Harold Cook

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Posts by Harold Cook

Guest Blog: Republicans’ really crappy terrible horrible week

I trust others besides me have noticed that the last week or so has been the worst for conservative Republicans since Barack Obama won the Presidency in 2008?

It started last week when the Komen Foundation, at the behest of right-wingers so dead-set against Planned Parenthood, one of the nation’s leading health care providers to women, tried to screw the organization out of breast cancer screening funds, and in the process only succeeding in destroying their own good brand. Komen is still writhing around in the muck, trying to salvage what little is left of their organization, without much success. Planned Parenthood, meanwhile, has raised millions in extra funding and will undoubtedly step up, not cut back, on breast cancer screenings and other crucial preventive health care services.

Score: right-wing Republicans: 0, everybody else: 1

Next, the new job numbers came out. Turns out that despite Congressional Republicans’ best efforts to block as much of the President’s plan to right the economy as they can, the Obama administration’s efforts have been humming right along, and there is new optimism that the economy is going in the right direction, after years of worry. Suddenly the people who have tried for two years to pin the unemployment picture on Obama were arguing that presidents don’t really affect employment anyway, so it’s irrelevant. Right.

Score: right-wing Republicans: 0, everybody else: 2

In another development which is undoubtedly directly attributable to the news on jobs, National polling immediately showed an up-tick in Obama’s support, for the first time opening up some daylight in the theoretical general election match-ups, and showing Obama beating Mitt Romney in November.

Score: right-wing Republicans: 0, everybody else: 3

But speaking of front-runner Mitt "pink slip" Romney, funny thing happened on the way to the Republican nominating process yesterday in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri. Romney didn’t win any of them. Neither did the self-proclaimed conservative alternative to Romney, Newt Gingrich. Instead, back-bencher Rick Santorum won them all, in a stinging rebuke of virtually every big money Republican funder and every establishment Republican leader, except for the evangelical leadership most out of tune with general election voters.

After Romney’s big come-back in Florida, Romney had about ten days to consolidate his support into a national movement. And with all the money and organization in the world to do so, he failed. Gingrich, being the chief architect of his own demise, has made himself seem qualified to be nothing more than the governor of our newest state, the moon. Which left Santorum to reap the benefit of one of the biggest leadership voids to hit the Republican Party since Herbert Hoover.

Score: right-wing Republicans: 0, everybody else: 4

So where do they go from here? The Republican nomination is in complete disarray. This, by itself, is not necessarily a train wreck for them – need I remind Democrats that at this point in our own nominating process four years ago, we were incapable of making a decision between Obama and Clinton?

No, here’s the train wreck, and the difference: four years ago, Democrats couldn’t make up their minds because our choices were both so damn good. Republicans today can’t make up their minds because each of their remaining four choices is so utterly and fundamentally flawed. The conservatives who make up the bulk of the Republican base hate Romney’s policies. Gingrich has made himself completely unlikeable to more mainstream establishment Republicans. Ron Paul is very busy being Ron "you kids get off my lawn" Paul. And Rick Santorum, being the new guy with the wind at his back, is about to have the worst three or four news cycles of his life, dealt him by Romney’s attack machine, which has all the cash.

Republican voters freshly supporting Santorum do so knowing very little about the man – they’re just opposing Gingrich and Romney. They’re about to know more about Santorum than Mr. Santorum ever wanted them to know.

Score: right-wing Republicans: 0, everybody else: 5

And that’s just a week. Have a great day, Republicans.

Update: oops, I forgot about this, the Proposition 8 ruling supporting Californians’ civil rights, despite me listing it in my head earlier before I got to my computer.

Score: Republicans: 0, everybody else: 6

Capital Roundup often entertains guest bloggers. The opinions here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Capital Tonight or YNN Austin

Guest Post: New Hampshire wrap, South Carolina preview

The big news in New Hampshire was that there was no big news in New Hampshire. The New Hampshire surprise is that there were no surprises. Everybody did what they were expected to do in the state.

The "Not Romney" crowd was hoping Romney would come in significantly below the 40 percent he expected. He didn’t.

The "Stop Paul" establishment Republicans were hoping for an upset in which Huntsman, who bet it all in New Hampshire, would pass up Ron Paul in a late surge and come in second. Huntsman didn’t — while there was, indeed, a mini-surge for Huntsman, there was also a surge for Paul.

All-in-all, the entire New Hampshire exercise was a big snore. That’s very good news for Mitt Romney, and very bad news for the conservatives trying to stop him. There is plenty of evidence of growing dread among the ultra-conservative leadership of the Republican Party that Romney cannot be stopped, and even more evidence that increasingly, most Republican primary voters are just fine with a Romney nomination.

In other words, the Tea Party may end up being reduced to a Tea Happy Hour, in which the kegs floated early and everybody went home well before curfew.

One microscopically-interesting factoid in the results is the growing worry among establishment Republicans that Ron Paul and his supporters will be freshly-energized by Paul’s distant second place finish, which will only serve to push back the inevitable future date in the primary calendar by which Ron Paul goes away.

Also interesting is that nobody quit after last night’s results. Jon Huntsman should have, but didn’t. Last week after the Iowa Caucuses, Rick Perry shouldn’t have, but sort of did (but he took it back early the next morning while jogging…apparently all manner of interesting crap happens to Rick Perry while jogging).

Here’s the run-down:

Romney: got everything he needed in New Hampshire; it’s hard to argue with a clear win in which he got almost twice the votes of the second place finisher. Exit polling indicates he enjoyed significant support from all segments of the Republican establishment, including those which the more conservative candidates have been betting would never go for Romney.

Paul: got what he deserved, plus more, a likely recipient of all the support he would normally get, plus protest votes from among others who would otherwise have supported one of the collapsed not-Romneys. He has a lot to crow about as he leaves New Hampshire, but has nowhere to go after this. He’ll never have so few votes in a future state to be anything less than a hot bridesmaid, and he’ll never have so many votes in a future state to be even the frumpiest of brides.

Huntsman: bet it all in New Hampshire for over a year, and all he has to show is a distant third place finish and a lousy t-shirt. While he enjoyed more support than other candidates, he’s the biggest loser, if only because all his money and organization was in New Hampshire.

Gingrich: Wait, am I going out of order? Apparently not — while the election returns are still trickling in, it appears Gingrich squeaked in ahead of Santorum. A tiny moral victory for Gingrich, who needs moral victories. One thing Gingrich doesn’t need is money — a casino-owning angel has dumped a pile of it into Gingrich’s super PAC, and the lion’s share will be spent in South Carolina viciously attacking Romney for being predatory. Setting aside the irony of a casino owner accusing somebody of being predatory, Gingrich hopes the attacks chip away at Romney’s support, but even if it works, it’s less clear if it will be to Gingrich’s benefit. The Newtster, however, remains one of the two not-Romneys still relevant. The other, of course, is…

Santorum: the most interesting not-Romney at the moment. Santorum got about half of his 15 minutes of fame in Iowa, and I expect him to play out his second half in South Carolina. He was never really expected to do well in New Hampshire, because Republicans there are shockingly sane, which ain’t Santorum’s crowd. He didn’t modify his message to accommodate the New Hampshire country club crowd, because it would have alienated his natural constituencies in upcoming South Carolina — a smart move on his part. Look for Santorum to quickly regain footing in South Carolina and perhaps emerge as the only viable not-Romney left in the field.

Perry: I don’t mean this ugly or anything, but honestly, who cares? Few outside the Texas media are even following Perry’s campaign any longer, except for a few stray embeds hoping for gaffe entertainment. He chose not to compete in New Hampshire, and as a result, he got fewer votes than most reporters and many observers have twitter followers. Skipping New Hampshire was the best strategy available to him, which mostly means that there aren’t any decent strategies left available to him. Unless Romney makes a fatal mistake (unlikely, since Romney has been running for President since the Earth cooled), Perry will drop out after South Carolina when the money runs out.

You can find more of Harold’s writing on his blog, Letters from Texas.

Guest Post: Ron Paul grows up

Commentary: A perfectly-timed communication can be a game-changer. This may be one of those times. Take a look at the new Ron Paul ad attacking Newt Gingrich, if you haven’t already seen it as it virally screams across the interwebz this afternoon:

This ad is a brilliant attack, not over-done, credible, and may be perfectly timed to coincide with the probability that Gingrich, the Republican poll leader-of-the-week, may be wearing thin on Republican primary voters as his record is closely scrutinized, as the record of anybody in the lead would be.

But it’s the fact that it’s a Ron Paul ad that makes it most interesting. Clearly Paul wants to be the next in batting order for leader-of-the-week, and this ad may not only shorten Gingrich’s week, but also signal to voters that Paul is ready to be a grown-up and play with the big dogs.

It will be interesting to see how the tracking polls change trajectory for each man in the next few days. Stay tuned — we may be nearing the end of Gingrich’s 15 minutes of fame, if favor of yet another Republican hopeful’s play to be the Republican alternative to Mitt Romney.

You can find more of Harold Cook’s writing on his blog, Letters from Texas.

Guest Post: Redistricting reaction from the cheap seats

Commentary: As I write this, the Federal three-judge panel in San Antonio has just released a preliminary interim Congressional map, and has just released its final ordered interim maps for the state House and Senate.

Republican reaction to the maps released so far has been scathing and instant. They are shocked – SHOCKED – that "activist federal judges" would go so far.

It’s both amusing and sad to watch the Republican gnashing of teeth in reaction to the court’s maps. The Voting Rights Act to which Texas must adhere should be no surprise – it was enacted in the 1960’s. The system of judicial review is not new either. What seems to be new is the Republican arrogance that they can draw anything they want, mowing down any group of voters who oppose them, and expect rubber stamps from the folks charged with reviewing the maps for legality.

The judicial panel, made up of two Republicans and one Democrat, didn’t step in to help Democrats, or hurt Republicans. Neither did the Republican Federal panel in the D.C. circuit which precipitated the San Antonio panel drawing the interim maps. The federal courts stepped in to enforce the Voting Rights Act, to ensure that the rights of minority Texans are protected.

That so many in the Republican political establishment consider that to be terrible news is precisely why so many minority Texans reject Republican candidates for office.

If the Texas Republicans in charge didn’t work so hard full-time to alienate minority Texans, they would have nothing to fear in asking minority Texans for their votes come election time. Their preferred option, however, is to divide those minority voters and make their opinions meaningless. Thankfully, the court has reminded us this week that it is illegal.

Minorities are almost single-handedly responsible for Texas’ population growth. It’s time for Republicans to man-up and recognize their moral obligation to be responsive to the concerns of these dynamic and fast-growing communities.

Until they do, they will continue to be hammered at the polls by the voters whose voices they tried to silence.

You can find more writing from Harold Cook on his blog Letters from Texas.

Guest Post: Herman Cain: Another day, another woman

Commentary: Yesterday, famed attorney Gloria Allred hosted a press conference in New York, in which she introduced the most recent of several women to accuse Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain of sexual harassment. The woman, Sharon Bialek, described behavior which, if true, would cross the line from simple harassment to sexual assault.

However, moments after the press conference, a jury in the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor returned a guilty verdict in the doctor’s involuntary manslaughter trial, resulting in mass confusion nation-wide in which Americans now believe that Herman Cain’s latest accuser says Michael Jackson’s doctor molested Gloria Allred’s client while high on Rick Perry’s pain killers, or something.

Later yesterday, Mr. Cain appeared on a late night talk show, during which he confirmed that his wife is actually a Democrat, which explains why his wife is the first confirmed woman that Cain has reportedly not tried to sleep with.

Cain has scheduled a 3:00 p.m. press conference today in Phoenix, during which his head is scheduled to explode.

You can find Harold’s commentary and satire on Letters from Texas

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