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PEOPLE Make a world of difference ! We’re proud of our employees and their contributions to your success and ours. Call us for quality printing, binding, mailing and data processing services. Get to know the people at FutUra. FUTUM P.O. Box 17427 Austin, TX 78760-7427 389-1500 COMMUNICATIONS, INC Signs and Tokens BY JAMES MCCARTY YEAGER Verdad County SOME MEMORIAL BENCHES MAY BE FOUND under the oak trees spreading out beside the dignified 19th century stonepile hous ing the Verdad County Courthouse in Southwest Central North Texas. These hard and immobile resting places are the fruit of equal doses of immemorial tradition and public. parsimony. They serve the regulars from the businesses around the courthouse square as alternative office space and public forum, as well as providing the site of discreet, amateur psychiatry. On a recent afternoon, as the autumn light began to thin and the few insufficiently sodden leaves stirred faintly in the breeze, a bare quorum assembled. Jolene from the restaurant rested her swollen ankles. Red the plumber stroked his namesake beard. And old acerbic Chuck, retired from the now-closed meatpacking plant on the outskirts of town, kept the bench warm for them all. Chuck had a copy of the Texican NativistFirster open on one knee. “I see by the papers that President George lost a veto fight at last,” he remarked in a deceptively mild tone of voice. Jolene snorted derisively. “On reregulating cable TV rates. That man doesn’t have the sense God gave mules,” she said. “Mule at least would occasionally trade stubbornness for food; but George, he’d as soon starve as back down.” Some thought that when her feet ached she got in a foul temper; but they ached all the time lately, what with pulling double shifts. Red spat discreetly into the bushes; he’d given up smoking at 65 but it hadn’t given him up yet. “Seems to me the cable bill fight was just the TV networks versus the cable operators, with Hollywood thrown in as a makeweight.” He rubbed the bald patch on the back of his head contemplatively. “Kind of like watching Texas play Texas A&M. You want them both to lose, simultaneously.” The leaves drifted down; a few cars drove around the square slowly, obviously not looking to park because there were ‘far too many open spaces. The paper rustled as Chuck turned the page. “Got so a man couldn’t watch TV, cable or broadcast, the last month without being assaulted by ads on one side or the other of the cable issue. Wish they’d both donate that much prime advertising time to something useful like promoting literacy programs.” Jolene bent over to rub her ankles. In a halfsigh, she said, “If we spent as much on kids James McCarty Yeager, who now edits Minority Business Report in a Washington, D.C. suburb, spent 16 formative years in Houston; it still shows. as we do on advertising maybe that would help. I saw somewhere that since 1970, the rate of reported child abuse is four times greater. One in five children in the United States lives in poverty, a rate that has increased by one-third since 1970. More than 400,000 teenagers committed suicide or attempted to kill themselves in 1990, double the number from 1970.” She sighed wholeheartedly and straightened up. “Meantime the President doesn’t seem to notice,” said Red. “Of his first veto defeat, Bush said: ‘We’ve had a good streak. We won 35 straight. Lost one. Not a bad record.'” Red shook his head in what would have been disbelief in a less wise man. “Like the government was college football, and he was a bettor.” Chuck folded the paper over to a chart; the leaves whispered as the afternoon drifted by. His voice rasped out over the breeze, “Lemme read you this list. Bills passed by Congress that were vetoed by President Bush in the 102nd Congress, January 1991 to October 1991: Cable television bill China-Most Favored Nation restrictions Family Leave Bill Motor Voter Registration Act National Institutes of Health authorization \(fetal Legislation authorizing lawsuit by Sioux Indian tribes Campaign Finance Reform Middle-Income Tax Relief and Economic Growth Incentives Conditions on Most Favored Nation status for China Udall Scholarship & Environmental Policy Foundation “Gag Rule” abortion regulations in Labor-HHS appropriations bill Emergency Unemployment Compensation Act Abortion funding-District of Columbia appropriations bill Bush’s vetoes in the 101st Congress, January 1989 to December 1990: Minimum Wage increase FSX fighter agreement Abortion funding-Labor-HHS appropriations bill Abortion funding-District of Columbia appropriations bill Foreign Aid appropriations \(family planning funds Abortion funding-District of Columbia appropriations bill Eastern Airlines Labor Dispute Commission State Department authorization \(over prohibition on U.S. government receiving funds from a foreign Chinese Students Emergency Immigration Relief Act Amtrak authorization Hatch Act Reform Family and Medical Leave Textile and Apparel Quotas Short-Term Continuing Appropriations Civil Rights Act of 1990 Orphan Drug Act Amendments Export Facilities Act Indian Preference Act Intelligence Authorization Private relief bill Resolution waiving enrollment on Financial Institutions technical Jolene looked around, saw someone waving from the window of the diner. As she got up to leave, she said, “You can’t tell what ol’ George is for, but it’s pretty clear what he’s against.” Red grinned mirthlessly. “These Republicans seem to want the marketplace ruling everywhere except the doctor’s office, China, and on TV.” Chuck went on to read the comics, but he didn’t laugh either. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 19