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VOLUME 92, NO 12 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES SINCE 1954 Editors: Louis Dubose, Michael King Assistant Editor: Mimi Bardagjy Associate Editor: Nate Blakeslee Managing Publisher: Charlotte McCann Office Manager: Candace Carpenter Graphic Deiigner: Julia Austin Poetry Editor:. Naomi Shihab Nye Development Director: Susan Morris Special Projects: Jere Locke, Nancy Williams Contributing Writers: Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Paul Jennings, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, Jeff Mandell, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, John Ross. Staff Photographer: Alan Pogue Contributing Photographers: Jana Birchum, Vic Hinterlang, Patricia Moore, Jack Rehm. Contributing Artists: Jeff Danziger, Beth Epstein, Valerie Fowler, Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Ben Sargent, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Bob Eckhardt, Sissy Farenthold, John K: Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Maury Maverick Jr., Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam: Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board: Molly Ivins, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, Gilberto Ocanas. The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040righted 2000, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January profit foundation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. Telephone: E-mail: [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page: . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas. SubscriptionS: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail; foreign, ‘group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Indexes: The Texas Obsin -ver is indeied in Access: The Supplementary Index to Periodicals: Texas Index and, for the years 1954 through 1981, The Texas Observer Index. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to. The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701. DIALOGUE SORRY MARTY In Political Intelligence of May 26, you note that “Congressman Charles Stenholm, the last of the class of 1978 Democrats to remain in the party….” That’s gonna be a hell of a surprise to Martin Frost! Mike Dailey Dallas WHAT WOULD JEFFERSON DO? We are told that there is an epidemic of drug use in this country. Certainly this is true from Aspirin to Prozac, Valium to Viagra, Alcohol to Nicotine everyone uses drugs. We use drugs to modify our state of mind and improve our health. We use them to feel better and to help us enjoy life. We as a species have been using herbs and their derivatives since the dawn of history. This is natural, and can be seen in many other animal species. In this country, certain drugs are illegal. Many people go to jail for doing what comes natural to them. Is the answer simply to build more prisons? Obviously not, because even in prisons there is still abuse of illegal drugs. If we cannot eliminate drugs from Orisons, how can we expect to eliminate them in an otherwise free society? The real threat from illegal drugs comes from the criminal culture which has been created by the black market. It is common knowledge that drugs are more available now than ever before despite the best efforts of law enforcement. This is because of the enormous profits to be had and the fact the people will use drugs regardless of the law. It doesn’t matter if you arrest a drug dealer, because there will always be someone willing to take his place and make that money. There is only one solution legalize drugs. In this way we can eliminate the profits to be had and so eliminate the black market. We would be able to have more control over drug use and some control is better than no control. We could then tax drugs like we do alcohol and tobacco and use the money to fund prevention programs. We could save the money we would have needed for new prisons and use it to educate people instead of imprison them. We should treat individual drug abuse as a sickness, not a criminal offense. If this sounds radical it is only because we have strayed so far from the ideals on which this country was founded. Our forefathers gave us the ideal of a right to the pursuit of happiness. Many of them grew and used plants which are now outlawed. Would we imprison George Washington because he smoked a joint to ease the pain of having wooden teeth? Reverend H.W. Skipper Dallas THEY WON’T GET FAR WITH THAT NAME I was happy to read Brady Coleman’s Left Field issue. And I have another group you may want to look at in a similar manner. It’s the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturer’s Association, based in Washington, D.C. Beyond the deep question of just how that oxymoron moniker works may lie a deeper one about who’s trying to pass what over on who for what end and what long-term result. Wayne Kamin Austin BUSH DROPPINGS George W. Bush reminds me of a very expensive thoroughbred horse. His owners, handlers and pretty good job of making him appear to be a real racehorse. They had to teach him not to strut so much and what to say and when to say it, but with the money invested in such an animal, one would expect them to do a good job. Presidential candidate Bush puts on a pretty good show, but, like a very expensive thoroughbred which drops horse biscuits at the most inopportune and embarrassing times, George W. does the same \(pohis owners and trainers rush to scoop it up before noticed or, most often, they, with the help of the Fox News Network and other media who have investments and are part-owners, convince people that those are really fine dinner rolls. Maybe that explains why he doesn’t believe there are hungry children in Texas. Harley JohnsOn Hillsboro SIGHT FOR SORE EYES Have just finished reading Shrub. Thank goodness for Molly Ivins, Lou Dubose, and the Texas Observer. I think we already live in an oligopoly but at least I have hope that rational people are still a part of the political scene. The book was a real eye-opener and a joy to read. Jane A. Plomondon Denver, Colorado The Books & the Culture section is partially funded through grants from the City of Austin under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission, and the Austin Writers’ League, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JUNE 23, 2000