Entertainment

Senate Dems to Obama: Um, a Little Help Here?
October 26, 2009

After a weekend of furious activity, Democratic leaders in the Senate think they are close to getting the votes they need in order to pass an "opt-out" version of the public option. But they feel like President Obama could be doing more to help them, with one senior staffer telling TNR on Sunday that the leadership would like, but has yet to receive, a clear "signal" of support for their effort. The White House, for its part, says President Obama supports a strong public option, as he always has--and that, as one senior administration official puts it, the president will support the Senate le

The Race Man
October 26, 2009

Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington By Robert J. Norrell (Harvard University Press, 508 pp., $35)   I. Once the most famous and influential African American in the United States (and probably the world), Booker T. Washington has earned at best mixed reviews in the decades since his death in 1915. Black intellectuals and political activists, from W. E. B.

End State
October 26, 2009

California is a mess, but I love it all the same--especially the Bay Area, where I lived for 15 years. I went to Berkeley in 1962--a refugee from Amherst College, which at that time was dominated by frat boys with high SAT scores. I didn't go to Berkeley to go to school, but to be a bus ride away from North Beach and the Jazz Workshop. In a broader sense, I went to California for the same reason that other émigrés had been going since the 1840s. I was knocking on the Golden Door. Immigrants from Europe had come to America seeking happiness and a break with their unhappy pasts.

'Boring As Hell'
October 26, 2009

BOSTON -- Mayor Tom Menino looks around the elevator and reaches instinctively for the hand of the only person in the car he's never met. "Where are you from?" he asks the young man. "Somerville," the young man replies. The mayor almost recoils. "Somerville!" he exclaims with a dismissive wave--there are no votes for him in Somerville--and then says a word that sounds like: "Echhh!" It was a revealing moment for a mayor destined to go down as an American political legend. If Menino is re-elected on Nov.

The Trouble With Frank Rich
October 25, 2009

Frank Rich, today: It would also be nice to think that the “balloon boy” viewers were the innocent victims of a dazzling Houdini-class feat of wizardry — a “massive fraud,” as Bill O’Reilly thundered. But even slightly jaundiced onlookers might have questioned how a balloon could waft buoyantly through the skies for hours with a 6-year-old boy hidden within its contours. That so few did is an indication of how practiced we are at suspending disbelief when watching anything labeled news, whether the subject is W.M.D.’s in Iraq or celebrity gossip in Hollywood. Really?

Writing and Velocity
October 25, 2009

Sorry I’ve been silent (again) for so long. In addition to teaching two writing seminars at Penn, I’ve been busy with book revisions. Those are now done, so I should be back (again) to more regular blogging. Given the glacial pace of my contributions to TNR in recent months, perhaps it makes sense that I’d return with a post about . . . the pace of writing.

Matters of Fact
October 24, 2009

In the mid-1950s, a photographer named Robert Frank, lately emigrated from Switzerland, drove around the United States to see and to join his new country. He shot pictures. The results, or his choices among them, were published in a book of eighty-three photos called The Americans, which was an immediate and lasting success. The book was not only a unique way for a newcomer to learn about his new home: in some ways it showed a social candor that was as yet unusual in photography.

Matters of Fact
October 24, 2009

Chris & Don: A Love Story (Zeitgeist) My Winnipeg (IFC) 19th Annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival   In 1964 Christopher Isherwood published A Single Man, a novel about a homosexual man and his state of spirit after his lover dies. Now comes Chris & Don, a documentary film about Isherwood's lover and his state of spirit since Chris's death. The subtitle of the film is "A Love Story." The picture makes the worn term fresh, moving. The principal place is the couple's home in Santa Monica, where Don Bachardy still lives.

Insights from TNR's Extensive Afghanistan Coverage
October 23, 2009

Barack Obama is currently mulling what will certainly be some of the defining choices of his presidency: Should he send a lot more troops to Afghanistan, as his commander there has recommended, and, if so, what should their objectives be? Understanding the issue is critical. So over the past couple weeks, TNR has commissioned a series of pieces examining various angles of our involvement in Afghanistan. Here they are: "Stalemate" by A.J. Rossmiller, October 13, 2009. The conventional wisdom that "we are at a turning point in Afghanistan" is wrong, he says.

What Did Obama Tell Reid?
October 23, 2009

And I thought yesterday was crazy. Brian Beutler has sources telling him that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is close to rounding up 60 votes for an "opt-out" public option, but that the White House is trying to slam on the brakes. The main reason? Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, whose support the White House covets, is against the idea and prefers some sort of trigger. One source tells Beutler:  They're skeptical of opt out and are generally deferential to the Snowe strategy that involves the trigger...

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