what not so good, this may come to mean. Because of the consistently high quality of Holley’s Observer, the overall subscribers’ renewal rate has never been better, and because of that high quality and the success of the business staff in bringing in new subscribers via an ever-increasing volume of promotional mailings to select prospects, Observer circulation is on a strong and sustained upward track. Holley has also carried on through what is for the Observer, seen in the longer view, a transitional period. It has become evident that we cannot continue losing as much money as we do, that we must reorganize and, as a business, get a fresh start. Salaries of the permanent staff, stuck throughout Joe’s period at $12,000 a year, have become unacceptably low, even for this kind of social-conscience enterprise, in which the workers must take part of their compensation in private satisfactions that they are advancing their views about the society and social change. With three children, the Holley family has had now to take counsel with economic realities; the loss is the Observer’s and the community’s. Joe Holley has guided the Observer through a troubled period in high style, and has made important contributions to good journalism and social progress in Texas. One dominant feature of Joe’s Observer has been his own coverage of the legislature, a conference on Viet Nam, a capital punishment crisis, Ross Perot’s ideas on education and the editor’s reflections as he has ranged the state. All the while he has been producing an Observer whose richness and range can be savored by reviewing only some of its contents: Ruperto Garcia on the Bonillas, the drug war, Cesar Chavez, and farmworkers in the Panhandle, and Ruperto’s stories; Betty Brink on the poor in the Sabine area, the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant, pollution in the Big Thicket, the Yellow Lady Slipper’s Orchid, reexamining My Lai, and the new wilderness area proposal for Texas; Nina Butts on campaign reform, the South Texas nuclear power plant, anti-nuclearwar activists, and her visit to Hiroshima; Al Watkins on “The New Federalism,” and Watkins and Ray Marshall on Reaganomics; Lawrence Goodwyn on co-ops, Kay Gunderson on Texans protesting the location of a high level nuclear waste dump in West Texas and many other subjects; Wendy Watriss on Agent Orange, Paul Sweeney on the Viet Nam fishermen on the Texas coast, cancer and chemicals in Texas City, and much else; Terry Pringle’s “Living and Dying in Abilene”; John Fullinwider on the million poor children in Texas; Amy Johnson on Texas water, and growing up in Commerce; Norman Hugh Reddington’s reflections on the nuclear weapons Bob Sherrill’s “Unnatural Acts with Natural Gas”; Jack Hopper’s analysis of the Railroad Commission, his study of two electric holding companies in Dallas, and his case for electing the members of the Public Utility Commission; Joe Clifton on George Strake, Rick Piltz on the nuclear freeze and other subjects, Dan Freedman on an Air Force seminar on electronic war and Texans’ involvement in NATO exercises; Steven Kellman’s reflections on the Alamo; Leslie Whitaker on securities deregulation, the mental health code, Central America, and prison reform; John Schwartz on Ann Richards. Joe and Geoffrey Rips worked together brilliantly covering the 1983 Legislature and they had valuable help in the work of Piltz, Gunderson, Sweeney, Hopper, Susan Raleigh, Marise McDermott, John Duncan, Charles Sullivan and others. One result is a big special edition of the Observer’s coverage of the 68th. Joe and others went on the road with the candidates in 1982 with Bob Armstrong, Buddy Temple, Mark White, Jim Hightower, Bill Clements. Joe and Geoff collaborated in the Observer’s major study, “Manges Mattox Mauro Mobil Money.” The new tradition of the Observer interviews has been continued with careful, extended interviews with Jim Wright, Henry B. Gonzalez, Armstrong, Temple, William Sloane Coffin, Hightower, Garry Mauro, Richards, Brian Dorgan, Lloyd Doggett, and Bob Krueger. There is an important new emphasis on Mexico and Central America as an extension of the Observer’s sense of our region. Just as such a listing can no more than suggest the excellent quality of Joe’s Observer, not even mentioning much very good work, so also a summary of the renewed emphasis on books and the culture can at best only jog your memory: Larry McMurtry’s “Ever A Bridegroom” and the ensuing literary firestorm; the late William Goyen’s essay “Autobiography in Fiction”; Elroy Bode’s “Byron and I,” “Remembering Ramona Peebles,” and notes from his journals; Richard Phelan’s “Assessing Elroy Bode”; Kathryn Marshall’s “On Writing from the Center”; Jose E. Limon’s “A ‘Southern Renaissance’ for Texas Letters.” Joe Holley has given us a very good Observer, indeed. As Joe takes his leave, we welcome Geoffrey Rips as the new editor. For the story of Geoff’s attainments before he joined the Observer, I refer you to our November 12, 1982 issue. Far more telling, though, is the work he has done in these pages on populism in Pleasanton, the nuclear freeze, COPS, the legislature, the farmworkers, central Texas justice, Austin as a place, immigration law, Emma Tenayuca. As we have been fortunate to have Joe Holley as the editor of the Texas Observer, now also we are fortunate to have Geoffrey Rips succeeding him. R.D. 1984 is running some kind of private business the citizens have no right to know about. It is true he has taken steps to censor public officials for the rest of their lives. It is true that his Administration is so Orwellian, he has formally promulgated an executive order that in effect subjects hundreds of thousands of government employees to lie detector tests on pain of dismissal for refusing. It is true, worst of all, that President Reagan consciously deceives the people, not only on such 4 DECEMBER 23, 1983 matters as Social Security and tax policy, but also on the pre-eminent issue of our times, the nuclear arms race. Orwell is vindicated, then, quite sufficiently. But not even Orwell foresaw that an actorPresident would wield the Orwellian powers of the state in a democracy to convert new weapons of mass murder into the totems of primitive macho fears. There is of course widespread agreement among Americans \(and Europeans dictatorship that ruthlessly denies its citizens their liberties and imprisons or ostracizes them for criticizing the policies of the ruling elite. What President Reagan has done is take this consensus among the citizenry and turn it into MX missiles, Trident 2 submarines with D5 missiles, Pershing 2 missiles now being emplaced in West Germany six or eight minutes from the Soviet Union, and cruise missiles which once they have proliferated on both sides will destroy arms control verifiability and thus will destroy arms control. Deeply, deeply, the people are now divided, divided between those who understand the nature of these weapons and those who do not, those who understand that Russians are human beings and do not want to exterminate
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