‘Little Fresh Meat’ and the Changing Face of Masculinity in China

The embrace of a more fluid form of masculinity shows that many Chinese are frustrated with the traditional ideas pushed by the establishment.

Mr. Cai belongs to the tribe of “little fresh meat,” a nickname, coined by fans, for young, delicate-featured, makeup-clad male entertainers. These well-groomed celebrities star in blockbuster movies, and advertise for cosmetic brands and top music charts. Their rise has been one of the biggest cultural trends of the past decade. Their image — antithetical to the patriarchal and stoic qualities traditionally associated with Chinese men — is changing the face of masculinity in China.

Innocent as they may seem, the little fresh meat have powerful critics. The state news agency Xinhua denounces what it calls “niangpao,” or “sissy pants,” culture as “pathological” and said in an editorial last September that its popularity is eroding social order. The Beijing newspaper’s decision to include Mr. Cai in its profiles apparently prompted the Communist Youth League to release its own list of young icons: patriotic athletes and scientists, whom it called the “true embodiment” of the spirit of Communist youth.

The government attacks on this evolving idea of masculinity have triggered a strong counter-backlash from fans of the celebrities. And in online essays and posts, defenders of the young men make clear that their preference is more than a youthful countercultural fad. At its heart, the embrace of a more modern, less rigid form of masculinity represents frustration with traditional ideas of manhood.

“The ridiculous condemnation of ‘sissy pants’ men shows the gender ideology of a patriarchal society that equates toughness with men and fragility with women,” a journalist who goes by the name Wusi wrote in an online essay in September, voicing a widely shared opinion.

The official push of traditional masculinity — including reinvented school curriculums and the sponsorship of boys-only clubs — is motivated in part by worries that the decades-long one-child policy produced a generation of timid and self-centered male youth ill equipped to fulfill their social responsibilities.

And in the context of China’s increasing power, the establishment’s preoccupation with promoting old-fashioned, Hollywood-style manliness also has a political message. Just as patriotic intellectuals a century ago argued that national strength derives from the virile energy of the youth, present-day Chinese nationalists see their ambitions take the shape of a macho willingness to fight for righteous causes.

This vision is on display in the 2017 action thriller “Wolf Warrior 2.” The movie, featuring a former People’s Liberation Army soldier caught in an African civil war, showed him putting the lives of local civilians above his own while single-handedly beating American-led mercenaries. The goal of the story, said Wu Jing, its director and lead actor, in media interviews, is to “inspire men to be real men.” The movie went on to become China’s top-grossing film in history.

There is little question about who in real life is meant to best personify the masculine chauvinism characterizing the official line today: Take a stroll down a city street or switch on the television at news hour — and you are greeted by the face of President Xi Jinping with a perennial look of self-assurance and determination.

GE’s Nemesis: An Eerily Prescient Bear

JPMorgan analyst Stephen Tusa warned about the conglomerate’s problems before they were public and ‘broke the mold in analyst optimism’

General Electric Co. insiders were convinced: There must be a mole. How else did Stephen Tusa know?

With the conglomerate in crisis, the JPMorgan Chase & Co. research analyst had an uncanny knack, time and again, for uncovering deep problems before they were public. For years, his research had zeroed in on issues both broad, like management credibility, and detailed, like a flawed fan blade inside GE’s turbines, that kept proving prescient.

His reports, often lengthy and skeptical, warned JPMorgan clients to dump the stock, and seemed to be gaining more influence with each new volume.

Inside GE and its boardroom, as a succession of management teams tried to wrap their arms around problems that kept spooking investors, Mr. Tusa’s calls became a source of speculation.

The board and advisers would scrutinize Mr. Tusa’s reports. GE even launched a hunt for leakers, a board member questioned JPMorgan about the research and the bank conducted an internal review, people familiar with the matter said.

As General Electric ’s profits and stock price shriveled, erasing some $200 billion of market value in 2017 and 2018, Mr. Tusa’s dour attitude won more influence among investors. One former senior GE executive said Mr. Tusa’s reports were painful to read, but were thorough and largely correct. “I tip my hat,” this executive said. “At the end of the day, our problem is not Steve Tusa.”

It seems that every decade Wall Street anoints another star analyst. There was Mary Meeker and her coverage of internet stocks during the 1990s dot-com bubble. More recently, Meredith Whitney gained fame for her warnings on Citigroup and other banks during the 2008 financial crisis. Today, few analysts can claim the name recognition and influence that 44-year-old Mr. Tusa has built around GE.

Wall Street research has long come under fire over perceptions of cozy relationships with companies, especially when it comes to big investment-banking clients like GE. Mr. Tusa has been an outlier—which he’s quick to point out—and moved the stock in the process.

Over the past two years, Mr. Tusa has cut his price target on GE 10 times, to $5 from $27. Each time he’s done so, the stock has underperformed the S&P 500 that day, by an average of more than 3 percentage points. When he upgraded the stock last December to a lukewarm “neutral,” the stock rallied 7%, as people hoped he was calling the bottom.

That hope was short-lived. Before U.S. markets opened April 8, JPMorgan issued an alert that Mr. Tusa was downgrading GE again. The report—over 100 pages—highlighted GE’s challenges and risks but the thrust was that the stock price had gotten ahead of reality. GE’s stock slid 5% as the broader market rose.

With the stock beaten up and Mr. Tusa remaining negative, his opinion remains at odds with new GE leaders who are promising a long turnaround. Some people who credit the analyst for correctly seeing the decline of the company are beginning to question if he’s too committed to his negative view.

The bearish turn on GE was a decade in the making.

As an analyst, Mr. Tusa has followed GE since 2001. A formative event was when another conglomerate, Tyco International Ltd. , collapsed under the weight of an accounting fraud in 2002. The scheme was missed by analysts, and it taught Mr. Tusa to have a healthy skepticism around the companies he covered, according to a person close to the analyst.

In those years, GE struggled to find the regular growth delivered in the decade before. It spent billions of dollars on acquisitions and share repurchases, and continued its reliance on the financial-services business that would almost destroy the entire company in the financial crisis.

In 2008, Mr. Tusa’s downgrade to “neutral” eerily described the internal problems that would contribute to GE’s collapse a decade later. “It would appear as though accountability for hitting targets is the top priority, and some managers might be chasing earnings,” he wrote. “We also think the high bar for success in such a competitive environment could create a scenario in which bad news is not tolerated, making necessary communication with senior level managers a challenge until it’s too late to fix.”

Studies have found analysts to be more positive when they are issuing opinions on larger companies, when they cover many companies, and when the companies generate high-investment banking fees. Mr. Tusa has managed to buck all those trends, said Mark A. Chen, a finance professor at Georgia State University who has studied the investment-research industry.

Mr. Tusa covers 21 industrial companies and JPMorgan has collected an estimated $370 million in banking fees from GE since 2010, according to Dealogic, the most the conglomerate has paid to any investment bank over that period.

Prof. Chen found those biases are so prevalent that investors have baked them into their reactions: A negative call, like Mr. Tusa’s, by an analyst under those circumstances tends to move the stock more. “Clearly this analyst broke the mold in analyst optimism,” Prof. Chen said.

A prime example: In 2015, as JPMorgan’s bankers advised the conglomerate on selling much of its financial-services business, Mr. Tusa had to halt publishing but he continued to do research. Upon returning in May 2016, he surprised investors with an “underweight” rating, JPMorgan’s version of a “sell” rating.

At the time, GE’s problems hadn’t yet emerged and the stock was trading close to $30. In the two years that followed, GE slashed its dividend twice, changed its CEO twice and decided to break itself apart, selling off major units. Shares trade around $10 today.

Despite the success of his “underweight” call, Mr. Tusa was constantly questioning the rating in the first year when the stock stayed near $30, said people close to the analyst.

“He had a lot of nervousness around that,” said Paul DeGaetano, CEO of a cosmetics company, who has known Mr. Tusa since they played ice hockey three decades ago. Friends and acquaintances in the finance industry criticized his aggressive stance in that first year. “It doesn’t surprise me that he would be the ringleader of this sort of thing,” he said.

Charles Stephen Tusa Jr. grew up in Greenwich, Conn., one of the country’s wealthiest towns, home to hedge-fund managers and private-equity partners. As a child, he used to ride bikes with Ian and Shep Murray, who went on to found preppy clothier Vineyard Vines. He attended the elite Brunswick School, following the footsteps of his father Charlie, a founding partner of a prominent law firm in town.

A political science major at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, Mr. Tusa has said he learned finance on the job after joining JPMorgan in 1998. It wasn’t his first career choice. His dream was to play center for the New York Rangers and Wall Street hasn’t tamed his devotion to ice hockey. In 2014, as the Rangers were making a run in the playoffs, Mr. Tusa grew a mullet. He still laces up his skates regularly with multiple leagues, getting in more than 20 games over the winter. On days when GE is dropping major news, he has worked from the bench.

In an outdoor league in New Canaan, Conn., Mr. Tusa has a reputation for taunting and rooting for teams to lose, even when his team isn’t playing, Mr. DeGaetano said. The rest of the league tends to reciprocate when Mr. Tusa is on the ice, he added.

Steve is probably one that takes it too seriously,” Mr. DeGaetano said. Last year, upon winning a playoff spot, Mr. Tusa celebrated by jumping on the team’s goalie, causing them both to fall and breaking Mr. Tusa’s leg.

For most of the last decade, Mr. Tusa has hosted an elaborate annual beer pong tournament. After the national anthems of both the U.S. and Canada are played, 100 mostly middle-aged men vie for an imitation Stanley Cup made out of an old beer keg with a metal bowl bolted to the top; winners’ names are written on duct tape.

Mr. Tusa hasn’t ever won and is often among the worst players, according to attendees, but that doesn’t stop him from verbally thrashing opponents.

He carries a similar pugnacious and blunt style to work. While he is publicly cordial, many of his peers and clients say privately he is arrogant, takes personal shots and gloats about his research.

Mr. Tusa has his own share of losses. For example, Mr. Tusa has recommended shares of Pentair PLC, a water treatment company whose shares have fallen more than 20% over the past year. Mr. Tusa has owned up to other bad calls and acknowledged he was wrong in research reports.

And, regardless of the swagger, he wasn’t the only analyst to sound the alarm on GE: then Deutsche Bank analyst John Inch downgraded the stock to “sell” in May 2017. The move was a year after Mr. Tusa’s call, but still before the company’s spiraling descent.

At GE, there has long been a suspicion that Mr. Tusa had a network of contacts inside the company that fed him information, according to former executives and people familiar with the board. The detailed knowledge of the company in his research notes was seen by some as being suspiciously accurate.

GE conducted a search for leaks and Ed Garden, a GE director and co-founder of activist investor Trian Fund Management, discussed the issue with JPMorgan, according to people familiar with the matter. JPMorgan executives reviewed Mr. Tusa’s work and found nothing the bank was concerned about, the people said.

In looking for leaks, no one was above suspicion, even board members were commanded to keep their mouths shut, the people said, and GE took extra steps to keep any developments under wraps.

The Aspects of Health-Care Reform Republicans Don’t Like Discussing

Republicans should not hitch their wagon to any single, comprehensive bill, nor should they promise the voters a “Republican health-care plan.” Instead, they should seek to roll out a series of improvements to the health-insurance system, each with its own voting coalitions. That conclusion is supported by two observations. One, many parts of the AHCA were more popular than the bill itself, so the odds of passage — and sustainable entrenchment over time — increase as votes are broken into pieces.

.. But they can’t, any time soon, solve the basic problem, which is pervasive in education and health-care debates these days: The costs have spiraled so far out of the reach of ordinary middle-income people that they’ve despaired of paying for them from their own earnings.

.. I don’t like the fact that Obamacare added 10 to 11 million new people to the Medicaid rolls. But I also don’t think it’s wise, fair, or good to yank Medicaid coverage away from these people without a reliable way to move them to alternative affordable private coverage. This doesn’t make for good table-founding talk radio or cable news segments, but it is a fact of life.

.. The Republican answer can’t be, “don’t worry, with enough competition amongst different insurers, you’ll find a plan with premiums, co-pays, and deductibles that you can afford someday, maybe in about ten years, based on the CBO score.”

The French Elites, Comfortable with American Elites’ Playbook from 2016

.. The prospect of a Le Pen presidency upsets a kind of political positivism: the view that democracy can go only from good to better, from being a necessity to being a right. Ms. Le Pen’s election would run counter to the course of history, the reasoning goes, and therefore it cannot be.

Fox News’s Steady Nurturing of a Certain Kind of Right

.. When much of Fox News de facto backed Trump, midway through the primary season, it could hardly come as a shock: It was already obvious that the same type of person Fox had targeted for 20 years was likely to be an ardent Trump supporter.

.. Tomi Lahren, a former host on Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, was attempting to re-create the glib, pugnacious Fox News model for a younger audience.

.. I recall a somewhat similar generational split in 2011 when easily forgotten presidential candidate Herman Cain was accused of sexual harassment and affairs. Prominent conservative voices of the Baby Boomer generation were quick to insist the accusers had to be lying and this was all part of a smear campaign by liberals. Generation-X conservative writers weren’t so eager to rush to the ramparts to insist there was no way Cain would behave badly.

.. It seemed to the older voices, Cain was “one of us” and thus deserved to be trusted and defended on faith; the younger voices weren’t quite so certain that “one of us” couldn’t possibly have done something wrong. They remembered John Ensign, Vito Fossella, Larry Craig, David Vitter, Mark Foley, Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, Bob Packwood…

Donald Trump Considers Major Shake-up of Senior White House Team

Mr. Trump is specifically evaluating whether to keep his chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, in their current positions.

Two people close to the White House said Mr. Trump has been talking to confidants about Mr. Priebus’s performance and has asked for names of possible replacements.

.. Messrs. Kushner and Cohn spring from an internationalist, establishment wing that isn’t a natural fit with Mr. Bannon’s more pugnacious nationalism.

.. The Syrian strike also has elevated the influence of senior military officers in the administration. Those officers have been courting Mr. Kushner
.. Mr. Trump as a more centrist figure to the degree that Mr. Bannon is marginalized while aides such as Mr. Cohn ascend
.. Possible candidates for Mr. Priebus’s job include Mr. Cohn
.. Mr. Cohn has told the president he would be an eager and able chief of staff, people familiar with the matter said.
.. The president himself at times has fueled the internal acrimony, according to people familiar with the matter. He started asking friends to rate the performance of his top aides following the failure in March to pass a health-care bill
.. Mr. Cohn has suggested the possibility of a carbon tax, which Mr. Bannon views as anathema to the “economic nationalism”

O’Reilly’s Troubles Give Viewers Pause, but They Still Watch

Mr. O’Reilly, now 67, joined Fox News in 1996, drawing both fans and critics with his pugnacious style and conservative bent.

.. About 80 percent of Mr. O’Reilly’s viewers are over the age of 55, according to data from Nielsen, a trend that has held steady for years. Men make up 54 percent of the audience, Nielsen said.

.. So far this year, his total viewers are up 23 percent from last year’s average.

.. a reporter told her about Wendy Walsh, a former regular guest on Mr. O’Reilly’s show, who said that the host invited her to his hotel room and then, when she declined his invitation, reneged on an offer to secure her a lucrative position with the network.

Ms. JaJack expressed sympathy for Ms. Walsh, but said that such behavior is part of the working world.

“I think that probably happens to many of us,” Ms. JaJack said.