Reading Around

Article excerpt

Bush Babies

The relentless Texas Observer (July 26) is still compiling its dark-side version of the Bush family scrapbook. Following upon Pete Brewton's excellent coverage of son Neil's part in the S&L scandal comes David Armstrong's investigation of George Jr.'s association with a select company of international banks, C.I.A. operatives, and drug and gun runners in his role as a director of the Harken Energy Corporation. Harken holds the exclusive right to oil development for offshore fields of the island of Bahrain, which is situated right off the coast of ... yes, Kuwait. Even if young George were not part of it, Harken makes a fascinating story. Conspiracy theorists take note.

The Pure and the Impure

Environmental groups may be the first activists since the Bolsheviks to be plagued less by failure than by success. Rolling Stone has a recent pair of pieces on the matter. In the August 22 issue Bill Gifford describes the growth of the Environmental Defense Fund as a result of its successful campaign to help McDonald's deep-six the foam clamshell, and in the September 5 issue Tom Horton writes at exhausting length about the "evolution" of Greenpeace from a ragtag group of idealists twenty years ago to an organization with annual revenues of $160 million. In both cases the gains have excited criticism from longtime environmentalists who consider the brown-nosing of big business by the E.D.F. and the globalization of Greenpeace alarming developments for the movement. Why alarming? As set up in these articles it's hard to say, since the criticism is so wan.

Race

If articles about foreign affairs, especially the gulf war and the coup in the Soviet Union, remain anemic, writing on domestic issues, especially race, is heating up nicely. In the same issue of Rolling Stone as the Greenpeace article, William Greider speculates that Bush is playing the race card - this time in the form of affirmative action - to evade the hard domestic social and economic issues. But no one has been nearly as eloquent and devastating on the cynicism and the ugliness of the President's racial policies as Bill Bradley in his recent speech at the Capitol, delivered to an empty Senate gallery but printed largely intact in the September Harper's.

Going back a month to the August Harper's, Jim Traub's piece on the black talk show hosted by Gary Byrd from the Apollo Theater and aired on WLIB in New York makes a crucial contribution to the race debate by describing the parallel psychic realities inhabited by blacks and whites in this country. Essential reading for anyone who wants to understand why Professor Leonard Jeffries of the City College of New York has garnered such a large following, among people who should know better, for a crackpot theory about racial differences. In the September Atlantic, Traub has another interesting piece, this time on the not-entirely-unacceptable resegregation of the Oklahoma City public school system. …