Frederick Douglass's Faith in Photography by Matthew Pratt Guterl [The New Republic] How the former slave and abolitionist became the most photographed man in America.
He wrote essays on the photograph and its majesty, posed for hundreds of different portraits, many of them endlessly copied and distributed around the United States. He was a theorist of the technology and a student of its social impact, one of the first to consider the fixed image as a public relations instrument. Indeed, the determined abolitionist believed fervently that he could represent the dignity of his race, inspiring others, and expanding the visual vocabulary of mass culture.[more inside]
Barnett believes the Constitution exists to secure inalienable property and contract rights for individuals. This may sound like a bland and inconsequential opinion, but if widely adopted by our courts and political systems it would prohibit or call into question basic governmental protections—minimum wages, food-safety regulations, child-labor laws—that most of us take for granted. For nearly a century now, a legal counterculture has insisted that the whole New Deal project was a big, unconstitutional error, and Barnett is a big part of that movement today.
He has succeeded in the sort of environment least conducive to producing a candidate capable of winning a national majority. Over the past few decades, Walker's home turf of metropolitan Milwaukee has developed into the most bitterly divided political ground in the country—"the most polarized part of a polarized state in a polarized nation," as a recent series by Craig Gilbert in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it.Wisconsin's governor will be announcing his intention to run for President of the United States in any... day... now. Last summer, TNR published a lengthy profile of his politics and persona: The Unelectable Whiteness of Scott Walker. [more inside]
Thanks to a quirk of twentieth-century history, the region encompasses a heavily Democratic and African American urban center, and suburbs that are far more uniformly white and Republican than those in any other Northern city, with a moat of resentment running between the two zones. As a result, the area has given rise to some of the most worrisome trends in American political life in supercharged form: profound racial inequality, extreme political segregation, a parallel-universe news media. These trends predate Walker, but they have enabled his ascent, and his tenure in government has only served to intensify them. Anyone who believes that he is the Republican to save his party—let alone win a presidential election—needs to understand the toxic and ruptured landscape he will leave behind.
Commander Pigeon is a collector of lost and exiled men. The quietest soldier once belonged to the Taliban. He had been captured by local police, escaped, and having heard about Commander Pigeon, walked miles to reach her home. He fell to his knees and begged for protection. She made him swear loyalty. I asked how she knew he wouldn't rebel. "I'm watching him closely," she said. "I'm converting Taliban to normal people."[more inside]
Jen Percy for TNR: My Night With Afghanistan's Only Female Warlord, Commander Pigeon.
An interview with the man who banned in Boston, circa 1930. The New Republic is republishing a haul of classics from its archives in celebration of its 100th anniversary. In honor of banned books week, today's selection is a brief interview/profile of one of the U.S. Customs officials in charge of clearing books for circulation circa 1930. [more inside]
You Are Now Entering the Demented Kingdom of William T. Vollmann: [The New Republic] Home to goddesses, dreams, and a dangerously uncorrupted literary mind.
"The ability to present women like [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg, [Hillary] Clinton and [Wendy] Davis as bone-crushingly robust yet simultaneously appealing, revered—practically adorable!—in their rugged severity, is a crucial expansion of the American imagination with regard to powerful women." (via librarina) [more inside]
"On Monday, veteran Washington Post editor and New Yorker contributor Marc Fisher published a deeply reported, scrupulous Columbia Journalism Review cover story on how the Internet’s metabolism and economy [including instant-headline video start-up NowThisNews], which places a premium on being first to a story and on attracting clicks, has led to compromises when it comes to the whole accuracy thing. As if on cue, a fun news story has been making the rounds in the past few days: A survey found that 11 percent of Americans believe that "HTML" is a sexually transmitted disease. Other findings included that 20 percent believe a "motherboard" is a cruise-ship deck and 15 percent believe "software" is a type of clothing. The survey itself... may not exist." -- TNR on the Circular Fact Checking ecosystem of online news reporting.
Matt Welch, Reason: The Death of Contrarianism
Klein, then at The American Prospect, a progressive D.C. opinion magazine founded in 1990, wanted Peters, founder (in 1969) of The Washington Monthly, to answer for the way neoliberalism had degenerated into lefty-on-lefty contrarianism. “What has happened, at least to some younger folks like me,” Klein said, “is that at times this appears to have become not an honest critique, but a positioning device. The idea that it’s not about the quality of the argument, but the display: You show honesty by attacking Democrats, you show independence by attacking liberals. At times I think that has been a damaging impulse on our side.”[more inside]
The New Inquiry: Just The Facts
With its emphasis on the empirical, conspiracism is uncomfortably similar to the technocratic mindset of mainstream political discourse. Technocratic pundits — typified by the likes of Ezra Klein, a journalist and blogger who runs the Washington Post's Wonkblog — are likewise driven almost exclusively by data sets and empirical studies. As Bhaskar Sunkara suggested in this piece for In These Times, such pundits operate under the assumption that the facts are so powerful that they might lead people of all ideologies to embrace a particular array of ideology-free policies.[more inside]
"This technology cannot simply substitute for the great libraries of the present. After all, libraries are not just repositories of books. They are communities, sources of expertise, and homes to lovingly compiled collections that amount to far more than the sum of their individual printed parts. Their physical spaces, especially in grand temples of learning like the NYPL, subtly influence the way that reading and writing takes place in them. And yet it is foolish to think that libraries can remain the same with the new technology on the scene. The Bookless Library, by David Bell (print ready version). [more inside]
Happyism: The Creepy New Economics of Pleasure. Economist Dierdre McCloskey, in the New Republic, digs into the mathematical underpinnings of the scientific study of happiness. Executive summary: she doesn't like what she finds.
"Former Harvard student Adam Wheeler was indicted [yesterday] on multiple counts of identity fraud and larceny. According to the Boston Globe, Wheeler allegedly built a 'fraudulent life history that led to his admission to Harvard, and for using forged academic materials from Harvard when he applied for the prestigious Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships.'"* In his transfer student application to Harvard "...Wheeler claimed he got a perfect score on the SAT, straight A's at prestigious prep school Phillips Academy Andover and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...In reality, he had never attended either school..."* He has plead not guilty to the charges. [more inside]
That afternoon, American signals operators picked up bin Laden speaking to his followers. Fury kept a careful log of these communications in his notebook, which he would type up at the end of every day and pass up his chain of command. “The time is now,” bin Laden said. “Arm your women and children against the infidel!” Following several hours of high-intensity bombing, the Al Qaeda leader spoke again. Fury paraphrases: “Our prayers have not been answered. Times are dire. We didn’t receive support from the apostate nations who call themselves our Muslim brothers.” Bin Laden apologized to his men for having involved them in the fight and gave them permission to surrender.
Gabriel García Márquez's romance with power. During the youth of García Márquez’s grandfather, Colonel Nicolás Márquez Mejía, who was born in 1864 and died in 1936, a number of presidents and government ministers--almost all of them lawyers from the conservative camp--published dictionaries, language textbooks, and treatises (in prose and verse) on orthology, orthography, philology, lexicography, meter, prosody, and Castilian grammar. [more inside]
Michelle Cottle takes a look at the rise of Betsy "Death Panels" McCaughey - No Exit: The never-ending lunacy of Betsy McCaughey: Since her earliest days in the spotlight, McCaughey has presented herself as a just-the-facts-please, above-the-fray political outsider. In reality, she has proved devastatingly adept at manipulating charts and stats to suit her ideological (and personal) ambitions. [more inside]
In 1998, a journalist at The New Republic named Stephen Glass wrote a compelling piece in the influential magazine entitled 'Hack Heaven'. It told the story of how Glass witnessed a 15 year old hacker named Ian Restil being hired by a large Californian computer company named Jukt Micronics at a hacker convention as a security analyst after Restil hacked Jukt's website. But the entire story was, in fact, entirely fictional. [more inside]
In December 2003, Brent Cambron gave himself his first injection of morphine. Save for the fact that he was sticking the needle into his own skin, the motion was familiar--almost rote. Over the course of the previous 17 months, as an anesthesia resident at Boston's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Cambron had given hundreds of injections.- Going Under by Jason Zengerle of The New Republic [print version] is heartbreaking article about the high rates of drug addiction among anesthesiologists. It tells the story of Brent Cambron and his spiral into addiction. His live was also sensitively chronicled in The Boston Globe by Keith O'Brien in Something, anything to stop the pain [print version]. [more inside]
Dark Darker Darkest is an essay in this week's New Republic by Christopher Benfey on the newly published Notebooks of Robert Frost (here's a more conventional book review by Mark Ford in The Financial Times). Glyn Maxwell, a couple of years ago in the same publication, wrote a short article, Beautiful as He Did It, about Edward Thomas and his relationship with Frost. Should you want more direct contact with the famous poet, you can read Richard Poirier's 1960 interview with Frost that appeared in The Paris Review (pdf) or listen to him recite a few of his better known poems.
The New Republic. . . is one of multiple sources featuring variations on Bush-hating in recent weeks. What's up with the sudden currency of the phrase?