The group blog of The New Republic

July 12, 2013

During a recent visit to Beirut, MIT professor Noam Chomsky was interviewed about the Syrian conflict by Syrian playwright and regime critic Mohammed Al Attar. Chomsky makes some observations that are worth considering. He dismisses the view, put forward by supporters of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, that the United States was somehow behind the uprising:

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July 11, 2013

A couple days ago, news broke that Rand Paul's co-author and social media director Jack Hunter was once the Southern Avenger, a shock-jock radio personality who wore a red mask with the stars and bars criss-crossing his face. This Southern Avenger poured one out for John Wilkes Booth every May 10, Booth's birthday; was against Latino immigration, which he said would irrevocably change American culture; and complained about a "racial double standard" that kept whites from celebrating their racial heritage.

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Opponents of immigration reform are right about one thing: Hispanics aren’t enough for Republicans to win back the White House. But that doesn’t mean that the GOP can sacrifice Hispanics without big consequences for their chances. That’s already happened in New Mexico and Nevada, where the Hispanic vote has flipped two states from red to blue. The GOP’s route to the presidency has survived the loss of those two small states—they’re worth just 11 electoral votes.

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It's turning out that Bob McDonnell had all of us fooled.

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In my article today about political journalists who are fans of the band Phish, I noted that a common practice for Phish fans is to drop bits of lyrics into their tweets, their writings, and their broadcasts, ideally with a deftness that allows other Phish fans to recognize the reference but keeps the prose readable for all the normal people out there. I also noted that I myself am a huge Phish fan.

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Ever since Edward Snowden plugged his thumb drive into the USB port of global consciousness, I've been monitoring myself and others for signs of incipient paranoia. I detected a few almost immediately. While emailing with another journalist about the case of Michael Hastings, the reporter who died in a fiery L.A.

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The recent announcement that James Franco would be the subject of the next Comedy Central Roast has been met with general enthusiasm. “Why didn’t anyone think of this sooner?” wondered The Atlantic Wire. “You can add ‘good sport’ to Franco’s long list of titles!” said E!

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President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai essentially just had a Skype breakup. According to The New York Times, the "slowly unraveling" relationship between the two reached a "new low" when Karzai unloaded on Obama in a video conference for negotiating with the Taliban without him. This falling out comes at a fraught moment, just as Obama is finalizing his endgame plans in Afghanistan.

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July 10, 2013

It's been interesting to watch American politicians and commentators respond to the coup in Egypt, largely because the reactions have not conformed to ideological categories. Conservatives, especially, seem split: David Brooks wrote a pro-coup column, and Robert Kagan penned an excellent case against the military's move.

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Much has been made of President Obama’s commencement speech at Morehouse College, the prestigious school for black men that counts Martin Luther King, Jr. among its graduates.

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