Letters to the editor: Dec. 29, 2017

    Dec 28, 2017

Now that Christmas is behind us, we are all hoping that you folks who made decorating a tree on Loop 360 and other roads a family holiday tradition will start another family holiday tradition: removing the decorations. Think of the great civics lesson you’ll be giving the kids.

If you don’t, that teaches the kids another less uplifting lesson: polluting.

RICHARD HARTGROVE, AUSTIN

Re: Dec. 26 letter to the editor, “Democrat extremism won’t get us to dialogue.

The letter writer makes a good point about how extremism impedes dialogue on issues of national importance. However, he seems to ignore the fact that extremism exists on both sides of our political parties.

While singling out Democrats, he conveniently leaves out the extremism voiced by the president’s supporters like Steve Bannon. Even the president has expressed his own extreme views on social issues such as minority rights and immigration.

I believe that our nation has become divided because extremism on the left and on the right, have drowned out reasonable discourse. State Rep. Joe Strauss from San Antonio is a perfect example of a legislator being attacked by his own party for his moderate views. Our legislators are so beholding to big donors that they do not dare put the national interest in front of the interest of their handlers.

I ask the writer, does extremism exist in the Republican Party?

GILBERTO MENDOZA, AUSTIN

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus — but it is not the new tax reform bill. Although President Trump called it a “gift,” he is not Santa Claus.

What remains true is our greatest gifts are things we cannot always see: It is the love and caring for each other, neighbors helping neighbors, people reaching out to those they do not know in need; it is friends and family or secret Santas; it is a hug from a granddaughter or a best friend. Yes, Virginia, believe in the things that you cannot see.

To paraphrase another timely sage, the Grinch: What if Santa Claus means a little bit more?

Happy New Year!

GEORGIA CORIN, AUSTIN

Re: Dec. 26 Texas Digest item, “Officials: Mom admits suffocating her baby.”

Once again, an infant has died at the hands of a parent. There are women everywhere who cannot afford, are not ready, or otherwise do not want a pregnancy. Many of these women are unmarried. Generally, the fathers appear to be absent.

I do not understand why this country is strongly against woman making a choice to avoid pregnancy. Having sex is natural. We seem to evolve as humans knowing how to have sex. Yet, our schools refuse to teach our youth how to avoid pregnancy. Our country refuses to make birth control free and easily available to women who choose not to conceive, because the so-called “pro-lifers” are strongly against it. They glorify childbirth regardless of circumstances. It is an illogical choice.

We must teach our children how not to conceive. As a country, we must help make that possible with free birth control and the proper public education.

LEIGH VAN KIRK, AUSTIN

Writing in the rhetoric, Aristotle suggested that there are always the available means of persuasion.

Putting aside my own partisan beliefs and engaging as a more detached rhetorical critic, Donald Trump will be able to put forward a potentially persuasive case that he not only salvaged his first year as president but that it was a success: historic tax legislation passed, repeal of the Affordable Care Act individual mandate, a conservative judge placed on the Supreme Court, record numbers of conservative judges approved for the federal judiciary, Islamic State defeats, repeal of many government regulations, a soaring stock market, low unemployment.

Whether this case resonates with most Americans and whether this record offsets the Russia investigation, the crumbling support for and confidence in America by foreign leaders, the deliberate undermining of government institutions, Trump’s persistent lying and his racist behavior is another question. The 2018 elections will tell the story.

RICHARD CHERWITZ, AUSTIN

High carbon dioxide-emitting coal fired power plants have been closing at a rapid pace these days. This is excellent news and long overdue.

The reason for this has nothing to do with environmentalism and everything to do with the fact that producing power from renewable energy is now cheaper than producing it in coal plants. And if the true cost of energy production were taken into effect — the impact on air quality, our health, global warming, ecological damage, economic impact, etc. — renewable energy would be significantly cheaper than all other sources of energy we currently use. We must take the renewables path at an even more accelerated pace in order to keep our planet healthy and livable.

Kudos to the Austin City Council and government officials for pushing towards this goal.

MARK WARREN, AUSTIN

Austin has made a commitment to reduce our emissions of climate-changing gasses and to help demonstrate to the world that climate-cooling technologies are cheaper. The Austin City Council recently signed off on a deal to buy solar at 2.1 cents per kilowatt hour — a price so low that it’s now cheaper than electricity produced by natural gas. In 2015, the council approved a plan to buy 600 megawatts of solar by 2019.

The council approved an initial purchase of 450 megawatts. Austin’s leadership showed solar is so cheap that other Texas utilities are now building massive solar plants, too.

TOM “SMITTY” SMITH, AUSTIN