Isaac Chotiner

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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As everyone knows, when liberals are faced with rabid insanity they tend to look for root causes. Thus, I have embarked on a quest to find out why large elements of the Republican Party have completely lost their minds. One place I looked was Todd S.

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Robert Baer is a former CIA case officer who served everywhere from Iraq to the former Soviet Union. (The 2005 film Syriana, starring George Clooney, was an adaptation of several of his books about the intelligence world.) Who better, then, to discuss Season 3 of “Homeland,” which premiered last night on Showtime? Every Monday, Baer and New Republic Senior Editor Isaac Chotiner will chat about the previous night’s episode. The conversations contain spoilers. 

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In a strange and unconvincing essay in The New Yorker, Lee Siegel, who made his name as a slashing and smart critic (for a time at The New Republic), writes that he is through with negative book reviews. He mentions a Clive James essay from several months back which lamented the lack of nasty reviews in American publications.

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In the last several weeks, people have started to question the supposed inevitability of Hillary Clinton as the next Democratic presidential nominee. First, Bill de Blasio won the New York mayoral primary, which appeared to signal rising anxiety about income inequality.

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President Obama's unremarkable speech to the United Nations will probably be picked apart and analyzed for every word he uttered about Iran. But there was one particular formulation that caught my eye. Here was what he said: 

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Frank Rich has a somewhat surprising essay in New York magazine in which he makes the case that Rand Paul has been an important and valuable presence in the Senate.

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It has been a gruesome 48 hours. On Saturday, in Kenya, at least 68 people were slaughtered when gunmen from Somalia's Shahab extremist group entered a mall and started firing indiscriminately. (Or perhaps not entirely indiscriminately: The New York Times reports that witnesses claimed Muslims were told to run away). In Pakistan, at least 78 people were killed when suicide bombers attacked All Saints Church in the city of Peshawar.

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