What's new in Newsweek, the Weekly Standard, and Harper's.

Summaries of what's in Time, Newsweek, etc.
June 16 2009 2:49 PM

Artificial Intelligence

The New Yorker on Leon Panetta's CIA.

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The New Yorker, June 22 An article confronts the unenviable situation of CIA Director Leon Panetta, whose agency "has become the focus of almost daily struggle, as Obama attempts to restore the rule of law in America's fight against terrorism without sacrificing safety or losing the support of conservative Democratic and independent voters." An outsider with "virtually no experience in the intelligence field," Panetta must reform the agency to make it torture-free and ensure it can uncover 9/11-like plots. "America's intelligence community is an incestuous one," the author says, "making it difficult for a President to break with old ways of thinking."... The Comment examines the after-effects, real and potential, of Obama's Cairo speech. It was "a factor" in the recent re-election of a pro-Western coalition in Lebanon. Perhaps most promisingly, "[Obama] called Israel's presence in the West Bank and Gaza an occupation, and he called the situation intolerable. He called Palestine Palestine."

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Newsweek, June 22 Fareed Zakaria's cover story offers a grand explanation of the financial crisis and recession. Briefly: Stability and globalization spurred worldwide growth, causing more demand for American bonds, causing easy money, causing the now-burst financial and real estate bubbles. Still, "[c]apitalism remains the most productive economic engine." Zakaria indicts politicians (especially Alan Greenspan) for favoring short-term fixes over long-term rectification—"the disease of modern democracy." Future stability will require better morals: "No matter what reforms we put in place, without common sense, judgment and an ethical standard, they will prove inadequate."... A profile of Ehud Olmert reports that Israel's former prime minister supports a "settlement freeze" in the Palestinian territories but "thinks it's folly for [President Barack] Obama to publicly confront [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu on the settlement issue," as he did in his Cairo speech. Moreover, Olmert joins Netanyahu (and most Israelis) in supporting limited settlement "natural growth"—which Obama opposes.

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Weekly Standard, June 22 The editorial, co-authored by Bill Kristol, calls Democratic health care reform proposals "a liberal wish list ... that would limit patient choices, ration care, and bankrupt the Treasury." The "public plan"—a government-run insurer to compete with private ones—represents "a gradual path to single payer health care." "The American public is right," the authors write. "ObamaCare is wrong. It should and can be defeated." When it is, the victory "could mark the beginning of a new center-right coalition to restrain the grossly excessive ambitions of the administration."... A takedown of Newsweek scribe Richard Wolffe calls him "a free-floating propagandist"—"ardent, assured, and completely reversible at the drop of a poll number." Wolffe's "courtier spirit" informs Renegade, his new book on Obama, and actually "gives the book its moments of value; sycophancy can be a close cousin to writerly sympathy, and Wolffe has no trouble viewing the world from Obama's point of view."

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New Republic, July 1 A profile presents Ezekiel Emanuel—health care expert, leading bioethicist, and chief-of-staff Rahm's brother—as the epitome of Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag's influential "high command": "In a town that's often run by political operatives and slick K Street lobbyists, the Orszag intellectuals are shaping everything from health care reform to climate-change legislation." The OMB's power in the health care realm derives in part from having been "up and running with personnel when Tom Daschle's bid to be health secretary ran aground." Emanuel also epitomizes the OMB brain trust's knack for politics: "Let it not be said that the Emanuel brothers don't appreciate the way power flows through Washington."... The editorial advocates a public health care plan. While private insurers alone can ensure high-quality universal health care in other countries like Switzerland and Holland), in the United States, only a public plan could ensure universal coverage and promote wise treatment.

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Harper's, July An article reports on the extensive effort to defeat the Employee Free Choice Act, or "card check," which businesses perceive "as a sort of Armageddon." The campaign is "the latest onslaught in a business crusade to destroy the labor movement." Now that card check is essentially dead, unions want to heighten labor-law penalties and speed up the union election process. "Obama has failed to embrace their agenda," the author writes. "Privately, union officials clearly feel let down."... The cover story damns Obama with the exceedingly faint praise of being like Herbert Hoover, who "was widely considered the most capable public figure in the country" yet failed to alleviate an economic crisis because he "could not break with the prevailing beliefs of his day." The author also disdains conservative Western Democrats—"a parade of aged satraps from vast, windy places stepping forward to tell us what is off the table."

Marc Tracy is a writer living in New York.

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