Sotto Voce
July 01, 2009

A tip from an informant led Detective Amando Rodriguez and Sergeant Diane Contreras to the stash house--actually a New York City apartment--which they had good reason to think contained a substantial haul of drugs. The suspicion was confirmed when they busted a man leaving the building with a kilo of cocaine in a black bag. The officers entered the building to stake out the apartment. That's when the carryout delivery woman arrived with an order for the stash house. Worried that she might inadvertently draw attention to their presence, the cops made a hasty decision to enlist her help.

Rosen On The Voting Rights Act
June 22, 2009

The Supreme Court just released its opinion in Northwest Austin Utility District v. Holder, a case that raised questions about the constitutionality of enforcement mechanisms in the Voting Rights Act. As Jeff Rosen wrote last May, if the Court's conservative majority decided to overturn those provisions, it might have presented President Obama with a political opportunity: If the Supreme Court strikes down part of the Voting Rights Act ...

Obama By A Coin Flip
March 07, 2008

At 6 P.M. on Tuesday night, Crystal Viagran is standing on a street corner in East Austin, Texas, holding an Obama sign above her head. In less than an hour, she ditches the sign and walks toward Govalle Elementary School, the primary voting and caucus site for Precinct 426, and picks up a manila packet containing all the instructions for conducting that night's precinct convention. Crystal, 32, who works as a student adviser at the University of Texas, her alma mater, was elected precinct convention chair in 2006 by a total of three votes. That's how many people showed up to caucus.

Texas Dispatch: Anticipating Caucus Troubles
March 03, 2008

Freelance journalist Laurence Lowe is covering the Texas primary from Austin this week. Here, he reports on a looming logistical nightmare.   Everyone in Texas expected the race to be over on Super Tuesday. Not in the last 36 years has a primary here actually mattered--and there’s a lot of confusion about how to handle the little things, like enabling all the people who want to caucus to, well, caucus.

I, Superdelegate: The McCain Scandal Bumped Me Off MSNBC!
February 21, 2008

The Austin debate tonight between Hillary and Barack is on the mind of everyone I know today and is all anyone is talking to me about. I will be at the debate--each DNC and State Executive Committee member was given one ticket. I appreciated that since 43,000 people entered a lottery for 100 tickets. It's certainly a bizarre world I'm now a part of: CNN Radio contacted me to be on their pre-debate show. And I had been scheduled for my first live national TV interview last night, on Live With Dan Abrams, but got bumped when John McCain's scandal broke. My dad called me earlier today.

I, Superdelegate: In Which I Receive Yet Another Mysterious Phone Call, And President Clinton Podcasts For Me
February 18, 2008

David Holmes, a 34-year-old political/legislative consultant, is a Democratic superdelegate from Austin, Texas. He pledged to vote for Hillary Clinton about three weeks before the Iowa Caucus, but recently, there have been rumors that he’s thinking about switching his support to Obama. Let’s just say that he’s been getting a lot of phone calls lately. ... Holmes agreed to keep a diary for TNR of his superdelegate experience.   February 15, 2008 I am David Holmes, and I am a superdelegate.

The Fixer
April 23, 2007

BEFORE THERE WAS Walter Reed—before the revelations in The Washington Post, before the congressional hearings and presidential commissions and resigning generals—there was Joshua Murphy and his bad dream. In November 2005, Murphy returned home to Wichita Falls, Texas, after service that included a year patrolling the treacherous Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City as a specialist in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Prior to the war, he had been outgoing, social, well-liked—“just your basic eighteen-year-old kid,” in the words of his mother, Monica.

Dark Darker Darkest
January 22, 2007

The Notebooks of Robert Frost Edited by Robert Faggen (Harvard University Press, 792 pp., $39.95) ROBERT FROST'S POETRY is full of actions taken on obscure impulse. A man reins in his horse on "the darkest evening of the year" to watch the woods fill up with snow. Why does he interrupt his journey? "The woods are lovely, dark and deep." Another man hesitates where "two roads diverged in a yellow wood" and takes "the one less traveled by." These poems are so familiar that it is almost painful to quote them. Others less well known are no less driven by impulse.

Presidential Libraries
January 10, 2007

It was predictable. That even the faculty, or a large portion of it, at Southern Methodist University in Dallas would have qualms about having the George W. Bush Presidential Library on campus. It was obvious. Now, SMU has not actually been designated as the querulous host. Baylor University in Waco and the University of Texas, not in Austin, God forbid, but Irving are also in the running. Or maybe trying to escape. Ralph Blumenthal spins out the somewhat intricate tale in today's Times, "Faculty at S.M.U.

God Again
March 21, 2005

“THANK YOU, MOSES.” When I heard those words outside the marshal’s office at the Supreme Court the other day, I trembled for my country. I had come to hear the oral arguments in the Ten Commandments cases, and was prepared for a morning’s appreciation of what Moses brought down from the mountain; but in the courtroom, not in the corridor. My liberal’s back went up. Thou shalt not mistake the Torah for the Constitution.