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Texas Observer FEATURES CORPORATE LOOTING 101 4 Cooked books, marauding CEOs, and crooked accountants: Enron in the ’90s looks a lot like Texas banking in the ’80s. Former S&L regulator Bill Black explains the similarities. Interview by Jake Bernstein WHACKED BY WHITMAN Over the last decade,, former EPA ombudsman Bob Martin saved more than his share. of threatened neighborhoods. But nobody could save him from Christine Todd Whitman. by Louis Dubose DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS 10 Texas is among the nation’s leaders in arms exports, and Israel has the hardware to prove it. Interview by Stefan Wray DEPARTMENTS DIALOGUE 2 EDITORIAL 3 General Ahab POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE 12 MOLLY IVINS 14 Can’t Anybody Here Play This Game? JIM HIGHTOWER 15 Who’s Spying Now? BOOKS & THE CULTURE POETRY 17 by Dennis Bernstein IF JOHN WAYNE MET FRANZ KAFKA 18 by Diana Anhalt EXPOSED IN CINCINNATI 20 by James McWilliams AFTERWORD 22 During the War by Lucius Lomax Cover art by Penny Van Horn CONFUSING: PLEASE DO SOMETHING I am one of those high school history teachers from a small town “burdened with underfunded educational facilities” who sends unprepared students to plague James McWilliams with unstructured, ungrammatical sentences \(“Confusing: Please Proofread,” April pension.” But I’m not giving a “mediocre” effort while doing so, as the good professor suggests. I face the same frustrations he feels every day in my work. A high percentage of my students have no clue as to what sentence structure means. How do you explain to a high school senior that the series he has written is not parallel because it combines two adjective phrases with a verb phrase, when he does not understand the concept of adjective, verb, or phrase? On most papers, you don’t explain; you write, “Confusing, please proofread.” Universities do not have to take unteachable, unprepared students, and I find it difficult to understand why they do. In public schools, we have little control over the makeup of our student bodies. And, just as James McWilliams does, we face enormous pressure to pass through students who have not performed to our standards. Why? Our system of education and our culture are progressively relieving the student of the responsibility for passing and giving it to the teacher. Teachers are better educated and harder working than ever. But we retain students today who in the past would have dropped out and found unskilled employment. Teachers are forced to give minimum who have done nothing. When an Austin teacher at a conference I recently attended announced, “Students can’t fail at my school,” no one at the table blinked an eye. When Colin Powell at the Republican National Convention demanded that .teachers be made more responsible to parents, the audience roared its approval. But who is supporting teachers by demanding that students be made more accountable for their classroom performance and that teachers be free to give students the failing grades they deserve? I hope the professor has read his own article in your publication. If he has, an apology will surely be forthcoming to all the dedicated teachers he has insulted. He will have read, “I have no choice but to pass students who cannot write complete sentences….” You live in a glass house, professor. Use your stones for building. Wade Naney Bandera HEAD TO HEAD What a horrible headline, “Texas Profits from Palestinian. Pain” \(April priate and journalistically correct headline ought to have been, “Palestinians Suffer from Moral Bankruptcy of their Leaders.” But you see through a glass darkly and your bias is evident in the plain light of day. Allen S. Kaplan Via e-mail THE MOORE THE MERRIER Michael Moore \(“Moore in Texas,” easier for progressives to work in the Democratic Party than to try to build a third party. For example, the Democratic Party in. Bexar County is almost an empty shell, with 400 of 600 precincts Jacking organizers. We Democrats could use the outspoken enthusiasm and clear vision of Green leaders like Ralph Nader and David Cobb of Houston. I hope Greens will consider coming back to the oldest political party in the world, which, as Moore points out, already has a party headquarters, not to mention the membership of half the elected officials. Darby Rile Texas Environmental Democrats Via e-mail 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5/24102