Isaac Chotiner

American life is full of two groups of people: those who find racism abhorent, and those find this first group of people tiresome. Paula Deen's humilation this week seems to have brought out the members of Group 2. Why is everyone making such a big fuss, they ask? Thankfully, The New York Times has a very amusing report from Georgia on this subject: 

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When the American writer Max Eastman asked James Joyce why Finnegans Wake was so hard to read, Joyce replied that he desired to keep critics "busy for 300 years." This may sound pompous, but even those of us who have never read Finnegans Wake can understand why someone might be willing to spend decades studying Joyce. 

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Eric Holder, Cave Man

Why the attorney general always disappoints himself

Why the attorney general always disappoints himself.

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John Harwood has a piece in The New York Times today that exemplifies such astonishing levels of silly conventional wisdom that it must be read in full. Harwood's contention, which is almost too boring to summarize, is that Obama has ignored the "red" areas of the country, rarely visiting them and thus failing to heal our country's divisions. (Sorry, cliched writing is almost impossible to avoid on this subject).

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"What Part of 'Politico' Do You Not Understand?"

A conversation about the dark art of driving the conversation

A conversation about the dark art of driving the conversation.

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Politico has two new pieces about Marco Rubio's attempts to pass an immigration bill. The first story, by Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman, explains the risk Rubio faces of being labeled an "insider" for his work with the Gang of 8.

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Is there a more annoying type of article than the kind that laments the Facebook "like"? America used to be a place with moral standards, the story invariably tells us, and now kids these days constantly "like" everything, and all the false praise leads to etc. etc. etc. Jenna Wortham, in The New York Times yesterday, has a surprisingly thoughtful short essay on the subject. But although her tone is pleasingly non-judgmental, she still allows for some of the same assumptions about the Internet's supposed effect on society. 

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Superbad

The puritanical undertones beneath the mess of 'Man of Steel'

When the early trailers for Zach Snyder’s new Superman movie, Man of Steel, premiered last year, it appeared that Warner Brothers was looking to piggyback on the success of its recent Batman franchise, The Dark Knight Trilogy.

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In tomorrow's New York Times, Rachel Donadio has a hilarious piece on the Vatican's 'Gay Lobby,' which Pope Francis acknowledged this week in conversation. It seems that the previous Pope sent a dossier (dossier? really? The Vatican is like MI6) to his successor mentioning this gay lobby, and Pope Francis is reported as saying that, yes, indeed, it exists.

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Back in the mid-'80s, this country engaged in a tortuous debate over aid to Nicaragua’s Contras. Perhaps you remember the freedom fighters who, with significant aid from the United States government (and from the charming junta of Argentina), waged a war against the also less-than-fastidious Sandinista movement that had overthrown the country’s military dictator. Eventually Congress got sick of the Reagan administration’s aid, and decided to pass the Boland amendments, which forbade directly military support to the counter-revolutionaries.

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