Alyssa Rosenberg

Alyssa Rosenberg is a staff correspondent at Government Executive where she covers the federal work force. She writes regularly for National Journal and The New Republic.

Recent Articles

How Women Built the Law

In his new book, Fred Strebeigh chronicles the struggle for equality of the sexes under law, all while personalizing the pioneers who fought for it.

When Elena Kagan takes office as solicitor general, she will become the first woman to hold the job on a permanent basis. This may only be the beginning of Kagan’s rise; she is a noted scholar on administrative law, presidential powers, and First Amendment law, and many observers predict that a term as solicitor general could prepare her for an eventual nomination to the Supreme Court. Kagan is is not the first dean of Harvard Law School to become solicitor general, the last was Erwin Griswold, who took the job in 1967. As dean, Griswold invited women law students, including future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to an annual reception where he asked them what they thought they were doing occupying seats that could be filled by men. Ginsburg recalls that she told Griswold she hoped law school would help her understand her husband, then a year ahead of her. Another student, ribbing the dean, asked "What better place to catch a man?" This is just one of the anecdotes...

My Job Is Driving Me Crazy

NBC's Thursday-night lineup is full of employed but dissatisfied characters. What are they going to do now that the economy is tanking?

Earl Hickey, Pam Beesly, Liz Lemon, and Jack Donaghy have next to nothing in common. They are, respectively, a small-time crook obsessed with heavy metal and karma, a receptionist with a flair for practical jokes, a TV writer unable to resist carbs, and a General Electric executive taken with the power of the market. But as the central characters in the three comedies that form the core of NBC's Thursday-night lineup, they have one thing in common: Their jobs are driving them crazy. Since 1981, NBC has built a ratings juggernaut by wooing viewers on Thursday nights with the moral dilemmas of the cops on Hill Street Blues , the romantic misadventures of Fraiser Crane on Cheers and Fraiser , and the evolving hairstyles of Rachel Green on Friends . Especially in the 1990s, those so-called "must-see TV" shows were fantasies about hip (or in the case of Seinfeld , winningly eccentric) neighbors in New York or affluent life in Seattle. The characters' jobs hummed away steadily and reliably...


By Alyssa Rosenberg Sorry for not chiming in today, folks. It's been a lot of fun writing here this week and talking to ya'll; thanks for the thoughtful insights and good exchanges. Ezra's lucky to have you. I haven't written today because I spent the morning taking my first lesson in pistol shooting. I've never waded into a gun control debate before because I felt like I'd be writing with incomplete information if I'd never held or shot a gun. Now that I have, I can say that target shooting is pretty fun! But more importantly, before I went out and started firing, I had to read the National Rifle Association's Basics of Pistol Shooting handbook. ( Update : People seem to think that I've forgotten that a political official was shot to death this week, and that I was upset about it. Haven't forgotten. Still upset. Before you read on, remember that, cool? I do believe there is a difference between owning a gun, storing it responsibly, and using it safely and for target shooting, and...


By Alyssa Rosenberg There's a fairly pedestrian article in the Washington Post today about Burma's dysfunctional economy which is interesting not so much in and of itself, but for one of the people the author interviews. After he rose and fell in one business by working corrupt government channels, he's about to start another career as a human trafficker. William Finnegan had a terrific article on countertrafficking in the New Yorker back in May. While he blames the Bush administration for lack of real or serious committment to its anti-trafficking initiatives, both Finnegan's piece and this Washington Post article left me with the same impression: as long as there are significant economic dead zones in the ocean of the world economy, trafficking is inevitable.


By Alyssa Rosenberg Bill Keller's piece on the resurgence of Russian and Chinese autocracy got slapped with one of the more unfortunate headlines I've seen in a while, but it's well worth a read. The key takeaway is here: The Chinese and Russians scorned each other’s neo-Communist models, but in some ways they have evolved toward one another. Both countries now tolerate a measure of entrepreneurship and social license, as long as neither threatens the dominion of the state. Both countries have calculated that you can buy a measure of domestic stability if you combine a little opportunity with an appeal to national pride. (The Chinese “street” felt no more sympathy for restive Tibetans than the Russian blogosphere felt for Georgia.) And both have discovered that if you are rich the world is less likely to get in your way. I think the specific ways in which Russia and China have become more similar is less interesting than the simple fact that they've grown more like...