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gue SAY IT AIN’T SO! As a student of English, I am flabbergasted. Emily DePrang can’t have it both ways \(“Bubbles, Burst:’ Jan. Atwood about the style, metaphors and plain banalities in Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth. Yet I believe she praises the book by pointing out so many good qualities. This review is going to make me rush out and find out for myself if Atwood has finally lost touch with reality. Can it be true that Atwood’s prose is becoming pointless, irrelevant and something to be ignored? I am Austrian by birth, have lived in Canada since 1967, and so far have always been in awe of Atwood’s writing. I hope Emily DePrang is wrong! Klaus Horky Posted at DEFINING BLUES Okay, I’ve got to read this book \(Texas Blues: The Rise of a Contemporary Sound, copies for my offspring, but the review wondering whether Govenar started his research early enough. At 84, I found nothing in the review to make me hope that he knew of Houston’s Peck Kelly. \(Okay, jazz isn’t blues alone, and swing is not at the epicenter of jazz, but to this blues buff, hearing Kelly in Houston in 1943 was a determinative moment, and talking to him made me think about jazz, not me that Govenar knew what it was like in boomtown Kilgore, Texas, circa 1935, to have great blues artists tune up outside our thousand-dollar house on a summer’s evening and pick and sing in the hope that Poppa would tip 15 or 20 cents for 15 or 20 minutes of blues. When I heard Leadbelly at Harvard in the 1940s, we agreed that it might not have been the first time we’d encountered each other. I can’t wait for the book. John Howison Posted at BRAND NEW DAY Another great article by a great man, who remains an inspiration for his insights, intelligence and perspicacity \(“The Ground Game: Realizing Obama’s Vision in North Carolina:’ age, Lawrence Goodwyn remains sharp as a tack and way smarter than most. \(Truth in advertising: I’m his admiring Observer online, because red Texas is a bit distant from blue Seattle, but then red versus blue is yesterday’s concept. We expect great things from the new administration. John Foy Posted at SAME OLD STORY The coalition of the elected is pretty much what the Texas Democratic Party is today. Briefly, we had a ground game in Harris County and swept the courthouse. But then it was back to “talkin’ down and no ground game”a media campaign run by and for the party elite in Austin, trial lawyers and the AFL-CIO pension fund. Business as usual, another big loser. John Robert Behrman Posted at CORRECTION mistakenly identified as Alma Adams. The Observer regrets the error. LETTERS TO THE EDITORS: Dialogue, The Texas Observer, 307 W. 7th St., Austin, TX 78701 or [email protected] . Include full name and contact e-mail/ phone number. FEBRUARY 6, 2009 TheTexas Observer FEATURES BACK TO THE WALL 8 Can Janet Napolitano stop the border-fence boondoggle? by Melissa del Bosque DEAR PRESIDENT BUSH 14 Dickie Grigg would like a word with you. by Patricia Kilday Hart OUR ALCOHOL PROBLEM 16 With rising food prices and questions about its environmental impact, corn ethanol is fueling controversyexcept among Democrats. by Robert Bryce BAD BILLS 21 Divorce control, ideological license plates, and English-only publications. by Reeve Hamilton & Susan Peterson COMMENTARY 23 They’re just not that into us anymore. by Ruth Pennebaker DEPARTMENTS DIALOGUE 2 EDITORIAL 3 POLITICAL INTELLIGENCE 4 JIM HIGHTOWER 13, 20 BOOKS & THE CULTURE DEAD MAN TALKING 24 Why Bill Hicks is still funny. by Brad Tyer POETRY 25, 28 by Stella Brice THE MAN WITHOUT A MIDDLE 26 Steven Soderbergh’s Che. by David Theis AFTERWORD 29 by Jesse Sublett Cover illustration by Andy Perez 2 THE TEXAS OBSERVER FEBRUARY 6, 2009