Hillary Clinton’s One Minute Debate

Hillary ClintonI would pay my entire month’s salary to have this primary over. I caught one minute — One minute! — of last night’s debate. It was enough. Bernie Sanders was asked if Hillary Clinton was qualified to be president. He said that of course she was. In fact, he admitted something that made him look bad: that he was just reacting to the Clinton campaign. I don’t like to hear that, even though it is true. He then went on to say that he questioned her judgment about the Iraq War. Personally, I don’t think anyone really cares. Certainly, I don’t care because I accept that politicians are, well, politicians.

Hillary Clinton is currently about 15 percentage points ahead of Sanders in New York. So she has every reason to take the high ground. She’s admitted that she was wrong on that call. Why not let it go? Well, she can’t. That appears to be the Clinton way — Bill and Hillary both. So she started talking about the New York Daily News interview. Dean Baker destroyed all the attacks following that, Reporters Who Haven’t Noticed That Paul Ryan Has Called for Eliminating Most of Federal Government Go Nuts Over Bernie Sanders’ Lack of Specifics.

Bernie SandersI just don’t get this. I know I’ve written about this before. I don’t understand why the Clinton campaign isn’t able to see reality. Had she not been so combative it would have been much more difficult for Sanders to be so combative. And what does this get Clinton? It makes her look like she’s in a real battle. When did I call this race? Back in February? Clinton has been far ahead in every poll in New York and California that I’ve ever seen.

As a result of this, I get constant questions from fellow Sanders supporters. They are very excited. They think that Sanders has a real chance. I hear about winning 8 of 9 contests in a row. And so I have to sit down with them and show them the numbers. I find the whole thing exhausting, but at least they have no reason to know. The Clinton campaign doesn’t have this excuse.

I suppose that I will hear that Clinton has to continue to fight like this or the Republicans will get all the media oxygen. I don’t think this is right. The general election is far more important. The thinking that the Clinton campaign needs to get as much press as the Trump campaign is typical of this ridiculous notion of needing to “win the week.” It’s short term thinking, which just happens to feed into the worst narrative about Clinton (from my perspective).

As I said before, I want this all to be over. But I get that the Sanders campaign keeps fighting. Sanders is the underdog in this race. Clinton acts like she’s the underdog when she isn’t. And that comment about the Daily News made me appreciate more the “Bernie or Bust” people. I still think they are wrong, but I definitely get the impression that the Hillary Clinton campaign has the same attitude toward the left of the party that the New Democrats have had for the last 25 years, “They have nowhere else to go.” Well, they do.

I really wish that Clinton pandered to me as much as she panders to AIPAC. But I’ll still vote for her. In the general election.

Morning Music: Branded Man

Branded Man - Merle HaggardSome of Merle Haggard’s early albums were really just rushed together collections to capitalize on hit singles. That was the case with Branded Man. But the fact was that Haggard’s work was so strong at this point in his career that the albums are still great. But I don’t especially want to talk about the album when the title track is so interesting.

It tells the story of a man who has been released from prison who finds that society will not let him forget his past. One doesn’t need to have been to prison to feel that the world just won’t let go of your past. And despite Haggard’s success after he left prison, I know that he is speaking from experience.

My favorite line from the song is, “I paid the debt I owed them, but they’re still not satisfied.” That was written in 1967 when society was actually far more forgiving of past indiscretions than it is today. The truth is that when someone goes to prison, they never pay their debt to society. We are, on the whole, an awful people. And there is no end to the punishment. It goes on and on until you die.

I suppose you could justify the whole thing by noting that people are afraid. But I don’t much think that’s the case. I think that people simply lack empathy. I’ve long found it fascinating that people who live in high crime areas are more forgiving than people in low crime areas. That’s not about fear; that’s about a lack of imagination regarding the lives of others.

Just the same, “Branded Man” also shows the other side of this. Even if society did manage to forgive the singer, it’s hard to think that he would see it that way. The saddest line in the song is, “Determined I would rise above the shame.” Well, shame is an internal thing. But at least the singer knows he should feel shame. Too bad the society itself does not.

Anniversary Post: Teapot Dome Again

Albert Fall - Teapot DomeOn this day in 1922, the Senate investigation of the Teapot Dome scandal started. I probably wouldn’t even bring it up, except for the fact that three years ago, 74% of Republicans polled said that the Benghazi “scandal” was worse than the Teapot Dome scandal. I’m pretty sure that almost none of those Republicans even knew what the Teapot Dome scandal was. And really, how could it ever be worse? There was no television at that time and thus no talking points to get wrong. Remember: the Benghazi “scandal” had nothing to do with the attack itself; it was all about what Susan Rice said on the Sunday morning political talk shows. That is the extent of Republican thinking on such matters. (It was only later that things were added as it became obvious that the Republicans were just scandal mongering and didn’t actually care about the attack.)

The earlier scandal is nothing that special. Teapot Dome in Wyoming was one of several oil reserves held by the US Navy. When Warren Harding became president, he issued an executive order transferring control to the Department of the Interior. The secretary of the Interior, Albert Fall, leased the oil rights to a couple of different oil companies for great prices. There was no bidding — it was typical corruption. What is interesting is that this was not illegal.

What was illegal was that the oil companies gave Fall a few million dollars (in today’s currency). He was eventually jailed for a year. Interestingly, however, the man he was convicted of getting a bribe from, Edward Doheny, was found not guilty of bribing a public official. Sort of typical American justice, if you ask me.

What I think is very interesting in this case is that this 1922 act of public corruption is still the only thing that Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Roberts thinks constitutes bribery. And of course, this isn’t how it works at all today. In general, these oil tycoons wouldn’t have to write checks to politicians; they would just write checks to super PACs who support the politicians. So John Roberts and the other crooks on the Supreme Court have simply defined corruption out of existence.

So there will be no more Teapot Dome scandals. We’ve sold honest government away so we can have anti-choice justices on the Supreme Court. Until they’re born, American humans will be the best protected in the world. After they are born, who cares? Certainly not the Supreme Court. Certainly not our politicians. Certainly not most of the American people. But at least the Teapot Dome scandal makes a good polling question. Is the Iran deal worse than the Teapot Dome scandal? I don’t know for sure, but I’ll bet 74% of Republicans would say yes.

Happy anniversary Teapot Dome scandal!