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A winning hand? 一手好牌

中国日报网 2018-08-28 11:25


Reader question:

What does it mean when they say someone has a winning hand?

My comments:

This is a metaphor from poker, “hand” referring not to one’s hand but to the cards one holds in hand while playing a card game.

In the beginning of each card game, everyone is given or dealt a number of cards, which each player holds in one hand.

This handful of cards is called a hand.

A winning hand?

That means this particular handful of cards you have are good, winning combinations. If you play your cards right, to use a stock card-playing expression, you’ll be able to win.

Or, with a winning hand, you’re supposed to win.

Otherwise, you would have squandered a winning hand, lost a golden opportunity, turned a winning situation into disaster and turned yourself into a laughing stock.

In other words, losing winning hands means you’re highly incompetent, a big loser. You’re no good.

Like I said, you still have to play your cards right, but having a winning hand is the best one can wish for in a card game.

Or in life, figuratively speaking.

For, if you’re given or dealt a winning hand, it means that lady luck is on your side.

All right, here are media examples of people having or being given a “winning hand”:

1. There’s something unusual about the argument currently dominating the U.S. presidential election. Republicans think they’ve got a winning hand arguing that President Obama will raise taxes. And Democrats think they’ve got a winning hand arguing that President Obama will ... raise taxes.

Republicans spent last week arguing that the Affordable Care Act is a giant tax increase. This week, Obama scheduled a special statement in the East Room of the White House to announce that he would raise taxes on the rich.

(Quick, wonkish disclaimer: Compared with current law -- which assumes the expiration of the Bush tax cuts -- Obama’s support for extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the bottom 98 percent of taxpayers represents a huge tax cut. But compared with the Republican proposal to extend the cuts for everyone, which is the relevant comparison for the election, Obama’s plan constitutes a large tax increase on the top 2 percent.)

Insofar as this election can be reduced to a single policy question, it’s this: Which is more unpopular? Raising taxes? Or refusing to raise taxes on the rich?

Neither proposition is, according to the polls, a winner. In April, a Fox News poll asked registered voters: “Would you agree to pay higher federal taxes if all of the money went toward paying down the national debt?” Sixty percent said no. That same month, the Gallup Organization asked Americans whether their taxes were “too high,” “too low,” or “about right.” “About right” beat “too high” by one percentage point, well within the poll’s margin of error. Only 3 percent said their taxes were “too low,” suggesting little willingness among Americans to pay more.

At the same time, polls consistently show that increasing taxes on the wealthy is hugely popular. In the same Gallup poll, 62 percent of respondents said “upper-income people” were paying too little in taxes. In a CNN/ORC International poll, also conducted in April, 68 percent of Americans agreed that “the present tax system benefits the rich and is unfair to the ordinary working man or woman,” and 72 percent said they support changing the tax code “so that people who make more than one million dollars a year will pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.”


As in any game of poker, once the cards are down on the table, you usually find that one side actually holds the winning hand. The question is whether Democrats can call the Republicans’ bluff before November.

- Republicans and Democrats agree: Obama wants to raise taxes on rich people, WashingtonPost.com, July 14, 2012.

2. Eight women. Two tables. A few decks of pinochle cards. And 60 years of asking, “Is it my deal?”

Since 1956, this women-only pinochle club has been melding nearly every month at their homes on a rotating basis throughout Northwest Indiana. I can’t imagine another pinochle club in this area that’s been in operation for a longer time.

It all began at Charlotte Schweder’s home in the Tolleston section of Gary. These days, the women converge each month from Schererville, Griffith, Portage, Valparaiso, Merrillville, Hobart, Hebron and Plymouth.

“No matter how far we have to drive, we still make an effort to be together once a month,” said Lonny Zima, of Valparaiso, who joined the group in 1965. “We started as girlfriends in high school and we’re still friends now as grandmothers.”

Together, they’ve dealt more hands than a casino boat dealer while sharing winning recipes, idle gossip and their deepest troubles. They’ve shuffled cards through the joy of births, the heartache of divorces, the deaths of loved ones, and the raising of more than 100 grandkids in all.

“We had no idea this club would last for 60 years,” Schweder told me in between hands earlier this week.

“Sixty years and counting,” added Zima, who served as host at the club’s last meeting of the year.

This past year, instead of routinely asking, “What has Trump done again?” these ladies have routinely asked, “What’s trump again?” And they’ve “dumped” on each other – a slang term referring to poor pinochle hands – more times than they can remember.

“In the 1950s, we were all just starting our own families and didn’t get out of the house a lot,” said Toni Starkey, who worked at the Croatian Catholic Union of U.S.A. for 30 years. “So we really looked forward to going to club once a month.”

“It was a way for us to get out of our homes and away from our husbands,” Zima said.

At no time in 60 years did the ladies ever consider inviting their husbands or other men to their monthly get-togethers.

“Who do you think we talk about at these club gatherings?” joked Olivia Goldsmith, who joined the group in 1975 and drives from Plymouth to each gathering. “Plus, men can be sore losers.”

“But,” one of the women told me. “You can sub for me for a hand or two.”

No way, I replied. I wouldn’t dare break their string of thousands of games without men.

On the day I visited, the women dressed festively for the holidays and prepared Christmastime meals to share. A few of them sipped wine, others gulped soft drinks. Together, they laughed at their memories and at themselves.


Two of the founding members, Schweder and Starkey, recalled the good old days when most families played card games for family entertainment.

“Back then, we played all the time, especially a lot of pinochle,” Nelson added.

“Not so much anymore,” Kerr sighed.

The women are not sure how long “club,” as they call it, will continue without younger new blood joining the ranks. They repeatedly recalled the good old days with funny stories and heartfelt remembrances.

As I watched them make their bids while laughing and sipping wine, I scrawled into my notepad: “They were all dealt a winning hand decades ago.”

In a very sweet way, I thought to myself, these are their good old days.

- Pinochle club members dealt winning hand decades ago, by Jerry Davich, ChicagoTribune.com, December 8, 2016.

3. Last week it was Russia, Russia, Russia. This week began with a bombastic, all-caps screed about Iran—and, of course, more wailing about the purported “Mueller Witch Hunt.” In between was a stray tweet about football and the national anthem, just to stir the racial pot. President Trump is wagging the dog so hard, I fear he will injure himself.

Through it all, we must keep our eyes on the prize. There is just one realistic way to constrain this lunatic administration and hold it accountable: Vote in November to snatch control of Congress away from the quisling Republicans and hand it to the Democrats.

If I sound like a broken record on this subject, too bad. You can shut me up by generating a gigantic midterm turnout and flipping at least the House. Otherwise, prepare to be reminded, repeatedly and perhaps obnoxiously, that I told you so.

You have no idea when special counsel Robert Mueller is going to finish his investigation, and neither do I. But we all should know by now that when Trump boasted during the campaign about being able to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and still not lose support, he must have been talking about the GOP majorities in Congress.


Presciently, the framers of the Constitution gave Congress the power to check an erratic or power-mad president. But Congress has to be willing to use that power, and Republicans seem afraid to do so. We can only hope that Democrats are up to the task.

We also must hope that the Democratic Party is able to play a winning hand between now and November. This is not a trivial question.

Democrats occupy the mayor’s offices in two-thirds of the nation’s 50 biggest cities, but that is the zenith of their power. Republicans live in the governor’s mansions in two-thirds of the states and enjoy a similar dominance in control of state legislatures. On the federal level, the GOP has a large—but not unassailable—majority in the House and a narrow two-vote edge in the Senate.

Republicans have been shameless in perpetuating their hegemony through gerrymandering and voter suppression, but Democrats can systematically level the playing field—once they achieve power. To do so, they need to win elections.

And to win elections, they need new faces, new ideas and a new attitude. Fortunately, all three are present—and must not be quashed.

Democrats should keep in mind the classic definition of insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. This is an emergency, and while the party should be true to its values, it can ill afford litmus tests on the left or the right.

If a candidate in, say, West Virginia or Montana is not as fervently pro-choice as the party’s mainstream, or does not make gun control a marquee issue, then so be it. If a candidate in an immigrant-rich district in California, Texas, Florida or New York favors reorganizing Immigration and Customs Enforcement in light of its excesses, that’s fine as well.

There will be plenty of time to worry about the 2020 presidential election. Right now, the Democratic Party’s exclusive focus should be on registering new voters and ensuring that constituencies with a habit of voting only in presidential years—especially minorities and young people—come out in November.

- Vote in the Midterms—or Be Part of the Problem, by Eugene Robinson, TruthDig.com, July 23, 2018.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)


Like a ton of bricks? 压倒性的重量


Black lies? 黑色的谎言


Tiger mom? 虎妈


Few and far between 彼此相距很远


Went straight over my head 不知所云


Paving the way 铺路

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