Cable: A Caucasus Wedding

The lavish display and heavy drinking concealed the deadly serious North Caucasus politics of land, ethnicity, clan, and alliance.

In a cable brought to light by Wikileaks, the Ambassador to Russia describes a raucous three-day Dagestani wedding attended by Chechnya’s president Ramzan Kadyrov.

The Inner Quest of Newt Gingrich

Promise kept.

But his greatest presidential stumbling block may be right under his nose. At home, Newt's second wife, Marianne Ginther Gingrich, tells me she doesn't see herself in the First Lady's job. "Watching Hillary has just been a horrible experience," commiserates Marianne. "Hillary sticking her neck out is not working." What happens if Newt runs?, I ask. "He can't do it without me," she replies. "I told him if I'm not in agreement, fine, it's easy" --she giggles at her naughtiness. "I just go on the air the next day, and I undermine everything..."

In the Land of the Dear Leader

The author travels to North Korea in the years after Kim Jong Il’s succession. He also gets a haircut:

But suddenly the whole chair starts vibrating and I find myself surrendering to her, as she begins to knead the acupressure points on my forehead and neck. Next it's ginseng unguent all over my face. Gobs of pomade smelling like bubble gum go on my hair. Then, like a true daughter of the revolution, she upholsters her blow dryer and begins combing in the pomade and sculpting my now subdued hair. The pungent aroma of heated pomade, like fat frying in a pan, fills the room. My stylist gives my hair a little twist with the comb. It feels like she's making a Dairy Queen curl on top. Then she fries it in place with the dryer. Another dab of pomade. More mincing motions with the comb. Another blast of hot air. Suddenly I feel a moist breeze around my ears. She's taken out a can of imported aerosol spray and is cementing her creation in place. She's delicately patting my new coiffure now the way a baker taps a loaf of bread to see if it's springy to the touch. She murmurs something. I'm breathless with expectation. I open my eyes and gaze into the mirror. Magnifique! It looks like I have a loofah sponge on my head! I am reborn -- a cross between Elvis and a 1950s Bulgarian hydrology expert! At last I have become a true son of Pyongyang!

Barney’s Great Adventure

Frank rarely smiles, even when he’s being funny. “There are three lies politicians tell,” he told the real-estate group. “The first is ‘We ran against each other but are still good friends.’ That’s never true. The second is ‘I like campaigning.’ Anyone who tells you they like campaigning is either a liar or a sociopath. Then, there’s ‘I hate to say I told you so.’ ” He went on, “Everybody likes to say ‘I told you so.’ I have found personally that it is one of the few pleasures that improves with age. I can say ‘I told you so’ without taking a pill before, during, or after I do it.”

On the Ropes with Herman Cain

Whoever wants to enchant America’s conservative base as well as independents looking for a steady hand amid economic upheaval must try to grasp what has carried Cain this far — what not only shields him from spectacular attempts at self-immolation but also, with each incident, seems to make him stronger. Why, with this candidate, do the laws of physics seem not to apply?

The Ally From Hell

Inside the relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan:

The U.S. government has lied to itself, and to its citizens, about the nature and actions of successive Pakistani governments. Pakistani behavior over the past 20 years has rendered the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism effectively meaningless.

Q&A: Edward Luttwak

Edward Luttwak is a rare bird whose peripatetic life and work are the envy of academics and spies alike. ...he published his first book, Coup d’État: A Practical Handbook, at the age of 26. Over the past 40 years, he has made provocative and often deeply original contributions to multiple academic fields, including military strategy, Roman history, Byzantine history, and economics.