Page 13


Postmaster: If undeliverable, send Form 3579 to The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, Texas 78701 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE NEWS TRAVELS. On July 4, New York Times reporter Sam Howe Verhovek, in a front page article, held Gov. George W. Bush accountable for the failure to fund what had been a “model drug program” enacted during the administration of Gov. Ann Richards. Verhovek described Bush as “a formerly serious drinker who says he completely stopped drinking through sheer willpower after waking up with a powerful hangover on his 40th birthday.” According to Verhovek, Bush is skeptical about costly drug treatment programs and his skepticism “was contagious.” By July 5 NPR commentator Daniel Schorr had picked up the story, comparing Bush to North Carolina Sen. Jesse Helms, who is urging cuts in AIDS research funding. Too many politicians, Schorr suggested, allow the limits of their personal experience to determine their professional conduct. Helms had heart disease and didn’t press for funding cuts on research for heart-related illness, Schorr said, but he pushed for cuts in AIDS research. Helms wants to reduce funding for AIDS research because the disease is caused by people who engage in “disgusting, revolting conduct.,” Helms said. In Texas, Verhovek wrote, quoting the deputy director of the Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, “There’s a difference between the two Governors on how the recovery process works. And there’s a whole attitude shift in the Legislature. It’s very much back to the notion that tougher punishment is going to cure this addiction.” Verhovek cited a survey in which onefourth of the prisoners in the state responded that they would be willing to extend their sentences if they could get substance-abuse treatment. But, he wrote, there are only 1,600 drug treatment beds available in the system. The state now has three times as many prison beds as existed when Richards was elected. Bush’s cam paign claim that “most adult prisoners are, sad to say, beyond rehabilitation” must have penologists wondering how many prison beds are enough. THE CALL OF DUTY. “It’s been my duty, I guess, to oppose the gays and lesbians,” Democrat-turned-Republican Warren Chisum of Pampa told an Amarillo group after he had switched parties, while several gay activists protested the luncheon meeting where he spoke. Among the protesters outside the Amarillo meeting was John Hintz, president of the Amarillo Lesbian-Gay Alliance, who accused Chisum of a conflict of interest on the AIDS issue. Chisum, who has built a reputation of being opposed to the gay and lesbian agenda in the House, also speculates in viaticals, the practice of buying, at a reduced cash value, the life insurance benefits of terminally ill AIDS patients. “He is profiteering from the deaths of AIDS patients,” Hintz said. He’s encouraging that death by refusing to vote for any funding for any AIDS patients at all. According to the Amarillo Globe News, Chisum “defended his investment in such settlements and said he represents the values of most Texans.” In an editorial the Globe News called Chisum’s move to the Republican Party inevitable. “Warren Chisum and his political party fell out of favor with each other.” FORKED TONGUES. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals apparently believes, like the legendary Ma Ferguson, that if English was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for Texans. Last month the Court ruled, 5-4, that it’s legal for Smith County to discriminate against Mexican Americansas long as the discrimination is based on “language” and not “national origin.” Smith County routinely allows persons convicted of DWI to avoid jail time by participating in a probation program, but the county had denied probation to Aristeo Lira Flores because, it said, Lira Flores speaks Spanish and the probation program is conducted only in English. The Texas Civil Rights Project, which assisted Lira Flores’ appeal, denounced the court’s decision as “an exercise in mental gymnastics at its worst… which will hold Texas up for deserved derision around the country.” The decision will likely be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. FOWL PLAY. Sen. Phil Gramm shire, where the conservative Republican presidential candidates \(not Pete Wilson or tive Party Victory Fund’s annual pig roast. When questioned by a pig roaster, Gramm promised to stick by his “pro-life stand,” and to stand with “the Republican Platform.” When a protester dressed as a blue hen began to make the case for an early primary for Delaware, shouting “Delaware first in the nation,” he was surrounded by supporters carrying Gramm for President signsto keep the hen off the evening news. The blue hen is the University of Delaware mascot. The protester, when released, refused to give his name. Kansas Senator and frontrunner Bob Dole, who also appeared at the gathering, has surpassed Gramm in fundraising, according to Federal Election Commission reports filed in June. ACKNOWLEDGMENT The article by Michael Daecher, “Keys to the Kingdom,” \(Observer, was funded by a grant from W.H. and Carol Ferry. 24 JULY 14, 1995