The War on Fat
President Clinton's new pet project.
Updated Friday, March 17, 2006, at 4:03 PM
National Review, March 27 An article reports that "repentant sinner" former President Bill Clinton has forsaken his love affair with all things batter-dipped and deep-fried and is now on a mission to change America's culture of overeating, preaching that America has "a huge cultural problem and unless we change it our children may grow up to be the first generation with shorter life spans than we had."… Illegal immigrants get a bad rap for the burden they place on American society, but Ramesh Ponnuru points out that legal immigrants cause as many problems as illegals: Both cause an increase in government spending; only half of legal immigrants have any college education; and they are a detriment to low-income workers. His suggestion on how to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative: Decrease both legal and illegal immigration, work on assimilating those that do come, and institute an amnesty program for those who are here illegally.—Z.K.
Economist, March 18 A story explains how rich CEOs get richer by privatizing ailing public companies, whipping them into shape, and then listing them on the stock exchange in their newly pristine incarnations. Private equity in businesses such as SunGard Data Systems has netted execs bundles. "These handsome returns will buy a few country estates, leaving plenty of change for the odd yacht," claims the writer. … Following the lead of the music and publishing industries, television and film are looking to the Web for revitalization, according to an article. Media companies are partnering with Internet firms or purchasing them outright. Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation bought the meet-up site MySpace.com, which Viacom also sought to acquire, according to the story. "[T]raditional media companies have no choice but to experiment. They are in mature businesses, many of which are endangered by the internet and other technologies. … Old media companies badly need to persuade the stockmarket that the digital era brings them opportunities as well as threats," writes the author.—M.M.
New York Times Magazine, March 19 Amir Khan is not just the best lightweight boxer to come out of England in years, according to a profile. As his fans wave a combination Union Jack and Pakistani flag, the British-born Muslim is unofficially charged with bridging the gap between the West and the Muslim world. The 19-year-old is trying to win bouts and say the right things, but sometimes the pressure is too much. "I don't really want to be a spokesman for anyone," he concedes. … The Liberty University debate team is the top-ranked squad in the country. Founder Jerry Falwell and coach Brett O'Donnell are counting on the mouthy students to carry the evangelical message beyond the walls of academia. "Our goal is to create an army of people who know how to make our case," says Falwell. While he has coached Bush administration debaters, O'Donnell's "day job is teaching nice Christian cheek-turners how to cut their opponents' throats," the writer claims.—M.M.
Weekly Standard, March 20 Fred Barnes weighs in on a new trend: Paleoconservatives are hot; neoconservatives are not. Barnes is troubled by their mantra as trumpeted by Patrick Buchanan: "Keep Mexicans out, forget free markets and free trade, and shrink America's role in the world." Barnes doesn't like that such thinking could negate the gains Republicans have made with Hispanic voters. "It's a moment that could be politically painful for the president and harmful to Republicans in the midterm election in November. The paleocon message is not an electoral winner," notes Barnes. … The cover feature is a dispatch from New Orleans six months into the city's post-Katrina recovery that coincides with the city's first Mardi Gras celebration. The author reports that "things aren't quite right," but that New Orleans remains a place, "where every day is anything-can-happen day."—Z.K.
The New Yorker, March 20 If your idea of utopia is retreating to an island populated with self-important New York power players, Boykin Curry has some property he'd like to show you. An article follows the money manager's quest to establish a colony for creative types in the Dominican Republic. Investors include Moby, Charlie Rose, and Curry's well-heeled wife. Curry has a strange way of showing his gratitude to the Dominicans for the investment opportunity. "If they hadn't been so incompetent, there would be ten Club Meds here by now," he says. … Ken Auletta explains how the "shareholder activist" Carl Icahn failed in an attempt to "greenmail" Time Warner by buying stock in bulk to influence management. "Executives at Time Warner said privately that Icahn was like a basketball player who, with age, had lost his first step, his quickness," Auletta writes. Icahn, who was purportedly the model for the film Wall Street's Gordon Gekko, refuses to concede that his divide-and-conquer method is best relegated to the 1980s.— M.M.
New York Review of Books, March 23 A review essay by Paul Krugman and Robin Wells makes a clear, comprehensive case for a single-payer, government-provided health insurance system. They predict that the unavoidable inefficiency of the current U.S. model will become unsustainable as medical progress continues to drive up the costs of health care, and they argue that switching to a single-payer system would allow all Americas to receive the same level of care the insured majority does now, at the same cost. … Tony Judt criticizes John Lewis Gaddis'The Cold War: A New History, arguing that its triumphalist, U.S.-focused narrative ignores many of the costs and complexities of the global conflict. In particular, he faults Gaddis for ignoring the roots and the aftermath of the Cold War and for sidelining many aspects of the story that have urgent geopolitical ramifications today—the U.S. and Soviet misadventures in the Third World, especially.—B.W.
Newsweek, March 20 The cover article follows Navy doctor Richard Jadick, who says that occupational ennui led him to sign up for a tour of duty as a combat doc in Fallujah. His efforts to treat soldiers in time to save their lives sent him barreling through enemy fire in an ambulance. Although his heroics earned him a Bronze Star, Jadick says he didn't feel so brave at the time. "I wanted to go back into that vehicle and lie under something and cry. I felt like a coward. I felt like it took me hours to make the decision to go."… Polygamists are lobbying to decriminalize multiple-partner marriage, which is presently illegal in every state. The new HBO series Big Love might open some minds to polygamy, which is chiefly practiced in the United States by Mormon subsets, according to the story. The author asserts that the gay-marriage debate is giving polygamists fuel to argue that "if Heather can have two mommies, she should also be able to have two mommies and a daddy."— M.M.
Time, March 20 In the annual "What's Next" issue, Time sits down with "thinkers" such as Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Andres Martinez to discuss what's in store for America on the technological, cultural, and political fronts. They agree that the way we process and store data is changing rapidly, causing our behavior to change, too. "A disproportionate amount of my thoughts now are in the shower, because it's the one place where I'm not hounded by my BlackBerry, my cell phone, the 24/7 news on TV," Martinez shares. … An article follows Zalmay Khalilzad, America's ambassador to Iraq, as he attempts to quell the unrest that has the country teetering on the verge of civil war. The natural diplomat exudes sanguinity, the writer claims. "He says he believes Iraq is 'heading in the right direction,' but those who know him say he is aware that he may be powerless to stop Iraq's unraveling."— M.M.
Zuzanna Kobrzynski is Slate's executive assistant.
Blake Wilson is a Slate contributor and former Slate editor.