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n ue ONE MAN CLAPPING Jim Sherman’s well-done review shows the vast breadth and depth of the subject matter in a historical sense, but also conveys Sherman’s emotional connection with this art form. I especially liked his personal insight into the history of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown. Richard Sprowl Posted at EMPATHY FOR NADINE As the beneficiary of two wives better than I deserved, I probably understand where Nadine Eckhardt is coming from about as well as a male can \(“And his John Howison Posted at JUDGING WINTER BOOKS … My sincere compliments and congratulations on the very best issue of The Texas Observer in a very long time. Give my regards to Ronnie Dugger, and thanks for reminding me that one of the reasons I have liked Ronnie through all these years is that LBJ didn’t Scott Baum via Internet … BY ITS COVER Your Winter Books cover with a man defecating on the front has to be the worst cover of a magazine I have ever seen. Are 12-year-old boys running the place now? As a professional journalist and a former Texas Observer intern, I’m sorry to say I want nothing more to do with your publication. Terri Langford via Internet A ROAD TOO FAR Alan Wolfe is being deliberately provocative and moving far beyond a scientific or even rational view of nature in his defense of liberalism \(“Road theorists have nothing in common with Jerry Falwell. As for the “radical environmentalists,” I am one who believes the Earth would be a better place if there were less of humanity. Bill McKibben’s “puritanical jeremiads” are perfectly appropriate. The “genetics as destiny” characterization of evolutionary determinists such as Richard Dawkins is a gross misrepresentation. They merely make the point that the animal nature of humans should not be deemphasized or ignored. Of course human beings “have the capacity … to bring meaning and direction to their lives.” You can accept that liberal idea and a scientific understanding of nature simultaneously. Although I am not one to emulate them, Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Sam Harris have every right and reason to characterize supernaturalistic religious belief as “fascist” and “mad.” Biblical literalists and Christian fundamentalists constantly attack humanistic reason, empiricism, and skepticism in public forumswhy should nonbelievers and secularists leave the public square to them? Steven Schafersman Posted at BEATS CRYING Ruth Pennebaker made me laugh out loud \(“The Writers’ Super Bowl: A Anne Gibert Posted at LETTERS TO THE EDITORS: Dialogue, The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, TX 78701 or . Include full name and contact e-mail/ phone number. JANUARY 23, 2009 TheTexas Observer FEATURES THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE 8 By the numbers. by Forrest Wilder BYE-BYE, BOYS’ CLUB 10 How Annie’s List is revolutionizing Texas politics. by Bob Moser WE’VE GOT ISSUES, PEOPLE 14 But which ones will the 81st Legislature tackleand how? by Melissa del Bosque, Dave Mann & Forrest Wilder FALL OF THE HOUSE OF CRADDICK 21 How did the formidable Republican lose his speakership? by Dave Mann DEPARTMENTS DIALOGUE 2 EDITORIAL 3 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE 4 JIM HIGHTOWER 24 Wall Street beggars being choosey. BOOKS & THE CULTURE POETRY 25 by Jesse G. Herrera THE WATER FRONT 26 by Brad Tyer AFTERWORD 29 by Emily DePrang Cover photo by Chris Carson 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER JANUARY 23, 2009