Remember the Tribune

Lt. Col. William Barret Travis

If you are close to becoming a naturalized Texan, (not sure such an entity is culturally recognized) or you were born over the sacred soil, you have the innate sense that tells you about the approach of the historic Battle of the Alamo anniversary. In fact, yesterday marked the 178th year to have passed since Lt. Col. William Barret Travis wrote his famous letter from the Alamo seeking help from the outside world to survive the Mexican siege. Knowing my interest in all things Texan, and my recent focusing of attention on the Texas Tribune, a friend sent me the note below, a parody of Travis’ letter he dispatched to the world asking for help to defend the Alamo.

This is from Commander Evan Smith, enduring onslaught at the Texas Tribune, continuing to seek help from outside donors.

Commandancy of the Texas Tribune Austin, Feby. 24th. 2014 To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World— Fellow Citizens & compatriots— I am besieged by four or more of the journalists — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for four days & have lost a potential donor and the remaining shreds of my self-respect — The enemy has demanded a transparency about our donors, otherwise, they will cease assuming whatever we tell them is “news” or “impartial”— I have answered the demand with a fundraising appeal, & corporate sponsorships for our TribFest are still selling briskly— I shall never surrender or retreat. Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character (and by that I mean Money”), to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to six or even ten in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country — VICTORY OR DEATH. Evan A Smith. Lt. Col. comdt. P. S. The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in sight we had not collected on a telecom company’s pledge— We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 high-tech startups and got into the walls 20 or 30 health care profiteers”.

Lt. Col. William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. William Barret Travis

I swear I didn’t want to write about the Tribune today but this is too damned funny. I hope they change their ways and face a brighter outcome than Travis and everyone who stepped across his dusty line.

But they keep doing stupid crap.

The Texas Tribune and the University of Texas made much noise over their statewide political poll released yesterday but failed to point out a few fairly significant factors. The survey, which was conducted in partnership with the University of Texas, (remember, El Paso billionaire Paul Foster, chairman of the UT board of regents, gives the Trib $100,000 and then they write about the university, very fairly, we assume), indicates that Republican Greg Abbott would beat Wendy Davis by 47 to 36 percent, if the election were held today. Seventeen percent of voters are undecided. The usual sample of 1200 was asked questions.

There is a decent amount of attention to the poll, which was also published in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. In the Tribune’s copy, a reader has to get to the last paragraph of a long story to discover the most relevant fact about the Trib’s poll: It was conducted between Feb. 7 – 17. In the governor’s race, at least, the findings are irrelevant. Ted Nugent had not yet shat upon the aspirations of Greg Abbott. (For future reference when writing about this relationship, I am thinking of a conflation: Ted Abbott.)

Abbott had barely called South Texas a Third World before the polling began and no one was surveyed after Nugent had traveled the state insulting a sitting president with a Nazi characterization, and having his background referred to by reporters digging up stories about his draft evasion tactics and his sexual proclivities. Although it is only an unfortunate matter of timing, it’s hard to believe the Tribune’s poll has real relevance given a potentially significant impact on sentiments prompted by the tactical failings of the Abbott campaign exhibited by the Nugent invite.

But hey, ya spend a lot of money on a poll, ya gotta promote the hell out of it, even if it is meaningless regarding the most important race in the state. The data on the other races was interesting and appeared to accurately project anticipated outcomes. But the governor’s race is in no manner as wide as 11 points after l’affaire Nugent. Davis need not worry about these figures.

Abbott still has about three times more in the bank (about $30 million) than Democrat Wendy Davis but she continues to raise cash well with a reported $2.85 million last month compared to the attorney general’s $2.45 million. The winner of the race in Texas, with twenty plus media markets, is likely to spend $50 million to become governor, which means $100 million may be expended in this state by two people fighting for a job that is among the most constitutionally weak in the U.S.

And democracy is the best form of government?


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