Low turnout and spending increases funded by bond issues characterized this year's election cycle in Texas.
Conservative setbacks at Houston's City Hall occurred primarily due to an uninspired, uninformed electorate with generally weaker conservative candidates or multiple conservatives piled into certain races. It's interesting with such low turnout, a conservative push could have borne fruit, but didn't.
As for bonds, school districts who voters think are doing a good job, won handily. Those who are not, like the Houston Independent School District, struggled and could have been beaten with more conservative opposition.
The GOP base remains dispirited, and even worse, there are ominous trends for Texas' future. In Virginia, where the GOP has been strong but weakening over the last few years, the Democrats took over the state Senate and had major pick-ups in the House. The scary trend saw major pick-ups in suburban, traditionally GOP areas and the tide spreading to the outer suburbs.
If you transfer this scenario to Texas, it spells doom for conservatives.
So what to do? 2008 for Texas conservatives is an all hands on deck election. We must find the right candidates, support them and give the GOP base a reason to be excited and motivated. Right now we are on three flat tires, fundraising is in the toilet and counting on running against Hillary Clinton is not enough. More on this in future issues of TCR.
U.S. Energy Sufficiency
Depends Upon The Greens
By Bud Schauerte
The nation owes a huge debt of gratitude to the "greens". Those single-minded environmental activists who have achieved conspicuous success over the years in awakening the public to the ecological abuses of an earlier, careless, and more wasteful society.
Who hasn't winced upon seeing clouds of factory smoke settle over a choking city, or cringed at the sight of industrial sewage being dumped in a fresh water stream, or whiffed the pungent odor produced by chemicals in the refining process? (Refineries and chemical plants along the Houston Ship Channel in the 1950s come to mind.)
If you are at the age that these incidents and other environmentally reckless conduct is not completely familiar, then thank the pioneers of what has come to be known as the "Green Revolution." This writer is old enough to have seen, smelled, and tasted the noxious burn created by the excesses, years ago, of unconstrained chemical processing.
Mostly unorganized in the early 1900s, but far from dormant, the greens began to coalesce in the early 1940s and 1950s with the savvy realization that not much can be achieved in our democracy without political clout. It was valuable knowledge learned and creatively implemented originally by the 115-year-old Sierra Club, which pestered state and federal officials for decades while winning impressive legislative victories that created, improved, and expanded the nation's public parks.
The Green Revolution was as wide open as a church door. Everyone who walked through was made to feel needed. The best and the brightest, the young and the old, Republicans and Democrats alike soon created a voting constituency which politicians believed was made in heaven. They still do. Even when suspicions today arise about their motives, the environmental movement retains enormous political power at the state and federal levels.
Landmark legislative victories in the U.S. Congress must have made the environmental movement feel unassailable, almost godlike. The green influence over the law circumscribes every component of American society.
The Air Pollution Control Act, 1955; the National Environmental Policy Act, 1969; the Wilderness Act, 1964; the Toxic Substances Control Act, 1976; the Water Pollution Control Act, 1972; and creation of the Super Fund in 1980 are some of the new laws which elevated the influence of the environmental movement, and especially the 750,000 member Sierra Club, from the beginning a dominant player in the Green Revolution.
With egos reinforced over decades of legislative victories, the Sierra Club and other such groups have made the unwarranted presumption that limiting U.S. petroleum production---and simultaneously industrial growth---is a moral responsibility taking precedence over national security and our standard of living.
The green influence now pervades every aspect to our nation's business and commerce. It manifests itself in interminable and costly environmental impact studies, onerous regulatory burdens on all forms of construction, and cumbersome restrictions on the production and transportation of crude oil on every landscape and offshore venue where oil already has been found.
Cynically, the Sierra Club, on its website, makes the preposterous claim that the current lack of oil refining capacity in the U.S. is an oil industry conspiracy "to limit supply and increase profits." Never mind that for the period 2006 to 2012 alone, the nation's crude oil refiners are being forced to comply with 14 new and major environmental programs limiting the construction of new U.S. oil refineries, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. can no longer afford the luxury of NOT exploiting the availability of fossil fuels, the most versatile and abundant energy source on earth. The limits-on-growth agenda of the Sierra Club and similar environmental groups cannot be allowed to prevail over the nation's demand for energy. The U.S. standard of living and national security depends upon a reliable, long term, and economic sources of power.
Concerned people today are rediscovering the possibilities of economic exploitation of tar sands in Canada and Venezuela; shale oil deeply buried in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming; and abundant U.S. coal reserves said to last more than 500 years. So much coal that reserves cannot be accurately estimated. (Texas has the ninth largest coal reserves in the nation.)
Turning coal into liquid hydrocarbons, such as gasoline and oil, is a process developed and perfected almost a century ago. It was the primary source of fuel used by the German war machine during World War II.
Coal, tar sands, and shale oil all cost more to convert into liquids. Also, the conversion process is potentially more harmful to the environment. But at the present cost of about approaching $100 per barrel for crude oil, all three sources of hydrocarbons have become competitive alternatives to crude oil.
The U.S. is the world's largest energy producer, consumer, and net importer of energy. It is eleventh worldwide in reserves of oil, sixth in natural gas and first in coal. About 20% of U.S. energy is nuclear generated. (In France about 80% of the nation's energy is nuclear.)
Yesterday, significant contributions toward the restoration and maintenance of the natural environment emerged from those who joined and participated in the Green Revolution of the 1940s and 1950s. That Revolution demanding a cleaner and more healthy environment is long past. Today it has been replaced with the objective of limited national growth.
It cannot be allowed to become the legacy of our nation.
Bud Schauerte is a contributing editor and independent insurance agent in Austin, Texas. Schauerte served as Federal Insurance Administrator in the Federal Emergency Management Administration under former President George Bush and he also served as primary election administrator for the Travis County Republican Party in 1996.
Mediocre Public Education:
Is That All We Are Getting?
By Brian Ettinger
The present state of public education system in Texas and throughout the nation is to encourage our students to work at a mediocre level. Public schools used to teach our students to strive to reach their full potential, but over the last 40 years these goals have eroded.
In the 1960s and 1970s our public education system developed a curriculum to teach our students from 1st grade to 12th grade to be proficient readers, writers, mathematicians and other courses, which taught the children to be able to reach their academic potential. There were programs designed after the elementary and middle school years which provided students their basic foundation, so in High School they could take an academic curriculum which would lead to college or a trade program to learn an occupation.
Somehow during the ensuing decades a shift in priorities has produced students who are not prepared to reach their full potential. This will affect both our State's and Nation's ability to compete in a global economy. Public education has failed and continues to fail our children by not providing them the knowledge and skills to succeed.
One of the major issues affecting the typical American classroom is the system known as inclusion which places special education students in the least restrictive environment. This setting is typically a regular education classroom with students of average or greater abilities. Teachers are required to adjust the curriculum to meet the varying needs of all these students. Tests are modified so that most students will pass and the reputation of individual schools and their districts do not suffer. Special Education teachers are required to plan for and try to meet academic needs of students performing at a variety of levels within their classrooms. I am not advocating the segregation of special education students from the school population. There are many different diagnoses such as ADD, ADHD, Autism, dyslexia, and Down's syndrome that fall under the umbrella of special education. It is a very honorable to think that by putting these students in the normal classroom, they would assimilate and be able to keep up with the devised curriculum. The educators who came up with this system have no concept of what the average teacher has to go threw to prepare lesson plans and present work so the students to can learn the subject. Having the special education students in the classroom is a disruptive factor and does not do justice to the teachers or students. However, this has proven to be an unrealistic and near to impossible expectation to both the students and teacher.
A viable alternative to inclusion would be to designate certain schools within a district as "Open Campuses". These sites would work closely with Master teachers and parents to develop educational plans to help these students reach their full potential. This plan would maximize the tax dollars spent on the education of all students. The school districts in the State of Texas have the responsibility over these students through the age of 22 yrs. old. I would like for our tax dollars to be spent wisely and provide the training so these students can be gainfully employed and have the same success as any other student.
As long as our classrooms try to meet the widely ranged needs of so many diverse students, the education and mainstream students will suffer. These students should not be penalized by the loss of instructional time now being spent on special education students.
I know that upon reading this article, the reader could make an assessment that I am trying to segregate special education students from the normal population. This is not the case and any educator who takes the time to visit with the teachers, including the Special Ed teachers will understand the dilemma they are working under. I am not an educator nor a teacher but a parent and have seen my three children go through the public education school system in the State of Texas.
Let's not lose site that the purpose of the public school system is to provide our students with the best education program for them to learn and reach their potential to be productive adults.
Let the State of Texas lead the nation by getting rid of the inclusion system which has been a total failure and will continue to make our students fail in the next decade and forward.
Brian Ettinger is contributing editor to TCR and a practicing attorney, strong conservative and a concerned citizen about America's future.
COMING December 2, 2007 on Channel 8 PBS in Houston, Texas - The Connection - Red, White & Blue, featuring TCR Editor Gary Polland and liberal commentator David Jones with our guest D. Michael Lindsay, professor of sociology at Rice University and author of the new book "Faith in Politics" and coming On December 28, 2007, New York Times liberal columnist Paul Krugman faces off with the boys in an exciting half-hour.
About Your Editor
Gary Polland is a long-time conservative and Republican spokesman, fund-raiser, and leader who recently completed three terms as the Harris County Republican Chairman. During his three terms, Gary was described as the most successful county Chairman in America by Human Events - The National Conservative Weekly. He is in his tenth year of editing a newsletter dealing with key conservative and Republican issues. The last six years he has edited Texas Conservative Review. Gary is a practicing attorney and strategic consultant. He can be reached at (713) 621-6335.