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John Sharp, the State’s Fixer in Chief, Comes to the Rescue After Harvey

Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp to lead rebuilding effort.

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Gov. Greg Abbott, left, announces that Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, right, will head the Rebuild Texas initiative following Hurricane Harvey, at the Capitol in Austin, Texas, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017.
Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP

In his State of the State address in January, Governor Greg Abbott told the Legislature that he’d like to issue a death sentence to the state’s business tax. “As far as I’m concerned, the only good tax is a dead tax,” Abbott said. “We must continue to cut the business franchise tax until it fits in a coffin.” But on Thursday, the man who designed that franchise tax, John Sharp, stood beside Abbott in the ornate Governor’s Reception Room. The governor announced that he’d tapped Sharp to lead the state’s efforts to rebuild roads, bridges, government buildings, and schools damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

Abbott explained that he needed someone experienced in dealing with governmental red tape, and who knew the Gulf Coast, energy industry, and how to deal with local officials—all with a smile. “I found all those attributes in a single person, John Sharp,” Abbott said at a news conference. Sharp, who grew up in Placedo in Victoria County, modestly noted that he knows well “the charms and the challenges of living on the Gulf Coast.”

Once again, Sharp has become one of the most influential figures in state government—perhaps one of the most powerful people who will likely never have his portrait hang in the Capitol rotunda. Since the early 1990s, Sharp has been Texas’s Mr. Fix-It, but the state’s changing political culture left him behind as the era of Democratic party dominance faded away.

Abbott first asked Sharp last Friday to head a task force on hurricane infrastructure rebuilding. But the Republican governor’s familiarity with the former Democratic office-holder was not limited to a resume. They once were neighbors in Austin, living across the street from one another. They are both Roman Catholics, have adopted children, and are active in raising money and awareness of adoption. At times, their political agendas aligned. As governor, Abbott has been stridently anti-abortion, and, while a state senator in 1985, Sharp carried the strictest proposed law limiting abortion until current Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick came along. The bill—which then-State Treasurer Ann Richards helped kill—would have required women to give informed consent before receiving an abortion and punished doctors who did not follow the restrictions. Sharp moderated his abortion views once he became a statewide candidate for office, saying he personally opposed abortion, but that government shouldn’t interfere with a woman’s right to have the procedure.

In another lifetime, Sharp was on a trajectory to the governor’s mansion: state House member, state senator, railroad commissioner. It was no surprise that he won the job of state comptroller in 1990 in an election alongside Ann Richards. But even as Richards lost re-election in 1994, Sharp beat out his Republican opponent with 55 percent of the vote. Sharp got caught in the changing tide in 1998, though, when he lost the race for lieutenant governor to his former Texas A&M classmate and friend, Rick Perry, by 68,000 votes out of 3.7 million cast. In a second run for lieutenant governor in 2002, Sharp was the Democratic party’s best candidate. He topped two million votes, but only captured 46 percent of statewide ballots.

Unlike many conservative Democrats, Sharp had refused to change parties. The Democratic party, he once told me, was the party of his parents. The party was frugal, but also cared for people. Elective politics, perhaps, did not favor Sharp’s career, but his impact on the state has been far greater than most people can imagine.

In 1991, an ongoing recession put the state in a funding crisis that affected both the budget and public school finance. Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock proposed a corporate income tax. Sharp headed him off with a performance review of the state government that proposed more than $5 billion in savings either by cutting programs or consolidating agencies. “The only thing we know for sure is what the options are: either this plan or a huge tax bill,” Sharp said at the time. “If not an income tax bill at this time, then somewhere down the road.” Sharp’s plan was a lifeline for Richards, giving her a way to avoid the income tax proposal. She seized on Sharp’s plan and declared, “The people of Texas do not want an income tax.” Bullock salvaged his career by pushing through a state constitutional amendment prohibiting an income tax without voter approval. Ultimately, though, it was Sharp who kept Texas income-tax free.

His performance reviews of Texas government became so popular that President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore asked Sharp to advise an evaluation of the federal government in 1993. “In the past, they have embarked on slash-and-burn missions” that sought program cuts impossible to pass in Congress, Sharp said. “Fat is not something that simply can be lopped off in government—it’s marbled within the government.”

Leave it to a Texan to think of fat in government more like prime rib.

The 1998 lieutenant governor race left hard feelings between Perry and Sharp, but after Perry’s efforts at cutting property taxes and reforming public school finance failed in 2005, he turned to Sharp to reboot the process. As comptroller and state tax collector, Sharp had faced numerous tax disputes among the major business taxpayers of Texas, and the business lobby saw him as a fair arbiter. Putting their differences aside, Perry named Sharp, who was working for a statewide business tax consulting firm, as head of a tax overhaul committee. “I am not looking for a magic formula for school finance, but instead a fresh perspective that can help bring about bipartisan change and bipartisan solution” Perry said. For his part, Sharp joked that he did not plan to use his position as a springboard back into politics. “I’m not very good at politics anyway,” Sharp said. “If I were good, I would be appointing him.”

Together, Sharp and Perry created one of the most substantial property tax cuts for Texas homeowners in three decades. The business franchise tax that was supposed to pay for it never lived up to its potential, though, and one Legislature after another has whittled it down. The system they created slowly went out of whack—a problem that Abbott and Patrick refused to address this year.

Abbott’s choice of Sharp to oversee the hurricane recovery effort is more than just a brilliant move of a state government technocrat. In the recently completed special legislative session, Abbott created a highly partisan image of himself, opposed to local government controls and regulations. Additionally, early in the storm, questions arose about why the Republican governor was not talking to Sylvester Turner, the Democratic mayor of Houston, which took the brunt of flooding created by the storm.

As Texas A&M chancellor, Sharp brings both a non-partisan and bipartisan air to the reconstruction effort. Abbott promised that local governments will know best what they need, and Sharp promised to work with them. A document that Sharp sent to local officials outlined an immediate timeline and goals. It concluded with: “Respond immediately; fix the problem; cut red tape; prioritize a consistent regional approach; create a future Texas that is better than the status quo; follow the law; no surprises.”

Texas’s Mr. Fix-It is back, proving that he can effect major change even without winning an election to secure his place in Texas history.

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  • St. Anger

    When there is only one decent republican, he sure has a lot to do.

    • anonyfool

      Um, who’s the decent Republican in this news blurb? It’s not John Sharp because he’s not a Republican.

      • St. Anger

        my mistake. i assumed that as a multiple political appointee in texas he must be a republican.

        i should have known my mistake the instant i typed “decent republican” (it did seem implausible – i’ve never met one).

        • not_Bridget

          Hey, there’s Joe Straus, Republican Speaker of the House. And he’s sane. Thank him for letting the Bathroom Bill die with the Special Session….

          • St. Anger

            sane is a pretty low bar. but sure, joe strauss, not insane.

            still a republican in the age of trump, however, so not decent, neither.


    One MINOR CORRECTION; Sharp “did not head” Bullock off with the Texas Performance Review….IT YOU CHECK you will find that Bullock had created that PROGRAM as part of his campaign for Lt. Governor. In fact it was the FIRST BILL passed by the Senate and the Legislature. SHARP’s role–which he, to his credit volunteered for–was to oversee the actual implementation of BULLOCK’S PROGRAM…..Sharp later—again to his credit—got the legislature to make it an on-going program….BUT HE DID NOT CREATE IT NOR DID HE COME UP WITH THE IDEA..
    ANOTHER minor correction: Sharp got 48.2% of the vote in the governor’s race in 1998 with 1.7 million votes. PAUL HOBBY, running for Comptroller, got 49.55% with 1.8 million votes.
    Sharp, whether you like him or not, has done enough in his career to be recognize on his own merits…He does not need you to give him credits that he does not deserve.
    You might also note, that Bullock said NOTHING about the income tax until AFTER the performance review was under way….
    I have to admit R.G. that I was surprised that you, who were around for some of this, fell so heavily for the MYTH,

    • WUSRPH

      PS Did either of them say ANYTHING about doing ANYTHING to develop a program to limit the damages of a future Harvey? It would show a little leadership if they had expressed some concerns about that….but, again, that might require some changes in “the way we do things in Texas” and we do want to talk about that do we?

      • anonyfool

        There was the 400 million dollar project the Harris County Flood guy proposed in 1990’s with something like 9 12×12 feet tunnels underneath I-10 to remove water from Addicks/Barker and bypass Buffalo Bayou but that was before they redid I-10, now with I-10 in place it probably would cost 100 times that.

        • WUSRPH

          For most of Texas history Texas’s governments—state and local—have been run under the “Scarlett O’Hara Rule of Government”—-“I will worry about that tomorrow for, after all, tomorrow is another day”.

          Time after time he have gotten close to the edge, but something or someone has stepped in to safe us…..Of course, we have always claimed it was because of our own efforts and because of “the way we do things in Texas”…but in reality it often was because millions and millions of years ago something happened to convert living matter into oil and natural gas.

          I got my first close up view of this phenomena in 1973 when the Texas Legislature adjourned knowing that when it came back in 1975 it faced immense challenges in every field for school finance to highways…and that, with the existing tax structure it could not come close to meeting the demand…(Adding to the problem back then–like now—was that the governor, then Dolph Briscoe did not believe in special sessions or government spending….For example, when the Legislature had drafted a bill to put $1 billion (which was a lot more money back in those days) into public education he killed it with a claim that $80 million was more than enough).

          As such everyone looked forward to 1975 with trepidation and fear…BUT we did it again, We saved ourselves because oil prices skyrocketed from their then level of about $7 per barrel to unknown (for the time) heights and money poured into the State Treasury.

          Of course, the fact that Egypt had attacked Israel in October of 1973 and when that was all over the oil states put an embargo on oil sales to the US had ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with our good fortune…It was “the way we do things here in Texas” ..nothing else.

          If truth be told, however, if Texas really wanted to show its appreciation for that burst of good fortune the proper way to have done so was to put a statute on the Capitol lawn of an Egyptian trooper in full leap across the Suez Canal….

          This time we have to hope that the federal government plays the role of miracle maker for Texas since it sure is not gong to be Abbott…but you be certain that, just like that Egyptian soldier, it won’t get the credit.

          • SeeItMyWay

            You, Ime, are a fine judge of history. You can dissect and analyze it with the best of them. Your problems lie in trying to predict the future. You should give it up… it drastically screws up your batting average.

    • donuthin2

      It is interesting to think about where both Texas and Perry would be had it not been for the Bush coat tails and Sharp had won. Many organizations which had helped Perry later abandoned Perry to help Sharp as they realized he was the much better of the two, but the Bush coat tail was too much by a very small margin.


    Although I think RG screwed up pretty bad in this piece, (se below)….what makes it so shocking is that it is so rare.

    For example a while back I did a post on polls and how you should learn more about them I which I referred to an article that I thought that Paul Burka might have written about the problem with polls and how to approach them…No one could find a Burka article on that subject…and there is a good reason for that…It was by RG.

    You can see it at:


  • Jay Trainor

    All I know is Gov. Abbott came across as stiff, insecure and political in the run up and early response to Harvey. Conversely, Mayor Turner has come across as the ideal politician, knowledgeable of the issues, comfortable with everyone – a real leader with a specif plan for recovery. New York Times columnist David Brooks’ most recent column says the leader we need for today has the following trait:. It’s the ability to move gracefully through your identities — to have the passions, blessings and hurts of one balanced by the passions, blessings and hurts of several others.

    The person with equipoise doesn’t feel attachments less powerfully but weaves several deep allegiances into one symphony. “A good character,” James Q. Wilson wrote, “is not life lived according to a rule (there rarely is a rule by which good qualities ought to be combined or hard choices resolved), it is a life lived in balance.” Achieving balance is an aesthetic or poetic exercise, a matter of striking the different notes harmonically.

    If he continues to manage Houston’s recovery from Harvey with ‘good character’ – I think Mayor Turner has a great political future.

    • Fantasy Maker

      Turner is a clown- he is showing everyone what an inept idiot he is.


    Today’s tacky:
    I want to make it perfectly clear that, contrary to the rumors being circulated, Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos WAS NEVER a member of the Baylor football coaching or support staff…..even if her comments and approach to sexual assaults on college campuses would suggest some affinity with that operation…..You just have to understand that her mommy told her that “good girls” did not get into such situations and, by dressing a certain way or being in certain places or drinking too much, they were “ASKING FOR IT”. Boys will be boys, you know.


    On a much more important subject than anything else I have talked about recently:

    A spelling question…

    For some reason I have always wanted to spell the word “ a while” as “awhile” ….It just seems right…but my accursed spell check keeps insisting that it is “a while”. Does anyone have a definitive ruling or even a strong opinion on which is correct or is this one of these cases where it is an ”either or” matter?

    BYW, why is it that the damn spell check never catches it when I use the wrong word…For example “or”
    when it should be “are”? I remember back in the dark ages of computers when one particular spell checker would ask things like “Do you mean ‘the’ of ‘thee’….It, of course, drove all of us crazy so the newer ones do not do things like that…However, with all the things we are told that computers can do, you would think it could examine the context in which the word is used in a sentence and point out when the word my fingers stupidly typed in my frenzy to get to the end of the line is questionable.

    • José

      “awhile” is a valid and perfectly good word. It can replace the phrase “for a while”. Use either according to your personal preference and style.

      I don’t know what to suggest to you other than to revert back to the dark ages, before computers, and proofread your work before posting.

      • WUSRPH

        Of course, the problem with proof-reading is that when you do that you see what you thought you said, not necessarily what is on the page…which is why newspapers until at least recently had copy-desks where someone else read the story and (hopefully) checked the facts. It helps, If you are doing your own copy reading and editing, to let it sit for awhile and go back later and proof it again..

  • Fantasy Maker

    Sharp has is work cut out for him- this will take 2 decades to recover from


    I hope I am not boring you with all this stuff that is all over the board from Texas politics to divine justice…I know it drives JJ crazy…but .I guess I see you guys and girls (and any transgender individuals) as being like an old college bull session where people sat around (often in the dining hall after diner) and talked about all these kinds of things that popped into their minds……

    (You missed the ‘divine justice’ one…I limited it to those victims who receive my daily diatribes by e-mail. You also missed a fairly good on the questions revolving around the case of the baker who does not want to be tainted by having to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.)

    We all seemed to have more fertile and wide-ranging minds back then…or at least it just seems that way…or maybe it was because we were being exposed to so many new ideas and thoughts that it all spilled over into useless gab.. I thing it is unfortunate that there is not that much of an opportunity for such free-ranging “discussions” after you have to earn a living or raise a family….

    For example, there was the time when I was working for Bullock—right about the time after he mentioned
    some book named, he thought, “84” which had been on some quiz he took but with which he was not familiar—which I picked up on and sent him a copy of George Orwell’s “1984”, one of the seminal works of the mid-20th Century…and, I think as a result, a few days later on of this top aides told me:

    “You know what your problem is, XXXXXX?…You read too many dull books”..

    I guess I miss those old days too much…

  • SpiritofPearl
  • John Bernard Books

    Putting a democrat in charge of massive amounts of federal dollars isn’t enough dems say it must be about race too.
    From Tex Rep Reynolds seated at the head table ““This evening Governor Greg Abbott visited Fort Bend County to announce the creation of the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas to oversee the response and relief efforts between state and local governments to ensure victims of #HurricaneHarvey get everything they need as quickly as possible. Texas A&M Chancellor John Sharp will lead the Commission that will oversee the rebuilding of public infrastructure — focusing on roads, schools, and government buildings in impacted communities. I spoke directly to Gov. Abbott about the specific needs of my district. I’m proud to say that Gov. Abbott assured me that he would make my district a priority! ”
    and it drew this comment:
    “Cynthia A. Spooner JD Were any blacks seated at the head table or appointed to serve to your knowledge.”

    Maybe she didn’t know Rep Reynolds was black……let the looting begin.

  • John Bernard Books

    John Sharp the guy that masterminded the Aggie football loss to UCLA?
    How embarrassing……oh well dems are used to losing. It has been 20 years since dems have won a statewide election in Texas….

  • r.g. ratcliffe

    To all the ticked off Bullock acolytes: Before I wrote this piece, I went back in the library and re-read numerous news stories. Even if the idea of performance reviews was Bullock’s, Sharp ran with it and provided $5.2 billion in savings that allowed Richards to turn away from Bullock’s business income tax proposal. If the quarterback hands the ball off to a running back in hopes of getting a first down and the guy breaks free and runs 40 yards for a touchdown, who gets credit?

    • WUSRPH

      Sharp did just what Bullock intended him to do…To use your analogy….Bullock called the play and gave Sharp the ball….Sharp may get the credit from you for the execution, but the coach knows who had the insight to pick the right man at the right time.
      As to Sharp having somehow single-handedly saved Texas from an income tax….You failed to note that his great work on the TPR DID NOT mean that there was NO tax increase in 1991…In fact, AFTER the TRP, it enacted one of the largest tax increases in its history which somehow in your research for this piece lauding Sharp you seem to have missed. .
      As to the $5.2 billion he allegedly saved us—history proved that a good deal of that was puff…but it did serve its intended purpose which was to demonstrate to the public that the state had cut most of the “waste, fat, duplication and unnecessary spending” imbedded in myth BEFORE a massive necessary tax increase which had been part and parcel of the whole package from the very beginning..
      That it was a major increase in the franchise tax coupled with increases in the sales tax and a 10 cents raise of the gasoline tax and not an income tax had less to do with the outcome of the TPR than with the fact that, as I noted, Bullock semi-sabotaged his own plan at that lunch with Richards and Lewis…..Why he did that—months before the plan and before the PR campaign that he had outlined/designed at meeting I attended only a couple of weeks before—is still understood…The best answer I ever head was what he said when I asked him directly some time later which was, when the press asked what he thought what kind of tax increase the state should adopt, that: “I thought it was the right thing to do”……Who knows….he may have thought that he could put Richards and Lewis on a hot spot and they, too, might admit what they all knew…But, if that was his idea, it blew up in his face as, being the politicians they were, they immediately denounced the idea.

      • WUSRPH

        One additional minor correction: contrary to what you said, the Bullock plan was for a PERSONAL INCOME TAX, not the ” corporate income tax”…..It would have been a 5% tax tied to the federal income tax income determinations with a $50,000 deductible—at least that is what I remember from many years ago.

        BYW, some day when times are better I may even tell you the story about the report that was done for Bullock after the first TPR that attempted to determine just what the “savings” had been….when all the hype was removed form the estimates.

      • BCinBCS

        Why he did that—months before the plan and before the PR campaign that
        he had outlined/designed at meeting I attended only a couple of weeks
        before had had a chance to develop –is still not understood…”

        Bullock’s spilling the beans may have been facilitated by what they were drinking at that lunch.

        • WUSRPH

          Not that time…by the time this all happened he had been firmly on the wagon for some years and was actively involved in recruiting every possible over indulger he ran across into joining the program…

          Of course, quitting drinking had done nothing to change the basic Bullock…other than make him a little less boisterous.

          • WUSRPH

            In fact, he became such an “interventionist” that he probably mistreated three particular members of the Texas Senate who, some might have said, had a “drinking problem” because they would not let him get them off the bottle.

    • WUSRPH

      One last point before you ban me from the blog: It is more than invalid to suggest that the TPR produced anywhere near $5.2 billion in “SAVINGS” or cuts in government spending….. It is all too complex to explain here or in any newspaper story you have researched but the final figure for what the Legislature adopted is much smaller.
      In addition you have your time line all screwed up:
      THE TPR came FIRST and was well underway BEFORE Bullock said anything about an income tax.. It would have been conducted under the terms of the FIRST bill passed by the Legislature that year to fulfill a Bullock campaign promise NOT MATTER WHAT.
      ANY “grabbing” upon by Richards it similarly, pure fantasy….especially in light of the major effort it took us to get her committed to the TPR in the first place……and how she slipped and slided from having to take ANY public responsibility for its recommendations….(Look up how she insisted that the leadership meet IN PRIVATE on Matagorda Island with no press coverage when it came time to make any decisions about what parts of the TPR would be pushed in the special session she had to call.)
      Sharp did a good job on the TPR….but he did not invent it….nor did it block a massive tax increase…
      I recognize that you had a great idea for how to pitch this subject: “Miracle Man To the Rescue, Again”…but, at least in 1991, that is not the role Sharp played….I only hope that he might this time.

      • John Bernard Books

        He’s not gonna ban you….you’re good for at least a hundred comments aday….


    Actually, if you have to give me a title, “Some one who tried but often failed” would be a more realistic one.. But then I think Teddy Roosevelt, in one of the quotes from him you used to throw around, said something about the difference between those who get in the fight and people like you who prefer to limit your involvement to attacking those who at least tried to drain the cesspool you call our governments.

    “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”


      The ‘Flawed Whisper is appropriately quaint.


    On a more pleasant note:

    Wasn’t it nice to see Washington do something about a problem and do it rapidly for a change? Of course, it is only a down payment on what our state rights/federal government hating/Texas can go it on its own leaders (sic) hope to eventually suck out of the feds…but knowing that there is some money available must make many people feel a little better.

    Of course, Congress being Congress it could not resist using this good act as a partial cover for, in the imagery JJ loves so much, kicking another can down the road with the temporary extension of the debt ceiling……One would hope that was not just to give Trump an opportunity to further develop the idea he had during the campaign of repudiating our national debt and telling our creditors that we would pay them off for a few pennies on the dollar.

  • John Bernard Books

    Now that Trump has turned democrat….where are the naysayers here calling for Trump’s impeachment. Hahaha how funny….


    Speaking of nice. 90 US reps.,including some Texans, voted against the hurricane aia money men of principle all.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Who are these cowards?

      • WUSRPH

        “Four Texas Republicans voted against the bill: U.S. Reps. Joe Barton of Ennis, Jeb Hensarling of Dallas, Sam Johnson of Richardson and Mac Thornberry of Clarendon. None of these four members represent counties that were in the direct path of the storm or part of FEMA’s disaster declaration in the Harvey aftermath” (Texas Tribune).
        But I thought people liked officeholders who refused to give up their principles for political gain or public outcry.. They all have strong ideological commitments against lifting the spending limit or a continuing resolution to fund the government. They want government to live within its means—-all the things people preach everyday.. Of course, it is always much easier to “voter your principles” if the issue is certain to pass….What would have been much more interesting would to see what they might have done if theirs had been the deciding vote….That is when principles get really tested.
        Of course, Ted Cruz—who has had very, very strong principles on this subject even leading a shutdown of the government—seemed slightly less committed to his beliefs this time…But, again this was different than when NY/NJ need the aid, wasn’t it? I guess he slid over that slippery edge and is now just a politician like the rest of them.

        • SpiritofPearl

          “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad,”

  • SeeItMyWay

    Good pick. Can’t think of a better one. This should be interesting.

    • WUSRPH

      You may not understand or accept this, but I actually hope (AND EXPECT) that Sharp does a great job. What I also hope—most fervently—is that after he has straighten out all the lines of communications and has the money flowing to where it needs to go which is probably all the governor wants—he will “pull a Perot” and go beyond his orders or just what is expected of him to take a serious look at the way “that’s the way we do things in Texas” and our “Scarlett O’Hara” approach to government set us up for much of this disaster and how and what we must change to insure that, next time, we are equipped and ready for a Harvey or worse. If he does that, I will not care whether he adds to his myth with misleading stories like this one….as he will have earned a right to as big of a myth as he can build. I might even be willing to make it the “Bullock-Sharp Museum of Texas History” or, if he can then sell the governor and the legislature on adopting the needed changes, maybe see them build monument just for him.


    Sorry, I forgot to inset the cute little smiling face after my entry….

    As to the Teddy category. I never would or could…as I noted if you want to give me a title a more appropriate one would be, as I said in my last entry, “Some one who tried but often failed.” I have this problem: I don’t have an overly enlarged ego and I know my limitations…I can live–however reluctantly sometimes—with reality…..I don’t need to wrap myself in myths. You might try it some time.
    As to why Sharp or RB do….I don’t really care….Sharp has natured his myth with the care of a more than master gardener. Of course, Bullock was not shy about doing that either….He, after all, insured he would be remembered by building a state history museum which, just by happenstance, wound up being named after him. As such, we can leave the building of a “memory” they prefer to them…I just have this little twitch from my historian days about sometimes those myths being somewhat close to reality. (Is it possible that A&M has already named one for Sharp.)

    One positive development from all of this is that it shows that the “Owners” are not using their position to shape history or views and are giving RG and the other writers somewhat of a free rein…At least, the fact that Paul Hobby, who just happened to be Bullock’s Executive Assistant at the time, either does not know or does not care that RG has got it just a little bit wrong this time..

    I will leave this subject at that…since I certainly would not want to make your year by getting myself banned from the BB.

    • SeeItMyWay

      Maybe Hobby has a better memory than you do. I’d rather get my Bullock stories from Buck…and those on you, as well.

      • WUSRPH

        Not worth effort to reply…..

        • SeeItMyWay

          Oh, you know he was still involved.

          • WUSRPH

            Oh, by the way, the next time you talk to Buck ask him about the time he and the late Jim Shear hatched the idea for what became the “Robin Hood” system…..A classical example of a very well-intentioned idea going terribly wrong–so much that today 25 cents of every LOCAL property tax dollar paid by the residents of the Austin ISD get’s sucked up by the State instead spent on our local schools.


    As I mentioned earlier due to my new “no smothering” policy you guys did not get my piece on “Divine Retribution” last night…I won’t submit you to it now, but I thought you might find this article of interest. It outlines some the more outlandish GOD IS PUNISHING YOU WITH STORMS of recent years. I particularly enjoy the one who proclaims that there is still time to appease God’s anger and avoid Irma—It can and will be done, all it requires is for the SCOTUS to do is declare abortion and homo-sexuality and same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional BEFORE IRMA hits and all will be well….


    Actually, I wonder if these good Christian ministers have read the Bible…After all, after Noah and the first big cleansing job did not God promise that “no water again”, but “fire next time”?

    • WUSRPH

      CORRECTION: It has pointed out that God did not forget his promise to use “fire next time”…He is doing that to Los Angles another hot-bed of sinners.

      • WUSRPH

        Wait a minute. If these guys are correct it means that Trump/Perry and ilk are WRONG….Man HAS contributed to the cause of Climate Change after all…but by polluting his soul rather than doing it to the environment…or, maybe polluting the environment is a form of soul pollution….


    My parting shot and tacky for the day:
    I wonder if Trump has checked to make sure that his federal flood insurance and his windstorm insurance polices on his Florida and Caribbean properties are up to date? Or, does he just assume that now that they are vital annexes to the operation of the federal government, that Uncle Sam will pick up the cost of any repairs? After all, if Buckingham Palace were to burn down do you think they would make the Queen pay to rebuild it?

    Whatever happens, I bet that Trump’s local managers will be first in line at the FEMA disaster relief HQ …that is unless he insists the FEMA make house calls at his properties.

  • Kozmo

    It saddens me to think that we COULD have had a Governor Sharp for years and years when instead we had doofuses and crooks. And still do.


    Speaking of people who live and die by spreading myths:


    But, then, not even the keen minds in the Kremlin could make up the Troll.


    Today’s ONE & ONLY TACKY:

    Do you think when Abbott hands out those checks of FEDERAL aid money–which he is so grandly doing as part of his continued milking of Harvey–that he tells the recipient that he Is, about his strenuous efforts to make it impossible for the federal government to ever aid anyone like this again? After all, even Madison, who wrote most of it, said that there was nothing in the US Constitution that allowed it to give such aid to anyone, no matter how great their need….and , as Abbott keeps telling us, if it isn’t specifically authorized in Sec. 8 of Article II it is unconstitutional. I guess we are all fortunate that his beloved “convention of the states” to repeal Marbury v Madison and McCullough v Maryland—and all the other rulings that make such aid possible—has not met yet.


    He betrays everyone and everything:


    Isn’t that just what we want said about our president or anyone for that matter?
    I’ve know a few great backstabbers, fence stradlers and one or two who would sell their soul or their mother’s soul to “get ahead”, but if one-half of this is true, we’ve have now seen the ultimate…
    In my experience most of that type who go into at electoral politics eventually wind up self-destructing…but we have probably had only one other president who came close to what is being said about Trump. Nixon, perhaps?…Some folks would probably apply a similar description to Aaron Burr but he never got past being VP (and, of course, shooting Alexander Hamilton) which was close enough… But, they usually do not seem to be able to survive the long run in American politics as it is one of those jobs in which you have to work with others. Of course, Trump is different since he started at the top.
    As for those who go into other lines of work, I’m sure a few made it all the way–maybe one of the Medici or Borgia popes (they had four and two, respectively, before them.) and if we accept Shakespeare’s version, Richard III..and I assume quite a few captains of industry but, even in those lines of work the really bad person achieving great success is somewhat rare…After all, you can only stab so many people in the back before everyone starts sliding over against the wall and keeping their backs pressed to it when you are passing..
    But there are certainly some in history about whom I have my suspicions—Augustus Caesar certainly would be on that list…and there were some close calls….

    • WUSRPH

      PS If you follow the link to the story you will find it really doesn’t support all the headline says…but
      I could not resist playing off the headline to do a piece.

  • John Bernard Books

    Austin Lawyer ok with rape…
    ““I’m not wishing for it… but I’d be ok if #BetsyDevos was sexually assaulted,” Mr. Ranco said in a tweet on Friday evening.”

    another classy democrat

  • John Bernard Books

    Will Sharp use the IRS to harass Texans?
    “Judicial Watch released 906 pages of newly recovered Lois Lerner emails from the IRS that are believed to recently have been recovered by the IRS’ internal watchdog – the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). The IRS released the emails under a court order by U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan. The new documents show that Lois Lerner and other top officials in the Exempt Organizations Unit of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including soon-to-be Acting IRS Commissioner Steve Miller, closely monitored and approved the controversial handling of tax-exempt applications by Tea Party organizations. The documents also show that at least one group received an inquiry from the IRS in order to buy time and keep the organization from contacting Congress.”

    Dems don’t pay taxes so they see nothing wrong with the IRS harassing taxpayers….


    It is not often that you get to say something nice about the US Congress, but I have to say that it deserves some credit for the fast passage of the Hurricane Harvey aid bill…..In and out and on the president’s desk and signed it law in less than a week….What I was particularly pleased to see was that there was not even an attempt to see if Ted Cruz could be made to beg just a little…After all Cruz opposed the last similar aid package for victims of Hurricane Sandy and has repeatedly told us how evil it is to lift the boost spending or pass continuing resolutions on the budget….and, here his “colleagues” in the Senate let pass a perfect opportunity to make him eat even a tiny bit of crow…..

    I have to admit that I might have not have been that magnanimous when faced with such a perfect opportunity…and I more than certain that Cruz would not have been if he had been the one that someone like Cruz had attacked so viciously on so many occasions for being without principles….

    Of course, the fact that they did might not treat Cruz that way may have been a subtle way of rebuking Cruz. Or that they understand the real meaning of not kicking a man when he is down….And, there is always the chance that when the Congress takes up funding for more than the immediate emergency that Cruz will be forced to prove that every 25 cents is not “pork”…. But, fortunately, for all of Texas and the nation, at least for now Congress rose about such pettiness….and proved that, to perryphrase an old quote from Kipling, “You are a better man than I am, Gunga Din.”

    P.S. What are the odds that, as soon as this crisis has passed, that Cruz reverts to his old form? Or, is it possible that, with his presidential ambitions shattered (at least for now), Cruz has finally begun to figure out how to be a US Senator.

    • José

      Amazing what they can do when they work together instead of against each other.

      As for the junior senator from Texas, Rafael “Ted” Cruz, I’ve yet to see any evidence that his actions are guided by anything but cold, calculated naked self-interest.


    The last “smother” for the day:

    An interesting piece on how the US should approach the North Korean situation….Of course, I may like it because it reflects most of the views I have tried to express on the subject for some time now.

    Its author and I share a horrible fear that the prospect of a war in Korea could break out because our leader
    may get his ego too involved in making decisions…We can only hope that his advisors can restrain any tendency he may have to prove who has bigger hands.


    • WUSRPH

      Here is another story on North Korea that raises an equally disturbing possibility that Kim might think that, because he at least now claims to be able to strike the US Mainland, the US might be deterred from doing anything to him, no matter what he does….out of fear of losing Los Angeles or something worse.


      This, of course, only illustrates how difficult a decision on what to do about NK will be…and why it is even more vital that our decision makers understand the risks. I only wish I had the slightest hope that “Only I” is up to that task.

  • donuthin2

    Been interesting watching the pro active governor of Florida in contrast to our very own governor.

    • SpiritofPearl

      Rick Scott has ignored climate change planning. FL has a serious infrastructure deficit,

      • SpiritofPearl
        • donuthin2

          I understand, but probably no more so than our own governor. Neither of them are about the scientific evidence, but rather staying in denial. For the evidence to be convincing to those guys, it would be so bad that recovery would be next to impossible.

          • SpiritofPearl

            Playing Russian Roulette with the lives of the citizens of their states . . .

  • SpiritofPearl
    • WUSRPH

      There can be question that—despite the best efforts/hopes/prayers (assuming they do)/and schemes of the Abbott, Patrick, Cruz, Cornyn and their ilk -that they can suck all the needed money out of Washington–that Texas is going to have to come up with at least part of the cost…

      Abbott is clearing hoping/dreaming that “our share” will be as small as possible….and can be covered by dipping into part (but certainly not all) of the balance in the Rainy Day Fund and, even then, that he can put off any major expenditures until 2019 at the earliest.

      How much the total cost—and Texas’ share—will be will, of course, depend on whether Abbott, et al, do more than simply clean up and restore but actually do something to insure that future storms are less damaging…I fear they will do the least amount possible so as not to change “the way we do things in Texas” and will do they can to allow Texans to continue to live in a myth of own making.

      But, the Congress would be more than remiss if it did not recognize all the thousands of times that Texas leaders (sic) have boasted about the Texas Miracle and about the superiority Texas and Texans and how we did not need any one else….and call our bluff. We, after all, have earned it with our sanctimonious behavior for some many years.

    • WUSRPH

      It would be remiss of Congress if it did not take into account Texas’ ability to carry part of the load for the damage down by Harvey—and, hopefully, doing what it required to change “how we do things in Texas” to limit the impact of any future Harvey’s…even though Gov. Abbott, et al will try to limit what we have to pay to the absolute minimum possible…..In fact, is humorous to watch such federal hating/state rights loving/Texas miracle advocates sucking up after every dollar they can get from the “FEDERAL” government they hate so much…. What will be really interesting will be seeing how long they can tone down their rhetoric while they are trying to milk the federal cow….Cruz seems to be out front on that so far…as he passed up several chances to attack raising the national debt….And Abbott has not said a word in recent days about his beloved “Convention of the States” to pass amendments to the federal constitution that would make it virtually impossible for a future Congress to provide the kind of aid he is begging for now. But, you know it must be killing both of them not to be able to fall back on their stock lines at a time like this. But, then, as I have noted before Hypocrisy has long been the Official Religion of Texas Politics, and Abbott and company are High Priests in the Faith


    Last year at this time and date I was on a plane from Houston that was just about crossing the East Coast on its way to London for a three-week vacation in England……Guess where I would like to be now….(It was a terrible, more than crowded flight but it was what lay at the end that made it worthwhile.)

    Of course, I have hunch that many of you would like me to in the same place since I way only able to make about three posts while on the trip.

    It is not often you get to stand on the site where the history of the world was probably changed in a single day–like I did when I stood on the hill at Battle Abbey outside Hastings where the future of England—and thru that much of the world—was decided.


    Any damage that Irma causes is a disaster….and we must all be happy that it sounds like the damage will not be as bad as it was projected if the storm had, for example, really worked over the Tampa area which at this point seems will be spared the worst. That is certainly good news.

    But wouldn’t it be just sickening if Rush Limbaugh is somehow to claim that this justifies his claim last week that all the warnings were hype and “fake news” designed to sell newspapers and boost media ratings while allowing local merchants to rake it in from people purchasing supplies, etc. in advance of the storm….That might make him look like a realistic prophet and—with potentially tragic effects in the future–next time lead people to pay attention to Rush rather than to the weather experts.

    Of course, if Rush had been so certain about his prediction I doubt he would have evacuated (fled) to a safer place…..but, perhaps, he can explain that as a business trip scheduled long before anyone had heard of Irma.



    While we wait for another thread, let us just sum up this one:

    In 1991 John Sharp came up with the great idea for a total Texas Performance Review of state government…Good story…BUT, of course, he didn’t…as RG has now admitted Bob Bullock has proposed such a study more than six months before and and passed the first bill passed by the Legislature that session to create it.

    Similarly, in 1991 John Sharp’s efforts single-handedly blocked the State of Texas from having to enact a massive tax increase…Even a better story…BUT the fact is that the Legislature passed one of the largest, if not the largest tax bills in its history even after John Sharp saved the day with the plan he hatched, but didn’t

    Also, in 1991 Bob Bullock—after the created the Texas Performance Review–proposed a State corporate income tax…Even a better story….but, Of course, what he proposed was a PERSONAL income tax . That tax did not pass—although major increases in the franchise tax, the gasoline tax and the sales tax WERE PASSED—because John Sharp created the Texas Performance Review which, of course, he didn’t..

    To sum up; John Sharp saved the universe…but, of course, he didn’t.. BUT we sure hope he does this time.

    And people wonder how myths are created?


    Up till a minute ago the space just below this post was filled with a fairly lengthy, somewhat tacky, refutation of what part of this thread, which is unfortunately a very flawed account of what happened in Texas in 1991. I wrote it because the story—as originally presented—gave John Sharp credit for things that the historical record demonstrates that he did not do…and because it gives a misleading impression that what he did that year somehow single-handedly staved off a major state tax increase—without mentioning that, if fact, the legislature passed one of the largest tax bills in history that year.

    While what I wrote presented a more valid account of what happened that year, on second thought I decided it was unnecessary as I had already presented the factual evidence in earlier posts and because it might be seemed to be piling on the author…..As a result, I removed it….even though by doing so I may contribute to the growth of the myth it presents.

    Let me make it clear that John Sharp has done a number of noteworthy things in his public life….many of which may deserve our praise…..Let me also note that I do not believe that John Sharp would try to claim the credit for things done by others…He did not do so in 1991….And, I do not believe he would have if he had been interviewed for this story…He has enough to be proud of on his own.

    But, I fully expect that in future years some poor reader will stumble across this article—stripped of the comments now attached to it including the author’s somewhat grudging “correction” of the claim that Sharp created the Texas Performance Review and of the comments I and others have entered–and accept what is myth as factual.

    • John Bernard Books

      You are completely senile now…..

  • John Bernard Books

    Is a question really a question when you know the answer? Perfectly illustrated below….


    Weird things happen where you least expect them. The KANSAS State Supreme Court understands
    what “federal preemption” means:

    “Lawrence Journal World – September 8, 2017

    Kansas Supreme Court
    blocks state prosecution of undocumented immigrants

    TOPEKA — The Kansas Supreme Court handed down three rulings Friday that could make it more
    difficult for the state of Kansas to prosecute undocumented immigrants who use stolen Social Security numbers to land jobs in the state. In all three cases, the high court ruled 5-2 that charges of identity theft and making a false writing against those individuals were pre-empted by federal immigration law. The cases all originated in Johnson County. They involved Ramiro Garcia, who was employed at Bonefish Grill in Leawood; Guadalupe Ochoa-Lara, who worked at a Longbranch Steakhouse, and Donaldo Morales, who had applied for a job at a
    Jose Pepper’s restaurant in Johnson County.”

    Anyone think there is any chance that Abbott/Patrick et al can also learn how to read?


    Another Texas House seat to add to the Freedom Caucus’ target list…Rep. Larry Phillips of Sherman, a Straus committee chair, is calling it quit. He had a 53% rating from Empower Texans….Two candidates have already announced for his seat probably either means that the word was already out that he was at least thinking of not running or that someone smelled blood in the water. At least–so far—there has been no apparent gloating from the Empower Texans-ilk about driving out a Straus lieutenant….but you can bet that they will make an all-out effort for the seat. Whether the semi-mythical moderate/business/November alliance will do the same is to be seen.

    I have no way of knowing what Phillips’ reason for retiring may be but 16 years is a long time to make the sacrifice of your time, your family and, often, your business especially since for most of the time you had to listen to yapping from the guys sitting around the 19th hole ala JJ about how all of you are crooks, thieves and lobby mooches who stink of the stench of the cesspool in which you live. That kind of constant condemnation can break the will of even the most dedicated “public servant” (in the full and best sense) after awhile…There
    also comes a time for some when it becomes clear that there is no “up” route to a higher office so they decide to call it a day. It could well be a combination of all of those factors….And, after eight terms Phillips has qualified for a fairly decent pension and a good health insurance plan for the rest of his life.

    There have been far too few announcements so far to see if there is some trend—say Straus lieutenants
    retiring in advance of him making an announcement that he will not come back as Speaker next time—but I am certain the political tea leaf reader are hard at work…… IF (and I again have no information) Straus were planning to drop out or run for something else—beginning as good of a politician and master of timing he is—I would not expect him to say anything until right before the filing deadline…as, assuming that he has a preferred successor this would give whoever that is a chance to do a Ben Barnes-style blitz and sign up enough votes to be certain of a win before anyone else could even get organized.

    • WUSRPH

      The QR says that there have been six GOP Texas House members who have, so far, announced they are not coming back and/or are running for something else….That includes one Freedom Caucus member who thinks his future is in the Texas Senate…..


    Did you see that item about how—after all the damage caused by Harvey—Dan Patrick is at least willing to talk about a flood control project and levees and surge barriers—and is even saying things like “it should have been done long ago.” Of course, who they would be paid for is not that clear…as Patrick is still talking about getting that evil, over-extending FEDERAL government to pay the hundreds of millions of dollars that all of it would cost.

    Of course, some people have been talking about all this for years…but, up to now, Patrick did not seem to notice What is that they say about how the way to get a mule’s attention is to hit him in the forehead with a brick? …Maybe in this case the brick was named Harvey.

    One can only hope.


    • WUSRPH

      You may have also seen the report that the borrowing the federal government is doing for Harvey relief pushed our national debt over the $20 TRILLION mark for the first time…..I thought Republicans were totally opposed to increasing the debt and all of them, including Trump, pledged they were going to do something about it when they had full control of the government…The last time I looked they did…but their policy—with Trump leading the way—was to raise the ceiling AGAIN—until about March of 2108.

      You may have also seen the report that the borrowing the federal government is doing for Harvey relief pushed our national debt over the $20 TRILLION mark for the first time…..I thought Republicans were totally opposed to increasing the debt and all of them, including Trump, pledged they were going to do something about it when they had full control of the government…The last time I looked they did…but their policy—with Trump leading the way—was to raise the ceiling AGAIN—until about March of 2108.

      Of course, they all promise to come up with “a plan” between now and then….I can only hope it is not the one Trump floated during the campaign to have the US repudiate any debt it owes to a foreigner and tell them we will pay them off with pennies on the dollar.

      Those four GOP congressman from Texas who voted against the bill that, in addition to funding Harvey relief, raised the debt ceiling are taking quite a beating with a lot of harsh things being said about them…..but at least they were not hypocrites…..as all had pledged not to raise the debt ceiling without accompanying measures to reduce the debt…Voting against the Harvey aid was a hard vote…and they may well pay for it at the next election (although Sam Johnson is retiring)…but–as wrong as I think their views to be—I almost admire them for not abandoning what they claim to believe in when it would have politically advantageous to do so…..The Kennedy School of Politics gives what is called “The Profiles in Courage Award” for such acts…but, perhaps telling, it is often given to people who took a stand and were punished for it.

      Those four GOP congressman from Texas who voted against the bill that, in addition to funding Harvey relief, raised the debt ceiling are taking quite a beating with a lot of harsh things being said about them…..but at least they were not hypocrites…..as all had pledged not to raise the debt ceiling without accompanying measures to reduce the debt…Voting against the Harvey aid was a hard vote…and they may well pay for it at the next election (although Sam Johnson is retiring)…but–as wrong as I think their views to be—I almost admire them for not abandoning what they claim to believe in when it would have politically advantageous to do so…..The Kennedy School of Politics gives what is called “The Profiles in Courage Award” for such acts…but, perhaps telling, it is often given to people who took a stand and were punished for it.

    • WUSRPH

      Today Patrick went as far as to appoint a Joint Interim Committee to examine the barrier idea….Still nothing on changes in land use policy, such as not allowing building in flood plains or restoring the dunes and setting aside areas for flood containment…or all of the issues that are clearly the responsibility of the State of Texas….nor any indication that he is interested in anything but Federal funds….Of course, that may come later, but I would not count on it….

      I also note that my suggestion that the media would be opening up to covering what second and third rank (not rate, necessarily) public officers have to say is working out….Hegar, for example, has announced an extension in the deadline for filling quarterly tax reports (I believe I mentioned that was one of the things he could do) and George Bush XVI has been talking about the recommendations in this area the Land Commission made to the last legislature—with no response…As such, things are getting back to normal.

      • WUSRPH

        A person who was formerly connected with what I referred to as the Land Commission brought to my attention that there is no such agency….and that, since its creation in 1837 the agency has been officially the General Land Office (GLO) and its head the Commissioner of the GLO. My only defense of the misstating the name is that the media has used the titles Land Commissioner and Land Commission to describe the agency for as long as I can remember as, I guess, a form of journalist shorthand…(In the days when printing was done using words formed out of hot metal lead reducing the number of letters (or picas of type) was a cost saving method.)

        BYW if prior legislatures had followed the lead of that person formerly connected with the GLO Texas would have been much better off than it is today.


    Actually, I think I will let John Sharp have the last word on this subject:

    “The main problem here is that Bullock died, you understand.”

    — John Sharp, September 2011, talking school finance
    problems and the failed business tax.


    An interesting article from the conservative Republican National Review on how you can tell that Trump is serious on tax relief by all the lying he is doing about the subject.



    Not that long ago we had Gen. Kelly locking Trump up in the White House and making sure that he only received the information Kelly had approved…..as part of an inner-HW “coup”….Today we have the all-knowing Alex Jones, Austin’s only contribution to the word of aluminum hat wearers, revealing that Trump is being secretly drugged to keep him from MAGA.


    The sad part of this is that a good number of people are going to believe him….

    But, then, maybe Trump being drugged explains a lot of his behavior.. You would hate to think that a man in “full control of his faculties” could do and say some of the things he does.
    I only posted this because this episode again raises in my mind the basic question of what is the responsibility if any of the media in making it possible for Jones and his ilk to spread this puke? In this day of social media, etc. there is no way that Jones can be stopped from saying things like this….but does that mean that others should help him by giving him access to their pages, air waves and web sites?
    Jones clearly has a “constitutional right” under the First Amendment to spew out almost anything he wants (with the limited controls on yelling FIRE in a crowded theater or libel and slander) but because he has the right to say it does not compel the owners of private media outlets to provide him space to express his views. (As a wise man once pointed out, even with the First Amendment, “the only man with the freedom of the press is the man who owns one.”) Of course, if the media did not give Jones this free space, his followers would start screaming about how the media suppresses the truth, etc.
    Of course, this—like most problems in life–is not a new one…I can remember facing a few—far less significant–similar situations many years ago when I was a newspaper reporter…The most prominent being when I and the acting night editor got into a shouting match about whether I could quote a speaker at an anti-war rally when he referred to the events at the Democratic National Convention as being “a police riot”…..He insisted that I remove the quote (suggesting that allowing it to run would undermine public confidence in their police)…I—in vain–pointed out that was the exact same term used by the OFFICIAL governmental commission that investigated the incidents, the Kerner Commission, to describe the event…but, he being the editor and me only a reporter, the quote came out..
    The media has been accused of suppressing the truth and only telling one side probably from the first time a scribe made a note on a wax tablet and handed it to someone to read…And, sometimes it was a valid charge…It has also been accused—sometimes again with good reason—of not covering entire communities of people…BUT, to give it is due, over the last 50 years or so it has made a concentrated effort to expand its coverage an open its pages and airwaves to more voices…Quoting Alex Jones like this is only one of many examples of openness….I guess, if forced to make the decision, I would still come down on the side of openness…but I must admit that, if I was sitting in the night editors chair (as I did a few times) and we had a crowded paper with a limited “news hole” and a bunch of news to try to fit into the space, Alex Jones’s comments might well wind up in my “overset” box.


    One good piece of news..One bad.
    Good: Speaker Straus came out fighting in a speech today….and promised to be with those in the primaries who stood with him…..Straus has several million in his own political account that he can direct to needy candidates plus one would hope that the semi-mythical moderate/business/November GOPers alliance we are told is forming will follow his lead….There is no question that those alleged-Republicans (more Radicals) will be spending every penny they can….The fight is on.
    Bad: By a 5-4 vote the SCOTUS stayed the redrawing of the Texas House and US House districts in Texas that at least two federal courts have found to have been deliberately drawn to discriminate against black and browns. This means that the offending districts will more than like continue to be used in 2018, depriving the Democrats of a shot at picking up maybe two seats in both houses.


    Rather than smother you with something, I will just post this link and suggest you read the story and then think about what it may mean for America’s future.



    Contrary to the continued impression arising from the governor’s office, there are some leaders in Texas who appear to understand that Texas has got to go far beyond just fixing things up in response to Hurricane Harvey…A good example is Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, a Republican but one able to see beyond the next election and who is able to consider that sometimes the “way we do things in Texas” has to change:

    “Houston Chronicle – September 12, 2017

    Falkenberg: We must act now before the next Harvey – or worse

    What’s more daunting than a historic flood that killed more than 70 people, inundated thousands of homes and caused damage totaling an estimated $150 billion? The realization that Harvey wasn’t even the big one. Houston-area leaders took a risk this week in asking people, some of whom still have ponds in their living rooms, to look beyond the current devastation to the storms that are still coming with growing intensity. Harris County Judge Ed Emmett took the bold step of calling for a sweeping review of the region’s flood control efforts. He put everything on the table – large-scale buyouts of flood-prone homes, limiting development in some areas, a new storm water reservoir, and even a local sales tax to pay for flood protection that could total billions of dollars.”

  • John Bernard Books

    Not all democrats are pedophiles, but all pedophiles are democrats….
    ” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced his resignation Tuesday after a fifth man — one of his cousins — came forward and accused him of sexual abuse decades ago.”

  • John Bernard Books

    Not all democrats are stupid but all stupid people are democrats……
    “They were using the House Democratic Caucus as their central service warehouse … It was a breach. The data was completely out of [the members’] possession. Does it mean it was sold to the Russians? I don’t know,” the senior official said. “For members to say their data was not compromised is simply inaccurate. They had access to all the data including all emails. Imran Awan is the walking example of an insider threat, a criminal actor who had access to everything.””
    and was Debbie Wasserman Schultz having an affair with Awan?
    “It has been known for some time that Imran Awan, the former IT staffer of Debbie Wasserman Schultz who was indicted on four felony counts, was still on the payroll for months after he was banned from the House network for suspicion of unethical behavior. The exact reason for the ban now appears to be known.”
    how udderly stoopid……


    If you want to see how myths are created and grow take a look at the Texas Tribune’s version of John Sharp Miracle Worker on today’s blog…..that, picking up from where the Burkablog began the other day, says that
    Sharp “initiated” the Texas Performance Review—something the author of the BB piece has now most grudgingly admitted is not true….One reporter feeds off another and it gradually places an image in the public’s mind….probably not out of any bias but out of ignorance feeding on ignorance…..Just an another example of what Goebbels said:

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

    In this case, not a big lie or even a lie in the sense of a deliberate misstatement….but the effect is the same.

  • John Bernard Books

    Maybe Trump’s election has made at least a minor change in the way things are done in Washington, DC.
    In January of 2009 Barrack Obama entered the WH with an open pledge to work with everyone in Congress—-including Republicans—to help address America’s problems…BUT–implementing a decision they made the very night of his inauguration—the Congressional Republicans REJCTED his offer and, throughout his eight years in office did anything and everything to block any action he might suggest….even to the extent the major accomplishments of the Obama Administration were passed WITHOUT a single GOP Vote.
    Donald Trump entered office without Republican majorities in both houses of Congress and the WH in GOP hands with no apparent need or desire to work with or even talk to the Democrats.. But, last week, after months of the Republicans being able to accomplish virtually anything—Trump AND the Democrats worked together to pass a vitally important measure against the wishes of the GOP leadership in Congress.
    Does this foretell anything. Or, as some suggest, it was simply the “Great Deal Maker” making an instantaneous decision to “cut a deal”…without any consideration of how that would affect any long-range plans? Stat tuned for further developments.

    • José

      And again last night on DACA and border security, to the dismay of the anti-immigrant faction. Why is he turning to the Dems? Here’s an idea. The guy cares what people say about him. It’s apparent that Mueller is homing in on serious stuff that could bring an abrupt end to the Trump presidency. This is a way for him to do something—anything—that will go down in the history books as an actual accomplishment. Other than the Gorsuch appointment I can’t think of anything else that would count as such.

      • John Bernard Books

        You’re so gullible. Just because dems SAY they have a deal doesn’t make it true or believable. Dems lie…..

      • WUSRPH

        Then-candidate Donald Trump, speaking in Arizona, September 1, 2016: “NO AMNESTY! For
        those here today illegally who are seeking legal status, they will have one route and only one route: to return home and apply for re-entry under the rules of the new legal immigration system.”

        • José

          It’s hilarious to watch the outcry today. I have to say it’s uncomfortable having to agree with Ann Coulter on anything but she’s talking about impeachment now.

        • BCinBCS

          A analogy to the current DACA situation:
          Parents decide to rob the local convenience store but are caught. Their child was waiting in the car as this all went down. Law and order advocates insist that the child be arrested and sentenced to juvenile jail as part of the crime.

          Is this fair?

  • John Bernard Books

    and to think she was almost prez….shudder


    A RUSSIAN web site specifically aimed at TEXANS spreading anti-immigrant lies and attacks on Hillary Clinton…I wonder how many times the likes of the Troll were used by this foreign power trying to undermine the U.S.


    We know there were thousands of these sites….How many votes were influenced by this campaign of disinformation? How many minds were poisoned?

    • WUSRPH

      The group had 250,000 “followers”–i.e.–DUPES.

    • SpiritofPearl

      I saw that this a.m.


    Here is a weird thought:

    Just as “Only Nixon could go to China” (because as a proven commie fighter he could do what the Republicans would have savaged any Democratic for doing)

    Maybe only Trump can provide “Amnesty” to illegal aliens.

    • José

      Strange things can happen when extremists set aside ideology in favor of pragmatism. Who would have thought that peace would be negotiated by a former Zionist terrorist and an Egyptian general who fought to annihilate Israel?


    Abbott and Patrick talk about milking the federal government…Straus talks about looking at the long-ranges changes needed to limit the damages of future Harveys…It is getting clearer and clearer who is the LEADER and who is not….which may also explain why Abbott and Patrick want Straus to be defeated.



    In light of the treatment our jr. Us Senator Ted Cruz is getting because of the “I like” on the porno site
    and his apparent tolerance toward sex toys, I felt it an appropriate time to repost an item I wrote way back in 2013:

    “Why I am not afraid of Ted Cruz.

    Ted Cruz, Texas’ junior U.S. Senator, has been getting a lot of attention lately with people ever speculating about him as a possible future presidential candidate, despite the fact that he has been a senator for less than four months.

    Normally you would expect a person with my political beliefs—180 * different from Cruz’—to be concerned about all this publicity and speculation and worried that it might come true. However, that is not the case.

    Cruz will clearly be a problem–with numerous “bad votes” on issues in Congress and outlandish statements that put him in the spotlight. He may even get the power to be a political threat to other politicians for a few years or so. This will be especially true for those in his own party such as Texas’ other senator John Cornyn who seems terrified that being caught on the wrong side of an issue from Cruz will get him defeated when he has to run again next year. All of these possibilities are troublesome…but, fortunately, I do not see them as
    winding up making Cruz a true danger of becoming president.

    This is not to say that I do not expect Cruz to be able to demagogue his way into increased prominence in the public eye and make him at least a temporary “power” in his party. He is well on his way to doing that already.
    However, this does not mean that he represents a long-term threat. In fact, I see him as more of a Sarah Palin who burst forth into the public eye but who now seems to be just as quickly becoming one of those “what ever happened to?” people.

    In reality, former U.S. Joe McCarthy of commie hunting fame (LOOK HIM UP) may be a more appropriate comparison to Cruz than Palin. McCarthy, just like Cruz emerged from almost nowhere as a junior U.S. Senator of no repute to prominence by the use of the same kind of demagoguery Cruz displaced in the confirmation hearing on former Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination for Secretary of Defense where he “suggested” among other things that Hagel “might” have taken money from North Korea and Iran.

    McCarthy, perhaps like Cruz, rode high for a while, destroying reputations and spreading political terror and discontent in his wake until some feared that he might become a potential American dictator. But, instead, his time in the spotlight lasted only about five years before his own Senate colleagues turned on him and censured him for his behavior—sending him forever to a political purgatory where he and his reputation remain today.

    In my view, Cruz, like McCarthy, will most likely wind up in that same kind of a political purgatory and for the same reasons that McCarthy has become almost only a footnote in the history of the 20th Century.

    I say so because I recognize in Cruz the same kind of built-in weaknesses that marked my less than successful “career” in politics (to a much less extent in my case, of course)—brilliance marked by arrogance, self centeredness and “know it all-ism” that leads to “lecturing” your colleagues. These characteristics make it impossible to successfully “work well with others” and eventually lead your colleagues to turn away from you and
    eventually render you powerless and meaningless.

    By some accounts, this has already begun with Cruz only a few weeks into his term being termed by some—including in his own party–as “the most disliked man in the Senate”. And, it is these very traits that will eventually bring Cruz down.

    When Cruz’ day comes it will be much quieter than McCarthy’s. There will be no formal act by the Senate to repudiate him, as they did to “Tail gunner Joe”. The days are long past when the Senate would consider a formal “censure” as it did to McCarthy. Then it was willing to stand up and condemn its fellow member of his comments and his attacks on others.

    Today such action could only be possible if the offense was of a sexual nature. Instead, Cruz’ “colleagues” who have to work with him in politics are more likely to grit their teeth patiently waiting for an opportunity to “stick It to him” by undercutting him with little passing acts and comments whenever the chance arises.

    Thus, when he needs a vote, it will not be forthcoming; or when he needs an introduction to political powers and potential delegates to a national convention from another Senator’s state, he will find the waters poisoned before him until his political blood and power and the threat he presents slowly drains away. That is the fate I see for Ted Cruz and that is why I do not fear him.”

    (And to think the Troll still pins away in anguish because Cruz, of all people, would not let him have his picture taken with him).


    An interesting article from The New Republic about how demographics may not actually be on the side of the Democratic Party….I was particularly taken by the coverage of how over the years the concept of who is “White” (with all the connotations that go with it) has been expanded so that today it includes people—Jews, Italians and others—who were not given that title as short as a 100 years ago. Originally , “White” was primarily identified with “Anglo-Saxon” but was greatly extended over time to take in most people of at least Western European (Christian) origin…but still did not include most Southern Europeans (Italian, Greeks, etc.) or Eastern Europeans, especially those not of solid Protestant (and later Roman Catholic) belief….Today all those groups have been admitted to the magic club…which, the author suggests, may also happen with the later generations of Hispanics…..


    • BCinBCS

      I’d like to get some opinions on the New Republic article about which WURSPH posted as I have no supporting information about what the author claims, one way or the other. I’d like to know:

      (i) If a non-white minority who leans toward the Democrats begins identifying as white, does that person’s political views naturally become more Republican? Is that what the author is implying or is he saying that the number of minorities will be lessened and the corresponding number of “whites” will increase so Dems should put their efforts on whites?

      (ii) The author concludes the piece by writing: “There is no need, in short, for Democrats to choose between appealing to
      white workers and courting people of color. By making a strong and
      effective case for economic justice, they can do both at the same time.

      Is this backwards? Shouldn’t Democrats continue to support identity politics and support economic justice?

      Help me out here. Opinions?


      • José

        Yeah, not the clearest bit of writing.

        My take is that even though the Republicans create the issue of identity politics, through policies that sharpen the distinctions of race and class, it’s ultimately counterproductive for Democrats to try to capitalize on it. That’s manifestly unfair but there it is. Coming out strongly for racial equality allows them to be painted as n***** lovers. Favoring marriage equality gets interpreted as imposing the gay lifestyle and hating Jesus. Reproductive rights makes you a killer. And so on.

        I continue to be surprised at how well the Republicans perform in electoral politics when their messages contain so many glaring inconsistencies and contradictions. Their base voters just don’t care. Trump wasn’t exaggerating when he bragged that he “could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody” and not lose support. The debt is a crisis when there’s a Democrat in the White House but not with a Republican. White evangelicals insisted on moral purity in national leadership a few years ago, and then they supported President P*ssy Grabber.

        So a smarter tactic is to promote core values of fairness and justice without overtly aligning yourself with any of “those people”. It’s really the same goals, and they’re good ones too, but with a message that’s less vulnerable to attack.

      • WUSRPH

        I think he is also saying that when people self-identify with being “White”–which is what is happening here–they are also taking on the political/social views that go along with that identification…These people have voluntarily chosen to downplay their ethnic origin and try to join what they perceive to be the dominant group in the hope that they and their descendants will be accepted by and absorbed as full members. They may even have adopt extreme versions of those views (ala the description by an old theologian of converts to Catholicism as “being the worst” in that they are most ardent about enforcing and proclaiming the strictest details of the “faith”)….in order to demonstrate their arrival in the elite group. If this is the case, they will tend to be unreceptive to some of the positions taken by Democratic candidates that appeal to minorities.

        • BCinBCS

          So it seems that white-converted-minorities are susceptible to the conservative belief of “Eff you, I’ve got mine” once they make the conversion.

          • WUSRPH

            Most of us like to believe that we “Alone” were responsible for our achievements…that we pulled ourselves up by our bootstraps (overlooking the fact that some were born with longer bootstraps than others”)..It makes us feel good…..and we tend to look down on those who need help along the way or, who for one reason or another, never were able to make much a climb…Similarly, we do not want to be identified with “those failures” even if they have the same skin color or religion or background as we do….This makes it easy to pull up the ladder behind you.

            (Of course, most also like to blame our failures on fate, someone else getting things we think we deserved (affirmative action), illegal aliens stealing our jobs or some mysterious or less than mysterious conspiracy of group. But I’ll leave off trying to explain the Trolls of this world till another day.)

      • SpiritofPearl

        It is my observation that often the oppressed become the oppressors, e.g. Ben Carson, Clarence Thomas.


    I know this will break your heart and crush your spirit….but you may not be hearing much from me for the next couple of days….Tomorrow the city of Austin releases Version 2 of the master plan to rezone every piece of
    property in the city….and for some stupid reason I am going to be spending most of the next several days trying to figure out what It (in more than 1000 pages) does to the neighborhood in which I live in order to produce a 500 word article for the neighborhood newsletter that has to go the printer early next week…..which is like condensing the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary of the English language into a paragraph. I have serious questions about why I am going to waste my time and effort on what is really a fool’s errand…..but having been called a fool, and worse, many times I guess that is the kind of errand for which I am best equipped…


    I fully recognize that some people are “better people” than me in terms of how they treat their fellow humans…I mean some people are actually beginning to feel sorry for Jeff Sessions for the way he is being treated by the “Only I”…..Slap after slap across the face….and Sessions just stands there and takes it….You have to wonder how he can do it and how much longer he will endure this humiliation…And, remember, this is how the FIRST major politician to endorse Trump is being treated…..Why does he accept this? Is it because he really believes that what he can do as Attorney General is important or is it because, having given up his senate seat, he is now so desperate to hang onto any position of power and prestige that he will shallow this kind of abuse?

    • dave in texas

      He has been rabidly anti-immigrant for his entire career, and I think he puts up with it so that he can persecute brown people. I really think it’s that simple. Remember, he was turned down for a federal judgeship by a Republican Senate back in the 80s because he expressed views too racist for his fellow Republicans.

      Me, I got no sympathy at all. He’s eventually going to be lumped in with figures like Roger Taney, Strom Thurmond, George Wallace, and the like for his retrograde racial views.

      • SpiritofPearl

        No “Sympathy for the Devil” from me . . .


    Money has always been able to buy opinions…..after all, some people can be bought (in some cases it just takes the right offer, as the man the bar in the old joke about the man and the young woman said: “We have established what you are…All we are doing now is haggling about the price”.) But it used to not be as flagrant as this article from The New Republic reports: