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Page Two
Among the cornerstone concepts of conservative political philosophy are personal freedom and local control. Anti-affirmative action, school vouchers, and cutting taxes are variations on the same concept -- getting big government out of our lives. Right or wrong, the thinking goes,government social engineering is inherently too intrusive; furthermore, it has no right to impose on the morality of the population. Personally, I disagree -- living in society is simply a series of intrusions. At its purest, I admire the argument for its inherent support of liberty -- arguing the more we are in control of our own destinies, the more secure is our freedom.

In a terrific essay about then-presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, Norman Mailer argued that given Goldwater's conservative leanings, he should be willing to go all the way. Now, I read this too long ago to remember some of the finer points, but the gist was, if Goldwater embraced civil rights and the constitutional concept that all men are created equal as enthusiastically as he supported other conservative causes, the moral consistency would be hard to resist. The pick-and-choose promoting of social and political issues favored the notion as to more base motivations for some positions than constitutional purity.

During this legislative session, the agenda being pushed by at least some members (including some of the most conservative ones) intrudes on both individual freedoms and the privileges of local political control. There are bills to restrict the rights of gays and other bills which attack a community's reasonable environmental control of its own territory.

One of the things Austinites fear most, while this conservative-leaning government is in session, is a new assault on Austin's right to govern itself. Ironically, by the middle of the next century, many of the water quality ordinances that certain legislatures see as an assault on property rights will seem tame as the state figures out that the equation of more people and the same amount of water doesn't really work.

Getting the government out of people's lives is an inherently pro-choice, gay-friendly concept. So I drink a toast to the new Legislature, in Norman Mailer's name: If they are going to push an agenda, at least be morally and philosophically consistent. Leave our citizens alone and work with this city and other cities to come to some understanding of the issues we face now and into the future.

It is that time. At SXSW World Headquarters, across from the Chronicle offices, the parking lot is already three-quarters full when I get in early in the morning, and still full when I leave nine or 10 hours later. Visiting the building, you can feel its vibrations, echoed by the low chatter from a constant flow of phone calls. In the Film office, there are stacks of videos everywhere, the Music Festival area is buzzing, Interactive is floating in the front of the house, and they always seem to be at their screens. All three events toss out names, events, and ideas, until the air overflows with words like a comic strip dialogue balloon exploded.

Here, at the Chronicle, we are not looking at just SXSW (and the three issues associated with it), but TheAustin Chronicle Live Music Guide and the Musicians Register published in the weeks before. Lindsey Simon is spearheading the group assembling the Musicians Register, fact-checking, cross-checking, and compiling. Kate Messer has organized the Music Poll ballot counting that has been going on for weeks and is coordinating research for the online update of our Austin Chronicle Downtown Guide.

Margaret Moser and I talk about meeting daily but actually meet twice a week, so you know it must be Austin Music Awards time. Moser's made her list and we've checked it a lot more than twice, and the long process of booking the show has begun. We'll set the bill for the 1998-99 Austin Music Awards Show at the Austin Music Hall for Wednesday, March 17, but it is up to you, the reader, to decide who will be honored that night by your vote in the Austin Music Poll. Check the ballot out this issue. Fill out as many or as few categories as you want and get it in. Remember, you can vote online at The more categories you vote in and the more of you who vote, the better the Awards reflect the Austin music community.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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