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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 human-kind 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. SINCE 1954 Publisher: Ronnie Dugger Editor: Louis Dubose Associate Editor: James Cullen Layout and Design: Diana Paciocco, Peter Szymczak Copy Editor: Roxanne Bogucka Mexico City Correspondent: Barbara Belejack Editorial Interns: Jubilee Barton, Jay Brida, Paula George, Lorri J. Legge, Kate McConnico Contributing Writers: Bill Adler, Betty Brink, Warren Burnett, Brett Campbell, Jo Clifton, Terry FitzPatrick, Gregg Franzwa, James Harrington, Bill Helmer, Ellen Hosmer, Steven Kellman, Michael King, Deborah Lutterbeck, Tom McClellan, Bryce Milligan, Greg Moses, Debbie Nathan, Gary Pomerantz, Lawrence Walsh. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Austin; Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, El Paso; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Dave Denison, Cambridge, Mass; Bob Eckhardt, Washington, D.C.; Sissy Farenthold, Houston; Ruperto Garcia, Austin; John 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, OxfordMiss.; Kaye Northcott, Austin; James Presley, Texarkana; Susan Reid, Galveston; Fred Schmidt, Fredericksburg. Poetry Consultant: Thomas B. Whitbread ‘ Contributing Photographers: Bill Albrecht, Vic Hinterlang, Alan Pogue. Contributing Artists: Michael Alexander, Eric Avery, Tom Ballenger, Richard Bartholomew, Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Carlos Lowry, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau, Gail Woods, Matt Wuerker. Managing Publisher: Cliff Olofson Subscription Manager: Stefan Wanstrom Executive Assistant: Gail Woods Special Projects Director: Bill Simmons Development Consultant: Frances Barton. SUBSCRIPTIONS: One year $32. two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 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. INDEXES: The Texas Observer is indexed in Access: The Supplementaty Index to Periodicals: Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 198 1,The Texas Observer Index. THE TEXAS OBSERVER copyrighted. 1992. is published biweekly except for a three-week interval 477-0746. Second-class postage paid at Austin. Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Why Clinton? IVE YEARS AGO, at a social gathering in W Austin, one of a half-dozen progressive lawyers who have altered for the better the history of this state made the case for the Lloyd Bentsen Presidency. The argument was straightforward and pragmatic. Bentsen could probably be elected. If he were, he would understand that he would have to deal with Senate liberals in the appointment process and there would be a few good women and men named to the federal bench. “We can’t litigate cases in federal court anymore. I’m read for Bentsen to run,” the lawyer said. This from a man who 30 years ago was nailing Ralph Yarborough posters to trees in Central Texas and who today continues the same fight mostly in state courts. Whether this taproom support for Lloyd Bentsen would have withstood the honest light of the following morning’s Texas sun, we don’t know. That was 1987. This is 1992. We don’t face such a grim choice in this election. Recently, Molly Ivins, writing about Vietnam, described Clinton and Gore as the best of their generation the two representing, her argument implied, both sides of the anguished decision young men faced when called to fight in a war that most now recognize as being utterly wrong. “The best of our generation,” was the way labor lobbyist Dee Simpson described Clinton, about the time the primary campaigns were beginning. “They’re not the best of our generation,” a New York journalist told me last month, “the best of our generation were .in SDS or leading the anti-war movement. They were the boys from student government.” We agree. But that discussion can continue later. That Bill Clinton and Al Gore are the best candidates in the 1992 presidential election is not even worthy of debate. Yes, Clinton is a flawed candidate. This is not the time to contemplate his flaws, but rather to consider some of the reasons to vote for him. Here are a few: The Courts If Clinton is not elected, as Ronnie Dugger observes on page five of this issue, by 1996 Ronald Reagan and George Bush will have appointed 90 percent of all federal judges. There is a total of 846 positions on federal bench. That number includes the Supreme Court, the Court of International Trade, all appellate courts,.and the federal district courts. Ronald Reagan and George Bush have made 574 judicial appointments over the past 12 years and Bush is poised to appoint more judges. Those are Article III lifetime appointments who will be adjudicating our children’s disputes with the state. Most attention, however, is focused on the Supreme Court, where the appointment of Clarence Thomas suggests that ideology, rather than exemplar character and superior intellect, is the fundamental prerequisite to serve. A woman’s right to abortion, arguably the most complex moral issue of our time, will again come before the court during the next four years. At 83, Justice Harry Blackmun is the fifth vote in a 5-4 split on the abortion issue. His written opinion in the most recent decision on that issue included an almost plaintive cry for help from the electorate, as. Blackmun cited his age and his pivotal voting position on abortion rights. Abortion is not the only issue before the Supreme Court. The court’s restriction of the rights of death row inmates to exhaust all appeals should offend even proponents of the death penalty. Added to the poor quality of counsel available to many accused of capital offenses, restrictions on the right to appeal from death row can only mean more innocent people inevitably will die. Some already have.And for the generation of voters who grew up believing that when arrested, they “have the right to remain silent” and that when arrested they must be advised that anything they say “can be used against them in a court of law,” Miranda v. Arizona must seem like a legal imperative. Yet restricting the rights of the accused is high on the Rehnquist Court’s agenda and, in a society preoccupied with a frightening increase in violent crime, the tendency to provide more room for the police to work will only mean absent the protections of a court that respects the Bill of Rights and understands due process convictions of innocent people and increased police brutality. It is time, after 12 years, that we in Texas begin offering up David Richards and Lloyd Doggett as potential nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court. Bill Clinton will make that a possibility. The Banks On Dec. 19 federal regulators will begin to close scores of banks and S&Ls that are unable to meet new capital requirements. As was recently observed in the Wall Street Journal, the closings will serve to remind us that “the banking industry is in the midst of the greatest crisis since the Depression.” Like the S&L crisis, which was ignored during the last presidential campaign, the banking crisis goes undiscussed in this campaign. That is the fault of both candidates. When the S&Ls collapsed, unless you were Neil Bush, you probably lost money. Not through the loss of deposits in your neighborhood S&L. Even if it failed, which it probably did, your deposits were insured. What you lost, is some of your discretionary income, as over the next 10 years you will pay your share of the $500 billion tax EDITORIAL 2 OCTOBER 16, 1992