Smashed Peaches

Drug Research Studies

First Reading: Catching up on Betomania – Austin American-Statesman

Good morning Austin:

While most Texas politics watchers will be focused on the Texas Capitol in the coming weeks and months, as the 140-day legislative session gets underway, we are, somehow, already in the midst of the 2020 presidential race. 

Julián Castro will announce his candidacy in San Antonio on Saturday.

And Beto?

In an August 16  First Reading, I wrote:

 I think if O’Rourke comes within 5 points of Cruz he will be a lock for a place on the Democrat’s national ticket in 2020 — vice president would be a gimme, especially if the candidate for president is a woman — like Elizabeth Warren or Kirsten Gillibrand or, more likely, California’s Kamala Harris.

And if O’Rourke were to come within 2 or 3 points of Cruz, I think he would be the presumptive front-runner for his party’s presidential nomination.

Why? Because of his qualities as a candidate, and because his run against Cruz — to Democrats every inch as evil and despicable as Trump — has already made him a national hero to the party faithful, and because the prospect of a candidate like O’Rourke — a Spanish-speaking, border-dwelling, border-loving, Kennedyesque Texas liberal — who could actually put Texas in play, is impossible to resist.

Pretty good. (O’Rourke lost by 2.6 points.)

Exactly four months later, there is this from a Dec. 16 story from Todd Gillman in The Dallas Morning News (and let me express my great dismay, distress and empathy with regard to the terrible layoffs announced yesterday at the DMN), under the headline, O’Rourke marvels at Beto-mania, conceding it’s ‘a great question’ whether he’s ready for White House

WASHINGTON — TMZ trails him around the capital. Fans still check his Facebook page to see if he’s going live again anytime soon. Democratic activists keep trying to lure him to Iowa and New Hampshire, and campaign operatives are sending him resumes, uninvited.

U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke is getting more buzz as a potential White House contender than people who’ve served as governor, senator or even vice president and secretary of state, even though he’s still stinging from falling short last month to Sen. Ted Cruz.

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“I want to talk to [his wife] Amy and see what she wants me to do in terms of time with kids and family in the house in El Paso … and then just interesting things that you can do,” he said. “Amy and I had this expectation that after the sixth of November, one way or another things would kind of die down and we could regroup and you know, catch up.

“But in some ways, things have intensified,” he said.

Over and over, he said he wants time to “regroup” after nearly two years on the road.

“I’d love to take a backpack up into the Gila Wilderness” — a vast expanse in New Mexico, a hundred miles from El Paso — “and just spend some time thinking through stuff,” he said.

But he also seems to pine for another kind of trail, the sort that leads to higher office.

“As brutal as it was, and it was, and as tough as it was on our family, and it was incredibly tough,” he said, “there’s also just some really amazing, transcendent, fun moments that are unlike anything that we’ve done in our lives or are likely to get to do again in our lives, short of running for something else.”

Whoa. Back up. Backpacking in the Gila Wilderness to think this through?

“I’d love to take a backpack up into the Gila Wilderness” — a vast expanse in New Mexico, a hundred miles from El Paso — “and just spend some time thinking through stuff,” O’Rourke said.https://t.co/9Yji7NzJyK

— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald)December 17, 2018

Yes, yes, yes.

That is good. That is great.

Beto’s right. It’s a great question about whether he’s ready for the White House, but there’s no question that he’s the most ready of any Democrat to make everything about a potential candidacy, and even the contemplation of that candidacy, into something intriguing, enticing and authentically his own.

As I wrote in a post-election story last month of his Senate campaign:

His campaign was from start to finish a road trip, a journey of discovery, livestreamed all the way on Facebook, enabling him to establish a uniquely personal, ongoing and interactive relationship with his following. Traveling to all 254 counties was a narrative device, a laudable mission, going places Democrats had stopped going, didn’t care or even feared to tread, that propelled the campaign forward and showed O’Rourke off to his best advantage — caring, earnest, reasonable, open-hearted, post-partisan, perpetually on the go, and, for all his generally liberal positions, more idealistic than ideological — while providing perpetually refreshed opportunities for positive press coverage.

How better to decide whether to run for president than to disappear into the wilderness for a solitary walkabout.

Gila Wilderness is Apache land…..https://t.co/XPOent6HWw

— RezBootz (@RezHerring)July 21, 2018

From a 2014 blog from Amanda Stuart.

Field Tip #2: Gila Wilderness – Elephant Butte – Valle de Oro (there and back)

After topping up on city comforts for a week, we recommenced our journeys in the Gila State Forest, New Mexico. Much had I heard of this major American southwest wilderness, though most of which I confess was cross-pollinated with childhood imaginariums of terrifying geila monsters. I hadn’t figured that these reptiles actually DO exist, though perhaps not with the same godzilla-esque mythological status.

The brooding late afternoon Gila (pronounced heeler) we rolled into was warm and unusually wet. It had a strong psychic impact that demanded absolute respect. In addition, for the first time in my life I was confronted with the prospect of animals that might want to eat me, or at least want to know what business I had in their patch.

It makes you acutely aware of your position in the food chain.

Black bear print, Turkey springs confluence

The Gila is physically characterized by complex geology and high country aridity, which supports a plethora of diverse flora including deciduous trees, cottonwoods, spiky ground herbs, succulents and the mysterious datura plant.

A swollen Gila River

The fertile Gila River swelled over the 5 wet days we spent there, refusing us access to its high reach hot springs, but providing ample opportunity for explorations of its fascinating lower reaches. Fuelled by more superlative camp food, the crew busied themselves with a variety of research and art actions, centered round soggy river walks, canyon forays, river floats and of course the increasingly mandatory art of rattlesnake dodging. Generally rattlers will do anything to avoid human conflict, giving intruders a warning shake of their percussive tails. They must have been on the peyote that week, as they seemed a bit slack in adhering to this polite convention. I literally came face to face with a mute one that had cleverly embedded itself under the rocks of the lower hot springs – and consequently found myself inventing an innovative style of moonwalking.

Let Julián Castro test the waters in New Hampshire, or Elizabeth Warren dip her toes in Iowa.

Beto will be out there with rattlers, silent rattlers, rattlers on peyote. (I am not sure whether he should attempt a livestream while out there. Probably not. Maybe just Instagram.)

People hiking in or near the Gila Wilderness need to remember that area is filled with Rattlesnakes.

— American AntiFed (@AmericanAntiFed)June 18, 2018

When it comes to social media, Beto has no rival among the Democrats. And no other Democrat has shown nearly the same Trump touch for reality TV.

Call it the Gila primary and invite Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden to test their survival skills as well.

As for the peyote, he should probably leave it alone, or leave it to the imagination.

From the Addiction Resources Page, brought to you by the Delphi Health Group

In some states you can legally use peyote if you join or attend an event run by the Native American Church. In other states, however, a person must be a certain percentage of Native American to legally use peyote.

A most astonishing and unlucky thing to note is that Texas laws are very strict in this affair. Unlucky because Texas is native to Peyote growth, the Texas law requires that in order to use Peyote, a person must not only be a member of the Native American Church, but they also should have at least twenty-five percent Native American genes in their blood.

Oh, but wait. This just in from Reid Epstein and Ken Thomas at The Wall Street Journal is the latest on how Beto will go about making up his mind.

NEW NEWS: Beto O’Rourke is planning a solo road trip to talk to regular people about the country as he mulls a 2020 presidential campaign w/@KThomasDChttps://t.co/RVVMEbDZlz

— Reid J. Epstein (@reidepstein)January 7, 2019

WASHINGTON—Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke is asking aides to create an itinerary for him to take a solo road trip outside of Texas where he would “pop into places” such as community college campuses, as he considers whether to enter the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, according to a person familiar with the plans.

Mr. O’Rourke’s trip would begin from his El Paso home and keep him away from Iowa and other early-voting states. Mr. O’Rourke doesn’t plan to be accompanied by staff or press, though he may document the trip on social media and allow people he meets to do so as well. He doesn’t plan to make a final decision on a presidential bid until at least February.

Mr. O’Rourke is one of three leading Democratic figures looming over the party’s nascent presidential contest. Decisions to be made in coming weeks by former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, along with Mr. O’Rourke’s move, will help shape the contours of the 2020 Democratic campaign.

That’s very good. Community colleges are perfect. Emphasizing the generational shift that would be Beto’s greatest selling point against Trump/Sanders/Biden while homing in on the more struggling, working class student population.

It’s unclear to me exactly how he is going to do all that and shed the reporters who might somehow find a way to track and trail him to these pop-up visits and the general tumult they would inevitably create.

But, then again, Beatlemania were never more manic or attractive than when the boys were fleeing fame.

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