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Introducing Our New Politics Editor

You’ve probably seen his byline.

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If you’re a regular Texas Monthly reader, chances are you’ve seen R.G. Ratcliffe’s byline. It’s everywhere. One of the hardest working reporters at the Capitol, R.G. is a heavy-hitter in Texas political journalism. For the past three legislative sessions, he has contributed to Burkablog and our Ten Best/Ten Worst legislators list, and is leading the charge on its upcoming iteration. In all that time, R.G. has been a contributor; today, I’m delighted to announce that he will be joining our staff full-time as politics editor.

R.G. represents the best kind of political journalist: he’s tough, fair, and accurate. He is sourced with Republicans and Democrats. His extensive experience covering Texas politics gives him perspective, which enables him to do the kind of clear-eyed analysis (like this widely read piece on Dan Patrick) that’s increasingly hard to find. In an era of fake news, when it can be hard to tell what’s reliable and what’s not, we could all stand more reporters like R.G. I’m thrilled that he has agreed to join our team and carry on the work that the great Paul Burka did here for years.

In case you are new to Burkablog, or to Texas Monthly, here’s a brief starter on R.G., written by the man himself. You should know that we are hard at work on this year’s Ten Best/Ten Worst list, so if you have suggestions, R.G. is accepting nominations.

After I started covering politics and government for Texas Monthly, numerous people asked me if I was the new Paul Burka. The answer is no. That would be to diminish the years of work and contributions that Paul made that helped turn Texas Monthly into one of the premier magazines of America. Even if you disagreed with Paul, he made you think.

And that is one thing I hope to do as well—make you think. It’s not my role to tell you what to think—after all, in the United States it is our constitutional right to be wrong or right. I just want to prompt readers to question the knee-jerk jingoisms of the major political parties. Personally, I am non-partisan and haven’t voted in a party primary in more than thirty years. In general elections, I have cast ballots for Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and independents. And, more than once, I’ve had to vote for the lesser of two evils.

My hometown is Dallas, where my father was a clothing wholesaler. During the 1964 election, when everyone else was promoting LBJ All the Way, we had a yard sign for Barry Goldwater. Daddy was a die-hard Republican who believed the federal income tax and the Texas public school finance system were nothing less than socialistic income redistribution. He believed personal success came from hard work and arguing anything else was a no-sale for a man whose family had starved after his own father had abandoned them. On the other hand, my mother was the daughter of an oil wildcatter in Louisiana, a man who made and lost a couple of fortunes. The family was friends and supporters of Huey Long. My mother described Long as a crook who could be forgiven because he taxed major oil companies to buy school books for the children in Louisiana public schools. Mother and Daddy often did not vote—except for the time my dad snuck off to cast a ballot for Ronald Reagan—because they cancelled each other out. At our lunch after Daddy’s funeral, Mother sighed and said, “I guess I can start voting again.”

As a journalist, I have worked in Texas for the Beaumont Enterprise, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Austin American-Statesman, and did a 24-year turn with the Houston Chronicle covering the Texas Capitol and national politics. My goal was always to be fair in holding politicians accountable for their actions and to challenge their political positions. The liberal Democratic Attorney General Jim Mattox once complained to me that I had never once written a story on him that he could include in a mailer. In recent years, probably more than one Republican would say the same. However, I have liked almost every politician I’ve ever covered and respect most opposing viewpoints.

Governor Ann Richards once described Texas politics as a contact sport. But it is more than just that. It is where our culture and our business community and our beliefs in who we are come together to harmonize or clash. In this, my job is to inform, entertain, and make you think.

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  • WUSRPH

    I am glad to see at a time when most of us who can even remember Jim Mattox (or in some cases even Ann Richards) are retired, retiring or dead….that one experienced, knowledgeable and unbiased journalist is starting a new career….It is always good to have someone who knows both what has come before and what are the issues today and is competent to judge both in a position such as your new one. CONGRATULATIONS.

    I am also happy to see your appointment as a rejection of some wild rumor that TM no longer cared about Texas politics.

  • roadgeek

    Congratulations on the new position.

  • SpiritofPearl

    A good choice by TM!

  • As good as they come.

  • R.G. Ratcliffe

    Thanks to all

  • Laura Pickett Calfee

    RG, did you know my cousin Rick Campbell at the BE and Hou Chron?

  • José

    Best wishes, R.G. Some regard you as a vexed irrelevant dunsel but the rest of us believe that progressives will appreciate your work as well.

  • WUSRPH

    On a slightly different subject:

    Did you see the item in the QR about how the Senate has issued an absolute “no blue jeans” edict?
    Boy, how times have changed. I remember a time back in the 70s when one of the downtown clubs barred a House member who was wearing blue jeans…..The House’s reaction was to pass a formal resolution declaring that blue jeans were appropriate attire anywhere, everywhere and at any time In Texas. Someone should dig out a copy and show it to that uptight Sgt.-At-Arms in the Senate. What does he think this is—The Court of St. James?. THIS IS TEXAS AFTER ALL.

    • WUSRPH

      Of course, there was also the time when one of the downtown clubs would not let a woman member of the House into the club. There had been so few in the past (only one in 1971, for example) that the club did just did not know what to do with the half-dozen or so that got elected in 1972 as part of the public reaction to the Sharpstown Scandal.

    • BCinBCS

      I had the great pleasure (/s) of spending a summer being trained to become a second lieutenant at Ft. Riley, Kansas. As part of the usual harassment, we were not allowed off base for the first two or three weeks. Finally, we were given liberty and all of the trainees from all over the south and middle of America invaded the surrounding towns. Upon our return, one of the captains or colonels who was originally from the east coast forcefully informed us that, in the future, no one would be allowed off of the base wearing “those hillbilly blue jeans”. After that, almost no one left Ft. Riley on the weekends.

      I have been wearing Levy 501’s since I was a child. They are rugged, long lasting and fit me well. When I was young, they were also inexpensive. All of that changed in 1980 when John Travolta made them fashionable with the movie Urban Cowboy. The law of supply and demand coupled with the law of opportunity took the price of blue jeans from about $13.00 a pair that year to around about $27.00 a pair. That increase has never gone back down as I now routinely buy my shrink-to-fits for around $96.00 apiece. Still worth it, though.

      • SpiritofPearl

        The GOP House monitor told a woman wearing a sleeveless dress that she couldn’t enter.

      • SeeItMyWay

        Did you wet them down and wear them until they dried?

        • BCinBCS

          No, bought them a couple of sizes too big then washed them in hot water so that they would shrink.

  • BCinBCS

    Congratulations, R.G.
    Now you’ve gone and done it! 😉

    • Francesjlamb

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !sa222c:
      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. Follow this link for more information
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  • Sandra G. Holland

    Contratulations, R. G.

  • Charlie Primero

    Is R.G. Ratcliffe Jewish?

  • Rev. Paul McKay

    Good choice, TM.

  • WUSRPH

    Let’s hope the new Politics Editor gives us a wrap up on where things stand in the session for the weekend.

  • WUSRPH

    Did you see where Paxton is trying to use the legal technicality of al legal technicalities to oust the judge in his case and reverse his rulings? Boy the man is sure afraid of facing a jury of his peers. Wonder why? He is clearly going to do everything he can to drag this thing out beyond the primary elections…..if not longer.

  • Jay Trainor

    I’ve enjoyed R.G.’s columns for years and can’t think of a more qualified person for the job!

    Hats off to you R.G..

  • WUSRPH

    Although the Legislature officially has till midnight of the 29th to complete its work, tomorrow and Friday are first of a set of deadlines that will kill more and more bills. Thursday and Friday are the LAST days the House can, under its rules, vote on 2nd and third reading of general House bills. This means that, if it is other than a purely local bill or consent measure, and it has not been passed over to the Senate by midnight Friday IT IS DEAD. There is one more chance for House bills that are consent measures and one chance next week for purely local bills, but, other than that, the House is through with HBs. After that it will turn solely to Senate Bills, including some that were companions or similar to some of the Dead house bills. Those, however, have to be reported from a House Committee by no later than Saturday of next week or they are also Dead. The final deadline for passing a Senate bill is the 24th. The 24this also the last day on which the Senate can vote on House Bills. After that it is down to accepting Senate Amendments to House bills and/or considering conference committee reports. So, while it is still necessary to be vigilant….the Legislature’s time to do good or bad is quickly coming to an end….and we no longer will have to worry about the truthfulness of that old saying that:

    “No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the Legislature is in session”.

    • Beverlywrodriguez

      Google is paying 97$ per hour! Work for few hours & have longer with friends and family! !ss300c:
      On tuesday I got a great new Land Rover Range Rover from having earned $8752 this last four weeks.. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had.. Follow this link for more information
      !ss300c:
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  • SpiritofPearl

    OT, but this is worrisome:

    http://electionlawblog.org/?p=92471

  • SeeItMyWay

    Congratulations. Have always enjoyed reading your take on things going back years.

    • José

      I appreciate your interest in this blog and your willingness to engage meaningfully and with civility. We need that.

      • SeeItMyWay

        Thank you.

  • WUSRPH

    Did you see that Cornyn is allegedly on Trump’s short list for FBI director…….I doubt he would take the job—unless it came with a promise of a SCOTUS spot when one opens—but he would probably be easier to get confirmed. The question would then be who would Abbott pick to fill the vacancy, pending a special election? .Anybody have a favorite candidate?

    • SeeItMyWay

      I have always viewed Cronyn as the cosumate team player. His fence riding has often turned me off. I feel that this FBI spot needs to be filled by more of a bulldog. Gowdy is a bulldog…and a very sharp one.

      • WUSRPH

        But Trump wants someone who is “loyal” and a bulldog with personal integrity might not fit that description. He wans a “team player”.

        • SeeItMyWay

          It will be interesting to say the least.

  • WUSRPH

    Tapes, Tapes…Whose got the tapes? Trump talks about “tapes” of the meetings with Comey…..does he mean that he tapped Comey (and maybe others ongoing) or he thinks that Comey tapped him?

    Being someone who knows virtually nothing about the history of his country, Trump probably does not remember that the SCTOUS made Nixon turn over his tapes and the same could happen to him. Of course, he could always follow the suggestion John Connally is supposed to have made to Nixon—-take them out back and burn them…….Nixon still had enough respect (or fear) of the institutions of this country not to do so….Trump has never respected them and never will.

    • SeeItMyWay

      You say he doesn’t know; I say he doesn’t care. He might have insinuated to cause pause; then again, he might actually have something pertinent on tape. If he was taping, he would never have mention it unless there was something on them that collaborates one of his claims.

  • WUSRPH

    According to The Economist, America has lost a net of 50,000 retail jobs since January with many more expected as more retailers go bottom up than did in 2009, the worst year of the Great Recession. Virtually all are being lost because of the competition with e-commerce and automation. I wonder what foreign trade pact Trump will blame this one……Of course,most of the job loses, just as most of those lost in the economy as a whole, have mothing to do with “bad” trade pacts.

    A historic side note:

    That fellow in Germany back in the 1920s-45 got a substantial amount of support from small shop owners who were losing out to the then still growing “department stores”. We had a similar reaction even here in Texas with the Legislature adopting various “chain store taxes” that were designed to penalize those kinds of operations in behalf of the small, independent shop owner. The economic reality changed anyway……just as it will now unless Trump can find some way to reverse the process. Much of his “promises” sounded a lot like that, but few will be adopted.

    • SeeItMyWay

      I think the demise of the large retail dept stores is a given. Large malls, too.

      It remains to be seen if the manufacturing sector will grow and produce jobs for those in-store ones that are going away.

      Online purchases of U.S. produced goods will increase if fair trade laws are in place and we are willing to pay a bit more in return for increased jobs. I believe the last poll I saw on the subject had 80+%of respondents saying they would be willing to pay more to insure that more Americans had jobs and were able to get off welfare. If the subsidized living costs are down, this decreases debt – unless, of course, our legislators just find another place to spent it.

      I hear all the arguments about our current trade agreements. Take it from me, I know that they are not. We get fleeced every day. All of them need to be reevaluated.

      • WUSRPH

        The manufacturing sector is NOT gong to produce the kinds of jobs that would be required to even make Trump’s “I will bring the jobs back” outcries even a little bit honest….Nothing Trump can do—-other than outlawing the use of automated machinery—could come close. Those jobs are gone, lost and never to be recovered—trade pacts or no trade pacts. Even assuming he could find a way to force offshore plants to come back to the US, the employment levels would never be close to where they were even 15 years ago. “Make work” would be the only way he could do it…..either thru tax credits or special treatments or direct government subsidies. An either of those would increase deficits and/or government spending. New kinds of jobs are the hope of the future.

        • SeeItMyWay

          New kinds of jobs? Sounds good. What are they? Working for one of these newly formed, caballed mega corps?

          My thoughts lean toward a thoughtful, efficient means of educating our young. Forcing all in high school, or even college for that matter, to take and pass courses that, (1) they are not proficient in, or (2) have no interest in, makes no sense to me.

          I look back on both high school and college with disdain. In high school, I took every math and science course offered. I did not necessarily like advanced math. In college, the same held true. I had to take courses that I had no interest in and have never used any of the knowledge acquired since. It is forgotten from lack of use.

          Young people need rudimentary everything; if they don’t show interest or comprehension in any given area they should not be force fed more of it.

          An education is expensive, and taxpayers are paying for mediocre success at best in high schools. In college the expense switches to students or their parents, and they are forced to pay for and pass more courses which will never be used in their chosen field of endeavor. This to me is a total waste, and causes many to drop out without diplomas at either level.

          • WUSRPH

            “It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education …is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.” A Eienstein

            Not all students need the same level of knowledge in all or special areas. BUT ALL need to be at least familiar with virtually all areas of knowledge. We have enough problems in this country nd in the world arising from people (from the highest-Trump—to the lowest–The Troll) not knowing the history of their country or understanding science or even the scientific method.

            To survive in the world of today—and especially the world of tomorrow—students need to be exposed to more information and more knowledge than every before and not just the areas they like. I think I would not want to live in a world where the educational system was designed to produce uneducated, ill-prepared DRONES like your idea would. Our current system is far from perfect….but at least it tries to EDUCATE..

          • SeeItMyWay

            I respectfully disagree, as I am not suggesting that we give aptitude tests to junior high students and force them into one direction or the other. I am suggesting we give high school student’s and their parents a choice of directions which doesn’t automatically label one group as “lacking”.

            Algebra II is tough for some. I’m sure many are asking why it is needed to graduate. I can’t answer that question since I have never thought about or used it since I took my last exam. It was a total waste of time and money.

            If you are talking about contemplative learning and problem solving – do you think this is acquired exclusively in a classroom? An advanced history classroom or a statistics class?

            I grew up in the country. My father taught me as much practical knowledge and problem solving as I ever learned in a classroom.

            There are plenty of kids who can be taught to operate technical, computer driven equipment without Russian History. There are thousands who design hardware and software today that have no heralded degrees.

            There are universities today that are cognizant of this and structuring degree programs without all the required add-ons. It is an efficient education; it is a thorough education in a chosen field; it is a much less expensive education.

          • WUSRPH

            It isn’t that they need to have at least some understanding of Russian history, which you dismiss so easily, for their jobs. Many can probably survive and do a good work job without even knowing there is a Russia (or how to find it on a map). BUT it is important that you know something about the history of the world–including Russia—if you are going to be any kind of an active participant (even voter) in public life. It is far, far to easy for the Trumps of the right or the left too mislead those who do not know what they are talking about and have no skill at determining the truth. It is also just important to be a full human…and not some sort of a drone…to be able to appreciate the world you live in..

          • SeeItMyWay

            I’m sorry, I must not be expressing myself well. Rudimentary history is a given. A comprehensive overview. Got to have it. The same is true with math. More is required when it comes to reading comprehension skills. My point is that there are now required add-ons that are killers and cause many to drop out and enter the realm of unemployable. How much better to identify likes and skills and immerse one in these courses instead of forcing totally unrelated courses to their degree requirements?

          • WUSRPH

            I might point out that, despite the level of dropouts, America has a higher percentage of high school and college graduates today then at any time in its history. There are programs to spot and help the potential dropout…..maybe there should be more…but the problem we face in this country is not millions of dropouts without a degree. It is millions of graduates with a degree that does not always provide them with the basic knowledge they need to be successful humans and not just good employees.

            The question is not how we should water down education to meet the needs of the few, but how to make it better for all. As to Algebra II. It is true that we think we really use algebraic formulas in our daily lives but we constantly use the basic logical skills that lay behind those formulas. We just don’t realize it….

          • SeeItMyWay

            Yep, we disagree.

            Not sure how old you are, or your field of endeavor, but your take on the value of requiring extraneous courses at a high monetary cost,
            and time it takes, is lost on me. I hold firm that it is a waste and causes many to fall short of a degree which traumatizes them and relagates them to a tough place to start from.

            You are right about those we are graduating from college today. They are unprepared. Immersing them in their chosen field of endeavor without all the unrelated requirements might turn out a better product.

            How about credit for summer employment with corps that have jobs for them – something that could be coordinated by the schools with the corporations. Make sense? Thinking outside the box?

            What we have now is not working.

          • WUSRPH

            It might “turn out a better product” is, to me, a fairly offensive way to refer to a human being. It might be a good way to describe a machine or a soulless drone….but they have to be able to live successfully, productively and MEANINGFULLY outside the job. Education in its broadest sense is what makes that possible. Far from “extraneous” many of the courses you would probably chop out of the curriculum are just those that make life more meaningful than just what we do on the job.
            Of course, people should get credit for meaningful summer work and internships….Such should probably be considered part of the education program.

          • SeeItMyWay

            I’m sorry. You lost me when you started parsing words.

            We disagree.

            Where are you coming from? Are you an intellectual? What is your advocation? A teacher? A business owner? It makes a difference.

          • WUSRPH

            Our primary difference is that you appear to look upon a graduate as a tool to be used by business (“a better product”) while I am more concerned with how successful that person will be as a human being and not just as a sprocket on your business machine. That difference in viewpoint means that we will never agree on this subject. I want people “educated”. You want them “trained”….We educate people. We train animals.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Universities, for the most part, offer no undergraduate “training” unless it is through summer intern programs. There is some practical training that goes on in grad school degree programs.

            I once read a man explain the difference this way. If your daughter comes home and says she is receiving some sex education in college, it’s OK; if she says she is receiving some sex training, it’s not.

          • BCinBCS

            SeeIt: “How about credit for summer employment with corps that have jobs for them

            What you are describing is internships and most universities in Texas encourage them to the point of having offices that coordinate student-company intern programs.

            Another thing that universities are increasingly requiring today are study-abroad programs. (I wish that they had that requirement – and the financial aid – when I was a student.)

          • BCinBCS

            SeeIt: “There are universities today that are cognizant of this and structuring
            degree programs without all the required add-ons. It is an efficient
            education; it is a thorough education in a chosen field; it is a much
            less expensive education.

            You describe training, not education.

            If you want training, go to a technical school or community college. If you want an education, go to college.

          • SeeItMyWay

            My goal is to keep kids in school. I feel this can be accomplished, but not without drastic change.

            In high schools, get rid of the second year required coarses that stymie many and push them to become frustrated and drop out.

            In college, do the same with courses that have little to do with their chosen degree field.

            They need to be able to read with comprehension out of high school, and they need to be able to get a college degree at a much reduced cost.

            You might have seen where an audit of the University of Calif. found a hidden $175M account and the Gov withheld the $50M in funds asked for this next year. You think the UT system might not have a similar account?

            The system is broken. It needs to be fixed. All the add-ons you guys hold so dear does not make sense in light of the costs associated.

          • BCinBCS

            You get what you pay for. Training is cheaper than education. If you want a bunch of drones that are trained to do a specific job and nothing else to become part of the corporate machine, then your ideas are the way to go. If you want educated people, then the system of broad learning that we have today is the way to go.

            What you want reminds me of the advantage that the U.S. had in the World War. Enemy soldiers lost repeatedly to our soldiers because when situations changed, the enemy was inflexible and waited for their commanders to tell them what next to do. In the meantime, American soldiers had the tradition of solving problems on the fly and could out think and out maneuver them.

            If you really want to change things, change them back to the
            time when companies trained their own employees rather than requiring
            the employees to pay to get training at trade schools and community colleges.

          • SeeItMyWay

            I hate to point this out to you, but your analogy speaks more to my point than yours. You might want to delete and try again.

            The vast majority of GI’s were not college educated, and many of the lieutenants who led them and pilots flying above them had limited university time, if I remember correctly. You either have common sense or you don’t. Please don’t get it mixed up with classroom taught philosophical thinking.

            Furthermore, I hear more and more complaints today about the subjective teaching being taught in colleges today and the money being spent by their employers to reprogram them once they are on the job and have trouble coping with real world situations.
            http://fortune.com/2015/06/16/ryan-smith-internship-advice/

          • WUSRPH

            I hate to disagree with both of you……but the historical record is that both of you are expressing the myths of the history of WWII of the War in Europe, not the realities.
            The realities were that:
            * Our troops were not more skillful and better soldiers. Soldier for soldier, both the British and German soldiers were better soldiers (until the very end of the war). Our soldiers did not show more initiative that others. In fact, small German units were much better at—and better trained—to take advantage of changing situations than we were. How do you think a much smaller force was able to hold off the hordes of Russians so often, again and again out maneuvering and blocking Russian advances and slaughtering millions of their soldiers?
            * Our equipment was often not of the quality of the Germans. Our tanks, for example, were decidedly inferior but we could produce 50,000 Shermans to their few thousand King Tigers. We overcome them by sheer force of numbers and our ability to produce, produce and produce and put 11 million people in uniform. Our major tactic was not infantry combat but to hit them with overwhelming airpower and artillery….
            * In terms of ground conquered and lost and regai9ned, enemy killed (and faced on the battlefield) the primary “winners” of WWII were the millions of barely trained Russian workers and peasants. They faced and eventually beat the best the Germans had to offer.
            (The situation was somewhat different in the Pacific, but the common myths grow out of the experience in Europe and North Africa.)

            Be that as it may, the point that we are trying to make and Seeitmyway is unable to accept is that an education must be more than just training for a job. With that unsurmountable difference there is really nothing that can be achieved by continuing this discussion.

          • SeeItMyWay

            I made no assertions about who the best soldiers were; I simply pointed out that few had more than a high school education.

            I also provided a link from a well respected publication backing my assertions, and could provide more from others, but, like you, agree that we have nothing to gain from carrying it further.

            You have a fine arts degree; me a business degree. I have been in the private sector. Not sure if you ever told me what you do. Perspectives change depending on where you are viewing from.

          • WUSRPH

            I don’t think anyone has suggested that after they graduate from high school or college new workers—at all levels—do not need some specialized training in order to be of real use to their employer. I doubt the situation has been any different for most of the industrial/information, etc. age. Even raw muscle power jobs required that the worker be shown how to best use the tools. Where we differ is in what we believe should be the purpose of an education. You seem to believe that high school or college should produce graduates who are “shovel ready” to go to work immediately. To me that is the responsibility of the employer and/or a technical training institution. The job of educators is to graduate students who can be BOTH productive workers (with instruction) and productive citizens and members of society. That is somewhat different than making sure that they know which switch to use on a machine or how to set up an accounting table.

        • Hugh Everett

          The miracle of fracking is creating significant “reshoring” of American manufacturing jobs from Asia and Europe.
          https://www.thenewamerican.com/economy/sectors/item/21226-fracking-is-boosting-reshoring-of-american-jobs

          America is blessed to sit atop an ocean of hydrocarbons in the form of gas, oil, coal. This gives us a huge advantage in global competition.

          Low energy costs yield low manufacturing costs.

          Low natural gas costs yield low feedstock (ethane, ethylene) costs to produce plastic, rubber, polymer, fiber, paints, and other materials.

          Energy production in the U.S. is creating associated manufacturing jobs in equipment, chemicals, transportation, etc.

          Millions of Texans indirectly owe their jobs to fracking, and they might not even know it.

          • WUSRPH

            Fracking is certainly helping insure our long-term energy needs. (By the way, I presume you like most people do not know that the technique was developed by those wasteful federal bureaucrats in the Dept. of Energy—which Perry wanted to abolish—-when the free enterprise companies abandoned it.)

            But, I think if you do your research you will find that high energy costs have played little role in moving jobs overseas…..the real factors behind the off-shore jobs were the higher labor costs and, in many cases, pension and health insurance costs. In most developed countries of the world such costs are borne by the government, but that has not been the tradition in the U.S, In fact, a few years ago I saw a report that said just the cost of health insurance for its workers cost US based auto companies at least $1,000 per car more to produce them in the U.S. than in Canada where the government carried the cost of health care. (This is one reason that many major business leaders favor some sort of government funded health care—such as the ACA “Obamacare”—and are not at all happy with the AHCA Trump/Ryan plan.)

            Also, fracking may extend the life of the industries in Texas that produces all those wonderful plastic products and chemicals and thus help save those jobs…but it is far from having a role in creating them. Many have been here since the US government paid to build the plants for WW II….I presume you have heard of Dow Chemical, now the world’s largest producer of many of the products you cite, which has been a major employer in Texas since 1940. Of course, like most manufacturers it employees less workers (in comparison to its output) than ever did because of automation.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Throw out that point. We will be on a single payer system before Trump leaves office.

          • WUSRPH

            Not until you change the control of the US House and Senate. Of course, Trump may screw-up bad enough to help bring that about.

          • Hugh Everett
          • WUSRPH

            very few in fact I make a habit of not making many.

          • Hugh Everett

            I can produce many, many erroneous predictions you made.
            https://disqus.com/home/discussion/texasmonthly/trumps_weakness_in_texas_is_a_fluke/#comment-2974142804

            You should forfeit this issue unless you want to be embarrassed.

          • WUSRPH

            I have no problem with anything I have said, especially to those to which you have posted links. I said Trump would win Texas. I thought Hillary would win nationwide. And I said that I did not believe that Texas would not turn “blue” anytime in the near future because of either increasing Hispanic voting or “new Texans”…..noting there that bothers me. Keep trying.. I never claimed or claim to know all…..or be right every time. Only a very foolish person would think that way. Plus, if there is one thing in life that I have struggled NOT TO BE it is a hypocrite.

          • Hugh Everett

            We should include your trenchant political analysis.

            “[Hillary] may win a few states by a smaller margin—maybe only by a mid-40s plurality–but the odds are still that she is going to win. There are just too few votes left for [Trump] to pick up. He is probably close to or has already topped out…..Just too many people dislike or fear or both Trump.”

            The look on your face at 10:00 PM on election night must have been priceless.

          • WUSRPH

            Actually, if you did a thorough check you would fine that both several days before the election and the day before I posted an item in which I said that, altho I still thought Clinton would win, that I also had a fear that it was January 30, 1933 and Herr Hitler had already been invited to meet with President Hindenburg. That one was probably too subtle, but it definitely indicated a feeing that we might lose. Again, when I’m wrong, I’m wrong…when I am right, I am right…..Only a very, very weak ego and defective personality would be embarrassed by reality…..

            P.S. I had already gone home by 10 pm on election night fairly certain—unhappily so—-that we were losing. It was not the first time, nor will it probably be the last. I’m a big boy and know how to take both defeat and victory……PS 3 million more people did fear or dislike Trump than they did Hillary. He’s a minority (of the vote) president……One of the few we’ve had….

          • José

            The odds WERE that Clinton was going to win the Presidency. Check the betting markets. So that statement is certainly correct. And of course she did win the popular vote, despite what one may hear from the delusional President.

          • Hugh Everett

            “I presume you like most people do not know that the technique was developed by those wasteful federal bureaucrats in the Dept. of Energy”

            One of my hobbies is exposing liberal assertions as fraudulent propaganda.
            http://oilprice.com/Energy/Crude-Oil/The-Real-History-Of-Fracking.html

            “fracking may extend the life of the industries in Texas that produces all those wonderful plastic products and chemicals and thus help save those jobs…but it is far from having a role in creating them”

            You might recall that President Obama was a proponent of fracking because it saved the U.S. economy. It brings jobs back to America.
            https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/how-fracking-has-saved-obama

            To reiterate, fracking yields low energy costs, low feedstock costs, and millions of American jobs.

          • WUSRPH

            There IS NO QUESTION that the basic technique goes back some yeas but as any legitimate history of the current use will tell you—and even George Mitchell—would admit the Dept. of Energy played a major role in developing the modern methods thru such projects as:

            1976: The Department of Energy launches the Eastern Gas Shales Project, a joint research project among state, federal and private industrial organizations to research “unconventional” natural gas resources.

            1986: As part of an early federal effort to investigate new methods of extracting natural gas, the Department of Energy sponsors the drilling of 2,000-foot horizontal well in the Devonian Shales of Wayne County, W. Va.

            I recognize that some would like to ignore the positive role of government in any thing…but this is one of those cases where to do so is to distort history.

            BYW…I am well aware of President Obama’s stand…and, like him, I agree that energy independence will help our economy and is doing so.. but I tend to put things into perspective—-a practice you seem not to be aware of—where credit is given where it is deserved and the recognition that many, many factors other than fracking will and have influenced our economy…

          • Hugh Everett

            “1986: As part of an early federal effort to investigate new methods of extracting natural gas, the Department of Energy sponsors the drilling of 2,000-foot horizontal well in the Devonian Shales of Wayne County, W. Va.”

            A 2000 foot horizontal well? That’s a total nothingburger. The government studies everything and accomplishes nothing.

            Nobody at Devon Energy (ex-Mitchell employees) or anybody credible in the oil patch claims the government had any meaningful role in the commercial development of fracking.

            The reason I know this is because I’m a petroleum engineer with many years experience working with Devon and similar companies.

            You’re no doubt a retired public sector employee (likely a teacher), who tries to give the government credit for everything.

            The more you talk about this subject, the more you will be publicly shamed.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Good point. Do you think they are looking for people who passed a philosophy course in order to get a degree? Or someone who knows how to program a computer driven piece of equipment?

          • WUSRPH

            In fact, many firms are actually looking for someone who took a philosophy course since philosophy is one of the primary forces (with its companion “logic”) in helping develop the kind of mind used to program and produce the machine in the first place. Philosophy is, in fact, the study of how to think. Your kind of graduate would be useless beyond being able to follow instructions on which button to push at which time….and that is a job that a machine will soon fill.

          • SeeItMyWay

            You seem to insinuate that a person who has not sat through and passed a philosophy class is not capable of contemplative thinking. I revert back to my “on the farm” training.

          • WUSRPH

            The teaching of philosophy goes on outside the formal philosophy course…It should be built-into the educational system in virtually every course as part of teaching creative thinking and the ability to judge good information from bad. You may have learned that technique “on the farm” but millions of others were and are not in your position. Today the schools must replace that farmyard teaching.. Of course, that is hard to do when organizations like the Texas Republican Party do not seem to either know what creative thinking is or oppose it—as they did in the State GOP party platform a few years ago because they were frightened that it would teach children to “QUESTION” dogma.

          • SeeItMyWay

            I respect your opinion, but would counter with, “Do you think the “philosophy” taught in universties today is the philosophy that a major corporation is looking for?

            There have been numerous pieces on the physche of recent grads and the time and money they spend on reprogramming them to real world realities.

          • WUSRPH

            I can only speak from experience with knowing a fair number of specialized computer people with philosophy degrees who have worked on Wall Street and were sought out because of their degrees. Their employers knew they could train them to know what they needed about the business end…but what they wanted was their minds trained to think beyond the ordinary…..My nephew, a MA in Philosophy, for example.

            I think you tend to confuse philosophy with the ability to quote Socrates and Aristotle and having read Nietzsche. You are apparently totally unaware of “pragrmatism” (the “American school of philosophy”) or the fact that what is being taught is not just what some old Greek said but what is being learned is a way of approaching information and knowledge. Philosophy, as I said before, is the study of how to think.

            PS I took 15 hours of philosophy in college but my degree was in history.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Everything you tell me is the antithesis of what I have experienced and hold to be true. I am a businessman. I employee people. I think that much of what is taught and required in high school and universities today is unnecessary, and quite frankly, unrewarding, for either the student or the company that hires them.

          • BCinBCS

            What sort of business do you own/run?

          • BCinBCS

            SeeIt: “I revert back to my “on the farm” training.

            Well, there you have it: Save America, send your children to the farm rather than college. (That’s what the present day world’s leader in industry and technology, Cambodia, did during the Pol Pot / Khmer Rouge regime. It worked great for them.)
            /s

          • WUSRPH

            Let’s not totally discount “on the farm” training…It was what we had for many years…and it did produce people like Abraham Lincoln and Harry S Truman, both of who had little formal “schooling’….But what they did have was an hunger to know and to know much more than how to balance some accounts or turn the right handle on a milling machine. They devoured knowledge of all kinds…..and would not have been satisfied with the kind of “training” he is pushing.

          • BCinBCS

            In a round about way, that is exactly what I meant.
            One can learn many things on a farm, just as one can learn many things in the city but it takes effort or college to become educated.

          • SeeItMyWay

            Ah, let’s just let it die here. I’m not going to back and forth with two guys who, I know, get my point, but then chose to belittle and underrate the significance of it.

          • WUSRPH

            My last point..Lincoln, Truman and probably you are all individuals that could get by and achieve with less of a formal education…..but millions more cannot….Giving them the skills and knowledge needed to succeed both in business AND life is the purpose for education.

  • Kozmo

    If it’s fake, it’s not “news.” Let’s put an end to this annoying neologism. News is by definition real. If it’s not real, it’s not “fake news,” it’s bogus. It’s a lie.

  • donuthin2

    Off topic, but I went to a graduation ceremony for engineers at Tx A&M yesterday. There were four thousand graduating. As I thumbed through the program and looked at the names of those graduating with advanced degrees and to a lesser extent even undergraduate degrees, it was readily apparent that many had names that looked to be Asian, Hispanic, European or Middle Eastern. The thought occurred to me that we would be in real trouble were it not for immigration.

  • WUSRPH

    Happy Birthday, Israel.

  • WUSRPH

    The Germany of the 1930-45 had this idea about what were called “useless mouths” in which the government by a deliberate policy denied care (or actively murdered) people whom the leadership felt filled no useful role in society or were drags on the development of the Germany they were making great again. (At this point this included an at least 20 million residents of the German occupied areas of Eastern Europe who were deliberately being denied food and resources to better feed the German army and the people at home.) I am reminded of this policy every time I read some comment by Trump’s budget director Mick Mulvaney about how various people “don’t deserver” the protection and care provided by our various “safety net” and health care programs.

    http://tinyurl.com/ksr4zak

  • WUSRPH

    In 1424 (western calendar) the Ming Emperor of China—then the most economically, culturally and scientifically advanced land in the world—concerned about the influence of foreigners on his country among other
    factors, ruled that that travel to foreign lands—and particularly the great sea expeditions that had seen Chinese fleets reach as far away as Eastern Africa, India and the Middle East and opened a whole new world for trade and knowledge—banned all such voyages, ordered the great ships destroyed and “closed” the door to China..

    Interestingly, this was just about the same time that far, far away in lands whose material wealth and culture could not come close to China, began pushing out into the seas, leading them eventually to the very doors of that closed China and producing a explosion of wealth and knowledge that made what we call The West the dominate power in the world.

    Today in a land far from that China a new emperor-want-to-be of what is now the most economically, culturally and scientific advanced land in the word—concerned about the influence of foreigners and the competition
    they produce for jobs and wealth—is moving to cut off immigration from those foreign lands, destroy trade pacts with them and turn inward to protect his land from those evil influences.

    Today in China a new emperor de facto has launched a great new program to reach out to the world, develop new trade pacts and relationships and make his country into the great world power it once was….

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2017/05/economist-explains-11?cid1=cust/ddnew/n/n/n/20170515n/owned/n/n/nwl/n/n/na/Daily_Dispatch/email&etear=dailydispatch

    http://tinyurl.com/lcvus23

    And some say history repeats itself.

  • WUSRPH

    In the closing days of the Nixon Administration it appears that Henry Kissinger and Gen. Alexander Haig took steps to limit Nixon’s ability to direct actions and reveal things….While the legality of what they are said to have done is questionable, most would agree that it was in the best interests of the country. With that in mind, is it going to be necessary for someone in the Trump Administration (sic) to adopt similar measures? His inability to keep his mouth shut and this tweet finger still added to his overwhelming need to look important may make that something that has to be considered. See story below.

    http://tinyurl.com/khzhozd

  • WUSRPH

    And my point remains that it is not solely the interests of businesses that should shape our classroom curriculum but the interests of society as a whole. Those courses in the arts and humanities you disdain so much, not the courses in accounting or electrical engineering, are what shape the mind and the imagination…..which, as computers/automated devices take over more and more of the basic jobs….will be even more necessary to survive and prosper in the future both in business and in living your life.

    P.S. From the way your are using the term “critical thinking” I doubt you understand that the lessons we learn from philosophy and from is sub-subjects, logic and rhetoric, are what lie at the core of “critical thinking”……You just seem to have this hang up that makes it impossible for you to understand what philosophy is…..Those old Greek men you disdain were talking about “What is knowledge? How do we know things? How do we determine truth from falsity? What has merit in life? and even such things as What is the nature of matter (developing the “atom theory” when “common sense” thinkers trained in “practicalities” were taking about their being only four elements)——-all the things that are essential to critical thinking 2400 years ago. And those are the same interests of the philosophers of today.

    • SeeItMyWay

      Why do you have to use words like “disdain”, “and terms like “seem to have this hangup” and “seem to not understand”?

      I do understand; I have no disdain; I simply disagree with you based on my college years, my years in the business world, the expense of college hours today, and the product colleges are turning out today.

      • WUSRPH

        I can only assume that when you said:

        “I look back on both high school and college with disdain. In high school, I took every math and science course offered. I did not necessarily like advanced math. In college, the same held true. I had to take courses that I had no interest in and have never used any of the knowledge acquired since. It is forgotten from lack of use.”

        that you also meant “disdain” for the kinds of courses—-arts and humanities in particular—that you want dropped from your more efficient curriculum designed to produce clogs for the machinery of business.

        As I’ve said before, we will not agree. You see the role of schools and colleges as mills producing a “product” of use to business. I see them as instrumental in producing a sharpened, creative intellect that, while useful in business, is open to much, much more. .

        • SeeItMyWay

          Please tell us what you do for a living. It makes a difference. I am betting the farm that you are not a businessman. An attorney? A professor? Non-Profit?

  • WUSRPH

    Legislative deadlines…….A follow-up.
    Time is getting short in the Texas Legislature and dozens of bills are holding on to life by the one-finger at best.

    Upcoming deadlines of importance include:

    Saturday, May 20, the LAST DAY for House Committees to report Senate bills.
    Tuesday, May 23,: The LAST DAY for the House to pass Senate measures on Second Reading.
    Wednesday, May 24th: the LAST DAY for the Senate to pass House bills on ANY Reading.

    Watch the fun!

  • WUSRPH

    Comey has indicated that he will testify, but IN PUBLIC, not in private session….This could get very interesting with his “memos for file” put on the record and Trump hinting about tapes. It could be most embarrassing to have a congressional committee have to subpoena the president to see if he has tapes. Based on the Nixon situation he cannot refuse to turn them over without risking being in contempt of Congress—which is an impeached offense if there is one. Of course, Trump could deny having any tapes….but, he would have to be sure that, if they exist, no one will be like Nixon’s aide, Alexander Butterfield, and eventually confirm that they exist, as Butterfield did in the Watergate case. All in all, getting more interesting by the day.

    P.S. Did you see that Trump is going to give a speech on Islam while in Saudi Arabia? I cannot imagine who, other than Trump himself, could have come up with such a dangerous idea. I certainly hope they can keep him on the script. I would hate to see him insult a billion Muslims in the very country where the Religion originated. You have to hope he listens to his briefers (for the first time), especially on things like what not to do with the left hand.