Jake Bernstein



Just Say Vo

If the Democratic Party in Texas is to have a successful future, it will be found in places like state House District 149 in Houston. Located just north of Sugar Land, right inside the Harris County line, the district features … Read More


Clean Up or Cover Up?

Will El Paso finally confront a century-old toxic legacy?

Yvette Ramirez-Ammerman is trying to comprehend why some of her neighbors don’t appear overly concerned about the poison in the ground around them. She sits in her bright, airy, and immaculate home, rocking Alyssa, her 3-year-old daughter on her lap. … Read More


We Don’t Want Him Either

Guerilla theater gets rough in New York City

President Bush Back to Texas, No! Send him to The Hague! How ’bout Abu Ghraib?” chants a small contingent from the Tejas Bloc aka the Radical Tejas Bloc. They are standing against the Ford Theater on 42nd Street in New … Read More



Got Frame?

As I write these words, energized Democrats across the nation are preparing to descend on Boston for their national convention. One can only hope that their leaders are paying more than lip service to George Lakoff. A professor of linguistics … Read More




Everywhere at the Texas Democratic Party’s convention in Houston in June the buzz was all about John Kerry and, a fortuitous guest of honor, John Edwards. But behind the scenes, conversations long overdue were taking place. Texas Democrats have finally … Read More


Dems da Breaks

They've got energy and new faces, but can Texas Dems get organized to bring home the votes?

The first general session of the Texas Democratic Party’s convention in Houston on June 18 began inauspiciously. The party had planned to open the convention with a tribute to the armed forces. Two weeks earlier at the state GOP convention, … Read More


In Search of the Next Crusade

Republicans discover it's easier to be an up-and-comer

If any overarching theme connected all the various subplots and intrigues at the recent Republican state convention in San Antonio, it was this: it’s easier to be an up-and-comer. For 16 years—ever since Pat Robertson ignited the Evangelical GOP grassroots … Read More


The Chief Reformer Steps Down

The Texas Observer talks with retiring state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips

On April 29, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips announced his retirement after 16 years in the position. He was a 38-year-old state district judge in Houston in 1987 when then-Gov. Bill Clements appointed him, transforming Phillips into both … Read More


Pac Men

Did Bob Perry use an influential lobby PAC to circumvent judicial campaign caps?

Among the Texas lobby elite, HillCo Partners stands apart. It has an influence and reach—stretching from the statehouse to the state Supreme Court—that almost gives it the status of a shadow government. Its partners are involved in nearly every big … Read More