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On the Texas Senate abortion debate

Last night’s discussion on YNN’s Capital Tonight centered on debate in the Texas Senate on anti-abortion legislation. It was one of the most infuriating Senate debates I’ve watched in years, and while I was unable to watch the entire debate because we went on the air while the Senate was still in session, I was very proud of Senators Whitmire, Davis, and Van de Putte for standing up to this ridiculous legislation.

Here’s some of what I said on the show last night:

What’s your opinion? You can watch the entire episode of Capital Tonight online here.

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Texas’ water infrastructure funding should not go down the drain [with video]

Following skirmishes on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives earlier this week which resulted in legislation tanking which would have put $2 billion in funding for much-needed water infrastructure, it came up on YNN’s Capital Tonight Tuesday. Here’s my take:

Water infrastructure, as an issue, stands on its own in Texas. It is a critical one, and if the legislature leaves it unfunded this session, it will create serious consequences for Texas’ future. They’re not growing any more water around here – the resource is, at best, a constant, and with recent droughts it’s not even that. This isn’t one of the Governor’s fake issues, designed to get him more support or make his friends richer. It’s a very real challenge.

Texas has a tripod of critical interests on the water front (pun intended, and I apologize). None of the three – energy, agriculture, and population growth – can be shortchanged. Energy exploration, an essential economic driver in Texas, takes a lot of water. Texas’ ever-growing population takes a lot of water. And the agricultural activity necessary to feed all that population growth three times a day takes a lot of water. If you shortchange any one of these, things start falling apart, and quickly. It takes a massive commitment to conservation, increased efficiency, and smarter management. Unless the water fairy unexpectedly shows up to save us all from ourselves, that all requires serious investment.

I respect the efforts of some of the House Democrats to leverage the issue in attempts to get more public education funding cuts restored, and I hope they succeed in restoring those cuts somehow. I even understand the misgivings of Tea Party Republicans against spending any money at all, even for the most legitimate of infrastructure investments – I completely get that your political base isn’t interested, and that the anti-government folks are on your ass.

But when it’s all said and done, I hope the legislature well-understands that funding the water plan has to happen. And I think most understand the consequences if it doesn’t.

You can watch this full episode of Capital Tonight here. And you can catch me on tonight’s episode on YNN in Austin at 7 pm. Give it a shot – we get into all sorts of interesting topics of interest to the policy- and politically-addicted.

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Scandal-ridden Texas cancer agency is offensive

On last week’s “Capital Tonight” show on YNN Austin, the subject of the criminal investigations of CPRIT, the Texas cancer agency, was front and center. Here’s my take.

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Game ON: Cook versus Delisi on a big election night prediction

Funny thing about making pre-election night predictions – every once in a while, somebody has to be very wrong. And this will be one of those times, since Republican Ted Delisi and I disagree about who will win the most closely-watched legislative race in Texas:

You can watch this entire episode of “Capitol Tonight” on YNN Austin this Sunday at 11 am, and you should definitely tune in on Tuesday night for our special election night show, from 7 pm until the wee hours, to see which one of us will have to eat crow about what we said.

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Civics 101: how we elect, and don’t elect, Presidents

It’s rare that I have any considerable daylight’s worth of disagreement with the political analysis of frequent YNN-Partner-In-Crime Harvey Kronberg, but something he said near the end of his most recent analysis on YNN caught my eye:

With all of this, there is still the opportunity for an October surprise. The classic was the indictment of Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger for his role in the Iran Contra Affair just four days before Bill Clinton narrowly defeated the first President Bush in 1992.

First off, Clinton did not “narrowly” defeat Bush in 1992. In the only measure that counts – electoral votes – Clinton demolished Bush by earning almost 69% of them.

“AHA!,” I can almost hear Kronberg, and you, screeching. “But what about the popular vote??!”

Friends, I know we’ve all been brainwashed by countless national polling every single day which provides a daily – almost hourly – reminder of where things stand in the Presidential election. And for the sake of this civics lesson I’ll even set aside the fact that Clinton bested Bush by almost 6 million popular votes nationally (which, also, ain’t that narrow). But here’s the bottom line: measuring national popular votes for a Presidential candidate is about as useful a measure to the outcome of a Presidential campaign as counting dead squirrels killed in the Presidential race as a useful measure of outcome of a Presidential race. It just doesn’t count at all.

The candidate who gets 270 electoral votes or more is the candidate who wins a Presidential election, period. Therefore, the campaign with their focus on how best to win those electoral votes is the smart campaign. And the pundits who forget that fact are too lost in the national polling forest to see the electoral vote trees.

Don’t get me wrong – national polls are useful, and I’m glad I get to obsess on them every day, because I’m a dork that way. There’s no better measure of which candidate has the national momentum. But national polls only serve to estimate a national popular vote – and that is just simply not how we elect Presidents.

There are arguments which could be made that it shouldn’t be the process. But nobody can make a fact-based argument that it isn’t the process. And since that’s the process, arguing that Clinton only narrowly defeated Bush just isn’t accurate.

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Rick Perry calls on Satan to help Romney win [with video]

Earlier this week, Texas Governor Rick Perry participated in a conference call with evangelical Christians, in which he said that the separation of church and state was is devil’s work.

Perry didn’t mention the probability that separation of church and state is more likely the work of James Madison and the Federalist Papers, but I’m sure he just forgot about that teeny weeny detail.

Did Perry say it because he’s trying to advance the principles of Christianity? Of course not. He said it for partisan purposes – trying to help drag Mitt Romney over the finish line. This marks the bazillionth time Perry and other Republicans have used God as a political prop.

Here’s what I said about it on YNN’s “Capital Tonight,” which you can view in its entirety this Sunday morning at 11 am, on YNN in Austin or on the Texas Channel in other Texas media markets:

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Julian Castro speech preview: Democratic National Convention

On a special Democratic National Convention episode of Capital Tonight on Austin’s YNN last night, I was asked about Julian Castro’s anticipated keynote address at the Democratic National Convention tonight. Here is some of the discussion:


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Mitt Romney’s craptacular July leads to Ryan-tastic August

Let’s face it: whether you detest Mitt Romney or like Mitt Romney (or are pretending to), odds are that you agree with me that he had an absolutely craptacular July. Only on the fundraising front did he do well. He fared poorly on all other fronts, and it showed in the polling. Here’s what I said about it last week, the day before he picked Paul Ryan to be his running mate:

It is especially in that context why you might be able to imagine that Romney’s VP pick of “the Medicare-killing dude,” as he is known in Florida, would be seen as a gloriously Jesus-blessed wondrous game-changer by the lunatic fringe Romney still hadn’t closed the deal with. Ryan’s pick is clear indication that Mittens still hadn’t closed the deal with base voters, and was obviously desperate to do so prior to the Republican National Convention. That’s when the Republican base all gets in the same room, with way too many witnesses with cameras, to behave badly.

I listened to Maddow last night on satelite radio while driving through a vast expanse of West Texas wasteland yesterday, and I think she was quoting one of the writers on her blog when she got it just right: there are three kinds of Vice Presidential running mate picks: August picks, November picks, and January picks. The January picks are the Vice Presidents who can help you run the country once you’re elected, and are the best kind. The November picks are the ones who can help you win the election, and those are the most common kind. But the August picks are the ones who can only help you get through your miserable party National Convention with your ass still intact, and without excessive bite marks.

Paul Ryan is an August pick. In fact, Paul Ryan is an “August, and I’m sick of explaining why I’m not releasing my tax returns” pick.

But speaking of tax returns, Mr. Ryan undoubtedly had to turn in years worth of ’em to the Romney campaign for vetting purposes. I wonder if the Romney campaign will release them. Awkward moment alert.


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Political reaction to the Supreme Court’s health care decision – buzz from the TV show

On this week’s special one-hour episode of YNN’s Capital Tonight, the show focused entirely on reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision upholding the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Here’s part of the discussion between YNN’s Karina Kling, Republican strategist Ted Delisi, and me.

This week’s episode also features an extended interview with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, as well as analysis from my longtime friend Sherri Greenberg of UT’s LBJ School, take-aways from the headlines from Harvey Kronberg, plus an interview with the New York Times’ Gail Collins. You can watch the entire show this Sunday at 11 am on YNN Austin, or watch it any time on the interwebz.

And as always, please feel welcome to leave a comment with your own thoughts!

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Health care reform and impending doom from SCOTUS

On this week’s episode of YNN’s Capital Tonight, I was asked how the Presidential candidates would move forward in the event the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the individual mandate in health care reform is unconstitutional.

The full episode also features an extended interview with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott on the issue of the legal battle over health care, as well as discussion on the President’s executive order on immigration, and the showdown between Congressional Republicans and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

You can watch the show this Sunday morning at 11 am on YNN Austin, or watch it any time online.

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Buzz from the TV show: Sadler vs. Yarbrough for US Senate

You know what keeps Democrats up at night? The wrong guy winning a Democratic primary runoff at the top of the ticket. This time it’s the US Senate nomination, in which a well-qualified candidate, Paul Sadler, faces a guy who doesn’t even belong on a Democratic ballot, much less deserve advancing to the runoff.

Here’s my take on where the runoff for U.S. Senate is going, on this week’s episode of YNN’s Capital Tonight:

It wasn’t until I watched the video that I realized that I answered a question that Capital Tonight Anchor Paul Brown didn’t ask – he was asking about the general election, not the Democratic runoff election. But such is live TV, and I’m not concerned – we’ll have three months to hash out the general election, after the Republican and Democratic nominees are chosen.

You can watch the entire episode online here, or you can watch it this Sunday morning on YNN Austin at 11 am.

And most importantly, you can share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Buzz from the TV show: the US Senate runoff elections

On this week’s Capital Tonight, I was asked to handicap the challenges facing the surviving candidates as they compete over the next two months in their respective political parties’ primary runoff elections.

Also featured this week: we hear from the money men in the Republican race for U.S. Senate: spokesmen for the SuperPACS supporting both Ted Cruz and David Dewhurst. We have a wrap-up on the scoundrel that is John Edwards. And as always, Harvey Kronberg utilizes interpretive dance to share his insights.*

You can see this week’s entire one-hour episode of the show this Sunday morning at 11 am on YNN Austin, or watch it any time on the interwebz.

*that part is a lie. But watch anyway.

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Buzz from the TV show: Travis County Democrats will lose Doggett if they don’t start voting

On this week’s episode of Capital Tonight, Congressman Lloyd Doggett said in an extended interview that he won’t be going back to Congress if Austin area Democrats don’t start voting.

Here are both Republican Ted Delisi and I echoing Doggett’s concerns about turn-out in the North end of Congressional District 35:

Later in the show, Harvey Kronberg with the Quorum Report was even more blunt: he believes Congressman Doggett is in deep trouble.

You can watch the show in its entirety this Sunday morning at 11 am, or watch it any time online.

Also, you can join the whole Capital Tonight crew, plus other special guests, on our extended election night coverage Tuesday night, beginning at 7 pm and continuing either until all the returns are in, or you can’t stand the sight of us any more, whichever comes first.

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Buzz from the TV show: Sadler vs. Hubbard for U.S. Senate

Recently I endorsed Sean Hubbard in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, and was happy to vote for him on the first day of early voting.

But that doesn’t mean I think he’s got the inside track to win the primary. In fact, while nobody knows who has the edge in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, I’m guessing Hubbard’s opponent Paul Sadler does.

I explain why in this week’s edition of YNN’s Capital Tonight:

Also discussed on this week’s show: the public school finance mess, what to make of Ron Paul’s latest moves, the latest comedy stylings of David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz, and more.

You can watch this episode of Capital Tonight in its entirety this Sunday morning at 11 on YNN Austin, or at any time on the interwebz.

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Buzz from the TV show: marriage equality

On this week’s episode of Capital Tonight, I was asked about the President’s announcement that he now supports marriage equality – does this issue now sit in the front seat, or do other issues like the economy trump?

This week’s episode also features a discussion on the status of UT President William Powers, a report on the big money U.S. Senate smack down, and an interview with Congressional candidate Sylvia Romo, in a primary battle with Austin’s Congressman Lloyd Doggett.

Capital Tonight airs live on Thursday evenings in our new time slot, 7 pm on YNN Austin, and the Texas Channel, channel 888 on Time-Warner systems in other Texas media markets. You can watch this week’s entire episode on YNN Austin this Sunday morning at 11 am, or you can watch any time online.

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