Calming Down the Clinton Campaign

Hillary Clinton CampaignI’ve written too many articles about how ridiculous the Clinton campaign has been with regard to Bernie Sanders. Apparently, I have a super power that allows me to read a poll — a power that is apparently unavailable to the Clinton campaign. Another of my super powers is the ability to remember all the way back to 2008. My take away from that primary was that the Democratic base really didn’t like having to choose between any of the three main candidates, but most especially between Obama and Clinton. So 2016 has represented a great opportunity for these people to have the best of all worlds.

So it’s been really annoying to watch the Clinton campaign never take the high road and always act as though it was in a very close match. But maybe it’s just me and my age. I find Sanders supporters very silly much of the time too. The other day, I saw a short video from The Young Turks, and they were discussing how it was a good thing that the Republicans looked set to nominate Trump, because he was the only one that Clinton could beat. What do you even say to such nonsense?! That’s the kind of thing I expect from Fox News where it is taken as a certainty that Hillary Clinton will be in prison by June.

But the implication of the complaints coming from the Clinton campaign seems to be that Sanders should just know that he’s an issue candidate and that he should therefore not hurt the obvious eventual nominee. Now, I called this race back in February — because of my super powers of poll reading and history remembering. But the truth is that the race is rather tight nationally. Real Clear Politics has Clinton ahead by just 4 percentage points. But there are a few things to keep in mind with this.

Bernie Sanders SupportersFirst, 4 percentage points is really quite a lot. That’s what Obama beat Romney by. What’s more, in all the polls during the last month, Clinton has been right at 50%. And if you assume that she would get roughly 50% of the undecided vote (And you should!) she is well above 50%. This is a race between two figures in the Democratic Party that are both well liked. It isn’t a surprise that the race would tighten over time.

The other issue is that the national figures don’t matter at all. I don’t know if anyone remembers the obscure presidential election back in 2000. During that there was all kinds of controversy about who had won in Florida, even though one of the men had clearly won the majority of votes nationwide. I still get the question, “Can Sanders win the nomination?” In the sense that anything could happen (a humanity destroying asteroid hitting the Earth this calendar year), then yes, Sanders can win the nomination. But reasonably: no, Sanders cannot win the nomination.

Now I keep hearing that Sanders is hurting Clinton by staying in the race. Of course, the same people have been calling for him to step down for months. But the Clinton campaign thinks that Sanders is hurting Clinton in the general election. That might be the case. But I have a hard time taking it seriously for two reasons.

First, Sanders being in the race has made Hillary Clinton a far better candidate. If she had just floated through this campaign with only Martin O’Malley to fight with, she would have been a much worse candidate once the general election started. So the Clinton campaign really ought to balance out the good things that Sanders has done for them compared to the minor damage he has done. And it is minor damage. Who thinks that the Republicans wouldn’t have tried to attack her on her Wall Street connections?

The second reason is demonstrated very well in an article by Brian Beutler yesterday, Democrats Should Stop Sweating Sanders’ Attacks on Clinton. He notes how Clinton was far more vicious toward Obama when she was losing in 2008. For example:

I could stand up here and say, “Let’s just get everybody together, let’s get unified, the sky will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing, and everyone will know we should do the right thing, and the world would be perfect.” Maybe I’ve just lived a little long, but I have no illusions about how hard this is going to be. You are not going to wave a magic wand and have the special interests disappear.

But again, I think the issue is that the Clinton campaign just takes it as granted that Sanders could never win the primary. So it was totally okay for her to say she should stay in the race because who knows what information might come out about Obama. But it isn’t okay for Sanders to do the same thing because the Clinton campaign doesn’t think he’s a viable candidate.

Just to be clear: Clinton will win the nomination. Sanders will stay in the race. Clinton is not going to be noticeably harmed by Sanders’ attacks. Once Clinton is the nominee, Sanders will support and campaign for her. There’s nothing special about this campaign. Except for all the whining.

Morning Music: A Big 10-8 Place

A Big 10-8 Place - NegativlandNegativland’s third album A Big 10-8 Place is widely considered their first great album. A lot of it is reminiscent of John Lennon’s “Revolution 9.” But I’ve always thought of that as Lennon trying to do Stockhausen without actually understanding Stockhausen. Negativland are fully in the tradition of musique concrète, but from a pop music standpoint. This is especially true on tunes like A Big 10-8 Place, Pt One. But that tune is pretty subtle.

Similar, is the other long song on the album, 180-G, a Big 10-8 Place, Pt Two. It is a 15 minute long sound collage with directions on getting from San Francisco to Concord (the band’s home town). But I must admit, having grown up here, I don’t much follow the directions. They talk excessively about “180 and the letter G.” I don’t know what they mean. Hwy 180 is down by Fresno. But it’s not supposed to make sense. There are various other aspects of the directions like, “You’re going to have to shoplift.” It’s an amazing piece of music. Do check it out.

I really want to introduce you to “Clowns and Ballerinas.” But I don’t want to give you the wrong idea of Negativland. Then again, I’m not sure it is possible. It’s like the blind men and the elephant. Negativland is so many things all at once. And the best thing to do with them is to listen to a whole album — or at least an album side. The first side of A Big 10-8 Place starts with “Theme from a Big Place” then goes into “A Big 10-8 Place, Pt One” and ends with “Clowns and Ballerinas.” So I’ve made a playlist so you can listen to the first side of the album. I think you will see what I mean — how it works as a whole better than it does as a collection of songs:

Anniversary Post: SS Ideal X

SS Ideal X - Container Ship

On this day in 1956, the SS Ideal X was launched. It was the world’s first successful container ship. Actually, before that, it had been an oil tanker from World War II. But it was purchased by Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company and converted into a container ship. It carried 58 containers. Compare this to the biggest container ships today that carry in excess of 10,000 containers. It is truly remarkable.

Now the Ideal X was not the first container ship. That would be the Clifford J Rogers. But I don’t think that’s quite fair, because it didn’t transport the standard twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers. And the whole purpose of container ships is that they are standardized. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be important.

If you are an American and you are out of work, it is probably because of container ships. Well, not completely. There are lots of political reasons. But without container ships, those wouldn’t matter that much. Think of the total crap that comes to this country from China — things like toy rings that kids get in gumball machines. The only reason that it is profitable to make this junk is that the transportation costs are greatly reduced. Container ships allow that.

All this talk of globalization being about allowing companies to get the cheapest labor is true. But if it was expensive to transport the goods, it just wouldn’t happen. And one thing you will notice is that America still does a fair amount of manufacturing of cheap stuff. It is just that it is on a small scale. It might be reasonable to produce a million plastic rings in China, but if it is only 100,000, the transportation costs make it cheaper to produce here.

I certainly think that container ships have had a far bigger effect on the world than computers. And of course, if resources were shared somewhat equitably, container ships would have been a much bigger benefit to everyone. Instead, they have more or less facilitated taking money from the poorer people in the developed world and giving it to the poor people in the developing world. And that’s overall a good thing. But along the way, it shouldn’t have been that the rich have simply gotten unimaginably richer — largely because of a technological advance that they had nothing to do with.

Happy birthday container ships!