• The Virtues Of 'Gridlock'

    Everyone deplores political "gridlock" these days. Both The New York Times and The Washington Post have run long articles stigmatizing divided government (Republican White House/Democratic Congress). President Bush urges voters to end the deadlock by electing a Republican Congress; Bill Clinton makes the same pitch with the party label reversed. David Broder of the Post, the nation's best-known political reporter, states flatly that "divided government is not working. Only the voters can fix this mess by voting straight tickets in November." ...
  • 'They're Not Telling The Truth'

    It started in the middle of the night over Labor Day weekend three years ago. Barry and I were fast asleep when our new downstairs neighbor and his friends, all federal Drug Enforcement Administration officers, began pounding on the ceiling below our bedroom. In their drunken stupor they yelled, "We're coming to get the faggots! We've got an AK-47 in the car! Bang, bang, you're dead!" Listening to what the religious right and the Republican Party have been saying about us lately, I imagine our old neighbor has felt vindicated. After all, he and his buddies were simply trying to scare a couple of "anti-family" homosexuals, people the president told them are not normal, who the vice president said made the wrong choice, who Pat Robertson believes are not fit to be parents and for whom Pat Buchanan said AIDS was nature's retribution." ...
  • But Can You Dance To It?

    Even before the mesmerizing torch singer croons her last bluesy note, the radio announcer butts in: " Well, that was 'The Last Time I Saw Paris.'And speaking of Paris . . . " But wait: who was the singer? Not knowing can drive you nuts unless your favorite record store has installed a MUZE computer. This musical memory bank, designed to replace traditional hard-copy, hard to-read catalogs, is attracting long lines of rock fans and Ph.D. candidates alike. Currently available in 60 stores, MUZE will soon expand to 200 outlets nationwide. ...
  • Chicago Is Talking ...

    About the way Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka reportedly neglects his kids, gambles and disses his players. A new, unauthorized bio by Sports Illustrated's Armen Keteyian says da Bears' coach is not a nice guy. Even the Ditka Foundation has taken heat: the National Charities Information Bureau claims only 12 cents on the donated dollar go to programs-not the required 60 cents. Ditka says the bio was written "out of deception."
  • The Deficit Is Job One

    In a turbulent time for the auto industry, Ford Motor Company has consistently been the most successful U.S. automaker. Last week, Ford chairman Harold (Red) Poling, 66, met with NEWSWEEK editors in New York. Poling offered little optimism about his industry's near-term prospects and mixed feelings about President Bush's re-election campaign-a coolness that may matter in hotly contested Michigan. Excerpts: ...
  • Tobacco: Forbidden Fruit Of Childhood

    The fox isn't the best choice to guard the chickens-and The Tobacco Institute isn't the ideal choice to convince kids they shouldn't smoke, says Dr. Joseph R. DiFranza of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. One of its programs, "Tobacco: Helping Youth Say No," actually encourages smoking, he charges, by portraying it as a "forbidden" adult activity-and failing to acknowledge that it's addictive and potentially lethal. The institute says DiFranza misrepresents its goalsTECHNOLOGY
  • Packaged Soul

    Pat Buchanan wants "the soul of America." Well, here it is: the Ohio-based Glory Foods Inc. will soon offer the first national line of packaged soul food: okra, collard greens, everything. The minority owned company test-marketed the food in 90 stores-and sales were heavy. Why? Although blacks today have more disposable income, few food companies have marketed products aimed specifically at black consumers. The line will be available nationally this winter.
  • Enough Cant On 'Family Values'

    The first family, by which I don't mean the Bushes, but Adam and Eve, certainly had it problems. One of the children killed the other. Patriarchs like Jacob also had a time of it with much strife and plain old misconduct within the family. And the Hebrews probably weren't the worst of it, either. Consider the Greeks-the Oedipus family and all the rest of that clan who so generously donated their names to innumerable of our modern psychological disorders. And I'm not through. What about the Hamlet family and the Macbeth family? What about all those oppressive, loveless, just plain deranged families living behind a facade of respectability that the 19th-century novelists immortalized for us? What about Eugene O'Neill's imploding families? We're talking Western cultural tradition here, which good conservatives want us to submerge ourselves in,. and we of course have. Is it any wonder, then, that Americans don't seem universally to believe that your basic configuration of five-Dick and...
  • Straight Shootin From The Pros

    Magic Johnson may have soured on government committee work-he's quitting the National Commission on AIDS to protest White House inaction-but he hasn't given up on AIDS prevention. In "Time Out," a home video set for release this week, he teams up with Arsenio Hall to offer the hippest primer yet on avoiding HIV. Instead of high-tech finger-wagging ("This is your brain on drugs"), the fresh duo serves up 42 minutes of rock, rap and biting comedy along with straight talk about everything from HIV testing to the fine points of operating a condom. "Whether it's talking about condoms or just deciding whether or not you're going to have sex," says Magic, "we have to talk about it." The new tape, which man video stores will be lending out rent-free, could do a lot to break the ice.
  • Hey, Big Spender

    Who would have predicted it? With Nov. 3 fast approaching, George Bush has suddenly become the Pork Barrel President. Over the past two weeks, he has vowed to shell out at least nine billion federal dollars. (He also wants to sell $11 billion worth of fighter jets to Taiwan and Saudi Arabia, but that's another story.) A breakdown of the largesse: Full (as opposed to the usual 75 percent) federal reimbursement for hurricane-damaged buildings in Florida, estimated to cost between $5 billion and $15 billion.$2 billion to train unemployed workers nationwide.$755 million in emergency disaster aid for farmers.A $1 billion subsidy for wheat exports.
  • Paradise Lost

    For fans of the National Pastime, September is always a glorious month-and this one should be no exception. With fewer than 30 games to go, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles are scrapping for the American League East pennant. The Montreal Expos and the Pittsburgh Pirates are neck and neck in the National League East, raising the intriguing prospect of the first Canadian World Series. Robin Yount and George Brett are both closing in on 3,000 hits, and Padres slugger Gary Sheffield could become the first Triple Crown winner since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. So what's the chatter at a tavern near you? Skyrocketing salaries, TV contracts, labor disputes, owners' antipathy toward Commissioner Fay Vincent--even the fate of baseball itself ...
  • Take Me Out Of The Ball Game

    From the upper deck at Shea Stadium, baseball fan Melissa Moses used to be able to squint down and figure out who was at the plate just by the way he held the bat. Now the players change so often, she can't connect the player with the pose until she checks the scoreboard. Without the intimacy of instant recognition, says Moses, "it's harder to relate" to her team. ...
  • The 'Murphy Brown' Debate, Take 22

    When last we visited the increasingly tiresome "Murphy Brown"-Dan Quayle slugfest, Candice Bergen was tweaking the veep during the Emmys. But now Quayle has somehow obtained a copy of the sitcom's supersecret season premiere episode, to be aired Sept. 21. Seems there's a Republican mole on the liberal "Murphy Brown" set-a "friendly source," as Quayle spokesman David Beck with puts it. Despite rigorous efforts by the show's producers to keep the episode under wraps-key scenes were filmed late, scripts were guarded like gold-copies were smuggled to Quayle and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who read some Quayle-bashing excerpts on the air recently. Moments later, Warner Bros. lawyers demanded that Limbaugh return the "stolen property" and he did. Both conservatives say the script has Murphy hearing Quayle's single-mother speech and turning to the camera to defend single mothers. Beck with says that although his boss doesn't watch the sitcom, "he intends to watch this one."
  • Conundrum In The Classroom

    An "all star" group of economists met in Wyoming last week to seek what The New York Times called the "Holy Grail"-the secret of long-term industrial growth. Somehow Wyoming survived. Lucky for us, the geniuses could agree on only one sure stimulant and it was outside their field of expertise: a well-educated workforce helps.Great.But how do we get one? According to a Department of Education report, school funding has increased 40 percent (inflation adjusted) since 1982 and the results remain dismal. " Education is in a time warp. Most schools aren't much different from the one my grandparents attended in Tennessee," Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander said as he wandered about North Carolina in search of exceptions last week. "The schools our fifth graders graduate from in the year 2000 should be almost unrecognizable to us." ...
  • No Man's Land

    So, New York, are you just gonna stand there and take this? Not only is the Lyons, France, metro system much cleaner than yours; it's now the world's first completely automated subway-with no conductors at all. A central computer controls the $170 million command system, and infrared lights stop the trains if something (or someone) falls onto the track. There are no conductors' booths, so riders cluster near the front window to get a cool-Ouiiii!-roller-coaster effect. Undercover trainmen mill about the cars, ready to fix problems. The worst indignity for Gotham: the Lyons system has a 95 percent on-time rate.
  • Frustrations On The Board

    As a newly elected representative to my town's board of education, I received a letter of "deepest personal condolences" from a colleague, who was himself a veteran school-board member. He told me I would soon know the joy of explaining to irate parents why offering Urdu as a second language was simply not feasible, why restructuring every bus route in town so Johnny could see the TV program "3-2-1 Contact" before school was not possible and why their child has to pay $1 toward an expensive field trip when public education is supposed to be free. ...
  • Jumping Ship

    The publishing world continues to bleed The Wall Street Journal. Last week, Page One Editor James Stewart-author of the best-selling "Den of Thieves"--decided to leave the paper to write another book. The project is hush-hush, but sources hint the topic is Citicorp and the advance from Simon & Schuster was more than $1 million. Stewart's departure follows that of "Backlash" author Susan Faludi, now working on a new book, and Bryan Burrough, coauthor of "Barbarians at the Gate," who left for Vanity Fair. Other valuable, if less famous, staffers are on leave to write books on such subjects as IBM and the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings.
  • Forbidden City, Meet Sin City

    Viva lost communism. Sure, China may be the last major Communist power, but it's not too communist. Representatives from the People's Republic recently met with Nevada Gov. Bob Miller and Las Vegas dignitaries to discuss a proposal to open a $94 million theme park/casino resort. Operation of the casino would be left to more experienced capitalists, but the Chinese plan on doing all the decorating. The hotel's motif would be based on Beijing's historic Forbidden City and would include ancient artifacts, not Mao Zedong impersonators. But China may run into some big trouble: gaming-board officials have expressed concern about granting a license to a foreign government. Furthermore, there are absolutely no references to show girls in the Little Red Book.
  • How The Candidates Play To Gays

    Last spring Bill Clinton met in Los Angeles at a gala with 600 gay and lesbian activists. In an emotional speech, he told them, " I have a vision and you're part of it." The dinner raised $100,000 for the Clinton campaign coffers. News photographs showed dozens of gay men eagerly reaching out to touch the candidate. It was an image designed to appeal to a powerful voting block. But the photographs may well be put to another use this fall: as fodder for ads to boost George Bush's re-election chances. ...
  • It Has Four Legs And Starts With 'S'

    The 70-year-old woman had a neurological illness that left her unable to correctly name animals. According to a paper last week in the British journal Nature, she could accurately name pictures of plants, people, building and musical instruments but she couldn't get the word "sheep" past her lips. It's strong evidence, say Drs. John Hart Jr. and Barry Gordon of Johns Hopkins University, that the brain processes information according to surprisingly specific categories-including some with four feet.