Isaac Chotiner

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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1. Syria Is Going to Become Al QaedastanOf all the reasons for the international community’s skittishness about ending the regime of Bashar Al Assad, perhaps the biggest is the fear of a fanatical, Al Qaeda–linked government rising in its place. Voices as ideologically disparate as Russia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov, former Representative Dennis Kucinich, and Senator Ted Cruz have raised this concern.

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Jay Leno, Right-Wing Hack

The Tonight Show host's jokes about the shutdown are laughably bad

The government shutdown is obviously a ripe target for comedians, but who knew that Jay Leno would use the opportunity to make a bunch of jokes that were both unfunny and imbued with right-wing populism? (The former was perhaps predictable.) The gist of his monologues this week was essentially as follows: both parties are to blame for the shutdown, Washington is a horrible swamp, politicians are terrible, and oh, by the way, the government doesn't do anything anyway, and thus this whole shtudown thing is not so bad.

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The easiest point to make about Tom Clancy, who died on Tuesday at the age of 66, is that he was a mediocre writer who penned books with noxious political messages. But he was more interesting than that, even if only as a totemic cultural figure. I haven't read any of his nonfictional output, which mostly deals with military matters, especially the physical details of American military hardware.

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