What's new in TheNation, The New Yorker, and Reason.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Nov. 5 2008 3:08 PM

Barack's To-Do List

Newsweek on the meaning of an Obama presidency.

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Newsweek, Nov. 10 The cover story predicts that the United States is entering a period of slow recovery that will trigger feelings of "affluent deprivation" nationwide. To bring the country back up to speed, the next president must allow government intervention and room for "risk-taking" by, in part, lightening the tax burdens that hinder Americans' entrepreneurial spirit. A piece suggests that racism persists in Americans' private lives, despite becoming less common in the public sphere. An Obama presidency might diminish the segregation that persists in the private sphere both by improving "the economic condition of all disadvantaged Americans" and by influencing blacks "to embrace those mainstream cultural values and practices that have served him so well." Another essay points out that "little is known about who [African-American women] are, what we think and what we face on a regular basis." As first lady, Michelle Obama will face the daunting task of showing the nation that black women are not all "hot-tempered single mothers who can't keep a man."

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The Nation, Nov. 17 The cover story proposes "that the answer to our social, economic and ecological crises can be one and the same: a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty." The author advocates a "Green New Deal" that would unite labor unions, students, religious organizations, environmentalists, and social-justice activists "to win government policy that promotes the interests of green capital and green technology." An interview with Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann describes the president of the U.N. General Assembly as a "revolutionary priest [who] now wears muted diplomatic pinstripes" some 30 years after the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. The Rev. d'Escoto hopes "to keep a light shining on the most dispossessed nations and people" in his new role but also offers harsh criticism of the United States for having "dragged [the United Nations] down" in recent years.

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The New Yorker, Nov. 10 A feature delves into the study of psychopathy, an underresearched mental disorder thought to afflict 1 percent of adult males. The author visits a New Mexico prison, where a portable fMRI machine has been installed to examine the brains of inmates. Psychopathy, while not officially recognized as a mental illness in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, "affects between fifteen to twenty-five per cent of the North American prison population." A piece discusses how the world of finance "went postmodern." While the arts entered Modernist periods early in the 20th century, it wasn't until the 1970s that finance had its first Modernist moment, when derivatives trading took off and finance experienced "a break with common sense, a turn toward self-referentiality and abstraction and notions that couldn't be explained in workaday English."

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New York, Nov. 10 A profile looks for the secrets to "wonky lesbian pundit" Rachel Maddow's success on MSNBC. "Geek chic" is part of her appeal, but her talent on-air also stems from an "intense" work ethic and distinguished background. Before punditry, Maddow did "stints as an AIDS activist, barista, landscaper, Air America host, and mascot in an inflatable calculator suit." With degrees from Stanford and Oxford, the foreign-policy specialist landed her first broadcast job at a local Massachusetts radio station as a way to pay the bills while writing her dissertation. There, she discovered a natural talent that eventually landed Maddow her own cable news show. A feature chronicles the circumstances that led an FBI informant to "betray a lifelong friend" in order to catch the murderer of an abortion doctor. The informant accompanied his friend and the friend's wife deep into the world of radical anti-abortion activists until they led the FBI to fugitive murderer James Kopp.

Reason, November 2008
An interview with presidential candidate Bob Barr charts the former Republican's "unlikely journey from drug warrior to Libertarian standard-bearer." The native Georgian quotes Dante to explain his decision to run for president after denying any interest two years ago. He also modifies his stance on the Iraq war, which he voted to authorize while in Congress, by describing it as "a very inappropriate use of our military and a huge number of taxpayer dollars." An article marks the 30th anniversary of the TV show Dallas.The show was a "bourbon-and-sex-soaked caricature of free enterprise that proved irresistible and catalytic not just to stagflation-weary Americans but to viewers in France, the Soviet Union, and Romania" who admired American pop culture.