Economist, July 2 In anticipation of next week’s G8 summit, a piece discusses the effects increased aid may have on African poverty. Aid critics point to China, India, and Vietnam, which have lifted themselves out of financial crises with internal policy changes and little outside help. The piece concludes that Africa cannot achieve self-reliance if the developed world does not first address fundamental issues such as peacekeeping and a second Green Revolution. … John Mack is slotted to return as president of Morgan Stanley following the resignation of his longtime rival Philip Purcell. With stocks up and company morale reportedly on the rise, Mack must address Morgan Stanley’s unwieldy merger with Dean Witter: “Mr. Mack must decide whether to return the firm to its profitable roots as a high-end purveyor of services to wealthy individuals and corporations,” the article notes, “or pursue the dream of being all things to all people—and if he chooses the latter, which businesses advance that goal.”—M.O.
New Republic, July 11
In the cover article, Jonathan Chait makes the case that ideas are overrated in American politics. Despite the common line that the Republicans are “the party of ideas,” Chait argues that Democrats’ apparent dearth of creativity simply reflects the reality that they don’t have a chance of enacting their policies in a government controlled by conservatives. “Today, Democrats generally oppose change because ‘change’ means doing things Bush’s way,” writes Chait. “This puts Democrats in the dilemma of either supporting new policies that are almost inevitably bad…or appearing wedded to the status quo.” … Alvaro Vargas Llosa rails against the cult of Che Guevara as he documents the extent to which Che’s image has spread to merchandise and shallow symbolism. He then focuses upon evidence that Guevara was bloodthirsty and ignorant in both guerilla tactics and government. Llosa cites Guevara’s affinity for nuclear weapons and his militant speech before the United Nations: “As Marxists we have maintained that peaceful coexistence among nations does not include coexistence between exploiters and the exploited.”–L.W.
New York Review of Books, July 14 When French and Dutch * voters overwhelming rejected the EU Constitution, they not only caused Jean Monnet to roll over in his grave, but also ignited an orgy of punditry suggesting that the European Union may go the way of Esperanto. William Pfaff blames the rejection on EU expansion, reckoning that old Europe’s elites are out of touch with its hoi polloi, where specters of racism, xenophobia, and nationalism still find a home. The right approach, according to Plaff, is to allow an organic level of integration where “nations selectively cooperate with one another when it makes sense to do so.”… Anthony Lewis reviews attorney Floyd Abrams’ treatise, Speaking Freely: Trials of the First Amendment. Abrams, a longtime First Amendment centurion and an “engaging” writer, offers up a “fascinating” book, which uses anecdotes gleamed from his legal career to explain the “process of constitutional interpretation from the ground up.”—Z.K.
National Review, July 4 Recently, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal eulogized the demise of class mobility; Donald Luskin tells them to collectively shove it by declaring the rumors of class mobility’s demise “greatly exaggerated.” Thanks to the much maligned “voodoo economics” and a gang of pioneering entrepreneurs such as Gates, et al., the poverty rate is declining and after-tax income is increasing. In other words: “The rising tide has lifted all the boats.”… An article declares Japanese pacifism so passé. Rather than relegating Japan to the international actors’ kiddie table, the United States needs to support abolishing Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution which, “bans a standing army, collective self-defense and arms export.” Doing so would create “the kind of ally we need in Asia,” by tipping the balance power away from North Korea, China, and Russia.—Z.K.
New York Times Magazine, July 3 In the cover article, NYU law professor and constitutional scholar Noah Feldman offers a solution to the church-and-state battle. He traces the history of the American experiment that kept religion out of government, and he points to the rise of both “values evangelicals” and “legal secularists” as the source of present-day cultural and political rifts. Feldman proposes that Americans should be allowed greater freedom to integrate religious speech and symbols into the public sphere but that a stricter ban is needed against using public funds for religious institutions. “[T]he proposal may strike both sides of the current debate as mistaken, since it requires each to give up some victories in exchange for an alternative solution,” he writes, arguing that his solution will adhere to the Framers’ ideals and begin to bridge the gap between secularists and evangelicals. … An interview with Chuck Hagel has the Republican senator answering questions about his time in Vietnam, the wrong way to recruit more troops, and his vision for the Republican Party. Commenting on the $400 billion deficit, Hagel says “[W]e have blown the top right off. We’re a bunch of Democrats.”—L.W.
New York, July 4 and 11 David Amsden profiles three girls fresh out of prep school who hit New York’s swankest clubs and seek out rich men who may be twice their age. “I honestly feel like a 30-year-old trapped in the body of a high-school girl,” says one. “I don’t know if that goes for all girls in New York, or just us, if it’s just the life we’ve been living.” Their suitors have extra cash and the desire to feel young again; the girls have skintight jeans and a penchant for free drinks and movie screenings. “Being a teenager anywhere is to want, more than anything, to be old,” Amsden writes. “Being a teenager in the ageless playground of New York City—especially a girl, especially at night—is to be able to pull it off.”… Elizabeth Royte follows her garbage all the way to the landfill and spends time with the “san men” who each hoist four to five tons of trash a day. “Glancing at your flotsam and jetsam,” Royte writes, “they know who has broken up, who has recently given birth, who is cross-dressing.” —L.W.
Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, July 4 Iraq: An Iraqi terrorist tells Time about his preparations to become a suicide bomber. Marwan Abu Ubeida joined an insurgency group in 2003, after he witnessed American troops fire on a crowd of protesters. While he waits for his commander to call him to duty, he engages in the spiritual cleansing expected of all jihadis, which involves meditating “to free their minds of negative thoughts toward their fellow men—except Americans and their Iraqi ‘infidel’ supporters.”… An article in U.S. News claims the military is fighting “two wars in Iraq”—one against Sunni Baathist insurgents and one against “hard-line Islamic extremists” who conduct suicide bombings. “The suicide bombers are less dangerous militarily, but their tactics are so spectacular they generate an effect out of proportion to what they do,” Col. Ben Hodges says. “If you do not stop the suicide bombing, the optimism of people in coalition countries starts to wane.”
China: A Newsweek piece clarifies the financial details of the competing bids for Unocal by the China National Offshore Oil Corp. and Chevron. While CNOOC has offered $67 a share in cash and Chevron $60 a share in a deal combining stocks and cash, a CNOOC takeover would result in an immediate tax for shareholders and take months longer to complete than if Chevron won the bid: “Thus, a tax-advantaged $60 sooner is competitive with a fully taxable $67 later.” Writer Allan Sloan predicts higher bids to come. … Time frames the CNOOC bid as part of China’s struggle to “acquire oil-and-gas reserves needed to power an economy still growing 9% annually.” The Chinese government’s offer of $8.5 billion in low-interest loans to help finance the deal has caused complaints in Washington of “predatory financing.” In response, free-trade proponents recall a buying spree of 15 years ago, when Japanese companies bought “everything from Rockefeller Center to Hollywood movie studios. The Japanese, it turned out, got taken like tourists.”
Jack Abramoff: U.S. News lambastes Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon for scamming several Native American tribes out of millions of dollars. Hired to protect casino interests, Abramoff and Scanlon charged exorbitant fees for work they didn’t do, then set up fake charities to shelter their earnings. Now that an incriminating trail of e-mails has been exposed, the two face lawsuits from the bilked tribes and investigations by congressional committees. … An article in Time highlights the political jockeying surrounding the scandal. Republicans are worried about losing the moral edge they used to wrest Congress from the Democrats in 1994. Not only did conservative politicians receive tribal money from Abramoff, but many Republicans are morally opposed to the casinos that made the money in the first place. Abramoff has become the “personification of the Republican revolution gone awry,” and some politicians argue that the party ought to separate itself from “those tied too closely” to him.—M.O.
New Yorker, July 4
Jeffrey Goldberg has a piece about Steve Rosen, a former top lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who faces indictment for spilling classified information about Iraq to an Israeli diplomat. In his first interview since leaving AIPAC, Rosen denies that he was spying for Israel; if he’d been given information that might help save the lives of British or Australian soldiers, he says, “I’d have tried to warn them by calling friends at those embassies.”… Agonizing about whether to tell his daughter about the death of her pet fish prompts Adam Gopnik to ruminate about consciousness and the plot of Hitchcock’s Vertigo. He writes, “We begin as small children imagining that everything could have consciousness—fish, dolls, toy soldiers, even parents—and spend the rest of our lives paring the list down, until we are left alone in bed, the only mind left.”—B.B.
Weekly Standard, July 4 and 11 Irwin M. Seltzer argues that a Chinese company’s attempt to acquire Unocal is very different from Japan’s acquisition of Rockefeller Center in the 1980s. He writes, “Japan did not engage in the wholesale theft of intellectual property, China does. Japan did not buy strategic assets: ownership of New York real estate has no implication for national security; ownership of oil resources does.” … Dismissed from her job as a Senate staffer after blogging her sex life, Jessica Cutler did like so many in Washington, D.C., and signed a book deal. The result, as, Judy Bachrach writes, “is a novel of uncommon candor, humor, and perspicacity, and I loved every page of it.” She celebrates Cutler for daring to speak unpopular truths (Washington, D.C., is “Hollywood for the Ugly”), for providing valuable insights into the inner workings of Capitol Hill (staffers are too busy blogging about parties to return phone calls), and for not bothering to veil her fictionalized characters too carefully.—B.B.