Monthly Archives: October 2008

Recent Reads from the New Yorker

Some highlights from the past couple months of the world’s greatest magazine.

Lipstick on a Pig: a 2008 Campaign Quiz is the latest in a series of questionnaires Paul Slansky has produced to highlight the absurdity of election quotes. Test how good you are at identifying how low candidates and spokespeople will go. A hint: the real answers are generally the most outrageous.

Rock, Paper, Scissors, by Jill Lepore, explores how the practice of voting has changed in America since its inception. Many things we take for granted, from government-produced ballots to the secrecy of the voting curtain, are actually relatively recent developments.

Right Again, by Adam Gopnik, profiles the almost-saintly foresight and advocacy of John Stuart Mill. A dedicated feminist and champion of human rights, Mill’s positions still sound radical, and persuasive, today.

Finally, Aleksandar Hemon produces another punchy, evocative short story with The Noble Truths of Suffering. This one will especially resonate for writers, as it explores the way experiences are absorbed and then pulverized before being reframed on the printed page. Humor anchors a seemingly tossed-off, but surprisingly moving, story.

“We Do Not Torture”

From the Miami Herald:

In a first, a military judge ruled on Tuesday that a Guantánamo detainee’s confession was extracted through torture, and excluded it from the trial of a young Afghan detainee at the war court.

Afghan police threatened the family of teenager Mohammed Jawad while he was undergoing interrogation at a Kabul police station, said Army Col. Stephen Henley, the judge, in a three-page ruling.

Jawad, now facing trial by military commission, is accused of throwing a grenade inside an Afghan bazaar in December 2002, which wounded two U.S. soldiers and their Afghan interpreter. None were killed.

Henley found in the ruling that there was reason to believe Jawad was under the influence of drugs at the time of his capture and forced confession.

He also accepted the accused’s account of how he was threatened, while armed senior Afghan officials allied with U.S. forces watched his interrogation.

”You will be killed if you do not confess to the grenade attack,” the detainee quoted an interrogator as saying. “We will arrest your family and kill them if you do not confess.'”

Counterproductive and damned.

One Week Until Election Day – An Open Appeal

With one week left before Election Day, the Presidential campaign continues to be contentious. Senator Obama is ahead in the polls—fingers crossed!—but John McCain and his supporters are ramping up their attacks, tossing out accusations of un-Americanism, Marxism, and similar outdated nonsense.

While these attacks target Senator Obama, they also demean everyone who supports him, implying that a Democratic vote is equivalent to treason or terrorism.

That obviously isn’t the case. And the best response to these tired attacks is an overwhelming Obama victory on November 4.

How can you bring this about?

1. Vote. Encourage your friends and family to do likewise.

2. If you can, make a contribution to the Obama campaign. Each donation, now matter how small, helps to promote a message of competence and change.

The next Presidency will be a momentous one. It’s essential that the right person—Barack Obama—is in place to lead our country on a better, more hopeful, path to prosperity. You can help to make this happen.

I Heard Obama Was Born in Kenya…

Want to know the craziest stories that far-right true believers are spreading about Obama? Jon Swift breaks it down in his recap of “Great Moments in Election-Year Blogging,” covering the gamut from “There is a tape of Michelle Obama with Louis Farrakhan talking about ‘whitey’” to “Obama had cocaine-fueled gay sex in the back of a limousine with a not-very-attractive disabled man with a criminal background.”

It’s pretty funny.