Texas Monthly, August 2004 In an excerpt from their forthcoming Tom DeLay biography The Hammer, Lou Dubose and Jan Reid chronicle the congressman’s role in the redistricting battle that roiled his home state. The two authors explain how DeLay orchestrated a Republican takeover of the Texas House of Representatives that allowed his party to redraw the state’s electoral map—with the goal of producing five to seven new Republican congressmen from Texas. The piece, more narrowly focused than Vanity Fair’s general assessment of DeLay in July, presents the definitive account of the extraordinary redistricting endeavor.… Another article catches up with the Democratic congressmen whose districts DeLay helped redefine and considers their chances for electoral success in November.—A.B.D.
Economist, July 29 The cover story calls on international leaders to confront the massacres in Sudan. The magazine suggests that the West finance African troops: They “would cause less an affront than white ones” and would likely be more effective protecting refugees and policing an eventual ceasefire.… An article looks at the upcoming Iraqi national conference that will select the country’s interim parliament. Some delegates have already raised concerns that Kurds will be overrepresented and that members of the old Iraqi Governing Council will have too much influence in the new assembly.… Thanks to increased wealth and a growing elderly population, charities can expect “more gifts from the living and more bequests from the dead,” according to a special report on philanthropy that predicts a new golden age of giving.—S.M.
The New Republic, Aug. 9 The magazine’s convention coverage includes a piece on message control and the vetting of convention speeches —Ted Kennedy’s and Jimmy Carter’s apparently needed significant revisions.… The cover package also contains two articles on Democratic unity. TRB argues that Dems have come together partly because of Sept. 11, since the war on terror has made earlier divisions seem shallow. The other piece claims that many left-liberals have put aside their separatist spirit and are instead sponsoring local Democratic candidates and trying to reform the party from within.… An article on the growing number of evangelicals in Africa says that the continent is experiencing its own Great Awakening. The rise of Christianity is not entirely positive for the United States—Africa’s evangelicals are resolutely pro-American, but their zealousness has contributed to outbursts of sectarian violence across the continent. —S.M.
Business 2.0, August For its first global issue, the magazine outsourced the articles in its “In Front” section to India, where the pieces were conceived, reported, written, and initially edited. The resulting items are mostly concentrated on Asia—there’s a piece examining the rush of investment in Beijing in anticipation of the 2008 Olympic Games, another comparing the types of digital transactions available in many Asian countries, and a story on recent attempts to build low-cost cars for Indian consumers. While the outsourcing experiment cut the costs of the section in half, the Editor’s Note says that journalistic offshoring is still far off since it is not “a viable practice for the highly collaborative, implacable-deadline work of most magazine making.”—S.M.
New York Times Magazine, Aug. 1 The cover story profiles Vagit Alekperov, a billionaire Russian oilman who has avoided the criminal charges and government scrutiny facing many other wealthy Russians by pledging his loyalty to Putin. The author finds that many of Russia’s “oligarchs,” the businessmen who made their wealth during the lawless Yeltsin era, are still learning how to balance their financial interests with the demands of an increasingly powerful president. … A piece on the current Senate race in South Dakota explains why Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle remains popular despite the state’s heavily Republican leanings. By taking tactical advantage of a decade-long split in the local Republican Party and maintaining moderate political stances, Daschle has regularly won over many swing voters. Unfortunately, the article fails to examine how the need to serve his constituents affects Daschle’s effectiveness as minority leader.—S.M.
The New Yorker, Aug. 2
The magazine reports on al-Qaida’s plans for Spain and the rest of Europe in the wake of the Madrid train bombings in March. The magazine theorizes that the terrorists’ purpose was not only to drive Spanish troops out of Iraq, but also to strike at Spain itself, which many Muslims consider to be the lost Islamic paradise of Al Andalus. Islamic terrorists want to spark a larger war between the believers and the impious, and they are spreading this radical goal through the Internet.… Many economists argue that free trade is always good, despite the public’s fear about jobs going overseas. The magazine challenges that theory and explains why offshoring may be bad for America after all. Another article profiles Zell Kravinsky, who has devoted himself to giving away almost everything he has. After donating nearly all his $45 million real-estate empire to charity, he donated his kidney—to someone he’d never met.— A.B.D.
Weekly Standard, Aug. 2 Providing yet another reason to hate John Kerry, the magazine notes that he is rich. Yes, George Bush, Dick Cheney, and John Edwards are also wealthy (as politicians have been throughout American history), but John Kerry is very, very wealthy. What’s more, Kerry gained his fortune through marriage, whereas the other candidates had to work for theirs. (The magazine admits Bush earned his wealth through family connections, but “at least [he] had to do something.”)… Stephen F. Hayes continues to expound upon the links between Iraq and al-Qaida, now citing the 9/11 report as evidence.… The magazine catches up with the political operative who trailed Illinois Senate candidate Barack Obama with a video camera. The staffer, who worked for the now-defunct Jack Ryan campaign, laments Obama’s political skill in turning the camera issue against Ryan and bemoans the Democratic candidate’s seemingly inevitable victory this fall.— A.B.D.
New York Review of Books, Aug. 12 A piece claims the Supreme Court’s three terror-detainee decisions won’t greatly help prisoners being held as enemy combatants because of the high burden of proof required to prove one’s innocence. Since “the justices’ arguments provide the legal basis for a much more powerful conclusion than the Court itself drew,” the most significant impact will likely come years from now.… A story about the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region argues that typical international punitive measures, such as embargoes and travel sanctions, won’t stop the fighting because government-backed militias have easy access to arms within the country and have no reason to leave. The author decides that the near resolution of Sudan’s other war, the civil war in the south, “offers the only chance there is of breaking the cycle of state violence” in the country.—S.M.
Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report, Aug. 2
Kerry’s character: Time’s cover story on John Kerry asks why he is incapable of campaigning effectively unless he is on the verge of political death, and then answers its own question: Kerry’s New England propriety makes the “creative roguery” of politics unnatural to him, so only when he is about to lose does he display the ruthlessness and flamboyance of a good politician.… Kerry also graces the cover of Newsweek, but its article adds little new information about the presumed Democratic nominee. The piece offers the same tale that every other magazine has run, of an overly earnest prep school boy who wanted to be president.… U.S. News opted not to put Kerry on the cover, but it does have a package of articles for the convention, including a look at the energized and united Democratic party, some advice for Kerry from party leaders and strategists, and a report on rising star Barack Obama.
Responding to the 9/11 report: Newsweek analyzes the 9/11 commission’s final report and concludes that its most important argument is that the United States needs a new grand strategy that includes more than military action. …U.S. News delves into the history of failed attempts to reform the intelligence community with a cover story that examines a late-1990s effort—thwarted by bureaucratic turf wars—to streamline everything from e-mail systems to asset management. A similar fate may await any new reforms, the magazine implies. …Time’s overview includes the new detail that 9/11 commission Chairman Tom Kean wants to release four more staff reports. The reports contain classified material, however, so those interested in their contents may have to sue to get them released. The magazine also reports that President Bush may be backing down in his opposition to a new national intelligence director after John Kerry supported the idea.
Summer fun: Newsweek catches up with funnyman Jamie Foxx, who’s quickly making the transition from comedy to more serious roles. The magazine also offers some much-needed career advice to Catwoman Halle Berry. …U.S. News re-examines Ulysses S. Grant, whose notoriously poor reputation is improving (slowly) thanks to a series of new books. (Slate’s Chris Suellentrop wrote about Grant’s exhumation in 2002.) …Time looks at the horror-film renaissance sparked by M. Night Shyamalan (of The Sixth Sense fame). Shyamalan has a new film, The Village, out this week, and a slew of other directors are working on sophisticated horror flicks for adults..—A.B.D.