Andrew Ross Sorkin in The New York Times on J.C. Penney Could J.C. Penney soon go the way of Mervyn's? If the company's latest quarterly report is any indication, it sure seems like it could. Sales plummeted 26.1 percent recently, losing the business $123 million over a three-month period. But ask new CEO and former head of retail at Apple Ron Johnson how things are going and you're not likely to hear a grim story, writes Andrew Ross Sorkin, who thinks Johnson and his executive suite partners have insulated themselves from J.C. Penney's dire realities. Sorkin writes that despite all the negative indicators, "Mr. Johnson, a well-regarded and charismatic retailer who worked at Target before his meteoric rise at Apple, appears to be trying to mimic Steve Jobs and create what Mr. Jobs’s biographer, Walter Isaacson, called a 'reality distortion field.'"
Jon Lee Anderson in The New Yorker on Petraeus The more we learn about General Petraeus' affair, the more his downfall takes on mythic proportions. Jon Lee Anderson traces the four-star general's tragic arc, from his meteoric rise to his rapid tumble down the chute of universal scorn. Now we're just waiting for the upswing toward his inevitable redemption, Anderson writes: "There may be another act for David Petraeus. If he licks his wounds and is seen praying humbly at his local church and does the right thing by his wife and family, America will probably forgive him. He can return to public life as a paid military consultant for CNN; he might even be able to run for political office. Senator Petraeus has a good ring to it."
Michael Tomasky in The Daily Beast on Reaganomics Trickle-down economics have finally trickled into the gutters of irrelevance, argues Michael Tomasky. This election cycle revealed that voters are no longer buying policies that claim cutting taxes for the rich will spur economic growth for everyone. "The post-election chatter has been dominated by demographics, Latinos, women, and the culture war," Tomasky writes. "But economics played a strong and even pivotal role in this election too, and Reaganomics came out a huge loser, while the Democrats have started to wrap their arms around a simple, winning alternative: the idea that government must invest in the middle class and not the rich. It’s middle-out economics instead of trickle-down, and it won last week and will keep on winning."
Saransh Sehgal in The Diplomat on Tibet With Xi Jinping primed to assume leadership of China, many are wondering if the country will modify its approach to Tibet. Self-immolations in protest of Chinese rule have been on the rise there, with no less than 71 Tibetans committing fiery suicide in dissent since 2009. Saransh Sehgal doubts that these dramatic demonstrations will have any effect on China's control over the Buddhist region, though. "Although many countries and international human rights groups have issued statements, the Chinese government has continuously ignored them by telling critics not to meddle in its internal affairs," Sehgal writes, noting that Tibetans listening to the exiled Dalai Lama still retain hope for independence. "Many in the exile Tibetan community remain hopeful that Beijing could make changes under the new leadership."
Christine Ockrent in The Guardian on François Hollande The man epitomizing European socialism's great hope in the face of growing austerity seems a bit wimpy, argues Christine Ockrent. Instead of playing the role of bold leader, he's been more concerned with tidying up his party's internal affairs, ceding the public stage to unions and other party officials. "Hollande's performance so far has not always been convincing," she writes, hoping that he'll lay out specific goals today in his first press conference since assuming office. "Whether the president has become bold and pragmatic enough to embrace the kind of social liberalism that became a European trademark with Gerhard Schröder and Tony Blair remains to be seen. Starting on Tuesday, François Hollande has to demonstrate his will as well as his skill."