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bse THE TEXAS rver OCTOBER 18, 1991 VOLUME 83, No. 20 FEATURES The Whole Story By Lisbeth Lipari In Like a Lion By Eric Bates Have Badge, Will Travel By David Armstrong 10 DEPARTMENTS Books and the Culture Every Dog Has Its Day By Steven Kellman 21 Afterword Angel in Austin By Steven Fenberg 22 Cover illustration by Kelly Jamison. that we engage the Soviet Union in mutual reductions of 10 percent annually in the military spending of both countries. Enclosed is a copy of the newsletter which I wrote at Christmastime in 1958 and circulated among my constituents, featuring this basic proposal. It is true enough that I supported what I considered an adequate and necessary base of military preparedness and that I recommended several weapons systems built in my district. But the consistent thrust of my legislative career was to seek peaceful settlements in lieu of armed conflicts and to reduce the disproportionate share of our resources which were consumed in weapons production. As majority leader from 1981 to 1986 I tried repeatedly to prevail upon the Reagan adminstration to come to grips with growing budget deficits by stretching out its projected four-year weapons and military hardware procurement program over five years instead. This would have saved $83 billion. It is well known to all who followed my career that I actively opposed the Reagan cuts in education, in housing, in welfare and in the public infrastructure. As speaker in 1987, I threw the full powers of that office behind efforts to halt the upward spiral which had literally almoSt doubled military spending in the previous six years. At my insistent urging, Congress did in fact reduce the military budget by $9 billion that year. This may seem a small amount to your editor, but the enclosed article by Dr. Barbara Sinclair describes the excruciating difficulties of reversing that trend with even this much of a cut. In April of that year, while in Moscow as head of a bipartisan 20-member delegation, I was invited by Mr. Gorbachev to speak to the people of the Soviet Union via nationwide television. The enclosed copy of my remarks will show you the thrust of my message. It was an appeal for both countries to stop spending so much on military might and begin to convert a greater portion of our expenditures to longneglected civilian matters. In early 1989, the last year of my speakership, I convened a task force to meet with Dr. Seymour Melman of Columbia University and draft legislation for a comprehensive nation-wide plan of systematic conver ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON SQUARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 78731 512 453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip sion from military to civilian production. Finally, in characterizing my career as “hawkish,” your writer seems unaware of my role in helping achieve peace in Central America. It was this which precipitated the final, and for my career fatal, rift with the Reagan administration and the whole pro-war establishment. Being human, I cast some votes over the years that I would change in the light of retrospect. But it is quite inaccurate to suggest that my career “was founded” on military spending or that my advocacy of beating our nation’s swords into plowshares was a “new position.” Accuse me of folly if you will, but not of “hypocrisy.” Jim Wright Member of Congress, 1955-1989 Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives, 1987-1989 Fort Worth. Poorly Informed A reader calls my attention to the Political Intelligence page of your Sept. 6, 1991, issue. Your characterizations concerning Speaker Jim Wright are, to say the least, poorly informed. Late in December 1988, after President Goibachev made his dramatic address at the United Nations that called an end to the Cold War, I was able to meet with Speaker Wright and discuss several problems of American policy. The principal matter under discussion was how to carry out conversion from military to civilian economy and thereby make possible a constructive economic future for the millions of Americans who are economically dependent on military economy. The meeting lasted more than half a day and Speaker Wright concluded that legislation to sponsor economic conversion planning was a topic of greatest importance for the soon-to-be-convened 101st Congress. For the first time during the Cold War the leadership of the House of Representatives took a forthright position in favor of economic conversion planning. Speaker Wright proceeded, before the end of our meeting, to convene a gathering of the key members of Congress who had been interested in economic conversion planning representatives Weiss, Gejdensen and Mavroules. The meeting was scheduled for the first day of congressional business following the inauguration of President Bush. At the appointed time and date the meeting was convened in the speaker’s private dining room and was attended by the designated members, a number of other congressional invitees and several congressional staffers. I was the only “unofficial” person present. The speaker opened the meeting with a forceful statement on the importance of a constructive conversion planning strategy for American policy at home and abroad. The several members of Congress were invited by the speaker to join forces and present a unified economic conversion bill. To assure priority attention this legislative proposal the speaker proposed that it be given the designation “House Resohition 101,” this being the 101st Congress. Following the meeting Rep. Weiss attempted to secure agreement by representatives Gejdensen and Mavroules on a joint bill. At the same time, however, a political assault on Speaker Wright was mounted in the national media. Under these conditions the political authority of the speaker was diminished. Messrs. Gejdensen and Mavroules did not agree to a joint legislative proposal and the bill of Rep. Weiss was thereafter presented, but now lacking the political and moral authority that could come from clear backing by the speaker. Evidently Speaker Foley, who succeeded Speaker Wright, did not share the judgment as to the priority importance of economic conversion planning. That brings us pretty much up to date on the handling of this issue in the Congress. During the short time that Speaker Wright was a major advocate of such legislation, the many citizens groups of the peace movement took heart that a new opening was given in the THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3 _