Isaac Chotiner

Making A (very Poor) Case For Abstinence
March 28, 2008

If you are an abstinence advocate--a college student, perhaps, intent on encouraging your peers to put off sex until marriage--you may find yourself in an unfortunate catch-22.  Let's say a New York Times Magazine reporter approaches you and wants to write a story about your cause (the NYT Mag seems to have at least one such piece a year). And of course you want to publicize your activism.

A Heartening Development In India
March 28, 2008

Six years ago, in the Indian state of Gujarat, as many as 2000 people were killed in Hindu-Muslim violence. It all started when a train carrying hundreds of Hindus caught fire, probably by accident. But thanks to a nationalist government intent on stoking sectarian anger, riots began and--over the course of many months--Gujarati Muslims were raped and killed in huge numbers.

The Future Of Newspapers
March 27, 2008

Eric Alterman's New Yorker piece on the future of the newspaper business appears at first to be nothing more than the 800,000th story on the imminent demise of print media. But along the way, Alterman makes a bunch of interesting observations, and his essay is very much worth reading. In the central section of the article, Alterman contrasts the ideas of Walter Lippman and John Dewey thusly: Dewey did not dispute Lippmann’s contention regarding journalism’s flaws or the public’s vulnerability to manipulation. But Dewey thought that Lippmann’s cure was worse than the disease.

Clinton Ahead In Some Counts
March 25, 2008

The Clinton campaign has been mocked for it's continuing attempt to find new metrics in which Clinton actually leads Obama. So, predictably, Evan Bayh's discovery that Clinton was ahead in electoral votes from states won drew widespread scorn. Someone at DailyKos, however, has found other ways in which Clinton leads. Some excerpts: Total number of Commonwealths CLINTON: 1 (Massachusetts) OBAMA: 1 (Virginia) Here the race is neck and neck, but Clinton is expected to take Pennsylvania.

Dump The Penny!
March 24, 2008

The New Yorker's David Owen has done a service to his country by penning a piece in this week's Money Issue called 'Penny Dreadful.' What would happen, Owen asks, if we simply got rid of pennies? Nothing too terrible, apparently: Even if retailers consistently fudged in their own favor, rounding’s impact on individual consumers today would be imperceptible. For one thing, rounding would apply only to the final five cents, no matter how high the price: a $1.98 purchase would be rounded up two cents; so would a $1001.98 purchase. Americans have taken this sort of thing in stride for years.

Clinton Under Attack From Sniper Fire...or Not
March 24, 2008

If you want to see a perfect example of the media's decided-upon narrative shaping election coverage, look no further than Hillary Clinton's story about landing under sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996. From the Saturday WaPo (page A05): Hillary Clinton has been regaling supporters on the campaign trail with hair-raising tales of a trip she made to Bosnia in March 1996.

Mccain's Real Gaffe
March 21, 2008

Remember when John McCain, on a recent trip to the Middle East, said that Shiite Iran was supporting Al Qaeda? And remember when Joe Lieberman whispered a correction into his ear? Well, according to The Weekly Standard, McCain has more to apologize for:  McCain was right and shouldn't have taken Lieberman's cue; there is a long trail of evidence pointing to Iranian cooperation with al Qaeda. And this evidence has been documented by the very same media that have indicted McCain for pointing out the connection.

Dems Falling
March 20, 2008

Yes, it's only one poll (and a Rasmussen poll at that), but Democrats cannot be happy to learn that McCain now leads Obama by seven and Clinton by ten in hypothetical match-ups. The Clinton campaign is probably right in assuming that the only way they can win the nomination is to destroy Obama's electability argument with superdelegates. The obvious problem is that intense campaigning and attacks may hurt her popularity, too. But the Clintonites should be wary of Drudge headlines like "McCain now leads by double-digits" for another reason.

Anthony Minghella, R.i.p.
March 18, 2008

Anthony Minghella, the ridiculously talented writer and director, died suddenly today of a brain hemorrhage. The news was sudden and shocking; Minghella had been busy finishing his latest movie, an adaptation of No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Minghella had a remarkable career in the film industry, where he won an Academy Award for his beautiful direction of The English Patient. His gifts as a writer were equally impressive--he not only wrote The English Patient, but also penned the screenplay for his excellent adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr.

What Are Those Superdelegates Thinking?
March 17, 2008

Barack Obama picked up another superdelegate vote today, courtesy of Margie Gavin Woods' endorsement. Woods is the Minority Leader of the Will County Board in Illinois, for those of you wondering how powerful you have to be to help decide this election. According to NBC News, Obama has gained 48 superdelegates since February 5th and Clinton has gained zero. Perhaps the Clinton campaign has 50 superdelegates in its back pocket, and is waiting for the right time to announce the news (after a big PA win, perhaps).