All of them spent their formative years in American education institutions (not to mention Parisian debutante balls) and seem to have entered high-power private sector professions
Over Thanksgiving, the Wall Street Journal's Jeremy Page wrote an excellent piece on Chinese royalty 3.0, replete with a neat interactive graphic. It immediately became a buzz on Twitter and Weibo. The article featured Bo Guagua prominently, the son of standing committee aspirant and former Minister of Commerce Bo Xilai, and led with a vignette of Guagua pulling up to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in a red Ferrari. To me, that was the least surprising part of it. I would be surprised if he wasn't behind the wheels of a Ferrari or some ultra luxury brand equivalent. Who do we think he is, U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke?
I won't dwell on what this phenomenon of "princelings with money" means for the Chinese political economy, since the WSJ page explains it in more detail. While it is understandable that Guagua commands most of the attention because he has not exactly been shy, in this Web 2.0 world, it is difficult for any of the notable progeny of Chinese politicians to escape notice. In fact, many of these "red princes and princesses" are on Facebook or Renren, the Chinese equivalent. A quick search turned up Bo Guagua's page:
Apparently, Guagua considers himself a "public figure" and displays a photo of what is presumably his NGO work. But I didn't notice any way in which you can "friend" him. His status updates, which I doubt he manages himself, offer an interesting selection, including a Global Times piece titled "Why Bo Guagua is so popular in China", in which he is described as a "good-looking and outstanding young man" who studied at Oxford. There is also another linked Chinese piece titled "Bo Guagua: Hoping for understanding, but relishing misunderstanding," perhaps a snide riposte at the kind of coverage that has been lavished upon him. Exhibit A below are two photos from the China Digital Times:
Yes, he has had a tough time shaking the image of a partier frat boy who hangs with celebrities like Jackie Chan. But it's not so uncommon for a western-educated Chinese elite to engage in typical college revelry such as hook ups and booze. He does drive a red Ferrari. But he may have already given up the bachelor lifestyle if the speculation of his engagement to Chen Xiaodan -- the daughter of second-generation princeling Chen Yuan, the head of China Development Bank -- turns out to be true. Rumor of their engagement first broke in the British press, which treat it somewhat like another royal wedding. Since then, more photos have emerged that seem to confirm that Bo and Chen are a pair:
They could be called the "William and Kate of China" -- an Oxford man tying the knot with a Harvard Business School grad who now works at Morgan Stanley, according to Chen's Facebook and Linkedin pages (she goes by Sabrina Chen). It's little surprise they're making it into the tabloids -- their seeming transparency contrasts greatly with their politically connected fathers' relative opacity.
It's not just them, even though they attract a disproportionate amount of intrigue. There's also Jasmine Li, the granddaughter of Jia Qinglin, who heads the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee and is currently number four on the nine-man standing committee. Li attends Stanford and debutante balls in Paris -- an honor she shares with Sabrina Chen. Apparently, becoming a red princess requires an appearance at the Paris debutante ball. Perhaps the least high profile red princess is Alice Yang, the daughter of Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and a Yale grad. And last but not least, there is of course future Chinese president Xi Jinping's daughter Xi Mingze, who is attending Harvard as an undergrad.
Their pedigrees are not so different from those of elite children anywhere else, and are all products of prestigious prep and boarding schools in the U.S. (Sabrina Chen, Tabor Academy; Jasmine Li, Hotchkiss School; Alice Yang, Sidwell Friends, which makes sense given that her father previously served as Chinese ambassador in D.C.). All of them spent their formative years in American education institutions and seem to have entered high-power private sector professions. It is far from clear whether any of them will have political aspirations in the future, and if they do, whether their experiences will decisively shape their world views. The average Chinese -- actually, average anybody -- would struggle to identify with what they represent or to determine whether they will be forces for change or stasis in China over the next decades.
(On a personal note, there was a remote possibility that I could've
tasted the "sweetness" of the exclusive princelings club, as I
recently learned that my grandfather survived the infamous "Long
March" with Mao Zedong during the civil war. Alas, I went to public
schools, dislike cars in general, and have nary a clue what a debutante ball
is, all disqualifying me from entry. In any event, to paraphrase Groucho
Marx, I, too, wouldn't want to be part of a club that would have me as a
Damien Ma is a fellow at the Paulson Institute, where he focuses on investment and policy programs, and on the Institute's research and think-tank activities. Previously, he was a lead China analyst at Eurasia Group, a political risk research and advisory firm.
American society increasingly mistakes intelligence for human worth.
As recently as the 1950s, possessing only middling intelligence was not likely to severely limit your life’s trajectory. IQ wasn’t a big factor in whom you married, where you lived, or what others thought of you. The qualifications for a good job, whether on an assembly line or behind a desk, mostly revolved around integrity, work ethic, and a knack for getting along—bosses didn’t routinely expect college degrees, much less ask to see SAT scores. As one account of the era put it, hiring decisions were “based on a candidate having a critical skill or two and on soft factors such as eagerness, appearance, family background, and physical characteristics.”
The 2010s, in contrast, are a terrible time to not be brainy. Those who consider themselves bright openly mock others for being less so. Even in this age of rampant concern over microaggressions and victimization, we maintain open season on the nonsmart. People who’d swerve off a cliff rather than use a pejorative for race, religion, physical appearance, or disability are all too happy to drop the s‑bomb: Indeed, degrading others for being “stupid” has become nearly automatic in all forms of disagreement.
It happened gradually—and until the U.S. figures out how to treat the problem, it will only get worse.
It’s 2020, four years from now. The campaign is under way to succeed the president, who is retiring after a single wretched term. Voters are angrier than ever—at politicians, at compromisers, at the establishment. Congress and the White House seem incapable of working together on anything, even when their interests align. With lawmaking at a standstill, the president’s use of executive orders and regulatory discretion has reached a level that Congress views as dictatorial—not that Congress can do anything about it, except file lawsuits that the divided Supreme Court, its three vacancies unfilled, has been unable to resolve.
On Capitol Hill, Speaker Paul Ryan resigned after proving unable to pass a budget, or much else. The House burned through two more speakers and one “acting” speaker, a job invented following four speakerless months. The Senate, meanwhile, is tied in knots by wannabe presidents and aspiring talk-show hosts, who use the chamber as a social-media platform to build their brands by obstructing—well, everything. The Defense Department is among hundreds of agencies that have not been reauthorized, the government has shut down three times, and, yes, it finally happened: The United States briefly defaulted on the national debt, precipitating a market collapse and an economic downturn. No one wanted that outcome, but no one was able to prevent it.
The June 23 vote represents a huge popular rebellion against a future in which British people feel increasingly crowded within—and even crowded out of—their own country.
I said goodnight to a gloomy party of Leave-minded Londoners a few minutes after midnight. The paper ballots were still being counted by hand. Only the British overseas territory of Gibraltar had reported final results. Yet the assumption of a Remain victory filled the room—and depressed my hosts. One important journalist had received a detailed briefing earlier that evening of the results of the government’s exit polling: 57 percent for Remain.
The polling industry will be one victim of the Brexit vote. A few days before the vote, I met with a pollster who had departed from the cheap and dirty methods of his peers to perform a much more costly survey for a major financial firm. His results showed a comfortable margin for Remain. Ten days later, anyone who heeded his expensive advice suffered the biggest percentage losses since the 2008 financial crisis.
Shedding pounds is usually a losing battle—research suggests it’s better to just focus on building a healthy lifestyle.
“My own history of yo-yo dieting started when I was 15 and lasted about three decades,” said Sandra Aamodt, a neuroscientist and the author of Why Diets Make Us Fat, at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Saturday. “I lost the same 15 pounds pretty much every year during that same period, and gained it back regular as clockwork.”
This is a classic tale—the diet that doesn’t take, the weight loss that comes right back. The most recent, extreme, highly publicized case was that of the study done on contestants from the reality show The Biggest Loser, most of whom, six years after losing 100 to 200 pounds, had gained most of it back, and had significantly slowed metabolisms.
The study provided a dramatic example of how the body fights against weight loss. And sheer force of will is rarely sufficient to fight back.
Patrick Griffin, his chief congressional affairs lobbyist, recalls the lead up to the bill’s passage in 1994—and the steep political price that followed.
For those who question whether anything will ever be done to curb the use of military grade weaponry for mass shootings in the United States, history provides some good news—and some bad. The good news is that there is, within the recent past, an example of a president—namely Bill Clinton—who successfully wielded the powers of the White House to institute a partial ban of assault weapons from the nation’s streets. The bad news, however, is that Clinton’s victory proved to be so costly to him and to his party that it stands as an enduring cautionary tale in Washington about the political dangers of taking on the issue of gun control.
In 1994, Clinton signed into law the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, placing restrictions on the number of military features a gun could have and banning large capacity magazines for consumer use. Given the potent dynamics of Second Amendment politics, it was a signal accomplishment. Yet the story behind the ban has been largely forgotten since it expired in 2004 and, in part, because the provision was embedded in the larger crime bill.
The U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union betrays a failure of empathy and imagination among its leaders. Will America’s political establishment fare any better?
If there is a regnant consensus among the men and women who steer the Western world, it is this: The globe is flattening. Borders are crumbling. Identities are fluid. Commerce and communications form the warp and woof, weaving nations into the tight fabric of a global economy. People are free to pursue opportunity, enriching their new homes culturally and economically. There may be painful dislocations along the way, but the benefits of globalization heavily outweigh its costs. And those who cannot see this, those who would resist it, those who would undo it—they are ignorant of their own interests, bigoted, xenophobic, and backward.
So entrenched is this consensus that, for decades, in most Western democracies, few mainstream political parties have thought to challenge it. They have left it to the politicians on the margins of the left and the right to give voice to such sentiments—and voicing such sentiments relegated politicians to the margins of political life.
The kerfuffle over Kim Kardashian's drug-promoting Instagram selfie is nothing new: As long as the agency has existed, it's had to figure out how to regulate drug advertisements in new forms of communication technology.
Last month, celebrity-news and health-policy bloggers had a rare moment of overlap after the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning letter to the pharmaceutical company Duchesnay, which manufactures Diclegis, a prescription-only anti-nausea pill. At stake: a single selfie with pill bottle.
The image that attracted the censure of the FDA was an Instagram posted on July 20 by Kim Kardashian. The image featured her upper torso, right hand, and face, with a bottle of Diclegis prominently displayed in her grasp. “OMG,” the caption began:
Have you heard about this? As you guys know my #morningsickness has been pretty bad. I tried changing things about my lifestyle and my diet, but nothing helped, so I talked to my doctor. He prescribed my Diclegis, I felt better, and most importantly it’s been studied and there is no increased risk to the baby.
How the Brexit vote activated some of the most politically destabilizing forces threatening the U.K.
Among the uncertainties unleashed by the Brexit referendum, which early Friday morning heralded the United Kingdom’s coming breakup with the European Union, was what happens to the “union” of the United Kingdom itself. Ahead of the vote, marquee campaign themes included, on the “leave” side, the question of the U.K.’s sovereignty within the European Union—specifically its ability to control migration—and, on the “remain” side, the economic benefits of belonging to the world’s largest trading bloc, as well as the potentially catastrophic consequences of withdrawing from it. Many of the key arguments on either side concerned the contours of the U.K.-EU relationship, and quite sensibly so. “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?” was, after all, the precise question people were voting on.
Thoughts on the first episode of ESPN’s five-part documentary
Every fall Sunday, when I was a kid, half an hour before the pre-game shows and an hour before the games themselves, I would tune into the latest offering from NFL Films. This was the pre-pre-game show—an assembly of short films derived from the massive archive of professional football. Steve Sabol, whose father founded NFL Films, would preside. He’d offer and then throw it to Jon Facenda or Jefferson Kaye, who would narrate the career highlights of players likeGale Sayers, Earl Campbell, or Dick “Night Train” Lane.
“Highlights” understates what NFL films was actually doing. The shorts were drawn from some the most beautifully shot footage in all of sports. It wasn’t unheard of for NFL Films to go high concept—this piece on football and ballet, with cameos from Allen Ginsberg and George Will, may be the definitive example. Great football plays would be injected not with the normal hurrahs, but with poetry. When Facenda, for instance, wanted to introduce a spectacular touchdown run by Marcus Allen, he did so in the omniscient third person: “On came Marcus Allen—running with the night.”