National Review, Sept. 24
The cover piece gauges the likelihood and consequences of a Democratic majority in the House this fall. The polls look gloomy for Republicans, with Bush’s approval below 40 percent and voters increasingly saying the country is “on the wrong track.” The outcome will depend more on which party’s core voters cast ballots than who sways the moderates, the authors predict. Republicans would be wise to focus on the future: “If the election is only a referendum on the Republicans, the party will lose big. … But if the election is a choice—Which party has better plans for the challenges facing the country?—then Republicans will do better.” … An article examines the growing opposition to Wal-Mart among Democratic politicians when, polls show, “liberal Democrats—and virtually nobody else—believe Wal-Mart is bad for America.” But the author figures this argument won’t hold water outside major Wal-Mart-less cities.—C.B.
New York Times Magazine, Sept. 10
An article looks at Michael Bloomberg’s plans for Lower Manhattan, which he wants to redevelop with more cultural institutions and many more residential units. Downtown was already having trouble before 9/11, and Bloomberg aims to use federal money and the rebuilding opportunities to advance his plan, which has led him to butt heads with the principals behind Freedom Tower and the World Trade Center memorials. … An article on new-media company Flavorpill profiles its two founders and asks how their weekly city-events guide newsletters have gained so much influence. It boils down to in-the-know editors with good taste, an involved readership that sends in suggestions, and good technology. As one of the founders asks, “if you can’t click to a map of where the event is, if you can’t forward it to your friends, if you can’t send it to your cellphone, is it really that useful?”—B.W.
The New Yorker, Sept. 11 An article outlines the new theories of jihad that have emerged in the aftermath of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, when around 80 percent of al-Qaida’s operatives in that country were killed. Into the leadership vacuum stepped a Syrian named Abu Musab al-Suri. The next phase of jihad, Suri believes, “will be characterized by terrorism created by individuals or small autonomous groups.” But this definition is at odds with the other jihadi groups whose “goals are often more parochial, having to do with purifying Islam and topping regimes in their own countries which they see as heretical.”… Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza has been overshadowed by the conflict in Lebanon, Jeffrey Goldberg writes. Life in Gaza has been brought to a near standstill, and the war has only intensified the antagonism: “This summer’s violence has further marginalized Palestinians who still argue for a negotiated, two-state solution to the crisis in the Middle East.”— D.S
Weekly Standard, Sept. 11 Stephen Schwartz finds an analogy not between Iraq and Vietnam, but between Iraq and the Spanish Civil War of 1936. Schwartz argues that when Western democracies failed to topple Franco, they paved the way for Hitler’s and Mussolini’s rise to power and the eruption of the World War II. “By winning the battle of Iraq … the democratic nations may save the world from a later, longer, bloodier, and more terrible war,” Schwartz argues. … An article chronicles objectivist gadfly Logan Darrow Clements’ attempt to help a Piscataway, N.J., family battle the city’s eminent-domain law to save its farm. Clements, an eminent domain opponent who once tried to get Justice David Souter’s home confiscated under the law, attempts to publicize the family’s plight by holding an “Eminent Domain Woodstock” and heckling, with the help of a Vladimir Lenin impersonator, the town’s mayor. The family ends up being evicted, anyway.— Z.K.
Time, Sept. 11 Pegged to the fifth anniversary of Sept. 11, an article warns that five years is too quick to call for an end to President Bush’s efforts to democratize the Middle East. Max Boot argues it’s the only feasible plan to end radicalization in the region given that, historically, democracies don’t try to wipe out other democracies. “Democracy is no cure-all, but the record suggests that liberal, representative regimes are less likely to sponsor terrorism or wage aggressive wars than their more illiberal neighbors.”… Historian Niall Ferguson offers up a different view written from the perspective of the 30th anniversary of Sept. 11: The “Great War of Democracy” was a huge failure, as Iraq dissolved into three ministates; Mark Warner won the 2008 election. But the economy is booming, there is universal health care, Medicare and Social Security are reformed, and the country is no longer addicted to oil. Too bad terrorist cells are burgeoning in Europe, and Russia and China have joined Iran in the new axis of evil.— Z.K.
U.S. News and World Report, Sept. 11 The cover package looks at the aftermath of Sept. 11 from several different angles. One article analyzes the fallout, arguing that the solidarity we felt after the attacks gave way to skepticism about the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policies and the Iraq war. Nonetheless, Americans still believe that the war on terror is one that we must wage: “Many believe that our tactics and strategy are badly in need of overhaul—and high percentages disapprove of the president’s leadership—but very few think this is a struggle that we can or will lose.”… Another article examines what the Special Forces are doing in the war on terror, particularly the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and how “white” Special Ops soldiers, who work in civil affairs, and “black” Special Forces like the Navy Seals and Delta Force, which conduct secret operations, share the load. Special Ops Command is also sending “military liaison elements” to countries where they anticipate terrorism operations taking hold at some point in the future.— D.S.
Newsweek, Sept. 11 This week’s cover story asks whether schools and parents are pushing kindergarteners and first-graders too hard. At some schools, playtime has been replaced by more emphasis on drills and test preparation, and critics are beginning to ask whether that’s in children’s best interests. “In the last decade, the earliest years of schooling have become less like a trip to Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and more like SAT prep,” the author writes. … An article on Barack Obama’s trip to Africa notes that the Illinois senator was received in Kenya “in a manner more befitting a messiah than a junior senator bearing nothing more than opinions and good cheer.” The piece analyzes Obama’s appeal in the United States and concludes that “he is the perfect mirror for a country that craves to see itself as beyond race, beyond boundaries, beyond the ugly parts of its past; he is a candidate with whom virtually anyone can identify.”— D.S.