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EDITO 1AL So Much for Accountability Even during the darkest periods of the past few years, when cronyism, arrogance, and mendacity had an almost suffocating hold on Washington and Austin, we always felt the pendulum would swing back in our direction. We marveled at our leaders’ overreach, shook our heads, and clucked that the day of reckoning must surely be just over the horizon. Indeed, the “accountability moment,” as Dubya likes to call elections, came in 2006 with the midterms. The American people spoke. No to the Iraq war! No to corruption! It was a good year. Congress changed hands, and suddenly some semblance of balance returned to American government. A potent symbol of corruption, Jack Abramoff, went to prison. We even witnessed the humiliation of our beloved Tom DeLay, who was hounded off the ballot and forced to all but deliver his seat to a Democrat whom he had previously vanquished. Our topsyturvy system was finally righting itself a bit. Or so it seemed. Now, with the first month of 2007 under our belt, it should be clear to everybody that it will not be so easy. In Texas, the cause of reform clearly made great strides in ’06. Voters repu diated the Republican leadership, particularly in the House, booting key allies of Speaker Tom Craddick like Kent Grusendorf and Gene Seaman out of office. Gov . Rick Perry won reelection, but a majority of voters indicated they’d prefer someone else in the job. And two issuesa push to build 18 coal plants throughout the state and the ambitious proposal to privatize state highwayshave sparked exceptional civic uprisings. Yet a challenge to Craddick’s speakership from the forces of reform fizzled. Perry is still governor. The coal plants and the illconceived Trans-Texas Corridor continue to move at full throttle. The work for positive change in Texas has only just begun. In Washington, the level of corruption, of double-dealing and outright plunder cries out for stiff prison sentences to be handed out like candy canes. While Abramoff was a start, the feds hustled him off to jail before the full scale of the scandal could truly be exposed. Nonetheless, the former lobbyist did point the way toward a solution for the Bush administration’s corruption problem. In 2002, Abramoff allegedly helped convince the president to remove the U.S. Attorney in Guam. It appears that a public corruption inves tigation by the federal prosecutor was making some Abramoff clients uncomfortable. Last year, prior to the elections, the Justice Department insisted it was telling U.S. attorneys across the nation to focus on public corruption. Now that the election is past, the Justice Department is undertaking an unprecedented housecleaning, pushing out at least four U.S. attorneys, and maybe as many as seven. In Iraq, rather than listen to the American public, a bipartisan group of political elders, or even the generals in the field, the Bush administration has decided to escalate the conflict. When Fox News’ Chris Wallace pointed out to Vice President Dick Cheney that national exit polls showed 67 percent of voters said the war was either very or extremely important to their vote, and only 17 percent supported sending in more troops, the dark lord replied blithely, “The polls change.” He continued, “… you cannot simply stick your finger into the wind and say, gee, public opinion is against [the war], we better quit.” Cheney will not quit. Nor will Perry or Craddick. Whatever power these people have, they will use. The pendulum will go only so far on its own without a big collective push. THE TEXAS OBSERVER I VOLUME 99, NO. 2 I A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor Ronnie Dugger Executive Editor Jake Bernstein Editor Barbara Belejack Managing Editor David Pasztor Associate Editor Dave Mann Publisher Charlotte McCann Associate Publisher Julia Austin Circulation Manager Lara George Tucker Art Director/Webmaster Matt Omohundro Investigative Reporter Eileen Welsome Poetry Editor Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editors Rusty Todd, Laurie Baker Staff Writer Forrest Wilder Blogger Matt Wright Administrative Assistant Stephanie Holmes Editorial Interns Jun Wang, A.J. Bauer, Kelly Sharp Contributing Writers Nate Blakeslee, Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, James McWilliams, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olsson, John Ross, Andrew Wheat Staff Photographers Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum, Steve Satterwhite Contributing Artists Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Doug Potter Editorial Advisory Board David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid Texas Democracy Foundation Board Lou Dubose, Molly Ivins, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Mary Nell Mathis, Gilberto Ocanas, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips, Sharron Rush, Kelly White, In Memoriam Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001, Cliff Olofson, 1931-1995 The Texas Observer \(ISSN 0040-4519/ righted 2007, is published biweekly except during January and August when there is a 4 week break between 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, TX and at additional mailing offices. Subscriptions One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13 per year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 pre paid. 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. Books & the Culture is funded in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts. Cv{:Witi Dwitkot JANUARY 26, 2007 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3