Visit to a Country of Ghosts

I spent September’s last full week in Budapest, capital of Hungary. Sharing a border with Ukraine, the former Warsaw Pact country is now member of the European Union and NATO. For the United States, it is a strategic country that has become, thanks to Russian president Vladimir Putin, a tense region.

Over four days, I met with senior political figures and their advisors, college professors, entrepreneurs and journalists and posed questions to an astute British expatriate who was my guide. I also delivered lectures at three universities.

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Hong Kong protests haunted by Tiananmen ghosts

The streets of Hong Kong are bursting with tens of thousands of protestors demanding more democratic rights. Security forces are responding with tear gas and billy clubs. Assistant Police Commissioner Cheung Tak-keung described this government reaction as “minimum force,” but ghosts of the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989 haunt as a reminder of Beijing’s attitude when pushed to liberalize by its own citizens.

The crackdown from 25 years ago represents what the current showdown is all about. There is a lot of discussion about the “new China” and how the administrations of President Xi Jinping and his predecessor Hu Jintao have taken big steps to modernize the country. But the question remains: Is China any closer to substantive political reform? 

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For the Mid-Terms, Does the GOP Have What it Takes?

By all rights, the GOP should be walking away with the mid-term elections, a shoo-in to capture the Senate and even make gains in the House, which they already hold by a comfortable margin.

After all, the job environment remains dismal.  According to the union-backed Economic Policy Institute, if you are a recent college grad, your chances of being unemployed or underemployed are 25 percent.  If you are a recent high school grad not going to college, those odds rise to 63 percent.

It is not much better for women and minorities.  The number of women and minorities employed in the United States is all but unchanged since the Democrats took over the government in 2009.  The incomes of both have dropped.

Read the entire piece here.