Commentary

Opinion: Trump composes an elaborate “Thank you, Putin” note

Opinion: Trump composes an elaborate “Thank you, Putin” note

In the run-up to the Trump-Putin summit, many wondered how the Mueller investigation’s latest indictment would impact the outcome. After all, the language of the indictment was very specific and very detailed. Russian intelligence officers were mentioned by name. More to the point, the indictment revealed that Russian hackers were inside the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee...
Herman: Sights and lessons in the Holy Land

Herman: Sights and lessons in the Holy Land

The wonderful thing about world travel is how it can open your eyes to how, despite the differences that make this world so troubled, there are some things that unite much of personkind. I recently enjoyed one of those wonderful moments during my first day in Jerusalem on my first trip to Israel. It came in the back seat of a cab as we headed back to our hotel after touring the building that houses...
Letters to the editor: July 14, 2018

Letters to the editor: July 14, 2018

Re: July 9 article, “Central Texas suspensions of young students raise concerns.” So, those who advocate banning suspension of misbehaving kids in second grade and under, for most situations, “warned that suspensions caused students to fall behind in their classwork, to be disciplined more in the long run and to be ostracized by their peers.” Someone doesn’t understand...
INSIGHT: Vaccine skeptics say they know what’s best. Even for dogs

INSIGHT: Vaccine skeptics say they know what’s best. Even for dogs

One of the most contentious areas of health policy over the past two decades has been the safety of vaccination. Vaccines prevent the outbreak of diseases that used to be widespread, like polio, and scientific consensus strongly supports their safety. Yet many Americans refuse or delay the vaccination of their children out of fear that it could lead to autism, even though scientific consensus refutes...
Phillips: Local newspapers help taxpayers as watchdogs on government

Phillips: Local newspapers help taxpayers as watchdogs on government

Daily newspapers long have been the barking – and oftentimes biting – watchdogs that keep the public informed about what their government is doing, be that rescuing people from massive flooding in Austin in 2015, or the mismanagement of $2 billion in contracts by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which came to light that same year. This week, the American-Statesman reported...
Commentary: Why we cannot take the 14th Amendment for granted

Commentary: Why we cannot take the 14th Amendment for granted

Few times in recent memory have demanded a more careful examination of our nation’s history than now — the year we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the 14th Amendment’s passage. At a time when the Trump administration is throwing asylum seekers in jail without due process, and undermining efforts to desegregate schools, it is critical to remember that the “pervading purpose&rdquo...
Commentary: No one’s light on the brisket, yet. Keep weighing barbecue

Commentary: No one’s light on the brisket, yet. Keep weighing barbecue

For centuries, people have cheated in commerce. In response, society has created systems that enable fair trade for all. In Texas, the integrity of that process is the responsibility of the agriculture commissioner. Today, the process is being threatened. The Texas agriculture commissioner, Sid Miller, is standing up to the state attorney general, Ken Paxton, who asserts that state law exempts barbecue...
Commentary: Kids suffer worldwide. So, why are the Thai boys special?

Commentary: Kids suffer worldwide. So, why are the Thai boys special?

Even while the world watches with attention and interest as the Thai soccer team is rescued from a cave, many people wonder why a similar focus is not placed on other suffering children in refugee camps and war zones around the world. It may feel as if the media and public ignore the plight of millions of children to focus on the Thai story. In this country, in the Middle East, in Africa, it&rsquo...
Commentary: Even before family separations, Trump was cultivating hate

Commentary: Even before family separations, Trump was cultivating hate

You never blame the victim of a crime. Despite the occasional rulings of rogue judges and the bizarre utterances of lawmakers and candidates emboldened by what they hear on talk radio or see on cable TV, it’s pretty much accepted in public discourse that a woman is not to blame for her rape because her skirt was too short or she had too much to drink. A homeowner is not to blame for a theft...
Commentary: A lesson in economics, featuring seaports and your stuff

Commentary: A lesson in economics, featuring seaports and your stuff

The next time you’re trying to understand the global economy — the next time that hearing about tariffs and trade deficits makes you want to tune out — just remember that much of the study of economics boils down to just two things: seaports and your stuff. That’s because you use a lot of stuff, and much of that stuff comes from very far away. Just consider the typical American...
INSIGHT: SNAP work requirements could increase deep poverty for some

INSIGHT: SNAP work requirements could increase deep poverty for some

Designed to boost the earnings and job prospects of low-income Americans, proposed work requirements for food stamp recipients could have another unexpected effect: causing deep poverty rates to spike among those who lose their benefits and can’t find work, researchers say. That’s what happened to nearly 1 million single mothers in the years after the 1996 welfare reform legislation imposed...
Herman: Rural? You only thought you know what that means

Herman: Rural? You only thought you know what that means

As you perchance have noticed, the Texas Legislature did not legislate this year. This is good because it saved us from who knows what. This is bad because we’ll never now what kind of entertainment we missed. By way of reminder, the Texas Legislature meets in regular session only in odd years. Long ago, odd years were deemed the appropriate ones for our lawmakers, even the odd non-odd ones...
Commentary: How ‘zero tolerance’ can do more harm in some situations

Commentary: How ‘zero tolerance’ can do more harm in some situations

During my second year of teaching at my current high school, the assistant principal supervising me stepped into my classroom for an unannounced observation. My students were reading an essay I brought in to introduce a new unit. It was a good text, high-level and high-interest — and most of the kids were annotating diligently. After a few minutes, though, I heard a quiet laugh from a table...
Phillips: Make sure police body cameras don’t fail in critical events

Phillips: Make sure police body cameras don’t fail in critical events

The video of an Austin police officer punching a man in the face as he lay restrained on the ground is disturbing. One officer grabs the man’s arms, while another officer sits on his legs, delivering a series of hard blows to a seemingly defenseless suspect. A third person who is not an officer helps restrain the shirtless man. No wonder the 50-second video by a bystander went viral. Both officers...
Letters to the editor: July 11, 2018

Letters to the editor: July 11, 2018

Unfortunately, many Americans abhor our president, who is perceived as not caring about anything other than himself. Now is his final chance to “Make America Great Again.” He can do this simply by nominating a moderate Republican judge or a truly high-quality, middle-of-the-road and highly respected justice to fill the open slot on the Supreme Court. This would show that he truly wants...
Herman: How often do you go to San Antonio?

Herman: How often do you go to San Antonio?

Today, with summer travel season upon us, let’s deal with something from a file we’ll call “Is it just me, or … ?” Is it just me or does it seem like Austinites, in general, oddly find little reason to go to San Antonio, a unique and larger city that’s only about 80 miles southwest of here? This notion again crossed my mind during a recent trip to San Antonio for...
Letters to the editor: July 8, 2018

Letters to the editor: July 8, 2018

Re: June 30 commentary, “How paid sick leave ordinance will hurt Texas economy.” I had to laugh when I read Sen. Donna Campbell’s column. Campbell states: “It is not the role of government to involve itself in the day-to-day operations of private businesses.” Where was that hands-off policy when bathroom use was the topic? Campbell was right on the front line of that...
Castillo: Our immigration laws have been splitting families for years

Castillo: Our immigration laws have been splitting families for years

An editor once told me I was blessed to have lifetime job security because my work included reporting on immigration. “That issue will never get solved, so you’ll always have something to write about,” he explained. That was about the time I met Courtney Garcia, a 22-year-old Austin woman with a heartbreaking personal story about immigration and separation. An obscure immigration...
Editorial: If Texas won’t give sick leave, at least let Austin do it

Editorial: If Texas won’t give sick leave, at least let Austin do it

Austin workers no longer will have to choose between going to work sick or staying home without pay when a child or family member is ill because starting Oct. 1 all but the smallest employers in the city will have to offer paid sick leave to workers. That is good policy that protects the public’s health and puts meaning to Republican rhetoric about family values. The Legislature’s unwillingness...
Commentary: Cities should end their assault on liberty and rule of law

Commentary: Cities should end their assault on liberty and rule of law

Independence and defiance are Texas traditions. After all, one of the most famous statements our Founding Father Sam Houston ever made was that “Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.” It’s unsurprising that independence and resolution are greatly valued in a state born from a group of poorly armed and inadequately trained civilians who...
Herman: Gov. Abbott says Houston has more brothels than Starbucks

Herman: Gov. Abbott says Houston has more brothels than Starbucks

It’s a subject area that was something of a political issue, and later something of a bigger thing on Broadway back in the 1970s, when some Texans were shocked to learn there was a brothel in La Grange. The topic is back, sort of, in the current gubernatorial campaign, thanks to Gov. Greg Abbott. Prior to diving into this, let’s acknowledge a stark, sad and serious reality: Human trafficking...
Commentary: Why Texans can’t sue faith-based schools that hurt kids

Commentary: Why Texans can’t sue faith-based schools that hurt kids

The Texas Supreme Court recently made a decision that could adversely affect the lives of thousands of children across the state. In the case of John Doe v. Episcopal School of Dallas, the justices refused to consider a harmful ruling issued by a lower appellate court. The ruling allows a faith-based school to avoid civil liability for harming a child in its care. In other words, Texas parents may...
Herman: Doggett unmoved by Supreme Court decision to move into his district

Herman: Doggett unmoved by Supreme Court decision to move into his district

Thanks to a recent ruling by the federal court that reigns supreme, it’s time once again to check in with longtime U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, to see if he plans on voting for himself this year, something he hasn’t done in many years. This has to do with the fact that Doggett, an East Austin resident, doesn’t live in the district he represents in the U.S. House....
Commentary: Now it’s safe to bet that Mexico won’t pay for Trump’s wall

Commentary: Now it’s safe to bet that Mexico won’t pay for Trump’s wall

Now, for sure Mexico won’t be paying for the southern border wall that President Donald Trump promised to his millions of supporters. Not that Mexico ever intended to pay. President Enrique Peña Nieto made that clear to Trump, much to the American president’s dismay. And on Sunday night – after exit polls and the first election results showed that former Mexico City Mayor...
Commentary: Red Hen incident shows we all need a seat at the table

Commentary: Red Hen incident shows we all need a seat at the table

I keep thinking I’ll get used to Donald J. Trump as president, but each morning I wake up, as in the movie “Groundhog Day,” and relive the shock. From my Twitter feed and talk with friends, I know I’m not alone, and the bombshell of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement just knocked me down again. What can we do? At least I know what not to do. The election of Trump may...
Commentary: Why merging the labor and education departments is a scam

Commentary: Why merging the labor and education departments is a scam

Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney described the plan to merge the Departments of Education and Labor as a way to modernize federal bureaucracy: “We’re still dealing with a government that is from the early 20th century.” At first glance, it may seem like a good idea to eliminate bureaucratic bloat. After all, every administration promotes efforts to eliminate...
Herman: The never-ending immigration debate needs to come to an end

Herman: The never-ending immigration debate needs to come to an end

Not that it really matters, I guess, but lost, I fear, in this latest toxic outbreak of the long-running domestic debate over immigration law and its enforcement is the frustrating cause of it all: Horrible neighbors. And, stick with me here, we are not without blame. The United States again is twisted into political knots and inertia because some nations to the south of us — including Honduras...
TWO VIEWS: Love thy neighbor, especially if you’re an Airbnb host

TWO VIEWS: Love thy neighbor, especially if you’re an Airbnb host

“The world at your doorstep.” That was the postwar motto of the Dallas Morning News and many other newspapers. The phrase evokes home movie-like memories of bicycling delivery kids tossing newspapers onto the porches of new dreamland America neighborhoods. Today, the phrase could be used by the online companies that facilitate short-term rentals of our neighborhood homes. With their help...
Commentary: How paid sick leave ordinance will hurt Texas economy

Commentary: How paid sick leave ordinance will hurt Texas economy

Over the last 12 months, nearly 400,000 jobs were created in Texas, making our state the leading job producer in the country. This robust economic growth is the result of statewide policies that have kept taxes low and limited government intervention in the marketplace. Unfortunately, our state’s economic success is being threatened by heavy-handed policies at the local level — promoted...
Commentary: Doctors order zero tolerance for policies that harm kids

Commentary: Doctors order zero tolerance for policies that harm kids

We are pediatricians in Texas. As Americans, we appreciate the need to protect international borders. Though as physicians who took the Hippocratic oath, what’s happening today at the border contradicts everything we know about building healthy kids. Two months ago, the Department of Homeland Security announced its “zero tolerance” policy on border enforcement to deter families from...
Castillo: It’s getting harder to be a journalist. But we soldier on

Castillo: It’s getting harder to be a journalist. But we soldier on

Excuse me if I think the president’s tweet about the mass shooting at an Annapolis newspaper rings hollow and useless. “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” President Trump tweeted shortly after news spread Thursday of the latest mass shooting in America. Another mass shooting. More thoughts and prayers from politicians. “Thoughts and prayers&rdquo...
Letters to the editor: June 29, 2018

Letters to the editor: June 29, 2018

Re: June 25 article, “Gun-makers cite banks as new threat to rights.” Gary Ramsey, whose business manufactures handcrafted guns, feels that companies that choose not to process payments of his credit card sales violate his rights. His cause is supported by the legal counsel for Gun Owners of America, who said, “If a few banks say ‘No’ … all of a sudden the industry...
Commentary: Let’s put officers in every school. Here’s how it can happen

Commentary: Let’s put officers in every school. Here’s how it can happen

At 11:19 a.m. on April 20, 1999, a shot was fired at Columbine High School in Colorado. The last shot was fired almost an hour later at 12:08 p.m. The two young shooters killed 13 and wounded 23 others before killing themselves. In another school shooting — this one almost 20 years later at Santa Fe High School in Texas — an officer engaged the student shooter just 12 minutes after his...
Herman: Can viral video spur Central Texas congressional race upset?

Herman: Can viral video spur Central Texas congressional race upset?

The early reviews are in, and they’re pretty darned good. I haven’t seen anybody hail it as the feel-good hit of the summer, but it is getting noticed as something of an instant classic in its genre. “A war hero is running for Congress, and she just dropped one of 2018’s best political ads,” said the USA Today headline. “Veteran-turned-congressional candidate draws...
TWO VIEWS: Ruling helps fight Austin’s restrictive STR ordinance

TWO VIEWS: Ruling helps fight Austin’s restrictive STR ordinance

Property rights are paramount. That’s one of the key takeaways from a new Texas Supreme Court decision involving short-term rentals (STRs). In Tarr vs. Timberwood Park Owners Association Inc., the high court ruled in favor of Kenneth Tarr, a San Antonio-area homeowner-turned-STR-owner whose plan to earn a little extra money landed him in hot water with his homeowners’ association. Shortly...
Young: Trump can do no wrong inside the GOP Rationalization Chamber

Young: Trump can do no wrong inside the GOP Rationalization Chamber

I can’t believe what I’m saying here, but Stephen Colbert miscalculated. Of the abominable act of sending children to chain-link big-box jails at the border, he said: “Either you can be horrified or you can work for Donald Trump.” It was unclear if in his calculation Colbert considers Fox News personnel to be salaried Trump employees. However, we sadly must acknowledge: Quite...
Commentary: Spilling the TEA on dyslexia in Texas

Commentary: Spilling the TEA on dyslexia in Texas

The truth about services for Texas students with dyslexia is finally coming to light. Earlier this month, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) sent a letter to school districts stating that students with dyslexia are eligible to be evaluated and potentially to receive “appropriate reading supports and interventions” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). For families...
Letters to the editor: June 28, 2018

Letters to the editor: June 28, 2018

Re: June 22 letter to the editor, “Army command site is bad fit for Austin.” Austin was home to Bergstrom Air Force Base for many years, housing B-52s, B-47s and F-4s. There were Nike Hercules nuclear missile sites in Austin during the Cold War. Our class visited one on a field trip in the fifth grade. I personally witnessed two Nikes being hauled into Austin down Balcones Drive on Air...
Commentary: I run Southwest Key. Our mission deserves your support

Commentary: I run Southwest Key. Our mission deserves your support

Believing that there is great strength in community, Southwest Key Programs has resided in East Austin working alongside many other partners and agencies to help ensure that the people of this community — our Austin community — thrive. When Southwest Key was founded, it was because I was inspired to build an organization that works to keep kids out of prisons and detention facilities....
Commentary: Maximize funding and care for Austin’s underprivileged

Commentary: Maximize funding and care for Austin’s underprivileged

In recent years, Travis County has enhanced how it provides health care to the underprivileged and medically fragile members of our community. In addition to the Community Care Collaborative and the Dell Medical School, Central Health founded Sendero Health Plans as an additional means to provide care to the underserved in our area. On Wednesday, the Central Health Board will vote on its budget and...
Herman: A voiceless radio reporter is back on the air

Herman: A voiceless radio reporter is back on the air

It’s summer. School’s out. The pools are open. And ice cream eaten when the temperature’s above 95 has no calories. So raise your hand if you’re ready for even more happy news. (Hey, Mr. Grumpy in Cedar Park, I saw you. Get that hand in the air.) Sometimes happy news is magnified when it evolves from sad news. Let’s rewind back to last December when I told you about a...
Commentary: MLS stadium deal should score points for the community

Commentary: MLS stadium deal should score points for the community

Over the past three weeks, since the city was first presented the proposed terms for a stadium deal, there has been a lot of buzz about whether Austin would score a professional soccer team. As Austinites, each of us understands the real cultural benefits that having a local team could bring, such as enhancing Austin’s sense of identity and hometown pride. We also understand Austin’s connection...
Opinion: This November, cast your vote against the GOP

Opinion: This November, cast your vote against the GOP

Amid the carnage of Republican misrule in Washington, there is this glimmer of good news: The family-shredding policy along the southern border, which was merely the most telegenic recent example of misrule, clarified something. Occurring less than 140 days before elections that can reshape Congress, the policy has given independents and temperate Republicans — these are probably expanding and...
Herman: Beto O’Rourke flashes star power at Texas Democratic Convention

Herman: Beto O’Rourke flashes star power at Texas Democratic Convention

Some takeaways taken away from three days with 7,500 or so delegates at the Texas Democratic Convention: In general, the Dems didn’t approve a platform with nearly the volume of nutty stuff the Repubs did at their convention. Oh, there’s plenty in the Dem platform that some folks won’t like, but there’s nothing approaching the GOP calls for getting the U.S. out of the U.N....
Herman: In search of peace, quiet at the Texas Democratic Convention

Herman: In search of peace, quiet at the Texas Democratic Convention

Hype, hope and hoopla prevailed Friday at the Texas Democratic Convention, an event that exists for the purpose of hype, hope and hoopla. The energy was palpable, even in the morning caucus sessions of the various interest and demographic groups that make up the party. So where could one go for a brief respite from the masses for a few minutes of rest and repose? Let’s take a look. The convention...
Alberta Phillips: America the beautiful turns ugly under Trump

Alberta Phillips: America the beautiful turns ugly under Trump

So, this is our America. We’re now a country that gives cover and comfort to white supremacists who publicly slur Jews, African-Americans and Latinos. We’re a nation that defends extremes in gun regulation, even as our children and families are gunned down in our classrooms and churches by persons armed with weapons of war. We’re a government that paints Muslims with a broad &ndash...
Commentary: You can’t put a price on the kinship MLS fans enjoy

Commentary: You can’t put a price on the kinship MLS fans enjoy

Recently, many learned opinions have been offered in the Statesman about the economic impact that a Major League Soccer team might have on Austin. As a sports attorney and a soccer fan, I’m concerned that if the focus remains solely on how much money can be generated from the 24-acre plot of land known as McKalla Place, then we are forgetting about the other, more important benefits that a soccer...
Herman: For some reason, Texas Democrats go to work on a platform

Herman: For some reason, Texas Democrats go to work on a platform

Texas Democrats are drawing up a legislative wish list. And Rice University football players are planning about playing in the national title game. Faith, hope and optimism — even in the stark face of reality — are to be encouraged. Texas Democrats are convening in convention in The Town of Cows on Friday and Saturday. If you’re a political party convening in a convention...
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