The Nation, Oct. 3, 2005 An article by John Nichols focuses on anti-war Democrats. Kweisi Mfume, a Maryland candidate for Senate, is campaigning on the necessity of bringing the troops home, while Congresswoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., has formed the Out of Iraq Caucus, which has close to 60 members. But Nichols says an “end the war” chant is insufficient. He believes Democrats must first prove that “getting US troops out of Iraq fits into a broader agenda that will make Americans more secure, and maybe even well liked, in a turbulent world.”… Michael Kazin reviews Bait and Switch, Barbara Ehrenreich’s “sequel” to her best-selling Nickel and Dimed. In it, Ehrenreich creates a fake résumé and looks for PR work. Kazin admires her ability to “never forget … that clever ridicule is always more convincing than righteous rage,” but he adds, “there’s something disturbing about how she regards the poor souls she met along the networking trail of tears.”—T.B.
New Republic, Oct. 3, 2005 Franklin Foer penetrates the back-biting, vote-rigging, forgery-proliferating battle to rule the College Republican National Committee. Noting that Karl Rove, Jack Abramoff, Ralph Reed, and Grover Norquist all cut their teeth at the CRNC, Foer mentions that Rove went so far in his bid for ascendancy as to search his opponents’ garbage cans: “Rove was the Establishment candidate, and Atwater, the original Sun Tsu-quoting College Republican, was his prime campaign operative. They spent the spring of 1973 crisscrossing the country in a Ford Pinto, lining up the support of state chairs—basically the right-wing version of Thelma and Louise.” (Rove won.) … Another piece explicates a document on an online Arabic discussion site that provides 430 extensive biographies of insurgents, many of them suicide bombers, linked to “a global jihad symbolized by Al Qaeda.” The document indicates that these “martyrs” are often well-educated or affluent, and that many had to tell “pious fibs” to their families in order to leave.—B.B.
Economist, Sept. 24, 2005 Pointing out that the “world that remains too dependent on American demand,” a piece analyzes recent events in the U.S. and world economies and concludes, “The combination of slower consumer-spending in America and few alternative sources of demand suggest the world economy will slow.”… Another piece evaluates the “muddy” results of Germany’s recent elections. Bemoaning the coalition-building now going on, the magazine predicts, “it will produce a weak, short-lived government that has little capacity for further reform.”… Mr. Harvey, an Economist correspondent, waxes enthusiastic about the gift-economy on display at the weeklong Burning Man festival recently held in the Nevada desert. Although a ticket costs $300, during the week, “all buying, selling, and advertising was banned.” Thus, “Mr Harvey, whilst generously considering capitalism ‘a brilliant idea,’ has his hopes: he wants to reform the world’s economic system in a process that has to start with a ‘spiritual redefinition of what is value.’ “—B.B.
Weekly Standard, Sept. 26 Daveed Gartenstein-Ross writes about jihadist schemes to infiltrate America’s prisons and foment Wahhabism. He cites a recently foiled plot, hatched in a Los Angeles jail, to target local military and Jewish sites. He sees recruits swelling since the Saudi-based Wahhabite “Al Haramain Islamic Foundation” is spreading its literature advocating tithing to or participating in violence against Judeo-Christian countries. An organization released a study of incendiary materials from libraries of U.S. mosques; surely such a study of prison literature is warranted. … Amir Taheri scolds the Bush administration for not having a plan of action to deal with either Iran’s growing hostility toward the United States or its not-so-covert flirtation with developing nukes. As Iran beefs up military spending and its national coffers expand from increasing oil revenues, rather than allowing Europe and the United Nations to deal with situation, the U.S. should take charge. Regime change through supporting the country’s burgeoning democratic movement is the best way to go.—Z.K.
New York Times Magazine, Sept. 25
On the eve of Turkey’s negotiations with the European Union for membership, an article tackles the question: Can it become more democratic and less secular? Turkey’s overtures for admittance to the European Union began almost half a century ago, and its accession is still not guaranteed since support from both France and Germany is wavering. The country’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has been walking a tightrope trying to secure secularization while still courting to the growing number of Turkish Muslims who would like the freedom to practice their faith more openly. A last worry: Will “reforming the state according to society’s wishes … lead to anything other than an Islamic republic.” … Joan Didion offers a glimpse into grief as a state of being. Chronicling the death of her husband, novelist John Dunne, Didion concludes that, “Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysm, sudden apprehension that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.”—Z.K.
Time, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, Sept. 26
Iraq: Time chronicles the military’s eight-day offensive to wrest control of Tall Afar, nestled on the unprotected Syrian border, from the tentacles of insurgents. Abu Musab al Zarqawi “transformed the city into a training and command base for foreign fighters,” and the town became an incubator of anti-American propaganda. While noting that reports indicate 200 terrorists were wiped out by a force of 7,000 U.S. and Iraqi soldiers, the article says the mission’s success remains to be seen since many of the terrorists were able to escape. U.S. News focuses on the consequences of the offensive. Terrorists launched a series of retaliatory suicide bombings that killed nearly 200 Iraqis. Some officials counter that bombings are the death rattle of a dying insurgency, but the strength of the strikes has raised doubts about the military’s anti-guerrilla strategy. And as the vote on Iraq’s new constitution draws near, U.S. officials are predicting an uptick in violence.
Katrina:Newsweek and Time tally the bill from President Bush’s proposal to lead “one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen.” Two weeks into the Katrina disaster, almost $10 billion in aid had been doled out and a total of $60 billion has been allocated by Congress. Much more will be needed to fund new housing, the creation of a Gulf Opportunity Zone, and job-training grants. Despite all indications that “Washington is making this up as it goes along,” Time serves up kudos to the administration for its strategy: “[N]o matter what it ends up costing, the White House has learned that the price of inaction is much, much higher.” Newsweek calls Bush’s reconstruction plan “an audacious, sketchy—and, to some, dangerously expensive—gumbo of ideas.” Republican insiders, according to U.S. News, are hoping that the president’s mea culpa over the federal government’s slow response will resonate with the nation since “it’s contrition—and people like that.”
Odds and ends:U.S. News devotes its cover to men’s health, noting that men leave “very treatable disorders undiagnosed because they avoid doctors’ offices until their bodies are in some kind of crisis.” … Time reports on a study released by the National Center for Health Statistics that for the first time offers real data about sex and U.S. teens. When it comes to oral sex, boys are giving as good as they receive, and 11 percent of girls have had a sexual experience with another female. …Newsweek reports on the burgeoning artisanal food industry, which has grown almost 20 percent in the last two years and pulls in $25 billion dollars annually. Once a luxury of gourmands in their 50s, the business is finding willing consumers in the under-30 set, “who are just used to better food and will pay higher prices.”—Z.K.
New Yorker, Sept. 26 Peter Hessler visits Chery, a state-owned Chinese auto manufacturing firm that has set its sights on the American car-buyer. Chery’s managers hope that their low-cost cars (plans to keep expenses down include paying workers by the car, not the hour) will make an impact in America. “All we have is our aggression. … We have no brand name, no recognition, nothing. We are simply aggressive,” says Chery’s president. … In another article, James Surowiecki explains that while repealing gas taxes may be popular in these days of $3-a-gallon prices, it is simply not a solution to the problem. Without the gas tax, demand will be greater than supply, making shortages and long lines at the station inevitable. It could be worse, he notes: Gas prices do not reflect the other costs associated with filling the tank, like pollution and car accidents. One study “suggests that a tax that took them into account would come to $1.01 for every gallon of gas.”—T.B.
Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 16
This issue focuses on Hurricane Katrina’s effect on academia. The cover notes that many universities have granted temporary admission to displaced students, but how their financial-aid packages and courses of study will work remains unclear. … Bill Lavender, a creative writing teacher at the University of New Orleans, gives staffer John Gravoir a harrowing account of his escape from the city (he stole a boat and had to dodge both a dead body and junkies shooting up in a kiddie pool). … A piece examines a Russian exhibit at Cherepovets State University dedicated to ingenious cribbing devices. There are panties with upside down math formulas, a denim skirt with 70 numbered pockets holding tiny paper scrolls, chocolate bar wrappers on which parents have scribbled notes, and an earpiece and microphone set that promise you “an entire radio station in your ear!”—B.B.