Commentary

Commentary: Why the crisis in Burma should resonate with Texans

Commentary: Why the crisis in Burma should resonate with Texans

People around the world have reacted with outrage and astonishment to the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine, in southwestern Burma. The outrage is completely appropriate. The astonishment, though, is not — especially in an area like Texas, whose history of shifting populations resembles that of Rakhine. Both Rahkine and Texas are borderlands with no natural barriers between regions...
Herman: Your governor needs even more money

Herman: Your governor needs even more money

Today, it is my sad duty to come to you with a tale of greed, avarice and Possibly Everything That’s Wrong With America. It comes in the form of two emails that hit my inbox within hours of each other. One came from our governor and the other came on behalf of our governor, a man with an insatiable desire to get some money out of your pocket and into his already-stuffed political kitty. It&rsquo...
John Young: Real meaning for that red ball cap

John Young: Real meaning for that red ball cap

Wherever he resides in the afterlife, George Carlin is having a bleeping good time. One of the comedian’s “seven words you can’t say on TV” is being said on TV over and over again – starts with “sh” and features “it” — and getting bleeped, or someone is attempting a weak euphemism. The thing is, the censors aren’t bleeping some off-color...
Commentary: Are you a broke millennial? Consider a manufacturing job

Commentary: Are you a broke millennial? Consider a manufacturing job

Earn a college degree, move to a major city, and land a white-collar job in the knowledge economy – that’s the path many millennials have been taught to follow. But that route isn’t always viable. Five- and six-figure student loan debt, skyrocketing housing costs and wage stagnation for all but the top earners are making postgrad life unaffordable for many young people. It&rsquo...
Commentary: How Austin is proving its dedication to clean energy

Commentary: How Austin is proving its dedication to clean energy

Last year provided more evidence that we are changing our planet in dangerous ways. In September, top U.S. scientists confirmed that some human activities — like burning coal, oil and gas — are responsible for the global warming we are experiencing. The U.S. was 2.6 degrees warmer than normal this year. Supercharged by the warming climate, western wildfires destroyed communities and millions...
Herman: Sen. John Cornyn continues to tolerate President Trump

Herman: Sen. John Cornyn continues to tolerate President Trump

These should be good times for John Cornyn. He’s the senior U.S. senator from the greatest state ever created. He’s the GOP’s No. 2 man in that chamber. And after eight years toiling under the yoke of a Democratic president, Cornyn is one year into total D.C. domination by his party. And though there’s not unanimity on this, there are accomplishments to tout after the first...
Commentary: How Islam is an agreement with MLK Jr.’s values

Commentary: How Islam is an agreement with MLK Jr.’s values

I believe that the best way to celebrate a national hero is to further the cause for which they fought. Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sacrificed his life fighting for racial equality and just treatment of everyone. Half a century later, we still find ourselves fighting this war and the dream remains unfulfilled. Today, peaceful Muslims like myself also have a dream. I fully understand...
Commentary: What Martin Luther King Jr. would think of today’s America

Commentary: What Martin Luther King Jr. would think of today’s America

As we celebrate the birth of Martin Luther King Jr. today, we also note that this year marks 50 years since his assassination. While this length of time might not seem very long, in some respects, the passing of Dr. King was a lifetime ago. Arguably, the United States has changed markedly since the heady days of the civil rights movement. Most obviously, perhaps, the culture of Jim Crow segregation...
Castillo: A southern border wall remains Trump’s north star

Castillo: A southern border wall remains Trump’s north star

It’s not every day we get to watch an American president think through his policy positions in real time on live television, much less on a third-rail subject like immigration. But that’s what happened Tuesday when we had the rarest of chances to witness President Trump engage members of Congress in a discussion about border security and the immigration program known as DACA. Predictably...
COMMENTARY: ‘The Post’ a story about a woman’s courage

COMMENTARY: ‘The Post’ a story about a woman’s courage

When her husband, Philip, took his own life in 1963, Katharine Graham admitted she was unprepared to be publisher of The Washington Post. At 46, she had worked only briefly — and never in an executive position. She did not seek the publisher’s role. She had spent her married life raising the Grahams’ four children and entertaining presidents, Cabinet members and ambassadors as Georgetown&rsquo...
Herman: The What Is That?” team goes to Deep Eddy (but doesn’t swim)

Herman: The What Is That?” team goes to Deep Eddy (but doesn’t swim)

Welcome to the 2018 season of “What Is That?” Let’s kick it off by heading over to Eilers Park (where Deep Eddy pool is) with semi-retired lawyer Fred Helms. I’m not really sure what it means to be a semi-retired lawyer. Perhaps you only semi-sue people. But that’s not the mystery we’re meeting up with Helms to explore. It involves is a structure he recently...
Castillo: A southern border wall remains Trump’s north star

Castillo: A southern border wall remains Trump’s north star

It’s not every day we get to watch an American president think through his policy positions in real time on live television, much less on a third-rail subject like immigration. But that’s what happened Tuesday when we witnessed President Trump engage members of Congress in a discussion about border security and the immigration program known as DACA. The president told lawmakers he wants...
VIEWPOINTS: Ruling in Kleinert case weakens police accountability

VIEWPOINTS: Ruling in Kleinert case weakens police accountability

Last week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to not take up a case involving a former Austin police officer who fatally shot an African-American man was a huge victory for the officer, ending a saga that began in 2013. For Travis County prosecutors who took the case to the high court in hope of holding Charles Kleinert criminally responsible in the death of Larry Jackson Jr., the ruling was...
Commentary: Evangelicals, please let Trump’s ‘tough’ language shock you

Commentary: Evangelicals, please let Trump’s ‘tough’ language shock you

When my ancestors came to America from Ireland, they left what many people considered a “s—-hole” country. A potato famine, combined with Ireland’s bad reputation in much of Europe, led many to call for an end to the immigration of the unwashed Irish. “Filthy,” they called my family. We would hope that such labels are an embarrassing relic of the past. Yet on Thursday...
VIEWPOINTS: New tax code is harsh on nonprofits. How Texans can help

VIEWPOINTS: New tax code is harsh on nonprofits. How Texans can help

When local, state and federal programs fail to serve Central Texas families and individuals who are the most in need, local nonprofit organizations help fill the gaps by using the generous contributions of those who find value in giving their neighbors a hand up when they need it. The recent federal tax overhaul, however, has nonprofits bracing for a significant decline in contributions because millions...
Commentary: Trump’s comments on countries make MLK Day purely symbolic

Commentary: Trump’s comments on countries make MLK Day purely symbolic

One of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes is “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor political nor popular, but he must take it because his conscience tells him it is right.” These words ring truer now more than ever in light of President Donald Trump’s recent comments questioning why we are letting people from “s—-hole countries&rdquo...
Herman: Dem gov candidate Andrew White wants end to death penalty

Herman: Dem gov candidate Andrew White wants end to death penalty

The anti-capital-punishment plank long has been boilerplate language in the Texas Democratic Party platform. Nevertheless, Wendy Davis, the party’s 2014 gubernatorial nominee, came out in favor of the death penalty. That didn’t work out so well for her. In fact, nothing did, and she got routed by Republican Greg Abbott. On Thursday, Andrew White, now seeking the 2018 Democratic nomination...
Commentary: GED testing outcomes and opportunities also matter

Commentary: GED testing outcomes and opportunities also matter

CPPP’s recent report about GED testing in Texas gives the impression that the only valid metric worth monitoring is the number of GED graduates. However, outcomes and what GED graduates do with their credential must be part of how we measure the success of the program. The report rightly points out that in today’s economy adults need to be able to gain skills and training beyond just a...
Commentary: Resolve to reduce traffic in Austin

Commentary: Resolve to reduce traffic in Austin

Every new year, we often resolve to start things (learn an instrument), quit things (smoking), or do more of things we love (see more live music). Most of us are not successful. Not because we’re weak or undisciplined; old habits are exceptionally tough to break. Likewise, new habits are difficult to create and maintain. That said, consider adding one more resolution to your list — one...
Will: How merit-based college admissions became so unfair

Will: How merit-based college admissions became so unfair

WASHINGTON — During World War I, chemist James Conant was deeply involved in research on what was considered the worst imaginable weapon: poison gas. During World War II, as a science adviser to President Franklin Roosevelt, Conant was so central to the development of the atomic bomb that he was at Alamogordo on July 16, 1945. His most disruptive act, however, may have come in the interim when...
Navarrette: Detained student proves craziness of immigration system

Navarrette: Detained student proves craziness of immigration system

President Trump sees the immigration issue as one big negotiation. First you do something dramatic to shake things up and put the other side on unsure footing. A couple days ago, the Trump administration withdrew Temporary Protected Status from about 200,000 Salvadoran immigrants who had been offered shelter by the George W. Bush administration in 2001. According to a Department of Homeland Security...
Commentary: Some children’s last meal is at noon. Texas can change that

Commentary: Some children’s last meal is at noon. Texas can change that

While many of us gorged on ham and chocolate over the holidays, there were more than 3 million children who were at risk of going through the holiday break without access to nutritious foods. This is not just a holiday hunger for these children; it is every day of the year. With the numerous funded programs we have available, why are so many of our children still at-risk of going hungry? Unfortunately...
John Young: A ‘very stable genius’ would be a more able liar

John Young: A ‘very stable genius’ would be a more able liar

As lightning bolts go, the juice within the 336 pages of Michael Wolff’s “Fire and Fury” is sufficient to melt a man’s wingtips. However: Did we really need Wolff’s reportage of it to know that Donald Trump is infantile, intemperate and spectacularly unfit to be president? No, we didn’t. We have read the man’s tweets. (His claim to be “like a very stable...
Herman: Lupe Valdez, Andrew White meet in Democratic candidate forum

Herman: Lupe Valdez, Andrew White meet in Democratic candidate forum

The truth was spoken in the pre-event mic check: “Hello everybody. Welcome to the first Democratic debate-ish.” Upstairs, gubernatorial candidates mingled prior to the event that was the first face-to-face meeting between Andrew White, Houston businessman and son of late Gov. Mark White, and former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. They’re the top Democratic contenders in what was...
Commentary: Keeping Conley as CAMPO chairman is bad governance

Commentary: Keeping Conley as CAMPO chairman is bad governance

Tonight, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) board will vote on a questionable deal that twists the rules in order to keep former Hays County Commissioner Will Conley on as chair. He resigned as commissioner to run for Hays County judge, so he is no longer an elected official. The plan would create a new position for him as an unelected “affililate nonvoting member&rdquo...
Commentary: Let’s make 2018 the year we value safety in Texas

Commentary: Let’s make 2018 the year we value safety in Texas

Someone I know was in a minor car crash recently. The car was hit from behind by a driver who was using a cellphone, causing damage to both vehicles, but nobody was hurt. The police were called, and though the officer was told that the driver who caused the crash was using a cellphone, no tickets were issued. The officer left without filing any kind of accident report. When I heard this story, I was...
Herman: How come there’s a cross on your Austin city utility bills?

Herman: How come there’s a cross on your Austin city utility bills?

American-Statesman reader James Jackson recently had a suggestion for me. Unlike some readers’ suggestions, this one is physically possible. His hit my inbox after my recent column complaining about the two crosses hanging in in the Caldwell County District Clerk’s Office in Lockhart. “I don’t understand why you had to leave Austin to find a cross in an ‘inappropriate&rsquo...
Viewpoints: From city hall to classrooms, Texas faces big decisions in 2018

Viewpoints: From city hall to classrooms, Texas faces big decisions in 2018

Hey, 2018, we’re watching. You have our attention — and we know you’re already shaping up to be a momentous year. Not only will the Austin City Council wrestle with a contentious overhaul of the city’s cumbersome land-use and zoning regulations, but Austin will welcome a new city manager, Spencer Cronk, who faces difficult challenges — among them forging a new police...
Viewpoints: TEA needs damage control. It can start with parents’ trust

Viewpoints: TEA needs damage control. It can start with parents’ trust

The Texas Education Agency’s abrupt decision to walk away last month from a special education data-mining project — after defending it for months despite legal and transparency questions — was the right thing to do. Now, the agency, which has been under long-standing pressure to improve special education services, must ensure it does right by students, parents and advocates. The...
Commentary: Changes to family-based immigration attack bedrock values

Commentary: Changes to family-based immigration attack bedrock values

At this time of year, those of us with healthy families are comforted by the strength and security we find in their fold. Much of our local, state and federal laws revolve around strengthening and protecting families. Since LBJ signed the modern Immigration and Nationality Act in 1965, family unity and family reunification have been the bedrock and cornerstones of our immigration policy — and...
Commentary: Why repealing the ‘Cole memo’ won’t solve marijuana abuse

Commentary: Why repealing the ‘Cole memo’ won’t solve marijuana abuse

It should not come as a surprise. We certainly have had enough hints that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was planning on repealing the Obama administration’s 2013 hands-off policy — known as the Cole memo — regarding enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states where recreational use is legal. To date, that includes eight states and the District of Columbia. The most recent...
Herman: Democrats hope Texas voters choose politics over football game

Herman: Democrats hope Texas voters choose politics over football game

For much of Right-Thinking America (defined as those who accept college football as a deity), attention on Monday night starting at 7 p.m. Austin time will be firmly fixed on Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium where the hated University of Alabama Crimson Tide, led by the hated Nick Saban, will take on the beloved University of Georgia Bulldogs for the college gridiron national championship. (Some...
Roger Cohen: Trump is right, this time, about Iran

Roger Cohen: Trump is right, this time, about Iran

I have a New Year’s confession: I retweeted President Donald Trump with approval, not something I had expected to do, especially on the subject of Iran. But Trump has been right to get behind the brave Iranian protesters calling for political and economic change. The tweet in question read: “Many reports of peaceful protests by Iranian citizens fed up with regime’s corruption & its...
Ruben Navarrette Jr.: Trump is in over his head on Dreamers issue

Ruben Navarrette Jr.: Trump is in over his head on Dreamers issue

Donald Trump wrote the book on the art of the deal. Now he says he wants to cut a deal with the Dreamers. At issue is the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). In a sneaky twist on self-deportation, President Obama conned 800,000 undocumented young people into turning themselves into Immigration and Customs Enforcement in exchange for a temporary reprieve. Yet the only &ldquo...
Kathleen Parker: Queen Carlson wins again

Kathleen Parker: Queen Carlson wins again

After recent revelations that the CEO of the Miss America Organization and its pageant scriptwriter were talking trash about past winners, the board fired them both and installed Gretchen Carlson, a former Miss America 1989 and Fox News anchor, as its new chairwoman. Carlson, you might say, was in the right place at the right time — one she basically created. It isn’t exaggeration to say...
Jack Hunter: Americans are more emotional about Trump than ever

Jack Hunter: Americans are more emotional about Trump than ever

Visiting home in Charleston, South Carolina over the holidays, conversations with friends and family often turned political. And by “political,” I mean Donald Trump. On the week before Christmas, when the president signed the tax bill into law, my right-leaning acquaintances were hailing the legislation (which they should, though it still ignores the unignorable problem of massive spending)...
John Young: 2018: a year the GOP would just as soon skip

John Young: 2018: a year the GOP would just as soon skip

Those Republican branding wizards. You’ve got to give it to them: “Pro-life.” “Real America.” “Family values.” Can’t defeat those. As we enter a new year, however, Republicans are dealing with these brands: “Trump”; “McConnell-Ryan Congress”; “Tax cuts for the super-wealthy.” Trump: the least truthful, least honorable...
Herman: 2018, odder than 2017?

Herman: 2018, odder than 2017?

It’s time for my predictions for 2018, which, though technically even, could be odder than 2017, which was odd even for an odd year. Remember when some people said they were happy 2016 was gone? Remember when some people said they thought George W. Bush was the worst president ever? Funny how perceptions can change. Well, maybe funny’s not the right word. Prior to my 2018 predictions,...
Herman: Appeals Judge Willett to take colleagues’ ‘Twitter temperature’

Herman: Appeals Judge Willett to take colleagues’ ‘Twitter temperature’

It was a clash of impressive forces. On one side, the powerful presidential and congressional complex and its code of expected conduct for judicial nominees. On the other side was a judicial nominee with a Twitter habit bordering on addiction. On Sept. 28, President Donald Trump (who, I’m told, also tweets) nominated Texas Supreme Court Justice and Texas Tweeter Laureate Don Willett for...
TWO VIEWS: Texas GOP should take a page from the Congress playbook

TWO VIEWS: Texas GOP should take a page from the Congress playbook

Congress just passed the most sweeping tax reform package in a generation, helping unshackle the U.S. economy and ease the burden on working families. That’s nothing short of a home run — and the Texas Legislature should take note. When state lawmakers return to Austin in 2019, there’ll be plenty of opportunities to revamp the tax code in big, bold ways — especially on property...
Commentary: How Republicans in Congress made great strides in 2017

Commentary: How Republicans in Congress made great strides in 2017

Before the ball drops and college bowl season ends, it’s worth taking stock of the last twelve months in Washington. The holidays always help put the year into perspective. Think, for example, of the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Taking a cue from Clarence and George Bailey, I’d argue that, even when faced with challenges, we’ve done better than the pundits would...
Viewpoints Q&A: What’s new for CodeNext in 2018? The City Council gives us answers

Viewpoints Q&A: What’s new for CodeNext in 2018? The City Council gives us answers

CodeNext, which is undergoing its third revision since being rolled out in January 2017, remains controversial, confusing and complex. Given that it aims to overhaul Austin’s cumbersome land-use and zoning regulations, some of that was to be expected. But much of the confusion is self-inflicted. The city marketed CodeNext as a strategic tool in meeting Austin’s ever-increasing demand for...
Viewpoints Q&A, Part I: Casar, Flannigan, Pool, Alter on CodeNext

Viewpoints Q&A, Part I: Casar, Flannigan, Pool, Alter on CodeNext

CodeNext, which is undergoing its third revision since being rolled out in January 2017, remains controversial, confusing and complex. Given that it aims to overhaul Austin’s cumbersome land-use and zoning regulations, some of that was to be expected. But much of the confusion is self-inflicted. The city marketed CodeNext as a strategic tool in meeting Austin’s ever-increasing demand for...
Herman: It’s not just who’s on the ballot. It’s what.

Herman: It’s not just who’s on the ballot. It’s what.

Now that we know who’s on the March primary ballots (and who isn’t), let’s talk about what’s on those ballots. Because it’s what they do, the Democrats and Republicans have loaded up (down?) those ballots with nonbinding propositions that are more boilerplate statements of party principles than questions on which they’re seeking actual input. I wish they wouldn&rsquo...
TWO VIEWS: Let’s make 2018 the year we make Texas friendly again

TWO VIEWS: Let’s make 2018 the year we make Texas friendly again

Thinking about the year just past and the year to come, we might start by imagining the splendor of Earth’s stately annual circling of the Sun. It is what makes a year a year, after all. Seen from space, the Earth shines like a blue iris on a mountainside in the morning light. And even better, as Galileo noted of the Earth, “It moves!” Then, we take a closer and find the flower is...
Commentary: How rising anger over tolls brings change

Commentary: How rising anger over tolls brings change

For Dane Anderson, 2015 was a tough year. Her father died in September. Soon after, she moved her mother to assisted living as Alzheimer’s disease advanced. Anderson made many trips from her North Austin home to her parents’ place in Fort Worth, passing over Loop 1 north of Parmer Lane and Texas State Highway 45 North. Both are part of the Central Texas Turnpike System, which falls under...
John Young: Colin Kaepernick vs. the great orange volcano

John Young: Colin Kaepernick vs. the great orange volcano

It was the year of the “angry fire god.” In the ‘90s comedy “Joe Versus the Volcano,” that was the islanders’ name for the great Volcano Woo — a role that our president sought to reprise in 2017. From on high, Donald Trump flung smoke and rocks and steam. He slurred his words as his lava sloshed. His orange crown glowed. Throughout, our president was Vulcan...
Viewpoints Q&A, Part II: Garza, Renteria and Kitchen on CodeNext

Viewpoints Q&A, Part II: Garza, Renteria and Kitchen on CodeNext

This is the second installment of a three-part series on CodeNext, the overhaul of Austin’s cumbersome land-use and zoning regulations, which has reignited battles between neighborhood groups and developers. Next month, the city is expected to unveil the third CodeNext draft — and officials say that a vote could come in spring, despite looming questions about how the new code would generate...
More Stories