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MR. LEHRER: Good evening. I'm Jim Lehrer. On the NewsHour this Tuesday, Elizabeth Farnsworth talks with PLO Chief Yasser Arafat. Spencer Michels reports on California's exploding prison population Margaret Warner interviews Presidential Candidate Pat Buchanan, and San Antonio reporter Ramiro Burr tells us about a singer named Selena. It all follows our summary of the day's news. NEWS SUMMARY
MR. LEHRER: President Clinton met with China's President Jiang Zemin for two hours in New York today. They discussed human rights, trade issues, and the future of Taiwan. President Clinton called for constructive dialogue before the meeting, but Jiang said only there was much to discuss on the issue of Taiwan. Earlier at the United Nations General Assembly, Jiang reasserted what he was were China's rights in Taiwan.
PRESIDENT JIANG ZEMIN, People's Republic of China: [speaking through interpreter] The government of the People's Republic of China is China's sole legal government and its sole representative in the United Nations. The Chinese people have the ability, the resourcefulness, and confidence to overcome any interference to put an end to the division between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits and achieve the reunification of the motherland.
MR. LEHRER: President Clinton also met with Croatia's and Bosnia's presidents in New York today. He told them he rejected a call to bar Serbia's President Milosevic from joining them at peace talks in Ohio next week. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole said Milosevic should not be given a visa because he's a war criminal. The Senate today voted overwhelmingly to move the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. President Clinton opposes such a move. Israel has considered Jerusalem its capital since 1967, but its final status will be officially determined in the Israeli-PLO peace negotiations. The bill approved today sets a May 1999 deadline for the move but gives the President flexibility in meeting it. The House has yet to vote on the matter. The chairman of the PLO, Yasser Arafat, is in this country for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations. He told the NewsHour he expected Palestinians to have an independent state within two years. We'll have Elizabeth Farnsworth's interview with Arafat right after the News Summary. Republican leaders had some more budget words for President Clinton today. They invited him to submit his own plan to balance the budget in seven years, something he said last week he might do. Both the House and Senate are set to vote on Republican versions later this week. House Speaker Gingrich spoke today at a Capitol Hill news conference.
REP. NEWT GINGRICH, Speaker of the House: We take the President's statements on taxes and on a seven-year budget last week as good signs that there may be a common ground, and whether it's this week, or whether the White House prefers to let us finish getting the job done in the House and Senate, we would look forward to trying to work things out with him within the framework of lower taxes and a seven-year balanced budget, which I think was actually quite encouraging.
MR. LEHRER: A Democrat said Republicans are not really interested in other budget plans. House Minority Leader Gephardt put it this way.
REP. RICHARD GEPHARDT, Minority Leader: The Republicans have been great at saying where's your budget, where's your Medicare plan, where's your--they're not interested in other budgets, and they're not interested in other Medicare plans. What they're interested in is passing their budget.
MR. LEHRER: The Internal Revenue Service today announced the end of random audits. An IRS spokesman said the 30-year-old practice was being indefinitely postponed because of budget cuts. The move will save the agency $1.5 billion. The IRS conducted its last random audit in 1988. The National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union teamed up today to demand reform of the federal government's deadly force policies. Their spokesman cited the Waco and Ruby Ridge shootouts as examples of the wrongful use of force. They want a national commission created to recommend reforms in law enforcement tactics. The group's leader spoke this morning at a Washington news conference.
LAURA MURPHY, Director, ACLU Washington: I think the militarization of law enforcement is a reaction to the fear of crime and the fear that people have for their personal safety. We cannot solve this problem if we allow ourselves to be pitted against each other. We are all citizens. We all have constitutional rights, and we should not look at civilian law enforcement agencies to develop military tanks, SWAT teams, and other mechanisms that use excessive force on our citizens and deny them their constitutional rights.
MR. LEHRER: A railroad car full of nitrogen tetroxide gas ruptured yesterday afternoon in the town of Bogalusa, Louisiana. Fifteen hundred people have been evacuated from their homes. Hundreds of others have been warned to stay inside, with their doors and windows shut. The gas is fatal if inhaled. Workers were attempting today to neutralize its poisonous effects. And that's it for the News Summary tonight. Now it's on to Yasser Arafat, crowded California prisons, Pat Buchanan, and who was Selena. NEWSMAKER
MR. LEHRER: We go first tonight to a Newsmaker interview with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. It comes as the Israelis and the Palestinians continue to negotiate about power and security and to look for ways to live together on the West Bank. Elizabeth Farnsworth talked with Chairman Arafat yesterday in New York.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Thank you very much for being with us, sir.
YASSER ARAFAT, Chairman, PLO: Thank you.
MS. FARNSWORTH: What has happened since the September 28th signing of the self-rule accord? Has--have the Israeli forces begun to pull out, as they promised?
YASSER ARAFAT: They will, according to what had been agreed upon even after they sign an agreement, we have some discussions, and we have some meetings with the Israelis, and we hope that the withdrawal will start in twenty-eight--in twenty-five--on the twenty-fifth of this month.
MS. FARNSWORTH: What about the prisoner releases? Has that gone as you hoped?
YASSER ARAFAT: No. No, especially the, the women, because the women had to be released according to the agreement, all females, but still the President, President Weizman, is refusing to sign the release for their release.
MS. FARNSWORTH: He's refusing to sign a release because these are prisoners who are convicted of homicide?
YASSER ARAFAT: In any case, this agreement is between me and the Israeli government, and he has to respect it.
MS. FARNSWORTH: So what can you do about that?
YASSER ARAFAT: Well, I am continuing my efforts.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Are you pleased with the agreement?
YASSER ARAFAT: No doubt, because now we are starting the second stage of the--of Oslo agreement. Everybody was thinking that it would be only one stage. Now, we have started second stage, which is very important, especially this will enable us to control all our people in the West Bank and Gaza, and to have a Palestinian national authority, and to have a Palestinian flag. It's not easy, and this will enable us also to carry on with our election.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Let's talk about Hamas for a minute, the, the Islamic resistance group which had opposed the peace accord and which had carried out suicide bombings in Israel. Newspapers have reported here that you're close to an agreement with Hamas, an agreement under which they would give up their resistance to the accord, is that true?
YASSER ARAFAT: We were doing our--all our best to control all these activities, and the same, the Israelis, from their settlers and from their fanatic Israeli groups, so we have the two and the two sides' fanatic groups, how we have our fanatic groups and they have their fanatic groups, and we are suffering from the two fanatic groups here too, because two of them were against the peace process. But in the same time, I--we began to open talks with all the oppositions, not only with Hamas, with the Popular Front, with the Democratic Front, with the Arab Front. with the Palestinian Front, with all of them, we open talks. It is a part of our democracy, and the Palestinian field, and for your information, we are proud of our democracy.
MS. FARNSWORTH: But are the press reports premature in saying that you have reached an agreement with Hamas, so that they participate in the elections?
YASSER ARAFAT: Not yet, no, no, not yet.
MS. FARNSWORTH: You're still in the process of doing that?
MS. FARNSWORTH: Do you think that these fanatic groups can derail the peace process?
MS. FARNSWORTH: You think it's strong enough that it can resist those pressures?
YASSER ARAFAT: The--we have oppositions, no doubt. We are a democratic area, field, and we are proud of our democracy. But the majority of our people are supporting the peace process.
MS. FARNSWORTH: I want to talk just for a minute about human rights. As you know, there have been some criticisms from human rights groups in Israel and in this country and in, also in Gaza, about the Palestinian authority's handling of human rights. There were special courts set up, and I believe that human rights--
YASSER ARAFAT: I will tell you--I will tell you why I had--I had done it--the state's security courts. We had arrested a group of three persons from what's called Abu Nidal group.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Yes. Abu Nidal's group.
YASSER ARAFAT: This is a terrorist organization, and they were planning to assassinate the Palestinian leadership.
MS. FARNSWORTH: To assassinate the Palestinian leadership?
YASSER ARAFAT: Yes. And they, they confessed to that during the investigation with them. So we sent them to the court.
MS. FARNSWORTH: But how do you--
MS. FARNSWORTH: Yes, go ahead. Sorry.
YASSER ARAFAT: We sent them to the court. The court had released them. They said that clearly and obviously even in front of the courts, yes, we--we had an instruction to, to assassinate the Palestinian leadership. So, I, I followed up and I found that there are threats against the civilian courts, the civilian judge.
YASSER ARAFAT: For this, I was obliged to, to have our securities court, state security court, so that to protect the law and not to let anyone to interfere or to threaten our judge.
MS. FARNSWORTH: The security is still very tight around you, and are you in as much danger as you ever were?
YASSER ARAFAT: It's not the first time. You have to remember, Sharon had mentioned once that he will--that he had tried 13 times to assassinate me in his memories.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Well, that's what I wondered, if you're in less danger because now you have the peace accord.
YASSER ARAFAT: No, no, the same.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Can you become an efficient--let's talk about the government governing in the--in the areas that you're governing right now. You've been in clandestinity so long, is it difficult for you making the transition to becoming an administrative leader, an above-ground leader of a government?
YASSER ARAFAT: Actually, actually, for your information, we were dealing as an--as a government in exile. We are dealing with all our people's problems, education, social life, social--health on all levels, even, even when we're dealing how to export and import our productions.
MS. FARNSWORTH: But it is different now, isn't it?
YASSER ARAFAT: It is a little bit.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Yes. Is it difficult making the transition?
YASSER ARAFAT: More difficult. More difficult.
MS. FARNSWORTH: More difficult yet?
YASSER ARAFAT: Definitely.
YASSER ARAFAT: Because now we are, we are completely responsible for everything concerning our people, from the classroom to how many beds in the hospitals, to the roads, the electricity, water, jobs, career change of jobs, exportation.
MS. FARNSWORTH: And can you delegate that? There's been some criticism that because you're so used to having control that it's hard for you to delegate.
YASSER ARAFAT: First of all, you have to understand, that's why we are proud of our cadres. We have--
MS. FARNSWORTH: Of your cadre, the people that work with you?
YASSER ARAFAT: Yes. We have the highest percent of education in the whole area. And we have enough cadres. For your information, all our infrastructures had been completely destroyed during the occupation. And believe me--
MS. FARNSWORTH: You're talking about highways, sewage--
YASSER ARAFAT: Schools. Can you imagine that? We are--our schools are working three shifts per day.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Six shifts per day--
YASSER ARAFAT: Three, three.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Three shifts per day.
YASSER ARAFAT: Three shifts per day. Can you imagine it?
MS. FARNSWORTH: Because there aren't enough schools.
YASSER ARAFAT: There is shortage. And we had started from, from the moment we are arrived to build new schools, new classes, no one bed had been increased, our population had been increased, and no, no one bed had been increased in our hospital during the 28 years.
MS. FARNSWORTH: There had been no increases in the number of beds. Uh-huh.
YASSER ARAFAT: The sewage.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Is the aid coming in for this?
YASSER ARAFAT: The electricity, the water, the roads, not telecommunications, the radio--we have to start below zero.
MS. FARNSWORTH: As you know in Congress, there's some criticism and opposition to giving more aid to the Palestinian authority. In the House, there's an attempt to try to make the aid, which was promised by the U.S. government as part of a peace plan, make the aid go through human--go through Non-Governmental Organizations and not to the Palestinian authority which you head. What do you have to say about that?
YASSER ARAFAT: Why are they not doing the same with the Israelis?
MS. FARNSWORTH: Why are they not doing the same with the Israelis?
YASSER ARAFAT: Yes. Why? Why only with the Palestinians? We have the right to ask it. This will--will reflect negatively against the peace process. You are gaining--you are giving the billions and billions for the Israeli loan guarantees and the side donations directly to the Israeli government, and they are situating to give some million dollars to, to the Palestinian authority after all this period of the occupation and after what we have suffered since '47, after they partitioned land, this is a moral and political responsibility.
MS. FARNSWORTH: This is a moral and political responsibility?
YASSER ARAFAT: Not only for the American administration, but for the whole world, because we are the victims of this United Nations resolution through which we had started our troubles after the partition resolution.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Are we seeing the birth of a Palestinian state?
YASSER ARAFAT: It is coming.
MS. FARNSWORTH: When do you think it will come?
YASSER ARAFAT: Maximum two years.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Maximum two years?
MS. FARNSWORTH: Will it be an independent state, or will it be in a confederation with Jordan?
YASSER ARAFAT: Independent state, but we are at the same time, we are in same time looking to have according to our national, Palestinian National Council, to have a confederal relation with our brothers, the Jordanians, according to the free choice of the two peoples.
MS. FARNSWORTH: When will the elections for the Palestinian Council take place, do you think?
YASSER ARAFAT: I hope that next January, after the, the final redeployment of the Israeli military forces from the whole populated area and the West Bank, which is about 1/3 of the area of the West Bank.
MS. FARNSWORTH: And finally, what are you most worried about now? What could, what could derail this process?
YASSER ARAFAT: First of all, we have to be sure that there will be accurate and honest implementation to what--to what had been agreed upon and signed, very important. And we have to take care of it, and at the same time, not to let any inside or outside activities to harm or to destroy the peace process, and the third point is the economical situation; we are suffering.
MS. FARNSWORTH: 60 percent unemployment, is that right, in Gaza?
YASSER ARAFAT: 58 percent, yes, 58 percent.
MS. FARNSWORTH: What can you do about that?
YASSER ARAFAT: And this is one of our problems, and to--to let the Congress understand what is the meaning of this, and if they want peace in the Middle East, they have to cover these very important needs. Otherwise, it will reflect negatively on the whole peace process. And for your information, the peace is not only a Palestinian need. It's a Palestinian need, Israeli need, Arab need, European need, American need, international need, and the Middle East is not a spot on the map. It's one of the most important strategic, strategic areas all over the world.
YASSER ARAFAT: Now to forget this is the Terra Sancta.
YASSER ARAFAT: Terra Sancta--the Holy Land.
MS. FARNSWORTH: Well, Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for being with us.
MR. LEHRER: Still to come on the NewsHour tonight, crowded California prisons, Pat Buchanan, and the late Selena. FOCUS - PRISON BOOM
MR. LEHRER: Next, California's exploding prison population. The state has been lengthening prison sentences and building new prisons for more than a decade. The question now is whether the real result has been reduced crime or better local economies. Spencer Michels reports from San Francisco.
SPENCER MICHELS: This scene, the opening of a new prison in California, has been repeated 18 times in the last decade. The state has spent more than $5 billion on prison construction, and its prison population has exploded from 47,000 to more than 130,000 today. Convicted felons have overloaded 31 state prisons, and projections are that at least 15 more will be needed in the next five years. One reason for the boom is a decade of tough-on-crime legislation, increasing sentences. California Governor Pete Wilson defends that policy as effective in fighting crime.
GOV. PETE WILSON, California: The reason people were put in prisons in the first place was to protect the public against them. The thought, very simply, is that if someone's locked up, he hasn't access to new victims. You have to toughen the laws so that, in fact, the criminals learn that it is not going to be a revolving door system of justice, that they won't just get a tap.
SPOKESMAN: Thank you. I'll mark this ready for trial.
MR. MICHELS: Many Californians have believed that for a long time. A major reason California needed new prisons was the prosecutors and judges began sending more criminals, including non- violent offenders, to prison in the late 70's and the 80's. Also, the legislature started increasing sentences and mandating prison time for some specific offenses. That "get tough" attitude has been popular with voters who since 1982 voted five times for bond issues to pay for prison construction. The man overseeing the expanding prison empire, corrections director James Gomez, says he has a mandate.
JAMES GOMEZ, Director, California Department of Corrections: This public has been clear. It is tired of rapists; it is tired of murderers; it's tired of assaulters; and the public has clearly said we want to lock those people up, we don't want 'em back out on the street.
MR. MICHELS: Building prisons at record rates is not just a California phenomenon. Nationwide, state spending on prison construction has increased 600 percent over 10 years. California's incarceration rate is 17th in the nation. But with the largest population, the state has seen the largest and fastest growth.
JAMES GOMEZ: Our budget's about $3.4 billion. So it's large. I have 40,000 employees, 133,000 inmates, and 91,000 parolees.
MR. MICHELS: Californians are debating whether the billions spent for constructing new prisons is paying off. One faction argues that taking criminals off the street and putting them behind bars is bound to reduce the crime rate, and, in fact, they argue the crime rate is dropping. But a new study disputes that. Researchers looked at the decade of the 1980's, when California's prison and jail populations more than tripled. How did that, they ask, impact the volume of crime? Franklin Zimring, a professor at the University of California's Boalt Law School, directed the study.
FRANKLIN ZIMRING, University of California, Berkeley: Our findings suggested that the only two consistent offenses that go down when imprisonment rates explode in California were larceny and burglary. For the other five index felonies, including all violent crimes, there was no visible systematic dent.
MR. MICHELS: Zimring says his study belies Gov. Wilson's claims that more prisoners in jail reduces violence in the streets.
FRANKLIN ZIMRING: The first 10,000 people you lock up in New Jersey or California, you're going to prevent a lot of crime. The next 10,000, you're going to prevent less. And one of the reasons why California now probably can't expect much more from doubling the ante again with incapacitation is because we're already locking up so many people.
GOV. PETE WILSON: I think it defies common sense. It also defies other scholarly studies. He's being contradicted by the crime statistics that are kept by the FBI and by the police departments, which showed for the second straight year there was a marked drop in violent crime.
MR. MICHELS: Statistics do show a short-term drop in crime, especially in big cities, but no one is sure exactly why and what the long-term trend may be. Vincent Schiraldi, who runs a crime research center in San Francisco, argues that the crime rate is also down in states that have not increased sentences as much as California.
VINCENT SCHIRALDI, Center on Juvenile & Criminal Justice: You can't say, hey, the last year and a half crime went down and prison population went up, we've now found a panacea. You have to explain those 16 years in which the prison population rose and crime went up anyway, if you're going to do a legitimate analysis of this.
GOV. PETE WILSON: [giving speech] Three strikes is the most important victory yet in the fight to take back our streets.
MR. MICHELS: Nevertheless, Gov. Wilson points to California's year-old "Three Strikes and You're Out" law as a major reason for recent crime rate drops. That law increases sentences by mandating 25 years to life in prison for a third felony conviction if the first two were violent or serious. So far, just 700 felons have received a third strike, but the law is expected to add thousands of inmates to the system. At this prison in a Sacramento suburb, 21-year-old Hector Soto was serving a sentence for attempted murder. Then while in custody, he got caught with a homemade weapon, his second serious felony conviction.
MR. MICHELS: So you've got two strikes now. What does that do to you in your own mind in terms of what you're going to be doing?
HECTOR SOTO, Prisoner: Well, I just got to--I got to be careful, because I could get twenty-five to life, gaining time. I ain't gonna do it again. It's too risky. The "three strikes" law is too risky.
MR. MICHELS: The threat of a long sentence didn't, of course, keep Soto from committing his first two crimes.
HECTOR SOTO: Well, uh, I didn't think I was gonna get caught.
MR. MICHELS: This prison, like many new ones, was built for violent maximum security inmates. There are few programs here, not enough prison jobs. In this setting, according to convicted murderer Ronald Lanphear, the threat of a third strike often makes little difference.
RONALD LANPHEAR, Prisoner: If they're not getting something that will prompt 'em to want to turn their lifestyle around when they get out, they're going right back in the same thing they were in.
MR. MICHELS: But prison officials acknowledge that providing drug treatment and therapy and education are not priorities, even if they might improve inmates' prospects.
JAMES GOMEZ: Rehabilitation is no longer in our, in our penal code. The purpose of prison, according to the penal code, is punishment.
MR. MICHELS: Politically, there is slim chance California will abandon its program of long sentences, little rehabilitation, and more prisons. In fact, prison expansion has developed a powerful constituency of its own that includes prison guards and their union, politicians, construction firms, and small towns, whose economies benefit from new prisons. Almost all of the state's 18 new facilities have been built in small towns which lobbied for the honor. Mule Creek Prison was among the first of the new batch to go up a decade ago. It employs almost a thousand officers and support staff to care for its nearly 4,000 inmates. Mule Creek is located just a mile from the small agricultural town of Ione, less than an hour from Sacramento. Business here improved a little after the prison went in, but not as much as expected. Many of the staff commute, rather than live nearby. Recently, the state wanted to build another prison here, but residents turned it down. Some feared growth; some feared the inmates.
CAL TERHUNE, Ione City Council: People are concerned. They know that there's roughly 4,000 pretty violent, Level 4 and high Level 3 inmates that are up there. If something should go wrong, as crowding increases, it could be a danger to the community.
MR. MICHELS: Ione City Council Member Cal Terhune used to run the state's youth prisons. He calls Mule Creek an eyesore from the road. He says prison employees and visitors have increased traffic and noise. And in a lawsuit, he charges the state lied to the town.
CAL TERHUNE: The contract said that there would be no more than 3200 inmates in the facility. The facility is now around 3800. The contract said that there would only be Level 3, the less violent offenders, in the facility. It's now a Level 4 facility.
MR. MICHELS: Ione's police department has been overextended, but even more dramatic has been the effect on the county seat, Jackson, where court cases involving prisoners crowd the docket. It's not just the extra work; it's the lack of security in this old courthouse that bothers Judge Susan Harlan.
SUSAN HARLAN, Superior Court Judge: It is an accident waiting to happen. Security is my--probably my biggest concern. It is. It's just--it's just a scary situation.
MR. MICHELS: In sleepy and mostly peaceful Amador County in the heart of California gold country, there are no holding cells for prisoners. High security inmates from Mule Creek just come in the front door and sit in the 50-year-old courtroom, along with four guards.
SUSAN HARLAN: If you want to put a prison somewhere, wonderful, but let's make sure that you don't have a modern-day prison with all the security and bells and whistles that it takes to have a prison these days and then impose it on a court facility that was built in the 1940's.
MR. MICHELS: California correction officials say plenty of local people and most other communities welcome new prisons as a secure economic base in hard times. In fact, they point out, Sacramento County has approved construction of a third prison on the site of closed-down Mather Air Force Base. Ione and Jackson, officials say, face special problems because Mule Creek was built 10 years ago.
JAMES GOMEZ: We provide $2 million for capital outlay for a particular city or county in order to take care of some of those issues. Ione is an example of a prison that was built prior to that legislation that allowed for that.
MR. MICHELS: Gomez says the legislature has not approved money to ease the prison impact at Ione and a few other sites. As for the burgeoning prison population-- JAMES GOMEZ: If I get sent 10,000 guys that are maximum security, I have to put 'em somewhere. I don't get to say, I'm sorry, we're going to release these maximum security inmates because Ione does not want them.
MR. MICHELS: Of late, pain for prisons has not been as popular as the policies that created them. Last year, California voters turned down a prison bond issue, and this year, the legislature failed to fund six new prisons. Nevertheless, the state is planning on building more prisons and expects to get the money probably from lawmakers who want to be seen as tough on crime. SERIES - THE CANDIDATES
MR. LEHRER: Now, another in our series of interviews with the Republican presidential candidates. Tonight, Pat Buchanan is the candidate. Margaret Warner talked to him this afternoon.
MS. WARNER: This is Patrick Buchanan's second run for the Republican presidential nomination. He's 56 years old and was born and raised here in Washington, D.C.. He's a graduate of Georgetown University and received his Master's in journalism from Columbia University. He then worked as an editorial writer for the "St. Louis Globe Democrat." From 1966 through '68, he was executive assistant to an out-of-office Richard Nixon. After the '68 election, Buchanan joined the Nixon White House as a senior advisor to the President. He served throughout the Nixon presidency and stayed for several months as a senior assistant to President Ford. After leaving the White House, he became a successful syndicated columnist and radio and television commentator. He returned to the White House during President Reagan's second term as the director of communications. In 1987, he left government and went back to his life as a columnist and a commentator on CNN. In 1992, he challenged President Bush for the Republican nomination. Although he did not win, Buchanan surprised the pundits by racking up 37 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary. Welcome, Mr. Buchanan.
PATRICK BUCHANAN, Republican Presidential Candidate: Thank you, Margaret.
MS. WARNER: Why do you want to be President?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Because that office has greater power and influence to--over history and over the course of events than any other in the world, and because I've spent my entire life trying to influence history and direct events. And I think the time and the man have come together. My ideas are now the ideas I think of the mainstream Republican Party and I think of mainstream America.
MS. WARNER: I want to turn to one set of those ideas in which you really do, I think, still differ a lot from the Republican field, and that is what some commentators have called your economic populism or economic nationalism. First of all, is that the way you describe yourself, and what does that mean?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Let's go with economic patriotism. I believe that the government of the United States, Margaret, in trade agreements should look out for American interests, for the American workers, American businesses first. The Japanese prime minister does that. The Chinese prime minister does that, and I believe the President of the United States has got to start doing that, because America's been exporting her jobs, her factories, and her future. One statistic, the real wages of American working men and women, have fallen 20 percent in 20 years. That's because we've got the short end of some bad trade deals.
MS. WARNER: All right. When you announced you said no more NAFTA sellout, no more GATT, but the fact is if you became President, those deals are a reality. What would you do about trade agreements we're already in and part of?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: I would cancel NAFTA with six months notice. I would put an end to the $50 billion bailouts of regimes like Mexico, when we don't even bail out Orange County. That's an outrage for the benefit of big banks. With regard to the World Trade Organization, which is part of the latest GATT agreement, I believe it's unconstitutional. It's an infringement of the constitutional power of Congress to oversee foreign commerce in this country. And I think that it is unconstitutional, and I would not abide by WTO orders and directives to the United States.
MS. WARNER: But would you continue to abide, essentially, by the overall GATT framework?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: The overall agreements with regard to tariffs and the rest of it, yes, I would abide by those, but I will tell you this, Margaret. We are running a $100 billion trade deficit with China and Japan, just two nations. They are protectionist to the hilt. They are keeping American products out. They're capturing our markets, and in China, they're actually stealing our intellectual property. And I would tell both countries I'm going to do away with these trade deficits, and if you don't find a way to help me do away with it, I'm going to find a way myself by imposing 10 percent across-the-board tariffs on Japanese goods entering the United States and 20 percent on Chinese goods. The higher level for China is because I think they are emerging as the great threat to peace in East Asia. And I think they're emerging as a great power, and they're doing it on the basis of these enormous trade surpluses we're giving them.
MS. WARNER: Okay. So you would impose these tariffs on these goods till what point?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Until we got rid of--we have twin deficits.
MS. WARNER: Until you got rid of the deficit with both countries.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Until--listen, we have a $200 billion merchandise trade deficit and a $200 billion budget deficit. They are eating up the seed corn of the American economy. We are exporting our future. Both of them have to be gotten down to zero, and that would be my objective.
MS. WARNER: Okay. But then how would you expect the rest of the world to respond to this, if we didn't--if we didn't abide by WTO decisions when we got in a trade dispute, what about Japan and China, wouldn't they simply retaliate?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: The United States has the greatest market in the world. When you add Canada, you got 300 million people, a tremendously affluent society. Everyone wants to get into the American market. What you tell them is, quite frankly, this. You want access to our market, we want full, unrestricted access to yours, and if we don't get it, you're not getting that access to ours. You know, Margaret, if we'd run the Cold War with the timidity and fear with which we conduct our trade negotiations, we'd all be learning now how to speak Russian. I mean, Ronald Reagan stood up to the Soviets and said, these are American interests, our arms agreements, they're going to be fair to our country, and they're going to guarantee our security. I just want that same kind of American patriotism and economic nationalism in the White House now that the battle of the future is for the markets of the world.
MS. WARNER: So are you--are you saying, or are you not saying that you think the United States can be an economic island?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: No, no, no, no. Of course not.
MS. WARNER: You're not saying that?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: No, no, no, no. We want to trade with the entire world. But Margaret, we've always been a very trading nation. For 50 years or more, we ran trade surpluses. Now we run the largest deficits in history.
MS. WARNER: All right.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: We used to be a creditor nation. Now we're a debtor nation.
MS. WARNER: Okay. But your critics say, in fact, that what--the steps you are advocating would lead to the U.S. having to be an economic island because there would be retaliation, if only for political reasons, in these other countries. They couldn't just sit by and say, okay, hit us again.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: What is Taiwan going to do to us? What is South Korea going to do to us? What is Japan?
MS. WARNER: Not let us sell there.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Look, what is Japan going to do to us, which is dependent upon the United States for their military security, as well as their economic security? Margaret, Korea sells us 100 automobiles for every one we sell in Korea. Japan has 25 percent of our auto market. We have 1 percent of theirs. All I get from my colleagues is, in addition to the, to the constant mantra of free trade, the mindless mantra, is we can't do it because they'll do something to us. If we stand up and defend our national interests, as we have done in the past, the United States will do just fine. Every--virtually every great President, all four on Mount Rushmore, believed in precisely the economic nationalism that I believe in, putting their own country first, making sure their own country's standard of living was going up and in addition, making us the greatest industrial manufacturing power in the world, dependent on no one. That's my objective.
MS. WARNER: Okay. Another step you've advocated that some would call nationalistic is a five-year moratorium on all immigration, is that right, legal, as well as illegal?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, illegal immigration should be stopped cold at the border with a security fence, with a Proposition 187 nationwide, no welfare benefits should go to people whose only achievement is to break the law and break into the country. With regard to legal immigration, Margaret, we've taken in 25 million people in the last 25 years or so. It is time for a moratorium or timeout so we can assimilate, Americanize, introduce these folks to our language, our institutions, and culture, so we can become one nation, one family, one people again. I think you and I have watched our country pulling itself apart on not only the Los Angeles riots, which were a war of all against all, but on campuses. We now have white graduations and Asian graduations and black graduations and Hispanic graduations, separate dorms. We've got to get back to the idea of one nation, one family, and get away from hyphenated Americanism. And the objective of a timeout, a temporary timeout on legal immigration, is designed to do exactly that.
MS. WARNER: Now, as also part of this, you are against all forms of affirmative action, is that right?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: I would--I think affirmative action is tearing us apart. Racial quotas and setasides and contracts, these things basically are government-based discrimination on the basis of race, and that's always wrong, whether it's done against black folks or being done against white folks. Within, I think, in my first week in office, I would issue an executive order to pull out all affirmative action programs, contract setasides and quotas from the federal government, all this diversity nonsense that Bill Clinton has imposed on us, which is tearing us apart.
MS. WARNER: All right. Let me ask you about cultural and social issues, because, again, in your announcement, you said you wanted to win the cultural war for the soul of America. What did you mean by that? And let's go back to what you just said there. What would be the first three things you'd do that would address that?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, five things I would do would be to repeal the first five executive orders of Bill Clinton that made our country a country that believes in abortion on demand. I would overturn those. I would begin to build a security fence along the Southern border, as I promised. I would make the White House a bully pulpit I think for cultural traditionalism. When you see the Smithsonian Institute--Institution running an exhibit which portrays our heroes of World War II as fighting a war, basically a racist war, to exterminate a unique Japanese culture, that nonsense will stop. The National Endowment for the Arts I think should be shut down. There's no reason American taxpayers should finance and support blasphemous, insulting, and gross and indecent art. And I think the, the White House, you should use your power and authority and voice to defend the traditional values in which Americans believe.
MS. WARNER: Now, many Republicans feel that your call, your similar call at the '92 Republican Convention really frightened a lot of moderate voters out there, independents as well as Republicans, and helped cost the Republicans the election.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: [laughing] Margaret, George Bush lost the election because of Ross Perot. He ran strictly on the economic issue.
MS. WARNER: But isn't--
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Hold it. He split that, and, and what did Clinton say that they had to run on, had to stay on? "It's the economy, stupid." They knew they would lose if they ran on the cultural issues. The reason we have won this battle on the cultural and social issues is look at Bob Dole, Republican candidate. He's now talking about the filth in Hollywood and the kinds of movies that are being made, the President is. I think we've won this battle. I think traditionalism is winning the battle in both parties, and we raised the banner down there in Houston. That night that I spoke and Ronald Reagan spoke, George Bush gained 10 points in the polls, overnight polls, the best night of his entire year.
MS. WARNER: But aren't a lot of the people who voted for Ross Perot very almost libertarian in their outlook? They don't want the government getting into a lot of these areas.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: They don't agree with me on right to life, but when I went to the Perot Convention, Margaret, I got 12 standing ovations. It was one of the best receptions I've had all year, or of any year. They agree with me on NAFTA and GATT and no more surrenders of American sovereignty. I'll tell you what else they agree on. We got to clean up the corruption in this city, the handing out of envelopes full of cash with PAC money and thousand dollar lobbyist contribution, it goes on all the time, and is an outrage. We've got to get the corporate money out. You got to get term limits on members of Congress. We've got to do away--look, you know, Phil Gramm is younger than I am. I know he doesn't look it, but he has a $2 1/2 million pension vested right now in Congress. Now, that's preposterous! He's been there sixteen or seventeen years. Nobody in the private sector has that. And this is one of the reasons the American people are tremendously alienated from these institutions. We ought to put an end to Congressional pensions, put Congress on Social Security, put 'em on term limits, get the money out, let people running for the Senate from Iowa raise all their money in Iowa so they can represent Iowa, not Hollywood, not Wall Street.
MS. WARNER: All right. Before we close, let me ask you a couple of things about the campaign, itself.
MS. WARNER: You are confounding the pundits again. You are in second place in most of these states. But the surveys also show that most voters already know who you are, and a high percentage of them, close to 50 percent, have an unfavorable view of you. How do you explain that, first of all?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Well, let's see. I defended to the end the most unpopular President in American history. I defended Ronald Reagan.
MS. WARNER: Richard Nixon.
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Richard Nixon. I defended Ronald Reagan during Iran-Contra and Ollie North. I supported the most unpopular war in history, Vietnam. I opposed the most popular one in Desert Storm. My whole life, Margaret, as a journalist and a political figure, has been engaged in controversies and battles and causes, and some of them have been tremendously controversial and divisive. I'm proud of that. That's what I wanted to do with my life. And, of course, there are people who are going to disagree with me and dislike me. But that doesn't make any difference. I can win this nomination. And when I get the chance to stand before the American people, as Ronald Reagan did, who was demonized as bad as I have been, I think I can win them over to the ideas we've got, because they're good for America.
MS. WARNER: You have also recently called on all principled conservatives to unite in opposition to a Colin Powell candidacy. Why?
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Colin Powell, when you covered the White House, was a colleague of mine and a friend, and he's a respected military officer. But he describes himself as a Rockefeller Republican, if he's a Republican at all. We don't even know. He's pro-abortion, he's pro-affirmative action. He's pro-gun control. He's against voluntary prayer in the public schools. You can't take these ideas which Republicans have repudiated and impose them on our party. A party's got to stand for something. Ours is a conservative and a traditionalist and a populist party, and that's the way it's going to win. And the idea that we would suddenly embrace someone as our nominee who doesn't agree with us on anything and may not even be a Republican shows a certain infantile behavior on the part of some conservatives in this city. Why would we accept a candidate who's being promoted by the Media who bear no particular love for our cause or our party?
MS. WARNER: If, though, he or anyone else were the nominee, if you don't get it--
PATRICK BUCHANAN: He can't beat me, Margaret. He can't beat me.
MS. WARNER: All right. But are you committed to supporting--if you don't get the nomination--would you consider an independent candidacy, or are you committed to supporting a Republican nominee, whoever--
PATRICK BUCHANAN: Everybody asks me this question. I've supported every single Republican candidate, whether I've won the nomination or lost it, since I've come into politics. And I intend to do so in 1996, but I'll tell you this. If my party goes pro-choice on abortion, if it comes out in favor of affirmative action, if it's sympathetic to New Deal Great Society programs, if its pro-gun control, then my party will have walked away from me, and I don't think it's going to do that. And so let's wait till we get to San Diego, because I think it's going to come out of there as fighting conservative, Margaret, as you've always known it, and as you've always known it to come and love it. [laughing]
MS. WARNER: We're going to have to leave it there, Mr. Buchanan. Thank you very much.
MR. LEHRER: Finally tonight, Selena and the music she left behind. Selena--her full name was Selena Quintanilla Perez--was murdered last March in Corpus Christi, Texas. Her killer was convicted yesterday. There was a sentencing hearing today. Selena was only 23 years old, but she was already the superstar of what is called Tejano Music.
SELENA SINGING IN TEJANO MUSIC VIDEO: I could fall in love with you. I could fall in love with you. And I know it's not right, and I guess I should try to do what I should do, but I'll fall in love, fall in love with you.
MR. LEHRER: We're joined now by Ramiro Burr, who writes about music for the "San Antonio Express-News," and other publications. He's writing a book on the history of Tejano music. Mr. Burr, welcome.
RAMIRO BURR, San Antonio Express-News: [San Antonio] How are you?
MR. LEHRER: Fine. First of all, let's start at the very beginning. Define "Tejano."
MR. BURR: Tejano is a mix of Mexican combias and polkas, song forms like that, mixed in with elements of American rock, pop, and country. That's what makes up Tejano as we know it today.
MR. LEHRER: Tejano. And the word, what does the word "Tejano" mean? Where does it come from?
MR. BURR: It has a lot of meanings. Basically--
MR. LEHRER: What does it mean to you?
MR. BURR: To me, Tejano, it means music from this part of the country, the American Southwest.
MR. LEHRER: Okay. Where did it--tell us the history. I mean, obviously, it didn't start with, with Selena. How did it--how did it start? Who started it? And what form did it take when it began?
MR. BURR: What we call modern Tejano music, in my view, originated in the mid 50's, and it spun out of a prior form called Conjunto, which would be similar to bluegrass preceding country. It was rural, folksy, spoke of family values, but the modern Tejano version in the big cities incorporates all the flash that you just saw on that video, you know, all the fancy suits, the lights, the strobe, the elements of rock, the sweetness of R&B, as you saw--
MR. BURR: --Selena's a Tejano star, but you saw her in English.
MR. LEHRER: Yeah. Now, that's unusual. She only began singing in English toward, toward the end, did she not?
MR. BURR: Yeah, that's true, but that was the initial dream way back then.
MR. BURR: Well, because, I guess, most Mexican-American artists, Latino artists in the United States are like everybody else, you know, we all have that cross-over dream, the idea that you want to reach as many people as possible. And while you pay homage to your roots first, ultimately, it's the mass audience that you want.
MR. LEHRER: Well, if somebody just looked at that video, and that was only about 45 seconds, you say, well, what's the difference between that music and, and regular kind of soft rock music or pop music, as it's called?
MR. BURR: That video clip you saw, there's no difference. "Dreaming of You," her English single released this year, is her cross-over dream. That was her first English single released posthumously, unfortunately, but that was the dream that was initiated ten years ago when she first got into the, her career.
MR. LEHRER: All right. Tell us about her career. What happened to her ten--ten years ago, she was, she was thirteen years old-- how did it all begin for her?
MR. BURR: Well, her father, Abraham Quintanilla, had been already been part of a band called Los Dinos down here in Texas. Once again, like Richie Valens back in his time had a couple of English hits, had moderate regional success, but family obligations forced Selena's father to, you know, get a job and take care of the family. So in a small way, Selena was like his way of re-living his own dream.
MR. LEHRER: And he taught her music?
MR. BURR: He taught her how to sing. He taught his son how to play the base, taught his other daughter, Suzette, how to play the drums, inspired the kids, taught them, and even though they were kids and you can imagine kids want to have fun, he somehow inspired them that this was a worthwhile thing to do.
MR. LEHRER: Yeah. Now define--she was a--I said she was a superstar. Define superstar in her terms, in Tejano music terms. What was she when she died?
MR. BURR: In Tejano music terms, Selena was the cream of the cream, and logically, like other artists that reach the top in their smaller genre of music, it's logical to go on to the next step, be it country, as a counterpart of Emilio. In Selena's case, it was move on forward to pop. That doesn't mean they're going to abandon their roots. It means like Gloria Estefan. It means coming out of the East Coast from tropical Salsa into pop, and that was what Selena was going to do for the American Southwest, the Mexican-Americans at the Tejano Market. She was going to show that she's reached the top here, the next step is the U.S.-Mexico market, perhaps Europe.
MR. LEHRER: Yeah. Now, meanwhile, Tejano music goes on in--at the local level, at the neighborhood level, is that right? I mean, it's not--it's not just the kind of thing we saw and the kinds of things that she did.
MR. BURR: Tejano is a genre that's been exploding for the last five years here in Texas or the American Southwest. We've been posting major record revenues. We've seen growth in venues, in radio stations, in the amount of major labels operating down here in Texas.
MR. LEHRER: Now, why is that?
MR. BURR: Well, the music is in a renaissance of sorts. And the majors came in here in late '89, signed up a couple of acts, started up a battle, so to speak, between EMI and Sony, started posting some pretty big sales, and that alerted the other majors. I'm talking about WEA, BMG, Rodvan, Arista Texas, all of a sudden- -
MR. LEHRER: Major record companies, you mean?
MR. BURR: Yes, sir, right. It made them realize that there's a market down here that needs to be exploited, much like a gold mine.
MR. LEHRER: Yeah. And was her music--is Tejano music popular on the other side of the border too, or is it only in the Southwestern part of the United States?
MR. BURR: Tejano also broke into Mexico right about the time that Selena was making it big, which was '92, '93. A number of bands, Mass, Mafia, and Selena, within the space of let's say six months to twelve months started touring Mexico, very lightly, but by the end of the year they were already playing stadiums.
MR. LEHRER: Yeah. Is there another Selena coming along?
MR. BURR: I don't see one in my overview of the entire industry, but I do see young artists, such as Stephanie Lynn and another one by the name of Steffanie, with a different spelling, that have that potential, that perhaps within four or five years will have the right team, so to speak. By that, I mean management, the right label, the right song material, and the right experience.
MR. LEHRER: But Tejano music is still on the rise?
MR. BURR: Oh, Tejano music is still continuing to rise, has been written about by major publications way before Selena died. Magazines like the "New York Times," "Wall Street Journal," the "LA Times," had been taking notice of this music called Tejano, and had been keeping tabs on it. Selena just sort of broke the top off to a movement that was already rolling along very strongly.
MR. LEHRER: All right. Mr. Burr, thank you very much for being with us.
MR. BURR: Thank you. RECAP
MR. LEHRER: Again, the major stories of this Tuesday: President Clinton met with President Jiang of China in New York. White House spokesman Mike McCurry said this was the best of the three meetings the two men have had. The House joined the Senate tonight in voting to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. President Clinton called it an intrusion into the Middle East peace process. House and Senate Republicans said they would welcome a seven-year budget plan from President Clinton if he submits one this week. And finally, to update a story we covered with a documentary report recently, the Seattle Mariners will get a new stadium after all. The King County Council ratified a plan yesterday to pay for a $320 million stadium for the baseball team. And we'll see you tomorrow night with a major debate about the Republican budget plan, among other things. I'm Jim Lehrer. Thank you and good night.
The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer
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This episode's headline: Newsmaker; Prison Boom; The Candidates; A Tejano Revolutionary. ANCHOR: JAMES LEHRER; GUESTS: YASSER ARAFAT, CHAIRMAN, PLO; PATRICK BUCHANAN, Republican Presidential Candidate; RAMIRO BURR, San Antonio Express-News; CORRESPONDENTS: ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH; SPENCER MICHELS; MARGARET WARNER
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Producing Organization: NewsHour Productions
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Chicago: “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer,” 1995-10-24, NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 19, 2024,
MLA: “The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.” 1995-10-24. NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 19, 2024. <>.
APA: The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. Boston, MA: NewsHour Productions, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from