Isaac Chotiner

Jonathan Chait, in a blog post for New York magazine, tries to swat down allegations that Democrats are currently demanding their own debt-ceiling ransom.

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In their conversation about Episode 3 of Homeland, New Republic Senior Editor Isaac Chotiner and former CIA man Robert Baer discuss the way the Agency exerts psychological control over its agents, and whether the show is becoming more like "Breaking Bad."Isaac Chotiner: Did you notice that this episode had a lot of spy-movie clichés? The first was the guy waking up in bed not knowing where he is. I suppose I should ask whether that has ever happened to you.

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It is very hard to keep up with developments on the Hill, but it appears that talks between the House of Representatives and the Obama administration have broken down. Focus is now shifting to the Senate, where perhaps Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell can come to some sort of deal. Since any agreement is almost certain to feature a compromise or fig leaf to ensure Republican support, attention will turn to the details of that compromise. Will there be a repeal of the medical device tax?

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Jonathan Martin has an interesting and revealing piece in The New York Times on Thursday about the different stances that the potential Republican nominees have taken on the budget and debt ceiling standoffs.

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In his Thursday column in The Washington Post, George Will gives a perfect encapsulation of his (widely shared) worldview and values without quite meaning to do so. For this reason, if no other, it deserves close attention.

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In a creeping sign that Politico-ish news coverage has migrated to the international pages, The New York Times ran several articles over the past week about how the government shutdown, which resulted in President Obama cancelling his trip to Asia, marked a big victory for China. The premise of these pieces is that the United States and China are in some sort of competition for prestige and allies in Asia, and that each step backward by America means a step forward for China. Let's grant that this somewhat simplistic analysis has a grain of truth to it.

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Monday marked the first night of Megyn Kelly's Fox News Channel program, "The Kelly File," which aired at 9 p.m. in Sean Hannity's old slot. Kelly has become an increasingly big star over the past several years, appearing during the day as a host, and at night as a guest on "The O'Reilly Factor" and other shows. The question leading up to the premiere was whether Kelly would become more opinionated and start to ape Bill O'Reilly and Hannity, or whether she would take the typical Fox News daytime line, which can be defined as passively conservative.

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Isaac Chotiner: There are these faceless Republicans on the Hill, this Tea Party Caucus, and we see them saying crazy things in the newspaper. But who are they? I was just wondering how much interaction you had with them when you were in Congress.

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Antonin Scalia, why do you hate America?

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CIA directors don’t have time to roll up their sleeves and walk around the building says our Homeland expert, former CIA Agent Robert Baer.

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