John the Centrist

John the Centrist

John the Centrist

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Feb. 2 2001 8:30 PM

John the Centrist

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New Republic, Feb. 12
An article criticizes Sen. John Breaux, the supercentrist Dem from Louisiana. He has made a career out of his willingness to compromise, and his close friendship with President Bush should make him the key bridge between the parties. But the compromises he comes up with (such as those on tobacco and Medicare) never seem to work out, and if he actually becomes a Bush ally, his fellow Democrats will ostracize him. A piece rips the school accountability movement in Houston, where Secretary of Education Rod Paige was superintendent. The private company that Paige brought in to help failing students routinely faked report cards to reach incentives, yet Paige and President Bush have pushed accountability as the centerpiece of their program. An article explains why the Texas Republican Party is doomed. Bush was far more moderate than the rest of the Republican leaders, who will alienate white suburban voters with their conservative orthodoxy. Moreover, the Democrats will probably run a Hispanic candidate for governor in 2002, which will siphon away a huge vote bloc that Bush brought into the Republican column.

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American Prospect, Feb. 12 The cover story, by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, maps out a plan for striking a balance between a society of unbridled growth and an equitable one. The choices faced in finding this happy medium are similar to those dealt with during the Industrial Revolution. Some solutions: making benefits portable, expanding access to education, allowing flextime for all employees, among others. An article examines Channel One, a company that gives televisions and other equipment to schools if they air its programs with ads targeted to the captive teen audience. National education powerhouses that used to oppose Channel One, which has no proof that its TV shows actually educate, have backed off from fighting this in-school marketing, and Channel One continues to expand. A piece warns against the dangers of charitable choice clauses in legislation. Recipients of federal funds for faith-based programs will expect funding without regulation, and since courts have upheld the rights of private religious organizations to hire and fire on the basis of religion, they may now be able to do so with public funds. 

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New York Times Magazine, Feb. 4
The cover story on human cloning rehashes much of this month's Wired cover story, right down to its focus on the Raellians, a clone-obsessed Canadian sect. Conventional science is beginning to shake its unanimous opposition to cloning humans. But this piece criticizes the pro-cloning movement: its unskeptical belief in the innate goodness of scientific advancement and its dangerous desire to make people live forever. A piece explains how 9-year-old Sahara Sunday Spain sold a book of poems for almost $100,000, more than the poet laureate of England got for his last collection. Her mother, a famous photographer, enlisted the support of celebs such as Gloria Steinem and produced a Sahara Web site and promotional video. An article laments that society is increasingly ruled by legalese instead of manners and mores. People now believe they have a right to absolute fairness, which is why they seek legal solutions to problems that used to be governed by social convention.

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Time and Newsweek, Feb. 5
Not much hard news this week. The Time cover story explains how proper diet and exercise can quickly overcome years of smoking, overeating, and sloth. The takeaway: It's never too late to change your lifestyle. Newsweek describes the first New Economy downsizing. Companies are pre-emptively laying off before things get too bad, so most people find new jobs quickly. Cutbacks used to engender bitterness in the workforce, but today's free-agent employees expect them. Some even cheerily view their layoffs as an opportunity to find better employment.

Elsewhere in Time, an article blasts Clinton for his shady last-minute gift and pardon scandal. Nobody thinks his pardon of white-collar swindler Marc Rich is excusable, and even Tom Daschle wants to re-examine the pardon rules. Rich's ex-wife is a huge Democratic donor, his lawyer is a former White House counsel, and Clinton didn't keep the Justice Department in the loop about the pardon. ... A piece explains why eBay, its revenues up 92 percent last year, has not fallen victim to the dot-com doldrums. Unlike most e-tailers, there's no offline equivalent to eBay, and by getting to the auction marketplace first, it carved out 80 percent market share.  An article describes Britney chic among preteen girls. More and more girls between ages 5 and 12 are wearing makeup, hip-huggers, and midriff-exposing tank tops, prompting a rapid increase in school dress codes across the country. Says 11-year-old Sarah Roberts: "We compare ourselves to Britney and most of the time it makes us feel bad because we don't match up."

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A Newsweek article on the pardons reports that the Bush administration thinks it may be able to block the Rich pardon. A piece describes the intensifying war against the Falun Gong spiritual movement in China. Jiang Zemin believes the Falun Gong has infiltrated his government and wants it destroyed, but some of his advisers think he has chosen an unwinnable fight. Meanwhile, the Falun Gong is using its 30 million practitioners outside China to publicize the crackdown. A piece gives President Bush good marks for his first week. He reined in John McCain on campaign-finance reform and appeased the right with an anti-choice executive order and the moderates with an education plan. He received a huge boost when Greenspan advocated tax cuts.

U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 5
The apocalyptic global warming cover story describes what the climate-changed future looks like: malaria in Vermont, avalanches in the Alps, and millions of environmental refugees. The global warming skeptics have finally been silenced, and businesses have joined environmental groups in looking for solutions to the problem. U.S. News comes late to the ecstasy craze (almost a year after Time and two weeks after the New York Times Magazine), but unlike the others, it runs a story on the drug's adverse health consequences, including depression, memory loss, and insomnia. One scientist says it's possible to die from an ecstasy overdose. A piece reports on the alarming organ black-market in China. Because Confucius dictated that damaging a body is dishonorable, few donate organs for transplant. Cash-strapped people often sell their own, hospitals steal organs from dead patients, and the government harvests those of executed prisoners.

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The New Yorker, Feb. 5 An article profiles Nicholas Gonzalez, a doctor whose alternative cancer treatments earned him the antipathy of respectable researchers everywhere. As a medical student, Gonzalez discovered the work of William Donald Kelley, an orthodontist who developed a nontoxic, nutrition-based cancer treatment that included twice-a-day coffee enemas. Gonzalez picked up where Kelley left off, and while he endured efforts to have his license revoked, he also showed that his program of strict dietary restrictions, dozens and dozens of supplements, and enemas might actually prolong the lives of cancer patients. Now he has a grant from the National Institutes of Health to prove it.

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Weekly Standard, Feb. 5 The "Reagan at 90" cover package includes four paeans to the former president (click here, here, and here). A piece claims that the Rich pardon "weaves together every major variation on the sociopathic fugue that was Clintonism," including influence peddling, treason, sex, and lying. An article argues that President Bush has a real chance to win popularity among black voters, despite their lack of support so far. He eschews the Republican model of indifference, but he also rejects the affirmative action-obsessed approach of Democrats. By focusing on education, which is twice as important to minorities as the next highest priority (crime), Bush has shown that he believes in the same policies most minorities favor.

Jeremy Derfner is a former Slate editorial assistant.

Maureen Sullivan is a Slatecopy editor.