Commentary

Herman: Texas state Sen. Judith Zaffirini’s 60,000 consecutive votes

Herman: Texas state Sen. Judith Zaffirini’s 60,000 consecutive votes

Before the recent kind-of-special session of the always special Texas Legislature is too far in the rear-view mirror, let’s pause to duly note something remarkable that happened Aug. 13 when the Senate rather unremarkably voted on the third proposed amendment to House Bill 215, a measure concerning abortion reporting requirements. Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, always alphabetically the last...
Commentary: New measures open Texans’ access to mental health treatment

Commentary: New measures open Texans’ access to mental health treatment

State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, has spent much of her political career defending the rights of the state’s most vulnerable residents. She’s served on health and human service committees in the Senate for more than two decades, working on issues ranging from children’s welfare to elder care. She added to her legacy this session by championing two important mental health measures...
Dana Milbank: Can Trump control the wave of racism he has released?

Dana Milbank: Can Trump control the wave of racism he has released?

WASHINGTON — Lyndon Johnson, deciding whether to fire FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, famously reasoned that “it’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” President Trump has made a different choice, opting to fire Stephen Bannon, the nationalist envoy of the “alt-right” in the White House. And now Bannon, who only...
Ruben Navarrette Jr.: America has become a nation of victims

Ruben Navarrette Jr.: America has become a nation of victims

SAN DIEGO — The motto of the United States is no longer “e pluribus unum.” Sadly, it’s become: “Hey! I was wronged. Get my lawyer on the phone!” Or, recently, south of the Mason-Dixon line: “Let’s grab clubs and tiki torches and go make trouble.” America has become a nation of victims. The same people who, a decade ago, might have scoffed at the...
Commentary: How politics at the elite level drove the special session

Commentary: How politics at the elite level drove the special session

Moments after the Texas Senate followed the House in adjourning a day before the special session expired, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said he was “most unhappy” that the House “quit on the taxpayers of Texas.” The next day, Gov. Greg Abbott said of the House not taking votes on bills addressing all 20 of his priorities: “The voters of the state of Texas deserved to know where...
Kathleen Parker: So, nothing happened, right?

Kathleen Parker: So, nothing happened, right?

LINVILLE, N.C. — During the past two weeks, I’ve been conducting an experiment. I took a vacation. A real one, meaning I did nothing. Intentionally, I avoided newspapers, television, radio, social media (mostly) and Wi-Fi, except to check the weather or the elevation of this or that mountain. Of particular interest was nearby Sugar Mountain. Ski-lifted to the 5,300-foot summit, I joined...
Thomas L. Friedman: From Kabul to Baghdad, my bird’s-eye view

Thomas L. Friedman: From Kabul to Baghdad, my bird’s-eye view

BAGHDAD — I just spent eight days traveling with the Air Force to all of its key forward bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. So President Donald Trump’s speech Monday night was very timely for me. It was also unnerving. It was so full of bombast and clichés, so larded with phrases like “we will break their will,” so lacking in details...
John Young: Trump: a man with no soul (he pawned it)

John Young: Trump: a man with no soul (he pawned it)

Adventures in spinelessness. The year Jesse Owens burned bright under Nazism’s glare, a grave injustice was obscured beneath the Olympic flame. Avery Brundage, head of the U.S. Olympic Committee, held out two American Jewish sprinters from the 1936 Games so as not to anger Adolph Hitler should Jews mount the medal stand. Why? Simple: Brundage had a financial stake in not offending. Brundage&rsquo...
Commentary: A second special session would stir up a million teachers

Commentary: A second special session would stir up a million teachers

The 85th Texas Legislature just completed a tumultuous special session, tasked by Gov. Greg Abbott to tackle 20 subjects not addressed to his liking during the regular session. The special session was an engineered opportunity for a legislative bonus round, necessitated after critical sunset legislation affecting medical licensure did not pass in May. Media reported that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick worked...
Commentary: Why the faith community’s silence on racism is deafening

Commentary: Why the faith community’s silence on racism is deafening

In April 1963, I was a 10-year-old boy living in my hometown of Birmingham, Ala. Martin Luther King, Jr. had been arrested and was in the Birmingham jail after participating in a march against racism and racial segregation. I vaguely remember my father, who was also a preacher and King’s friend and college mate, speaking with other African-American preachers about King’s jailing. As King...
David Brooks: What moderates believe

David Brooks: What moderates believe

Donald Trump is not the answer to this nation’s problems, so the great questions of the moment are: If not Trump, what? What does the reaction to Trump look like? For some people, the warriors of the populist right must be replaced by warriors of the populist left. For these people, Trump has revealed an ugly authoritarian tendency in American society that has to be fought with relentless fervor...
Garrison Keillor: Never been here before

Garrison Keillor: Never been here before

Anxious times in America. There was a news story a few weeks back, “Interrupted Sleep May Lead To Alzheimer’s,” and next to it, a wine review with the line “Vivacious and well balanced, with chewy tannins and flavors of fresh red fruits.” You know and I know that a vivacious beverage will not compensate for losing your marbles. And now, driving to California, I find that...
Letters to the editor: Aug. 22, 2017

Letters to the editor: Aug. 22, 2017

Re: Aug. 17 article, “Efforts underway in large Texas cities to remove Confederate monuments.” Regarding Gov. Greg Abbott’s remark that “tearing down monuments won’t erase our nation’s past,” he is correct. But what monuments remain should reflect the truth rather than the kind of lie typified by the obscene monument on the south lawn of the Texas Capitol...
Charles M. Blow: Failing all tests of the presidency

Charles M. Blow: Failing all tests of the presidency

We are leaderless. America doesn’t have a president. America has a man in the White House holding the spot, and wreaking havoc as he waits for the day when a real president arrives to replace him. Donald Trump is many things — most of them despicable — but the leader of a nation he is not. He is not a great man. Hell, he isn’t even a good man. Donald Trump is a man of flawed...
Paul Krugman: What will Trump do to American workers?

Paul Krugman: What will Trump do to American workers?

With Steve Bannon out of the White House, it’s clearer than ever that President Donald Trump’s promise to be a populist fighting for ordinary workers was worth about as much as any other Trump promise — that is, nothing. His agenda, such as it is, amounts to reverse Robin Hood with extra racism — the conventional Republican strategy of taking from struggling families to give...

Commentary: Rural hospitals are vanishing; keep Medicaid in Texas

First, there was hope for people in rural communities needing health care. As part of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid was expanded in 31 states and the District of Columbia, offering new coverage to millions and renewed hope for rural hospitals struggling to remain financially viable — many serving a high percentage of Medicaid patients. But now, since Congress’ unsuccessful attempt...
Two Views: Why the U.S. will never transcend white supremacy

Two Views: Why the U.S. will never transcend white supremacy

Now that the violence in Charlottesville, Va., has forced “white supremacy” into our political vocabulary, let’s ask an uncomfortable question: When will the United States transcend white supremacy? My question isn’t: “What should we do about the overt white supremacists who, emboldened by Trumpism’s success, have pushed their way back into mainstream politics?&rdquo...
Two Views: There’s a silver lining in Trump’s Charlottesville comments

Two Views: There’s a silver lining in Trump’s Charlottesville comments

President Donald Trump’s slowness to condemn the Charlottesville violence, and then subsequent comments where he stated there was “blame on both sides,” produced outrage — and rightly so. But it wasn’t until after Trump’s news conference did we witness people speaking out against his comments specifically. Republican leaders such as Sens. Jeff Flake, Todd Young...
Viewpoints: On racism, a president who’s lost the moral authority

Viewpoints: On racism, a president who’s lost the moral authority

Like the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who emerged from under their hoods for all the world to see last week in Charlottesville, Va., President Donald Trump laid bare his character and his soul Tuesday, telling America that the white nationalists and those who protested racism were equals who shared blame in the mayhem. There “were very fine people on both sides,” the president said...
Commentary: U.S. health care is too big to fail. What Congress can do

Commentary: U.S. health care is too big to fail. What Congress can do

Republicans won control of Congress and the White House based largely on a single promise: They’d rid the world of Obamacare, despite that law’s reduction of the number of uninsured people in this country by 20 million. “Obamacare is death,” the president told us. After so closely tracking various iterations of GOP health care proposals, everyone from patient advocates to health...
Herman: Cornyn breaks his silence on Trump’s latest flare-up

Herman: Cornyn breaks his silence on Trump’s latest flare-up

It was late and lame, tardy and tepid, but at least our senior U.S. senator on Friday broke his silence on what everybody else has been talking about all week — the latest odd behavior of President Donald Trump. The Houston Chronicle characterized its Friday interview with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, as one in which he “added his voice … to a chorus of top party leaders breaking&rdquo...
Phillips: Think the Klan, Nazis are history? Not with Trump’s blessing

Phillips: Think the Klan, Nazis are history? Not with Trump’s blessing

My mother, who celebrated her 88th birthday last weekend, was shocked and dismayed watching events unfold in Charlottesville, Va. There in her living room on her 55-inch TV screen were the nightmares of her youth: White supremacists, Nazi sympathizers and anti-Semites marching in the streets in the name of white superiority and dominance. Instead of burning crosses, they carried torches. Some were...
Herman: I joked about Dog Scouts of America. No joke.

Herman: I joked about Dog Scouts of America. No joke.

If you read only one column to the end today, make it this one. In fact, what’s at the end is so good I hereby authorize you (just this one time) to skip right to the end. But please don’t. I’m blessed with readers who write. Sometimes some of these readers don’t like what I write. Sometimes I don’t like some of what some of these readers write, like this, from a reader...
Hiott: Why do headlines focus on racism? Because it still lingers

Hiott: Why do headlines focus on racism? Because it still lingers

It is not unusual at the newspaper to hear a reader or online commenter — one is not always inclusive of the other — question why we might highlight different ethnic groups, write about race and racism, or point out a lack of diversity in positions of authority. We’ve done so frequently, most notably in the past year with an award-winning series on Latino voter suppression in Texas...
Commentary: Call your lawmaker and demand support for Meals on Wheels

Commentary: Call your lawmaker and demand support for Meals on Wheels

“If people don’t know what Meals on Wheels does, have them come to my house, I’ll show them.” Army veteran Verna Bennett credits Meals on Wheels Central Texas for helping her continue to live with dignity and independence. Bennett, who is 70 years old, worked hard all her life until chronic arthritis crippled her body, leaving her homebound, unemployed and alone. She&rsquo...
Commentary: On reviewing NAFTA principles, first do no harm

Commentary: On reviewing NAFTA principles, first do no harm

I’ll be joined by government, business and nonprofit leaders in El Paso at the 2017 U.S.-Mexico Border Summit to discuss the merits of this trade agreement and what the future holds for U.S.-Mexico trade relations under NAFTA 2.0. While in some ways our conversation will mirror that happening in Washington, D.C. — what about the original trade agreement worked well, what has changed in...
Herman: The silence of the senior senator

Herman: The silence of the senior senator

In these odd times, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn is a canary in the conservative coal mine. Our state’s senior senator is a reasonable, level-headed Republican plagued these days in a party that gave us a president whose head often does not seem level. Cornyn, who so far has been unwilling to chirp up about President Donald Trump, is among the Repubs who will go a long way in determining Trump&rsquo...
Commentary: Move Confederate statues from parks to reliquaries

Commentary: Move Confederate statues from parks to reliquaries

Every Southern city should have a reliquary to receive Confederate statues. These monuments are a part of history and some are true works of art. But they should no longer dominate downtown squares and parks in cities where 30 percent or more of residents are the descendants of formerly enslaved people. To those who say these relics are an essential part of our history and heritage and should be revered...
Commentary: Remembering Mark White

Commentary: Remembering Mark White

I was deeply saddened to learn of Gov. Mark White’s passing. I have many fond memories, both personal and political, of our long friendship. His intelligence, wit, compassion and loyalty not only changed my life, but the face of Texas itself. I first met White when he was secretary of state under Gov. Dolph Briscoe. I worked on campaigns in both college and law school and was actually working...
Herman: Mars’ role in the future of Texas public education

Herman: Mars’ role in the future of Texas public education

Mars, people. The solution to what is always the biggest challenge our state faces will come from Mars. Or, says a leading state lawmaker, from people who make believe they’re from Mars. The suggestion came in inspiring and instructive remarks made late Tuesday by state Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, as the special legislative session approached its end and he rose to express remorse that...
Commentary: Why the Nazis came to Charlottesville

Commentary: Why the Nazis came to Charlottesville

“Should we go downtown?” my wife asked over breakfast on Thursday. “Remember, after the election, when we said we would stand with our neighbors when they were threatened? Are we being true to our commitments?” For weeks, we had read reports from white supremacist groups that they were coming here by the hundreds or thousands to start a fight. They promised to come armed. The...
Commentary: Undoing racism is uncomfortable. Suing colleges won’t help

Commentary: Undoing racism is uncomfortable. Suing colleges won’t help

The Supreme Court ruled last summer that colleges and universities can use race as one factor among many in making admissions decisions. The court determined that such policies helped further an institution’s mission to attain the educational benefits of diversity. The Trump administration may be considering a “project” to direct Department of Justice resources to investigate race-conscious...
Commentary: Charlottesville challenged racism. Every city should too

Commentary: Charlottesville challenged racism. Every city should too

The city of Charlottesville resembles the best of a rural college town despite its problems. Economically, the town depends on balancing the relationships and interests of students with its residents. Historically, issues of racism, opportunity, class, crime and politics have embroiled the city and the campus of the University of Virginia as deeply as the recently revealed DNA connections between...
Phillips: Is Patrick lieutenant governor or viceroy? Let voters decide

Phillips: Is Patrick lieutenant governor or viceroy? Let voters decide

Maybe we should change Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s title to viceroy. That seems appropriate, since he is acting more like a ruler exercising control over colonies – Texas cities and counties – than a statewide elected leader interested in solving the big problems and challenges facing Texas, such as the state’s broken school finance system, the high number of Texans who are uninsured...
Herman: Legislature honors late columnist John Kelso

Herman: Legislature honors late columnist John Kelso

The Legislature, controlled by a party that gave us a president who believes many journalists are the enemy of the people, honored my late friend and colleague John Kelso on Tuesday. Thank you, Texas Legislature. For you skeptics out there, this is a timely reminder that our lawmakers can do good. Longtime American-Statesman columnist Kelso, 73, died July 28 after an extended bout with cancer and...
Commentary: Texas schools are struggling. Why vouchers make it worse

Commentary: Texas schools are struggling. Why vouchers make it worse

Imagine if Texas had enough money to update all public schools, pay salaries appealing to the brightest and best graduates, and provide state-of-the-art materials and equipment. Imagine if private and parochial schools also requested state funding. I might stand at the front of the line to say, “Of course, Texas can fund private as well as public education.” Unfortunately, we do not enjoy...
Commentary: The Ex Games — A millennial’s take on why we ‘ghost’

Commentary: The Ex Games — A millennial’s take on why we ‘ghost’

I grew up fully believing in ghosts. I spent a lot of time in middle school convincing my friends to construct Ouija boards out of old cereal boxes. I dabbled in episodes of “Ghost Adventurers” for longer than I’d like to admit. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised that “ghosts” have continued on to be a full-fledged part of my adult life, though the shock is unwavering...
Commentary: How Texas makes it hard for itself to build infrastructure

Commentary: How Texas makes it hard for itself to build infrastructure

The long range Texas Transportation Plan 2040 says: “TxDOT estimates that $5 billion more per year in highway investment is needed to generally maintain the current level of congestion and condition of our highway infrastructure.” That’s $5 billion per year on top of what Texas is spending now — and that’s just the money needed to maintain today’s status quo, which...
Castillo: Trump calls out evil — but was the damage already done?

Castillo: Trump calls out evil — but was the damage already done?

Elections have real-life consequences. That is why every four years, we make decisions about who will lead our country by gleaning everything we can from the candidates’ words, their records and policy positions, and yes, sadly, even their tweets. Our votes affect every manner of our lives, our children’s lives and perhaps even their own children. Our health care, how much we pay in taxes...
Adler: Resist lawmakers’ distractions from broken property tax system

Adler: Resist lawmakers’ distractions from broken property tax system

Property tax bills are going up way too much in Austin — but there’s a lot of confusion as to why. Get ready to be surprised. The city of Austin has the lowest property tax rate among Texas’ largest cities — by a wide margin. Ours is 45 cents per $100 of home property value. Next closest are San Antonio at 56 cents and Houston at 59 cents, followed by Dallas at 79 cents and...

Commentary: A new approach for North Korea’s nuclear weapon threat

President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have traded increasing bellicose messages strongly suggesting the possible use of force against one another. It is entirely possible that a single misstep by one nation or the other would result in a nuclear engagement that could kill millions of people. In addition to threatening “fire and fury,” President Donald Trump is seeking enhanced...
Commentary: Hyped-up border plan comes at the expense of South Texas

Commentary: Hyped-up border plan comes at the expense of South Texas

It looks to be construction season in South Texas. Along this stretch of the U.S.-Mexico border, 31 miles of wall may soon be going up, and companies are wading through the final paperwork for building liquefied natural gas export terminals in the Port of Brownsville. At first glance, these two major projects may not seem to be related beyond dominating local news and promising dramatic results in...
Commentary: Austin has spoken. Now it’s time to find a city manager

Commentary: Austin has spoken. Now it’s time to find a city manager

This spring, the City Council recognized that Austin is at a watershed moment and that growing with grace will require hiring the right city manager who possesses qualities that are important to our unique community. With 21 vacant executive-level positions at the city — half of which are at the department director level or above — the next city manager has the opportunity to transform...
Commentary: Dan Patrick says cities ruin America. Come see Georgetown

Commentary: Dan Patrick says cities ruin America. Come see Georgetown

Many people liken Georgetown to the town of Mayberry from “The Andy Griffith Show.” Some even say we’re home to the “Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas.” I doubt when folks stand in downtown Georgetown they say to themselves, “You know what? This is what’s wrong with our country.” That’s why I take great offense to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick blaming...
Herman: Dog days in the newsroom

Herman: Dog days in the newsroom

From time to time I like to take you behind the scenes here at the Newspaper-by-the-Lake-That’s-Really-A-River. Today is one of those days. Lucky for you. The two questions I get most from readers are (1) Please tell me how you folks produce the magic that is the newspaper and websites we are so blessed to have, and (B) Hey, Brooklyn boy — they pay you to write this stuff? The answers...
Commentary: The Trump cleanup patrol just had its biggest job yet

Commentary: The Trump cleanup patrol just had its biggest job yet

WASHINGTON — I had dreams of fire and fury like the world has never seen. But now I will sleep well, because Rex Tillerson told me I should. There is no “imminent threat” from North Korea, the secretary of state said Wednesday. “The American people should sleep well at night.” It was the latest and largest cleanup effort undertaken by President Trump’s aides since...
Commentary: How FACT Act would bring transparency to asbestos claims

Commentary: How FACT Act would bring transparency to asbestos claims

Most Americans have seen those TV ads touting “billions of dollars” set aside for victims of mesothelioma, the lethal cancer associated with asbestos exposure. Few realize that these funds are also at the center of a national controversy that disproportionately affects military veterans. Until the 1970s, the military used asbestos. No surprise, then, when studies show about one in three...
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