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Sunday, September 4, 2016

FINAL THOUGHTS ON MY CIRCLE PACIFIC 2016 ADVENTURE

Yesterday was one of my longest postings during the eight years of this daily blog.  Today, Sunday, I will keep it short.  Here are my final thoughts of a nearly month-long trip to Japan, Bangkok, Sydney and San Francisco:
  • On the matter of Donald Trump:
    • I talked to several distinguished individuals in Japan.  The more scholarly generally reacted with an initial discomfort tempered by a jovial shaking of the head.  Sort of like, what is wrong with you guys in the USA, anyway?  But politely.
    • Here is a commentary from Thailand that probably accurately portrays the Donald.  It's worth a read.
    • In Australia, there is a general nervousness.
    • I did not get to London on this adventure, but here is a synopsis from The Telegraph published today that seems accurate:
      • Clinton's lead is slipping, but she remains ahead:
      • But polls are a bit screwy these days.  Betting odds seem to be more accurate, and Ladbroke's latest odds show:
        • Hillary Clinton at 1/4 (80%)
        • Donald Trump     3/1 (25%)
      • What makes this difference almost compatible is that in 2008 Barack Obama (versus Mitt Romney) won 53% of the vote, but earned 68% of the more important electoral college votes.
  • I still think Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is the wrong leader for Japan today.  He is pro-war and pro-nuclear, showing a surprising sense of humor and PR by portraying Super Mario at the Rio Olympics.  There is general comfort about him in Japan today, but that is because there is a perceived sense that the economy is doing well.  With the budget draining Fukushima nuclear debacle, shifting of funds from social to military priorities and the simple fact that the Nikkei is currently only half of what it was when the bubble burst in the early 90's (whereas the Dow Jones Industrial Average today is near an all-time high), things are not right in glocca mora.
  • Thailand seems stabilized with military rule.  As much as we keep pushing all countries towards Democracy, the stage of development of many nations is such that a benevolent dictator (which in this country is that leader) makes more sense.
  • Politically, Australia is leaning closer to China and away from the USA.  Trade with China dominates, and immigration is causing some social discomfort.  
    • This remains a white society trying to figure out how to meld the colors.  
    • A fourth of the 22 million residents were born overseas, and while essentially zero in the 70's, 25% of immigrants now come from India and China, and most of them settle in Sydney.  
    • While there is supposedly a no discrimination  with regard to race policy in Australia, the reality is that Muslims are now finding it difficult to enter.  As it is, Australians think there are NINE times more Muslims in the country than real. 
    • Compared to the 1980's, walking around Sydney today is a totally different experience.  Still safe, more spiffy, in fact, but with an almost uncomfortable sense that something could happen.
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