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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 Production: Peter Szymczak Copy Editor: Roxanne Bogucka Editorial Interns: Todd Basch, Carmen Garcia, Angela Hardin, Trae Monroe. Contributing Writers: Bill Adler, Barbara Belejack, Betty Brink, Warren Burnett, Brett Campbell, Peter Cassidy, Jo Clifton, Carol Countryman, Terry FitzPatrick, James Harrington, Bill Helmer, Jim Hightower, Ellen Hosmer, Molly Ivins, Steven Kellman, Michael King, Deborah Lutterbeck, Tom McClellan, Bryce Milligan, Debbie Nathan, James McCarty Yeager. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Austin; Frances Barton, Austin; Elroy Bode, El Paso; Chandler Davidson, Houston; Dave Denison, Cambridge, Mass; Bob Eckhardt, Austin; 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, Jackson, Miss.; Kaye Northcott, Fort Worth; James Presley, Texarkana; Schwartz, 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, Valerie Fowler, Dan Hubig, Pat Johnson, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Carlos Lowry, Gary Oliver, Ben Sargent, Dan Thibodeau, Gail Woods, Matt Wuerker. Managing Publisher: Cliff Olofson Subscription Manager: Stefan Wanstrom 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 Supplementary Index to Periodicals; Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981,The Texas Observer Index. copyrighted, 0 1994, is published biweekly except for a three-week interval 477-0746. E-mail: [email protected] Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to THE TEXAS OBSERVER, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Poetic Community The “Afterword” on poet Joseph Colin Murphy exemplifies the connection of communities and all kinds of Texans to the Observer. Only a Journal that cares about community can report in the style this article was crafted. The gift of this poet was unknown to me until I read Dave Oliphant’s piece on a recent tribute to this man and his life work. Thank you for publishing a few stanzas of his art, as well. I request the name and address of the publisher for Joe Murphy’s posthumous volume of poetry, The Perfection of Beauty. Blake Gentry, Tucson, Arizona Editor’s Note: The Perfection of Beauty remains unpublished, but A Return to the Landscape by Murphy was published in 1979 by Prickly Pear Press, 1402 Mimosa Pass, Cedar Park, Austin 78613. and is available for $5 at that address. Murphy was featured in Three Texas Poets, also Get Back to Grassroots I read with interest your commentary “God-Awful Politics in Austin” in the May 20, 1994, issue concerning the Austin election, which involved the passage of Proposition 22, the conservative Christian initiative against the unmarried “domestic partners” health insurance program for City of Austin workerswhether the domestic partners were gay or straight. It appears to have been a surprise that the initiative passed, let alone by an overwhelming margin of 62-38 percent. The lesson that appears to be learned from the article misses the boat. It is not that “the people” are so much homophobic or fiscally conservative; in my humble opinion, it is that the progressive community has not joined the issue, as in so much of progressive politics. Rather we have depended on coalitional work which divides and conquersthe same politics that is utilized in the conservative Christian communityrather than creating a political mentality which is inclusive, addressing the needs and knowledge of ordinary working people. No doubt that a great many people do not really know gay people. A solution in the long term is to have more people know gay people so that they can discover, as I have, that, perhaps barring the historical discrimination they have had to endure, like other minorities, they are human beings too. Such a strategy has been generally utilized for the last decade, but the exclusionary tendency becomes manifest in elections such as that with Proposition 22, and even perhaps the defeat of the well-qualified progressive Mary Arnold against a well-funded incumbent in the same municipal election. The leader of the anti-Proposition 22 effort accused the pro-22 forces of running a church-based campaign and flying below the radar of public opinion polling. Public opinion polling is a poor substitute for the political community and speaks volumes for how we are all disenfranchised by the status of the current art of professional political analysis. The political battle needs to be joined away from the phone banks and ads on TV and into the churches and neighborhoods. It appears to be a strategic option that progressives do not recognize, if they do not actively oppose such efforts. Tim Mahoney, Austin Air Quality A Priority Your recent piece on Carbon I and II [TO 5-6-94] continues the service of journalists who bring this threat to air quality to national attention. At the Department of Energy we are helping with renewable energy sources along the border, and would try to use our permitting authority to block the sale of dirty power into the United States. Working out rules of binational border air emissions rules is and should be a top American priority. Bill White, Deputy Secretary of Energy, Washington, D.C. No Shiite Republican I must protest the use of Shi’ite Republicans in one of your Political Notes. It borders on racism and is typical of a lack of knowledge of other cultures and is based probably on a media-based image of Shi’ a Islam. The more in common with Jesse Jackson than Patrick Buchanan and his ilk. Most of the Shi’as I have known have been left in economics and more committed to diversity than one would believe. Linking a particular religious belief with the worst elements of the Republican Party is sloppy, especially in this case. I would refer you to the published works of several Shia political figures which are from all over the spectrum: Ali, the principal Iman of Shi’a Islam; Bani Sack; Ibrahim Yazdi \(formerly of the Baylor School of Bazargan, and of course Khomeni. Even a fit: He first said the poor would not pay for electricity and water, the state would assume the expense. Andrew H. Lee, New York, N.Y. DIALOGUE 2 JULY 1, 1994