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Texas Observer VOLUME 95, NO. 1 A Journal of Free Voices Since 1954 Founding Editor: Ronnie Dugger Editor: Nate Blakeslee Managing Editor: Barbara Belejack Associate Editor: Jake Bernstein Managing Publisher: Jim Ball Circulation Manager: Rosie Bamberger Art Director: Julia Austin Poetry Editor: Naomi Shihab Nye Copy Editor: Roxanne Bogucka Development Director: Charlotte McCann Interns: Jessica Chapman, Rachd Proctor, Emily Rapp Seitz, Allison Stunti Contributing Writers: Gabriela Bocagrande, Robert Bryce, Louis Dubose, Michael Erard, James K. Galbraith, Dagoberto Gilb, Steven G. Kellman, Lucius Lomax, Char Miller, Debbie Nathan, Karen Olssonjohn Ross, Brad Tyer. Staff Photographers: Alan Pogue, Jana Birchum. Contributing Artists: Sam Hurt, Kevin Kreneck, Michael Krone, Gary Oliver, Penny Van Horn, Gail Woods. Editorial Advisory Board: David Anderson, Chandler Davidson, Dave Denison, Sissy Farenthold, John Kenneth Galbraith, Lawrence Goodwyn, Jim Hightower, Maury Maverick Jr., Kaye Northcott, Susan Reid. In Memoriam: Bob Eckhardt, 1913-2001 Cliff Olofion, 1931-1995 Texas Democracy Foundation Board: Ronnie Dugger, Marc Grossberg, Molly Ivins, D’Ann Johnson, Jim Marston, Gilberto Ocafias, Bernard Rapoport, Geoffrey Rips., The Texas Observer entire contents copyrighted 2002, is published biweekly except every three weeks during January and August \(24 issues .profit foundation, 307 West 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701.’ Telephone: E-mail: [email protected] World Wide Web DownHome page: . Periodicals Postage Paid at Austin, Texas., Subscriptions: One year $32, two years $59, three years $84. Full-time students $18 per year; add $13/year for foreign subs. Back issues $3 prepaid. Airmail, foreign, group, and bulk rates on request. Microfilm available from University Microfilms Intl., 300 N. Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, 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 Obierver’ hideX. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: The Texas Observer, 307 West 7th St .reet, Austin, Texas 78701. The Books the Culture section is partially .funded through grants from the City of Austin ,under the auspices of the Austin Arts Commission and the Piiriter:c League of Texas, both in cooperation with the Texas Commission on the Arts. “I’m the commandersee, I don’t need to explainI do not need to explain why I say things. ‘That’s the interesting thing about being president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation.” George Bush, quoted in Bush at War I n accordance with the laws of the cosmos and the Observer calendar, we depart from our regular for mat and welcome 2003 with the Winter Books Issue, a collection of essays and reviews that allows our writers still another opportunity to do what they do best: examine the culture of politics and the politics of culture.We begin with “Comandante W,” by contributing writer Robert Sherrill. Sherrill takes on veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, whose most recent book chronicles life in the War Room. Admittedly “chronicles” may be too docile a word to use here, since Sherrill describes Bush at War as “a cluttered, go-nowhere, pretentious piece of ‘pseudo-investigative’ journalism.” And yet, as he concedes and the passage quoted above reveals, Woodward’s latest book is not entirely without educational value. Gabriela Bocagrande is a native Houstonian now based in Washington, D.C., who regularly files dispatches on multilateral malfeasance for the Observer. \(We’d like to thank her for coining takes Nobel economist and former Clinton official Joseph E. Stiglitz to task in a review of his much-lauded Globalization and Its Discontents. Stiglitz is a World Bank insider who finds dysfunction at the heart of “the IMF and other international economic institutions,” leading to what Bocagrande calls “appalling policy errors … with everlasting ‘repercussions in the lives of mil lions.” Unfortunately, Stiglitz couches his analysis in a timid passive voice, with plenty of reference to “mistakes,” and “misunderstandings.” From dysfunction in the family of multilateral economic institutions, we turn to our dysfunctional culture and everyone’s favorite dysfunctional familyThe Sopranos. Then it’s on to gas guzzlers, the subject of one of 2002’s finest books, High and Mighty: SUVsThe World’s Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way, by Keith Bradsher. And, as former Observer editor Geoff Rips writes, there’s also “the feelgood political book to read if you’re still waiting for the hangover of the 2002 election to dissipate,” a now ironically titled tome, The Emerging Democratic Majority by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira. Among the other articles in this issue are those that pay tribute to the unacknowledged legislators of the world: the poets. Paul Christensen and Daniel Durham remember the late Jim Cody. Contributing writer Dave Oliphant reviews an anthology of the work of Homero Aridjis, Mexico’s finest living poet. Finally, we’d like to acknowledge the artists whose work is featured in this issue.Terri Lord created the cover collage of the Commander-in-Chief, while Kevin Kreneck contributed the art that appears with Sherrill’s “ComancianteW’ Penny Van Horn did the woodcut drawings that accompany the Afterword, David Romo’s “psychogeographical” meandering through the streets ofJuirez and El Paso. Staff photographer Alan Pogue’s back page photo was first published in The Layers of Our Seeing along with the full text of Susan. Bright’s poem, “Girl With Fragment.” As he so often does, Pogue manages to remind us with a single photo just why attention must be paid, why explanations are indeed needed. -BB EDITORIAL Slouching Towards Baghdad 1111/03 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 3