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Last Man Standing

Esquire on America’s lone late-term abortion doctor.

Esquire, September 2009 An article profiles the last man in America still performing risky late-term abortions. Warren Hern practices behind walls of bulletproof glass and talks about the people who earlier this year killed his friend and fellow late-term abortionist George Tiller. “It’s a violent terrorist movement, and they have a fascist ideology.” Hern believes helping women whose babies have serious or fatal deformities—not people who accidentally got pregnant and waited to abort—is “the most important thing I could do in medicine.” An article describes the painful psychological effects of going without solid food. The author, who has Crohn’s disease, subsisted for two months on total parenteral nutrition—“a mixed bag of nutritional fluids”—while feeling an intense hunger he eventually realized was more mental than physical. His taste buds disappeared, and when his doctor allowed him to eat again, “there [was] no sensation of hunger or feelings of digestion or satiation.”

Atlantic, September 2009 The cover story rages against the incentives that “inexorably generate terrible and perverse results” from the U.S. health care system. Health care is emphasized over actual health, and the system is set up in a “generational pyramid scheme” to disguise true costs and discourage competition. Insurance is “an expensive and wasteful absurdity.” Most people should pay for health care like they do for everything else, and the government should focus exclusively on protecting the poor and enforcing safety standards. A profile of Quentin Tarantino calls the filmmaker’s upcoming movie, which depicts Jews scalping Nazis and carving swastikas into their foreheads, “kosher porn.” Tarantino thinks that no fictional torture is too extreme for the Nazis and that most Holocaust films are too thoughtful. (“I hate that hand-wringing shit.”) Inglourious Basterds is Tarantino’s first movie based on historical events, which might be what makes his “anti-Nazi excesses” disturbing.

Texas Monthly, September 2009 An article tells the story of two Houston cops who infiltrated the city’s underground world of dogfighting. The pair was uninterested in the investigation until an informant told them about a “new generation of inner-city black dogmen” who shot up their pit bulls with cocaine and unabashedly killed weak performers. The cops realized they wouldn’t have a chance of getting close to the dogmen without joining the ring themselves. “The Dog House,” an abandoned warehouse they set up to hold fights, lured legendary dogfighters from all across and even outside Texas. An article examines criticism of Sharon Keller, presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Keller infamously denied a death row inmate a final appeal because his lawyers’ technical problems kept them from submitting it before her office closed for the day. She now faces trial for the incident despite overwhelming proof of the inmate’s guilt.

Vanity Fair, September 2009 An article visits the obsessive set of Mad Men, where writer-creator Matthew Weiner throws out fruit if it looks too plump and perfect to have existed in the 1960s. Weiner’s knowledge of ‘60s cultural details stuns his crew, several of whom say he must have spent his entire life waiting to make the show. Much of Mad Men’s creative tension stems from Weiner’s personal demons: “Anytime you can have a character wanting something and not wanting something, I feel like I’m in my life.” The cover story re-creates Farah Fawcett’s final days with Ryan O’Neal, her partner of 30 years. By her bedside, O’Neal resorted to gallows humor, asking her, “What’s the combination of the safe?” Now, he’s filled with regret about their relationship and their troubled son. “I wish I could do it over with her. I would have been much kinder, more understanding, more mature.”

Weekly Standard, Aug. 17 An article declares that Afghanistan is not a disaster—“it’s much, much worse.” Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the new U.S. commander in Afghanistan, is expected to request a troop increase later this month. Obama campaigned on promises to redouble efforts in Afghanistan, but the White House has made it clear that requests for troop increases are most unwelcome. (Bob Woodward recently quoted National Security Adviser James Jones as saying the administration would meet such requests with “WTF?”) McChrystal is poised to defy the president’s implied wishes and, since he has the ear of Gen. David Petraeus, could create an awkward situation for Obama. An editorial argues that the Democrats’ plans for remaking health care have failed because they insist on overhauling—and thus centralizing—the entire system, rather than implementing targeted reforms: “Inevitably, the result is a project too large, too complicated, too expensive, and too disruptive to succeed. And the public knows it.”