Letters to the Editor: November 30, 2016

Re: Nov. 19 article, “Construction begins on Bee Cave Road.”

I find it very confusing and distressing that Westlake is adding a center lane to Bee Cave Road to help ease traffic on that street — and Austin Mayor Steve Adler’s plan to ease traffic is to remove the center turn lanes. Many people like myself are very upset that we will be paying more to fund a project that common sense tells you will only make matters worse. I’m waiting for someone to articulate how removing the center turn lane is going to help traffic flow. My suggestion is for the mayor and City Council to speak with the Westlake traffic engineers before going forward with this part of the bond package.


Re: Nov. 18 article, “Creationism at center of debate over high school biology curriculum.”

It’s the Friday night of fall break. My first-graders’ brains are full and need some time to digest. I am emotionally and physically drained. But here I am, writing an opinion piece when I should be sleeping or grading papers or writing lesson plans … or … or … or. What could keep me up like this? Well, it was State Board of Education member, Chuck Garner, quoted as saying: “You can find any number of people that will tell you it was in their high school biology class they became atheists.” Oh, please. What number? Seven? I shouldn’t have to fact check ‘seven’ because I’m just a letter to the editor writer. You, sir, are a member of the state school board-appointed committee charged with educating our next generation with factual, scientific knowledge. You, sir, should never make a statement that hasn’t been impartially fact checked. I call your bluff.


The Founding Fathers established the Electoral College for two reasons: First, it was to protect smaller states from domination by larger states. Ironically, it now facilitates smaller states dominating larger states. Second, it was to serve as protection against the danger of an unfit candidate winning the popular vote. It accomplished this by putting the “elites” in charge, allowing them to “correct” the mistake of the popular vote. Ironically, the conservatives who today hail the Electoral College as a safeguard against direct democracy are the same conservatives who rail against the role of elites in government.

The Supreme Court long ago determined that the Constitution required the states to follow one-man, one-vote principles. The Electoral College, which ignores this, is outdated, and whatever validity it may have had expired long ago. It needs to be eliminated so a presidential election reflects the vote of the people.


Re: Nov. 21 Texas Digest brief, “Professor offers students tough love.”

Texas Tech professor Terry McInturff’s dismissal of “students’ feelings” fails to recognize that feelings and thoughts are inextricably linked. Critical thinking occurs in a different part of the brain (prefrontal cortex) than feelings (limbic system). Fear and anger can override the prefrontal cortex and cause us to make decisions that are not in our best interest. It is no coincidence that successful campaign strategies, including Donald Trump’s, often attempt to exploit this dynamic by creating fear in the electorate.

Rather than suggesting that feelings are not important, Professor McInturff would better prepare students for the “real world” by teaching them how to identify and manage feelings in a way that will allow them to make solid decisions utilizing critical thinking skills. Furthermore, use of therapy dogs, which he derides, has been clinically proven to help people — including combat veterans — regulate emotional responses to trauma, rather than being controlled by them.


Re: Nov. 17 letter to the editor, “Many showed ignorance as they overlooked Trump.”

I was struck by a letter to the editor in which the use of the word “they” was repeatedly used to refer to the Democratic Party in describing the recent presidential campaign. The writer summed things up with the statement, “You lost, we won.” I must say I’m sorry that so many voters saw the goal of this election as winning, and not choosing the best leader for our country, because we are now seeing the results of that choice: Struggling to pull a transition team together; having the Japanese Prime Minister arrive in the U.S. for a meeting and still not know where and when it will take place; using a Twitter account like a teenager; and the list goes on and on. But at least the writer can take consolation in the fact that his side won.


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