Harper’s, January 2009 A piece charts the aftermath of the summer conflict between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway republic of South Ossetia. The author spoke with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, “a man for whom delicacy does not come naturally,” at the height of the conflict, when Russian tanks were miles from the capital of Tbilisi. In that conversation, “Saakashvili attempted to thread a perilously thin needle, casting Russia as imperial and revanchist but not so imperial or revanchist that, should Georgia be protected (whatever that might entail) from Russian aggression, the West would have anything to fear,” says the piece. … A story outlines how Bush’s aggressive government spending doubled the national debt to $10 trillion during his two terms in power. “The worst legacy of the past eight years is that despite colossal government spending, most Americans are worse off than they were in 2001,” the authors write. … A celebratory Harper’s Index bids adieu to Bush, offering a look back at the dismal stats that characterized the last eight years.
New York Times Magazine, Dec. 28 The magazine’s 15th annual “Lives They Lived” issue pauses to revisit the lives of 24 notable people who died in 2008. Tom Brokaw calls the late Tim Russert broadcast journalism’s John Madden. On Meet the Press, Russert would remind people of their previous statements, which “was Tim’s version of a great N.F.L. scouting report that led to a winning game plan.”… Steve Fossett is remembered as the “adventurer’s adventurer.” He amassed more than 100 world records in his lifetime but gained more celebrity in his disappearance and death. His plane was found in September in thousands of pieces, but conspiracy theories about him still abound. “In denying the facts of Fossett’s crash, maybe people are just saying: We’re sure he cheated death once again.”… A piece on Bobby Fischer —chess dynamo turned walking paradox (“the anti-Semitic Jew; the anti-American national hero”)—returns to a 1956 game he played at age 13 that has been dubbed “the game of the century.”
Good, January/February 2009 The “State of the Planet” issue examines where we stand amid the financial crisis and after Obama’s election and wonders, “[W]here do we go from here?”… Two leaders pushing technology in the developing world debate whether cell phones or laptops are more of a game-changer there. Iqbal Quadir, founder of the Bangladeshi cellular operator Grameenphone, holds that cell phones, which do not require literacy, are more inclusive. Nicholas Negroponte, who wants every child outfitted with a low-cost laptop, argues that computers offer a window into a larger world. … A charticle examines how globalization is changing global food consumption. Fast-food consumption is on the rise, pushing up obesity rates everywhere. In South Africa, as in other parts of Africa, “there’s a division between malnutrition and overeating, with no happy medium.”… A piece examines 10 trends that will shake up the environmental movement in 2009, including “green nimbyism” (no wind turbine in my backyard!) and the rise of eco-cheap green products that won’t consume one’s whole paycheck.
Reason, December 2008 The magazine’s 40th anniversary issue celebrates four decades of defending personal freedom and libertarian ideals. Reason editors Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch proclaim this a “Libertarian Moment,” “a time of increasingly hyper-individualized, hyper-expanded choice over every aspect of our lives, from 401(k)s to hot and cold running coffee drinks, from life-saving pharmaceuticals to online dating services.” Fueled by the Internet and global trade, people across the globe are experiencing the chance to shape their own lives, they write. … An article celebrates how libertarian lawyers built and successfully argued D.C. v. Heller, a landmark Second Amendment case that “normalized within constitutional law the notion that self-defense is a right.” The “small gang of philosophically dedicated lawyers” that pulled it off was not made up of NRA-affiliated “gun nuts” but merely libertarians who were staunch defenders of Second Amendment rights.
American Prospect, January/February 2009 The cover story argues that the world is so intertwined today that the Obama administration must focus on creating a global New Deal, in which finance, product safety, and labor rights would be regulated by a global entity. “The very idea of a global New Deal would be altogether preposterous but for the fact that the return of prosperity may depend upon it,” the article says. … Ezra Klein profiles Peter Orszag, Obama’s “number-cruncher-in-chief,” who will head the Office of Management and Budget. The former head of the Congressional Budget Office, the “elfin” Orszag is an advocate for comprehensive health reform and will sit in a key position to ensure the money is there to make the necessary changes. … Obama must seize the opportunity to “redeem American progressivism as the nation’s majority philosophy” and create a more egalitarian society, an article says. As for timing, saving banks and bad home mortgages quickly is crucial, but health reform must wait at least a year and be carefully honed.
Matt Labash’s profile of the blighted heart of Detroit in the Weekly Standard sheds light on the forces that brought the city to its present state of disrepair.
The cover story of the American Prospect leaves one wondering how a “global New Deal” would be carried out.
Best Politics Piece
The New Republic’s Eve Fairbanks successfully parses why House conservatives have moved even farther to the right.
Best Culture Piece
An essay on the late self-taught cook Eula Mae Doré in the New York Times Magazine celebrates her Cajun creations and even contains three recipes for those who wish to emulate her.
The best line in Tom Brokaw’s tribute to Tim Russert is not about the late host of Meet the Press but about Peter Jennings: “The late Peter Jennings seemed to have been born in a trench coat in an exotic locale.”