Other Magazines

Indecent Behavior

New Republic, July 23

The cover story rejects the case for black reparations. After reading Randall Robinson’s The Debt, the author questions Robinson’s anti-progress schema: that African-American identity can be made whole only by embracing African identity; that America’s “spending, building, unveiling, and publishing” neglects African and slave history; that white culture hasn’t embraced the “moral imperative to compensate blacks through set-asides.” Here is the proper framework for reparations: affirmative action, community reinvestment, and black scholarships—in other words, the programs we already have in place. The editorial calls for the resignation of Rep. Gary Condit, D-Calif. In past scandals, the magazine was quick to defend a public official’s right to privacy. But Condit is a special case: He “undermined the search for a missing woman because he was too selfish or too cowardly to tell the truth. For that alone, he deserves our contempt.” (For Slate’s complete rundown on the case thus far, click here.)— B.C.

Economist, July 14 The cover story explains the benefits and prospects for mass customization. In the future, automobile companies hope to follow the model of Dell Computer by custom building cars to meet individual orders. An article and editorial report on economic troubles facing Brazil and Argentina. It is feared that a financial meltdown in the region may trigger another worldwide emerging-market crisis like that of 1997-99. A piece says that Wimbledon champ Goran Ivanisevic is “a very appropriate symbol of Croat nationalism.” Nasty one minute, nice the next, his split personality mirrors Croatia’s, which last year replaced the near-dictatorship of Franjo Tudjman with a government of “almost unnatural democratic virtue.”—J.F.

New York Times Magazine, July 15

The cover story describes how a 15-year-old posing as a legal expert surpassed 125 licensed attorneys to become the top-rated legal advice-giver on AskMe.com, an Internet knowledge exchange. Trained only by CourtTV, Marcus Arnold reviewed cases and wrote motions for people he met on the Net, who even after he disclosed his age, continued to rank him the No. 1 expert on the site. An article reports on fetal surgeries being carried out to treat spina bifida, a nonfatal illness. These in-utero operations put both mother and fetus at risk, and may not even improve the disease’s most serious symptoms. Because the procedure treats the unborn as patients in their own right, it is heralded by pro-lifers emphasizing the babylike quality of fetuses. A profile of Max Kennedy dissects his aborted run for the late Joe Moakley’s congressional seat. A “quirkier, more irreverent kind of Kennedy,” Max is depicted as simply not being cut out for the family profession.—J.F.

Washington Monthly, July-August 2001 An article dubs OMB director Mitch Daniels “the most powerful man in Washington you’ve never heard of.” With a demeanor that uncannily resembles Dick Cheney’s and a reputation for tightfisted frugality, Daniels (“a Newt Gingrich with charm”) played a major role in designing Bush’s budget. Liberals should fear his “dangerous competence.” A piece decries the trashy fare on America Online’s welcome screen. Despite considering itself a sober news organization, AOL hides important news articles behind a series of links, preferring to front more “crowd-pleasing” pages. Moreover, the author believes that AOL’s decisions about which articles to run are made with the “crassly commercial aim” of plugging the sites of its high-paying advertisers.—J.F.

Weekly Standard, July 16

The cover story applauds the world’s poor democracies. Arriving at their current stage without the cultural “software” of liberal capitalism, these countries have suffered from corruption and the inherent tensions between free enterprise and incipient democracy. Nevertheless, they “deserve aid and encouragement, not neglect and disdain.” An article about the liberalization of the Episcopal Church chronicles the dispute between Washington’s left-leaning Bishop Jane Dixon and a conservative Maryland priest she is trying to depose. Having gradually supplanted their “jowly old WASP” predecessors during the 1970s, church revisionists have been careful to quell any modicum of traditionalism in their ranks, lest they fall to the same tolerance of diverse viewpoints that allowed their very ascent. A piece argues that Bush could have bypassed the entire stem-cell debacle by dealing with the issue during his first days in office. Had he immediately barred federal funding of embryonic research and increased money for investigations into adult stem-cells, “it would have been a one-day story, not a firestorm but a flicker.”—J.F.

The New Yorker, July 16

An article profiles 1970s radical Kathy Boudin, currently serving a life sentence for a 1981 fatal armed robbery. During her 20 years of imprisonment, Boudin has been a model prisoner, earning a master’s degree and organizing several prison programs that have received national attention. Her first chance at parole is in August. Malcolm Gladwell deconstructs the formula behind the CEO memoir. Today’s moguls model their books on Lee Iacocca’s best-selling 1984 autobiography: They start off with a personal crisis, describe their humble origins, praise their no-nonsense mentors, and use lots of wild-animal metaphors. “The shame of it is that many of these books could have been fascinating” without adhering to convention. A piece explains the Defense Department’s planned “Revolution in Military Affairs” (R.M.A. in Pentagon-speak). Supporters of the R.M.A. seek a more streamlined military for the post-Cold War world. But the bureaucracies of the three armed services, which feel rightfully threatened by the R.M.A., have greeted the plan with resistance.—J.F.

Vanity Fair, August 2001 An article by Gail Sheehy deems Hillary Clinton a “surprisingly effective legislator” and posits a couple of explanations for her success. She shows deference to her colleagues and exhibits a certain amount of flirtatiousness, even to her husband’s most rabid detractors, “fluttering her hands at Pete Domenici’s jokes, letting Orrin Hatch lay a hand on the small of her back, stroking the arm of—imagine this—Trent Lott.” Groomed for the collegial atmosphere of the Senate by her experiences at the male-dominated Yale Law School, she has fit in perfectly. Sheehy also reports that the Clinton marriage is as strong as ever. An essay bites into the Fox News Network and its “blowhard anchors,” who “editorialize as if dictating a stern memo to God.” The author accuses the network’s hosts of being elitist “corporate apologists” posing in the garb of populists. (Read Slate’s take on Fox News; the New York Times Magazine assessed the network last month.)—J.F.

Time, July 16

The cover story looks at the continuing battle over how to manage the West’s natural resources. As enivironmental groups and politicians slug it out on the national stage, the answer, the author says, might be found at the local level where compromises are easier to find. An article picks the best software to burn CDs: iTunes, which is only available for Macs. An article says amusement-park rides are “basically safe,” but the mag recommends that parents check the park’s safety records before letting kids ride.— A.F.

Newsweek, July 16 The cover package on contemporary Christian music’s ascent from the fringe to the mainstream. Last year, CCM accounted for 7 percent of the overall sales in the American music industry (double that of U.S. Latin music and more than jazz, classical, and New Age combined), and bands like P.O.D. and Lifehouse get regular play on MTV. Michael Isikoff on the Chandra Levy case gives a “Who’s Who” of each side’s spin doctors. (Click here for Slate’s complete chronology of the Levy story.) A feature on the relationships between pro golfers and their caddies explains that caddies take home a 10 percent cut when their boss comes in first place, 7 percent for a top 10 finish, and 5 percent of any other winnings. No. 2 golfer Phil Mickelson’s caddie bagged nearly $400,000 last year.—A.F.

Talk, August 2001 Journalist David Brock disavows his conservative past in an excerpt from his forthcoming book Blinded by the Right. Brock, who in 1993 authored The Real Anita Hill, apologizes for having been “a witting cog in the Republican sleaze machine” and for knowingly printing false allegations about Hill. He also claims that Justice Thomas indirectly passed him disparaging information about a key detractor, which Brock then used to intimidate her into recanting a statement. A profile of Andrew Cuomo paints a portrait of the New York gubernatorial candidate that is at turns glowing and critical. The author lauds Cuomo’s skill and passion for politics but also provides ample evidence of his hard-nosed arrogance. A series of over 50 short anecdotes from friends, family, colleagues, and foes of Fidel Castro offers a mosaic biography of the Cuban dictator on the eve of his 75th birthday. The highlights are stories about Castro’s youth, including a letter sent to FDR congratulating him on his election, in which Castro asked the president to please send $20. J.F.