Isaac Chotiner

Helms, The Right, And The History Of Racism
July 07, 2008

Both Jonah Goldberg and Ross Douthat recommend a Claremont Review of Books essay by William Voegeli on race and American conservatism. The compelling piece does a fine job of tracing the shortcomings of conservatives like William F. Buckley on the issue of civil rights. Voegeli's central intent is to rebut the idea that: Everything that conservatism has accomplished and stood for since 1965—Reagan, the tax revolt, law-and-order, deregulation, the fight against affirmative action, the critique of the welfare state...everything—is the poisoned fruit of the poisoned tree [of racism].

Was The Nyt Right To Publish A Cia Agent's Name?
July 06, 2008

New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt has an extremely unconvincing piece today in support of the paper's decision to publish the name of one of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed's interrogators.

Jesse Helms
July 04, 2008

After reading over the coverage of Jesse Helms' passing on a prominent conservative blog, it seems apt to quote Sean Connery in Goldfinger, and say that it is "shocking, positively shocking" that the conservative movement has trouble winning over black voters. Anyway, the two best Helms stories remain: Soon after the Senate vote on the Confederate flag insignia, Sen. Jesse Helms (R.-N.C.) ran into [African-American Illinois Senator Carol] Mosely-Braun in a Capitol elevator. Helms turned to his friend, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah), and said, "Watch me make her cry. I'm going to make her cry.

Brian Beutler
July 03, 2008

Brian Beutler, a liberal blogger who many PLANK readers have probably come across, was shot three times last night during a robbery in Washington D.C. He is currently at a local hospital, where he is expected to make a full recovery. Brian is a friend or acquaintance of many of the folks at TNR; he is also an exceedingly smart and kind and generous person. We wish him nothing but the best. --Isaac Chotiner

Why Does Limbaugh Support Mccain?
July 02, 2008

Zev Chafets' New York Times Magazine cover story on Rush Limbaugh is generally sympathetic and quite good (Chafets' extensive access may help explain why--on both counts--this is the case). Other than some fun gossip about Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity, Rush's attitude towards McCain is the most compelling aspect of the story: I had come to talk to Limbaugh about his role in Republican Party politics. During the primaries he assailed John McCain as a phony conservative and apostate Reaganite.

What Does It Take To Push Algerian Militants Into Al Qaeda's Arms? Not Much!
July 01, 2008

The New York Times has a big front page piece today on Algerian terrorists who have joined forces with Al Qaeda. Whereas once the group was viewed as a nationalist insurgency battling the Algerian military, it now goes by the name of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The article is not intentionally funny, obviously, although there was one amusing strain running through the story.

One Elitist's Attempt To Understand The Real America
June 30, 2008

Eli Saslow's finely reported and dutifully balanced Washington Post front page piece on Findlay, Ohio has gotten a lot of comment in the blogosphere (see Jason, below). Over on some conservative blogs like The Corner (see here and here), there seems to be general anger at the story, which the right sees as another sign of liberal media elitism. Saslow spent some time in Findlay with Jim Peterman, a retiree and military veteran who is unsure whether he should vote for Obama, or McCain, or not at all.

Do Americans Really Hate Income Redistribution?
June 29, 2008

See below for some real polling analysis from Nate, but this Gallup poll, which is being cited by Andrew and others on the web, is so ridiculously worded that people should ignore it completely (after reading this post, of course). The question is as follows: Which approach should government focus on to fix the economy? Here are the two possible answers: 1. Take steps to distribute wealth more evenly among Americans.  2. Take steps to improve overall economic conditions and the job situation.  In other words, should the government fix the economy by: 1. Distributing wealth more evenly 2.

Is Cheney Trying To Start Another War?
June 29, 2008

Seymour Hersh's latest piece on the Bush Administration and Iran has some good reporting on the Democratic Congressional leadership's clumsy attempt to juggle an agressive executive branch, their own oversight responsibilities, and Obama's vow to negotiate with Iran. There is also some new information on the administration's increasing support for opposition groups within Iran. However, the sexiest anecdote in the article is mentioned almost off-handedly: The former official said that, a few weeks later, a meeting took place in the Vice-President’s office.

So That's Why I Sat Through The 'reservoir Dogs' Torture Scene!
June 28, 2008

Or: The Lies We Tell Ourselves. From Deborah Solomon's New York Times Magazine interview with Buddhist Studies professor Robert Thurman: As a Buddhist, how do you reconcile your pacifism with the roles your daughter Uma has played in films like Quentin Tarantino’s bloody “Kill Bill”? Quentin is kind of obsessed, he’s a wild guy. But he is very brilliant. We trust that his motive is to show people the foolishness of violence rather than to glorify it. I hope that’s true. [Italics Mine] --Isaac Chotiner