Time and Newsweek, Nov. 21 Jordan bombings: Newsweek examines the connection between the war in Iraq and last week’s deadly bombings in Jordan. “If Afghanistan under the Taliban was a backwoods school for terrorism, Iraq is an urban university,” the article says, suggesting that Iraq has become a springboard for terrorist acts around the world. Lawlessness and an alleged financial link between al-Qaida and the insurgents make Iraq prime ground for terrorism training. The Jordan bombings could be just the beginning of Iraq-centered initiatives, the article says. According to a classified CIA report, a “defeat of the insurgency in Iraq would unleash experienced, capable and vengeful terrorists on the rest of the world, and particularly the United States.”… Time’s article also asks if this bombing is “just the start” of “spreading … terror beyond Iraq,” noting that if Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is responsible, it could symbolize his organization’s growing strength. However, the article is hopeful, emphasizing “that al-Zarqawai’s murderous tactics may be forcing Muslims to confront the threat he poses to their societies.”
Cover stories:Newsweek’s cover story is a Sen. John McCain-penned article on torture. “The abuse of prisoners harms, not helps, our war effort,” he writes. McCain, a POW during the Vietnam War, uses his own experiences to support his claims. When asked to provide the names of the other men in his flight squadron, McCain “gave them the names of the Green Bay Packers’ offensive line, knowing that providing them false information was sufficient to suspend the abuse.” …Time lists “the most amazing inventions of 2005,” with top honors going to a dog cloned by a team of South Korean scientists. Other winners include the “LifeStraw,” a “beefed-up drinking straw” that makes water potable and can even prevent diarrhea and typhoid, and “flavor sprays” that calorie-conscious foodies can use to add guilt-free chocolate, pesto, bacon, and other flavorings to their dishes.—T.B.
New Republic, Nov. 21 Michael Crowley’s cover story on Sen. Russell Feingold asks whether he’s the next Howard Dean and how much of a threat he poses to Hillary Clinton in 2008. A staunch opponent of the Iraq war from the beginning, he has credibility with the anti-war left. But his bold position on the war obscures a temperament that tends to favor playing by the Senate’s rules over advancing party interests. Crowley concludes that the Dean analogy holds up: “In reality, his odds of winning the Democratic nomination are slim. What Feingold can do is make life miserable for the other Democrats who seek it.”… A dispatch from Paris argues that the riots there are quintessentially French and prove in themselves that the North African instigators are children of the republic. But this is not necessarily good news: The suburbs may be “increasingly a mirror of all French passions,” but those passions include racism, intolerance, authoritarianism, and violence. A positive outcome is possible, but the writer suspects the rioters “will … oscillate between prison, gangs, or Islamism.”—B.W.
New York Times Book Review, Nov. 13 The cover review is of Jonathan Harr’s The Lost Painting, a nonfiction detective story tracing a Roman art-history graduate student’s successful search for Caravaggio’s The Taking of Christ—a masterpiece mislaid hundreds of years before. Despite its success as a thriller, the review praises the book most for its portraits of the scholars and restorers who people the story, as well as its patient treatment of their work. … Gordon S. Wood lauds Sean Wilentz’s massive new antebellum history, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. An unabashed account of politics as steered by dead white males, the book is an “in-your-face challenge” to politically correct history. Wood sees Wilentz as trying to re-establish Andrew Jackson as a principal hero of the American left and writes that “by suggesting that the race, gender and cultural issues that drive much of the modern left are not central to the age of Jackson, Wilentz seems to imply that they should not be central to the future of the present-day Democratic party.”… Also inside: a 32-page special section on children’s books.—B.W.
Topic, Issue 8 This issue invites people from many walks of life to discuss how they practice their sins. A man who works in a Midwestern plant talks about discovering group masturbation with other men after he was married, while a necrophiliac discusses unfruitful “alliances with a couple morticians … to try to get my hands on a real dead girl.”… A Native American teenager from a part of rural Alaska where the suicide rate is 30 times the national average writes about grappling with death. … A vegetarian anthropologist writes about how she came to empathize with the Brazilian Wari’ tribe, which practiced cannibalism upon dead tribe members until the 1960s. Saddened by the decomposition of flesh, the Wari’ eat relatives who have died of natural causes “as part of a religious vision that saw people and animals as partners in a world where love is expressed by feeding and being fed.” The piece also notes that Europeans sought out and consumed human flesh and blood in the 16th and 17th centuries to treat illnesses.—B.B.
Times Literary Supplement, Nov. 9 A review of several new books about Samuel Johnson derides parts of Helen Deutsch’s Loving Dr. Johnson as “gobbledegook to the general, caviar to the coterie.” It singles out this paragraph as particularly awful: “In an uncanny inversion of the tradition of satiric depictions of the Christian Eucharist as cannibalism, the unprecedented demand for Johnsonian anecdote in the years following his death was denigrated as literary consumption at its most savage.”… Another piece about Edmund White’s autobiography, My Lives, opines that “An autobiography, if it is honest, should expend at least half its energy on the funny things its author was curious about.” It goes on to ask if it’s a good thing that much of the book revolves around sex and suggests that “the gay experience as he describes it belongs to an outsider view of American life; perhaps he has a tendency, like most outsiders, to attribute too much to the fact of his minority.”—B.B.
New York Times Magazine, Nov. 13
The special “Hollywood Goes to War” issue contains an article on Tinseltown’s liberal rabble-rousers, who feel vindicated by America’s disfavor for the Iraq war. Just because the public agrees with Rob Reiner about Iraq, however, does not mean that Hollywood’s denizens will impact the political scene the way they once did. “[T]he people who make the movies aren’t writing the Democratic script anymore,” it declares, because Hollywood’s fund-raising abilities have diminished with the growth of multinational film companies “reluctant to involve themselves in political agendas.” … Another article follows Dale Adam Dye’s path from the Vietnam War to becoming “Hollywood’s top military adviser and hardest-working monger of virtual war.” Dye puts actors through his own special boot camp to prepare them for war films and tries to clear scripts of military clichés, like death scenes of soldiers “screaming Mama.” After cementing his reputation with films like Platoon and Saving Private Ryan, Dye, like many Hollywood insiders, wants to direct.—T.B.
New York, Nov. 14 A guide to “the next apocalypse” outlines potential disasters— avian flu, a smallpox attack, a hurricane, a dirty bomb—and what New Yorkers can do about them. New York officials have an “all hazards” plan to address most disasters similarly: evacuate people, treat the wounded, provide shelter, and keep order. If a nuclear bomb hits the city, though, plans might go to waste. The article offers some tips, like keeping potassium iodide tablets handy, but is realistic: “Kiss your ass good-bye,” it suggests to concerned New Yorkers. … Another article reviews the first memoirs from veterans of the Iraq war. Each of these five books is disheartening. “By the end of each of their tours, the soldier memoirists are increasingly demoralized, isolated, and angry at the people they have come to liberate,” the reviewer says. The most favorable words are reserved for The Assassin’s Gate, by George Packer, “the most complete, sweeping, and powerful account of the Iraq War yet written.”—T.B.
Foreign Affairs, November/December 2005
Back in the mid-90s, Samuel P. Huntington predicted a struggle between Western Judeo Christian and Muslim societies in The Clash of Civilizations. An article acknowledges that a schism is developing but not, perhaps, as Huntington’s suggested: “[T]he West is being drawn into the clash of two competing ideologies within the Islamic world.” Those who believe “that Islam is compatible with secular democracy,” and those who want to install “a new caliphate—that is, a global Islamic state,” are battling. One way for the West—and moderate Muslims—to come out on top, advises the author, is to support Turkey’s ascension to the European Union. Joseph E. Stiglitz reviews The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth, in which Benjamin M. Friedman’s argues that “growth has not only obvious economic benefits, but moral benefits as well.” Stiglitz calls the book, “an important antidote to the populist antigrowth movement and to those who say that a free market is all we need.”—Z.K.
The New Yorker, Nov. 14
An article looks at the Democrats’ softening line on abortion in the lead-up to midterm elections, focusing on the decision to tap Robert Casey Jr., a pro-life Pennsylvania Democrat, to run against Sen. Rick Santorum. Ironic, as the Democrats distanced themselves from Casey’s father, Robert Casey Sr. (as in Planned Parenthood v. Casey) over abortion in 1992. As Sen. Charles Schumer explains: “Democrats have to be a bigger-tent Party. And the day should be over when a potential candidate has to check twenty-seven boxes before we support him.” … Another piece examines flaws in our litigation-based medical malpractice system. Even though doctors spend enormous sums on malpractice insurance, few harmed patients ever learn what went wrong or receive compensation. What about creating a non-litigation system of redress? The problem, the article claims, is that “even if each doctor had just one injured and deserving patient a year … complete compensation would exceed the cost of providing universal health coverage in America.”—B.W.
Weekly Standard, Nov. 14 The Bush administration may have taken it on the chin in recent months—Iraq, Katrina, Social Security reform, and the Miers nomination—but William Kristol urges the president to shake it off and get back in the ring. He encourages the administration to refocus on economic growth, getting Samuel Alito confirmed, and reminding the country of the importance of knocking Saddam Hussein out of power. “Bush owes it to himself, to his supporters, the soldiers fighting in Iraq, and the country to fight back,” says Kristol. … An article pegged to the ongoing riots paints France’s troubled and violent poverty-prone suburbs as “a ticking bomb at the heart of their society,” where the “law of the jungle” prevails over the rule of law. Some warn that if conditions do not improve within the next 10 years in these predominately working-class neighborhoods, populated primarily by North African Muslim immigrants, civil war is possible.— Z. K.