Are older people smarter?

Don’t you find it fascinating that Bernie Sanders’ core support is from the under 30 demographic?

Why is that?

I’ve thought a lot about this lately. Is it because they like his rhetoric? “We’ve been screwed by the large corporations!” “They’ve made the playing field unfair for this generation.”

Is it because they have had fewer life experiences? Will these same people buy into the Sanders’ philosophy after 20 more years?

Is it because they can’t get a job, so the prospect of paying exorbitant taxes seems remote or even alien to them?

What makes the older people in America cast aside Sanders’ message more readily?

I don’t really have any answers to this, but I do find it quite interesting. It could be that the label “socialist” has a completely different meaning to the older generation than the younger. Socialism for anyone over 40 brings back images of the Soviet Union, Tienanmen Square, Vietnam, and a host of other visuals which aren’t easily removed from one’s psyche.

For an unemployed college age kid, Sanders’ message certainly does resonate. Free college. Why should you have to pay such exorbitant fees while many get rich off the scheme? I’ve put one kid through college and have another one in college. I’m all too familiar with the ridiculous cost of higher education.

What about healthcare? Who doesn’t think the US healthcare system is broken? The fees are ridiculous, especially after comparing the coverage and care and price I receive in Malaysia. Great, fast service, high quality care, at a fraction of the cost. So when Sanders’ talks about giving everyone healthcare run by the government, it sound appealing. But really, when’s the last time the government ran a program that large efficiently and responsibly? And really, for 320 million people? Really? You actually think the government could pull this off? They can’t even give our vets proper care.

And what about the fat-cat Wall Street executives who seem to be Sanders’ scapegoat for everything? They are surely an easy target. They are living large and have enjoyed a cozy relationship with government and political entities for as long as … well … as long as there has been governments, I suppose. It’s easy to wave your finger and yell “$15 minimum wage” when you’ve never run a business. It’s easy to accuse the rich of rigging the system when you can’t find a job. I get it.

But here’s where I get off the circus ride. No one owes you anything. America was founded on the ideal of freedom and the pursuit of happiness. I don’t begrudge anyone of any millions of dollars that they have earned legally. (If, by chance, they’ve earned it illegally, by all means go after them.) But if they’ve stayed within the law, tip your cap to their ingenuity and move on. We have to create our own happiness. We have to live our lives for ourselves, and we can’t rely on any big brother to swoop in and prop us up. We have to embrace our freedom, cherish it, live for it, protect it, and never let any politician try to diminish it.

So young people, you absolutely have the right to believe what you want and support any political candidate of your choosing. That’s the American way. At least until it isn’t.

Maybe It’s the Podium That Makes People Say Stupid Things

For the past nine months, we’ve seen plenty of politicians say stupid things. Trump is probably leading the pack in the jaw-dropping odd, weird, or just plain stupid department. But he’s not alone. I’ve also found myself shaking my head at Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Ben Carson, and others (used in an all-inclusive sense.)

But it wasn’t until this week that I had an amazing revelation. The cause of all this stupidity might not trace itself back to any mis-firing of a brain synapse. I discovered that the reason for stupidity might be more of an environmental factor – one that, oddly enough, is related to furniture. A podium to be more precise.

Yes, it’s true. The podium made them say it.

How do I know this? I discovered this quite inadvertently as I introduced a new drama game into our theatre arts classroom. A game I called “press conference.”

The premise is simple. I give one person a scenario and they come to the podium and say “and now I’ll take some questions” and the rest of the students have to act as reporters asking questions about the given scenario. Some scenarios I used were:

  • You are a police chief reporting on two prisoners who escaped from a penitentiary.
  • You are a town mayor dedicating a new park.
  • You are a politician who has been accused of corruption.
  • You are a presenter at a healthcare conference, introducing a new line of skin care products.

You get the idea. The game started, and the class joined in with much gusto. It quickly became lively as the person at the podium would have to answer the sometimes antagonistic questions.

And then it started happening. Insults. Rude comments. Stupid comments. The person behind the podium began to sound like … gasp … Trump!  It was glorious! I told the class that I wanted to rename the game to “How to be the Donald!”

Now all of our stupid comments and rude posturing was all in good fun. No one got hurt. No one cried, and we had a blast playing the game. But I couldn’t help but think that something happens to one’s brain as you stand behind the podium. People become aggressive, illogical, and somewhat stupid-sounding.

It’s the podium! Podium syndrome. Why even the POTUS had a podium moment the other day when he said, “we defeat ISIS, in part, when we tell them that they are weak.”  Really? That’s all we need to do?

It happens to the best of us. Podium-itis.

So don’t be too hard on Trump. It’s that wooden piece of furniture in front of him. Perhaps we should build a wall around it.

Hey Belgian Prime Minister, Perhaps a Little Rowdiness is What’s Needed

Supposed “right wing” demonstrators in Belgium defied the authorities in Brussels today and held a demonstration against terrorism in the wake of the Brussels bombing.

ChannelnewsAsia reported this:

“It is highly inappropriate that protesters have disrupted the peaceful reflection at the Bourse (stock exchange). I strongly condemn these disturbances,” Prime Minister Charles Michel said according to Belga news agency.

Brussels Mayor Yvan Mayeur said the group were “scoundrels”.

Let me just add a few things about this incident. The demonstrators may have been “scoundrels” – I have no way to verify this. Perhaps they were rude and crude. Perhaps they stole Belgiun frites from a local vendor. Perhaps they earned the scoundrel title.

On the other hand, perhaps the government term scoundrel means something very different. Perhaps it’s someone who has the gall to go against the government. In that case, I would guess that the suicide bombers would indeed be called scoundrels if not something worse. (I hope the government called them something worse.)

“I strongly condemn these disturbances!”

Me too. Oh wait, he’s talking about the terrorism protesters.

“It is highly inappropriate!”

Oh yeah, once again he’s talking about the protesters who were upset at the bombings.

I honestly don’t know anything about Belgium politics. I spent a few days in Brugges last summer and learned a lot about Belgium fries, Belgium chocolate, and other Belgium delicacies, but I didn’t learn anything about Belgium politics.

But I do have an observation. Perhaps these people needed to protest! Perhaps these people are upset beyond reason at the security gaps which helped lead to these events. Perhaps the government should encourage more people to get angry. Not rowdy. Not disrespectful. But angry. I think anger is an OK response to such an event. Why do only “right wing” people have anger? Do you mean “left-wing” folks don’t have the same passion and angst over such an attack?  Of course that’s nonsense.

And so are these silly little words from the Belgium Prime Minister. Perhaps people are angry because the government is spending too much of its time calling out “inappropriate” demonstrations which are completely appropriate in the light of what happened.

Let people show their anger. Perhaps it might just lead to some much needed change.

Most Claims of “Radical!” Are Empty Words

In this highly politicized world, the term “radical” seems to be applied to more and more people, which is, by the day, shrinking the “sane, non-radical” middle.

But that really isn’t the case at all. The term radical is being mis-applied is so many circumstances that it has become a commonplace label in order to further one political agenda and minimize the other.

So what would be a true definition of a political radical. Well, it can vary, but I believe the vast majority of people in the world would call the ISIS terrorists “radical.”  Chopping off heads isn’t a political norm, at least not since the French Revolution. Radical in a political sense must be understood as far, far out of the norm – not believed by the vast majority of people, or at least not seen as a viable political alternative.

This is where the term is abused today – liberals calling conservatives radical and conservatives calling liberals radical.

They aren’t radical. They are coming from different ideological orientations and both of those orientations have been used successfully to one degree or another to run modern democracies. That should prove in itself that the liberal-conservative divide is not about radicalism.

The reason I bring up this topic is that there’s a video making its rounds, produced by former US Secretary of Labor Robert Reich where he is making the case where he claims Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz is a radical, more dangerous than Donald Trump. With all due respect, Secretary Reich, you are wrong, and your video is a cheap ploy to marginalize an ideology you disagree with.

Some of the examples in the video which Reich uses to prove his radicalism claim of Cruz was doesn’t believe in gay marriage (a position President Obama held publicly for the first two years of his presidency – did that make Obama a radical). Cruz believes that the second amendment guarantees an individual’s right to have a gun (the same as the Supreme Court ruled in 2008), takes an originalist view of the constitution (believing that the Founding Father’s meant what they wrote). The video goes on, but hopefully you see my point.

What is my point? Reich has a problem with what Cruz believes because Reich has a different political orientation. If Reich calls Cruz a radical, then Cruz could also certainly call Reich a radical. When in fact neither of them are. They are ideologues, standard bearers of their party, their side of the political spectrum. They are two of the same thing – just opposite each other. Both sides could comfortably rule America (not together, of course) and each side would have large swaths of support.

The radicalism charge is overblown. Why don’t we just acknowledge we respectfully disagree and talk over those issues using logic, facts, and common sense.

But hey, I know I’m asking a lot. It is, after all, an election year.

Like Politics? Try RealClearPolitics!

I am, for better or worse – mostly worse, a political junkie. For whatever reason, I like to bang myself in the head with various political points of view which typically evaporate and mean nothing by the end of the week anyways. Oh well, I’m ephemeral that way.

So if you’re like me and like to get down and dirty in the political game, I suggest you check out RealClearPolitics.com.

RealClearPolitics

The genius behind RealClearPolitics is that they don’t have a philosophical bent. They are a train station for every single political train that leaves the station. They all end up at RealClearPolitics. It’s a great way to see what the “other side” is thinking, and also a great way to break free from the tribalism of places like OccupyDemocrats or ChicksontheRight. You’ll run across points of view from every major newspaper and media outlet which will, hopefully, broaden your mind. We need that in America, don’t we?

It’s also THE place to go for polling because they will collate the many different polling averages and give you an overall RealClearPolitics average of all of the polling data.

So if you like politics, I highly recommend you check it out. And do read some articles which disagree with your natural presuppositions. It’s a good way to understand different points of view, and it’s also a great way to put to the test your own points of view.

RealClearPolitics. I use it. I encourage you to use it as well.

Iowa: It’s Finally Here. Let’s Get This Thing Over With!

As the Iowa caucus kicks off the primary season for the US 2016 presidential election, it is, perhaps, a good time for the people to breathe and realize that the end is in sight – even if ten grueling months into the future!

Hasn’t this already felt like the longest presidential campaign in history, even before one vote is cast?

Wow! Enough of Trump and Sanders already! Enough of John Kasich and, is anyone even paying any attention to Hillary Clinton other than the FBI?

I live 12,000 miles away from all the fun, so luckily I’m spared all of the presidential TV ads, radio spots, and cold calling. I don’t know if I could handle it all.

So the caucus will be the first step in determining which direction the fields will finally be taking. Do you think Martin O’Malley will finally drop out? And Rick Santorum? He was complaining the other day that Fox News hasn’t paid any attention to him. Well, has anyone? (Except the restaurant where my sister works that catered his launch party back in ’15.)

I feel like I should be talking to grandpa on the front porch somewhere:

Me: Grandpa, what was it like back in ’15 when all sixteen Republican candidates launched their campaigns.

Grandpa: Well, Sonny. Back in those days anybody could declare their candidacy as long as they were born in America, or Canada, or as long as they had at least three supporters.

That’s how long this thing feels!

Maybe it’s just me.

But in case I’ve given you the wrong impression, I live for this stuff. I love the debates and the jabs. I love the out of nowhere candidacies. I love seeing the Democratic party squirm at the thought of a Sanders campaign. I love seeing the Republican party squirm at the thought of a Trump campaign.

I love seeing the media …

No, actually, I don’t.

But when it comes to politics, I am the proverbial glutton for punishment.

So here’s to one of the most painful years ever!

I Need a Break From …

I need a break from Donald Trump’s pontificating with his talented, obnoxious big mouth.

I need a break from the Donald Trump haters, who add nothing helpful to the mix of ideas.

I need a break from Democrats and their pie in the sky charity wheel.

I need a break from Republicans and their 15 candidates who start to sound alike.

I need a break from the gun-haters, who complain about something that will never be changed.

I need a break from the NRA worshipers, who won’t accept even the most common sense approaches.

I need a break from Facebook meme’s which distort every point of view but their own.

I need a break from partisanship and frightening way we avoid the word “compromise.”

I need a break from an administration which doesn’t embrace every citizen’s opinion’s and concerns.

I need a break from a populace, that is critical of everything the administration does.

I need a break from the call of tolerance that belittles other people’s beliefs.

I need a break from vapid statements which ignore well-thought-out counterpoints.

I need a break from religious folk who criticize other religious folk.

I need a break from …

Life on the Internet …

so I can go and write.