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VOLUME 92, NO. 19 A JOURNAL OF FREE VOICES SINCE 1954 Editor: Nate Blakeslee Managing Publisher: Charlotte McCann Office Manager: Candace Carpenter Graphic Designer: Julia Austin Poetry Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye Development Director: Susan Morris Interns: Karem Said, Chris Womack Special Projects: Jere Locke, Nancy Williams Contributing Writers: Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Louis Dubose, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Paul Jennings, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, Jeff Mandell, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, 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, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Gilberto Ocafias, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips. The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040righted 2000, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January non-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 Observer is indexed 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 CALIFORNIA: STOP THE RIGS I was disappointed to read Governor Bush’s myopic comments in Arkansas that he “welcomes offshore oil exploration.” This is contrary to public opinion poll results and legislative initiatives in California, which show that neither Republicans nor Democrats of this state share Bush’s views. Moreover, Californians are moving across a broad front of individual, local, regional and state action to staunch the increasing pollution of our inland and coastal waterways. In seeking to curry favor with oil companies, Bush sets himself squarely against the interests of those of us who seek to restore our once pristine Pacific coast. A Bush Administration may trigger an expensive legal effort by California to resist Federal efforts to open our coast to oil company exploration. Those are state resources that would be better used promoting a cleaner coast rather than defending it. A Bush presidency may bring environmental danger clouds to our state. Richard Dittbenner Coronado, California OPEN IT UP What are they afraid of? Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan of the Reform Party have some very good, common-sense reasons why they should be admitted to the presidential debates. For one thing, it would offer the American people more than just “Evil” and “Lesser Evil” as the only two choices in the 2000 election. Secondly, since the federal government provides matching funds to parties polling at least 5 percent nationally, why shouldn’t these federally funded candidates get the same shot on the televised debates as the other candidates? But unfortunately, the Commission on Presidential Debatesrun by a Democrat and a Republicansays a candidate has to poll 15 percent before they’ll let him or her step up to the podium. It’s not surprising that, even with millions of Americans supporting these two men, the Commission on Presidential Debates remains unmoved. “A third-party candidate could theoretically get the support of 28 million Americans of voting age and still be denied the chance to debate,” the Portland Press-Herald pointed out in a recent editorial criticizing the 15-percent barrier. The Commission on Presidential Debates says that Buchanan and Nader have no chance to win, because they’re polling under 15 percent. But Jesse Ventura was at only 10 percent before his debate, shot up to 37 percent in the polls, and ultimately shocked the world by beating both the Democratic and Republican candidates. Clearly the two-party “Republicrats” don’t want Governor Ventura’s scenario to repeat itself. They say 15 percent is reasonable, pointing out that three third-party candidates have polled over 15 percent since 1968. But they neglect to mention that two of those men were officeholders coming out of one of the two major parties, and the third, Ross Perot, drew on a fortune of $3 billion. The Commission on Presidential Debates should behave democratically and admit Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader to this year’s debates. What are they afraid of? That if Buchanan or Nader are heard that they might convince too many votersand win? Cliff Pearson Dallas Note: Cliff Pearson is the media relations director for the Green Party of Texas. For more information, call the Green Party’s North Texas KEEPING SCORE FOR GORE I have been reading the Observer for almost as long as I can remember and, for about that long, getting ticked off at its editorial policy come election time. You devote six pages to coverage of the Democratic convention, nearly all of it negative, and three more to Jim Hightower’s speech to the Green Party’s convention, and another to his regular column, all attacking the Democrats and equating Gore with Bush. In the entire issue, only one page, James K. Galbraith’s, had anything good to say about Gore. Anyone who thinks that the difference between the candidates is unimportant hasn’t been paying attention. If Bush is elected, and assuming the Republicans retain control of Congress, the old Gingrich bills will come out of the attic, and Bush will sign them. Gore would veto them. If Bush is elected, he’s promised to nominate judges who are like his heroes, Thomas and Scalia. Gore would do better. If Bush is elected, the one promise he’s made that we know he’ll keep is to enact a huge tax cut that almost entirely favors the wealthiest, at the expense of the poorest. Gore’s no Bush, but can he rise to the challenge of the issues Hightower discussed before the Greens? Well, he can probably get that one dollar increase in the minimum wage, even from a Republican Congress. One dollar isn’t see “Dialogue,” page 17 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 OCTOBER 6, 2000