Jason Zengerle

Senior Editor

Webb To Burma

Maybe the most remarkable part of the story about Jim Webb's trip to Burma--the first member of Congress to visit there in over a decade--is that the American Embassy has no idea yet if he's actually met with the Burmese Prime Minister since, as the AP story puts it, "communications between Yangon and Naypyitaw were unreliable." More on the extreme strangeness of Naypitaw--which seems to be a cross between Brasilia and Pyongyang--can be read here. --Jason Zengerle

Cheney Unbound

It's not all that surprising that Dick Cheney has bitter feelings about George W. Bush, but the WaPo's Barton Gellman has an article today that fleshes those feelings out a bit: Cheney's disappointment with the former president surfaced recently in one of the informal conversations he is holding to discuss the book with authors, diplomats, policy experts and past colleagues.

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Today's WSJ article about Obama's micromanaging of economic policy led me to fire up the Google and find Jim Fallows's classic Atlantic piece on Jimmy Carter from 1979. Here's the graf that forever cemented Carter's presidency as a cautionary tale of micromanagement: If there is any constant in the literature of presidential performance, it is that the President must husband his time.

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A couple days ago I linked to Sarah Wang's account of her trip to North Korea. Ever since then I haven't been able to get the pictures Wang took out of my mind. The photos themselves are quite unremarkable. Taken on the sly--Wang's North Korean minders forbid photography, explaining, "Our people don't like to be photographed"--they show common street scenes: two schoolboys huddling under an umbrella, people going out during a break in the rain, someone riding his bike.

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Niall Ferguson: President Barack Obama reminds me of Felix the Cat. One of the best-loved cartoon characters of the 1920s, Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky. I'm surprised Ferguson would write such a thing. I'm even more surprised his editor at the Financial Times didn't save him from himself. --Jason Zengerle

Michael Sokolove's lively article about the decline of Philadelphia's two newspapers was most surprising in its portrayal of Brian Tierney--the p.r. man turned newspaper publisher who, contrary to pretty much everything I'd previously read about him, actually seems to be a force for good. My favorite bit about Tierney from Sokolove's piece: He has taken his public relations mind-set to newspapering.

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In the summer of 1990, I was 16 years old and working as an intern on Capitol Hill. As one might expect of a high school student who spends his summer vacation interning for a senator--rather than, say, working as a camp counselor or hanging out at the beach--I had a somewhat inflated view of my importance. I came to work early and stayed late, certain my presence was vital to the smooth running of government. But about halfway through the summer, I put in for a day off. My boss, probably thinking I was going to do something fun, eagerly granted it. Little did she know.

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Mayor for Life

In the summer of 1990, I was 16 years old and working as an intern on Capitol Hill. As one might expect of a high school student who spends his summer vacation interning for a senator--rather than, say, working as a camp counselor or hanging out at the beach--I had a somewhat inflated view of my importance. I came to work early and stayed late, certain my presence was vital to the smooth running of government. But about halfway through the summer, I put in for a day off. My boss, probably thinking I was going to do something fun, eagerly granted it. Little did she know.

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Sarah Wang writes up her four days there--as the member of a group of "potential investors" from China--for Slate. The saddest part? North Koreans' hunger: I brought 150 Kit-Kat bars into the country, and I always took several out of my bag when I was alone with a North Korean. They would hesitate for a few seconds, look around to make sure that no one else was watching, and then stuff the Kit-Kats into their pockets. Wang's photos pack a punch, as well. --Jason Zengerle

Ezra Klein is up in arms about this Investors Business Daily editorial which makes the following claim: People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have a chance in the U.K., where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless. Ezra writes: It's not just that they didn't know that Stephen Hawking was born in England. It's that the underlying point was wrong, as you'll note from the continued existence of Stephen Hawking. They didn't choose an unfortunate example for an accurate point.

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