POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE Christian Merger v The annual board meeting and banquet of the Religious Roundtable, held in Dallas on October 25, brought together such notables of the New Right as U.S. Rep. Jack Kemp, R-N.Y., the keynote speaker; Howard Phillips, head of the Conservative Caucus; Rep. Mark Siljander, R-Mich.; Phyllis Schlafly; Orin Briggs; and Ed McAteer, founder and president of the Roundtable. McAteer told the Observer that Kemp spoke about the impossibility of separating morality from politics. The Rev. W.A. Criswell, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, talked about the qualities necessary for a Presidential candidate, and then endorsed wholeheartedly Kemp’s campaign. Howard Phillips, who traveled to South Africa in May with McAteer, spoke about American foreign policy, a policy of “turning those countries involved over to the communists,” as quoted by McAteer. Phillips also chided U.S. foreign policy in Central America, citing the international communist conspiracy, and called for a reinstatement of the Monroe Doctrine. \(McAteer, in comments published after the trip to South Africa, went further than Rev. Jerry Falwell in his assessment of Bishop Desmond Tutu, calling him “the darling” of the Soviet-backed African National Congress and part of the communist plot to destabilize the South Phyllis Schlafly denounced the “liberal news media” for questioning the Star Wars program, and called all scrutiny of defense spending a stab in the back of American independence. Peter Waldron, the founder and president of Contact America, a group of 64 radio stations based in Washington, D.C., proposed a merger with the Religious Roundtable in an effort to provide “Christian” broadcasting to all of the 435 congressional districts in the United States. Contact America monitors legislation, providing conservative political commentary and policy initiatives on so-called “family” issues and on education. Their talk shows, two hours of live broadcasting from Capitol Hill each day, have featured Senators Phil Gramm and Bob Dole and Rep. Jack Kemp. Waldron, in a phone interview, said Political Intelligence is reported by Jeff Ruoff that Contact America “hopes to capitalize on the vast organizational capacities of the Roundtable” in a drive to expand beyond the 224 congressional districts now reached to provide Americans with a “truly Christian perspective on government.” The members of the board of directors of the Religious Roundtable will be meeting again in Dallas on December 6 to consider this proposal. v The purification of the state Democratic party continues as Rep. Charles Evans has now switched to the Republican party. Evans, the conservative from Hurst, announced on Halloween that he was taking off his Democratic mask. V Former Congressman and Arlington mayor Tom Vandergriff is considering filing against Republican Rep. Dick Armey in order to recapture the seat Armey won from Vandergriff in 1984. According to the Fort Worth StarTelegram, Vandergriff is being urged to run by Rep. Tony Coelho, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and by House Majority leader Jim Wright. Armey’s congressional career has been marked by a proclivity to cut every social program in sight, by opposition to comparable worth, equal opportunity, and affirmative action guidelines, and by a muchreported preference for sleeping in his office. Buster’s Blues V State Sen. J.E. “Buster” Brown, RLake Jackson, is piling up conservative kudos. The arch-conservative Texas Tribune, out of Tyler, ranked Brown the most conservative senator of the 69th Legislature, as did the Free Market PAC. He came in second in conservative ranking conducted by the Young Conservatives of Texas. Brown believes himself to be involved in a race for the Republican nomination for state Attorney General. He has run into some difficulty, however, due to the fact that a legislator cannot occupy a state office in a term immediately following a legislative session in which he voted for a pay increase for that office. Brown made such a vote last session. V A study conducted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, based on Labor Department figures, shows that Texas has the lowest percentage of jobless people receiving unemployment benefits of any of the 11 most populous states. The Houston Chronicle reports that only 16.3 percent of the state’s 605,000 unemployed workers are receiving benefits. Although the state unemployment rate has risen to 8.1 percent, the number of people seeking benefits has not risen. Legislation passed in 1981 has severely limited the scope of the program, restricting, for example, the length of long-term unemployment insurance to 26 weeks. On the national level, the center notes that, in the month of October, the percentage of jobless people receiving benefits was the lowest in the history of the unemployment insurance program. John Bickerman, the research director of the center, blames this *cline in coverage on “the fact that unemployment has remained at historically high levels for four years, combined with budget reductions in unemployment insurance caused by changes in federal and state laws.” James Jackson, the director of unemployment insurance at the Texas Employment Commission, confirmed this, saying that in Texas, “we have a considerable number of jobless workers who have already received 26 weeks of benefits and have still not found other jobs.” Bickerman also said he expects no change in the low percentage of Texas residents filing for unemployment benefits, citing the’ stigma of welfare as one factor discouraging potential applicants. V Democratic party chair Paul Kirk mentioned the name recently of Sen. Lloyd Bentsen as a possible presidential or vice-presidential candidate in 1988. Valley of Income V According to a preliminary study released recently by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the McAllen-EdinburgMission area ranked next to last in average annual income for a U.S. metropolitan area. Of the 316 areas studied, only Jacksonville, North Carolina, ranked below McAllen-EdinburgMission, whose average annual income was $12,389 for a breadwinnner in 1984. The Brownsville-San BenitoHarlingen area came in two notches higher, ranked 313th with $13,027 in average annual pay. Just above Brownsville was Laredo, ranked 312th with a $13,035 average. Near the other end of the scale, Houston ranked ninth with a $22,804 average. V In the recent Houston mayor’s race, it appears that a Louie Welch campaign promotion sheet accidentally turned up THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19
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