Economist, March 2 Though New Orleans is “defiantly on the mend,” an article questions whether the city will continue to exist. Basic questions remain unresolved, such as where and how to rebuild homes. These decisions will affect the new makeup of the city, as “building higher and safer implies settling for a smaller, whiter New Orleans,” the author writes.… Russian President Vladimir Putin’s critics are pleasantly surprised by his actions this week during a series of official state visits to former Soviet satellites, an article finds. In Budapest, he laid flowers at the site of the 1956 Hungarian uprising, saying Russians feel “some kind of moral responsibility for these events in our souls.” Soviet tanks crushed this rebellion and others, but Putin has been reluctant to acknowledge these lingering grievances. “What is up? To some extent Mr. Putin may simply be trying to repair the damage done to Russia’s reputation by the clumsy wobbles over gas supplies at the start of the year,” the article speculates.— S.S.
New Republic, March 13 The cover story declares Iraq at civil war before evaluating the “characteristic omens” of civil war to see the direction the war could take in Iraq. Militias with political affiliations, increasing polarization, ethnic tensions, and hateful political rhetoric could enable the war to quickly spiral out of control. The author cautions the United States against withdrawing its troops. “When old hierarchies are disrupted or groups feel threatened or violated, the quest for group security and respect easily mutates into a drive for domination, separation, vengeance, or—at its horrific worst—annihilation,” the article says. … An essay evaluates the growing body of journalism equating parenting with misery, in light of the author’s own decision to take a daily dose of folic acid, “the gateway drug to parenthood.” Recent scientific and economic studies have shown that parents are poorer and less happy than their childless counterparts, she writes. “[I]mplicit in the hype over how miserable parenthood has become is the expectation that it should somehow be more dependably enjoyable than the rest of life.”— S.S.
Harper’s, March 2006 Bill Wasik describes how he sparked a short-lived international trend by inventing the “flash mob.” Wasik’s creation, which he terms the “most forgettable hipster fad of the past five years,” made its way into the Oxford English Dictionary, defined as “a public gathering of complete strangers, organized by the Internet or mobile phone, who perform a pointless act and then disperse again.” Flash-mobbing caught on, he writes, because hipster culture is dominated by a “drive towards deindividuation,” with the group flitting from one next big thing to another. “Like starlings on a trash-strewn field the hipsters alight together, peck intently for a time, and at some indiscernible signal take wing again at once,” he writes. … An essay by editor Lewis Lapham outlines why George W. Bush should be impeached. Lapham gives a rundown of the buildup to the Iraq war, drawing upon a report by Democratic Rep. John Conyers. “What else is it that voters expect the congress to do if not to look out for their rights as citizens of the United States?” he asks.— S.S.
Texas Monthly, March 2006 In this “Texans at War” issue of the magazine, Slate contributor Mimi Swartz visits Killeen Shoemaker High School near Ft. Hood, where more than 80 percent of students have parents in the military and the reality of the Iraq war is painfully present. “All the pamphlets and programs in the world can do little to assuage the anxieties of kids who understand all too well the ramifications of a Department of Defense committed to doing more with less; they know the value of serving their country, but they also know about the shortage of body armor and the debatable novelty of multiple and extended tours,” Swartz writes. … An article examines the steps Army recruiters are taking to snag qualified candidates while the United States is mired in an unpopular war. As enlistment rates have dropped to post-Vietnam levels, the military has had to increase signing bonuses from $6,000 to $40,000 and to proffer an array of other benefits.— S.S.
New York Times Magazine, Mar. 5 The issue is dedicated to the hot topic of real estate. Novelist Walter Kirn, contemplating who rules the roost—the homeowner or the mortgage company—writes of his abode: “Sometimes at night I lay down my weary head, and it feels as if I’m resting inside a big thick checkbook. Whose balance I don’t (and may not want to) know.”… In an interview, Bruce Katz, the Brookings Institution housing expert, calls the new exurbs trend “a loss of democracy on some level,” and “the loss of our cultural identity.” … Economic myth-busters Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt put lie to the theory that real-estate agents have made out like bandits during the real-estate boom.… Slate contributor Stephen Metcalf looks at the leisure class’s growing addiction to home-restoration blogs. The blogs’ popularity, rationalizes Metcalf, is that they offer something the upwardly mobile hold dear: “stability, repose and a continuity with the past.”—Z.K.
The New Yorker, March 6 A piece examines how Iranian expats—Reza Pahlavi, the son of the deposed shah, in particular—are mirroring their structure on the “Chalabi model,” hoping to fill the power vacuum if regime change occurs. With the rise of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian government’s pursuit of nuclear material, many see a U.S.-led invasion of Iran as inevitable. Pahlavi is attempting to mobilize Iran’s fractured community of expatriates to formulate a coherent vision. “The dearth of options and of knowledge about Iran—combined with the Bush Administration’s renewed commitment to regime change—makes virtually anything seem possible,” the author writes. … Jeffrey Toobin examines the implications of Tom DeLay’s Texas redistricting scheme on the ousted House majority leader himself. Nick Lampson, a Democratic congressman from 1997 to 2005 until his district was gerrymandered away, currently leads DeLay in the polls by eight points. “DeLay’s political fortunes have changed so much that, paradoxically, the best thing that could happen to him now may be for the Court to strike down the plan he created,” Toobin writes.— S.S.
Weekly Standard, Mar. 6 and 13 Fred Barnes takes a swipe at the president for fumbling his positions on illegal immigration and the United Arab Emirates port issue, which has served only to alienate his base. Going soft on illegal immigration by pushing a guest-worker program has turned off many conservatives who feel that tightening up the border should be Bush’s first and only immigration policy. The administration should have first pushed stricter border enforcement and then the guest-worker program. On the port issue, Barnes says, the administration should have been quicker to point out that while a UAE company would operate the ports, the U.S. Coast Guard and Customs would oversee security. The only way this family feud can be ended satisfactorily for the president would be to help secure a Republican victory in the upcoming midterm elections, advises Barnes. Given the president sinking approval ratings it’s will be tough, but he managed to do it in 2002, which “was a long shot then, as it is now,” says Barnes.— Z.K.
Time, March 6 The cover posits that the bombing of the holy Shiite shrine al-Askari—what some Shiites are calling their Sept. 11—could be the start of a civil war in Iraq. As the violence between the Shiites and the Sunnis escalates, the inability of the United States or U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces to stop it is troubling, “since any U.S. withdrawal is predicated on Iraq’s taking charge of its own security.” Another concern for the administration is if civil war does break out, then other Arab states could choose sides. At this point, the article says, the only thing the Shiites and Sunnis can agree upon is “that the U.S. is ultimately to blame for the mess.”… An article reports on the “Republican rebellion” surrounding the decision to allow a company owned by United Arab Emirates to operate some of the country’s ports. “[N]ervous Republicans … are starting to say privately that they cannot afford to risk their fate on the agenda and instincts of an unpopular President who never has to face the voters again,” the author writes.—Z.K.
Newsweek, March 6 Fareed Zakaria profiles the country that was the talk of this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos: India. A marketing push sold the country as the “World’s Fastest Growing Free Market Democracy.” Zakaria readily admits that this might cause some to pause, as India’s infrastructure is dilapidated and poverty is rampant throughout slums and villages, but he optimistically notes, “You can feel the change even in the midst of the slums.” … A Web-only review of the Winter Olympics finds that despite lackluster performances by hyped American athletes such as “king of kaput” Bode Miller, lesser-known athletes shined, with Julia Mancuso winning the first U.S. gold medal in the giant slalom and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto taking the silver in ice dancing.—Z.K.