Hillary overpowers Bernie in Florida debate; a progressive versus a socialist firebrand…

March 9, 2016


NOTE: I see the morning after now that many called the debate a draw and many even thought Sanders came out ahead. Actually in something like this there is probably no winner (I mean we can’t know how many minds were made up or changed over it) but I just gave my gut reaction without any real supportive evidence. I mean you had to have watched it or heard it yourself. I’m pressed for time but hope to write more in depth later about the differences between Sanders and Clinton. Probably won’t have time to watch the Republican debate (tonight as I write this, 3-10-16), but I’ll try to catch up.


Okay, I just watched the latest Sanders/Clinton debate. It was done before an Hispanic audience in Florida, so both candidates were forced to make their answers conform to what they thought the audience might want to hear. And I would think they all don’t think as one but of course do have a tendency to have similar interests. But more importantly, I think Hillary Clinton came off as the most presidential, the most adept in the art of politics, while Sanders came off as an old socialist firebrand.

But then again, I do have to admit he has pushed Clinton to the left (and that is not necessarily bad) and is doing his best to keep her eye on what is good for the people and not just the big business interests (although of course they are important too, because they fuel the economy on which we all depend).

But they showed a news clip of a young Bernie Sanders. I did not catch it all, but the general narrative was that way back when he supported both Castro in Cuba and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, Bernie the young idealist with is head in the clouds. I think Sanders is claiming that he just meant that the U.S. should not engage in regime change. Well I agree with that, I guess, but I cannot help but think sometimes idealists, such as Sanders, for some reason become enamored with the idea of socialism and everyone sharing in the wealth.

But it never quite works out that way. Workers work, non-workers live off of them, and the government lives off of everyone. Social democracies work in Europe but not without problems. And where they work there is already a strong middle class (and maybe not the same opportunity for upward mobility as we are used to). But too much on all that. It was a lively debate and good points were made by both candidates, but Mrs. Clinton was definitely on her game and seems to have a wider view on issues than Sanders. Just my view on that. Okay, I’ll go a little further. I think she is more likely to beat Trump or any other known possibility for the Republicans at this time.

However, Democrats (and anyone who doesn’t want Trump) will have to get out and vote. Staying at home at general election time might well mean a Trump presidency. And that to me is both scary and unimaginable. I have detected some small signs that he is moderating, just a tad, as he gets closer to the real thing, but he still is Donald Trump — enough said.

And now what I wrote before this evening’s debate:

I’ve often thought that if more people voted then politicians would have to be more accountable to the public than the special interests. But with the demagogue Donald Trump doing so well, I wonder if maybe it’s better that the apathetic and uninformed and under educated just stay home.

But then again, it would be good if there was enough participation to curb the effects of Trumpmania.

Also I am surprised to hear or read some comments among the public that indicate they are not at all turned off by the word “socialist”, Bernie Sanders being a self-avowed one. However I have also heard him called a “communist”, and not as a compliment, of course.

Socialism comes in many forms. We use it to some extent here in the U.S., even if we do not have a socialist government. There is European democratic socialism. Then there was that branch of socialism called communism. It has no record of success whatsoever. From everything I know about it, it takes the humanity out of humans — everything is for something called “the state”.

And sometimes people who proclaim to be working in the interests of the people under the banner of socialism, well, they just are using all that not to share in the wealth but to get all the goodies for themselves. Just read about the socialist Daniel Ortega down there in Nicaragua. He was out of power but he is back, living high off the hog, while his people struggle. Figures.

Even so, it is interesting that time and circumstances may have made socialism sound more appealing to people in the U.S. It was flirted with back in the Great Depression (people even flirted with communism, but would not admit it now). But things got better, living standards improved — forget sharing the wealth.

I personally think our current system works, with flaws, but could work a lot better if we kept our checks and balances in place better. Voter participation is important but is only valuable if those voters are informed, otherwise they fall prey to the likes of Donald Trump.

Sanders and Hillary Clinton are facing off against each other this evening in still another debate. I think for sure there have been far more debates this time around than in any other election I recall, except the Democrats are the only ones actually debating. The Republicans just have some kind of weird side-show going. Their field has finally narrowed, though, so maybe some substance can still come out — hard to do though when Trump is involved —  just is no real there there. Just a lot of noise — but apparently people listen — go figure.

So today’s news seems to be that Bernie Sanders’ upset win in the Michigan primary is probably no more than a feel good thing for him and his followers because Hillary Clinton has already built up such a lead in delegates, including the so-called super delegates that I guess Sanders can’t get his hands on (unless he were to win so many more votes than Hillary that they might feel pressured to switch to him — not likely to happen).

At any rate, on the Democratic side we have middle of the road to left versus far left, albeit pragmatic far left (well pragmatic so far). And we have two candidates battling it out over the real issues, rather than school boys scuffling in the playground, talking dirty, and spreading fear. Oh, yes, there is John Kasich, an adult, but although he has had some surprising success, unless it goes to a brokered convention, it seems he has no chance — too few people are listening, and the ones who do don’t think he as a chance, a self-fulfilling prophecy.

While the threat of ISIS and other terrorists plays a part in this election, mostly I think it is about people losing jobs, living with pay cuts (while the well-to-do just in effect write themselves bigger checks, the source of which is really from the working class), and young people finding their career opportunities slim and the cost of education out of reach.

And I also think a large part of the populace is spoiled and lives way beyond their means. In boom times one can do this, but when things slow down or get tight, the piper still must be paid.

Also, in boom times the fact that government spends so much time trying to help minorities and give them advantages to make up for past discrimination does not create nearly such a problem as it does when things get tight. But if you can’t get that job or can’t get that small business loan or whatever government assistance but someone else can, well you might ask: what gives?

It’s all very confusing, because was not the post isolationist/Cold War right always pushing real war? And was not the left, anti-war?

But now Donald Trump, playing as a conservative, criticizes our wars, but at the same time calls for picking up the pace of war against ISIS. Bomb them, don’t be skittish about civilian casualties, and go after the families of ISIS terrorists.

Actually, I get not going to war unless you have to and then only to win. Overwhelming force is the only way the U.S. ever wins a war. When we don’t use it, we don’t win. Whoops, I sound like Trump.

But to a thinking person Trump makes no sense with his mini diatribes, his weird syntax that seems to convey no clear or consistent thought. He is also threatening with his un-civil discourse and mean-spirited comments and sometimes down right threatening tone.

However, he has apparently caught the ear of a lot of people because he has convinced them he is free-wheeling and beholding to no one but them. And I doubt his audiences are into detail — it’s more raw emotion, RRRRRR! or Sieg Heil!

As in so many things, Trump has played it coy about his courting of white power and neo Nazi types, failing to denounce in some instances and dissociating in others when under pressure or it seemed appropriate due to the audience at hand. Meanwhile the fascists can take it as a wink wink signal.

Maybe the establishment politicians have been too obvious about the fact they are really just pretending to talk to the people but in reality are just representing their fat cat donors.

I think Trump is playing a game too, but if he manages to fool enough people he can win the presidency.

After that, if things go badly, the establishment politicians can ask themselves why they did not spend more time with the real folk, and I don’t mean just at election time.

And where are the true leaders? Is there no one who can stand up to Trump?

It seems not.

Tiger Mom controversy: Be pushed to excel and excel, that was a secret?

January 22, 2011

It should really be no secret and no scandal that those who put more effort into something and those who are driven, pushed by someone else, often get ahead — although it may not always work out that way.

But as we wonder why Asian students seem to do so well in school, we really should have known the answer all along: they work harder and their parents make them do that.

I write this to add my two cents into the current “Tiger Mom” controversy, and I haven’t even read the book or article that started it. And I’ll stop right here and note that of course the whole thing is kind of manufactured, something they used to call a publicity stunt (Frank Sinatra Jr. kidnapped) and nowadays call marketing.

But anyway, a first-generation American-Chinese woman, and Yale law professor, by the name of Amy Chua wrote a book called “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother”. In it she describes the tough love approach Chinese mothers (well both parents) take with their kids — basically all work and no play. But they do it with love. It’s a cruel world out there — you have to be prepared (I could have used that, but then I would have never survived childhood). One commentator I heard said it was something like the old Johnny Cash song “A boy Named Sue”. In that ballad the boy’s father who knew he would not be around named his son Sue so he would either have to get tough or die.

(In an interview Chua pointed out that the Asian immigrants she descried are of a certain class of people, ones who came over here with skills already. I just put that in here in case you might have wondered why all Asian immigrants do not do better.)

Chua is quick to explain that she found this approach was not totally successful with her younger daughter so she had to pull back. And she said she was not writing a “how to” book but instead mostly a memoir.

While she has received much hate mail from people suggesting what a horrible person she is and even some death threats, reportedly, one thing she has proven is that she or her marketers know how to sell a book; it was number five on the New York Times book list, at last report I saw.  And Chua is attractive and dresses nice, that helps with the promotion.

But when you get past the hype, it’s the same old story. It’s all about extremes and what you really want out of life and what you are willing to sacrifice to get it.

The best of both worlds would be the drive of the Asians and the ability to lay back and enjoy life, like Americans or like some Americans, or like the French, oh, heck I don’t know.

But it’s like healthy eating. If you ate as healthy as you possibly could you might starve yourself to death. You have to enjoy yourself some time.

American society has grown kind of weak because not much is expected of the individual. A lot of jobs have been dumbed down both because it’s hard to find people who can think or who are skilled and in turn it’s cheaper to pay unskilled and dumb workers.

And then there is our welfare system, although not as bad as it may often be portrayed to be, it does seem to have the effect of perpetuating generational idleness.

I think the closest some Americans come to the Asian push-your-kids hard approach is sports. I’ve seen some parents pushing their kids (well actually heard about it more than I‘ve personally witnessed it), and it is ugly. But then again, in cases where the kid is really into sports — hey, winning IS everything. Losers don’t get multi-million-dollar contracts.

But of course outright abuse is indefensible.

Some groups who think they do not fare as well in society — and out of politeness today I won’t name names — as others might look toward those who do and emulate at least some aspects of the more successful behaviors, while retaining the best parts of their own culture.

So you might look back on your growing up and say: “it was hell but it was worth it”.

Or you might say: “We was por but we was happy”.

Somehow I don’t think either one of those work. It’s the extremes that get in the way.


Sometimes people who are driven to perform are dull. I think Chua said or implied that she suffers from that to some extent. Well at least until she wrote her book.

P.s. P.s.

The following article was the source of the idea for this blog: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/fashion/16Cultural.html