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FEATURES DEPARTMENTS BOOKS & THE CULTURE Texas Observer HARRIS COUNTY HIJACKING How did money for clean beaches end up in the hands of Houston’s industrial lobby? By Brad Tyer THE DEAN OF DEATH Row Nobody has been on Texas death row longer than Walter Bell. Should he even be there at all? Photo essay by Jennifer Lindberg Introduction by James McWilliams DIALOGUE EDITORIAL Capital Forecast OPEN FORUM Executing Johnny Joe by David Dow JAMES K. GALBRAITH Defending Democrats . . .and Democracy POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE JIM HIGHTOWER Coup-less in Caracas MOLLY WINS Holy Smoking Goat Gonads POETRY by Kristin Dimitrova RECURRING NIGHTMARE by Diana Anhalt THE Two FRIDAS by Emily Rapp Seitz SERENDIPITOUS JOURNEYS by Michael May AFTERWORD Borders and Cracks by Mark Dow Cover art by Terri Lord. DIALOGUE ASK NO QUESTIONS As a relatively new subscriber, it was my impression that the Observer supports free, democratic regimes and opposes dictatorial, racist, and violent ones. Israel is a democracy, and since its legal establishment as a state in 1948 has been under attack from military forces of non-democratic Arab states. The most recent attacks have resulted in 469 Israeli deaths over the last 18 months alone. Proportionately speaking, that’s as if the United States had suffered 20,000 casualties from attacks from an enemy. “Texas Profits on the Israeli “incursion” into the West Bank included the use of bulldozers to “flatten entire rows of houses,” and that “F-16s and Apache attack helicopters are the most widely used weaponry.” What is omitted is the fact that the purpose of this “incursion” was the stopping of the suicide attacks from Jenin and other terrorist bases, the most horrific being the Passover massacre of entire families participating in a religious ceremony. During the “incursion” bomb factories were destroyed, and many of the war criminals who recruited teenagers for suicide bombings were captured or killed. During battle, these terrorists fired from Jenin’s homes and shops, used civilians as human shields, and booby trapped and mined the city. Destruction of homes occurred because of terrorist tactics, and there was no bombing by Israeli air forces out of concern for the minimizing of civilian casualties. It is incomprehensible to me why the Observer prints such biased and inflammatory reporting, particularly in the context of a conflict pitting a democracy against a coalition of dictatorships. Mitch Sudolsky Via e-mail MORE ON MOORE The great idealists in American history, people like Mr. Moore, Jim Hightower and their idol, Ralph Nader, have, in their zeal to move toward a more efficient and decent society, caused more backward steps than steps forward more often than not \(“Democrats, the What steps forward has Nader ever really accomplished? Very damned few! How many elected officials at the state or federal level does Ralph Nader control or influence? How many yea or nay votes has he cast in a legislative body for any legislation? How many elections have the masses of Americans allowed him to win? The reality is that it has been the pragmatic, “impure” Democrats in the White House, congress, state legislatures, state execs and courts who have moved the progressive agenda ahead, not the counterproductive un-elected ranters and ravers. Harley Spoon Palm Springs, Ca Michael Moore says that “George W. Bush is worse than Al Gore or Bill Clinton.” But then he goes on to compare them to Hitler and Mussolini and concludes that “the choice between Bush ‘s compassionate conservatism and Clintonism is no more meaningful than the choice between castor oil and cherry-flavored Robitussin.” Clinton is not as liberal as I am, but he never would have been elected President if he had been. For at least eight years he staved off Republican attempts to ban abortions, rape the forests of American public lands, and destroy the Alaskan wilderness. There is a difference between the educated Bill Clinton and the cheer leading, C-averaging, fiat-partying, never-cracked-a-book George W. read books and could express himself in grammatical, coherent sentences. A knowledgeable and consistent application of force on Israel and its enemies resulted in an uneasy peace in the Middle East during the Clinton administration. A few weeks of neglect by the Bush administration has resulted in violence, death, and destruction. No difference between Clinton and Bush? The difference is vast. I repeat:VAST! Burt Rule Via e-mail 4 8 2 3 12 13 14 16 17 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5/10/02 21 22 24 26 30