Hillary Clinton Is Reactive In a Very Bad Way

Hillary ClintonI would say that overall, Jonathan Bernstein has been very supportive of Hillary Clinton. But he’s also a political scientist, and he tries to be honest. He was very honest after Wednesday, The Test Clinton Failed in the Florida Debate. He’s not saying that she did badly in the debate. I think we can all agree that Hillary Clinton is rather good at this debating business — which isn’t to say perfect, as her answers about her ties to Wall Street always strike me as hollow and tone deaf. But the question of the night was: why did Clinton come in with guns blazing?

I keep coming back to this: Hillary Clinton is way ahead. I would be far beyond shocked if my man Bernie Sanders were able to catch her — even with confirmed delegates. Now how can this be that I know this but somehow Clinton doesn’t? I mean, regardless of Sanders doing astonishingly well in Michigan, Clinton still won the day — increasing her lead in the only area that matters: delegates. And I very much fear that Bernstein is right that instead of looking at the facts, she looked at the Very Serious Idiots, “It’s not to her credit that she allowed the pundits’ agenda to distract her from her own goals.”

The big question is: will she be so bad at this stuff once president? Is she just going to listen to what they are saying in The Washington Post are react to that?

One month ago, I wrote about this, Could Sanders Win? Why Is Clinton Whining?! People want to pass this off as the result of 2008 when Obama came out of nowhere to beat her. But this is the same way that Clinton behaved in 2008. Again, Bernstein noted, “One of Barack Obama’s strengths in the 2008 campaign was his willingness to sacrifice a news cycle in favor of larger objectives.” It has never been a strength of anyone in the Clinton firmament. And in some cases, it’s the correct way to be as we have seen with the Clintons on a number of occasions.

But it isn’t here! I think Sanders has given Clinton a pass on a lot of issues. (It’s telling that the vast majority of criticisms of Sanders are actually criticisms of Sanders supporters on Twitter.) Hillary Clinton now attacks Sanders for supporting the Sandinistas, as if — What?! — he was supposed to support the Contras? Give me a break. I’ve backed away from this campaign, but it’s this kind of nonsense that makes me want to run over and give some more money to Sanders (which I will do as soon as this article is in the can).

Hillary Clinton Is Starting to Sound Conservative

And speaking of stupid, Hillary Clinton made the standard conservative argument about TARP, “It was all paid back! It didn’t cost the people anything!” There is this thing called an opportunity cost. The government loaned a bunch of money to the banks at below prevailing interest rates. They could have loaned that money to normal people at normal interest rates and made more. So it did indeed cost the people money.

What’s more, it gave that money at exactly the time that no one else would have given it. As Dean Baker wrote back in 2010, “Without TARP and the other government bailout programs, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Bank of America, and many other large banks would have gone bankrupt.” Bankrupt. This canned response makes me think that I’ve been wrong to think that Hillary does actually get it and is just a pragmatist. She seems truly not to get it.

Clinton’s Listening to the Wrong People

But it is even more concerning that she felt she had to come in and hammer away on Sanders, when objectively, she doesn’t. And then she was distinctly disingenuous at times (for example, this nonsense about the second bailout that Sanders voted against). And then she’s making silly arguments against Sanders about Latin American politics few people even remember and even sillier arguments for Goldman Sachs and other banks that she should know do not play to her strengths.

The big question is: will she be so bad at this stuff once president? Is she just going to listen to what they are saying in The Washington Post and react to that? If there’s something like the Gulf of Tonkin incident, I can now see clearly another unnecessary war because she couldn’t possibly wait two days or she wouldn’t “win the week” on The McLaughlin Group. It’s very concerning. And should be especially so for Hillary Clinton supporters.

Opera and the Habanera From Carmen

Opera Star Anna Caterina Antonacci as CarmenSince our hacker friend Dzz screwed up both our morning posts yesterday, I thought we would take a very quick break from Jules Shear and talk briefly about opera. I understand: pretty much no one I know likes opera. I used to be the same way. But when I was still in high school, I had a piano teacher. He was also a singer, and he taught singing to some of the talented young people in the area. He was not a very pleasant man — he terrified me. But one day he told me that a student of his was going be giving a recital at the local college. So I went.

The singer was a soprano — perhaps 19 years old. And she was accompanied by my teacher on the piano. And I was blown away. It was only then that I heard the human voice as a musical instrument and not just something for communicating with. So I enjoyed the performance the same way I would have enjoyed a violin recital. And ever since then, I’ve taken it for granted that opera is beautiful and worthy. And it still shocks me to hear someone say, “I don’t like opera.” To me, that sounds like, “I don’t like music.”

But in addition, opera is theater. I remember reading something that Mozart had written about a performance of Hamlet. And he nailed everything that was wrong in the play. The greatest opera composers were also great theater technicians. I thought about this because this morning, I was listening to Carmen. I came upon the following clip from the Royal Opera House production of it. It is, arguably, the most famous song from Carmen, the “Habanera” or “Love Is a Rebellious Bird.” (It’s hard to say, because the music from Carmen is incredibly well known, and you probably could sing at least five of its main melodies.)

This production is everything that opera can be — and indeed very often is these days. Broadway musicals try to do this kind of stuff and almost always fail miserably by comparison. You can well imagine that a man would desert the army and his bride for Anna Caterina Antonacci in this short scene. I remember a line from Amadeus, “Only opera can do this!” I quite agree.

Opera Afterword

Think about this: every one in that chorus is an incredibly good — even great — singer. That kind of thing always amazes me. The talent of humanity is amazing.

Anniversary Post: Battle of Castagnaro

War Made Easy - Battle of CastagnaroBecause of our good friend 13-year-old porch pisser Dzz, we had no anniversary post yesterday, so let me double up. Yesterday in 241 BC, the Roman Republic defeated Carthage at the Battle of the Aegates Islands — thus ending the First Punic War (thus named because it wasn’t the last — there were three of them). And then, on this day in 1387, Padua defeated Verona at the Battle of Castagnaro. None of it really matters to me in any personal way. I could do military battles every day for ten years without repeating myself. There’s always a war, always a battle.

What stuns me is that roughly 10,000 years ago, humans settled down and invented agriculture. In many ways, since that time, we have become far more civilized. Yet the wars just keep on coming. The United States is now on a constant military campaign. It’s absurd to talk about Congress declaring war because we don’t start wars; we just have a single war, it is global, and it will never end — at least until the American empire falls (which is coming).

But all this time! Thousands of years and we keep thinking that war is the way to solve our problems. And it always turns out the same. People think wars are a good idea to start with and then afterward, it is never clear what everyone was in such a big rush for? I’m very fond of Norman Soloman’s documentary, War Made Easy. The subtitle of it is, “How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” That really is what it’s all about. In general, I am convinced that people just want to go to their jobs, raise their kids, have the occasional barbecue, and that’s about it. But there are always powerful people around who have “bigger” ideas.

The following table from War Made Easy is sobering:

Civilian Casualties

If you want to put it in the most basic of terms: it seems that war is becoming more dangerous for children. You would think after all these thousands of years, we would have figured out how not to fight wars. But maybe it is just too basic. I do think of humans as just machines. What are we to do but what we are programmed for? So the Battle of Castagnaro or the Battle of the Aegates Islands. It doesn’t matter. Humans just like to kill each other.