Other Magazines

Smooth Operator

New Republic, March 26
A profile of Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle says the unassuming South Dakotan is the only thing standing between the Democrats and a Republican rout. While the Bush tax cut passed the House practically without debate, Senate Republicans concede that Daschle’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering will keep centrist Dems in line and even win over a few moderate GOPers, forcing the president to compromise. A piece reports that ex-Clinton staffers are eschewing the lucrative world of trade associations and lobby shops for think tanks and universities. Why? Because Democrats feel guilty about shilling for big business and because the Clinton brainiacs believe the private sector is too boring. An article blasts the new parity law in France, which requires political parties to field equal numbers of men and women candidates. The idea caught on not because women are considered equal but because France wanted to “get in touch with its feminine side.” Just because women hold office doesn’t mean they hold real power.— J.D.

Economist, March 17 The cover editorial makes suggestions about Asia policy to President Bush. Despite Japan’s recent economic and political woes, Bush needs to cajole it into assuming the military burden of being a leading regional power. Meanwhile, though he cannot coddle China like President Clinton did, if he seems too pro-Taiwan or implements missile defense without also reducing American weapon stockpiles, he could provoke violent conflict. A piece says “the gloss is wearing off Vladimir Putin’s presidency.” The communists called for a vote of no confidence, and then, inexplicably, Putin’s own Unity Party backed the idea (the vote eventually failed overwhelmingly). What’s the problem? Putin’s party was hastily put together, and its officeholders are scared of losing cozy government jobs. An article weighs in on the raging human cloning controversy. The technical glitches involved with cloning will result in horrors like spontaneous abortions, deformities, and infant mortality rates of 50 percent.— J.D.

New York Times Magazine, March 18
The cover story describes a forgery controversy at the Getty Museum. The curator of the European drawings collection suspected that six masterworks were forgeries. But the Getty had paid more than $1 million for the drawings, and being duped by fakery is the worst kind of embarrassment in the art world, so the museum tried to gag the curator after it forced him to resign in a bizarre sexual harassment controversy. To avoid humiliation, museums avoid open inquiry into works of dubious provenance, often passing off fakes or putting them back in the art market. A profile of Al Sharpton argues that he is trying to cast himself as a civil rights leader in a post-civil rights age. He maintains his status as an outsider while many prominent blacks enter the political mainstream. But unlike the black establishmentarians he criticizes (Colin Powell, David Dinkins), Sharpton fails to understand that thanks to the work of people like Martin Luther King, today blacks can hold power apart from their ability to protest.— J.D.

New York Review of Books, March 29 A piece criticizes the current U.S. policy toward Iraq and suggests a more coherent one. As it stands, the American armed forces pretend they will strike if Saddam Hussein develops weapons of mass destruction. But by all accounts, he already has them. The current sanctions policy lets in plenty of weapons but not food, a fact that Hussein has exploited to his PR advantage among the Iraqi people. The United States should establish a more limited set of goals: protecting Kurdish autonomy and preventing Saddam Hussein from affecting the balance of power in the Middle East. A piece laments a growing trend among historians to butcher the legacies of the Founding Fathers. Early founders revisionism examined Washington, Adams, and Jefferson as real people instead of icons, which was a positive development. But now the old white guys with the wigs are being blamed for not anticipating and solving all the problems that afflict modern society.— J.D.

The New Yorker, March 19
A piece decries the decline of the autopsy. Doctors now seek them on only about 10 percent of deaths because it is difficult to ask bereaved family members for permission and because they think medical advances have obviated the need to double-check causes of death. Wrong. The misdiagnosis rate is still an alarming 40 percent, and it hasn’t improved in more than 60 years. An article profiles Isabella Blow, the craziest-dressed fashion overlord in England. Her family has lived in a castle since the 1300s, and she brings her Gothic background to bear on her fashion sense, which favors such accessories as hats made of crystal-encrusted lobster shells and long, heavy chains worn around the neck. When she takes young designers under her wing, they are virtually assured of success.— J.D.

Weekly Standard, March 19 The cover story blasts sociobiology, aka evolutionary psychology, a worldview claiming that all human behavior is attributable to natural selection. Sociobiology, advanced by such well-known thinkers as Steven Pinker and E.O. Wilson, draws adherents because it aims to accomplish the monumental task of understanding people. But it is bad science. Half the time, it works backward from the present to explain the past. The other half, it works forward from the past to explain the present. … A piece, premised on the fear that Beijing will win its bid for the 2008 Olympics, compares a Chinese Olympics with the 1936 Nazi Games in Berlin. China’s human rights record is worse than ever, but awarding it the Olympics will give it an unprecedented public relations opportunity to whitewash. While China builds military strength and punishes dissenters, the world will see an airbrushed “New China.”— J.D.

The Nation, March 26 A piece documents the slow but persistent growth of the “Seattle movement” against unchecked globalization. Multinationals realize that they can no longer run roughshod over labor and environmental interests, and so they are reaching out, if insincerely. Democrats have a decent chance to block fast-track authority (essentially a blank check for free-trade agreements) for President Bush this year because they won’t have a pro-trade Democratic president pressuring them. An article blasts the Bush proposal to eliminate the estate tax because it would widen the wealth gap between blacks and whites, the “one statistic that captures the persistence of racial inequality in the United States.” Although African-Americans earn less than whites, their net worth is an incredible seven times less than whites’.— J.D.

Time, March 19
Time’s cover package, “The Columbine Effect,” uncovers the origins of last week’s shooting spree in Santee, Calif., that left two dead, as well as the echo shooting by an eighth-grade girl in Pennsylvania. A friend credits a song by the band Linkin Park as having “inspired” the accused 15-year-old Santee murderer. A piece explains that while Merck announced it was cutting prices on two of its major AIDS drugs, an Indian generic drugmaker has already offered developing countries a three-drug combo for 40 percent less than its Western competitors. An article reports that Pakistan and a UNESCO special envoy attempted to dissuade the Taliban from destroying Afghanistan’s ancient statues. Under the Taliban, girls are denied any education and men can be sent to jail for beard-trimming.— A.F.

Newsweek, March 19 The cover portrays the rise of international pedophile rings. “Child pornography was pretty much eradicated in the 1980s,” says a U.S. Customs official. “With the advent of the Internet, it exploded.” In the Netherlands, one child abuser’s CD-ROMs showed children as young as 3 months subjected to explicit sex acts. An article dubs Dick Cheney “Patient in Chief,” alleging that at lunch before his angioplasty last Monday, Cheney was “forking butter pats onto his bread plate.” An article reports that by the end of 2001, 3,600 of Sudan’s Lost Boys will have been relocated to America. Over the next few years, those over 18 must repay the U.S. government $848 for their one-way airfare from Nairobi.— A.F.

U.S. News & World Report, March 19 The cover dissects Americans’ credit woes. The average cardholder’s outstanding balance is $4,400, while personal monthly savings have fallen to the lowest level in history. A campaign-promise pulse-check asserts that Bush’s agenda is going according to plan, from issues like the tax cut to education, campaign finance to gun control. Down the road: a new strategy for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Medicare reform, and a possible report on Social Security reform. A Mortimer B. Zuckerman editorial claims that the “economic tsunami” economists have predicted for Japan, the largest economy in Asia, will have devastating effects worldwide. Japanese folks, weary from their decadelong economic blues, are losing faith in a turnaround.— A.F.