Today at TNR (October 13, 2009)
October 13, 2009

Afghanistan Is NOT at a Turning Point. So Here’s What We Should Do, by A.J. Rossmiller Was M.A.S.H. Director Robert Altman a Visionary, or Just a Tricky Bastard? by David Thomson The Only Credible Threat Obama Can Leverage Against Iran by Jeffrey Herf Cohn: How Will Wyden Vote Today? And What Happens Then? TNR Debate: Jeff Rosen on Whether the Courts Present Our Best Hope for Government Accountability Do We Overpay Government Workers? by Zubin Jelveh Plumer: Is a Bipartisan Climate Bill Really Possible Did Zoning Laws Cause the Housing Meltdown? by Jonathan Rothwell Oh No!

Short Cuts
October 13, 2009

Robert Altman: The Oral Biography By Mitchell Zuckoff (Knopf, 592 pp., $35) Here is your exam question: who is the last American movie director who made thirty-nine films but never won the Oscar for best director? Name the film by that director that cost the most money, and name the film of his that earned the most. Clue: The Departed, which must have been around Martin Scorsese’s thirtieth picture, and did win the directing Oscar, cost $90 million (four times as much as any of this man’s films cost)--so don’t go that way.

Stanley Kauffmann on Films
October 10, 2009

Disgrace Paladin The Other Man Image Entertainment   J.M. Coetzee's novel Disgrace has been made into a film that, in good measure, is faithful to it. Along with the admiration that obviously drew them to the book, the film-makers had to deal with some heavy data. Coetzee is a Nobel laureate; Disgrace won a lofty British award called the Booker Prize; an English newspaper poll lately named Disgrace as the best novel of the last twenty-five years.

Need Some Money? Free Some Prisoners!
October 09, 2009

Since late summer, several states have passed into law resolutions to release thousands of prisoners before they've completed their sentences. The goal is to help make up for immense budget shortfalls. The states, including California, Colorado, Illinois, and Oregon, have targeted their bloated prison systems in their quest to save hundreds of millions and make up for immense budget shortfalls. (Some have balanced budget amendments that require them to work out immediate savings.) But how exactly would such a plan work?

Things Come Together
October 06, 2009

The Thing Around Your Neck By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Knopf, 218 pp., $24.95)   In “Jumping Monkey Hill,” the most wicked story in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s new collection, a group of young writers selected from all over Africa have gathered for a workshop at a fancy resort outside Cape Town--”the kind of place,” thinks Ujunwa, the representative Nigerian, “where . . .

The Great Disconcerting Wipeout
October 05, 2009

Arthur Miller By Christopher Bigsby (Harvard University Press, 739 pp., $35) I. Arthur Miller could hardly have hoped for a more sympathetic biographer than Christopher Bigsby. He is the director of the Arthur Miller Centre for American Studies at the University of East Anglia, and the author of a long commentary on Miller’s work and a book-length interview with the playwright.

Polanski Defenders: Aliens Gone Wild Edition
October 01, 2009

Among the luminaries defending Roman Polanski, one of the most widely-quoted has been Polanski friend Otto Weisser. CNN’s piece titled “Hollywood embraces Roman Polanski,” for example, begins with a dramatic quote from Weisser, explaining that he was “among the first to publicly run to [Polanski’s] defense": “This is for me a shock. I am ashamed to be Swiss, that the Swiss is doing such a thing to brilliant fantastic genius, that millions and millions of people love his work," Weisser said upon learning the director had been detained by Swiss authorities.

Slideshow: Polanski's Celebrity Defenders
October 01, 2009

On September 26, Academy-award winning director Roman Polanski was arrested by Swiss authorities. A warrant had been pending against him since 1978, when he fled the United States after being charged with rape and pleading guilty to engaging in unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor. Now, film luminaries are leaping to his defense. Click through this TNR slideshow to see what they're saying.

Bearing While Beering
September 30, 2009

Fans of the Second and Twenty-first Amendments, rejoice! As of today, Arizonans can legally bring concealed firearms into bars. As J.P. Nelson, director of the NRA's western region, explains, "Bad things happen in bars and restaurants. People want to carry a gun and if the facility owner doesn't have a problem with it, there shouldn't be a problem.

Polanski's Defenders Get Worse
September 30, 2009

For some unknown reason--perhaps to "balance" its anti-Roman Polanski editorial--The New York Times op-ed page decided to give 1000 words to the novelist Robert Harris and his defense of Polanski. Harris gives the game away at the start, by writing: For more than two and a half years I have been working almost continuously with the director Roman Polanski, first on a screenplay of my novel “Pompeii” — which was never made — and then on a movie of another of my books, “The Ghost,” which was shot earlier this year. I have never collaborated with anyone more closely...Mr.