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Opinion


Herman: Straus and Patrick and irreconcilable differences

Yeah, we kind of knew this political marriage — arranged by the voters of Texas — was destined for trouble. And Friday night, in escalating from what had been mostly behind-closed-doors unpleasantness, it seemed to heat up from possibly reconcilable differences to probably irreconcilable differences. As in some relationships, the flashpoint was bathrooms, though not the usual problems...


Opinion: Stroke awareness month shows need for lifesaving health care

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. It was elevated for recognition by former President George H.W. Bush for a significant reason. A stroke occurs in the United States approximately once every forty seconds and remains the leading cause of long-term disability that Americans face. Consequently, almost everyone has a connection to someone who has had a stroke, whether it be a friend or family member...
Commentary: How TxDOT continues the wrong approach to Texas 45 SW

Commentary: How TxDOT continues the wrong approach to Texas 45 SW

For over 35 years, Save Barton Creek Association has worked to protect Barton Creek and Austin’s crown jewel, Barton Springs. One of the gravest threats we see to this iconic natural resource is the construction of Texas 45 Southwest. Part of Texas 45 SW is to be built through land critical to the springs’ flow. Over the years, the Texas Department of Transportation has attempted to avoid...
Legislature endangers all Texas children with ‘bathroom bill’ myopia

Legislature endangers all Texas children with ‘bathroom bill’ myopia

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Republicans would have us believe that few issues require the immediate attention of state lawmakers more than regulating which bathrooms transgender Texans can use. Such urgency for a manufactured problem conjured by Republicans has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with mandating the type of bathrooms transgender Texans, including students, can use in...
Facebook comments: May 28, 2017

Facebook comments: May 28, 2017

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Amanda O’Donnell, Business Insider recently published a list that dubbed the Alamo Texas’ “worst tourist trap.” “Remember the Alamo? More like, spend a day at the Alamo and you’ll remember to never go back,” the list says of the landmark. Business Insider identified a landmark in each state, like Graceland in Tennessee...
Commentary: Why Austin needs ‘missing middle’ housing for affordability

Commentary: Why Austin needs ‘missing middle’ housing for affordability

For those of us who care about housing affordability, it is a rare and welcome occasion when a large American city updates its zoning practices. A handful of other cities, such as Denver and Miami, have recently taken the plunge — and in the process expanded the possibilities for reasonably priced housing to be built. Now, with the release of the CodeNEXT draft, it could be Austin’s turn...
Abbott: How SB 7 protects students from predators in the classroom

Abbott: How SB 7 protects students from predators in the classroom

Our schools should be safe places for our children and youth to learn and advance. The toughest challenges they face should be solving math problems and choosing a career and college path. With Senate Bill 7 now signed into law in Texas, we have taken much-needed steps to forever bar from our classrooms any teacher who would prey on our students and to penalize administrators who turn a blind eye...
Herman: Prayer that Texas lawmakers ‘rot and be blown away’ too much?

Herman: Prayer that Texas lawmakers ‘rot and be blown away’ too much?

While we’re waiting to see what the Legislature does about bathroom and locker room usage by our transgender neighbors, you might want to know that God has been asked to train his considerable wrath upon those who oppose the so-called bathroom bill. But first, our word of the day: imprecatory. It’s new to me. I like learning new words. Looks like this one means “to invoke or call...
Commentary: What U.S. businesses should know before using Alibaba

Commentary: What U.S. businesses should know before using Alibaba

When Jack Ma, executive chairman of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, met with President Donald Trump, he made a promise: The online sales platform would give 1 million U.S. small businesses entrée to the Chinese market. Ma also said that this effort would create 1 million new U.S. jobs. He is even planning a conference in June to teach U.S. businesses how to sell to the company&rsquo...
Herman: For Texas lawmakers, the end is nigh

Herman: For Texas lawmakers, the end is nigh

The end is near. We can tell because lobbyists with pending legislation and nagging clients have been clogging the entry to the state House and lawmakers have been tweeting their souls. “It’s that time in session when you start thinking about jumping,” Rep. Drew Springer, R-Muenster, said in a closing-days tweet of an outdoor photo showing him perilously perched, legs hanging over...
Commentary: Why we sued to stop SB4, the “show me your papers” law

Commentary: Why we sued to stop SB4, the “show me your papers” law

Our great state is home to millions of immigrants from across the world. Every one of them deserves to live free of harassment and discrimination — and with human dignity. However, our vision of a multicultural, thriving Texas is under threat with perhaps the most discriminatory piece of anti-immigrant legislation in the United States: the “show me your papers” law, Senate Bill 4...
Commentary: How SB 4, not fearmongering, will make Texas safer

Commentary: How SB 4, not fearmongering, will make Texas safer

As law enforcement officers and elected officials, it is our sworn duty to protect and serve our communities and uphold and enforce the laws of our country and great state. We take that responsibility seriously. It is a high calling. We feel compelled to speak out about Senate Bill 4, which bans “sanctuary cities” and was signed into law by the governor to decrease fear and uncertainty...
Herman: Late-night deadlines and legislative shenanigans

Herman: Late-night deadlines and legislative shenanigans

There’s nothing like good, thoughtful legislating, and it’s quite possible what went on Tuesday night and very early Wednesday morning and through 2:30 a.m. Thursday at Your State Capitol was nothing like good, thoughtful lawmaking. The House worked a long Tuesday toward a midnight drop-dead deadline for action on Senate bills. From here on in, it takes a bit of legislative creativity...
Commentary: How we quickly forget the brutality of terrorist attacks

Commentary: How we quickly forget the brutality of terrorist attacks

For now, everyone knows the sonorous name and cherubic face of 8-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos. She’s the littlest known victim of Monday night’s jihad attack in Manchester, England. Her doe-eyed image spread as rapidly across social media as the #PrayForManchester hashtags and Twitter condolences from celebrities. But I guarantee you that beautiful Saffie Rose will evaporate from the memories...
Herman: GOP, in charge for now, faces perilous future

Herman: GOP, in charge for now, faces perilous future

Not long ago I had the eye-opening opportunity to hear a presentation here in Austin from Robert P. Jones, the CEO of the Washington-based Public Religion Research Institute and author of a 2016 book about something about which we’re all familiar. Yes, it’s hard to offer something eye-opening about something about which we’re all familiar. But Jones, in words and numbers, makes a...
Letters to the Editor: May 24, 2017

Letters to the Editor: May 24, 2017

Re: May 5 commentary, “Why Cinco de Mayo has new meaning in today’s America.” Good commentary from Morán González on Mexican-Americans’ resolve to fight against racial discrimination in Texas. He mentioned the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and said that the group’s U.S. citizenship requirement was a “missed opportunity” against...
Commentary: Don’t write off coal

Commentary: Don’t write off coal

Conventional wisdom has it that the U.S. coal industry peaked a decade ago and is in a state of permanent decline. Recent data would seem to bear this out. Domestic coal production has dropped from 1.2 billion short tons in 2008 to 739 million last year while employment in coal mining, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has fallen from nearly 180,000 in 1986 to only 50,000 coal miners today...
Commentary: New patient information sharing system will save lives

Commentary: New patient information sharing system will save lives

Ten years ago, Thomas Tierney almost died after taking a drug for his neurological condition. A doctor noted the near-fatal reaction in Tom’s medical chart, which went into the office’s file cabinet. A year later, Tom went into the hospital after a fall. A different physician noted his neurological condition and prescribed the drug from the year before. Tom had another reaction &mdash...
Commentary: The Republicans who took on Richard Nixon

Commentary: The Republicans who took on Richard Nixon

“Well, he better start fighting for me or he’s gonna be out! I want him to do right, but he must not cut the president!” That was Richard Nixon, caught on tape shouting about his attorney general, Elliot Richardson, who had just insisted on his independence during the Watergate investigation. Nixon’s ire was prescient — Richardson would, indeed, go on to “cut the...
David Brooks: The alienated mind

David Brooks: The alienated mind

The campaign of 2016 was an education in the deep problems facing the country. Angry voters made a few things abundantly clear: that modern democratic capitalism is not working for them; that basic institutions like the family and communities are falling apart; that we have a college educated elite that has found ingenious ways to make everybody else feel invisible, that has managed to transfer wealth...
Letters to the editor: May 23, 2017

Letters to the editor: May 23, 2017

Re: May 17 article, “How to store spices and herbs in a hot Texas summer.” I’m compelled to comment on the article by Shefaly Ravula, which perpetuates misconceptions and stereotypes. No, all Indians do not keep their homes at 79 degrees. No, we do not lower the temp only when the “American” friends come over. No, we aren’t spoiled by a “lower room temperature...
Commentary: Texas should follow New Mexico’s plan to end ‘lunch shaming’

Commentary: Texas should follow New Mexico’s plan to end ‘lunch shaming’

The lunchroom is an aspect of school that some remember fondly — a place for friendships to be formed, dates to be asked or potential food fights to be averted. For many others, the lunchroom experience is one of shame, humiliation and — at best — a cold cheese sandwich. When a child can’t pay a school lunch bill, the school will hold the child publicly accountable, meaning...
Herman: Separate but equal has its day in Texas House

Herman: Separate but equal has its day in Texas House

The caption — that language at the top of a bill that says what it’s about — says Senate Bill 2078 is “relating to the duties of (school officials) regarding multihazard emergency operations plans and other school safety measures.” When the bill came up in the Texas House, there was talk about various kinds of school emergencies. Columbine was mentioned. And, after a...
John Young: ‘Deep Throats’ lined up for a city block

John Young: ‘Deep Throats’ lined up for a city block

Newly elevated, helium-inflated, a president for a bare blink of an eye, Donald Trump chose as one of his first presidential acts a declaration of war on the press. So, how’s that going? Trump called reporters “the enemies of the people.” Henchman Steve Bannon called the media “the opposition party.” Interesting claim from one who made his name with the saliva machine...
Hunter: How Donald Trump’s supporters are just like Hillary Clinton’s

Hunter: How Donald Trump’s supporters are just like Hillary Clinton’s

Last year I wrote, “There is one of two ways we can look at our elected officials, particularly those occupying or vying for the highest office in the land: That they are somehow above the law, as President Richard Nixon famously once said—‘If the president does it, that means it’s not illegal,’ or we can expect that all Americans be subject to the same laws no matter...
Commentary: How Jimmy LaFave gave us the gift of love

Commentary: How Jimmy LaFave gave us the gift of love

The devotion of Jimmy LaFave to his own music — to the songs, thoughts and life of Woody Guthrie and to the creative talents of so many other truthful singers — was celebrated at the Songwriter Rendezvous at the Paramount Theater on Thursday. Over three hours of music — all chosen by Jimmy — washed in love those of us at the Paramount and taking in live streaming. If you closed...
Charles M. Blow: Blood in the water

Charles M. Blow: Blood in the water

Donald Trump has left the country for his first foreign trip as president and what he has left behind is a brewing crisis that appears to deepen by the day, and even the hour. There is a sense that blood is in the water, that Trump’s erratic, self-destructive behavior, aversion to honesty and authoritarian desire for absolute control may in some way, at some point, lead to his undoing and that...
E.J. Dionne Jr.: Can the pope save Trump?

E.J. Dionne Jr.: Can the pope save Trump?

WASHINGTON — If anyone ever needed a conversion experience — and fast — it is President Trump. The issue here is not switching religions. What he could use is an honest examination of his conscience, his attitude toward himself and others, and his approach to what it means to be a leader. Even to suggest such a possibility seems absurd, more an inspiration for a “Saturday Night...
Herman: Hypocrisy and sincerely held religious beliefs

Herman: Hypocrisy and sincerely held religious beliefs

Texas House Democrats won the debate but lost the battle in a virtuoso effort that exposed Republicans’ hypocrisy in proffering their oft-made religious liberty arguments. So complete was the Democrats’ effort that the Republicans retreated in silence, unable or unwilling to offer anything resembling a semi-cogent argument. On this day the Repubs, God bless them, were made to look like...
Commentary: Texas Legislature votes to restrict policyholders’ rights

Commentary: Texas Legislature votes to restrict policyholders’ rights

Texas lawmakers are on the fast track to restrict policyholders’ rights when their insurance companies fail to pay property insurance claims arising out of weather events, such as storms involving heavy winds and hail. Now that the Texas Senate has approved House Bill 1774, Gov. Greg Abbott is almost sure to sign it. Unfortunately, this will unleash unexpected and unpleasant surprises for Texas...
New hospital promising; leaders now must avoid another two-tier system

New hospital promising; leaders now must avoid another two-tier system

Welcome, Austin’s newest hospital, Dell Seton Medical Center at the University of Texas. The hospital, which opens today, is the result of years of planning, generous donations and a 2012 proposition approved by voters that steered $54 million in property taxes to health care projects, including $35 million for a medical school. That proposition was delivered on a promise that Central Health...
Letters to the editor: May 22, 2017

Letters to the editor: May 22, 2017

Re: May 18 article, “Dan Patrick issues bathroom bill, property tax ultimatum to House.” If Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick forces a special session or sessions just to get his way on certain pieces of legislation that do not have bipartisan support, I think he should be forced to pay the expense of that out of his officeholder account or his own pockets. The waste of taxpayer money, not to mention...
Castillo: A new giving network answers why Latinos need a hand

Castillo: A new giving network answers why Latinos need a hand

The life of a nonprofit worker can be wrapped up in selfless and meaningful pursuits, such as helping people who need a hand and doing work for the good of the community. But doing good deeds depends on another kind of consuming pursuit: raising money for the mission. Just ask Teresa Granillo, who heads up Con Mi Madre, a local nonprofit that’s achieved remarkable results helping young Latinas...
Commentary: How I’m still alive to talk about surviving cancer

Commentary: How I’m still alive to talk about surviving cancer

The most astounding part of my cancer story might be that I’m still alive to tell it. For nearly 10 years, doctors misdiagnosed my persistent jaw pain and trismus as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or TMJ. Nerve damage to the side of my face was deemed a pinched nerve. Sadly, I believed the doctors and learned to live with the pain. That is, until I woke up one evening with such excruciating...
Commentary: Why border adjustment tax is a bad idea that just won’t die

Commentary: Why border adjustment tax is a bad idea that just won’t die

The world is a much different place than it was 30 years ago — the last time our tax code received a major overhaul. The United States is facing stiff competition from other nations in an increasingly global marketplace, where our comparative advantage is significantly diminished by the highest corporate tax rates in the developed world. Bringing our tax rates in line with worldwide norms &mdash...
Letters to the editor: May 20, 2017

Letters to the editor: May 20, 2017

Re: May 13 commentary, “A sacred bond: the unconditional love between a dog and his person.” Every day I read three news sources: the Austin American-Statesman, the New York Times and the Bible. All of these sources are filled with stories of lies, partisanship, quarreling and violence — including the Bible. Today the Good News was not from the Bible, but from Judy Knotts, a frequent...
Austin school district voters need choices for bonds, not an ultimatum

Austin school district voters need choices for bonds, not an ultimatum

We urge Austin school district trustees to craft a bond package that is transparent, efficient and equitable and avoid waging an all-or-nothing gamble that might backfire with voters and leave schools — some in deep disrepair — in the lurch. Unfortunately, some school leaders seem headed in that direction by leaning toward a bond package on the Nov. 7 ballot that would offer voters a single...
Facebook comments: May 21, 2017

Facebook comments: May 21, 2017

As reported by the American-Statesman’s Ben Wear and Katie Hall, a bill that would take ride-hailing service regulations statewide got final approval in the Texas Senate. The bill would override the state’s 20 or so municipal ride-hailing ordinances, and pave the way for Uber and Lyft to resume operations. In response to the development, the CEO of RideAustin said that if the company gives...
Herman: Lawmakers in Texas House attempt to tackle sin

Herman: Lawmakers in Texas House attempt to tackle sin

The Texas House is a 150-member chamber of sinners. We know this because it’s a 150-member chamber of humans and, we’re told, to be human is to be a sinner. Still in all, it’s a moment of note when one member, during floor debate, declares another member’s sexual orientation a sin. The topic came up during House debate of the State Bar reauthorization bill, a measure needed...
Two Views: What Comey’s dismissal says about democracy in America

Two Views: What Comey’s dismissal says about democracy in America

Recent American history seems like a series of more-or-less, pro-democracy interludes between authoritarian crack-ups. Affaire de Trump is just the latest — and most dangerous — of the wrecks. There was the Joe McCarthy 1950s (sorry, President Eisenhower, the era doesn’t belong to you). Then there were the Civil Rights, environmental, equal rights and health care victories of the...
Two Views: What investigators should be asking after Comey’s firing

Two Views: What investigators should be asking after Comey’s firing

The controversy surrounding President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is expanding. His decision set in motion a series of events that present the most serious threat to his presidency yet. For a moment, imagine where we would be had Trump not fired Comey? It doesn’t really matter now. The simple fact is that the White House has lost the ability to control where this...
Commentary: Why Baylor is overdue for a new board of regents

Commentary: Why Baylor is overdue for a new board of regents

This week, we learned of yet another Title IX suit filed against Baylor, marking the seventh and most recent suit against the university. The case alleges a 2012 gang rape perpetrated by members of the university’s football team against a Baylor volleyball player. Equally disturbing, the case alleges that a 21-second video recording of the rape was later circulated among football players. The...
Letters to the editor: May 19, 2017

Letters to the editor: May 19, 2017

Re: May 14 article, “Travis DA axes program that forced stiff penalties for downtown crime.” There was a time when folks came to visit — and a must-see experience was Sixth Street. Now, we will not take out-of-town guests there. Crime is the news despite of a fairly significant police presence. Side streets reek of urine. Unfortunate souls are everywhere. We remember a similar entertainment...
Public needs data to know if SB 4 increases racial profiling

Public needs data to know if SB 4 increases racial profiling

With the 2017 legislative session all but over, Texas police departments have begun the tough job of figuring out how to address one of the session’s most controversial laws: Senate Bill 4, aimed at eliminating so-called sanctuary cities and counties. Republican lawmakers passed the legislation over the objections of Democrats and police chiefs of major cities who said a certain provision of...
Letters to the editor: May 28, 2017

Letters to the editor: May 28, 2017

Re: May 20 commentary, “Austin school district voters need choices for bonds, not an ultimatum.” Since I am unsure the editors understand the lessons of the Round Rock Independent School District bond failure, here are do’s and don’ts, which may be helpful for the Austin Independent School District bond package. Do be inclusive if you are going to operate through an advisory...
Need a good book recommendation? Try these best-sellers

Need a good book recommendation? Try these best-sellers

NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLERS FICTION 1. ‘Into the Water,’ Paula Hawkins 2. ‘16th Seduction,’ James Patterson and Maxine Paetro 3. ‘Against All Odds,’ Danielle Steel 4. ‘The Fix,’ David Baldacci 5. ‘Golden Prey,’ John Sandford 6. ‘The Thirst,’ Jo Nesbo 7. ‘Since We Fell,’ Dennis Lehane 8. ‘Men Without Women,&rsquo...
Read about the rebirth of rock ‘n’ roll in New York

Read about the rebirth of rock ‘n’ roll in New York

Recommended reading “Meet Me in the Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock and Roll in New York City 2001-2011” by Lizzy Goodman (Dey Street). By the 1990s, indie rock in general (and major label rock even more so) seemed like a spent bullet. So imagine the thrill to be in New York City, one of the world’s most reliable cultural capitals, in the early 2000s when young rock bands (be they using...

Opinion: How to restore American self-reliance

WASHINGTON — When in the Senate chamber, Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican, sits by choice at the desk used by the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan. New York’s scholar-senator would have recognized that Sasse has published a book of political philosophy in the form of a guide to parenting. Moynihan understood that politics is downstream from culture, which flows through families. Sasse, a Yale...

Opinion: The futile act of pouring water on concrete

I call it pouring water on concrete. You make a splash, but nothing sinks in. That’s what it has felt like lately arguing via tweet and email with supporters of President Dumpster Fire who insist there is “no evidence” he did anything to merit the investigations and talk of impeachment he now faces. It is, of course, an astounding claim. Donald Trump stands accused not simply by...
Letters to the editor: May 27, 2017

Letters to the editor: May 27, 2017

Texas has passed House Bill 3859 — a bill protecting the religious rights for child welfare agencies. There are many articles discussing the discrimination at hand here, but what most are failing to recognize are the people who are truly going to lose. Are potential adoptive and foster parents going to be affected? Absolutely — but they have options. They can go to another state and adopt...

Krauthammer: Why Middle East peace starts in Saudi Arabia

“Whom the gods would destroy, they first tempt to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.” — Irving Kristol The quixotic American pursuit of Middle East peace is a perennial. It invariably fails, yet every administration feels compelled to give it a try. The Trump administration is no different. It will fail as well. To be sure, no great harm has, as yet, come from President Trump&rsquo...

Collins: Trump Can’t Add Things

We’re now getting a feel for what it was like to work in a business run by Donald Trump. His budget is out, and it predicts we will have super-duper, excellent, great — no, huge — economic growth based on monster tax cuts for the rich and cuts in spending that will leave the poor with no money to buy anything. It was produced in concert with that great health care bill, which the...
Letters to the editor: May 26, 2017

Letters to the editor: May 26, 2017

Re: May 18 article, “Dan Patrick issues bathroom bill, property tax ultimatum to House.” Dan Patrick wants to waste more taxpayer money on a special session? We were promised one priority for this session: school finance reform. Did we get it? No. Instead, we got the pee-pee police and an all-out attack on Texas women. Taxes are so high in Austin because schools raise twice their needs...

Opinion: Trump should get a special prosecutor for criminal leaks

Who is the real threat to the national security? Is it President Trump who shared with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov the intelligence that ISIS was developing laptop bombs to put aboard airliners? Or is it The Washington Post that ferreted out and published this code-word intelligence, and splashed the details on its front page, alerting the world, and ISIS, to what we knew. President Trump has the...

Letters to the editor: May 25, 2017

Of great concern are proposed CodeNEXT changes, which force a huge upzoning on or next to single-family homes. It takes hours to understand what a neighbor could do to their property. To understand Proposed CodeNEXT one must: Locate the property on the Code map, Transect zone, non-Transect zone or neighborhood conservation district. Consult the colored legend. ...

Opinion: Trump’s policies weaken womens’ health around the world

When video surfaced last fall of Donald Trump boasting about sexual assault, outrage erupted. But if Trump’s words about women were offensive, his policies are incomparably more consequential — and may cost more lives than in any other area of his governance. Yes, the phrase “war on women” may seem hyperbolic, but it also reflects the devastating impact of Trump’s policies...

Opinion: Political operator Stone sets stage for Anger Games

“Hate is a more powerful motivator than love.” According to the new Netflix documentary “Get Me Roger Stone,” that is one of the “rules” the self-described Republican “agent provocateur” has lived by. Stone, of course, is a showman. The “evil political operator” pose is to some degree an artifice — a brand he’s selling. Still...
Alison Weir continues historical series with the story of Anne Boleyn

Alison Weir continues historical series with the story of Anne Boleyn

A notorious Tudor queen is sympathetically imagined in “Anne Boleyn, a King’s Obsession” by Alison Weir. Weir (“Katherine of Aragon,” 2016, etc.), prolific Tudor historian, biographer and novelist, offers the second volume in her fictional series about Henry VIII’s six wives, focusing on the outspoken, doomed Anne Boleyn. Anne is certainly the most famous of those...
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