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Talk About a Thankless Job

Meet the congressman who’s trying to cut federal spending.

Economist, Dec. 24 The cover piece addresses how the biological theory of Darwinism spawned Social Darwinism, which begat Modern Darwinism. The author argues that the newest version takes into account human dependence on trust and collaboration for survival. “Thus both of the things needed to make an economy work, collaboration and competition, seem to have evolved under Charles Darwin’s penetrating gaze.”“Good ol’ boys” has taken on a new meaning. An article breaks down “gerontocapitalism” by listing businessmen who’ve hit their strides late in life. Executives such as 82-year-old Viacom head Sumner Redstone and media messiah Rupert Murdoch, 74, are proving that 70 is the new 40. An article looks at Tibet post-Dalai Lama through the eyes of the man himself and other Tibetan figureheads. Many fear their culture will be swallowed up by the Chinese once the current Dalai Lama dies. “The Dalai Lama himself takes encouragement from stirrings of sympathetic interest in Tibet within China, and from his conviction that China’s ‘totalitarian system’ will change.”—M.M.

New York Times Magazine, Dec. 25 The 12th annual “The Lives They Lived” issue collects more than 20 short profiles on notable people who died in 2005, some well-known—such as Richard Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods—and some obscure—for example, H. David Dalquist, inventor of the modern Bundt pan. An essay on Peter Zvi Malkin, who captured Adolf Eichmann in Argentina before rising to chief of operations for Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, focuses on his relationship with Eichmann during the 10 days he spent guarding him. He fed him, bathed him, and drew his portrait—but his efforts to understand Eichmann’s mind and motivations failed. Daphne Merkin remembers actress Sandra Dee, the perky, chaste 1950s teenage beauty who died this year at 60, and whose actual childhood was a nightmare of parental abuse and rape. Victim to every Hollywood cliché, she’d be perfect biopic material, except that “there is no fortifying moral to be drawn from it, no redemptive ‘Oprah’ ending hovering in the wings.”—B.W.

National Review, Dec. 31 An article profiles the work of Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, who’s replaced his mentor, former Sen. Phil Gramm, as the country’s budget nanny. Hensarling faces a Sisyphean task, “federal spending has grown by 33 percent … twice as fast as it grew under President Clinton.” However, his proposed legislation to force Congress to “decide how much money they can afford to spend, and then prioritize within those limits,” amounts to little more than a finger in a dike because “the chief problem with any proposal to reform the budget process is that it excites almost nobody.” An article attributes the dwindling population of men at colleges to “feminized universities.” Cutting male athletic programs, “fashioning a fluffy pink playpen of feminist studies,” and herding more women into engineering and mechanics has the effect of depriving “the economy of the technical skills and competitive energies of new generations of men,” says the author.— Z.K.  

The Nation, Jan. 2 The magazine’s New Year’s resolution is to “not support any candidate for national office who does not make a speedy end to the war in Iraq a major issue of his or her campaign,” and rallies its readers to do the same. Frustrated by Senate Democrats and their mealy-mouthed support of troop withdrawal, an article presents a list of bona fide anti-war candidates to support because the time has come for the party’s leadership to get the message: “It’s time to get out of Iraq.” The cover revisits Hurricane Katrina three months later and the news is not good. One article chides the government for continuing its malignant obliviousness to the plight of the disaster’s black victims. Another takes to task the New Orleans prison system for not only the indignities suffered by some prison inmates during the hurricane but throughout their incarceration, as well.— Z.K.

New York, Dec. 26 According to an article, Hillary Clinton’s sponsorship of the Flag Protection Act illustrates precisely why she is unelectable. Not blessed with husband Bill’s “uncanny knack for finessing left and right,” Hillary may support the war and flirt with mom-and-apple-pie issues, but that will only alienate Democrats while failing to win over Republicans. “American voters have been habitually choosing a certain kind of distinctly American person as president, and Hillary Clinton is not that kind of person,” the author says. A review of Woody Allen’s latest oeuvre, Match Point, concludes that a movie set in London may restore the director’s reputation after a series of cinematic duds. While some Allen purists may balk at a film not featuring neurotic, navel-gazing New Yorkers, Match Point is an Allen movie you can actually “relax and enjoy.”— Z.K.

Weekly Standard, Dec. 26 A piece by Fred Barnes asks why the media is lax in lauding heroics by soldiers in Iraq and points out that the average person does not recognize Paul Ray Smith as the sole recipient of the Medal of Honor during the conflict. “Instead of heroes there are victims,” such as Jessica Lynch. The piece pines for the days when Audie Murphy and Arthur MacArthur * were household names. The cover story details a slippery slope between same-sex marriage and group marriage as seen through the prism of a Dutch “cohabitation contract” agreement between a married couple and a woman. The piece notes that the same “small steps” strategy that gay-marriage advocates followed in achieving the legalization of gay marriage is being repeated in efforts to have group marriage recognized. “Somehow the idea has taken hold that tolerance for sexual minorities requires a radical remake of the institution of marriage,” writes Stanley Kurtz.—M.M.

The New Yorker, Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 A profile of British author Philip Pullman details his quirks, including trademark red socks and vehement atheism. His Milton-inspired His Dark Materials trilogy has a loyal following and his “ideal reader is a precocious fifteen-year-old who long ago came to find the Harry Potter books intellectually thin.” In an essay, Tatyana Tolstaya uses a whale “bone” left over from her grandmother’s corset to chart the long-gone woman’s trail from riches to ruin and all she left behind. The short, sweeping tale gives a faint impression of Tolstaya’s grandmother as “a decadent Aphrodite with a heavy knot of dark-gold hair, rustling her silks, fragrant with French perfumes. “ The magazine also offers submissions by Vladimir Nabokov, Roberto Bolano, and Tahar Ben Jelloun as part of its “International Fiction” issue.—M.M.

Time, Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 Time’s “Persons of the Year” are tech multibillionaires Bill and Melinda Gates and rock god Bono. Articles praise the trio for their efforts to eradicate poverty, disease, and violence around the world. The unlikely partners are trying to accomplish lofty goals such as relieving Third World debt and developing needleless vaccines, with the Gateses crunching numbers and Bono sounding the alarm via high-profile summits and glad-handing world leaders. In its year-end review, the magazine profiles lesser-known “heroes” who stepped up during the hurricanes, the tsunami in Southeast Asia, and the earthquake in Pakistan. The list includes a Mississippi teacher who suited up in scuba gear to clear a stopped drain that could have caused his neighborhood to flood. A resident said: “[W]e saw Richard wearing his gear and heading for the water. The kids thought it was hilarious, but we all know that what he did saved our homes.”—M.M.

Newsweek, Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 In its year-end issue, the magazine pinpoints people who are sure to make a splash in 2006. One piece profiles two Virginia politicians with presidential pursuits: outgoing Gov. Mark Warner and George Allen, a senator and former governor. Allen represents the GOP values that Virginia traditionally holds dear. Warner is a moderate Democrat staking his presidential aspirations “on the theory that he knows the key to winning Red State votes.” The story asks “[C]an the country handle the prospect of an intrastate smackdown for the White House?” Another piece looks at movie blockbuster-to-be The DaVinci Code, starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tatou. The article reports that director Ron Howard isn’t shying away from the controversy created by the novel: “It would be ludicrous to take on this subject and then try to take the edges off,” Howard says. … Others mentioned in the “Who’s Next” issue are rapper Saigon, snowboarder Seth Wescott, and New Orleans business mogul Joseph Canizaro.

C orrection, Dec. 22: The article originally and incorrectly spelled Arthur MacArthur’s surname as McArthur. (Return to the corrected sentence.)