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FEATURES DEPARTMENTS BOOKS & THE CULTURE MARCH 28, 2003 Texas Observer OUT OF SERVICE 4 Texas has abandoned hundreds of thousands of its citizens with severe mental illness. The result is a system that ruins lives, fractures families, and, in some cases, kills. Now it about to get worse. by Dave Mann CITY ON FIRE 6 An excerpt from City on Fire: The Forgotten Story of a Disaster That Destroyed a Town and Ignited a Landmark Legal Battle. by Bill Minutaglio DIALOGUE 2 EDITORIAL 3 When the King Can Do No Wrong CAPITOL OFFENSES 8 First the Children, Then Their Teachers by Jake Bernstein POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE 10 BAD BILLS 12 JOHN Ross 13 Back From Babylon MOLLY IVINS 14 When in Doubt, Privatize JIM HIGHTOWER 15 Can You Hear Me Now? POETRY 21 by Benjamin Alire Saetrz AT THE MERCY OF THE WORLD 22 by Emmanuel Boulukos BORDER TALK 24 by Farid Matuk AFTERWORD 30 A Love Story by Brenda Bell Cover photo: As explosions rocked the city, residents risked death to rescue their worldly possessions. In the background, flames and smoke move toward the remains of Our Lady of the Snows PORTFOLIO DIALOGUE FAN OF MOLLY Thank you so much for your columns. When I heard about french fries becoming “freedom fries,” it was like another part of a bizarre collective nightmare we’re all having. \(I actually called and left a message for the moronrecent column about all of this idiocy \(“Speak Softly, Forget the Shtick,” all these guys \(Bush & his lockstep hole boys from junior high who haven’t changed one bit, except they’ve aged. That’s it. And now they’re running and ruining the world. Unbelievable. Revolution is definitely in order. Anyway, it is a temporary relief to laugh, and your column did that for us. Anne jemas Southampton MA SENTENCING QUESTIONS If sentencing for non violent criminal offenses is reduced from the state jail level to the misdemeanor \(county jail inates funding for the misdemeanor probation services and felony diversion programs operated by probation districts across the state, how will rehabilitation be achieved? \(“An Even Keel?” will such action have on local property taxes \(principal source of revenue of costs of caring for those who are confined to the county jails? Carey Boethel Via e-mail A MMA N, Jordan Pictured here are Mustafa Satoh, 10, and Cole Miller. Voices. in the Wilderness helped get Urn Hider, Mustafa’s mom, to Amman. \(“Faces Now Cole and I are helping Urn Hider, a 45-year-old elementary school teacher, get a medical visa for her and her son. Tire U.S. Embassy is not being as helpful as it could with her visa. Mustafa was hurt by fragments from a missile that struck his neighborhood in Basra, Iraq in 1999. Cole is a writer from Los Angeles who created WWII! nomorevictims. org . With the possibility of massive bombing only hours away I have truly lost hope of getting Isra, the 13-yearold girl who lost her right arm in the sante attack, out of Iraq. I have helped save one child and his mother There are millions of others now trapped in the crosshairs with no way to escape. Spare them the Mother of All Bombs. Spare us all. As we sow so shall we reap. Alan POpe 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3/28/03