New Republic, March 4 and 11 Peter Beinart argues that no one really opposes campaign-finance reform because it violates the First Amendment—because, in fact, it doesn't. "In private, congressional Republicans don't bother with all this free speech talk; they say … that without a financial advantage, Republicans lose."… Another piece says that, unlike congressional Republicans, Bush will actually benefit from campaign-finance reform since he's great at raising hard money. With McCain-Feingold doubling the hard-money caps, the author says, Bush will rake in cash for 2004. … Then why do Democrats, who lag far behind Republicans in hard-money donations, support campaign finance? A piece says the sad truth is that "John McCain's prestige and the media's unabashed cheerleading for reform left Democrats with little choice."… An article studies the dubious record of Bush's new envoy to Taiwan, Doug Paal, who may be headed to Taipei because, "unlike virtually any other diplomatic appointment, it requires no Senate hearings and no confirmation."— K.T.
New York Times Magazine, Feb. 24 The cover story looks at an industry that analyzes adolescent social cruelty. Counselors get schoolgirls to talk about how their best friend ditched them for someone cooler or how they betrayed a friend to gain popularity. But the author wonders whether trying to dissect kids' social lives could backfire, "giving children the impression that the transient social anxieties and allegiances of middle school are weightier … than they really are." … A piece describes the TV station that's fighting Iran's mullahs from North Hollywood. Iranian-American Zia Atabay started his Farsi network, NITV, because he wanted to become a media mogul, but when Iran jammed his satellite signal, he got mad and "set out to topple the Iranian regime." Without a sponsor, though, Atabay can't keep piping his signals into Iran for free. … A piece says an apologetic memoir by the reporter who once called Anita Hill "a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty" appears to mark the end of 1990s-style character assassination in Washington. "What's clear now is that David Brock's mea culpa for this era may also be its epitaph."— K.T.
Time and Newsweek, Feb. 25 Two figure-skating controversy covers, but Time's glass is half-full ("Good as Gold"), and Newsweek's is half-empty ("The Sleazy Side of Skating"). Both assert that rigged judging—a time-honored practice—could destroy the sport, and they go on to suggest that the reputation of the Olympic Games is on the line. Time criticizes the International Skating Union for refusing to release scandal details. Newsweek thinks the double-gold solution is a cop-out conceived by the ISU to obviate the need for a real investigation. Still, both magazines say the fiasco will bring sunshine to a once-shadowy world, and they predict that next Olympics, judges will be picked only minutes before competition to prevent unscrupulous alliances.
A Time article claims that "cc," the cloned cat, will change the cloning debate because she's so much cuter than, say, Dolly, the cloned sheep. Cat cloning is less about cutting-edge science and more about pet lovers who want cute copies of lost loves Garfield and Whiskers. The Humane Society has joined the anti-cloning forces on the grounds that since 5 million unwanted cats are killed annually, it would be criminal to make even more. … A Newsweek piece explains the new politics of campaign-finance reform. Congressional Republicans hate the bill passed in the House (Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., may be able to block its passage in the Senate), but President Bush and most behind-the-scenes GOP leaders are ambivalent. The parties will lose out, but well-connected individuals such as Bush will raise more hard money than ever. In the long run, state and national organizations and political action committees will become more important.— J.D. U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 25 The cover package, a group profile of the modern presidents and their foreign policies, takes a Manichaean view of international politics in the 20th century. Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan were good and strong (they understood "the power to reshape the world … in their bones"). Carter, on the other hand, was weak and didn't understand foreign threats. According to the piece, Eisenhower and Kennedy had "confidence that they could contain the Soviets without nuclear disaster," but it neglects to mention Eisenhower's concerns about the military-industrial complex or Kennedy's Bay of Pigs problem. … An article compares the current War on Terrorism to Presidents Jefferson's and Madison's struggle with piracy in the 1800s. The colonization of rogue states by European powers finally ended the first crisis. Now America doesn't want colonies, but it strives to replace regimes that sponsor terrorism.— J.D.
Weekly Standard, Feb. 25 The cover story takes a stab at PBS talking head Bill Moyers. Since Sept. 11, the irrepressibly liberal Moyers has become even more ubiquitous on public TV, where he is constantly sounding off on Bush, Enron, and corporate capitalism. Though media consolidation is a major concern of Moyers', he is himself "something of a clandestine media magnate." As president of the Florence and John Schumann Foundation, he shells out millions of dollars a year to liberal media outlets. … An article explains how American companies have helped China crack down on all forms of cyber-dissidence. Cisco has built firewalls for the Chinese government that prevent users from viewing political Web sites. Each of Yahoo!'s Chinese chat rooms is guarded by a censor who squelches any politically incorrect comments. And a search on Chinese Yahoo! for "Taiwan independence" not only yields no results; it may actually invite questioning from authorities.— J.F.
The Nation, March 4
The cover story reminds us not to overlook the global reach of the Enron scandal. The company had its "grubby big hands" in virtually every economic sector of virtually every country in the world. Writing its own rules as it went, pushing deregulation and privatization on every corner of the globe, Enron is a likely harbinger of the new global economic order. … An article details the aggressive and sometimes slimy lobbying efforts Enron employed in the late 1990s to steer energy deregulation through the Texas state legislature. What the company accomplished through its lobbying efforts and political donations is frankly incredible. It defeated the single most powerful lobby in Texas—the investor-owned utilities—and it did so at a time when electricity in Texas was already relatively cheap.—J.F.