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—\\-=-AIPUg—-/ ,..Onvakini -ma N;147,,. ,. _ …._ gin NO No,. IL -.r’ 1 ,-, .cyst. , i ..,. .._ …011 ‘ El l 1 tai llit — . . r THE TEXAS Itti r server A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for anything they have not themselves written, and in publishing them we do not necessarily imply that we agree with them because this is a journal of free voices. Publisher: Ronnie Dugger Editor: Dave Denison Associate Editor: Louis Dubose Editorial Assistant: Kathleen Fitzgerald Editorial Intern: Shannon Stavinoha Calendar: Kathleen Fitzgerald Washington Correspondent: Richard Ryan Contributing Writers: Bill Adler, Betty Brink, Warren Burnett, Jo Clifton, Craig Clifford, John Henry Faulk, Terry FitzPatrick, Gregg Franzwa, Bill Helmer, James Harrington, Amy Johnson, Michael King, Dana Loy, Rick Piltz, Gary Pomerantz, Susan Raleigh, John Schwartz, Michael Ventura, Lawrence Walsh Editorial Advisory Board: Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, Kerrville; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; kiln Kenneth Galbraith, Cambridge, Mass.; Lawrence Goodwyn, Durham, N.C.; George Hendrick, Urbana, Ill.; Molly Ivins, Austin; Larry L. King, Washington, D.C.; Maury Maverick, Jr., San Antonio; Willie Morris, Oxford, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Presley, Texarkana; Susan Reid, Austin; Geoffrey Fred Schmidt, Fredericksburg; Robert Sherrill, Tallahassee, Fla. Layout and Design: Layne Jackson Typesetter: Becky Willard Contributing Photographers: Vic Hinterlang, Bill Leissner, Alan Pogue. Contributing Artists: Eric Avery, Tom Ballenger, Richard Bartholomew, Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Carlos Lowry, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau, Gail Woods. Managing Publisher: Cliff Olofson Subscription Manager: Stefan Wanstrom Publishing Consultant: Frances Barton Development Consultant: Hanno T. Beck for a three-week interval between issues in January and July \(25 issues per postage paid at Austin, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send form 3579 to P.O. Box 49019, Austin, Texas 78765 SUBSCRIPTIONS: One year $27. two years $48, three years $69. Fulltime students $15 per year. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm editions available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Any current subscriber who finds the price a burden should say so at renewal time no one need forgo reading the Observer simply because of the cost. Address all correspondence to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Preposterous Charge Stung by recent epistolary charges that he is an incompetent imitator of Alexander Cockburn, columnist for The Nation, Richard Ryan responded by gratuitously slandering Cockburn as “perhaps the most irresponsible writer alive” \(TO, \(Ryan is the Observer’s so-called Washington correspondent, which apparently means he can publish any drivel he likes as long as he keeps his D.C. charge in the age of such journalistic luminaries as Shirley Christian, Claire Sterling, and James LeMoyne takes some doing, but Ryan leaps to his task. According to Ryan, Cockburn “misbehaves” in the pages of The Wall Street Journal and Town and Country, “to support his upscale life style.” Translation: Cockburn writes surpassingly well on politics and culture in such places as The Nation, WSJ, House and Garden \(a distinction with some difference but lost on The New York Review, Grand Street, Mother Jones, among many others, and he probably makes more money than Ryan, who is no doubt too pure to accept payment for his work. Ryan’s real intent is to find a stick to beat Jesse Jackson with, so he condemns what he calls Cockburn’s “droning support” of Jackson. In fact, like the Observer, Cockburn has consistently argued that Jackson’s greatest importance resides in the populist and multi-racial movement he represents, the only current national and progressive alternative to corporate politicsas-usual. Moreover, Cockburn has been quick to criticize Jackson when necessary \(e. g. , for his “Hymietown” remark in 1984 and his recent opportunistic backtracking on But Ryan quickly passes on from this breathtaking recital of outrages to place his own work in the tradition of Bacon, Hazlitt, and Arnold, “however bastardized the resemblance may be.” One hesitates to disturb Ryan’s preening self-regard to point out, based only upon his scurrilous, inaccurate, and yes, irresponsible attack upon Cockburn, the bloodlines of Messrs. Bacon, et al. , are in no danger of dilution from his deathless pen. Perhaps Ryan can speechwriter for Dukakis, whom he elsewhere praises effusively for being “boring.” As his own columns are comfortably high on the MEGO scale, he should be an excellent choice to explain at tedious length how a candidate who wishes to increase \(not, as Ryan would have it, \(i. e. , the instruments of mass destruction which are carrying out all of the murderous and whose economic policies have been comfortably congratulated by The New York Times as not appreciably different from those of George Bush would in fact be “the most liberal nominee the party has ever produced.” If this be “responsible” journalism, Mr. Ryan is welcome to it. In the meantime, he should resist the urge, borne of nothing but palpable envy, to make vicious ad hominem attacks upon his literary betters. Michael King Houston Devoid of Wit and Content Richard Ryan’s letter \(TO, typically devoid of all cognitive content. Ryan is nasty but he’s no English wit. For him to suggest that his ad hominem slop bucket attacks are aimed at elitist intelligent readers is the ultimate insult to the readers of the Texas Observer. Ryan’s tactics are the IQ level of R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr., of the American Spectator. Tyrrell, not Cockburn, is Ryan’s role model. His latest inaccurate attack on Jackson is an example of his “charitable restraint.” Please, keep this man on a short leash. Michael Hardesty Emeryville, California In Bed With Podhoretz Richard Ryan’s judgment of Alexander Cockburn as “perhaps the most irresponsible writer alive” \(TO, places Ryan squarely in bed with that most rock-ribbed of right-wing journalists, Norman Podhoretz. Podhoretz is quoted on the dust jacket of Cockburn’s book, Corruptions of Empire, as follows: “. . . Cockburn’s weekly pieces . . . have set a new standard of gutter journalism in this country.” I suppose it is possible that Ryan and Podhoretz are both right, but if Ryan’s best evidence of irresponsibility is Cockburn’s support of Jackson for President, then what does that make the Observer? I cannot understand why Ryan would want to work for an irresponsible publication. Walter J. Ligon Kingsland DIALOGUE 2 JUNE 17, 1988