book Afield, which hits bookshelves tomorrow. During his interview, Jesse mentioned a recipe he felt would be a favorite amongst seasoned deer hunters. For those of you who are gearing up for…

Is redistricting “fair”?

Sep 17, 2012 By Paul Burka

Matt Mackowiak tackled the issue in the Statesman, in an opinion piece headlined “Redistricting doesn’t need fixing.” He writes: With the primary elections in a redistricting year now in the rearview mirror, the predictable lament of losing candidates is to blame the district lines. If only the process…

A note to the readers of Burkablog

Sep 17, 2012 By Paul Burka

t has always been my policy that anyone may post comments on this blog. In fact, a large part of the success of this blog has been the community of commenters that has developed around it. I have only asked that comments show respect for other readers, as well as…

Spotted in Bandera

Sep 17, 2012 By Jordan Breal

  For my first official outing as the Wanderer, I got to play cowgirl for a few days in Bandera, the (self-proclaimed) Cowboy Capital of the World. As I was busy riding horses, two-stepping, and eating fried delicacies, I managed to…

New leader at Lackland after scandal

Sep 16, 2012 By Paul Burka

From the San Antonio Express News: The Air Force chose a woman Saturday to lead its basic training unit at a Texas base where dozens of female recruits have alleged they were sexually assaulted or harassed by male instructors within the past year. Col. Deborah Liddick is…

GOP electors go off the reservation

Sep 14, 2012 By Paul Burka

The internal rifts within the Republican party are getting more frequent and more serious. From an AP story in yesterday’s Statesman: At least three Republican electors say they may not support their party’s presidential ticket when the Electoral College meets in December to formally elect the new…

Nonstory of the year

Sep 13, 2012 By Paul Burka

I’m referring to the recent poll by Wilson Perkins Allen that shows Romney leading Obama in Texas by 55-40. (McCain had similar numbers, 55-44.) With Democrats getting only 40% of the vote, what’s the surprise in these numbers? There is none. Obama is not providing enough coattails for Democratic legislative…

If Romney loses …

Sep 12, 2012 By Paul Burka

…the reaction from the right wing of the Republican party is going to be a ferocious backlash of “We told you so.” The GOP decided to stick with the front-runner, Mitt Romney, as is its long-established habit, and while it is certainly too early to say that Romney is in…

Blind Houston Chef Wins MasterChef Competition

Sep 11, 2012 By Layne Lynch

Reality cooking shows have seen their fair share of Texas talent this past year. Earlier this spring, Austin’s Paul Qui was named the winner of Top Chef Texas. Now, Houston has its own culinary reality star: Christine Ha, a blind graduate student at the University of Houston. Last night on the finale of FOX’s…

The Second Battle of the Alamo: Fox News vs. Julián Castro’s mom

Sep 10, 2012 By Paul Burka

This battle was initiated by Fox News, which accused the mother of Democratic keynoter of being a member of a “radical civil rights movement”and who reportedly thinks the truth behind the Battle of the Alamo is that Texans swiped Mexico’s land. More from the article: The Hispanic Texas…

Julián Castro’s future

Sep 8, 2012 By Paul Burka

Castro flashed signs of big-time political talent in his speech at the Democratic convention, but he is faced with the same problem as all Texas Democrats: all dressed up with no place to go. Democrats are not positioned to win a statewide race anytime soon. They don’t have the party…

Choose Your Own Texas Adventure

Sep 6, 2012 By Jordan Breal

  When it comes to traveling around the state, it's easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of destinations to choose from. One of the things I love most about Texas is that you can drive a few hours (or more than a few hours) in one direction and be at, say, the beach and then head another direction and find yourself in the mountains or in the rolling Hill Country or in the Piney Woods. For the last several years, a few of my colleagues and I have been visiting small towns and exploring interesting areas of big cities in search of noteworthy things to do, see, and eat. Here's a cheat sheet guide to what you can expect to find in a few of the places we've singled out across the state recently . . . 

What Obama did and didn’t do

Sep 6, 2012 By Paul Burka

I thought Obama had to do two things tonight. One was tell the nation what he was going to do in the next four years that he hadn’t done in the past four years.  He did some of that–cut the deficit, cut oil imports, improve fuel economy–but there were no…

Paul Qui Returns to Uchi Roots Next Week

Sep 6, 2012 By Layne Lynch

Paul Qui – the recent winner of Top Chef Texas and the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest – is currently working on his much-anticipated Austin restaurant projects, but that doesn’t mean he has completely forgotten his chef roots. From September 10-15, Qui will return to the Uchi…

Castro shines in keynote speech

Sep 4, 2012 By Paul Burka

I thought Julian Castro exceeded expectations in his keynote address. The speech itself was nothing special, but Castro rode its momentum all the way. He hit the right notes–middle class, family, opportunity, Mom, America, working together. All the cliches, in other words, but what is a keynote for if not…

“Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

Sep 4, 2012 By Paul Burka

That seems to be the question of the moment in politics. As an individual, I would say, “about the same.” For the country as a whole, I don’t think it’s a close issue. The answer is “much better off.” Think back to September 2008. Lehman Brothers collapsed, banks were failing,…

Did Greg Abbott “save” the Voting Rights Act?

Sep 3, 2012 By Paul Burka

The Web site “The Texas Lawbook” asks the intriguing question posed by the headline. If Abbott did save it, he didn’t mean to, that’s for sure. From the Web site: The Texas Attorney General claims in court that the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965 is outdated, unnecessary and…

Perry names Williams education chief

Aug 30, 2012 By Paul Burka

This appointment had been rumored for some time, so it was hardly a surprise. Michael Williams has a slim history in the education area, except for serving in the Department of Education during the George H. W. Bush administration and serving on the board of a Catholic school. He faces…

Houston: James Turrell’s Skyspace

Aug 29, 2012 By Jordan Breal

During a recent trip to Houston, I decided to make an early-bird dinner reservation so I could get over to the Rice University campus in time for the evening viewing of James Turrell’s Light Epiphany. Open since June, the site-specific “skyspace” was commissioned to mark…

Erin McKool of Start Talks Reinventing Traditional Drive-Through Restaurants

Aug 29, 2012 By Layne Lynch

In late July, Erin McKool opened a drive-through restaurant in Dallas called Start. For years, McKool had planned to open her own restaurant, but was never sure of what concept she wanted to undertake. Two-and-a-half years ago when the idea for Start finally came to fruition, McKool knew she had something spectacular on her hands. Start is a restaurant…

State loses redistricting case; Abbott plans appeal

Aug 29, 2012 By Paul Burka

The outcome of this case was predestined. For months, the D.C. court warned that Texas’s failure to provide Hispanic opportunity districts when there were huge Hispanic population gains could be construed as evidence of intentional discrimination. There was no way a fair court could ignore the facts in the case:…

Marfa: Trans-Pecos Gathering of Music + Love

Aug 27, 2012 By Jordan Breal

In one of my favorite descriptions of Marfa, writer David McDannald points out that sometimes it’s “a shadow of a town” and sometimes it’s “a desert Mardi Gras.” At the end of this month, West Texas’s buzziest destination will be lit up like Bourbon Street…

Neil Armstrong, R.I.P.

Aug 26, 2012 By Paul Burka

I was saddened to hear of the death of astronaut Neil Armstrong, at 82. His passing reminds us of a time when people still believed that government could do great things. Nobody believes that any more. The landing on the moon is one of the great accomplishments of this nation,…

The Republican field: a sensible solution

Aug 24, 2012 By Paul Burka

Here’s what I think should happen: (1) If Abbott isn’t going to run against Perry, he should challenge Dewhurst for lieutenant governor. It’s the best job available (other than governor), and Dewhurst is gravely wounded. Abbott would beat him like a drum. If Abbott doesn’t run, Dewhurst still has to…

Roadside Attraction: Wild Boar Farms

Aug 22, 2012 By Jordan Breal

WHAT: Wild Boar Farms, a roadside farm stand worth pulling over for. WHERE: Stonewall, at the northeast corner of Hwy 290 and Luckenbach Road. WHY: For starters, the head farmer’s name is Daniel Bacon. That’s as good a reason as any to patronize this long, wood-paneled structure,…

Wandering Around the Great State of Texas

Aug 22, 2012 By Jordan Breal

If you’ve already picked up your copy of Texas Monthly‘s September issue, you’ve noticed that the magazine has undergone a top-to-bottom redesign. In the new Touts section, you’ll find the debut of my Texas travel column, the Wanderer (or, as my colleagues like to…

Pay It Forward Tonight with Daniel Curtis and Austin Chefs

Aug 21, 2012 By Layne Lynch

Despite our most valiant efforts, we cannot predict the life events that await us around the corner. Before May of last year, Daniel Curtis – former food and beverage director of The Carillon – had every intention of continuing his work in the evolving Austin culinary scene. But when a diving accident on…

Cabins on the coast

Aug 19, 2012 By Paul Burka

I was quite surprised to see the story in the Tribune about the fishing cabins along the Intracoastal canal. I’d forgotten about them since the days when I worked in the Senate for Babe Schwartz as committee counsel. The cabins, which we referred to a squatters’ shacks, were built by…

Texans First, but in what? [see UPDATE]

Aug 17, 2012 By Paul Burka

There seems to be a new organization that’s getting started. It’s called “Texans First.” Here’s what I think is going on. It’s a Rick Perry play all the way. That’s obvious from the signature on the letter, which is that of Bill Jones, formerly Perry’s general counsel and former chairman…

Faster than a speeding bullet (train)

Aug 17, 2012 By Paul Burka

I was very interested to see the story that former Harris County judge Robert Eckels is leading a group that wants to bring a bullet train to Texas, backed by Japanese interests. There was a previous effort to bring a bullet train to Texas in 1993. It didn’t come to…

The fraud of voter impersonation fraud

Aug 14, 2012 By Paul Burka

From the Washington Post, August 11: A new nationwide analysis of more than 2,000 cases of alleged election fraud over the past dozen years shows that in-person voter impersonation on Election Day, which has prompted 37 state legislatures to enact or consider tougher voter ID laws, was…

Munisteri says Cruz is a “bright star”

Aug 13, 2012 By Paul Burka

The Abilene Reporter-News published a remarkable story about a speech by Republican party chairman Steve Munisteri. “Is Ted Cruz a bright star or what?” Minusteri said in a speech at the Brownwood Country Club. The article continued, “After the meeting, he hesitated to say that Dewhurst, who was backed…

AP confirms: It’s Ryan

Aug 11, 2012 By Paul Burka

From the Web site policymic.com: The Associated Press and several television stations have confirmed that Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan will be Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate. * * * * One big question that remains is, how many Republican insiders profited from knowing the pick ahead of time?…