Tony Soprano

The closest Tony Soprano ever comes to saving his appalling soul is late in Season 1 of “The Sopranos.” His daughter Meadow’s friend has become depressed to the point of cutting herself (“a suicidal gesture,” Dr. Melfi memorably clarifies) and the cause, Tony learns, is that the talented high school soccer coach—his daughter’s soccer coach, with unfettered access to his daughter—has been sleeping with Meadow’s friend. Tony is all set to kill the coach: Tony Soprano has killed men for much smaller offenses; he kills for business.

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Going Soprano on the Fed

So now the Republicans want to go all Tony Soprano on the Fed. On Tuesday, the GOP's four congressional leaders sent a formal letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The Fed today finishes a critical two-day meeting, during which it will discuss whether to swing into action again, taking steps that could boost economic growth and reduce unemployment. Many and probably most mainstream economists think that's the right thing to do. The Republicans do not. They were not happy the last time the Fed intervened.

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This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of"Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. Great films and TV series tend to distill in the memory to a particular type of camera shot.

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This is the new column in TNR’s weekly series of"Mad Men" episode recaps. Caution: It contains spoilers. Click here for last week's review. An episode of a post-"Sopranos" quality cable series often focuses less on the plot and more on the psychology of its characters, the sociology of its setting, and a vividly evoked sense of place. That's why, when fellow viewers ask me to name a "best" episode of such programs, I am often not sure what to say. On a show like "Mad Men," the individual chapters are all of a piece.

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Here he is telling President Obama, "This is a big fucking deal." It's true! But people sort of like their leaders to commemorate such occasions the way Thomas Jefferson or John F. Kennedy would, not the way Tony Soprano would.

Spare the Rod

I FULLY REALIZE that few complaints are more tiresome than “your party’s scandal is worse than my party’s scandal.” But indulge me for a moment. I can’t think of a good reason why Rod Blagojevich has become the most hated man in America while Norm Coleman still walks the streets with his head held high. What, you say—Norm Coleman? Yes, Norm Coleman! Let me explain. The soon-to- be-former senator’s scandal is pretty simple.

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Life Forces

All the King's Men (Columbia) 49 Up (First Run) Robert Penn Warren was a poet who also wrote novels. His poetry, much of which is lovely, won two Pulitzer Prizes, and he was the first U.S. poet laureate. But today he is probably best remembered for his novels, particularly All the King's Men, which was published in 1946, won a Pulitzer in 1947, was filmed in 1949, and has now been filmed again. To approach this second film with regard for Warren's poetry, which I certainly have, is to sit for two hours in moderate discomfort.

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