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tional the-country-is-going-to-hell-in-ahandbasket psychosis. Part of this is just the old quadrennial political problem. Once every four years, all pols except the incumbents run around moaning about how godawful things are. The Russians always burst ahead of us in military capability, the economy always verges on a ruination .that can be staved off only by the other party, and ever new and more numerous situations are found to be fraught with peril. \(Have you heard there is redeeming social zest on the other sideFDR, Truman, JFK, even Lyndon on occasion, would cheerfully denounce all the glooming as tripe. Jimmy Carter, alas, has no zest. He just looks as though he is about to burst into tears and, in the most lugubrious tones possible, tells us what a wonderful, compassionate, honest, good, decent people we are. Which always makes me think of Son of Sam, Margaret Trudeau, and Richard Nixon. Still and withal, the beauty of the country’s anarchic energy remains. I for one am not particularly enthusiastic about our current spell of national unity stemming from the Iranian crisis. We are all so pleased to find ourselves agreed for once, that anyone who threatens the National Unityto wit, Edward Kennedy, by justly observing that the Shah sucks eggsis roundly denounced. I rather like the more usual American reaction in the face of crisis where we all mount horse instanter and gallop off in 380 directions. True, this is hard on anal, rigid personalities, but it does have a certain noisy elan. Yes, I think this is the twilight of our empire and high damn time, too. We had no business in the empire bidness in the first place. We were terrible at running the world. Pax Americana was an Amnesty International nightmare, and any nation stuck with the Eisenhower years as a Golden Age doesn’t deserve another at-bat. I am in the well-informed minority that considers the Energy Crisis to be Real. I deduce that as we wean ourselves from fossil fuels there will be pain and dislocation in both the economy and in people’s lives. There will be pockets of deep trouble for some and ripples of annoyance for all. But the situation is not desperate, merely awkward. Death, taxes, and change are the only constants. So, we just work to make the change for the better. There are wonderful possibilities for the future. We can hire Young & Rubicam to convince us that conservation can be fun. White people will be a minority in Texas. Roller disco will be passe. And as for The Texas Observer, beloved love-child of all of us who have worked there, I am more convinced than ever, after three years in Establishment journalism, that the Observer and its ilk \(actually, the T.O. doesn’t have much of fully needed. Those of us in Establishment journalism still spend the enormous bulk of our time reacting to quotidian happenings. Enterprise journalism is rare and such as there is is limited by competitive strictures and traditions from which the Observer is immune. The rest of the press is succumbing to two new dread journalistic evils. Celebrity journalism has reached such a nadir of idiocy that we now know more about Suzanne Somers than the Ayatollah Khomeini. The let-us-help-you-spendyour-money-trendily school of journalism gives us endless stories about the ten best chili parlors, ‘barbecue places, and chicken-fried steaks. There are fullscale articles on where to buy the best caviar, sports cars, and ten-gallon hats. New York magazine once ran a cover article on sheetslinens versus silks, flowers versus stripes. Who gives a rat’s-ass about sheets? The Observer simply has a different, and invaluable, mindset. Between Duggees idealism and the raucous laughter of some of his successors, the Observer became permanently incapable of admiring the emperor’s new clothes. I do not expect that to change in the next 25. Former Observer co-editor Molly Ivins is the Rocky Mountain bureau chief of the New York Times. Coping with the end of empire By John Spragens Jr. “Please don’t use my name,” said the Iranian shop owner who had lived in the United States for nine years. “People call the house and say, ‘We will kill you and your family.’ We are really scared and upset,” she said, her voice quavering. Oakland Tribune, November 15, 1979 Berkeley, California if it hadn’t been the hostages in the embassy in Teheran, it would have been something else. The anger was there, explosive, on a hair trigger. The coming 25 years will provide an abundance of excuses for this anger, with its overtones of racism and chauvinism, to burst forth again. The American empire, after all, is on the decline. It is a painful process in the best of cases. Witness Britain, where neither the economy nor the society has yet fully come to grips with the disbanding of the British colonial system. At least, though, the British have a handle they can grab if they’re really trying to understand what’s happening. Britain proclaimed its empire and eventually proclaimed its dissolution. We Americans have been sold quite a different image. We seldom if ever thought of Puerto Rico or Hawaii as colonies, much less Iran or Vietnam or Thailand. So now, when parts of that far-flung empire begin to break away, to challenge the power \(or, almost worse, States, we are left with no context to guide our understanding. Look back at the Arab oil embargo. Among other things, the oil producers were pointing out that the oil is their resource and that they have a right to produce it in ways that best serve the interests of their own countries. Americans howled. You’d have thought the United States held some birthright to . Arab oil. It should have been a graphic lesson, but even now we have too little understanding of the wayS American prosperity is built with the wealth and the sweat and even the blood of other peoples. The gas lines in 1979 were only a mild example of our dependence on a worldwide systema system defined and enforced, during the Observer’s first 25 years, by THE TEXAS OBSERVER 45