The Force

A history of America’s military spending:

“If any arms manufacturer today holds what Eisenhower called ‘unwarranted influence,’ it is Lockheed Martin. The firm’s contracts with the Pentagon amount to some thirty billion dollars annually, as William D. Hartung, the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, reports in his book ‘Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex’ (Nation). Today, Lockheed Martin spends fifteen million dollars a year on lobbying efforts and campaign contributions. The company was the single largest contributor to Buck McKeon’s last campaign. (Lockheed Martin has a major R. & D. center in McKeon’s congressional district.) This patronage hardly distinguishes McKeon from his colleagues on Capitol Hill. Lockheed Martin contributed to the campaigns of nine of the twelve members of the Supercommittee, fifty-one of the sixty-two members of the House Armed Services Committee, twenty-four of the twenty-five members of that committee’s Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces—in all, to three hundred and eighty-six of the four hundred and thirty-five members of the 112th Congress.”

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Jan 23, 2013
Length: 17 minutes (4,444 words)

The Lie Factory

The early days of the political consulting business—starting with Upton Sinclair’s failed run for California governor in the 1930s and the opposition work of Clem Whitaker and Leone Baxter:

“Whitaker and Baxter weren’t just inventing new techniques; they were writing a rule book. Never lobby; woo voters instead. ‘Our conception of practical politics is that if you have a sound enough case to convince the folks back home, you don’t have to buttonhole the Senator,’ Baxter explained. Make it personal: candidates are easier to sell than issues. If your position doesn’t have an opposition, or if your candidate doesn’t have an opponent, invent one. Once, when fighting an attempt to recall the mayor of San Francisco, Whitaker and Baxter waged a campaign against the Faceless Man—the idea was Baxter’s—who might end up replacing him. Baxter drew a picture, on a tablecloth, of a fat man with a cigar poking out from beneath a face hidden by a hat, and then had him plastered on billboards all over the city, with the question ‘Who’s Behind the Recall?’ Pretend that you are the Voice of the People. Whitaker and Baxter bought radio ads, sponsored by ‘the Citizens Committee Against the Recall,’ in which an ominous voice said, ‘The real issue is whether the City Hall is to be turned over, lock, stock, and barrel, to an unholy alliance fronting for a faceless man.’ (The recall was defeated.) Attack, attack, attack. Whitaker said, ‘You can’t wage a defensive campaign and win!'”

Source: New Yorker
Published: Sep 17, 2012
Length: 27 minutes (6,785 words)

The Commandments: The Constitution and Its Worshippers

Crying constitution is a minor American art form. “This is my copy of the Constitution,” John Boehner, the Speaker of the House, said at a Tea Party rally in Ohio last year, holding up a pocket-size pamphlet. “And I’m going to stand here with the Founding Fathers, who wrote in the preamble, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ ” Not to nitpick, but this is not the preamble to the Constitution. It is the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Jan 10, 2011
Length: 23 minutes (5,921 words)

The Uprooted

Chronicling the Great Migration.

Source: New Yorker
Published: Sep 6, 2010
Length: 14 minutes (3,565 words)


What was at stake in the spat between Henry Luce and Harold Ross?

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Apr 19, 2010
Length: 22 minutes (5,687 words)


The rise of marriage therapy, and other dreams of human betterment.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Mar 29, 2010
Length: 19 minutes (4,802 words)

Rap Sheet

Why is American history so murderous?

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Nov 9, 2009
Length: 40 minutes (10,188 words)

Not So Fast

Scientific management started as a way to work. How did it become a way of life?

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Oct 12, 2009
Length: 22 minutes (5,536 words)

Baby Talk

The fuss about parenthood.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Jun 29, 2009
Length: 13 minutes (3,391 words)

The Humbug

Edgar Allan Poe and the economy of horror.

Source: The New Yorker
Published: Apr 27, 2009
Length: 23 minutes (5,945 words)