What's new in The New Yorker, New York, and the New Republic.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
Dec. 9 2008 4:24 PM

I Doth

Newsweek on the Bible and gay marriage.

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Newsweek, Dec. 15 The cover story looks to the Bible for arguments against gay marriage and instead finds that the good book advocates inclusion for all. In biblical times, marriage was a polygamist institution, and "no sensible modern person wants marriage—theirs or anyone else's—to look in its particulars anything like what the Bible describes." A story examines the custody battle between two moms over their daughter Isabella. After marrying in Vermont and divorcing eight years later, Isabella's biological mother, Lisa Miller, has since found God and renounced her former lifestyle, which she now calls "fundamentally wrong." Despite a ruling by the Virginia Supreme Court, Miller continues to deny the nonbiological mother, Janet Jenkins, visiting rights. "For gay-rights advocates, it's further evidence that the uneven patchwork of laws concerning same-sex civil unions and marriage may promise them equality in one locale, but leave them vulnerable in another."

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The New Yorker, Dec. 15 A piece profiles eccentric Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in the aftermath of the summer's short war that brought Russian tanks within 20 miles of Tbilisi. Saakashvili, almost 10 inches taller than Vladimir Putin, has nicknamed the Russian president "Lilli-Putin," and whenever the pair meets, the room feels "electric with hatred," according to an observer. Many politicians have faulted Saakashvili for overestimating the amount of support the small Caucasian nation has in the West. "I don't want to live in the new Caucasian Israel. I'd rather live in the new Caucasian Ireland," one former ally said. Malcolm Gladwell tries to figure out what makes a good teacher. One researcher concludes that it is "withitness"—"a teacher's communicating to the children … that she knows what the children are doing, or has the proverbial 'eyes in the back of her head' "—that separates the competent from the lackluster. Gladwell proposes opening up teaching "to anyone with a pulse and a college degree" and starting an apprenticeship program to weed out those who do not succeed.

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The New Republic, Dec. 24 Coveting positions in "Camelot Redux," eager young Democratic job-seekers are flocking to key people in the new Obama administration like so many ravenous birds, a piece finds. Networking, already a professional sport inside the Beltway, has kicked into hyperdrive. The manager of Obama's 2000 state Senate run has dealt with more than 600 job inquiries since the election. Washington's social climbers are also jostling for ties with the first family. "Establishment Washington is an insecure culture, peopled by frantic overachievers whose professional and social standing depends heavily and uneasily on the ballot box." The author also predicts that the locus of young Washington will shift from preppy Georgetown watering holes to hipster-packed dives in Adams Morgan and around U Street. Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff does not have an office, and that's just one of the problems plaguing the newest federal agency, Jeffrey Rosen finds.

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New York, Dec. 15
From Mad Men to Rachel Getting Married, the magazine weighs in on 2008's best offerings in its annual year-in-culture issue. A profile of hedge-fund manager Jim Chanos chronicles how the prescient short-seller has managed to turn a profit on Wall Street's woes. To find hidden instability inside of companies, Chanos and his analysts pore over their financial statements to ferret out their weaknesses. "Chanos is a financial undertaker. He makes a profit when companies die. And when there's an epidemic, he gets richer still." Women are drinking almost as much as men these days, an article finds. Part of the reason is savvy marketing; part is third-wave feminism. College and the binge drinking that often accompanies it can set the tone for lifelong habits, and "the more educated a woman is, the more likely she will be to drink throughout her life."

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Weekly Standard, Dec. 15 Fred Barnes wonders if Jeb Bush's stated intent to run for Senate in 2010 means he wants to follow his father and brother to the White House someday. The stigma attached to Jeb's last name "should begin to fade" after his older brother leaves office in January. After two years out of politics, "Bush can't afford to stay on the sidelines if he has any hope of being president," Barnes writes. An article follows Sarah Palin—"the second biggest phenomenon of the 2008 election cycle"—to Georgia, where she stumped for Senate hopeful Saxby Chambliss. Chambliss, who won in a runoff, commended Palin for her help getting out the vote. Her success in Georgia proves that "grassroots America does not want her to go away, and she has no intention of doing so." The cover story evaluates recent changes at the National Museum of American History, the least popular of the big Washington, D.C., museums that "has been disappointing tourists for 44 years."

Sonia Smith is an associate editor at Texas Monthly.

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