Isaac Chotiner

What Is Malcolm Gladwell Talking About?
August 04, 2009

In The New Yorker this week, Malcolm Gladwell has an alternately confusing and maddening essay about To Kill a Mockingbird and what he calls "the limits of southern liberalism." According to Gladwell, the Atticus Finch character in Harper Lee's book--later immortalized onscreen by Gregory Peck--was the novelistic version of an all-too-common southern politician in the days of Jim Crow. Gladwell's piece begins with the story of Big Jim Folsom, the Alabama governor who sympathized with the plight of black citizens, but resisted profound change.

From Russia With Conspiracy Theories
August 03, 2009

Ellen Barry has a terrific piece in The New York Times on the Russian reaction to Joe Biden's off-the-cuff remarks about Russian-American relations. Within hours, a top Kremlin aide had released a barbed statement comparing Mr. Biden to Dick Cheney. Commentators announced Mr. Biden’s emergence as Washington’s new “gray cardinal” — the figure who, from the shadows, makes all the decisions that matter... For anyone subordinate to the president to allow themselves that freedom is inconceivable, said Vladimir V. Pozner, the host of a talk show on state television. “If it’s not the No.

Getting 'funny People' Wrong
August 03, 2009

This post contains spoilers: Do not read if you plan on seeing Funny People. People are allowed to disagree about movies or books or plays or television shows. In fact, spirited debate about artistic efforts is one of life's pleasures. Therefore, even though I disagree with Manohla Dargis' lukewarm review of Funny People, I do not begrudge her for liking the movie less than I did (Chris' more positive (and insightful) take is close to my own). However, after reading Dargas, one wonders whether she actually paid any attention to the movie she was reviewing.

A Positive Sign From Pakistan
August 02, 2009

It is always nice to read a relatively sanguine piece about the political situation in Pakistan. Sabrina Tavernise's excellent New York Times dispatch makes one important and usually obscured point: Its politics and economics are far more local than national; regional, ethnic and cultural differences are very deep. The mullahs of Swat may be calling for the downtrodden masses to unite, but here in Punjab, religious leaders are still firmly tied to the upper crust. In my travels in this province, none of the mullahs were talking about revolution.

The Puffington Host
June 17, 2009

Right is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe (And What You Need To Know To End The Madness) By Arianna Huffington (Alfred A.

The Puffington Host
June 17, 2009

Right is Wrong: How the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made Us All Less Safe (And What You Need To Know To End The Madness) By Arianna Huffington (Alfred A.

The Worst Case Yet Against Gay Marriage
May 23, 2009

There is something nice--refreshing even--about a single article that incorporates everything you despise in a certain worldview. What's more, rather than looking for polite or euphemistic words, it is lovely to be able to say that the article is, simply, dreadful.  The story in question was written by someone named Sam Schulman. It is entitled, 'The Worst Thing About Gay Marriage.' Schulman's argument is as follows: When a gay man becomes a professor or a gay woman becomes a police officer, he or she performs the same job as a heterosexual.

Mister Lucky
February 04, 2009

Malcolm Gladwell's fairy tales.

Caroline Kennedy, Victim Of Sexism?
January 22, 2009

This Caroline Kennedy farce will drag on a little longer, but in the meantime Anne Kornblut has a front page story in Friday's Washington Post on whether sexism had something to do with Kennedy's rough few weeks. Kornblut's piece starts off with this shaky claim: With her abrupt exit this week from consideration for the Senate, Caroline Kennedy added her name to a growing list: women who have sought the nation's highest offices only to face insurmountable hurdles. In what sense were the hurdles faced by Kennedy "insurmountable"?

24 Hours Of Fox News
November 03, 2008

With precious little time remaining until the election, last week I sat down to watch as much Fox News as I reasonably could over a 24-hour period. As one might expect with Barack Obama so close to the presidency, the channel is in full nuclear meltdown mode; I was afraid the stench of desperation would waft out of the television set and into my studio apartment. Fox is going ballistic for good reason: These days, absolutely nothing is going right--in both declensions of the word.