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Letters to the editor: Sept. 23, 2018

Letters to the editor: Sept. 23, 2018

Re: Sept. 20 commentary, “Hard liquor ban is first step in safer Greek life culture.” Fraternities are to be commended for addressing hazing and alcohol misuse. However, your editorial leaves the misleading impression that some forms of alcohol are “softer” than others. While the new policy requires a licensed third-party in order to serve spirits, a more effective approach...
Herman: Ted and Beto debate the issues, Part One

Herman: Ted and Beto debate the issues, Part One

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke finally had a much anticipated face-to-face during a Friday night debate that highlighted two different ways to do politics and personhood in modern America, a contrast that has attracted national attention to a race we once thought was destined to be a little ol’ Texas contest with the usual ol’ Texas outcome....
Commentary: Spend education dollars helping students, not buying guns

Commentary: Spend education dollars helping students, not buying guns

In the past month, despite apprehension, parents have sent their kids back to school. However, school safety remains a cloud over the U.S. education system, given the persistent school shootings around the country. Secretary Betsy DeVos’ solution for assuaging parents’ worries about school violence is to put more guns in schools. The Education Department intends to allow states to use...
Op-ed: CBD oil eased my anxiety. Texas needs to let more people buy it

Op-ed: CBD oil eased my anxiety. Texas needs to let more people buy it

The first time it happened, I felt like my heart was going to explode. My mind couldn’t catch up. Every second, every movement was an eternity. I couldn’t explain the dread, the lava surging through my body. I couldn’t talk straight. That’s when my wife, who’s a registered nurse, told me I was having a panic attack. Since that night, I’ve been diagnosed with severe...
Herman: The building says something else, but you know him as Ronnie

Herman: The building says something else, but you know him as Ronnie

You know that deal when you don’t immediately recognize somebody’s real name? George Herman Ruth? Oh yeah, The Babe. Thomas Jonathan Jackson? Stonewall. Richard Starkey? Ringo. I kind of sort of had one of those moments this week while walking on West 11th Street across from the Travis County Courthouse. Bold letters on the bright and brand new, seven-story building there identifies it...
Commentary: When the Endangered Species Act arrived, species revived

Commentary: When the Endangered Species Act arrived, species revived

When humans arrived, species died. Homo sapiens in our geologically recent dispersal out of Africa have left paths of destruction across the planet, the one place in the universe we actually know life exists. Now, the Trump administration wants to roll back the Endangered Species Act (ESA), one of the cornerstones for the protection of this living planet. But we seem little concerned through the ever-deafening...
Editorial: Take time to vet Kavanaugh allegation, run proper hearing

Editorial: Take time to vet Kavanaugh allegation, run proper hearing

The stakes couldn’t be higher. The next justice to be sworn onto the U.S. Supreme Court will likely serve for decades, providing a pivotal fifth vote on a nine-member court that has been narrowly divided on critical issues. The Affordable Care Act. Marriage equality. Protections for immigrants and visitors from Muslim-majority countries. Regulations of guns, abortion, campaign dollars and free...
Letters to the editor: Sept. 20, 2018

Letters to the editor: Sept. 20, 2018

Re: Sept. 16 commentary, “Both-sideism presents more than journalistic problem.” Leonard Pitts raises an important structural issue in journalism related to fairness. Some would have us believe that ethical and moral considerations exist as mathematical equations. This inevitably leads to false equivalencies in which cultural values are treated as numbers. One Klansman or conspiracy theorist...
Young: If Pence will take a polygraph test, let’s ask these questions

Young: If Pence will take a polygraph test, let’s ask these questions

Mike Pence has offered to take a polygraph. Quick. Rush a device to his side. No – there’s no chance whatsoever he’s the senior official who wrote the anonymous New York Times commentary that branded his boss petty, amoral and consistently acting in ways “detrimental to the health of this republic.” Why do we know the author in The Times isn’t Pence? That&rsquo...
Commentary: Big brother’s assault on the Texas startup community

Commentary: Big brother’s assault on the Texas startup community

Will the U.S. Congress succeed at using government force to put a damper on the Texas startup community? Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Roger Williams (R-Texas), believe that Texas may soon overtake California as the Startup Capital of the World because, as Fox Business summarized, “entrepreneurs are ditching Silicon Valley and heading south to Texas instead to launch their startups.” And...
Commentary: Quality child care yields many benefits

Commentary: Quality child care yields many benefits

OK, let me clear up a semantic issue: A lot of people interchange “day care” with “child care.” My daughter has spent almost three decades in child care management. Years ago, she admonished me when I innocently used the term “day care.” “Daddy, our industry takes care of children, not days of the week.” Now, let’s get serious and address the benefits...
INSIGHT: Immigration is about lineage, not lines on a map

INSIGHT: Immigration is about lineage, not lines on a map

A group of mostly strangers gathered in a soggy cemetery on Sunday, stood around the grave of a Mexico-born man they never met and celebrated a significant moment: his citizenship. Not his U.S. citizenship. His Republic of Texas citizenship. If that gives you pause, that’s OK. If there is one issue that should force us to stop accepting simplistic, easy-to-debate narratives, it is immigration...
Letters to the editor: Sept. 18, 2018

Letters to the editor: Sept. 18, 2018

Re: Sept. 9 article, “’Broken’ economics impacts preschool workers, child care sector.” Sally Ho astutely recognizes Seattle families’ struggle to find affordable, high-quality care for their young children. I believe it’s important to note that Austin isn’t immune from the preschool workforce challenges that Seattle grapples with. In Austin, more than 60...

Commentary: What Austin ISD is doing to close its budget deficit

Public education is a bedrock of American life, enshrined as a right of all Texans by the Texas Constitution. Keeping public education healthy requires vigilance, especially when state public education funding is broken. Making this even more challenging is that the Austin Independent School District is struggling with a large and unsustainable structural budget deficit. The district and the newly...
Facebook comments: Sept. 16, 2018

Facebook comments: Sept. 16, 2018

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Elizabeth Findell, Austin city leaders approved a $4.1 billion budget — the city’s largest. It passed with a 10-1 vote Tuesday, with Council Member Ellen Troxclair opposing. It sets a tax rate of 44.03 cents per $100 of property value, making the city’s portion of the tax bill roughly $1,317 for a median value home, worth $332,366. That&rsquo...
Herman: Way north of the border, a solution for color-blind drivers

Herman: Way north of the border, a solution for color-blind drivers

Done properly, life is one long quest. It is left to each of us to define the quest. For some, it is inner peace. For others, it is world peace. For yet others, it’s the perfect piece of pie. For me, it is a quest for a place where accommodations are made for those of us inflicted with the only disability it’s still OK to laugh about. I am color blind. More precisely, I’ve been told...
Opinion: I lost my infant to a drunk driver. A change could save lives

Opinion: I lost my infant to a drunk driver. A change could save lives

Sept. 12 marks two years since the funeral of my 15-month-old son, Liam. He had been in a stroller, being pushed through a pedestrian crosswalk in suburban Los Angeles by my sister-in-law, who was 15 years old at the time. She had done everything right: pressed the button, waited for the lights to change and then started walking. Other cars stopped, but one didn’t. Police later estimated that...
Editorial: Lawsuit to kill Obamacare would hurt many Texans, too

Editorial: Lawsuit to kill Obamacare would hurt many Texans, too

It’s no secret Attorney General Ken Paxton opposes the federal health care law. But his animus toward the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, runs so deep that he is now leading a stampede of Republican state attorneys general over a cliff to attack the most vital pieces of the law — recklessly disregarding the health consequences for Texans and the political...
Facebook comments: Sept. 15, 2018

Facebook comments: Sept. 15, 2018

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Shonda Novak and Michael Barnes, Threadgill’s World Headquarters will close its location at 301 W. Riverside Drive after Thanksgiving, said owner Eddie Wilson. Wilson said property tax increases were the cause for closing the landmark Austin restaurant, but that the original Threadgill’s location on North Lamar Boulevard will remain open. LaRon...
Commentary: Show us the money; let us see how tax dollars are spent

Commentary: Show us the money; let us see how tax dollars are spent

It’s quite simple, really. We Texans have a right to know how our taxpayer dollars are spent. It’s our money. We, the people, choose our government. Our elected public officials represent us. They manage and spend our tax money. But we, the people, get to decide whether they are doing it well. To do that, we need light shining on the workings of our government. But that essential element...
Letters to the editor: Sept. 14, 2018

Letters to the editor: Sept. 14, 2018

Re: Sept. 9 article, “PolitiFact: How Cruz’s ad distorts what O’Rourke said about protests” and Sept. 12 letter to the letter, “Cruz, his ethics, have no place in U.S. Senate.” Even after President Trump attacked Ted Cruz’s family during the Republican primaries, Cruz has said he’d “welcome” support from President Trump for his campaign....
Commentary: All of us have a natural tendency to become rigid

Commentary: All of us have a natural tendency to become rigid

Political scientists and those who study political communication have long observed that one of the oddities of human behavior is that people often vote and behave in ways that contradict their own interests. One of the most recent and vivid examples of this is the proclivity of a large percentage of evangelicals to support a president whose words and deeds violate some of the most basic ethical tenets...
Young: This tops the list of the worst things President Trump has done

Young: This tops the list of the worst things President Trump has done

The curly-haired tot bows his back and looks away, as if to attempt an escape. The woman, attempting a hug, quickly grows agitated. “I am your mommy, papi,” she says in Spanish. He squirms to get away. “What is wrong with my son?” she sobs in a heartbreaking video shared by the American Civil Liberties Union. He doesn’t recognize her. They’ve been separated for...
Grumet: Marijuana made it look easy, but court diversions can be hard

Grumet: Marijuana made it look easy, but court diversions can be hard

Travis County Attorney David Escamilla jokes that maybe he shouldn’t have started with the marijuana diversion program. “It was so easy, it just gave me high hopes that we’d be able to cookie-cutter everything else,” he told me with a chuckle this summer. In a county continually working to keep low-level offenders from getting mired in the costly cycle of fines and multiple...
Commentary: Time for the State Board of Education to teach the truth

Commentary: Time for the State Board of Education to teach the truth

Before kickoff in the Super Bowl, the first pitch in the World Series, and tipoff of the NBA Championship Finals, both teams have already pre-printed T-shirts proclaiming themselves as world champions. When the games are over, the losers’ shirts are sent overseas to impoverished countries, which explains why children across the world grow up thinking that the Buffalo Bills won four straight...
TWO VIEWS: Let’s take a closer look at Trump’s modernized NAFTA plan

TWO VIEWS: Let’s take a closer look at Trump’s modernized NAFTA plan

Stocks are soaring, and consumer confidence is higher than it’s been in 18 years, thanks in part to the Trump administration’s aggressive renegotiation of outdated U.S. trade deals. Its latest push to modernize NAFTA has been particularly well-received by the market. In response to an announcement that the U.S. and Mexico had reached a preliminary bilateral trade deal, both the S&P 500...
TWO VIEWS: Remember Trump University? On the president and NAFTA

TWO VIEWS: Remember Trump University? On the president and NAFTA

What are we to make of President Trump’s proposed changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement? Not much. It’s best to remember that each Trump policy and initiative is just another Trump University — that is, a con that will leave America less well off than it would be if Trump did nothing at all. You remember Trump University, right? It was in the news a while back, but it...
Herman: It’d be much simpler if we just brought back Prohibition

Herman: It’d be much simpler if we just brought back Prohibition

The good people (and the other ones) of Round Rock have a big ol’ ballot-box decision to make on Nov. 6. It involves a little something I pejoratively refer to as “the alkyhol.” In the next installment of a time-honored, yet bizarre, Texas tradition, Round Rockers (Round Rockians? Round Rockites?) will be holding a local option election on whether to allow the citywide sale of mixed...
Commentary: Why Texas is still the ‘prison rape capital of the world’

Commentary: Why Texas is still the ‘prison rape capital of the world’

Fifteen years ago, President George Bush signed the Prison Rape Elimination Act to address the epidemic of prison rape in our country’s prisons and jails. The same year PREA passed, Passion Star was 19 years old and identified as LGBT. Star was sentenced to 20 years in the Texas prison system and knew nothing about PREA at the time. But Star would quickly become intimately familiar with this...
Phillips: Council Member asks why no black groups got Bloomberg grants

Phillips: Council Member asks why no black groups got Bloomberg grants

Austin City Council Member Ora Houston has a question for Bloomberg Philanthropies: Why weren’t any of the 26 nonprofit arts organizations that received sizable Bloomberg grants affiliated with African Americans or African American culture? It’s a question she is putting in writing to Bloomberg Philanthropies, noting that Austin has several black arts nonprofits that seem to fit the public...
Herman: The GOP has selected me to represent my U.S. House district

Herman: The GOP has selected me to represent my U.S. House district

Once again, as our beloved nation charts its path through perilous times, I am chosen. It says so right there in the materials in the envelope marked, “Do Not Destroy. Official Document. Final Notice.” Gulp. Inside, in a letter penned on “Wednesday Morning,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was clear, if not concise, in pinpointing the task now facing...
Commentary: How Kavanaugh could undermine diversity at U.S. colleges

Commentary: How Kavanaugh could undermine diversity at U.S. colleges

The Supreme Court’s longstanding position has been that colleges and universities have a compelling interest in diversity and may consider race among many factors when assessing qualified students for admission. But, if Brett Kavanaugh is appointed, that position could change and would probably signal a return to pre-Civil Rights era, race-neutral admissions policies. This is not what America...
Herman: Is it possible some Texans will vote for Beto and Abbott?

Herman: Is it possible some Texans will vote for Beto and Abbott?

General election campaign season is here. And that generally means a bumper crop of bumper stickers and yard signs. But here’s one you probably won’t see: “Beto and Abbott in ’18.” What kind of politically twisted, tortured soul would vote for GOP Gov. Greg Abbott’s re-election and Democrat Beto O’Rourke’s bid to unseat GOP U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz? You vote...
Commentary: Why libraries should start public talks on 3D-printed guns

Commentary: Why libraries should start public talks on 3D-printed guns

As technology continues to play a more significant role in our daily lives, what role does the academic library play? Although libraries provide critical and meaningful educational opportunities, they can also educate people about the ways in which technology can be used for illicit purposes, such as printing guns that are then circulated in underground markets. The use of 3D printers for the creation...
Commentary: How Texas shames teens who seek an abortion

Commentary: How Texas shames teens who seek an abortion

Do you remember what it was like to be a teenager? Dreading being called on to read out loud in class, hoping you wouldn’t mess up? The intense fear of being humiliated in front of your peers – like in those dreams where you go to school naked? Some of those common adolescent fears — and worse — come true for adolescents seeking abortion in Texas. Teens are humiliated in court...
Commentary: Quality of U.S. health care drops as the cost of it rises

Commentary: Quality of U.S. health care drops as the cost of it rises

I thoroughly agree with the Cal Thomas’ opinion piece on U.S. health care printed in the Aug. 28 edition of the Statesman. This is a huge multifactorial problem affecting the entire country. There are a few points that should be emphasized on this matter. The down fall of this country’s health care began in 1973, when the first malpractice crisis took place. The insurance companies...
Young: Being like Trump is no formula for victory this fall

Young: Being like Trump is no formula for victory this fall

Let’s acknowledge that Sen. Ted Cruz got something right once upon a time. It happened in 2016 — when he called then-presidential candidate Donald Trump a “pathological liar” and a “sniveling coward.” Now? Cruz will hug him tightly to his chest in a few weeks when Trump comes to Texas in a bid to save Cruz’s Senate seat. This should be fun. The sniveling....
Letters to the editor: Sept. 4, 2018

Letters to the editor: Sept. 4, 2018

Re: Aug. 30 article, “Feds target border-area passport seekers.” We have recently learned that the Trump administration has been revoking passports from citizens of the United States based solely on where they were born. Every American who supports our ideals of civil liberties and equal justice for all should be outraged by this revelation. Our representatives must investigate this abhorrent...

Commentary: The climate crisis will not be solved by technology alone

A mourning orca whale recently carried the body of her calf for 17 days after its death — an extended funeral procession brought on by the stress of human encroachment, warming ocean temperatures and a dwindling food supply. In a way, it’s easy to imagine that the natural world is staging its own wake. Wild fires raging from California to Greece don’t help assuage the despair. Nor...
Herman: What Amtrak passengers see when the train stops in Austin

Herman: What Amtrak passengers see when the train stops in Austin

Reader Don Ugent has a question. More precisely, Peggy, his wife, has a question. Being a helpful husband, Don decided to do the research to find an answer for his wife’s question. In this case, research meant emailing the question to me in my vaunted role as the CEO/CFO, president and sole staffer at a little something I like to call “What Is It?” Ugent’s request came with...

Letters to the editor: Sept. 2, 2018

Republicans in Congress failed repeatedly to repeal the Affordable Care Act because, surprisingly, people like having health care. On Sept. 5, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will try to end it for good. Rather than defend protections for Texans who have pre-existing conditions, Paxton and 19 other states have filed a lawsuit that could hammer nails into our coffins. Twenty-seven percent under the...
Letters to the editor: Sept. 1. 2018

Letters to the editor: Sept. 1. 2018

Re: Aug. 28 article, “We asked Longhorns what new UT Austin students should know before school starts. Here’s what they said.” Maribel Molina had a lot of good advice. However, one idea that could have been suggested was the enormous support that student groups at area churches provide. Our church, University Presbyterian Church, on San Antonio Street, is just one that feeds, encourages...
Commentary: Why Americans should discuss immigration on Labor Day

Commentary: Why Americans should discuss immigration on Labor Day

Most people these days are unaware of the role of immigrant workers in the origin of Labor Day. Americans see Labor Day as the-end-of-summer holiday finale and know little about its bloody beginning 132 years ago. Labor Day grew out of the demand in the late 1800s for an 8-hour workday; 60-hour workweeks were common then. The labor movement targeted May 1, 1886, as the date for compliance by industry...
Commentary: More guns in the classroom is not good policy

Commentary: More guns in the classroom is not good policy

The national debate on school safety continues. Some groups are calling to arm teachers, while others are asking for significant investment into school security. President Donald Trump has called for arming teachers to harden campuses and most recently, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos began considering allowing schools to use federal money to purchase weapons. Political agendas focused on arming...
Opinion: Impeachment is just a liberal fantasy

Opinion: Impeachment is just a liberal fantasy

Michael Cohen’s decision to plead guilty for making hush-money payments on Donald Trump’s behalf has raised the prospect that if Democrats take control of Congress, they might try to impeach the president over a matter completely unrelated to a perceived criminal conspiracy with Russia. Good luck with that: Even if Democrats win back both the House and Senate, there is zero chance a two-thirds...
Commentary: Lawsuit could be devastating for affordable health care

Commentary: Lawsuit could be devastating for affordable health care

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas will soon decide a case brought by 20 Republican attorneys general that seeks to undo the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA). If successful, the case would cause more damage than the “repeal and replace” bills that galvanized Americans’ attention last year. Invalidating the ACA would eliminate the law’s pre-existing condition...
Commentary: The John McCain I knew was an inspiration and mentor

Commentary: The John McCain I knew was an inspiration and mentor

John McCain believed that “the best thing that can ever be said of anyone is that they served a cause greater than their self-interest.” In my mind, John – a true American hero – more than deserves such praise. Our nation’s loss will leave a void that we need to fill, but his 60-year legacy of selfless service to our nation will echo for generations. His father and grandfather...
Commentary: The president who would bring back the Sedition Act

Commentary: The president who would bring back the Sedition Act

The president of the United States calls the press “the enemy of the people.” Does he also have a problem with freedom of speech? In a recent tweet, President Donald Trump complained that if you google “Trump news,” you see “only the viewing/reporting of Fake News Media.” That means that “they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news...
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