As usual, I'll start with one that you don't have to read: Todd Purdum's Vanity Fair piece on Henry Paulson. Liberals loved it because Barny Frank and Nancy Pelosi look good in it, but really we all know that Barny Frank and Nancy Pelosi take their work seriously, so we don't need Paulson to tell us that. What it doesn't really tell us that we want to know is more about George W. Bush, and I don't think there's very much there. On to the better stuff:
1. Scott Horton on the CIA Inspector General Report from the previous week is still well worth absorbing. Also on torture, read Conor Friedersdorf.
2. Matt Yglesias has been trying to make sense of Afghanistan; here's one post from a few days ago. I recommend following him as he works at figuring it out, because he's probably going to hit on questions you have, or questions you ought to have.
3. Someone in comments asked why I like Rod Dreher. Well, it's stuff like this. Frankly, any conservative who is able to matter-of-factly dismiss the crazy is someone I want to read right now, and Dreher certainly qualifies on that score, but he he's interesting and honest, and that's good enough for me.
4. TNC on last week's Mad Men, of course. Spoilers, I suppose.
5. And, finally, Watch Stuff, You Should: Al Franken at the fair. I found it via Yglesias, and everyone is linking to it, and rightly so. Matt says the right thing, which is that Franken is good at it; what others get wrong (and I don't have links now, but several did from what I saw) was the mistaken idea that Franken is good at it because it's a show business skill. Not really; Franken is good at it because he's a politician now, and he's learned political skills. What you see if you watch the thing is how a pol works a room -- agreeing where he can, explaining differences when he must, constantly showing as much respect as he can muster for whatever fools and morons he has to impress as part of his job. Watch C-SPAN enough, and you can see dozens of pols who have those skills. They aren't all identical; Barney Frank's style isn't the same as Franken's, and neither is at all like Steny Hoyer, or like Lisa Murkowski (I'm just thinking of who I saw on C-SPAN last month). And of course one can learn those skills from the skills learned as a comedian or a lawyer or an exterminator or whatever. But if Franken tried to use his show biz skills now in Minnesota, he wouldn' t have been elected. What we're seeing in the video is that he's learned how to be a pol.