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T-Squared: Ready, Set, TribFest

Tickets for the 2016 Texas Tribune Festival are finally on sale, and we can't wait to tell you about all the amazing people we've confirmed as speakers and the ambitious panels we've pulled together.

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Tickets for the 2016 Texas Tribune Festival are finally on sale, and we can't wait to tell you about all the amazing people we've confirmed as speakers and the ambitious panels we've pulled together. We'll gather again on the University of Texas at Austin campus for three wonky days this fall — the dates are Sept. 23-25 — and as usual, the topics on the agenda cover the waterfront: public and higher education, immigration, criminal justice, water, health care, and on and on. We'll add to that big, meaty subjects with a national and global focus.

Among our favorite programs we can sneak-preview for you now:

* A conversation about race in America since MLK, moderated by Harvard University Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and featuring, among others, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, Democrat of Houston, and former Florida Congressman Allen West

* The national security agenda for the 45th president, with U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, Republican of San Antonio; retired U.S. Navy admiral and former deputy director of the CIA Bobby R. Inman; and former Ambassador to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan Ryan Crocker

* The death of the political center, with former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell and former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson

* A one-on-one with Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico, on the reality of life across the big, beautiful border

* The mayors of Dallas and Houston, Mike Rawlings and Sylvester Turner, on the challenges of running two of the nation's biggest cities

* The superintendents of the Dallas, San Antonio and El Paso independent school districts on the future of urban public ed

* A peek behind the curtain — or robes — of the Texas Supreme Court with Chief Justice Nathan Hecht and Justices Don Willett and Eva Guzman

* New York Times columnist Joe Nocera interviewing energy magnate T. Boone Pickens — a reunion of sorts 34 years after one of the most famous Texas Monthly cover stories of all time

* Our popular Sunday morning media gabfest dissecting the presidential election — which at that point will be six weeks out — with S.E. Cupp of CNN, Steve Kornacki of MSNBC, John Cassidy of The New Yorker, Jay Newton-Small of Time magazine and our old pal Dave Weigel of The Washington Post.

* And — for an additional price, at our unofficial fest kick-off at Franklin Barbecue — Marty Baron, the executive editor of The Washington Post, on politics, media, and the film "Spotlight," plus all the world-class brisket you can eat and all the cold beer you can drink.

I'm pleased to tell you that as of now, we have more than 50 members of the Texas Legislature confirmed to participate in this year's festival along with seven statewide elected officials and nine of our U.S. Congressmen; all of those numbers will shoot up between now and September. We also have a current governor of another state, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, who will join in a discussion of what the rest of the country can learn from Texas and what we can learn from the rest of the country.

This is just the start. It's going to be the best fest ever. (We always say that, but this time we really mean it.) Get your tickets by clicking here.

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