Amanda Silverman

Managing Editor

With “Breaking Bad” about to start airing its final episodes, and just one season left of “Mad Men,” The New York Times declared that the network that airs both shows is at a “crossroads.” More than just losing two of its most popular shows, AMC will say goodbye to two of TV’s most famous and original anti-heroes. But if the nascent promotional campaign for the network’s new drama, “Low Winter Sun,” is any indication, AMC is desperate to hold onto its monopoly on the prototype.

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If you watched the Super Bowl on Sunday, you may have noticed a welcome interruption to the endless string of Bud Light and Doritos ads. Wedged between these paeans to beer and chips was a seemingly harmless commercial featuring cute elementary schoolers with their hands on the chests, pledging allegiance. But the ad soon turned a little darker: Instead of reciting the words that were drilled into all young children’s minds, they pledged their allegiance to the national debt and to China.

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Jon comes back from vacation tomorrow, so here I bring you the final installment in Chait masterpiece theater--in two parts. Back when Jon was an intern, he got a mysterious, unsolicited invite to a free lunch at the Greek embassy. What did the lowly, penniless youth do to deserve the honor? Well, Jon didn't really know either.

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Another Chait classic is this 1999 gem, written just about a year before the public--er, the Supreme Court--delivered us President George W. Bush. Turns out Sarah Palin wasn't the first one to epically fail a journalist's "pop-quiz." After Bush was unable to name various heads of state in an interview, Jon argues why in the 2000 election, it was smart to be dumb: It would seem, on the face of it, that the only thing standing between George W. Bush and the presidency is a persistent reservation about his intellect.

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Here comes another installment from the Chait archive. Jon makes the case against the seemingly harmless state of Delaware. No longer will you simply think of it for giving us the gift of Joe Biden or ... whatever else people think Delaware is good for.  Until one day several years ago, I, like most people, harbored no ill feelings toward the state of Delaware. I suppose in some vague sense I thought of it as harmless and even endearing, the way you tend to regard other small things, such as Girl Scouts or squirrels.

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As promised, here comes another chapter in the Chait chronicles. Back in 1997, Jon really got into the Christmas spirit. Not only did he relish his childhood memories of exposing the myth of Santa Claus, but he also disavowed the age-old practice of gift giving: My earliest Christmas memory is of dogmatic conflict. I spent hours trying to disabuse my elementary-school classmates of their belief in Santa Claus. My passionate (and, I should point out, correct) arguments met with horrified indignation.

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While Jon is on vacation, enjoying the sun while we rot in D.C., we thought it may be a good time to review some of the classic TNR pieces he has written over the years. Over the next few days, I'll be posting some of our favorites, so be sure to keep checking back. Here is one from February 1997 based on the experience Jon had as a coatchecker at the Caribbean, New Jersey, and Gay & Lesbian Inaugural Balls. While the night started inauspiciously enough, chaos ensued: 10:30: Any semblance of a line has disappeared.

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Fiscal Disciple

Just before the new year, The Washington Post published the first piece to come out of its partnership with the “new independent digital news publication” The Fiscal Times (TFT). By 7 a.m. that morning, Dean Baker, the co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, argued that in publishing the piece The Washington Post had ceased to exist as “a serious newspaper,” and subsequently over a dozen wonks and academics called for the Post to end its partnership with the “propaganda arm for ideologues.”  Why all the hubbub?

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Over the past few months, all eyes have been on Afghanistan, with the long policy review culminating in Obama’s speech last night. What that means is that Iraq, that other war, often seems like an afterthought in our national discussion. (Nevermind that we still have 124,000 troops on the ground there.) In light of all this, we thought it might be interesting to see just how many times Obama has used the word “Iraq” (and derivations like “Iraqi”) since being inaugurated, as compared to his usage of “Afghanistan” (also including “Afghan” and “Afghani”).

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Sarah Palin isn’t the only person cashing in on her ill-fated bid for the vice-presidency. A whole slew of authors, fashion designers, movie producers, pornographers, cartoonists, and opticians are riding the Palin gravy train. So I was not surprised when a press release landed in my inbox plugging what seemed to be the latest category of Palin profiteer: Academics. The University of Alaska Southeast is now touting one of their political science professors, Clive Thomas, as a one-stop Sarah Palin expert.

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