Tax and Spin
Updated Friday, May 11, 2001, at 11:30 PM
New Republic, May 21
The cover package, tagged "He's Lying," is a two-barreled takedown of the president's proposed tax cut. Part 1 accuses the administration of underestimating the plan's cost and overstating the money available to pay for it. The budget projections are utterly unreliable, the amount of surplus needed to shore up Social Security and Medicare is too small, and Bush is obfuscating the fact that this plan could mean deficits à la the Reagan era. Part 2 slams tax-cut supporters for a "series of distortions, misrepresentations, and outright lies" to frame the cuts as a boon for the poor and middle class. Their deeper, unadvertised argument for the plan: They believe it's fundamentally unfair to help the less well-off at the expense of the rich. …"TRB"warns that if German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's calls for a European Union with a strong central parliament are realized, the United States has reason to be uneasy: It could find itself "playing second fiddle" to its "most formidable competitor since the Soviet Union" and lose its strongest ally, Britain.— L.S.
Wired, June 2001 An interview with Intel's co-founder Andy Grove shows the famous skeptic feeling bullish about the future of the Internet economy. The boom and the correction were necessary to the growth of a Net market that he still sees controlling all commerce eventually. The excesses of the dot-com age created solid Web infrastructure. Grove sees the Internet's adolescence as "every bit as transfiguring as its splashy infancy," bringing about a "globalization of culture" as its penetration in the world economy reaches the high levels it boasts in the United States. Business-to-business e-commerce is entrenched now and can only grow more complex and versatile, increasing productivity and nourishing tomorrow's marketplace. … The "Wired Index" (the "mirror of the arc of the New Economy") shows significantly less damage than the Dow, S&P 500, or Nasdaq sustained. The Index of 40 tech businesses grew at four times the rate of the U.S. economy last year, and several of its companies are on track to pull it out again in 2001. The keys? Integration and uniqueness.— S.G.
New York Times Magazine, May 13
The cover story examines how the organic food industry has evolved from a mishmash of small farms concerned with composting to a multibillion-dollar business. As yuppies snap up anything labeled pesticide-free, mainstream food companies are buying out organic producers as an entrée into the lucrative niche. And after next year, when final USDA standards for organic food (which allow synthetics and additives) take effect, companies such as General Mills will be able to make organic versions of Hamburger Helper and Twinkies, a far cry from the movement's original vision of all-natural, unprocessed noshes. … A piece looks at the movie-as-musical genre and why there's hasn't been a successful one since Grease (1978). No one seems able to solve the fundamental problem of getting an audience used to characters who belt out their thoughts and feelings in song. Director Baz Luhrmann attempts to resolve the dilemma in the upcoming Moulin Rouge by heaping on tons of music, color, dance. The result? While he may be "on to something," it sounds like he is "trying to wake the dead."— M.C.
Time, May 14
The cover package on Alzheimer's delves into scientist/author David Snowdon's "Nun Study," involving 678 nuns since 1986. Among the findings: Stroke and head trauma can increase chances of Alzheimer's, a college education and an intellectual life can stave off symptoms, and the way we express ourselves in language can foretell longevity and predilection to the disease. … Sens. Jesse Helms and Joe Biden warn that if German oil firm Wintershall (a subsidiary of BASF) acquires oil deposits in Libya controlled by U.S. companies, it could harm U.S.-German relations by triggering sanctions under the 1996 Iran-Libya Sanctions Act. While President Bush has said he has no intention of taking sanctions off Iran and Libya, some in the Bush administration would like to see the sanctions weakened to increase American access to oil.—A.F.
Newsweek, May 14 The cover package revisits Pearl Harbor, the subject of Armageddon director Michael Bay's latest Disney-produced action-adventure-romance epic of the same name. Fearing an anti-Japanese backlash, one Disney exec didn't want to break the bank producing the film. The final budget? $137 million. Click here to get Pearl Harbor survivors' take. … An article profiles Silicon Valley's laid-off foreign workers—most from India or Taiwan—who are forced to return to their homeland or hope the INS permits the transfer of their H-1B visa to a new company. Transfer appeals can take up to 75 days to process, during which time the laid-off worker can't collect a paycheck. … An article reveals that although Dick Cheney doesn't like to think of our current energy situation as a "crisis," a growing number of Americans do.—A.F.
U.S. News & World Report, May 14 Can't wait for your kids to graduate junior high to start perusing a U.S. News"Schools" issue? The cover package weighs the best boarding school options. Though racial homogeny is a thing of the past—at most schools, more than one in five students is a minority, and many offer need-blind admissions—kids from middle-income families who don't qualify for financial aid are still "hard pressed to pay full freight."… An article explains that Congress has allocated an extra $1.8 billion to the prevention and fighting of wildfires, but this year is still expected to be worse than last, with 23,000 communities at risk. Bush's 2002 budget proposal would cut back assistance for high-risk local communities. … Now that rival auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's have been accused of price fixing, the mag illustrates how rival Phillips Auctioneers may break the auction-world duopoly.—A.F.
The New Yorker, May 14 A piece blames the death penalty on federalism. Other countries with a pro-death-penalty majority have centralized parliamentary systems that resist single-issue lobbies more effectively than American state governments. … An article chronicles FBI Director Louis Freeh's crusade to indict Iranian government officials for the 1996 bombing of an American military barracks in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis refused to share evidence with the bureau lest it precipitate a U.S. attack and Iranian reprisals. President Clinton did not press the Saudis for evidence, because acting on it might weaken Iranian moderates. The Saudis cooperated only after Freeh secretly enlisted the help of former President Bush. Now the new President Bush seems likely to go forward with the indictments.—M.B.
Michael Brus, a former Slate assistant editor, is a writer and social worker in Seattle.
Laurie Snyder is Slate's copy chief.
Maureen Sullivan is a Slatecopy editor.
Amanda Fazzone is an assistant editor at the New Republic.
Siân Gibby assists in editing the Faith-Based column. She copy-edits for Slate.