The New Yorker
September 24, 2009
With the 2008 presidential campaign in full swing two summers ago, Joe Biden, then making his own bid for the White House, ridiculed Barack Obama on a momentous issue: Afghanistan. The occasion was an August 2007 speech by Obama outlining his plans to fight Al Qaeda, which included sending an influx of American troops and aid to the country. Later that day, Biden issued a snarky press release gloating about his own extensive record of pushing similar policies, and which cast Obama as a naïve newcomer.
September 01, 2009
It is easy to disagree about the death penalty in the abstract, but anyone who doesn't harbor serious reservations about its application--the racial disparities, the often dubious safeguards, the eleventh-hour Death Row exonerees--isn't paying adequate attention.
New York City's Bad Teacher Debacle, Revisited
August 24, 2009
This week, The New Yorker has a piece about New York City teachers. The story focuses on "Rubber Rooms," or Temporary Reassignment Centers, which are where the city sends teachers who have been accused of misconduct or incompetence. But the city's teacher's union, the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), insists that Rubber Rooms are where the city shoves senior teachers whose salaries have ballooned over the years and who often frown upon Mayor Michael Bloomberg's control of the schools.
Where Hiphop Is "going" And Where It Never Was
May 21, 2009
The roundtable on hiphop over at the Atlantic is interesting. A discussion on what's new on the hiphop scene? That'd make perfect sense to me - but then that alone would fall somewhat outside of the Atlantic purview and be more like a piece by Sascha Frere-Jones at the New Yorker. No, the roundtable participants are musing over hiphop as something Potentially Important. It is this treatment of the music that has confused and bemused me for years.
Tnr.com's Week In Review (7.18.08)
July 18, 2008
TNR started off the week by trouncing The Atlantic at softball and settling in for a Sunday read of Ryan Lizza's New Yorker piece. But our peace of mind was soon disturbed. Eve Fairbanks alerted us to the magazine's cover art, which the Obama campaign called "tasteless and offensive." Michael Crowley and Isaac Chotiner thought Obama was wrong to pick a fight about it, but Jason Zengerle disagreed and wondered if David Remnick didn't know what he was getting into.
June 25, 2008
The New Yorker is hardly the optimal vehicle for reaching the conservative intelligentsia. But, last year, Barack Obama cooperated with a profile for that magazine where he seemed to be speaking directly to the right.
Heart of Darkness; Dick Cheney's mind/body problem.
March 19, 2007
What is wrong with Dick Cheney? Since the earliest days of his vice presidency, people have been asking this question. At first, it was mostly out of partisan pique; but, increasingly, it's in troubled tones, as one of the most powerful men on the planet grows evermore rigid, belligerent, and just plain odd in both his public utterances ("Go fuck yourself," Senator Leahy) and private actions(shoot a man in the face and not bother to call your boss 'til the next day: What's up with that?).
Tramps Like Who?
December 15, 2003
Bruce Springsteen's America: The People Listening, A Poet Singing By Robert Coles (Random House) Thirty years ago this fall, Bruce Springsteen released his first album, Greetings from Asbury Park, New Jersey. I knew from whence he greeted, having grown up in the same state a few years behind him.One of Springsteen's teenage bands, the Castiles, had been the entertainment at my friend Doug's eighth-grade graduation party; so when Columbia Records sent the twenty-four-year-old and his new group, the E Street Band, on a tour of midsized Northeast colleges to promote his record debut, Doug and I d
The Ungreat Washed
July 07, 2003
The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad By Fareed Zakaria (W.W. Norton, 286 pp., $24.95) I. Midway through Fareed Zakaria’s attack on democracy, one realizes that his animus toward popular government is not only theoretical but also personal, and in some ways it is even quite understandable.
Sweet And Low
March 22, 1999
I. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (HarperFlamingo, 546 pp., $26) Barbara Kingsolver is the most successful practitioner of a style in contemporary fiction that might be called Nice Writing. Nice Writing is a violent affability, a deadly sweetness, a fatal gentle touch. But before I start in on Kingsolver's work, I feel I must explain why I feel that I must start in on it. I do so for a younger version of myself, for the image that I carry inside me of a boy who was the son of a sadistic, alcoholic father, and of a mother who was hurt but also hurtful, and abusive.