mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Week in Review

This week, Rand Paul’s filibuster highlighted divisions within the Republican party, but in California, Democrats are waging a civil war of their own:

Via Meadia readers know that the most important political battle in America today isn’t the much-ballyhooed battle for the soul of the GOP. It is the blue civil war, pitting key elements of the Democratic coalition against one another as the old social model fails and the growth curve of rising blue model costs runs up against fiscal limits. Blue model policies, whatever their merits, don’t generate the revenue that can support blue model institutions and methods, and when those shortfalls appear, the coalition divides. It’s happened in Wisconsin, it’s happened in Indiana; it’s happened in Michigan and it is happening in California. […]

It’s a striking sign of the times: in a Democratic trifecta state where Dems control the governorship and both houses of the state legislature, the governor is facing down the same unions that conjured up millions of dollars and thousands of supporters to back him. The irony is rich; during Governor Brown’s first two term administration between 1975 and 1983 he helped create the modern California system of powerful government employee unions.

For decades, Democrats have straddled a divide: they sought to represent both the producers of government services and the low and middle income citizens who depend on those services. Democrats want the votes and the contributions of teacher unions, and they want the votes of the parents whose kids attend public schools. As long as the blue model worked, the contradictions could be managed…Increasingly, however, the contradictions have come to the fore. […]

But there’s a serious political opportunity in America for a movement that cares deeply about ensuring that the people who need public services (whether provided directly by the state as in public schools or indirectly through vouchers and charter schools) receive good value for their money.  A movement that fights to reform government and make it work, to strip away unnecessary frills and patronage posts, to disempower bureaucracies and return control to citizens and to create a regulatory and legal framework that can bring start ups and jobs into inner cities could change the balance of power in American politics.

In Asia, North Korea’s desperate attempt to grab the world’s attention by threatening the US with a pre-emptive nuclear attack was largely ignored. Potential Indian prime minister candidate Norendra Modi was disinvited from speaking at a UPenn event after students, teachers, and alumni denounced him for his role in the 2002 Gujarat riots. Modi was undeterred, speaking to supporters in the US by video this weekend. Meanwhile, his potential challenger Rahul Gandhi seemed to dodge a big political showdown, insisting that he doesn’t want to be prime minister.

In the Middle East, the war in Syria strayed into Iraq, and the role of fighters from the Caucasus in the Syrian rebellion promises to give Russia a nightmare headache over security over the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. In an op-ed for the WSJ, WRM reminded us that al-Qaeda remains a serious threat to American security, despite its failures in Iraq and the death of bin Laden.

In Europe, the euro crisis metastasized, becoming a crisis of democracy. Meanwhile, we mused whether Italy’s clowns might go the way of Germany’s pirates.

Renewable energy suffered a number of defeats this week. China’s solar bubble appeared to burst as the world’s largest producer of solar panels by sales rid itself of its founder and chairman. A new study suggests that our planet’s wind energy capacity has been overestimated by as much as two to four times, and the biofuel boondoggle starving the world’s poor and increasing US emissions refused to fade away.

But news from the world of science and technology wasn’t entirely glum. Social media empowers China’s activists, even while it endangers them. New technology allows us to see the invisible, with potentially promising applications in neo-natal care. Healthcare 2.0, enabled by disruptive technology, is on the way as long as doctors don’t stop it. Bee venom could save Africa: scientists found that toxins in bee venom can be engineered to destroy HIV in the body while leaving healthy cells unharmed. And as Telework Week kicked off amidst media hype over Marissa Mayer’s decision to ban telecommuting at Yahoo!, the US Census Bureau reported a surge of remote workers in the US over the past decade.

Features Icon
© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service