Economist, Jan. 13 The editors back President Bush's call for 20,000 more troops in Iraq: "We don't admire Mr. Bush, but on this we think he is right." And not just because of the "surge": "Far more significant is the strategic message that in spite of the Baker-Hamilton report, and notwithstanding the growing pressure from public opinion and a Democrat-controlled Congress, this president will not in his remaining two years concede defeat and abandon Iraq to its fate." Of course, the United States may need to revise its definition of victory, even if that means aiming merely "to mitigate the dimensions of the debacle."… Many international companies are opting to open factories in countries like Vietnam and Malaysia instead of in China, a special report finds. Rising costs, coupled with an urge to diversify investments, have driven managers to look elsewhere: "China has become a victim of its own success," says Peter Tan, president of Flextronics in Asia.— C.B.
New Republic, Jan. 22
A cover piece examines John Edwards' populist reincarnation. Since losing the 2004 elections alongside John Kerry, Edwards has doffed his Guy Smiley image for a more serious attitude, visiting labor rallies across the country and making poverty a main focus of his campaign: "[H]e has ditched his past commitment to fiscally restrained Rubinomics and now favors universal health coverage and an expensive raft of other policy initiatives to lift Americans—and even people in other countries—out of poverty."… Michael Crowley discusses the Democrats' dilemma: Should they handle their victory with poise, or seek revenge on Republicans? After 12 years under the Republican boot, some Democrats are finding maintaining an open regime more easily said than done: A former aide says California Rep. George Miller's people "don't give a shit about openness," according to a former House Democratic aide. "They don't care about the process. Those guys really are interested in passing an agenda and wielding power."— C.B.
New York, Jan. 15 New York Rep. Charles Rangel, now chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is the object of much newfound affection from fellow politicians, according to one article:"I've got so many new friends these days," he jokes. If the Democrats hadn't won the majority in November, Rangel might have quit. But now he continues to push for policies that some deem controversial, including his support for the draft: "I didn't want to have my grandchildren ask, 'What did you do when the Constitution got ripped up?' and have to answer, 'I quit.' "… The cover piece profiles three successful young artists living on the Lower East Side. Among the three are Ryan McGinley, a natural extrovert, who takes photos that offer "not just an artist's vision of a free and rebellious alternative life but also the promise that he [is] actually living it" and the notoriously private Dash Snow, whose work features ejaculate smeared across tabloid newspaper clippings. "They are at the phase in their career when they have to get people's attention," says friend and mentor Jack Walls.— C.B.
New York Times Magazine, Jan. 14
A profile discusses the politics of Abraham Foxman, the fiery director of the Anti-Defamation League. Since taking over in 1987, he has turned it from a civil rights organization with broad goals into "a one-man Sanhedrin doling out opprobrium or absolution for those who speak ill of Israel or the Jews." Foxman denies allegations that he urged the Polish embassy to cancel a speaking engagement featuring New York University professor Tony Judt: "Abe Foxman isn't doing the stifling— he's the one being muzzled with the charge of stifling."… Another piece narrates author Ishmael Beah's time fighting rebels as a "child soldier" during the civil war in Sierra Leone. At age 12, separated from his family, Beah witnessed battle after gory battle: "[K]illing had become a daily activity. I felt no pity for anyone. My childhood had gone by without my knowing, and it seemed as if my heart had frozen."— C.B.
Weekly Standard, Jan. 15
In the cover piece, Andrew Ferguson looks askance at the Democratic celebrations in the Capitol, which he finds "oddly subdued." Comparing the Democratic majority—which outlined its 100-hour agenda—to that of the Republicans in 1994—who outlined their plan for the first 100 days—he feels "sick and tired of this partisan one-upmanship." There are differences: Reporters treat Nancy Pelosi with none of the derision they reserved for Newt Gingrich. But Ferguson also focuses on the similarities: "[T]his is just another collection of professional pols, … with the same ratio of nutters, ideologues, incompetents, egomaniacs, and borderline crooks spread among the usual mass of grinning mediocrity."… Another piece imagines the fallout of an American withdrawal from Iraq and contends that a new counterinsurgency plan by Gen. Jack Keane and historian Frederick Kagan has a "decent chance of success." A "strong, aggressive American military presence" is necessary to halt radicalization of Shiites, the author argues, while pulling out would encourage Islamists to keep fighting.— C.B.
New Yorker, Jan. 15 Jeffrey Goldberg examines divisions among Democrats over the Iraq war. The likely Democratic presidential candidates, so unified on issues like the Middle East peace process, are approaching Iraq differently: John Edwards favors withdrawal, Barack Obama opposes a marginal increase in troops, and Hillary Clinton declares herself in the "lonely middle" between idealists and realists. Whatever the outcome in Iraq, the winner will still have to deal with Iran and North Korea: "The next President is heading into the biggest, most dangerous set of problems that we've faced since the Cuban missile crisis," says former Council of Foreign Relations chief Leslie Gelb. … Another article traces Denver superintendent Michael Bennet's attempts to reform one of the worst schools in Colorado. When Bennet tightened graduation requirements, more students started dropping out, prompting a backlash among community members: "You might as well put us in jail/because your plan sets us all up to fail," one student wrote in a poem.— C.B.
Time, Jan. 15 The cover story anticipates President Bush's call for a troop surge in Iraq. Michael Duffy writes that increasing troop levels would be "a strange half-measure—too large for the political climate at home, too small to crush the insurgency in Iraq and surely three years too late." After the internationalists on Team Baker recommended withdrawal, neoconservatives charged them with defeatism and proposed an aggressive alternative: "We were hearing all this talk of pulling back and pulling out and how not to lose," says a retired senior officer. "But we're looking for a way to win." But an increase in troops would also raise American casualties. … Another piece considers the legacy of Saddam Hussein, who before his execution was "obsessed with his place in history." The sectarian chaos that surrounded the Iraqi dictator's hanging, contrasted with Saddam's calmness, already has Sunnis calling him a martyr: "When they hang Saddam, they will make him once again powerful," a former Republican Guard officer said.— C.B.
Newsweek, Jan. 15 An article contrasts the stances of Sens. John McCain and Chuck Hagel, who, despite shared experiences during the Vietnam War, have emerged on opposite sides of the Iraq war debate. McCain has advocated increasing troop levels since the war began, while Hagel is "almost angrily dismissive" of the idea. The two men talk regularly, but their clash over the war has strained their friendship: "Chuck believes the war in Iraq has deflected from the war on terror, that it was a war of choice," says Sen. Lindsey Graham. "John sees Iraq more like Bush, in that he sees it as the central front on the war on terror, and it was unavoidable."… Another piece contends that the United States is losing the information war in Iraq because insurgents understand better than Americans do how to reach Iraqis. Whereas the military relies on bureaucratic-sounding press releases, insurgents use sophisticated technologies to record attacks on American troops and disseminate footage hours later.— C.B.
Economist, Jan. 6
The Economist uses the retirement of Kofi Annan to take stock of the United Nations. Its lead editorial condemns the lack of action on Darfur and calls for new permanent member countries on the Security Council. However, it says the organization is exceeding some expectations by feeding millions and peacekeeping in Africa. Despite the "dire headlines" powerful members are more likely to cooperate to maintain order in hot spots like Lebanon and to make trade deals for the sake of their interdependent economies. … An article recounts the turbulence in Thailand, after eight bombs simultaneously exploded in Bangkok on New Year's Eve, shutting down the city and injuring dozens. No one knows who did the bombings. The military junta that promised security when it took power in September may be losing popular support, having both failed to stop a violent insurgency in the south of the country and effectively discredit the (popular) policies of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.— A.Z.
Reason, February 2007
A gaggle of prominent libertarians sounds off on the "much-anticipated return of gridlock" in Washington, D.C. Two-party government will mean a "return to a system of partisan checks and balances," stagnant government, and limited presidential power. One writer predicts that both sides will agree to increase education spending, while ignoring underperformance; another counsels that Democrats will be too busy investigating the Bush administration to enact "wealth transfers"; the consensus is summed up by Ryan Sager, who warns, "bipartisanship is just another word for 'terrible idea.' "… Supreme Court decisions and the federal DEA may pose less of a threat to medical marijuana in San Francisco than the local zoning boards. An article contends that a California public that "seems to favor an approach to medical marijuana that combines Communism with imminent death" has started to deny local "dispensaries" the ability to sell pot (and possibly attract riff-raff).— A.Z.
The Nation, Jan. 8 and 15
The cover piece examines the rise of antiwar sentiment in the military. Nearly 1,000 uniformed Americans have signed an appeal for redress asking Congress "to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq." While signatories are protected from reprisal under the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, some soldiers fear less overt forms of punishment, such as denial of promotion. But, unlike the dissenting GI movement during Vietnam, the appeal takes a nonconfrontational tone: "This is not about resistance," says a lawyer who advised the appeal organizers. "This is about working inside the democratic process."… A piece praises Kofi Annan's "quiet authority and palpable decency" as U.N. secretary general. Bill Clinton supported Annan's appointment, hoping to avoid a combative bureaucrat with "big ideas and a big mouth." "They were right about the big mouth," the author contends, "wrong on the big ideas."— C.B.
Texas Monthly, January 2007
The cover piece honors Dick Cheney with its 2007 "Bum Steer of the Year" award, lauding the VP as "a man who's a real blast to go hunting with, who this year gave the country (and his friend Harry Whittington) a shot in the arm, among other places."… A piece examines the debate over proposals to build 17 new coal power plants in Texas—a plan that would more than double the state's reliance on the "dirtiest energy source." What environmental advocates portray as an issue of public good versus private interest is complicated by the growing population, the rise in natural-gas prices, and the decline of nuclear power in the region. … Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey argues in an interview that the Republicans lost the elections after botching key issues like Terri Schiavo and illegal immigration: "Who is the genius that said, 'Now that we've identified that [the Hispanic community] is the fastest-growing demographic in America, let's do everything we can to make sure we offend them'? Who is the genius that came up with that bright idea?"— C.B.
TODAY IN SLATE
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The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything
It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.
Happy Constitution Day!
Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.