About Harold Cook

Author Archive | Harold Cook

Headline of the day so far…

No question about it – this has got to be it.

[thanks to Cherry, who must have a very strange google alert]

Comments are closed

What passes for respect, admiration, and trust among the members of the Penis Compensation Caucus

Remember the piece published here a few days ago about the nutty open carry activists in Texas who are so whacked out that even the NRA wants nothing to do with them?

Funny we should run off at the mouth and admit that we finally agree with the NRA on something, because no sooner had we done so when the NRA got frightened of their own words and withdrew the piece in which they’d disavowed themselves of Texas’ open carry activists and called them “un-Texan.”

I guess in this context, “NRA” stands for “Now Run Away.”

Whether the NRA chooses to be outspoken about them or not, there’s little doubt that fellow pro-gun conservatives don’t think much of these clowns either.  Quoted in Newsweek last October, Dave Kopel, a gun policy analyst with the conservative Cato Institute, said this:

You don’t do political activism just for your own emotional expression. You do political activism to advance your cause. And there’s a feeling some of the open carry people have gone too far.

Gee, ya think??!

A week after I wrote my original piece, C.J. Grisham, who is the President of Open Carry Texas – the open carry activists in question, authored a piece for TribTalk to defend the group, complain about the NRA, media bias, and anybody else who opposes them, and basically pretend that he and his ilk are in any way normal activists with a sane, cogent legislative strategy.

C.J. did acknowledge, however, that “as with any newly formed group, we’ve had our growing pains.”  Not that I’ve noticed that his group is growing, but the acknowledgement is appreciated. He also acknowledged that the group has made “several public relations mistakes.”

Again: ya think??!

He then wrote the most laughable laugh in Laughville:

However, this isn’t a fight [with the NRA] we should be having without mutual respect, admiration and trust.

What in the world does Grisham know about respect, admiration, and trust? I’m glad you asked.

He apparently sees his main issues opposition (aside from the liberal biased media) as coming from a group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which, I’m sure you could guess, is a group of mostly women who oppose open carry legislation, among other things. In the TribTalk piece, he said they “lie, distort, and manipulate.”

Can you feel that respect oozing out of his pores yet?

How about when his organization’s “growing pains” were unzipped and hanging out, when he called the members of this organization “cackling wenches?”

cackling wenches

Better yet, I bet Grisham thinks his razor-sharp mutual admiration was really demonstrated the time he renamed these women “Thugs with Jugs,” huh?

Apparently Open Carry Texas is only willing to exercise respect, admiration, and trust toward organizations that only disagree with them a lot, instead of disagree with them a huge amount.

Alternatively, perhaps Grisham has bigger issues with respecting women than he does disrespecting the NRA? After all, “cackling wenches” and “thugs with jugs” doesn’t exactly convey “I respect women.”

Open Carry Texas has had its share of legal problems, perception problems, and public policy problems. But as long as they continue to have fundamental respect problems, they shouldn’t be surprised when people – even natural allies, and especially me – have little interest in respecting them. One who continuously disrespects others cannot hope for any respect in return. And I’m the guy who doesn’t even oppose open carry laws, even as I refer to the group as the Penis Compensation Caucus. See how that name-calling works in both directions? Funny how that works.

When the legislature convenes next January, the legislature may well pass an open carry bill. But it won’t be because of these clowns. It will be despite their efforts.

Comments are closed

Amazing Grace – KUT’s audio version of the tribute to Grace Garcia

KUT Radio, NPR’s Austin affiliate, was kind enough to ask me in to come in and record a two-minute audio version of my longer tribute to Grace Garcia, as part of their upcoming Texas Standard show, which will air on NPR affiliate stations across Texas. I was honored to do so, and offer it here:

I very much hope to work with host David Brown as a regular contributor to Texas Standard when the show debuts later this summer. check out the beginnings of the show’s website.

And while we’re on the topic of Grace Garcia, here was the discussion on TWCNews’ Capitol Tonight Show last night, as Paul Brown and I discussed both the legacy Grace leaves, and also about Attorney General Greg Abbott’s latest move on public school finance litigation:

You can watch Capitol Tonight weeknights at 7 pm and 11 pm in Austin and on Time Warner News’ brand new channel in San Antonio.

Comments are closed

A love letter to Texas women in politics, for Grace Garcia

Let’s set aside for a moment all the women in Texas politics who already reaped the fame that came with the office. They already have their walls full of photos, shelves packed with awards, and reams of newspaper clippings documenting countless achievements. Governor Richards. Congresswoman Jordan. Comptrollers Strayhorn and Combs. Senator Hutchison. Mayors Whitmire, Miller, Strauss, Parker, and Cockrell. State Senator Zaffirini, the first Latina ever there. We salute you all. Your trail-blazing is well-documented.

This piece isn’t about them. It’s about the other women essential to Texas politics. The ones whose names aren’t as well-known. They’re the driven ones who pay attention to the details, work themselves to exhaustion, and really get things done. They may not be elected themselves, but they’re the ones who work to elect others, and keep the trains running on time. They’ve often had to be twice as good as a man to get noticed, and half as much headache as other staff to get ahead.

A few prime examples: Mary Beth Rogers, Ann Richards’ chief of staff. Cecile Richards, founding Executive Director of Texas Freedom Network, and now President of Planned Parenthood. Samantha Smoot, former Executive Director of Texas Freedom Network. Deirdre Delisi, Rick Perry’s former chief of staff. Sarah Floerke, field director of Greg Abbott’s campaign for governor.

I bet if you put these five women, and another ten just like them, in a room, they would agree on very little – they’re in different political parties and hold varied ideologies. But I know all of them well, and take my word for it - they’re all deadly smart, driven women in politics, policy, and government who are very, very good at what they do. Each of them not only demonstrates that women earn their seats at the table, but also that it wouldn’t be just a horrible damn thing if women were at the head of that table from time to time. Few work harder to achieve political and policy objectives, and they have all met with success.

In other words, they all remind me of Grace Garcia.

Grace Garcia

Grace Garcia

In fact, my personal gold standard for “highly successful woman in Texas politics” is “wow – she reminds me of Grace Garcia.”

I’ve known Grace for 22 years. We first met early in Bill Clinton’s upstart campaign for President, and at the time I was much more terrified of Grace than I ever was of Clinton. Grace was a driven, focused, opinionated, serious, smart workaholic.

I’m not entirely sure Bill Clinton would have been elected President but for Grace’s efforts. Later on, I’m fairly certain Grace’s efforts were one key reason Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure in the State Department was so successful. And I bet Senator Leticia Van de Putte would not have answered the call to run for Lt. Governor but for Grace, since it was Grace who was making most of those calls in the first place.

For the last year or so, Grace was the Executive Director of Annie’s List, the organization dedicated to electing more women to public office in Texas. The organization was already successful when Grace came home from Washington to Texas to take the helm, and she expertly positioned Annie’s List to improve on that success.

Grace put together her team at Annie’s List, and together they seemingly know only one speed: pedal to the metal full blast. They raise money, recruit candidates to run for office, raise more money, train those candidates, raise more money, recruit top-notch campaign staff and train them too, and raise more money. And then they break for lunch.

Tragically, Grace Ann Garcia was killed yesterday afternoon, in a senseless car wreck. She was on her way to attend a Dallas event featuring Van de Putte and Wendy Davis. They took her away, and nobody who knows her can believe it. I know I can’t believe it; I’m crushed. Hell, it’s only in recent years that I learned how not to be terrified of her, and now she’s gone.

But here’s what I can believe: I believe that because of Grace Garcia and political women like her, there will be a lot more women who see public service as a viable and attractive option. I believe that it’s Texans like Grace Garcia that you could put in front of a classroom full of ten year old girls, and by the end of the talk it would dawn on those girls – some for the first time – that there isn’t anything they can’t achieve if they’re willing to work hard enough. I believe that because of political women in Texas like Grace Garcia, more and more women will involve themselves in politics, and will be successful at it. And I believe that some day, because more women will be in charge around here, we’ll all be bickering about a higher class of stuff than the low-rent crap we bicker about in Texas politics today.

My phone was ringing all evening. Late last night, I talked with my friend Amber Mostyn, who is the Board Chair of Annie’s List. Shortly after midnight this morning, I hung up the phone from a painful call with another friend of mine named Emmy Ruiz, who is Annie’s List’s political director. We were talking about Grace, and the events of the day, and emotionally leaning on each other a bit.

After the calls died down, and as I plugged my phone into the charger as I was getting ready for bed, I thought, “both Amber and Emmy sure do remind me of Grace Garcia.”

And that’s why I’m pretty sure things are going to be alright.

Rest in peace, sweet Grace.

Comments are closed

The day that I actually wholeheartedly agreed with the NRA – the Penis Compensation Caucus is un-Texan

It may come as some surprise to regular readers of these pages (are there any regular readers of these pages?) that I am not necessarily against open carry of handguns as a public policy.

I’m absolutely certain that position will come as a surprise to the number of my NRA fans (that number may well equal zero), who probably did not fully appreciate this piece I wrote on gun control for Texas Monthly a while back.

But no, open carry doesn’t particularly upset me. For one thing, if responsibly crafted, the law wouldn’t put a single new gun on the streets - it would merely change the way concealed weapons permit holders are permitted to carry the guns they’re already carrying.

I do believe, however, that the concept of open carry for handguns is highly situational, a conclusion easily reached based on my dual residences in Austin and in far West Texas. For example, I doubt many people would so much as bat an eye if somebody walked down the streets of Marathon, Fort Davis, or Alpine, located north of the Big Bend, with a handgun strapped to his belt. But if instead of walking down main street in Marathon, that same person was walking down Congress Avenue in Austin, some people would certainly be startled, and many would question the propriety of that.

So no, assuming that an open carry bill limited open carry permits to those already carrying through a CHL, and gave cities and counties an opt-in provision (we ARE for local control, aren’t we?), I’d probably fall asleep so fast I wouldn’t have time to oppose the bill. Apparently Democratic candidate for Governor Wendy Davis doesn’t disagree either.

But do you know what’s even more surprising than people like Wendy Davis or me not opposing open carry laws? The fact that the NRA has come out in opposition to those nutty open carry activists who keep popping up around Texas, armed to the teeth with assault rifles and showing up in fast food restaurants and other retail stores, accomplishing little other than frightening folks and making everybody uncomfortable. I call them the Penis Compensation Caucus.

The NRA has now called their activities “outright foolishness.” And I couldn’t agree more, because those activists only manage to demonstrate that they are both bullies and cowards. Assuming there’s some difference between a bully and a coward, that is.

Here’s more of what the NRA said:

To those who are not acquainted with the dubious practice of using public displays of firearms as a means to draw attention to oneself or one’s cause, it can be downright scary.  It makes folks who might normally be perfectly open-minded about firearms feel uncomfortable and question the motives of pro-gun advocates.

As a result of these hijinx, two popular fast food outlets have recently requested patrons to keep guns off the premises (more information can be found here and here).  In other words, the freedom and goodwill these businesses had previously extended to gun owners has been curtailed because of the actions of an attention-hungry few who thought only of themselves and not of those who might be affected by their behavior. To state the obvious, that’s counterproductive for the gun owning community.

More to the point, it’s just not neighborly, which is out of character for the big-hearted residents of Texas. Using guns merely to draw attention to yourself in public not only defies common sense, it shows a lack of consideration and manners.  That’s not the Texas way. 

I couldn’t agree more, NRA – it’s just not the Texas way. But never fear – no matter what the NRA says, open carry activism promises to be alive and well later this week in Fort Worth, where such fools plan to be in attendance, complete with their penis compensation instruments, at the Republican State Convention.

Yee-haw, y’all.

Comments are closed

“Log Cabin Republicans didn’t choose to be gay. But they did choose to be Republicans”

I know, I know – it’s been a while since I posted. I started to get complaints. I haven’t updated Letters From Texas in way too long, and for that I am deeply sorry. By “deeply sorry” I mean “I’m not very sorry at all – things came up.”

But your cries have been heard. No, not your cries about Dan Patrick winning the GOP run-off for Lt. Governor – your other cries about no new stuff on LFT.

So let’s get this ball rolling again, shall we?

Here’s a good place to start – how’s that big Republican outreach plan they announced after they got whupped in the 2012 election? Glad you asked – apparently it’s not going so well.

Yet another case in point – the Texas GOP just snubbed the Log Cabin Republicans from having a booth at their convention in Fort Worth in a few days. Here’s what I said about it last night on Time Warner Cable News-Austin’s “Capital Tonight” show:

And speaking of the Capital Tonight show, you can catch us weeknights at 7 on TWCNews in Austin and San Antonio. We have as much fun as the law allows, give us a shot! You can also watch the entirety of last night’s episode here.

Meanwhile, what do you think? Share your comments below. Or I’ll stop posting again. Don’t think I won’t.

Comments are closed

Headline of the day so far…

No, it’s not about Justin Bieber.

Comments are closed

Obituary of the week so far

Don’t you wish you’d known this guy?


Comments are closed

Headline of the day so far, part 2

The fact that the Austin American-Statesman has undoubtedly broken wind new ground in headline-writing cannot be ignored.

h/t: WhiskeyDent

Comments are closed

Headline of the day so far

…is, without a doubt, this one.

Comments are closed

Congressional candidates: you’re slackers

This guy’s running for Congress in four different states this election.

Comments are closed

Some people say we no longer need labor unions…

…but I beg to differ. For one thing, they can prevent employers from doing something like this.


Comments are closed

Headline of the day so far

Today’s Headline Of The Day is deserving of the award in at least two ways I can see right off the bat.

Comments are closed

Wendy Davis’ loot

As it always to be expected when the news is good, the fundraising previews for both Democrat Wendy Davis and Republican Greg Abbott were out last night, which is a day early. The news on both sides was, indeed, good.

Abbott’s no slouch in the fundraising department. No doubt he has a lot of cash – significantly more in the bank than Davis does, in fact.

But the real news is on Wendy Davis’ side: Not only did she slightly out-fundraise Abbott during the reporting period ($12.2 million for Davis vs. $11.5 for Abbott), but she raised it from almost 72,000 individual donors. That donor number is at a level I cannot even comprehend, and is very good news for the Davis effort. She’ll be able to return time after time to those small dollar donors and they’ll keep giving – which is something one cannot often say about the mega-donors.

But the proverbial ink hadn’t dried on the announcement tweets about all this, before the Republicans began howling about Davis’ “fuzzy math.” Their claim is that since $3.5 million of Davis’ fundraising went into something called the “Texas Victory Committee, Inc.,” that she shouldn’t have counted it toward her fundraising.

The Texas Victory Committee is an account set up by the Davis Campaign to raise money into, the expenditures of which will eventually be shared between the Davis campaign itself, and a coordinated effort for Democrats, presumably led by Battleground Texas. (Battleground Texas, incidentally, reported raising an additional $1.8 million in contributions on their own, which the Davis Campaign did not count toward their own fundraising totals)

Here’s why the Republican claims of “fuzzy math” are dead wrong:

Wendy Davis’ campaign raised the entirety of the money going into the Victory Committee. That’s a financial structure they chose from the start, in part to track the funding of coordinated efforts. She was the draw at the events raising the money – people put money in the till to see Davis. To get an idea of how this works, and to demonstrate the extent to which Davis’ efforts are absolutely central to Victory Committee fundraising, take a look at a typical invitation — from Wendy Davis — to a Victory Fund event:

11.19 Beaumont Invite

The typical way campaigns have historically funded coordinated efforts is to raise the money into their own campaign, then write a check out of their campaign down the road to the coordinated campaign.  The Davis campaign is instead raising money for these and other purposes into a separate entity from the start.

Republicans would have you believe that it’s disingenuous for Wendy Davis to count money from a coordinated campaign as her own fundraising. But they’re the ones being disingenuous, because Victory Fund money isn’t going from a coordinated campaign to Wendy Davis – rather it’s money from Wendy Davis to a coordinated campaign.

So to review the Republicans’ claim: it’s dishonest for Wendy Davis to claim money Wendy Davis raised, and which will ultimately go toward electing Wendy Davis, as part of Wendy Davis’ fundraising totals. Tell me again who’s using the fuzzy math? It makes me dizzy.

If Greg Abbott’s team doesn’t want Wendy Davis to claim as part of her fundraising totals that money which she is contributing to a coordinated effort, then Greg Abbott should subtract from his totals whatever amount he anticipates he will eventually contribute to the Republican coordinated effort. If, in the alternative, he is raising money directly into his coordinated effort, as Davis has done, he should have counted it as part of his total – assuming he hasn’t co-mingled that money with that of other Republican candidates who are also contributing to the Republican effort.

The punchline to all this is that the Republicans didn’t need to obscure reality on this – the fact remains that Abbott still has a hefty financial advantage on Davis – the man has more than $20 million in the bank. They should have been crowing about that, instead of confusing people, based solely on the financial structure the Davis’ campaign chose to raise money into.

And no matter what the Republicans complain about, Davis’ fundraising totals erase the one remaining doubt that the race for Governor will, indeed, be a real one.

Comments are closed

It’s that time again!

Every January 15th, I make a special toast: happy birthday, Edward Blumingfield, wherever you are!

Comments are closed